Tag Archives: Time and tide

Coronation Chicken

21 May


May 21,  2020

Day 61

Toady I spent most of my time being aware of the incredible beauty that starts right outside our windows and extends ever outwards wherever one looks. The green of the valley walls is bathed in burnished silver and gold, framed by the clear blue of the sky beyond. We hear birdsong and the wind moving gently through the trees, rustling the ponga fronds and making the branches of the rose bushes nod. It’s as if they agree that they are part of a masterpiece painted by a singular artist, available for viewing only in this moment and never to be seen again in the long sweep of time to come. The sun moves in its shallow arc across the northern sky and shines in the new double doors of the sitting room so that we have to close the curtains during lunch to cut down on the brightness. The quail visit, peering in the bedroom window to make sure we know they’re here and then retreating as I walk up the steps, welcoming them quietly, telling them they are loved. They seem to know we’ve cleaned the steps and signal their approval by working with the new program. Food will be placed in the clear area beneath the power box and next to the steps or in the grove now. They have it down. I give them two big cups of seed and back silently down the steps.

Later I throw open the doors to the workshop container and stand on the forest porch looking down at the ground below. I’ve got a huge job ahead of me clearing brush and saplings and building a facade to blend the forest into the vertical walls of the porch and the shipping container itself. The steps down to that area still need to be built and painted. Paths are going to have to be cut and levelled and all evidence of construction removed. When finished, the view from the porch will be of forest extending undisturbed from the deck all the way down the the stream that marks the valley floor. Lots of work. Plenty of time. It will be worth getting it right.

Inside I re-stowed tools left out after my last project and start in on a new one. There is a young possum that has taken up residence somewhere nearby and has begun eating the rose buds and tender shoots of the new branches late at night. It knocked over a watering bowl down on the bark in front of the verandah and might be what is digging up the leaf litter along edge of the path below the grove. The project of the afternoon was to make a new set of bolts for the crossbow pistol and have them ready by nightfall. The first step was to cut off the knurled tip of a metal knitting needle with a high speed grinder. This required safety glasses. One of the three pair that I keep stashed in various spots would have worked, but I could not find any of them. This led to a slow, thorough look through, around, over and under every shelf, desk, horizontal surface, box, bucket, bin and barrel in the shop. I found a pair of reading glasses I’d bought three weeks ago and lost, but it took another hour before I finally found the two spare pair of safety glasses in a new spot I’d chosen and then forgotten. One day, one day, one day, all will be organised. If I don’t forget.

Glasses on, I ground off the ends of the knitting needles, set one aside and sharpened the point on the other. Fashioned some flights from a plastic bin lid and glued them on with epoxy. While they were drying I test fired the crossbow for the third day running. It is still zeroed in, a fact that is going to lead to the end of one creature’s life and the saving of many others. Red of tooth and claw, I am a part of nature and I choose the roses.

Lights off, arrows collected, crossbow loaded and placed near my shoes by the door of the house, I step from the gloaming into a warm sitting room. Dinner was a chicken and rice dish that was so delicious I asked Valerie what it was called. She smiled sweetly, as if she knew that it’s name was synchronistically appropriate. “It’s called Coronation Chicken, created to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth…” I thanked her and smiled. We live on the Coromandel Peninsula hiding out from the Coronavirus and we’re having Coronation Chicken for dinner. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t make this stuff up.


Queen opens parliament


Another thing I can’t make up are today’s numbers. I’ll leave that to Turkmenistan and North Korea. They’ve got much better imaginations than me. Here’s what the real world figures are for New Zealand on this day…


Zero New cases. 5 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to probable and confirmed cases is 96.6%. Five Zeroes on the board. 30 people still infected.




Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 10.31.59 PM


A couple of hundred years from now people will jack into a museum feed and see pictures like this to try to imagine what life was like in the years before China fixed everything.

Thanks for visiting. This exhibit is closing now.

Stay safe and Goodnight.

Following Seas

22 Jan

I’ve been helping a friend drain a swamp and feel the need to apologize for being behind the curve last week in reading and commenting. Going to fix that now as the swamp is drained and the alligators are all suitcases now.

