Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Christmas Fridge

I may not be religious but I do celebrate Christmas. Along with the New Year it is a mid winter festival, but whereas I find new year a time to look back upon the year that has been and plan for the year to come, Christmas is the time to celebrate now - the present moment. 

The world is such a beautiful place and we are so lucky to be here that it is good just to pause for a moment during life's bustle and enjoy it. And strangely enough I notice most when I look in the fridge. It is at this time of year that the family comes together and we all help prepare for the celebration. As we do so the fridge fills with extraordinary things like actors waiting in the wings for their appearance. As the meal begins we will all be lost in each others' company, it is that memory of the fridge that reminds me of what we have here, all of us, together.

My teenagers also spend a large percentage of their time looking in the fridge, but I am not sure they see it the same way I do . . .

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Hissing of the Summer Lawns

Thursday 8.45am 

It is forecast to get to 29 degrees today. Just now at a quarter to eight in the morning even though the nighttime chill still surrounds me I can feel the heat of the sun already pushing through, burning.

I am in the middle of our village, Havelock North. There is a distant hissing of water spraying the grass, the birds chirp and whistle, and the traffic quietly rumbles as everybody begins their day. As I walk past a cafe a hint of coffee fills the air along with the clinking of cups. The people are all isolated, distant, self absorbed as they think about their day ahead . . .

In the UK in the 60’s and 70’s package holidays arrived. Ordinary people could now spend two weeks a year somewhere more exotic than Aberdeen, Spain perhaps or Italy. Everything was arranged for you by the travel company, all you had to do was choose from the brochure, pay the fee, and turn up at the airport. For people like my parents who loved to travel but had decided to stay in one place for their children’s schooling, package holidays were ideal and every year my sister and I would spend two weeks by the pool or on the beach sucking in all the strange sights, sounds and tastes. We would leave Edinburgh paper white and along with the rest of our party return lobster pink, tired but inspired having had a small glimpse of what was out there in the rest of the world.

And that feeling from then of the sun already burning down through the morning cool has penetrated deep within me and stuck. It may only be like this for a brief couple of hours each day but it always evokes those childhood feelings of being on holiday, of having all the time in the world with no worries and a whole world of possibilities and new things to experience. It makes me happy.

Life is never dull when you make time for a cup of coffee and a cheese scone . . .

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Call of the Wild (or what I learned from the Antarctic Centre)

Monday 8.10am

I am a city person through and through. I love the whole busyness of it, the the sounds, the smells and the different views that suddenly open up as you turn a corner. I enjoy the anonymity as well, especially in the mornings as people flow past with that vacant going to work look about them. Whole lives and worlds flow in and around and past each other smoothly, never quite touching.

Just lately though the city has lost its charm. For the last few weeks whilst going to and from work all I seem to notice are the fences surrounding everything, and now here on holiday in Christchurch I feel surrounded by vast expanses of concrete and tar. We are such a controlling species. Everything has to be divided up and enclosed, from the fields with their barbed wire surrounds to the meat in the supermarket hygienically contained within it’s plastic wrapping. But we are fooling ourselves if we think we are in control, the real world is still there just under the surface. It peeks through in the grass growing in the cracks in the pavement or in the seeds drifting past on the breeze.

Deep within me I feel the urge too admit this and let go to be part of the world, but I cannot. I have spent so long as I am that even in my most extreme wilderness fantasies I am warm and comfortable, swaddled in layers of fleece and Gortex.
I am an indoor cat, I can see and hear the world out there but the closest I’ll come is to look at it through the glass of the window.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

On being a Man

Sunday 5.01pm

I have a bit of an on off relationship with shopping. It all depends what I am shopping for. Grocery shopping is a planned affair with a list to be gone through. Put me in a delicatessen though and I’ll linger and browse, but then they are very much toy shops for grown ups. And clothes? well it depends on who it is for. For myself it is very much a hit and run affair, apart from the long periods spent in the changing room getting just the right pair of jeans. But if I am with Nicola and she is buying clothes for herself then that is a different story. As long as I can wander off to a bookshop occasionally I am quite happy tagging along. But my most favourite type of purchase is jewelry. Not for myself, I do not wear any, not even a watch, but for Nicola. We share the same taste in things, the same love of the handmade item made by a real craftsperson somewhere whose name is on the label and whom you could go and visit and talk to if you wanted something special. Of course jewelry is made to be worn and always I love how good Nicola looks when she wears these things.

