Saturday, December 11, 2021

Anniversaries: times of reflection

It's four years since I spent a hot day pulling the garden outside the northern end of the house to bits: the shrubs had grown old and woody and straggly, and they had been planted in accordance to a plan drawn up by a no-longer-friend, and I wanted to renew it. I got to the last couple of shrubs but couldn't get them out, so after struggling for too long, I gave up. And had a stroke. Each year since then, I have tried to tidy that garden up in advance of Stroke Day, and so again today. It's all heavily mulched now that we have a mulcher, so even the biggest weeds come out easily. The garden is a delight at the moment, as the tuis fly in all through the day to drink nectar from the harakeke flowers. I bought a feeder from the Tiritiri Matangi trust, and placed it in amongst the harakeke in the hopes that the tui will visit all year round, but they don't seem to have noticed it yet. One must have at some point today, because the sugar water level had dropped considerably, but I haven't seen one even look at it.

My stroke garden today
On Thursday Mac and I, along with five others from his work, spent the afternoon gardening at a friend's place. O had been diagnosed with cancer just a couple of weeks before our second nationwide lockdown in August. A couple of days in, her husband, our friend for fifty years, died. Because of lockdown there has been no funeral, and because of O's illness, the garden had got out of hand. It was a lovely way to spend time together, remembering C, and saying goodbye. It was C's second marriage and the wedding had been held in this very garden - it was healing to remember his happiness that day in the same place. Ours was one of those friendships which, even when we didn't see him for years (when we went to Europe, and he went to Papua New Guinea and Europe), just resumed as if there had been no gap. 

Yesterday I felt fortunate to have survived the stroke, and felt a need to give back to the world. I have been looking for some time for some kind of volunteer work that 1) doesn't require consistent regularity, because I do still have bad days when I am pretty non-functional; and 2) doesn't require too much personal interaction as conversation, especially with strangers, exhausts me and takes another day to recover from. Even having a lot of people around me, talking, without me being part of the conversations, exhausts me - I can't seem to stop my brain from trying to make sense of all the words in the air. So when I read that the age for donating blood for the first time had been raised to 70, I thought, perfect! I can give, but could just sit and read or even sleep! But no. They won't have my blood. Not because there's anything wrong with my blood, but because I have had a stroke, and 'we wouldn't want anything to happen to you'.

During this time of covid, there have been many hurtful things said. I may well have said things that have hurt others. The internet is full of hateful and hate-filled words, that in the main I have shrugged off, because they weren't said by people who knew me. The words that have hurt me most, have been by three people who did know me, albeit only as acquaintances. One told me, during our first lockdown in 2020, in a Facebook discussion, that people like me have had our lives and should shut up and not want lockdowns because other people should be allowed to live their lives without worrying about old and sick people, and her child had had his swimming lessons cancelled and it wasn't fair. Our acquaintanceship had been very superficial. Except for time a couple months earlier, when she poured out her feelings and deep depression to me when I saw her and asked if she was ok. Apparently that hour and half of my life and listening ear was worth shit. I know she has mental health issues, and have tried to forgive her for her lack of compassion, because I have suffered bouts of depression and anxiety for 54 years and know what it's like. But I haven't managed to let go of the ache from that metaphorical kick in the teeth yet.

The other occasions have been more recently when I was told, in a very kindly manner, by a woman I had met once, in another Facebook discussion, that if I am afraid of covid, I should just stay home until I'm not afraid any more. Because fear is more dangerous than a deadly disease that targets people like me (old and broken). I could get all my food and everything delivered, and could just isolate myself, because, again, other people have the right to live freely, and unencumbered by any restrictions or mandates. Many chimed in with the claims that they shouldn't have to have vaccines, or have to wear masks, or even have to grant me a single metre of personal space, because the pandemic isn't real, and/or covid isn't nearly as bad as 'they' make out, and/or vaccinations don't work, and/or masks don't work, and, I guess, why wouldn't I want random strangers getting right up in my face? After all, if I'm old (70) and at risk (diabetes, stroke) then I should just stay home, so others aren't inconvenienced. The third was a trauma therapist I know who also just kept repeating the idea that the 'fear and trauma' was my problem, that covid is just a thing we will all get eventually, and that we should just get on with living life - apparently being afraid of catching a disease because of being a person at higher risk is a neurotic reaction to be fixed, rather than something to be ameliorated by being careful.  I think that the kind people who gently remonstrate with me, telling me that I should be kind to people who don't want to do anything that might inconvenience themselves (mask wearing, keeping their distance). So, I guess you will have guessed by now, that I am actually astonished and angry and very hurt by the people who think I am of no value to society, that I am worthless. 

