‘Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality really is’ Ansel Adams

December 30th

Tail Feathers and Bottom Feeders


The old year is shaking its tail feathers ready to fly off into the horizon of time lost, never to be regained.

Potentially a dismal thought, if it wasn’t for the present’s habit of feeding on what is before us to replenish and fulfill.

spoonbill feedoing.JPG


Which is exactly what this spoonbill was doing this morning in the inlet not far from our place. I spotted it on a walk, the duck-and-frog smell of low-tide mud, rottingvegetation and algae not entirely unpleasant.

spoonbill 2.JPG

Low tide is a good time to visit the inlet. That’s when you spot the bottom feeders.

spoonbill 3.JPG

spoonbill thru agapanthus.JPG

Oyster catcher.JPG

pied stilt

inlet oyster catcher

A new year ahead provides opportunities to turn the page; to turn a new leaf …

trees by inlet.JPG

which is a nice feeling.

Being an organised creature, I already have my aims and goals for 2018 pretty much sorted.

Among these is the goal to begin writing the second part to my novel (along with sorting through my mother’s photos and papers and scrabbling a little more among the family tree).

toetoe inlet

I will continue to write poetry and already have an idea in mind for what to focus on for this year’s batch of new poems. (This isn’t always the case, so I am thankful that I have settled upon a theme).

looking over inlet.JPG

Inlet corner.JPG

Inlet low tide mud.JPG

low tide corner ( a mite pongy this morning when I walked past)


red boatshed.JPG

A new year is a good chance to try new things I reckon and I have a couple of ideas and plans for new experiences, but I won’t risk jinxing these plans with descriptions or explanations.

If these future ventures do come to fruition, no doubt any evidence will be recorded here.

So. Watch this space, I guess. And a Happy New Year!

December 6th

Memory Lane

Another One Rock‘I am a rock’

… I am an island … Monkey Island.


Great to take another trip recently with  my sister and aunty, back to my childhood town (my turangawaewae) of Orepuki and Monkey Island beach, Te Waewae Bay.

It was a warm, calm summer day with people taking advantage to have a dip and to sunbathe.

top fp the creek.JPG

… a favourite sheltered spot for my parents and us kids to have a picnic – a tartan rug spread out on the sand and the nearby creek providing many hours of fun.


Being there on a summer’s day brought back happy memories of times spent down at the beach swimming and picnicking with my parents and brothers and sisters. I remember one occasion when we were still there after the sun had gone down over Foveaux Strait, my father and uncles boiling up mussels and frying flounder over an open fire. In my memory, it is a golden time.


My sister and I spent a bit of time exploring the rock pools, discovering cats eyes and beach pebbles. Just as we used to as kids.

beach stones.JPG

beach detritus.JPG

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It was another great trip down memory lane.

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing, focusing instead on Christmas preparations, gardening and enjoying summer and social times with family and friends.



October 31st

Lyall Bay

Lyall Bay, Wellington

Another trip, this time by air to the North Island. To Wellington, where our son and his wife and their baby live (for now). I also have a sister and a brother who live there.

I always enjoy visiting Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand’s capital city, with its corners and twists, deep-deep green pockets of native forest, curly dips and helter-skelter hilltops.

The buildings too –  quaint Victoriana and / or middle twentieth century homes squashed in and dwarfed by the inner cityscape of broad-shouldered glass-fronted buildings – the most attractive of which reflect the sea and sky, while the uglier ones cower, or lurk, in the shadows cast by motorway overpasses or simply by way of being located on the wrong side of the street.

So much of Wellington seems to be crammed into whatever space can be found in the crumpled texture of hills and coastline.

So much of Wellington couldn’t be found anywhere else. Each suburb appears to exhibit a character of its own, from Thorndon’s Victorian-past-elegance-now-gone-to-seed vibe, to Newtown’s lively, sub-cultural grunge, Hataitai’s quaint, pocket-sized quirkiness and Island Bay’s lost soul waiting to either be re-discovered or newly discovered …  I could go on …

punga against the light.jpg

punga fern

The undergrowth (and overgrowth) in Wellington suburbs, is thicker, bigger, denser, clammier and more encroaching than what I am used to in the comparatively more shuffling, open green rustle of Dunedin.

