Saturday, February 23, 2013

Two Years On

The peaches on my daughter's peach tree are ripe, so today we are bottling peaches. Which reminded me that two years ago we did the same. The photo above was taken on 21 February 2011. The next day at work, when the city shook and everything came tumbling down, one of my thoughts as I drove home was of the jars of peaches on the kitchen bench. I fully expected to arrive home and find them smashed in pieces all over the floor. They weren't. The lack of damage to the contents of our house seemed to me, and still seems, a minor miracle.

Damage to the structure of the house is another matter. We are still bogged down in insurance claims, about which I have said little here, because although we are worse off than many, we are better off than many, many more. And because the situation is still quite unclear.

Yesterday, the actual two year anniversary, there were memorial services around the city. I thought of going, but didn't. I felt rather low all day, which may have been because of the anniversary, or it may have been the bronchitis I've been battling for several weeks. I have aching chest muscles, probably strained from all the coughing. Bronchitis in one of the best summers we have had for years is unexpected. On the other hand, it hit me just when our street was dug up to replace the earthquake damaged sewer pipes. The old pipes were cut through to connect the new ones. There was dust everywhere due to the dry weather (there still is - the road works started on January 7th and are not finished yet). Many Christchurch residents have reported increased respiratory problems since the earthquakes. There is no proof that it is related, but it does seem like a big coincidence if it is not.

While there was no Tuesday Poem on my blog this week, I was editor at the main hub site, where I posted Joanna Preston's poem Fault in memory of the earthquake. It's a great poem, and I am grateful to Joanna for letting me use it.

My daughter's earthquake anniversary post is here.

We have had more than 11,000 aftershocks in the two and a half years (since the first earthquake on September 4, 2010). They are settling down - we have only felt a few this year, but yesterday, late in the evening, we had a good jolt, as if to say "don't think it's over yet".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Poem: An Inward Sun, by Emma Neale

An Inward Sun

A small, pale circle
shimmers on the kitchen bench
darts to the wall,
drops back to the floor
where it pulses
quick with fear and warm life.

The cat tries to pat it and pluck it:
sniffs, perhaps thinks
of the furred, golden heart
of a field mouse; butter-fried yolk;
round of Gouda; scrap of Sunday pancake.

The baby wants to work the trick
it thinks the cat in its catness can't:
tries to pinch the sun spill up
between finger and thumb;
licks at the honey trickle look
as it pools on the back of his hand,
and so grows the belief
that if he could touch his tongue to the sun
it would taste of popsicle melt,
beach grit, hind-milk, skin-salt
and a whiskery, shadowy,
trace element of cat.

copyright Emma Neale 2012

My thanks to Emma and to Otago University Press for permission to post "An Inward Sun" as my Tuesday Poem this week. It is included in Emma's collection The Truth Garden which won the Kathleen Grattan award for poetry in 2011. It was also the first place getter in last year's Poems in the Waiting Room competition. It is not to late to enter this year's contest, which closes at the end of the month. There are some good prizes on offer for poems suitable for inclusion in poetry cards to be distributed to doctor's waiting rooms, rest homes etc, and the entry fees help to fund the printing and distribution of the cards - a very worthwhile cause, in my opinion.

Emma Neale is a poet and prose writer who lives in Dunedin. She has published a number of novels including Night Swimming and The Fosterling, and three collections of poetry: Sleeve Notes,How to Make a Million, Spark and The Truth Garden.She has also won a number of awards and prizes including the Kathleen Grattan award, and is the judge for this year's Poems in the Waiting Room competition.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Monday, February 04, 2013


A quick photo summary of the last month

Road works in our street, repairing damage to the sewers from the earthquakes (the road works are a huge nuisance, but the repairs are very necessary)

The bird on the neighbour's sunflowers is a greenfinch

I made a quick trip to Wellington - through Wellington, really, for a family funeral

Kaikoura peninsula from the air - I keep meaning to get a disposable film camera when I fly, so I can use it while taking off, when we are told all digital devices have to be turned off.

Back in Christchurch, an artist has decorated the fence in front of one of the remaining buildings in the city so that it looks like a reflection of the building, if you stand in the right spot.