Thursday, 29 January 2009

Giraffe Grooming - the only drawback of having Lots of Neck!

Since leaving accountancy, I can say with gratitude and gladness that I enjoy just about everything I do.

However, there has been one thing ... one irritating, time-consuming interminable activity which I have to grumblingly go through each-and-every day ... washing my mane!

I don't mind having a shower, brushing my teeth or gargling, but - oh the tediousness of mane washing!

Do any of you dear readers feel like this?

First it is the shampooing - TWICE - then the repetetive rinsing, which always goes in my ears. Finally the ultimate unending ritual of the drying.

When you have a neck as long as mine - what more need I say!

On the other side of the neck, our eldest daughter Nexi seems to find enlightenment and bliss staring into a misty mirror, manedrier in hand. She not only dries her mane, she styles it!

Necky Becky is grumpy about her own grooming, (apart from dying her fur pink), yet surprisingly helpful with her baby brother. Littl' Nicky in turn very conscientiously brushes his toy giraffe Goo-Goo.

It's funny, isn't it, how an uninteresting topic like mane-washing can turn philosophical. Take the whole concept of beauty, for instance. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder, the eye of the beheld, or the mind of both?

My glamorous sister, Nektareeni, obviously spends a lot of time (and money) on her looks. I think she looks fine. Her partner Girth worships her as giraffe goddess!

But for me, no one can compare with my Maureen. Her natural inner glow, her sweet spirit shining through her eyes, and that wonderful enigmatic smile ...

For Maureen, I wash my mane!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Celebration of Nexcellence: Robert Tunstall's Music!

I was neckstatic when I listened to Robert Tunstall's music .. what a presence in the blogosphere! Dear bloggy friends, in WellAdjustedRob's blog he tells us about his compositions and you can listen to them on last fm. I urge you to - they are brilliant!

My favourite is Suite Ajigasawa Part 2. As you know, I love Shostakovich, so when WellAdjustedRob referred in a recent post to his influence, I was intrigued. Once I heard one track I had to sit and listen to the lot.

(I'd intended to post one of my favourite Runrig tracks last night to coincide with Burns Night, as I know that many of you were celebrating. Apologies to Runrig, but I spent all the time I had available listening to Robert Tunstall!)

As well as the phenomenal instrumentals, Robert has many other tracks where he 'plays his cello like a guitar'!

I am a fan!


Jeane at ARTIT recently invited us to participate in a meme, to which I joyfully responded because it will mean I get something made by her! A work of art by Jeane? Yes please!! I also couldn't resist responding to Derrick's (Melrose Musings) posting of the same meme - the thought of a Melrose memento is so appealing!

Here's the meme which I now offer to you, dear readers!

I have altered it a little, (as Jeane did), to accommodate my intergalactic situation. I am also limiting it to bloggers with whom I have fairly regular two way interaction ...

Here it is:

The first five of you to comment requesting this will get something made by me. My choice. For you!

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations;

- What I create will be just for you, (the copyright remains mine).

- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!

- You will receive your item by email, or if you prefer not to give your email address, it will just be posted up on my blog for you.

- You will receive the item before the end of the year, or sooner.

- You will have no clue what I am going to make.

If you wish, you can repost this meme and make and send out five surprises of your own. But no obligation here! Like many, I do not like any 'chain' implications of memes. However, it would be such fun to create special surprises for five of my dear bloggy friends!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

How do we know we are real?

I have been over the moon since receiving the Premio Dardos Award. However, one small thing had been bothering me. Barbara Martin, when nominating me, wrote in her blog, 'Raph Neckmann has imagined a wonderful world of giraffes ...'

Imagined! My home, our village, Knollshire - my family?! Are they really here? Do I actually exist? What is reality ... ?

I called out to Maureen to help me out of this quasi-existentialist quagmire.

"Of course we are here, dear," she said, "We've just had tea!"

I am reassured - no doubts now.

Our eldest daughter Nexi added, "We don't live in an imaginary world, Dad, but you do most of the time!"

Necky Becky offered to kick me in the shins to prove my reality.

Normality restored to our household, I spent a pleasant evening and retired to bed with a quiet mind.

However, I woke much later in the night aghast. I'd had a dream where all my beloved blogger friends, the humans I've been interacting with in the blogosphere, turned out to be fellow-giraffes! Giraffes, not humans! Have I been hoodwinked?

