Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imagine ....

Imagine way back at the start of 2009 that you wrote in the journal of sorts that you keep when the mood takes you, that this year you'd like to make a coat.  You thought to yourself that it would be a lovely coat with beautiful lining. You imagined yourself wearing such a coat. You thought it might look a little like this.

The only trouble is that when you imagine something there is frequently a very large gap between what you see in your mind's eye and reality itself.  Somewhere in the imagining the voices of commonsense and reason come knocking at the door.  Of course you don't answer it and certainly don't listen when they ask 

" Excuse me ma'am, do you actually know how to sew a coat?"
" Have you had much sewing experience?" 

So you forge ahead - you attend the course that helps you sort the pattern out.. you buy the fabric... you imagine the coat... you imagine the coat some more. You put the fabric away  so you don't have to look at it any more ... and then your sister Maryanna   

suggests you bring the coat stuff with you when you come up to Miri's for Christmas because she will be there too. 

Here they are the miracle workers. Maryanna who generously gave up 3 days of her holiday to give a personalised sewing tutorial on coat making and Miri (with Jude who slept in the tent so the Aunties could have a room to sleep in) who supplied endless amounts of  home baking, good company and wonderful hospitality.

The gap has been closed. What was imagined became real!  I have a coat with beautiful lining.  It is better than what I imagined.  Thank you everyone.

I wonder what I might imagine for myself in 2010??

Happy wondering and dreaming to you all as we move into 2010.

Cheers Marg

Friday, December 18, 2009

A parcel of my own !!

 Today something very exciting happened.!! Tom rang me at work to say that a parcel had arrived - it was from America! Who could it be from? Let me tell you - it was from this amazingly talented  artist called Christy.  You can find out all about her here:

You know I'm not even supposed to get this parcel yet. I'm paying it off in installments. That's how I buy art. In fact when my hot water cylinder was leaking and close to blowing up I went and made my first deposit on a screen print by Dunedin artist GillianPope.  The woman who let me pay off the painting said she was proud of me for choosing art over hot water.( she is saleswoman through and through) I have never regretted that choice although my power bills were exceedingly high that winter.

I really loved this painting when I saw it on Christy's etsy shop but I can't tell you how lovely it is in real life. The colours have a depth and intensity that you can't really see from the photo and the painting has a prescence that's also hard to describe. What I really love about it is it reminds me of the collection of old irons my dad had scattered round his place - it connects me to times and places I remember from my childhood and I love the domesticity of the iron. ( not that mine gets much use) So thank you Christy - I will get so much pleasure from this painitng.

Finally  and just because it's nearly Christmas - here's my knitted nativity set out on show for the festive season. Did you notice the knitted santa propped drunkenly beside the shepherds. Like he's had too much to drink and fallen out of his sleigh and landed with a thud beside the sacred scene. He was a bargain today for just $2 at the St Vincent de Paul shop. I was ostensibly out on a work based errand and just had to pop in on my way back to work.  Luckily at this time of year my colleagues are willing to be be generous towards my failings. 

So what an exciting day and it's not even Christmas.  Enjoy a light hearted, looking forward to Christmas fun- filled week. Marg

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why are endings always harder ?

Well I just had to show how my garden progresses and I have to say I'm getting more than my share of enjoyment out of my tiny plot. It's over planted and there is no coherent plan or record keeping going on just lot's of planting and some watering. And  I'm proud to say we ate all of the first spinach crop this weekend just gone. Spinach and feta fritters. Very tasty.

This week I've been overwhelmed with trying to finish things and been thinking a bit how often beginnings are spoken of as being difficult but in my experience it's the endings that are messy and hard to navigate. This year I got a small scholarship to find out about the experiences of teachers as they move into late career. While I was on leave for the first 6 months of the year and working for what is known as the "dark side" I got to travel a lot and had plenty of time to think and  read and get onto this study. Since I've been back at my real job  I have found myself so unmotivated and almost at the point of mental paralysis when it comes to writing up my findings. I have not done what I need to and in the process have also not done what I want to do . Now it's crunch time. The report has to be submitted by Friday. Finishing this thing, getting it onto paper and ending it is like a refined form of torture. It's not that the topic hasn't been intriguing and relevant it has - it's just not done. That's the problem.

