Good for the Soul

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So far this winter has been more wet than cold…three winter’s ago, we had already had some serious snow by now…
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This is a time when root vegetables, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, kumara, etc, are seasonal and thus cheap at the moment. I’ve been investing heavily in freezable storage containers to store the vegetable largesse as soup…

I scored half a large bag of potatoes that survived the ‘Kune Carrot Carnival a couple of weeks ago and scored the net for a variety of tasty light things to do with potato. There are surprisingly few variations on the theme of potatoes, less than consume large quantities of the target vegetable….

Although not a big consumer, this recipe combined potato with chicken and cheese. Like most soups, it is simple and quick to make.

Ingredients

100 grams of butter (probably should have used coconut oil but didn’t think of that at the time)
1 onion diced
3 carrots diced
3 spring onions (the recipe calls for celery but I’ve gone off that for now)
1/3 cup of flour
2 potatoes diced
2 cups of coconut milk (the recipe calls for cow but I don’t have that in the fridge anymore apart from occasional small quantities for guest brews)
1 teaspoon of black sea salt (yes, you could be boring and just use normal salt but I’m trying to stay away from processed foods: if it’s white, it’s bad)
3 cups of chicken stock
1 decent size organic chicken breast (after the Hot Doc’s warning about the growth additives that go into commercial chicken, I avoid it now) diced
1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar/Colby/tasty cheese
Fresh parsley and or coriander, finely chopped

Directions

Melt the butter in the pan
Add the onions, carrots and spring online and cook for 3-4 minutes
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir it in.
Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, potatoes and chicken.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Slowly add and stir in the cheese until it has all blended into the soup.

Sprinkle with the parsley and coriander. Serve with stick bread sliced longways, or toasted jalapeño cornbread

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I’ll be making this again, for sure, not only is it tasty as and filling. I’ve already had a few requests for it and one can’t ignore one’s fan base. Changes I would make apart from those listed above? Probably only to add a diced parsnip: I forgot I have a bag of them in the pantry: it’s sweetness will go well with the chicken and cheese flavours…

Imaginary Friend

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”

Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today?

I had an imaginary friend once.1-23-2011_023When I used to live here.

His name was Tom.

Tom wasn’t really much of a friend. 1-7-2011_033

He would do all sorts of horrendous things and then conveniently disappear, leaving this kid to take the rap.

Where is Tom now? Who cares? Probably prison, politics or big business….

Happy Place

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

Queenstown aerobatics Jan 98

In a most happy place over Queenstown 1998

One of my all time favourite ‘desert island’ books is Wilbur Smith’s Eagle in the Sky. “He’ll be in the sky” are Debra’s words when he disappears near the story’s end…well, the book’s end anyway: Eagle is one of those tales that you hope never ends, that David and Debra go on and on…

eagle int he sky cover

As much as I love aviation, I never got round to learning to fly but when I need to go, I go for height, up a hill, onto a mountain, some place high and quiet where I can look down and think.

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My other happy place is at a keyboard or holding a pen, using words to seek and maintain balance, to put my feelings some place where they become tangible and malleable. I can’t promise the words will always make sense or that later on I might not remember the emotion behind them but they lie as reminders of places I have been, journeys I have made, people I have been…words as much a sanctuary as a windy hilltop or craggy peak…

Happy place does not necessarily mean tidy place!!!

Out of Your Reach

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atomic annie boxartIn response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Out of Your Reach.”

Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.

Lots…the early/mid 70s were a Golden Age for the plastic modeller community with household names (in our household anyway) like Airfix, FROG and Matchbox releasing new kits every month across a range of topics near and dear to every schoolboy’s heart…these were generally pretty affordable and even the larger ones were acquirable, albeit through the good intentions of aunts and uncles. The jewels in the crown though were the big kits from the USA, in 1/32 monster scale mainly, most notably Revell’s range of 1/32 scale aircraft, singles and twins, many of which remained the only games in town until the last couple of years – a competing 1/32 De Havilland Mosquito has only been released this year (at 3-4 times the price of the venerable and still respectable Revell offering.

