Archive for the ‘Everyday Stuff’ Category

Antarctic Art

The history of photography in Antarctica was the subject of today’s talk by Dr Adele Jackson, Curator of Human History at Canterbury Museum. Her area of interest is the interrelationships between culture and nature, and she gave us an outline of how image-making in Antarctica has developed. John Herschel was the person who first coined the term photography in 1839, and applied the terms negative and positive to it.

The first photographs of penguins and icebergs were made on glass plates in 1887 during the Challenger Expedition. This began a tradition of recording when a ship first meets an iceberg, and was part of the heroic era of exploration. The images conveyed vulnerability and resilience, inspiring awe and fear.

Frank Hurley and Herbert Ponting were early Antarctic photographers. Their photos were carefully posed, ensuring spectacle and drama, and usually featuring a “hero”. Hurley was inclined to manipulate his photographs, in a precursor of today’s photo-shopping. Some of the early photographs were hand tinted, which, for instance, showed the blood red water around whaling stations.

From 1960 there was more creative experimentation around image-making technologies. Swiss photographer Emil Schulthess produced a book of photographs of Antarctica. In 1972 satellite images became available, and today radar can show us what is beneath the ice. From the 1970s photos have been used for environmental purposes, and tend to be focussed on the landscape rather than on people.

published 1978

Since 2003 Craig Potton and Andris Apse have published Antarctic photos, e.g. of the Dry Valleys. There are also photos of wildlife beneath the ice, and such photos can promote environmental values. They also inspire tourism which can put pressure on a fragile environment.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust website features photos of such things as Hillary’s Hut.

In recent years photogrammetry has enabled 3D modelling (such as the images we’ve seen this month of the sunken Titanic). Photos can be either aesthetic or scientific. Gabby O’Connor has depicted sea-ice crystals or platelets. Camille Seaman has made portraits of icebergs which she calls ancestors. Chris Drury made site specific temporary artworks.

Our speaker Adele Jackson has used pinhole cameras to make images of Antarctic Sunlines, including an image which is a 360° solargraph taken at the South Pole, and made up of four combined images. This gives us a glimpse of the whole planet, and relates it to our place in the universe. Adele spent four seasons on the ice at Port Lockroy, living in a tiny hut with three other people. Scientists have told her that there are now more wet seasons, and more snowfall, which may be an effect of climate change.

This was a enthralling talk illustrated with many wonderful images.

This southern land has been portrayed
by many who went and surveyed

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Past Pupil

Today I had a date with a ten year old boy. Actually there were two of them and it was an unusual experience for me as I rarely have contact with children.

In September this year St Albans Primary School will celebrate its 150th anniversary and a call went out for past pupils who were willing to be interviewed by Year Six (Standard Four) students. I attended this school from 1954 to late 1959 and was happy to oblige. As it was over 60 years ago I don’t have many specific memories, partly because I moved to Auckland in late 1959 and sadly soon lost contact with old school friends.

I did have one class photo, three school reports, and a certificate for my Standard Three home garden, which I was happy to donate to the school archives.

Items for the archives

The two boys used their iPads to video my responses to their questions, then gave me a tour of the school. None of the classrooms I remember has survived. The only familiar features were the oak tree, the school pool, and the playing field. The gate to the lane I used to approach the school from Cranford Street is now permanently closed.

I attended the 125th anniversary in 1998 and was disappointed to meet no-one from my year. I shall probably go to the 150th and hope this time an old classmate may be there.

There’s little left of my old school
just one oak tree and swimming pool

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Humiliating Habit

I’m ashamed of my addiction to the computer solitaire game FreeCell, although I suppose it could be worse. Once I start playing I find it hard to stop. I promise myself I’ll play just one game, then two, or three . . . .

It’s intended to give my brain a rest from other activities, but I quickly get hooked. Occasionally my hand starts to throb from using the mouse, and I worry about the possibility of R.S.I. Then I switch to the other hand and just keep going. When Windows automatically updated my system I lost the game from my p.c. and had to play online. That version had annoying sounds of clapping every time I won. When my computer support person visited recently he restored my old desktop version and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I do Wordle daily, and also play a form of online Scrabble, but these are more challenging and I have to wait for an opponent to make a move. FreeCell, unfortunately, is always available. Do you have any computer game addictions?

