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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

No matter what age we are, this statement is always true, and – as recently I’ve been strongly reminded of this fact – it is a good reminder that the things we say we hope/should/must do one day, especially those that involve others in our lives … well … we need to do them and do them now (or soon).

This isn’t a bucket list (which I can do alone, or with my husband, and includes broader activities), but is a quick list that typically comprises mainly travel adventures with people I love, that we’ve talked about for a while but have not yet managed – perhaps because we have not yet had that ever-elusive lottery win – to organise:

  • A wine trail in the Barossa valley in Australia (though organising one just over the hill has proved to be hard enough) with family – I talk about it with both my sister and my sister-in-law, and we’ll either do it with the first family who comes up with a designated driver (I’ve been waiting a long time for a niece or nephew to get their licence), or if we have to wait too long, we might have to do it alone, because the wine is too good to ignore forever.
  • Meeting overseas friends overseas – meeting unmet friends in the US or Canada or that long-dreamed about x365ers reunion in Italy, or an AFS reunion of fellow exchange students last seen (except for just a few) in Bangkok in early 1981, more likely to be in the US, but ideally in Thailand, though it would be a good idea if I started with the kiwis who live much closer.
  • Gatherings somewhere exotic (a northern beach in NZ or maybe a safari in Africa or a chateau in France) or just a big fun family Christmas somewhere beautiful (and there is no shortage of beauty in NZ).
  • A girls’ trip to Sydney or New York or Bangkok, or anywhere with some great art galleries and massages/facials
  • Write a damn book – which I’ve almost done, but the idea is actually to make it a book, rather than leave it as files in my computer, and as this is also important to other people, who have helped me along the way, I need to get it done.

What’s on your list?

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Often in New Zealand we are so hopeful for spring to arrive that we decide 1 September is the first day of spring, but it hasn’t really officially sprung yet, and truth be told, there is always at least one more winter storm to arrive before spring really sets in in October, but there are signs, and it might be premature of me, but I think right now they’re worth celebrating.

On our morning walk this morning, the tui were all going crazy, flying in and out of the vibrant yellow kowhai trees in flower, often the first sign of spring when everything else is grey and bare.

We had a rough weekend, but I went out on the deck today to try to get a shot of one of the aforesaid tui, as two of them were chattering and clacking in our tree, and although they flew off, it was warm enough to wander around in my socks and snap away some of the lovely camellia flowers in our garden, also a harbinger of spring.

As we’re getting back to normal after having a winter filled with our own travel and with travellers arriving here, I feel the urge to spring clean and start afresh.

The first asparagus spears have peaked through the soil in my friend’s garden, and I can’t wait for more to arrive, and to find them regularly in the supermarket, as I eat seasonally, and I’m getting a little tired of the winter vegetables which have all been so expensive this year.

And as I write this, I look out at the wonderful spring light that is shining through our new fence on the driveway, and through the macrocarpa trees, and feel hopeful.

I know that spring can also bring other things, including fierce winds and dust and pollen and allergies, and the temperatures will stay low for a long time yet. But today there is a hope that it is coming, and that lifts my spirits.

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Even though it is Tuesday here in New Zealand, I’m determined to get my Monday post up, and I’m grateful for the fact that the US is so far behind me, I effectively have a whole day spare to get it done.

Yesterday, I had two of the most friendly and helpful supermarket tellers I have ever encountered, and they made the whole process more enjoyable.

At the gourmet food store’s bakery section (where they bring in cakes and tarts and pies from bakeries all around the city), they helpfully had an allergy list, to help me choose a dessert for our guests, one of whom had an allergy.

As I couldn’t make the dessert myself, (as I would usually), I had the afternoon free to do other things, and finally got some house maintenance things done as a result.

The reason I couldn’t make the dessert myself was because my oven was full of my variation on a famous Stephanie Alexander 7-hour roast lamb recipe (my variation is 4-hour roast lamb), which is something I never make, as there is little call for roast lamb for two of us, so I’m grateful both for the recipe, and the fact it turned out great.

After over 20 years of looking for a display cabinet and never finding one that was just what we wanted, that would work with our décor, and that didn’t look like something our grandmothers might have had, I finally found a Doctor’s Cabinet last week that would work perfectly, and once the Husband had agreed, it was delivered yesterday.

