‘A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away’ Eudora Welty

This is where I will attempt to post a photo a day through 2017 … which is far too ambitious and bound to fail.

April 11th

Inlet - leaf

I like to think I am living my life at the right pace to be able to post a photo a day. However, tricky old life begs to differ and loves nothing better than to throw spanners and random wallops from left field. (Especially when it can mess with as large an extended family as I have).

But dotted among the busy patches and dramas, there is still time to be still – as still as this leaf in the photo above. I spotted it one day on a walk around the inlet near our place. There it was, washed up on to the beach, left behind when it was time for the high tide to be sucked back out again. (And note the tiny leaf upper right corner as a symbol of flight – the escape hatch of freedom).

This leaf speaks to me of ebb and flow.  Of life’s ebb and flow. Glorious and bitter. How can one human being cope with all the predicaments and anxieties, joy and sadness such as those that arrive all at once; in one minute, in one day, in one lifetime?

But somehow we do. And it is golden.

April 5th

purple rose 1

I have this thing for purple roses …

purple rose 2

Ever since I was told by someone that I was as unique as a purple rose …

purple rose 3

I think it was meant as a compliment …

purple rose 4

I took it as one anyway and take special note of purple roses whenever the opportunity arises (a-roses?)

All photos of roses (purple!) above, were taken by me on Canon S3

April 4th

autumn leaves in a line

taken by me in Bannerman Park, Gore, Southland, NZ with Canon S3

Leaves beginning to turn as autumn hits its stride here in New Zealand.

I had occasion to visit Gore last week and as always, I paid a visit to the cemetery to say ‘hello’ to my parents, grandparents and an uncle buried there.

If I can, on the way to the cemetery (walking) I go through Bannerman Park. It is becoming one of my most favourite places in the world.

white flower taken by me on Canon S3

Last week the weather was pure autumn; warm, calm and peaceful. As if time was taking a deep breath and pleading with us to ‘be still’.

Gore cemetery in autumntaken by me on Canon S3 

I find cemeteries peaceful places. Gore cemetery has an attractive outlook over towards hills where my father and maternal grandfather lived and worked.

IMG_1212

looking towards Hokonui hills taken by me on Canon S3

IMG_1225.JPG

a conglomeration of trees (taken by me on Canon S3)

April 1st

brick on beachbrick on beach 2brick wall remains on beachPhoto taken by me on Canon S3

Taken five years ago after a particularly rough storm ransacked St Kilda’s beach wall.

The sea will always out – or in.

Brick

One of my mother’s cousins was called Brick.

On account of his red hair.

One day he locked himself in his garage,

in his car …

No need for me to say any more.

Such damage

from storm or despair; to end it all

in such silence. As silent

as a brick broken

on sand  by a lamenting sea.

March 28th

black & white spotted rocktaken by me on Canon S3

This boulder has a striking lichen-patched design. Robert and I came across it about three years ago now, on the Otago Peninsula, Karetai track (where our son Michael and daughter-in-law Kate, held their wedding).

rock of aeons

Some cataclysmic event

spewed or spat you here

(we conjecture

a volcano’s spit-

ball)

to simmer and cool

for an age; an aeon

or two;

in sun and rain,

in part

lichen, in part smooth and pale

as the moon,

in part granite as black as a star,

you lie north or south

-facing depends

on which direction you have chosen

to lean towards; we have no way

of knowing. We can only envy

your jaquard design; nature’s petri dish;

the patches of black-white-grey;

a jester’s funeral attire; and wonder

at how arresting, how natural,

and then leave you there, tagging

your art as pure

random.

                   Kay McKenzie Cooke

March 27th

deckchair

taken by me on I-Phone 5

service

Mid-day church under a singing sun,

a cricket’s clicking reminder

of time’s stop watch measuring. A chair

as empty as a day without sunshine

invites a seat by a praise of purple peonies

like abandoned hats,

or careless fruit. It is an invitation to sit,

to take a risk

of no return, no reward

of continued warmth

from summer’s choir.

