Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Weathering

The highlight of last week was when we were treated to a visit from blogger friend Rebecca the Wrecker, and her partner Mr Accordian.
While Rebecca was over here, she collected gemstones from NZ beaches for her amazing jewellery (do take a look at her site) while Mr Accordian, a musician, collected sounds. (And do take a look at his site too - fascinating stuff there as well!)
I showed Rebecca a favourite stone I have from my father's collection of Orepuki gemstones, and she was able to identify what kind it is. Something I have long wanted to know.
Mr Accordian sussed out our piano (often neglected in our household these days as ABM has more or less turned to golf.) When he played it, piano music once more frolicked joysomely* through our house. Mr Accordian described it as a 'bright' piano. I'm tempted now to tell it every day just how intelligent it is. (Just kidding.)
As we said goodbye after a visit that was too short, Rebecca and I agreed that now we can verify, for the blogging world, each other's existence. What an interesting, creative pair they are; we really enjoyed their company.

*I've decided this should be a word - especially when it applies to our piano.

***

And the highlight for this week would have to be today when I dropped in at Otago University Press with the painting M did for the cover of my next book, 'made for weather'. I'm overwhelmed with the painting, just completed this weekend. It's quite beautiful.

***

In the weekend we paid a visit to ABM's parents in Queenstown.



ABM did a little leaf-raking.


A friendly neighbourhood cat dropped in to supervise.












Mr Garden Frog will soon be taken indoors to weather the winter there. I wish someone would do that for me!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Venus Above Vauxhall


Tonight after getting home from work, every cell in my body screamed WALK!!! even though it was just getting on dark. (Actually that's the best time to go for a walk imho.) The moon was the shape of the horns of a bull, and if this photo was larger, you'd be able to spot Venus, diagonally down to the left. (I promise you, it's there.)


In the distance, the lights of Vauxhall and homeward-bound traffic sounding like wind through pines.


A jogger trotted past, his feet on the gravel path sounding just like a chuffing train.

***



Among other creative pursuits, Carmen from the blog '327 Market Street' makes postcards. She sent me this excellent example. She is thinking of coming over to my place for a visit. I hope she does!


And Anne from the blog 'Cat Politics' sent me this beautiful book - I have only managed to get to page one, and already regret ever having accepted full-time work, because since doing that I just haven't had the time to read it. I have promised myself to do so this weekend.

***

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Flight

Saturday.


The last of autumn's ember-glow from the silver birches.


Seagulls hanging out at the inlet.


Seagulls, it seems to me, have a knack for making the most of the day.





***

Work-wise, I am back at the early childcare centre where I have worked off and on, part-time, for the last five years. This time however, I have a full-time position. I enjoy working with children. I like the unexpected things they say, like 'thirty o'clock' and 'I giv'd it back.'

Life on the other side of the coin - the side where you're at work for eight hours of the day every day of the week - is certainly different. There is a kind of a weary element; a 'welcome to the real world' aspect. Time-wise, I've noticed the squeeze. Especially on the time I've now got left in which to write. However, I'm sure my first pay packet will make it all worth it!

***


If I look hard enough, there are still some flowers to be found in the garden as it slowly retracts for the winter.



The sky too was looking very fine today. I liked these curly, cat-paw clouds.


***

This morning ABM and myself made a quick trip out to the airport to see my mother off back to the North Island. She's had a good three weeks down here catching up with the South Island members of her family.


No nervous Nana this. She had a window seat and was looking forward to her flight, even though from where we were all sitting having our coffee, we could see the plane on the runway wasn't a large one. Over the last thirty years Mum's flown many times to visit family, and so has got to know that a smaller plane flies lower in the sky, giving great views. Today's conditions were clear, and the view over the South Island would be splendid. She wasn't even going to be put off by my sister-in-law H calling the plane an egg beater.

***

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Photos from my brother's farm, where I visited in the weekend.

Lollypop the calf.

What they look out at from from their backyard.



After the weekend it’s been straight into work - full bore and full-time. I feel a little bit like I’m on a spinning wheel. However, I am pleased to note that it is not affecting my writing too much. I have managed to write a poem (I wrote the first draft last night, and then finished it tonight.) This is encouraging. Long may it continue, because the last thing I want a forty-hour working week to do, is kill off the writing.

