Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Strawberry Santas by my husband. While I can imagine a winter Christmas, I find it very hard to imagine a Christmas without strawberries...

Tiny tree with origami books by my daughter. Each book contains a poem. I think she searched my blog to find poems I liked..

Hope you are all having/have had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and friends..

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Heatwave, by Emma Neale


February 2013: New Zealand’s worst drought in 30 years

It’s a hot, find shade like a dog day,
let the child crawl, mewl and nip,
pant in my belly-shadow, back-shadow;
get up, pace, restless for coolness,
stalk the scent of water, hope,
openness, that icy air
that rides a river’s meniscus
and carries the dark-flow of trees …

Along the scrappy riverbank,
its rough, ugly, unhewn rocks,
the hills rear up like something unclear
in an uneasy dream, while Himalayan fuchsia,
kōwhai and beech gasp through
the chloroform rags of old man’s beard,
passion-vine, woodbine.

It seems in this heat haze
as if some colourist, or abstract expressionist
has tried to paint out some difficult concept
in green and green and green
but can’t unbind
from their own ouroborine obsession:

loving too much, loss of self,
greed, lust, the choking, short-term view,
the slow contraction of our end of days

green eats green eats green.

but a cry splashes on the air;
the child’s seen red rata, wild plums,
their pinot-sweet light quivers, wells
bright as freshet-falls.

We scramble up the banks of parched grass,
use a peaked sun-cap for a pail,
climb, stretch and sweat
to pluck plump palmfuls,
until the hill path
tips the small boy down
like a tumble of milk that weeps for itself.

The weeds snare, they clamber and drag,
seem to say Homo inhumanus, Homo insapiens.

We push back up
through tinder-brittle undergrowth
when with a rush of noise as if to say
its name is Nightmare a giant bird
comes to stake its claim.

‘But they’re our plums!’
the three-year-old cries;
‘They’re wild,’ I say, evenly;
‘and we have to share, share the planet
with all the other animals,’
as if not complicit, ashamed, riven
with dear world, how long …
what if … what have we forsaken

Yet when the boy bravely holds a plum
balanced on his palm like an apple for a horse
and the bird’s wings laugh closer,
even the low river seems to misremember
its own name; in curved sheets of glass
that still spill and spill, it sings Lethe, Lethe,
and under my stubborn skin
wide-mouthed flowers
pistils sweet with survival’s honey
petals bright as poison
crane towards the drought-taut sky:
common-or-garden now,
common-or-garden joy.

-Emma Neale

I recently enjoyed reading Emma Neale's latest book of poems, "Tender Mercies". And the poems in the collection are indeed tender, but also fierce, and beautiful, and harsh, and many other things, all at once. It's not so much that she shows us the beauty in ugliness - a cliched sort of description which doesn't do justice to the poems, for it implies that the beauty and the ugliness, or fierceness, or harshness, are different things, separate from each other. Whereas to me it felt as if the poems showed a wholeness, where the beauty and the tenderness and the fierceness and the harshness were all the same thing, like shot silk where the colours can't be separated from each other.

I'm grateful to Emma for permission to post the above poem from the collection. Tuesday Poem, sadly, is coming to a close, though I may post more poems in the future. Over at the main hub site, there is a celebratory final poem made up of lines from all the participants over the years (including one of mine). The group has taken a lot of work and Mary McCallum and Clare Beynon, along with others, have done a fantastic job coordinating it all over the last five years, but sadly no one has the time now to keep it going. The site will however, stay open, with five years worth of poems to browse at the readers' leisure, along with links to all the participants. It's been a great ride while it lasted.

Now I should post a bio, but it is very late at night, I am in a mad pre-Christmas too many things to do rush, and it has been said better than I can, elsewhere on the internet. So, you will find more about Emma here and here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Tuesday Poem: On the Need for a New Flag

New Flag

             the old one
seen by Kupe

three stripes

land between

flown to mark

copyright Catherine Fitchett

This poem was first published in "The Chookbook: Free Range Organic Poetry" which was a collection put out by the small poetry critique group of which I was a part. It seemed quite topical at the moment so I decided to post it as my Tuesday poem this week. (That reminds me, I need to fill in my flag referendum paper - have you filled out yours yet?)

