Window Watcher

I like to pick flowers from the garden and bring them inside, but I never pick hollyhocks.  They are more suited to displaying their stately stems outside in the garden.  The wind encouraged one to explore inside our kitchen window.

It looked so good peering in at us, I could hardly bear to nudge it back and close the window.

This hollyhock is welcome to
come inside and enjoy the view.



Keeping Fit

I am not a sporty type.  Sport has never interested me much, and even less as I’ve got older.  At school we were taught and obliged to play cricket, hockey, basketball, etc.  I was not good at any of these, and not inclined to take much interest.

I remember gym sessions at school, and being told to jump over a bench/horse.  I managed this with poor grace, and one physical education teacher told me she thought I had a mental block against such activities.  After that she more or less left me alone.

I rode a bike for many years, not so much after wearing a helmet became compulsory.  I’ve tried a variety of dancing and exercise classes, and even went to a gym for a while.  The Dances of Universal Peace were something I did for more than thirty years with various group leaders.  Sadly there is no longer a regular group in Christchurch.  I enjoyed Iyengar Yoga, always in a beginners’ class, then the school moved to a venue further out of town and I gave up.  Walking’s been my main exercise for years, along with gardening.  I attend a weekly class of gentle exercise for seniors, which I walk a kilometre to get to.  It’s always seemed to me absurd to take a car to get to exercise, but that may just be my subconscious avoiding more.

For years I’ve done ten minutes of daily yoga stretches.  These have sometimes been abandoned for months at a time, but I’ve not missed a day in the last two years.  Word puzzles and writing blogs keep at least my brain well exercised.  What exercise do you enjoy?

I’m really not a fan of sport
you’ll never see me on the court.

Favoured Furniture

Our tutor asked us to write about an item of furniture.  Here’s my effort:

I inherited the Morris chair
from my Mother’s friend
a rod across the back
meant you could recline if you wished
the tweed covering was worn
holes eventually appeared
refurbishment was required

I took an upholstery class
at the local High School
the curved seat
lifted from its base
squeezed into the back
of my aged Austin
I chose green corded velvet
learned to pleat and do deep buttoning
with base re-varnished it looked like new

When we emigrated the chair came too
I’d loved it for years
but it didn’t fit our new home
I craved a La-Z-Boy
where I could put my feet up
instead of using a footstool

I listed my chair on Trade Me
Wingnut Films won the auction
my chair went north to Wellington
I’ve looked in vain at the cinema
hoping to see it in a Hobbit house
or the Rivendell throne room
but no, my chair is not yet a film star

Perhaps Peter Jackson is waiting
for just the right role
for a green pre-loved Morris chair


Female Fame

How often do you see a memorial to a woman?  In Christchurch we have two prominent ones.  At the top of the Bridle Path is the Pioneer Women’s Memorial, opened in 1940.  Beside the Avon/Otakaro is the Kate Sheppard Memorial which honours the women who worked so hard for women’s suffrage.

Kate Sheppard Memorial

Mind you, they waited a hundred years for this recognition!

In Victoria Square there’s a tulip tree planted to honour my cousin Ettie Rout.

Ettie’s tree

When I went to the Ashburton Domain in the early 1990s I was pleased to discover a tree planted in 1910 to honour Florence Nightingale.

In Lincoln, next to the library is Miss Bartle’s Green.  Miriam Annie Bartle lived in a cottage on this site from 1949 to 1990.  She was the Matron’s Assistant at Lincoln College from 1952 to 1961, and her cottage was overlooked by a magnificent oak tree.  This tree has been preserved thanks to the efforts of local residents, including Diana Morton who is remembered on a plaque beside the wooden seat.

Miss Bartle’s Green

Lincoln College is where my brother did his teaching country service in the late 1950s.  I wonder if he ever met Miss Bartle.

What other memorials to women are you aware of?

