‘A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know’. Diane Arbus

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.

Which I now have to  get published..


Sigh, because all I really want to do is write a sequel to this m.s. that-isn’t-even-a-novel-yet.

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 helpful family trees – 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.