I had been travelling on the inter-island ferry and had a "visual flash" in which I saw the land and sea laid out before me as if it was a flag flying.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Memories of Long Grass, by Carolyn McCurdie

Memories of long grass
for Lesley and Steve

We were quick to claim this ground
relinquished by thick-tongued cows
not yet chomped by bulldozers;
on long swooping slopes and gullies
the seeding grasses nodded, waited just for us.

Disdainful, we pushed aside
stalks swaddled by the nursery web spider
ready for her teeming young;
we trampled tracks where no one
walked but skinks, mice, a cat.
Tiger tracks.

The huts we made were dreams of huts, made more
of air than granny-knotted grass that broke
and slipped. Inside the open walls, we sat
and watched the sun stripe our arms and legs.

We rolled the grass flat to make circles
the radius of our bodies. Then our eyes probed eternity
finding it blue, and beyond that, blue
and beyond that…

The grass held us cupped; the sky bent down
and sipped us up.

copyright Carolyn McCurdie
used with permission

I have been enjoying a number of poetry books lately put out by Makaro Press, the imprint started by the indefatigable Mary McCallum, who is also the instigator of Tuesday Poem. Among them was Carolyn McCurdie's first collection, Bones in the Octagon. My first instinct was to ask her if I could post January Begins as my Tuesday Poem (although it is slightly out of season), however I found that it had already been posted online - so I chose this one, especially for its wonderful last stanza, which to me evoked the wonder of childhood, of exploring the outdoors, of summer days that seem to last forever.

Carolyn is a Dunedin writer who has worked as a teacher and librarian. Winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society’s International Poetry Competition and the Lilian Ida Smith Award, she is a long-time contributor to New Zealand’s leading poetry journals, and has published an ebook of short stories and a children’s fantasy novel. Carolyn is a member of the Octagon Poets Collective and helps to organise live poetry events in Dunedin.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site. We are a group of New Zealand and international poets who each try to post a poem on our blogs every Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So Much Depends On...

I have been flat out lately. I'm hoping to get back to the blog with a Tuesday Poem next week.
In the meantime, I enjoyed Joe Bennett's rewrite of William Carlos William's red wheelbarrow poem in our newspaper, and online here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Making Starfish, by Serie Barford

Making Starfish

to the untrained eye
starfish have no front or back

but village women know better
these days they cut stencils
from discarded x-ray plates

create whole beds of starfish
on bark cloth and cotton sheets

when you cut x-rays
they utter a peculiar cry

but starfish split silently
make more of themselves
to fill up empty spaces

something the lonely could do

- Serie Barford, published in Tapa Talk (Huia Publishers, 2007)

It is that time of year again when Canterbury poets and poet lovers enjoy the Canterbury Poets' Collective spring reading series, stretching over more than two months. One of this year's guest readers' was Serie Barford, whose work I enjoyed very much.

Serie is a poet and short story writer with a strong interest in performance poetry. She was born in Aotearoa/New Zealand to a German Samoan mother and palagi father. She has published three collections of poetry (with another book forthcoming) and in 2011 was awarded the Seresin Landfall Residency. A much fuller bio is found on the New Zealand Book Council website, which I have linked to above. The collection "Tapa Talk" was inspired by her time on the mainland and various other islands of New Caledonia, along with poems based on her Samoan background. Serie says:

In Samoa the templates cut from x-rays were used for design making on siapo (tapa cloth). They don't do tivaevae but they do make fala su'i, a kind of bedpread that's made by emboidering pandanus mats with wool. My next book (Entangled Islands) is based on this concept and each emboidered panel is metaphorically based on a cluster of poems and short stoies.

Entangled Islands is published by Anahera Press and is due out in December of this year.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site and check out all the bloggers in the side bar.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The Girl Who Sings Islands

The Girl Who Sings Islands

The girl who sings islands stands
on the branch of an apple tree
grasping the one above.
She sings, and small shoals
of fish swim from her mouth,
slip into the river and head for the sea.
She sings and each syllable
becomes coral, becomes pearl,
becomes a small chain of atolls
strung across the Pacific.