Recently I was tagging along with Nicola as she bought a cardigan (I think). This was in her favourite store where she is quite well known now. As she came to pay she could not find her card so she looked at me and said “you’ll have to pay of course” so I did. This obviously impressed the woman behind the counter who’d watched me wander aimlessly around the store, hang around looking lost while she was in the changing room and then finally encourage Nicola to buy the cardy when she was unsure and pay for it as well. Turning to Nicola she said “ When you write that book about how to train husbands, can I have a copy!” 

We all laughed and left the store, but later on that day I finally decided to buy something that I have been thinking about for ages, what every man should have - a chainsaw.

Ever since then though I keep wondering - is there perhaps a connection between these two events?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Drawing again, at last

Sometimes you have to pay attention to what is nagging at the edges of your consciousness. And in my case for a while now it has been drawing. Or rather not drawing. Computers are great and I could not be without mine . . . but I miss getting my hands dirty and dusty and the fun of just scribbling away, the feel of chalk on paper and the sound of scissors as they cut.

So I have spent this weekend doing just that. 

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Saturday 9.46am

There is something comforting about a misty day. Some days I want to look out upon distant vistas full of possibilities. On other days the world seems just too big, too full of insurmountable problems, and on days like these I need to be cocooned and feel safe from it all.

Coming home does that and I get the same feeling when walking surrounded by mist. The world becomes much smaller as I walk protected within my little bubble of light. Sound is muffled and all I can see are faint shadows, hints of what might be out there. There is a childlike innocence here as well because the ethereal shapes out there could just as easily be fairy castles as trees and rocks.

Within my bubble there is a brightness as the light is diffused and comes from all around, the colours yellow and green glow as if lit from within. Gone are the harsh shadows of reality. Here in my little patch of Scottish Autumn or New Zealand Winter I feel as if I have stepped off the train of life for a while and can draw breath, relax a little and gather myself ready to continue on with life . . .  

“So what becomes of the little boys who run away from home. The world just keeps on gettin’ bigger when you get out on your own.” Tom Waits

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Give us the gift

Thursday 8.57pm

I like to watch people. When I am walking, when I am driving I look at the people around me. Especially those in cars. There is a kind of separation from the world when you are inside a car, insulated somehow. And so when I watch people in cars it is as if they do not see me, they are completely caught up in their own worlds.

As I watch there is always one question on my mind - what are they thinking? I mean is it the same as me or different? But of course I realize that is one thing I will never know, how could I?

Or so I thought. But then came twitter. An application where people can share with the rest of the world what is on their mind as it happens, any time day or night. This would give me new insights, I could even find out what goes on inside the heads of famous people, world leaders even . . .

And what did I learn? . . . Well not a lot really. It is a bit like sitting on a bus or train, you hear these sometimes tanatalising snippets of conversation but have no idea really what they are talking about.

Ah well, back to the real world I suppose.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Thursday 9pm

Some ideas hang around inside my head for a long time. They will pop up every now and then and I’ll play around with them for a while. If they work they will be used or put away somewhere for later, if they do not yet work I’ll play around with them for a while before putting them away in my head again for another time. If I stop and think about it there are quite a few in there.

For example I have this obsession with making a logo with a hole in the corner - kind of like a gift tag or clothes label. It first surfaced ages ago in this logo but was rejected by Nicola in favor of another one. So back into my head it went only to surface again for another idea I was playing around with recently.

I suppose it is just the way my mind works, but I often wonder if everybody thinks this way.

This may also be a roundabout way of saying that I have not forgotten this.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A pretty cool way to crack walnuts

Sunday 8.51pm

A weekend spent doing a "father-son activity" as my youngest would put it resulted in one of these - a trebuchet.

For a machine designed for destruction it does have an incredibly elegant action that I find quite hypnotic, and I am not the only one.

We spent the afternoon throwing walnuts across the garden.

If you fancy making one yourself, we used these plans but made it half size.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The spaces we live within

Whilst thinking about the spaces between words it suddenly occurred to me that there is a space that I had not noticed before. The one that surrounds me, that I live in. I can see the cupboard on the other side of the room but I do not notice the gap in between, my mind just leaps straight to what I see and starts thinking about it. Yet, like one of those optical illusional drawings, if I stop and concentrate the room kind of flips round and I can see the space defined by all the objects around me, the space that I move in, within which I am a void.

