Archive for the ‘Microblog Mondays’ Category

I’ve written quite regularly about losing my reading mojo over the last seven years or so. About once a year or so I bemoan the fact that I’ve lost my mojo, and that I have been way behind my Goodreads target. Every so often there’s a post claiming that I got it back, where I’ve read a couple of good books. The general trend though has been down! I reached a high of 45 books back in 2012. Last year I reached my all-time low of only 16 books (including audiobooks), barely scraping past 50% of my target of 30 books. It’s perhaps not surprising given other things that were going on in my life last year, and the fact that I was also participating in a daily blogging project for the entire year. Still, I could tell that I was struggling to read, and so this year set an achievable target of only 20.

But this year, as I mentioned here, I seem to have rediscovered my reading mojo. I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I walk (for exercise), though it takes quite a few kilometres/hours to get through a single book, and that means I get through several hours of a book per week. And I’ve been reading. A lot. (My target this year was 20 books. I’m already at 30.) Many years ago now, when I first stopped working full-time, I decided that I couldn’t read during the day or I would never get anything done. So reading was only permitted post 5 pm. I gradually got into the habit of not reading until after dinner, and then that slipped, and I almost forgot how to read.

But this winter I’ve been indulgent. I’ve looked forward to the weekends, as there have been a couple of Saturdays or Sundays (rainy days, of course) when I have curled up on the couch and read a book in a day. Saturday’s book was Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which I gobbled up. I’ve rediscovered the joy of a good book, of a story that captures me. I even read a paper book! I’ve stayed up late, reading. I’ve got out of bed late – I’ve been awake but reading. I’ve spent some days when I never even turned on my laptop. I need to sort and edit all my trip photos to make a new photobook (or two), but I’ve barely made a start. I wanted to review some parts of my photography course from 2018 and do the exercises that I missed in the second half of the year. As always, I need to spring clean my office, but it hasn’t been done or even started. My attention is elsewhere. My nose is in a book. Or more accurately, my iPad’s Overdrive (library) or Kindle app.

Reading, I am reminded, takes up a lot of time!


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Today is my idea of a pretty perfect day. It is calm, with only a light breeze at times. The sky is clear, with just the occasional cloud making an appearance, breaking up the monotony of a plain blue sky. It is still cool, but not cold. I like that. It was chilly enough this morning to appreciate a woolly coat, but there is starting to be some real warmth in the sun. The harbour was sparkling and beautiful, even if the sight of a middle-aged man emerging from the water in speedos was a bit shocking.

The dullness of winter is also over, as blossoms start to appear, camellias flower everywhere including our garden, and on my walks around my suburb, I see the blooms of numerous flowers I can’t name. As I look out my windows, I see splashes of yellow all over the valley, and these gorgeous yellow kowhai flowers intoxicate the tui, who are chirping, clicking and clacking wildly, happy that spring is here.


Kōwhai flowers in my supermarket carpark



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I heard the other day that 10% of the world’s carbon emissions come from the fashion industry. The figure astounded me.  “Fast fashion” – the rapid production of low-cost items to meet the latest trends – is a major contributor, because people buy an item, wear it for a short time, then throw it away, only to buy further items the next season. Yet the cloth has been manufactured, then the item has been produced in a factory (that most likely pays its workers very low wages and provides few if no benefits all the while ignoring health and safety concerns) that is probably offshore to keep the prices as low as possible, or to keep the profits for the wholesaler/retailers as high as possible. Factories in developing countries almost always have lower environmental standards than those in the developed world. (And I’m not going into the complex issues questions around slave labour, poor conditions, and exploitation versus the need to provide people with jobs when they have no safety-net welfare systems, and the need for productive industries to pull nations up out of poverty.)

Fashion in itself is incredibly wasteful. The whole concept centres around the idea that something is “out of fashion” and should no longer be used or worn, but replaced by something more socially acceptable. Talk about socially imposed conformist rules! And that is incredibly wasteful.

Yet I enjoy fashion – I like to try new styles, and I feel good when wearing something new or a bit different. I try not to buy only the latest trends, but to wear things that will last – perhaps because they are quirky and a bit different, and so don’t scream Winter 2016 or Summer 2018.  These days, with a more limited budget, I focus more on classics. And this winter, after an expensive seven-week trip, I haven’t bought anything new. I stuck to my classics – black tops under wrap jerseys or jackets. I know it is easier to do this because I don’t work in an office.  I don’t need an extensive wardrobe. But clothes give you confidence too, and without a job, I sometimes need that. So it helps, knowing that my more restrained wardrobe helps the planet too.

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After my (very legitimate) rant of last week, I thought I’d write about things that made me happy today:

  • The huge wasp (the biggest I’ve ever seen) that I discovered in the house this afternoon obediently flew out the door when I opened it.
  • I managed to get to my favourite supermarket this morning before the lunch rush.
  • I received a package from some printers. After years of printing my own greeting cards with my own photos, always customised to suit the recipient, I can’t find any stockists of blank printable cards any more. And the ones I could find on the internet cost an absolute fortune. I’ve used an online printing company to make my Christmas cards previously, but I didn’t want a run of 10 or 20 cards all the same. But I discovered a printer that allows you to mix and match, for the same price. So in a print run of 50 cards, I could use 25 different designs. Yay! They arrived today, and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. So if you want something similar, I recommend Moo Print (http://www.moo.com).
  • It’s a lovely winter day, and I enjoyed a good walk this morning.
  • The house is clean, and (or because) I have friends coming for dinner tonight.
  • There is wine in the fridge!

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In the last week or so, our Prime Minister was embroiled in an argument in Australia, when a shock-jock Radio DJ commented that the Australian Prime Minister should “shove a sock down her throat.” Rightly, the violence and innate misogyny of the comment was widely deplored, including by Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, who said, “I find that very disappointing, and of course, that’s way out of line.”