I’m grateful that our relatives have been able to spend a month back in the city, that we’ve enjoyed lunches and dinners and cocktails with them, and lots and lots of catching up.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Wellington on a Plate this year – an annual winter celebration where most city restaurants provide special festival dishes and set menus and many join in on the popular Burger competition – as we managed to partake of several menus (with friends and family), and although we didn’t indulge as much as I might have wanted, there’s always next year.

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One of the joys of hosting visitors from overseas is showing them about my city. Yesterday, instead of staying at home and writing my Microblog Monday posts, I was walking through our town with my sister-in-law from Perth, Australia. She lived here briefly in 1989 and has visited periodically, and now as her children are growing up, it is easier for her to leave them for a few hours, and we recall the pre-children days when we used to explore the Wellington designer shops on each visit. Yesterday, we poked through a few NZ designer clothing stores (she tried on and rejected, I drooled and resisted), poked through some favourite gift shops (she purchased, I didn’t, though I did find a display cabinet that I want to buy if it is for sale, but that’s another story), and had a long chat over udon noodle soup for lunch.

But first, we visited the Gallipoli (a battle in World War I that is iconic for Australians and NZers) exhibition at Te Papa, the National Museum, which her children had visited a few days earlier when the adults had retired to a nearby restaurant (a good excuse for me to try a place I’ve been wanting to visit for ages) for a more sophisticated lunch. Amidst the exhibits of clothing and provisions and the simulated trenches and periscopes and the animated battle scenes, Weta Workshop (the brains behind the special effects and models of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/King Kong movies, as well as a myriad others, have created huge life-like models of particular personalities at Gallipoli, some soldiers, a doctor and a nurse. We see their eyes, their sweat, their injuries, feel their fear and pain and exhaustion and caring, and hear their stories, thanks to letters shared by their families. It’s a reminder of how lucky we are in little old Wellington, to have such world-class artists here to bring these people and their stories to life so poignantly.

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  • You come up with the perfect blog topic, think to yourself, “that’s so perfect and so obvious, I don’t even need to make a note of it,” and by the next day you’ve forgotten what it was, but you haven’t forgotten how perfect it would have been, and it still haunts you two Microblog Mondays later! (If I’m honest, I remember coming up with a brilliant post topic some years ago when I was driving home from the gym, and it has never come back … so maybe it wasn’t so brilliant?)
  • You have to admit you were wrong to your significant other, which is fine, but then they gloat.
  • You know you put something somewhere safe but then you can’t find it.
  • A young woman was appointed as the Leader of one of our major political parties, and the first questions she gets are focused on whether she will have children or not, and if that should disqualify her.
  • You get out of bed ready to go for a brisk morning walk, and it rains.
  • You can’t find the perfect hairdresser.
  • Self-doubt stops you getting where you want to go.

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(The second in an occasional series)

  1. Being warm in bed listening to the rain on the roof
  2. Watching a good storm
  3. A night in with a good bottle of red wine
  4. Boots and woolly socks
  5. No guilt going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon, or morning, or … )
  6. When it gets dark early you can’t see what needs doing outside
  7. Wearing layers to hide under, with lots of flattering black, is acceptable if not compulsory
  8. Knowing it’s going to end (just not too soon, please, as I’m quite enjoying it)

 

ngaio winter

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Late last year I brought home some of the items I’d chosen from my mother’s house after her death, and since then I’ve been getting particular pleasure out of using a few simple, small items no-one else wanted.

  • A particular teaspoon that always used to sit in our sugar bowl when I was growing up, as we used it daily to sweeten our tea, or the porridge or weet-bix for breakfast, now lives in my own sugar bowl.
  • Whenever we had colds, a lemon and honey drink was prescribed, made with a glass lemon squeezer that was perfectly proportioned for the job at hand, unlike any others I’ve found in the 30 years since. Now though, my search is over.
  • One of the first things I learned to cook was a stew that needed to be thickened once the meat and vegetables were ready, and I would vigorously shake up a flour and water mixture in a small aluminium* canister with a thankfully tight lid, ensuring all lumps were gone, and use it to thicken the sauce smoothly. It lives in a kitchen cupboard now, and although I don’t use it very often (preferring these days to thicken by reduction, or use arrowroot or cornflour), I smile whenever I see it.
  • The glass measuring cup I used when I learned how to cook, and most importantly how to bake, now sits in the same cupboard, and I use it whenever I can, although as it predates metric measurements, I am less confident in using it for anything requiring precise amounts.

These valued inherited items don’t make me rich, but they do make me happy.

*yes, that’s how it is spelt.**
**yes, spelt is spelt spelt.

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