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I am angry

Usually, New Zealanders get irritated when we are ignored. It is common when overseas to have to explain to people where our country is in the world. And for goodness sake, New Zealand is often even dropped off world maps. But this week, we’d far prefer to revert to our more familiar incognito status.

The common theme in the media here is shock. It’s the first word almost anyone uses. I’m not so surprised, though, that this happened somewhere in the world, given events in recent years. Given international travel, social media, media agencies that irresponsibly support extremist attitudes, changing rhetoric, and right-wing moves, there is nowhere now that is truly immune from that. Not even here. But with a progressive government, and a diverse and accepting society, until now we have always felt safe in New Zealand. (Well, except for natural disasters.)

For me though, I almost instantly reacted with anger. Anger that Christchurch, such a beautiful city, a city where I lived for five years during my university years, where I met my husband, and where I visited just a few weeks ago, should go through another major trauma when it is still recovering for the devastating earthquakes only eight years ago.

I was and am angry that a person or small group of people could be so cold and calculated. Anger that they could betray our country, betray our promise to those who were targeted that they would be safe and accepted here.

I was angry at the NRA (which extends its influence beyond just the US) and other weapons peddlers. There is a gun shop – the first I can ever remember seeing in our city – that opened about ten minutes away a few years ago. Almost every time I have driven past it I have resented its existence. It has never seemed to fit this city, this country. But on Friday afternoon and over the weekend, I felt overwhelming anger at it, its owners and staff.

And then, as we learned the shooter was Australian, there was even more anger at him. Anger that he would bring his toxic hate to our country, harm our citizens, ruin our reputation. And anger at their government’s policies over decades (centuries really), at their recent treatment of Muslim refugees, and the outrageous rhetoric of other politicians there that have legitimised this hate. And I’ve been angry at some of the people I know there who have supported some of these policies, and some of these attitudes.

And then we learned of his “manifesto” of hate, and of his admiration of Trump’s approval of white supremacist movements, and my anger surged anew. Anger at the language the US President used only hours later that echoed those of the shooter. Anger at those who apologise for Trump, but still support him and the racism he incites. Anger at those who may not apologise for him, but still support him openly whilst decrying any responsibility for the acceptance of this hate. Anger at those hypocrites who expressed their sadness in the media or online, and those who had the gall to accept condolences, whilst refusing to denounce his comments, his white supremacist supporters and his policies. Their silence, their hypocrisy, makes them complicit. And so I am angry at them too.

Social media is flooded with images, new profile overlays declaring love, strength, and echoing our Prime Minister’s words that “They are Us.” People share drawings of kiwis crying. I haven’t used any of these. It’s not really my style. And whilst I have appreciated my overseas friends who have done so to show solidarity, or who have sent messages, these actions don’t feel significant enough for me to encompass the depth of my feelings. They don’t express my disgust, my grief, my anger. And so I have abstained.

I don’t usually write posts such as this either. But I feel now, more strongly than I ever have, that silence is inappropriate, it is acceptance, it is collusion, it is complicit. So if you’re reading this, and you recognise yourself in my earlier paragraphs, know that I see through you too.

And if you have been one of those who sends love and support and is equally horrified and angry, know that we are strong, we are decent, and we are full of love. That’s what we have seen throughout New Zealand, and – mostly – around the world, since Friday’s events. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the way we have responded. I am proud that this has not been politicised here. I’m proud of our Prime Minister, who has been articulate and compassionate and decisive. And as my anger abates, exhausted, I am deeply saddened that it has been necessary.

 

 

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Our Cabbage Tree

When we bought our house, there was one scrawny cabbage tree in our lower garden.  It barely reached our living area deck, but in recent years, once it reached a decent height, it has shot up. It has also split from its long trunk and finally has a few different branches. I loved it when I could see it through my kitchen window. And in more recent years, it’s now level with our bedroom window upstairs. Soon it will outgrow that too.

Cabbage trees or Ti Kouka are a NZ native tree. We see them everywhere, and they always make me smile. So having one in my own garden is special. Even if it is, in fact, very common.

P1100960 cabbage tree house

 

Linking with #ThursdayTreeLove here.

Celebrating Women

A lot of people wrote about International Women’s Day (IWD) last week. I may be a bit late, but I was interested to see what discussion there was about it here. I’ve since seen a lot of articles, and I’m still making my way through them. One piece particularly made me think, and it is probably why I am writing this here and now. This article talked about celebrating Women’s Day rather than Mother’s Day. As a non-mother, I appreciate this sentiment and wish I had thought of doing this too. After all, the most wonderful, caring, generous and talented women I know are not mothers either, and they deserve to be celebrated. And the wonderful, caring, generous and talented women I know who are mothers are also so much more than mothers, and they deserve to be celebrated too.

My husband and I are among the few people who still get the local newspaper delivered. (I do that because I like to read news that has been curated independently of my own interests and biases.) On Friday, the front page heralded International Women’s Day with a big headline that said, “Our day, our voices” and quoted our former Prime Minister, Helen Clark, saying, “None of us should rest until the serious inequities and injustice many women face around the world are overcome.” There were photos of many prominent women on the front page, including two of our three female Prime Ministers, and inside a two page spread with statements from 18 women about the day and what it means to them. It included the two PMs, the Minister for Women, Georgina Beyer (the world’s first transgender mayor and former Member of Parliament), local body politicians, the National Council for women, representatives of charities, sex workers, sexual assault victims, authors, sportspeople, ethnic groups and businesswomen.