I found myself walking up a warm, sun blasted (with no respite in sight) Wellington suburban street-with-incline, thinking, “Why could this be nowhere else but Wellington?” Then I answered my own inquiry. “Because of all the rampant dark-green and the smell and sound of it growing”.

An oppressive lunge of bottle-green borders silent, suburban streets that look as if they are about to be devoured by the bush; or drowned by faraway creeks, the seep and devious trickle of which are barely discernible above the chortle of tui.   Finding my way around such quiet streets to where my daughter in law was going to pick me up, gave me a feeling of being trapped in a suburban valley, full of the menace of greenery and no-one home. Quite possibly, they were all attending seminars. (My daughter in law has a theory that Wellington is full of over-achievers and first-borns).


Thankfully there are pleasant patches of bush. Like in the beautiful park I went for a wander in with my d-i-l and baby granddaughter.

Dappled light and birdsong. Entrancing. My granddaughter’s expression was one of wonder as she experienced a spot of forest-bathing. This was the flip-side to my previous experience of Wellington’s greenery.

roadside flowers a patch  of wild, roadside flowers providing some light relief


my granddaughter’s evident pleasure in greenery

Lyall Bay garage doors.jpg these Lyall Bay garage doors took my eye …

Lyall Bay cafe.jpg

… coffee by the seaside, always a treat.


… as is coffee by the harbour. 

Catching up with my brother and sister involved a drive with my brother and sister-in-law up the coast to my sister and brother-in-law’s lifestyle block (no piccies to share, sorry).

They are ‘living the dream’ (although I suspect that  they would beg to differ, as at present the wait for their house to be built necessitates a ‘life-in-caravan’ lifestyle). However, their plans for orchard, wetland and large garden are taking shape, their hens are loving it and their cat turned from townie to country cat in a flash. Their block of land is huge (especially when you consider that they have to keep the grass down) so they now have a ride-on mower – which we all just had to try out. Of course. Even with a ride-on, it takes them two hours to do the mowing.

On this visit to Wellington I witnessed my granddaughter roll over for the first time, saw her experience for the first time the feel of grass on her bare feet, of cold rock pool water and gritty sand between her toes.

Such things are priceless.

October 17th

Taking the Back Roads

Colac Bay & car… Colac Bay on a bleak day …  

A trip south afforded images to substantiate material for writing both prose and poetry. As I drove past both familiar and novel landmarks, time slipped and footholds moved.

horses… taken outside the town of Winton.

I remember my Dad on Sunday drives out this way, thinking it was a huge joke to call the western end of Winton the Dead End, because that was where the cemetery was. (Yeah, very funny Dad).

My driving was mostly accompanied by Joni Mitchell’s Travelogue cd, her words inspiring, adding fuel to the fire of my thoughts, dreamings and memories.

windmill.JPG… Wyndham’s windmill …

wyndham sheep… couldn’t resist taking this photo of sheep grazing on the front lawn of an abandoned? house on Wyndham’s main street. New Zealand writer, Janet Frame lived with her family in Wyndham when she was young. Seeing the sheep on the front lawn amused me because one of my favourite Frame short stories is one that features a sheep straying into a house (or the wash-house, if my memory serves me right).

Whenever possible, I took the back roads. It was clear weather and benign driving conditions, with Southland’s springtime favours punctuated by fresh green grass and reliable rivers.

cemetery… an interesting country cemetery within coo-ee (or, in the case of this cemetery, cow-ee?) is always hard for me to resist …

cemetery grass.JPG… Wyndham cemetery …

angel.JPG… the ubiquitous, windblown cemetery saint …

cemetery hut.JPG… also familiar, the caretaker’s shed …

sheep… vigilant mother sheep checking out the threatening figure knee-deep in long, roadside-verge grass, holding out a strange object in a somewhat alarming manner. One of the lambs looks like it is about to dive in for a drink, its sibling thinking, ‘Now there’s an idea’ …

Particularly pleased to see lots of agile lambs leaping about with typical spindly, stilt-like movements.

