Sunday, July 28, 2013

Just finished reading

The Brooklyn Follies - Paul Auster

I was mildly embarrassed for not knowing who Paul Auster was when two people in different countries told me to read his books.  I came to the conclusion that as I wander further and further from the path of librarian to facilities slave, my knowledge of books and authors is drifting away.  This does not for one moment indicate any reduction in my love of books and literature, just a waning intense knowledge.  I guess something has got to give and now I am the 'customer' reliant on the knowledge of my colleagues and friends to extend my reading menu.  Thank god for librarians I say.

Apparently The Brooklyn Follies is considered by many as a step away from the usual Auster subject matter and accessibility but still holds the essence of his writing which is well awarded and much loved.  I thought the story of Nathan Glass, 60 something, moving to Brooklyn to live out the last years of his life was a sweet story.  The lessons of life, making plans and  reconciliation were rolled up into a tale of men trying to find a way to a meaningful existence, a purpose and value, I think.  The neighbourhood setting and characters created a very embracing safe place to grow, make mistakes and live.  I expected something a little sharper and no way was I expecting a 'happy ending', you be the judge of if it really is.

A very nice book to while away the hours with, interesting characters, good back stories and of course pretty perfectly written.


Saturday, July 13, 2013


umm, what to say?  50 has arrived.  Feels pretty good, looks better than it might have but 'could have done better' and as I am often heard to say, 'lucky to be here, many don't make it'.  Being away on my work adventure on the day meant I probably didn't spend as much if any time thinking about the meaning of '50'.  There are plenty of reasons to fear it but for me it is liberating and for that I am grateful.  Putting aside the hell that is living in the post eq situation, I can say it feels great to be here.  Happy, healthy and really excited about what might be coming next.  Always looking out and looking up, grasping the beauty and turning my face to the sun.

No party!!  A birthday without a party is just not right, but there is time yet.  Reflecting on my past 50, just want to say thanks to all my lovely family and friends.  Front and centre, the best thing in the world.  Would never have made it on my own


Library Love on my 50th

Helsinki revisted

In all fairness Helsinki did turn out to be a pretty nice place.  The kindness of the people really did make up for my first impressions and I did have a pretty good time on my last day in town.  Now I have finally got my photos off the bloody iPad I can actually get them onto the blog.

Sunday on Suomenlinna Island

Leaving the port on a sunny Sunday

The beach on Suomenlinna Island

Fortifications on Suomenlinna
Best find on the island...not the Toy Museum but the cafe with the best apple cake and custard ever
Wandering around the island

Back in port

Friday, July 12, 2013


Helsinki and I didn't get off to a a great start and I am tainted by that first day still.  However, the weather is stunning and the people are very friendly  when you talk to them.  I am not a loner by any means so I am finding the lack of friends in the town to be very challenging and have had some major dips in my mood, once again confirming with no hesitation that I do have FOBA and that is never going to change.

As you might know I love Saturdays and although I didn't love yesterday, I did recognise that it had all the elements of a great Saturday.  Sun, market, people, water, activity and food.  No family or friends but that is expected on the other side of the world.

With the sun up and high in the sky so early in the morning you are compelled to get out there eagerly and enjoy it.  It is also great coming home from the movies at night in the light.  Funny seeing drunk people staggering around at night but actually in the daylight and I am sure I saw an illicit drug exchange going on from the tram last night too. 

Helsinki is not pretty.  The architecture is grim in some places, perfunctory in others and with a flash of gorgeousness in the form of churches and a few civic buildings.  There are some trees and a few civic gardens but it lacks the charm of many other cities that I have visited.  My guess is that 5 months of snow per year limits what you can do. However, there is as much joy, happiness and colour around the place as you would want.

Interestingly, the women seldom wear black like we do at home.  Every colour of the rainbow is worn and there seems to be scant attention paid to fashion as such although the shops are full of clothes.  Things are casual and individual here and the women do no fake tan or cover themselves in make up. It is refreshing.  The Russian tourists take the form of high heeled made up beauties to  dumpy middle aged women. 

The Finnish language is totally  incomprehensible to me although I have the basic hello and thank you sorted I think. Everyone speaks English which helps but the bus timetables, signs and announcements have no resonance at all. The words are so long and they just all blend into one.  And on top of that there is the Swedish version of everything too so you have to have your wits about you.  I do seem to have some sense of direction and awareness of the city so am finding my way around easily and even in a tricky situation with the tram being diverted due to a parade yesterday I worked out an alternative that worked so was pleased with that
This is the end of this post as I am having a nightmare with the iPad and editing so am going to leave it at that.  Will post some photos in a separate post.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


While I am away on this work trip around England, Europe and Scandi, I have been meaning to keep up this personal blog but I'm finding it challenging because I also have a work blog and am using Facebook to do personal bits and pieces.  It has me thinking about the role of this blog which I set up 7 years ago. It was supposed to be a happy place for reflection and sharing of daily news and events as well as a way for me to keep a running record of Nic's life which I expected I would forget.  This has proved to be the case so the blog is useful for that.  However, since the introduction of fb , I feel sometimes that it I am almost bragging in the blog as that is what fb feels like sometimes.  It is a tricky road to navigate.  But in the course for this conversation with myself , I think I am going to get back to the original intent of this blog which is to record our life for us and anyone who is remotely interested.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

travelling times

Here I am in Worcester England, sitting in the amazing Hive library after having a two hour tour of the building

It is one week since I left home on my latest journey.  I was determined to keep a running commentary of my trip and what I was experiencing but time is going to fast and I am putting a lot of effort into my work so personal blogging not really happening.  I also intended to keep a diary too but it has turned into a quick mindmap at the end of the day. 

