Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Stories: Home

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  • kw,

    Kereru are pretty common round the Dunedin green belt. Got home to Opoho one dusk and opened the door to my flat to have one fly in my face - it had broken through my (shut) bedroom window, bounced off the wall (tiny room), unhurt, and been flapping its way round my tiny flat crapping itself until got home. I grew up with a vampire budgie and don't like the flying beaky things so a friend came and rescued both me and it.

    I still give kereru a wide berth. Home invaders.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2014 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to nzlemming,

    Pukeko are Not Nice Birds. At all.

    I think humans get to judge animals approximately never. Given our record of laying waste not merely to individual animals, but to whole species, and whole ecosystems.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Lila,

    Home places
    Our Rotorua state house from about the age of about 7 (1944 - 1958). I remember the stability it gave our family, the sense of our own home after living precariously with other people. Another place of standing was my grandmother's cottage in Kawhia - built by my grandfather. It was kind of huckery then and probably still is; I had the mumps there and spent my time in the whare out the back reading, firing a water pistol at my nuisance brother and existing on bread and butter dunked in sugary tea - painkillers didn't seem to be on offer. My usual room was the covered-in-verandah-room of sleepless sunburn nights. My brother and I fished a lot, 6d went a long way on bait and peppermints. There was the year my grandmother hired a horse for me to roam on. My memory of that happy summer freedom was hardly spoilt when on returning home and boasting to my best friend "I had a horse for the holidays" I was properly gazumped by her ... "and I had a boyfriend".

    Paremata • Since Nov 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lilith __,

    Duck Mums are like human Mums

    Also male ducks are pretty awful, while we lived in Davis CA the route from my lab to my partners lab went over a pond - one day we witnessed a female duck being mobbed by a group of males - we came past later to see she had drowned.

    So maybe a little sympathy for mother ducks is not unwarranted.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    We live in a lovely 100 year old house in Dunedin, it's a traditional villa with a modern upstairs plonked on top of it. We've lived here for 12 years now, our kids have grown up, gone to Uni, and this year left home/town/country - despite them having been flatting for a couple of years that whole empty nest thing is real.

    We live in a nice upper-middle class neighbourhood just above the Town Belt, it continues into the gully in our front yard full of native bush, Toitu flows through there too. Our house is set back from the street, it's sheltered, and a haven for native birds, Kereru and Tui are common visitors.

    Despite rattling around in our house now we're very settled, it's a wonderful comfortable safe space.

    Yesterday we were burgled, I'd gone out in the afternoon for 45 minutes (I work at home) and came back to find the house turned over, stuff everywhere, and a carefully packed up set of our bags hidden in the bushes behind out mailbox - including two guitars, Xbox, laptop, 2 tablets, jewelery, ..... My daughter's snowboard is still missing. Obviously the perp was on foot and was going to come back for the rest.

    After more than half an hour on hold calling the police yesterday the crime scene guy came around promptly this today, spent much of the morning, grabbed fingerprints and, to my surprise, DNA - they only run it if none of the prints come back positive.

    So today we're not feeling comfortable in our nice little home, my partner was reluctant to leave it alone even though we've secured the offending window, we feel a bit like prisoners in our home. I'm sure it will pass but it's not a nice feeling.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    You have my sympathy, Paul - that's happened to me (not in Dunedin). Afterwards I fitted lockable bolts to all the windows, and made sure we used the deadlocks on the doors. I also installed a burglar alarm.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    one day we witnessed a female duck being mobbed by a group of males – we came past later to see she had drowned.

    Yes, forcible mating is fairly common in mallards, and sometimes results in the death of the female. Unfathomable.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Sorry to hear about this, Paul.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    Word. Pukeko are Not Nice Birds. At all.

    They've begun wandering through our back yard in the last year or so. Colin the Cat watches carefully from the deck with his WTF? face on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    That’s crappy. The same thing happened to some good friends of mine yesterday too, in Balmoral, Auckland.

    As you imply, it's not so much the lost chattels as the horrible sense of intrusion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lilith __,

    I think humans get to judge animals approximately never. Given our record of laying waste not merely to individual animals, but to whole species, and whole ecosystems.

    Lots of people are not nice at all as well. These things are not mutually exclusive.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to nzlemming,

    I think humans get to judge animals approximately never. Given our record of laying waste not merely to individual animals, but to whole species, and whole ecosystems.

    Lots of people are not nice at all as well. These things are not mutually exclusive.

    You seemed to be making a moral judgement on a whole species, because sometimes pukeko kill ducklings.