I don't know why I have reacted this way, because worthless is an adjective I have ascribed to myself most of my life, so I should expect others to feel that way too. I guess I just thought that because everyone else is so much more worthy than me, that they would be kinder.

I need to focus on the few people who have shown that they care. The small handful of special people who have 'checked in on the elderly'. The three who have offered to do shopping for me. The ones who have trusted me with their own problems as well as listening to my fears and heartaches. They are few, but they are very special, and will be remembered always with love.

I wrote most of this yesterday, but didn't want to post until today, because despite trying hard to be a good atheist and skeptic, I still find myself affected by superstition and remnants of religion: It's 'bad luck', or some god or other might strike me down for daring to presume I'd last the night.

But here I am! And I awoke to the news that my Auckland boy will be home on Thursday - my eyes leaked a bit at that.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Reading: September 2021

Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson

This novel is in the form of letters between a woman living on a family farm in England and a Danish museum curator. It begins when Tina writes to the author of a book about Tollund Man, who was the previous curator. The current curator, Anders, writes to tell her that the author is dead. The correspondence continues, and they describe and discuss their daily lives, their relationships with spouses and children, and gradual explore and expand their ideas about life.

 My favourite quote, because it rings very true for me right now:
"Now I only hope for a return to hope, or at least to the feeling I once had that there is satisfaction in the little things in life."

I loved this book, probably because so much of the book reflects my own thinking, even though the circumstances of my life are very different (better!), and because, although I generally like a book to have a definite ending, this one was left undecided and that was perfect.

Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

Another book about women making changes in their lives as they grow older. I look forward to more from this author. 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is the book I referred to last month. It is just wonderful. Kimmerer uses her beautiful writing abilities to meld her scientific knowledge with her Native American indigenous knowledge to produce a work that leaves you wanting to do all you can to heal this damaged world. It is so well written, I kept just having to read chunks out to Mac, who was also appreciative even though he isn't a reader. The mixing of science and spiritual, even within the same sentence, makes perfect sense the way she tells it. This book has taken me nine months to read: it is so delicious I would read only a few pages every few days, savouring every moment, every word, and every thought it inspired. Reading it has been like a meditation.

Honestly, if you only read one book a year, make the next book this one. You are welcome to borrow my copy.

House of Kwa by Mimi Kwa

An extraordinary tale of a woman and her family history, in Australia, Hong Kong and China. The personal histories, the cultural histories, and the conflicts between generational and geographical changes, the trials of foreign occupation during war times, and some extremely unusual personalities make for fascinating reading. It certainly made me think about how cruisy my life has been: even in lockdown level 4, we here in New Zealand have not been bombed, had our homes and belongings taken by an occupying army who also beat, raped, and murdered. A great read, highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Artfully Wild Blog Along: 14 September 2021

 I have been writing - or rather, whingeing - but restricting it to my paper journal. Even then I wasn't writing every thing down: I tend to trap negative thoughts inside my head until they die, or burst out inappropriately. Yesterday I wrote out all the things that have been building up and contributing to the sensation of having a huge lump in my esophagus threatening to choke me. My grief and anxiety has  growing to the point where I have nearly passed out from not breathing - although as every parent of a tantrum-throwing toddler knows that passing out leads immediately to the resumption of breathing! The writing down of it all offered some relief, and I slept better last night. Although I still woke in the small hours, I didn't wake with racing heart, raised adrenaline levels, my first thoughts being of my unvaccinated son in Auckland, which has been the standard for the last week. Instead, I just woke, read a chapter in my book, and went back to sleep.

