Monday, January 2, 2017

Draw Every Day

Art has always been something for other people: I have never felt it was for me. I could always write, and I could work on my writing and get better at it, but art - I judged myself by my inability to draw or paint anything that looked like anything. However, colour, texture, shape all attracted my attention, and I loved doing art with my homeschooled sons and friends, and with my kids I never felt embarrassed by my inadequacies. I felt joyful when they did better than me, and learned so much, particularly from Simon, who taught me how to look at the world afresh.

My desire to create has increased over the years, and has found expression in craft work: sewing, knitting, fabric art, book binding, flag making. My book making has been evolving, very slowly, in a less formal, more expressive way, and involving the use of dyes, inks, stamps, stencils, stitching, collage and more.

Still, I'm not an artist. I still operate from a mindset that, as my school reports said, I lack talent and ability. I can't draw. Over the years I've bought and borrowed and read 'how to' art books, and been to classes, and given up.

The desire has never gone away, and a month ago I bought a book:
 I decided that the only way I'd ever learn to draw / paint was to actually practice - imagine that! This book has you draw every day. It has a page, or part of a page for you to use each day for a year. Each month has a theme (the first is 'nature',) and gives a brief tutorial, and tells you what art supplies to use (the first uses markers and a black pen.) Each day has a prompt. I have taken a deep breath and started yesterday - yes, on 1 January. Not a New Year Resolution so much as a determination.

I have been a procrastinator and a perfectionist most of my life - I put everything off because if I can't be sure I can do something perfectly, I won't even try. Not least because my mother and my teachers were of that generation who believed that the way to inspire children to do better was to point out all the things they did wrong, and to not praise anything in case the child stopped trying. No more. I have spent years trying to work out who I am. I'm still not perfectly clear on that, but I've come to the conclusion that I am too old to procrastinate any longer. I need to do as well as be - otherwise 'being' is pointless: if I am a creative person, I need to create, however badly. And I need to do it without shame or embarrassment - but that's going to take a bit of work!

My instinct is to hide what I do, but even though I know these aren't great, I also know that if I stick at it, the practice will not make perfect, but better, and there is pride, not shame, in trying. I must also say thank you to my wonderfully artistic son, Simon, for his encouragement. These are my first two days efforts.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Weeds and Wood

Today we chopped out some big gorse from beside the driveway. As I walked down, I enjoyed plants that others would have pulled out as soon as they saw them. I leave them: there is so much joy in them, some 'weeds', some 'plants' gone to seed.

 Wild carrot - I love the little speck of red on some of the flowers.
 Silverbeet - isn't it gorgeous?
 Parsley and dandelion.

 These were my favourites when I was a child.
 A little bit of loveliness between the garage and my bee shed.
And though gorse is indeed a weed, it has its uses: a nursery plant for natives; a food source for bees, and eventually, firewood. The gorse, combined with pine from a pinenut tree destroyed by the winter tornado, filled a trailer with plenty more to come. A good afternoon's work.

The Sun Sets on 2016

After dinner, when I ate more than I should have, we went for a walk to burn off calories, and to see the sun set on 2016. The clouds made it so much more beautiful than a completely clear sky would have been. But I've always been a cloud lover.


It's been a hard year for me. There are ups and downs in any year, but starting the year with a tooth infection, followed by waking up one morning to find I had gone near blind overnight, and thus discovering I had Type 2 diabetes, systemic candida and an extremely persistent urinary tract infection, all added up to a difficult and pretty traumatic year. On the plus side, without my awareness of my blood sugar levels, I would have stayed home with my feet up, instead of going for a walk on the best beach in the world.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This morning I weeded the asparagus garden, It has been sadly neglected pretty much always - maybe next year I'll have kept it weeded and we'll get more than a taste. Mind you, I've said that every year!

Simon and Zea headed off to the far north for New Year, and Jeff and Konny went into Hamilton to catch up with friends. It's been lovely having them all visiting, and good to see so many of their friends, and mine, over the holiday season. However, I was feeling shattered today until a visit from my oldest close friend, Eileen, meant a relaxing afternoon with no energy expended because I am so comfortable with her.

Meanwhile, the oldest goat lay down in the sunshine for a sleep today, and didn't wake up again. RIP Auntie, you were the nicest of the goats.

Mac attached the front-end loader to the tractor in order to bury her, and then followed up by filling with dirt, the old boat we acquired months ago from his brother. I dug the weak peppermint roots up from their spot under the pineapple sage and replanted it. Hopefully I won't have to buy any more peppermint tea ever again!

Monday, December 26, 2016

They've Gone: What's Left for Me?

my sons are gone
their partners, grandchild
the friends have gone
and (temporarily) the husband

it's just me left
so very quiet
i am alone, alone
without their presence

feel the silence
bone deep, nothing
beyond my breath
and the ringing in my ears

except for the purr
and the bark
the scratching and clucking
the quacking
the buzzing
the squawking of mynas
harassing the harrier

the stream splashes
down the rocks
the leaves murmmer
at the touch of a breeze
and in the distance
the muffled ocean roars
as it crosses the bar

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice, Procrastination, and Good intentions

Today it actually feels like summer at last. It is also the solstice, so it's about time it felt like summer!

