Brain overload

Even though I only work two days a week at a university, the last two weeks seem to have caused brain overload. I am juggling a few different things right now with two friends very ill with dementia, helping with the rat catching programme at Hobsonville Point, running the book club, working casually but more often at the info centre, collecting for the Aunties , writing a monthly article for The Westerly and being MC for the New Horizons for Women-Hine Kahukura ceremony last Saturday.

Sorry to look so gruesomely pleased but I am siding with our native birds even though I know the poor rats were brought here.

I am not complaining, I like my busy life but I find myself getting brain overload so I was lucky enough to have a couple of days in Waipu. I spent two great days feeding ducks, admiring gardens and new planting, listening for kiwi at night, walking in brisk conditions, petting two dogs, eating great food cooked by the hostess with the mostest, overdoing wine and chocolates, sitting by a roaring fire and generally doing nothing much. In a ten minute window of blustery rain, I picked daffodils. It is so satisfying picking them in a beautiful wee glade on the farm, the crisp stems snapping and the electric fence zapping…

Since returning home I have been enjoying Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travelling. He takes one chapter to explain Wordsworth’s love of nature and its curative powers. He says, “The poet proposed that Nature, which he took to comprise, among other elements, birds, streams, daffodils and sheep, was an indispensable corrective to the psychological damage inflicted by life in the city.” I think he is onto something right there.

In the earlier section of the book he also curbed my romanticising of another holiday in France by reminding me of something I have always known but which I carefully lock away in the back of my mind and forget about a month after I have been anywhere. He was discussing a visit to a particularly idyllic beach resort in the Carribean.

A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making its first appearance: that I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island.

However, a tree in blossom, laden with little ballet girls may be all I need to restore myself to myself.

I am trying to be more Wordsworth-like and notice the small joys around me. I am always enamoured by poppies at this time of year. I love the way their furry “testicles” split open to reveal the gorgeous papery flower. I get a seriously good dose of pleasure from that small Spring phenomenon. I can’t say truthfully though, that I have stopped romanticising about another holiday in France

I have had this post sitting around a while as I was having so much trouble loading images but it may be fixed!

Happy October, it’s about now we start saying to one another, “Good grief, it’s nearly Christmas!!” belatedly, FG

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

A moment of gratitude.

My friend who always supported my blog is going overseas and when he asked me what I wanted to do about it, I told him to ditch it as I didn’t seem to have anything interesting to say these days. But then, I went back and reread some bits and pieces and realised I still wanted to keep it. He had already cancelled it but was kind and thoughtful enough to have kept a back up so here I am reinstated with a different theme and not sure that Humpty is entirely put together again but it seems more or less as it was. I’m having trouble with the photos though, so it may take some time to work this out.

Today was Mother’s Day. Sam came over to mine and we walked to the Catalina Bay Market and chose from a few different stalls- the Italian bread, the vegan smoothies, the new fresh salad stall and just me, at the fudge stall. I am so grateful to have him in my life and this simple lunch and a companionable stroll around the coast was perfect.

My latest imaginary fantasy trip is to Paris to see the Van Gogh Starry Night at the Atelier des Lumieres. I’ve got until Dec 30 2019 to get myself there. It looks amazing.

I’m doing my usual round of movies and Netflix and can highly recommend Woman at War. It was on at the IFF last year but I missed it and it is now doing the rounds of local theatres.
“Iceland’s Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) winningly mixes absurdist comedy and tense thriller, with Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a fearless eco-warrior, juggling environmental action and foster motherhood. ” I loved its quirkiness, the cinematography was great and it was refreshingly different.

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I’m going for a new look at home, veering towards the English rather than the French country thing. I’ve always liked some of Timothy Oulton’s style and have splashed out on a couch and chair. I blame my friend because she turned 65 earlier this year and remarked that in 15 years she would be 80! it shocked me into buying what I really like.. I like to think they will wear well and be family furniture for Sam to inherit. Not that he would be interested really. Some of Oulton’s is a bit country gent sort of thing with chairs that look like saddles but I like the handcrafted element and the comfort.

His signature is a bowler hat as apparently the bowler is classless, but his range hardly caters for all classes.

Having all sorts of trouble uploading photos so you will just have to put your head on the side. This is on the bottom of the chair.
'The Avengers' - TV Programme - 1967
This chap looked rather spiffing in it.
And Magritte had a thing for it. So do Bolivian and Peruvian women.

Magritte’s The Invisible Man

Apparently back in Manchester, shortly after the bowler hats were invented, two brothers were manufacturing a line of bowler hats. Their plan was to sell them to the British railway workers who were working in Bolivia at the time.

