From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

I’m going to give up listening to the news. I was feeling so good and then I wasn’t. I’m such a stupid, simple soul who thinks if men just stopped being wankers over territory and religion we’d all be fine. I mean territory of all sorts, treating their wives and children like chattels, thinking they can “own” everything- animals, the environment, land. If they just stopped punching someone because they were wearing a cute cat tee shirt (this happened to some poor tourist in Takapuna) and as for religion, don’t get me started.

These guys object to homosexuality and transgender?????? What about cross dressing?

In the Scandinavian countries men are fined if they employ prostitutes. Quite right I reckon, if they didn’t create the demand there wouldn’t be any. Please don’t tell me women choose the “profession”. The average age for death of a prostitute is 50. Mostly I believe it is from suicide.


Anyway, back to knitting, I’m such a lightweight, it’s all I want to think about. My friend and I were having a bit of a laugh the other day. We were a mini knitting circle but our needles were at opposite ends of the range. It looked pretty funny. Her needles are 25mm and mine are 3.75.

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If at first you don’t succeed, try 8 times and then give up. That was my motto trying to follow a lacy scarf pattern. I finally chucked in the towel and learnt the one- row pattern lacy scarf stitch. Even then I made a mistake and couldn’t unpick it. I was experimenting with one ball of alpaca I have left over. It just made a tiny neckerchief but it is surprisingly warm and handy.

It’s not hard to spot the mistake.

It hasn’t been the greatest of weeks as I had a run in with a truck. I was driving merrily to work listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. (It is great that the audio is already available in the library as it has only just been published. Thanks, library) and the two lanes of heavy traffic broke in to three as we neared the motorway on ramp. I thought there was plenty of room for me to ease slowly into that third lane. Turns out there wasn’t and my car is pretty badly damaged. It is a shock to the system when a window explodes just after breakfast on the way to work. The glass filled my handbag, the seat and some of it landed on me. I didn’t know what to do as I was stuck in the stream of traffic and wasn’t even sure the truckie knew.

Uh oh…

I reported this to the police after I got off at the nearest exit and after I took my car to a panel beater. However, I was a bit shaken to get a call from the police on Saturday where I was reprimanded for not stopping. I just couldn’t see where I could stop and as the lane the truck was in could also go straight ahead I had no idea where he was.  Anyway, be warned everyone, you must stop regardless of holding up the morning rush hour traffic.

Rather than getting all agitated, I tried to use my mindfulness techniques as there isn’t much point in worrying about it now and no-one was hurt, except for my car of course.

There’s much pleasure to be had in the small world anyway, if you don’t think too hard about the rest. Yesterday I participated in the Whau festival at the poetry reading in the library and tonight as part of the same festival I’m going to Poetry Kai to read a couple more. It was especially great to hear Janet Charman read her work.

Janet Charman:

snowing down south

warm breath
breathed out of
our bodies
into the overnight air
and condensed to
an ice crust
on the glass

with a sodden mitten tip
push plates
of glitter lace
across the surface
to make an opening
where the ghost price of
home kill veal 4/6 is

showing that
in an earlier
our kitchen
was a butcher shop

we knew there was a colder place



Check out all the free events here.

I was disappointed to learn that my house isn’t going to be ready for Christmas and it now looks like end of Jan even the beginning of Feb. I’m hoping it is like birth and it will all be worth the wait. The cladding is going on and the painting should start next week.

IMG 4082And all those little fake people really will be standing around under my umbrella having a drink. I’m hoping the guy with the barbecue comes with it.


Here’s the ridiculous bit…


Here’s the sublime…

Have a great week, FG


The women I went to school with and other stuff

I wrote a post the other day with a poem about running into a woman I went to school with and wished I hadn’t. Well the following weekend I caught up with a friend I also went to school with and I’m so glad we keep in touch. It’s one of those friendships where you email if you are in town so we maybe contact each other a couple of times a year. When we do catch up we have a ball and update ourselves on each other’s lives over great food and a trip to a market or gorgeous linen shops or that expensive little French place….. and we eat, drink and be merry.