The girl who sings islands
has a white dress, its broderie hem
a froth of white foam washing
around her shores. She sings,
and the apple tree breaks into blooms
of frangipani, tiare, hibiscus.

The girl who sings islands
swings her foot back and forth,
back and forth, dipping into the air
as a paddle dips into the waves.
She propels her waka
on its long ocean journey
sings and paddles, sings and paddles
paddles and sings.

copyright Catherine Fitchett

I have been a bit slow in organising permissions and haven't posted a Tuesday Poem for a few weeks, so thought I would post one of my own this week. This poem was placed third in the 2015 Poems in the Waiting Room competition and appeared in their Winter Poetry Card.

The girl in the poem was a young girl I used to watch on my walks home from work. She was singing and playing much as described,in a language I thought to be one of the Pasifika tongues, although obviously I added an element of fantasy to the poem.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Sabbath, by Mary Cresswell


not that the dead will visit – they are dead.
But while we living bathe in such mild air,
neither will I rinse them from my mind,
beloved bones dismantled into sand.
Rachel Hadas, “Shells”

I lay the table as I always did:
blue and white dishes, crystal glasses.
The linen cloth is new. Never mind,
when he comes, he will recognise
if not me, at least the meal I serve,
the candles, the wine, the braided bread.
The words come more slowly.
I am out of practice and unused
to visitors. Greeting them is hard –
not that the dead will visit – they are dead.

I display my dead on the mantelpiece
arrange them in rows like smoky quartz
picked up on mountain trails
or bivalves washed up on beaches.
Unlike the loud and living, they don’t answer back.
They stand mute and dusty. Always, the dead are
accommodating, part of rituals past
and rituals yet to come. Either way,
it’s OK to leave them there.
But while we living bathe in such mild air,

storms roll in from every compass point;
unrecognisable flotsam and jetsam
pile up in heaps. When high tide relaxes
we are left with an expanse of debris
otherwise known as thoughts.
The dead are more kind.
They rest outside our tumbling chaos
waiting for us to pick through them.
I pause my sorting, grubby and begrimed,
to swear I’ll never rinse them from my mind

so I decide it’s time to build
a place to hold us all, perhaps
a temple – a tumulus – a bower
to safely store the memories
I need to keep with me. Call it what
you like. The dead have all the words to hand.
I mine them all to pick through
and extract my dearest shards. Then I
use them to construct my promised land:
beloved bones dismantled into sand.

© Mary Cresswell

Mary Cresswell is a poet and science editor who lives on the Kapiti Coast. She was born in Los Angeles and moved to New Zealand in 1970. "Sabbath" is taken from her book, Fish Stories, published by Canterbury University Press.

I asked Mary if I could post the poem because I have fallen for a form called the glosa, of which it is a fine example. The glosa is based on a quatrain by another author. Each line of the glosa forms the last line of one of four ten line stanzas. In each stanza, lines six and nine rhyme with line ten.

Mary says:
The poem was written for a Los Angeles friend, a World War II refugee from France (a "displaced person" as they were called then) and later used at her memorial service. It's a twist on the usual Friday night sabbath meal, because it welcomes the sabbath as a bridegroom rather than a bride.

The Tuesday Poem community is a group of poets who each aim to post a poem on their blogs every Tuesday. For more Tuesday Poems, check out the main hub site.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Ozymandias, by Horace Smith


In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows: -
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." the City's gone, -
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder, - and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

- Horace Smith(1779-1849)

Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias is well-known. This companion poem by his friend Horace Smith is not so well-known, indeed, I had never heard of it until attending a course on poetic forms with Joanna Preston, where we were introduced to bout-rimé. The idea of bout-rimé is a sort of poetic game whereby the participants are given a set of end rhymes by another participant, and have to come up with a poem using those end rhymes in the given order. Shelley and Smith had read about the discovery of the statue of Ozymandias (the Greek name for Rameses II), and challenged each other to write a sonnet about it, beginning with set end rhymes.

The Tuesday Poets are a group of poets who each aim to post a poem on their blogs on Tuesdays. At the main hub site, one of the members acts as editor and posts a poem for the week, while all the participants are listed in the sidebar. There is lots of poetic inspiration to be found there if you click on through!

