A close friend’s mother died last week and it forces one to think about, and be grateful for, family and friends. I delighted in taking Sam out for a meal and thought that I must make it a ritual to have some time together more often. I wanted to spoil him and make sure he knew how important he is to me. (Without filling him with dread of obligation though!) I am such a clingy, helicopter mother no matter how hard I try not to be. I am continuing my mindfulness meditations as the course has now finished. The Mindfulness Works company continue to send little snippets and resources to me and one of the things was to go for a mindful walk. I am living out at Titirangi at the moment and I tell my long-suffering friend that it is the wop wops. I find it completely foreign in many ways and it also reminds me of Dunedin. I feel as though I’m in a different city. Being with her though means long discussions into the night, delicious vegetarian food and lots and lots of herbal tea. I had been in all day today until I went for a coffee and well, all right a piece of sickly cheese cake which I regretted the moment it passed my lips. I decided to go for a mindful walk as the evening was still quite light and I immediately became aware of all the birds. Big fat wood pigeons swung overhead, their wings beating fervently as though to keep them airborne. I don’t know how they balance those big fat tummies on the wires. I kind of expect them to tip up and flop to the ground. I also wonder how they keep their clothes so white. You’d think being out all day and night you’d be sure to spill berry juice on your bib. Tuis were going crazy like teen-aged drunks in the blossoms and fantails well, fanning their tails. Last night I listened to a morepork which sounded as though it was right outside my window. I don’t know if it was very mindful taking pictures all the way but I did anyway. I promise I didn’t “arrange” any of the pictures. These are some other things I became mindful of as I walked. [caption id="attachment_1694" align="alignnone" width="300"] That one looks a little like a rugby ball….[/caption] I am reminded that on my niece’s wedding invitation it respectfully asks people not to take photos but rather, be present and enjoy the day and let the professional photographer do the camera work. It seems a good idea to discourage people spending the day looking through a lens rather than actually concentrating on the celebration. Living with friends makes me realise what a house-keeping slob I am. I had no idea that people have permanently tidy airing cupboards and beautifully arranged pantries. I thought that they had just done them right before i arrived out of some kind of guilt trip. I am fantasising that I will be like that but I suspect that’s all it is- a fantasy. I hoping Deb will pop down regularly and show me how it’s done. What’s even more difficult is that my compulsively tidy friend will be living in an exact replica of my place two doors down and that we have mutual friends. It could be a kind of before and after scenario and I know which one mine will be. She is minimalist and very tidy. No pressure then!! Have a great week and remember, there are only 87 more days until Christmas. Arrrgh. FG ]]>
The Way is a story of a father (Martin Sheen) that walks the Camino de Santiago with his son’s (Emilio Estevez) ashes, from Saint Jean de Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. Then there was the true story of Oscar Nominated Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) and starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress Nomination). It is based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir by the same name. Strayed’s story chronicles her experience of confronting a destructive path her life had taken by embarking on a solo trek covering 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. Then there was Tracks where a young woman goes on a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her faithful dog. This was closely followed by another Camino way movie, Walking the Camino, 6 ways to walk to Santiago, 500 miles on foot. This is a profile of six pilgrims again taking the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage. Not to be outdone, Bill Bryson then attempts the Appalachian Way. After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson returns to the U.S., where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends. See what I mean? None of them really moved me. Most of them put me off, snoring, farting, smelly dorm mates, everyone “finding themselves”. The Camino Way looked like a major highway. There seemed to be so many people tramping up and down it. In the last half hour I finished my book club book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I loved it. Of course it was fiction but it was a great story with a really satisfying conclusion. Harolds’ pilgrimage takes him from the South of England to the north and while he does do some “finding”, mostly he doesn’t bore us by telling us about it. I found it compelling and ultimately very moving. Maybe books do it better. Fiona Farrell’s, The Broken Book, documents, among other things, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. I have been set to thinking about the walking thing. Almost everyone became aware that they were carrying too much stuff and actually we really don’t need much stuff. This is of concern to someone like me, who adores my stuff. I love having my paintings, candles, memories, flowers, colours, linen duvets and sheets, fluffy towels, lavender oil, my buttons and yarns box, knitting needles, good kitchen knives, china cups, and on it goes, around me. Some are valuable, most are not. I worry that I might finally take possession of my house, fill it with stuff and still feel empty and lonely. I’m pretty sure the expensive storage locker I am paying for each month is full of crapola. [caption id="attachment_1363" align="alignnone" width="300"] I am looking forward to finding a special place for my Picasso dove print.