It reminds me of another form of torture I subjected myself for a lot longer than I ought to have simply because I couldn't bring myself to end it. That was when I used to get a monthly massage from a naturopath who was not only poorly qualified but also terrrible at the art of massage. It was not relaxing, or refreshing. It was awful. The person in question used to talk all the way through the session - there was no soft relaxing mood music , no nice oil burning in the background and no soft lights. No - there were hard hands and  bad monologue. I heard all about the bad mariage, the arsehole of an ex , the troublesome teens and I lay there like a slab of meat being pounded for the barbeque  month afer month. Finally I got stronger in myself to ask the question? Am I enjoying this? Is this fun? Is this in my best interests?   I had my answer and after that I never went back. 

That's another question I've been pondering a lot lately. Asking myself which of all the things I do and agree to do are in my best interests. That is a hard one and one that sometimes people around me resist as I try to do   what is right for me .Recently I have been called selfish and heartless because I declined an invitation to do something with some people. I'm getting better at living with criticism as well. So much so that when the young girl told me recently that the machine had diagnosed my skin age as being that of a 47 year old and how terrible that was and that now I had to buy expensive products to repair the damage I just laughed and told her but of course my skin is 47 years old as am I!! And no thanks to the skin products.  Sunscreen will do the trick.

So make this week one in which you put your own best interests first.  You'll be glad you did. Cheers Marg

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Routines ,Rituals and Regular Events

In our early childhood curriculum there is a learning outcome which states that "children will become familiar with the routines rituals and regular events of their learning environment". 

For a long while I think I thought that routines were tedious and dull but I was very aware while away recently of all the many routines that govern my life. Like, I realise I do not especially enjoy breakfast conversation and I really hate breakfast TV. Mostly because I work all day long in a place where I have to talk frequently to a great many people and so I relish my morning solitude. In the same way I like some time by myself at the very end of the day and so have always stayed up late after the household is at rest, reading and often listening to the radio or current  favourite cd. 

Then there are all the rituals which go with Christmas approaching. This week Jenny wrote about making christmas cakes. In our house we always make elderflower cordial at this time of year. The flowers bloom for just a few weeks and you have to pick the heads not to soon and not late to get the best flavour. Getting them just right involves following your instincts and peering at the bushes intently as you dawdle your way to work and back. Then you wrench the flowerheads off and try not to look as if you are stealing someone's prize roses. It's ok though because elderflower bushes really are considered a weed around here. Not precious at all but the cordial is wonderful. Heres the recipe if you want to give it a go.

Elderflower cordial

25 heads of elderflower
1.5litres boiled water
1.5 kg sugar
2 lemons thinly sliced
50g citric acid

Dissolve sugar and citric acid in water. Cool  then add lemons and elderflower heads. Leave in a covered bucket or bowl for 2 days. Strain and bottle.   Put your feet up - get someone to get you  a glass, add some cordial and top up with soda water.  Is an  amazing fizzy fragrant drink on a hot day. It makes you feel like Christmas, relaxing, sunshine and everything else that goes with summer - even in Dunedin!!

On a final note it is fabulous to have our home internet back. I was surprised how much I missed it when it wasn't around. How quickly we learn to rely on technology!!

Happy Christmas rituals to you.  Marg

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a westcoast wedding and wretched technology.

Can it be done I ask myself?
 What's that you say?
Well is it possible to make a blog entry with no photos?

Im going to try.
The wretched home computer has a fault. We can't use our internet and therefore I can't post any photos because they are all deleted from my camera and stored on our old cranky hunk of junk which doesnt even have a cd writer!!
So I had to come into work tonight to clear some urgent emails and also put in a couple of hours on a report due way to soon and now distracted want to write about the wedding of my good friend Pauline who got married to Dave this last weekend at the Brunner mine just a minute before her 50th birthday. 