Today I worked on seeing good things, and on breathing. It helped.

There are so many lovely things around our home at the moment:

  • Keruru sitting in the trees, and putting on aerobatics displays in the air;
  • a tui optimistically inspecting the peach tree to see if the blossoms are open
  • the first tulip of the season - a gorgeous red;
  • a spider's web sparkling in raindrops;
  • there is blossom everywhere! Plum, peach, nectarine, pear;
  • the kowhai tree has flowers, although past experience tells me they won't last long as the keruru gobble them in one gulp;
  • even the moss has 'flowers'
  • and the golden elm is delicious
I have finished reading two wonderful books, only to find the next book I picked up is also just wonderful: I won't finish the month with a record number of books read, but the quality is impressive so far.

I chatted with two of my sons, and my 17yo grandson on FB messenger. Technology is great - I think of the lack of communication for families in the 'Spanish' flu pandemic.
My Auckland son got his first vaccination. He had booked but had been unable to get an appointment until the end of October, but with more vaccinations in the country, and more places offering vaccinations, he was able to get one today! I am so relieved. I will sleep better tonight.
I received an unexpected birthday present in the mail. It is a beautiful handmade stationery folder that she made - she is a very skilled sewer. It came with a lovely card, and a message inside that finally broke me open. I cried with appreciation and gratitude. Then I cried for all the things that have been making me sad. I have not been able to cry. I cried for my recently dead friends, and for their families, and for my personal sense of loss. I cried for my loneliness over the past few weeks, being unable to see my family and friends. I cried for our poor world which is under assault in so many ways. I cried. And then, I cried, again, in appreciation and gratitude towards my friend, Denise, for her gifts, for the release.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Artfully Wild Blog Along: 7 September 2021

 So much for daily blogging! I am struggling with physical and mental fatigue, but.... take a breath, take the next step, aim to be kind to everyone including myself......

  • My pack of 72 seedlings is due to arrive today or tomorrow. That's ok. Just because we have always grown our own spring seedlings in the past, doesn't mean it always has to be that way.
  • My pack of 72 seedlings is due to arrive today or tomorrow. I have spent four consecutive days preparing beds in which to plant them out. My body hurts.
  • My pack of 72 seedlings is due to arrive today or tomorrow. Now I have to stay alive long enough to plant them out.
  • My pack of 72 seedlings is due to arrive today or tomorrow. Then I have to stay alive long enough to harvest, prepare, and eat them, so as not to waste their lives.
  • My pack of 72 seedlings is due to arrive today or tomorrow. They do not ponder the meaning or purpose of life. I need to learn to live like a cabbage seedling.

  • The ducks are disgruntled: Mac fixed the fence yesterday and they can no longer go wandering into the neighbour's paddock, from which one cannot get back from. I don't know why. There is no apparent difference in the path of coming and going. However, once there she runs up and down the fence line crying. They had also discovered the garlic patch. Hence, the fence is repaired.
  • The chooks, who always try to get to the vegetable garden when they are let out of their run, did not appreciate being caught and carried to a newly dug fenced garden to finish the clean up, and tried desperately to get out. Another came inside the house, was chased by Luna cat, and shat all over the carpet.
  • Covid lockdown restrictions are reduced tomorrow, so I delivered the last of the free eggs to neighbours' mailboxes. The first of my paying customers will get their eggs tomorrow. But it won't feel like much of a release as long as one son is still locked down in Auckland.
  • Because of Auckland's continuing lockdown, my 70th birthday special holiday to Great Barrier Island isn't going to happen. Both the island, and the ferry terminal are in the Auckland region. I guess being alive, well, and safe is a special thing, in and of itself, though somehow it doesn't quite feel enough.

  • A friend expressed guilt for having expressed her feelings around pain. Something I have often done myself around both physical and emotional pain. Suddenly, for the first time, I realised that when someone questions their right to pain because someone else has it worse, I've had lots of good things, at least I haven't (fill in the blank)..... this actually denies others the right to express their pain. Because there is always something worse - look! that person is dead!

