Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Hey There Mr Blue'

Yesterday the sun came out after a week of cheerless, cold, grey weather. The blue sky after such a lengthy shut-out, was greeted in normal fashion with noise: lawnmowers and hedge trimmers; cars roaring down the street, windows generously wound right down so that everyone gains the benefit of drum and bass from a stereo system playing full tilt. Next door's Dad and kids playing cricket on the back lawn.

I went out on to our pocket-handkerchief deck, opened up a fold-up chair and had just started to read Janet Frame's 'Towards Another Summer', when our son C called in with three others from Haast. They had flown over on a small plane just for the day (as you do.) We offered them coffee and chocolate and spent a pleasant hour chatting before they headed off for the journey back over the Southern Alps. (I thought the pilot with his abundance of local knowledge and the way he can tell a yarn, was a little like a combination of two of my brothers.)

This morning the sun was there again. We went for a walk around part of the golf course where we got views of St Clair beach.
This walking is all in a vain (note intended double entendre) attempt to lose some of the kilos I have put on - BEFORE Christmas Dinner. Please stop with the chocolates people ... and the fudge and nuts ...

I have now ticked off most of the items on my tattered list. So all is in readiness for the arrival of SEA (son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter) from Kyoto on Christmas Eve. We are travelling up to Christchurch to meet and greet them from off the plane.
Great excitement! It would be great if the sun kept shining, but unfortunately the forecast is for showers.

Monday, 15 December 2008

On the Doorstep


doorway

We who are bad
are on the other side
of the stoop, ignored.
Like leaves, our hearts curl.

Outside, the stony town
struggles to free itself
from a tangle
of cloud. Out there

the faces
of the goody-goodies
gleam as smooth
as sucked sweets.

***

On Saturday we went to Salisbury House to take a look at an exhibition there by local artists. I was particularly interested in Kirsten Wenburn's art. I appreciated her work's quietude, order and balance. I particularly liked 'Time Jumps for Alice' (if I remember the title of the work correctly.) I liked it because I could understand the way it tried to at first capture, and then set free, time. I believe most or all of Kirsten's work on display in the gallery was on ceramic tiles; some displayed in a cruciform pattern. I was taken with what looked like the imprint of wallpaper patterns on some of the tiles. Wallpaper patterns have the capacity to instantly bring back memory of home and place.
I didn't feel I could take photos of the art in the gallery, so made do with the doorway. Which in turn inspired the poem.

Paint Us Another Starry Night

The last day of M's exhibition 'Thunder Head and Rainbow Face' means stripping the bright, filled-in walls of the Blue Oyster back to white space.

It's saying good-bye to the paintings that were bought, now away from our gaze, leaving behind emptiness.

That's the nature of art - one-offs. Unlike the repetition of the printing press.

Or of song. As Joni Mitchell once said after someone in the audience yelled out for a song; "Funny how Vincent Van Gogh was never asked to paint us 'Starry Night' again."

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Making a List and Checking it Twice


* I have certainly made myself a list - it's a scruffy little affair (maybe by forcing it to be a street urchin, I can keep it from becoming a tyrant!) I keep stapling new strips of old calendar pages to it until it's almost become as heavy as a brick.

* Ruth Arnison, a local poet, has got an exciting project underway here in Dunedin. It's called 'Poetry in Waiting Rooms' and is an idea she got from the UK. She has obtained permission from the originator of the idea to do a similar project over here. Go HERE to read about it.

* I keep forgetting to mention how one windy but otherwise pleasant Sunday in September - October this year, Rosemarie Smith, a Southland Times reporter and a fellow ex-Gore High School pupil, interviewed me for the Gore newspaper. Rosemarie, a competent, experienced journalist with an understated, smooth style; yet satisfyingly meticulous for all that; has a relaxed manner and receptive ear. She took very few notes, yet the article (which relatives down there kindly saved for me) proved she had listened well and carefully. She took a photo of me as well (looking a mite windblown) down by the harbour outside 'The Customhouse Restaurant'. I was chuffed about gaining some kudos in my old hometown. I even got a proud phone call about it from my Southland-farmer brother. Thanks Rosemarie, and may your tireless quest to find succcessful, imaginative writers who used to attend GHS, field you nifty results! (Tim Jones of the blog Books In Trees is another writer who was interviewed by Rosemarie.)


* I am enjoying reading a book by NZer (from Christchurch) Hamish Beaton called 'Under the Osakan Sun', which is about the time he spent in Japan teaching English. It is full of colourful characters and quixotic occurrences and adventures and is giving me valuable insight into what it must be like for our son over there teaching for three years now. Our son has a blog which has some interesting posts about his experiences over in Japan (although he hasn't updated in a while.) Kamsin's blog also provides me with insight. She also writes very well about her time over in Japan and I really enjoy her posts. Of course I fully believe both her and S will one day publish their books too! And then there is Mama Llama's blog which on occassions also features her teaching adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun. Next year I hope I can add my own, when we make our trip over there. Meanwhile I shall glean what impressions I can from these people. Having a granddaughter who is half-Japanese certainly gives me incentive!

Introducing Boris

I bought this Christmas stocking today for our granddaughter Aya who will arrive with S and E on Christmas Eve to be with us for her first Christmas. Our chimney is rather narrow though - I hope SC doesn't get stuck!

I started the day off by having a coffee with a friend who's also a writer. We chatted about writing and sundries beside a garden centre where the light flooded in through a giant perspex ceiling. I chose as an accompaniment to the coffee (and for my breakfast) a ginger pear baby cake.

To my friend I bemoaned the fact that even though recently I've written a trinity of poems, I can't see much time in the next few weeks for writing, as there are far more exciting things to think about. That poem about my mother dancing is going to have to wait.
My friend told me not to worry; that the ideas are all brewing and will just pour out 'ready-made' when the time is right. I am holding on to that. My muse is mad with me though and is sulking. If indeed I have a muse. (If I do it's male and a grouch.)

This is probably my favourite Christmas tree ornament ... it was the first one I owned and was bought in the UK when we were over there in the 70s ...

The exciting things that we have on our immediate horizon are the Christmas Eve arrival of SEA from Kyoto; here for Christmas and for the NZ celebration of their marriage in January.

This cheery fellow was sent over from Japan last Christmas. This year he joins our Christmas Tree family.



The Christmas tree this year is a real live one growing in a large pot. I purchased it today from the garden centre where my friend and I met for coffee. I picked it out especially and have named it Boris. I think Boris likes it here. I like him too - he smells nice!

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...