Christmas 1

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I’m back from holiday.  I spent two weeks in the merged household that makes up my family in Invercargill.  It was a household full of people.  The youngest two were leaving for studies in Auckland.  Their first big move out of the family.  A lot of energy was going into preparations into driving up the island.  Then a caravan of family friends and their children came and stayed.  Other family from Te Anau and Central Otago came and were welcome.

It was overwhelming.  I was promised a ride back to Dunedin.  It was getting further set back.  In the end I booked on the bus, a chance to claim a week by myself.

The eating was excellent, with big long feasts around the dinner table every night.  I was plied with beer without asking late into the evening.  A matins walk to the toilet in the early hours was necessary most nights.  There was little chance for walking, if I planned to walk anywhere a ride was quickly provided.  Since in Dunedin I walk daily to and from work in all weather I suspect that this was the cause of my leg cramping at the end of the holiday.  I am quickly back into my practice.

Simple gifts for me:

  • Forest & Bird ‘Natures voice’ New Zealand Conservation Diary 2016
  • Farmers Voucher, which I spent on a new pair of sleep pants.  I left a pair in Invercargill
  • Two jars of home-made gooseberry and orange jam from NannyJo
  • A jar of home-made mustard
  • A set of six carved elephants that belonged to Auntie Winnie.  When I got home I realised that they fit in perfectly with my little nativity under the Christmas tree, a choir of little elephants serenading the baby Jesus – why isn’t this in the gospels?

Let me put in a plug for the Argyle Cottage Garden.  It is worth a visit, a folly, a duckpond and St. Mary’s Anglican Church moved from Kaitangata to be a wedding chapel and a community church.  It felt like a little bit of Narnia translocated to Waianiwa.


 New Zealand Conservation Diary 2016 – available from Forest & Bird – Online Shop

Hobbit Spotting

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We began retreat last weekend with a crowd breaker exercise.  Everyone wrote down one thing the rest of the group didn’t know about them.  I wondered what I wanted to share about myself.  I wrote ‘father was a linesman’.  They were read out and we guessed which one around the circle.  Mine was one of the last.  I was asked if he fell from grace.  Yes, he did.  He had a stroke, or something similar, while up a ladder and fell to his death.  This was back in the 1980s when I was still at school.  I did not regret sharing it.  As I have said elsewhere I do not mourn my dead as much as I take joy in remembering them.  I was happy to talk about dad and would have said more.  An honoured memory.

On the book front, I have finished Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch.  It was an entertaining read, a diversion about the police department that deals with the magic side of the city of London.  I will look out for Moon over Soho, the next in the series.  Currently I’m reading London Falling, a darker book by Paul Cornell, again about London police, and a much darker occult.  For the first 80 pages the characters seemed to blur and slide in my reading, they didn’t have distinct voices in my head.  Now the story has kicked in and the magic begins to get more interesting.

I’m currently working on translating some sentences from Maori Language Week into Brithenig.  While it is topical I want to have a go at the poem Home, by Warsan Shire.


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And that was the Easter that was for 2015.

A visit over the long weekend down to see my mother in Invercargill.  I tried to do some tidying up at home.  A bit Grimm’s Fairy Tale.  Once I had filled the rubbish bin there was not much more I could do.

Stayed with Southern Dave again and did a bit of family catch up.  At the last moment I rummaged through the shelves for something to take with me and pulled Hellboy: Oddest Jobs edited by Mike Mignola from the shelves.  It proved to be an excellent anthology of short stories to travel with.  The constant figure in these stories is Hellboy, a monster, a demon, a constant indefeatable champion for humanity.  They were a delight to read, and I would like to track down the earlier anthologies Odd Jobs and Odder Jobs.  I’m sure that they will have the same taste for comic book horror and superheroes.

