Sunday, February 22, 2009

I have a dream

I recently attended the funeral of a friend who died of cancer one day before her 47th birthday. We went to see Mamma Mia! film to help Julie fund raise for treatment in Australia last August. Today I am listening to the soundtrack from the film and the last track is the song Julie chose for her funeral. It is achingly sad in that context but also a really simple and beautiful message for all who knew her, a kind of reassurance that she will be alright wherever she has ended up. Click below and enjoy.

Something I thought about at the funeral when her brother who I hadn't seen for about 15 years said 'wow I didn't expect you to see you here' in a very lovely way, was that although you might not see some friends for years for lots of reasons, it doesn't mean that they are not always your friends and that will always care about them.

Yes, I am getting through my Sunday list but am slightly distracted, in a nice way.

Sunny Sunday Morning

Oooooh yes!!! Summer is back today. The warm wind is blowing, the washing is a waving and the cat is out catching objects for sport and tasty treats. We are off to a very slow start as Nicholas decided to make us breakfast in bed this morning and then the grown ups feel asleep and were woken at the end of 'What now?' which happened to be 10 o'clock. A world first in our house. A grown up sleep in involving both parents, not just Jonty. YAY!!!

I am coming to you today from Nic's computer as Jonty is on ours and I wanted to celebrate in the exciting ness of a sunny day. I thought a day like today needed to be made the most of. We originally had plans with friends but duet o the weather forecast we postponed until next Sunday, so unwittingly we have a Sunday clear. For me this means a great opportunity to get things done, for Jonty it is an opportunity to do nothing...different ways of seeing the world I guess. I have decided to make myself a list so I can stay motivated and excited all day instead of sneaking off to a quiet place, if I can find one, to indulge in my latest book which is bewitching and addictive.

So my list
1. Find out what exactly we can recycle in our new recycling bins...they have extended the range. I find this exciting

2. make strawberry jam with the frozen strawberries I have that are looking worse for the 3 months they have been languishing int he freezer

3. Get all the recyclable stuff out of the house and into the bin

4. Weed the garden and harvest the blueberries...yes we have a very blueberry season this year...a first

5. Jump on the trampoline with Nic. We have been neglecting the tramp this year.

6. Paint my chair AGAIN, this time using the right paint. Sadly this means I have to wait another 3 weeks for the paint to harden before I can finish it. This is ok.

7. Prepare new upholstery project. Bought fabric yesterday. Feeling excited. Will share later.

8. Washing/folding/ironing. I know this is boring but it is a task that needs to be done.

9. Go to the supermarket and buy coffee

10. Cook a stunning meal for my family.

That will do.

Before I go I must tell you about the breakfast Nic made for us. It was so very cute and thoughtful. Me - an apple (not cut as knives are just a bit too much yet), plain yoghurt mixed with a bit too much flax seed meal....I ate it quickly between bites of my apple. Jonty - cornflakes and milk. Nic - '1/3 cornflakes, 1/3 fruity yoghurt, 1/3 crushed gingernut biscuits' I know they are not breakfast food but I was thrilled to think of the culinary future of that child. Fantastic.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Out and about

