Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Flying Beach Umbrellas

a favourite desk calendar reaches the last page ...

Just been watching Youtube footage of beach umbrellas and how to / how not to put them up. Apparently it was meant to be funny. However the footage appears largely to have been shot by sniggering, smug types providing superior commentary about the body-shape and other such very human foibles and flaws of fellow-holidaymakers, blissfully unaware that they were being filmed.

I can just imagine these cowards lounging back BEHIND the camera, safe in the knowledge that the world isn't ever going to see them. Maybe while these people are making their furtive, sneaky films, someone else should be filming them filming, then see how they like them apples.

I did think the clip on the flying beach umbrellas was rather funny though. Dangerous things apparently, giant, flying umbrellas. One actually appeared to swallow a woman whole! And yes, I did laugh.

There is the promise of beach umbrellas where we're headed in a couple of days. (I don't think we'll be required to put them up, so that's a relief). However, on windy days I must remember to look out for umbrellas bearing down on me. Must also look out for people taking sly movies. I certainly don't want to be the fat lady showing the world how NOT to put up a beach umbrella.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

'In a Sea of Glass and Tin'

nativity scene on window-sill

A barbecue planned for this afternoon had to be held indoors; a not uncommon barbecue eventuality around these parts.

Our friends brought out their bagatelle board. Our sons used to play a more humble form of this on a board that my mother had at her house - they called it 'Nana's Marble Game'. Our friend has made this one from recycled rimu (a native NZ wood) and used ball bearings rather than marbles.

Some of us immediately thought of the song, 'Penny Arcade'. Roy Orbison's version of this song was apparently never a hit in America or Britain, but I certainly remember it being played extensively over the radio in New Zealand in the 60's. (I believe it was popular in Australia too). Today the song, written by a British songwriter Sammy King, is the current anthem for the Scottish football club, The Rangers.

... “Step up and play”, each machine seemed to say 
as I walked round and round the penny arcade. 
“Just ring the bell on the big bagatelle 
and you’ll make all the coloured lights cascade”. 

... At first I thought it a dream that I was in. 
Lost , lost in a sea of glass and tin. 
But no, so dipping my hand in the back of my jeans, 
I grabbed a handful of coins to feed the machines. 

One of the things I remember from our last trip to Japan, were my ears being assaulted by the frantic clatter of rolling pinballs issuing from the open doorways of the pachinko parlours; a Japanese version of billiard halls or gaming arcades.

Glancing into these frenetic spaces with their waterfalls of lights and blasting whistles and sirens, you see a 'shop' lit up like a flying-saucer full of intense young men in white shirts, desperately pushing buttons and pulling levers to set the pinballs rolling.

Even that small shot of frenzy as we walked past was more than enough exposure to pachinko for me.

The relatively sedate game of bagatelle being played today, indoors safe behind glass, while outside gale-like winds worried the red roses, was really more than enough excitement for me. For now. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011


sunfish painting on Dunedin bus-stop (Portobello Road) 

from wikipedia
Many of the sunfish's various names allude to its flattened shape. Its specific name, mola, is Latin for "millstone", which the fish resembles because of its grey colour, rough texture, and rounded body. Its common English name, sunfish, refers to the animal's habit of sunbathing at the surface of the water. The Dutch-, Portuguese-, French-, Catalan-, Spanish-, Italian-, Russian- and German-language names, respectively maanvis,peixe lua, poisson lune, peix lluna, pez luna, pesce luna, рыба-лунаand Mondfisch, mean "moon fish", in reference to its rounded shape. In German, the fish is also known as Schwimmender Kopf, or "swimming head". In Polish it is named samogłów, meaning "head alone", because it has no true tail. The Chinese translation of its academic name is fan-che yu, meaning "toppled car fish".

There is an enormous, stuffed sunfish housed at Dunedin Museum. (Last time I was there, it was hanging on the wall at the top of one of the stair landings). The museum's sunfish was caught by my late brother-in-law's great-uncle. My brother-in-law was understandably very proud of that fact.