I returned from Invercargill with loot, Southern Dave found me books:

  • Light in Dark Isles, by Alexander Don, NZ Presbyterian book on mission to the New Hebrides in 1918, lots of period writing
  • By Love Serve: The Story of the Order of Deaconesses of the Presbyterian Church of NZ, by J. D. Salmond, another one for my Presbyterian bookshelves
  • Spirit in a Strange Land: a selection of New Zealand spiritual verse, edited by Paul Morris, Harry Ricketts & Mike Grimshaw.  Excellent to have my own copy of this, my original thoughts on looking at this collection, some years ago, was that NZ poets view religion with a powerful hermeneutic of suspicion. I will be interested to see if that sense is still dominant in the collection.
  • Enduring Legacy: Charles Brasch, patron, poet and collector, edited by Donald Kerr, another book about Brasch for my collection at Manono House.

From mum, an easter egg and and a jar of relish from the Centre Street Dairy; and from my sister in law, a selection of Mama Jo’s Homemade Jams and Pickles: apricot, black berry, gooseberry and mixed berries jams, and capsicum and mango relish.  I have some serious sampling to do!


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I’m off to Wellington tomorrow because I want to attend the International Jousting Tournament at Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt.  I went some years ago and it was an enjoyable day.  Also it allows me to visit my brother The Ghost Who Walks and meet his partner-in-law’s family on that side.  Maybe I might meet other people I know while I’m there.  I have not made any plans.

Life does lifelike things that involve committees.  So far this year I have been to meetings for Interfaith, the Good Friday Procession of the Cross, and Pastoral Care at Opoho Parish.  Life goes on around me and people are changing.  Perhaps if it remains interesting in that perspective and no catastrophic dramas occur then I will be happy.

Catch you later!

Advent 3

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There comes a point in Advent when the daily lectionary readings stop being set out according to which week in Advent we are in, and specific dates in the calendar set in.  December 17th marks that date.  We are a week out from Christmas.  It stalks us with terrible inevitability.

This was the weekend of the Friends and Family Invasion.  Southern Dave turned up with Mum in tow, banging on the door of Manono House and banging her luggage-on-wheels up the stair-case.

Dave came up for his nephew’s band playing at the Musician’s club for the ‘Not So Silent Night’.  From my hearing of them it was heavy drums and guitar and inaudible lyrics.  There is a slogan ‘If it’s too loud, then you’re too old’.  In that case this music was too young for me.  It was like listening to a boy racer or that party across the road in the middle of the night that is going to make you get up and call sound control.

I was told that ‘This was not your music, it’s ours’.  As my day began with listening to Karl Jenkin’s Mass for the Armed Man, the Wellington Ukelele Orchestra doing It’s A Heartache, and listening again to Jessye Norman singing Zueignung which had been used beautifully and tearfully for carrying out the casket at the funeral of a gentleman; the day had not progressed.

Sunday left me with a ghost of a headache which disappeared as Mum and I enjoyed Thomas Adès’s The Tempest.  Prospero awaits on his island for revenged against those who exiled him there.  He is dressed in the wreckage of his courtly robes, his spells tattooed on his body like a pirate.  It’s the revenge of the undressed on the dressed: Ariel is an inhuman and elemental spirit who rides on the shoulders of kuroko; Caliban is half-Mohican, half-feathery beast (which annoyed me less than the painted orc from The Enchanted Island in last year’s season).  In hindsight the character who journeys the most is Ferdinand, washed ashore he is divested of his nobility and then restored as Prospero and Miranda are restored as rulers of Milan.  There is a story that has not been told.

Having been introduced to the opus of Thomas Adès I would like to give it more consideration.

In the evening I attended Knox Church for the evening service Celebrating Christmas Down-Under as the choirs of five churches participated.  I am told the music group from Opoho stole the evening when they walked to the front dressed in hats and bush-shirts for a version of Peter Cape’s poem Nativity:

They were set for the home, but the horse went lame
And the rain came pelting out of the sky
Joe saw the hut and he went to look
And he said, ‘She’s old, but she’ll keep you dry’

So her kid was born in that road-man’s shack
By the light of a lamp that’d hardly burn
She wrapped him up in her hubby’s coat
And put him down on a bed of fern

Then they came riding out of the night
(And this is the thing that she’ll always swear)
As they took off their hats and came into the light
They knew they were going to find her there

Three old jokers in oilskin coats
Stood by the bunk in that leaking shack
One had a beard like a billy-goat’s
And one was frail and one was black

She sat at the foot of the fern-stalk bed
And she watched, but she didn’t understand
While they put these bundles at the baby’s head
And this river nugget into his hand

Gold is the power of a man with a man
And incense the power of man with God
But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod

Then they went, while she watched through the open door
Weary as men who had ridden too far
And the rain eased off and the low cloud broke
And through a gap shone a single star

Merry Eczemas to one and all.  The weather is too hot to sleep now.