A good few years ago an artist had the same idea I think. She would cast and make solid the inside of a room and take it outside to stand on its own. I did not get it at the time, but I think I do now.

The space between people I notice much more. If I am talking with a stranger and the conversation dies away then that gap between us rises up and I feel an intense urge to close it by talking. Nervousness or shyness I suppose because the more I know someone the more at ease I am to be silent with them.

All of this is much more obvious in a city I think, where we are all jammed so much closer together. A trip on the tube (subway, metro . . .) or in an elevator becomes a dance of sorts as well pull in our personal spaces as close as possible and squeeze around and between each other.

And there is more. Having watched this talk on TED I now discover that all that I can see and feel is only a tiny part, 4% of what is there. The rest it seems is dark matter and dark energy that has been named, but nobody actually knows what it is . . .

Life is never dull because it is so big . . .

Sunday, 31 May 2009

More spaces

Saturday 8.06pm

I talk too much

Quite soon I’ll be doing a presentation to a group of people. It is part of a job interview and I have never done anything like this before. The thought is both scary and exciting - I’m quite looking forward to it. Now because it is something unknown, all sorts of thoughts are constantly going through my mind about what may happen. And these thoughts are also colouring what I see around me. For instance we went to the movies today and saw “Night at the museum 2”. Having not seen the first one I wasn’t sure what I was in for but it was great much better than I expected and well worth seeing. Aside from the film itself, and Amelia Earhart’s tight trousers, I found myself listening to the actors and the way they spoke and presented the script. And that is when I realised - I talk too much.

As you may know I love lettering, but just as important as the letters themselves, what makes them beautiful is the spaces between the letters and words - the way they all fit together. And today I finally saw that it is the same with speaking. The shape of the spaces between the words are just as important as the words themselves. It is the spaces that give shape, texture and colour to what you say.

So I’ll be trying to talk less from now on. And thinking about it this will have another benefit - the rest of you might get a word or two in as well . . .

Life is never dull when you have new challenges.

Saturday, 23 May 2009


Saturday 5.23pm

Nobody wants to die. Some of us do so far too early, some linger on beyond their time. But no matter what, death is inevitable. It is the natural order of things, and without death would we know what life was?

Immortality should be life without death. The gods have it and evil super villains constantly strive for it and yet as befits something an evil person would lust after, it is cursed. You may be immortal but as the villains soon discover you do not escape death for it constantly taunts you - everyone around you will eventually die.

Most of my life so far I have shared with various cats. I remember and miss everyone of them. A small glimpse of what immortality would hold perhaps. So no, immortality is not for me. What I hope for is that death comes for me when the time is right, when I am ready for it.

The photo is Ranna.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Buffy the cat has returned! After a week and a half, a lot thinner but otherwise fine, Buffy came back in the cat door and loudly announced that she was back. Our theory is that she had got herself shut in somewhere for all that time, but who knows really. Our family is complete again.

Isn't it funny how one small cat can leave such a huge hole in your life.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Autumn 3

I do not know if The Four Seasons is the worlds most popular piece of music but it does seem to pop up again and again - films, adverts, supermarkets and telephones even. My favourite part is the slow part in the middle of Autumn (about two minutes into this clip) . Which is about now in fact. The music echoes the world outside, the wet mouldering dampness, the slow dripping from the leaves and branches. The smell is rich and earthy and there is movement, constant hidden movement in there as well. I say it every year but then I notice it every year at this time as well. The earth is alive. All of it, and I am but one small part of this giant organism.

We have not seen Buffy the cat for two days now, which is unusual for her. We have looked around, asked the neighbours and informed the SPCA and the local vets. There is nothing to do now except wait.

I hope that the earth looks after her.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


Sunday 6.53am

Porridge always reminds me of snow. When I was younger, as soon as the first few flakes began to drift down, if it was a school day my mum would be up early making porridge. I would wake to the distant clonking of the wooden spoon on the side of the pan and the radio talking away in the background as she listened to see if schools were open or closed and if the buses were on time. After a while she would pop her head round the bedroom door to say "don't rush to get up, it's been snowing there'll be no school". I would already know about the snow as soon as I opened my eyes - the light is different. Even through the curtains you could see the brighter than usual whiteness outside and of course it was also oh so very quiet out there . . . . just the occasional hiss and crunching sound of car tyres as someone slowly went off to work.