However, when the hats arrived to South America they found that they were way too small to fit the heads of the men.So, instead of throwing them out they decided to create a “fictional” story to tell the Bolivian Cholitas. This story was that all the fashionable women in Europe were going around wearing these bowler hats and it was the new fashion trend!
There’s also a myth that those who wore the hats did not have any fertility problems.

Once I started thinking about bowler hats all sorts of men came to mind, Churchill, Chaplin, Prince Harry…

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Clearly time to sign off with a tip of the hat. FG

What’s luck got to do with it?

I have just had a fun few days with a friend I’ve known for forty years. We keep in touch sporadically and J doesn’t come to NZ that often. She says she finds it depressing, the melancholy seeps through the  soles of her feet.

So she has spent the last forty years living in Palma De Mallorca for 90 days and then having to go off because of visa restrictions. Some years she goes to yoga retreats in India, sometimes Turkey, some times Thailand. J has explored South America. She attends hula hoop conferences and dabbles in alternative health and medicine. J is adept at Reiki and other forms of spiritual healing. On multiple occasions she has gone to India to hear the Dalai Llama.

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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.

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Off to the German Hula Hoop convention

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.

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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

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Advice from a friend, Liz Gilbert and Hemingway

As you know, I haven’t posted for a long time. This is mainly because I didn’t have anything to say. There was always something else to do. Two people prompted me to start again.

Firstly, my friend Deirdre Knight’s most recent Vlog and her planning technique  written in her bullet journal, shocked me out of my Netflix haze. I will never be able to plan my month the way she does but I could set a couple of goals. Therefore I decided to blog once a week for November, a modest plan.


Still though, I thought that I had nothing to say that anyone would want to read about. I had already read Liz Gilbert’s 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.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.”

 If you find yourself choosing a night in with Netflix over seeing friends and family, it’s a sign that this habit is headed into harmful territory.”
A second article by the Business Insider, was less promising about the ill health effects of binge watching.
“Binge-watchers reported more fatigue, insomnia symptoms, poorer sleep quality, and feeling more alert before going to sleep. Overall, those who binge-watch had 98% more chance of having poor-quality sleep than those who didn’t.” Read more here.

Anyway, there it is, I’m getting ahead of myself because November starts tomorrow. Have a good week. Might have time to watch a few more The Good Wife episodes, I’ve seen about 27 so 100 to go. I not available for outings for the next month.  FG

Faces Places

I saw this lovely documentary last week, called 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

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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.

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Regardless, I highly recommend it if you want a leisurely, touching viewing.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and a PS about Whips.

I had the privilege of being the celebrant at a very old friend’s (as in years, we are both spring chicken really), son’s wedding. It was in Christchurch and it reminds me how much clearer the seasons are down there.  There are very distinct markers of the different seasons. I still have the double doors wide open here in Auckland and even though it is stormy it is still very warm. Christchurch is around 16-18 degrees during a nice day in Autumn and drops to a much cooler evening temperature.

Fortunately the wedding day warmed and cleared by mid afternoon and the ceremony was held in the Edmonds Factory Gardens which was well-dressed in her autumn finery.

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.

Sculptures by Graham Bennett

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. 

I spent minutes at a time, just looking at the way these flowers arranged themselves.

A bear and a bag, time travelling.

The perfect red.

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.

One small candlestick can really trigger a wealth of sensations of a day at Versailles.

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 …

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Totally in love with half-man, Imp.

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Arya must be the best 10 year old role model for girls around.

And finally as a PS to my last post, a young friend sent me this article.

Now I’m in my 50s, young men want to date me: Welcome to the world of WHIPS. Read more here 

I’m not sure it applies quite the same to women in their 60s … but hey we Whip(per snappers) are around.

Have a good day. FG

Apparently, I’m mean.

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,


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.

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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.

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.

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The other thing I like is that their bruises don’t miraculously heal overnight, they wear the same clothes to work, they shower after sex and look genuinely tired after working very long hours. My favourite character is the woman on the Asperger spectrum  who plays the lead in Bron (the Scandinavian crime thriller, translated asThe Bridge). Sofia Helin is in the role of Saga Norén. A fourth season has just been shown overseas and I am really looking forward to seeing it here. If you are prepared for the addictive nature of the series and can stay up until 4 am to “just watch one more episode”, then I highly recommend it.

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I have never been an avid TV watcher and when Netflix came out I scrolled though a friend’s Netflix and couldn’t find a single thing that appealed to me. It was only when Netflix offered a free month’s trial that I became horribly hooked. I now realise it refers you to other series if you  like something and it is good to get referrals from friends with similar tastes. Trouble is, I watch it all the time and it is to the detriment of reading and doing other things.