    I think we have to resist the temptation to ascribe moral values to the actions of animals. They don't have the capacity for reason and choice that humans do. Animal behaviours sometimes seem wonderful, and sometimes horrifying: either or both can be seen in any animal.

    It makes me sad that pukekos are seen by so many people as a "pest" bird, for no good reason. It's legal to hunt them in shooting season, but they are apparently not pleasant to eat, so hunters blast them out of existence just for the hell of it.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    thanks everyone - I figured it needed a story.

    At the moment weirdly my day job happens to involve building cheap wireless nternet-of-things devices ... this week I'm doing window window open/close sensors .... a little late I guess - in many ways I hate the idea of putting in an alarm system, it seems so wrong, giving up some how

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I hate the idea of putting in an alarm system,

    !6 years of the casual country kind of living where you might lock the doors and windows but everyone knows where a key is if they're passing and call in and we're not home.

    Comfy, because the house dog(s) would go off like the Baskervilles' if someone not known to them came near to the door

    Cleo, the last of the hounds, took the Long Walk early last year, and the decision was made not to go to the pound again...we're hardly ever home and the house sitting Young People really didn't need the tie.

    Scrotes broke in. BROKE in, glass everywhere kind of broke in. Not bright enough to see the key...but knew exactly where stuff was and what to take.

    Police did come out. Glazier came out. Insurance company played hardball.

    Old People were instructed to Get A Dog. Or two. Maybe another border collie?
    Or two?

    And, as these things often unfold, Pets on the Net just happened to have two border collies needing re homing from a roughish part of the Bay of Plenty.

    After nearly a year we are still trying to unravel the girls' past. They do have issues. Loud, howling, separation anxiety type issues.

    But they know this is home. And we are their family.

    And their mission is to guard us. Which they do with a passion.

    Probably not the ideal burglar alarm for city folk, but even the security companies will tell you that the best protection out in the wops is a barking house dog.

    Or two.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Paul - the alarm system I put in was a simple thing, with 2 wireless PIR sensors, and an outside siren, which had its own battery.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Our dog is old and deaf …. this year she started ignoring the mailman …. now the kids are gone she’s the only thing stopping us from going on some bigger adventures ….

    John: Yeah at work we’re building stuff like that – we already sell home wireless VOIP systems (in the US) – adding sensors everywhere is cheap with existing base stations in all our customer’s homes – and integrated with your cell and computer – smoke alarms become sirens too, one smoke alarm sets all the rest off etc etc

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    The bird I missed most when I lived overseas was, unusually, the riroriro (grey warbler). To be honest I don't think I could point one out if I saw it in a tree, but that distinctive, long-winded song says "home" to me like no other bird. I have been back now for over 13 years and I still feel a sense of belonging when I hear it.

    Because one of my parents is from somewhere else and I have always had two passports, I have this internal sense that I've made a choice that this is my home - I've chosen this place over another place and I'm happy with that. If I left I would miss the light, the startling clarity of things in the distance. The big sky. Always being within cooee of the sea. The human understatedness. Barefoot summers. Being able to say I'm a bit Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, knowing what that means to this country. Sometimes there are things that make me miss Louisiana - the smell of motor oil, of all things, takes me back to a very small town by a levée, my grandmother's big wooden TV (with the smaller, working TV on top), the piles of crawfish being peeled on sheets of newspaper, my beloved aunt and uncle and cousins, their French-peppered English. Everyone is getting older and I feel an urgency to go there more often, let my little children bond with those people too. Luckily we are in a position to do that.

    My more prosaic home is west Auckland, in a house I still can't believe we own (sheer dumb luck, I assure you), on a dead-end street, surrounded by giant verandahs and plum trees. An interior design aesthetic we describe as "exploding clown". Kids. Dogs. Music. Laughter. TV. It's all very loud. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Danielle,

    the riroriro (grey warbler)

    Finding examples of Riroriro song online, I now realise that one lived in our street when I was a child and I never knew what it was. Thanks Danielle (:

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to ,

    Parenthood changed things,

    Parenthood does that.

    We have three chickens. Used to have at least three dozen, and a hard core group of free range egg buyers. Times change...but my three old, old girls still produce two ooh -ahh eggs per day, between them.

    The drought of 2008 made us sit up and think re more water collection and storage.
    There is a firm in Hammytown that cleans steel and plastic barrels...the 200 litre ones.
    Carefully placed to catch water from the roofs of the shed, chookhouse and wee hothouse...an extra 1600l. The water in the two main tanks is for house use only.
    Garden watering kept to an absolute minimum. Our half barrel herb planter never gets watered...even in drought conditions...yet new green rises out from the dry earth after rain....where there's life.