Downstairs the kitchen would be warm with an orangy yellow glow, slightly hazy with condensation from the kettle and the porridge glooping away in it's pan. My mum is traditionalist and so our porridge was always made on the stove with just rolled oats, a pinch of salt and water. Into our bowls it would go in big ladlefuls, milk would be poured round the edges and white sugar piled on top so you ended up with what looked like a small snow capped volcanic island in a milky sea. It was so hot that you could only eat from round the edges and because the bowls were cold, if you poured your milk carefully your island would float and spin around. Nowadays I just have milk, no sugar but I still feel happy if I can get my island to float on the milk.

And then once we were finished, my sister and I, mum would want us out of the way so she could tidy up. So it was off outside for us dressed in jumpers, duffle coats, knitted gloves and welly boots (gum boots you might call them). And the world outside would be crisp and white and still and our cheeks would soon glow and burn with the fire of life within us as we rolled giant snowballs, the biggest ever . . . .

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Make things

I don't know about you but I have various areas in my life that need to be kept in balance - money, family, work, that sort of thing. One of them that I find often takes a back seat is creativity. I need to make things and if I don't that need grows and niggles at me until I do. Sometimes though I am too busy to realise that things are out of balance, I just feel wrong or out of sorts. And just lately that is how I have felt . . .

Updating the look of my soup blog has helped but when I read this by Pherenike it just struck a chord deep within me - this is what I need!

so here goes . . . . I will make something and pass it on to the first five people that comment on this post and agree to the following -

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.

2. What I create will be just for you, with love.

3. It'll be done this year (2009).

4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!

5. I reserve the right to do something strange.

6. In return, all you need to do is:

7. Post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to this.

8. Send your mailing address - after I contact you.


Sunday 11am

I like the city. I like it's anonymity. Like a lot of dentists I spend all day talking to people, but underneath there lurks an awkward shyness. I am quite happy with my own company which at work is useful because in between the "hello" and "goodbye" bit the person in front of you cannot talk back past the mouthful of instruments and numbness. And if you wish to be alone there is no better place than the city. You have everything you need all around you but nobody expects you to speak to them. It does have a down side as well - my loneliest times have been in cities, having all those people around just makes the feeling of isolation much worse.

Supermarkets wherever they are are just like a part of the city. You can do all of your shopping, you can read every label and poke and prod things as much as you like and not have to interact with anybody, not even the checkout girl if you do not want to.

But now that Nicola has broken her ankle I am doing more of the shopping. And I have to shop where she shops. And being a country girl she likes to shop the old fashioned way, the way it should be, in real shops. Which here means the farmers market. I'll be buying real food from real people, the ones that actually grow the stuff. It is a good feeling. I might even talk to them as well . . . .

(When I got the farmers market had moved inside for the Winter and I could not get a good photo. So thanks to Nicola for this one.)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

In the Autumn sunshine with Glen Campbell

Saturday 4.49pm

I am very tired.

Nicola broke her ankle three weeks ago now, but it feels like three months. It has been tough on her, she has not slept well because of the pain and can hardly walk let alone drive which for an independent person is incredibly frustrating. I have seen people scooting about on crutches before but little realised how difficult it really is, suddenly having to use muscles in unaccustomed ways and of course with both hands on the crutches you cannot carry anything and end up relying completely on those around you. The children have been great, but there is only so much they can do and so I have been plunged suddenly into trying to do all the things Nicola usually does whilst working full time. Family life goes on and any woman reading this will say "welcome to our world" and I would agree with you, having done the housewife and mother bit for three years when our youngest was little I already know what it is like. But I had more time then, and it does not make it any easier being suddenly plunged into it. Now there are more jobs to be done than there is time available and I rush from one thing to the next and the next and the next . . . . from the moment I awake until I go to bed . . .

But today was different.

While washing the dishes I was making some soup (Beetroot and Cumin). I was peeling the roasted beets, Whichita Lineman was playing in the background and glancing up I caught sight of the Autumn sunshine coming low through the window. As these three things came together, in that moment, I knew that although life may be tough sometimes there is nowhere else in the world that I want to be.

