Sunday, May 29, 2011


As we are having friends to dinner tonight I have been cleaning etc ( as you do )  and picked a lovely bunch of camellias. This is one of my favourites for it's delicate form. It is Camellia Japonica Frimbriata. ( click to see it's frilly edged petals )
Here they are lying on the bench before they got put in their vase. There are 2 different pinks ( both seedlings ) one white and two tiny flowered ones. The littlest is a called Camellia Trans no koensis ( I think ) a Taiwanese species. The slightly bigger one is my favourite for perfume - it is called Cinnamon Cindy.
 The bushes are all so large now I can pick arms full if I want to. They are supposed to get pruned so this is my way of doing that.
 Meg I know you love seeing my flowers and garden and I know things are tough for you right now, so the top white beauty is dedicated to you. You are in my thoughts - stay strong for Goms sake.
   R is out sitting reading  in the sun, while he watches the meat spit roasting in the lidded BBQ, in the car porch. It is a lovely day. The meat is a roast of Rangitikei beef R and D swapped us for fruit and nuts at Easter. I am going to make Yorkshire pudding to go with it - haven't had that in ages, loads of roast vegtables including my personal favourites yams. Also broccoli and cauliflower and maybe peas.
 The dessert is made. It is mocha self saucing pudding. I have only ever made the chocolate version before but mocha sounded good. It will be served with lovely sweet mandarins segments that I will peel just before we eat.
 I think we will have a lovely evening.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Supporting Quilting Friends

Today I have been supporting 2 of my quilting friends. They are both lovely ladies; a Mother my age and her daughter, both are members of our Tauranga Patchwork and Quilters'  Group. It was the funeral of a dear Husband for one and a dear Father for the other. Also there today was a brave Mother aged 92 who had to farewell one of her sons. Life certainly doesn't go by any set rules.
 Dear ladies and all the family you are in my heart and thoughts today and in the weeks and months ahead.
 J and H I hope to be stitching with you again as soon as you are ready. ( I know you both sometimes read this blog, so the flowers are for you when you next visit here.)
 Hugs from Ali.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not the Bee's Knees but the Bee's Bottom.

Fine weather has meant 3 straight days with both of us working at garden and properrty maintenance. R has cleaned all the cobblestone and concrete path areas. I have mowed lawns, weeded, dead headed and collected leaves. My camera has been out taking garden photos.
I cleaned the birdbath so now I can see reflections in it. Hope the birds still like it. The tuis are the best customers.

I don't think this kingfisher was about to have a bath - he likes the creeks or larger areas of water where  edible things to catch live.
As I was planting these anemone corms, I discovered the cosmos from last Summer have left seedling everywhere I dead headed them; so good I get lots of free plants.
 I was also really surprised when down at my little extra piece of garden laying on compost that the old green bean plants still had some usable beans. So did R's row in the main garden, so we had a final serving of beans with our roast last night. I also dug some Heather potatoes from down the paddock. We must get them all out of the ground shortly. Yum, scrapable spuddies still.( not much mint left to put with them. )

The yellow Pokers flower first and now the red hot ones are out too.
See how blue the sky has been . The Luculia flowers look amazing against that backdrop.( The bees are busy  - see in the flower on the right ) They are also loving the single camellia flowers, which are beautiful at the moment. I am picking them for the house.
 This afternoon we both have appointments at the optometrist. I need stronger glasses . I have been making typos and can't read maps easily and I need to be able to. It is 2 years since I was last tested so maybe my eyes have deteriorated.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

At Our Back Door.

This photo is for Molly and her family. At our back door I currently have flowering cerise / pink flowers. ( not really my favourite colour but okay in pot plants )
This is a zygocactus or Christmas cactus if you live in the Northern hemisphere; or schlumbergera. Mine is a quite nice almost salmon colour when in bud, which I prefer. It is a bright splash of colour at this time of the year. Molly had a raccoon eat hers up so I am sharing my flowers - she may not get any.
 Also performing well is a Cyclamen I got last year which is happily flowering in the same area.

 Yesterday we did lots of errands in the city in preparation for our trip in about one months time. Banks, pressure travel socks all that sort of stuff. This morning I spent time formating new cards for cameras. The above photos were to try it out - seems to work just fine.
I also picked up a Fly Buys reward as the points were going to expire soon. I got a new iron.  2 other blog friends have recently got the same iron and are pleased with theirs. It is a Tefal Aquaspeed 275. it has a palladium autoclean soleplate. I will let you know how it behaves when I have given it a serious trial .
It has been fine and Breezy ALL DAY today so kiwifruit will have been picked. I got lots of washing dry. This fine spell is to last 4 days.