Yesterday we were watching a video of my mother's 60th birthday. It was taken twenty years ago now. So many changes since. (Including my shape - where has that skinny young slip of a thing gone?) I've changed so much since then, even Robert didn't recognise me - and he was there at the time! Over the years since then, I've turned from a minnow into a sunfish.

It will soon be the anniversary of my brother-in-law's death. He was a great father and husband and I know his three girls (my sister and his two daughters) miss him like hell. There is a beautiful wee granddaughter too now, whom he never met.

Life is a mixture. Light and dark. Happiness and sadness. Often all at the same time. Like the warmth and plenitude that the word sunfish conjures on a cool, grey day; the humour too, of a sunfish caught in a cold concrete bus-shelter.


Excited! To be the judge of a poetry competition - especially such a worthy competition as this one that Poems In The Waiting Room (NZ) are running. Go here for the details. Be in, poets!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Little Miss a Hit


This year, one of the amaryllis bulbs given to us by Robert's Dad has decided to flower. It's always a little hit and miss whether or not I am doing the right things with these potted plants. Twice in the three years since we've had the bulbs, one of the flowers has bloomed, filling that corner of the house with a quiet thrill.

These flowers remind me of the poet Diane Wakoski. On the back of her book, 'Argonaut Rose', there is a picture of her with an amyrillis. Her gaze from behind a pair of very large glasses is enigmatic - as if she is the only one who really knows why the flower warrants more attention than she does.

Her title poem opens with the lines:
'What is the history
of this arm of a red lily that towers
out of its January pot, ready to bludgeon anyone
with its axe-handled crimson blade? ...'

I know I am a greenhouse pleb., but it is a puzzle to me why amaryllis are a December / January plant, whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere  ... You'd think the bulbs would know better. Daffodil ones do; in New Zealand, daffs. wouldn't dream of flowering in May as they do in the northern hemisphere. For Diane (an American poet) it is a plant that emblazons her winter. For me, it sucks up summer light, reflecting it back in determined and boastful triumph.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

New Zealand Writer Tim Jones Explains

Tim Jones is a New Zealand writer I much admire. He is able to turn his talented writing-hand to many genres and forms - among them, speculative fiction, science fiction, short stories, novels and poetry.

 It is my absolute pleasure to take part in the Blog Tour organised for his latest publication the poetry collection, 'Men Briefly Explained'; a book I thoroughly enjoyed for a myriad of reasons - not the least being for its guiless, self-deprecating humour and the descriptions and references to parts of New Zealand I am very familiar with.

1) The last time I saw you was at the first event on your recent book tour (with Keith Westwater and David Reiter), at the Circadian Rhythm Cafe in Dunedin. The audience there was treated to an excellent evening of high quality and entertaining poetry. How did the rest of the tour go?

It went well, although we took the rain we had at the Dunedin event around the country! We had good turnouts in Christchurch, though it's probably no surprise that audience reaction was fairly muted, and even better turnouts in our home stamping grounds of Wellington and Lower Hutt. We must have had about 80 people at the Wellington event, held in the YA section of Wellington Central Library - though since it is a library, I did notice that one seeming audience member was actually there to read a library book - it was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, a choice of which I naturally approved.

I had a really good time at the Lower Hutt launch, held at Eastbourne's excellent Rona Gallery, and even though the Kapiti launch at Paraparaumu Library was organised at the last minute, and at two minutes before the scheduled start time there was only one audience member present, we ended up with an appreciative audience of a dozen or so people. Going to Auckland always makes me a little apprehensive, and by that point in the tour I'd acquired a cold - the rigours of touring life, you know - but our appearance as part of Poetry Live at the Thistle Inn was a good way to cap off the tour.

I enjoyed my turns to read, especially once I settled on the poems that worked best in front of an audience, and also enjoyed catching up with old friends - and new friends - along the way.

2) One thing that struck me about "Men Briefly Explained" was how much the first section, in particular, is about your own life. Since you grew up in Southland and Otago, that means there are a number of poems set in the southern South Island. This is a place dear to my heart, for as you know it's where I was born and brought up, but do you ever worry that these poems won't mean much to people who haven't lived in this part of the country?

