Homecoming and the Big Sleep Out

Morning everyone, this will be quick as I am sneaking it in at work as The Big Sleep out is July 2 so donations close tomorrow I think.

From left Elizabeth, Vincent and Sam- tired but happy, as we used to write in our school stories.

To my relief and joy Sam arrived back from Europe yesterday. One of the first things he “confessed” to was that, as he didn’t need my sleeping bag much he had given it to a homeless man in London. I think he thought I might be annoyed. To the contrary I am so happy that he feels this compassion. This reminded me of the Lifewise initiative.


The Big Sleep Out is on again in Auckland on Thursday night. A colleague is trading his home comforts for a night on cardboard on the street.

Robert wrote this article about the event for the Lifewise website.


If you are able to, please think about donating at

http://bigsleepout.org.nz/ as they are a little short of their target right now.

Money Can Buy Happiness…but only of you give it away. (See my earlier posts on the science of happiness)

Here is an excerpt from http://shawnhunter.com/money-can-buy-happiness-if-you-give-it-away/

Michael Norton and his colleagues Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Akninresearched whether money can really buy happiness. The hypothesis was that after basic needs of shelter, food, education, and living standards are met, extra income has little impact on personal happiness, except when we spend it on acts of generosity.

The reason for the study was based on the paradox that although people spend so much of their time and effort trying to make more and more money, having all that money does not seem to make them as happy. Could it be that they were not spending money the right way? The idea was if people were encouraged to spend money differently, perhaps we might be able to generate a greater sense of joy within ourselves and others.

An interesting part of the study revealed that this goes directly against our own instincts. When asked, 65% of those surveyed stated that spending money on themselves would make them the happiest. Additionally, over 85% believed that receiving $20 to spend would have a greater happiness advantage than $5. Wrong again. Turns out that the amount we spend on others doesn’t make that much of a happiness difference. The important part is the act of generosity, not the amount we spend.

Have a good week, I will write about the final throes of shifting later in the week. FG

Movies: the good, the bad, the ugly

Morning all, the internet has been down at our place for over a week so it’s good to be reconnected. I’ve managed to sneak in a few movies before I go into the gluttony of the NZ Film Festival next month.

The bad: I recommend you go for a walk or eat a block of chocolate rather than go this movie- Gemma Bovary (not to be confused with Madame Bovary which is also in cinemas). Normally I like slow little French village numbers but this is just an old man fantasy about beautiful young woman who comes to village and does a lot of pouting and lip-licking.

The good: Tangerines, I had no idea about the fighting in Russia with the Georgians versus the Chechens. War in Georgia, Apkhazeti region in 1990. An Estonian man Ivo has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines. In a bloody conflict at his door, a wounded man is left behind, and Ivo is forced to take him in.

This is slow and uneven but also compelling and involving. I enjoyed it. Emphasises the utter stupidity of war.

The Ugly: Marshlands-Set in the year 1980. Two ideologically opposed homicide detectives from Madrid are reprimanded and sent to a forgotten town on the Guadalquivir Marshes to investigate the disappearance and murder of two teenage girls during the town’s festivities. Together they will have to overcome their differences and face the heartless killer that has been murdering teenagers in the town for years. The setting is other worldly and suitably creepy.

This genre is usually not for me but I loved the Scandi version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There is still gratuitous photography of murdered women in this Spanish film and the women are all portrayed as unadulterated victims, alive or dead. The relationship between the two policemen was what held it together for me.

And finally if you want an ice-cream and popcorn romp then go and see Man Up. I had low expectations so thoroughly enjoyed a bit of a laugh. It won’t live long in the memory but it’s great for a couple of hours of escapism.

So apart from seeing movies, I have been doing some final packing and organising as I am going to stay with a friend from next weekend until my house is built. I hope she still likes me after six months…There is a bit to do with getting final power bills and gas cut off and change of address etc. which i will have to do in reverse in six months or so.  There is also a shadow of sadness that we are going our separate ways and having to leave our lovely house. Bruce is 50 this week though and we are indulging ourselves by going to The French Cafe so I will report on the food anon. I have been before but it was a few years ago so am looking forward to that.