Quick rundown
Flight on Singapore Airlines to London Heathrow...not terrible.  Great care  and kind people.  Air travel is an amazing experience, watching people and discovering different behaviours that you know you would NEVER EVER display or even expect.  OMG, the things people think are acceptable.  Treating the crew like their own personal waiters through the entire trip, demanding food every minute, eating all the chips and leaving shit everywhere, then farting a lot and yelling to each other across the cabin.  Crazy.  Sadly I was one in a row of 7 of them and I was gobsmacked

Heathrow...very efficient, through in no time, no border security, I could have been carrying anything and they would never ever know.  Once through passport you are totally ignored.  I can now see why Brits coming to NZ have a cow when they get questioned about rogue fruit in their bags.

Leicester with Louisa....lovely and fun with her.  Pretty much left to our own devices by the rest of them so we were able to enjoy pottering around, taking the dog walking and going to IKEA. We also went out for two meals and a great show at The Curve.  Guy came too.  Louisa is, as always generous to a fault.

Newcastle with Richard and Vicky.  Lovely fun.  Had a great night with them and the children.  Super visit with the Angela at the library and a bit of mooch around the town.  Very interesting, a bit grubby and wet.  Got some cool stuff to send home.

Birmingham...should have spent more time there.  Amazing library yet to open but I can tell it is going to be fantastic.  What a project to be proud of.  Spent a fantastic couple of hours with Fay whom I met in 2007.  Very proud of their achievement.  Lovely friendly people in Birmingham.

Worcester.   Haven't had a chance to explore yet. Will get out there soon once I have written up my notes.  Looked very pretty coming in and I am looking forward to walking along the river and seeing the sites

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hot stuff

Here I am in Leicester, England, yes England.  It's been ages since I have had time to blog, so busy have I been planning. My epic European and Scandinavian adventure has only just started and will see me traipsing all over the north of England, London, Amsterdam ,Helsinki , Sweden and Denmark.  I am fortunate to be sponsored for the trip but also carry the weight of expectation and the guilt of getting to leave broken Christchurch for some relief.  It is a luxury many cant afford.

I am currently hanging out at Louisa and Guy's and we are just home from the matinee session of Hot Stuff, a very British grown up panto kinda thing with Ceri Dupree, drag Queen extraordinaire and what a hoot it was. Funny being in someone else's culture and observing their ways of responding and enjoying a show.  I realised the music was 'their' music as Split Enz is ours.  Although world famous, the music has special importance to the people it belongs too. Very fun.

Saturday, April 06, 2013


There is nothing yet to dissuade me from loving Saturdays.  Today is the coldest Saturday this year so far.  A plummeting 12 degrees after weeks of 25 is not nice.  However, like everyone else we headed out to buy some stuff that we needed/wanted and had fun doing it.  Today was one of those days where you laugh a lot of different things.  The mood was jolly.  And to top it off, I am off to Rust and Bone tonight which I hear is amazing.  I realise I haven't posted a movie for ages although I have been to heaps.  Let's hope tonight is different.

We went to Nood to look at this.  I wanted it sooo much (saw it online) but when I got there I found it was very plastic.  Now I am going to make one of these one day.  It is gorgeous. 
This picture is very cool.  It is like a collage made from lots of bits of paper.  Very cool

Now, this I really want.  A great price and very much needed replacement for the saggy sofa in our dining room which has a throw over it covering the rips.  I am nearly 50 and I think it is probably time for some fancy furniture. 

Moose, enjoying the Autumn air.  This was very funny.  It is the simple things.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just finished reading #62

Literally, I have just finished this book.  I am at home feeling poorly today.  Made it to work but turned around and headed home once I realised I did indeed feel crap and had a temperature.  In bed for sleeping and the GIANT yellow and black sucker truck arrived on the front lawn to complete the sewer work that has ensured months of giant road works at the end of the drive.  No sleeping for me.  So what better time to finish a book? 