This probably isn't rational, but I think I'd worry more if I were writing prose. It's true that there may not be many readers who know where Puysegur Point is ("Men at Sea") or have ever been to Haast Beach ("Shetland Ponies, Haast Beach"), but I hope the feelings and experiences communicated in the poems overcome the possible unfamiliarity of the locations. Just as a lot of the poetry in the first section of this book hearkens back to my own childhood, youth and young manhood, so it hearkens back to the places where those stages of my life took place.

Having said that, I was very impressed that my fellow book-tourist Keith Westwater, in his debut collection Tongues of Ash <>  which includes a lot of landscape poetry, thought to put in a map of the locations which the poems are about. I associate maps with fantasy trilogies - I never thought of putting one in a poetry collection, but it's an excellent idea.

3) I was interested to see that you have included some prose poems in this collection, which I don't recall seeing from you before. Is that a direction you see your poetry taking?

I'm rather surprised to see them there myself! I have always been a bit nervous of prose poetry, perhaps because I write both poetry and short fiction, and prose poetry occupies an ominous netherworld between the two.

Of the two examples, the "Three Southern Prose Poems", which are all based on experiences I had growing up - as a child playing on Bluecliffs Beach at Te Waewae Bay, as a slightly older child climbing the Black Umbrella Range in Northern Southland with my dad, and as an adolescent, rather too full of my own self-importance, travelling back to Otago University from my home town of Gore - were written several years ago now, while "As you know, Bob", three alternative futures for the male gender, was written relatively recently, so I don't think that constitutes a trend. All the same, I wouldn't be surprised if a few more prose poems pop out from time to time.

4) As an ex-Gore High pupil myself; one who also headed to 'the big smoke' of Dunedin as a tertiary student; I'm dying to ask - did you really wear your Gore High School jersey to the bottle store, when you were eighteen years old and the drinking age was twenty, as described in "Down George Street in the Rain"?

Indeed I did. I don't know whether this was a subsconscious desire to be caught, but for some reason, when taking this little trip to the bottle store near my student hostel for a reason I now forget - supplies for a party, I expect - I wore my Gore High School jersey, and was turned away without so much as a bottle of Speights to my name. To this day, I never know what the right thing to wear is in any given situation.

5) What if any reaction have you had to the concept of publishing a book called "Men Briefly Explained"? Has there been a different reaction from women than from men?

At the readings, I tended to forestall any possible adverse reactions by putting my finger over the 'n' of "Men" and saying that the book might be better titled "Me Briefly Explained". Because, obviously, there is a lot of me in this book - although the second and third sections of the book are more about other men, both real and imagined, than about me.

Maybe I shouldn't worry. Reaction to the book has been good so far, but it was noticeable that, at the tour events, it was overwhelmingly women who bought it. I am hoping that men wanting gifts for women will come to the party over the coming months. Gentlemen, this is your chance to explain yourselves without actually having to do the explaining - what are you waiting for?

How To Buy A Copy Of Men Briefly Explained

Men Briefly Explained is published by Interactive Press (IP) of Brisbane. You can find out more about Men Briefly Explained, and buy it direct from the publisher, on IP's mini-site for the book:

On Tim's Men Briefly Explained page, there are more options for buying the book in person and online, plus latest reader reactions and reviews:

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Under the Radar

rocks at Cosy Nook, Southland

Cosy Nook, southern coast, Southland

Cosy Nook - perhaps above all else, the thing that I like about this small bay is the way the grass grows right to the sea's edge, affording an unusual contrast between the sea and land.

Cosy Nook is not all that well-known. And that's the way we like it (I was brought up just up the road in Orepuki). The artist Nigel Brown lives in Cosy Nook. Since he made this bay his home, the number of visitors has increased considerably. People curious to see where this well-known artist has made his home, drive into this pretty cove tucked away in its own tiny corner. Once there, they then they have to turn around - not easy on the narrow road - and drive out again; there is no way through a cove. Understandably, the locals don't always welcome this intrusion. They prefer their home to remain under the radar.

A lot of people live, work and create under the radar. It's where a lot of great stuff happens.

