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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

As you know, about 15 years ago, I started my first blog. As I’ve noted before, it was part of a project undertaken by a number of other people, and it was there I met my first blogger friends, a small, tight-knit group. I met Deloney through this project, although a search of that blog shows his first comment to me was on my last post of that blog, back in December 2007. He said, “… I do want you to keep writing. Anything at all.” I was always going to write. But his encouragement helped.

Blogging and commenting on each other’s blogs meant that we talked about our lives and our history, and I believe our characters showed through in what we chose to write, and the way we wrote it. The comments sections were where we often came together as a small community, supporting, encouraging, laughing, and occasionally crying. We all went on to write in different blogs and projects, though one or two of us have fallen by the wayside in more recent years, and continued our support of each other that way.

Deloney, sadly, had a habit of deleting blogs he was finished with, denying us the option of going back and re-reading his work. He wrote beautifully, small prose poems that eventually became a book, The Songbook of Haunted Boys and Girls. He had a naughty streak, dropped in the occasional sexy reference, and flirted outrageously in the comments with the women in our small chapter of writers. Though to be fair, we did our share of (safe, virtual) flirting back!

I’ve just found a comment he made, “Mali in a bikini on Christmas Day?” that made me laugh. We didn’t share photos at the time, so he didn’t know my bikini days were long gone!

In my Friends-Not-Yet-Met series, I wrote a Deloney edition. It’s worth popping over to see the comments too:

“This is an ode to Deloney, he who is the master of the microblog before it was known as the microblog, the true expert in saying so much in so few words who always manages to convey the chill Canadian air or the smell of the bakery downstairs or the taste of something simple prepared with love, haunting us in a brief paragraph at most two; Deloney, who manages to flirt with a literary wink or nudge but is often more blatant than that, shocking but delighting his harem of blog readers giving us all a naughty shiver down our spine … or maybe even somewhere else. Gasp.”

Fortunately, that small group from those early days kept in touch, in various ways – social media, or other blogging projects, or private chatting options. Each time we would find one of the others in social media or elsewhere, we would “come out” as our true selves, as so many of us used pseudonyms in our blogging identities. This was a big adjustment. We had got so used to Deloney, talking about his fire escape, the bakery downstairs, and the summer days of his youth, exploring and delighting in girls, his cats and his Mlle Vague that it was a shock to know that he was not actually debonair Deloney, but was, in fact, Wayne. Although earlier, he had noted that “Over the years I’ve morphed into my invention Deloney.”

My online friendships have occasionally delivered surprises/shocks. They emphasise both the best of online friendships – when we celebrate with our friends and offer support and love when times are harder – and the saddest – that physical distance when we want to help someone going through a hard time, or hug someone with joy. I’ve seen new relationships, immigration for love, adoption (of children, and pets) and births, the growth and development of my friends and their children, house repairs, relationship breakups, the whole gamut of life experiences.

But nothing was more shocking than waking up almost four years ago and reading that Wayne’s beloved Beth had been suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumour and had only weeks (27 days, it turns out) to live. We grieved for him. With him. But that is when he started slipping away. From his online friendships, from his real life friendships too, it seemed, and from joy in life itself. Grief overtook him, and although he tried to recover and find a future, it was very difficult for him. I learned this weekend, from another of my blogger friends, that Wayne has gone. News that I had feared, but nonetheless news that was still an awful shock.

I wrote this when he published his book:

” … These little slices of life are sweet, never bitter, always moving, often funny, and sometimes risqué. They stay with you – haunting in the very best sense – and always leave you wanting to know more.”

Deloney, you were loved and adored, and you will always be a part of our group. You’ll haunt us in the very best sense.

I hope he is at peace now, with Mlle Vague at his side.

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It was a good week last week. It kicked off on the Saturday evening, when we visited friends, we sat outside on their deck in their gorgeous garden surrounded by tree ferns, overlooking their stream, and drank prosecco, before the cooler temperatures drove us inside to dine on a delicious meal they had cooked on the barbecue.

I finally sent off photos of all my mother-in-law’s jewellery. It was costume jewellery, but I wanted her daughters-in-law and granddaughters to have a chance to inherit some things, so photographed over 100 items, numbered them all, and sent them off for requests. The requests came back. A few double-up requests from granddaughters, as to be expected, but nothing that will cause any problems. (As The Husband says, “I am the final arbiter!”) The best thing was that there were requests for more than I had expected, which was lovely and meant that my efforts were worth it.

