Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Quiet of the Country

So quiet.
Almost too quiet.

I walk, listening to the silence.


Shoes crunch on gravel.

Dog barks, keen to follow the roar of the farmer's bike.

Down the driveway
the sounds of myna birds
tui
wax eyes
a pheasant whirring up through the undergrowth
piwakawaka joyfully following
collecting insects
stirred up by my steps


Further along, the bird sounds are drowned out by cows:
in the gaps between warning mooing
and anticipatory mooing
the cud chewing is audible
as is the slurping of hooves
in and out of deep mud
and the soft plops
of freshly forming cow pats


the wind whistles past my ears
like breath over a bottle
and stirs the old macrocarpa to gossip

an aeroplane drones overhead
echoed by a white ute purring
past the end of the road


bees hum in golden gorse flowers

The old dog, panting, 
splashes into the gurgling stream


My heart beats in my ears
as I climb the hill

So quiet in the country



 













Monday, September 19, 2016

Being Present and Peaceful

In the dark days, it is so easy for me to forget just how easy it is to be at peace in the beautiful place that is  my home. My counselor suggested to me the other day that I should try to get out and enjoy the natural world more. I am outside every day, but always with purpose - feeding the ducks and chooks, gardening, walking for my health. He suggested that I just sit / walk / be. Of course, I didn't. But a few days later my grandson, who stayed for the weekend, wanted company to go down into our bush to see if the bridge was still there.  It was.
And if the hut was still there: It was but the ladder had rotted and the floor had slipped and was a bit suspect.
Bob The Dog came with us.
And Spike The Cat too.

I can't believe how I can forget to walk down into my little piece of paradise! It is so easy to put my anxiety and worries and depression aside, and just be present in the present when I am there. Yet I spend miserable months sitting in my house, just metres from the bush, despairing of my world.














The dog loves it.
The cat loves it.
The boy loves it.
The old woman loves it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Work Days

I'm working again. Just two days a week, for a couple of months. I take tiny plants out of seed trays and put them in small pots. Later, I take the grown plants out of the small pots and put them in bigger pots. They are native trees destined for a farm that a wealthy German industrialist is turning back into native bush. I learn so much from my employer, so it is never boring. I only work on dry days, or maybe when there is an occasional shower, but it can be cold on mornings like yesterday, when my hands became very painful handling the frost-chilled potting mix. I love it: what's not to love about spending your work day in a beautiful garden?




And then, on the way home, a walk on my most favourite beach in the world.










Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July Reading

I am finally getting back into reading again: after the cold-like illness that left me severely visually impaired (which led to the discovery that I have Type 2 diabetes)  I stopped reading. As my eyesight improved again, I found reading very tiring, and by the time I could easily read again, I had gotten into the habit of watching tv / Youtube. But I'm reading again, and I am so glad - my own mental pictures are so much more satisfactory than other people's interpretations.

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Wendy McClure grew up loving Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. Years later, sometime after her mother's death, she found her childhood copy of Little House in the Big Wood and so her adventures began. Over the course of a year, she once again explored 'Laura World', cooking from Laura cookbooks, buying an old butter churn to make butter, and visiting museums and Laura sites. It's not just nostalgia, it's an amusingly written exploration of the differences between the books, the tv series, and the reality of Laura's life. It's also an interesting insight into how favorite books can influence a child's life and ideas right through into adulthood. I now want to read lots more about Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who seems to have lived a fascinating life.


The Glass Butterfly by Louise Marley
A not totally convincing plot line, with a bit of woowoo, some of which annoyed me - magic for the sake of easy explanation tends to do that. And yet I enjoyed this book about a psychiatrist on the run from a murderous client. Some of the woowoo made for an interesting story, and protagonist's character was convincing.


Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge
The author of this crime thriller is a tv writer who has now turned to writing novels, and I think that explains the style - I could easily imagine this being a tv series. It is part of a book series, and a bit dark for me, but although I won't go back to read the previous books, Arlidge has hooked me in sufficiently that I will be looking for the next book when it comes out: he left the main character, DI Helen Grace, in a situation such that I want to find out what happens next.