At this time of the year things begin to accelerate. Massively. Christmas for us happens in summer when longer daylight hours are already causing a busyness not experienced in the winter months. Christmas preparations collide head-to-head with the end of both the school and business year, causing a huge explosion of energy and related stress..

Writing for me has gone by the board for a week or two, or three, not just because off the silly season, but also because I'm accepting more work. This is good financially, but not so good creatively. An ancient dilemma.

However, other people are being creative enough to make up for my lack.

Here at this site; Waiting Room Poems (NZ); you will see what Ruth, a friend of mine, is doing to promote poetry in the community. 'Poems in the Waiting Room' does just what it states, placing  into the waiting rooms of medical centres and hospitals, selected poems that have been printed on to brightly coloured brochures. This year PitWR is running a poetry competition. (Details for this can be found as you scroll down the posts).

Another friend (I hope Jennie doesn't mind me calling her that ... we only met face to face for the first time last weekend) has also been inspired. She has launched Dunedin's very first ) Literary Walk. This is an informative guide designed to highlight our rich history (and present store) of writers. I wish her the best and can't wait to go on the tour myself.

I feel privileged to know Ruth and Jennie. Please take the time to click on the links above and have a look-see at what these two women are up to.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Through the Years

Steve abandons himself to the warm, Kyoto rain. Go here to read his blog Kansai Trails.

November 19th 

Nov 19th 1978 (Sunday) written from where we were working as waiter and waitress at Post House, Aviemore, Scotland.

A cold day today. We had a sleep-in after getting to bed late last night ... we saw the late-night movie 'Good-bye Girl'. Work is busy at the moment. The sun came out a bit this morning and it all looked beautiful - pink trees, blue hills.

Nov 19th 1979 (Monday) written from Dunedin; now working at Whitcoulls bookshop.

A busy day at work today which certainly helps. Went to a Fashion Show with Pam and Wendy. It's all the 1940's look with little hats with veils, gloves, tight skirts, tucks, padded shoulders, diamante.

Nov 19th 1980 (Wednesday) written from Hutt Hospital. Lower Hutt, Wellington.

Today at 4.35 p.m. our bonny boy was born. The 2nd stage lasted 2 hours and I had to do a lot of panting. Not nice. Robert was wonderful and we're absolutely delighted with our 4.080 kg (9lbs) son.

Nov 19th 1981 (Thursday) Manor Park, Lower Hutt, Wellington.

Stevie's birthday and a gloriously sunny day. We took photos of him with balloons (but no hat) cake and candle.

Nov 19th 1982 (Friday) Manor Park, Lower Hutt, Wellington. We now have two sons.

Robert arrived back on the 4.00 p.m. flight, Stevie had lots of presents to open. And then the FINALE of blowing out his TWO candles. A great day.

Nov 19th 1983 (Saturday) Manor Park, Lower Hutt, Wellington. 

Stevie had his birthday party and had a wonderful time. Uncle Dave and Aunty Marg were both here for it.

Nov 19th 1984 (Sunday 18th & Monday 19th) Manor Park, Lower Hutt, Wellington ... I'm pregnant with our third son.

Nice having Bar to stay. She's reading lots of stories. Robert and I made a birthday cake - a Noah's Ark. Mum, Alan, R. and Jill came for his birthday which we celebrated on Sunday (day before). We went to Rail Museum. Had a ride on the train which made Steve and Mike's day - and Mum's. Steve got the tummy bug back on his actual birthday, so no kindy.

Nov 19th 1985 (Tuesday) Ravelston Street , Tainui, Dunedin.

Stevie's first day at school was very exciting for him. Pizza Hut for birthday tea. Lynley and Alan here for the birthday. (His birthday party was on Saturday 23rd; 9 kids. Bar came and helped).

Nov 19th 1986 (Wednesday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Stevie woke up bright and early and the 'Sophisticated Six-year old' calmly unwrapped his presents. The coup of them all tho' was his school-bag. (Saturday) The day of Steven' s - he's just about too old to be called Stevie now - party. What a rowdy lot of boys! All trying to outdo one another to be funny).