I continue to work casually at the Hobsonville Info Centre at weekends and that way I keep a close eye on progress of my wee house. Sometimes we go working and on a beautiful day the walk around the village and down to the landing is gorgeous. Being able to get a coffee at the landing in the mornings is a bonus too.

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I had a first time experience at The Bunker the other night as well. A friend had a couple of spare tickets and offered them via text during the day with a link to the performers. Bruce yes to a ticket too. I was rather surprised as the performers  were folk singers and I didn’t really think they were his cup of tea. Turns out he didn’t click on the link…. and when he found out about the genre he dressed appropriately..


The group were called Great North and The Bunker is the home of folk music in Devonport. It is a unique experience as it is actually in a bunker on the side of the hill and has a log fire and free Milo. It is adorned in memorabilia. The view from outside looking over the harbour is gorgeous.

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I arrived home reeking of wood-smoke after a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

I have been having a Billy Collins fest in terms of reading and Litany is still my favourite. I’ve probably posted it before but here it is again.

And finally, I am waiting for Sam to return home. I don’t want to jinx his safety by anticipating it too much but he is due home next Monday. Crazy I know, but on the Queen’s Birthday when Brett died I had drawn a huge smiley face on the calendar to denote the holiday on the Monday. I now have an aversion to putting smiley faces on the calendar prior to important events.

Instead I will post this image Sam took while on holiday which I wish we could all somehow attain. Hope you have all had a great weekend. FG


Fabulous Friday-books, building, bonding

Morning FGers, I have been out of touch with a broadband breakdown but it seems to be working this morning.

Last night I came home to a wee parcel in my letterbox. I was surprised and delighted to find the most beautiful book inside. The first thing I noticed was how lovely it felt just to handle it. Simple black with an elliptical cutout in it. If I ever manage to self-publish a poetry book I would like it to feel like this.

Beautiful embossing on the cover



The book is called Extant and is written by John Freeman-Moir from the University of Canterbury. It informs the newly-erected Graham Bennett sculpture called Extant and its place in the centre of Christchurch city. I can’t wait to see the real thing in my next trip down  and see how it sits in relation to the other buildings around it.


The paragraphs below particularly resonated with me. As John is a friend I am hoping he won’t have copyright issues..



I have been wrestling these last few years with just that question. In my mind I always wanted to recapture that time in my life where I had my sister and best friend next door. I loved the interdependent living without it being a commune. Since then I have had an eco village fantasy that I couldn’t seem to bring to fruition. Hobsonville Point seems to be the closest I can get right at this moment. Having a friend a few doors down and with at least two other colleagues moving there, I see a kernel of a community forming. I have also just joined a Hobsonville book group that is starting up so that I will get to know a few others.

Speaking of buildings, while my house is no architectural flight of fancy it is my home and it’s very exciting to see it going up.





My son Sam is in Europe still and this week while in Amsterdam, he caught up with his oldest friend. They literally met in the womb, well sort of.. I met Max’s mother at our antenatal class and we immediately struck up a bond. The boys have spent time together off and on all their lives by going to creche together, meeting up in France when they were ten, the return trips their family has made to NZ and our trips to them in Europe meant that they have always been in touch. it just warms me to know that they are now independent young men and they have had some time together in Amsterdam. I hope they keep in touch their whole lives.



I have so many photos of them back to back over the years (all packed away right now) and they were always the same height. However, although Sam is 6 feet tall, Max is at least half a head taller now and makes Sam look teeny beside him. We always thought they were so different and yet they have lots in common too.

In the last few weeks I have continued to enjoy events at the little cafe in Ponsonby called Cafe 121. In fact, Friday nights have become something of a ritual there. this is jazz night but the kind of jazz that is gentle and whimsical and lovely , for me any way. Linn Lorikin is fabulous. Kind of the Peta Mathias of music.

This week on Wednesday I went to their monthly poetry open mic. It was something of a mission as it was a late night but it is now the second time I have read in public.

Autumn walks continue. I love that there is little wind most of the time.

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My sister sent me a book of baby cloths much the same as the dish clothes…I continue on


Have a lovely weekend everyone. FG