Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hello Cousin!

Researching my family history, I discovered that the most interesting relatives were the hardest to find. For instance, there was the greatgreatgrandfather who changed his name about as often as he changed his socks. It appears he was a bigamist (not all that shocking, since divorce was next to impossible in those days - easier to change your name and run away).

I searched through every record I could think of, not just to go back through my ancestors, but to trace forward - what happened to the descendants of all their brothers and sisters? That's just as interesting to me. I found a good many of them. Some eluded me. I posted queries on message boards and e-mail lists, got a few answers, some seemed determined to remain lost.

Just in the past couple of weeks I have had a couple of unexpected e-mails. That's the wonderful thing about the internet - those queries, several years old, are still there to be found by anyone with a search engine. So, hello to Patty in Georgia. (connected to me via Scotland, Chile, and New Orleans). And a big hello to Carolina. I had given up hope of finding out what happened to my greatgrandmother's brother after he left Scotland for the United States and then disappeared. I now know he went to Peru. Here is a great description of his daughter Tia (Anna) Bates.

I wonder where the remaining missing relatives will turn out to be? I have renewed hope that one day they will find me

Friday, April 28, 2006

Finally a Quilt!

There are only twenty four hours in the day. So when I'm doing genealogy I'm not quilting, and when I'm writing poetry I'm not doing genealogy, and when I'm quilting I'm not writing poetry or the family history.

I got very interested in researching my family history a few years back, and intended to spend one year researching and writing the book. That one year stretched and I am nearly in a position to write the book, finally. In the meantime I started to get fabric withdrawal, so I started a simple quilt just so that I could handle gorgeous fabric. One that I didn't have to think about too much, so that I could sit at the machine and sew while family history puzzles and half-finished poems solved themselves in my head.

At the beginning of the year I treated myself to a brand new Bernina Aurora sewing machine. The one with the built-in stitch length regulator for machine quilting. And I had this quilt basted up ready to sew, so it was the first thing I quilted on the new machine (which I love). Now it is nearly finished, all I have to do is darn in a few more thread ends and label the back. I think this block design came from a book by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe called "Sensational Scraps"

So here it is in all it's glory, the full quilt - almost - my daughters couldn't hold it up high enough - and a detail showing the quilting. Most people around here seem to stipple a quilt to death when they are machine quilting. But I've noticed that makes it rather stiff, and I wanted this to drape on a bed, so I just quilted leafy vines down the yellow sections and around the borders. It seems to be about the right amount.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Today I thought I would post one of my own. This was published in "Big Sky:A Collection of Canterbury Poems" edited by Bernadette Hall and James Norcliffe.
On a quick scan, there are a couple of things that might need explanation. The "dairy" in New Zealand is a corner shop, not a place where cows are milked. The "kissing crust" dates from the days before sliced bread. The loaves came in two adjoining halves that could be pulled apart to leave a rough surface, this was the "kissing crust" much fought over by myself and my siblings.

Fresh Bread

You walked home from the dairy
the loaf still warm
cradled in your arms
You picked at the kissing crust
couldn't resist

That afternoon
you climbed to the top of the tallest pine
rolled down the hillside till you were so dizzy
the hillside rolled down you
made daisy chains a mile long
stayed out till sunset
gulping blue sky

Ate bread still soft
in rough chunks
thick with butter
not like grandma's sandwiches
cut from yesterday's loaf
in careful thin slices.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Anzac Day

April 25th is Anzac Day in New Zealand. The name comes from Anzac Cove in turkey, where the battle of Gallipoli was fought in the First World War. I have been watching a television documentary which I recorded last night, on a lesser-known battle; the battle of Passchendaele. Or rather, the documentary told the story of one woman's journey retracing the steps of her greatuncle George who was killed in the battle of Passchendaele, 12 October 1917. This was New Zealand's worst military disaster when over 1000 soldiers were killed in just a few hours, caught in barbed wire and bogged down in mud exposed to German machine gun fire. The memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery bears the names of 35,000 men who fell in battle near here and have no known grave.
Among the dead, besides Robyn Malcolm's greatuncle George, were my own greatuncle Thomas James Bryden and his nephew (my father's cousin) Gordon Dacre McKenzie who was aged only 20, and had also fought at Gallipoli.
My maternal grandfather also fought at Passchendaele and survived. He was shot through the elbow and invalided home. Like Robyn's greatuncle George, he was a signaller. The doucmentary therefore was very moving as it traced the steps of George, who was very likely in the same regiment.
The photo is my quilt, "Things My Grandfather Taught Me", which I made in memory of my grandfather who died in 1976 aged 82. It was shown in the exhibition, "Time Pieces: Quilts for a New Millenium" which opened just after midnight on New Year's Day, 2000 and was thus the world's first quilt exhibition of the new millenium.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Women Writers Book Meme

