Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eight Things About Me

Chiefbiscuit has tagged me for this meme. The rules are:
First:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves.
3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves.
4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged (named and shamed).
5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they're tagged (cut and run).

So, what can I tell you that is in the least bit interesting? (Other than things I have revealed before). I think I am going to be truly random here.

1. When hanging out laundry, I like to colour co-ordinate the pegs to the garments. I confessed this to a co-worker once, and she laughed at me.
2. I have a strangely shaped fingernail on the ring finger of my right hand. It happened when I squashed it in the cake cupboard door when I was three years old (no prizes for guessing what I was up to).
3. My masters thesis was called "The rearrangements of p-quinols." It's in our bookcase. My children spotted it one day and exclaimed "mummy wrote a book!" (I can't remember anything about the rearrangements of p-quinols. I guess I could always read it and find out).
4. I love quiz shows. When I was about thirteen I auditioned to be in a quiz team to compete against children in other countries. I just missed the team. They asked guy questions like sports and engineering. When the quiz went on air, I listened and found I knew more answers than the boy who made the team. They asked more literature questions and no sports.
5. I don't own a single pair of jeans.
6. I rarely wear make-up.
7. I'm hopelessly unathletic, but I love the outdoors, and I enjoy orienteering (okay, my regular readers knew that already).
8. I can touch my nose with the tip of my tongue.

Fact number nine: I know enough mathematics to figure that if this meme has been around for a bit, and the first person tagged eight people, who each tagged eight people, who each tagged eight people, and so on.. well, most of you have been tagged by now.
So I'm going to break the rules.
If you haven't been tagged, and you want to do it, leave a comment to let me know, and I will come and read your eight random facts.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poetry Thursday: About Leaves and Clouds

Lately I find myself obsessed by skies. Skies that are purest blue, or thunderous grey. Pale grey skies with just a hint of sunlight breaking through like mother of pearl. Sunsets that are flame, or coral, or salmon. Skies that are tinged green where blue meets gold. Clouds like flaked fish, or in wave-like formations. Skies that are never the same from one day to the next.

I think it's the flatness of where I live that makes the sky look so vast. Not for nothing was an anthology of Canterbury poems named Big Sky

I try to photograph the sky, but the format isn't right. Sky photographs should be long and thin, and spread right across the room, instead of being confined to a 6 inch by 4 inch frame. And then, there always seem to be buildings and electricity wires in the way.

I look, and try to remember exactly what the sky looked like, but I never do, except in very general terms. We just don't have the memory for clouds in the same way as we do for faces. There are six billion faces on earth, and the human brain is equipped to distinguish each from the others. (Although I have trouble, myself, with twins). It's just as well that we can't do this except for faces. Our brains would be so huge that our necks couldn't hold our heads up. I'm visualising cartoon figures with tiny bodies and enormous heads. Not a pretty sight.

Thinking about clouds reminded me of how a couple of years back, I was pondering similar thoughts about the shapes of leaves, and wrote this poem:

The Shapes of Leaves

Oak I know, and maple,
three or four varieties.
Chestnut, poplar, willow,
the speckled ngaio, waxy taupata,
and kowhai delicate as raindrops.
A dozen or two altogether,
maybe more.

Think of faces – of the six billion
on earth, they say, most of us
can distinguish each one
and name hundreds

Consider how each tree
bears a cast of thousands - each leaf
as individual as a face,
the tip curved more or less,
a nick, a tear, the pattern of veins
as individual as a thumbprint.
Imagine knowing each one –
think of spring, not as the return
of the familiar, but a welcome
to characters entirely new
Imagine the grief each autumn -
the farewell to countless old friends,
the showers of golden tears

*******************************

More Poetry Thursday contributions here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making a Difference #3 and Other Assorted Stuff

I loathe and despise polystyrene packing trays. It seems as if every butcher and supermarket in this city use polystyrene packaging trays for their meat. I can avoid them, though, if I take a little trouble. Monday is the day I work two jobs, changing over at lunch time. So, I stop off at the "Mad Butcher" where I inspect the weekly specials, and then I can place an order to be collected on the way home. My meat order includes the magic words "no polystyrene". He was a bit bewildered at first as to how I wanted it packed. Since I buy in bulk, I just get him to put each cut in a large plastic bag, and then at home I repack it for the freezer, in the plastic bags our bread comes in.