Here are my favourites so far:

The Day Will Come– totally grim and based on a true story of young boys in an orphanage in the 60’s. It stars my favourite Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen as the school principal and Sophie Grabol from The Killing. It’s a difficult watch but the day does come finally.


I’m not usually that into American stuff but I got caught up in this one and will watch the latest series when it comes to Netflix. I really like actor, Clare Danes who plays the lead.

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Marseille – starring of course, Gerard Depardieu. He is very polarising  but I enjoyed these two series, particularly the second one. He plays the long standing Mayor of Marseille in this story of politics and intrigue.

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Often I don’t want to watch scary stuff, I just want something light but reasonably engrossing so if you feel like this, check out Girl Boss, Grace and Frankie (stick with it, don’t be put off by the first episodes), Princess Cyd (movie not series), Lovesick and Sensitive Skin, (I saw Kim Cattral in the lead but there is a UK version with Joanna Lumley).

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In the last few days, on recommendation from a friend, I watched The Honourable Womana UK thriller with again, a great couple of female leads and in fact, with a large number of great female roles. The trouble is, I watched until 2 am and missed my walking group this morning. I think it was worth it but now it’s raining and I can’t get my walk in.

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To my delight, among my friends and family there are lots of babies being born in the next few months, so I’m wishing them all well and getting my knitting needles out.

Wishing you a great week, and don’t forget to grow your hair and look after your skin. FG

and don’t get like these ugly old bags…lol

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I’m marrying (hopefully)

my best friend’s son to his fiancee as I have applied to be a marriage celebrant.  ( I hope I gave you a scare after that title :)).  It is quite a long process and there are no guarantees and an interview hurdle as well, but it has got me thinking about poems and readings that are suitable for weddings.

I had two readings at mine as follows, firstly,

I am yours
You are mine,
Of this we are certain.
You are lodged in my heart,
The small key is lost.
You must stay there forever.

It was reportedly an anonymous poem and Polish but I have since found a longer version on line 

In your eyes,
I have found my home.
In your heart,
I have found my love.
In your soul,
I have found my mate.
With you,
I am whole. Full. Alive.
You make me laugh, You let me cry.
You are my breath,
My every heartbeat.
I am yours
You are mine,
Of this we are certain.
You are lodged in my heart,
The small key is lost.
You must stay forever.

You are my inspiration,
And my soul’s fire.
You are the magic of my days,
You help me laugh, you teach me love.
Each day I rediscover you,
You are my greatest gift.
I am yours
You are mine,
Of this we are certain.
You are lodged in my heart,
The small key is lost.
You must stay with me forever.

Secondly a Margaret Atwood poem,


Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

My favourite poem for myself these days is by Marge Piercey

Why Marry at all? A poem by Marge Piercy

Why mar what has grown up between the cracks
and flourished like a weed
that discovers itself to bear rugged
spikes of magenta blossoms in August,
ironweed sturdy and bold,
a perennial that endures winters to persist?

Why register with the state?
Why enlist in the legions of the respectable?
Why risk the whole apparatus of roles
and rules, of laws and liabilities?
Why license our bed at the foot
like our Datsun truck: will the mileage improve?

Why encumber our love with patriarchal
word stones, with the old armor
of husband and the corset stays
and the chains of wife? Marriage
meant buying a breeding womb
and sole claim to enforced sexual service.

Marriage has built boxes in which women
have burst their hearts sooner
than those walls; boxes of private
slow murder and the fading of the bloom
in the blood; boxes in which secret
bruises appear like toadstools in the morning.

But we cannot invent a language
of new grunts. We start where we find
ourselves, at this time and place.

Which is always the crossing of roads
that began beyond the earth’s curve
but whose destination we can now alter.

This is a public saying to all our friends
that we want to stay together. We want
to share our lives. We mean to pledge
ourselves through times of broken stone
and seasons of rose and ripe plum;
we have found out, we know, we want to continue.

This seems like a lovely commitment poem to me.

As a strange aside, I enjoyed  reading Deborah Hill Cone’s article in the Canvas this weekend about how enjoyable sex is for her in her fifties.  What it is really about though, is love.  She says,

You can read the whole article here.

I like to think I was among the first to recognise that  Captain Correlli’s Mandolin had the meaning of love pretty right. It has become a favourite at many weddings these days and rightfully so.