It isn’t Spring for me unless I see lambs.

October 9th



green cafe Rakaia

cafe in Rakaia where I stopped for a welcome coffee. The decor reminded me a little of a favourite cafe of mine during my stay in Berlin … I wonder if it’s still there …

September proved to be a month of quick trips away (including one down to my favourite old haunt of Orepuki to take another look at what is left of the small library they have down there), meeting up and being invited out to dinner with friends, a poetry reading or two, a General Election to note and vote in, and as always; family – M. visiting for a week in order to fulfil a commission for a cafe-wall painting, having grandchildren to visit, a trip to stay with another son in Christchurch ….

margaret mahy playground.JPG

fun at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground – what a great place for Christchurch to have! It must help add a bright note after the earthquake six years ago that wrecked the city; so much so, the central part is now unrecognisable …

Chch backyard 2.JPG

while in Christchurch, the weather was kind and we were able to enjoy a backyard bbq …


… complete with toasted marshmellows …


… And then back home again to my own backyard – quintessential kiwi in its own understated, no-frills (definitely NOT House & Garden! – more like Rumpled & Rustic) way, what with the tractor tyre (that was once a sandpit, but now used as a compost bin sprouting mint) plus the rusty rotary clothes line and the Warehouse (Whare Whero) green, plastic chair …

Back home, I continue to pay more attention to my own backyard, now that winter is over and the warmer and longer sunlight hours of spring have arrived. Time to don the silly sunhat and funny clothes, grab the scythe and slash back the jungle undergrowth.

baby.JPG …  Ahhh. Loved an unexpected visit this weekend from son and daughter-in-law and their wee one … Is there anything more perfect and pure than the clear gaze of a baby?

All of this visiting, social outings, road trips and family times have proved a pleasant distraction from missing my husband, who is at present far away from his own backyard.

China 2.JPGDalian, China

Needless to say, the writing that I thought I would get done while R. was away, just is not happening.

However, I cannot be disappointed, because the alternatives have felt like too much fun.

Nevertheless. (What a lovely word that is). Nevertheless.

Nevertheless, I have set some goals and if this month of October doesn’t slip like sand through my fingers too rapidly, I should be able to deliver on my own promises.

in my own backyard

Pegs perched like birds
on a wire
rotary clothesline. A green plastic chair,
one unreliable leg duct-taped

for security, a tractor tyre growing mint.
At the back of the house,
this anchor
of green, of concrete slab

wall, of promises
to deliver, silver beet, fuschia
and a sense
of time measured

in breathing in
takes of cut grass
and the crush
of broken geranium.

Kay McKenzie Cooke


September 16th





clamour of yellow (bell-shaped flowers of the kowhai tree)


Spring flags


Taking little wanders in the backyard to check out the progress of Spring flowers (and horrors!) weeds, is one of life’s tiny pleasures.

I often wish I could give up the time I spend on writing and devote that time to gardening instead.



Today I met a friend for coffee in St Clair. The groynes (wooden piles) are looking even more wrecked than the last time I checked the progress of their demise.

I realise that the photos I’ve taken when they were upstanding and intact (albeit weathered and gnarled) are now a record of what once was.



Shark bell


Today the sea was ruffled and a grizzled grey.

My friend and I spoke of cabbages and kings. Of  forgiveness and Omega 3. Grandchildren and ageing gracefully – or with abandon.

We left each other perhaps none the wiser, but certainly feeling a solidarity that comes with age.

We talked about swimming and grandchildren. About the different way everyone looks at life. About how in the end, all we can do is to maintain the health of our own minds and hearts, and let everything else be.

It was Friday night and a certain pre-election madness was in the air. A loud-voiced man in a yellow t-shirt was telling everyone he could see, to vote Labour. “Labour is New Zealand’s church,” he said. “Down with the Tories”. I think he was most likely doing more harm than good.

My friend and I said good-bye, laughing when a small dog on the corner suddenly gave a huge yap.”Such a loud bark for such a small dog,” my friend said. Let that little dog be an inspiration for us all: anything worth saying can be said with just one bark, if it’s loud enough.

