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  Monday, 31 October 2005

Before I get into this rant, I just want to say I have nothing against kids dressing up in silly, funny, or scary costumes just for the shear fun of it. But at the risk of sounding like a grumpy bastard I have to ask why, oh why do we celebrate Halloween, or more specifically, why now?

The meaning of the holiday is based in Pagan and Wiccan history.  It is a harvest festival and a celebration of the end of summer. It was believed that this day was the one day of the year when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest and so communication with ancestors past should be easiest on this day. It began hundreds of years ago in Great Britain and Europe when the Celts would worshipped nature and had many gods, including the sun god. The Sun God made their crops grow and dictated their work and rest times. They believed that during winter the sun god was taken prisoner by Samhain, the Lord of the dead. On the eve of their new year, October 31, it was believed that Samhain called together the spirits of all the dead ancestors. On this day, after all the crops have been harvested and stored away for the winter all the cooking fires would be extinguished. Then the Druids would meet, light new fires, and offer sacrifices of crops and animals, and they would dance around the fires. This was to celebrate the changing of the seasons, from the season of the sun to the season of darkness.

Somewhere in the eighth century, as Christianity spread throughout Europe came All Saints Day, Perhaps invented to confuse and water down this non-Christian ritual. This was a day to celebrate and remember the lives of the saints. This is probably where trick or treating came from. Young men would dress up as saints and go door to door asking for food to give to the poor and needy.

I have digressed from my intended point in this post however. However you look at it, this is a celebration that is supposed to come at the end of summer, after the harvest. Here in New Zealand (and obviously the rest of the Southern hemisphere) it is spring. Our pumpkins are just being planted and are nowhere near ready for carving. We should be celebrating this holiday in May. To celebrate it in now is to completely ignore the real reason for the tradition in the first place. But hey, as long as the big department stores are making a killing selling costumes and candy who cares what it really means right?

...end of grumpy bastards rant.

8:01:54 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 30 October 2005

Check out the delightful (but very shy) couple who visited my garden this afternoon...

7:52:59 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 29 October 2005

I declared yesterday a mental health day and took the day off work to go kite flying. The conditions were almost perfect at Rabbit Island with a gentle sea breeze which freshened throughout the afternoon and the low tide providing a big wide beach in the middle of the day. I took the opportunity to fly the 12m2 F-Arc I bought second hand at the end of last summer. The F-Arc is classed as an advanced kite-surfing kite (not specifically designed for bugging) and everyone I've talked to who has flown one says pretty much the same thing. Usually something like "oh... thats a scary kite". So I've been working up the courage to fly it for months. Dave, who I bought it off, was selling it because he was heading home to the UK for our winter. Coincidentally, Dave, having just arrived back from the UK, turned up at the beach yesterday just as I was gearing up to fly it. He gave me a hand to launch it. He was flying a very nice looking 10m2 Venom in a purple black and grey colour scheme. Anyway, I don't know what I was worried about. The F-Arc is an awesome kite. It seems to have endless speed. The faster you go, the faster it wants to go. The hard part is slowing it down! And the jumps....well. I've jumped with C-Quads and they simply pick you up and as soon as you reach the zenith of the jump they put you back down just as quick. I've jumped with a Venom which picks you up and puts you back down as soon as you tell it to by pushing the control bar away from you, thus depowering the kite. The F-Arc however, picks you up and floats you there, as if to say "I'll put you back down when I'm good and ready to put you down." You just seem to hover. I can see why the kite surfers love them.... and I do to ;)

Dave's new 10m2 Venom. I love that colour scheme!

As the wind picked up I also got out my old 6.3m2 bent-spine C-Quad for a spin.

The weather was pretty warm. Dave cools off in the surf.

I'm heading back out there today and picking Dave up one the way. I'm so glad it summer and the sea breezes have returned at last.

9:19:24 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 27 October 2005

I'm addicted to my garden. Every afternoon when I get home the first thing I do is a quick walk around to check on the plants. I am amazed daily at the growth and am continually learning.

