Category: Life

  • Concerning Nell: covering the cover

    Making a book cover is always a bit of a mission. Where do you start? What kind of image do you choose, and how abstract should it be? If you have a committee (publisher Cloud Ink Press, author, designer, booksellers, friends), possibilities can multiply just when you need to narrow down the focus.I had blue…

  • Concerning Nell: pre-order of the book is available

  • Concerning Nell: ‘Change and decay in all around I see’

    The roses are drooping in the vase. EBB’s poem bears a whiff of the past. Dust has settled in tufts on the books crammed into the shelves of the old family house. This is the house where Nell lived, her last home, which she disliked. Their move into town meant down-sizing and paying more for…

  • Concerning Nell: Stains of the past

    I’ve had a rummage through the recipe book drawer at the old family villa. I guess this book was my grandmother Nell’s, and Cakes was the best garnished section. I can imagine the buttery finger pressed to the open page, the quick check: ‘one flat teaspoon of soda, same of cream of tartar’, as she…

  • Concerning Nell: Handy hints

    I found the little green notebook in the aunts’ kitchen the other day. All written in their mother Nell’s hand with an ink pen (it was that or a pencil back in the 1920s, I guess). When cutting out georgette on table dip your scissors in hot water before (and during) cutting. Stew prunes in…

  • Concerning Nell: Strand by strand

    Cold sou’west rain in late January. Nothing like it to keep a person indoors and contemplating the sedentary work awaiting her. In this case the blog that groans and creaks from under-use. It always helps to start with an image. (Goes hunting through recent pics…) These rough strands? Chimney plugs. Earlier in the summer, when…

  • Ratification

    It’s in the contract. I re-activate my website and plump up my social media presence. Nell, the novel of my grandmother, will be published early next year with Cloud Ink Press, I’m delighted to report. Meanwhile, Ratty has been on the shelf, perusing the Rosa Mira backlist and itching for re-employment. There’s silver on his…

  • Corona Karuna

    Lockdown day 21. Two weeks ago the grocery shop felt eerie: the spaced-out queue snaking around the carpark; the sanitiser; the distancing; the grim care we were all taking; being barked at for stepping over a blue line; germ phobia between groceries and car then adding bleach between car and aunt, aunt and car (who…

  • Years pass

    Turning 61. Life is still its old paradoxical self. (Why does the notion persist, that one day it will fall into order?) Taking it all in is the thing. Muskets and flowers. Trucks and colouring pencils. The presence and the absence of loved ones. Have been reading Anne Salmond’s Two Worlds, coincidentally as Aotearoa reckons…

  • Still waiting

    Talking with a friend recently whose time is freer than it was. She notices a tendency to fret on her now-unscheduled days. That’s why people go to work full-time, I said. No time for fretting. I was going to be ‘at work’ this week, but without snow, my role as hut manager was postponed along…

  • Going to the mountain

    Three and a half years since I wrote here, in the hot Northland summer of 2015. Now I’m stockpiling stuff for the cold. For a winter playing lodge manager (‘hut mum’ if the age or behaviour of the ski-schoolers calls for it it) in the Southern Alps. I’ll go fortified by kindness and comfort from…

  • Dipping in

    Woke this morning in another new house, with a full view of the Pacific and a fat Abyssinian who seems indifferent to our presence unless we’re stroking his ginger sleekness. Over the road, we swim in waves which, in the south, would knock you flat. Up here they churn over you aerated and playful; it’s…

  • The state of play

    Two years on, still house-sitting, still loving it. ‘Dolphins!’ comes the call from the beach. This month we’re perched between two bodies of water; such dynamism is alluring. In a roar of wind the estuary turns to ink. So, too, is the idea of home: vegetables we shepherd from seed to plate; trees we watch…

  • Coining the world

    Fork. Sharp. Corn. A-ice. Cold. Cold. Cold. Baby. Rock, rock. Up says Spencer.

  • The 32nd 30th

    There’s a fine line (there are many fine lines, including those in my favourite shirt) between objectively and wisely questioning what you think and do, and starting to wonder if it’s all wrong: what if I’ve taken the wrong turn here; made a poor choice there; spent my time badly; responded inadequately; pegged my life…

  • Following the rise and fall

    It takes a while (55 years or more) to learn and trust that life is rhythmic, to learn not to be thrown by the big shuddering in-breath or the (occasionally dis)gusting out-breath. Not to be dismayed by the sometimes-too-long pause between these two when it’s tempting to think something has died and gone forever. Following…

  • Autumnal

    For the first time in months, socks and shoes. At the bird sanctuary we waited amidst nikau and puriri for tui, bellbirds, kereru, fantails, a robin, and when we’d given up, at last, tieke — the saddleback. Girls in bikinis were swimming out from the beach and surging back through the cavern. In the cool…

  • How a day goes

    Walked into the sunrise. Read half a manuscript. Strong and unsettling. Swam at the next bay with the girl who laughs in water. Joined the Great Northern Library. The neighbour handed fresh, smoked kawhai over the fence. Kedgeree coming up.

  • If in doubt, go in

    Salt water is good for many things. A flat mood, for example. Full immersion is best. Add blue waves, a swimming dog, and a girl who can’t stop laughing for the joy of it. Fifteen minutes restores full buoyancy. A cup of tea on the beach is icing on the buoyant.

  • A simple act: starting again

    Easter Monday. Fresh beginnings. Making a mark. The first footprint.    

  • Uninvited guests

    All these types turned up in the weekend. I didn’t want them around and spent ages fretting over how to get rid of them. In the end, I gave them elbow room and a nice cup of tea. This morning they seem to have gone on their way.

  • This award-winning blog!

    It’s over three months since I last wrote or drew here. In spite (or because) of that, the Intertidal Zone has received this award: Thank you, Bookie Monster. If nothing else gets me posting, this does. In fact, as a condition of accepting it, there’s homework in several parts. The first is eleven random facts…

  • The Next Big Thing

    I’ve been tagged as Emma Neale was tagged so, while the title may not be apt, if tag’s a game, I’ll play along at this weird self-interview blog-meme thing (although I still don’t know what a meme is). I’ll adapt the ten questions to answer my own ends. What is your working title of your…

  • The exotic North

    In the six or seven weeks since I last wrote here we’ve packed up our home of 17 years, said many fond farewells, long and short, and headed north with A, fresh from Edinburgh, in our laden wagon. We’ve come to roost for a few weeks at the Whangarei Heads where we lap up the…

  • The courtesy of ducks & the dreams of hens

    We’re looking after four ducks and six hens (along with the house and gardens of their usual minders). Today I woke before dawn and fretted. The hens are kept in a shed with all hens need for survival: a pellet dispenser, water dispenser, clean dry wood shavings, laying boxes, a perch and room to move.…