365 days of gratitude

August 24, 2018

The photo on the top of this blog was taken one evening when I was preparing dinner, looked out the kitchen window and saw the rainbow.

I grabbed my camera (this was the days before phones took photos), captured the shot and by the time I got back inside the rainbow had gone.

I was reminded of that when I saw the photo on Fonterra’s tweet in the post below this one.

Rainbows are symbols of promise, they also remind me to enjoy the moment.

Today I”m grateful for the symbolism and the reminder.


Without rain . . .

August 24, 2018

On a day when Scott Morrison becomes Australia’s Prime Minister;  the story around the leak of Simon Bridges’ travel expenses takes a bizarre turn, and Clare Curran becomes the first Minister to be sacked from Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet, nature reminds us that without rain there would be no rainbows:


Word of the day

August 24, 2018

Skrike –  cry out; yell; scream.


Rural round-up

August 24, 2018

Water guru laments lost chances – Richard Rennie:

After half a century working with natural resources around the world and now in his career twilight Dr Terry Heiler despairs about New Zealand’s ability to develop a cohesive, sustainable water policy that supports irrigators, communities and the environment.

The irrigation pioneer and 2013 Lincoln Bledisloe Medal winner believes the problems around NZ’s irrigation funding are heightened in a global environment where hedge funds are seeking investment in a world requiring about $3.7 trillion a year in infrastructure investment.  . .

 

Milking It: taking calves from their mothers keeps the dairy industry going – Esther Taunton:

NZ is known for its dairy products, and is home to one of the biggest dairy companies in the world. In this Stuff special investigation, we examine how the price of milk is set and explore the industry behind our liquid asset.

It’s a practice often questioned by non-farmers but separating newborn calves from their mothers is better for the animals, a dairying leader says.

Janet Schultz, Federated Farmers Taranaki dairy chairwoman, said although taking calves from their mothers might appear cruel, it was necessary for the health of the animals and the industry.

Schultz said cows experienced the same discomfort as human mothers when their milk came in and a calf couldn’t drink enough to relieve the pain. . . 

Feeding cows seaweed cuts 99% of greenhouse gas emissions from their burps, research finds – Josh Gabbatiss:

Feeding seaweed to cows could slash the amount of climate change-inducing methane emissions from their burps.

Preliminary research has indicated a small amount of marine algae added to cattle food can reduce methane emissions from cattle gut microbes by as much as 99 per cent.

Now, scientists in California are hoping to help farmers meet strict new emissions targets by performing the first ever tests of seaweed feed in live dairy cows. . .

Continue to transform dairy field – Martin Wiedmann:

The dairy industry in New York and across the United States is at a crossroads. Even though cow’s milk remains one of the all-time best sources of dietary energy, protein and fat, people in the United States are drinking less of it. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans in 2016 consumed 154 pounds of fluid milk per capita year, down from 200 pounds or 25 percent just since the year 2000.

Along with a glut in milk production and trade uncertainty in global markets for dairy products, the lack of variability in dairy beverage offerings for consumers is placing New York dairy farmers under considerable financial and economic stress — and putting some out of business altogether. The state of New York has lost about 2,000 dairy farmers in the last decade alone, and more than 8,000 in the past 30 years. . .

Gates shut on daffodil viewing – Chris Tobin:

People once came in droves to admire the thousands of dancing daffodils at Pleasant Valley Daffodil Farm, just outside Geraldine, but it will not be happening this spring.

”We’ve decided not to open to the public now,” Gordon Coombes, who runs the daffodil farm with his wife, Cindy, said.

”By the same token, people’s lives have changed.

”When we started, most worked 40-hour weeks and weekends were free but people’s shopping and working lives have changed.

”The younger generation don’t have the same interest in gardening and they’re too busy. . .

Young Grower title goes back to the Bay:

After a lengthy battle, Danni van der Heijden was crowned Young Grower of the Year 2018 at an event in Napier last night.

Danni, 24, was named the winner after a day-long gauntlet of horticultural challenges, testing her skills and knowledge to the limits. As the regional Bay of Plenty champion, she beat out six other contestants for the title, and also secured the national title of Young Fruit Grower of the Year, along with finance, innovation, and speech awards.

First runner-up was Lisa Arnold from Hawke’s Bay, while third place went to Central Otago’s Hamish Darling. . . 

NZ Sommelier of the Year Competitions:

The New Zealand Sommelier of the Year 2018 has been won by Marek Przyborek of Huami Restaurant at Sky City.

The title was announced by Head Judge Cameron Douglas MS at the New Zealand Sommelier and Wine Professionals Awards Dinner earlier this week.

