Wednesday, December 8, 2010

beneath the leaves of trees

For as long as I can remember there's been something significant in my life about trees. Moments as a child spent in awe of the magnificence of those that stretched so far they touched the sky; or exploring far away worlds amongst tangled branches with my kid sister.

Looking for shelter from the sun beneath their leaves, or in seeking refuge from the rain. Even my first proper job as a teenager fresh out of school was spent nuzzled between the branches of apple trees picking their fruit whilst the summer sun beat down upon my shoulders, before even a thought of this life I now live began.

I've coloured many a blank canvas with the trees that have stemmed from my imagination; And I've sat with the company of the evening watching till the last slither of sun passes behind the silhouette of sun-blackened brunches, while the wild flowers in our wild field dance with joy in the suns brilliance.

With my favourite friend awaiting patiently for his summer holidays to arrive, I hope that with the many hours ahead to be spent blown along by the afternoon breeze; those same magical places that I explored at six may once again be discovered beneath the leaves of trees... or climbing high in their branches..

... or deeper in the woods we just recently discovered.

I have a feeling there might be some memorable adventuring just around that mysterious little corner... Especially with a young fellow such as this.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Some days just the smallest of influences can shift a somewhat otherwise emotionally stunted day, or can potentially derail the ever so slightly unpleasant emotional path that trails behind a number of passing weeks. Maybe the serenity found in a melody, or the beauty in a photo, from the wise words of another, or from the kind smile accompanying a neighbourly interaction. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon all of the above on this day that began with a blue sky suffocated by a dull covering of overcast. And with perfect timing, within half an hour of my gloriously awakening chain of delightfulness, the clouds cleared entirely to reveal an abundance of bright and blue.

I'm pleasantly relieved to have rediscovered my general enthusiasm from which I was temporarily separated from; to have fueled the fire in my belly, and to have reemerged from the shade and back into the about-to-begin summer months that sit before me. Although far less often now, the lingering regret of passed loses still has its occasional way with me. But I find pleasant reward in clearing out dusty corners, even though those little spider webs always seem to find there way back. Yet with clarity and calmness I saw today looking out upon the edge of my own dustless and web-less little wonderland, as opposed to peering out from behind it. I thank today's series of small serendipities, for reinstilling hope into my dreams, however unattainable they sometimes seem; and for reminding me of my love of clouds.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From here to there and back again..

I've never particularly enjoyed disappointment, and although I've had rather a handful over my young life to negotiate; which I assume has taught me how better to accept it, I don't think I'll ever come to like it much. Although, in hindsight, and generally only in hindsight, over the past few years I have however learned to take stock of such disappointments, step back, and view them in perspective to allow myself to find what it is I'm able to learn from such undesirable experiences. Although I can't help, as is human, to feel a little discouraged at times by disappointment. For instance, after several years of growing a topiary bay tree and finding over the past few years in the space of a few short days all the fresh new growth destroyed by spring winds; this year has just taken off. No your right that's not disappointing, in fact on the contrary I was rather chuffed that it was finally looking lovely, lush and green, until yesterday I found a nasty little bird tearing chunks out of it. I wasn't impressed, especially as he lives in the comfort of my roof, and I haven't yet evicted him from doing so.... Or alternatively, after I had finally found the courage to ask a young lady out for coffee, I discovered via a rather sincere apology later that day that the wee crush I had developed was able only to exist as a crush, as she unfortunately was already spoken for. Although, I now think I would have preferred to not have asked her name first, as such a face may possibly be easier to forget when it is simple only a face once admired.

So, over the past few days whilst I've continued to journey further into the interesting realms of my Sociology paper, I've also been searching for what it is exactly that I am to learn from these current disappointments. Although, for now I'll just pop my heart back into the safety and quite of it's little hiding spot from which it had recently emerged, until such a time that it is properly needed. However, after a few days now having passed, occupied by marvelous coffee; the continual concoction of my organic sourdough; and an always enjoyable young chap, time has fortunately very much softened the blow.

On the other unrelated hand, after a year consumed by very structured university forms of thinking, I found simple creative enthusiasm to sew again. I made some alterations to a few shirts, sewed different buttons on things, and then considered indecisively about which recycled fabrics would best suit the soon to be newest addition to our household.

