Tuesday, 12 January 2021
Saturday, 19 December 2020
|yellow poppy caught out|
Robert and I left city limits for a blast of Central Otago - his heart's home. I asked him if he'd like to live there again and he said he wouldn't be averse, but is happy in Dunedin - our oft-grey, moody little city of choice.
|This range is known locally as the Sleeping Nun. Looking from the left you can see the side profile of a sleeping nun - her wimple, forehead, nose and chin. Full scale, the rest of her prone figure can be traced in an outline against the sky.|
Queenstown, was Robert's childhood home. However a lot has happened to it since he was born there in the 1950's. Over the decades since then, it has become a popular tourist destination with visitors from all over the world coming to holiday here. A population explosion transformed (for better or worse) the sleepy little town he knew into a flash, upmarket resort full of hotels and restaurants. Since we got together in the 70's, I too have witnessed Queenstown's growth from (when I first got to know it) a rustic, burgeoning tourist spot, into the hectic, full-blown resort it is now.
|A railway line for the steam train Kingston Flyer, presently un-used.|
|In the background, the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.|
|Lunch (the pizza from last night) in Arrowtown by the river. Another favourite spot. Peaceful and shady.|
|Swing bridge, Whitechapel|
Sunday, 29 November 2020
Friday, 13 November 2020
'Into each life some rain must fall' Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In Aotearoa / New Zealand we continue to swing back and forth between minor outbreaks of Covid and Levels of protection. Recently all known cases have come from quarantined New Zealanders returning home. Six weeks ago, after a community outbreak in Auckland, the whole country went back into Level Two and Auckland - our largest city - went into lockdown for two weeks.
Breaking news today is another community case recorded in Auckland that cannot be traced back to the border or to quarantine facilities.
This is worrying. Auckland may have to once again go into lockdown. The country may have to go into Level Two or Three. This is a continual worry or threat. We are grateful that we can go about 'business as usual' while a lot of the rest of the world cannot. But we cannot afford to get complacent. Not until there's an antidote made available - and realistically, that could be a year or two away.
Meanwhile we continue in this fragile state. We are encouraged to use the tracing app and to wear masks and to practise social distancing when in crowded spaces. But from my observation the old Kiwi 'she'll be right mate' syndrome is prevailing. I have yet to see more people than myself using the app when I enter a shop etc. and sometimes to be honest, I forget too. And as for masks. Along with the rest of the world, we are not fans. They have yet to become common, everyday, every place attire in New Zealand. However, after the community outbreak case picked up in Auckland yesterday, I will be donning one when I board the plane north next week.
I have struck a bit of a (very welcome) lull after a really busy period. Most of the busy-ness was a result of follow up to the launch of my poetry book, Upturned. This involved poetry readings mainly. Some readings were organised and then had to be cancelled and / or postponed as we ducked and dived between Covid precautions and restrictions. A certain amount of gather also happened as postponed events and new events clumped together after restrictions were lifted. The opportunity to use what time was available before another restriction arrived, was grasped at, causing almost a backlog of events suddenly released like water in a dam.
Through all of this activity, I travelled to Wellington, staying there for nearly a month, giving me time to catch up with my brother and sister there and to promote my latest poetry book, Upturned. It was a chance to get together with my publisher and editor, Mary McCallum and her team at The Cuba Press. There was a buzz and an energy to it all which I enjoyed and appreciated.
However, near to the end of my stay, this exciting time full of pleasant activity and sights was marred by the sudden death of my brother in law while I was staying with him and my sister. I still can't quite take in that this actually happened. He suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital by ambulance, but had another heart attack while there and didn't recover.
I and another sister plan to travel up to Wellington next week to stay for a few days with our bereaved sister to support her a bit more at this deeply traumatic time. I say 'plan to' because in these days with the possibility of Covid popping up unexpectedly, any plans by necessity are subject to the possibility of a community outbreak somewhere, someplace, and the subsequent precautions of disruption and cancellations.
The sudden death of my brother in law has shaken me, as any sudden shocking event does. Things fall into perspective (I very quickly sorted out priorities from side-line concerns.) The present moment becomes more meaningful. Family / whanau takes precedence.
I did have a literary festival to attend as I was part of one of the events, and my sister urged me to keep to that commitment. I felt bad leaving her but was reassured she'd be okay as she had her daughter with her and other family members close by. However, my heart really wasn't in the excitement that a literary festival creates. Especially one that was able to be held during Covid, making it extra special and unique. My capacity for delight was only able to rise to the halfway mark before it hit the sadness I felt for my sister. The shock hadn't worn off and I was getting flashbacks (and continue to even now, three weeks on.)