I've also discovered another butcher where the meat doesn't come prepacked at all, so you can purchase the amount you want without the cursed polystyrene. I'll probably continue to buy meat in the polystyrene trays sometimes, though, since I'm always looking out for specials. I have to balance saving the environment with saving my budget.

******

I'm happy to know that we are past the shortest day of the year. The 22nd was, I believe, 1.3 seconds longer than the 21st. Now, several days later, we must be up to about ten seconds longer. I can't say that I've actually noticed a difference, yet, but it's comforting to know.

After a cold week, Sunday was surprisingly warm (winter warm, not summer warm). I love the golden light of the afternoon sun in winter. I don't know if it's really more golden than summer, or if it's psychological. I suspect it is because of the lower angle of the sun. Here's a photo from my Sunday walk:



By Monday it had turned cold again. I walked to work this morning and saw that there was snow on the hills I had been walking on.

******

I think blogger has Alzheimer's. Even though I tick the box, "remember me on this computer", every so often blogger insists that I sign in again. It irritates me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Heritage Week

Victoria Square was the original market square of Christchurch, so for the opening of Heritage Week a marekt was held there. The theme this year is "Pacific Pathways", highlighting the different ethnic groups who have made Christchurch their home, and their pathways to New Zealand.

There were stalls - mainly food stalls, but other goods as well - displays of photos of Unesco World Heritage Sites, performances on stage from various cultural groups, and a number of people dressed in Victorian costume, roving around and playing traditional games



such as skipping



The unicyclist was very competent



I thought the young African girl was beautiful



More photos to come

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hagley Park

I wanted to get a photo of the cherry trees bravely flowering under the bare branches (see my previous post), with autumn leaves fallen all around them. That's when I discovered why I havent been taking so many photos lately. It's cold. and damp. There are large stretches of the park where there is no parking, or where all the parking is full of commuter cars getting free parking for the day and walking to work. So I had to drive to where I could park, and then walk. I drive past the end of the park every morning, and often see beautiful light effects looking to the east where the sun breaks through low clouds like mother of pearl. But thats in a "no parking" area. I did see nice light effects there yesterday morning, but by the time I walked back around, there was nothing but even grey cloud.

Oh well. Here is one of the cherry trees - almost finished flowering now. I wonder if it will set fruit? The photo doesn't really do justice to the fact that all the other trees are in the season of autumn or winter.



And this is the last photo I took for the day - it had just started to rain again. I realised that not only do I not like the cold and wet, my camera doesn't. So the photo was taken hastily before "red umbrella lady" disappeared from view and before I put the camera away. I was disappointed to find that it had come out blurry. Maybe it evokes the rainy day better that way. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Winter

Some days in winter start crystalline with frost, and then become bright and clear. Today was not one of those days. Today was gloomy and grey. It was a driving-to-work day. By the time I was on my way home, all the cars had their headlights on even though it was theoretically not dark yet. I drove through the park. Some trees were bare, others were still half clad, like ragged old bag ladies.

Strangely, there are small cherry trees blooming in the clearings under the large oaks. I think maybe they have been raised in greenhouses and recently planted out, confusing them about the seasons. They looked way too pink and pretty huddling in the gloom. I wanted to tell them they shouldn't be out after dark. I wanted to tell them to go home, their mothers would be worrying about them. Instead I drove on home. I hope they survive the frosts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's Cold...

In the morning I jump out of bed and straight into a hot shower. Then before I can get too cold, I put on bra and panties, a thermal singlet (vest), a brushed cotton shirt and brushed moleskin trousers, a wool/angora vest* on top of that , then a woollen cardigan, shoes and socks. Before I leave the house I add a woollen coat, thick sheepskin gloves, and a woollen bobble hat.

At that point I'm ready to walk to work in the frost, and if I walk briskly enough I arrive warmer than when I left home. Or, I'm ready for a game of strip poker in a warm house. If I can find one.

*I'm trying to be trilingual here. New Zealand English, UK English and American English. Hopefully all my readers can figure out which garments I am describing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Making a Difference #2

As I said in a previous post, I have decided to make one change in my lifestyle each week that will benefit the environment. This week I have continued to walk to my new job on Tuesdays and Thursdays (thus benefitting my waistline and mental health as well!). My new focus this week is on packaging.

I noticed that our local branch of Lush had a promotion on their solid shampoos. By taking in one empty plastic shampoo bottle for recycling, I was able to get a free sample of solid shampoo, which needs no more packaging than a small piece of paper. The shampoo seems more expensive than the brand I usually use, but if their claim that you can get eighty washes from a hundred gram bar turns out to be true, it will turn out cheaper.

