Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Instructions For Making Scones

Today where I live, it snowed and hailed. We call that a 'Snow Day' and on such a day, schools and other learning institutes inevitably decide to close.

I took some photos - mostly from the comfort of indoors -

... and I made scones ...

... and wrote a poem.

how to make scones

I sent Jenny everything she needed to know,
the whole recipe from Edmond's Cookbook,
the measures, weights, numbers,
ingredients, oven temperature
and the time it takes.
I remembered to add, 'It doesn't matter
if the mixture is a bit sloppy'.
But it's the little things
she won't know, like the faster the better,
that scones work best with cold hands;
I worry that if she isn't actually shown
she won't know how to handle the shock
of the dough's heavy stickiness
on the floured tray.

It's not an exact science I think
as I plunge the knife into the soft heart
of the scone-dough and wish
that rather than messaging the recipe
through Facebook to her in Munich,
she could be spirited here beside me
as I work in the butter.
If she was here I'd be able to tell her 
about the knife my nana always used 
for scones; its thin, worn blade, 
its yellowed bone-handle
and when things get a little sticky
I'd say, "Now
is when you go in for more flour".

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Saturday, 25 May 2013


Today at the early learning centre where I work, I took some photos of the outside area while the children were inside having their lunch.

The inanimate plastic dinosaurs in the blue tray, reminded me of scenes from the movie 'Toy Story' where toys are portrayed as going into freeze-mode whenever humans are present.

Sometimes back at home after work, images of the children flash into my mind,

but more often than not when I try to remember what they said that I thought was funny at the time, I find I can't. Like water through my fingers, the astonishment or juxtaposition has disappeared.

For some reason I do remember S. (who has an unusually active imagination even for a four-year old) one day saying to me, "I'm a giraffe and I don't like ice cream".

Sometimes I'll recall how a child that day handed me a scrappy piece of paper with a hastily-drawn, squashed blue circle, saying, "This is for you" and how I didn't keep it, but instead when they weren't looking, threw it in the rubbish bin.

Every day you can count on there having been happiness, excitement and tears and rage ....

... falls, scraps and unexpected triumphs.

The upside-down smile of a Mr Happy ball at rest ...

... the tray that waits to be filled with gloop ...

... the coloured-pencils that do not move ...

... the basking plastic gecko ...

... cds strung up to catch the light; all symbolise the silent music of a playground momentarily emptied of children and their voices.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Finding Your Way To Neverland

the tree on the right is our NZ native deciduous - my favourite autumn tree; I love it for its amber lights

Last night's poetry reading at Circadian Rhythm featured Richard Reeve and Orchid Tierney. I am not as familiar with Orchid's work - from my standpoint of rusty old community-poet, she's a new kid on the block, representing the university and a good example of new poetics. I'll admit, I get a little lost in the new poetics; but I'm old and most probably just dragging my heels in the dust of that particular super-slick silver machine. 

autumn suburbia

Richard has been a favourite poet of mine for a long time now. His poetry speaks to me. I appreciate the single syllable words, the (is it Wallace Stevens meets Ted Hughes?) aesthetic; the muscly, Saxon flavour to his work. The landscape rings out and sparks like an iron implement striking a rock. 

When Richard had finished the audience clamoured for more and we were treated to an encore of two cat poems. (Cat poems like no-one has ever heard before).

Part of the evening is Open Mic.and I read (I was brave). I have to get into practice ready for a tour another poet and I are planning later on in the year.

I read a found poem. The back story is that about 2 years ago now, our son's partner Jenny, was travelling through South America. At one point she was thinking of going to an Eco Farm. However, the online instructions on their website were so complicated it kind of put her off going. When she gave me the link to the directions - I was astounded.And the poem was there for the picking!

(a found poem)

instructions on how to get to Neverland Farm (somewhere in South America)

Take the green bus. Try to stay awake
You WILL get lost. Its hard to see in the dark.
In Tumianuma stop and see Gloria
a short woman at the only store with a phone
and blue plastic chairs.
Speaking with her will put you on the right trail.
If after 2 minutes of walking you haven’t reached a dirt road,
turn around and ask again!

