Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Things I like’ Category

In New Zealand, the month of January* brings with it a degree of liberation. January has a lightness of burden that comes with the departure of the previous year, along with all the negatives that arose with it. There’s a relief that the year is over, and so too is the busy Christmas season that – as much as I enjoy it – comes with obligations and duties as well. The sense of relaxation that the year proper doesn’t really begin until February, delivers the freedom that this is a time of limbo when we can step away from our normal lives, and do whatever we want.

It brings an often unfamiliar warmth with it that is wrapped in promise; the promise of summer fun, of beaches and ice-creams and nature walks, of chilled wine and drinks on the deck, and barbecues with friends and family. The warmth brings freedom too, from extra layers of clothing, from huddling inside, from the need for heat. It’s a time when we wear carefree clothes, and thrust open our windows to the summer air and its scents. Our shoulders drop, our necks lengthen, our backs straighten and we stand tall.

In my city, January brings a beauty only matched by Septembers’ kowhai blossoms, starting with the pohutukawa flowers in the first week or two. Long gone in its native environments to the north, the New Year in Wellington sees red trees everywhere. As you know, they lighten my heart and make me smile and exclaim with joy. As they fade, the agapanthus blue flowers burst forth. Hated by conservationists, as they are native to Africa and are therefore an invasive species here, they have been much-loved by the city’s gardeners. Hence, they are ubiquitous throughout the city, including my own garden, inherited from the previous owners. Their blue flowers, like the pohutukawa’s red blossoms, are a welcome shock of beauty in this evergreen town filled with native plants.

As the year in front of us stretches out as yet unspoiled, January delivers a sense of hope for new opportunities. This January was the first time in several years I have been able to embrace this feeling, and as February arrives, it hasn’t yet dissipated. It is, I have to say, very welcome. And as the year passes and opportunities fail to manifest and inevitably the sense of promise fades, the warm memories will linger.

 

* Inspired by Kim’s beautiful piece on January in the frozen north.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Reading: I’ve finally finished The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, which is my first book of the year and my first book in a long time. I read only half of my 30-book target last year, a dismal performance that I hope to improve on this year. I’ve just started The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq (NOT the one by Alan Greenspan! and hope it won’t take me months to finish! Blogging and family events last year really sapped me of any reading energy or motivation, but this year I am already finding that I more time and enthusiasm for books and blogs. That makes me happy.

Watching: I’ve also just finished watching The Australian Open (tennis) every night, so I’m trying to get back to a more normal daily schedule. Before I got sucked into the tennis, I was binge-watching The Good Place, a fun comedy with equally fun plot twists that was just what I needed. There’s a lot of good quality TV about to start up. There are all the Oscar films to catch too. But with the hot sunny weather at the moment, it seems wrong to hide inside in the dark to watch a movie. Mind you, we might be seeking out the air-conditioning of a cinema soon.

Listening: I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Eddie Izzard reading his memoir Believe Me. It is really lovely. He’s reading the book, but he’s adding a whole lot of spontaneous footnotes, which are funny and often really touching. I am thoroughly enjoying this as I go on my walks around my suburb’s hills.

Following: I was following the tennis. There is summer cricket on, but I’m not really a cricket fan. And I’m fed up with politics, so right now I’m just following writers and people I know and like and admire, and on social media I am following a few photographers who inspire me.

Drinking: Lots of water. Today I’ve made some fruit iced tea (or it will be iced once it cools enough to add the ice) to keep me hydrated (and to replace lunch). We’ve enjoyed some of the scrummy wines we bought when in the South Island just before Christmas too. Brennan Wines is my new favourite – they do some lovely wines, and we had a nice vineyard lunch there too. Unfortunately, they’re a smaller producer so as yet I haven’t seen their wines here. (Note to self: Must go check out some of the wine stores.)

Eating: Seasonally. And of course, at this time of year, there is wonderful produce. My favourite summer vegetable medley is on the menu tonight, with eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, and cherry tomatoes dressed with mustard and balsamic vinegar. Yum.

Anticipating: We have a wedding anniversary next week (one that ends in a five), and so we’ve booked a favourite but expensive (so we haven’t been for a couple of years) restaurant for dinner. Then a week later we have a family wedding to attend, which will be nice because I’ll get to see my two nieces who live in Australia. And we plan to head over the hill at some stage to enjoy the vineyards and olive groves with friends. So February is looking like a happy month.

Contemplating: How I want to spend (and fund) the next five years or so of my life.

Loving: The relative freedom of the warmth of summer, the ability to get out in nature (we went for a walk on a new track yesterday), and the long summer evenings. Summer in Wellington doesn’t last too long, so we’re soaking it up (whilst complaining about the heat at night) while we can.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series.

Read Full Post »

(The 18th in a continuing series)

  • A heart full of love and enthusiasm is vulnerable, but the love is worth it
  • Life isn’t fair*
  • Never complain about being normal. Some people aspire to it.
  • Having bacon every day is not so bad either.
  • We have to be brave (and prepared) when technology lets us down
  • The best Aunts and Uncles spoil you
  • There is fun to be had when devices are absent (voluntarily or involuntarily).

