Friday, May 30, 2008

More Quarry Photos

More photos from last week's outing to Halswell Quarry. I took these round the abandoned quarry workers' buildings, after I had completed my orienteering course.

A group of young women were filming a video. They had a large stuffed dummy, which apparently they threw over the edge of the cliff, but I missed the action.

I'm not sure what it was in aid of - perhaps a school or university assignment. It wasn't for the 48 hour Fast and Furious Film Festival , which took place the previous weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Imaginary Worlds

On a hill track near here, a sign warns walkers to watch for "underrunners". These are actually underground passages carved by rain in the clay soil, but the word intrigues me and makes me imagine strange creatures living down there.

This poem is very much a first draft so be kind!


Once they knew the sun. The earth betrayed them,
gave way beneath their feet. You may hear them howling
but you will not see them. They gnaw roots,
snatch at the occasional pale insect.
They wander passages where pale fungi bloom,
running, always running, they keep in time
with the footsteps of those above.

For more imaginary worlds, visit readwritepoem

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why Yes I Do Still Have Legs - Why Do You Ask?

I haven't been orienteering in ages. But all club members are supposed to serve as helpers a few times a year, and I was phoned earlier in the week and asked to help at today's event.

So I stood/sat near this bridge for an hour and a half, writing finish times on clip cards

It was fine when I took the photo, but not for long. Rain did it's best to put a dampener on things...
The garden looks harmless enough here, but this is the flat part. You can see the cliff wall of an old quarry in the background. The bridge is a memorial to the Korean War, I think.

After I'd been relieved of finish duties, I summoned up enough energy to go out on a course myself. Which is quite a different proposition from walking to work a couple of times a week. Safety hazards were described as "pits are deeper than they look, rabbit holes, slippery wet grass and rocks, the quarry edge, cars on the access road" and probably a few more I've forgotten. And yes, it was very slippery. Trying to follow tracks as much as possible didn't help all that much given they were mostly mud churned up by the feet of the dozens of orienteers who went before me.

I stopped at this spot, after fruitlessly searching up and down the hill for the control flag, and photographed the view while I gave my brain a rest.

This is the view across the plains, from the same spot as the previous photo, just aiming the camera higher.

Then I found the control I was looking for, and continued round the course. Further on, I had a choice between going round the top of the quarry and going round the bottom. I think round the bottom was probably a much shorter route. But I hate going down then up, much prefer up then down. And besides, visiting the quarry without walking round the top of it is just not done.

Fantastic views, but I didn't take photos as I thought I should aim to finish before the course closed. Maybe another day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who Says Poetry Doesn't Pay?

According to this newspaper story, a Washington College graduate won a $US67,000 prize for her poem about New Zealand's Franz Josef glacier. (You can read it if you click on the link).

Actually, reading the story carefully, I think they may have it wrong. It seems to me that she actually won the award for a portfolio of work, not just one poem. But either way, it's more than most poets will receive for their efforts in a lifetime.

Autumn Inspirations

At one stage I was trying to publish a daily photo. It got too boring, as some days I had little opportunity to find new things to photograph, given that I leave home just after light in winter and come back at dusk, always by the same route.
I'm sure though, that I can manage a photo expedition once a week or so.

On Mondays I switch jobs at lunchtime, which gives me the perfect opportunity to stop somewhere interesting on the way and snap a few shots.

It's almost too late to be taking autumn photos. I've never figured out the best time, because some trees are still stubbornly clinging to their green, while others are completely bare.

This is the Avon River, near the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (although we are never very far from a river anywhere in Christchurch)

and this is the Antigua Boatsheds, much featured on calendars. Tourists have been hiring canoes from here since the late 1800s.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

You Don't Know How Lucky You Are

A few days ago the price of petrol went up - again - and our local newspaper published a list of prices from different countries.

In NZ dollars per litre (I have no idea how that works out as US dollars per gallon, but I assume the conversion is accurate):

United States $1.33
Australia $1.80
New Zealand $1.94
Britain $2.84
Netherlands $3.23

I will admit that Europe probably has much better public transport than the United States. But it is interesting that most of the complaints I've seen on blogs about high fuel prices come from the US. The Brits don't seem to complain about it at all.

Edited to add:
Maybe I should have converted those figures to prices per gallon. One US gallon is 3.78454 litres so by my calculations, taking the exchange rate into account , it comes out at $1.28 per litre in NZ dollars. A little lower than I said. And since our price has gone up nearly 10 cents a litre in the last week, we are now at $1.97 a litre for regular, over $2.00 for high octane.
I do realise that many Americans have to commute long distances with no suitable public transport, the whole lifestyle is built around cheap fuel. On the other hand, salaries are quite a lot higher in the USA or Australia (or just about anywhere) than in New Zealand.

(End of edit).

I'm trying (without a lot of success) to get up early enough to take photos before I leave for work, the light is lovely at this time of year. This is down by the river, I'm hoping to get back on a colder morning. When it is frosty, the mist rises from the river and the early sun shines through.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Not Blogging

I feel as if I'm getting my life in order - more or less.

