In the time I have known her she has sold vintage kimonos, Indian jewellery, colloidal silver, hula hoops lessons, and is always a considerate and fun guest. Many people are fascinated by her lifestyle and a few comment on how lucky she is. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="617"] Off to the German Hula Hoop convention[/caption] J can do four hula hoops simultaneously and can entertain in the evening using hula hoops that light up. As a result, she has a pelvic floor and a great figure that will no doubt be the envy of many over 60s But actually there is no luck involved. in her early 20s J asked yachties if she could learn to sail with them if she washed barnacles off yachts and did a lot of cleaning, and I mean, a lot. She eventually had sufficient skills to go off to Western Samoa on a small yacht, unfortunately, with a bit of a nutcase. She jumped ship and managed to get taken on on another yacht and spent quite a long time crewing and cleaning on yachts all around the world. She cooked the 1980’s Pritikin diet for one truculent old man and cooked for the granddaughter of Henry Ford. Needless to say, there were plenty of Ford Fiestas for the crew to use when they weren’t on the boat. J travels with her Tibetan bowls and her travel-size hoola hoops, she has been known to drink her own urine which she alleges cured her varicose veins, J also enjoys a glass of wine, (thank goodness, just saying) and knows the value of nutritious food. She spends her time doing odd jobs, cleaning, house sitting sometimes and renting out her modest apartment in Palma. J chose not to have children and her evenings are spent quite frequently, enjoying a nice wine and tapas in a Mallorca cafe. It would be fair to say J is frugal but never tight. At 65 she is happy to stay in a back packer and take the $40 bus from Auckland to Wellington, when most our age prefer a few more of life’s luxuries. She is never happier than staying in a back packer in Turkey for 7 Euros a night, including three meals a day. But she is not lucky, or if she is, she has made her own luck. She has made different choices from others, that is all. J is brave and resilient and always up for a laugh. We could all have chosen her life but frankly I’m too lazy to clean toilets, I’m too fussy to stay in a place without an ensuite, and so I have not chosen her path but that’s not to say she is lucky. She is simply going her own way, following the sun and making the most of each day. Spain is her turangawaewae. You go girl. Best of luck with your Visa to remain in Spain. FG ]]>
Big Magic, one of the best books on creativity I know, and just this week I picked up on the first of the new TED interview series and she was their first candidate. https://www.ted.com/talks/the_ted_interview_elizabeth_gilbert_shows_up_for_everything Liz always makes it clear that writing is hard work, you need to get on with it and just do it. She wasn’t some overnight sensation with Eat Pray Love, although it has now sold over 10 million copies. She wrote for years, working two jobs, before she published this first successful story. I actually found this story quite tedious but absolutely loved her second novel, The Signature of All Things. It couldn’t be more different from EPL. Anyway, Liz belongs to the writing school of, “stop whining and get on with it”. She also emphasises that it doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be your best effort. As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: “That’s actually not my problem.” The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows. I love the get- out -of- jail card of self-forgiveness! I am lazy, and I lack self-discipline but right now I don’t care if no-one ever reads my blog. I like the act of putting things down and not worrying too much about all that. I still have nothing to say but I’m going to say it anyway, at least for November. It won’t be Movember for me so I’m making it Suevember. Call me a narcissist. Hemingway also has some things to say about writing. Well, yes, that’s a good idea but I think it’s also okay to write about great movies, or photographs or anything you like really. I haven’t written anything new for 6 months. But hey, self-forgiveness! Thanks Liz. I can accept that I’m not a “real” writer and still enjoy the act of putting something down. I’m happy with that. The Trouble with Netflix I foolishly got hooked on The Good Wife, before I realised it has over 120 episodes over 7 seasons! I also couldn’t wait for the final season of Bron (The Bridge) to reach our far flung shores so I bought it and watched it over two days. Brilliant as always and sad to see it finish but also good too. I think 120 episodes would wear the whole concept out. Sofia Heilin as Saga Noren is my all time favourite character. My strong advice is to stick to the Scandinavian version. Viewing these days, means no waiting for the next episode, you just sloth out on the couch and watch and watch and watch. It’s even making me a bit anti-social as I am so happy to come home and binge. It is all so tempting to just watch one more…so I googled and found this article, What happens to your brain when you binge-watch a TV series. It is quite a balanced article and doesn’t just tell you your brain is stuffed but it does comment on the antisocial thing.