I am pleased too that I am managing to build a walk into the morning as I make my way to work. Part of the walk includes going through the Botanical Gardens. Not that I have time to stop and smell the flowers.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Happy Mother's Day


I know it is only Saturday and a little early to wish you a Happy Mother's Day - even for the this side of the date line, where the day arrives first.
I will be away for Mother's Day itself. I am going to catch up with my mother who is staying at my brother's farm.
These flowers arrived for me today. From my daughter. This year I have fallen in love with yellow flowers.



And I think I'm quite justified.
Somehow yellow flowers = happy :)

Friday, 11 May 2007

Full Frontal Lobes


The random quote I picked up from Poetry Thursday was 'mirror'. I have chosen a poem that uses that word from my second collection, due to be published in July.

(Apologies to those of you who have read this poem before - yes, you're right, this is the second time I've put it on my blog.)


‘my little grasshopper plane cannot fly very high’*


We listen to music from records that smell of warm tar,
opening the windows wide to let the sound through.
And despite the dark-green pine
and the orange-tiled roof of the house
against the hill, there are darker things
to consider in these wobbling, afternoon hours:

an imminent death, how chancy our lives,
last night’s dream. I tip my head right back
like a child drinking rain
and see at once how blue and terrible
a sky without clouds. How blank, like a mirror
that refuses to show me my face

and leaving me without the benefit of borders
or wings. You turn the record over
to play side two. I tell you about the dream
last night of my father, dead now
thirty-seven years and how I heard him
say, “See how right you were to trust me?”

*title of a song by Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 on the album 'Stillness'.

***

The other day in the mail were the proofs for my second collection, 'made for weather'. M told me what he's painting for the cover. This book is now a reality!

Meanwhile ideas for the next collection continue to swirl (a little like the leaves M is going to include in the book cover.) Now begins the hard graft of shaping these ideas into hard-won poems.

Lately my prose writing has reverted to quickly recording daily events and quirky incidents - like the teenager on the bus the other day I heard say, "He used to be bi-sexual, but now he's stopped."
(Of course this could as easily become a poem as a prose piece.)
Riding on a bus chock-full of yelling high school kids is, yes, shall we say ... an interesting time? I did make a mental note though, not to catch the 3.15 bus again. It could be classed as a fascinating experience, however, terrifying would also qualify. I don't know that I particularly need to hear the yowling, unsettling things
about parents and peers that sally forth sparking hot off the press from disengaged, under-developed frontal lobes. Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac and the rest of the beat poets? I tell you, these kids have nothing on them!
Of course I half-jest. This is me being sardonic people! Teenagers are cute. Their energy and zest inspirational. Refreshing. (Of course I have to say that. I have a granddaughter heading that way fast. Oh dear.)

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Some images from today; a day of mild temps and sunny, clear conditions:

A silvereye feasting on berries.


The view from out of the Customhouse Quay restaurant.



Boats, both spic-and-span



and rust-bucket.


Street-lights on the jetty.



A black oyster catcher.


***


Writing: a prose piece yesterday * which will eventually end up in my 'navy-blue aeroplane' blog. Also jotting down ideas for poems. I think I've come up with a theme for the next collection - which is unlike me, normally I don't like to write to themes.
Reading: from my bookshelf: 'Berlin Diary' by Cilla McQueen (poetry) and 'Argonaut Rose' by Diane Wakoski (poetry). Also 'Amazing Grace' by Kathleen Norris (essays with an un-fusty take on Christianity.) And 'Friend of My Youth' by Alice Munro (short stories). I haven't quite made up my mind about Munro. That the writing is brilliant cannot be denied, it's just at times her take on life seems humourless and a little grim.
Gardening: some bulbs to lift and shift including the Naked Ladies who need a place in the sun!
Knitting: have a yen to knit another scarf, which will bring my collection to a dozen. (Still need a cornflower blue and a kelly green.)
Listening: to a cd made up for me by my friend C. It's a doozy! 'You're So Vain' by Carly Simon was the song I especially enjoyed tonight, but equally choice; 'Nine Million Bicycles' by Katie Melua and 'Song For Whoever' by Beautiful South.
Watching: 'Boston Legal' later tonight - even though it's verging at times on becoming a little toe-curlingly silly.
Also want to watch the penultimate episode of 'Huff', which I taped the other night.
... Is it just me, or is tv becoming 'so last year'. I think on the whole I am over it.
Apart from the yachting from Valencia, that is. There is something mesmerising about the sleek lines of those large yachts as they cut through the water and shimmy-shammy their way across the course. The wind factor, the jives, the tacks, the statistics, the maneuvers ... all have me hooked. (Except it is on at 3.00 a.m. over here.) 'It's a rich man's sport' is the main criticism I hear. I dunno - I just like the poetry-in-motion factor. I'd far sooner watch boats than rugby players, I know that.
And have I mentioned that the NZ yacht is doing rather well? However, with the crews being as international as they are, which country the yachts are from is almost a moot point. NZ (with some American crew) and America (with a kiwi skipper) are the top two boats. So. Our teensy country pits itself against the Big-un. Again.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Waves

This week's Sunday Scribbling's prompt was 'Ocean'.