Yet which ever array of colours he ends up sporting, he'll (or more likely she'll) definitely look the part perched alongside our other hand sewn housemates.

- Woozle -

& - Mr Fox -

Who have both become quite accustomed to our interesting, earthy, and upcycled ways of living; as is certainly how they came into existence.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Done and Dusted... and a little confused

It's taken a few days to unwind, but finishing another bout of end-of-semester exams has finally meet with a sense of accomplishment. The last month was an interesting one where I found myself on a number of occasions branching out beyond the experiences normally only found in my own comfort zone. I must say I have relished in the delight of a change of scene, and a handful of thoroughly enjoyable rabbit holes through which I've explored hand-in-hand with 'Alice' basking in the sun of change and a wonderland full of interesting experiences. But returning to my own habitat has also been meet again with inspiration and the courage to take within my grasp and transform my own timidity to journey in directions that otherwise go un-walked. It's also the first year I've grown flowers in my garden, and like other choices in my life not taken before, it's proved to have beautiful rewards.

What also seems to be a dormant area, quite partially due to my own avoidance of the great unknown, is the area of my heart... I guess also with scars of experiences past, I have become particularly protective of my vital organs, and within that overprotective nature of my heart I've become detached from attachment. Although, without knowing it, I've been amidst the now nerve-racking chemistry that comes with mutual attraction... that is, if I'm reading right the attraction of the young lady who's name I'm still un-confidently attempting to discover. Oh, dear... I have to say my nerves have got the better of me on the last few occasions that I've been faced with her glowing smile, and the fumbling of my words, quickening of my heart, and my shaky hands haven't been of much assistance with finding and then expressing my normally confident self. So I continue to returned to my garden to find clarity, yet that clarity only seems to be found amongst my new seedlings, and asking it to accompany me to ask her, to drink coffee with me, is what I intend to spend the next few days practicing. Although the company of my newly built and growing garden is fairly soothing in this realm of long forgotten romantic experience.

...As is the smiling and supportive face of my little man. However, his advice is questionable - "Dad, just tell her she's smokin' hot, that's what a gentleman would do". But I can see that he has become rather amused by my bewilderment, as he's very aware of the absence of a female presence in my life since that of his mother. So today instead we went and bought vegetables and seedlings for our garden at our market, and we picked our first strawberries, and he laughed while I looked perplexed at my unsure though possible predicament of the heart.

 It's this face and the wit that comes with it that allows me to see the rather humorous side of my very adolescent nervousness, or at least as is the only time I recall having before felt this ridiculous feeling. However, having had almost a week to come down off the cloud of exam tension, Monday morning I begin the adventure of a summer semester paper in Sociology. I also have a little more freedom to enjoy the summer before us, with vegetables to be grown; adventures with a young enthusiastic lad to be had; creativity to be expressed (in all sorts of forms); bikes to be ridden; and, hopefully a wee part-time job to be found... And, if with grand intentions, brought into perspective with minimal expectations, a delightful young lady will be kind enough to have coffee with this young man, then may the summer also be potentially filled with romance. Although I'm not holding my breath, while I occasionally forget to breath. Again... oh, dear. 

But at the end of the day if I'm sadly mistaken, there are always courgettes... and tomatoes... and egg plants.... and capsicums... and strawberries........and chillies....  to be grown, and of course eaten with homegrown enthusiasm. x

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Splendid Spontaneity

After a rather exhausting week of essay writing and exam preparation, late Friday afternoon saw my final essay for the semester written and sitting in the post box ready for the mail man to safely deliver for me; lifting briefly from my shoulders some of the end of year pressures of university.

But come early Friday evening, with my little man at his mothers for the weekend, and other than having exams ahead of me all vital deadlines had passed, I went and got a little spontaneous. Right there in that interestingly almost un-recognisable feeling of my own solely individual freedom, an un-over-thought decision proved to be a rather rewarding one.