* I knew that one, but it’s worth remembering

Read Full Post »

My last four weeks or so have been very much focused on end-of-life issues and death, and even my x365 blog project has Horror and Suspense as its October theme, so today, I want to focus on some things that make me happy:

  • Pasta and Chardonnay nights have started again for the summer
  • I’ve lost a bit of weight, though I have a long way to go, at least the scale is going in the right direction
  • I’ve been saving for a new lens on my camera, and have got enough for one of two lenses I like the look of, but I can’t decide.
  • My husband seems to have decided on where he wants to go for his big birthday-with-a-zero next year, and so finally I get to look forward to it and have fun planning.
  • I found a new recipe for an orange cake, and have made it twice in recent times, and it is delicious.
  • Every year about this time we have two visiting geese that pass through our valley, and I heard them the other morning again.
  • I’ve had a really slow reading year this year, but currently I’m reading two books which I am enjoying, and it is a pleasure!

Read Full Post »

This last week, New Zealand has been celebrating 125 years of women’s suffrage, as we gained the vote back in 1893. I wrote a poem on my daily blog about it back in August – it was Poetry month – and thought I’d reproduce it below, not because it merits it, but because the subject matter does.

It is significant when we realise that the US will have to wait until 2045 to celebrate 125 years of suffrage, the UK until  2053, Australia will have to wait until 2087* and Saudi Arabia, until 2140.  When I joke that we are ahead of the rest of the world (due to our position next to the International Date Line), I’m not entirely joking.

125 years later, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is this week at the UN. She said at a public session the other day,

“We’ve had three female Prime Ministers. It’s really no big deal, guys.”

Unfortunately, for so many countries, it still is a big deal.

 

A Suffragette’s Abecedarian

“As children, with no
Brothers, living in the
Country, we
Did
Everything a boy would, and more, because – mere
Females still – we were taller, stronger, faster.
Glimmers of hope for the future, were
Helped by remembrance of the past.
In our nearby town, there stood only one statue, which
Justified my hope that with
Knowledge and determination, my
Lot wasn’t predestined.
Margaret Cruickshank, my statuesque inspiration, was
NZ’s first woman GP, and alive in 1893, when
Our country led the world. Time has
Passed, 125 years now.
Quality is what matters, not
Restricted views on
She or he, no
Thoughts that might
Unfairly restrict our
Vote.
We celebrate our suffrage this year, though Pope St.
Xystus 1st would no doubt not approve of our leader, a
Youthful, unmarried, new mum. But fear not, men, this is no
Zugzwang. There’s no battle, and no loss.”

 

* Australian indigenous people, men or women, did not receive the vote until 1962.

 

Read Full Post »

After an invitation had been impulsively given and accepted on Friday, Saturday saw us venture over the hill for the first time in months. We spent the morning at home, while I baked a cake for dinner; though if I’m honest it wasn’t the baking that took several hours, it was having to make multiple trips to the supermarket twice to get ingredients I kept forgetting!

We usually drive over “the hill” (the Remutaka Range) in the morning or early afternoon, and it was a treat to drive over in the late afternoon, enjoying the different light on the distant Wairarapa plains as we wound our way down from the summit. We tracked cloud formations being caught by the setting sun in a halo effect but, of course, just as we drove through the little town (which uncannily reminded me of my hometown on a wintry Saturday night in the 1970s) and out the other side, and turned into their driveway lined with promising daffodils, that gorgeous light disappeared.

Daffodils

An early sign of spring

The man of the house was busy cooking up a curry storm in the kitchen, so pre-dinner champagne and olive oil from the trees outside (accompanied by a stunning sunset) flowed into a delicious dinner (curries, and very successful orange almond cake), lively conversation, and even the rugby result was easier to take when we commiserated together.

P1090193

The next morning, after a late but yummy breakfast at the little wine town’s stylish hotel, we said goodbye and, with an hour or two to fill before a busy afternoon scheduled back in Wellington, drove down to the coast, through vibrant green farmland under sunny skies, reminiscent of the land where I grew up, though newborn lambs were the only thing missing from the winter scene, still a few weeks too early for them to arrive. We drove to the end of the road, and – along with others basking in the sunny morning – mucked around on the beach, enjoying just being out in nature, and I, of course, played around with my camera and tripod.

It was tempting to stay, but duty called, so we packed up, drove back along the country roads through the flat green fields, slowing to pass dairy cows and calves wandering along the road (such a New Zealand scene) and their Filipino farm workers, before we headed back over the hill that seems to separate everyday life from freedom, friendship, and leisure.

Read Full Post »

  • Our house is really beautiful on a sunny day, flooded with light and shadows and gorgeous views from most windows, and especially in winter when we can embrace the warmth the sun provides.
  • Book month on my x365 blog, because I don’t just get to remember books that I love, but I get to read about books that my fellow bloggers love too, and I’m adding a lot of them to my already ridiculously long To-Read list.
  • Finding some of my favourite books as a child online when I had forgotten their titles, has reminded me of the joy and magic of these books that has stayed with me for almost 50 years.
  • My daily blog project has meant that almost every day this year I get to read Helen again, whose posts and comments always make me smile, and who I missed in the years when she wasn’t writing.
  • Planning dinner this evening, with an old favourite Thai dish that I haven’t eaten in years, thanks to discovering it in my very first Thai food cookbook.
  • Watching amazing tennis at Wimbledon, and having the flexibility to be able to stay up all night and sleep most of the day to do so.
  • Continuing to learn and improve my photography, although to be fair last night I had to get my husband to remind me of one of the controls on my … cough … easy-to-use tripod!
  • Writing my blog posts with rain on the skylight above me.

 

bty

View from my desk

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »