Flowers,Fat, Fit, Feelings?

Well here we are at Queen’s Birthday already again. This is the anniversary of my husband’s death and each year my oldest sister sends me flowers. She has done this now for 21 years. I’m not sure if she knows how important this is to me. It simply says, we haven’t forgotten, we remember that horrible day and its aftermath, the police arriving, not wanting to believe it, hoping there was a mistake, hoping it was someone else actually, if I were being truthful.

How cold it was in Dunedin, huddling, teeth chattering by the fire, unable to get warm and dear little Sam, just a baby.

So thank you Diane for sending me lovely non-funeral flowers each year.0137ad3113cceaf2663a8fc208ee0c5d0661d2d51c


Flowers when someone dies are a tricky thing. I owned two vases and received several thousands of dollars worth of flowers that I barely even saw. They smelled and dried and fell about all over the house and became something of a burden. I know this sounds ungrateful but how wonderful it would have been to receive those flowers once a month afterwards when I could really enjoy them and appreciate who they were from. See the link below to an earlier post with some suggestions.

The other topic on my mind is women’s weight. For years I’ve struggled with my weight and done all the things that most overweight women try- Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, joining a gym, 5 and 2, The Atkins Diet, the Pritikin diet etc etc and how boring it is and yet we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about it over and over again and chastising ourselves for it over and over again.

We all actually know what to do- put less in our mouths and exercise. It aint rocket science, so if you are trying to do that then good on you and if you are just managing to get along and feel reasonably okay about yourself then that’s fine too isn’t it? Sometimes others convey the feeling that you are just not trying hard enough, or you are too weak and greedy  and when you do lose weight, you are treated as though you’ve discovered a cure for cancer. You are still the same person, same feelings, same problems. I know I eat more when I’m stressed or lonely or sad. Some people lose weight under these conditions.

The article below is an interesting one too.

Two people in my life in recent months told me I was fat for “my own good”. I find this astounding. Did they really think I didn’t know what I looked like? That their hurtful comments were going to help somehow to galvanise me into action, that I just wasn’t trying hard enough?? Any literate woman will have been deluged in bloody diet advice from every quarter.  Believe me people, it doesn’t help.

I quite like this advice:

  1. For in-the-moment relief, try simple self-soothing strategies. This blog post lists 11 suggestions that the author uses to ease her emotions. Among them you’ll find: reading poetry, talking to a friend who helps “soothe you” and bundling up in comfy layers. Consider what helps you feel better and jot it down. Keep your list handy, so when you’re in the throes of an emotional eruption, you have several ready-made solutions that specifically work for you. These can be everything from writing in your journal to walking around the block to crying to calling a good friend to attending a support group. These may not be magical remedies, but exploring healthy ways to lift your spirits or make sense of the situation can do a world of good.

So, I’m not going to diet, I do try to eat healthily, I’m a size 14 and I try to exercise by walking, beyond that I refuse to take part in endless discussions about diets and weight, I’d rather do some knitting. And if you are tempted to tell a friend “for their own good”, zip it or stuff your mouth with a doughnut.

Speaking of knitting… my dog friend Stanley is not coping with the cold nights even though he has a blanket and a cushion and sleeps indoors. So I had to knit him some pajamas, pure woollen ones.

The first fitting- needed to loosen the neck and the legs. I wouldn’t want him to lose circulation. Otherwise he seemed quite happy to wear it.


I have also finished knitting Bruce’s double rug so now I have to set to and join the long seam. Unlike my very tidy siblings I’m not good at the finishing.



I hope that you are enjoying the long weekend and doing something fun and creative. I like reading poetry, or sometimes listening to the real poet reading them on line. Like this one:

Spinster by Sylvia Plath

Now this particular girl
During a ceremonious April walk
With her latest suitor
Found herself, of a sudden, intolerably struck
By the birds irregular babel
And the leaves’ litter.