(Yes, it's Wednesday. I suddenly found this had not appeared on my blog, and discovered that it was still in "draft". So here it is, a day late).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The Genesis Wafers, by Clive James

Genesis carried wafers in her hold
To catch the particles sent from the sun.
Diamond, sapphire, gold
Were those fine webs, as if by spiders spun
Beside whom specks of dust would weigh a ton.

Continue reading

Years back I used to watch Clive James on TV, and found him an entertaining critic and travel writer - but I was only vaguely aware of his poetry, from the title poem in his collection "The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered". So I had always thought of him as someone who wrote light satirical poetry. That is, until I took a class with Joanna Preston which looked at a number of his more recent poems, and I found that he was a good deal more serious than that.

Some of his most beautiful poems, such as "Japanese Maple", have been written in the last few years, since his diagnosis with leukaemia in 2010.However, while on holiday last week I read his slightly earlier collection, "Angels Over Elsinore", from which the above poem is taken. It appealed to me for its expression of the beauties of science, as I have been working on a scientific poetry project of my own.

Clive James is generous with his poetry and shares most of it on his website, so I have linked to the rest of the poem there. It is well worth clicking through to read it all, and then exploring further.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site. The poem shared there this week is "What Heartbreak Felt Like" by Annabel Hawkins. And you will find links to many other participating blogs in the side bar.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Sunday Lunch, by Paula Green

Sunday Lunch

Everyone turns up for Sunday lunch
even Pythagoras makes an appearance.

I want to discuss the great novels
but conversation favours the harmony of the spheres.

If our ears are deaf to the music
of objects in motion, I hear that
we are immune to the ever-present world.

Simone de Beauvoir passes the kofta.
Everyone agrees the taste of eggplant
and mashed potato is in perfect harmony.

Plato is cutting the bread and
admiring the baker’s thumbprint.

Copernicus dresses the salad
oil lemon mustard honey
on runner beans and radishes.

Simone has laid pomegranate seeds
the length of the table
to track the faultline of human existence.

‘It all comes back to story,’
she says, admiring her handiwork.

- Paula Green
used by permission

I have been reading and enjoying Paula Green's collection The Baker's Thumbprint published in 2013 by Seraph Press. I felt the poem above, Sunday Lunch, best gave the flavour of the first part of the collection, which reminded me of that question beloved of certain interviewers: if you could ask anyone to a dinner party, living or dead, who would you invite? Besides the characters above, Einstein, Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Janet Frame and others wander in and out of these playful and yet somehow serious poems. And then, of course, there are the descriptions of food, which make me feel rather hungry!

Paula Green has published seven previous collections of poetry, including two for children, and has written several children's books. With Harry Ricketts, she co-authored 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The Soldier Born in 1983, by Jennifer Compton

The Soldier Born in 1983

Before he could walk he crawled
for all the world the way a soldier
slithered through New Guinea
or Vietnam.

I could almost see the rifle
in his crooked arms
as he went elbows and knees
across the kitchen floor.

He searched the house through
but could not find his gun.
Rose up on his hind legs
found the wood basket and

something comfortable like a weapon.
He turned with a happy grin
slew his family with a practised sweep
and exactly the right sound.

- Jennifer Compton
used with permission

When I started high school I dove happily into everything on offer (everything except sports, at least!). This included the public speaking competitions - prepared and impromptu. One year ahead of me, and therefore in the same "junior" competitions, was one Jennifer Compton who impressed me enormously with her facility with words. We each went our separate ways, and it was not until 2004 when I discovered the poem above on the Poetry Daily website, with an attribution to Poetry Wales and wondered if it might possibly be the same Jennifer Compton. (Wales being a long way from New Zealand!)