Flow: Issue 13
This quarterly (plus specials) magazine is one of the two best magazines I've ever read. (The other is the British Permaculture Magazine.) I bought it because it looked pretty and described itself as 'a magazine for paper lovers', of which I am certainly one. I feel like I want three copies: one to keep and re-read, and two to pull apart to use in my craft / art work - two so I can use both sides of every page! It has so much beauty, plus wonderful articles about 'life , the universe and everything'. I haven't quite finished reading it, but so far I have enjoyed every single article. It is the English edition of a Dutch magazine and is delightfully slightly different from English English publications. For example, in the manner of many other such magazines, there is a generous sprinkling of inspirational quotes throughout, but they are quotes I've not heard before, mostly by people I've not heard of before. There are interviews with artists. There's an article entitled "Three takes on: Why do we struggle so much with making decisions?" and the three takes are the views of a social psychologist, an author and a philosopher! It's just different and is helping me see things from slightly different perspectives. I love it.

What to Wear and Do: should anyone but me care or have a say??

A few days ago I read about a woman somewhere in America who was thrown out of a public swimming pool after 'several' people complained about her being too fat and thus spoiling their swimming experience. I can't even begin to express my disgust, not only for the people who complained, but for the management which acted on their complaints.

The next article which got my blood boiling was this one on a site aimed at older people, Sixty and Me, which criticised women for 'showing too much skin', and spoke in derogatory terms of women who exposed cleavage, wore sleeveless tops, or showed their legs. And most of the comments were vicious. Most comments, even some of the 'dress to please yourself' ones, appeared to assume that a woman's dress choice was completely aimed at expressing sexuality, attracting potential sexual partners, or pleasing a current sexual partner. A very few comments spoke of dressing to please oneself and for comfort.

Then today I read an article about a study that suggests women may be at increased risk of "non-malignant breast fibrocystic disease as well as malignant breast cancer," because of restriction of the lymph drainage system. It all got me thinking and fuming.

There seems to be a gradual and grudging increased recognition that, in theory, women should be able to present themselves how they want: to wear what they want without fear of being raped, to not wear a bra, to not shave their armpits or legs or 'have' to wax their pubic hair, etc etc. - it is certainly more acceptable than in 1969 when I stopped being controlled by draconian school uniform rules and started university. However, and maybe this is just my perception as an older woman, it seems to me that the progress made (however small) is only with respect to young women. When I read the comments in the articles above, the negative ones are from women, and and the harshest of all are from older women, many of whom 'asked my husband' what he thought.

I am feeling angry. I am angry with the men who think women should modify their appearance to please men. I am angry with the women who back them up (but who are probably just as savage towards women who succeed in being beautiful and sexy in the way their men like.) I am angry at this world that constantly judges women by their appearance in ways that men are never or rarely judged.

And having vented my anger over the past few days, I have finally come to the realisation that I am also angry with myself and other women like me who don't live what we believe, and thus continue the problem.

I hate wearing a bra, and for a few years when I was in my 20s I didn't wear one - out of work hours. It never occurred to me not to wear one to work, not in those days. Why not? And why do I still wear one? I find them incredibly uncomfortable, they make my back ache (yes, I always get them properly fitted) and in summer, when I sweat, I get a rash from them. At home I don't wear one, but I also make sure I have a baggy shirt close by all the time, in case someone comes to visit unexpectedly. Because how could I subject people to any more evidence of my old, ugly body, right? How stupid.

Except for a very few years in my late teens / early twenties, I have never worn the clothes I liked for fear of drawing attention to myself, of criticism. Now I'm getting old, I am trying to do that, but I constantly see criticism of older women wearing flamboyant clothing, or jeans and t-shirts, or sleeveless tops, or leggings, or short skirts, or long clingy dresses, or long hair or or.....

Then there are the items, not really articles, and memes about wearing what you like: they will often start out saying 'when I get old I will.....' or 'these amazing older women wear......' But the pictures that accompany these are almost invariably of incredibly beautiful older women, and very often very rich women in designer clothes, dripping gold and diamonds, and very often cosmetic surgery - not of ordinary, plain, wrinkly old women of limited means.