We had several days working out at my father-in-law’s house. Most of the sorting-through-stuff task has been completed, so I began the cleaning. Both in-laws kept the house immaculate. At almost 60 years old, the house could and probably should be looking much the worst for wear, but is really just showing a few signs of ageing, as in the last few years they were unable to maintain, and then finally even unable to clean in the same way. Over those years I kept the wolf from the door in terms of cleaning, but this time really got stuck in. It took days to finish every surface in the kitchen, but I think it is finally done. Then the bathroom was a chore too. The rest of the house requires attention to the wooden window frames and windows, but not much more. It’s such a relief. Then we signed on the dotted line (or rather, The Husband did) with a real estate agent, and now there is a real timeline for all this to end.

All this cleaning even inspired me at home, as I had to find room for the foil/baking paper etc I was bringing home from the in-laws. Drawers that got messy over time are now beautifully organised, still have plenty of space despite the new arrivals, and reminded me of possessions I’d forgotten I had!

On Monday, the weather was warm and settled. Surprisingly for New Zealand (as an island in the Pacific Island, our weather does not have that continental stability you may be used to), and particularly surprisingly for Wellington, the next three days were forecast to be warm and settled and calm. So you’ll imagine our amazement that we actually were able to plan ahead and offer to cook friends dinner on the barbecue on Wednesday! This meant we were able to brush off the deck (a lot of pine debris from the tree-disaster incident), dress up our outdoor furniture with padding and cushions, and table mats, and actually cook and eat on the deck! It was a gorgeous evening, we hadn’t seen our friends since last year, and they spoiled us with some nice bubbles and we spoiled them with lamb sandwiches and salads, and my homemade passionfruit ice-cream with fruit salad.

Thursday night we went out. It was our wedding anniversary, not a notable one, but once you get above 25 or 30 years, every one feels like it should be notable. We tried a restaurant we haven’t been to for ages, and thoroughly enjoyed it, looking over the wharves and the water, happy and maybe even a little surprised we still have plenty of things to talk about when we go out.

On Friday I received a Holiday card from the US. I’ve received several this year, all in the last week or two, and they all made my day. I intend responding to each person individually, as I was bad and didn’t send any out this year. I feel if I respond now rather than in that December rush, I can take my time, write a real letter, and show my appreciation.

And by Sunday, we were once again out at the in-laws’ house. As I clean I listen to audiobooks, so the time feels productive. Then friends made the trip back over the hill to go through my FIL’s tools. M took away more than we expected, which delighted me, as I had worried he’d come all this way and not find anything inspiring. FIL too would have been happy, to know that the tools were going to a good home, and especially that they would be used to inspire another generation. Even a huge rope from the Wellington wharves (yes, the same wharves where we ate dinner, and where FIL spent his 40 year career) will make its way to the olive groves and a children’s tree house. Perfect!

A week of hard work. A week of organisation. A week of catching up with friends. A week of good food and good wine, and passionfruit ice-cream in the freezer. A week when summer showed its face and decided to stay for a while. February. It’s pretty good in New Zealand. Come and visit some time.

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#16 of Blogging with Friends

My latest Blogging with Friends topic is to talk about a time when a personal prejudice was proven completely wrong. I’m not often wrong (ask my husband), but I’m happy to admit when I am!

I have a friend who, when I first met her, was both both pretty and confident. I was immediately distrustful, prejudiced against her because of her beauty and her confidence; neither of these were qualities I possessed. We got thrown together at work, and I realised how wrong I had been.

She’s someone who isn’t as confident as I assume (though she still has plenty of confidence). But she has a quality that makes you always feel as if she is pleased to see you, and that she enjoys being in your company. I wrote this in my 365 blogging project in 2007:

“Tall, gorgeous and glamorous, effortlessly charming. I almost wanted to dislike you at first, but found it impossible! A friend who always makes me feel better about myself, and always sounds pleased to see me. …”

That quality makes her far more beautiful than good looks. I learned not to judge someone on their personal appearance. And I’m pleased to say that we have been friends for over 20 years.

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