Sunday, February 24, 2013


For some reason I just could not settle to any task this weekend.  I tried to put away the art deco costumes (and to my chagrin discovered there were two costumes I had failed to wear,  what a terrible waste that was).  Then I attempted to do a little gentle housekeeping, but could not make progress.  The garden was all dry and dusty, the plants were languishing and things in general just were not to my satisfaction.  What was this mysterious ailment which afflicted me?  After some thought I concluded that I was suffering from that little known malady, Post Delightful Event Disorder.  Now the fact that this affliction was not officially recognised did not bother me in the least.  I know some people who have consulted Dr Google only very briefly and come to the conclusion that they are suffering from almost every medical condition known to humankind (with the possible exception of malaria and dengue fever), so for me to make my own diagnosis did not seem entirely unreasonable.  Also it seemed that the acronym PDED was a particularly attractive one - almost melodious in fact; it tripped off the tongue.  PeeDeeEeeDee almost sounds like a word or a poem!  (Privately I have sometimes thought that some acronyms are so clumsy and difficult that the thing they are representing should be given a new name, to make more pleasing initials and elegance.)  

Having identified the problem it was important to outline some treatment plan and I rapidly decided on the following course of action:
1.  The patient must not engage upon any disagreeable or tedious domestic duties.  No oven cleaning, ironing, strenuous vacuuming or shower cleaning to be embarked upon.
2.  Pleasant and relaxing pastimes to be embarked upon at every opportunity.  The patient should relax and enjoy recreational time as much as possible.
3.  A kind of "shock treatment" of a special treat arranged by the patient's nearest and dearest would be of great benefit in jolting the patient back into a state of normality, and out of torpor and ennui.

I raced off to see Mr Shoestring and tell him of my discovery.  Imagine my disappointment when I explained the diagnosis and the acronym only to be met with a loud guffaw!  I was very hurt but did not waste words by explaining my proposed treatment plan - I suspected it would not be met with the delight I had hoped for.

Instead I admitted defeat and we set off for a walk around the wetlands in the evening sunshine.  When we entered the treed area the moon was coming up and the sun was shining on the top of the mountain as the sun sank lower

As we came out at the end the cloud was descending and the trees were glowing in the last of the sun.  Things were possibly not so bad after all, though even the pigeons were languishing in the heat and couldn't summon the energy to fly off as we approached and peered down at them on the overbridge.

The insects in the garden seemed to be languishing - on the underside of this zinnia you can see a bumble bee sheltering from the heat of the sun, instead of gathering the nectar from the inside of the flower.

This one has the right idea

And this monarch wasn't deterred by the heat at all

I consoled myself by thinking that autumn was on its way (who would ever have thought we would be welcoming the end of the summer weather?) and making plans for using this luscious yellow woollen blanket my mum gave me.  I feel it has something special in store because the label has a motif with Pania of the Reef, and the blanket comes from the Napier Woollen Mills (which must surely have closed down decades ago).  I have been making great progress on the silk crazy quilt and have a sudden hankering to work with wool and make an appliqued bed cover.

A large part of the weekend was spent by Mr Shoestring in removing the old upholstery from the cane lounge suite we are trying to bring back to life.  It was encouraging to see the quality of the workmanship - copper springs and webbing still intact.  

Some of the original upholstery fabric was still visible under the orange corduroy which had later been used for upholstery.  It was a pale green shade and still in remarkably good condition.

The orange corduroy was also in good condition.  In fact The Dancing Queen has the same orange corduroy on the lounge furniture at her seaside holiday accommodations, and we agreed that it must be virtually indestructible.  It must date from the 1970s (the last time such a lurid and unsympathetic shade was fashionable).  Horrid to think that this decade is coming back into fashion as "retro" now - the wheel of fashion seems to spin round faster and faster!
Sadly still in very good condition, this fabric was woven to last

We thought we had found the maker's sign on one chair but sadly the name had been ripped off at some time in the past

A wonderfully bright spot was the beautiful blossoms of the Gloriosa Rothschildiana Superba.  I tried to grow some from tubers in the spring but not a single one ever poked a leaf above ground, wretched ungrateful things.   Yet another cause for complaint this weekend!  Fortunately at the wonderful farmers' market in Hastings we found two plants and dragged them all the way home again.  I fervently hope that they survive the wet Waikato winter and reward us with more blossoms next year.  

