Strawberries are what makes this time of year so fresh and zingy. The ones I bought today were small, and packed a powerful, sugar-and-flavour laden punch. I'm almost dizzy with delight. I chopped the little buggers up, mixed 'em with a little icing sugar (confectioner's sugar to you North Americans) and then slodged on a couple of huge tablesponns-ful of home-made Greek-style yoghurt. Stir twice, eat.
Jenny and I are finding that it's far better to eat a full meal in the middle of the day. I take a couple of freshly-made salads (one of them potato salad, the other a green one) and some cold meat to work. At the end of the day, we just have something light. We sleep better, and wake refreshed. And it's certainly easier to maintain this sort of regime in the summer, when there's such as abundance of relatively inexpensive fruits and veges: wintertime's a tad awakward. Most workplaces don't have the facilities for whipping up a roast meal in the middle of the day...
Speaking of which: are you on the organic / free-range pig bandwagon yet? It's been a long while since I ate a battery-farmed chicken, or one of their eggs... And I doubt very much that we'll be having anything but free-range pork in our household, either. If we can't farm them ethically, and in a cruelty-free environment, then we don't belong in the farming business. And every New Zealander is in the farming business. New Zealand dies without our farms... and our farms die without our custom. Our connection to farming comes through our wallets.
Which means, of course, that we really have to look at ways we can help our agrarian sector reduce its share of our carbon emmissions.
Incidentally - don't get too hyped by the old "NZ's emmissions have increased by 20% since we signed the Kyoto agreement." yes, they have. But our poopulation has also grown by, gee whiz, around 20%. Yes, we should be doing better. We have, essentially, been standing still. Not good enough.
Strawberries, of course, are carbon-friendly, emmission-free, and environmentally sound. They have to be. Nothing that good could possibly be an evil entity.
Reading: John Connolly's "Gates of Hell". Hmm. Also "The Year of Living Biblically", by someone Jacobs. Hilarious, and thought-provoking.
Listening To: Wait for it.... Instrumental Memories, Disc One. A Walk in the Black Forest. A Swingin' Safari! Stranger on the Shore! Classical Gas! Themes from Bonanza, James Bond, The Avengers, The Pick Pussycat, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly! Exodus! The Shadows! Mancini! Acker Bilk! And yes - it's better than David Gray, by a factor of, oh, galaxies times 10 to the power of 23.
Word of the Day: Billboard. Loved the St. Matthews in the City billboard: grumpy Joseph lying next to unsatisfied Mary, with the headline: Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow.
He had questioned everything as a boy, and he questioned everything now.
Too much at times, thought the old man. Grampa Smith loved Arthur Tomlinson with a depth that made his old frame tremble, and he also admired him enormously. Arthur’s grown to be the man I had always hoped to be, and could never be, he thought. He has courage to burn, but I worry that I have fed him the milk of meekness, instead of the strong drink of faith. God will be my judge, he thought.
Aye, thought Arthur. And God will judge you well. The old man had been Arthur’s only real point of stability in his life. His parents, while dead and martyred, had been fickle and shaky with the direction they had attempted to give him. His memory of them wasn’t kind, and was not coloured by rose-tinted spectacles. He remembered his mother as being weak, and forever ill. He remembered his father as being a great noisy creature, full of bluster and drink, but with little substance. Still, he honoured their memory, for they had given him life.
A sudden bugle call interrupted their reverie. “Oh, not again,’ groaned the old man.
“Don’t be daft, Grampa. It’s Miss Jayne!”
The local constable had given up arresting her for breaching the peace years ago, as the-then judge had always only given her a stern talking to, sent her on her way, and then went to her back-room on every available Tuesday night for the regular poker school.
Jayne Francis hosted the town’s only all-night poker game, attended by the afore-mentioned judge, the doctor, Father O’Leary, and Whetu Ngamoki, from down at the pa. Occasionally a second table was set up, and Old Man Smith, the current constable, Mr Lee the Chinese greengrocer, and Ben Weatherby, George’s father, would play.
Jayne didn’t play, but was the referee: and her word was law.
Arthur had been a boy of sixteen when Jayne Francis had come to town, and he had been immediately entranced by her. She was the brightest creature the growing village had ever seen, and had scandalised the matrons of Northridge. Firstly, of course, she had bought the General Store out from under old man Turnbull. He'd been a cheating bastard, but he was their cheating bastard. She opened a line of credit for the Maori down at the pa, and it had been strictly honoured. She spoke the Maori’s language reasonably well, and could swear a blue streak in English, French, Dutch, Flemish, and German: countries she had visited often before washing ashore in New Zealand. Jayne Francis had never told anyone – mainly because it was none of their bloody business, thankyou very much – that she had been the child of a couple of wandering magicians, employed by a circus that travelled through Europe every year.
Jayne Francis had arrived in Northridge on the driver’s seat of a large wagon, drawn by three great Clydesdale mares, and a Shire stallion. All her worldly possessions had been in the wagon, including a bank’s letter of credit, to the value of slightly more than five thousand guineas: a respectable fortune.
She was a slight woman, with an animated face, and flashing blue eyes. Her red hair was untameable: every morning she yanked it back into a savage bun, and secured by a dozen interlocking pins that still managed to fall out over the course of the day. She had considered cutting it all off, and shaving her head as she imagined a nun would, but acknowledged that her hair may well have been her best feature. Her wide mouth, as suggested earlier, could spit a stream of venom that would stop a navvy in his tracks, but her intense intelligence also meant that unexpected ideas and opinions could bubble up. She wore a smile as often as a scowl, and her laughter could charm a Tui from the flax-bush.
She almost always wore trousers, bush shirt, a bandanna at her neck, and another tied around her wrist: scandalous clothing which had sent more than one sharp tongue to wagging, but when she attended the Christmas Ball with Old Man Smith in 1903, she had stopped proceedings. Her bright green satin dress was wide at the hem, supported by a dozen starch-stiffened petticoats. It pinched in at the waist, and was cut low to expose a glamorous cleavage, emphasized by a froth of lace. At her wrist was a fine red silk scarf, instead of the usual blue neckerchief. At her throat rested a string of creamy pearls, matched by simple pearl ear-rings. Grampa Smith’s smile was a brilliant as hers, and he later told her that if he hadn’t been a Godly Christian, ma’am, then he would have given the lot of them bloody bluenose bastards the fingers. She had laughed, grasped his old, lined face between her hands, and gave him a kiss he still remembered with regret.