August 29th

The Moment A Single Blade of Grass Is Caught by The Sun

dandelon close

dandelion up close and personal

blade of grass.JPG

a single blade of grass

From Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem Inversnaid:
“What would the world be, once bereft,
of wet and wildness? Let them be left.
O let them be left; wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”

red geranium.JPG

scarlet geranium

geranium leaf.JPG

geranium leaf

red hot poker

red hot poker

green blades.JPG

agapanthus leaves

As Christopher Lloyd wrote in The Well-Tempered Garden
“Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.”

Followed by something I wrote in response:
This was not my experience as I clambered about our steep bank. Thinking and reflecting was a luxury in which I couldn’t indulge, there was far too much hard labour involved in the weeding – toil that was accompanied, I noticed, by rather a lot of old person sound effects. 


owl garden ornament

old door handle.JPG

old door handle from my childhood home

door handle.JPG

door handle from front door of my childhood home



All photos taken by me with Canon S3

An errant blade of grass, the common dandelion, an old and useless door handle, a rusted keyhole … All could be symbolic of the locking and unlocking of the past (or the future) and how much of the present can be caught in the moment the sun catches a single blade of grass.

As I write this, ocean-side clouds are rushing to scribble out our previously clear and sunny day. There’s a silent battle being forged between the blue and the grey with the grey issuing a volley of sea fog towards ‘Old Swampy’ (otherwise known as Flagstaff). A smoky trail of steamy grey threatens to engulf the whole city.

August 7th


sky on plane

a breakaway to visit the newest grandchild

me  & Rv.JPG

river stone.jpg

a stone found on the beach close to our son’s art studio – a stone to mark our granddaughter’s name, as well as our first introduction to her ‘in the flesh’

spring buds

cheerful signs of Spring! Magnolia buds in Dunedin’s Botanical Garden (and at the same time, a reminder of another of our granddaughters)


while at the Gardens, this photo was just there for the taking (Paradise ducks, in this case the female being the more colourful one)

street scene.jpg

Dunedin street scene …  a coffee in the Octagon and a visit to the art gallery is a favourite Sunday afternoon activity 

art gallery.jpg

church window.jpg

 a Sunday morning top-up of stained glass (St Michael’s, Andersons Bay)

steps up.jpg

well-worn steel steps in a car park, marking the passage of many feet … going up …

steps down.jpg

going down … 

Someone asked me a week ago how my writing was going and all I could think to reply was, “Grandchildren”. 

Yes, family takes up a lot of my time and thinking space. Of course it goes without saying that I wouldn’t have it any other way. The eighth grandchild arrived a month ago. I can only feel blessed.

Another blessing is that the poetry is flowing. (Not the prose so much. It requires a lot more space. Like potatoes as opposed to radishes). 

Spring is brewing; a delightful prospect after what has felt like an especially tedious and sun-less winter. Even better, I can see a solid area of writing space opening up for me in the next couple of months. I’m looking forward to using this wall-to-wall writing opportunity and intend using it to sort and file material for Craggan Dhu; Part Two. As well as collecting the poetry for my fourth poetry collection (as yet un-named).

Naming is important. The names all my grandchildren have been given, are beautiful. Like jewels I can tumble in my head, each name different, each name treasured.

July 19th

Inside Out Winter

Some photos of winter here in the deep south.

The first few were taken on a recent trip to Queenstown.

IMG_1422Grandson and sheep, Lawrence, Otago

IMG_1439Old wheel, Lawrence, Otago

IMG_1448.JPGTaken from the gondola, Queenstown

IMG_1255.JPGA wintry outlook taken across from our place looking towards Andersons Bay Presbyterian church, now no longer used. Forced to close I believe because of the high cost required to bring it up to earthquake requirement standards.

IMG_1257.JPGAfter two years living in our wee downstairs flat (a really cosy and adorable space making us reluctant to vacate) we moved back upstairs where our son and his family were staying temporarily. 

IMG_1258We are happy to be back to a larger space, a view, a conventional, electric oven (rather than convection), a bath, a wood-burner and garden. However we were also loath to leave the convenience of a dishwasher, really great shower, mod.cons. double-glazing and modern, easy-to-keep-clean space. 