By this tumult afflicted, she
Observed her lover’s gestures unbalance the air,
Her gait stray uneven
Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower.
She judged petals in disarray,
The whole season, sloven.

How she longed for winter then! –
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock, each sentiment in border,
And heart’s frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.

But here – a burgeoning
Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits
Into vulgar motley –
A treason not to be borne. Let idiots
Reel giddy in bedlam spring:
She withdrew neatly.

And round her house she set
Such a barricade of barb and check
Against mutinous weather
As no mere insurgent man could hope to break
With curse, fist, threat
Or love, either.

It’s all about refusing to be vulnerable and it is summed up too, by C S Lewis. I hope I don’t become a bitter and cynical old bag!

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

Writing this blog is a dangerously vulnerable activity but I’m going to keep on trucking and see where it takes me. Happy holidays everyone FG 

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness and…rain

Everything is autumnal, the light is low and watery and my slower pace and mood seem to match it. It is now around five weeks until I have to move from our lovely house. Each day I appreciate the sunlight, the warmth and the space and light.

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Autumn has been my favourite season since I’ve got older and too fat for a bikini. Spring makes me sneeze, in summer in this house flowers die and candles melt in the sun and winter is the harshest time. Autumn means you can rug up and go for a walk and then eat lamb tagine or soup or drink mulled wine.

I am betwixt and between right now so I am a bit apathetic about cooking in this house and I am lucky enough to have my dear friend Deb who is letting me stay at her house for as long as nine months. My house is underway with foundations going in but it is going to take time, especially if this rain keeps up. I have been consumed with ideas about buying something else in the meantime which is quite stressful. In the end I think I will just bide my time and enjoy staying with Deb- I hope she thinks likewise! This is her view from the living room and is so beautiful, even in the rain.


As you can see, I  will be really roughing it. I’m hoping her cat will become more enamoured with me when I’m living there.


I put a lot of stuff into storage when I was preparing the house for sale. I don’t miss any of it and so I need to go back there and pick it over to throw more out. I am selling Bruce most of the furniture because I’d rather do without than live with my old sofas I’ve had for over 30 years. It might be a very sparsely furnished home for a while. I love looking at magazines on line though and hope to experiment when i move. There will only be me to satisfy and so I’m looking at some very different things. I like this dark grey bedroom for example:


I love the head board and think I could do that with a large canvas. I don’t have any choice over the carpets etc. but the walls will start out white so I can go from there. I’ve always hankered for white floor boards but that is going to have to wait.

I am also coveting mid century furniture right now but they will have to wait until I see how the finances pan out. All this coveting is not good for simple living principles. I always like a good dose of Kirsties’s Handmade and Free shop programme and can get quite inspired with revamping things.


I love these Parker chairs and they don’t come up very often but I’m just going to have to wait and see.

A lot of my stuff has sentimental value. The table below belonged to my dearest friend Bev and I sat at that table when I babysat her children and Bev counselled me through my teenage years. Then Sam sat there as a tiny little boy and enjoyed the love and warmth of her kitchen. We solved many of the problems of the world at that table.


Then there are my late husband’s sculptures. I had thought about apartment living but couldn’t really accommodate them. I have just become aware of the reason for my faint melancholy. Brett died in 1994 at Queen’s Birthday weekend. We had just got married on May 14 and were really hitting our stride with a new job for me, a new old kauri villa in Dunedin and he was home full time looking after Sam who was 20 months. I know it was a long time ago but I feel a downward swing in my life at this time and then a lovely upsurge by Sam’s birthday on August 18. I am now starting to feel a real desire to see him home safely on NZ soil although he is having a ball on his holiday break.


I will really miss my paintings. They have travelled with me for many years so all my homes tend to look the same but some are very much a part of me. This Picasso print really soothes my heart.