Contentment - it lies within the small things in life, put them together and they add up to so much more . . . .

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Jelly Melon

For $1.98 here just now you can buy one of these, a Kiwano or Jelly Melon. It tastes like a cross between cucumber, melon and banana and in Nicola's words has the texture of frogspawn.

It went rather well with some vanilla icecream.

Life is never dull when you have an interesting fruit.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

If I won the lottery

If I won the lottery I would rent billboards and put phrases on them. No photos or decoration. Just the words themselves because words have a beauty and power all of their own, and short phrases, like snatches of overheard conversation are a doorway to the imagination.

Like this perhaps :-

The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand.

by Steely dan

Or this :-

And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here.

by Tom Waits.

Or even this :-

Just like dyin'. 'Cept you can still feel the shame.

By the Black Keys.

Life is never dull when you can imagine.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Venn diagrams

Thursday 10.23am

When I was at school we learn't a visual way of organising and categorising lists of things - Venn diagrams they were called. Categories were represented by circles drawn on paper and we wrote the different items inside the relevant circle. Some things belonged to more than one category and here the circles would overlap so that the item was contained by more than one circle. It was fun and a pretty easy exercise at the time but although Nicola tells me that they are useful in computing, in my life since they have had no relevance at all.

Until this morning that is. On my way back from dropping the youngest at school it occurred to me that these diagrams are a pretty good representation of the way we are. People that is. We are all individuals and live in our own worlds, our own three dimensional circle - our own bubble. As we move through everyday life we interact with other people and our bubbles briefly touch and merge for a while before separating again. When I look at people around me I can see them inside their transparent bubbles caught up in their own thoughts and lives that are completely different to mine. Some people seem to have tougher bubbles than others. They are more resilient and self contained, often caught up completely in themselves. Others have thinner, weaker bubbles that allow the outside world to filter through and affect the person inside and these people are more empathetic to others but also more vulnerable.

What I think is important is that we can also change our bubbles ourselves. If we are concentrating on a task it is as if our bubble becomes opaque, blocking out the outside world - people have to shout to get through. Emotions affect them, grief and loss or hurt seem to harden them as we try to protect ourselves and block out the outside world that has done us harm. Love on the other hand softens them as you merge your bubble completely with the one you love. And to go further I think that when you fall in love a piece of your bubble breaks away and is left with the other person floating within their bubble so that you are never truly apart. And within our own bubbles are parts of those we love, including all the animals we have shared our lives with, they become part of who we are.

In the past I have toyed with meditation but never kept it up, but I wonder if enlightenment happens when you compeletely dissolve your bubble and become one with everything around you.

Its a thought isn't . . . . . I wonder if Mr Venn thought about this too?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Morning light

Thursday 11am

Mornings and evenings, these are my favourite times of the day. Especially mornings. There is something about the light at this time that entrances me. I think it is the softness of it as the sun just comes up and gently caresses the world below, waking it tenderly as a lover or a mother would her child. It is officially Autumn here now and there is a chill in the air that makes the morning light even more special as I feel its warmth soaking into me through the cold.

Colours are different at this time as well, more saturated, more intense, but with a softness about them that is so relaxing just to gaze at. Later on the sun will be much hotter and bleach everything harshly flat and still but evening will gradually arrive as it does completing the cycle in a different but just as beautiful conclusion as it ushers in the nightfall.

Life is never dull when you can see and feel . . . .

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Washing Up

I have a love/hate relationship with washing up. It has a sense of achievement about it, you can see what you have done, going from messy to clean, from cannot move for dirty plates to space to put things, from annoying clutter to clean minimilism. What I don't like, because we are a family of five (well four and a half now that eldest son has gone off too university) - what I don't like is the fact that like clothes washing, dishwashing never ends . . . . and no sooner have I finished than someone brings in more dishes that have been lost in their bedroom for a while.

But mostly it is good. There is a meditative quality to it, filling the sink with just too hot to stand water, watching the bubbles froth up as the sink fills, whilst at the same time putting the radio on to New Zealand National for something interesting to listen to in the background - today it was an interview where they talked about copyright, piracy and obscurity.