This is from DebR at Red Shoe Ramblings. The instructions are:
Bold the ones you've read
Italicize the ones you might like to read
Put question marks - ?? - by any titles and/or authors you've never heard of
Put an asterisk - * - if you've read a different title by the same author

*Alcott, Louisa May - Little Women
*Allende, Isabel - The House of Spirits
Angelou, Maya - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Atwood, Margaret - Cat's Eye
*Austen, Jane - Emma (Pride and Prejudice, of course)
??Bambara, Toni Cade - Salt Eaters
??Barnes, Djuna - Nightwood
de Beauvoir, Simone - The Second Sex
*Blume, Judy - Are You There God? It's Me Margaret (I used to read all my children's books, just as my mother read mine. Now I have to wait for the grandchildren)
Burnett, Frances - The Secret Garden
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Buck, Pearl S. - The Good Earth
Byatt, A.S. - Possession
Cather, Willa - My Antonia
??Chopin, Kate -The Awakening
*Christie, Agatha - Murder on the Orient Express
Cisneros, Sandra - The House on Mango Street
Clinton, Hillary Rodham - Living History
??Cooper, Anna Julia - A Voice From the South
Danticat, Edwidge - Breath, Eyes, Memory
??Davis, Angela - Women, Culture, and Politics
Desai, Anita - Clear Light of Day
Dickinson, Emily - Collected Poems
??Duncan, Lois - I Know What You Did Last Summer
*DuMaurier, Daphne - Rebecca
Eliot, George - Middlemarch
??Emecheta, Buchi - Second Class Citizen
??Erdrich, Louise - Tracks
Esquivel, Laura - Like Water for Chocolate (seen the movie)
Flagg, Fannie - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (seen the movie)
Friedan, Betty - The Feminine Mystique
Frank, Anne - Diary of a Young Girl
??Gilman, Charlotte Perkins - The Yellow Wallpaper
Gordimer, Nadine - July's People
??Grafton, Sue - S is for Silence
??Hamilton, Edith - Mythology
Highsmith, Patricia - The Talented Mr. Ripley (seen the movie)
??Hooks, bell - Bone Black
Hurston, Zora Neale - Dust Tracks on the Road
??Jacobs, Harriet - Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
??Jackson, Helen Hunt - Ramona
??Jackson, Shirley - The Haunting of Hill House
Jong, Erica - Fear of Flying
Keene, Carolyn - The Nancy Drew Mysteries (any of them) (no, the library didn't have those when I was a kid, nor any Enid Blyton - too lowbrow!)
Kidd, Sue Monk - The Secret Life of Bees
*Kincaid, Jamaica - Lucy
*Kingsolver, Barbara - The Poisonwood Bible
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
??Larsen, Nella - Passing
* L'Engle, Madeleine - A Wrinkle in Time
*Le Guin, Ursula K .- The Left Hand of Darkness
Lee, Harper-To Kill a Mockingbird
Lessing, Doris - The Golden Notebook
*Lively, Penelope - Moon Tiger
Lorde, Audre - The Cancer Journals
Martin, Ann M. - The Babysitters Club Series (any of them) (OK, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I read those in my 40s - just because my children brought them home)
McCullers, Carson - The Member of the Wedding
??McMillan, Terry - Disappearing Acts
??Markandaya, Kamala - Nectar in a Sieve
??Marshall, Paule - Brown Girl, Brownstones
Mitchell, Margaret - Gone with the Wind
Montgomery, Lucy - Anne of Green Gables
??Morgan, Joan - When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
Morrison, Toni - Song of Solomon
Murasaki, Lady Shikibu - The Tale of Genji(somehow didn't get to it when I was studying Japanese)
Munro, Alice - Lives of Girls and Women
Murdoch, Iris - Severed Head
??Naylor, Gloria - Mama Day
Niffenegger, Audrey - The Time Traveller's Wife
Oates, Joyce Carol - We Were the Mulvaneys
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
??Piercy, Marge - Woman on the Edge of Time
*Picoult, Jodi - My Sister's Keeper
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Porter, Katharine Anne - Ship of Fools
Proulx, E. Annie - The Shipping News
Rand, Ayn - The Fountainhead
??Ray, Rachel - 365: No Repeats
Rhys, Jean - Wide Sargasso Sea( a long time ago - I can't remember if I got to the end or not)
??Robinson, Marilynne - Housekeeping
??Rocha, Sharon - For Lac
Sebold, Alice - The Lovely Bones
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Smith, Betty - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Zadie - White Teeth
Spark, Muriel - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (the movie, again. I believe she died about a week or two ago)
Spyri, Johanna - Heidi
Strout, Elizabeth - Amy and Isabelle
Steel, Danielle - The House
*Tan, Amy - The Joy Luck Club(I read and loved The Hundred Secret Senses)
??Tannen, Deborah - You're Wearing That
??Ulrich, Laurel - A Midwife's Tale
??Urquhart, Jane - Away
Walker, Alice - The Temple of My Familiar
Welty, Eudora - One Writer's Beginnings
Wharton, Edith - Age of Innocence
*Wilder, Laura Ingalls - Little House in the Big Woods(Read the whole series)
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Woolf, Virginia - A Room of One's Own