All indications

are that the planet will soon turn

its back. Coming down the aisle

to take its pew, see here

comes winter.

                    Kay McKenzie Cooke

March 26th

Thought I might as well keep riding the nostalgia / reminiscing wave …

Steve looks in mirror 5mnth

1981 Taken with a Pentax KM

Me and my son – eldest (of three sons) Steve (we called him Stevie until at five years old he decided he didn’t want to be called that any more). 

March 23rd

At the rate I’m posting photos, maybe I should have called this page Weekly Shot … Daily is not cutting it. But as my Aunty Lorna wrote in my autograph book when I was nine years old: ‘Always aim for the stars Kay and you will never hit a gooseberry bush’.

autograph book

I looked for my autograph book to confirm, and found myself reading messages from long ago.

Lorna's autograph

Seeing autographs from my grandparents and parents gave me a bit of a pang.

Mum's autograph

A friendly autograph – very formal! From my dear departed Mum. 

Dad's autograph

Heart-breaking considering he died suddenly of a heart attack only five and a half years later.( Also on the 27th). Sends shivers.

GranDad's autograph

Typical of Granddad’s humour! Interesting to see how he spelt Granddad …

Nanna's autograph

Written on top corner, on front inside cover of the book. 

Interesting for me to see my nana spelling her title ‘Nanna’, with two ‘n’s’. Also she made a mistake, writing 1933 then realising it was 1963! (A clue right there as to where my absent-mindedness comes from!)

All above photos taken by i-phone 4

March 15th

fiery blue

blue glass container dating back to 1972 (given to me as a present by my friend, Jen Small)

Photo taken by me with Canon S3

The container above no longer exists. Maybe the Eudora Welty quote above should read, ‘A good snapshot keeps’. Fullstop. 

I’m afraid about four years ago, this favourite small, blue glass container that had been in my possession for over forty years, succumbed to a granddaughter’s enthusiastic curiosity.

But at least I have the photo. Almost as good. But it does feel a little like ‘Close, but no cigar.’

March 8th in existence

daily bread

a better attempt from another day

Photo taken by me with I-Phone 4

Last night I hurriedly put all the ingredients into the bread-maker so that we would have a fresh, sweet-smelling loaf of bread, ready to eat by morning. As I drifted off to sleep, I imagined the smell of fresh bread filling our small apartment.

At about three o’clock, I woke to the beep of the bread-maker alerting me to turn it off. The bread was made.

However, something about the smell wasn’t right. It smelt sour rather than the sweet, ‘bready’ smell I’d expected. Upon checking, I was shocked to see a small, mean-looking, hard bulge (the right colour, but not the right height) cowering in the bottom of the machine.

What had I done wrong?

I looked in the cupboard to make sure I had used the right yeast. Oh no! In my haste, I had reached for the baking soda, not the Surebake! No wonder the bread smelt so sour, looked so shriven and ugly.

I think this must be a case of ‘forgive us this day our daily bread’.

February 28th

cat-sign

My daughter in law, Kate, was kind enough to take this photo for me because I didn’t get a chance to when I was last up staying with her and my son in Lyall Bay, Wellington.

Because a neighbourhood cat sleeps by the side of the road and is in danger of getting bowled by cars, a special ‘be aware’  sign was made for the cat.

I say ‘neighbourhood’ cat because I believe the story is that its owner died and so the neighbours now look after it.

Since its owner’s death, however, the cat prefers to spend its time on the roadside.

It’s a kind of happy-sad story.

February 26th

teacup

Rose Jug; Portland Pottery, Cobridge, Staffordshire  4/1957

Taken by me with Canon S3

I seem to be on a bit of a ‘objects’ binge at the moment.

I look at the things I have around me here – things placed on shelves, tables, benches, in corners, by the bed, on the bookshelf, on my desk … and there is not one that doesn’t speak of someone who is dear to me.

I tend to look at things not as the thing itself (a la Wallace Stevens) but as memory spurs; as extensions of the people I associate the things with. Without exception, these things I have around me are either gifts or something handed down to me by a relative. I have had no hand in their purchase.

