Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I always loved the 'mucky play' part of Playcentre, and still I find such things therapeutic. As an adult, doing mucky play without children seems, somehow, not quite the thing. However, 'coming up with excuses' is one of the few lessons I learned at school, and so I have found an acceptable reason for indulging myself!

Finger painting - how can anyone resist the sensual pleasure of sliding one's hands around in slippery, slimy finger-paint?

Take out a bit of aggression by ripping up paper into tiny bits. Then soak it, beat it, and do some recycling while treating yourself to some water play - making paper.

Use the results to make a journal.

Then there are all those National Geograhic maps that come with the magazines, and somehow I just haven't been able to throw them out, just putting them into a box each month. Well, now I have used one, plus a local map, to make a travel journal for a friend who is going on an overseas trip.

The front cover is a map of where she is going, and the back cover is a map of where she lives.

There is another map of her destination on the inside front cover.

The inside back cover is to remind her of where I live.

On the inside I have random bits of leftover papers used for other books - I have become addicted to doing this to the books I make,

just adding an offbeat note, and using some of the scraps I can't bear to discard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Counting Joys

So, how to change my frame of mind? Maybe focusing on the things in my life that do bring pleasure and joy into my life might help.

I've done a couple of bead workshops at Just Bead It in Hamilton East, and really enjoyed learning new crafts. I could have learned from books and experimentation at home, but I wanted the company, and also the inspiration that other people's choices gave me for future creations.

It was lovely to have S and H come and visit - the plus side of them needing Mac's help to fix their car. Their visit coincided with E's fifth birthday so they were able to join us at the Hamilton Gardens to celebrate, as did S and R who were up from Wellington for the election

And, of course, it is always a pleasure to see G and C and the four grandchildren.

Bringing small joy into people's lives were some young people giving away iceblocks to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness day.

That evening Mac, J and I went to our last 'teen tea' as a homeschooling family. It was a great evening, with people we have know basically all J's life, fun, yet comfortable in the way that can only happen when you know people that well. We finished the evening going down to the local park and setting off

J and I have been enjoying the homeschool family days at a local Playcentre - despite the venue, we have 'children' from 0 - 19 attending and having a lot of fun, and it's a great place for parents to chat or to join in the games - our teens are more than happy for adults to play with

J and I also spent a wonderful few hours and the Waitakaruru Arboretum / Sculpture Park. Such a peaceful and inspiring place to go. Although at times 'peaceful' was perhaps not quite the right word as the frogs were in full croak! The glass sculptures (the exhibition) were beautiful, and there were sculptures in the
other parts of the arboretum that
we had not seen before.

Granddaughter T came and stayed another night while G and C went to an adult birthday party. T had admired some clay faces that S and J had made many ago, so I had bought a bag of clay, dug out the clay tools, and we had lots of fun with that.

The next day T, and I went with J to Garden Place in Hamilton. J and the band he plays in, Gentle Jazz, played for about an hour and a half while the runners in a Fun Run gathered for the prizegiving.

T was more interested in the wizard and stilt walkers.

Yesterday S and R returned to Hamilton from Wellington, where they have been living this university year. I haven't seen them yet, but just knowing they are only 35 minutes away, instead of 8 hours, is great.

So much happiness in my life, must focus on that, must not think of the buts and the if onlys!

Must count the joys!


Last week I went with my sister to visit one of my father's employers, who I last saw in 1967. Dad worked on her farm. At 42 she was a white haired widow with three children. When her youngest was just a toddler, her husband had been killed when his tractor rolled on him - no roll bars or safety cages back then. She continued on the farm until she moved into the local retirement village.

We visited her at the retirement village and found a mentally alert, physically sprightly, 94 year old woman who talked about her life with enthusiasm, speaking of the things she was looking forward to, talking of the things she enjoys. Living her life.

Watching my grandchildren and children, I've been thinking about how life starts out with almost infinite possibilities, but future choices narrow with every choice that is made.

I've been thinking a lot about why I am finding the changes happening in my life so difficult. Instead of focusing on the choices still available to me, I, unlike my dad's ex-boss, seem to focus on past choices that proved not so great, and on the choices no longer available to me.

My unhappiness seems to revolve around the loss of possibilities; the loss of dreaming of the future. My future seems to roll out before me as an unchanging landscape, and even though I am very happy with my life and what I have in it, I feel a deep sense of grief for the loss of possibility in my life.

I saw this woman looking forward to small pleasures, enjoying memories of past successful choices. How do I enter this frame of mind?

Monday, November 3, 2008


On Saturday I went to a poetry workshop in Tauranga, led by Tim Upperton of Massey University. It was fun, I had good company for the drive over and back, Tim was great, and I came home with that "Yes!!" feeling. But still, since then I have written nothing but the odd email.

I have done workshops before and each time the same thing happens. We are given writing exercises to do, and I do them. Sometimes what I write is crap, other times it is the start of something good. But I do actually write.

Back home, I have piles of writing exercises accumulated from workshops, and also in a number of books, but when I sit and look at them, I read through them, can't decide which one to try, and just can't seem to do it. What is the difference between being at home with writing exercises, and being in a workshop? I don't know but I do know that I want to keep trying - "must try harder" as my old report cards used to say (alongside "talks too much.")

Not that the following is anywhere near good poetry, but considering it was done in two goes, the first for 5 minutes, and the second 3 minutes, I can't help but think I could do well if I just spent time everyday doing exercises and serious writing, crafting and recrafting.

The exercise involved each participant offering a concrete noun (there were 15 of us.) We then had to chose at least ten and write something including those words. My choices were: chain, praying mantis, poem, calabash, clock, flower bud, bottle, handbag, anchor, gold - and this is what I came up with:

On those slipping sideways days when I find
a praying mantis in a green glass bottle
a grief-filled poem in a calabash
a fresh pink flower bud in the bottom of my handbag

On those days
the anchor at the end
of its gold filligree chain
fails to hold the clock
to its timetable.

Not exactly Keats or Elliot, but not bad for eight minutes with ten crazy mixed up words!

Now all I have to do is find the discipline to set aside half an hour or even just 8 minutes every day and maybe I can come up with some good writing!