Hobbit-spotting 13 June 2016

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I’m a month in to living at my new flat, for which I’ve taken out a mortgage.  So far, so good.  Nearly everything is set up as I would want it.

This weekend, visits from Southern Dave, and from my mother.  Dave was here two nights, he has secured my bookcases to the walls.  He was here for the Regent Theatre’s 24 Hour Book Sale.  This year I left the sale with only two books: The Maestro, by Hoffnung; and The Algebraist, by Banks.

Mum was here for Turandot, the Metropolitan Opera performance at the Rialto Cinema.  My new couch is now more colourful with a blanket throw and cushions from Mum and family in Invercargill.

I went to the volunteers meeting for the Midwinter Carnival, which is this weekend.  I visited the Public Library on the way back, just in case the books I had been looking to borrow from there were in.  They were.  I am set up to spend time reading for the next month, in the comfort of my own home.  All good.


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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!

Hobbit Spotting

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This is the week that was.

Dave went back to Invercargill.  He dropped me off at church which saved me some time.  When he got home he joined the Facebook group for Brithenig words that I have started, bringing that community to 13 people, of which half I can identify.

I added some reference points to the invisible city of Lamborough.  I wondered how one character would get from South Shore across Lamborough Harbour to the Weather Downs in the hill country of Big Sharkey.  I realised that I knew enough details to travel the distance in his car: across the Harbour Bridge, then over the Tava River, turn back south until he reached Hundred Road which would take him out of the city.

On Thursday I went to the Gig Night at the Library.  I had mixed it together in my head and expected gothic ukelele. A four piece band played original pieces about the Transit of Venus, coffee and the carousel cowboy.  An alternative group did Talley Ho! and a synthesizer had me leaning forward to hear some interesting harpsichord.

I was at work for the last day for our reseach archivist.  We went to the ministry common room so she could say farewell to all who met for afternoon tea, one last time.

The cold nights have given me a cough that is slow in going away.  A harbinger of the winter to come.

I have collected my mother from the bus station.  You can hear her in the background.  My hat went off for adventures.  Fortunately the taxi driver brought it back.  She has found my collection of Arthur Mee titles on my bookshelf.  I have Golden Year, One Thousand Beautiful Things, The Children’s Bible and Talks for Boys.  She has One Thousand and One Everlasting Things and the volumes of the Encyclopedia at home which I hope to add to my collection.  She will look out for other titles at the book sale in Invercargill.



I had mum up here a couple of weeks ago.  We were going to see Les Troyans at the Rialto.  She arrived with a dreadful cough that kept us both awake overnight.  By morning she had virtually lost her voice.  I put her on the bus that afternoon after the opera, and sent a text to my sister-in-law that had I knew she would be in such a state I would have protested her coming to visit me.  J. picked up mum in Invercargill  and she stayed a night with them.  I don’t think any of us are happy with her for putting us through this.

Consequently I have been afflicted with the same deep and raw cough that mum had.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.  (Phlegm, anyone?)  I am slowly recovering from it.  It still leaves a rasping dryness in my throat that I battle with Sudafed and Mycenex.  That has stopped me from getting it so badly as she did.

The bus station has moved from St Andrew’s Street to the corners of Sturdee and Halsey Streets beyond the railway station in an industrial district by the harbour.  This has made it out of the way and impractical for regular bus-users.

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.

Happy 80th Birthday, Mum

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Despite asking for no presents people gave generously to mum at her celebration at the weekend.  I found a couple of neckchains with silver and paua pendants at the Art Gallery and gave them to her.  The Phantom gave her a digital picture frame.  I had the CD that a former flatmate had made of our photo slides so we put those on the frame along with other photos provided by the families.

She invited so many people to come to her celebration at Knox Church she didn’t get to speak to them all.  It was a successful occasion for her.

There and back again: a hobbit’s weekend in six meals

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Two events on over the weekend the first was the meeting of the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland at Highgate Church.  After the opening service on Friday night we proceded along Highgate to Columba College where the evening meal was put on for us.

The Synod meeting continued onto the next day.  I had to leave after the morning’s first session to join one of the other commissioners to travel down to Invercargill for the second event of the weekend: my mother’s 80th birthday party.  I made sure to enjoy the morning tea, which was well catered for.  The hall was arrayed like it was a country parish tea.