IMG_1265Our rather tired home is a mite shabby and in need of some major wallpapering, painting and carpeting … but all in good time, and as we can afford …

IMG_1267On a neighbourhood walk recently, this blue garden seat caught my eye … one of my favourite shades of blue …

IMG_1269A well-built fence and somehow very Dunedin. Maybe it’s the peaked fence-post lids that make me think that. Something very upstanding and conservative about them.

IMG_1270.JPGwinter berries

IMG_1271.JPGNothing upstanding and reserved about this neighbourhood fence and mailbox, and all the more endearing for it …

IMG_1272.JPGHydrangeas – another favourite shade of blue.

IMG_1273.JPGAn artichoke plant – next year maybe I’ll remember to pick before the flower appears – but such a pretty flower, it seems a shame not to let it flower. 

IMG_1274.JPGI wrote a poem about these old kettles. Kettles are very cool.




IMG_1278.JPGSee the little hearts? My daughter in law Kate made this elephant, and I love it.

easter daisies.JPG

blue daisiesAnd just today I took a photo of these easter daisies. I look out at them from our kitchen window. They are certainly a bright spot in my winter outlook. 

Winter is normally a time for hunkering down and reflecting. But it seems I’ve been busier than ever this winter. The calendar keeps filling up with events and appointments and time in the room I use for writing, has been rare.

I’m not unhappy about this.

A busy life is feeding me lots of stuff to write about.

If I was stuck at home with nothing to do, I don’t think I’d have anything to write about.

However, a part of me would welcome the chance to prove this.

June 30th

Looking Back In Order to See Ahead

sod cottage.jpg

On a trip south this week, I stopped at Sod Cottage which is an original new settler cottage dating back to 1860’s. Sited on the side of the main highway south, it serves as a stopping place for anyone curious about what houses may have looked like at that time; both inside and out.

A picnic table outside encourages passers-by to stop for a picnic. However, as there was still frost on the ground the morning I stopped, that idea didn’t appeal.

sod cottage door.jpg

sod cottage interior.JPG

sod cottage 2.JPG

sod cottage bed.JPG

sod cottage figure.JPG

pastoral near Clinton.JPG

Farther along the road, I spotted a mob of very muddy sheep in a swede paddock. Swedes are what New Zealanders (especially those in the south) call a type of turnip. When driving past later on in the year, when the turnips begin to rot in the ground, wafts of foul air fill the car. Just another rural experience!


On the way back from my trip to Gore, Southland, I stopped at Lake Waihola as I could see that after a frost, the lake was looking very calm and photogenic.

Such ‘Lake Placid’ characteristics is not always so with Lake Waihola. As it is not a deep lake, its muddy bottom is easily disturbed by the frequent winds that move around where the lake is situated, between two ranges of hills.

Writing-wise, I am continuing to write a poem-a-week for my recollection of the trip to Berlin I made almost a year ago now.

The research for Craggan Dhu: Part Two, will take me another year to complete. But because part of the research involves family memorabilia, I can kill two birds with one stone – tidy up and file family papers at the same time as milling useful ideas and facts for this second novel.

The past continues to infiltrate my present. Early this week I took a book from the Orepuki library (which dates back to the late 1800’s) into the *Hocken Library here in Dunedin. I was informed there that the books in the Orepuki library probably need to be listed to establish their value and usefulness. A job I would be only too happy to tackle. In the spring.

*The Hocken Museum is a valued repository for New Zealand historical data and materials.

Light Strokes 




Robert and I went for a walk recently, fortuitously choosing what turned out to be a perfect combination of time of day and atmosphere: low tide and near to sun’s set.

The kelp at Lawyers Head was amazing to see, lying in rich-brown heaps exactly where dumped by the ocean’s swinging arm.


There were other things too to take the eye. I started clicking my camera and couldn’t seem to stop seeing colours and textures to capture.



