My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden

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Funneling words into points in Scrabble

As a competitive scrabble player and as a doer of cryptic crosswords, my first thought was how might I use this 6-letter word? Funnel has no 6-letter anagram. ‘F’ is worth 4-points. The other letters are worth only 1-point each. So it is necessary to maximise funnel as a word. Funnel will hook onto –s, –led, –lled, –ing as valid word endings listed in Collins Official Scrabble Words.   

Scrabble players note: next time fundi is played on a scrabble board and if you have a tile rack holding –bilmnuu, then you should be able play infundibulum to form a 12-letter word. 70 points minimum. More if it is a triple or double word score. A triple-triple word score?

Thesaurus searches revealed other words related to funnel.  Infundibulum is a funnel shaped-cavity.  Buchner and choana are words related to ladles, crucibles, tubes, pouring spouts, nozzles. As an aside of interest to scrabble players out there, choana takes an –ae ending. Tundish, used in metal casting, is an open container or large funnel with one or more holes at the bottom. 

And Himself, because he is interested in such technical matters, explained that a drogue a conical or funnel-shaped device with open ends, towed behind a boat, a plane or a racing car to reduce speed or to improve stability.

So much to learn. No need now to look to the the kitchen for writing inspiration. No need to blog about making tomato sauce or jam recipes using my red plastic funnel to pour the preserves into bottles and jars. 



‘Teach the People’ ~ quote challenge

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. – Confucius

Some years ago when I began blogging on WordPress, I was in awe of the creative, the witty, the informative, the insightful posts by writers the world over. I was challenged by my son to extend my writing, to set up a blog, to expand my garden diary scribblings. Never did I think scratching and grubbing in my garden dirt would germinate words of reflection, thoughts about life lived as I know it. My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, where I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I do put them on a gate or fence post so they are easily found. It is not as if I drop them in the long grass. Truth is, I need two hands to attend to a garden task. There is always a weed to pull, an insect to watch, a tree to hug, a tomato to taste, beans to pick, a flower to enjoy.

At least it is my words that are being posted these days. Since writing those earlier posts, I feel a certain sense of amazement how my blogging horizon is expanding.  Writing is an art and like my garden plants that grow in happy companionships,  choices of words craft ideas that grow the writer’s voice.  WordPress bloggers are wonderful writers, inspiring to read, witty, sharing, encouraging, causing pause for thought. Learning is ongoing.

And, there is much to learn. My grandsons feature in some posts. As we work and talk, generational garden lore and cooking knowledge is passed on. In a previous life, my framed qualifications show the world I was a secondary school English teacher. A four-walled classroom and a whiteboard is an artificial construct. When thirty or so teenagers with diverse learning needs filled the space, the more I listened, the more I observed my students, the more I learned. They had stories to tell, to write of things that interested them. Shakespeare and poetry had to be made relevant to their lives. Luckily for me we embarked on journeys of discovery and learned together. By the time I left education nearly thirty years later, I felt I might just know a few things about effective teaching practice. From experience comes the lesson.

Thank you Carol  for nominating me for a three-day quote challenge. Please check out Carol’s Food For Thought post at

In the fun spirit of voluntary participation of the challenge, nominees may choose to

  • Post for three consecutive days
  • Posts can be one or three quotes per day
  • Nominate three different blogs per day

 Please check out my nominees’ wonderful blogs:

Ruth’s Reflections 


Chef in Disguise  

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Plums ~ under threat from possum pests

It is that time of the year again when the branches of the Luisa plum tree hang low, heavily loaded with large, luscious, blushing yellow-fleshed fruit, best eaten fresh from the tree. Kids love to pick and snack on the juicy sweet fruit. And so do possums. These pest animals are picky eaters of the ripest part of the fruit.

In previous posts I mentioned how possums are a pest animal in New Zealand. They roam  and forage during the night ravage a range of native forest species as well as bird eggs and chicks. Home gardens and orchards are not immune.

Possum control is ongoing. For safety reasons, we neither lay poison nor night shoot with a spotlight. We set Timms traps which kill a single possum at a time. Before I bait a trap with cinnamon-dusted apple, I put the cats inside and shut the hens in their coop while the traps are set. Doggy neighbours have an friendly woofy role in our life. Dog ownership has expenses and responsibilities that we choose not to take up even though we know the presence of a dog acts as a pest deterrent.

Our older son had a flourishing orchard until his dog Rosy became ill early in 2015. She hated possums and took her guard duty seriously at night and was quite the goofy family pet by day. Unimpeded after Rosy’s death, possums stripped many mature fruit trees bare of leaves and fruit buds. A heritage peach tree later died. Since late last year, son’s new two-year old dog, Chief, has been  quick to pick up Rosy’s mantle of Pest Control Officer and is guarding ‘his’ orchard with success. Most of the fruit trees are showing signs of recovery. 

Picking and preserving under-ripe plums is at the top of my To Do list.



My Garden ~ doctor’s orders

I’ve been housebound and full of antibiotics. The doctor didn’t prescribe gardening as a therapy. But, my head is feeling less woozy so I must be on the mend.  

I must be on the mend because I spent time viewing others’ blogs and websites about blogging. I happened on Mike Sneddon’s 7 Tips to Building Your Blog’s Readership His tips about navigating and highlighting interest points made sense. Then in my boredom, I thought I’d apply his advice. I idly thought I’d use Word Press widgets to change the format of my list of categories and to add a Platial map to highlight my New Zealand references. Why do I do this to myself when this is the first time I’ve been laid low for more than a year?

Changing the categories format was simple enough after a couple of false starts. The map? I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. I thought to start by using place-names used in my recent post. Initially, I entered Northland twice before it dawned on me the Platial search didn’t recognise a region. It worked better when I specifically tagged Whangarei as the regional city. And so things have progressed slowly and painfully this afternoon. What have I learned? Not sure. It seems too much to get my head around RSS feeds – that’s for another down-day. Might have been easier to ignore the doctor’s advice and go into the garden.