If my stuff was out of storage I would post a picture of us in our Otago Girls’ uniforms- black gym frocks, white panama hats, gloves, and badges of course. Little strips across the shoulder indicated what house we were in . Our hair had to be tied back in some fashion so mine was in stupid little pigtails. There was little social promotion in those days, humiliation was deemed to keep you from getting above yourself.

I don’t ever remember a glowing sunset like this over the school. I do however, remember Friday afternoon, double period Science with Miss Lamont who dictated for two hours in her nasty nasal voice. No wonder I was disruptive….

I got dumped from the top class that my friend was in along with a school report that had phrases like, “Susan is inattentive and disruptive in class”, “Susan spends too much time talking and not enough on attending to task” etc. which I know that those of you who know me will find hard to believe….little has changed unfortunately.

I did lose touch with my friend W after school but reconnected after a fairly incredible coincidence. I was flatting in Ealing in London and I was moving on. So Tony, the English chap who owned the flat put an ad in the Ealing local paper. I happened to be in the flat when the phone rang about the ad. Even though I had not spoken to W for around 8 years, I recognised her voice instantly. And so it was, she moved in to the flat and also became a friend of Tony’s and we have all remained in touch these last 35 years.

This isn’t the exact apartment but it was something like this, not an old typically London place but it was always warm. Why do we NZders have to be so Presbyterian and freeze in the winter?

So my old school friends are now turning 60 and that’s including me of course. It is hard to believe that my oldest friend is 60 next week and that we have known each other for 50 years. We go right back to competing to see who could insert a tampon first 🙂 and helping each other mend broken hearts and wearing bra frocks made by her Mum. Once we met some boys and went skinny dipping late at night in R’s Morris Minor. Unfortunately we lost the car keys in the sand and R taxied back home to sneak in for the spare set while I was left to fend off the two male gymnasts we had picked up. She was caught of course and we were suitably punished by being grounded the next day. So we went biking instead and got stopped by the police for failing to stop at a stop sign on our bikes. I spent all my summers at her place for many years. We deplored her Mum’s home made tomato sauce in favour of the Watties variety that was never purchased. Now how we long for that delicious homemade brew using all fresh ingredients. So many anecdotes and stories and fun with women I went to school with and am so glad I did.

R’s dad taught us to drive and we both had MMs for many years. I remember so fondly the ticking sound when you turned the key as the fuel pump warmed up and accomplishing the double declutch, a skill no young person would have today!

D asked me this morning what my plans were. How fantastic, my day is going something like this:

  1. Delicious breakfast with S of avocado and tomato on toast and a leisurely cup of tea.

2. Mindfulness meditation on loving kindness, especially for oneself! Great, that justifies a totally indulgent day. Try it you will feel good all day.

3. Writing this blog post and reminiscing in my mind about the past.

4. Oh dear, I just have to read all the Home magazines I got from the library as they are due back today- what a chore, not!

5. Making some soup from the left overs and a salad for dinner

6 Listeing to a bit of Big Magic that I downloaded as an audio book from the library. It is by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love which I though was bollocks. But then I heard an interview with her by Kim Hill and thought Kim would make mince meat of her. Quite the reverse happened, Elizabeth spoke with dignity and respect and I came to admire how she handled the interview. I went on to read her second novel, The Signature of All Things and really enjoyed it. It was very different for the first and not at all autobiographical.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s first novel in twelve years is an extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning across much of the 19th century. The novel follows the fortunes of the brilliant Alma Whittaker (daughter of a bold and charismatic botanical explorer) as she comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she loves draws her in the opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowing—a desperate need to understand the workings of this world, and the mechanism behind of all life.