“When we substitute TV for human relations we disconnect from our human nature and substitute for [the] virtual,” says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of the Psychological Healing Center in Sherman Oaks, CA. “We are wired to connect, and when we disconnect from humans and over-connect to TV at the cost of human connection, eventually we will ‘starve to death’ emotionally. Real relationships and the work of life is more difficult, but at the end of the day more enriching, growth producing and connecting.”
Faces Places. As the NZIFF says, ” In this utterly charming documentary, octogenarian French director Agnès Varda takes to the road with the young photo-muralist JR, creating artworks, looking up old friends and finding new ones.” Partly I loved it as it traversed the French countryside but mostly because of its humanity and the beautiful photos they made. Agnes Varda is a quirky, lively and highly intelligent woman and weirdly I had been unwittingly following her fellow photographer, JR’s Instagram where Agnes continues to feature. Film columnist, Amy Taubin continues, ” “88-year-old Agnès Varda, working in collaboration with the young photo-muralist JR, reminds us that big themes can live in small places – and that every life yields something to celebrate. As the two travel across France, looking up old friends and creating artworks from photographs of the people they meet, a friendship blossoms, and with it a wonderful free flow of ideas and observations.” “She is nearly 90; he is 34. She worked with Jean-Luc Godard; he looks like Jean-Luc Godard (and, much to Varda’s consternation, will similarly not take off his sunglasses). And yet, the movie is barely five minutes old before it’s clear that these two are a screen duo for the ages… Varda has always possessed a warm and compulsively watchable screen presence, and the pint-sized iconoclast still has more pep in her step than most of us have ever had… JR is an absolute joy (and a mensch, to boot)… Teasing at times, quietly deferential at others, he taps into his co-star’s inherent sense of wonder and creates a canvas big enough for her to fit all of the ideas that she’s still dying to project.” — David Ehrlich, Indiewire “In her magnificent, groundbreaking, nearly 60-year career, this is one of her most profoundly personal and exuberantly populist works. A tour de France that is both a romp and a meditation on photography, cinema, and mortality, with brief appearances by Mimi, the scene-stealing cat, it is at once poetry and the naked truth, shape-shifting before one’s eyes, and promising ever more pleasure with each viewing.” — Amy Taubin, Film Comment I have yet to figure out why JR carts a cardboard copy of Agnes about but I suspect it is because she is unable to attend things like Hollywood award shows. Regardless, I highly recommend it if you want a leisurely, touching viewing. FG]]>
It was a perfect place for the exchange of vows on a lovely autumnal day. I was also lucky to be staying with friends in their beautiful villa. They are keen gardeners (well, one of them is) and the head gardener says he likes a faint air of neglect about his garden. Nothing too pristine. It is gorgeous. [caption id="attachment_2655" align="alignnone" width="225"] Sculptures by Graham Bennett[/caption] Inside this villa I spend my time pulling the smooth running roman blinds up and down, (it is so satisfying) and admiring yet another vignette I hadn’t noticed before. It is not “artful”, bought for effect from a designer interiors shop, but rather a visual history, memory and future of lives lived in this place for a long time. It is emphatically not a museum, always new books, and materials and interesting artwork. [caption id="attachment_2660" align="alignnone" width="225"] I spent minutes at a time, just looking at the way these flowers arranged themselves.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2657" align="alignnone" width="300"] A bear and a bag, time travelling.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2661" align="alignnone" width="225"] The perfect red.[/caption] I understand the move towards clutter free and vaguely try at times, but there is such pleasure in memory of times past and visiting my friends has helped me get over the “too much stuff” mantra and enjoy my things. I have rarely bought anything without a memory to go with it, the little brass and very wonky candlestick from a junk shop outside Versaille, for example. It doesn’t serve any “useful”purpose but it does vividly remind me of that lovely day in Paris. It has also reminded me that it needs a good clean with Brasso! The tile beneath it was a gift from a friend while we were travelling in Spain. [caption id="attachment_2667" align="alignnone" width="300"] One small candlestick can really trigger a wealth of sensations of a day at Versailles.[/caption] One of my favourite things in my friends’ villa is the nature table. The very name swings me back to primary school where we had a slightly dusty collection of birds’ nests, tiny stones, leaves, seed heads and bird skeletons. The musty smell of earth and dying shell fish gets right up my nose just thinking about it. This modern equivalent is set up in my friends’ house because they have a couple of young neighbours who are regular callers. They contribute to the table as well. I think it is a work of art. Thank you for a lovely visit. You know who you are. On another topic, I am becoming concerned with my binge tendencies, no, not alcohol but rather Netflix et al. A friend gave me 8 series of Game of Thrones! A disaster for my social life or even my ability to be civil on the phone. I am completely ambivalent about women’s roles in the series but I can see that I will end up watching all of the episodes. That means, I’m a couch potato who is short with people on the phone and I am definitely reading less right now. I have two favourite characters … [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Totally in love with half-man, Imp.
