Friday, 27 December 2013

Day Trippers

Christmas dinner ...   (Photo by Jenny Jakobeit)

On Christmas Day, the appearance of a giant rainbow (bow of rain) topping off a fantastic day with family.

 Port Chalmers

After three, or was it four? days of persistent, misty rain and drizzle, it was good to see the sun again today. Perfect for a drive out to Port,

 2nd-hand shop... 

Cruise ship towering above the museum ... 

One of the shop-keepers said that unusually, 90 percent of the passengers this time were New Zealanders.

Chick's Hotel; bastion of the alternative in entertainment - headquarters of Dunedin's sub-culture ...

Time for a coffee; not much choice of things to eat (late afternoon realities)

The following three photos were all taken by Jenny Jakobeit ...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Making a Festive Fist Of It

the moon above a bird 

moon alone

picnic by the lake (Wakatipu)

 100-year-old steamer, Earnslaw, steams on by 

 It was good to have a quick catch-up with our son and his partner in Queenstown. Looking forward to spending Christmas here in Dunedin with them and with another son and his wife, who are (as we speak) making their way down from the North Island.

'Turner-esqe' sunset as seen from the road between Five Rivers and Lumsden

Christmas is just around the corner. Today, back in Dunedin once more, we've hit a cold patch of weather. In some kind of crazy way; despite the fact that Christmas for us falls in the middle of summer; I welcome the cold rain. With our changeable climate down here, cold weather is just as much part of Christmas as sunny weather. 

Today I will not be budging from the home-front. We have got the fire going and I've lit a couple of festive-season candles. You could say, I'm feeling more Advent-ish than Advent-urous.

Friday, 13 December 2013

From Beach to Bard & a Beer in Between


Where I live in Dunedin, New Zealand, the weather is fickle; not at all tropical. Even in summer.

Lupins spread wild on the dunes ...

The waves roll in fast & surfers wear wet-suits because in water this far south, the water is not far off Antarctic temps.


On St Andrew's Day in Dunedin, Edinburgh of the South, the statue of the Scottish bard, Robbie Burns, is officially allowed to wear a scarf (as long as it's tartan).

 St Pauls cathedral - one of the churches that the statue of Robbie Burns has his back to as he faces the pubs  ... 


Bagpipers pipe ...

& drums tattoo ...

& kilts swing under the sway of Christmas wreaths.

There was the tossing of the caber ...

... the firing of the cannon (it may look small, but believe me it has a very loud report) ...

& Scottish Country dancing ...


 This year on St Andrews Day, the Commonwealth Games baton arrived in Dunedin to be feted and admired. (I love that I randomly managed to capture a couple of red-headed youngster in the background - how very apt).


& there was beer ...


 under hanging baskets of flowers ...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

'Mermaids in denim'

A friend asked me if I'd written a poem to go with the above piece of street art (or in this case, maybe 'street poetry') that we both love.

I admitted that I hadn't and added it to a growing list of poems-to-write.

Tonight I got inspired to actually write it.

mermaids in denim

For a time I favoured purple
velveteen and paisley needlecord
mini-skirts. Short legs
proving problematic
where denim jeans were concerned,
bell-bottoms losing all their flare
when cut off to fit and hemming canvas
like sewing up wool sacks, just a drag
at twenty-something in a fitting-room
in Penroses, the bottoms of the jeans
I want to buy trailing behind
like the tail of a mermaid left high
and dry and me just standing there
filled with despair.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Seeing In The Dark

  Pam's barrel of roses (and I'm pretty sure that her husband Gary would like me to point out the neatly-stacked wood-pile, top right!)

When I saw this photo that Pam had posted on Facebook, along with her description of the barrel the roses were planted in, I knew that once I'd got her permission to post the photo, I had my choice sorted for the next poem to post.

My friend's roses announce summer is here in this part of the world. The barrel that the roses prance out from in a tra-la! of carmine-pink, is also worth noting. The old, wooden barrel comes from Pam's childhood home; a farm in the Maniototo town of Middlemarch. 

The barrel was where her father kept the meat for the dogs and as it was often Pam's job to feed the dogs, she remembers it well. I am sure for her the barrel has become a kind of touchstone; a tangible connection to her childhood.

This puts me in mind of a title of one of Wallace Steven's poems; 'It's Not Ideas About The Thing But The Thing Itself'. After it had been fashioned, brand-new, from some cooper's workshop, who knows how many different things the barrel had been used for? Then for years it became a container for dog-tucker. Now it is a keeper for pink roses, memories and years.

I share one of Pam's memories of feeding the dogs on her parents' farm. I was staying there with her; we were there on our own and in charge of the farm chores for the weekend. Part of our job included feeding the farm dogs (I guess about three or four of them) chained up at their kennels under the trees. I don't remember the barrel, but I do remember chucking the tucker from it towards the hungry, barking dogs. We were doing it in the dark, because by the time Pam remembered we were to feed them that day, it was night-time. 

The poem for me serves not only as a description of the still depth of a night in the country, but as a symbol  of my search at that time of my life (early twenties) for authenticity and relevance in an often baffling world. Experiencing going out into that cold night with all its sensations, wasn't mind-altering so much as mind-sustaining. 

There we were then with our feet in gumboots and firmly planted on planet earth. There we were spinning somewhere in a vast universe, feeling small, but vital and alive. There we were, concentrating on our own breathing under the stars, feeling our way and trying to see in the dark.

feeding the dogs

the torch's twitch
picking out dead thistles,
wooden railings.
Where the ground shines,
bare, snarled
by the roots 
of trees, the dogs bark,
rattle chains that drag
over old bones.
Throw them the meat,
pale traces of fat clinging
to the wool of your gloves.

Hear the crunch of bones,
the night closing in,
the cry of two birds
flying out over rocks.
See ticking stars
in a blind sky.
Softer than light,
darkness leans in
- so close, so cold
its breath is all
you can breathe.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

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...