And yes, it turned out to be the same Jennifer Compton, living in Australia, not Wales, and now a fellow Tuesday Poet. And I still admire her facility with words. She has written plays, short stories, and several collections of poems, including This City which won the Kathleen Grattan award and was published by Otago University Press in 2011. Her most recent publications are Mr Clean and the Junkie, a verse novella published by Wellington's Makaro Press, and Now You Shall Know, published in Australia by Five Islands Press. The poem above was included in her 2004 collection Parker and Quink. She blogs at Stillcraic

Monday, August 03, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Landscape with the Fall of John Damian

Landscape with the Fall of John Damian

after Auden, “Musée des Beaux Arts”

If the painter had been there, he would have seen
how flat the lands below the castle
dotted with people – the tenant in his fields
making hay, the fisherman in his barge,
the distant drover bringing cattle
from the markets at Crieff. They did not
turn their backs. They glanced up
from time to time, checking for signs
the king was in residence, wondering
when the carts would be sent out
to gather their crops and cattle for a feast.
So it might have been that one of them
would have noted the fall from the cliff –
an indeterminate shape dark against the sky,
not flying too close to the weak Scottish sun
even for a moment, but plummeting –
too distant to make out the detail.
The observer would have shrugged, assumed
a particularly large bundle of rubbish
had followed the piss that the maids
emptied from the chamber pots,
wiped his brow, turned back to his work.

© Catherine Fitchett

Note: Scotland’s first recorded attempt at flight took place at Stirling Castle in September 1507. John Damian, an Italian alchemist at the court of James IV, attempted to fly from the castle’s walls with the aid of feathered wings. He failed completely, landing in a dunghill and breaking his thigh.

After wrestling with a different poem about our 2007 visit to Stirling Castle, I laid it aside. Some years later, inspired by Breughel's painting "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus", and the Auden poem which was inspired by that painting, I wrote the above poem, which was included in the 2014 New Zealand Poetry Society anthology take back our sky.

My ancestors farmed in the very flat lands across the river from Stirling Castle. I was able to visit the farm where my great grandparents were married, and observed the magnificent view of the castle across the river. I like to imagine one of my ancestors working in the fields and looking up to observe John Damian falling from the castle walls, as described in the poem.

I have been a bit slack about posting to Tuesday Poem lately. However, I am having a poetry reading binge lately and am in the process of selecting a number of poems to post over coming weeks, providing that permission is forthcoming. So, to kick it all off, I am posting one of my own this week.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Bright is the Ring of Words, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
When the singer sings them.
Still they are carolled and said,
On wings they are carried,
After the singer is dead
And the maker buried.

Low as the singer lies
In the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring
The swains together.
And when the west is red
With the sunset embers,
The lover lingers and sings
And the maid remembers.

-Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

I was tidying up some folders of poetry, and came across the first stanza of the above poem. A google search revealed the second stanza. The poem seems to have no title other than the first line. It has been set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, in a song cycle "Songs of Travel".

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. He is well known for his novels Kidnapped and Treasure Island, as well as his collection A Child's Garden of Verses.
He came from a family of lighthouse engineers, but although he enjoyed his travels with his father to inspect various lighthouses, he turned away from the family profession to pursue a life of letters.
He died in Samoa, where he had settled, at the age of 44.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Old Faithful

Our microwave was starting to make an annoying rattle when in use, so my husband decided to take it in to the repair shop to see if they could do anything with it. He came home and said that when they had finished rolling on the floor laughing, they said they would look at it.

Really, it goes very well and has ever since we bought it - which, by my calculation, was around 36 years ago. I think that the problem is that the wheels that rotate the tray are rather worn down, hence the rattle (when it doesn't stick and refuse to turn at all). Everything else works fine. I really don't want to have to buy a new one, which wouldn't last nearly so long.

It's not even our oldest appliance. Our freezer is around 43 years old, and my Kenwood cake mixer is nearly 45 years old - that has been repaired once or twice, but it still works much better than a modern one.

I often read that old fridges and freezers should be upgraded, because they use much more power than a new one. Which is all very well, but how many years would it take to recoup the cost of the new appliance in lowered electricity bills? And what about the extra resources - metal, power, transport etc - involved in making the new one and disposing of the old one? So for the meantime, I am happy with my old faithful collection of kitchen helpers. And I am sincerely hoping that the microwave comes back to us as good as new. I miss it!

Monday, June 15, 2015


The poor blog has been rather neglected lately.I have been languishing somewhat heading into winter, not helped by an attack of shingles. A nasty blistering rash, like chicken pox but more localised (and I think, more painful).