He could have left it at that, but he added, “I have two daughters, so you can expect that’s how I would feel personally about it.”

Why did he feel the need to say that? Didn’t he understand that women deserved respect before he had daughters? Didn’t he speak out against obvious misogyny before he had daughters? Didn’t he object to obvious violent threats against women before he had daughters? How does his wife feel about this? She was around before his daughters. Was he so unaware of gender issues and sexism that it never occurred to him before having daughters? Or did he just not care?

Not to mention that by equating the leader of his neighbouring country with his daughters, he is infantilising her, suggesting she is in need of his protection, that he’s a father figure.

Why are men so proud of defending women’s rights because they have daughters?  I don’t get it. And clearly, they don’t either, because if they thought about what they’re saying, they might actually understand.

C’mon, blokes. You either support and defend women’s rights or you don’t. By stressing that you support women and object to offensive language and behaviour about them because you have daughters, you’re not endearing yourself to women. Or not this one, at least. You’re saying that if you didn’t have daughters, you would be less appalled. That you’ve never seen women as your peers, that you accepted misogyny and discrimination in the past, that you never saw us as people. You’re boasting that you felt free to ignore our issues until you had daughters.

In fact, it is almost as if you are justifying your position to your fellow men, using your daughters as an excuse for your defence of women. As if that is something that needs to be explained away.

No surprise that I am, quite frankly, sick to death of a man’s defence of women’s rights coming with the qualifier, “I have daughters.”

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Right Now (#7)

Reading: I seemed to rediscover my reading mojo in Japan. In the last two and a half months, I’ve read a total of thirteen books, which is a huge number for me in the last ten or so years. One was even an actual, hold-in-your-hand paper book that my sister loaned me last week! I read it yesterday, all day. I’m reading books that just appeal, or hold my attention, rather than trying for “worthy” books, and I’ve been really enjoying the process of reading.

There’s been a real variety, set in Italy, England, Australia and the US, and ranging from Tudor times to the 1920s to the present day. They were largely three and four-star reads. These were probably my favourites:

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri
Different Class by Joanne Harris
Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Watching: I’ve been through a crime phase. My husband and I binge-watched Line of Duty from Netflix, and when that was finished, I finally succumbed to his exhortations, and watched Shetland. I raced through it, and loved it. Netflix NZ only has three series, but there have been more made, so I’m looking forward to that. The first series (only six-eight episodes per series) was more like a classic crime series, essentially introducing all the characters. The second series though follows through one main case, and was gripping. I loved the scenery, and the accents.

Listening: I’m currently listening to Radio NZ National as I usually do. I went walking today, and listened again to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie which is brilliantly told. It’s his autobiography, and I am thoroughly enjoying it, but as it is a library book, I can see it’s going to expire before I can finish it.

Following: I’m trying not to follow global politics because it is frustrating. There are a few very interesting issues going through our Parliament at the moment, both of which will be conscience votes (rather than along party lines). I’m interested in the progress of both. The first updates to our abortion laws since the 1970s are being addressed, which is about time, if you ask me! A Bill looking at voluntary euthanasia is also being addressed. Having watched my parents and my in-laws, and thinking about my own circumstances, I have some strong opinions on this.

Drinking: I’ve been enjoying wine again, after seven weeks in Asia when we didn’t drink any at all. It was strictly beer and cocktails. I found myself surveying our hotels’ Mai Tais in Vietnam. The Hanoi hotel won, because the drinks were delicious, the air-conditioning was strong (it was 39C outside), and the lobby bar was elegant. But happy hour at the beach pool was good too.

Eating: Healthily, in bursts. It’s the middle of winter, so I’m enjoying hearty Thai curries once a week, and noodle soup occasionally for lunch. Now that I write this, I’m feeling the urge for a roast lamb dinner sometime soon.

Anticipating: Getting together with some friends tomorrow night. We haven’t seen them since we went to Asia, so it will be fun to catch up. Wellington restaurants are in the middle of August’s Wellington on a Plate, so we’re going to try one of the “Festival Dishes.” Then in the last half of August, the Burger Wellington competition will be in full swing. I love burgers, but hardly ever eat them, so I’m determined to get out and try a few of the offerings. There are lots of interesting versions with Asian flavours that sound fun.

Contemplating: The next few years, as the relative freedom I had expected to return to – and which I was looking forward to enjoying – after our trip has disappeared, and so I’ll need to refocus my plans.

Loving: The winter! Believe it or not, I’m relishing the cooler weather after the hot weather on our trip. Last week I was down in the cold south and loved the zero degree temperatures they get at night, and continually exclaimed over the snowy mountains I saw on the seven-hour road trip I took with my sister and niece.  Winter is great if I’m warm and cosy inside.


Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months.

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Life is short

From the fun of remembering our trip last week, I’ve been brought down to earth with a thud. I was given a harsh reminder that life is short, losing one of the cousins who was closest to my age. She was, reportedly, cheerful to the end, truly herself. Although sadly, the end came months sooner than expected, and years before it should have. For all the wonders of medical science, for all the other efforts that people think helps, nothing could be done for her.

So I’m flying south tomorrow for her funeral. It will be cold and wintry – they’ve just had a southerly blast come through, with snowfall down to sea level (unusual in NZ). But it will be a chance to remember J, and to reconnect with her brothers and their families, and with another favourite cousin who lives in the region, as well as with my sister and her family on the drive into the deep south. Human connection is important, and this has reminded me of that in the unkindest way.

So I’m hoping too to catch up with some other friends soon. There’s a food festival on this month to brighten up the winter, and what better time to break bread with good friends, enjoy good food and wine and laughter. Appreciate what we have. We never know when it /they/us will be gone.


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