I suspect people who love EPL will not like TSOAT and vice versa. Her latest book is called Big Magic:Creative Living Beyond Fear and I suspect it is back to the EPL kind of scene, non-fiction and pretty American  cheesy in content but I thought I would check it out anyway. The other author I like in the American cheesy vein is Susan Jeffers as her books have very practical exercises and it forces you to assess your own behaviour, rather than your partner’s. She is author of Feel the Fear etc.

If I had the guts I would give every young couple this book as a wedding present.

6. Maybe watch another episode of the The Bridge, which I will write about in another blog.

7. Possibly look out the window for a bit at the birds in the trees.

I have been watching this tree blossom over the last few weeks from the living room
Consider the Irises, that can take up quite a lot of time….
The tuis are in ecstasy over the flowering kowhai tree.


All in all a pretty exhausting schedule. I hope you have a similar day. FG







Glorious morning comrades

This silly phrase often comes into my head on a lovely day. It is a bastardisation of a Maurice Gee short story called A Glorious Morning Comrade.

Mr. Pitt-Rimmer is a demented elderly man who lives with his two daughters. They are entertaining their friends for the afternoon. When their attention is diverted, he runs away, stopping first at the dairy store to buy some cigarettes and Turkish delight. The proprietress recognizes him and calls his daughter, but Mr. Pitt-Rimmer again slips off.

He has various other encounters before his daughters pick him up later in the afternoon. “Promise us you won’t be naughty again. It makes us so sad.” But the old man later writes in the back of his book, “My daughters are keeping me prisoner. Help! I have not had a piece of meat for twenty years . . . .”

It’s a fun, quick read if you are of a mind. I love the details of the Turkish delight and cigarettes, what a combo! But it was a glorious morning comrades so I walked up the hill to the Titirangi shops.  I went to the shops to post my knitted rug to my dearest friend in Dunedin. She isn’t 80 until December but it’s still cold there and I like to think she and the cat will enjoy the alpaca warmth. It may not last long however, as the cat has an obsession with quite large pieces of clothing and towels which she drags through the house, making holes in them as she goes. It felt so lovely and warm as I parceled it up for the post and weighed very little. Our friendship is as light as alpaca, and as warm too.

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I noticed beautiful  small things today. When I die, please just send violets, only violets they are my favourite little pet of a flower. Well alright maybe some lavender too and the odd old- fashioned rose. And please play Van Morrison’s, “Have I told you lately that I love you” because I have been meaning to.

The little things and the big things today.

The kauri trees out here are stunning. We need to find out why they are dying before it is too late.
Little violets minding their own business.

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It has been a tough week for a dear friend. We have been meddling with haikus.

The Death Notice
Noted, noticed, notes
Three sheets to the wind today
Dearth, death, the dearest

Dearth, dearest, unearthed
Paua pearls papers flying
Gathering close kin

A boy on the back
His mother cycling school ward
Arms around her waist

Listens to the message
Again again and again
Why can’t he hear it?

Despite the glorious morning I am reading A Widow’s Story- a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates.

I’m a bit angry with her and all her grief. Does she not know how lucky she is to have reached her mid-seventies, having spent all of her life married to a loving and dearly loved partner. He was 78, not her only child, raped or killed or murdered or crazy with Alzheimers. He just got an infection and died, not so bad in the grand scheme. But I also know no amount of pollyannering will help and for all that I am touched by it and its portrayal of that first year when you think you might be going mad.

How cruel some people can be, I remember it was a few years after Brett died and I mentioned that Queen’s Birthday was coming up and it was the anniversary of his death to someone and they said, “Really are you still thinking about that?” Yep, call me dull, still thinking about it- not obsessively but yes, still thinking about it, especially at significant events like Sam’s graduation. His grandmother and I found ourselves caught unawares with grief that Brett was not there to see him.

So feeling sad, letting yourself feel sad and then moving on from that moment are all okay by me. The most scary and comforting piece of advice I have received is, “this too shall pass” and that means the glorious morning too. So enjoy whatever moment you happen to be in right now. Hope it’s a goodie. FG