Lush is a wonderful shop to walk into because it smells delicious. They aim to use as little packaging as possible - besides solid shampoos, you can buy solid conditioners and solid deodorants. The latter are free of chemicals such as aluminium, and I intend to try them when it's warm enough here to actually need any.

Links:
There are stores in many countries with associated websites, but if you go first to their US site you will find links to all of them - just click on the national flag.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Winter

This is my first completely fulltime week juggling two jobs. It's just light when I leave, and dark by the time I come home. We have had frosts the last few mornings, so I stride out wearing a woolly hat, sheepskin gloves and a warm coat. This morning I hung laundry out before I left. The cold bit into my fingers and made them ache. When I arrived home I found that P was planning roast pork for dinner, so I baked some muffins and biscuits to take advantage of the oven being on (one of my power saving measures). After dinner it was my turn to do the dishes. Now I'm ready for bed. So I am posting an old poem from six or seven years ago which seemed appropriate as I gazed at trees in various stages of dress as I walked to work this morning. Many are completely bare. But this tree in our garden is still covered with beautiful scarlet foliage:



(I think it is a liquidambar, though P. claims it is a maple. But then, all the other maples have lost their leaves already).
Strangely, in the park I drive through on my way to my other job, there are newly planted cherry trees and they are all covered in blossom. But the cold tells me it is definitely winter, not spring. Definitely the time of year for warm flannel nightgowns.

Into Winter

The oak struts
across the stage of the sky
She flaunts her red garments
and tosses them at her audience
winking over her shoulder

The slender birch in the corner
slips her yellow dress from her shoulders
and climbs into bed

While the pines on the hill
keep their prickly green nightgowns
buttoned firmly up to their necks
all through the winter

**************************

More Poetry Thursday here

Monday, June 11, 2007

Head in the Clouds

The temperature has been plunging in the last few days, but on Saturday it was sunny and it was forecast to be fine for most of Canterbury. So on Sunday morning I set off north for an orienteering event with another club member. This is one of our further away maps, about an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. Within an hour we had run into heavy drizzle turning to rain. By then, however, we had committed ourselves so we continued.

Orienteering events are not cancelled except for extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, or snow chest deep on the course. (This is not for the protection of the runners, of course. It's just that the controls would blow away in a hurricane, and in chest deep snow the first runners would leave tracks that would give an unfair advantage to those who followed!) So I donned thermal long johns, a polar fleece sweater and a waterproof jacket and set out. The more fit and athletic club members were much more lightly clad, stripped for action. It was a score event. A normal event sets a course to be completed in as fast a time as possible. For a score event, you go out for a set time, and visit as many control points as possible within that time, choosing your own route.

It was held on a farm in rolling to steep hill country with outcrops of limestone rock. I climbed up from the start/finish tent to the top of one of these outcrops, from which I later took this photo:



ran (or rather, walked) along the limestone tops:



then across a gully, up another limestone outcrop, then across a valley, collected some controls around the hills on the other side, and finished down through the pine trees in the first photo, visiting the final (for me) control at the end of the pond before returning to the finish.

I had chosen the 60 minute option (choices were 45, 60 or 90 minutes) and returned with a minute and a half to spare. So I was well satisfied that I had neither wasted any of my time allocation nor incurred penalty points for finishing late. And the rain had more or less stopped, though it was still very cold.

Runners finishing along the farm track in the valley:



In the evening I watched a documentary on the possible events when the world's petrol supplies start to run out - possibly as early as 2016. Scary stuff. And the next morning I picked up the newspaper to read about the opposition to a very large new wind farm being planned in the south of the country, in Central Otago.

I do understand that there is a great love for the landscapes of "Central", which are bleak in their beauty. And I am not well-acquainted with the particular area where this project will be located. Still, some of the arguments don't seem to be valid. For instance, there is a suggestion that wind power is too expensive and that global warming is better mitigated by more effective emissions filters on fossil fuel power stations. However, whether or not they burn cleanly, you can't generate power from fossil fuel power stations if the fossil fuel has run out. And as for the cost, as it gets scarce, the cost of petrol and diesel will skyrocket. I love walking in the hills, but personally, I don't feel that wind farms detract from their beauty.