Mahalo and Aloha, D.


100 words for Friday Fictioneers inspired by the photo below from Georgia Koch.


boatpilxr_ antiqued

(Copyright Georgia Koch)


“I could call the Coast Guard.”

“And tell them what? An old man is going rowing?”

He wondered whether he’d made a mistake in sharing his plans. After half a lifetime spent at sea, this last voyage seemed only natural.

“I won’t have you watch me die a slow death in one of those homes, son.”

“It wouldn’t be like that…”

“It’s always like that. They just don’t put it in the brochure because it’s bad for business.”

Ebb tide. The sea beckoned. Time to go.

“I love you, son.”

“Fair winds, Dad.”

Admiralty Law

12 Sep

Here is a sea story of 100 words for Friday Fictioneers, a loose confederation of Raftbuilders, be they Captains or landlubbers, from around the world, who each week build a raft, inspired by the picture below, to carry us for a few minutes upon Oblivion’s shimmering tides.

(I once had an off duty policeman try to order me to do thus and such while I was Master of a passenger vessel in near coastal waters. I told him to take a seat and keep quiet or I would take him to the pier and arrange for him to have an opportunity to speak with his on-duty brethren about his conduct aboard my vessel. I also threatened to have him married to the guy sitting next to him unless he settled down. Admiralty Law. A powerful tool in the right hands.)

Admiralty Law

“Six hours and we haven’t caught a thing!”

“It’s a hard life,” replied Salvattore Testa, Master of the Loon Asea, out of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

“I want my money back.”

“How’s it feel to want?”

“You can’t…”

“Every charter there’s someone who thinks he’s God’s gift to the ocean. Drinks, pukes, talks too much and wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do if he found himself suddenly swimming out here.”


“Couple of things. There’s a reason it’s called fishing instead of catching. Your money pays for safe passage and I’m still earning it. Don’t tempt me otherwise.”






Bermuda Triangle Summer

13 Apr

Summer’s coming. 100 word story for FridayFictioneers inspired by Madisn Woods’ photo prompt. Her story is here. Leave a comment and a link. Visit everyone’s efforts and say hello. They’re a good bunch of writers. Aloha, D.

I ran eagerly toward the passage under Route 69 that led to the lake deep in the woods, thinking long and hard of seventeen year old Summer McBride waiting there, ripe and luscious in blue jean shorts and tank top.

“Meet me at our spot,” was all she’d said on the phone. “I have something I want to show you.”

Dad had somehow known I’d been summoned.

“Just be careful, Stud. That part of a woman’s like the Bermuda Triangle,” he said, a faraway look in his eyes.  “A man can get lost in there forever if he’s not careful.”

The Ghost of a Machine

9 Oct


Can you see it? What it is? What it once was?

Look closely. A lump of disparate parts welded together by rust and years of the sea’s patient work. Out of this mass of corroded parts a hint of structure emerges. Tap the knowledge of men who have forged metal into objects that carve and shape our world and you will see. Order and structure will become apparent and the image will change. The work of time and tide will give way to a vision of many years past.

In an engine room of a vessel of unknown origin a brightly painted engine thrums with power and purpose, valves rising and falling in a blur to the cadence of three pistons connected to a stout crank assembly. Shaft line components angle down slightly and a spinning shaft disappears aft through a seal and into the water to turn a three bladed bronze prop. Fuel is atomized and ignited and the confined explosions are harnessed to drive the vessel against wind and waves. A robust framework of timber and iron supports the engine and keeps the sea at bay.

On its last journey this vessel carried cargo and people, hopes, dreams, and most of all, intent.

Can you see it now? What was? And the time in which it existed?

What combination of events conspired to cast ashore the craft whose beating heart was this engine? Weather? Pilot error? Was it a broken fuel line in a fierce southern storm? And what of the passengers and crew? How many survived the tumult and tumbling surf to reach shore safely, gather on the beach and decide what to do? Did they all walk along a dry and waterless coast to the nearest town or did just one or two intrepid souls make the journey and then return with help? What happened here so long ago?

Can you see it?

The engine sits in the break zone and slowly gives up its form to the years.

Do machines have ghosts?


This one does.