In the end though it is all stuff. I am reading applications for the New Horizons for Women Charitable Trust and it is heart breaking. I want to give everyone a scholarship. They all truly deserve it and I admire their grit and resilience for all that they have faced over the years. If any of you have spare dosh please feel free to set up a scholarship. It certainly puts my wish list in perspective.

I realise how lucky I am. With all this rain there have been some lovely rainbows. And so I think of the Rainbow Warrior anniversary and those who are so committed to these great causes while I covet shoes and chairs.

I am still knitting, reading and going to movies. I am nearly finished a rug for Bruce’s 50th. He claimed it wasn’t big enough for his couch slouching so I’ve knitted two and will sew them together 🙂


The most affecting movie I’ve seen lately is The Ground We Won about the Reporoa Rugby team. I loved it and was appalled in equal measure. Take a bloke and go and see it.

The critics say: With great bawdiness and backbone, a rugby team made up of farmers strive to redeem themselves from a long run of bitter losses. In the face of the hefty demands of farming and fatherhood, the Saturday game becomes the focus of the men’s passions and the ground on which their worth is proved.

The Ground We Won is a highly authentic, slice of life film about the challenges and joys of manhood, as seen through the rites and rituals of a rural New Zealand rugby club.

These little twins and their dad stole the show for me.

Right now I’m reading Full Tilt by Rebekah Tyler. She took her two boys aged 2 and 9 I think, on an 8 month holiday after her beloved Nan died. She is a kiwi. Sort of an Eat Pray Love with kids. I admire her grit as she sold this book to my friend Deb, by going door to door.


Photo original

I can think of nothing better than to snuggle in in this weather and read the afternoon away. Hope you are warm and well somewhere. FG.

PS if any of you have teens or your friends do my Parent blog for AUT is now live. I would love some feed back please!



Sugar and all things nice

Actually I haven’t been to see That Sugar Film, but I read the article in the Listener. I don’t think I will go because it is all a bit too depressing. See below, the last few Listener covers. If you have sugar you will die, if you are lonely you will die, then the how not- to -die article!



I think I’ll go for a walk.. to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery and maybe go to OTT afterwards for a nice pistachio eclair. It is such an iconic building and I love its orange/pink blush on the horizon as you drive over the Auckland Harbour bridge.

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It is a lovely place to walk as there are old refinery houses to peer into as well as some gorgeous old villas in the area and then you can go bush and walk through some impressive stands of kauri.

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Yes, that’s right, 3 million tonnes. I think Mum’s hokey pokey biscuits used about 2 million of them.
I just want to get it on record that according to my friend, Deb the CSR toilets are the nicest in the known world. In fact, had there been a couch she may well have had a little kip in the salubrious surroundings. Go Auckland Council.
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Not quite so attractive is the algae bloom that gives animals and probably humans nasty avian diseases.

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And after all that vigorous exercise, a trip to the OTT for the fore -mentioned eclair is surely required. (Well okay not required, but I’m sure it is practically calorie-free and nuts are really good for you.) Check them out on Facebook

Craft is still in the background. I am working on Bruce’s rug for snoozing on the red couch and doing the odd dishcloth but today I also want to show you what my sister makes, as they are exquisite. I am a slap dash, left-handed, untidy type whereas she is a meticulous and very fussy about the end product. Her Facebook page is called Beestitching, check it out some time.

Half of my lumpy, bumpy couch rug.
This is my nephew’s wedding ring sachet. He is getting married to Alison in Montana in July and his last name is Love-how cute is that?


My favourite though is the topsy turvey dolly. Let me know if you want to buy one for someone super-special. As you can see they are hours of work so you would need to order in advance,  but she would be a beautiful family heirloom.

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Lastly, I know I go on about the library but I have read a couple of books recently that I plucked off the shelves quite randomly and thoroughly enjoyed. They won’t change the  world but they were fun and entertaining and nicely written. I think how fantastic it would be to get a book published but how much work it is and how little recognition they get (or money).