[/caption] i am determined that I will put in my “must haves” and leave the rest in the garage until I decide whether to keep or throw. I did throw out a lot of books, clothes and stuff when I got the house ready to sell and it felt good to unburden myself of junk. There is nothing that I regret or have need of so far. I do think there is pleasure in having a calm and lovely bedroom to rest in at the end of each day. Of course the “lovely” is entirely an individual thing. I guess I am a nester, a home-body, a stay-at- homer. I hate cleaning though, and know that the well-ordered pantry I imagine, will be in disarray within days. [caption id="attachment_1362" align="alignnone" width="225"] Believe it or not, I love to iron a piece of nice linen to put under my rusty ferris wheel. One of my minimalist friends, exclaimed once about my candle house, what on earth is that?? It was kind of hard to explain that I get pleasure from the ritual of opening the little latch and striking a match to light the fat candle inside.[/caption] Still, there is the walking thing. It has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long time now. I don’t know where to or even why but I suspect that doesn’t matter much as long as I put one foot in front of the other. What will matter is the accommodation, I’m sorry to say I will not stay in backpackers or in a dorm, I value my privacy far too much! I would like to hear from you about the walks you have taken and why. Meanwhile I am back to my library books and candles and knitting and day dreaming of my orderly pantry….. FG ]]>
At high school embroidery was compulsory and was taken by a fierce diminutive woman called Mrs Lascelles. It was in her class that my inadequacy reached quite dizzying heights. The compulsory embroidery classes were taken in what I see now, was a gorgeous old house next to the school. We would troop up the stairs of the maids’ entrance and enter the room where an old gas fire would be hissing, its white waffle bars glowing. Mrs Lascelles would be standing behind her desk and above her was a painting of The Lacemaker by Vermeer. All third formers started with a sampler bag. I knew even then that I had “no taste” as mine was navy blue and orange whereas the clever girls would choose beautiful soft greens and taupes and cream. Although tiny, Mrs Lascelles was easily able to make herself heard and a familiar call was, “No canary yellow girls, no canary yellow.” I kept my bag but it brings with it both the sense of accomplishment and the humiliating feeling when inspection took place to ensure the crosses were all facing in the right direction. My friend Winifred, now a renowned orthodontist was a fantastic embroiderer. May be she takes those skills into her work. Each year we had to do something else, first the bag, then the tray cloth and then finally in fifth form, the supper cloth. I remember that as I hadn’t finished mine, I was threatened with not being allowed to sit School Certificate. As a last resort I paid Julia D to do it for me. It was supposed to be a border but when she discovered it didn’t meet up we had to pretend it was just a corner pattern. It was ten dollars well spent. I was similarly disabled when it came to sewing. I had a mean sewing teacher in Form 1 who made us unpick anything that wasn’t perfect. I remember the details vividly, it was an A-line, mustard wool skirt. As I was pretty small back then it wouldn’t have been more than half a metre of material. After watching me using an entire reel of cotton and not an inconsiderable amount of despair, my mother, who was an excellent seamstress, took pity on me and did it for me. I have again rather foolishly, been lured into contemplating buying a sewing machine because they are now such a reasonable price. I think the only thing I could manage would be little lavender bags or maybe even a zipless cushion. All I need to do though, is to drive past a Cash Converters and see the row upon row of exercycles and other gym equipment to remind myself where that sewing machine and all its intentions might show up. I now try to bear good old Leonard Cohen in mind when attempting anything. It gets me out of just about everything. Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in. The mindfulness course helps one to focus on the present and to ditch those feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy -yeah right. I wrote the poem below a long time ago about meeting a “mature”, sensible girl at school who got her periods waaaay before me. I was always in trouble for chatting, giggling and not concentrating and she was always so good and calm with straight white hair. Curly hair seems to immediately brand one with a sort of out of control frivolousness. I wrote this poem many years ago but I hope you have some fun remembering your years at school. I Met A Woman I Went To School With I met a woman I went to school with at the baggage claim. In an instant I was back in a grey gymfrock with the incorrectly tied girdle, my flat chest, not getting the joke about Cleopatra going to the Nile periodically which was why it was red. Immediately I was transported to hopeless land. The blotchy colouring in, the teacher ignoring my waving hand for a place in the orchestra, both of us knowing I’d be too much trouble. Straight away my heart shrank in the face of The glowering, freckled spinster with Enormous feet, and orange hair who tried to make me write-handed because left was Latin for sinister. I met a woman I went to school with. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had just sailed past, like a grown up might, nonchalantly hailing a taxi with a confident wave and sitting in the back looking up something important. Sue Heggie Have a good day. FG ]]>