A recent lesson was the advantage of placing river stones around the base of my various seedlings. I initially did this to stop the blackbirds from damaging the roots of my tender cabbages when they dig around the base looking for worms. Now they dig around the outside of the stones instead, a safe distance from the base of the plant and its delicate roots. There were other unexpected advantages however. I noticed after several weeks that the lettuce and cabbage plants with rocks around them were growing significantly faster than the others (even ones the blackbirds had left alone). I'm guessing there are probably two reasons for this. First the rocks are holding some of the suns warmth absorbed during the day, and keeping the plants slightly warmer into the night. Second they will be helping to keep the ground beneath them from drying out.

I'll be eating fresh strawberries in a week or two. I've got heaps of them this year so I'm hoping I'll have enough to make some jam.

The iris' are out in all their purple splendour.

The black-currant bushes are loaded and developing nicely.

Look! Tomatoes! After my little disaster with frost, where I lost all my early tomato plants, Devon gave me some of his that he has grown in town (where the frosts aren't nearly as bad).

8:42:41 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Pretend you're a river
Pretend you are the mist who falls so fine, so gentle, that nothing separates water and air
You are the rain who falls in sheets, explodes onto the ground to leave pocks and puddles
You are the ground who receives this water, soaking it up, taking it in, carrying it deep inside
You are the cracks and fissures where the waters accumulate, flow, fall to join more water and more
in pools and rivers who move slowly through cavities, crevices, pores
You are the sounds and silence of water seeping or staying still
You are the meeting of wet and dry, the union of liquid and solid, where solids dissolve and liquids solidify
You are the pressure who pushes water through seams
You are the rushing water who bubbles from the earth
You are a tiny pool between rocks
You overflow, find your way to join others who, like you, are moving, moving
You are the air at the surface of the water
the joining of substantial and insubstantial
the union of under and over, weight and not weight
You are the riffle, the rapid, the tiny waterfall who turns water to air and air to water
You are the mist who settles on the soil
You are the plants who drink the mist, and you are the sun who warms and feeds them
You are the fish who feed on insects, who feed on plants, who feed on soil, who feed on fish
You are the fish who become soil, who become plants, who become insects, who become fish, who flow down the river
You are the river who joins other rivers to become a new river, who is all the rivers, and something else
You are the river
You do not stop at the banks where liquid turns to solid
You reach into the sky, and into the soil
Water moves through rocks, comes up to form pools far from the fast flow where the rivers move together
seeps down to join still waters beneath the surface
waters who sleep and wake and sleep, and mingle with the stones who are the river too
You are the river who is married to the mountains you have known since they were young
who have given themselves to you, as you have given yourself to them
You are the canyons you nestle into, each year deeper than the year before
You are the forests who give you their fallen trees
the meadows you flood and feed
and they feed you back their fruits and fine insects
who fly to your surface to be taken in by the fish
who again with their owns bodies feed the meadows
You are the river who feeds the ocean
who feels the tides pushing and pulling against your mouth
the waves mixing fresh and salt
you are that intermingling, that is who you are
that is who you have always been
You are the river
You have lived with volcanoes and glaciers
You have been dammed by lava and ice
You've carried log jams so large and so old that they grow their own forests, with you running beneath
You have lived through droughts and floods
You are the river
You miss the salmon, you miss the sturgeon, you miss the ocean
you miss the meadows, you miss the forests, you miss the beavers, and otters and bears
you miss the humans
You are the river, you want them back
You want to feel the tickling of the sturgeon and the thrusting of the Salmon
You want to carry food and soil to the ocean
You want to cover the meadows as you used to
and you want to give yourself to them
and you want them to give themselves to you
as you have done forever and as they have too

