Thursday, 30 June 2011

Train's Water Tank; Orepuki

the coconut

Once upon a time this water tank was used, not to announce
the existence of a town, but for the steam train

to 'have a drink'. A daily occurence through the weekdays
with the accompanying rub of steam and iron, sounding out

the lowing whistle, the hiss and clang as it moved off,
the rhythm and chug as it rolled on down the line to Tuatapere.

It was a familiar motif running through a town now gone.
As gone as the chewing-gum stained streets, wicker prams,

my sister's cries when the whistle suddenly screamed.
To take the photo today, I stand in heels that sink into soft grass

and I am a ghost among ghosts walking under verandahs, who wait
in line at the Post Office on lino that twinkles with stiletto dents.

A ghost in the ghost of McNay's store where once I held a coconut
all the way from the islands. How solid it felt, how rough and real.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Poet Wins

One morning walking on my way to work, I saw this and recognised it straight away as the work of my son - the skateboarding phantom street artist. (He is at present off-shore, safely removed from detection).
It makes me smile on many counts.
I might even take it up it as my new motto.
Oh yeah.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beware The Timber Wolves

As promised, pictures of the draught horses. Taken on a disposable camera, so the pics are not up to the usual quality that the Canon produces.

Draught horses are the epitome of patience. My father drove draught horses for a time on the farm - this would be back in the 1930's. Then they got a tractor. A Fordson, my cousin* informs me. As a young boy, he stayed on my grandparent's farm for a time and remembers his young 'Uncle Don' fondly. He remembers the horses, as well as wild rides on the wagon towed by the tractor.

As I explained in the post before this one, I missed the actual cavalcade because I discovered I had no chip in the Canon, and as I was on foot it took time to go seeking a shop that sold disposable cameras. Ah well, it was good to catch up with them at the race-course where they were giving rides, or standing patiently to be admired.

Back Story:

*I only met my cousin recently, through him reading my blog.  My father's family was a large one and his older siblings had moved out of home by the time he was born. He liked to tell us he was an uncle before he was born. 
It's been a special thing to catch up on long-lost cousins. I met one at a funeral recently and have discovered another one (a second cousin in this case) through Twitter!  The cousins fill me in on what my father was like when they knew him as a young, unmarried man. He sounds like he was a pretty fun uncle, full of teasing and tricks. My favourite story is of him making 'Timber Wolf' noises from inside a hollow log and scaring Jimmy-Joe. "Beware the timber wolves," became a favourite saying.
They adored him. As we all did. At age 48 years, he was taken from us far too soon.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Passed By

For this post, I planned to show photos of clydesdale horses, but in the tradition of the plans of mice and men gang-ing aft awry, I was forced to change my plans.
On my way to the cavalcade of clydesdales and wagons passing through Dunedin on their way to Forbury Park racecourse, I discovered I'd forgotten to put the camera's chip back in after downloading (uploading?) my last lot of photos.
On to plan B - buy a disposable camera to take the photos. By the time I'd done this (I was walking) I missed the actual cavalcade and had to go on to Forbury to see them there.
I now have to wait for the photos to be processed and scanned before I can post.
Plan B, bullet-point 1; find some old photos in my gallery to post.
I have been thinking about my favourite place in the world a bit lately, so I've gone to that folder to find some of the pictures I took there one fine day in 2010.
In the first picture, if you squeeze your eyes nearly shut and use a whole lot of imagination ... you may be able to just see a little, fair-haired girl wearing a matted, pink, woollen jersey unravelling at the cuffs,  turning the corner there by the paddock with the cows in it. She's coming this way, on her way to Phyllis Popham's dairy. She's wearing gumboots and is fingering a sixpence piece in the pocket of her trousers. She's going to buy lollies from the twopenny tray. 

 piece (Orepuki, Western Southland).

mountains that talk to the sea (Princess Range from Monkey Island, Te Waewae Bay, Orepuki, Western Southland).

"you call that an island?" (Monkey Island, Te Waewae Bay, Orepuki, Western Southland).

backs to the wind (Orepuki cemetery, Western Southland).

looking out (Te Waewae Bay from cemetery, Orepuki, Western Southland).


I've been cleaning up and clearing out, papers and stuff from files and came across an old poem of mine scribbled on the back of something else. It's a piece of recent history, I think I must've written it about 11 years ago. It reflects the muddle and middle of family and domesticity: my stage of life at the beginning of the 21st century.

Here it is - unedited.

reaching out from a void
writing words to connect
this is my version
this is how I see it not many make it
through the muddle
bird seed littered carpet
waiting for
muddy footprints to dry
a concerned orthodontist
and wisdom teeth
will I light the fire?
are you feeling cold?
the rhodendron bush needs more light
the white daisy leans forward
eager to be in on kitchen conversations
will the lavender cuttings take?
the rabbit needs more food
I bet the boys won't have remembered to take in the washing
chocolate-topped strawberries, apricots, grapes,
communication without lying
I agree with lying for a reason
what your parents don't know doesn't hurt them
the ones who talk
the ones who won't
talk; some write


Monday, 6 June 2011

Hot Spots

I hope Michael forgives me for choosing some new cushions to complement the painting he painted for us before he and Kate left on their overseas trip. (One of his horror stories is of a rich woman rushing into an art gallery and quickly choosing a painting soley on the merits that it complemented her decor).At least I did it the other way round, which redeems me somewhat.


We spent part of this long weekend (Queen's Birthday Weekend in New Zealand) in Queenstown. A nephew's engagement party was the highlight of Saturday. On Sunday morning we headed for a hot chocolate from the Patagonia cafe. As we sat drinking our Mexican Hot Chilli chocolates (how do you say 'truly delicious' in Spanish?) we looked out at the lake and David Eggleton's wall poem ribboning its way along the stone wall.


As always, we loved our dose of Queenstown. We have arrived back home to Dunedin with one more day off up our sleeves, before heading into a full week of work.


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...