    I apologise to all those who have felt denied, dismissed, unable to speak, by my denials of my right to express my pain.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Artfully Wild Blog Along: 4 September 2021

  • I awoke with a sense of dread. I asked Mac (who sleeps with the radio and ear buds), "Did anything else awful happen overnight?" I didn't want to get up and face a day of more heartbreak. "It's okay, nothing more."
  • The duck with the injured leg, the one that injured said leg escaping from the orchard through a wire netting fence, was waiting for breakfast outside the orchard! She hopped, stumbled and flapped her way back over the fence, making her way to the feeding dish. When lockdown is over, and we can access materials, we plan on replacing the fence.
  • I thought gardening in the countryside was a peaceful, meditative affair. But today I wore my newish hearing aids and was driven to distraction by dozens of small birds having a conference in the pohutukawa tree. Are they always there? I don't know because I don't usually wear the aids around home.
  • This year I didn't put in a winter garden, and now it is spring and nothing is ready. As I said yesterday, no seeds sown in trays in the sun by the dining room window, the garden beds full of long grass and other weeds. Today I continued working on the bed I started yesterday and finished it, so now have room for some of the ordered seedlings. Tomorrow, another bed. If I can keep up the pace I will have space for all of them by the time they arrive.
  • The keruru are definitely in mating mode - while I was gardening they were chasing each other around the garden, flying very low over my head. I hope they get their courting rituals over soon as I actually felt endangered! But they are magnificent birds.
  • At the end of summer, my two beehives had collapsed from lack of proper care, and one was queenless. I thought they would both die, but in a last desperate attempt to save them, I merged the two hives. The single hive has made it through winter and I am hopeful it will take off and grow strong enough to make up a second. Today we did a hive inspection and put in a second varroa treatment. I am so happy to be back with a healthy hive once more. I adore my bees; they are such amazing creatures.
  • For the first time since she came to live with us about three years ago, Luna is not demanding food with menaces tonight. We saw her earlier eating a small rabbit. Much as they are cute, rabbits are an awful pest, so we didn't rescue it. She is spending the evening stretched out in front of the fire with a very large tummy.
  • Life under lockdown is so small and restricted, and yet it is also infinite. I have always felt a strong connection to this place we came to 21 years ago, always enjoyed the way working on the land strengthened that connection. The older I get the bigger the small things become for me. Lockdown has increased that feeling.
  • A drop of water hanging from a plum blossom holds the entire world. The whole world is that drop of water.
  • I am the drop of water. The drop of water is me.

Artfully Wild Blog Along: 3 September 2021

So already I haven't blogged every day of September - but that's okay, and a simple statement, not a hand-wringing tale of failure. Which those who know me well will understand as real progress.

TW violence.

Today, the third day of spring, has been a perfect blue sky day. These are the days when my early morning walk to feed the chooks and ducks is a delight: violets in the grass, pink peach blossom, white plum blossom. Lately it's been a chore, venturing out in wind and cold rain, plodding through mud, today was a welcome change.

The SAD has kept me lacking in motivation, and I realized that I have once again neglected the garden preparation necessary to get my summer garden planted. Not only that, but I haven't started seeds either. So I have ordered a 'vegcombo' pack of 72 seedlings of unknown varieties, which should arrive early next week, thus forcing me to get out and get weeding.

So it was that I spent several hours outside in the sunshine without sunscreen because it's been so long since I last needed it and am now the possessor of a fine pink complexion. Why don't I get out there more often? Gardening always makes me feel good, yet I resist it. The smell of freshly turned soil, the working hard and sweating with the effort, hands in the earth, surrounded by bird song, including the challenges of male pheasants declaring their ownership of their particular territories.

Lunch was satisfying too: homemade bread roll with home grown bean and seed sprouts and egg from my own chooks mashed with onion weed freshly foraged from halfway down our (600m) driveway.

It was encouraging to listen to the daily announcement of cases of covid in the community and hear that the numbers seem to be reducing.

Back out in the garden, I listened to Jessie Mulligan on National Radio talking to Lynda Hallinan about attracting bees to your garden until the programme was interrupted by a news flash. 

A man had been shot dead by police after attacking people at a supermarket.