My aunty gave me the jug featured in the photo above not long ago, and I was thrilled because it is part of a teaset of my nana’s and a deep reminder for me of her. We use the jug for milk . So much nicer than wrestling with the walloping, ugly plastic 2-litre container every time I make myself a cuppa.

Every time I use the jug, or wash it and dry it, I think of Nana; undemanding, placid, peaceful and real. She was always there. She would quietly listen, never proffering unwanted advice or making hasty judgements. Calm and patient, strong and unruffled on the surface, deep down she was also fearful and easily frightened by such things as mice, pigs, blow flies and the dark. (Which us kids thought was hilarious).

Maybe Nana didn’t have the tough constitution of a settler-farmer’s wife (such as my paternal grandmother had) nevertheless, she had resilience and a quiet  strength.

And she made the best girdle scones.

I looked up girdle scones and found out that the Scottish call them ‘girdle scones’ and the Irish, ‘griddle scones’. (I guess my Dad’s mother, coming from Irish descent, would’ve called them ‘griddle scones’. I wonder if my parents ever argued the point over that one? )

Nana always looked neat and dressed nicely. Pastel twinsets and plaid skirts in the winter and short-sleeved, crimplene Osti frocks in the summer. She had her hair done (or set) every week or so. She had her own style – unostentatious, tidy and attractive. Her favourite colour was lavender.

Her quietly spoken, unprepossessing presence was a soothing, easy one. She was there and she was smiley and kind and an integral part of my life. When she died and was suddenly no longer there, I missed her. I still miss her thirty years on.

She spoke little and didn’t go in for anything ‘grandmotherly’ like reading to her grandchildren. Just wasn’t her style. She was largely undemonstrative. I don’t remember sitting on her knee or getting a lot of hugs – maybe she was too busy making pikelets or knitting! Anyway, us kids looked to our cuddly, affable Granddad for hugs and affection. Doing stuff was how Nana showed her affection. Nana and Granddad were not well off, but she was a faithful gift-buyer, giving us thoughtful birthday presents and Christmas presents every year without fail – and for over twenty grandkids, what’s more.

My father’s mother (Granny) died when I was about eight years old, so I didn’t get to know her as well as I did Nana, who died when I was thirty-two. As far as any grandmother role model went, Nana was it. I think she was pretty much perfect.

Children tend not to have any expectations or demands of grandparents. They just accept them for who they are. Just as I accepted my nana as herself; ‘my Nana’. In reality, though, I had to share her with twenty-four other grandchildren! I trust that for my own grandchildren I can be like my nana was for me (not that there’s twenty-five of them. Thank goodness).

February 22nd

img_1114

Blue jay ornament

Taken by me with Canon S3

My father gave me this ornament for a Christmas present on the tree the last Christmas he was with us. Not that we knew that at the time. It turned out to be the first and last time he ever bought his kids something for Christmas. He usually left it up to Mum to do the gift-buying for us kids. 

The blue jay came with a book. Robinson Crusoe. To be honest I was a bit miffed at the time. I’d have preferred a more ‘girly’ book and ornament. But I came to treasure both mightily for their reminder of a lovely Dad who was taken too suddenly and too soon.

I just hoped I showed appreciation rather than the ungrateful shrug of a teenager. However, as I was fourteen years old at the time, I’m thinking that the chances of the former scenario, are not good.

One of my bucket list wishes is to one day see a real blue jay. 

Dad liked birds and I can appreciate how the blue jay ornament he spotted that Friday night in Sutherlands IGA store in Riversdale, 1967, would’ve caught his eye. And the book. (It was probably one he’d be interested in reading himself). ‘Kay likes ornaments and she likes reading’ would’ve been his reasoning. I have no idea what my six siblings got from him that Christmas, but I know that at the sound of ‘Fire! Fire!’ this (it has to be said, rather battered-looking, and in need of a touch-up) blue jay would be one of the first things I’d grab.

