Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reflections on Simplicity and Consumerism

Two of my grandchildren came to stay for a couple of nights. They are such cool kids and it's so nice to have a little boy sit on my knee and give me a cuddle again - my own boys are too grown up for that now. A walk on the beach with two kids and a dog is a simple pleasure but one of the best.

But is it a simple pleasure really? The 15 minute drive to the beach involved my van, petrol, money. For how much longer will we be able to do that?

I've been reading - sometimes I think that's a big mistake! A bit of transition town / lifeboat politics on the Transition Towns pages and several off shoots from there, then one of my favourite bloggers (she's a book artist too and also "a permaculture-inclined, organically arty, gardenista creek-mumma....") wrote about simple living sending me off to Amazon to buy another Kindle book. Then there's the news and weather filled with uncertainty about the world's climatic / financial / social / psychological / (fill in the blank) future. So everyone waits for someone else to fix things. There are people out there trying to make their / our world a little better, but most just go on mindlessly consuming, avoiding thinking about the future.

Is it a problem? I remember back in the early 1960s, lying awake at night waiting for the Cold War to end and for the bombs to start falling - but it didn't happen. Are these current problems going to fade away too? Can we take a chance on that?

Out at The Base I looked around and was struck by the vastness of the place. The car park was almost full - and their web site informs me they have 2,600 parking spaces. Many, I'm sure, were awaiting the return of more than one person. So many people shopping for what? Necessities? Or cheap junk made in third world countries by underpaid and badly treated almost-slaves?

But such a bargain!

 And if you think I'm getting at you, well, maybe I'd like you to think about these things too, but really this writing is a form of self-flagellation because LOOK at the bargain I got: a really pretty scarf made in India from 100% viscose and reduced to $10.

I should be ashamed of myself. I am.

I fear the time will come, sooner rather than later, when most of us will be scavenging amongst the rubbish for something useful, but will mostly find trash as useful as a cigarette butt to a sparrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Makes Home Home?

We've been home for eleven days now and I'm finally feeling like I'm back to normal - whatever 'normal' is. I know that when Mac and I did our OE back in the 70s, I got homesick for New Zealand. Although we were away only three weeks this time, and so I didn't really get homesick, I did experience a huge sense of relief when we got home - and that wasn't just because the 26 hour journey was finally at an end.

We walked out into a frosty cold dark morning. Yes, it was dark. That's something I've taken for granted all my life, but after two weeks in Fairbanks, Alaska, where there was no dark, I welcomed it.  I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and was very grateful to catch all that sunlight this June, and definitely feel better for it but.....

The sky that morning was black, with a few familiar stars, and a beautiful sliver of moon. I don't like the short, dark, rainy days of winter, but when the clouds clear and we have a night like that - that's home.

As we headed home, light gradually edged up the horizon, lighting up a clear, frosty day, so clear and sharp - that's home.

The green of New Zealand is different from that of England or Germany or Washington or Alaska, and it's not that New Zealand's green is better than those other greens, it's just that - it's home.There are many stunningly beautiful places in the world, and certainly we saw much beauty in Alaska.

Although I am sure that if I was to visit another planet, upon return I would have a sense of 'home' regardless of where I arrived, I am confined to this planet, and within those confines, New Zealand is 'home', and in particular the Waikato, and in particular, the Raglan area, and most particularly of all, this small acreage we call Secret Waters is Home.

And I am very glad to be back here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goodbye and Hello

It was up early on our last morning, and pretty hard to find smiles:

 Heather, Steve, Susan

 Mac, Cally, Susan, Steve

Mac, Cally and Heather

28 hours after leaving Susan, Steve and Heather's home, we finally reached our place. After a fair bit of dozing in the sunshine we headed out for a walk to make sure no one had stolen Raglan beach while we were gone.

Last Afternoon

So what do you do on your last afternoon with your friends who you haven't seen for over 10 years, and won't see again until no one knows when?  Well, when your friend is a children's librarian you play with the left-overs from a children's summer programme activity, of course:



Thanks to Mac for these gorgeous photos.


Thanks to Susan, despite having accidentally deleted a bunch of photos, I have a picture of Talkeetna where we spent our first night in Alaska. Thanks, Susan.

The Lady and the Tramps - and a Raven

So Heather insisted that we do this crazy tourist thing that she supposedly had wanted to do for a while. Susan agreed, so I felt I had no choice, but said Heather had to decided what I should wear - that was a bit of an error of judgement!  Still it was kinda fun, despite a feeling of desperate insecurity over whether I would fall off the very unstable box on which we were sitting, and / or whether my tits would fall out!

Afterwards I finally managed to get a photo of a raven - we had seen them lots, and we had taken some lovely photos of some in Juneau, but those were among the photos I accidentally deleted. The are rough and ready, very assertive, but gorgeous creatures.

Hummers in Fairbanks

Greg told me to watch out for Hummers, so this is especially for him:

Baby Hummer (note the number plate!):


Stretch Hummer - available for hire:

Alaska - Around the Seefeldt Home

 The Seefeldt house stands on a two acre section, surrounded by grass and trees. Because of the weather  people don't have flower gardens as we know them. many, including the Seefeldts, have potted plants and hanging baskets, and Steve has a thriving vegetable garden. The property is surrounded by native trees and plants including raspberries. It is very different from my accustomed environment, but very lovely too.