Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Which We Get More Colours

First we had the red zone, which was the cordoned off area in the central city. We still have that red zone, though it has shrunk over time, and is no longer guarded by the army.

Then we had another red zone, along with orange, green and white zones. This red zone, which is not the same as the first red zone, consists of residential areas where the land is too damaged to rebuild on without extensive repair work, and so the government is taking over all the land, and the residents have to move. The green zone is "OK to repair and rebuild", orange is "more information needed" and white is "not yet assessed" (mainly hill areas where there is a high risk of rockfall).

The orange areas were gradually being decided on and turning either red or green. And then on Friday we had a whole bunch more reassessments, so now we have red, a small area still orange, and a larger green area which is also either blue, yellow or grey.

Our near neighbours who were zoned orange are now zoned green (as we were, all along). But we are also blue which means supposedly that the land is at high risk of liquefaction in a future quake. (Despite the fact that we have had no liquefaction whatsoever in any of the 12 or so significant quakes, and around another 8000 aftershocks, so far.) It seems that this means that our repairs can go ahead as long as they don't involve foundations. If repairs to foundations are required, or significant rebuilding, then there will have to be a site-specific geotechnical report, and/or deep pile foundations, designed to new building standards that haven't actually been written yet.

For our own house, we should be OK, except that since we have new damage since our assessment was completed, we will probably have to be assessed again. EQC are claiming they will finish assessments by Christmas, but I think that means assessments from the February 22nd quake. So I have no idea when anything will happen about assessments from the June quake or October 5.5 aftershock.

The other likely consequence of being zoned blue, as far as I can see, is that our insurance premiums will go up significantly.

A small area on the west of the city is grey which means that no change is needed to foundation requirements. Most of the city is yellow which means slightly stricter standards which will supposedly add $5000 to the cost of building a house. As far as I can see, they are the standards that prevailed until twenty years or so ago anyway, when everything was relaxed and builders started putting a concrete slab on the ground instead of building proper foundations.

I'm not sure what it is with all the colours - the zones are TC1, TC2 and TC3 which would seem to be adequate without getting crayons out of the box, except that it does I suppose make it easier to display all the information on maps.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Restarting the Heart

Today I headed down to Cashel Street for the opening of a new retail precinct. Most of the buildings in this street (the City Mall) have been demolished, making it safe to enter! - and dozens of shipping containers have been moved in and converted to modern-looking shops.

We arrived just as someone - either the Prime Minister or the Mayor, I couldn't see - was about to declare it open. The shops on the left of this photo are among the few buildings still standing in the street, but they are not occupied, presumably being in need of repair still.

Once the crowd started moving, we headed towards Scorpio Books, who had chosen the opening day for the start of their annual sale.

It was rather crowded inside but I did manage to come away with some purchases, mostly poetry.

I explored a bit further. This is Johnson's, a specialty grocery store. It lacks its former old world atmosphere, but they have kept their old fashioned delivery bicycle.

Ballantynes department store is operating partly from its former premises, the undemolished part, and partly from containers. Inside, a trio was providing entertainment

while outside, this busker drew a large crowd.

More brightly coloured container shops.

The Bridge of Remembrance stands at the start of the Mall. However, due to earthquake damage the bridge itself is still closed. The carpark on the left of the photo stands on the site of the Bog, among other shops, an Irish bar where I have enjoyed a few pub quiz nights in the past.

Apparently around 10,000 people enjoyed the opening. It will be interesting to see how successful these shops are longer term. Will people come into town just to shop, given that all the lawyers, accountants, and hotel guests who would normally shop here have closed down or moved away from the central city?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd and wrought, and thought with me--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This is not the poem I planned to post today, however it came to mind for a couple of reasons - firstly, a discussion at my newly formed small writers' group last week, and secondly - the victory celebrations in Christchurch today for the Rugby World Cup. I'm not much of a rugby follower, really, but it seemed that a "heroic" poem was appropriate to the occasion.

Chunks of this one are very familiar to me, as I had to memorise it in my teenage years when I was taking speech classes for a year or so. Although it is probably less meaningful to a teenager than to someone approaching the other end of life - and I would have to admit that (even though my grandmother lived to 104), my life is almost certainly more than halfway through!