* Leanne I doubt you will see our kiwifruit in the shops - actually NZ sees mainly rejects.
*  Molly I will try and put up the occassional post while away. It depends on time and other family member's computers.
* Zizophora - Hello.  Kiwifruit, especailly the green sort,  is extremely long lasting and makes it the most transportable fruit in the world ( almost.) It is shipped by sea - NOT BY AIR as falsely stated by UK and other countries SO DOES NOT have huge AIR Miles. Unfortunately once a wrong fact like that has been in the media it is very difficult to convince folk in other countries that the fact was Wrongly stated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wild Weather and Kiwifruit.

Yesterday was very, very stormy. High winds knocked over pot plants, blew leaves and small branches around the property. I don't think I have ever tried to photograph wind before. It doesn't show very well. ( I need to use a slow speed shutter )The giant bamboo plants in the middle are bending and the gums were too, creaking and groaning , but it hardly shows. Today is less windy and fine for a while then another shower and so on again and again. Some neighbours down the road are attempting to pick their gold Kiwifruit. They must be getting it wet.....but days are marching on and little fine weather has occurred. ( all the time the fruit is getting riper and harder to handle carefully. )
During the weekend( and night shift ) our Kiwifruit was packed.  We went over on Sunday to see the last couple of hours . As a few  of you are still interested in things kiwifruit  I will show a few photos.
The bins of fruit are tipped onto rollers just outside the packing shed and the fruit travels by rollers or moving belts seen here. These people are grading the fruit as it rolls infront of them and taking out rejects ( for shape , blemish, fungal scars  or pests. )  It then moves up the singulator which puts it into rows and stickers get automatically punched on.
The machine weighs it and drops it off according to it's weight at packing arms where it is laid into trays or packs.
This packer is straightening up the fruit to lie neatly in the tray. It is a tray containing 33 fruit.
The whole time the fruit is being packed the Quality Control staff are sampling trays and packs to check the fruit is within the allowances for defects, has the right number of fruit per pack are the correct weight or as seen here have NO pests. This QC is using a 3 times magnification lens and light to check for pests. ( they didn't find any - that is good;  it means our fruit may go to any market in the world. )

The trays and packs get tucked in, the tops pressed down and are then stacked on pallet bases and tightly strapped .
 This completed pallet has single layer trays of count 33 fruit. It has a sticker saying "Y" for our taste band - the top one! Therefore should taste the sweetest. Each tray on the pallet has a sticker giving size; our grower #;  pack date and packing shed code.

Each pallet has a pallet card detailing the size pack ;date packing; shed and coolstore code. This one is size 22 - that means they are very big ( jumbo ) fruit and only 22 can fit in a single layer tray. Everything of course has bar codes and peel off stickers for every point in the pallet's journey overseas.( the stickers aren't put on very straight are they? )
   Any fruit not quite meeting the class 1 grade standards might get a second chance and end up in a box like this

which is class 2 fruit and mainly gets sold in Australia.It just means the allowance for say a little mark is a bit more generous - the fruit will still taste as good, it may be slightly flatter ( which actually are the very best tasting fruit in my opinion. )
 So that is our packing done for this year. We have only one thing to grump about. We sent 244 bins of fruit to the shed. They only tipped /packed 243 - where is our other bin? ( which other grower got one of our bins? )
Meanwhile back ( mainly inside because of the weather ) I have been cooking and cleaning and sewing and trip planning. I have made 4 nice heatproof mats ( 2 more to do ) with NZ fabric for a gift.  They are hand hemmed and machine quilted.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lovely Quilts.

Yesterday I got my quilt back from S who did a wonderful job on their computerised long arm machine. This is the pattern seen more easily on the back. Her charge was SO reasonable I will be sending more quilts her way.
It's the back of this quilt. So I now will get the binding and label on it.
 At P and Q yesterday we saw some lovely quilts in show and tell. This was the most unusual one with square edges.made in very subtle tones. The flowers are made with small hexagons.

A scrappy log cabin.

Sorry about the back ground in this shot. ( with crutches and chair legs )  This is the Care quilt members of the group made for L who has been having massive foot surgery.Some other members drove her here so her Surprise quilt could be presented.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kiwifruit Harvest.