This dirt road heads to the BIG ORANGE BRIDGE.
Cross this bridge and head up the path.
You will pass a few houses, a few dry creeks
and remember, always STAY TO THE RIGHT
Just stay straight and you’re golden.
After about 25 minutes from the bridge,
follow the path around the base of the mountain
and to the right. You will get to the wooden gate
great… go on through and please close the gate behind you.

Walk another short 3 minutes
and you will see a gate with 4 pieces of wood
placed laterally; head on through this gate.
Head up the path
and past the first house you see.
Follow this path and look for the path
to drop to the creek
(marked by a red arrow on a rock).
Head over the wooden bridge
and up the path to the main facilities. Welcome.

If you have at any time in your walk to the farm
ended up at the big river, crossed barbed wire,
bush whacked through brush,
or found yourself marching up a mountain,
just go back to where you started and ask again.
Travellers warning. On the path to the farm,
after the bridge,
lives a sweet little old man and his wife.
This sweet almost 90 year old man
will hug you in welcome.

Or even kiss you. Or grab your ass, tits,
whatever he can get his eight hands on.
He is harmless and nearly blind.
He once, to his great surprise,
grabbed the crotch of a long haired young MAN.
Shake hands with him.
I don’t know why he does that feely thing.
Maybe it would be better
if someone actually smacked him,
but most of us are afraid he will fall down.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Trees Again

tall marcrocapra trees Chisholm Park golf course Dunedin

A friend told me about how this old oak tree in Wales that was 1,200 years old was blown over in a storm last month.

bent tree Otago Peninsula

There is another old tree in Wales - the Llangernyw yew is 4,000 - 5000 years old and still going strong. It is  is said to be the oldest tree in the UK and the second to third oldest tree in the world.

young silver birch trees, Queenstown

In Japan they prop up the branches of old trees

and place roped canopies over them to support and protect them during winter's heavy snow.

misty Highcliff Road, Dunedin

St Omer Park, Queenstown

(an excerpt from longer poem - untitled)

'The trees in the garden
have no doubts. She regards
their umpire stance, the way they study
the sky. The way they close
like great gates.'

Kay McKenzie Cooke .

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Parrots in July

... masked duo ...

 ... a little blue ...

... a cold fuzzy ...

... all decked-out and nowhere to go ...

... wired ...

... cardinal red ...

... quiet pandemonium ...

Two collective nouns for parrots are: 'a pandemonium of parrots' and a 'bravado of parrots'.

Parrots are clever - you can see it in their eyes. An awareness. .

These parrots look cold, The photos were taken one July. Where I live, July is mid-winter.

Parrots are by nature more suited to tropical climates. Except New Zealand's olive-green native parrots; kea, kaka and kakapo; which have adapted to the conditions of the country's mountainous and forested habitats.

The tropical parrots above are in cages - nice cages with lots of greenery and space and parrotty preferences. But cages, nonetheless. It worries me how cold they look. Pandemonium and bravado hardly seem apt. Maybe 'a ruffle of parrots' or  'a shiver of parrots' would be more appropriate.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Small Things

pen holder bear

historic lead-headed nails from our old roof

tiny glass chairs

Monday, 13 May 2013

Make Like A Tree

old car under trees

I am convinced that days take on themes.

Today's seems to have been trees

and shades of amber & blue.

Our son told us a travel tip he's picked up. To lessen the effects of time-lag and  discombobulation - find an old, established tree to sit under for a while. The tree will ease you into your surroundings and ground you. The tree has been rooted to that spot for decades (or even better, in some cases, centuries) and will gift you its calm standing. All the traveller needs to do is ready themselves to receive.

crooked trees

I spent the first ten years of my life in the land of the crooked trees: Orepuki, Western Southland.

Recently, for a school project, my granddaughter wanted me to tell her about one of my favourite landmarks - well, it had to be the Orepuki trees on a 90-degree angle.

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...