Findsomeone dating page conversation. Name has been changed. I’ve edited anything that might identify him. Me: Hi DH, I really like your glasses 🙂 and yours seems like a kind profile too. Me: While I’m within your age “range”, I’m genuinely interest in why you exclude women of your own age? If I did this you would be too old for me to consider. DH: I have just been thinking that up to my own age ought to be fine. I would like to be with someone who looks after their skin. Me: Do you look after your skin? Me: You expressly say in your profile that beauty comes from within. I have excellent skin by the way, how is yours? DH: I take care, but age has clearly had some effect, Nex minite THIS PERSON IS NO LONGER A MEMBER OF FINDSOMEONE On chortling over this exchange with women friends I was surprised and a little disappointed to be described as mean, or that I would never get a date with my attitude. I was also told men like women with long hair..right well I’ll be rushing to grow my clipped tresses then, NOT! (I have a theory about this). FFS! it was International Women’s Day last week. My being “mean” makes it sound like DH has some sort of disability and I’m picking on him. Apparently it is a scientific fact that men look in the mirror and see themselves as better looking than they are and women think the reverse. Judging by the toothless, unattractive men on dating sites looking for women 10 years their junior and at 63, are considering “children sometime in the future”. I just wonder which future planet they are on. Still I guess the hint was in the title of the website, Findsomeone – it seems to suggest an air of desperation -like just anyone??? Perhaps I could put in some more conditions- no liars, cheats, hypocrites, and people who can’t spell “dining” or use the apostrophe correctly. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite too, I am really not into facial hair, even Santa is scary. In terms of progress in women’s rights we are still waaay behind. How long do we sit on our hands and say, yeah it’s terrible we don’t have equal pay, that so many of us can still #metoo, that so few women are still represented on boards, in positions of power and as MPs. We in New Zealand have finally crept up to 38% representation in parliament, which compared to the rest of the world is considered “good”. I’ll consider it “good” when it is 50%. I hope that you take the time to watch this interview regardless of your gender or politics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9eRDV3Nc2k I was sad to hear the three top rated TV series of the year all involved terrible violence against women including rape and murder. I too, have watched these shows and enjoyed them, such as The Killing. I am heartened though, by the outrageously good women detectives.
- Chief Inspector Sarah Lund: Sofie Gråbøl below is the main character in The Killing.
Google Translate It’s a magical free app that has a camera setting where you can simply hold the camera up to the text and it will translate into any language you want. So I sat in the car with my phone and held it up to the Japanese text and managed to find camera on off/on toggle and hey presto, backing camera working again. I didn’t have quite so much success with turning the GPS off though so my car is constantly giving me instructions for driving in Osaka. I am going to need more help with this from my neighbour. Apparently in a lot of cars there is a setting where you can change the whole caboodle to English but unfortunately I couldn’t find that. I do think there are lots of uses for the app though. A friend of mine recently visited Japan and had a doozy of a toilet with a complicated set of instructions on the wall. Sadly, they couldn’t read it so the bum flushing, warming or whatever options were not accessible. But with Google Translate, their next trip could be very different. I couldn’t capture the camera text but you can also save the instructions and the translations as a photo so I just used it on a French poster of mine to show you. [caption id="attachment_2634" align="alignnone" width="169"] The translations are not always perfect but it helps.[/caption] I guess this may sound like my life is a little sad… but I love decluttering videos and have now got on to cleaning videos. I blame my friend Deirdre and her zone cleaning series. I basically enjoying watching a cleaning pro at work. Now I know I will never, ever have a system. Firstly I am too lazy and secondly I’m just not that great at it. (Mainly I’m just lazy). Also I just like watching the videos in admiration, not the actual cleaning itself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUDvWdeqxtM However, I am definitely shallow and easily inspired so each time I watch Deirdre’s Vlog, I ended up doing some little thing- the cutlery drawer, the wardrobe chuck out and so on. The really scary thing is last night via Deirdre’s link, she mentioned this other vlogger’s 30 day challenge. I ended up watching a 20 minute vlog on cleaning the sink! Sophia is this slightly manic cleaner of all things domestic. I’m not sure I’ll ever watch another one but as she has 306,000 views it can’t just be me… I couldn’t find the 30 minute cleaning one but there are plenty more as an example. I prefer Deirdre’s more low key approach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ44F7F-Vk The upshot of this viewing pleasure was that at around 9:30 last night I cleaned the kitchen. ( I know I know, I can hear the sighs of admiration at this riveting piece of news). [caption id="attachment_2631" align="alignnone" width="300"] Preparing to clean the benches.