Friday, 28 August 2009

Cloud 9

Off on a roadie for an art exhibition opening, and then I take to the air to visit family in our windy capital, Wellington. Photos will follow.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Announcing ...

Spring has arrived before September. But being spring, bad weather has been forecast. However we will enjoy the good while its here.

Dunedin's new Poetry Reading Season has also been announced. I hope to make a couple, but will miss some due to our visit to Japan.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Rethabile has encouraged me today by linking to my poem, 'Life's Work'. Rethabile is also an editor of the international, online poetry magazine Canopic Jar - worth a look and also as somewhere to submit your poetry.
Appropriately the poem is partly about our son Mike Cooke who is going to be exhibiting, along with eight other emerging NZ artists, at the Christchurch City Art Gallery in a show called 'Cloud Nine'. Opening night is next Friday. We are looking forward to being in Christchurch for that. From Ch'ch I fly up to Wellington (my second favourite NZ city) to catch up with family.
We are also starting to realise that our dream of visiting our son's home in Japan is getting very close. Not long to go now and we will be flying over to Kyoto, via Singapore.
Things to look forward to in the very near future, which is fitting as spring begins to stir around us.

The musky smell of the plum blossom at the bottom of our drive now greets me as I set off on my walk to work. Or to catch the bus into town as I did today; actually two buses so that I could visit my daughter in Belleknowes. I could have had the car, but forgot I needed it and when Robert set off for work in the morning (early) I was still too wrapped in sleep to want to leap out and drop him off. Having the one car is sometimes a hassle, but mostly it means I get to walk lots and that we are doing our bit for the environment. The bus service is pretty good, but if it was even better maybe more people would use it and their car less. In a perfect world.
Another encouragement was getting my poem on qarrtsiluni mentioned here at Procrastination Station. Such encouragements help boost the writer in me to keep going. Not that I heeded it today, a day in which I only attended the borders instead of getting right into the garden. But I do think that from now until mid-October, it might just be a case of note-taking. There is a bit too much going on. And anyway, I need to knit (speaking of which, go here to Catherine's blog for an interesting post on this art and its connection to poetry) ... Ah. Busyness. Blame it on spring.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

A Storm in a Teacup

(Note the reflection of the hutch dresser in the tea!)
Tea. One of my greatest joys. Coffee is all very well. The aroma though is often the best part. Whereas tea although without any aroma to speak of, has more of an ability to hit the spot.

* Did you know that there are tea-receptor taste buds on your tongue (located near the back, nestled on both sides) that only come alive when you drink tea? Reference: KMC Factoids

The cup you drink from is important. The cup above was given to me by my mother as a collector's piece, being a Rosina Wachtmeister (whose website is amazing, I urge a visit; although I think a warning should be attached, that content may slow you down and is not recommended for anyone in a hurry.) My mother gave the cup (with saucer) to me to 'display', but my mind has been changed on that matter since talking to my daughter in law Kate Cooke.

While at Art School, she made teacups based on the idea of 'A Storm in a Teacup' (see above). When she found out that I had put them on to a safe shelf to be looked at and admired, she was horrified. She said that they were made to be used. As a dutiful mother in law, I heeded her word and have found that they are wonderful for coffee - as Art and My Life who has had a coffee from one of these cups, can testify (please go visit her blog, you're in for a treat.)

I am an erstwhile collector of crockery - china - whatever you want to call it. Especially if it contains the colours orange and blue, singly, or combined ... I am beginning to use more and more of my precious pieces, gradually getting over the 'china should be kept in a china cabinet' mentality inherited from my mother. (I keep my china in a hutch dresser that cost under twenty dollars in kitset form at The Warehouse). I'm sure this would make my Scottish great-great-grandmothers very proud!

In Other News ...

I have become a great-aunt again. My niece has had a baby boy, one and a half months premature. Both mother and baby are well. HOWEVER, he came as a complete surprise to everyone, including his mother! She had no idea she was pregnant and when she went to the doctor with chronic stomach cramps, was told that she was about to deliver. She told her father (my brother) that the doctor took one look at her face and knew that this was news to her. She had been living life as normal right up to this point. She is a hockey player who has represented her province many times and has been playing hockey right up to the delivery. This baby has arrived safe and well having weathered everything on the pregnancy 'Don't Do' or 'Don't Eat' list. I can't wait to meet this wee dude!

Saturday, 8 August 2009


My kind, sweet friend kj has asked me to join her in the community of Blogland Lane. Thanks kj. It does me good sometimes, grounded person that I am, to leave this earthly plane for the virtual. I have selected a small cottage with a beach frontage. It is slowly taking shape, form and colour as I draw closer.

bring your crayons

It has two windows,
with curtains nipped in
with a bow. The front door
in between the windows
has a brass knocker
and a round door-handle.