Yesterday I went and collected 40 kumera tupu from Liz, our local permaculture guru, who lives just a few minutes away. The season is late here: last year I planted them in November. They grew well and now I know how to do it, they stored well too, and we are eating the last of them now.

I have not done well with producing food this year. I have been focused on getting healthier, on what I can and can't eat now I am diabetic, and have been fairly dispirited about growing food as a consequence. I am so disappointed that our fruit trees are not bearing much fruit this year, the ones that I can eat, anyway. I had planned on bottling lots of apples and pears, but we have no pears on our three trees, and not many apples.
I only recently decided to grow kumera again. Potatoes are definitely out for me, so haven't grown any, much to Mac's disappointment. However, I have found that I can take kumera in moderation. Of course, being both an impulse buyer (Hey I think I'll grow kumera again, I'll go get some tupu now,) and a procrastinator (I don't know what to grow in that garden so I won't prepare it for anything,) I got up this morning and knew I had to work hard in the hottest day of 'summer' so far (26C)
Of course, like all procrastinators, I am easily distracred. On the way to the kumera garden, I realised that the basket willows were lost in weeds so stopped to clean that mess up, 'pruning' some with the scythe in the process. I took this before I'd finished just so I could see what a mammoth task it was!

 My vege gardens have been similarly neglected, but the bees are loving it. There are actually young pea plants in there somewhere.
Anyway, I did manage to get the bed dug and weeded, but needed Mac's help after work to hit the warratahs in for the extended windbreak - not just to guard against the wind, but also in the hopes of keeping the pukeko out. I have only about a quarter of the shallots and garlic that I originally planted left, after the wretched birds kept pulling in out. They didn't like it, but had to keep trying, just in case the next one was different!
It was very hot, and hard work. I'm tired and my joints in my hands are throbbing from all the pulling of over-size weeds, but still, I feel incredibly privileged to live and work in this beautiful place.
It's been a funny week. I've spent time thinking about my parents, as my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer 28 years ago yesterday, and died just 11 days later, following on from my father's death 8 months earlier. I've been thinking about my sons who have been through some hard times this year, but also some good times. I've been thinking of my personal difficulties with diabetes and depression this year - I've managed not to succumb to depression, but it's been a struggle nonetheless. But I've also been looking forward to seeing all my sons on the 25th, and to various 'happenings' coming up next year.

From my health problems has arisen a deep gut knowledge that I am going to die. I always knew it intellectually, but now I know it. This coming year I want to tell people if I love them. And what I love about them. Actually tell them, rather than wait and say it at their funerals. In the last week two people have said kind things about me, to me, and it felt so good. But it is also important to express the bad things if it is important to you and if the person is / has been important in your life. I never told my father anything other than I loved him. I tried to talk to my mother about the issues that have taken me the 28 years since her death to almost come to terms with - she refused to discuss or listen. I did tell her that I loved her, and thanked her for some of the positive things she had done - but only as she lay on her death bed. As I finished, she took one last breath and died. I don't remember her ever saying she loved me, or that approving of anything about me. I wish she had been able to talk to me, and to hear me.

I hope that people, my sons, friends, whoever, don't procrastinate, and will talk to me about what they need to say to me before I die, rather than saying the good things at my funeral, and the bad things to their therapists.
Today, in the garden, on this summer solstice day, I worked hard and didn't think much at all, just sat with the present. And it was good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Relationships: Too Hard Some Days

When you never felt loved as a child, when you grew up thinking that you had to earn every scrap of affection, when you were always told that what you did was not good enough, you end up unable to believe that people care about you, love you. And you don't know how to manage relationships.

There are friends who, as I get a bit healthier, mentally, I realise weren't really friends at all, even though we filled functions for each other.: I was so desperate to be liked, I did whatever was needed to maintain their 'affection', and only realised recently that they didn't really give a fuck about me personally except where I was useful for their purposes. I'm not saying they are worse than me - just that, like me, they have needs.

There are other friends who do care about me, as I do for them. People who ask how I am, and what I've been doing, and listen when I answer, as often I do with them. People who I enjoy, and who seem to enjoy my company too.

I've reached a point where I have been able to let some just drift away. If they come back, and I can see a change in the way we interact, I won't turn my back on them.

The hardest relationships to manage are those with my sons. They are adults, grown and leading their own lives. But my love for them is still every bit as strong as it ever was, as when I fell in love at first sight when each was born. And yet they are drifting further and further away. I don't know most of their friends. I no longer know all the things they like to eat. I know little about their interests or their opinions or about what matters to them anymore. Mostly they don't seem to want me to know, and mostly aren't interested in my opinions or in having conversations about much.

I sometimes know they love me, but not always. I sometimes think they like me, but not always. I sometimes think they trust me, sometimes, some more than others. I miss knowing these people who I love so much, more than anyone or anything else in the world, but I am required to smile and act glad that they are becoming more independent, more their own unique people, leading their own lives. To smile, and be grateful for the morsels they share.

I remember thinking that the reason our memories of childbirth fade so quickly is because otherwise a woman would not give birth a second time - let alone a third and fourth time so it! But what would really kill off the human race, would be foreknowledge of the pain of successfully raising independent children. Some days it's just too fucking hard.