Nov 19th 1987 (Thursday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steve definitely doesn't get called Stevie any more. We were woken at 7.30 by Granny ringing to wish Steve Happy Birthday. He opened Nana's present - lots of exciting goodies. We had chips and hot dogs for tea and a Mr Whippy's ice-cream before. (Steve's party was earlier on the Tuesday - 3 people came - 4 were asked. A much quieter affair than last year).

Nov 19th 1988 (Saturday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steven had a marvellous day. We got his bike this morning. It cost $230 so he was told not to expect much for Christmas. He's frustrated because he can't immediately ride it. He had his party in the afternoon with 12 boys altogether. Very noisy and energetic. We organised lots of games. The kids from church were the worst behaved.

Nov 19th 1989 (Sunday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steve had a real happy day. He got a Garfield from Granny & Granddad. His party was today. Nine year olds!!!! Greg was sick (pure over-eating!) I turned to see him with his cheeks full and eyes bulging and rushed him into the bathroom. Steve had planned some games (obstacle race and a Pin the Tail - with a difference as it was pin the tail on the salmon!)  

Nov 19th 1990 (Monday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steven's party was on Thursday. We all went to MacDonalds. Robert took them to the beach after MacDonalds and they had popcorn and fizz back here. They played tapes - Poison and Bon Jovi and got dressed up in some weird outfits. We took photos. Despite the modern haircut and cool approach to things, deep down Steven is a kid who loves to make supper for the family cares about environmental issues, little kids and knows when I'm feeling down. He has a sparkling agenda going on in his head at all times. He's a typical 90's kid.

Nov 19th 1991 (Tuesday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steven's birthday but after opening some of his presents this morning we won't see him until after school camp.

Nov 19th 1992 (Wednesday) Ravelston Street, Tainui, Dunedin.

Steven's birthday party today with six of his friends - some of them rather large. The party was relatively easy as they virtually entertained themselves. But they are a volatile, unpredictable combination. Ended with Robert taking them to the beach where they had a 'grundy run' into the water.

... and so the years go! I stopped keeping a diary at this point. It's been interesting to read back. The main impression I get from reading what I wrote of ordinary family life and events back then, is that I was very busy. Probably too busy. I'm glad those days are over! and that I am not as busy now as I was back then. I guess it's all about ages and stages.

Happy 31st birthday (yesterday) to our son Steve! a busy husband and father. I guess it's now his turn.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Fall Into Ruin

monkey's wedding

All day we have been waiting for the sky to come apart,
to fall into ruin like a house abandoned,
foxgloves growing in the old coal range.

Clouds in the east forming an avalanche that slowly churns,
milk in coffee, turning dirty grey and rain
drops between slices of sun.

"A monkey's wedding," said C., " weather like this".
The sun and rain dancing guests.
All day we have been waiting.

Note: 'A monkey's wedding' is a South African saying used to describe rain and sun together.

The bright pink peonies featured here, have opened as wide as dinner plates. They've lost all their Saturday-blush of fulsome crimson, and float above the bench like pale moons. Mother-of-the-bride hats. Cream meringues. Their heavy petals are falling to lie, waxen lips on the carpet, among the fruit bowl, or on top of the teapot.

The weather has behaved strangely all day. It didn't know if it wanted to be sunny or rainy.

Poetry workshop was held at my house today. We each chose a random phrase and wrote a poem from that. My phrase was 'fell into ruin' (which I actually mis-read as 'fall into ruin'). We'd been talking of the world's financial crisis, so it seemed appropriate. Even so, I ended up writing about the weather. As I so often do.

Each poet wrote a poem in their own voice. I wanted to write about a cow, but decided that was for another day. I've got two other poems in mind as well - one will be about a neighbour's comment (made twenty years ago now, but never forgotten) and the other about a woman called Molly.

The next workshop will be next year. Where has this year gone?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Quiet Life - Stone Story No. 3

Stone Story No. 3

quiet life

Stain of sunset, summer grass,
or clay banks in the cutting
between our house
and Falls Creek Road;

the track we called The Lane
with its thistle, broom,
gorse and long, wet grass
rotting in winter frosts.