Although I have not been writing and the weather has been dubious we have still managed to get out and about and have a few town adventures.
Art Gallery
The day after I finished 'How to look at a painting' I took Nic to the Christchurch City Art Gallery. There was an exhibition I wanted to see and I also wanted to check out some of the paintings Justin had talked about. Fiona Hall: Force Field was fantastic. A life's work beautifully curated and quite challenging. Nic loved it. She has made a wide range of sculptural and print type works that are so diverse that it is hard to get your head around the journey. Never mind. If the exhibition is in your town you must see it. We also visited 'White on White' which is a collection of paintings and things with white as the theme. It is aimed at children and has questions and challenges and interactive stuff. Last year they had a great 'red' collection. Nic and I made had paintings that we were able to email home. Here is his bird
I think it might have been the next day that we ventured out to Wigram airfield to witness the final airshow held at the field. From now on this iconic 'cradle of New Zealand aviation' will become a housing subdivision. We will no longer have a second airfield in our city and rampant development will continue. Obviously this is a hobby horse of mine so I wont go on any longer. However, I will share some pics of the planes. Jonty and I loved them, Nic was not as interested but it seemed that most of the children along the perimeter fence felt the same. We did not pay to attend the real show and get to clamber over planes but rather positioned ourselves at the end of the runway and witnessed some fantastic flying. Our cameras couldn't do the flying justice but here are some images we took. Notice the blue sky in some and then the haze that descended over the afternoon. This was a smoke from the bush fires across the Tasman Sea in Australia that had really taken off that day. I maintain that as most of our weather comes from that direction that the fires have had a major impact on our weather from that day. We have had grey, wet and cloudy weather ever since. The planes we enjoyed watching were the Harvard, 'Red Arrows', the Boeing 757 (amazing), helicopters and the old Hercules. It was great and we are now planning a family trip to the Warbirds event next Easter.

Almost finally, friend Alex's birthday 6 of us went to the new Wagamama restaurant for dinner. We had a great night chatting and enjoying the buzz of the place. All of us were working mothers at the end of another long week and there was no talk of partying the night away when we finally decided to move on. It was fun thought being out with different people and talking about everything under the sun. I know that Wagamama is all over the world and I have seen it everywhere I have been so it was nice to finally get in and see what it was all about. Nice food, good price, loud and buzzy.
Slum Dog Millionaire - Jonty and I managed a night out a few weeks again and went to see this film. I thought it was pretty amazing but having read the book 'Q & A' some years ago I spent a lot of the film confused as there were storylines and characters introduced that I couldn't remember. This is because they were totally not in the book. I felt the beautiful innocence and integrity of the book was damaged in the writing of an 'Oscar worthy' film. In saying that I would highly recommend seeing it. My friends who have not read the book have loved it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just finished reading#11

I feel like I have been struggling to come up with one coherent sentence for my blog this week. I am being ground down by the weather which is essentially lack of sun and the 2 week winter tasting that is really nasty. It isn't freezing but my boots are out and I am not happy. It is February for goodness sake!! As this is a happiness blog I have to focus on the fact that while I took the day off on Monday to nurse an achingly sore throat, I actually knocked off a book in one day. LOVED IT! An aside to that is that you never quite know which day to take off when you have a throat/cold thing. Now a week down the line from the first painful days, I am thinking Monday might have been a bit premature. HOWEVER, back to the book.

The art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein - A heartwarming, if not a little tear jerking, story written by a dog called Enzo. Well, not a dog as such but through the eyes and ears of a family dog who supports his family through the ups and downs of relationships, family and illness. You can tell by the name of the dog that there is a racing theme throughout the book (if the title didn't give it away) and the analogy of racing in the rain fits nicely into how life has rainy days and how you need to manipulate your vehicle to negotiate such things. I just immersed myself in this book and loved it for its clever observations, simple style and gorgeous Enzo.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lantern Festival

Here are some pics from the Christchurch lantern festival. Nicholas loved the lanterns immensely but not as much as his light stick which is, thankfully, not one that has a sound component. I hope the Chinese people who have settled here loved being that it is part of their culture to celebrate the lunar new year. Thanks to the organisers

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Just in case you thought my upholstery love was a passing thing, I thought I would give a quick update on my latest project. Class started again last night which was nice. Some familiar faces and some nice new people to get to know. I am STILL working on my chair. It has taken a very long time. This is mainly because I have been painstakingly, with love, applying 7 layers of stuff to the bare bones of the chair which is basically stripping the chair back to nothing and rebuilding it layer by meticulous layer. I am loving that. I have completed the final layer and hand stitching and now the final assembly onto the frame and titivating will finish the project. Having just finished the stitching tonight I left the seat and back on the floor. Georgie got very excited by it and did thisand is now roaring around the house like she has the wind up her bum. There must be some old and lovely smells buried in the flock or coir. Funny girl. One day I might be able to do a 'before' and 'after' post.

