Thursday, 29 June 2006

Not Keeping Up With The Joneses

This week's Poetry Thursday's prompt tied in with the poem I intended to post anyway - so wasn't that fortuitous / serendipitous or simply lucky?

It is a poem I wrote about four years ago and so I had to update it a little, e.g. I changed mobile to digital camera and video to dvd.

It is really saying, Hey just because we're middle-aged and middle-class, don't put us into the 'House and Garden' box. Don't assume we do all the typical middle-class stuff. It's saying the simple life is the life for us - anyway, we haven't got enough money for it to be anything else.
It's a celebration of being ordinary and un-cool - un-trendy.
If life really is always a high school class - we're the quiet ones in the middle of the classroom who no-one really remembers being there. The ones who notice everything and quietly write it up in their diaries!
It's a poem that says we like the quiet life; we're not great social-ites, gregarious entertainers or phone conversationalists, but we're happy with that, and we're okay!

we may be middle-class but we don't know our wines

When the phone rings
there's a race
not to be the one
to answer it.
We don't own a digital camera
or sip water from bottles.
There's no four-wheel drive in our drive.
No dishwasher.
No holiday to Australia

planned, or any
desire to grow olive trees.
We may be middle-aged, middle
class, but we don't know
our wines, have never been
to an opera in a quarry; don't have
barbecues or yearn for a spa.
I fell for him 32 years ago
because he looked

like Cat Stevens
- or Jesus. He fell for me
because of my powder-blue
raincoat and yellow shoes.
Our garden is scruffy, our tastes low-key.
We prefer to spend nights in;
hire a dvd,
light the fire,
eat chocolate.

Monday, 26 June 2006

It's Elemental My Dear

Cold conditions continue. We woke to another frost this morning with the roads extremely icy. First thing this morning on our way to work, ABM drove the Alfa and I drove CD's (aka Son no. 3) Toyota Corona, in tandem (or is that in a convoy? Dunno if two vehicles qualify as a convoy ... ) to the mechanic's for the Toyota to get what was needed fixed for its warrant of fitness. We were forced to travel at a snail's pace along white roads and up slippery slopes - Friday's daylong comments of Dunedin having 'hills like glass' was echoing in my ears. At one point we had to pull over in order for ABM to scrape ice off the windscreen. However, the sense of achievement once the mission was completed, was worth it. Because yay! Tomorrow I will have my car back and CD's car will be road-worthy again.

During my twelve-minute walk to work from where ABM dropped me off, I couldn't help but realise that first of all there is frost, and then there is frostier frost. I would've welcomed a balaclava. For me, what qualifies as the best of both worlds is to park the car about twenty minutes away from work and walk from there. I plan to keep up this daily exercise and experience of the elements. You really know you're alive when you feel frost on your eyebrows.

We had arranged a place for ABM to pick me up from after work, but I arrived a little early so decided to pop into the Green Acorn cafe and get a coffee-to-go in an attempt to keep warm while standing waiting. (Even though it was only 4.30, it was already beginning to freeze again.) Once inside and about to order, I realised I didn't have my purse with me. Feeling sheepish I explained and was about to scuttle out the door again when the guy said he'd trust me to bring the money in tomorrow, and cheerfully made me a coffee. What a nice guy. He had an accent (I thought it was Scottish or Irish - sometimes I can't tell which is which. I know one lilts up and the other down, but I usually forget which way about it is.)

Turns out he was from Liverpool anyway. He said that Liverpudlians feel more akin to the celts than to the cockneys, so he wasn't offended when I asked if he was from Scotland.
He was telling me that his two flatmates had gone to a party in a field (of course he meant 'paddock', but I forgave him the cultural booboo - especially as I actually prefer the word field to paddock - just as I prefer the word pail to bucket) at Middlemarch over the weekend. It was minus 11 degrees, but they loved it. "But they would, they're hippies," he said, "and I'm not." Apparantly they'd stayed up all night and then watched the sunrise come up out of a valley of mist and frost as the dj hired for the party played on. Awesome, I'd imagine.

But all the same, I think I'm with the Liverpudlian non-hippie; I too prefer to be asleep at that hour, wrapped up warm in my bed, even if an awesome winter sunrise is occurring while I snooze.
I can only take experiencing the elements so far - I do have my limits. Somehow I think this week I've done pretty well. (Refer here to insert for pic of yesterday's polar plunge)
I'm prepared now to quit while I'm ahead.

Thursday, 22 June 2006


Here is my Poetry Thursday's poem:

do that thing you do with words

Blood, fire, stone,

found, sea, sun,
earth, sky,

blue, rock, ice, snow,

word, read, hope,

fill me with home.

river, daughter,


place me.

