Thursday, 20 June 2013

Despite the Forecast

On Saturday we fly to Munich (where at present temperatures are in the high twenties, whereas here we are into single-figure temps.) From there, we travel with our son and his girlfriend on the train to Paris.

These nights sleep eludes as in my mind I both pack and unpack my suitcase and go over things to do before we leave.

Last night my daughter and her family were here for a celebratory meal.
As my birthday is in just under a week's time and my grandson's birthday in four weeks (while we are on the other side of the world) we were getting in early with the celebrations and the cake.

My daughter gave me a beautiful antique brooch for my 'early' birthday. 

As I write this the rain lashes on to our (thankfully new) forest-green tin roof. Snow is forecast - a 'winter blast', a 'polar bomb' (just a couple of examples of the hyperbole TV copy- writers give us as they vie to come up with the most sensational and dramatic description). All I want is for it to be gone by Saturday so that we can get out to the airport.

photo of unexpected snow taken from my sister and brother-in-law's Wellington patio, two winters ago

I can just hear my late farmer-father sucking the air in through his teeth, sniffing the breeze and saying something droll, like: "Looks like we're in for some bad weather, but nothing we can't handle".

muddy tractor-tracks, Beaumont, New Zealand

There used to be a much more low-key and reserved approach to things, with none of today's hype and 'palaver' (another word my father would've used).

Too much satellite information engenders reports that are a mite over-wrought and over-thought. 'Snow' on its own is not news; but 'polar blast' is. And yes, I know that planet-warming is messing with our weather, but does it also have to mess with the TV weather scripts?

My second poetry book is called, 'Made For Weather'. I will keep this in mind tomorrow as I venture out, warmly wrapped.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Couldn't Be

Nah. There could never be two Roberts ... he's far too unique.

Ohhhh ....

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Matter of Grey

Dunedin today was donned in grey. Against such a pallid background, any coloured thing was sure to catch my eye.

A boat in the slips.

A wind-surfboard.

My own wine-coloured jacket coming back at me from a mirror-glassed building.

A green arrow telling me where to go.

Wikipedia has a fascinating entry on the topic of grey, giving the history of it as a colour and word; its associations (often negative) and its place in past and present cultures. It is peoples' least favourite colour, apparently. I'm actually quite fond of  the colour grey.

Probably my fondness for grey is a good thing, living in the city of Dunedin with its mastery of grey areas.

Picasso, one of my favourite painters, used only grey in his painting  'Guernica'.  Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. Upon completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world's attention.

Picasso's 'Guernica' is one example of how the colour grey, although cited as a weak colour, if used in the right way (or seen in the right way) carries weight and a power all of its own, on its own.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Under Attack

Images there for the taking over the last few days ... the theme that emerges is one of being under attack and the damage done despite the appearance of a deceptive calm.

After meeting a friend for coffee in St Clair, I took some photos of where the council are having to repair the damage wrought by the ocean's high tides. After discovering a gap under the sea wall, the sea;s fingers rapidly began to unpick.

This caused sink-holes on the pavement. As a result, the machines have had to be brought in ...

to repair and rebuild what the sea is determined to undermine. 

More than a century ago, the land was reclaimed from the sea and ever since, the sea has been demanding it back.

Back home the light played on the flowering Christmas Cactus - here in New Zealand, 'Christmas weather' arrives in June.

The sun on our wooden kitchen floor also caught my eye. We have been told that our late 1960's home has rimu (red pine) floors and roof timbers. (Rimu is a native NZ tree).

The day before, while out walking, I spotted the flag of the day flying from Fox Hall; the Union Jack - arguably one of the world's most resplendent of flags but I daresay a flag that has also been known to inflict both hope and terror in equal measures throughout its history, given Britain's history of colonisation.
According to the notice in the window, it was flying in honour of D-Day; a historical second world war sea-invasion by the Allies that occurred on June 6th 1944.

A familiar peaceful sight at the bird roost on Andersons Bay inlet.

The garden catches some winter sun.

And finally, evidence of a quiet invasion; our cotoneaster in trouble - usually at this time of the year, it is thick with red berries - this year it is showing signs of being under a stealth attack from a type of invasive smoky-grey lichen.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

I Don't Do Sunrises

From our house, a winter sunset (I don't really do sunrises).

Friday night's detritus on the inlet Saturday morning.

This is where you wish for karma for the culprits. A rubbish truck returning the favour and dumping all their rubbish right back at them, over their heads, comes  to mind. Nothing too subtle.


A tornado-shaped cloud only ... not the real thing.

A badly-peeling eucalyptus. (Above Logan Park, Dunedin).

An angel on a headstone in Dunedin's Northern Cemetery, the trusses of Dunedin Stadium in the background providing a wing-like echo.

One of the very hefty trees in this old cemetery, where many of Dunedin's earliest (first) settlers were buried.
The cemetery is historical, with the old graves in the main left to fall to ruin among the trees and paths .

The bottom part of the cemetery is largely sunless - it is dark, damp and shadowy, the graves green-edged with moss.
There were a number of tui and bellbird up in the tall old trees.They added cheer and kept  us company as we wandered around.

The following information is from the Northern Cemetery site: 
'Moving through the cemetery grounds there are noticeable differences between some very ornate tombstones and memorials and some areas without headstones at all. This is no coincidence and relates to which class in society the occupants belonged to. The cost of a plot in 1872 varied between twelve shillings and sixpence and ten pounds. This scale depended on both class and status of adult or child. The ground occupied by the first class plots is more easily accessible and generally flat, whereas the third class plots are difficult to get to and to maintain.  First class plots are generally filled with prominent people and reflect the architecture of their worldly residences with lavish and dominant headstones.  These sites tend to be on top of the north side of the hill.  Second class plots are at the bottom of the hill in the gully and third class is made up of children and paupers.'

The silent graves hold their secrets.

One of the headstones had been cleaned up, giving new life to the fine celtic designs.

Arguably, the crown of this old cemetery is the refurbished Larnach tomb - (William Larnach having built Larnach Castle, a Dunedin attraction).

Karma comes to mind again, for this tomb scribbler.

The University area is also in North Dunedin. We walked past this typical row of student flats, remarking on the line of new-model cars parked outside. The flats looked just the same as when I was a student here, except there wouldn't be that many cars. Some Vespas maybe and a few older or cheaper model of cars of the time; such as VW beetles. Also, they would be parked side-on, no parallel parking necessary back then.
Wandering around a cemetery is a sobering experience, but in a twisted kind of way, it helps you feel good to be alive - even if your car is much older than all the students' cars.

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...