Rain and Fire

The wonderful sound of tyres driving through tiny sheets of rain on the road was the first sound I heard this morning. Thankfully we have rain today. Extreme fire danger in Canterbury has us jittery after the horrendous fires in Victoria this week. Having visited Marysville (one of the destroyed towns) a few years ago on our way home from Eildon, I can start to understand the enourmaty of the devistation. What I can't really get is how you start again after losing absolutely everything including your town. Who is going to help who when there is no one who can? Nice to be able to help at this time with money although it seems futile. Very sad.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Just finished reading #8,9,10 - Three New Zealand Books

Purely by coincidence I read three NZ books on the trot.

Firstly I read the All that glitters by Denise L'estrange-Corbett. Denise and her partner Francis are the brains and beauty behind the fantastic WORLD fashion brand. I have never owned a WORLD garment as I imagine they wouldn't fit and would cost a fortune, however I have always loved the clothes. The story is about Denise's life and includes chapters on her up bringing in London as well as her battle with depression. I enjoyed reading the book not because it was stunningly written but because you felt you just wanted to sit down with the author and listen to all those stories over a glass of wine. I thought for such a successful designer she was humble and very genuine. So, not the read of the century but very interesting for kiwi girls interested in fashion and a fellow kiwis experience of making a difference and having A LOT of fun.While we were staying at the bach this summer our neighbours invited us over for a lovely roast beef dinner on the deck. One of the other guests was Laurence Fearnley who is the cousin of our neighbour and happens to be a New Zealand novelist. Her real name is not Laurence but she goes under the name of Jura at the moment and might even change her name several more times in her life. Such is the life of a writer I am guessing. Anyway, she was very quiet and contemplative so I didn't get the chance to ask too many questions or get to know her very well but when I asked which of her novels I should read as a first, she suggested the Butler's Ringlet. So this is the novel I took on holiday with me. Judging by the cover this was not going to be the usual casual lying on the beach kind of read.
Butler's Ringlet is a very kiwi novel and is set deep in the farming land of Southland. It really is about friendship but breaches the seldom worn territory of male friendships/relationships in the super stoic world of farming. I really enjoyed it and kept sneaking back to the tent for a quick read. The language was lovely, could have been a bit self conscious as people are sometimes when being clever writers, but was not. The landscape, as is often the case in NZ literature, was a character in its own right. The female characters were peripheral in some ways but vital in others. I would say, ignore the cover and give it a go. Nothing like a dark dreary cover to turn off potential readers, unless of course most people love that look. Not me. I am drawn to reading some more of her work and I remember there is on of her titles in our book group box so I will search it out on Monday at our first gathering for the year.
Thirdly I flipped through a lovely slim book called 'How to look at a painting' by Justin Paton. It is part of a series of books written a few years ago on 'how to ... read a book' etc. At the time of writing Justin worked at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, but now he works for the Christchurch Art Gallery and is consequently a colleague from the same 'group' that we operate under in the council. I had the privilege of hearing him talk one day and was totally hooked. He is a fantastic speaker, personality and art dude. Loved the book and hope to get my book group enthused about it on Monday as I bought it but no one has read it yet. However, it is only a book for people who like art, I think. Others might find it intolerably pretentious but it really isn't, it is a passionate opinionated (in a good way) thought provoking and interesting chat about paintings. Again, I loved and will be popping into the gallery today probably.

Justin is very pleasant to look at so I thought I would pop this picture in for the hell of it.