There seem to be a rather large number I haven't read, but at least I have heard of most of them.

Here are some more favourites in no particular order - what they have in common are that very few of them are written in the US, probably why they are not on the original list:
Roy, Arundhati - the God of small Things
Tremain, Rose - Music and Silence
Chevalier, Tracy - Girl with a Pearl Earring
Moggach, Deborah - Tulip Fever
Woolfe, Sue - Leaning Towards Infinity
Molteno, Marion - If You Can Walk, You Can Dance
Nahai, Gina B - Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
Hawking, Jane - Music to Move the Stars(This is the autobiography of Stephen Hawking's first wife)
Paton Walsh, Jill - Knowledge of Angels
Pilgrim, Ruri - Fish of the Seto Inland Sea
Hulme, Keri - The Bone People
Hoffmann, Alice - The Probable Future
For fantasy (for both older children and adults), anything by Diana Wynn Jones and Susan Cooper. Way better than Harry Potter

Gardens and Dreams

I've been pulling up weeds in the rain. Mainly because there isn't any other way to do it, since it's raining.
Everywhere I go in blogland there seems to be photos of spring flowers. In this part of the world it is autumn. which is a really good time to garden, because if I don't the garden will be full of weeds all winter. If I pull them up now, it will stay fairly tidy until spring (we don't get enough snow to kill them off). Until today we had had a really dry sunny autumn which is great for gardening but not so good for autumn colour. However, I'm clearing room for the last of the tulip bulbs so I can have spring colour instead.

I have been pondering the nature of dreams. Whenever there is a dream sequence in a novel or indeed any other book it always seems remarkably coherent. Mine aren't. My daughter says things change in her dreams eg what is at first a horse may later be a lion. Well, mine do that but they are more complicated because the horse will go on being a horse at the same time it is also a lion. And a place that starts off being say, my home town, may also become at the same time somewhere in Africa and a part of another planet. (Just making up examples here but that's the sort of thing)....The other night I dreamed of dolphins stung by bees. Of course it was a lot more complicated than that, it took up a page and a half in my journal and I still don't feel I captured the full flavour of it, but that's the central image. That's the other thing about my dreams, very few of them fit the categories offered in the dream interpretation books (not that I believe the dream interpretation books anyway.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Manhole Covers

Liz at Dreaming Spirals has a post here with some photos and some links. So I thought I would post this photo taken in Wellington last year. They have quite a few made to this design, I think the date on it reads 2003 but I'm not quite sure of that.
Nothing as interesting here in Christchurch

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Computer Deprivation Week

It's been almost a week since I decided to give up playing computer games for a week - rather like the "Reading Deprivation Week" in "The Artist's Way", except that I've been reading quite a lot. I'm thinking of making it permanent. One interesting result though, is that I seem to be a lot more tired than usual. I think that's because I have to make a lot more decisions about what to do next. That, and consciously resisting the urge to take a break and play "just one or two" games, seems to use up quite a lot of mental energy. I suspect the tiredness will decrease as I establish new habits.

