Friday beauty spot

For a bit of a change I’ve decided to show some of my favourite photographs, and some words to go with them – I hope you enjoy!

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Luke 12:27

Morning Song

by Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s.The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

A Country Shaped like a Butterfly’s Wing

Beneath this giant pohutukawa
the cares of the world seem to cease.
Concrete steps zigzag from the street to a sandy beach
where rusty boat sheds stand on stilts
and women whose bodies are shaped like gourds
walk miraculously into and out of the sea.
You talk but I only half listen…some minutes since
you left me at a bay where the sun like a sword
plunges between the horns of blue breakers.
Beneath this summer’s slow travelling clouds
I am reminded that we both have ancestors
who once upon a time sailed across the world’s biggest oceans.
In their webs of latitude and longitude
like fishermen flinging a net
they caught this solitary planet
floating in blue space like a chrysalis.
Thank you for bringing me here
where the roots of a pohutukawa
like handrails lead down a cliff –
where the flight of seagulls is as eternal as hunger is.
Perhaps we should be like those Persians
beneath a swaying branch with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine –
watch clouds like a caravan of camels sauntering across the horizon.
Should we stay here until the night has fallen into the sea –
in the morning council workers
would find the imprint of our bodies
close together on a quilt of leaves.
I talk but you only half listen
as we lie beneath this tree
through whose branches life is whispering.
Its roots run right through the spicy earth to Spain.
As we lie beneath blossoms tinged with Garcia Lorca’s blood
do you dream of a country shaped like a butterfly’s wing?

Bob Orr, Valparaiso (Auckland University Press, 2002)

Have a good one!

Having a great weekend!

It was Canterbury Anniversary Weekend this week: hence I was away from Friday, and have come back feeling sunned and relaxed and in a much better frame of mind.  Oh and I took a couple of photographs as well!



This is Napenape – a wee gem of a place, north of Christchurch (not many people know about it!).  It has no running water, no power, no cellphone reception, nothing! Nothing but the sea, seabirds, seals, and serenity.

Health and Science Trivia Day!

Todays a good day for kicking back and enjoying some curious, quirky bits of trivia from the health and science world. No, not the sort I had from last time (you know, that has been one of my most visited posts???!), more like this one about your spleen.
I love that word ‘spleen’ – it’s a most wonderful almost onomatopaeic word, and I have always wondered how on earth you vent one!

Anyway, that particular article from Science Daily suggests that it is really an organ where important information from the nervous system (particularly the brain) reaches the immune system. The spleen is where immune cells are manufactured, and a site where immune cells and nerves interact. The spleen defends the body against infection, particularly encapsulated bacteria that circulate through the blood.

There, now you can sleep tonight.

From the same site (Science Daily), earlier this year researchers are quoted as confirming yet again that smokers not only smell bad, have more wrinkles and get cancer – but they also experience more back pain. (Well they actually said ‘suffer’ but as I’ve said before, experiencing pain is mandatory, suffering is optional – and OK they didn’t say smokers smell bad, have more wrinkles and get cancer – that’s my bias coming right on through). The back pain part is, however, very true.

The Robert Koch institute released a study conducted in 2003 showing that ‘smokers or former smokers suffer chronic back pain much more often than do non-smokers. The number of years the subjects had been smoking or had smoked was decisive. Subjects who had consumed tobacco for more than 16 years had a two-fold greater probability of suffering chronic back pain than subjects who had smoked for less than 10 years.

The probability of back pain was further multiplied for subjects who had smoked for longer than 26 years. On the other hand, the frequency with which the subjects consumed tobacco and the quantities smoked did not play a role.’

Now, I’m sure you’ve pondered this in the wee small hours of the night (especially if you’re studying, writing or having to get up to kiddies), but Nicole from New Jersy (yes really!) ask at Scienceline whether a person that hasn’t slept for three days can become legally insane.

The short answer is no – and the myth that sleep deprivation leads to hallucination is broken. Apparently this finding was obtained around 50 years ago when researchers saw that people who had been sleep deprived started to ‘hallucinate’. But actually it was found they were really dreaming while awake! Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the

Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center says “Dreaming actually occurs during wakefulness.” Hmmm, I didn’t know that.

But I did know that when you have had insufficient sleep for a long time, you experience ‘microsleeps’ which are ‘very brief periods of loss of attention associated with events such as blank stare, head snapping, and prolonged eye closure which may occur when a person is fatigued but trying to stay awake to perform a monotonous task like driving a car or watching a computer screen.’ Sort of what happens when you try to stay awake in meetings when you are not playing meeting bingo.

Finally, here’s a beauty spot:
Taken at Kaikoura a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful. And yes, that’s snow on those mountains. It was cold. But I didn’t get the blisters I got last weekend tramping in to Lake Daniels. Photo’s from that episode are in Flickr – click on the images to the left of this post.
Have a great weekend!!

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2008, July 3). Smokers Suffer More Back Pain, Survey Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/07/080701092149.htm
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System (2008, July 22). How The Immune System And Brain Communicate To Control Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 5, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/07/080721173748.htm