The thought unsettled me so much, I had to get out of bed. Tiptoeing downstairs, I went out to the garden to look through my new telescope. I turned it towards the galaxy where lies planet Earth. Slowly a great sense of calm fell over me. So very, very far away from our own Camelopardalis constellation, yet I can talk with them ...

The sense of the unfathomable was so strong it brought peace. All was still in the garden and the air smelled good.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Premio Dardos Award!

I had a lovely surprise this morning to find that Barbara Martin has given me the 'Premio Dardos' award! Thank you so much, Barbara, I am honoured!

(Being something of a non-technically-savvy giraffe, after several attempts, I have not yet been able to copy and paste the award from Barbara's blog ... hence my temporary fix in the above image!! I'd appreciate instructions in my comments - in the meantime, perhaps my nominees would be able to collect their award image via Barbara Martin's blog?)

The award 'Premio Dardos' is for the appreciation of merits - culturally, literary and individually - of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog.

1. be tickled pink ;)

2. copy and paste the award picture to your blog;

3. write down the regulations;

4. link the blog who bestowed you the Award;

5. and finally nominate 15 blogs for the Award.

As Barbara mentions on her blog, there have been comments that the awards are like chain mail letters. Therefore there is no obligation to take this up. I too have chosen 11 nominees, and these may choose whether or not to nominate others for the award:

1. The Weaver of Grass; A farmer's wife living in the Yorkshire Dales, The Weaver of Grass writes outstanding poetry. Her daily postings also feature her countryside, local history and everyday events portrayed in such a way that I'm eagerly waiting for the next post!

2. Melrose Musings; Derrick of Melrose posts compellingly about a range of subjects, from opera to his extensive travels to local interest.

3. Life at Willow Manor; Willow's uplifting posts cover a diverse range of cultural and creative subjects.

4. Poetikat's Blasts from the Past; A wonderful trip down memory lane - reminders of our early days stirring up memories we may have forgotten and creating new ones!

5. Passport Diaries; Marigirl's amazing documentation of her travels. Currently in Japan, she gives unusual and riveting glimpses into the culture of many countries.

6. ARTIT; Following the progress of Jeane's artworks is an inspiration!

7. From The House of Edward; Pamela Terry's elegant and charming writing and images lift the spirits. Edward is irresistable!

8. Thatchwick Cottage; Eleanor's warm welcome to her lovely garden and her descriptions and photographs of South Africa give inspiring insights into her country.

9. Summit Manor; The poems and photographs of Tom Atkins lift the spirit!

10. The Solitary Walker; A visit here challenges my thinking. Poetry, excerpts from books and SW's own writing all make me ponder through the day, before writing my comments.

11. The Middenshire Chronicles; One of my very favourites, Chris Hale is an excellent wordsmith who writes about a range of topics and encourages interaction and the sharpening of one's own wit - an irresistable blog!

Thank you all you wonderful bloggers for enriching my life - you all well deserve your awards! Thank you again to Barbara Martin.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Garden Design - Giraffe Style! (Part Two)

As Littl' Nicky helped me dig this morning, I benefitted from his untrammelled imagination as he chattered about his ideas for summer planting themes!

He was eager to help me sort my photographs for today's post. Yes! Our Interneck connection is restored - I can publish again ...

Having concluded my previous post with a photo of my plot freshly dug and ready to overwinter, I will begin with another side-view.

Here we have the specified vegetables to the right, and my emerging garden design on the left.

Now, follow me round to the front of the design ...

*The following photo is actually two photographs stuck together, (small pre-digital camera!!) I've 'healed' the join but it is still a little visible.

Your first view of a Giraffe Garden in progress! High nibbleable trees and the beginnings of the summer display of mixed planting with food, fragrance and colour.

You may be wondering how I contrived to grow tall trees so swiftly - I did not ... These are very long prunings from willows. I merely stuck them in the ground in the early winter to root and grow leaves. Instant height from material which would otherwise have been discarded.

A closer look at the fence reveals more willow. I chose different coloured stems to weave into the pattern, and echoed the colours in the planting scheme.