And at times, living a Robinson Crusoe existence on a desert island certainly has its appeal.

February 21st

img_1110

Taken by me with Canon S3

St Kilda beach, Dunedin, on a good day can’t be beat. And yesterday, I had it all to myself (practically).

I have these fantasies of spending summer days at the beach, sitting back in the sand dunes, going for a dip when I get too hot, and back again to my towel to lie once more in the warm sand …

But the truth is, most times here the weather is just not conducive to such capers. Even yesterday when I lay back in the warm sand, my left ear (the one facing towards the wind) began to fill with grains of dry sand being blown by the breeze. 

Ah well. At least it was nice to sit a while and forget the planet’s problems. The only thing missing was a takeaway coffee. I reckon someone could make a mint selling coffees somewhere along John Wilson Drive. On a good day. 

February 16th

shop

Taken by me with i-Phone 4

No, not Greece, but St Kilda, Dunedin, New Zealand.

On a walk this morning I noticed this shop, freshly painted and looking grand against a blue Dunedin sky.

February 15th

crocodile

Taken (at Elizabeth’s request) by my i-Phone 4

Where I go once a month to discuss some good poems with some good friends. 

February 12th

desk-photo

Taken by me with Canon S3  

One side of a pen holder made for me by my son, many years ago now. It feature four animal characters. The worried cat character in the photo above is perhaps the one that captures my personality best.

The pen holder (former jam jar) sits on my desk like some kind of mood calculator for me to work out my current status –  today am I the worried cat? smug monkey? friendly rabbit? or tentatively welcoming bear?

Tentatively welcoming today, I think.

February 10th

I cannot believe my oldest granddaughter turns 19 today. Wow. Time, eh. And yet I can listen to a ‘pop’ song from the 1960’s and be transported right back to that kid from Southland; there inside me still, despite my grandmotherly look and figure. Inside, we carry the nature we were born with. Unchanged. Our ageing bodies are no indication of how we feel inside, however much we are judged by others on appearances.

I wish my lovely granddaughter a good day. She has the sweetest nature – and always will have, even when she herself is old enough to be the grandmother wishing her grandchild a happy nineteenth birthday.

tomahawk-beach

Tomahawk Beach

Taken by me with Canon S3

The sea always brings me back to thoughts of time. Unceasing rhythms, perpetual motion. Beats to measure time by.

From here on this seagull highway that zips right by our house; this small dip situated between the ocean and the harbour; to view the sea, its dreamy motion, I only need to go down the road a little bit.

February 8th

twilight-moon

Taken by me with an i-Phone 4

Twilight Moon.

Early evening last night, I happened to look up just at the right time and spotted the moon looking all beautiful above a bed of clouds rosy with the dying light.

It reminds me of one night in Berlin when I was staying with my son and his partner and their small daughter. I was watching the sun sink over the roofs of tall apartments with my granddaughter, telling her that the sun was off to wake her grandpa in New Zealand.

“Wake up, Grandpa”, she said over and over. I thought what a good picture book it would make. On one side of the world, the sun sinking and the the moon rising, and vice versa on the other side of the planet. One day I might even get around to making that book for her.

January 24th

matchsticks-in-place

Taken by me with Canon S3

The matchstick bulbs I planted about six years ago now are flourishing, adding accent and warmth to the corn flower-background.

Corn flowers I’ve discovered, need the shelter of corn stalks or wheat in order to grow (their name being a huge hint). Without the support of taller plants, they are too easily floored, brought to their knees by weather – especially any wind and rain. Such a shame as they are a favourite of mine, mostly on account of their particular shade of blue.

Nevertheless, I shall persevere with them because once the sun is shining again, they bounce back, their tousled tufts bobbing like blue buoys in a sea of green.

In contrast, the fiery, feisty matchsticks are hardy and resilient to wind and rain, determinedly bent upon sparking away at being flowers no matter the weather.

There is likely a little bit of the corn flower (easily swayed, easily broken) and matchstick (not taking any crap from anyone) in all of us.

