Monday, 25 October 2010

And All That Jazz

Labour Weekend is a long weekend in New Zealand, with Monday being a Public Holiday.
Rather than stay and do the traditional 'garden & home' tasks (beautifully described here at my friend Sue's blog) this year Robert and I opted to take off for the weekend and catch up with his parents in Queenstown.

The fact that the annual Jazz Festival runs over Labour Weekend was an added bonus. We caught some wonderful jazz on the Saturday and Sunday, enjoying it in Queenstown's mountain and lake backdrop setting.

We listened to a mellow, Melbourne jazz trio while sitting at an outside table in the sun, gazing at a lake prancing in the sun below Cecil Peak. Well, I did the gazing, my mother in law prefered to concentrate on people. We beg to differ on that one - she says 'people' I say 'mountains'.

At the Green - designed by some far-sighted Queenstown councillors who decided that the creek formerly covered over should be unleashed to run through a green space, terraced by stone steps and forming the perfect entertainment venue - we were entertained by some young, high school jazz performers. We were blown away by their talent. A band called Hoodoo Voodoo were especially impressive - and our favourite.

"I remember when this was all just tussock and broken glass," my mother-in-law said as we drove past St Omer's Park - a green, manicured area that now runs alongside lake frontage under established willows. She was remembering back some fifty-five years. Over a time that spans some seventy years now, she has seen a lot of changes to her beloved Queenstown.

Today before we made the return trip back to Dunedin, Robert and I had a stroll through the shopping area and a coffee at a place that overlooks where he used to live as a small boy. He pointed out where his house was and described how in the weekends he would wake up, fold back the windows and clamber up on to the window-sill to sit there and look out at 'nothing going past'.
"Then I would go and climb the apple tree," he said, pointing out where it grew, an area now choked with Real Estate offices and shops selling camping gear. I tried to picture the little rough-cast home with its apple tree, trying to see through time - to blot out the ungainly clutch of modern buildings that have scribbled it out.

After that we went for a walk in the Queenstown Gardens Among the photos I took was one of the bowling green. It reminded us of the poem I wrote in 'Feeding the Dogs' about this very bowling green.

lawn bowlers, Queenstown

They rustle like medics
in white shoes
up a green

that's spotless.
They peer out
from under brims

as if this is all
they've ever known;
the regular clock

as two bowls collide,
the sentences neatly clipped,
this oven-warm sun

and backdrop range
of mountains. They stuff
their pockets

with tape measures,
dusters and chalk
and leave their hands

free to cradle
bowls the weight and shape
of babies' heads.

We arrived back to a lovely surprise. Our daughter-in-law had procured some tomato plants for us and planted them in our glasshouse (as well as mending the broken panes so that it was nice and snug for the plants). What a sweetie. Surely we will sleep soundly tonight, knowing that the traditions of a kiwi Labour Weekend, a combination of shopping, spring-planting and leisure, have been well and truly fulfilled, either by us directly, or kindly, on our behalf.

Friday, 15 October 2010


My life is divided into slices - like wedges of a cake. (Which is funny, because I sometimes get called 'Cake' by small children trying to pronounce my name). The wedges go under certain titles, like 'friend', 'worker', 'writer', 'mother ' 'sister' etc ...

Lately I have been taken up, divided, into the role of daughter, sister, niece, aunty, mother and grandmother.

There is also the writer slice which at the moment sees me working solidly on the m.s. for another poetry collection. And as always, there's the worker-bee slice when I am asked to work and really (literally) cannot afford to say no.

What I am trying to say, very clumsily, is that sometimes we can't fit everything in and other things take precedence. Lately for me, any blogging (both writing posts and reading other blogs) has had to be left until the next gap arrived.

I think another month will see the m.s. finished. For this year anyway. No doubt it will still need some editing and a bit of trimming, polishing etc. on into next year. But the hefty bulk of it has been dealt to and very soon I will have breathing room again.

Already I have planned what I am going to be doing writing-wise for 2011. Reading and sorting. Filing and research. But mostly reading. It's time to take up the slice of the cake labelled 'reader.


Photo taken at Queenstown

Just over a week ago now we had a short visit from our son who lives in Kyoto, Japan. It was arranged quickly and kind of out of the blue, and was a complete delight from start to finish. He came over with his 10-month old son, so we got to meet our new grandson whom we had only ever seen on Skype. The visit was over all too soon, leaving us with precious memories and loads of photos.

Heading back to Kyoto

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...