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As part of Seaweek the WEA offered a workshop called Watercolour Whales and other Wonderful Sea Creatures. with local artist Sarah Greig. I’ve previously admired Sarah’s designs and liked the fact the workshop blurb said no experience was necessary and all materials were included.

In a well-ventilated hall six students each had plenty of space and we were given pens, brushes, and a selection of paints and papers.

I lack confidence in drawing, and was very pleased that we were given pictures to copy or trace. I chose birds rather than fish or whales and was able to complete several small works during the hour and a half.

My watercolour efforts

Sarah discussed materials and where they can be obtained which was useful information. While I don’t expect to pursue watercolouring I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was satisfied with what I produced. My creativity tends to be expressed through words rather than pictures, and it was good to try something different for a change. I wonder how my readers express their creativity?

I found it fun to re-acquaint
myself with watercolour paint

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Then and Now

Today marks sixteen years since I first posted on this blog. Then we were preparing for our first big O.E., a trip to England where we would be re-united with the daughters we hadn’t seen for several years. There were many wonderful experiences in store, and life seemed good.

Now life seems full of threats – it’s almost like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War in Ukraine; Conspiracy theorists camped in Cranmer Square; Omicron advancing; Climate Crisis.

Sometimes it seems the only thing to do is to stop listening to the news, enjoy a sunny day, potter in the garden, stroke the cat, read a novel, and have confidence we will still be here in another sixteen years.

Be grateful for all that we’ve got
stay positive – no matter what.

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Hitting the Heart

My task this week is to write something around the theme of “heart”. This morning’s news inspired this Fibonacci poem:

We
wear
masks to
beat virus.
Hospitals struggle.
Police tell protestors to “move,
move, move” a chilling reminder of the Springbok Tour.
Russians kill Ukraine civilians.
Floods in Australia.
All of this
affects
my
heart

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A collage session with a group of friends was creative and satisfying. Among the pile of magazines supplied for cutting out was an old frankie magazine. I hadn’t seen one of these for several years and had forgotten how inspiring they could be. I was captivated by a series of pictures of women with bird heads, and ended up putting them all around my collage.

I thought I might buy a copy of frankie and was pleased to find the supermarket sells them. At $15.95 it was definitely an extravagance, but we all need treats. It may be just as well the magazine is published only six times a year.

There are articles about art, life, and many other things, as well as fascinating extra lift-outs. It’s published in Australia on sustainably produced paper with acknowledgement of the Traditional Owners of the land on which they work, and it’s relevant to Aotearoa as well. I’m rationing it, and so far have read only the first few pages, most of which are advertisements. However these are written in an attractive chatty way which makes them seem less pretentious than advertisements in some other publications (e.g. Avenues which I find to be a waste of time).

The target audience is obviously people younger than me, but I shall enjoy luxuriating in that different perspective. Have you met frankie?

For something different from routine
I recommend this magazine

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Floral Friday

Japanese anemones (actually native to China) are currently flowering in my garden. Like many of my plants they make me think of the friend who originally gave them to me.

Anemone is Greek for “daughter of the wind” and in legend she was a beautiful nymph who got caught up in a love tangle. The wind god Zephyr fell in love with Anemone, but when his wife, Chloris (Flora to the Romans) found out she banished the nymph from their court and turned her into a flower. Zephyr then lost interest in Anemone, but another wind god, Boreas, fell in love with her in her flower form. He tried to woo her, but Anemone wasn’t interested, so every spring he angrily blows open her petals, fading them prematurely.

Yesterday’s rain caused some of the hollyhocks to bend over. These ones look as though they may be trying to get out the side gate.

Anemones show stately shape
while hollyhocks try to escape

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Queen Camilla

The Queen has stated her sincere wish that when Charles ascends to the throne Camilla should be titled Queen Consort. I see this as a belated acknowledgement of the pressure the younger Charles was put under to marry a virgin rather than the woman he loved.

It’s noteworthy that while British kings have had Queens Consort, the husband of a Queen has always been Prince Consort rather than King Consort. This shows that a king is considered more important than a queen, despite the fact that Britain has had several strong Queens Regnant. I wonder what might happen in the future? The Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 gave female offspring an equal chance to succeed, but it’s unlikely that Princess Charlotte, currently 4th in line of succession, will ever have occasion for her husband’s royal title to be considered in this way. What’s more important in Aotearoa is whether we continue to have the British Monarch as our head of state.

Will we still have a British King?
Who knows what years ahead may bring?

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Words for Waitangi

Today is the 182nd anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the founding document of our society in Aotearoa. It’s an appropriate time to reflect on Te Tiriti and my commitment to it. Since I left paid work I’ve missed the opportunities to experience and learn about Tikanga which I used to have through association with Te Runaka ki Otautahi o Kai Tahu (those Ks should be underlined, but WordPress won’t let me).

In 2020 I enrolled with Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and attended some weekly Te Reo classes, but lockdown and my aversion to large Zoom meetings put an end to that. These days my commitment is limited to an endeavour to pronounce Māori words correctly, using Aotearoa as the name of our country, using macrons on my computer, and counting in Māori when I do my daily exercises.