They all had some great comments, and a few where I guess I rolled my eyes a little. For example, a couple of women, one who ran New Zealand’s largest company at one time, talked about growing up being told they could do anything.  However, one did qualify her statement by noting she was lucky, though it wasn’t clear how. And the former CEO qualified her statement by adding ” … when we had equal opportunities.” And now she works on empowering women. I hope she’s successful in that too, because I don’t like rolling my eyes when women are helping women.

A day after IWD, there were photos of a ceremony where our current Chief Justice (a woman) was standing down, and her replacement, another woman, was sworn in. We have a female Governor-General, a female Prime Minister, and a female Chief Justice, as we did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It seems unremarkable to me now (or perhaps, still just a little remarkable or I wouldn’t mention it here). Perhaps I’m just happy at what “normal” in New Zealand has become.

Back to the original article. I guess I related to a sentence in Helen Clark’s statement the most, though equally a number of the women shared the same sentiment. She said,

“… I celebrate progress to date on gender equality, but also reflect on how much more remains to be done.”

 

Apparently, more wealth means less empathy. I wonder if I should be surprised that this is news? Surely it is quite obvious?

A friend I haven’t seen since 1981 (!) has suggested we Skype. I’m thrilled but have a small degree of hesitation. How come everyone else manages to Skype with good lighting and look great?

Why is it that no matter how many pairs of shoes I have, there were none that went with my dress (for a recent wedding)? (Fortunately, I found the perfect pair that was not too fancy so I can wear them more casually too.)

Does everyone else manage to go paperless easily? I never quite trust my devices, especially when it comes to travel bookings, and whilst I might use my Air NZ app to check in and board a flight, I always have a printed copy as well.

Is anyone else surprised that it is March already? Argh. I don’t think I’m quite ready for summer to be over.

Photography Frustrations

Other people’s blogging and photography projects have inspired me again this year, but I’ve already completely missed capturing photos of local art around the city for February. (And apologise to Travelcraft Journal for missing it.) I’ve been frustrated by just being busy, by commitments to others, and by the weather. Oh yes, and on the few times I’ve had time and opportunity to do it, by my memory!

But today I want to try something new again. Happiness and Food has a regular item about trees. I love trees – they provide shelter, and drama through our windows, and they are home to my beloved tui and other birds. So this month, I’m going to start with the oak tree on the corner of our deck. It’s where the kaka play and copulate (occasionally, they haven’t visited the tree for a while), and where the tui love to sit and flit around, always flying off just when I grab my camera. It’s where we sit for shade on summer evenings when it is perfect to sit outside for a drink. In winter it is sculptural, and in summer it just adds to the green I see looking out the window. In autumn, I mourn as the last leaves disappear, and in spring I watch the buds eagerly for the first new, green leaf. And in the last year or two, as I’ve been learning how to use my camera properly, it has been the perfect subject on which to practise.

I didn’t like the tree when we first moved to this house, but now I couldn’t imagine the house without it.

These are photos I’ve taken previously:

 

 

 

Daily writings

I recently finished the “line a day for three years” journal my niece gave me. Each day, it gave me a prompt for a quick response. I didn’t fill it in religiously every day but would almost always go back to complete the previous days’ questions. When I was not travelling, I rarely left it longer than a few days. It was nice to have – I felt as if someone, somewhere, cared what my answers were!

The three years I had this were not my best. They were far from my worst three years, but nonetheless, during the last three years I broke my ankle and was pretty much house-ridden for six weeks, my mother died, my mother-in-law died, I felt weighed down by the responsibilities of caring for our in-laws, I was on an unsuccessful job hunt, and had only one big trip to enjoy anticipating. So yes, as I flick through the book now, I can see that for much of the time I was feeling gloomy. Even when I wasn’t, a lot of my responses were about my in-laws. Or Trump. I’m sure you get it!

But there were happy notes in it too. Questions about funny things that had happened recently reminded me and made me laugh, including things my husband had said. Also, prompts about the last compliment I was given came up about every four months, so I had to find compliments a number of times. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes I couldn’t think of anything. But a lot were blog related, so thank you to anyone who has ever said something nice here or on my other blogs. It means a lot! Two compliments mentioned that I didn’t look my age, which I find hard to believe. And my great-nephew said that I was funny. Three years later, I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or not!

One of my favourite prompts was to note what the last nice thing you did just for yourself. My responses were always simple. A coffee and some time with a book. Taking some photographs. Successful diet days. Mini-moments, just for me. They’re good to note, to be grateful for. Otherwise, with everything else going on they can be easy to miss, easy to forget.

I enjoyed having these external prompts* and those few moments to write in the book before I would start whatever task I had come to my desk to complete. But now it’s finished, what can I replace it with?

 

* I know that sounds hypocritical, given my regular “blog posts I won’t be writing” about prompts that miss their mark. 

A buzz in the air

There’s a buzz in the air. They’ve been around for a while. A few weeks ago we went for a walk through the bush back and forth across a stream, and there was a spot that was so noisy it was hard to continue our conversation. Since then, they moved in next door. Every time I go for a walk around our suburb, I hear them, and just lately, I’ve been seeing them. I’ve even had to dodge a few. The last couple of days, they’ve been going constantly, and I can hear them now, as I type this.

The gloomy day today, when we’ve hardly seen the sun, hasn’t stopped them either. The mist is hanging low around the hills, and we had a few welcome drops of rain too. But the warmth is still there, and this is the season. It’s now or never.

The garden is alive.

P1100938 cicadas

I didn’t realise they were so pretty!

P1100904 pink tree bee cr

Busy bees in the garden too

P1100950 koru cr

And a fern, just because it’s beautiful