Monday, 29 April 2013

Art & Poetry

Take a look here at Bellamy's at Five  - an event that is happening in September. I am honoured to be involved.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

R.I.P. Grommet

Our cat Grommet (Grommy) is not well. We don't think we'll have him for much longer. He's a cat in a million; no I really mean that. Even people who don't like cats, somehow always like Grommy. He's a real character, people say. He loves people and people love him. He's one of those cats that 'talk'. You can have a real back and forth conversation (cat-chat) with him. Anything going on - he's right there in the thick of it. Cutting a hedge, felling a tree (Robert will never forget how once when he was in the middle of cutting down a tree, Grommet was busy climbing it), collecting the mail, cooking tea, going out in the car ... Grommy will be there too, if he's allowed. However, as I said, he's not well. He's on his way out. 16 years old in human years; 112 years in cat years - not a bad run. We'll miss the way he followed us round, the way he flopped down any old where; on your feet if he could. We'll miss his way of engaging with people. We are getting our roof fixed next week. If Grommy was well he'd really be interested. But not being well, I doubt he'll care now. I doubt he'll even be still here, under the roof with us. He's had a good life. Thank you Grommet. You will not be forgotten.

P.S. I wrote the above yesterday - today we had our favourite cat  in the world put down. He has been buried under the plum tree, down the bank of our property, next to Mike & Kate's dog Jedi. It was raining. R.I.P. dear old Grommy. There will never be another cat like you.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

'Writ in Water'

We are in the velvet grip of autumn.  The mornings are colder; sometimes there's a frost. What new things to say about this season? Keats has had all descriptions of autumn tied up since 1819 . 'To Autumn' was the first poem I ever memorised  (well, the first stanza anyway) for an English exam in my first year at high school. Now I can only quote the first line.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run ...

 From Wikipedia:

'The work [the poem, To Autumn] was composed on 19 September 1819 and published in 1820 in a volume of Keats's poetry that included Lamia and The Eve of Saint Agnes. "To Autumn" is the final work in a group of poems known as Keats's "1819 odes". Although personal problems left him little time to devote to poetry in 1819, he composed "To Autumn" after a walk near Winchester one autumnal evening. The work marks the end of his poetic career, as he needed to earn money and could no longer devote himself to the lifestyle of a poet. A little over a year following the publication of "To Autumn", Keats died in Rome.' (He was only 25 years old and died of tuberculosis). 

 "In the old part of the graveyard, barely a field when Keats was buried here, there are now umbrella pines, myrtle shrubs, roses, and carpets of wild violets" (Stefanie Marsh describing the site today in her book, 'A Window to the Soul of John Keats').

Keats didn't want his name on the headstone, instead he asked for this inscription: ' " Here lies One / Whose Name was writ in Water. 24 February 1821"

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

In Disguise With Glasses

somewhere between

First my siblings then my kids
down the years have laughed
at photos of me in the glasses
(like Garth on Wayne's World
my kids said) I wore back then,
when myopia offered me the perfect excuse
to look with black-cat's eyes
out at a world whose only promise
was, 'Girls in glasses
don't get passes'.

When my granddaughter finds the photo
of me (taken when I was the same age
as she is now)
she says my glasses are cool.
I look like a comic-book character,
she says. Which I am assured
by her mother, is a compliment. 
I have become a cool teen
at last,
but way too late.

The only comic-book-character
I can see is in the black-framed glasses,
the rest of me appears diffident;
as if wavering somewhere between
laughing and crying. Behind glass
that reflects all there is
of the world, my eyes wait
for the confirmation
they cannot believe will ever come.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Sunday, 14 April 2013



Rosemary. "Who's Rosemary?"  (A family joke).

Concrete duck and dandelions.

A mother's day gift (or maybe birthday  ... can't remember now) but I do remember and appreciate that the giver carried it all the way home from town, which was no mean feat; that's one heavy concrete duck.

Piece from my small museum.

From my childhood home, a coal-range lid; love the forged poker-pockets for lifting the plate to add coal.
Family lore has it that one day my aunty had a pot of stew cooking on the coal range and by mistake, lifted the stew-pot lid instead of the coal-range lid and added a shovelful of coal to the stew.

Museum piece no. 2.

Museum piece no. 3.

Door handles from my childhood home.

Even now my hands 
remember the feel
of how the door-handle turned
and gave.

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Just when I thought summer was all over, I discovered two late strawberries in our garden.

But these autumn leaves declare autumn's advance cannot be halted. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Today is one of those magnificent days you get in autumn. Still, warm, clear and kind.

Holly in April ...

... and mystery purple berries.

They are off the neighbour's tree. It's a tree I complain about as it is tangly and scruffy and drops dead branches & twigs on to our section.

After a little on-line research, I believe the tree is a ngaio (or kaio for those of us in Murihiku - which literally means, 'the tail end of the land'. These days Murihiku is the Maori name for Southland. Traditionally, however, it was the name for anywhere south of the Waitaki. This information - plus heaps more on the medicinal qualities of the kaio - I got from this link for Te Karaka magazine.