I spotted the goat outside The Mohair Store, in a nearby suburb. His warm woolly scarf looked very appealing. Snow is forecast for next weekend.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, by W B Yeats

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Among the many e-mail in my inbox this week, I found one from Tourism Ireland alerting me to the fact that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). It seemed appropriate, then to post a Yeats poem as my Tuesday Poem this week. Yeats was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1923. His early work drew heavily on Irish mythology and folklore, while later work was more politically influenced.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Wahine Smoking, by Ruth Arnison

Wahine Smoking

My favouritest thing at that Olveston place was
that old guy's painting of the wahine.

Some of the kids didn't think much of it but I
reckon she looked real cool.

The teacher said, look what happens to you girls
if you smoke - that wahine is only 18.

We all laughed, cos he's a right clown our teacher.
Katie May don't always pick up things real quick
and she said,

What school did that kid go to sir? Must've been
a cool one letting her have tats AND jewellery.

We all laughed our socks off and Katie May went,
what, what are you lot laughing at?

The guide just smiled and asked us to follow her.
They must hear a right load of old bosh,
those guides.

In 2014 Ruth Arnison invited artists to create works responding to poems written during her term as poet in residence at Olveston, Dunedin’s historic home. She marked the end of her residency by publishing the artworks and poems in a book, organising an exhibition, a poetry performance and a Questions and Artists session at Olveston. See the blog here.

Other poems in the book respond to works on display at Olveston House. I enjoyed the above poem based on a painting by C F Goldie, with its air of eavesdropping on a tour group of school children, and their reactions to the historic house.

Ruth works part time as the admin person for a research project at Otago University. She is the editor of Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ).

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Origami Easter Rabbit

We had a family Easter lunch and my daughter brought these cute little origami rabbits just big enough to hold three little eggs each. When I asked her if the instructions were on the internet, she told me "everything's on the internet". So I did a quick google search. Here's a link to a tutorial. There are lots more.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Take a Seat

I took these photos the last time I went into the city. This installation is called The Green Room. The mosaic chair and ottoman took a year to create, using donated china that had been broken in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The garden surrounding the chair was created by Greening the Rubble.

"On the back of the chair are two soldiers. These are from a cup and saucer set given to Pamela McKenzie, when she was 6 years old. She attended... a single teacher school (with) 12 pupils. They all got a cup showing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, in commemoration of the coronation of King George 6th, in 1936." (Taken from a sign at the site).

For more interesting chairs, please visit Carmi's blog, where his theme for the week is Please Be Seated.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Canterbury Plains from Kennedy's Bush Track

It's been far too long since I got much exercise. So I took a walk up to the Summit Road by way of Kennedy's Bush track. this is one of the longer routes up - I may have overdone it a little, I was quite stiff the day after. But the view was great.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Hinemoana Baker in Victoria Street

Towards the end of last year I became aware of this public poem in Victoria Street. Hinemoana Baker was a guest at the Canterbury Poets' Collective readings, and this was one of the poems that she read. I love her interpretation of what the river (Otakaro - the Maori name for the Avon River) might say to the street. The reference to the hand of the clock refers to the clock tower in Victoria Street which stopped at the time of the 2011 February 22nd earthquake.

Himemoana Baker is a poet, musician and playwright. She has published three books of poetry, most recently waha/mouth.She was born in Christchurch, brought up in Whakatane and Nelson and now lives in Wellington where in 2014 she was Writer in Residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


We have a large hillside garden here, mostly laid out in trees, shrubs and lawns which I try to keep in check, not always successfully. And then at the top of the slope are three raised beds which are the Mister's department, he takes care of the vegetables while I take care of the rest. We have a great crop of tomatoes, the rest of his efforts are somewhat experimental, especially since the vegetable beds don't really receive the desired amount of full sun.

He has been trying to grow radishes. None of them have yet produced enough of a root to make anything worth eating. On the other hand, it turns out that they produce edible pods which you can see in the photo here.