The documentary claimed that there would be a very difficult time while we adjusted to much higher fuel prices, and great scarcity. And that then when we adjusted life could be "rather nice". Personally, I don't see it. Yes, we will have to slow down, and not rush here there and everywhere. And that could be "rather nice". But I can't see that it would be "rather nice" to be unable to get to a hospital when needed because there is no fuel in the tank. Or to find that greater numbers of people are freezing to death in winter. Or many of the other possible problems.

In New Zealand at the moment we have around 50 - 60 % of our electricity generated from renewable resources (mostly hydroelectricity and geothermal steam). At least in that respect we are fortunate. In other respects, being isolated and dependent on imports in many areas, we are not so fortunate. It would seem to me that the more electricty we can generate from renewable resources, the better. And at least you can build a wind farm without drowning a whole valley, as a new hydroelectric power station does.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shameless Lions




I have adopted a lion from the Shameless Lions Writing Circle, created by Seamus at Shameless Words. He is one of 48 lions from Lyons, France. I first discovered this writing circle on Chiefbiscuit's blog, and was wondering whether to participate when I spotted this fine fellow among the lions not yet spoken for. Of course I knew straight away that he wanted a home on my blog, where both patchwork and poetry are welcome.

I have named my lion Florian, which seemed a fitting strong and masculine name, with a touch of the floral.

Members of the circle have been asked for a piece of writing - poetry or prose - maximum 48 words, to celebrate their adopted lion.

Here is mine:

Don't snigger. I am not what you think.
The women who made me had little,
but they chose only the best pieces
for me. They knew what it was
to fight. They sewed fierceness
and strength into every stitch.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Making a Difference

I have a new job in this street:



It's my third this year. I still have job number 1 which is 18 hours a week. Job number 2 lasted two months (no, I wasn't fired, it was meant to be temporary) and now job number 3 is for 20 hours a week which means Wednesday and Friday are job number 1, Tuesday and Thursday are job number 2 and Monday is half of each.

(Just to be clear: some of you thought I was doing three jobs at once - no, I was doing no 1 and no 2 together, and now I am doing no 1 and no 3 together. In both cases, the two jobs add up to a fulltime job which is no more than a lot of others do, but still a shock to the system after fifteen years of fulltime motherhood, a few years of study, and about eight years of working parttime)

Busy, busy. Strangely I don't feel more tired, I feel energised, although I am getting less done outside of work. But the hours I do have are more productive. And I feel useful, as we really really need the money. P. still hasn't found a job, and unfortunately I can't earn nearly the hourly rate that he was earning, but part time accounts jobs are way more abundant than full time IT jobs.

The new job has its compensations. For instance, I get to walk there along the river and through this reserve:



Since it's the middle of winter, I leave home just after sunrise and leave work just before sunset. Sunsets like this one:



Actually, this is Thursday's sunset, which wasn't nearly as spectacular as Tuesday's sunset, but I didn't have my camera with me on Tuesday.

It feels good to be able to walk to work for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it helps the environment. In fact, I've been wanting to make an environmentally friendly change of some sort each week and blog about it. Not to be smug about what I'm doing, but as a way of making myself accountable. Especially since I wrote a couple of weekends back about how the answers are never simple.

I do believe that it's easiest to make changes when there is self-interest involved. I had been enjoying walking on the hills all summer, and now it is too dark to do that after work. And I'm not a great fan of jogging on roads and footpaths, I find it too hard on my knees and heels. The walk to work is just about the right distance - around half an hour each way. That's an hour's walking each day, though only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So, the title of this post refers to making a difference in a number of ways - making a difference to the environment, making a difference to my weight and fitness (I hope), and making a difference to the family budget. And hopefully, I will see some more spectacular sunsets.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Summer Break

The ladies at Poetry Thursday are taking a summer break. This doesn't mean no Poetry Thursday, it just means no prompts, so we are free to talk about poetry in any way we wish (which we are, anyway, since all their prompts are Completely and Totally Optional).

It seems a bit strange to be having a summer break in winter. But then, our winter has been a bit strange so far - remarkably warm. In Christchurch it was six and a half degrees (Celsius degrees, which are almost twice as big as Fahrenheit degrees) warmer on the first day of winter than on the first day of summer. In summer there was Antarctic melt water coming up the coast, and bits of icebergs floating by. So perhaps global warming will mean cold summers for New Zealand. I hope not - I hope last summer was an aberration.