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2632" align="alignnone" width="300"] I even figured out how to remove the oven door and remove the glass. I was only brave enough to take out one sheet of glass as I have had a previous experience of removing the glass and the entire thing exploding on me.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2633" align="alignnone" width="300"] Ta dah! clean kitchen. 10:30 at night…[/caption] Moving on, I also went to Phantom Thread and as The Listener gave it a rare 5 stars, I had high expectations. I did really enjoy the movie but would maybe have only given it 4 stars. “Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.” I found Alma quite disturbing as she leafed through the poisonous mushrooms reference book in the kitchen. Daniel Day Lewis made an interesting but entirely unsexy, in my opinion, Reynolds. I get a bit tired of the older man/younger woman thing and secretly hoped she would run off with the young doctor. Not to mention the hoards of women slaving in the sewing room using their well-honed skills to create the garments. No recognition there and I bet the pay rate was crappy too. I wasn’t that fussed on the Elizabethan themed clothes as a rule either. although this wedding dress was quite divine if you are into that kind of thing. I’m going to see Loving Vincent this Friday but am hoping the animation and all the swirling doesn’t give me motion sickness (no really, it’s quite hard to watch). This is how they made it, so it will be fascinating just seeing that alone. ON LOVING VINCENT WE PAINTED 65,000 FRAMES IN OIL PAINTS.
Darkest Hour – a with a great cast and about a crucial moment in British history.
My knowledge of most things is dim at the best of times but I had no idea that they rescued over 300,000 troops from the battle of Dunkirk. I knew it was successful because of the flotilla of civilians who went to help but hadn’t realised the scale of the operation. My mind doesn’t deal well with figures but that is basically the population of Christchurch being lifted off the beaches by 879 private vessels. Hard to believe or imagine as it is a long round trip and most could only do it once according to a learned friend. I guess in my mind it was a few thousand and certainly not a massive chunk of the British army. (Call me stupid). I can’t bring myself to see the movie Dunkirk, with Sam at aged 25 and all those poor young men like him it is just too awful to contemplate.
My everlasting , hazy knowledge of Dunkirk is of course, from The Snowgoose by Paul Gallico. I’ve spent many an hour listening to or reading, and ultimately sobbing over that story. I loved Fritha and always imagined I might name my girl child after her! Everyone else commented that it would sound like I was lisping. Oh so cruel. I didn’t realise it was subtitled, “A story of Dunkirk” as a child as I was utterly focused on their relationship and the snow goose.
But I do remember Philip Rhayader going off to rescue the soldiers in his little boat.
Churchill is an unattractive character but I am utterly admiring of his refusal to surrender and I like the notion that it was the civilians who saved the day. I loathe the scenes where men in suits are standing around a map with pins on it playing with young men’s lives, the way 4000 men were sacrificed to “distract” from Dunkirk beach debacle. And of course, the reminder of a woman’s place in theses things- at home or in the typing pool or invisible. Having said that, both my mother and my father were in the airforce during the war and for my mother it was liberation from drudgery in a small town in the Lake District. It change the entire direction of her life when after the war she joined my father in Roxburgh. Worth seeing. By the way, apparently they made up the whole scene in the subway.
The second “true story” I watched this week was The Washington Post. Meryl Streep has long been a hero of mine both on and off screen and I was very impressed with Tom Hanks too. Once again, I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t have told you very much at all about the Pentagon Papers as I not only have problems with numbers and geography, I also have problems with dates. I do know though, that one of my brothers was conscripted and had to go to Burnham to train for the Vietnam war. Thank goodness he didn’t have to go but I do recall him telling me that he had to run a mile with a gun above his head because they found a stamp in what was supposed to be an empty pocket of his uniform.