At 5.15pm the prime minister and the chief of police held a news conference where we learned that the man was a Sri Lankan who came to New Zealand 10 years ago, has been under surveillance since 2016 because of his extreme ISIS views, but has never done anything to warrant arrest. The police watching him had no reason to think this was anything other than another supermarket shop by the man who had shopped there before, but he obtained a knife within the store and started stabbing people. He was shot by the police within 60 seconds of the start of his attack.

Suddenly the black dog is back, snapping at my heels again. I feel helpless, despairing  and sick to the core at this world of fires and floods and storms and violence and disease and hatred and covid and conspiracy theories, and at this heartless earth which just keeps on being beautiful and glorious without a moment's consideration of me or the rest of humankind.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Artfully Wild Blog Along: 1 September 2021

First of September

First day of  spring.

First day of Level 3 lockdown for those of us south of Auckland.

Thirty eighth anniversary of my second son's birth.

Because of #3, my son's birthday was enlivened by being able to get a takeaway Thai dinner. Such are the highlights of a covid birthday. My heart aches to see him as I sit here remembering the night he was born. I was supposed to bring him home from the hospital on a two hour discharge, but that was so rare back then, it was three and a half hours before they worked out what forms I had to sign to legally relieve them of responsibility for my rash behaviour.

Also because of #3, instead of spending time with my son - in all honesty, I wouldn't have driven to Wellington to be with him but I'd have liked to have had that option - the highlight of my day was walking to the end of the road and back, taking surplus eggs, limes and garlic to put in neighbours' mailboxes. Last lockdown we put our surplus out by our mailbox for people to help themselves, but that was when the autumn weather was fine almost every day.

It's been a grey, wet, windy August, but today it didn't rain, and there was a bit of blue sky amid the clouds. The windmills on the hilltops to the east look like opposing armies on days like this: some shining white in the sun, the others a dark, dull metal grey in the clouds' shadows.

I have never managed to keep a daphne bush growing, but bought yet another about a month ago. Given my lousy track record, I decided to just leave it in the pot it came in, and wait for the already formed buds to emerge. Today I picked a small sprig of delicious smelling flowers to bring smiles to the dining table. 

The light is returning. I know summer will be here soon, even though the wait seems interminable - it has happened every year since I was born almost 70 years ago, so there is no reason to think it will happen otherwise this year.

The experience of those 7 decades  - how the fuck did I manage to live this long? -  also informs me that that damn black dog snapping at my heels will soon leave me alone for a while, once the summer sunshine arrives and I can spend days outside in the garden, at the beach, walking in the bush.

New shoes. 


I have joined a facebook group with the stated intention of blogging every day of September: I doubt I will manage every day, but hopefully more than my average of about twice a month!

Reading: August 2021

 Nothing remarkable this month - except the book that I have been reading since the beginning of the year! But I still haven't finished reading it so you'll have to wait until the end of September for me to tell you about it. It is extraordinary, so much so that I only read a few pages at a time, and hold the words and knowledge and ideas inside my mind for days, savouring them, caressing them.... but, as I said, you'll have to wait.

Of the other books, the two best were: 

  • By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz
  • The Switch by Justina Robson

The others were good enough to read to the end, but not really inspiring:
  • The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka
  • Unsheltered by Clare Moletar
  • The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
  • Deep into the Dark by P.J. Tracy
  • Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Reading: July 2021

I haven't stopped reading - I just haven't been writing about it. I keep a list of books read in my diary and always intend to review them but somehow it hasn't happened for a long time. But there is always the next month, the next day, the next book: so here goes.

1. Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain (fiction)

2. The Confession by Jessie Burton (ficton)

3. The Litigators by John Grisham (fiction)

4. Camino Island by John Grisham (fiction)

5. Cliffs of Fall by Shirley Hazzard (short stories, still don't like them! They always seem unfinished to me)

6. Devoted by Dean Koontz (fiction) (a disappointingly weak ending from an author I usually enjoy.)

So nothing particularly bad, I always enjoy John Grisham for an easy read and these were of his usual standard. But.....