For more Tuesday poems, visit the main hub site here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn Poetry in Springtime

First the venue for the CPC (see below) autumn series was lost because the landlord didn't renew the lease of the Madras Cafe Bookshop.
So they found a new venue which was destroyed in the February earthquake.

And finally, the series is underway - what should have been the autumn series is now the spring series:

Canterbury Poets Collective (CPC) presents
Poetry in Performance the 2011 Spring Season

The new big fat comfortable venue is the CPIT Students
Association (CPSA) Hall, at 5 Madras Street and about 300
meters south of our well loved Madras Café and Book Shop.

Open mic and guest readers. Wednesdays at 6.30 pm, $5 entry
Audience vote for the Best Open Mic Poet, see 7 December below.

19 October Vincent O'Sullivan, Jan Hutchison, Christina Stachurski,
Launch of VoicePrints3, featuring BYO & Visiting poets from 2010.
26* October Diana Bridge, Rodney Foster, Helen Bascand.
2* November Selina Marsh, Mark Raffills, Helen Jacobs.
9* November Bill Manhire, Steve Thomas, Dina Durrer.
16 November David Eggleton, Poets of The Hagley Writers' Institute.
23 November Vana Manasiadis, Gail Collier, James Norcliffe.
30 November Sarah Broom, Catherine Fitchett, Sandy Bain.
7 December Winning Open Mic Poets from the season.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the first event but I am looking forward to next week, and to seeing a copy of VoicePrints3, in which I have a poem published.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Hatch, by Frankie McMillan


Sweetheart, I have fooled you again
telling you the empty emu egg
contains a tiny chick inside

We hollow a nest in the black bean bag
you sit, solemn faced, bare legs
crossed to keep in the warmth

You ask when your baby will be born
and I say it will take a little while
for feathers, a beating heart to form

and you sigh as if all your life
you knew this to be true
Time passes, you stand to check

your shell, finger the white dimpled
surface, smoothing your cheek over
the big circumference of egg

We talk of names; Malaya and Bim
and whether they will become dancers
or singers in whirly pink skirts,

whether to scatter breadcrumbs
in the woods or as night falls to
whisper a counting game to ten

The house is quiet as you sit upright
hands under your armpits, your wings
stiffened with these small hopes

And then it happens - the bean bag rustles
you rise, cupping hands as if in a dream
of china milk jugs and wedding gowns

and oh, how you almost convince
as you offer the sky your palms
See my chickens! See my chickens!

Published with permission of the author.

Christchurch writer Frankie McMillan's poetry collection Dressing for the Cannibals was released in 2009. Frankie has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, has published short stories and in 2009 won the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition.

Many of the poems in Dressing for the Cannibals include slightly surreal elements, with wonderful titles like "Why my son lives in the sky", "Undressing my ancestors", "The piano learns to swim" and the title poem "Dressing for the cannibals". And yet, despite the touch of surrealism, the poems always manage to convince - something they share with both the narrator in this poem, and the young granddaughter who is perhaps not so much fooled, as in on the pretence.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekend Roundup

We have been having some great weather lately - at least on Thursdays. I sit in the office with the sun pouring in, and think about getting out on to the hills over the weekend. And then Friday comes (which is the start of the weekend for me), and it's grey and cold.

I went walking anyway, yesterday and today. No photos yesterday, because I was hunkered down in my raincoat against the weather, and cloud and mist don't make for great views. Today though, once I had got started, it cleared enough for a few photos.

There are better views from the track on the other side of the hill, but that one is closed due to the rockfall hazard after the earthquake. With at least nine thousand unstable boulders identified, I think it will be a good while, if ever, before all the tracks are open again.

All the shops that were in collapsed or damaged buildings, or that are locked out of the cordoned off central city, are scrambling for new homes. Sydenham and Addington, two formerly rather run-down suburbs, are suddenly becoming trendy. I used to shop at the Spotlight Plaza in Sydenham, chiefly for Spotlight - a budget fabric, craft and homeware store - and Payless Plastics, where you can get all sorts of plastic containers, among other things. Now the building has been renamed "the Colombo" and it's going upmarket. I went to have a look at Bolt of Cloth, primarily to drool. They stock beautiful furnishing and craft fabric. Their new shop is much smaller than their old one, and they seem to be stocking more items like china and tea towels. But I was very taken with their solution to the space problem.