IMG_1305.JPGblack, glistening rocks taking a breather before the next wash by an incoming tide

IMG_1307cerise seaweed …

IMG_1312rocks stained by the iron oxide in the run-off (so I was informed by someone more knowledgeable than myself)

IMG_1313concrete slab from man-made sea wall, torn away by the ocean …

IMG_1318a popular pooch spot, going by the paw prints …


IMG_1298light strokes over the surf painted by a sinking sun

So. Sent off the manuscript. Four months now to wait until I hear whether it has been accepted for publication.

Meanwhile, I am hatching the second part. I was going to introduce a whole raft of new characters, but the characters already introduced had something to say about that! They want me to keep them on. Their stories are not done. So it looks as though they will remain, but I will also be introducing some new characters as well. Plus a whole new plot.

Imagining Part Two is what keeps me awake at night. I can’t turn off my brain and the onslaught of ideas.

But at least keeping my mind engaged in the hatching and plotting of Craggan Dhu: Part Two, is good armour against any nasty, unruly jolts of anxiety that can sometimes arrive just as I am about to fall asleep – like rapier attacks cruelly aimed to prevent the bliss of sleep.

Such unfounded, indiscriminate anxiety usually swirls around the question of what is the meaning of life, and other such boring, existential questions like who am I really? And what if my life is really just all a dream; some cruel hoax?

Then morning dawns and all is well again; proof that to combat confusion, a good dose of daylight does not go amiss. That, and a walk by the sea.

June 6th

Flax and Sun

IMG_1347.JPGTakitimu mountains backdrop


Te Waewae Bay




Monkey Island beach



This long weekend we took a trip south to ancestral lands.

My novel “Craggan Dhu’ (yet to find a publisher) was ringing in my ears. So much of its grist has been milled from these parts.

The characters in my novel were singing and dancing with me as I stomped the ground and sniffed in the scent of flax and sun. (Well, to be honest, a couple of them were griping, it not being in their nature to sing and dance).

May 24th

Blue Notes 

As promised, I have taken myself down to the sea. Twice this week so far.

st kilda 5

I wondered why I had left it so long. After all the beach is only a stone’s throw from our place (3 – 4 k’s at the most …)

Then I realised that I actually prefer the beach in the cooler months. Not so many people. Not so  windy. The colours muted and peaceful.

st kilda 4

I especially love the blues …  the white froth adding contrast.

st kilda 2

On Monday the breakers were steaming and frothy after a storm over the weekend.

st kilda 1

I am posting off my novel’s m.s. to a publisher this afternoon.

Then I shall to the best of my ability, forget all about it and get back to poetry and writing down ideas I have brewing for the second part to my Craggan Dhu saga.

It will be sweet to get back into some in-depth strumming again after so long just picking out sporadic notes.

The timing is right; it is nearly Matariki (the appearance of the Pleiades over the horizon). That is when my writing really hits its stride. The universe and me in tune.

Photos above taken by me with I-Phone 5

May 12th


beach detritus

From 2011 –  detritus on St Kilda beach

I can hear the beach calling me. Its been a while since I’ve visited.

Last night I pulled away from social media, vowing not to return until Spring (and even then I’m not sure I’ll want to join the crowds at the watering hole again).

I want to take time to listen and read. Think and dream. Without the white noise of checking status and Like-ing things people post. Reminds me of the days of intense blogging and the self-imposed obligation I felt back then to read and comment on every blog I followed.

cosy nook rocks

rocks at Cosy Nook

Writing has had to take a back seat lately as I have been busy with getting our apartment downstairs ready for Air BnB placement.

Our son and family who were living in our home, have moved on to another city so we have moved back upstairs into what feels like an manor (after living for two years in the cosy apartment downstairs).

At the same time, however, we can now see all the work needed to update and re-touch the rather faded and shabby interior. (Something we have been talking about doing for ten years).

cosy nook rocks 3

Cosy Nook rocks (2)

If there’s such a thing as a ‘Magical Places of the World’, Cosy Nook in Western Southland, New Zealand (and just down the road from where I was brought up) would surely comply. Such magical places serve as inspiration for me to get writing.

Yes, I really do need to get back to writing. And back to the beach for a shot of salt and surf.