Picks of the month:

7. Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey. (fiction) Thank goodness I reserved this book from the library after hearing a review of this sci fi / fantasy novel, because I would not otherwise have looked past the spine where someone had stuck a 'romance' sticker on it. Do not be put off if you don't like the romance genre - it is definitely NOT this. I think they read the jacket and jumped to a conclusion based on their own narrow definition of the word 'relationship'. It's a great read and a mind teaser: not a 'who dunnit' but certainly a 'wtf is going on' but just like in the best murder mystery, there are clues all the way through. I gradually got most of the pointers, but still didn't quite guess the surprising end. Highly recommended.

8. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. (non-fiction) I had 'enjoyed' the movie, though 'enjoyed' isn't really the right word. The book was so much more! I became depressed and hopeful by turn, and overwhelmingly relieved that I live in New Zealand and not in the US. Our welfare system is not what I would like it to be, life can suck for people here, but Holy Shit! it is so much harder there. Also learned even more about what an asshole company Amazon is! But so interesting, and inspiring too, to see how resourceful people can be. And also how people can form kind and supportive communities anywhere. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 14, 2021

On how to store labels

A lot of my ponderings lately have come as an expansion on ideas from a discussion in Return of Me, a class from Book Art Studios

After one session, my mind was swirling with thoughts about labels, and talk about there being 'two sides to the coin'. Both reminded me of my ponderings and anxieties during homeschooling days when I was asked about how I taught 'x' or what my kids were learning when they did 'y'. The longer I homeschool / unschooled, the harder I found it to label my children or to describe their learning, because both my children and life are so intricate and interacting and complex. At first glance there are two sides to a coin, but then we notice that there is a third side which is the circumference. And then we notice that the circumference has a patterned edge, so lots of little mini sides! And then, we notice that the sides are not opposite, they are just the outside of the coin, the external 'skin'. And then we see an old very coin that has been handled and dropped and covered in boiled-lolly stickiness and washed, for years and decades or even centuries and it's almost smooth and we can't see what the picture is or what the writing says. And then we lay it on the railway track and wait for a train and then it has no regular shape left. And then we drill a hole in it and hang it on a chain..... and is it still a coin with two sides? And maybe that's what is being done to me, and maybe that's what art is? Taking things, mixing them with thoughts and feelings and crumpling and soaking and tearing and working and working at them until the labels disappear but the essence remains, and we call it a 'book' or a 'quilt' or a 'statue' but it is made of all the other labelled things and labelled actions but is both less and more than all those things. It is the same but different. And even after it's finished, it is still not a finished thing because every person who experiences it will do so differently, both physically and emotionally.

So if we stop the labelling, and think of the process of learning and adding and chipping away and putting our work out on the railway track and polishing and distressing and layering..... why then we can look at the planning and practicing and hoarding and emotional self-flagellation as all being part of the process, all part of the 'coin', and chose how much is enough of each for ourselves, rather than worrying about anyone else.

So maybe labelling things - people, things, our actions - can become a collection of jars, boxes, tins, vaults, and consequently very restricted and restricting. Maybe if I really feel the need to label, I could use mesh bags instead of glass jars, to allow a bit of flow? Maybe using words like 'sometimes', 'yet', 'for now', could be freeing.

Consolidation and Expansion

 I've gotten out of the habit of blogging, and indeed, out of the habit of writing much at all. I miss putting my random thoughts and ideas into words, so figure this place is a easy one to start doing that again.

Well, my home is chaotic. We took Simon to Auckland yesterday and deposited him in sterile temporary accommodation, as his flat isn't available until Thursday. He will be back at the weekend to collect the rest of his belongings. Or rather, the ones he needs - I'm sure there will be a large residue that will live on here, along with his cat which, it seems, is now our #2 cat. I'm trying not to worry too much about him, but his health is not good. I remember laughing at my parents when they worried about me even though I was 'grown up'. I now know that I will never stop worrying about my boys - I guess it's all a part of parental love.