Back to poetry. The Montana New Zealand Book Award nominations have been announced - this is New Zealand's major book award. There are three books in the poetry category, and three in the "best first book - poetry" category. So I decided to borrow them all from the library and see what I thought. It just goes to show how popular poetry is (or isn't) that I was able to get all three nominated books in the poetry category straight off the shelves, without placing a request.

The books are "The Goose Bath" by Janet Frame, "The Year of the Bicycle" by James Brown and "One Shapely Thing" by Dinah Hawken. By next week I may have read enough to give an opinion on them. The awards are for books published in 2006, and judging by two poetry books that I have bought this year, I suspect that 2007 is going to be a better year for New Zealand poetry. We'll see.

In the meantime, the James Brown book reminded me of a workshop our small poetry group arranged with James Brown a few years back, when he was Writer in Residence at the local university.

One of the things we talked about was list poems. I can't actually recall any titles or authors of the examples he gave - I do remember one was a very moving list of "things found on a roof" written shortly after the events September 11. He had us write lists, and then we each contributed one item from our list to a sort of group "pool", after which we wrote poems containing some or all of these items.

The items I used were, as I recall, Wellington, a ginger cat, white curtains and the book "Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex but were Afraid to Ask".

Here is the poem, which relates to a trip I made back to Wellington, the city where I was born and grew up (and where Peter Jackson's film studio is located):

The Whole Story

“Remember the house in the bay” she asks,
“the only one with any flat land?
Peter Jackson bought it. Sometimes he lands a helicopter there.”
I know the one. It’s across the road from the beach
where we used to keep our red dinghy.
I’ll walk round the bays and take a look,
maybe I’ll stop at the dairy and buy an Eskimo Pie.

The cottages nestled against the cliff haven’t changed,
except for new paint, and the four wheel drives outside.
A curtain flaps at a window. On the sill a ginger cat sleeps
beside a book that offers “All You Ever Wanted”.
I reach the dairy. It’s now a cafĂ© crowded with people.
I turn back. A jogger pounds the sand.
My sister says she once saw Michael J. Fox there,
but it’s only an anonymous short man.
Back at the open window I find the cat has jumped down
into the nasturtiums. Now I can see the whole story:
“To Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid to Ask”.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Winter Walk

We are having a long weekend here - happy birthday, Your Majesty! (I believe her real birthday is in April, but the first Monday in June is when it's celebrated in New Zealand. I think June was the birthday of an earlier monarch).

The warm weather we have been having all autumn is continuing, though it cooled down a little over the weekend. Still no rain. The first day of winter (June 1st) was 6 degrees warmer than the first day of summer! And I think I spotted cherry blossom when driving through Hagley Park - I need to stop on the way home from work this week and check whether my eyes were deceiving me.

Yesterday I went for a walk up the hills with my camera. I'm a bit tired of the standard "view from the top" or "landscape with sheep" shots, though. So I looked for something else.

The way the sun caught these grasses took my eye. It's a colour shot, though it came out almost monochrome.



I clambered up a bank to get up close and personal with the remains of an abandoned car:





I've had trouble photographing spider webs. I realised that of course, the autofocus on the camera doesn't "see" the fine web, and focuses on the background detail instead. I need to get out the manual to find out how to override the autofocus. In the meantime, I fooled it by holding up a finger and locking the focus on that, then removing my hand before I took the shot.



My favourite "rock with a personality", which I've photographed before



but not from this angle, in which he looks rather sleepy:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Town and Country

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will have a fair idea of where I live by now. Do I live in the town or the country? Well, here is the view from the back upstairs window of my house:



Those hills are only about ten to fifteen minutes walk away, if I want to walk in the countryside. On any weekend, there are probably as many people walking, jogging or mountain biking on the hills, surrounded by sheep, cicadas and magpies, as there are on a city pavement.

In the other direction, on the north side of the house, it is about half an hour's walk to the edge of the city centre, where there are libraries, cafes, museums and art galleries. I'm a city girl at heart. But it has to be a small scale city, one like this in which the countryside seeps in and around and through the city, with green spaces everywhere. This way, I have the best of both worlds. I can be in touch with the natural world without the hard work.

On musing over the phrase "town and country", I realised that they are not two different things. They are both two aspects of one thing - places in which man has tamed the landscape. In the city, it is mostly a built landscape. In the countryside, it is a tilled and cultivated landscape. I think "country" and I see fields, fences, crops, domestic animals. To me, there is "town and country" and then there is wilderness. Those special places that we can go only as guests. Tangled forests, rugged mountains, unmodified grasslands such as savannahs, tundra and prairie, and the great frozen stretches at the North and South Poles. These places are shrinking, but they are precious, and we need to cherish them, even though we don't feel at ease there.