I was dropped off at my brother’s house where he lives with his partnerclan.  A generous tea was provided again with pork and beef chops, chicken and salad.  Happy birthday, mum.

And for breakfast there were bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and mushrooms.  Usually I have a bowl of porridge and a cup of hot chocolate, and a hot cross bun when they are available.

Then there was potluck lunch at mum’s church for the members to celebrate her 80th birthday.  By this stage I am rather full and not looking to eat again before I return to Dunedin.

I spent the afternoon with my friend Southern Dave and joined with his parents for a small meal together.

After all that Dave took me to the bus back to Dunedin and I rested.


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So that was Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.  I’m glad I’ve seen this series to the end.  The singers were excellent.  Oh, my, what a long story.  Twenty hours of screen time, four different operas, over two seasons.  That’s exhausting.  I don’t need to see this one again, unless someone does something radically different with it.  There’s little chance of that happening.  After a hundred years achieveing something new with Wagner is going to be a challenge.

My mother was here for the opera and I’ve put her on the bus back to Invercargill.  She has an appointment for a colonoscopy tomorrow and she is beginning the final stages of preparation for it.  Fortunately I know that family will be keeping an eye on her after the operation.

Hobbit-spotting for Hongongoi

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The month started with a visit from my mother to see Die Walküre. It turned into a busy weekend as Opoho Church held a book launch for the autobiography of the late Albie Moore, a hafla at the Kazbah, and a concert for the Southern Consort of Voices. It all came together before my mother left to return to Invercargill.

Then a meeting of the Pastoral Committee and a rally in the Octagon for the Hillside Railway Works. This was followed by a week when I was house-bound with campylobacter from some bad cooking, and my computer started acting up. I haven’t done anything about the computer yet. The connection is still dodgy.

The Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies had an open lecture on Scottish Devolution, and in the last week of the month the University Taekwon-Do club had a quiz night to raise money to go to their national finals. I was on a team with two physicists, a Hungarian and an Israeli, and a computer geek. Fortunately the questions were so orientated to popular geekery that we triumphed home, 45 points out of a total of 80. Five points ahead of our nearest rivals.

Friendlink met at Caversham Baptist Church on Saturday for a Mama Mia Sing-along. I enjoyed myself and joined in the singing of some of my favorite pieces, although I sat out when some of the clients got up and danced. I’m tempted to get a copy of the DVD. It was indulgent fun.

Lecture at the Art Gallery today about Science + Magic, the clash between an instrumental and a participatory world-views. I went and had a look at the Radiant Matter II display afterwards. In the big display the artist worked together with some witches to create a spell. There was a sign on it that read Gateway to Etheric Realms: Do Not Enter. I wondered about this. Was it part of the display? Did the sign refer to the integrity of the artwork? Or did it refer to the danger of trespassing on a magical site?



Ok, Christmas is over, and has been for several days. I got to the Church of Christ Christmas lunch. The church open plan was filled with tables. When everyone arrived they filled the hall. The newspaper estimated the numbers as 250 people. I helped by cleaning leftovers as plates were returned for washing. It was a good exercise and something I would want to do in future years.

I saw mum for a couple of days. She came up to Dunedin on Christmas evening. We did a bit of wandering while she was here. One day we went out to Purakanui, my ancestral settling place on Otago harbour and ended up in Aramoana. I wish I had my camera with me because there were some interesting cribs out there, the kind of thing of which I like getting pictures. We got to Purakanui in the end, but didn’t find our family who live there.

The other place where I should have had my camera was our visit to the Chinese garden. For those readers who are not familiar with this venture Dunedin’s Chinese garden was built by workmen from China in 2008 and opened earlier in the same year. I believe it is promoted as the biggest authentic Chinese garden outside of mainland China. Even if it is built next to a railway line and gets the wind from Dunedin’s industrial area by the harbour. Fortunately Dunedin has no offensively smelly industries. The plants in the garden are established now and some of the rawness of the new garden is passing. It’s a great place to take older children: paths and water and rocks to climb, just let them run! I like the city scape looking out from inside the garden.

Also took mum to the Rita Angus exhibition at the Art Gallery (which is free). Still recommended.

The weather has been consistently getting to 30C/87F during the daytime since Christmas. I have retaliated by two new pairs of long shorts. Normally I prefer to wear full-length trousers. We shall see how much the universe can withstand exposure to my legs.

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