Next weekend things will be brighter and the PDED shall have passed, if all goes according to plan.  And there is winter deco to look forward to in Napier, as well as World of Wearable Arts in Wellington.  Life is short, we all need to have as much fun as we can squeeze in!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Blissful Art Deco Weekend

Art Deco Weekend in Napier has rolled around and (yet again), it was the best ever.  This was the 25th anniversary and the weekend was full of fun and laughter with friends and the weather never has disappointed us, which makes things even better.  We are all extremely vain and loved the fact that there was a photo of us all from a past art deco weekend in the local newspaper.  Also there were lots of chances to pose for photos on the street when poor unsuspecting cruise ship visitors asked us if they could take our picture.  (They must have wondered whether they had entered a time warp; some of them looked slightly bewildered.) 

We went to the opening ball in Hastings on Thursday, where we danced away the night. 

Two Red Hot Jazz Babies polishing their Charleston moves

On Friday the “boys” played golf and the “girls” had their own event, which included shopping shopping and more shopping with a little bit of lunch thrown in for good measure.  (We needed to keep our strength up for a bit more shopping afterwards.)

The Queen Of The South has moved to Napier now (we are all very jealous) and we had a chance to inspect her new office and see all the improvements she and her King have made to their new home.  

On Friday night there was a new event, a “Speakeasy” at The Old Church.  What a beautiful venue that is.  When we arrived it was still light and we all sat in the garden and enjoyed the last of the sunshine and looked at the beautiful gardens.  Inside is a most impressive chandelier which hangs in the centre of the church. 

There was dinner and dancing to a band and we all resolved (once again) to do better with our dance techniques for next year. 

At the Gatsby picnic there was music in the soundshell with dancing on the grass in front of the stage, and an aerial display by vintage planes.  

A most dashing fellow and expert swing dancer to boot

A highlight was the movie we attended, Madam Satan.  What an extraordinary piece of cinema it was.  It was made in 1930 and most of the action took place on a dirigible where the host was holding a lavish masquerade ball.  The eponymous Madam Satan is a devoted wife whose husband is unfaithful and she resolves to win him back by attending in disguise and seducing him.  A most strange and extraordinary movie and it had some great lines.  When the partygoers are forced to abandon the dirigible during an electrical storm they plunge to the earth in parachutes.  The techniques for filming these scenes were obviously much more primitive in 1930 and it made for some hilarity in the audience as the poor unfortunates descended jerkily to earth.  
 Our handsome lunch escorts

One thing which gave me a thrill was the set of finger waves I had done at Shine hairdressers.  The young man who did them was very patient – it takes a surprisingly long time for them to dry and he diligently checked from time to time to see if they were ready.  The end result was even better than I had hoped, and I have to admit that I slept in a disposable shower cap to preserve the waves overnight!  The next morning I sported a not altogether fetching red mark across my forehead from the elastic.  If you are ever in Napier for art deco weekend and want to treat yourself, make sure to visit him because he is a veritable master of the art of finger waving and very careful and gentle.  My tea there even came in a pretty bone china cup with matching saucer to complete the deco experience!   

But now sadly it is back to the real world, though there are lots of costume possibilities to mull over for next time.  Luckily as soon as one art deco weekend is over the preparations can commence for the next one, and we are never without inspiration.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Skirl Of The Pipes

There is nothing quite like the skirl of the pipes or even a big brass marching band to warm the cockles of the heart!  Or so it seems to me, though I believe this is not a universally held opinion.  Much to my surprise, when dear old National Radio played a track by The Red Hot Chilli Pipers (what an excellent name), there was a flood of complaint and a similar thing happened when there was a brass band track played.  The general opinion seemed to be that this music was “low brow” and  a cacophony of sound which was horrid to hear.  Well, I am afraid I am just the sort of low brow common sort of person who revels in such entertainment and this weekend we went to the 20th annual Paeroa tattoo and highland games.  