In a close-run competition, Andrea Martinisi from the Grove and Baduzzi Restaurants in Auckland and Maciej Zimny from Noble Rot in Wellington were runners-up. .


How to read a poem

August 24, 2018

Today is National Poetry Day:

National Poetry Day was established in 1997. A one-day national poetry event extravaganza, it is held on the fourth Friday of August each year.

From seasoned poets, to total newbies, to the simply-a-bit-curious, participants in Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2018 — on Friday, 24 August — will have the opportunity to be touched by the magic and excitement of poetry, to get involved in the poetry community, and to discover New Zealand poets, share poems and explore and experience what poetry is all about. . . 

I love poetry.

With or without rhyme, the economy of words, the way a poem helps me understand something I feel when I haven’t the words to explain it myself, the poet’s ability to say something with what is left out as well as what is put in . . .

But how do you read a poem?

Dunedin poet, Diane Brown provides her answer to that question:

“How do you read a poem?” a woman asked as we aqua-jogged. Despite years of writing and reading poems and a degree in literature, I had no easy answer. My pool friend was talking of the poems in The Weekend Mix and in particular poems without the certainty of rhyme and meter that she was familiar with. Many modern poems have irregular lines and seem to follow no pattern. Where does the emphasis go, how do you know when to pause? And how do you interpret?

The Romanian poet, Paul Celan said: “A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the -not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too are under way: they are making toward something.”

I find this a helpful way to think of a poem. A bottle lying on the sand. You pull out the paper and unfold it. It’s in hieroglyphics. Imagine the frustration. All you know is that you have received a message from far away. A person reaching out. To you. Maybe you have to live with the uncertainty, maybe you can find tools to help decipher. . . 

Interpreting a poem can require a consideration of sound, appearance, surface and underlying meanings, and more words than the poem itself. And it’s easy to beat the life out of them.

Dear Reader, I urge you to simply enter into a dialogue with the poem and listen to what it has to say. Even if you get a glimpse of understanding, in the same way as you communicate with speakers of other languages. That’s more than you had before. Don’t be afraid, keep an open mind and enjoy the meeting.

If you’re of a mind to meet some poetry, you will find some of Diane’s  at her website.


Post-election horse trading costs another $30m

August 24, 2018

Jo Moir has uncovered another $30 million we’re paying for Winston’s dowry:

New Zealand First’s loyalty to the racing industry has galloped beyond tax breaks for good-looking race horses to include several all-weather race tracks for the industry.

Racing Minister Winston Peters secured a tax change in the Budget this year to allow new investors to claim deductions for the cost of horses based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

It’s now been revealed $30 million of contingency funding in the Provincial Growth Fund has been earmarked for the coalition government pet projects and the racing industry is set to benefit. . . 

National’s economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said his party supports the racing industry but the lines are blurred when a project gets the green light simply because a coalition partner likes the sound of it.

“They should be able to make their case clear, and open and rigourous, and if it stacks up, it stacks up.

“The problem that we’ve got here is that the whole system is opaque and murky so it’s hard to disentangle the arguments, and in that area they’re not even making an argument, they’re just saying we’re going to do it,” Mr Goldsmith said.

Mr Goldsmith described the provincial growth fund criteria as being “as loose and as billowing as the deep blue sea”.

“Well what we’ve seen is that it’s an all-purpose political slush fund and you can fit anything into it,” he said. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union says this horse barrel politics sets a new low:

. . .“This sets a new low for coalition back room deals, clearly designed to benefit an industry with known links to NZ First, with the tab picked up by hard working taxpayers – most of whom don’t own race horses,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“I think we could call it the worst of ‘horse-barrel politics’. The barrel is so large even race tracks fit into it.”

“And why are we finding this out only now? Why isn’t Winston’s Dowry open to the public? Was this part of the coalition agreement’s missing five pages? It’s almost as if the Government doesn’t want the public to be able to judge how much it cost to get Mr Peters’ support.”

A friend who has a share in a race horse got a letter before the election asking him to contribute to a donation that had been made to NZ First because, as the advertisement placed by the Hogan’s said, :

To all those eligible to vote – breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, administrators, punters and the many businesses that are financially supported by the industry – this is an enormous opportunity to support New Zealand First’s initiative to have 100 per cent what we’ve been asking for.  

Post-election horse trading is one of the expensive downsides of MMP.

Pre-election policies and promises to the public come a very distant second to the demands a party holding the balance of power can make during coalition negotiations.

There’s no chance that negotiations will be public but coalition agreements could and should be.

If we’re paying the price of government we have a right to know the cost and to have some light shone on the links between party funders and government policy.


Quote of the day

August 24, 2018

There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been. A.S. Byatt who celebrates her 82nd birthday today.


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