I have been gardening, decluttering, quilting, and reading. In the garage, I tidied the area where I put garden supplies - fertiliser, empty plant pots etc. I was horrified to discover a plastic bag containing a very rotten fish - flounder or sole. I think it was overlooked some months or even years ago when I was defrosting the freezer. It had dribbled liquid onto a deck chair which I put out on the back lawn and scrubbed thoroughly this afternoon. Now I have a faint whiff coming from my hands. It's not so bad if I think of it as liquid fertiliser.

Tomorrow I go to work (I work three days a week). I have a co-worker with the nose of a bloodhound, so I think a long relaxing perfumed bubble bath is called for this evening.

Poetry Thursday

This is a wonderful little poem made more remarkable by the time when it was written. Its author Siegfried Sassoon was known as one of the poets of the First World War. Many of his poems are filled with horror but this one written in April 1919 is quite the opposite.

Every One Sang

Every one suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Wingly wildly across the white
Orchards and dark green fields; on; on;
and out of sight.

Every one's voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears, and horror
Drifted away.....O, but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the
singing will never be done.

-Siegfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Four Things Blog Tag

M at Creative Voyage has tagged me:

Four Jobs I've Had
1.Packer in pretzel factory
2.Forensic scientist
3.Market researcher
4.Accounts clerk

Four films I can watch over and over again

1. Microcosmos
2. Travelling Birds
3. Life is Beautiful
4. Pride and Prejudice

Four places I've lived

1.Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand
2. Auckland, New Zealand
3. Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand
4. Christchurch, New Zealand

Four TV programmes I love

1. Monk
2. The West Wing
3. Survivor
4. BBC adaptation of The Canterbury Tales

Four places I've been on holiday

1. Rarotonga, Cook Islands
2. Great Keppel Island, Queensland, Australia
3. Surfers Paradise, Australia
4. Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Four of my Favourite Dishes

1. Roast chicken with bacon and sweetcorn stuffing
2. Roast kumara ( sweet potato)
3. Pavlova
4. Fresh fruit salad

Four Websites I Visit Daily

1. Poetry Daily
2. Sudoku
3. Writing Salon Mistress Muses
4. My site meter

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

1. Having a massage
2. At an art workshop with a really inspirational teacher
3. In the bush, near running water (NZ- speak for native forest)
4. Walking on the beach at sunset

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging

1. Liz from The Moments Between
2. Liz Elayne
3. Eridanus
4. Anyone reading this who hasn't done it already

Four Books I Recommend

1. Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh
2. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
3. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Four Artists that have inspired me

1. Bernadette Hall (New Zealand poet)
2. Ruth McDowell (American quilter)
3. Lauris Edmond (New Zealand poet)
4. Sue Spigel (New Zealand/American quiltmaker)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

To Sudoku or not to Sudoku

P has departed for a week's scuba diving in Fiordland so I am alone in the house - except for four adult children - and I outrank them :)
For some reason unknown to me I decided this was a good time to stop playing Sudoku on the computer. I'm hoping if I don't scratch the itch it will go away. Of course I find myself drawn to the computer anyway, so this morning I cleared out the inbox of my e-mail by putting everything in separate folders and then setting up filters to do it automatically in future.
Then I checked out the website of Best New Zealand Poems 2005, having spotted in this morning's paper that it had just gone online.
I particularly liked this poem from Fiona Farrell: Eel. The author's note is interesting too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