And here they are in a stir fry. Delicious.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lake Tekapo Again

Another shot of Lake Tekapo in winter - May last year, to be precise. It was a gloriously still, clear sky day. I came across this one last week when I was looking for photos with roads in them. You can't see the road in this shot, but it fits Carmi's theme for this week - Bodies of Water.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the Road

The South Island of New Zealand is spectacular. It is very popular with tourists who often travel in hired vehicles. Lately, however, there have been a number of serious, sometimes fatal, accidents involving foreign drivers, which has prompted a good deal of controversy about how easy it is to drive here on an international drivers licence, and whether it should be allowed.

I wonder how many of those who think it should be a lot more difficult have ever travelled overseas and hired a rental vehicle on their own travels.

The problem is, though, that New Zealand roads are not always what our visitors are used to. The first of these photos is a narrow side road up Mt John near Lake Tekapo, which leads nowhere but the observatory up there (which is nevertheless, an increasingly popular tourist spot). The second photo, however, is a State Highway. It is the route through the Haast Pass from the south end of the West Coast of the South Island, through the mountains to Wanaka and Queenstown, an extremely popular tourist area. It can be a very dangerous road in bad weather. Even in good weather, good driving habits are essential. It is very easy for those used to driving on the right hand side of the road to cross the centre line, and meet oncoming traffic with little warning round a blind bend.

On the particular trip when I took this photo, we met a Canadian couple at Lake Wanaka, who declared that New Zealand was the "twisty road capital of the world". They might well be right! Twisty, narrow, sometimes dangerous but very beautiful.

For more road themed photos visit Carmi here.

Monday, March 09, 2015

A Drink of Water

I was at a party last weekend, and one of the guests was holding forth on his trip to Palestine, along with his wife. He described day to day conditions in the refugee camps, and stated that we couldn't imagine what it was like to live without running water, sewage and so forth. I really wanted to ask him if he had been walking round Christchurch with his eyes shut for the last few years. It wouldn't have needed a trip to the other side of the world, just to the other side of the city, to find out what it was like for the residents most badly affected by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, who most certainly did have to do without running water, sewage and electricity, in some cases for considerable periods of time. (In one case I heard of, two years using a Portaloo because of a lack of working sewage). In our own case, it was a couple of days for electricity, a couple of weeks for running water, and two or three months before our sewage was really functioning properly, although it was semi-usable - and we thought ourselves lucky compared to some. I still recall that it was the most joyous moment I have ever experienced when someone called out "the water's back on!"

In the aftermath of the quakes, many formerly capped springs and wells burst open. The photo above shows one. This is outside a beautiful function centre and Thai health spa, where they have piped the water so that anyone may freely fill up water bottles. There were big queues of people here after the quakes, and I still spot a few people making use of it whenever I go past, as some believe the fresh spring water tastes better than treated tap water. Also, it is convenient for joggers to fill water bottles, and I have seen dog walkers put down a small bowl and fill it for their dog to have a drink. So - a fresh tasting treat now, but in 2011, an essential supply for many.

Visit Carmi's Thematic Photographic for more contributions on the theme Drink.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The First Post in a While

I have had a very laid back summer,which has meant both lack of impetus to write blog posts, and lack of anything really compelling to write about. Life has been quite domestic, involving reading, sewing, gardening, and general lazing around, with a few weeks off work over Christmas and then back to the four days a week work routine.

Last weekend my daughter brought peaches from her tree for preserving in jars, which reminded me of this post. We are just past the four year anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake, and peach bottling always reminds me, for reasons that you will see if you click on the link.

Recently, in Auckland, (well north of here thankfully), a number of Queensland fruit flies have been discovered. An intensive campaign of surveillance and eradication is taking place. Visitors to New Zealand sometimes think it is quaint that our immigration controls are more interested in contraband fruit (an orange, say, forgotten in one's luggage) than in undeclared valuables. This pest is why. If it becomes established, it could wreck our horticultural industry. I have read that it could devastate crops so much that home gardeners would just stop bothering to try and grow fruit, as it is rendered inedible without intensive toxic sprays to keep the pest at bay.

The shops in the exclusion zone are suffering too, as fruit can come in but not leave the zone - so their potential customers are greatly reduced. The peaches on D's tree are beautiful and juicy, it would be a shame not to be able to enjoy fresh fruit like this.