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Imminent IceFest

An outdoor exhibition of photographic images of Antarctica has been set up in front of the Cathedral in the Square.

Antarctic images

Antarctic images

The official opening will be this Saturday.  It’s all part of NZ IceFest. 

“People and penguins on the go
all pictured mid the ice and snow.”

When I was at The Monastery last week I wrote the following poem:

 

When someone you love has gone
Weep . . . . . , accept, and go on.

It seems that you may drown in tears
All sourced from an infinite well
Moments of comfort stem the flow
Is that the shore?  It’s hard to tell.

When someone you love has gone
Weep . . . . . , accept, and go on.

Years, even decades, may pass
And anger replaces a tear
How dare they go, and leave you so?
You need them, but they are not here.

There’s still a corner of my heart
Of which those loved ones are a part
A memory sometimes will surprise
And bring the tears back to my eyes.

So, is the loved one truly gone?
I weep . . . . ., accept, and go on.

Ruaumoko strikes with violent hand
A city shakes and falls
So much that’s loved is torn away
Crushed in those crumbling walls

The place we loved has gone
We weep . . . . ., must accept – and go on.

Through all of this the seasons turn
As nature’s cycle ebbs and flows
There’s always hope – new life will come
Transition keeps us on our toes.

Some weep, some accept, and we all go on.

Party Policies

With the General Election just a month away it’s time to nail our colours to the mast – or rather to the fence.

Sign on the Cottage fence

Sign on the Cottage fence

I haven’t been an active Green for some years now, but I’m pleased to be able to help by hosting a billboard on our prominent corner.

This morning I discovered Vote Compass, a website developed by political scientists and hosted by TVNZ.  It’s quick and easy to answer some questions about your views on various issues.  The site analyses your answers, then tells you how your views line up with the published policies of political parties.  I’d encourage everyone to try it, especially those who don’t have the time and energy to check policies before they vote.

Of course Green came out top for me, but I was surprised to find my views align more with Mana policies than with Labour (Internet party is not included in this exercise).  I’ve spoken to several left-leaning people today, who said they’d also been surprised to find Mana so high in their results.   I must admit I know very little about Mana policies, but my respect for them has now risen.  Maybe Kim Dotcom was wise to choose them as his political partner.

“The billboard shows that I am keen
that people all should please vote Green.”

Horticultural Hamilton

A trip to the Hamilton Gardens was offered as part of the week’s programme at The Monastery.  Because the weather was drizzly, I opted for just a short visit, but if I’d known how wonderful the gardens are I’d have chosen a longer visit, despite the rain.  These gardens explore the history, context, and meaning of gardens.  I headed for the Productive Gardens, took a wrong turn, and found myself in the Italian Renaissance Garden, “an interpretation of 15th-16th Century Renaissance gardens that sought to rationalise and improve upon nature.”

Italian Renaissance Garden

Italian Renaissance Garden

I then wandered into the Tudor garden which incorporates various forms of fantsay popular during the Tudor era.

Tudor Garden

Tudor Garden

The Sustainable Backyard was inspiring, and I was impressed the woodcarving mural, created by volunteers Derek Merwood and Megan Godfrey.

Carved mural

Carved mural

The river was particularly attractive.

HG River (Small)

I also met pigeons

HG Pigeons (Small)

and ducklings

HG Ducklings (Small)

before my brief visit was over.  Have you been to the Hamilton Gardens?

“Another time I’d like to stay
within the gardens all the day.”

 

Livestock on Latimer

Knitted sheep

Knitted sheep

I adore these knitted sheep on the corner of Latimer Square.  Don’t they look wonderful?  There are even knitted daffodils in front of them.

“It’s things like this that help to keep
our spirits up – great knitted sheep!”

 

Magical Monastery

From the time I reached Hamilton airport I was cared for by the staff of The Monastery, with many extra touches provided.

 

Avenue leading to The Monastery

Avenue leading to The Monastery

The building is a 1906 villa, originally sited in Hamilton city, and moved in 1990 to a ten acre site beside the Waikato River.

 

Monastery entrance

Monastery entrance

I was one of three guests – usually there are five – and we each had our own room with en suite.  All the furnishings of the house are gracious and comfortable.

 

My bathroom window

My bathroom window

View from my bedroom window

View from my bedroom window

There’s plenty to see in the spacious grounds, and I was delighted to be able to feed the hens each morning.

Monastery chooks

Monastery chooks

 

Their area is beside the potager garden which supplied fresh vegetables for our healthy meals.

Potager garden

Potager garden

These were always beautifully cooked and presented.

 

Table set for lunch

Table set for lunch

Each day began with a yoga session and ended with a guided meditation, with all activities optional.  I also had Reiki, a scented bath, a Cultural Body Work Massage, and a counselling session.  In between there was lots of time and space for relaxation and reflection.  My counselling session led me to consider grief, and to write a poem about it (to come in a future post).  A week with no newspaper, no television, and no social media passed without any withdrawal symptoms (although I’m now catching up on my missed ‘Press’es).

The Monastery is run by a charitable trust and is spiritually inclusive, but from 1956-1988 it was run by priests from the Roman Catholic Passionist Order.  A relic of their time can be seen in the garden.

 

Passionist Archway

Passionist Archway

There are beautiful views from every corner of the house.

View from the West Door

View from the West Door

As a not-for-profit manager I was interested to learn that The Monastery almost closed down last year because of funding issues.  They were rescued by a grant from the Lion Foundation.  I find it ironical that my stay in a place with such a holistic philosophy was partly subsidised by proceeds from pokie machines.

My week’s stay was just what I needed, and it was wonderful to have a break away from responsibilities and the continual stress of living with post-earthquakedisruption.  I urge anyone who needs such a break to consider applying to The Monastery.

“They take exquisite care of you
with mindful  peace in all they do.”

 

 

 

 

Ruth’s Retreat

This morning I’m flying to Hamilton for a five day stay at The Monastery.  They offer free wellness retreats to people who’ve been affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

Earlier this year I felt totally drained – physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and my external supervisor encouraged me to apply to The Monastery.  I had to wait until there was a suitable time in my work schedule, and finally that time has come.  The Monastery offers healthy meals, therapeutic activities, meditation, and relaxation.  The vegetarian diet excludes sugar, salt, and alcohol.  Going without salt and alcohol is not problem, but I expect I’ll miss the sugar.  It’s tempting to pack a chocolate bar, but when I’m being offered a week of healthy living I feel an obligation to scrupulously follow the suggested regime.

When I start a retreat I usually like to have a question I’m thinking about.  I’m not sure just what it’ll be this time, but probably something about plans for growing older.  A friend has lent me Diana Gabaldon’s latest novel, and I’m also taking Juliet Batten’s “Spirited Ageing”, and a journal.

Guests are encouraged to have an unbroken stay, free from the bustle of their everyday world, so no blogging this week.

“A whole week free from work and care.
Don’t you wish you could be there?”

 

 

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