More musings on "town and country" at Sunday Scribblings

(This is my 300th post. I'm amazed!)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Awards and Competitions

It seems it's award and competition time of the year. (But then, perhaps the season for awards never really stops). In the news, firstly, a New Zealand girl reached the semi-finals of the United States national spelling bee.

We didn't have spelling bees in New Zealand when I was a child, which gives me mild cause for regret because I would have done rather well. They seem to be a new phenomenon in the last few years. And the winner of our national contest gets sent to Washington to compete there, which I think is a little odd for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because it's the United States national spelling bee, not the International Spelling Bee. But secondly, because we don't spell things the same. Presumably Kate swotted up on words like "plough", "theatre" and "favourite" before she went, learning to spell them as "plow", "theater" and "favorite". Or more likely, these words are too simple for the contest anyway.

Apparently Kate's "heavy accent" gave the judges some problems - they debated for several minutes whether she had said "g" or "j" when she spelled "jardiniere" - finally they had to ask her for another word that began with the same letter.

Come on now - New Zealanders don't have heavy accents - it's Americans that have accents! Given the regional variation, New Zealand accents can't be any more difficult. Just unfamiliar, I suppose. We hear American accents of all sorts on TV so much that we are used to the differences.

Actually, my favourite spelling story relates to a New Zealand family that lived in the States for a couple of years. Their daughter came home from school and announced she had scored 19 out of 20 on her spelling test. "Over here", she said, "they spell Revolution with a capital R".

Also in the news recently is that New Zealand novelist Lloyd Jones won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for his novel "Mr Pip". The Christchurch City Libraries blog celebrated the win in slightly inflated terms, declaring the book had been named the world's best book. The last I heard, the Commonwealth excluded a few of the larger countries of the world, including the United States, and a very large portion of the non-English speaking world as well. Still, it's a noted achievement, which leaves me thinking it's time I read the book (though no doubt the library now has a large queue to borrow it, and my book buying funds are a bit limited).

It had me thinking about a passage in a short story I read, called "The Life Coach". **

Erica wonders what book Anna is reading and Becky promises to ask. She rings back later that week:Snow Falling on Cedars.
"You're kidding? Anything else?"

"The Shipping News?"
"Oh dear."
"Well I liked it, especially the movie. And there's..."
"Let me guess.
Captain Corellis's Mandolin."
"White Teeth actually. She couldn't really get into Captain Corelli."
"Becky, that's a book club reading list from eight years ago. She's a fraud.
"

Well, I haven't read White Teeth myself yet, and I presume it's still worth reading if it was worth reading when it first came out. I'd like to think that good books last more than a year or two. A couple of the others mentioned are on my book shelves and I'd be happy to re-read them. Do we just have to read the newest, latest thing?

Speaking of book clubs, I've noticed a disturbing trend when I've been browsing in book shops. some books now come complete with "book club reading notes" at the back. Looking at the notes, they seem to offer discussion questions at least as bad as the worst any of my school teachers came up with. If I were to join a book club, I'd want it to be like my poetry group. No set questions, just honest discussion of the personal impact of the book. I can't imagine joining in a club where we discussed set questions from the back of the book, as if we were thirteen years old again.


**The quote above is from a book called "The Six Pack", which was the result of a competition for New Zealand book month last year. The winners, judged anonymously, in categories of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, get a substantial cash prize and the book of six winners is sold for $6.00 which is fantastic value given that no other paperback can be bought in New Zealand for under $20.00 these days.
Five of the winners are chosen by judges, and the sixth is chosen by public vote. This year's entries can be found here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Photo Thursday on Friday

Over at Create a Connection the Photo Thursday topic is water. Specifically, Nino asked for summer water images but it's winter here. Actually, it doesn't feel like winter as we have just had the warmest May on record.

I'm a bit late with this - that's the penalty for being asleep when the other half of the world is awake. I suspect the topic was posted while I slept on Thursday night, and then I've been at work all day.

Here are a couple of photos I took of the estuary, very near the open ocean, when I was returning from orienteering a couple of weekends ago. I had a little trouble with the second one as the sun was just off to my left, shining on the camera lens, but I thought the low afternoon sun was quite atmospheric.