Now, pretend you are a forest
You are the bark of trees and the hairy moss who hangs from them
You are the duff, who becomes soil, who becomes trees, who becomes seeds, who becomes squirrels, who become owls who become slugs, who become shrews, who become soil
You are the trees who cannot live without the fungi, who cannot live without the voles, who cannot live without the trees
You are the fire, who cannot live without the trees, who cannot live without the woodpeckers, who cannot live without the beetles, who cannot live without the fire
You are the wind who speaks through the trees, and the trees who speak through the wind
You are the birds who sing, and the birds who do not
You are the salamanders, the ferns, the millipedes
the bumble bees who sleep on flowers, waiting for the morning to warm you so you can eat and fly on home
You to have lived through drought and flood, hot and cold
and you too miss the salmon
you miss the owls, the bears
you miss the rivers
you miss the people, the humans
you want them all back
you need them back
or you will die

-Derrick Jensen

8:19:58 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 19 October 2005

I just posted over at Kite Buggy NZ so go read that ;)

Especially for Briggsy, (who was moved by 90-mile's beauty, when she was there, as I am) heres me saying 'hello' to 90-mile for you, the only way I know how... video (1.8 mb)

9:54:34 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 17 October 2005

"There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot"
Steven Wright

Saturday afternoon I was cruising along Rabbit Island Beach on my kite buggy. It was the lightest of breezes so I was flying my big green 8.5m2 C-Quad. I was just sitting back, enjoying the ride, watching the waters edge slide by. I was trying to get the buggy wheels as close to the wash as I could without getting wet. Up ahead I spotted something splashing around in the shallow water. At first I thought it might be a ray feeding in the shallows, but as I went past at about 25kph I could see it was a large fish. I stopped the kite buggy, landed the kite and trotted back to the spot, expecting it to be gone. It was still there, flapping on its side as it if had just been caught on a line. I grabbed it by the tail and carried it up the beach. Inspecting it closer I think it was a Sliver Warehou, and a large one at that. It looked like it had been caught in a net and been released (often happens if the fisherman does not have quota for that particular species). It was probably exhausted and just wound up in the surf, then washed up just as I was passing. I tucked it down the back of my buggy seat and set off down the beach to put it in the van.

It was a great feeling to score a free feed of fresh seafood, literally out of the blue like that. Even better though, was the priceless look on the faces of the sunbathers who had been watching me cruise up and down the beach on my buggy for the past hour, as I pulled up, landed the kite, took the fish from behind the buggy seat, and  cool as a cucumber, walked up the beach to put it in the van, as if thats how I always catch my fish. ;)

11:05:20 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 16 October 2005

I cleaned all the dust and pine pollen off the kayak today by taking it for a splash down the Motueka river. Gorgeous day with the whitest clouds you've ever seen....

What did you do today?

6:57:23 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 15 October 2005

Its a good time to be gardening. The spring rains are bringing forth a huge amount of sudden growth in the garden. I was amazed how much had changed in the week I was away. I went around with the camera this morning to record the progress.

This little apple tree has been on this property longer than I have, but its had a pretty tough life so far. I didn't even know it existed until about this time last year when I was clearing some scrub and vines from the corner of the property.  There under a mass of other plant life it sat clinging to life getting no sunlight at all. So I clear around it, mulched it, pruned it, and last summer it produced one solitary apple. It was a Sturmer apple which is a variety that is getting difficult to come by these days. Its not quite as sweet as some but it keeps very well. I mulched it some more, pruned it again, and it looks like this season its going to really produce, judging by its display of blossom.

I'm anticipating a good crop of blackcurrant's this years from the five bushes I have...

The five raspberry canes, which were unlikely looking twigs when I transplanted them just a couple of months ago, are suddenly exploding into life...

The chives, as reliable as ever, are preparing their yearly display of colour...

Speaking of colour, the lavender, which I moved to a sunnier spot just two weeks ago seems to like its new outlook...

Finally the hardiest of the beans, the broad beans, are also covered in their peculiar looking flowers. About time to get another crop of these started so I'll have a continuous supply...

I replanted some pumpkins, and gourds yesterday, after losing the first lot to frost. Lets hope the warm weather is here to stay this time.