There is too, a hint
of darkness,
of damage, of wine
or the beginning of rust,

as if this stone has skin
and breathes changes
that float like smoke
on its surface.

Then I see why it is the stone
to tell my story.
There, a short figure in a hat
and big, warm boots,

who stands in the mist
with her hands in her pockets
as if she does not believe
this is her life,

this thing as large
as a dragon that breathes
and burns in clouds of gold
such fire, such silence.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Monday, 14 November 2011

Stone Story No. 2

Stone Story No. 2

the bear and the moon

A father tells stories to his children
while he works the earth,
his words falling
into their heart's pool
to shine like stones in the rain.

He tells them of the moon,
how it keeps its far-side
forever in the dark,
how it spins
light side up.

His words are cold draughts
his children spend a lifetime
drinking long after he has gone,
this father, this pale bear with the moon
at his knee.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Peonies and a Tiger Hat

Having our son and daughter-in-law back with us for a short time, has brought its delights ... the tiger hat ... (as per this post) ...

peonies ... and delicious, ethnic meals ... among them.


... snow on tussock, taken last weekend at Shotover Holiday park - this Saturday is a sunny spring day, so it's hard to believe we experienced snow only a week ago ... 

My right arm is sore at the moment - is it RSI (from writing?) or maybe arthritis? I need to find out. Meanwhile ...

my left arm is saying to my to right arm

All your life I have been here
shadowing your movements.
I have yearned to do those things
you always did instead.

Probably good for you
to slow down now, regard
my existence
as useful, not inferior.

Give me the chance
and I'll learn the intricacies
of combing the hair,
brushing the teeth.

You never realised,
did you, how adequately
I can do things and how
much you never let me?

I welcome the chance
to be the one to reach
for the cup of coffee
and hold it to the lips.

I am thankful that I have two arms. In a situation like this, with my right arm 'sick', my left one can come  into service. I am surprised at how willing my under-used left arm is to work for me - as if it has been waiting all its life for this chance to prove how able it is.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Tiger Hat

Another feature at our nephew's wedding last weekend. Old milk bottles in a wooden crate, put to decorative use. 

It takes a lot to make me laugh in the mornings, but this morning the sight of my daughter-in-law in an antique dressing gown and knitted tiger-head hat, did the trick.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


... this quail flew up from the path we were walking on, to perch on the branch of a tree where it eyed us with its placid yet beady eyes, as we tried to get the light and profile just so  ...

Sometimes all one wants to do is perch a while ... not roost ... just perch. At the moment we have a bit of that going on on in our family.

I think of our son perching in Chile, while his girlfriend from Germany, perches in Peru. When our son has finished his Patagonian perching, they will both perch on the same branch somewhere in (I believe) Bolivia. (Note: In light of the strenuous mountain-biking going on, 'perching' may be a mis-placed verb in the case of our son. However, I plead my case by insisting that he will soon be up and away again, so it is a form of perching, albeit of a particularly energetic variety).

And here in Dunedin, another son and his wife are perching for just a little while, before taking off again.

Meanwhile, Robert and I while remaining the firmly grounded individuals we always have been, are also experiencing a form of perching, as we look ahead to our overseas trip over Christmas and New Year.

from my perch

In this rain on this day,
in a fashion, in my own way,
taking in the existence of brown dwarf stars

and sundogs, an oozing
orange of a sun (today
hidden from me by grey, polar fleece).

As well, communing
with other spinning people
on the other side

of the moon waxing gibbous, 97% full.
Learning too, how
to accept

eternity, impermanence and compliments,
how to trust the givers of such
and that this branch will indeed hold.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Monday, 7 November 2011

Thyme Under Heaven

thyme growing wild outside the town of Alexandra, Central Otago, New Zealand

Triple-layer excitement! Amid all the excitement of Robert's mother's 80th birthday last weekend and our nephew's wedding this weekend; both held in Queenstown; was the fact that our son Michael and his wife Kate arrived back from Berlin. They are back in New Zealand for a bit of a pit-stop before heading away again to the U.K. in April.