I have just finished an excellent book called The Orphan Master’s Son which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction. It is an account of all you didn’t want to know about North Korea. It makes one eternally grateful for NZ where you can do and say pretty much whatever you like. Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. More hunger, casual cruelty and the misuse of power than beauty and love I’d have to say. These people must follow everything the dear father says and their homes are invaded by propaganda messages night and day through a loud speaker. It reminded me of this clip I like. When elections come around I always put the following you tube clip on Facebook in order to encourage young people, or in fact anyone, to get out there and vote. It is an extract from a film called Looking for Alibrandi which was derived from the book of the same name. It is a teen book but as I love the genre I think you might enjoy the book too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoE-BkwgvJ4 Following on from there, I was at a bit of a loose end the other evening and, horror of horrors, resorted to going to Wairau Hoyts. So armed with popcorn and an ice cream I entered a pretty substantial theatre and plonked myself down. Admittedly it was a Tuesday night but I ended up having the entire theatre to myself- a private viewing if you will. The film was called, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl and I was forced to assume by the lack of numbers that it would be rubbish. It so easily could have been, you know American, beautiful girl with cancer, geeky boy, falling in love etc, but actually it was a tender, funny and interesting little film. I’ve always been an advocate of co-ed schools and these kinds of friendships I see in real life, are why. My sore foot is back. I know, another first world problem but it is quite annoying. The lovely young pharmacist at Hobsonville Point suggested tumeric capsules. This seems to be the trendy herb of choice at the moment but as it is the sort of thing you jut have to rest I thought I may as well give it a try. I’ll give you a progress report anon. Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye. The link below promises all sorts of benefits including stopping farting, Alzheimers, arthritis etc. so I’m hoping for some spin off benefits. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78 I also want to share a video that I have seen before but was sent again through the mindfulness course i am doing. Partly because she is incredibly funny and entertaining but also because I think there is a lot of truth in what she is saying. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en Have a great weekend. FG]]>
A lot of people look forward to Spring but not me. I start sneezing, get headaches and I spend a lot of time berating the dreaded wattle. So here is my annual spring poem. Out Damn Spring (Bah Humbug) I hate spring because Everything’s new like lust And lounge suites. The light is smart The growth obscene In its smug luxuriance. People smile in cahoots With strangers, lambs frolic, Calves cavort, dammit. I hate the green of Spring My nose itches, I get red spots In Spring. Everyone is hopeful, There’s spring in their steps. O come back dour winter so we know Where we stand, and teach this spring A thing or two. There’s a bucket of yellow daffodils Trumpeting at my door, Their frilly faces like babies in bonnets Silly kids in the school play. Blast, I’m smiling like a goon. I have really been working on getting out on my bike and have done the Greenhithe -Hobsonville run several times now. It is very cool especially as the battery on my bike is working. [caption id="attachment_1645" align="alignnone" width="225"] View from the cycle way alongside the motorway.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1647" align="alignnone" width="300"] The yachting industry at Hobsonville may be replaced by the film industry. We will know by the end of October.[/caption] Some of you my laugh as you know I am not very good at being mindful…but I’m going to a course. My main aim is to listen rather than blabber. Not sure how successful I’ll be. I’m going with a friend and last night after the course we went for a coffee (and oreo cheesecake). We were parked in a near-empty car park and she still managed to crash her car into a pole. Much hilarity as we were supposed to be learning focus and mindfulness of our surroundings. “Mental Health Foundation mental health promoter Grant Rix says mindfulness has been shown to benefit our brains to such an extent that we can feel calmer, more aware, have an increased ability to focus and concentrate, remember things better and feel happier.” yeah right. Still, there is a lot of respectable scientific research around the benefits of mindfulness. So for those of you who think it is some flaky, weirdo business, here are some well-documented benefits.