12:31:12 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 12 October 2005

6:34:31 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 11 October 2005

The kite buggy tour of the top of the North Island I was last week went pretty much to plan. We couldn't have asked for better wind and we all made it home safe without injury. Not everything went perfectly smoothly though. In fact there was a bit of a hicup one evening at Baylys Beach which wasn't part of the plan. A kite control bar went through the windscreen of the van. The kite had been attached to Sam when it got caught in a violent gust. Luckily Sam managed to pull the safety release before it got to nasty. This is supposed to 'kill' the kite but leave it tethered. In this instance the tethering lease broke and the kite got ripped away, dragging the lines and control bar below. These collected the front of my van as the kite dragged them several hundred meters up the beach to the road. Here is the result....

Sam was so apologetic. I told him not to worry, windscreens are replaceable. We drove to Whangarei the next morning and had it fixed in no time. He felt so bad about it though that he decided to give me his buggy seat. Its one he made himself and I had been admiring it earlier in the trip. He told me he was going to build another 'updated' version of it soon anyway. Now this is a BGS (bum-grabbing-seat)! It locks the hips into the buggy so tight that when I try to stand up the buggy wants to come with me. Thanks Sam... Its fitted my buggy perfectly and I think you'll agree it looks good!

Old Seat:

New Seat:

BTW the new windscreen was all covered by insurance and had a nice tinted strip across the top that the old one didn't have.

9:08:00 PM    Comment []

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Sometimes the universe speaks to me. It sends these little messages with impeccable timing. Actually I think its happening all the time, but sometimes I'm listening. Like the time I was angry at a friend and I was letting that anger eat me up inside... then at precisely the right moment, I found quite by accident (or was it?), something they had written about me to someone else. The little message reminded me that what we were angry over nothing, and our friendship was something of far greater value than the pride I was hanging onto. The magic was not in the message itself, but the timing of the delivery. Perfect.  It came just when my mind was ready to receive it... not a moment to soon, or to late. These little signs come in all shapes and sizes, and invariably, when I'm not even looking for them.  They come through with sudden clarity like they were sent by some guiding entity who knows exactly whats going on in my little brain.

Today I received another such message. A reminder of something I had forgotten (or perhaps was hiding from) that I think I should have paid more attention to.

So... Sharee, if your still reading (I have a feeling you are), drop me a line? (There's an email link on the left; the little envelope.)

4:19:08 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 9 October 2005

Time for some highlights from the past week kite buggying along the West coast of New Zealands North Island. At times I didn't know wether to buggy of take pictures. For most of the time I stuck to the buggying but I did make time to take a few photos of the other guys occasionally.

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Perin (of Kite Works in Auckland) launches off the top of a dune on Baylys Beach, in his suspension bigfoot buggy.

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Sam carving into a Norhtland sunset.

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Perin and Craig racing down Ninety-mile Beach at 70kph.

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Sam gets airborn in his custom bigfoot buggy.

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Craig in his lowered bigfoot kite buggy doing close to 80kph on Ninety-mile Beach with a 2.5m2 Rebble Foil.

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Perin looking weightless over a Baylys beach dune.

9:51:59 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 8 October 2005

I'm back from my trip up North. I've kite buggied my brains out and had an incredible time. We had screaming winds all week, a little bit of rain in between the sunshine. I've romped over the giant dunes of South Head at Muriwai, cruised down Baylys Beach on a tandem buggy with a video camera and sped down it at 60kph in my five wheeled buggy. And the trip highlight for me was a speed run up 90-mile beach in a howling 30 knot on shore wind reach 70 kph plus with just a little 1.2m2 Excalibur (delta) kite!

I have about 3 hours of great video footage to edit into something, and hundreds of photos to sort and publish. Look out for lots of kite geek ramblings over the next week as I relive it all for you in pictures.

Below is a shot of me (taken by Craig) playing in my kite buggy, at night, in the driving rain, on Baylys Beach last Monday. Not great conditions, but we had a great time anyway!

6:24:18 PM    Comment []

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