How are you?


“How are you?” “Fine thanks, how are you?” “I’m fine too…”


How many times have you said this and how many times have you meant it?


We have the how-are-you-fine dialogue with almost everyone we meet but rarely want to know how the other person is or give an honest reply ourselves. So why do we do it?


I presume it developed from the formal greeting “how do you do?” The correct response was “how do you do?” back, it was just a way of acknowledging someone and wasn’t meant to be taken literally.


As language became more casual one lot of empty words was replaced by another which might not matter if both conversationalists play by the rules neither expecting an honest reply nor giving one themselves.


But what happens if someone is expressing a genuine interest in the other’s well being or gives a full and honest answer?


There are times when I’ve  wanted to break the rules. After my sons died I hated being greeted with “how are you?” and was tempted to ask, “How do you expect me to be?” But fortunately good manners prevailed and I learnt to say “a bit fragile” instead. That was light enough to let someone who had no interest off the hook yet sufficiently open to allow those who cared to take it further.


But it doesn’t take a major crisis to leave you feeling less than fine. It had been one of those days when someone inquired how I was so I told her: one child had a stomach bug, the other had an ear infection, the pet lamb had been in the garden again and I was feeling decidedly over stretched.


She looked at me in surprise then smiled sympathetically and admitted she too was below par because the family cat had just died. Because I had answered honestly she’d been able to do likewise and we parted feeling better for the exchange.


However, we both had the time and inclination for a proper conversation and we knew each other well enough to be frank. But why do total strangers insist on greeting people with “how are you?” when even if they are interested there is no time to reply?


Shop assistants are the worst offenders. I realise it must be difficult to spend your working life being pleasant to the general public, but it is possible to greet people politely without asking about their well being.


What’s wrong with just saying “hello”?


I’m as guilty of asking questions I don’t want answered as anyone else. But I am making a concerted effort to eliminate empty phrases from my conversation so when I answered the telephone yesterday I resisted the temptation to ask how the caller was and just said, “Hello Murray.” To which he replied, “I’m fine thanks.”


So you see, not only are people not interested in the answer they don’t even listen to the question.

©Homepaddock 2009 

Making Hay


Hay making is a summer and autumn activity for farmers, though this Friday’s poem Making Hay, is one for all seasons.

It comes from Taking Off,  by Brian Turner, published by Victoria University Press.

          Making Hay


Where would the road not taken

have gone to? How many garden

paths have you been led down

and not come back with a frown

on your face no longer as young

as it was? And how badly stung

were you in days called long ago

when what one thought was so

wasn’t? Too many dire or dopey questions

about resultant defections and deflections.

Can you say now you ever had your day,

that there was a day when you made hay?


         – Brian Turner –

Did you see the one about . . .


The Wool Over our Eyes at NZ Conservative – does the Dim Post have a rival for satire?

Clark to take Tizard to New York at The Dim Post

Tall Poppies & Patriots at MonkeyWithTypewriter

Are nations just larger unions at The Visible Hand in Economics

How economics can get you a date at Anti-Dismal

ACC & the oh-shit circuit  and The dipstick a 21st century measurement system at Frenemy

The Slow Death of GP Services at Macdoctor

Biffo on the bog at Inquiring Mind

If you can imagine at Rob’s Blockhead

Land as woman at The Hand Mirror

One of the beauties of having a small brain . . .  at Laughy Kate

Sheep’s milk ice cream not baad


Blue River Dairy has launched New Zealand’s first sheep’s milk ice cream:

Milk Maid’s Vanilla, the first in a range of flavours, is made from 100% Pure New Zealand Sheep’s Milk sourced from Blue River’s own farms on the lush green pastures of Southland. With an ingredient list of just sheep milk, sheep cream, emulsifier, vegetable gums and natural vanilla flavour, this is some of the purest ice cream you will find around. Not only does it taste delicious, but it is also nutritious.

Blue River is vertically integrated.

This means that we own our farms, milk our own sheep, transport the milk to the factory, process the milk into cheese, ice cream and powder, and market the products accordingly.

The ODT reports :

Blue River Dairy spokes-woman Kathryn MacDonnell said Milk Maid’s vanilla ice cream was whiter and sweeter than traditional ice cream and was able to be eaten by those intolerant to cow’s milk.

“Trust me, it is delicious,” she said.

Sheep’s milk products can usually be eaten by people who are allergic to dairy products and lactose-intolerant so given how many sheep we have and how developed the sheep meat industry is, it’s surprising that sheep’s milk production is still in its infancy. 

Most sheep’s milk cheese I’m aware of  comes from boutique producers like Blue River and Whitestone  whose Island Stream pecorino, Mt Dasher and Stoney Hill sheep’s milk fetas are delicious.

Though, parochial as I am, I’ll admit that I have yet to find a sheep’s milk cheese which beats the queso romao , cheese cured in rosemary from the manchega sheep, which we developed a taste for when we lived in Spain.

What’s not to love?


In spite of the findings of the UMR survey  which found most rural people are happier with where they live that those in towns and cities, rural life isn’t for everyone.

A rural real estate agent told me she loves lifestyle blocks because people who buy them stay an average of three or four years then decide it’s not for them and put the property on the market again.

Some are put off when rosey dreams or rustic romance are thwarted by rural realities, like the former city slickers who was upset by what she thought was porn in the paddock. Some just find it’s not what they thought it would be.

 But for others, like Bevan and Sharon Shannon who moved from a 17th floor flat in Battersea, London to Eketahuna,  the transition from city to country more than lives up to expectations.

 I’ve lived in town and country – from Great Mercury Island with a then human population of nine , to London and enjoyed them all because it’s not just where you are but what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with that contributes to making you happy.

But, that said,  while I enjoy visiting towns and cities I’d prefer to live in the country and I think those of us who live in this part of the world are especially blessed.

Not convinced? Just look at at Peter Young’s  brilliant scenes of rural New Zealand and tell me what’s not to love:

 Hat Tip: Bull Pen

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