When I was 12, Mum and Dad took me along on their annual pilgrimage to Christchurch, then, at some 150 miles away, quite an epic journey. One day, while exploring the inner city, we passed a cycle shop (back then most cycle shops carried enough plastic kits to win away a young lad’s pocket money with ease – they are somewhat less exciting now) in, I think it was Manchester Street. There is all its glory was the Atomic Cannon, at a price hopelessly beyond our means…

It’s big and cool and evocative of those days when build and see it was the prevailing engineering philosophy. I grew (temporarily) out of modelling not so long after but that’s always been a strong memory. When I got back into modelling, it was always at the back of my wish list…in the late 90s I managed to score one unbuilt off a collector in the Netherlands and another built one of eBay and few years later, just in time for a work mate to rescue a load of old models from a rubbish skip. Once he took what he wanted he, handed the survivors over to me…and there is was…an original Atomic Annie…built by a clearly schoolboy hand, it dates back to the original releases, I would say, judging by the other kit remnants in the box with it…

So now I have three, none finished…there’s a surprise!!! But one day, when I do, it’ll look something like this…

atomic cannon

You can see more of this build here: http://thegreatcanadianmodelbuilderswebpage.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/atomic-cannon.html

Sky of blue and land of green

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Right to Brag.”

Tell us about something you (or a person close to you) have done recently (or not so recently) that has made you really, unabashedly proud.

What has this got to do with a Yellow Submarine..? The honest answer is not a lot…when I thought of this subject under this challenge, my mind latched on this line from Yellow Submarine…it is actually “Sky of blue and sea of green” which makes sense from a  nautical point of view but not from the perspective of this story…

I am blessed with a very talented staff in the place where I work. In that place we occasionally pick up some rather challenging jobs. One of New Zealand’s Great walks is close to here. For the upcoming season, the managers want to export their booking system so that walkers on the trail can update and change their bookings once they are on the trail. This often happens if bad weather causes walkers to abandon the walk or where walkers are making good time and opt to skip a hut or camping location.

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The tool of choice provided to us for this task is a rather chunkalunky ruggedised 7″ Android tablet…so chunkalunky that we used plate holders as stands for them…

This is a short story really. One of my talented staff took on this project and in a couple of weeks, and despite some serious illness along the way developed a full system that allow the booking system to be accessed in the Park; these chunkalunkies offered quite a few technical challenges as they hated the local mobile networks necessitating a number of back end work-arounds, lots of cussun’, bad words and torn hair…

The package included development of all the manuals and delivery of training to the ranger staff who will be using them over the summer season…boring story I know but a great achievement for a young staffer on her first independent project…and coming back to the topic of the challenge, I am quite rightly very proud of her achievement…

Yes I know that in a room so full of light

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Can’t Drive 55.”

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes.

That magnificent voice…a weekend trip to Auckland…1996…

In a room so full of light, there can still be so much darkness…what lurks in the shadows? What is not as it seems..?

Miss the big mister under his bright red tree…

Winchester. Bingo. Baseline. Reboot/

The Sun. Light. Warmth. Comfort.

Smile. Say something nice.

Blossoms already on the trees, others still trying to shed last year’s cover …confused trees…bees out in force…no more frost..?

Confidence. Ability. Trust.

Spell-check. Munchkin.

Ain’t done dancing.

Dancer’s back.

15 minutes. Random words.

Off to chop more wood in the sun…lawns all mowed (mown?)…fresh air drifting through the big windows…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

March 2012 140

The Smithsonian opens: peace to pulse…

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Koru: winter to spring…

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Upper Hutt: boarded to bustling

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Autobahn: sedate to seductive…

And then what happened…

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Missing Sequels.”

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Like a good book, some of the best movie experiences are those that we don’t want to end. Most times, though, it is best that they do end…we’ve all seen the series of hacked sequels that can follow a movie that makes money, that erode and diminish the original experience (did someone say George Lucas?). But there are those rare occasions where a story so well told begs for a sequel…

For me one of those such times is the 1964 classic 633 Squadron, based on Frederick E. Smith’s novel of the same name. Although hinted at in the book, the movie leaves the story of Grenville and Hilde hanging: she’s stranded in England, he’s seriously injured, possibly dying, in a Norwegian field…

Rather than succumb to the current plague of remaking of classic movies, I’d like to see that sequel that answers that question, that fulfils the expectation set at the end of the book (sorry, you’ll have to read it!). Smith wrote another five or six sequels to the original novel but I always felt that these were rather 2D products more focussing on paying the rent than developing the promise of the original. Only Operation Valkyrie comes close and possibly it would be a vehicle for the sequel that closes both the Svartfjord story and that of Grenville and Hilde, Adams, Hoppy and the other survivors;  and whatever happened to Maisie (Rosie in the movie) the buxom lass who waved them all off from the bar of the Black Swan…?

For the boys…