Sunday, 22 March 2020

Not Reading


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

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 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.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Two Butterflies and Two Empty Chairs

I feel I neglect this blog terribly, yet always return at some stage to add more. My other more cared for blog can be found HERE 


Me, looking sceptical outside a private residence inside a public park - the Oamaru Gardens to be exact. I was wondering what it would be like to live in the middle of a Botanical Garden. My cousin took the photo. We thought the house with its verandah, reminded us a bit of our grandparent's old house. Long gone now. 


These deep red glads I saw in the Oamaru Gardens, live up to their name and gladden my heart, reminding me very much of my mother's garden when we were kids. 


Petunias remind me of a children's story I remember from my childhood - Petunia the Goose.


My cousin and her parents gathered at the Gardens - a mid-point to our respective homes - to remember our Aunty Lorna, who died two years ago, as well as other members of that line who have died. My Aunty there with us that day, is the only one left of her siblings. I asked her how that felt. She admitted it felt strange. She found it especially difficult when she was trying to remember some family fact or story and the realisation that she had no-one left to ask anymore, really hit home.

While we sat in a sunny, sheltered spot, surrounded by the beauty of the Gardens we noticed that by chance, we had brought too many outdoor seats, resulting in there being two empty chairs. I pointed out how it was like having my mother and Aunty Lorna sitting there with us. As we talked, I kept imagining them chipping in.

At one point, I noticed a butterfly - for me butterflies often show up when I am thinking of, or missing, someone who has passed on. Suddenly there were two butterflies fretting above the flowers. Like two sisters, or the past and the present intermingling, tangling, making their presence felt.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

In a Good Space

I have written in a previous post at the beginning of the year about a planned new writing space ... and it is here!



I am over the moon with it. Still have a few things to bring in and to add ... but that will slowly happen.


A favourite tree in the Dunedin Botanical Gardens

Busy with some poetry events coming up. And some good news re my fourth poetry book also to share when the time is right.



Life is busy almost to overflowing, but good.

Spring is being very capricious. We have had a week or more of unsettled winter-like weather. But I am not complaining - it's great writing conditions. I write better in cold weather than in hot.


One of my grandchildren running ahead -as they do!

Monday, 9 September 2019

Short Breather


A while ago, with my daughter in law, I visited a small Dunedin beach called Second Beach. It is literally the next beach along from the larger, more well-known St Clair beach, hence the name.
However, this is no 'second-best beach'. It is in fact a wee gem.

I was particularly taken by the quiet, almost secret, atmosphere embraced by the small bay. The deep sea water bashing and lapping in turn against the basalt rocks, adds to the sense of calm and mystery. This reflective mood is in stark contrast to the more forthright, frantic, crazily thrashing breakers of its neighbour, St Clair.

It doesn't take long to walk the track, but the short breather from being indoors that it supplied me and K. made it more than worth its weight in distance. As we walked we talked, so a lot of the scenery no doubt passed us by. All the more reason for a return visit. In fact, make that plural: return visits.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Winter Green


Here in Aotearoa, spring is in a hurry and winter is growling about that. As result of winter's displeasure (pardon blatant 'seasonal anthropomorphism') we've lately been treated to bitter weather blowing in from Antarctica.
However, the signs of spring persist.
It's a time to celebrate what is left of winter and get ready to welcome in the new season.


In our glasshouse, grape leaves are dying in resplendent umber.


Glasshouse guddle waits to be used.


The rhubarb sprouts.


Tulips and daffs share the one pot. Ready to bloom. Soon.


The celery has bravely forged on through the winter. Its bright green, able to be seen from our kitchen window, a tonic for the eyes.


The neighbour's wilderness of a backyard allows wattle to creep through our fence. This will be chopped back. But in the meantime, I'll enjoy its colour and perfume.


 No doubt there are some real variety hibernating hedgehogs sleeping under leaves around here and will emerge once spring truly arrives.


After spring comes summer, and beach days. Shell gathering. Ah, but I mustn't rush things. The days are going fast enough as it is.


Saturday, 20 July 2019

Photo Shoot


Sometimes it seems that on a familiar walk, you've run out of photos to take. Nothing to see here. Nothing to inspire me to unpack my camera and take a shot.

And then ... I spot something. Like this lamp. Who knew?


And once the eye has been 'unlocked' so to speak, photo opps. begin to appear almost as if out of the blue.


Just in the one spot, three photos materialised after I took time to look.

There's something endearing about objects / machines that quietly, humbly provide a service ... do their thing without hoop-lah or ceremony. Almost invisible until someone notices. Sometimes all it takes to notice is a little casual mindfulness.


I'm sure this couple is useful for something. No doubt, indispensable for a certain job. Waiting patiently to do their thing in summer? as winter litter gathers at their feet.



No protection for these exposed tree roots situated on ground high school children trample over every school day. Even so, they do not give up and die. They still do their job.


Some metal and plastic primary colours to break winter bland.


Aotearoa gradually losing the coal, doing so slowly, resolutely, through such forums as advertised on this power pole poster. These forums petition councils to have a green heart. They will not let up until their goal is reached. A coal-free planet earth.


As I approached home I spotted this survivor.


And this small, white star flowering on a shrub along our driveway capped off my catches for the day.

Not Reading

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 wa...