January 23rd

fuschia

Taken by me with a Canon S3

As soon as the sun came out – after a run of nasty, stormy, rainy weather – I ventured forth for my daily shot.

January 22nd

canterbury-sky

Taken by me with I-Phone 4

I thought I could see an angel in the clouds. And if I couldn’t actually see one, I thought that at the very least, I was meant to.

It’s a spiritual thing.

Lately I’m into proving that the spiritual exists.

And microclimates. Because this sky featured here is a Canterbury sky which is different to an Otago (where I live) sky, or a Southland (where I hail from) sky.

I love living in a country where there are so many microclimates.

I once wrote a poem about microclimates. It was published in my first collection, which is now out of print.

In that case, maybe I should haul it out of its musty cupboard…

Here ’tis:

microclimates

Taken by me with I-Phone 4

January 19th

“Where does the time go?” I heard someone ask today. “Day by day”, I thought.

I am breaking my rule of one photo a day because today I wanted to do glass and I couldn’t choose just one among the many glass photos I have. 

I managed to break this particular set down to four.  But I had to be ruthless.

glass-1

My friend Jenny Powell and I have formed a poetry-reading duo called J&K Rolling. (Go to the J&K Rolling page on this website’s menu to read about what we get up to).

One summer we read out at the South Seas Gallery in the seaside town of Brighton, where one of the studios that the resident artist Janet has out at her place, features glass embedded into concrete walls.

glass-2

The glass catches the ocean light beautifully.

glass-3

I am a big  fan of glass and its properties when placed in the way of light.

glass-4

After the reading, Janet showed some of us around her ‘glass studio’. It was during a conversation here that I first heard a quote I’ve never forgotten. It was attributed to the late Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter, architect and sculptor. Four words only, but very memorable:’Straight lines are evil’, he was said to have stated. I have remembered (and applied) those words on many occasions since then. 

All photos taken by me with Canon S3

January 9th

img_0900

This is a shot of a pottery pig fashioned by my d-i-l when she was at art school. It has been designed to sit atop a water container (also pottery) with a cork spout. 

I like how it’s possible to see the marks of where and how K’s fingers shaped the soft clay to resemble this curious and cheerful little pig.

Taken by me with Canon S3

January 3rd

Despite appearances, yesterday’s walk along John Wilson Drive (a road that runs alongside St Kilda Beach and which is closed to traffic every day, after 3.00 p.m.) under a blustery sky – was extremely pleasant.

My favourite moments were spotting my husband on the golf course  – which also runs parallel to John Wilson Drive, on the other side to the beach-side  – and witnessing the manifestation of a certain level of self-disgust; apparent in the slope of his back as he walked away from what he decided (as he explained to me later) had been a very bad shot; largely due to him not following a nagging qualm about the line of his shoulders to the ball; and the tiny birds in the lupins. (Were they swifts or chaffinches?) 

beach-1

Taken by me with Canon S3

January 2nd 

Today when I stepped out of my front door late morning (to be honest, I haven’t been venturing much farther than my front doorstep the last two or three days) I spotted this pink poppy among a swathe of leaning, blue cornflowers sporting their customary air of entitlement.

Outside my front door is as far as I need to go most days. I stand there taking in the air, the sun (rain, wind) the burble of neighbourhood lawn mowers, barbecue get-togethers, scrapping siblings, birds … with the words a friend once said to me ringing in my ears: “You’re such a home body”.  

pink-poppy

Taken with Canon S3 

January 1st

In Japan, bamboo and fir tree arrangements (all arranged in exactly the same way) are popular for doorway decorations for New Year. 

Five years ago we were in Japan with our son and his family for New Year. An amazing experience.

Below is our tiny version of a Japanese New year’s arrangement; a souvenir that we brought back home and appropriately placed outside our door.

It sits on the heat pump cabinet along with some stones (I wouldn’t be a McKenzie if I didn’t collect stones) and two little pottery pigs from my mother’s garden.

Happy New Year wherever you are!

Taken by me with i-Phone 4

jp-ny-deco