What I would normally be doing at this time on Good Friday is making hot cross buns. Today, however my daughter wanted to do it, so I thought I would take the opportunity to post some photos I took on my walk yesterday. These are from Halswell Quarry. When the first settlers came to Christchurch, they found that this place was a wonderful source of stone - volcanic basalt - both for crushing to put on the roads (what a waste!) and for the magnificent Gothic revival stone buildings that are among the city's oldest. Eventually the quarry was closed, apart from a small section where stone is quarried for repairs only, because further quarrying would damage the housing areas nearby. Instead it has been made into a park. In the surrounding land there have been established a number of gardens representing our sister cities. The stone statue is in the Korean garden. The others are a general view of the quarry, one of part of the surrounding park area and a closeup of some of the basalt. I took a number of close ups of the rocks, hoping it will inspire a quilt sometime.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poetry Thursday

When I was about thirteen I received as a school prize a book called "Collins Albatross Book of Verse". This was one of the poems in it and, even though it is a bit Victorian sentimental, it has stuck with me ever since.

All Beauteous Things

I love all beauteous things
I seek and adore them
God hath no better praise
And man in his hasty days
Is honoured for them.

I too will something make
And joy in the making;
Although tomorrow it seem
Like empty words of a dream
Remembered on waking.

- Robert Bridges (1844 - 1930)

For a list of other participants in Poetry Thursday see Liz Elayne's blog here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Eyes Hoods and Poems

The optometrist has a new machine for testing for glaucoma. Instead of putting drops in my eyes he fired puffs of air into them and read the pressure on the dial of the "gun". Just as uncomfortable at the time but the discomfort doesn't last as long. Back when I was a child (when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we walked to school backwards through the snow in bare feet) an eye test meant an eye chart and not much else. Isn't technology wonderful?
After the eye test I went in to the Cathedral to see the rest of the quilts. Then I wandered down to the Arts Centre to talk to Sue, the quiltmaker. In the quad there were groups of young people standing around in gowns and hoods waiting for their graduation photos. The Arts Centre is in the old university buildings - gothic revival with a huge ginkgo tree in the quad in its autumn splendour. No fur on any of the hoods. I guess they dropped that tradition. As I understand it, in the early days at Oxford and Cambridge (around the 1500s or so), the dining halls were very cold and the bachelors students sat furthest from the fire, further than the masters and doctoral students. So bachelors had fur on their hoods to keep them warm while masters had no fur.
The poetry chooks are having their monthly meeting tonight. It creeps up on me and I realise all my poems are in rough draft form and not ready for the meeting. So I sat down at the computer and typed for ten minutes, then printed out and headed for my favourite editing spot - the spa pool. Now I am toasty warm all through.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's All In the Details

My favourite sort of photo is somewhat abstract - the curve of a flower, the pattern of a leaf where the identity of the whole is somewhat hidden in the detail. My husband takes great photos right down to one tiny stamen in the middle of a flower. My camera unfortunately is a bit more basic than his. I did have a flasher camera on my wish list, but I pushed it down the list a bit in favour of buying a new Bernina sewing machine (which is another whole post in itself). I loved this little curly leaf, but I didn't have enough zoom or the facility to get in close enough to do better than this (which has been considerably cropped).

Then there are the sorts of photos that are about texture - a rusty iron fence, ripples on water. I found a site with great photos by Bill Bachmann which are just the sort of thing I'm talking about.

This one of mine is an old copper toilet cistern that I photographed before sending to the scrap metal dealer. I can just see this sort of texture on a quilt, though I'm not sure how to recreate it in fabric.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Strolling

This afternoon I went in to the Christchurch Cathedral to see an exhibition of quilts/paintings. It was titled "Merrging Traditions" and was a collaboration between American quilter (long time resident in New Zealand) Sue Spigel and Russian icon painter Galina Kim.
Each piece in the exhibition consisted of around three long quilted panels and one or two painted panels on stretched canvas. Sue's quilting has in recent years made more and more use of her own hand painted fabrics, with some piecing and heavily machine stitched. Galina's paintings show the influence of her icon background but also seemed to reflect the more geometric concerns of the quilts. The overall effect is of a conversation between the two artists, and between their traditional and spiritual influences. The quilts included quite a lot of text stencilled on, in English, Maori, Hebrew and Greek and possibly a few languages I didn't recognise. There was a very coherent overall theme from the first panel, "In the Beginning" through "Migrations" and others depicting the history of New Zealand, through to a panel showing the history of the cathedral - the whole was inspired by the Cathedral's 150th anniversary.
I loved the layers of meaning, for instance the piece showing the migrations of the Polynesians across the vastness of the Pacific included the Biblical text fragments "swept across" and "the face of the waters".
Unfortunately although the exhibition was supposed to be on until April 11th, there had been a performance of the St John passion in the cathedral the night before. Consequently the heavy frames on which the panels were displayed had been moved back against the side wall, and only the four sets of panels on the front could be seen. I really wanted to see the other four on the back. (I did at least get a catalogue which was a set of postcards). The Cathedral guide wasn't sure if they were going to be moved forward again, as they are all linked and it is quite difficult. I'll go back tomorrow after work with my fingers crossed.