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“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
― Louis de BernièresCaptain Corelli’s Mandolin

I also like this one from my favourite chap, Leunig from his book, When I Talk To you 

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Dear God, 

We give thanks for places of simplicity and peace. Let us find a place within ourselves. We give thanks for the places of refuge and beauty. Let us find such a place within ourselves. We give thanks for places of nature’s truth and freedom, of joy, inspiration and renewal, places where all creatures may find acceptance and belonging. Let us search for these places in the world, in ourselves and in others. Let us restore them. Let us strengthen and protect them and let us create them. 

May we mend this outer world according to the truth of our inner life and may our souls be shaped and nourished by nature’s eternal wisdom. 

I am not a religious person but I can imagine that if I do get to be a celebrant then some readings may well be religious and they are a rich source of literature.

I am a believer in ceremony though, that such a commitment as marriage needs to have some mystery and formality. It is possible to literally get married in under five minutes.  I like to think that for the couple and their family and friends, this ceremony should be a still moment in time, declaring their love for one another and that everyone feels a part of supporting that relationship.  I would relish the opportunity to help couples say what their hearts tell them even if they find it hard to articulate.

I hope I get accepted but it is not a done deal at all, I think they look at numbers and types of people as well as just the person’s application and there are probably loads of grey haired older women like me out there already playing a part.  But fingers crossed as then I’d  get a chance to reread loads of love poems in preparation!  I am going to do the ceremony part anyway for my friend’s son, with a celebrant present to sign the documents. My main worry is that I might want to cry and I just can’t do that and spoil the ceremony.

Please send me your wedding vows and poems you love , or ceremonies you really enjoyed to help me get started. FG

Seven Wishes by Fiona Farrell

A straight account is difficult

so let me define seven wishes:

that you should fit inside me neat as the stuffing in an


that you should stand inside the safe circle of my eye

that you should sing, clear, on the high rock of my


that you should swing wide on the rope of my hair

that you should cross rivers of blood, mountains of


that I should touch your skin through the hole in your

tee shirt

that we should exchange ordinary tales.

Happy Tuesday, FG


Cleaning frenzy, a cute trick I discovered and Loving Vincent

Let me start with the trick, although you may all already know about it. I foolishly didn’t turn my car off properly recently and ran the battery down. When I recharged it, all the radio settings had disappeared and the backing camera wasn’t working. That would be okay if the instructions were in English but as they are in Japanese I really struggled to fix it.

Google came to the rescue of course. One person mentioned 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.

The translations are not always perfect but it helps.

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.

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.

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).

Preparing to clean the benches.

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.

Ta dah! clean kitchen. 10:30 at night…

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.


We painted the first frame as a full painting on canvas board, and then painted over that painting for each frame until the last frame of the shot. We are then left with an oil-painting on canvas board of the last frame.

Only two artists’ works have literally stopped me in my tracks and one of them is V VG. I saw his almond blossom painting in Amsterdam, many years ago  and it literally took my breath away. When you see paintings in books, it is hard to imagine the size and this was a very large painting. More recently I saw his The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890  in the Musee D’Orsay  and I  was mesmerised by it. 

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There is no way a photographic image can do this painting justice.


Incidentally, the other artist is John Pule. Quite a few years ago, I was wandering the streets of Wellington and stumbled across a gallery and went in. It was glorious and there were several John Pule giant canvases covering the walls. Wow it was gorgeous. There is a big one in the Auckland Art Gallery if you are interested. I found them very moving, not sure why.

Image result for john pule

I’ve since continued to admire his work and really like his tapa cloth inspired colours too. Once again you need to see them and not just a photo.

Have a good weekend, FG


Two fact, one fiction

I learn so much from true stories and I’ve been to two such movies this week.

Firstly, 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.

The Snow Goose book cover

But I do remember Philip Rhayader going off to rescue the soldiers in his little boat.

Image result for Philip Rhayader in boat the snowgoose illustration

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.

Image result for the washington post movie

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.

Sensual in all ways, food, wine, sex, flowers, scenery, houses-languid, summer in Italy, slow and beautiful to watch. A kind of sexy Year in Provence, all the stuff to convince one to up sticks and live in Europe! It did rain but that just made the place look even more romantic. I’m pretty sure fiction can tell us as much about the world as fact too. Relationships require as much strategy and planning as war and the armoury and skirmishes are much the same.

In a very un pc way I’d enjoy having a gardener and a cook and housekeeper doing all my stuff. I thought the characters were rather rude and ungrateful. I found myself thinking and “what’s the magic word?”


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Good looking…especially the older ones…

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Nice place for a summer wine.


I’m not sure I would call it the best movie of the year but certainly a lovely way to escape the NZ heatwave one afternoon.There are some really good movies coming up too so looking forward to them. FG