If Pauline were a plant I'd call her a rare desert cactus which flowers once or twice in a lifetime. So it was a special occassion to be virtually the only guest at the wedding  who wasn't family.( I was the witness, reader and ring bearer) The wedding group numbered 12 in all including bride, groom and vicar and his wife. Pauline and Dave rode their mopeds to the wedding( old bikes with motors attached) and we trailed behind in a couple of cars. They both wore old jeans and tee shirts and we all got wet under the drizzly rain. Later we went back to their house - feasted on mock turkey ( Pauline is vegetarian) and real west coast smoked chickens ( dave's secret recipe)  and drank plenty of wine. More  wine than 12 people should, I suspect. It was such fun!! And so inspiring and amazing to see the two of them together - they found each other by chance and later with much patience and persistence by Dave he finally won Pualine over. I know they will be  happy together.

I also totally loved the trip over to Greymouth. I got a lift to Chirstchurch - stayed in a squalid backpackers overnight and caught the bus over Arthurs Pass.  I really enjoyed sitting back and taking in the scenery. At one point while I was listening to my ipod I looked up at the mountains and it was as if at that exact moment there was a perfect fusion of sound and scenery. In that split second  I felt I didn't need to die to go to heaven - it was like I was already there. Words cant do the experience justice - you had to be there and even if you were I guess you had to be me to feel that way. Still I'm holding that moment. It's going to be crazy here over the next  2 or 3 weeks. So I'll revisit the memory to preserve my wits in the coming days.

Well enough unaccompanied words already. Have a great technologically perfect week. Marg

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hope, despair and anticpation

When Doug and Kath lived with me earlier this year for 7  months , Doug was very fond of the saying  "after hope comes despair" and would invariably have a story ( usually embellished) to prove the truth of these words. For me hope is about the big things in life which make the present day tolerable and is filled with such high expectation that despair is the inevitable consequence when those hopes never eventuate  so I prefer to live with anticipation. Anticipation allows you to enjoy the surprises and quirks of every day life but allows you to look forward to something in the future.It's a softer more compassionate form of hope.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Tonyandelinor in Brunei. "Hi MArg just letting you know a letter is on it's way."  So anticipation of a lovely long letter starts to kick in. After about two weeks I actively start to wonder if today is the day I'll get my letter. Finally 3 weeks later the letter arrives. Now there's the ritual of reading it. ( so much more staisfying than reading an email) Do I read it now or shall I wait till later when I've got more time? No - now wins- but first make a cup of tea and a piece of toast,  open the letter and try to make out tony and elinors scribbles. It's written in fountain pen  and now I remember when Tom and I visited last year and Tony and I drove Elinor crazy when we spent what seemed like hours drooling over fountain pens in a wierd little shop on the border of sarawak and brunei. Finally we each chose one and several bottles of ancient parker pen ink. It's like being on holiday all over again. And what news? None essentially because there's not much to do ever in Brunei but I feel like I'm sittitng down chatting to them as I read.  Now that's the joy of anticipation.

This week there's plenty to despair about. In July our esteemed government cut all the professional development funding  for early childhood services. On the EVE of world teachers day they announced that it is no longer necessary for all early childhood teachers to be trained and registered and last week a small RFP slipped under the radar on a contracts website calling for proposals for universities and other providers  to provide a training programme for early childhood teachers that would be only 6 weeks long.  I hope my colleagues will rise up and take action and protest loudly  - I anticipate that it will be hard to galvanise my colleagues into action - but I won't despair becuase I know that is always the case. I will just rant and rave in the staff room as I am known to do. I will write a letter and make everyone sign it. That's a start.

  first Hope ..........

..................... now Despair ...................................

                                                                                                            ..         Aha ..Anticpation !!!

My balls of clay hold so much promise . After the first lesson I know I do not  have the patience for this. However week 2 shows some signs of improvment. Don't worry you are all safe . No one will receive this as a gift for christmas. You have my word on it.

Have a fun filled week everyone. Marg

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Day after the Night Before (I survived a 21st)

8.45 Saturday morning there is a car honking outside my window. I'm still in bed - barely conscious - I'm supposed to be dressed and ready to go. My friend Toni is picking me up. Off for a day long course on learning dispositions and key competencies. She is getting impatient. I crawl to her car still in my PJs." Give me 2 minutes".I croak "and I'll be right there". I wish I could iron the exhaustion and sleep lines off my face. No luck!! That's what you get for having a 21st birthday at your house the night before.

