Category: Life

  • 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.…

  • Intruders, swimmers, and a wild dog

    Someone, sometwo or somethree have been sneaking onto my blog and registering as users when my back was turned. I’ve swept them out the door and removed the option to register from my log-in page. The lesson, I think, is to spend a little more time in the blog-garden myself. Unmown lawns and clambering weeds…

  • Smudges

    In the absence of ideas, I’m hoping that the fact of opening up a new post here after six weeks away will strike fire, and the flame run will run across the page, leaving interesting scorch marks in its wake. I had to make up a new password to enter my own blog just now.…

  • Walking towards the wild side

    My laptop hard-drive crashed the other week, so when the call came, it seemed an apt time to put the work on hold and spend a few days with my father while Mum was away. Dad and I get on pretty well so most of the time we happily tinkered about in house and garden,…

  • Waiting for a baby

    On Monday we walked in the regenerating kauri forest of Titirangi. Our daughter was in labour. On the way home I called in to a little church. It was as simple and still as a pond without ducks, frogs or dragonflies. I prayed for our daughter to be strong and well, full of light and…

  • Sharp things

    I was thinking this morning about the archer. Over the last few years I’ve found the astrological zodiac a helpful sort of map of the inner terrain. A person needn’t believe in the efficacy of astrology as a system to find that it nonetheless elucidates many of the tasks we master and the psychological ground…

  • The call of the less known

    It seems important to write something although I have no idea as I open this page what it will be. I’ll stick in my latest drawing and see where I go from there. When I was young and very idealistic, I would be seized by intense longings (weren’t we all?) and one such ‘seizure’ concerned…

  • Other lives

    Yesterday afternoon, I put on a thick jacket and scarf, plunged my hands into the pockets, and walked across to my aunt’s. Walking without a dog has a different texture. Oddly, I feel bolder, more alert, and I walk faster. Polly had slowed down a little in her last year, just a little. Rain, wet…

  • Thanks to a dog

    I like to think that Polly and I chose each other fifteen years ago when we met. Considering the litter, I was drawn by her colouring and sweetly curious nature. Perhaps she recognised in me the answer to her own nervous excitability. We soon found that she had a very big voice: at eight weeks,…

  • One thing leads to another

    Stringing fruit together is about the most straightforward thing I can come up with at present. As I write, the man of the house is up on a chair behind me, prising bits of plaster from the ceiling and letting water into a bucket as he tries to find the source of The Latest Leak.…

  • Afternoon stretches

    Since we’ve had our house on the market for six months and failed to find the perfect inhabitant for it (i.e. one who not only loves it, but buys it too) we were a little tired of ‘wait and see’ as the year began to unfold, so decided to go off anyway, for a change…

  • Away from home

    House-sitting, we find ourselves in a kind of Australian Florida, where the well-heeled retire. It’s great for walking, and for swimming now the sun’s finally appeared. We had the sea to ourselves today. The dog we walk is big. The houses on the beach are small. Not all dogs have the chance to get sand…

  • Eating our way through Argentina

    Autumn brings on the munchies as the body tries to add a layer for winter. I was flicking through the Argentina 2009 photos the other day and realised how often we photographed our food before we ate it. Well, more likely I did, since it was probably nothing out of the ordinary for Elena. I…

  • A watery moment

    Alas, this water sculpture has none of the luminosity and little of the beauty of the photo I was drawing from — except that it’s an utterly pleasing composition — but there’s a treat in store for you by photographer Heinz Meier. It’s been a lovely, Indian summer, Easter. We walked the beaches and the…

  • Sunday

    Before the thunder storm we went to the beach. It was agonisingly beautiful, as ever. The waves were backlit so you could see shreds of seaweed suspended in green before they broke. Since our last visit, the sea had rearranged the sand and all but the most stalwart rocks. Polly was in heaven, which we…

  • Picnic

    I drove three hours north and my three younger siblings drove south for two. They had come from the middle east and the north island and the garden city. The sun shone. We lunched by the Waihi River. It couldn’t have been nicer. C laid out the lunch; B gathered firewood; K produced goats’ cheese…

  • Come to Puna

    Ascend with me a minute to 4000 metres, and whizz across the Andes to the intersection of Bolivia, Chile and (for our purposes) Argentina: see a vast grassland; terracotta mountains on a Himalayan scale; shimmering salt flats pierced by emerald ponds; tiny adobe hamlets; vicunas, flamingos, vultures and perhaps even a puma. You can be…

  • Take your pick

  • Pursued

    Driving back to Dunedin on Sunday afternoon with music playing in one ear (the pup chewed the other ear’s phone, and the car’s radio speakers stopped working years ago) and my thoughts who-knows-where, I noticed a car running up behind me, with a red and a yellow light flashing on its front. I looked for…

  • Angsty cat

    Clouds stream overhead from north-east to south-west, dissolving and morphing as they go. Lilies in the tub outside the window have begun to brown and curl and drop their skirts. The peasgood nonsuch apples cling to their branches and fatten, and silver bean-slivers emerge from fiery flower sheaths. Clouds, lilies, beans and apples do what…

  • How to make concrete

    Assemble your tools and an able assistant. Dampen the area to be covered, which preferably includes a crack. Tip most of the cement into the barrow. Keep some in the bag in case — as with icing — you make the mixture too sloppy. Gloves are optional. I like drawing them. Pour water by cupfuls…

  • Eat or be eaten

    It rained hard last night. We noticed the damp patch in the ceiling above the table but it was dark outside and the roof space too cramped for entry or even torchlight. This morning I realised I’d had a lucky escape. The laptop is still functioning. R. has been up on the roof. He’s bought…

  • The revised atlas

    Our PM John Key referred to New Zealand on the radio today as a cork bobbing on the ocean, which I think shows a lack of imagination. Polly went out on the smorgasbord tonight. She sneaked off and chomped her way around the neighbourhood bins and compost heaps. Tonight she’s stunned, rotund, and leaking queasy…

  • Watching 2012

    The new year is underway. We have little idea what it will hold. We have hopes and qualms, loose plans and quiet intentions. We will all be watching what unfolds and will play our part accordingly. Tonight I made tom kha pad thai yum. I heard Aung San Suu Kyi answer questions from a class…