I’m hooked upon the game FreeCell
a habit I would rather quell

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Footwear Fix

I bought these floral sneakers five years ago at the Nurse Maude Hospice Shop in Sumner. This was the first time I’d ever bought recycled shoes, and wouldn’t have considered them then except that the friend I was shopping with was taking time in the changing room. I happened to see these, they fitted perfectly, and were only $8. My late mother-in-law, who was a chiropodist, would have been horrified at my buying second hand shoes, but I’ve loved them. They are Doc Martens, and the floral design has been much admired.

Floral sneakers

Sadly my prominent big toe eventually wore through the canvas. As you may be able to see in the right-hand side of the photo this became obvious and I wondered whether I would need to dump my favourite sneakers.

It occurred to me I might be able to get a patch to stick on top. When I googled toe patches for sneakers the only possibility seemed to be a packet of six various-sized patches available from Shein, priced at $2.95. They have a N.Z. store, and would charge me $7.95 for shipping with arrival within two weeks. While they said payment was secure and verified by Visa, I was cautious about giving them my credit card number. I asked (via A.I.) where they were based and was told they have warehouses worldwide. When I googled further I discovered they are Chinese (pronounced She-in), and an article in Time Magazine stated they are unsustainable and have a very poor record on workers’ rights. This convinced me I didn’t want to deal with them.

I phoned Bennetts Shoe Service. They don’t sell patches, but told me they could insert them for me for $25. Accordingly I left my sneakers with them, and picked them up a week later. I concealed the frayed bit with a felt tip marker, and they are now good for another five years.

I like this pair of floral shoes
ones that I was not keen to lose

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Autumn Elegance

It was a calm sunny autumn day, and after I got home from my exercise class we decided to go out for lunch. The Antigua Boatsheds Café was our first choice, but after we’d negotiated all the roadworks in Rolleston Avenue we found no parking available there.

Accordingly we headed to The Tannery, enjoying the autumn colours on our way. It’s a year or two since we’d been to The Tannery, and four years since we last lunched at Mitchelli’s Café Rinato. We both chose Eggs Benedict, Stephen’s with bacon, and mine with mushrooms. I appreciate that you can choose to have your eggs either on ciabatta or on a potato rosti.

Lunch At Mitchelli’s

We were glad to sit outside and watch people walking by, many of the women in elegant frocks. Afterwards we browsed some of the smart shops they have at The Tannery. At the Recycle Boutique I was tempted to buy an elegant frock for me, at only $62, but decided against it as I already have several elegant frocks, and few occasions to wear them. Op shopping at a lower price is more my thing these days.

The autumn leaves along the way
were quite spectacular today

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There’s a new mural in Colombo Street, by the corner of St Asaph Street, near Ao Tawhiti.

It’s a portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary, and commemorates the time when he and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, 70 years ago, on 29 May 1953. Apparently the yellow script is Nepali writing.

The artists are Cole Ferrand and Jacob Root of Distranged Designs.

A welcome portrait of Sir Ed
Nepali script around his head

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Cash could be Cool

I prefer to use cash when convenient, especially for small purchases. Having all my transactions logged online makes me just a little uneasy, although I appreciate the convenience of eftpos. I always carry some cash and hope to be able to continue to do so.

Consumers in this country tend to use cards to buy goods or services, with the use of digital wallets (e.g. Apple Pay) making up about 10% of sales last year. Apparently New Zealanders have a very low use of cash. I must be someone who’s bucking that trend. How about you?

In a shop in Geraldine I picked up a card which gave a number of reasons why we should keep cash alive, and continue using notes and coins. Some of these are:

* Pay for items or services during power cuts and internet outages
* Buy goods at roadside stalls and farmers’ markets
* Save money on transaction fees (e.g.pay-wave)
* Teach kids the value of money
* Receive coin payments from the tooth fairy.