First was God is an Astronaut and it was written entirely in emails but from one side of the writers only so you had to do a bit of figuring out of the unknown reply.

and the other gentle, easy read was

“Every chapter is prefaced by book suggestions that A.J. wrote to his daughter detailing stories that he feels are “must-reads” and why each one is important to him, but these journal entries also reveal the pain in A.J.’s past, foreshadow future sadness, and give a glimpse into A.J.’s soul that deepens the reader’s journey into this remarkable story.”


So FGers, keep off the sugar (or not) and get onto those Auckland walking tracks. Alternatively grab an eclair and slouch on the couch with a book. FG




New beginnings and a new part- time job

Very excited that my house is under way. It is so cool to be able to peek through the fence and see the foundations going in. The string is up so you can see the exact dimensions. The chaps doing the foundations were very helpful 🙂 and let me take some pictures. there may even be some framing up by the end of May. This is weather dependent though and there is a severe weather warning out for tomorrow with very heavy rain bursts forecast.

Great work Firth boys, I hope my concrete is better than the stuff you have to renew on the motorway…. 🙂

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I have also managed to get a wee part-time job at the weekends in the Hobsonville Point Information Centre starting this Sunday so if you are around please come and see me. It is in the same building as the Catalina Cafe.

You may remember I nearly bought a penthouse in the Brickworks complex. I saw someone getting their blinds put up yesterday so they are obviously all moving in so that will add another dimension to HP. They are going to have shops underneath that include I believe, a doctor, pharmacy, dairy, kebab shop, and a European cafe/deli. These are all two minutes from my place! I just hope I’m going to the deli and kebab shop more than the pharmacy and doctor.


Every time I go out (which is rather often as Scott and Mel at Jalcon will attest to) there is some new area or building or planting going on. Come and see me at the info centre Sunday. Have a great weekend FG.

Dog Day Afternoon

Hi all, I had a great walk yesterday around Kauri Glen with my good friend Deb and her dog Millie (14 years) and her “grand dog” (14 months). I think the Auckland Council does a terrific job of maintaining walks around the whole of Auckland.

I loved both the spot this seat was in and the inscription. Such a lovely way to remember someone. Much better than a cemetery.
A small matter of a difference in opinion on direction…

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Kauri Glen, located on Kauri Glen Road by Northcote College features large kauri trees, taraire forest and the Waiurutoa Stream. Walkers can enjoy a loop track which takes one and a half hours. Adjoining Kauri Glen is Cecil Eady Bush, where the walk takes one hour. Make sure you watch for the deep ruts in the undergrowth, a legacy from the bullock teams that used to haul out the kauri logs last century.

Two minutes in you feel as though you are a million miles from anywhere. The only bug bear I have is that women just don’t feel comfortable walking those tracks on their own, even with a dog. I still think we should have women-only walks that are patrolled so we can walk with freedom in some areas.

Kauri Park

Kauri Park, in Rangatira Road, Birkenhead, has fine stands of large kauri trees with the oldest examples to be found in the north of the park. The walking track is a one and a half hour return trip. This park is noted for seasonal changes in its rich mix of ferns and flowering species, including native orchids.

After the walk there are some fun places to go. If you haven’t explored Junk and Disorderly before allow yourself a good hour to fossick. It’s a great place to look around.

It even has a coffee caravan- no decaf though.

My preferred coffee haunt is a newly -discovered one-thanks Dayle! It’s called Coffee Lab and is a little tricky to find. It is right behind the North Shore Events Centre in a little side street.

It has won several top NZ coffee awards.

Coffee Lab Cafe

We’re open:
Monday – Friday 7.30am –
Saturday – 8.00am – 3.00 pm

Sunday – Closed

Public and Statuary Holidays we are CLOSED.

To find us:
We’re located at 15 Silverfield, Wairau Valley, Auckland. Click for Google maps.