It’s years since I’ve had occasion to offer a mihimihi, and I’d now have difficulty remembering all of mine, but since 2006 this has consistently been the most sought-after post on my blog, so I’ll publish it again here. The original version lacked macrons, and I’ve added them now, hoping they are in the right places. It there are errors I hope someone will tell me.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
Te whare e tu nei    the house that stands here
Papatūānuku e takoto nei Mother earth lying here
Tēnā kōrua, tēnā kōrua Greetings to you both
E nga mate, haere, haere, haere the dead, thrice farewelled
Rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou    (they, the deceased, them)
Tātou te hunga ora ki a tātou  to us the living
Tēnā koutou
E nga mana whenua, tēnā koutou  greetings to the local people
E Taua mā, e Poua mā, to the female elders, and the male elders
Rau rangitira mā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
Tēnā koe X greeting anyone special
Ko Maungakiekie te maunga Maungakiekie is my mountain
Ko Manukau te moana  Manukau Harbour is my tidal water
Ko Ngati Pākehā te iwi
Ko Gardner rātou ko Rout, ko Leslie, ko Nicholls nga whānau
I wehe ōku tupuna I Ingarangi
My ancestors came from England
Ko Phyllis Leslie tōku whāea, Ko George Gardner tōku matua
Phyllis is my mother, George is my father.
Ko Stephen Symons tōku hoa tāne
Stephen Symons  is my husband
Ko Cathryn rāua ko Louise āku tamāhine
Cathryn and Louise are my daughters.
Ko Ruth ahau  
My name is Ruth
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

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Do you know the name of our current Governor General? I heard on the 6am news that both the Prime Minister and the Governor General are self-isolating because they were on a flight with someone who’s now tested positive for Covid. My immediate thought was that they’ve both got big houses with plenty of bathrooms.

My next thought was what is the name of the Governor General? The previous one was Dame Patsy Reddy (not Riggir – she’s a singer). A new Governor General was installed a few months ago, and I remembered she was a wahine Māori, but had to wait for a later bulletin to remind me it’s Dame Cindy Kiro. With pandemic precautions and statistics dominating the news she’s had a low profile.

Dame Cindy Kiro

When I was at Grammar School we had a visit from Lady Fergusson, the then Governor General’s wife, and I remember we were all obliged to practise curtsying beforehand. It’s good to know we now have homegrown Governors General, and I don’t imagine Dame Cindy will expect people to curtsy.

While I’m not an active republican, I presume Aotearoa will eventually divorce itself from the monarchy. The defection of Harry and the dereliction of Andrew have detracted from any sense of respectful awe that may previously have existed. I feel some compassion for Charles, older than I am, and still waiting to fulfill his purpose in life. As far as I’m concerned he’s welcome to have Camilla as his consorting Queen.

William so far has an unblotted copybook and will eventually succeed to the throne, but I doubt Aotearoa will remain part of his realm. What do you think?

Time when the current Queen has gone
for Aotearoa to move on

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Covid restrictions may mean we go out less frequently, especially until we’ve had our booster shots which are scheduled for February 15th. This is the date which is now expected to be the Omicron peak. When we booked our boosters I asked if the date could be brought forward if the time between 2nd and 3rd doses was reduced to three months, but was told my date was only three weeks away and they wouldn’t have capacity to re-schedule. While cafés are still open it may be best to avoid anywhere with people except places we absolutely need to go.

I’m lucky because I eat extremely well at home. Planning and preparing meals is something Stephen enjoys doing, and I haven’t cooked dinner for some years. When we were both employed I worked full time while he had a part time role, so it made sense for him to cook the evening meal. When I left paid work I offered to share the cooking and did it a few times, but I’m not a keen cook and Stephen soon said he would prefer to take over, which I happily accepted. I do usually prepare my own breakfast and lunch, although yesterday’s lunch was leftover soup from the evening before.

I hasten to point out that I do the baking, cleaning, and gardening, so I’m not totally a lady of leisure. I do wonder how we would fare if Stephen became ill with Covid, but there are some pre-prepared meals in the freezer, and I am capable of following a recipe if I have to. He has a birthday next week and has expressed a desire for a new cookbook, so we will need to go and browse at Scorpio – socially distanced of course.

There’s an interesting article in the Guardian from an Australian woman warning New Zealanders what we can expect when Omicron surges. She suggests that our social life will change and we may see less of family and friends. Our contact with family is all by Zoom these days anyway, and I expect I’ll still see a few close friends. If the weather is good we can sit outside. It will be interesting to see what happens with the groups I usually go to regularly. Experience has shown me I’m not interested in meeting by Zoom for any group of more than four.

The Red traffic light system is different to the lockdowns we had for previous variants, leaving decisions about socialising more up to the individual. Freedom to go out may also mean freedom for the virus to travel. Apparently it hasn’t got to Christchurch yet, but can’t be far away.

The news this morning says modellers are suggesting there could be 50,000 daily cases within 10 days, and possibly 400 deaths by 1 May. I’ve been repeating the mantra Whatever happens is perfect, and I vacillate between thinking I won’t go out at all, and thinking that if it lasts for the expected three months I will need some outings for my mental health.

Our social life will have to change
and we won’t be so free to range

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This red dress is one I bought in Parnell, Auckland in the mid 1980s. The photo was taken in December 1989 in the office of Mrs Pope Ltd, and the occasion was that the office staff had bought me Big Feet slippers for Christmas.

I’m appalled to see that I’m sitting on my desk – something I would never do these days,

I remember wearing the dress one time when I was in Wellington for a meeting. My memory is of walking along The Terrace where everyone else, women and men, was wearing a dark suit, and being aware that I was brightening their day while rebelling against conformity. Have you had an occasion where what you were wearing was different to everyone else?

This dress was really not so loud
but it stood out against the crowd

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