Monday, January 31, 2011

Massacring Model Trees and "Day Stripp" - I mean, "Day Tripper"

The wind is absolutely raging outside my window right now... and it is horribly, horribly late, I have done NO packing for leaving tomorrow morning (which means I'll have to get up at 6am), so I had better make this brief (and we all know how good I am at that, pfft).

This morning Rosemarie set Tom and I out to prepare the left-hand side of the garden for mowing; we picked rocks off the lawn, searched for an elusive tent peg that was ultimately determined to be lost in a pile of bark mulch (annoying, but not as huge of a problem as the lawnmower doesn't mow there), and weeded the pathways. I set about attacking my old nemesis, the yarrow plant. Oh, yarrow, how I loathe thee and thy creeping, massive, knotted root system...

My second task of the morning was to complete (as Thibaud christened it) "Carolyn's Garden" by covering the exposed soil between the plants with dampened newspaper, and then a layer of black matting; this will (hopefully) stop weeds from taking over until Howard and Rosemarie can put in some more plants to fill in the gaps. Of course, Murphy's Laws being what they are, the moment one tries to do anything finicky with matting or newsprint the wind comes right up, so I spent a lot of time having the matting twist out from under me or blowing dirt in my face. The end result is acceptable, though, and looks fairly inconspicuous topped off with a layer of pineneedles to stop the sun from destroying the matting quite so quickly.

The fun highlight of the morning was Rosemarie tossing me a pumice stone she found on the other side of the garden: they really do float in water! I had to run and get my camera to take a picture and prove it to myself.

After mid-morning tea break Howard showed Tom and I how to make model trees for the railway layout using unwound thread fibres, wire, and a hand-cranked drill. I regret to say that I was not very successful; my first tree's trunk wasn't twisted enough, so all the fibres of string (the "branches") came out, and my second tree was accidentally constructed so what should have been the roots was the crown, and vice versa. My third tree was pretty acceptable, once I figured out how to trim the fibres to make it look vaguely tree-like, but the fourth once again looked like a good candidate to be a miniature Whomping Willow. Hanging my head in shame, I opted to stop destroying Howard's store of tree-making supplies, and helped Rosemarie make up the next batch of ginger beer instead.

After lunch I mainly hung out in the kitchen, watching videos on my computer with Tom, and sharing photos with Howard and Rosemarie (ones I have taken here, in other places in New Zealand, and back home in Canada). I gave them copies of most of the photos I took here, which included our trips to the Pigeon Valley Steam Museum and Rabbit Island.

After dinner I forced Howard to play through a version of "Happy Birthday" I wrote out for him (he has to play it at a garden birthday party in a week or so), and in return he taught me that delightfully annoying carnival song that everyone who doesn't actually play piano seems to know how to play (including my mom!), but that I - until this evening - did not. After that things got increasingly sillier as I started playing children's nursery rhymes in minor keys ("London Bridge" sounds pretty good in a minor key!). This gradually segued into Beatles songs, and resulted in Howard putting on Beatles records (yes, records - the Red Album on red vinyl!), me getting the gist of the chord progressions, and then trying to warp them into a minor mode. This is what two glasses of homemade kiwi wine will tell me is a productive way to spend my evening (it was awesome).

The conversation topics tonight ranged from why humans have such a strong reaction to tickling on the soles of their feet, to the technological changes seen in recent lifetimes vs. human evolution as a whole, and an entire tangent on string theory, anti-gravity, and positing on the contents of a black hole. (I also got to hear Howard's theory of the origins of the universe, which really needs to be told in person and not simply read for maximum effect.) Perhaps fittingly, the evening ended with going outside to collect my long-forgotten laundry off the line, and my marvelling at the incredible stars visible out here, far away from the city lights. I found Orion without any difficulty, but I have still to find the elusive upside-down Big Dipper.

Now it is even more horribly late, but at least I have written a decent blog entry, and I have written in Howard and Rosemarie's WWOOFer comment book, too. Off to bed for me... I have to get up in four hours and forty minutes to pack and be out the door by 7:50am (joy). I will miss this place... it really has been like a home away from home. Night!


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