The massed pipes would have stirred all but the most moribund of individuals into toe-tapping jig and as for the mace twirling, the champion was giving it his all and the mace flew up into the sky and twinkled in the sun.  The strong men tossed the caber and carried enormous weights back and forth, and the highland dancers all looked so dainty in their varied tartans.  It had been a beautiful sunny day and as the sun went down behind the hills the bands all came out and performed en mass before we heard the lone piper at the end.  A very special outing.  Plus which Mr Shoestring was happy to see somebody wearing a kilt in the tartan of his clan, which he had never seen before.  (I fear he won’t rest until he get his very own kilt now, he already has a hat and a tie in his tartan.)

But these trousers were certainly the star of the event, eclipsing all the more subdued tartans.

I think I can truthfully say that I have never before seen any like them.  Eye wateringly colourful and if you are going to make a statement with your attire you might as well put yourself into it heart and soul, which this gentleman has clearly done. 

Apart from that outing there was the monthly market to attend – a couple of nice plants, a little glass dish (green of course),

some old glass buttons and a very interesting selection of knitting pattern books and sewing books from 1942 – 1954.

One thing which I found quite surprising was the enormous range of things which were knitted – everything from evening bags and heelless socks (for the troops in 1942)

Socks for the troops

through to boater hats

and handbags and evening jackets
"Invitation to the Waltz" evening jacket.  I can't imagine wanting to dance for long in this warm garment!

It seems that nothing was beyond the ambition of these keen knitters, such was their desire to wield their trusty needles.  I feel very sad that the woolen mills we used to have in New Zealand have closed down, but after looking through these magazines I can see there is nowhere near the degree of interest in knitting that there once was, or the level of skill.  And I don’t think I would much fancy wearing a knitted two piece suit.

Also the knitted baby layettes would take a lot of car and attention in washing, and I do remember as a child not liking to wear itchy woollies so probably there are some good reasons for the decline. 

I don't think the rompers in the bottom left corner would be very easy to care for.

In this publication I was surprised to find an advertisement for “Your Favourite Laxative” which conjured up visions of people rising from their beds in the morning and racing into the kitchen with cries of, “Yum yum, give me half a cup of Nyal Figsen, it is my all time favourite!”  It never occurred to me that a laxative could elicit such enthusiasm, especially the "double strength" version. 

Etiquette was very much in the minds of some people too.  This instructive little piece covers the ins and outs of what to do if one should chance to receive an invitation such as that described – just what I was needing to know, so helpful.

You receive an invitation which is engraved or printed on a folded "informal".
DON'T: Telephone your answer.
DO: Write your answer on an "informal" or on small notepaper.

In the Helpful Hints For Housewives column (tips kindly sent in by readers), one recommendation was to mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 cup of cigar ashes and enough water to form a paste.  Apparently this made an excellent metal polish.  Where would one possibly obtain a whole cup of cigar ashes?  Was this some weird form of boastfulness?  (I am so wealthy that I can burn boxes of cigars to obtain ashes for metal polish.)  Or did the unfortunate housewife trail around behind any passersby who happened to be smoking cigars in the hope of catching a piece of falling ash?  

Then there is the Berlei corset advertisement which outlines the five different type of female figure – somehow I can understand “short waisted” and “swayback” but just being called “abdomen” seems a little harsh, wouldn’t you agree? 

And what about this one for a new lipstick shade.  Who would have thought that a new lipstick would have such a radical effect?  It would have to be kept under lock and key, and only brought out on VERY special occasions! 
"Wear Riding Hood Red at your own sweet risk ... we warn you you're going to be followed.  It's a rich ripe succulent red that turns the most innocent look into a tantalising invitation."