As a woman, especially one who has been an unwaged mother / grower of food / maker of stuff / home educator of four sons, I have found myself dismissed as irrelevant by most men, and by most women who have been in paid employment. As an old woman, I find myself even more irrelevant and dismissed by people - invisible even. I am angry with myself, but I still don't have the courage to dress as a crazy cat lady in public, to discard my bra, to dance alone with no one watching without closing the curtains first, to be me and say, 'fuck you world, I don't care if you find me offensive, I'm not getting out of the swimming pool just because you don't like my hairy legs or my stretch marked, saggy skin.'

Actually, I don't even know who 'I' am. I think the only way to find out is to try things on (activities, ideas, and more as well as clothes) and find what fits. But I still care too much what 'they' will say and think. How pathetic is that? How do I get past that?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Winter Weekend

The last few days have been spent looking at motorbikes, as Mac wants to upgrade. I had to go along too, so that we could see what each bike was like when carrying a pillion passenger - even though my enthusiasm is considerably less than his. It turned out that this bike hunting led to a really enjoyable weekend.

On Saturday we looked at a bike in Morrinsville. Prior to buying his current bike, we made a trip to Auckland, and when we stopped in a mall somewhere on the other side of the harbour bridge, I ended up buying some boots in a sale. So when we stopped in the main street of Morrinsville, right outside a shoe shop having a 40% off sale, it seemed like there was a tradition, or perhaps a ritual, to follow, and I bought another pair of boots!


Afterwards we visited our friends Eileen and Colin for a cuppa and a chat. Always good to spend time with one of my oldest friends.

On Sunday Mac wanted to look at another bike in Franklin. I wasn't going to go but hadn't been to Port Waikato for years. The drive up through  Naike and Tuakau to Waiuku was glorious.It had been raining and was still slightly misty but the sun shone through, and every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, sparkled, turning the countryside into a magical fairy land. The sun, the sight of new lambs, and the flocks of turkeys spreading their tail feathers wide and turning slowly in mating displays all signaled 'spring is coming'!


After looking at the bike, we had lunch at Tuakau, then crossed back over the Tuakau bridge to head for Port Waikato.


This area always brings back memories, for Mac, of the summer following School Certificate (Year 11) when he and his friend adventured from Hamilton to Port Waikato in a dinghy with a small outboard motor, camping on the edge of the river at nights.




Port Waikato is typical kiwi batch town, complete with old tractors used for taking boats down to the ramp for launching.


At Port Waikato the rain smashed down and the wind rocked our car as we watched the huge seas. The rain stopped for a few minutes and once I managed to force the door open and get out, the air was wonderful. I do so love our wild west coast beaches. As at Raglan, the seas are eating into the land - this car park area is now fenced off as half of in has broken away and fallen into the sea.


Heading home, we went down through the back country on the Port Waikato - Waikaretu Road. It is how I think of farm country: there is a sense of wildness, of hard work, isolation, and I love the feeling of returning to childhood journeys to visit relatives out the back of Ohura, Whanganui, and the East Cape and Gisborne.


I love the rock formations which give such character to the area.
































Too many photos of rocks? Never! I love them!


Even the valleys are pretty rugged, the stream edges cut down into the ground, and the cabbage trees dragged inland by the wind.


An abandoned tractor and trailer disappears under the kikuyu grass.


Out here they still have the 'mail' boxes we had when I was growing up in the country. We had our groceries, bread, meat, chook food, everything we needed, delivered by the same vehicle that brought the mail, so a large box was required - almost a small shed, really.


This dilapidated shed had some kind of machinery rusting away inside - an old sawmill perhaps.


Eventually we came to the 'Nikau Cave and Cafe' and stopped for coffee. We did not feel inclined, now or ever, to visit the caves which involved making your way along a stream bed and crawling through narrow places, but the cafe was lovely, and had a little art gallery upstairs.



Further along the road there was a stretch of road lined with trees with lichen dangling from their branches like a scary forest scene in a fantasy story.



And then there were the flock of about 50 cockatoos - most flew off screaming angrily as I got out of the car to take photos.


 Signs warned 'No Trespassers - No Hunting' but we saw so many wild goats that the bush must be under serious threat.


Then around another corner and Mt Karioi welcomed us home.


Home: where Mac lit the fire, while I made vegetable soup for dinner, and sliced up grapefruit and lemons to soak ready to make marmalade tomorrow. Not a dramatically exciting weekend, but interesting, peaceful and somehow very satisfying.