Photos taken by me with Canon S3

April 11th

Novel Mountain Climbing

3 sistersThree Sisters peak, Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown, New Zealand

Yes, writing a m.s. for a novel and getting it all ready to send to a publisher, can be a bit like climbing a mountain.

Not that I have ever climbed a mountain.

But I have written a m.s. for a novel.

mountainsRemarkables mountain range, Queenstown

If only I could just wave a magic wand.

Or had staff.

(A magic staff?)

Then I could magically skip the stages to ‘getting the thing published’ and just  concentrate on the fun part – the actual writing.

sunset on remarkables in wintersunset reflected on to Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown

The light at the top of the mountain seems like a very long way away at the moment.

All of the above photos were taken by me with a Canon S3

March 27th

Seven- Year String Theory / It’s Just A Theory

kite 2

Feeling a bit like this kite these days – free, yet tethered. Free to write, yet tethered to themes. Themes of forgiveness, celebration, exploration, hurt and grief.

Clyde - church gate

Entering new ground … I am settling into my tenth seven-year stage. One of active participation after the previous seven-year stage which was of a more pondering, meditative nature.


It’s as if for those seven years, I was gathering my strength and confidence for this seven-year stage. (This stage, from ages 63 – 70 corresponds to when I was aged 7 – 14; and then again when I was aged, 28 – 32).

I look back on my life and for me, there is a clear pattern of entering new phases every seven years. These seven years then fall into a twenty-eight year pattern.

I’ve lived through the twenty-eight year sequence twice now.

The first seven years I have titled the Learning years.

The second seven years the Active years.

The third block of seven years, the Weathering years.

The fourth seven-year stage, Celebration years.


After experiencing my third time of living through the Learning (exploring, pondering, meditative, gathering) stage, I am now in my third round of Active years. These years appear to take on the nature of participation, curiosity and energy.


I liken it to the butterfly – the first stage is as an egg – still, waiting, gathering; then as a hungry caterpillar – devouring, participating, working and energetically experiencing; then as a cocoon – weathering life’s harder times, dreaming, passive and patient; then the last phase, which is the butterfly fully formed and celebrating its freedom of flight.

portion of painting

portion of a painting by Michael D. Cooke

This ‘seven-year string’ theory of mine has no scientific or mathematical basis. It is purely something I have concocted for myself in wakeful hours of trying to get to sleep. It amuses me to look back over my life and divide the years lived into these seven year stages.

My first Active phase was when I was aged 7 – 14 and delighting in my roles of daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend and school pupil.  Simple roles, easy to fulfil. By the time I was into my second Active stage (35 – 42) , I had added the roles of wife, mother, aunt, teacher and writer. Again, delightful roles I revelled in.

Now, third time round, the roles of daughter and granddaughter have been taken away from me. But I have the delight of the added roles of grandmother, published writer and retiree. And I am still revelling.

Aint life just the grandest thing?

March 14th


Japanese frog

I thought I had lost this photo of a little frog we saw in my daughter-in-law’s parent’s garden in Okayama, Japan.

It was one of those moments that stick in your mind. I spotted the wee fellow when E’s father was showing us around their amazing garden – a garden that warrants the term ‘Market Garden’ back here in New Zealand.

Sadly E’s father died a few years later. I am pleased that I am left with fond memories of him and of E’s family home and garden, of the dinner served to us that moon festival night, and of the over-whelming hospitality of her parents. It was a magical time, a portrait worthy of occupying a special position in my hall of memories.

green caterpillar (tomatoes)

from a few seasons back now, a row of green tomatoes hopefully ripening on our windowsill (if I remember correctly it didn’t work, Dunedin’s day-long length of sunshine quickly waning as March marched on into April).

green tomatoes green trees

green tomatoes

While going through old blog posts, I came across the photos (featured above) I forgot were in my stock.

I decided to feature ‘green’  – possibly in deference to St Patrick’s Day, which happens to be the day after our youngest son’s birthday. I’m glad though that our son wasn’t born on St Pat’s Day. Not the greatest to every year have your birthday overshadowed by so much mad green.

munted tennis ball

munted tennis ball washed up on to the St Kilda beach tide line

I spent a successful week’s writing last week.