A friend went on an adventure, which included making a knife from scratch! which was, of course, not only about the knife, but about the adventure, the challenge, the perseverance, the expanding, stretching, growing. Other friends have gone gliding, hot air ballooning, art workshops, writing workshops..... I've been trying to come up with something special to do for my 70th birthday. I came up with one idea, but Mac shot that down for some reasons, though I'm still working on it. I'll find something....


I don't know if you have all watched the amazing Nightbirde audition on America's Got Talent - it's well worth a watch:

The thing that got me thinking was her words, "You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy." And suddenly a rephrased version popped into my head: "You don't have to wait for a significant birthday to do something special, to have an adventure, to challenge yourself, expand, stretch, grow." Pretty obvious really, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only person in the universe to need a reason or excuse to do things, nor the only one to use the lack of an obvious reason or excuse AS a reason or excuse to avoid moving away from the comfort and security of the metaphorical armchair in front of the fire.

So.... as well as having decided I want to work to consolidate the skills and practice of the things I love doing - bookmaking, writing, gardening / permaculture - I also want to go on small adventures, stretch a bit, grow a bit, challenge myself a bit. I'm just not sure what that is going to involve!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Writing Fragments

Writing used to be a joy for me, but it became so much harder for me since I had a stroke three years ago. In January, I did a workshop with Wanda Barker at the Raglan Summer School, and although it took me a week to rest and recover, I enjoyed it immensely. I haven't managed to keep up the writing habit though. Recently I realized that although I could write in the workshop, at home I expect myself to turn everything into 'a piece', and if I can't see a final context, I won't start. I do so enjoy the process of writing, trying to find the best words, the best order. I have never been interested in getting work published: I like to share with people who will offer constructive criticism of my writing, and I like to share with people who enjoy my words and experiences, but the rest of the world doesn't matter. So, I've been writing a couple of things that are not really poems, nor essays, nor short stories - just fragments of my life. And I've accepted that fragments are okay.

The Freedom of Selective Memory

I have discovered
the joy possible
in selective memory.
Remembering as if reading
an ancient, brief item
in a yellowed newspaper,
voices and faces faded out.
It tastes like freedom.

The Hills From My Window

From my favourite chair, I see the ridgeline followed by Maungatawhiri Road. I cannot see the road, nor my friends' homes, but I see hills, paddocks, trees, and a few houses and sheds of strangers. This morning the misty rain blurs the shapes and mutes the colours.

In the mornings, on the rare occasions I rise early enough, and weather permitting, I see the sun's rays switch the spotlights on to the highest fields, turning them a wonderful gold-green, and then the colour moves wider and lower, like a Mexican wave, across the landscape. Next the tops of the trees are highlighted, and eventually the sun become visible in the east and reaches the windows behind me.

At sunset, that same view, framed by my window, is always the same, always different. Those particular trees on that particular stretch of the ridge, are sometimes backed by glorious reds and oranges, bright pinks and grey, but my favourite evenings are the ones I suspect are painted by Salvidor Dali, when the pale but luminescent white gold or apricot outlines the hills and no matter how hard, or exciting, or busy the day has been, all is well with the world, and I breathe out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Telling the Stories

 Changing the way I tell the story after decades of negativity is hard. My 'natural' (really, it was learned) inclination is to see the negative.

So one version anticipating and living this week has so involved involved:

  • my hand hurts;
  • it's grey and wet and dreary;
  • I'm feeling old and decrepit at the prospect of 3 more medical appointments this week;
  • I can't garden or craft because my hand hurts / rain;
  • blah blah blah....

But I am actually doing what I said I would - noticing and telling the other story:

  • my eyes are all good as far as glaucoma and diabetes go, and my vision has changed so little, I can choose whether or not to get my lenses changed;
  • I had time between appointments to have lunch with my friend, Amy;
  • I had a visit from another friend, Liz, and had a long lunch with her in Raglan;
  • Steven is coming tomorrow to visit;
  • my sore hand gives me an excuse to curl up with books for hours;
  • the rain flooded the bottom paddock beside the drive today and there were lots of ducklings paddling in the shallow 'pond'.
A negative outlook is a hard habit to break - I've tried before - especially having had decades of working on the principle of 'if I expect the worst, I can't be disappointed. But I'm trying.