That rack in the background of the photo displays "fat quarters" of fabric (a half a metre of fabric, cut in half lengthwise). But a closer look reveals that it slides, to reveal another rack behind, and another, and another... five in all. I would love to have one of those in my sewing room.

Most of the other new shops are clothes shops and most of them are out of my price range. Their are rumours that Spotlight is moving, so it may be that Bolt of Cloth will be my only reason to come back here. I have it on good authority that some of the tenants are being paid considerable sums to terminate leases early, so that the landlord can acquire new tenants willing to pay higher rents. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

We had a 5.5 aftershock last Sunday - the biggest since June 13th and 12th biggest overall. The shake itself didn't bother me. But I found myself feeling somewhat down in the next few days, because it seems as if it will never end, and constant aftershocks are delaying progress on settling insurance claims and rebuilding. But there are hopeful signs. A new bus exchange is opening in a week or so. Instead of having to take one bus to the south of the city, a second shuttle bus around the perimeter, and a third bus from the north side, commuters on some routes will be able to take just one bus that goes right across the city again. There are also new bus routes starting to cater for the fact that all the lawyers, accountants and so on are concentrated in different parts of the city than they were before.

There are also plans to start opening some of the cordoned-off areas soon, starting with the City Mall, where there will be a lot of pop-up shops in converted shipping containers. That's because so many buildings have been demolished. There are also going to be bus tours through the cordoned-off areas, starting November 5th. I'm not sure how much there is left to see, though.

Back to fabric - our local library has a display of quilts from the quilting group run for refugee and migrant women. This display runs every October and I always enjoy seeing the colourful quilts in the library.

This was my favourite, and has me itching to get out fabrics and play with them. Though I'm not at all short of unfinished projects already.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Scotland Yet, by Jessie Miller

Scotland Yet

My heart is far away in that dear land
Of heath-clad, purple hills and rocky strand,
Where spreading bracken in their shadows hide
The wild, sweet violets growing side by side,

Where silver streamlets softly wind their way,
And murmur music sweetly all the day,
Or dash in cascades down the mountain's side,
And streak the russet moorland, wild and wide.

I hear again the lark's glad, joyous song
Poured forth in thrilling torrents clear and strong,
As up he soars to greet the dawning morn,
Whose shafts of light proclaim the day is born,

Where bright-eyed daisies deck the verdant lea
And wild rose garlands lure the passing bee,
Where graceful bluebells and the primrose pale
With golden daffodils adorn the vale.

And when the sky is grey and leaves are shed
And birds have ceased to sing and flowers are dead,
When tempests fiercely rage and high seas roll
And storm and dark combine to awe the soul,

My heart but loves thee more, and fain would fly
Where white mists gleam and deep snows drifted lie,
Where danger waits to meet the sons of toil,
To make them strong defenders of their soil.

Brave Scotland, where the flowers in beauty spring,
We far away thy songs will ever sing,
And though for Empire's sake we widely roam
Our hearts still turn to thee, our father's home.

- Jessie Miller


Last week I posted a poem which was also an advertisement. This week's poem has more serious intent, but much of the same patriotic Scottish sentiment. Jessie Miller was a distant relative of mine and her book of poems, Duty and Ease, is in my collection of family history materials. She wrote at about the time of the First World War, and her poems were published regularly in the Kinross Advertiser, so she seems to have been quite well-renowned, in her local area at least.

Many of the poems are quite martial and stirring, as well as pious - no doubt intended to uplift at a time when the nation was at war. They may seem quaint now, but I wonder what will future generations make of the bulk of poetry written now? Only time will tell what has lasting value and what doesn't.

I've been a bit lax lately in sending out requests for permission to post poems, or in writing any of my own, but I hope to remedy that in the next few weeks and post something more modern.
In the meantime, for more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Emigrant's Farewell

The Emigrant's Farewell.