This half-happy, half-sad state remains. But I am not in no rush to evict it. It is simply part of the process of recovery - a process I intend to let happen as it should, naturally and in its own time. I am tending towards keep a low profile (keeping my head down) during this recovery time. Probably a good thing - that way maybe in a funny way, Covid and its repercussions cannot take any pot shots.
All of the above photos were taken a day or two before my brother in law died and reflect his and my sister's locality. They were taken on a sunny day when we walked along the beach. A day when we had no idea what was around the corner. Like everything in life.
All the more reason to 'Stay with the ragged joy of ordinary living and dying ' (Donna Haraway)
Update: So far the community case is being contained and Auckland did not have to enter any precautionary alert levels.
Wednesday, 5 August 2020
As Spring approaches I can’t help but wonder what’s the summer ahead going to be like?
It’s all we can do isn’t it? Hope. As the seasons change and the days grow longer, hope doesn’t seem such a bad thing.
Sunday, 22 March 2020
A view from my writing room.
A view I am looking at a lot in these days as self-isolation. I am not 70 yet, but near enough to it to warrant feeling concerned when I venture out into the community. In Aotearoa, seventy-year olds and older are being urged to stay home.
My country is on National Alert Level Two for the Corona Virus. We haven't had any deaths (or even anyone in Intensive Care units) so far. But the virus has now travelled from just affecting those who have arrived on our shores from infected countries, to manifesting in the general community (two cases). So far we have 67 cases reported.
We are a lot better off than most of the planet. So far.
Our population is nearly five million. We are an island (well three or four islands in fact) so we can shut borders fairly easily. And they have been shut. Cruise ships have been a concern as these weren't monitored well enough two or three weeks ago. The horse may have bolted there as passengers who disembarked could well have been carriers. Now they too aren't permitted to dock.
I haven't moved far for a whole week and family who live close by, have also largely remained home.
It is scary, but life does go on as we negotiate around this outbreak. Everyone in my wider family still have their jobs. We are concerned for family overseas, but thankful for video contact with them. They are well and safe.
For me, it is not a great change to self-isolate. Normally, I do not venture out much anyway. However, I do enjoy meeting friends for coffee, going to the movies and I help out with a Church-run pre-school, music playgroup each week. These activities are curtailed for the foreseeable future. As a writer, being shut-in is no bad thing. Even so, I have found it hard to settle to writing when there is muted panic happening all around.
I am doing crosswords, watching Netflix, but surprisingly, not reading. However, when I do begin to read again, I am thinking that the many books on our bookshelves will be a good place to start.
When I am in the midst of writing - as I am at the moment with my fourth poetry book getting ready to be published (more on that later) - reading isn't to the forefront. I tend to not read when I am writing. And vice versa.
My book is nearly ready to be sent off to the printers. It is my fourth poetry collection. Exciting! But as I am finding out, this being my first ever pandemic, such excitement is clouded by the limits that being in the midst of a pandemic causes A normal launch is out of the question. A virtual launch may be possible, however. (I wonder if it will stretch to holograms?)
A major disappointment has been the postponement of Aotearoa / New Zealand's poet laureate toktoko event. (At least it's not cancelled like many other musical and writerly events.) I'm disappointed about this mostly for David Eggleton (our newly appointed laureate) but also for myself, because along with two other poets - Jenny Powell and Michael O'Leary - we are at the invitation of David, to be support poets at the ceremony - a huge privilege.
Despite the disappointments and restrictions to freedoms and privileges (formerly taken for granted) I remain thankful for many, many things. The blessings far outweighing the curses. And it's easy to be thankful when we have a Prime Minister who ends her address to the nation (the first such address delivered in this country in my living memory) by telling her people to be strong and to be kind. I'll give it my best shot.
Take care out there!
Monday, 3 February 2020
A very Victorian Presbyterian church on the corner. This church is now empty - not because of disinterest, but because it didn't pass the earthquake standards and its congregation couldn't afford the requirements needed. The fate of many such churches in New Zealand.
Across the road from the church, this view over the inlet and the more distant harbour. This is the view from a neighbourhood cafe we like to frequent. Its name, Bistro on the Terminus, alludes to the fact that its location is the site of where once upon a time the trams would begin and end their journeys.
It makes me feel happy if, rather than trawling into centre city and the malls for what I need, I can do it all locally, in my local suburb - in my little corner of the city. That way, it feels like the larger corporations and chains aren't getting it all their way.
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