And then washing itself. Glasses first, then plates and finally pans, each one ending up squeeky clean and sparkly in the sun. From chaos to order right before my eyes more magically than even Harry Potter could manage. Mind you, him being a teenager he probably thinks the plates wash themselves anyway . . .

One day we will have a dishwasher that works again, a beautifully shiny double drawed number by Fisher and Paykel. And when we do I will not miss washing up by hand at all but until then . . . . it's all good.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Friday 8.37

Nicola and I watched a documentary about the Rolling Stones last night and very enjoyable it was. I always feel a sort of wistfulness when watching good musicians. I would like to play like they do, with that relaxed freedom that only comes with years of experience. But of course I am not a musician and no matter how much or long I play I will never be one. And yet, if I think about it perhaps I already am. Over the years my playing has changed from poor attempts to copy existing songs, to an easy experimentation with sounds and rhythm, creating small riffs on the fly that come more from my mood at the time than anything else. Nobody else would understand or see what I am doing, blinded as they are by having to judge me by accepted standards. There I fail miserably - I still cannot play a song all the way through, and I am quite happy playing off tune as on - it is the sounds that I am hearing and the emotions it evokes or reflects, like poetry without words going straight to my emotional centre. In my own way I have taken that tiny morsel of musical talent that I posses just as far as Mick Jagger or Ronnie Wood has with their much greater abilities.

It is human nature to compare of course, but I blame television for our shortsightedness, our easy acceptance of secondhand standards taken from ever more sensationalist soap operas and news programmes.

Sometimes it is good to step outside of convention, find a quiet space within, and look at things as they really are.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Slightly Flawed

Friday 7.29am

I like to think of myself as the perfect well rounded individual. Rounded, yes but I am working on that (must eat less, must eat less, . . ). But perfect, no. Mostly I feel more like an item on Antiques Roadshow. The crowds will be there gathered round the tables, the television cameras will close in as the expert carefully unwraps me from my supermarket carrier bag and newspaper covering. "Oh, how beautifull" he'll say as he gently picks me out of the wrapping. "These are very collectable at the moment, very collectable. Just last week a piece such as this in good condition sold for over a million pounds". The audience breath in sharply and the old codger that brought me holds his breath and goes very still, not daring to think about what the expert has just said. " Ah but if you look carefully here" he says running his finger across my skin "If you look carefully you can see a flaw running across here" The audience lean forwards in a vain attempt to see as he continues " A beautiful piece, and I am sure it will give you much pleasure to own, how did you come about it?" As the old man tells his tale the audience begin to get restless and look around. The expert is just going through the motions now, his eyes straying along the queue looking for the next morsel. The audience is dying to get away but there is just one last thing . . . . " The value?" says the expert " In this condition I should think, oh . . . . 3 pounds. On a good day that is." And with that edict my fate is sealed.

In public I often feel like that - flawed. Those around me look me over and dismiss me as worthless in a matter of seconds.

I wonder what they are looking for that they cannot find?

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Sunday 3.33pm

I have a few ongoing projects, especially in cooking. Naan bread is one, pizza another and mayonnaise yet another. I do not tackle them all the time, and I don't stress over them, just every now and again I'll have another go at one or another, today it was mayonnaise. I know what I am after something plain and creamy, pretty much like "Helmann's" or "Best Foods" here in New Zealand, but one that I have made and know exactly what has gone into it.
But what am I chasing?, what brings me back to try again and again. I think it is the vision in my head, that thing that I cannot describe and yet can taste, smell and see in my mind. And when what I make matches that I'll know. Vision and doing go hand in hand in achieving anything. Yes it is also good to play around every now and again just to see what can be discovered, but as I get older I am noticing more and more the power of visualisation.

Life is never dull when you know where you are heading.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Wednesday 10.16am

I always resist going on holiday. " It is too expensive", "I can't spare the time away" "There's too much to do here" etc, etc. But once I decide to go and then actually do it , I am always glad I did and it usually turns out that the more I oppose the idea the more I actually need a holiday.

The problem with being at home is that I am surrounded by reminders of what I should or could be doing. If I was better at getting things done I would have all these "open loops" in my head written down and accounted for, but that is an ongoing project and by no means under control yet. Being away frees my mind from all of that and suddenly the world seems a much bigger place. But actually, although my conscious mind is relaxing my subconscious is still working away. I have had some of my best ideas, the solutions to problems that just have me stumped, when I get stuck and finally take a break. A walk, a trip to an art gallery or garden or just sitting in a cafe watching the world go by all work for me, but holidays are best.