Farewell to bonnie Scotland! to the mountains and the glen,
The land of love and freedom of fair women and brave men.
The good ship now outspreads her wings to bear us o'er the foam
Far, far from Caledonia and our Native Highland home.

Farewell to him who served me well with famous boots and shoes
A parting word of gratitiude to him we can't refuse
His boots through many changing years have well adorned our feet
Enabling old and young to walk in ease and comfort sweet.

Farewell to friends and kinsfolk - shall we ever see them more?
Or shall our bones be laid to rest on yonder far off shore?
We know not - but we hope and trust we shall not seek in vain
For Scottish hearts both leal and true across th' atlantic main.

Farewell Auld Scotland it may prove a long and last adieu;
But though the glistening tear should dint our last fond look at you
Our heads are cool, are hearts are firm and we have for our feet


This poem was originally published in an advertisement on the front page of The Scotsman, June 5th 1882. It's blatantly commercial, of course. But somehow, I fell in love with it for its peculiarly Scottish mix of sentimentality and practicality.

My Scottish ancestors set out for New Zealand, and their siblings and cousins to many other countries, in the 19th century, and may well have been shod in Leckie's boots and shoes. And no doubt there was a glistening tear or two on their cheeks when they left their friends and relatives behind.

I like the fact that advertisements back then didn't have to grab the attention quite so quickly as they seem to nowadays, leaving room for a four stanza poem, instead of a quick sound bite slogan.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

What I Have Been Doing

The blog has been a bit neglected lately with the change of seasons. Spring brings with it the urge for change and I have found myself exercising more - long walks as part of a weight loss regime - and trying to take control of the garden.

Not that I have great plans for the garden - I'm anticipating that when earthquake repairs are done - both to the house and all the walls and fences - there will be men in big muddy boots trampling all over the place, and shrubs cut back to better access the walls and foundations. This won't happen any time soon but it doesn't seem worth planting anything too long-lived in the meantime. So I'll be relying a lot on annuals for colour - especially the ones that like to plant themselves, like alyssum and cornflowers. In the meantime, my gardening efforts are mainly confined to keeping lawns under control, pruning, and weeding.

As for the walks - everything is affected by earthquakes around here. My favourite walking tracks on the Port Hills are almost all closed due to rock fall hazard. It would be entirely possible to walk on them anyway, since the closure amounts to a small sign at the start of each track saying "This track is closed due to rockfall hazard". But the idea of walking under towering cliffs, given the 8000 or so aftershocks we've experienced in the last year, isn't very appealing. Especially with the thought that if anything did happen, since the track is closed, there probably won't be too many people coming along to find me and help out. So I have been exploring a bit further afield for my walks, rather than confine myself to the one nearby track that is still open - since it runs along the top of a spur, and there is not much above to fall down.

Today I headed up to the carpark at the Sign of the Kiwi, at the top of Dyers Pass, and headed south along the Crater Rim walkway by the Summit Road. There are plenty spots where there are spectacular views of Lyttelton Harbour below. There are also lots of side tracks which head down the steep slopes towards the harbour, but these appear to be all closed due to the rockfall hazard, so the main track is pretty much the only option. Still, since I haven't walked this part before, it was interesting enough, and next time I will probably take the car further along the road, and start from the spot I reached today before turning around to head back.

Spring means lots of lambs, including this little black-faced one:

And gorse with a dense cover of yellow blossom:

The gorse was brought in by the early English settlers, for hedging on their farms. We wince now at their lists of supplies which include items such as "10lbs of gorse seed". They didn't realise how invasive and unwanted it would become in the milder New Zealand climate. It does look spectacular in spring, though.

The photo of Lyttelton Harbour with gorse in the foreground was taken from a few metres along one of the closed side tracks. The sign pointed to a lookout, however I wasn't prepared to go any further to find it, especially when I caught sight of this boulder complete with spray painted number.

The rock is about twice my height so would make quite a mess if it fell on top of me. I realised when I uploaded my photos that it is rather blurred, however as it's the only one I have, I decided to post it anyway.