They tell me they turned off the music about 2.30 AM and after the big ones went to town(Hey do any of you know that town only gets going at that hour?) Tom stayed up and cleaned up the lounge, cleared the dishes and sorted the bottles for the recycling bin. He's a good lad. It was a great night. Thank you so much Miri and Bill and Catherine for being family there with me for Rosies birthday.

It was a night I had in truth been feeling anxious about. Not the having friends and family round for dinner part. I'm good at that. I love that bit. No it was the after dinner bit. The PARTY bit!! That takes me way out of my comfort zone. Any insecurity I ever had culminates in hosting a party. Who would come? Do I know anyone who would want to come? What say no one comes?

As I heard today it was an opportunity for me to practise 'growthmindset' thinking. That is , do something that carries a risk of failure. I need not have worried. It was a really fun night. Some of my friends ,some of Tom's friends and many of Rosies friends were there. Everyone looked like they had a great time, nothing terrible happened and today Rosie said it had been  exactly as she wanted it to be. Very Good. One down and only one to go. Thank goodness I did not have 8 children. My parents were wise. They did not go in for parties. They saved themselves a lot of needless anxiety.  Now that I have mastered the art of Parties it's only dogs and flying that I need to feel anxious about.

Have a great worry free week.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

How renovating has made me a slightly better person.

Ok so we're not finished but if you use use a little imagination you can see the progress and  get an idea of where we headed with this project. Do you want to know something strange? When  we moved nearly 4 years ago, not long after we had settled in I was looking at the back section and suddenly and fleetingly I had a picture of the garden as it is now becoming. At the time I had no idea that this would ever be a reality and neither did I know that it would be someone else who would actually conceive and execute the plan.
It was that fragment of an image which helped me decide to use some of my share of my fathers estate to do the garden and not the kitchen which as you can see is small and awkward and you might think a hindrance in creating gourmet meals and almost certainly in need of a make over. But it works. I kind of like its awkwardness and many happy dinners are cooked in here. 
Along the way with my indoor painting project and outdoor makeover I think I've learned a few things.
1. It always costs more and takes longer than you think.
2. Living in chaos is not very fun and can be stressful. ( next time - move out for a while - or maybe just decide there won't be a next time)
3. Wood does not have to be sacred. My friend Jackie gave me that insight and freed me from my notion of not painting wood in case it lost it's integrity. ( She laughed at my ideas."Marg , don't you see the wood in this hallway has no integrity. It's not Buckingham palace you're living in"!!) The painted hallway is amazing!!
4. The end result if you get someone else to do the work is as good as it gets and good enough really can be good enough. Perfection is exhausting , unrelenting and never permanent. I'm happy to live less than perfectly.
5. When you start moving stuff around there's always too much stuff.  Less has the potential to definitely be more.

This is the last parcel for the year. Tomorrow Rosie will be home  for the summer , take a break of a week then start her summer work. So this week it was gluten free pizza base, cheese and bread from the otago farmers market ,( The farmers market is great and If you want to get a sense of just how corrupt the food industry is able to be, I would recommend you see FOOD INC. I truly felt sick watching it) some more gluten free coconut biscuits and a chocolate bar each.   It will seem a little odd not sending of a parcel every week for the next 3 months but it may feel equally odd having us all at home for 3 months.  Still as always this little house will expand and contract in the ways it so easily does to accommodate as few or as many of us as are here.   Well as Miriam can vouch for there's a lot of tidying up to be done around here. I will go and tidy up. ( later though - there's a coffee to be had first!!)

have a great week. Marg

Friday, October 30, 2009

On parenting and parcels that fail to arrive.

Here they are Tom and Rosie with Brooke , Tom's girlfriend on the right.  You can't see Tom's hands but I've long held a not so secret dream for these hands.I thought they could make him a fortune by becoming accessory models. You know modelling man- jewellery, bracelets, rings and wrist watches. Rosie and I have frequently thought it unfair that that the boy should have been born with the long slender fingers that tan at the slightest hint of sunshine.  This week those hands have been attaching cups to cows udders( as part of a practicum he's had to do) and apparently enjoying it!!! Now I have to admit to myself that the time is long overdue for me to release my children from the tyranny of my spoken and unspoken expectations and aspirations  for them.  And as the days for saying goodbye to school for the  last time approach he must be free to pursue whatever path his life intends for him. I will watch and see with interest.