Holidays are for doing whatever you feel like. For eating whatever and whenever you want. And especially for walking along the beach at six thirty in the morning because you were both awake and you can always go back to bed again later if you want.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


Sunday 7.33am

Sitting on our little veranda here at home I look out upon trees as far as the eye can see. I have always been drawn to trees, I do not know why and I am certainly not the only one that feels this way but there is just something . . .

Like the first movement in the salute to the sun that I do every morning the trees have their roots solidly grounded in the earth, and from here stretch up tall reaching to the sky. When the wind blows they do not oppose it but roll with it in a seemingly random swirling motion that brings them back to the centre once again to continue as before. I find this movement both the sight and sound of it very relaxing to watch, to hear, to feel even, for it seem to echo somehow within my own centre. As far as I know the trees are just doing their own tree thing and do not know I exist but when I am close to them I feel surrounded by . . . . possibilities.

LIfe is never dull when there are possibilities.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Just like dying but you can still feel the shame

Sunday 7.48am

3am. It is dark, black, and completely silent. This is that darkest hour just before dawn when it is difficult to believe that the light will ever come again. And I am awake. Midnight is the witching hour but of course that is just make believe. This is much, much worse. A land of the dead inhabited only by the things that normally lurk quietly in the deepest recesses of my mind. Things I have said and done in the past rise up to leave me writhing in agonised embarrassment all over again. And added to that any current worries I may have whirl round and round my head until I am completely disorientated with no hope of ever finding a solution. This continues until I eventually fall asleep again or get up and do something else accepting that I will be tired the next day.

There is a solution to this of course. Write them all down. As David Allen says in Getting things done any unresolved tasks in your mind will keep disturbing you over and over again, often at the least convenient times, until you do something about them. But if you keep a piece of paper beside you you can write them all down - clear your mind knowing that the problems are safely recorded to be looked at again in the morning.

Admittedly I have not done this. Just accepting that it is all part of who I am has done the trick for me. It probably goes a long way to explaining my rather introspective, slightly depressive nature . . . . .

Sunday, 4 January 2009

One day I'll be vegetarian

Saturday 8.30am

I envy my cats straightforward views on life and death. If they are hungry, if it moves and if they can catch it - they will eat it. No questions asked, be it bird, rabbit or grumpy cicada. There is none of that tortured worrying that I go through.

But actually, lately I have noticed that my animal nature is not so far below the surface. When my youngest caught a fish recently (much to the surprise of both of us), it was only on the dock milliseconds before I had it whacked on the head and in a plastic bag ready to take home and cook. Youngest was a bit miffed though because he had wanted to keep it alive in a bucket to take to school!

And again yesterday when he dug up shellfish on the beach (Tuatua, a type of clam I think) it did not take me long to swap from "lets put them back" to "I wonder how you cook them?" Youngest will again be disappointed because he has plans to breed and sell them from home. Strong entrepreneurial tendencies there I think.

So I have no problems with wild food it seems, I just feel that if we are going to farm animals then we should treat them well and not as some sort of machine put here for us to use and then discard. The future lies in the organic movement I think along with education and knowledge helped by people like Jamie Oliver.

And vegetarianism? Well meat of course is the original fast food. The sheep and cows have done all the work of converting grass etc into something we can eat. But being vegetarian involves a lot more thought, cooking from the basics, and being the sort of person who deconstructs everything and anything, I think that this is the next step up in my cooking education and once the children have left home I'll be giving it a go.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Happy New Year

Saturday 1.56pm

When Nicola and I got married, nearly four years ago now, we knew we would be moving to New Zealand. So at the time we were already practicing by drinking as much kiwi wine as possible. For the wedding we had New Zealands answer to affordable bubbly stuff - Lindauer. And of course we are still drinking it today on special occasions. I like to write the occasion and date on the corks and have kept them.

Not sure why really.

2009 is going to be the year that I build on the successes of 2008 and so my catchphrases during the next twelve months will be :- "Consolidate" and "Keep hitting it until I hit it"

Life is never dull when you perhaps come across as a couple of alcoholics.

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