This was a surprisingly gripping movie and when Katherine Graham (Streep) finally tells one of her board to fuck off, politely, when he is trying to shut down the printing of the papers I wanted to leap up and cheer. There are so few good roles for women, particularly older women and there weren’t back then in real life either. I also found the actual printing of the newspaper fascinating. So strange to see thousands of pages all being photocopied too. These days, a discreet USB and you’d have the lot- although I guess you would need the passwords so it could be a whole lot harder. Definitely worth seeing.
And while this is a factual film comment page I also saw Call Me By Your Name after seeing the headline below.
It’s a deliciously warm Auckland Friday and I am thinking about Womankind. A friend of mine mentioned that there was a magazine available that had no advertisements and this appealed to me. Without having read any of the magazines I asked a friend to swap my Listener sub to Womankind for Christmas. It seemed to take ages to arrive but happily it was in my post yesterday. This month’s issue concentrates on Tibet including essays, stories, the environment, some history, treading the spiritual path, and most interestingly a story called The battle for the boy Lama which is about the Dalai and his choice of successor and the Chinese intervention in this. I hadn’t realised that the boy he chose and his parents have all disappeared. Presumably either jailed or murdered by the Chinese authorities. The paper feels nice and the illustrations and photos are rather lovely. I usually just flick through a magazine in an hour or so but this has a great deal of compelling material and it is one I would like to keep rather than pass on. There’s lots of emphasis on quietness and how important time in peace and solitude is. Something I am possibly not great at. As Sara Maitland in her essay, What it means to lose silence, relates, her trip to London to indulge in very agreeable things became a cacophony of sound 24 hours a day, and for her it became “hellish”. She goes on to say that many people believe that the core of creativity is expressing your true innermost self, something I agree with. She also thinks it makes you happy, so I must try some more silence. I know that I could definitely stop work and not miss it even though it is an interesting and rewarding job most of the time. They have a compassion challenge this month – can you refrain from making negative comments about yourself and others for five days? This was followed up in the magazine with 12 women’s diaries of their five days. I thought I might give it a go. Haven’t done very well so far after a reasonably distressing email but I’m trying. Let me know if you do too and if you keep a diary please share it. There is also an article on Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo who is the most senior Western Tibetan Buddhist nun alive today, famous world-wide for spending 12 years in retreat in a Himalayan cave, surviving temperatures of below -34 degrees Celsius. (If she can do that I guess I could probably cope in Dunedin…see below). She has written several books that look interesting and there is also a documentary about her life if you are interested. It is called Cave in the Snow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y57hlgn85o My son is an ecologist and I find it quite comforting to know that he and many others of his ilk are beavering away protecting our our flora and fauna and I am always delighted to receive pictures from Sam as he goes about his work. At the moment he s going out in the evenings to retrieve our native gecko so that they can be safely looked after while roading goes through. Their markings are quite subtly different from the non-native ones so I’m guessing it isn’t easy. [caption id="attachment_2620" align="alignnone" width="225"] Have a look at this little cutie.[/caption] I also visited the Banksy exhibition on in Auckland with Sam and while it was interesting, it was very crowded and far removed form the kinds of places Banksy worked on his art. I strongly suspect he wouldn’t have liked the merchandise either, not really his style.
“…street artist curator George Shaw says making people pay for the show takes away from what Banksy is about. “You’re precluding the people who would potentially benefit most from it, younger people, from going to see it because they can’t afford to get in. “What would Banksy want us to do? Are we doing stuff that actually fits in with his ethos and his belief systems?” Read more here about Banksy[caption id="attachment_2623" align="alignnone" width="300"] This is probably my favourite and is in some ways, a little like my favourite cartoonist, Leunig.[/caption] Eco villages: I’ve long thought about an eco village with friends. I’m not talking sharing (I hate sharing..) but eco houses on separate titles around a village green with maybe a shared swimming pool. I came across this concept in Dunedin today. It’s called the High Street Co housing Project It is run along similar lines to Earth Song here in Auckland. However, this is brand new, hoping to start this year and super starred for warmth and insulation. Maybe one day. I would need to get out of Dunedin in the the winter but with the prices down there I could afford it. I am a Dunedinite born and bred so I know what I would be letting myself in for. France every winter mmmm sounds lovely. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450"] Dunedin railway station in winter[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="360"] But I would be in France :)[/caption] Happy weekend everyone. FG]]>
Kotare Art Gallery. I loved the cards done by local artist, Janet Atkinson.