Now that I know that part of our garden lies under the benevolent, if a little wonky, shadow of a kaio, I won't be so keen to chop bits of it away. No wonder the birds love it - especially the kereru (wood pigeon) and the riorio (grey warbler).

Friday, 12 April 2013

Light & Shadow

I find that days have themes. Unsought. Today's, sadly, seems to have been the unkindness of humankind ... yet in between the dark stuff that has come my way; reading matter and news highlighting the cruelty of humankind; I have also been shown snippets of light. Of goodness. Kindness.

My son's love and respect for his daughter.

A brand-new father's love for his baby son.

A friend's delight and excitement.

A husband's gentleness.

Maybe it has been enough to counter the sadness I feel today about humankind's unkindness to humankind ...

I appreciate the reality check. Life is not all double-rainbows. Equal rights is not a reality. We are not there yet.

Will we ever get there?

I just have to keep remembering the light I have experienced today ...

My son's love and respect for his daughter.

A brand-new father's love for his baby son.

A friend's delight and excitement.

A husband's gentleness.

Museum Reserve today, yesterday

I sat here summer '72
in the sun. Just another student
full of the present
and the future no farther away than the line of shadow
cast by trees in summer. If I remember rightly
there was a boy
five arm-lengths away
not looking my way but the chance
he could at any time, as tantalising
as the sun I could feel warm on my legs.
I was wearing a short blue dress
and whatever I was saying
to my friends
was not
what I was really thinking.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Box of Quackers

playing among the stars

Let's get real, you can't really swing among the stars
but when a four-year old asks for a story what are you going to do?
You are going to suspend your belief in gravity
and the limits of human endeavour and read the story. 
With conviction. Then when a four year old asks,
“What do you call a box with a mother duck in it
and a father duck in it and baby ducks?”
you will reply, “I don't know, what?”
then laugh when they give you the answer;
“A box of quackers!” and be lost for words
when another while putting together a puzzle faster 
than you can, asks, “Are your kids naughty sometimes?”
because your kids are grown up and away from home
and really the simplest answer has to be, “No," 
because as far as you know, these days, 
they're good. They're all good.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Monday, 8 April 2013

this is the post where none of the photos need have anything to do with the words

You've heard of NaNoWriMo, right?

You haven't? Well then please allow me to explain. It's an acronym for National ... well, INTER ... but you know what America is like (Oops - Hi ya all my lovely American friends! Teehee ) -national ... Novel Writing Month.

Anyway. This month has been decreed by the people that decree things (I often wonder who these people are ...) That it is NaPoWriMo  which stands for National ... (well, INTERNATIONAL actually, but I've already gone into that) ... Poetry Writing Month).

For those interested enough and who welcome the challenge, this means writing and posting a. poem. every. day. for. the. whole. month. of. April.

I have always been a bit of a late starter ... a late bloomer, as one of my sisters calls all of us McKenzie girls ... so I'm starting in with this poem-a-day thing a week or so late.

Throughout the goode monthe April then, I shall endeavour ( a good Cook-e verb!) to post a poem a day.

Starting with:

by hokey! 

I put in my eyes.
I listen to the birds
and share their viewpoints.

I breathe in and then
I breathe out. I think of what meat
for tea. Sometimes

I make puns
that would otherwise go begging,
like today's: 'Buy hoki New Zealand'

which relates to the fish
I got out of the freezer
earlier and which

no-one will get
except kiwis who remember
Selwyn Toogood.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tunnel Beach

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon in Dunedin, we decided it had been a while since we'd been to Tunnel Beach, so off we went.

Examples of weathered sandstone is part the attraction. The sea rolling up against the cliffs in full, slow and heavy swells, provided a calming atmosphere.

Rock that has fallen off in almost a perfect square. "Horizontally, understandable enough," muses Robert, "But why so straight vertically?"

He's an engineer. Engineers ponder about such things ...

Meanwhile, the pigeons roost and coo above a piece of the cliff that looks like it will be the next bit to fall.

We were amused at the notice that warns - 'Beware of Cliffs'. (Would that be Richard or Curtis?)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Often Passed By

Today on my wanders my eye seemed drawn to lines and blues and whites ...

Industrial area, harbourside.

Wharf sheds.

Lines & signs.

Somehow, when the name blazoned, 'Sew Hoys', it was a Dunedin landmark; not so much,  the bland, 'Save Mart'.

Tag writing on the sky ... (actually, on sky-reflecting glass).

An aside: where has all the Dunedin street art gone? Our son is pretty sure a lot of them have moved to Wellington. Then a conversation ensued about the grey squares councils use (the world over) to block out street art.

This would make a great blog title. Just in case anyone else has the same idea - too late, I've baggsed it!

Pigeon pair.

Somehow the guy in the shorts & gumboots just makes this New Zealand & nowhere else.

Those of you who know Dunedin may know from this snap, where I stopped off for a coffee ...

... view from the Customhouse restaurant.

On the way home, looking through to the far-side suburb of Opoho.

Fish factory sign.

Leading lines.

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...