An area arboreal
is Miss Bartle’s Memorial

Nana Nap

I enjoyed a poetry workshop yesterday, but by 3pm I was feeling tired and uninspired.  Rhyming verse was all I could manage.  We’d been given an exercise to write about the idea of sleep and the passage of time that humans find fascinating and terrifying at the same time, e.g. Sleeping Beauty and Rip van Winkle.  All I could think of was that I needed an afternoon nap, so this was what I wrote:

Nana Nap

I often sleep in the afternoon
especially if it’s hot
I take a book, lie down, and then
asleep is where I’ve got

When I wake up it’s sometimes hard
to know the time of day
I sleep so soundly that I think
I’ve slept the night away

It’s quite disorienting to
wake from such heavy sleep
an hour or two may well have passed
while I’ve lain in a heap

Each night I dream presumably
six times or p’r’aps just four
it’s rarely I remember these
I wish I recalled more

By my subconscious are revealed
insights of great import
alas, cos I am sound asleep
these insights are not caught


Favourite Fruit

Cherries, apricots, nectarines – I love the stone fruits that are available at this time of year.  One reason is that they are such a symbol of summer and not available all year round as some fruits are.

Our cherry harvest this year was disappointing.  Heavy rains as the fruit was ripening caused them to split and become mouldy.  The birds ate them anyway.  Currently we’re enjoying cherries from the supermarket.  The price is reasonable, but all the plastic packaging is a worry..

Earlier this month we drove to the Horotane Valley to buy delectable tree-ripened apricots.  My childhood home in Manchester Street had an enormous apricot tree which was always laden.  We used to gorge ourselves on fresh apricots, give heaps away, and my mother preserved many jars of them.  I’ve planted two apricot trees in the Cottage garden.  The first, planted in 1991, had some fruit the first few years, but nothing recently.  The second, planted in 2001, had a label that said it required cross pollination with another apricot species, but they didn’t seem to hit it off.  When this second one has produced the occasional fruit they appeared to be golden queen peaches.

I also planted a semi-dwarf nectarine in 1991.  Some years it has two or three fruit, but it has failed to flourish and hardly looks any bigger than when it was first planted.

Presumably these trees lack suitable care and feeding, or maybe they don’t like our sandy soil.  It’s disappointing because our old garden in Auckland had an abundant orchard, which never needed any extra care, perhaps because of the wonderful volcanic soil.

At least we have a fruitful feijoa, a cheerful cherry (weather permitting), and adolescent apple, and a wealth of walnuts.

Our apricots and nectarines
don’t dominate the garden scenes.

Spirited Sèance

Long ago when my father died my mother went to a medium seeking a message from him.  She was told that he considered the whole idea of messages from beyond the grave to be a load of tommyrot.  Mother said that was exactly the phrase he would have used.

My mother was always keen to experience different forms of religion, and when I was in my early teens she took me to a meeting at the Spiritualist Church where a medium gave messages from people who had ‘passed over’.  The medium, who was a middle-aged woman with a soft Scottish burr, told me I would be going on a long journey – surely a reasonable guess for any young teenager, and I did travel to Australia the following year.  The woman from whom the message was purported to come said: “You won’t know me, but ask them about Elizabeth.”  I’d never heard of any Elizabeth, but when I asked my mother she said that had been her pet name for her mother, the grandmother who died before I was born.

My Grandmother Ethel, aka Elizabeth. Portrait taken 1910

I found the whole experience disturbing, and have never since wanted to consult a fortune teller of any ilk.  When my eldest daughter was born Mother wanted to pay to have her horoscope professionally cast, but I declined.  Like many people I used to idly read my horoscope in the newspaper, but stopped doing so after a trip to Stonehenge Aotearoa, where I was told that because the stars have changed position since mediaeval days I’m a Sagittarius, not a Capricorn as I had always understood.

Have you ever had a prediction that came true?

Can anyone tell what will be?
The future is a mystery.