(This a shot of the beach and the Esplanade buildings beyond the sea-wall at St Clair, Dunedin.)

I've always had a fear of tidal waves, or tsunamis. I like to be within earshot of the ocean, but far enough away - or high enough above - to be safe from the threat for myself and my family and home of being washed away by a sudden gulp from the sea.

The ocean is a huge mass of water. As it lashes at the land's borders, it appears to be desperate to 'come aboard'. Because I am constantly aware of this aspect, even though I love the ocean, I never lose a slightly uneasy feeling - call it a healthy respect - as I walk beside it. Especially the part of the coast where I live, with breakers and rollers that heave themselves with considerable force against the cliffs and rocks and into the bays.

Today I met a friend for coffee at a cafe I call the Saltwater Cafe, even tho' that's not its official name. It's situated right by the sea. Because there was no room inside, we sat at a table outside, huddled into our coats. The day had cooled down and there was a sharp, cold wind. As we talked, we watched the sparks of the late afternoon light dim and then leave the water's surface.

We could see wet-suited surfers and body-boarders and farther along some kayakers, all parrying with high-tide waves that relentlessly pushed towards shore.


The rush of the waves punctuated our conversation with an amused hiss and the rhythm and sway of the waves became quite hypnotic.

Today the wind was an off-shore wind with the waves pushing against the wind and the resulting force forming the large breakers surfers live to employ. The waves in this sort of mood, rear up, and become wild things roaring on to the sand with streaming manes of snow-white hair.

At home, the wind clawed at the clothes on the line, turning the sheets and pillow-cases into spinnakers. Sails are on my mind right now, thanks to the tv broadcasts from Valencia, Spain, with shots of New Zealand's yacht slicing with ease through the water as it competes in the Louis Vuitton Cup.



The strong wind was making our wind-vane, Trev the Kiwi farmer, work really hard turning the propellers to crank up the tractor's engine.



And he was feeling mighty grumpy about it too.



I looked up and saw seagulls enjoying the ride in the wind. Surfers, yachties and seagulls; they all love the wind.

***

That was yesterday. Today calm has been restored.



The plants are resting up after yesterday's day-long waltz in the wind. Trev is also enjoying a rest.

And I was thrilled to hear a tui.




(It's worth clicking on the above image for a closer view. And I must thank Apprentice for her very fine tip advising me to try the Sport aperture when taking photos of birds - it worked!)

It made a fleeting visit to the kowhai tree outside our deck at lunch-time today. He was very vocal and clacked and croaked a song interspersed with perfect chimes. The bellbird and the tui have very similar songs, but that's because the tui is a mimic and steals the bellbird's song.

***

Friday, 4 May 2007

Fable and Fact

Peter Pan statue in the Dunedin Botanical Gardens.


And if you know the story of Peter Pan, you know that this is the Darling family's Newfoundland called Nana. Note how over the years her nose has been rubbed shiny by thousands, maybe millions, of hands.

These industrious fellows are holding fable-creatures shaped like some sort of dragon-fish whose spurting mouths form part of the fountain.

A rather wonky box-thorn maze of which I am very fond. It has a casual, meandering air about it. Maybe because it hasn't been clipped to within an inch of its life.

This was my only successful aviary shot. I was pleased that I managed to catch something of the characteristic parrot-y gleam in his eye. There is something compelling about the knowing glint in the eye of a parrot.
And there's something too about a tree. A stillness that belies the fact that there is a gurgling, bubbling factory inside each one.

(These photos I took while waiting for the call from son C to say the first of his two bothersome wisdom teeth had been removed, and he was now ready to be picked up. This is the son with the broken ankle. He is a bit of a wreck at the moment, however despite the discomfort of ankle and teeth, he manages to remain patient and cheerful.)

Local Focal

A very Victorian Presbyterian church on the corner. This church is now empty - not because of disinterest, but because it didn't pass...