A while back in moment of light heartedness we 3, made up a family motto.
"Don't tell lies.,don't steal and try to be a good person."
I guess if I can hang onto any aspirations at all for my kids it is that they would value their own human qualities beyond things, possesions and a career. Even then they will decide. I do think this is the hardest part of the parenting journey. The part that lets them go. So if you have little kids enjoy every moment of the experience!!

This is the errant parcel- who knows where it is malingering - maybe at the bottom of a pile of stuff somewhere or delivered to another address. I'm sorry Rosie it's not there. It's got a mini birthday kit in it for you to enjoy with your friends before you come home. The strange looking white photo is a pass the parcel complete with insructions. I thought you might have some fun with that. Anyway if it turns up enjoy and I will assemble the very last parcel for they year and hopefully it will get to you before you leave.

Progress inside and out is slow this week. You can see where the new fence is going to go and the gravel area is in preparation for the paving tiles which will go on top. everywhere I look there is something that is the beginning of something else. A layer of chaos has descended over every available space in the property. I am trying to maintain an inner calm knowing that it will all come together soon. Meanwhile I might clear out for a long walk on this beautiful day. Grab a coffee on the way and enjoy other peoples order.

Have a  great week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nothing is ever as it seems.

At times i have read posts on other peoples blogs that seem so personal that I have felt like an intruder. Like I'm  spying on a life that has no business with me. But today I understand that need to say personal things. Because  today when I woke up I remembered that's its 5 years and 1 day since we got home from work and school to find that he had gone. Had packed up 22 years into one small suitcase and left . Gone with no forwarding address.  Now I can't remember why I cried every day for a year. We have found a life we didn't even know we didn't have. Gifts sometimes come to us in strange and mysterious ways.
These pictures may help correct a false illusion created by selective photography last week. It might have looked like I have a great garden. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a house and section that measure 200 square metres all up and the section is in the early stages of development. Next week someone is coming to reconstruct this back area. There will be a paved area, a lovely trellis back fence and a gravel path leading to the raised vegetable gardens. This little section will be a tiny urban celebration of small scale gardening at it's best and easiest. In my minds eye it is stunning. I think it will feature in a photo shoot for the house and garden magazine.  I will look at it and be envious of the owner and then I will remember that I am the owner!!

 The parcel this week went bright and early on Sunday morning complete with instructions for a sick student hanging in there till the end of the term. I thought that this supreme effort would be rewarded with a Monday or Tuesday delivery.  Off all the parcels this was the slowest to arrive - it took till thursday . typical I suppose when for once it had the most sensible contents. NZ post promise efficiency. Like I said  nothing is ever as it seems.  You may not think that raspberry drops and fejoia sours are sensible items but to me they are fruit. That makes them sensible. 

Happy Labour weekend. enjoy the day off on Monday. Have a great week 


Friday, October 16, 2009

Somethings are too big to go in a parcel

Some things just don't fit no matter hard you try to wrap them up and post them away. Like my new china cabinet from my current favourite secondhand shop , Wiers. It's a quirky  brother and sister combo who run the shop but luckily for me they have a crazy penchant for salt and pepper sets and disney stuff  and also lots of china cabinets which are going cheap because they are not popular at the moment. Now wouldn't you think if you were a savvy business operator you wouldn't be selling china cabinets by the dozen if they weren't popular. If it were me I'd hide all the china cabinets away in storage and just put one on display and still sell at a very fair price but the virtue of just having one on display would  signifiy high demand. A luxury item indeed! Quick let me buy the lovely last one. But they seem to do a roaring trade( with only a modicum of custom from me) so I'm sure they have the right formula.

Rosie if you are looking - I wanted you to notice my new raised garden beds -partly planted with beans, spinach and broccoli. The cat has ruined  any chance of the carrot seed coming up by digging the row up - even getting under the wirenetting to carry out that peice of gleeful revenge on me.Oh and did you notice the wall behind the china cabinet? That is the new wall just waiting now to be painted after the new gib board has gone up.

These will be gone by the time you get home. This rhodendron just yesterday was a bud - today after a night of rain it is open - in a week it will be gone. So lovely it makes me stop and look each time I go past. Actually Dunedin is beautiful right now. The Rhododendrons are all coming out fast and there is still lots of blossom and spring flowers around. I love my walk to work in the mornings. I find myself arriving late because I'm dawdling on the way looking into all the gardens as I go.

