Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

We noticed it first on our drive to the northeast of our country – I was shocked to suddenly see poplars turning yellow, even though everything else still felt summery.

By the time we got home, we’d seen lots of poplars and willow trees starting to turn, which is not something we see here, surrounded by largely native, evergreen trees. Then we noticed how much darker it is in the evenings, the sun suddenly setting around 7.30 pm, about half an hour earlier (it seemed) than when we had left, and it seems shocking that daylight saving will end in a couple of weeks.

The agapanthus have finished flowering, as have the hydrangeas and other flowers, though a few hardy blooms of other varieties still bring colour to our lives.

But it was still hot on my walk this morning, and at a spot a few hundred metres down the street, I was greeted again by a large monarch butterfly, a sign of summer still lingering. They’ve been prolific this summer – a friend even nurtured one to adulthood in her garden – and I’ve taken enormous pleasure at seeing them swoop and fly around our hills, and especially at the ones near our mailbox.

As much as I complained about the hot nights, I do feel sad that summer is drawing to an end. But then, I felt that way at the end of winter too.


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I’ve been away the last week, taking advantage of some (sadly only) temporary help (but welcome nonetheless) in the elder care situation. We visited the northeast of the country, to a part I’ve only ever visited for business, flying in to a factory with foreign visitors and then out again.

This time we took the slow route, taking time to stop on the way, to enjoy the landscape that is similar yet subtly different. The road north along the Pacific coast is winding, up and down hills and rarely opening up to large vistas, around farms and commercial pine forests, the large logging trucks ensuring we maintained vigilance on the roads, the dairy farms replaced by sheep – the farming of old New Zealand – then the sheep replaced by vines – the farming of new New Zealand – and then north into the hills, finding beef cattle everywhere, grazing on lush green grass, living the good life. Then we came across goats, more goats than I had seen anywhere in New Zealand, the source no doubt of the goat curries we saw on some menus in the area, and of the cashmere in the beautiful Tolaga Bay woollens I had bought in the years when income came easier.

We drove north to the bays of the Whale Rider, and the now disused wharves of formerly bustling communities, and through areas that have been home to hundreds of generations of Maori, past small marae and meeting houses, and in the local museum, we heard a class being shown around entirely in Te Reo, the beautiful language of their ancestors that has seen a rebirth in recent decades.

We stayed on a long, golden beach, where surfers rode the waves after work, and locals and visitors of all ages walked, some with dogs or small children or both running around them, some alone, some holding hands with those they love. The magic of knowing we were in the first city in the world to see the sun was made better by the beauty of the location (and the sunrise), the calming white noise of the waves, and the pleasure of briefly being free.

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When Kiwis travel to Europe, we are often entranced by the picturesque countryside, and the charming ruins. We ignore our own scenes – they’re too ordinary, with no charm, exoticism, history, we think.

But we are wrong. In the last few years, I’ve become entranced with our own rural ruins. Many are old wooden houses that are falling into decay, paint wearing off, wood rotting, battered by the elements, the winds and rain, sun and frost. Many others are corrugated iron farm buildings – barns or shearing sheds, often patched with different colours, gaping holes – and it isn’t always obvious whether they are no longer in use.

I love the idea of taking a series of photographs of these buildings, but I’m not confident enough, so we drive past, trying to figure out which angle would give the best shot, whether a house is abandoned or still occupied, and looking for a good place to stop and set up my camera … some time in the future. I did it again today, thinking, “one day.”

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A favourite blogger (I can’t find the link, I’m sorry) recently wished she could buy enthusiasm. Wouldn’t that be great? I’d buy enthusiasm for cleaning, decluttering, spending time with elderly in-laws, living in Wellington instead of travelling the world, working for unimaginative, ego-driven men. And so much more.

But I fear my funds would quickly run dry, so I’d have to trade on the EMS (Emotional Skills Market), which sadly doesn’t really exist; though now I mention it, if I could set up the EMS, I might make my fortune and compete with the Nasdaq or NZX.

But what could I trade? Relaxation, saying “no,” putting other people first, seeing the best in people, brushing off disappointment, prioritising the occasional afternoon nap, finding happiness in the small things of life and looking on the bright side (or as my mother would put it, being a firm believer in Pollyanna, being glad), and, as perhaps my friends and family reading this might suggest, self-deception.

What could you trade?

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I vs We

I say “we” a lot. When I talk about my childhood, I often find myself saying “we” meaning my family, or (often) my younger sister and I. These days, I talk about “we” including my husband in the experience, and generally always make it inclusive. I was taught not to focus on myself, or to take too much credit for what I did – such a typical female upbringing. My husband, on the other hand, might, for example, see a photograph and exclaim, “I’ve been there.”

“Goodness,” (or some other suitable word I won’t write here) I will reply, “I wonder who you were there with?”

He doesn’t get it.

Do you experience this too? 

Edit: With men OR women?

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Has anyone noticed? I feel that suddenly, last week (or perhaps on the weekend), my WordPress sites suddenly have extra advertising. I always knew there were one or two ads after my posts, and that was fine because they have to pay for the service somehow, but now they seem to have encroached into the top of the sidebars as well, and the ads are impossible to miss. I do not like it, and yet I do not want to succumb to their obvious pressure to opt into their paid service (though that’s their prerogative, of course), thereby rewarding their strategy, and encouraging them to engage in this activity again in the future.

I’m so sick of having a hot bedroom at night, going to bed with a cold compress, and waking later feeling as if I’m having a constant hot flush, which I’m not, because that’s why I’m on HRT.

The neighbours are subdividing their section, and building their retirement home in the trees that are currently our northern boundary. It will substantially change the character of our house, the privacy in the garden/on the decks, and in our bedroom and reduce the value of our house, and I told them so because we’ve been far too nice and accommodating so far, even though they themselves are trying to take our wishes into consideration in the design of the house – except for the fact that they’re building the damn house in the first place.

More curses, because there was something else I wanted to write about, but I’ve forgotten, so I hate that too.

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  • My x365 blogging project is keeping me busy, but working with a theme and a word limit provides both discipline and welcome guidance, making blogging daily much easier. I do it in advance, scheduling posts ahead, so I have not been too stressed by it so far. I adore the writing of my fellow x365 bloggers (listed on my Take Two 365), and the sometimes hilarious interactions between them all, most of whom I have known (though never met) for ten years now.
  • The 2018 in 2018 decluttering project has already made a difference to a set of drawers, and the top of those drawers, that I can see from my desk. Although I am already way behind, my mindset to clutter has changed, and that is key.
  • My camera course is well-paced, with a weekly lesson and homework, and already I can more confidently use Manual on my camera, so I am enthused about the new tasks coming.
  • Finally, I am finding that these three new projects have given me a bit more enthusiasm for other projects in my life. Rather than being overwhelmed, I find that I am instead inspired, and perhaps that is the best result of all.

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