I achieved it by pretending I was ‘away’  (possibly at a writer’s retreat somewhere).

For all intents and purposes, I was not home if anyone tried to find me. I didn’t answer  the phone – anyway, it would only have been scammers or random companies soliciting takers for home heating, or real estate agents wanting to value our house.

I told people I was going to ‘be away’ for the week and locked the door and applied headphones.

I didn’t venture out even to collect the mail. (Although I did sneak away for a few walks and a couple of visits to the gym. Necessary prevention of leg and gluteal muscle atrophy from so much sitting).

My entire week’s focus was on slightly adjusting the ms for my novel – incorporating some helpful suggestions by my ‘readers’. Really happy with the result too. Thank you dear readers (you know who you are).

Now all I need to do is to write out some family trees as an aid to the book  – which is going to tax this very right-leaning brain of mine. (“Come on left brain – wake up. Help me out, there’s a chum”).

I’ve been encouraged by my achievement of opting out of society to spend a week fully engaged in writing. I now know it is possible to achieve this without having to leave town. Saves  spending money I don’t have on petrol, accommodation and extra supplies. I now know I can assign myself regular Writing Weeks. And I will.

Even a studio or office is not necessary.  Just a diary empty of any commitments, locked front door and the appearance of absence, buys me a writing retreat for zilch. That’s win-win in my book (a rhetorical book, you understand, not my actual book).

My actual book is just about there. Will be sending it off with a hope and a prayer very soon.

And then what?

Craggan Dhu; Part Two (and more poetry for collection number four).

February 27th

Pondering On


A walk around the neighbourhood …


with camera aboard …


painted bus shelter …


brick wall in the Andersons Bay Plunket Rooms corner …


where I sat a while and watched the world go by …


and farther out towards the harbour in the distance, boat sheds and a portion of Dunedin’s wharf-side vista …


until it was time to leave my sunny spot by the ivy-ed wall …


and head on home, past this elegant villa …


with a Lilliput library outside the gate …


A friend of mine is responsible for getting these little free libraries up and running in different places in Dunedin. She is also responsible for poetry cards in waiting rooms nationwide and for poems-painted-on-steps. She’s heading for a Service medal of some description, for sure. Soon I will have to call her ‘Lady’. She’s just that kind of amazing generator for the community … Someone is bound to nominate her. Hell, I might even do it. (If I can be biffed to get my butt up off this sun-soaked wooden seat, that is).


People like my friend astonish me. Where do they get the energy? I need the day to give me a good shove before I can even get going in the mornings.

‘Every morning I wake as if from the dead’ (I think that may be a line from one of my poems, and if it isn’t, it should be).

People like my friend don’t go daydreaming and wandering and sitting on wooden benches watching the world go by. They are the world. The rest of us sit idly by and watch.

Now isn’t there a poem about that somewhere? Written by someone really famous?

Meanwhile … I am mentally revving myself up to make a massive tackle on my  novel’s m.s. Feet are skidding a bit in the mud though. I’m needing a bucket of sand  for traction.

I have been planning a write-away . A writing getaway. Somewhere quiet in a secret location. Free of charge. But I think that thought just took off with the pig I saw fly past.

February 15th

Still Coming Up Roses

I cannot believe it!!! (And yes, it does qualify for three exclamation marks). 


little mousie brown at the foot of the Peter Pan statue at Dunedin Gardens, his ears shiny from people rubbing them

The latest photos which I put up to replace the first lot that went missing, were also gobbled up by some mysterious interweb quirk …


upended again

However, I think  I may have worked out that the url for the page was from an old blog and somehow when I updated in a different sequence, the whole thing went wooshing off the cliff … very weird.


Hopefully I’ve solved it by starting up a whole new page that is not connected to any old url. 


Look at me getting all techy!


even though this summer has apparently been New Zealand’s second worst on record (I wonder when the worst summer was?) the roses still all bloomed, so it can’t have been all that bad

Squeezing writing time in between catching up with friends and gym and normal life is not cutting it for the my m.s. corrections, so I’m eyeing up somewhere to go for some dedicated writing time, and ordering my calendar accordingly.