    ...for the time being

    the concept of no letterbox, phone/internet/mains power....mate, I get this.
    Best thing we ever did was do up our wee Bus....we leave the grown kids with the house and trappings of civilised life....then...we can enjoy the simple pleasure of coming home.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Danielle,

    The bird I missed most when I lived overseas was, unusually, the riroriro (grey warbler). To be honest I don’t think I could point one out if I saw it in a tree, but that distinctive, long-winded song says “home” to me like no other bird. I have been back now for over 13 years and I still feel a sense of belonging when I hear it.

    Even more so when you find out that the riroriro song differs across the country, so the ones I hear here in Hamilton sing a slightly different tune from the ones I used to listen to as a youngster on the shores of Lake Ohakuri.
    Like Henry Higgins in London, one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    There's one in our area that has a song uncannily similar to the start to 'Boogie woogie bugle boy' - I wish it would learn the rest...
    ... and they're so small for such volume!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Stories of Home. I have been on the same piece of property now since February 1978. It had a cottage on the flat back part of the section that we rented off the bloke up the back who built his own house up there. Foolishly – or otherwise – we built the house that we are still in. Everything. Window joinery the lot. The hole was dug for the foundation the day before Xmas 1982 three months after coming back from a year in Antarctica. Our kids were born here and have now left here. We are left with the original (Fiona Christeller designed) home plus an extension that we deemed useful for the kids. We are thinking of downsizing. We have a renovated bathroom and are looking at a new kitchen. Given that is coming close to 34 years it makes a fascinating comparison to my first 34 years.
    I was born in ChCh, Islington, Mortlake St. The old man worked as a solo slaughterman at the works. When I was five we moved to Little River (Cooptown actually) where he was the Farmers Coop stock agent for the Peninsula. Our phone number was “Number 1 Little River”. I kid you not. we moved to Maramarua in 1960 but in between I spent 2 weeks at Sydenham School with my uncle who was 6 months younger than me. This was the school my Mum and Aunt were Dux of a few years earlier. After 18 months at Maramarua we moved to Buckland. The school at the end of the Pukekohe Racetrack Back Straight. 18 months later a move to Puni school for the last 6 months of primary school. Merv Wellington came out to sort out my High School courses. He looked at the Buckland school report of 6 months prior which pointed me to Agriculture/General. He looked at Puni School report of 1 week prior which suggested an Academic (French/Latin) stream. He was very perplexed. We compromised and I took French and “Modern”.
    In there you will find six primary schools and six houses. All before secondary school. My writing is atrocious. Printing, cursive, italics, printing and back again over those schools, Fountain pen, biro, pencil.

    I am quite pleased my kids had one Home – and one primary school.

    I have to say that Little River still has fond memories. Tumbledown Bay for the fishing, the local park for the cricket and Apex Icecream from Mr Vaughn’s corner dairy, and being thrashed by Mr Harley for busting branches off the trees for sword play at the two room school. I was the last one to break one off and paid the price. The pedal dental drill that tortured us when the power regularly went off. For Guy Fawkes the local kids would cut some manuka from the nearby bush for the community bonfire (bush all gone now) and we would slide down the hills in cardboard boxes. Then came Auckland Uni for one year before getting the job at DSIR in Lower Hutt. Flat shifting and marrying the flatmate’s sister. Moving through another 3 flats until heading for Canada for a year on a scholarship. Living in a pup tent for 3 months as we cycled across Canada. Moving into a friends house for 3 months, finding another flat for 3 months then finally arriving at the cottage.

    I’m glad my kids have One Home.

    They are now moving around the world and sorting out their lives. It is great watching it happen.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Sydenham School

    Hail to thee fellow 'alumnus' - though I did all my primary schooling there and close to Sydenham - South Intermediate - Cashmere High - Life...
    The Library and tech blocks would still have been there when you went I'd imagine - the Library building closed while I was there - now it's an empty lot waiting for the social housing that's been promised to be built there (like everything in Chchch these days we'll believe when we see it) - while Dave Henderson owned the property (before the council bought it off him in a decidely shonky deal) he chopped one of the 4 trees down on the quadrangle of grass where the bell was - complete tosser...

    did they still have 'do unto others...' on the exercise books back then?
    (Though I realise two weeks probably ain't long to imprint many lasting memories...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Alas, all I remember is the concrete playing "fields" and the high windows. Mum and Aunt did Dux things at South Int as well!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    Like Henry Higgins in London, one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    Probably more than theory. The late Graham Pizzey's wonderful A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia has occasional passages describing the regional variations of bird vocalisings. The page on magpies is particularly detailed.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

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