When I visited the associated website I was dismayed to find they are a project of Voices for Freedom, not an organisation I support. Presumably this is one of the ways they entice people down their rabbit hole. I shall continue to use cash where convenient, but I’m not interested in their conspiracy theories.

I hope to keep on using cash
avoiding any eftpos crash

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The media this week is full of stories about Sam Neill’s memoir. They reminded me of a woman I used to know:

Reading about Sam Neill
I remembered a woman
someone I knew from school
she went out with Sam
fifty-odd years ago
can’t remember the name
perhaps it was Caroline?
if I can’t remember
it’s not dementia
but M.C.I.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
does Caroline remember him?
does he remember her?
if they’d stayed together
she might have been Lady Neill

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Rough Repairs

I have never been a dressmaker. My mother was, which is possibly why I never quite got there. We had sewing lessons at primary and intermediate school, but none at secondary school. My memories of intermediate school sewing are that we each had to make shortie pyjamas and a brunch coat, and I suspect I had Mother’s help with these when I took them home to work on. At the end of the year we were obliged to model them in a fashion parade on the asphalt playground. The weather was hot, I hadn’t thought to take slippers, and my bare feet were very uncomfortable.

When the daughters were pre-schoolers I sometimes sewed for them, and was particularly proud of making denim pinafores with gingham blouses. My mother provided many other home-sewn garments for them. In the 1970s cheap clothing from China (which we knew had been made by women in poor working conditions) became available, and I could buy a dress as cheaply as material, with no need for the anguish that might accompany my sewing efforts. I did continue to produce knitted garments.

Daughters in knitted ponchos

This week I was enticed to buy a pair of purple jeans at the City Mission Op Shop in Rangiora for just $4. They were a perfect fit for my large size, but the legs were far too long, and the hems had been undone, probably by someone who planned to shorten them then thought better of it. One of my friends offered to lend me a sewing machine to make the necessary adjustments, but I declined, saying I wouldn’t know how to use a modern machine and felt confident I could do the necessary repairs by hand.

I unearthed some old sewing scissors which are okay for cutting material but they struggled with the jeans’ double seams. Having cut a good three inches off each leg (I’ve not yet gone fully metric), I managed with difficulty to pin and iron a new length. When I put the jeans on and asked Stephen to judge whether the legs were even (let alone straight) we agreed one leg was slightly too long, so that was un-pinned, re-pinned, and re-ironed. It was now time to sew the hems. In my sewing drawer there was mauve cotton and dark purple cotton, neither quite matching the jeans, but I decided the dark purple would do.

Ziggy inspecting the newly hemmed jeans

This whole project took considerable time, but was worth while. Now I just have to give them a good wash and find some space in the wardrobe. If you see me out and about in purple jeans I know you’ll be too polite to comment if the hems are not perfect.

Dressmaking’s really not my thing
but simple projects I can wing

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Making a Mandala

A workshop on Creative Meditation offered an introduction to mandala drawing, colouring, and journalling. I’m already familiar with journalling, especially Morning Pages, but I was attracted by the idea of mindful colouring-in and mandala drawing. I’ve admired Juliet Batten’s mandalas, and the ones that used to adorn Cathedral Square. Many years ago I watched a group of monks from overseas make a mandala with sand in the Town Hall.

A brief history of mandalas was followed by an invitation to reflect on the past year and record our feelings about it, before we were led in a guided meditation. After this we were given a template for a mandala, and 50 minutes to colour it in, while also recording any feelings in a journal.

I was glad I’d brought felt tips, as the coloured pencils I had would not have been enough. An HB pencil was also useful. The experience reminded me of the adult colouring-in books which were popular a few years ago.

Starting in the centre I found it satisfying to see the design grow as I moved from inner to outer, balancing each new circle, although I didn’t feel my colouring-in bore much relation to the meditation. Having more paler colours would have helped, and I discovered that it was good to leave some parts white. The pattern in groups of eight reflected my lucky number which is eight.

My mandala

I’m not interested in the planned follow-up course (especially as my weeks are full at present), but I enjoyed the chance to experience a new form of creativity and to meet a group of interesting women.

We coloured in with thoughtful care
while music gently filled the air

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