I love warm shades of orange, yellow and red in flowers and foliage. The path to the little seating area was edged with white ageratum and zaluzianskya capensis for heavenly perfume. Close to the fence grew taller leaf beet rhubarb chard, bronze fennel and up against the willow trees I planted sunflowers - Helianthus 'Pastiche'.

Carrying on the theme of mixed food and decorative plants, you can see lettuce 'Lollo Rossa' and 'Sangria' among the marigolds. Part of our task as students was to grow our own plants from seed in the college glasshouses, giving us the rewarding experience of tending our plants right from their beginnings.

Amaranthus caudatus 'Crimson', Basil 'Purple Ruffles' and Antirrhinum 'Black Prince' continue the colour scheme in a cascade of height and colour.
I loved my little plot! All summer we tended and watered our handiwork, and when the course came to an end, it was a real wrench to leave. Happy memories indeed!
So, my friends ... your introduction to Giraffe Gardening. I hope you have enjoyed the experience!

NB: I've just read a beautiful and evocative garden poem by Tom Atkins at Summit Manor - call over there and read it!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Garden Design - Giraffe Style! (Part One)

Our toddler Littl' Nicky announced this morning that he wanted to help with our yearly garden planning. I suggested a stroll outside, as it was a bright day. He led the way on a grand tour of the environs of Necky Knoll House. There was such a lot to see ... I sometimes make the mistake of thinking there's not much going on in a garden at this time of year - Littl' Nicky does not. He missed nothing!

With regard to the design of a giraffe garden, I suspect ours have a slightly taller emphasis than yours, dear bloggy friends. We often juxtapose low ground-cover with very high planting, which could possibly look a little out of balance in a human garden.

Littl' Nicky has asked me to show you a picture of his best sunflower from last summer. It grew very happily by our back porch, flourishing under his conscientious watering and friendly chatter.

While looking for Littl' Nicky's sunflower picture, I came across some old photographs I had almost forgotten. Many years ago I took a part-time course in Horticulture at Raffsburgh College. (Such a rapturous and necessary contrast to work, during my accounting years!) One of our tasks was to create our own garden. Each student was allocated a long strip of land, half of which was to be planted with specified vegetables, with the other half left to our budding designer imaginations! All herbaceous plants and vegetables had to be grown by us from seed.

I leave you with this photograph of my plot at the glorious digging stage. Ah, the smell of the turned earth as it thudded off my garden fork - I remember it all!
Next post - the finished design! (Can you bear to wait?)
NB: Note to my bloggy friends: Thursday - I'm having trouble with my Interneck connection at present so please be patient regarding the next post - Garden Design Part Two. I had intended to publish it today!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

An Interview with Classic Independence!

It has been a priviledge to interview Classic Independence. Please click on Muse See Do for a most interesting and inspiring read, and to leave your comments there.

Thank you Classic Independence! I have really enjoyed interviewing you and your answers have given me some great things to ponder through the day.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Interviewed by Willow!

What an honour! I am being interviewed by Willow!

Pondering Willow's questions during the small hours gave me much food for thought and I filled several sheets of paper with my ruminations ... I've cut out a lot of my giraffe waffle and streamlined my answers to blog-size!

At the end of the post I will give an invitation to you, fellow bloggers, to be interviewed by me.

Here are Willow's wonderful interview questions!

1. How did you meet your inspiration, the lovely Ms. Maureen?

My first meeting with Maureen Treeging, my dear wife? Ah, now that is a whole story in itself! One that is complex, emotional and far too lengthy to be told in a few sentences. I will not spoil the story for you for the future; for now I give you the setting:

'On the wild Neckmoors north of Raffsburgh grows a forest ...'

2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The word 'perfect' makes this question particularly interesting! Lots of things make me 'ordinarily' happy, most of them quite simple, such as a nice cup of tea or a walk in the woods, and of course, the company of folk I love and like.

However, I see happiness more as a choice - and a very active state of mind, rather than a reaction to pleasant things. I desire what is often referred to as 'background happiness' - the state of being free from 'what if?' thoughts and niggly worries, even in worrying circumstances. This requires, (for me), a lot of hard graft, practise and mental discipline, but - oh yes - it does work! Gradually ...

Then there are those transcendent moments of happiness, which are closest to perfection ... those unbidden 'glimpses' - when suddenly there is an upsurge of pure joy, a bubbling of a kind of golden fountain that seems to rise from within. Difficult to describe, but you'll know what I mean if you get them too!