Monday, February 02, 2009

One week

Hey there, home again safe and sound. We clocked up a massive 1,500 kms in the process. That didn't include my side trip to Hamilton earlier in the week. It is amazing how long a week can be.
The coffin Andy built for his dad with wood from David's old shed...see it did come in useful one day

It was good to be in Hamilton with the family celebrating the life of uncle David. Great to see everyone and be part of an historic family time. Ruth and Simon came up too as dad wasn't able to fly after his operation. The funeral, held at the Hamilton Cathedral, was very long and it was hot so I think he made the right decision to stay at home. My lovely Jonty did two five hour round trips in two days to drop me off and pick me up. Over the Takaka hill and the 15km of winding gravel roads included. What a star!!
Contemplative kayak boy

Toasting marshmellows with Kate and Grace
Totaranui was stunning this year. The weather gorgeous and the people really friendly. We went a week earlier than usual and found ourselves surrounded by big groups of families with pods of teenagers and mad bike riding pre-teens. The noise level was higher than we were used to and the level of activity around the place was also elevated. We settled into our camp and had a great time. Nic LOVED it. He was pink faced and excited the whole time and what a tan. All under layers and layers of sun block, might I add.
Grace's birthday party
We had a great time in our boat and I am very happy that we had it with us. We all got to use the ski biscuit and I learnt to drive the boat, reversing, lifting the motor and driving onto the trailer while Jonty backed it down the slipway. I loved learning a new skill. With the boat we were able to escape the big bay and camp up on the small beaches in the Awaroa Inlet and also round at Anapai our perennial favourite.
The bivouac Nic and I built at Awaroa Inlet
Nicholas has turned out to be a fantastic kayaker. He loves being in it and has mastered the twist in the paddle. He had other kids jumping on and off and happily spent hours puddling about in the water. This year he was at a whole level of confidence and skill. For the first time I think we had opportunities to actually sit back and relax and enjoy being on holiday. I guess it is all stages and phases.
On our last day our friends John and Angela turned up and luckily found a site near ours so we were able to indulge in some intense catch ups before we hit the road at lunchtime yesterday for our 8 hour journey home. It was great to see them and to see Alex and Nic having a nice time together.
Nic and Alex
I had a very strange conversation with a man who will remain nameless who was, I think, the most socially inept person I have met in ages and he is studying theology which concerns me as he might one day have to talk to people in an authoritative way. Anyway, having told me he had to go over the hill to buy a hat he then observed that me and my family were obviously hat people. Not sure why that was obvious but did say being a red head meant that I needed to wear a hat as a matter of course. To this he replied 'you could always dye it'!! Stunned, I suggested that I did not wear a hat to cover up my hair but to protect my fair skin. REALLY!! Then he yelled out to me across about 5-6m of beach 'Are you a believer?' Considering a previous conversation about his theology study I assumed he meant God. Having been at a funeral of a very devout person that week I didn't have an answer as I just don't know said 'I don't know'. He then grunted....'must be something in it - can't be made up'. It was appropriate for me at this point to mumble something about the need for a pain killer and off I trotted. THEN, the next day as we were packing up our tent/camp (a three hour job), his daughter came over and talked and talked and talked, played with Nic's stuff and followed me around. An odd child she was with a Forrest Gump kind of turn of phrase but harmless enough. What interested me was that I was sure her parents could see we were very busy and it was really hot. Anyway, said father wandered past and said 'thanks for looking after Mary' 'No worries' I said in utter disbelief at the sheer weirdness of some people. Surely him taking my son off my hands might have been kind and useful, never mind. I later witnessed his wife having a hissy at the smallest child in the family as she was being obstreperous and screaming and quite enjoyed that. Not sure why but I just did.
I love camping at Totaranui cos you never know who you are going to meet and what you are aging to see. The animals we encountered were varied from newly reintroduced Weka to a gorgeous black sting ray which cruised the shallows at low tide each day. Always with an entourage of children and adults with cameras. A penguin, a native hawk raiding another birds nest for tasty treats and lots of cicada malts- many of which came home with us in a container. We tickled kina and watched crabs being caught. All good beach fun.

So now, home on my last day of holidays I have been doing school things for Nic, stationery, shoes, stickers etc and got Georgie from the cattery, done many loads of washing and put on make up for the first time in ages. Life is almost back to normal.