Burt Munro Challenge 2012

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Down to Invercargill one more time with the Ghost who walks and his partner J.  She won’t forgive me if I call her his travelling companion now.  They are out now.

I thought I would be staying with Boston T. and his partner J.  (The partner-clans in my family add new meaning to It’s Complicated.)  Southern Dave was huffy if I didn’t impose on his hospitality so I changed my mind at the last moment.

We got to the beach races this year, the first time in about four years of trying to get down to Invercargill on time, and the weather being compliant.  We drove onto Oreti Beach and I was met with the smell of my childhood wafting off the waves.  The racing on the sand was worth watching.  We were at one end watching the bikes turn on the half-mile long track.  Some would cut it close and try to accelerate, others would make a wide turn not to lose speed.  All had to face the challenge of remaining upright as the sand came looser and looser.  None did fall.

Saturday we visited Richardson’s Truck Museum.  We were there for two hours and ran out of time before we went to the races at Teretonga.  On the outside it looked like a warehouse, inside it opened up into hall after hall of vintage trucks and cars and machinery.  I use film for photos — call me old-fashioned! — and finished my film before we had got through the second hall, taking photos of the cars we were talking about.  There were about four more halls after that and we only had to glance through the last of them before we left.  It’s worth another visit next year when we are down.

It’s a private museum so contact them for their address and see if they are open.

We got back for the racing, and got some coffee before we went in.  Secretly I must be a member of Order of the Mochaccin Monks!  Behind us some Filthy Few Road Knights were looking for hot chocolate and considered skulling the marshmallows.  The bikers who come down for Burt are older, relaxed and comfortable.  Everyone is looking to have a friendly time in the Far South.  The speedway turned out to be an occasion to get sandblasted.  Don’t stand too close while eating chips!

I got home on Sunday and caught up with my washing.  The others are nearly returned to Wellington now.  I think I have myself double-booked for guests in December as the Metropolitan Opera and Formed on Wednesday are both playing in the same weekend.

Preparation for Father’s Day

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Balloons were handed out at church today.  They were entitled with attributes people associated with fathers.  They were given out to the men of the congregation.  I ended up with “understanding” and “patient”.  I thought about the scans of the slides that I have that my parents made.  It is nearly 30 years since my father died.  There are images in my family slides that I haven’t considered in the same length of time.  Recently they have been scanned and I have seen them again.  I have them printed out, four envelopes, waiting to be described and protected in an album.  I am surprised by the images of my father because there is a lot that I have forgotten in that time.  There is an image of him supporting a trailer with  four sons and at least two cousins in it.  He is smiling and his head is thrown back, a pose I have seen my brother assume countless times.  He is a man in his maturity and full of life.  You can forget things like that.

I didn’t name a word that described fatherhood this morning to be written on a balloon.  There were a lot of words contributed.  I decided that my word would be “lively”

I visited the Church today for a concert.  Locals will know the place I mean.  It used to be a Methodist Church on Dundas street facing the Northern Oaks Rugby grounds.  Since it closed it has been a cafe of various names, The Pickled Penguin and Saint Lea’s come to mind.  The current incarnation is called the Church.  There was a concert put on, Chamber Vulgarus.  It was incomprehensible.  Students and others putting on original works.  The programme became confused and at times I was lost.  I never understood who was the man in whiteface.  At the same time there were wonderful original pieces for flute, string quartet and gamelan.  I admit it was the pieces for string and gamelan that provoked my curiosity.  And there was In the Shape of Trees, hacked electronica creating its own soundscape.  That was interesting.  It ended with a performance by Strork, a string ensemble were anyone can pick up an instrument and join in.  I don’t think you can walk away from a performance by Strork.  Because there’s no such thing.

I think Dunedin Time runs about 20 minutes later than when the programme is scheduled to begin.  That happened both on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.  In contrast church services begin on time, although when they might end is anyone’s guess.

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