So what actually went away this last week? These ungainly looking things called coconut biscuits ( gluten free- mostly coconut with 1 Tablespoon only of rice flour held together with an egg and some sugar ) . I was sure they would arrive as crumbs but apparently not. And evidently very tasty despite appearances. Also some more brain food - nuts and dried apricots from central otago. And no junk from Wiers. Not one little thing. I got to thinking that maybe just a month out from packing up and coming home for the summer that perhaps adding to the possessions wasnt such a clever idea. Still I have walked past Wiers everyday and gazed in the windows thinking what I would choose if were going to buy.
Im sure my walk to work is almost the highlight of my day most days.

Enjoy the coming week. Marg

Friday, October 9, 2009

Which One Do You Choose?

Seriously this is a difficult decision. Last week I sent off  2 salt and pepper shaker sets. The merry corncobs and the bashful aliens. Salt and pepper shakers are becoming quite the the thing for students who live in Wellington and so this week Rosie and her flat mate got have one set each. How they decided who got which set I don't know. But I do know that when there is just one week to go till the end of classes and assignments that it makes for the longest week ever. Time seems to stand almost still. The minutes inch past at a snails pace and still so much to do, so much work!!!!

My idea that in my week off I was going to learn how to do tricky things like make sure photos go the right way up went by the board pretty quickly. I got sick ( isn't that what you do when you have a break?) and felt really bad so hardly did a thing. I did however find these old story books with records that I thought were just about the cutest I'd ever seen. If you want to know where all this junk is sourced - try going into Wiers on St Andrew Street in Dunedin and you'll find great stuff going very cheaply.

Last things to in the parcel this week are some sensible things. Brain food - almonds and cranberries, comfort food - chocolate and an emergency meal - gluten free spaghetti and tomato paste. Not that appealing but a backstop.

Well that's all this time - have a great week. Marg

Friday, September 25, 2009

Do these make you happy?

Surprise!!!! At least that's what they'll all say as they jump out of the box and onto Rosie's bed. Quick as a flash they will start making mischief. One at least has an idea to hop into her coat pocket and call out cheeky things to her tutor this week when everyone is being quiet in class. Miss Happy's cheeks light up if you give her arms a good tweak and the one with the big smile has a very goofy laugh. I know because I tested them all myself and had a very happy play time before I sent them away. Like I said getting a parcel ready is probably more fun for me than forRosie who gets it.
OOPS - that's a bit hard to see. I haven't yet mastered turning a photo around. What you can see are 2 new facecloths, some dried apricots, herbal tea and 3 pinky bars. One for each of the flatmates.So here we are - all good to go. Well I better hop away too. I'm off to Wellington myself this afternoon. 3 days at a union conference. Hope it's fun. have a great week. Marg

Sunday, September 20, 2009

All Work and No play makes a student's life dull.

And what might these strange things be?
These are meat skewers with pictures of native bird puppets taped on the ends. They took my fancy when they came as an ad in the stationery order at work. I thought Rosie might like to make stylish fruit kebabs with these and impress her friends or if not she could put on a little puppet show to amuse her flat mates. What do you think?

Can you read the label on that jar? It says quince paste and it comes from an amazing place just out of Oamaru near Dunedin called Riverstone kitchens. It's a cafe and shop and also on the property are 4 huge barns stuffed full of kitchen and garden stuff for people to buy. It's the kind of stuff that all looks lovely and then afer you look at it all you ask yourself if you'd really want to own any of it - and mostly you dont.
However - the food they make you really do want to buy and especially all the jams and pickles and of course quince paste which is an all time favourite in this house.

So what else went in the parcel this week. Somethingthat no self respecting mother would put on a blog - some new undies for rosie- and boring things like a packet of rice crackers to go with the paste and a disposable camera just for fun .Oh and a small box of those guerlin shell shaped chocolates.

Soon I am having a short holiday. When that happens I am going to teach myself how to add all the extras to my blog that other people do - like show other interesting blogs they are reading and learning how to follow blogs and add links and stuff like that. Im getting excited already.
Have a great Week. Marg