By keeping a household task or two in mind, I get them done as soon as I get home from work, which keeps things more or less under control. You just have to remember, as the late Peg Bracken once said, not to start in the same place every time.

(And if you want more handy housekeeping hints, she also said "If it's loose, pick it up, if it's not, dust it, if it moves, feed it")

Somehow my one or two daily tasks, as well as eating dinner, and keeping up with a favourite TV show or two (usually while I do the ironing at the same time) seems to fill my evening.

So now all I have to figure out is how to find time to keep blogging, writing poems, and giving myself the occasional treat outing.

I did get some more of the quilt done over the weekend. It's flagging a bit though, as I desperately want more fabrics. I think I need to reconnect with the quilt group I used to belong to, and find some other quilters to swap fabrics with. It wouldn't do my budget much good to get too carried away in the fabric stores (besides, the fabric stores here suck).

I also had a very pleasant evening on Sunday, as my eldest daughter invited us for dinner - presumably in honour of Mother's Day. And my middle daughter phoned from Wellington.

That's about the sum of the excitement around here at the moment.

I had hoped to have a poem ready for readwritepoem, but I'm running late. We'll see if I manage it before the end of the week.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Getting Reacquainted

Well, I set myself goals for the year, and promptly lost interest in them. I'm not beating myself up about it. I realised that I have certain obligations, and I don't need to make further obligations out of activities that I choose for myself.

I've been working full time for over a year and contributing a large part of the family budget. While I don't do so much of the meal preparation any more, I do most of the housework (as much as any housework gets done, that is) and I do all the laundry. I have commitments to the administration of Takahe magazine.

As for the family history, poetry, orienteering etc, I do it because I want to. And if I don't, I don't have to.

Here is what I am up to at the moment instead of pursuing the goals I announced earlier:

You can see my sewing machine manual on the left hand side of the photo, because it was so long since I had used the machine, I found I had forgotten how to turn it on. (In my defense, it was a fairly new sewing machine when I last used it. I can still remember how to turn my old machine on, the one I had for twenty years or more).

I also couldn't find the switch for the light. After searching the manual for a while, I found that the light should come on automatically. It doesn't. Or at least, it does sometimes. When I twitch my nose properly, or when the wind is in the east, or something. Grrr! I can still sew though, with a carefully placed lamp.

The idea was to make a quilt with fabrics on hand. There are two black and white fabrics and twelve coloured strips in each block of this quilt. I've made eight blocks so far - ninety six coloured pieces. Despite starting with a big stack of purple, turquoise and pink fabrics, I still find myself wanting more variety. I'm trying to resist the urge to buy too many more (besides, the ones in our local quilt shops all seem to look the same).

I'll show the quilt again as it progresses, and tell you more about it.

Meanwhile, there has been a little excitement in our household. One of the young people in this news story is someone rather closely related to me...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Catching Up...

I came home from work on Tuesday to find a sign on the street corner a couple of blocks from my house. The riverside street was going to be closed the next day for tree felling.

Since our little cul de sac leads off this street, with no other entrance and exit, I wondered if I would be able to get out the next morning. As it turned out, the sign was a block further up than the part that was actually closed, and although I had to slalom through traffic cones, I was able to leave without any trouble.

I'm not sure if I was relieved or disappointed. A day at home would have been nice. But I'd probably have felt obliged to go to work anyway, which would mean a tedious and complicated bus ride.

You'd think they'd find a better way to notify the residents than a sign on the corner the night before.

I had an errand to do on the way home (collect accounts for a small literary magazine from the auditor), which left me running late for the final session of the Canterbury Poets Collective autumn readings. However the first half is open mic, and the second half is the guest readers, so I didn't mind too much missing the first two or three. There were some fine open mic readers and a guest reader I was really looking forward to - Rhian Gallagher. Rhian is not very well-known in New Zealand as she lived in the UK for quite a few years, where her collection Salt Water Creek was short-listed for the Forward Prize for best first collection. I first came across her work on the Poetry Daily website (no link as their archive only lasts a year).

Unfortunately I was rather tired and found myself dozing off. In my waking moments I confirmed that I really did like her work, and I also enjoyed the final guest poet Tony Beyer. I think I'll be looking for their books to study more.

Overall I'm beginning to think that I don't really take in all that much at readings. What I come away with mostly is an overall impression of the sound of a poem. And what I am interested in is: does it sound like a poem? What makes it a poem? Much of what I hear, especially from the open mic readers, sounds like prose. On the page it may look like a poem, but on reading it aloud, the line breaks seem to be lost. And some of the open mic poems had really, really long sentences. Beautiful pieces of prose, but prose none the less.

I listen for rhythm and cadence. Some of my favourites were those that didn't contain complete sentences -lists and fragments. It reminds me to experiment more with grammatical constructions in my own writing.

I do have some reports and links on some of the guest poets from earlier sessions, but i'll keep them for another post.