A crooked, flagstone-path
with flowers
bordering both sides,
wanders to the doorstep.
An apple-tree grows
smack bang in the middle
of the round, front lawn.
Smoke curls from a brick chimney.

You recognise this house,
you think,
"I have drawn it before
with crayons.
When I was a child."
And so you did. Now
you draw yourself
inside, draw up a chair.

Wait for the tea
in the Japanese teapot
to draw. Draw closer
to the fire. Draw in a breath.
Draw us sitting there talking
as the day draws to a close.

Friday, 7 August 2009

A Pressing Engagement

My great-grandmother Alison Riddell (or Riddle). Her photo is all I have of her, apart from any memories of her that my mother talks about. My granddaughters are lucky to have their great-grandmothers still here and part of their lives. My four great-grandmothers had been dead for years by the time I was born, even though the ones I know of lived until they were well into their eighties.
Alison's grandparents were Border Scots, hailing from near Kelso. Peebles was a town where some of them lived, and in 1978 when we were over in Scotland, we spent a lovely day and night in that pleasant border town (even though my main memories are only of a stone bridge and bitterly cold temperatures).

POSTSCRIPT: My sister in the Sydney airport tonight (Saturday August 8th) as she waits to board a flight back home (after a wonderful week in Australia visiting among other things, Daintree rainforest) looks up my blog in the Koro lounge, then texts me "great Grandmother looks a tad scary". Funny. I have always loved this photo of great-granny. My Aunty now has the portrait hanging on her sitting-room wall and says it is like her conscience as her grandmother's eyes follow her every move! Great-granny was apparently a very sweet woman. In those days of course they weren't meant to smile for the camera. Bad teeth? Maybe ... austere Presbyterianism more like it. I will see her smiling though ... one day.

Have been working most of this week and finding out 0nce again how precious it is to have more than one day off a week in which to write. Not that I used my one day off this week for that. I slept! Until lunchtime! Then walked into town for a Breast Scan - which as always was a most unpleasant experience. And No I don't feel sorry for the women whose job it is to woman-handle you into the best position in which to get a shot. Anyway, I am now sceptical of the scans after being told by a relative in the medical profession, who knows what he's talking about, that they are no guarantee that an early detection of breast cancer will be made. But of course you aren't going to refuse to have one. I feel pressured and / or emotionally blackmailed into compliance. They are free and at least give you a little reassurance. And you do it for your family. But today I did truly wonder if I really needed to put myself through the indignity.
At least I discovered a Her magazine while in the waiting room. On first glance I got the impression that it was an excellent magazine for the modern woman. And even better, it accepts a short story a month. That gets them my vote for an enlightened magazine. The short story I read today was written by a man. I am sorry to say I have forgotten his name. The story was a clever, futuristic, satirical piece about giant electric-power pylons. In his bio. he stated (proudly) that neither Bill Manhire or Witi Ihimaera were influences on him as a writer. I had a quiet smile. (A QUIET smile people! Just a small. little. wee. half-smile.) So the time I had to take away from writing, the walk (which was a pleasant stroll along Portsmouth Drive on a sunny, mild afternoon - I had to take off my jacket and scarf, it was so warm) was all worth it for discovering another place to send material to. And speaking of which ... I must get writing. Now that I have no pressing (for those of you who know what it's like to have a breast scan, excuse pun) appointments, I may be able to do just that.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Di Mackey Interviews Me

An official School Photo taken of me and my sister when we were in the Primers at Orepuki School. My front teeth appear to be still growing in, so I was probably about seven years old, which means that the photo was probably taken about 1960. Note dirty knees and grubby, woollen, fawn socks from coming into contact with oiled, wooden classroom floors. I remember, for example, drawing with chalk on the floor for Maths activities to learn subtraction and addition. (6 buttons and a chalk-drawn, four-roomed, two-storied house with a staircase and a biscuit tin downstairs, comes to mind.) I remember the dress I am wearing very well. Seersucker nylon. White. And yes, my YOUNGER sister was always taller than me. I got sick of adults who thought they were funny (and original) saying, "Why don't you take the brick off your head and put it on your sister's?"

I was thrilled to discover that my friend Di Mackey has posted on her website an interview with me. While visiting, check out Di's wonderful photography. She is an accomplished photographer who also lives up to her persona of Wandering Woman. A fellow-kiwi, she hails from places close to my heart, and we share a fondness for these places. I love making her homesick when I post photos and descriptions of these places (sorry Di!) And thanks Di for the interview. I'm right chuffed. (And real stoked.)

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...