Maggot, sick,
vivid, bog,

putrid, unction,
rude, paddock, knickers,


titivate, urinal,

ululate, vole,


only yesterday,


made me laugh.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Some beech leaves are still hanging in winter

This is a photo I happened to find in flickr (I am always amazed - it never fails me!) to demonstrate exactly what I saw today in the Botanical Gardens on my way home from work. I spotted some beech trees with leaves way at the top fluttering in the breeze - their golden colour shining in the low sun is what caught my eye. I thought at first they were flowers or blossom - but no. Just a few autumn leaves hanging on until the last possible moment.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006


Thanks to flickr for this photo which captures a sunrise a little like the one I describe in my poem posted below.

I wrote the poem at an informal poetry workshop that two other writer friends and myself have every month.

It's about walking to work early one morning last week just as the winter sun was rising in the east. The street was alive with all sorts of sights - the schoolboys sitting on a fence waiting for their bus were particualrly amusing - like boys that age worldwide, I imagine, they rejoice in casually wearing just their light cotton, school-uniform shirts in the freezing temps; refusing to wear regulation jackets or their warm, woollen school jersies. (I remember my sons were exactly the same - the jersey and jacket were never worn - what a waste of money!)

An early, winter morning is so dramatic I think - I tried to capture something of that here:

sky watch

All day the sky like a sleeping duck
hiding its head
inside its grey feathers
but not before burning
orange and blue, St Lee’s church spire
a black soldering iron
thrust into its cold fire.

I watch flames melt into grey
where the sky dips
and schoolboys without jackets
sit on fences, their shirtails
hanging out just one side.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Wicked Winter

'Every mile is two in winter' ( George Herbert)

Originally uploaded by Weissryk.
This winter shot taken by Weissryk from flickr, shows the beauty of winter in my part of the world ...

In winter you need more clothes - which involves more laundry and more time needed to get dressed and undressed. More heating is needed - which requires more money and time and if like us you have a fire, more effort. As there is less daylight, there is more urgency to get things done while it is still daylight. Mornings are cold and uninviting, so it is a struggle to get out of bed. If there's been a frost overnight, again there is time and effort required to scrape ice off the windscreen.

Overall winter can be a bit of a slog.

However, despite all that, I still like winter for its chance to scurry away and semi-hibernate - scale down, pull the curtains, eat hot food like soup, macaroni cheese, toast; to listen to the rain on the roof, wear hats and gloves and scarves and go for fighting-fresh, bitter, brisk walks.

The landscape is more dramatic too, with the deciduous trees bare and dark against a grey sky, the groundcover thin; mud and earth showing through scarce strands of grass. Snow-covered mountains, orange willows, icy blue lakes and heavy seas white with the froth of winter storms.

I have a dear friend who writes beautiful descriptive letters (yes some of us still write letters) extolling virtues of each season. She is a gardener by inclination and occupation and so she knows the seasons off by heart and hand. Her celebration of each season over the years has heightened the changes for me too. She talks of winter being a time of restoration - when nature retrenches and retracts and slowly, quietly builds up its sap and energy for the sudden explosion of growth in spring.

Winter can be a chance then for us to do the same. To slow down and reflect and restore our energies. (Store our sap!) I do try, but more often get caught up in doing things. Sometimes I can feel busier in winter than summer. I can get caught out by the illusion that there is nothing better to do with my time and so take on extra commitments, ending up far too busy to enjoy the long, dark evenings. (Although as I get older, I notice I am getting wiser to this.)

In a way I envy animals who hibernate. What a delicious thing, to sleep the winter away! Yet at the same time I'd hate to miss out the particular thrills winter gives us - red berries against a stone wall; small flowers that keep on blooming through the cold. The glee of waking up to snow - or standing in the middle of its cold rush as flakes swirl under moonlight, or a streetlight, in a crazy, hypnotic dance. The fresh-air smell of frost on a winter's morning; iced-over puddles smashed into a spider-web pattern by the heel of a child. Fireside moments.

Once upon a time before my wider girth became an issue - or more than likely the result of such excesses - ABM and I would roast and salt some peanuts, mull some red wine, break open a bar of chocolate and settle down to a cosy winter's night indoors watching videos. Ah! Bliss!

And that's given me a most wicked idea for a treat for us both this weekend. After all - winter seems to go hand-in-hand with wicked - well, if nothing else, at least it's alliterative.

Saturday, 10 June 2006


Sometimes I just can't believe the choices we have in this small city. If I walk in one direction I reach the beach

and in the other the harbour.

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...