The messenger - Markus Zusak

This guy sure knows how to write a book.  I just loved it.  As I did The Book Thief. The front cover says ...'comedic, romantic, thrilling, confronting, playful, deceptive'  What a great description.  There is something about Markus' use of language that enables him to skillfully let you inside the story in no other way I have experienced.  The language is spare in some ways, the vernacular is unique and could be in someone elses hands a little silly or perhaps contrived but he just nails it.  I love Ed Kennedy the main character, he is flawed, kind, a little pathetic but so likeable.  Essentially he is 'chosen' to become 'the messenger', whereby his instructions come in the form of a few words on some playing cards.  It is for him to work out the clue and then go about doing the good or evil that comes from his solving of the clue.  I like a book that goes forward at a pace and has meaning and this one does.   Being set in Sydney is a bonus too. I think the ending might disappoint a little but I wont spoil that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anniversary #2

You may not believe this but this anniversary of the Feb 22, 2011 earthquake caught me by surprise.  I am obviously lucky enough not to have the anniversary of the death of a loved one on my mind, just the day the world changed forever.

Having joined my neighbour in putting flowers in many of the 100's of orange cones that grace our street, I kind of got in the mode.  Like most people in the city yesterday, I felt quiet and contemplative.  I wanted to be by myself to think about the moment, sit at my desk for the minute silence and shed a few tears watching the memorial on my computer.  It felt like a day of barely repressed emotion and quiet contemplation. 

Nic was part of a local event marking the loss of an important bridge that used to link communities that attended his school.  That school is diminished more than most with over 200 children moving away.  Jonty joined them as they performed songs and haka and sent flowers along the river.

One miracle happened late in the afternoon when we were contacted by the bank to say they had some money from EQC to deposit and where did we want it?  Thinking it was the $193 final contents claim payment I was pretty happy.  I did cry when he told me it was our 'over cap payment'.  Essentially this is the money EQC pay out to people whose homes are damaged beyond the 100K mark.    The shock was more about the fact that we didn't know we had been assessed and can only assume a very quick visit in June???2011 sorted that.  We had had a small foray into the world of EQC and were knocked back about June - July 2012 and were just getting ourselves organised to go in for another round and this happened.  It is a miracle.  Knowing the battles that others have endured, I am very grateful for this.

However, I understand the next bit, where you get your insurance company to cough up with the rest of the funds required to fix your damaged house can be pure hell and many before me have aged decades in the tussle between two giant purses.  EQC and insurance companies don't have a relationship, they require the 'customer' to be the punching bag in the middle.  Not sure how it is going to be but I am thrilled to know that my beloved house is being fixed not destroyed.  For all its wooden creakiness, misaligned bits and rotten boards, I love it and am prepared to be patient to get it fixed.  It is going to take many many years, this we know.

So, the anniversary truly was a big day for us and I know similar for everyone else in many different ways. It is the special bond that we share as a city and will define our city for my lifetime at least.   My heart does ache for those who have lost so much.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hanging with your people

We all belong to people.  We all have people who share our sense of humour, genes, values, gender or interests etc.  Being with people who are like us is warm and relatively easy.  Today I had a fantastic example of being with your people which made me very happy.  This may sound odd but I thought you might enjoy it.  I am an extrovert, extreme maybe.  That means I get all my energy from the world.  I love being with people, it doesn't mean I am super outgoing or particularly loud (although not all will agree).

Today three extroverts jumped in a car to go to a meeting. One (me) was changing out of her bike gear in the back seat as she was running late (head wind).  While doing this, she was also enjoying a very lively conversation and debate about how we were going to get to our destination.  No mean feat in this city.  At the same time we were having conversations about the price of beer and London prices in ChCh.  The two in the front are English so we launch into a whole lot of stuff.  We were also wittily  making up abuse to hurl at the woman in the green Suzuki and the old chap in the slow silver car. 

Eventually we ran a red light by mistake after waiting for a train as well as forgetting who was supposed to give way.  It was a very noisy, lively and hilarious ride.  We were all very happy talking at once, pointing in all directions, making smart comments and laughing a lot.  We didn't have to worry about being quiet, pausing to let others join in, worry about taking offense or making a mistake.  Just bloody good fun.  Thanks extroverts for showing yourselves and for being you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


We have returned from our beloved Totaranui and so not disappointed.  As always a stunning holiday with all the ingredients we love....sunny days, boat stuff, swimming, friends and stunning scenery and nature.  Just so lovely.  I took a ton of photos that I think I will save for another day.  But I will share some photos I took that I hope are going to inspire me one day to create beautiful things.  Nature and its shapes, colours and textures.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Christmas ninja
Amazingly good panorama at the Cold Play concert with Karen R.  Yay.

NY Eve - pave decorating

Around about April my great mate Alex and I flew to Wellington for the day.  We went to see wedding dresses and parliament and then had afternoon tea at the hippopotamus bar in the Museum hotel.  

Watching the boss being interviewed by Joy Reid TV1 news
Nic's Birthday cake...mmm, pretty average

Jane eating a petrified mouse at Central library during EQ excavation work
A gorgeous Saturday lunch treat
Sunday morning building demo.....bau
Magic tricks at Under the Red Verandah
Big bubble bath in Hokitika
Snow from the 5th floor of Civic offices

Vietnamese noodle

Karate grading
Ol's and Joe and Nic at the beach