It is back to raining today so we realise just how lucky we are to have completed our Kiwifruit harvest for 2011, yesterday in the FINE.
Before we started, we got a further 90 fruit sample taken to test to see if the dry matter had risen - indeed it had so we are in "Y" the top taste band, so get paid more than lower taste bands. ( Many orchards have not achieved that this year )
     As this harvest time is a big deal for us and I get to blog about it every year I will try to explain some of the things that were a bit different this year.This was our 29th export crop of Kiwifruit. Back in 1983 our first little pick off new vines was just 329 trays, so things have changed a great deal in those intervening years.

Late last year a kiwfruit virus  - PSa ( pseudomomas syringae pv actinidiae ) was found in vines on orchards in Te Puke area. That changed things for ever for all orchardists and the kiwifruit industry. To try and avoid the disease spreading between orchards there are now in place prodedures that it is hoped may help. This was the first harvest where all pickers, their picking bags and footwear had to be disinfected.The blue foot tray was for shoes, the sprayer for picking bags, the sanitizer for hands. The bin was for gloves to be discarded after one use ( or one orchard ).
   The tractors and bin trailer also had to be washed down / disinfected before leaving our orchard for the next one. ( that part of it all went well and no one grumbled as it just the norm now ).

 I may not have ever shown the bin trailers ( empty )  that are towed behind the tractors .

 They are  rows of rollers so the bins can be pushed on and off and have flaps to hold the bins in. A rope to the driver's seat releases this flap, the trailer is tilted and the full bins silde off the back..

We had 4 tractors with bin trailers. One broke down so my trusty old Fergie was rushed from the shed and performed happily with on worries.( it knows it's way around our orchard - hehe ) Only one  tractor got stuck in Block 1 and with much hilarity got pushed out by the pickers.( it had stink tyres. That wasn't bad going as the ground everywhere was still very soggy and a bit muddy by the contanst use at picking time )

The pickers all worked so hard we were impressed. They carry a huge load of fruit  in their picking bags. ( the bottom of the bag has a flap that is dropped down so the fruit roll out the bottom into the bin.)

 This is a general scene near the end where you can see our friend Brian C who did an amzingly good job on the forklift.

 On the front right of the photo you can see a table where the boss of the picking gang  is sitting writing his records for the day. That is my outdoor office where I fill in the bin cards and keep the tallies. The other good news is we picked more bins of fruit than the count samples taken earlier suggested we would get and consequently ran out of bin cards. We now hope to get a good packout result ( export trays ) from the packhouse in a couple of days. Our fruit is getting packed  ( not stored or CA stored like last year ) as the packhouses have had no work due to wet weather. 
( All photos should enlarge with clicking ).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

This Project Finished.

Over the last 2 days we have had another 91 mls of rain so my time has been spent mainly inside. I completed this large cushion cover made from 1.5" scraps. All hand pieced and quilted, but the back and edging have been machine stitched for strength.( now I need to find myself a new hand stitching project.) I selected the colours to go on the now oldish blue leather couch. I had previously made this same pattern into a table runner but it has faded hideously over the years and now needs replacing. Someone commented that they couldn't believe I had only one UFO - this was it. I am a finisher. If I start a project I will  finish it , but just occasionally I have unpicked the odd thing if I really don't like it or think it is going to look okay. Some blocks I made for practise turned into hot pads/ table mats rather than a sampler quilt as originally intended, but they didn't get wasted. Fabric is too expensive to waste.
      I have also spent time shelling more walnuts in the shed in the company of 2 mice - R set traps and got one in less than an hour - I expect they are eating the little nut scraps out of my container. Bacon traps work well! I have also been cooking fruit and nut cookies, spicy apple loaf and leek and potato soup - one of my favourites.
On Sunday night my ( only ) Sister rang to tell me our cousin Rachel  had died aged 58. That was a big shock. On my Mum's side of the family ( she was the middle of 3 ) there were 6 girl cousins, no boys. I was the 3rd eldest. The cousin who died was the youngest of us all and an only child. Her Mum (my only still living Aunt ) was 88 on the 20th April this year and is getting quite frail physically but mentally very with it , so it is very sad for her.  The funeral is in Wellington on Thursday. That's 6 plus hours drive for us but I don't think we will be going . We may be picking our Kiwifruit. Our fruit has come ready very quickly and as the weather is very changable and mostly wet we don't want to miss our place in the queue to pick. Our dry matter results just in this morning show that we are well up there, so near the front of the queue. R is off with the truck this morning getting fine metal to build up parts of the loading area that the rain has washed away. The ground is very wet everywhere which will create problems and mess for tractors moving around.
              Although the sun is shining this morning there are big black ( forecast ) clouds looming. So as often getting the Kiwifruit picked is going to be a bit stressful.