3. What is your most marked characteristic?

My neck? Probably, to humans - although in Giraffe World it is very commonplace!

Or maybe my perpetual expression of bemused intelligence??

4. Other than your loved ones, what is your most treasured possession?

I appreciate and enjoy all my many possessions, but those things I treasure most I do not 'possess'. You cannot hold them, I feel they kind of flow through you and multiply by sharing; hope, love, affection, encouragement, inspiration and humour - oh yes, exuberant, gleeful humour!

(And I am very fond of my new telescope!)

5. What is your motto?

'Stick Your Neck Out For Your Dreams!'

Or in its longer version: 'Giraffitude! finding out who you are and sticking your neck out for your dreams with integrity, respect for others and gleeful fun!'

Thank you for interviewing me, Willow!

Here are the directions;

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).

3.You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Go on - stick your neck out and dare ... I'll be nice to you!

Do, please still leave comments, even if you don't want to be interviewed - I love your comments!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Hearty, Healthy Takeaway Meals!

All the seasonal talk about dieting is making me think about food constantly ...

It therefore seems like a good time to give you a little 'taste' of Girth's hearty healthy takeaway meals. There is not really a lot I need to say about them other than that they are delicious, highly nutritious and exceedingly popular. It would appear that the residents of Neckelchester hardly cook at all, so in demand are the Gleeful & Greedy meals!

Maybe one day Girth will let me post one or two of his secret recipes!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Our Family Favourites

Necky Becky has insisted that I include a post about our favourite presents this year! Who am I to argue ...

First of all, she would have everyone know that her 'bestest pressie' was the pencil case printed with the image of a wild giraffe sticking it's tongue out. A pose which she now proudly emulates whenever she can!

Next in her order of importance is, of course, her beloved Neckshund dog Hals. He received a football, which we have all fallen over several times in the last week.

Nexi couldn't decide which of her presents was her favourite - she loves them all. She received lots of nailvarnish and other strong-smelling items with which to paint herself, her room, everyone else's room, and anything else she can get her hands on.

Toddler Littl' Nicky also follows the artistic line and has been enjoying his new paints and easel. His painting below is a portrait of me.

Which leaves Maureen and I! We had many beautiful gifts. Maureen received a bottle of her favourite honey drink, I have a subscription to the Raffsburgh Astronomical Society, and we both have stacks of new books to read.
Best of all is our special Intergalactic Viewing Box. Fitted to our TV, it receives many extra Planet Earth channels, enabling us to see some of the wonderful films and music performances recommended by our dear new bloggy friends!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Feeding our World's Tallest Giraffe

The Weaver of Grass and The Solitary Walker both left such kind comments on my New Year's Day post, regarding the abundance of my food supply.
This jogged something in my memory about an article in the Knollshire News a few years ago. I have managed to find it in our cuttings file.
A nextraordinarily tall wild giraffe had appeared on the Neckmoors north of Raffsburgh. The Rangers were concerned that she couldn't comfortably bend her long neck sufficiently to reach down to the trees for food. After much discussion it was decided to charter a helicopter to fly up portions of fresh green shoots from the nearby Biomass Plantation.
(We have a dual energy supply here in Knollshire, from Biomass and our AFF Gas).
'Granny' as she was affectionately named, spent a year on the Neckmoors, before heading north towards the Far Mountains. It is believed that other Giraffa camelopardalis giganteum dwell there, so we hope she has found plenty of friends - and food!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Necky Knoll New Year Greetings!

Happy New Year Everyone! To all our friends, human and giraffe, bloggers and readers!

Our fancy dress party yesterday was hilarious! After wishing our guests a merry farewell, we grabbed a couple of hours' sleep, then got up to watch our early Giraffe World sunrise.

Gathered on our drive, we experienced a magical moment as the sun emerged from the grey sky. Shafts of golden light illuminated the Knollshire landscape and the copses of bare trees seemed to reach up to drink in the new sunlight. We stood in silence for a few moments. Gently Maureen started to sing our special family song, 'With our Necks Entwined'. (Click on song title to hear).

May your Year be luminous, harmonious and fun, dear friends!

Birthday Greetings to our special friend, Brendy Neckson!