The Coffee Lab Roastery Cafe opened in April 2012 primarily so the boys could have a tasty lunch cooked for them (by Antoni our incredible chef and some very tasty baked goods by Richie when he’s around….) and have amazing espresso on tap (single origin specialty variety from 3 grinders that changes most days) to keep us in the groove made with oozing dedication by Ben, Elliot, Harley and Sam. We also thought it would be a nice little get away for serious coffee geeks. So if that’s you, come and enjoy our space with an “all things coffee vibe” going on. Small menu with great food is our philosophy with probably the best Avo Bruchetta, French Toast, Pancakes and Egg’s you will ever have (the grilled free range chicken and totally yum eye fillet is amazeballs as well!) ! If there’s some of the Coffee Lab Chocolate caramel slice, get some! it is yummo! Look forward to seeing ya! Oh yeah…soft brew V60, aeropress, clever drip and cold drip mega variety also available….ask and ye shall receive 😀 what ever you want we can do it !

They also kindly gave us water for the thirsty dogs.

Thirsty baby Maggie Thatcher






Community Living

Ever since my husband died and I read all the books about grief that advised me not to do anything for a year, I have thought about community living. After reading the books I ignored them and bought an old house next door to my best friend in Christchurch  without having sold my house in Dunedin. It might seem crazy but luckily  I did sell my house and moved into the old house around 6 weeks after Brett died.

Yes it was stressful packing up, shifting, nerve wracking etc. but it was a great decision because I sold the back section of my house to my sister who had two little girls and had just separated, got her house built and then built mine. We ripped the planks off the fence to my best friend’s house next door and spent the next 11 years with a fantastic network of support.

Recent photo of me and my BFF

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hippy who like sharing a house. I love my own space but I did love shared meals, baby sitting, a glass of wine, the companionship and the fun for Sam growing up with cousins and friends. We had ballet shows, magic shows, concerts, endless dress ups and just lots of good times.

Sam with his cousins aka make up team when he entered (and won!) the Action Man competition at the local mall 🙂

Ever since I have fantasised and tried to get my friends to buy into an eco village concept but there always seemed to be reasons why we couldn’t. Hence my decision to go to Hobsonville Point which is a ready-made village with a lot of eco principles.

All of the companies building out there have to adhere to the following:  position to optimise the sun, recycle water tanks, double glazing, out door washing lines, etc and the result is summarised in the chart below.




but for me it is the neighbourhood feeling, the idea that I can catch the ferry into town, ride my bike around the sculpture path, know my neighbours, grab a coffee at my local, visit the kebab shop across the road and use the doctor, pharmacy, deli, etc. within a five minute walk.

I sat with a friend and made a couple of poppies down at the market for this Anzac display at Hobsonville and chatted with people who either had already moved in or were about to. I’m really looking forward to seeing The Landing being developed.




I am delighted that a friend is moving in two doors down from me and the prospect that other friends will be following later on. Now that I am on my own at 59 I look forward to sharing meals, helping each other out,  and going to movies with those nearby.

I looked at a lot of areas before going to HP and I had been there before, a few years ago. I didn’t like it then; houses too close together, young family enclave etc. but now it has matured and has a really diversified community with a retirement village, child care centre, primary school, secondary school and even talk of Hobbywood  being built! This is a proposal that the film industry establish themselves in the light industrial area out there.

Film studio option for ex-airbase

Sir Peter Jackson, left, and Steven Spielberg have filmed in New Zealand.

To me it is the best of both worlds, not a hippy commune but not living in isolation either. I am haunted right now by the murder trial of a poor woman who was raped and murdered just five minutes from her home in a local neighbourhood. I hope that Hobsonville Point will be a safe and friendly place to live but will still afford me my own space and privacy. Roll on next year!

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I know I sound like I’m working for a real estate agent 🙂 But it is going to be fun I hope.

Speaking of films I thoroughly enjoyed Lucky Them. I have always loved Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) and this film is a wee charmer.

Have a terrific weekend everyone, I feel like Lucky Me 🙂 FG