I had a bit of time left on my parking meter so I walked around the nearby riverbank taking photos, and strolled through the Arts Centre. In the craft market there was a stall selling rock candy where I took a photo of these little cuties.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Television - Slightly Political

Yesterday I did another mountain of work on the Takahe subscribers database (I will link Takahe, when the website is finished). Then in the evening I found I had a huge pile of clean laundry to tackle. Why do my offspring love those heavy cotton drill pants with loads of pockets? I did a huge pile of ironing while watching "Commander in Chief".

While it has its good points I can't say I like it nearly as much as I liked "The West Wing". I was wondering, is it a sign of the times, post 9-11? Or is it that a woman president has to be shown as strong and competent to be credible? something else that struck me last night is that there is no mention of Iraq and not much of the Middle East. This may change - we are way behind the US, I presume, somewhere in the middle of the first season. Last night was full of North Korea and China. Are we supposed to believe that this is set a little in the future, when Dubya had put Iraq to rights and all the soldiers have gone home leaving peace in the Middle East? Oh well, it's just a TV show...

One more thing - that line "I am the leader of the free world" really grates on me. I consider New Zealand part of the free world, and the president of the United States is not my leader.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday

I have been browsing blogs and found that Thursday is Poetry Thursday. While I'd love to take part, I have reservations about publishing other people's copyright works on my blog. So, my contributions to Poetry Thursday will be a "mixter-maxter" (wonderful Scots expression). I intend to alternate between my own published poems (not unpublished ones as I want to be able to submit them for publication in the future, favourites by long-dead authors (not so many of those because I am a modern poetry chook) and links to favourites by current authors that can be found elsewhere on the web.

For today, my autumn poem that was published in "The Press" yesterday. Yes, it's autumn here in the southern hemisphere. (It might help to know when you read it that most New Zealand native trees are evergreen, even the broadleaf ones. They have devices like a waxy coating that keeps them from losing too much moisture in winter).

The Poker Players

A cold wind has passed
down the street on horseback,
shooting up the town,
lashing his whip.
The poker players have made
their declaration: “I’m out”
and flung down their hands
of various golden suits.
Leaves lie in drifts -the spade-like poplars,
lobed maples, and willow
pointed like diamonds.
The players stand about the saloon
grey and gaunt,
against a background of imperturbable green.
Kowhai, manuka, ake ake;
the natives are still in the game.
They are keeping their cards close to their chests.

Close But No Cigar

A while back I sent a poem to a competition run by AA "Directions" magazine. (That's the Automobile Association not Alcoholics Anonymous). The theme was "On the Road" and the maximum was 50 words (which in my opinion is ridiculously short) so I had to prune my 65 word poem a little to make it fit.

Nevertheless last night I found out that I had been listed as one of five "highly commended" poets. Sadly only the prizewinner gets money and publication. But being one of the five runners up feels very good. I only found out by chance, the list was published in the magazine but I had no other notification. I've had my copy for a couple of weeks but hadn't opened it - hey, it's about cars after all! The only person who can make cars interesting is Jeremy Clarkson.

The judge for the competition was Elizabeth Smither. I'm looking forward to reading the winning entry in the next issue of the magazine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ways to Procrastinate #124

Spend time speculating on why you procrastinate. Spend lots of time. Fail to come to a conclusion. Keep speculating anyway.

I am currently wrestling with fixing a poorly maintained database of subscribers to a small literary magazine. The trouble with small literary magazines is that they are usually run by creative people. Hence they do not always have business skills.

It's a tedious job but I have a vested interest in keeping small literary magazines on their feet. The more there are, the more opportunities to be published.