But perhaps most excitingly this weekend, the strong sons of Mr Peaceable and Mr Peaceable himself came and lifted the “hood” of the pond into place.  It was a bit of a  mission but with a big team effort it came together and looks very effective.  The inside has been painted black and soon it will be ready to have some fish introduced.  I can’t wait.  The sound of the water splashing and the way the light reflects up onto the wall and the back of the pond is most pleasing.

It wasn’t all reading of old magazines this weekend, the costumes for art deco weekend are all packed up and ready to go now.

Mr Shoestring has somehow mislaid his black fedora, his brown fedora and his red spotty silk tie so he is a little aggrieved, but I feel sure he will still be able to pass muster and enjoy himself. 

Mr Shoestring also lived up to his promises as far as the stained glass windows for the front porch were concerned.  Thank you so much, Woolly Wallies, for the kind donation.  Though it has taken a while to find the perfect spot for them I think you will agree that they are not wasted here.  

From the inside of the porch

From the outside 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Flies In The Ointment

When we arrived at Shoestring Cottage and got out of the car I could hear the sound of running water, most perplexing as we are in a drought situation now.  After some investigation we discovered that a water pipe under the cottage was leaking, which meant we had to turn off the water overnight until things could be remedied.    Mr Shoestring began to look harassed as he struggled to put the water situation to rights but eventually it was fixed to his satisfaction and the water could be turned on again.  Alas and alack he had an even worse setback to deal with.  He found that when he poured the concrete for the new pond there were a couple of places where it hadn’t completely filled the boxing, and consequently there were a couple of sizable holes in his masterpiece!  After some research (and a further increase in vocabulary) he decided that there was a product which would remedy the situation.  Only time will tell, here’s hoping that will be the case. 
 This is something like what I had in mind for the pond - languid fish swimming leisurely through the murky depths.  But it may be that they are struggling to stay within the confines of the pond and not shoot out through the large holes!

I don’t know if it was the desire to impose his will on something after these setbacks, but Mr Shoestring did something next which was very startling.  He took his chainsaw and made a couple of sizeable holes in the walls of the front porch.  Having done this he came to find me and show them to me proudly much like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat – ta da!  
Here is the original hole in the front porch, seen from inside.

To begin with I was uncertain what remark would be appropriate but when he explained that he was going to put the stained glass windows in these new window frames in no time flat I was slightly mollified.  This teeny tiny detail hasn’t been accomplished as yet but all in good time, all in good time.   

 Seen from the outside and with the scriber and surrounds finished, things don't look quite so bad.
The birds had continued with their plan to destroy the garden, but the fight has quite gone out of me now and I just tossed my head and laughed a hollow defeated kind of laugh at their depredations.  (I wasn’t going to let them see how badly affected I was by their latest onslaught and who knows how many of them were watching me inspect the latest results of their destructive behaviour.)
 At the bottom centre you can see one of the dessicated seedlings my avian friends have plucked from the earth with their cruel beaks.  The path is covered with debris and the two survivors are very fortunate - perhaps they will be not so lucky next time. 

So all in all it wasn’t one of our best weekends, but a very interesting one all the same. 

On Sunday night we were lucky enough to be invited to a kind of competition, which involved the curing of bacon and judging which of four different methods had created the most succulent and palatable rashers.  It was a difficult task but somebody had to attempt it and I think I can truthfully say that all of us present gave of our best and were equal to the task.  When it was voting time there was no clear winner, though two entrants came out as roughly equal favourites.  The bacon makers have clear ideas now as to how to go about creating the perfect rasher and they will have no shortage of helpers when next they go head to head after creating their new improved recipes.  Bacon is rather salty though and we did need some liquid refreshments to help us with the task.  

The first of the zinnias and asters are out now - and very obliging they are too, they seem impervious to dry conditions and scorching sun.