They have spent five months travelling, starting off in Japan where our oldest son lives with his wife and two children, then travelling to China, Nepal and finally to Berlin, Germany where they checked out the local art scene.

... march of tyhme in November ...

Travelling through Central Otago, we were greeted with their spring show of flowering wild thyme, covering the hills and reminding us of the heather-covered hills we saw in northern England and in Scotland.

The smell of thyme reminds Robert of his Central Otago childhood. We stopped and he picked a piece to take home.

A few years ago now I wrote a poem about another occasion when we did this. It's a poem from my first collection, 'Feeding the Dogs'.

bottled thyme

spreading wild
marinades the air.

We stop, pull a lump
out, its roots still
dripping gravel
from the road's thin edge,

its scent bottled up
in the car
for him a reminder
of when he was a boy

and the backs of his knees
after a day
of sun's sear
were sunburnt pits

as he turned towards
home and the day's
heat drained from the face
of the sky

and the lake's lap
invited him
to sit for a while, sink back
into its cool drape,
but he never dared.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Pink & White

Remember, remember, this is the 5th of November - and SPRINGTIME in New Zealand ... so why did we wake to snow? Snow all around our little wooden cabin in Shotover Camping Grounds, Arthur's Point, Queenstown on Saturday. We were off to our nephew's wedding. A white wedding in November is an unusual occurrence in this part of the world.

The wedding venue - on the road out to Glenorchy, at Bob's Cove - was in Alveridge Hall, home of the bride's uncle, Ivan Clarke; creator of the famous 'Lonely Dog' character.

A stunning venue and beautiful surroundings for the wedding. No pictures of the wedding party or ceremony, guests etc. but I captured something of the many details that caught my eye. (The bride's favourite colour is PINK- and pink was definitely an an invited guest).

Mmmm ... a light, lemon cake with white chocolate icing - SO yummy.

Jars of sweets and candy were a feature ...

The bridal party's bouquets.

The car the bride and groom left in.

At one point, I took a break from all the festivities to take in some of the surroundings ...

As evening set in at my in-law's home, once again I was compelled to try and capture something of the  sinking sun's light reflecting off the Remarkables mountain range, signalling the end to a very good day.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Today It's All About The Sky

Earlier today the rain clouds began to gather.

Tonight the sun promised delight.

Sometimes it pays to lift your eyes.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Stone Story No. 1

Stone Story No. 1

Japanese stone

What past hand has sketched the future
dark-red, drawings of a sky of trees?
Stars, the moon, petals, branches
in the snow. Rivers or veins.

Jet trails across a sky darkening to puce
as travellers head for the other side.
Our son, too, drawn
to another country, another culture,

settling down there. Planting
the garnet-coloured placentas 
of his babies, his father-in-law
carrying them on a train 

along faithful lines. Their deep-blood 
buried inside that family's 
ancient ground, under their own trees; 
a magnolia, an olive.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Inlet Lets Me In

The other day I went for a walk to one of my favourite places to walk around our neighbourhood ... the Andersons Bay inlet.

I appreciated the bright mossy greens against the dark grey basalt walls and steps.

The limestone of old shells embedded ino the rocks also caught my eye.

The ice plant was looking particularly 'pretty in pink' showing off its new spring flowers.

This old seed-head has weathered the winter to shine like a dead star among the new green.

The old wall that holds the Bayfield Park up and away from the inlet's encroach, has a certain ramshackle, rough beauty.

As I wandered along the edges of the inlet a low tide, taking the photos and sitting a while on the old steps and huge slabs of concrete, seemingly flung there by some bored ogre, I could hear the distress of the local residents - this pair of paradise ducks (the female is the one with the white neck).
She would call to him, two high honks of warning (that I was approaching) and they would swim farther away, keeping a certain distance between them and myself. He would answer with one, low, disinterested 'whatever' honk, and continue to feed, hardly ever lifting his head at all. He seemed bored and under-whelmed by all her female fuss. He obviously felt there were more more urgent matters to attend to; an empty gizzard to fill for example.

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...