 It's not everyday that I venture out beyond the comfort of our little life, nor do I make decisions without them being fairly well considered first... this does come in handy when trying to avoid the more potentially unfortunate of situations, but, it also means with the use of such particular consideration I don't seem to employ all that much spontaneity in my life either. Generally it means there's less risk involved, and I don't have all that much I'd really like to be gambling with, but consequently there are also less of the opportunities that bring people together, or that introduce you to new friends, or to new favourite places, or to hidden enthusiasm not yet discovered.

I must say partly in my defense, or maybe in attempting an excuse, it really does take rather a lot of time all by myself to cook, and clean, and wash grass stains out of pant knees, make school lunches, read adventure stories, fix flat bike tyres, and the other hundred-and-one mostly rewarding jobs of parenthood... whilst digging vegetable patches and mowing my endless lawn, and teaching a boy about all of life; And, in that little extra bit of spare time to study a degree..

So I packed a few things in a suitcase, scraped together a few bucks, hopped in my car and drove an hour away into the big city to stay with an old friend in his new house. What I was intending to be one night, became three thoroughly enjoyable days of new friends and old, plenty of inspiring urban art and architecture amongst many a beautiful old house, a couple of funky bars, a warehouse style apartment, an old favourite cafe and a job offer to work there, a bunch of great second-hand stores, some well-appreciated handmade pasta, and with a little extra spontaneity in the mix.. it ended with seeing one of my long-time favourite bands play live at the Wellington Opera House.

All-in-all it was a marvelous way to spend a weekend away from home, not to mention, that I found so much life and inspiration in the people and places hidden away in the colourful corners of the city that I'm otherwise somewhat oblivious to while my usual safety-net of hesitance and caution is in place. But with my fingers now feeling particularly creative and left wanting to again strum something musical with other musical people, along with the fresh memories of vintage things in vintage stores I now have plans for occasional adventures. I'm also beginning to look forward to the three exams I have to sit over the following fortnight back in the city, yes because the niggling pressure will leave with the exams, but more so because it'll give me a little extra time to explore further the places and visit the people that have offered me fresh inspiration.

It was nice however, to again return home to find my little house awaiting my arrival and all as I had left it; Well apart from a few extra small sprouting things, and my not so small yet always so thoroughly cheerful young chap, just gleaming to see his dad. He was also rather pleased to see the fantastic old globe I found for him for $5 on the drive home, but what son of mine wouldn't be..

I'd already got to be all very enthusiastic about my own fantastic discoveries...

Of vintage bowls and silver spoons,
and a dozen books for a dozen dollars from the 70's and 80's all about politics, sociology & psychology, which will come in very handy as I progressively undertake another three years of

..And then there was the very clever young Free Lance illustrator who I met along the way with his forthcoming exhibition of intergalactic interactive singing robots...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Circus or Fair?

There was a hint of something slightly unusual lingering about the morning of our long awaited fair. My usually very pleasant, helpful, and amusing little man was not himself, instead we could say.. he was a tad, challenging. Which resulted in the shortening of our already limited time frame for foraging at fairs, before having to hastily make it to the market to fill my basket with vibrant vegetables from my organic vege man, so to get to his swimming lessons on time.
However, the moment we stepped out into the slightly drizzly, cold, damp, not-so-fair-like air of the day, one said attitude improved. Maybe it was remembering the past few weeks anticipation of this day, mixed with a six year old's developing conscience; or maybe it was the thought of not being paid his $5 pocket money for a whole weeks worth of being elbow deep in suds at the kitchen sink. Either way, we forgot the earlier moments of discomfort and rekindled the mutual excitement for our rarely local fair.

We found a park just near the two uncertainly placed.. police officers outside the church fair; and he armed with his weeks 5 and myself with not much more, prepared ourselves for some well refined foraging.

Disappointing was my initial reaction in the thrifting department. How thoroughly disappointing. Although, it was temporary disappointment, when fortunate redemption came in the slightly rusty form of two beautiful old pairs of scissors...

The little man had disappeared to later be found throwing gumboots at the cost of a dollar, and as soon as he'd finished, with arm yanking enthusiasm quickly directed me to the gardening section. This was where the real redemption came. Run by the cutest old man, surely with at least fifty years of green thump experience and knowledge behind his fragile little frame, we found an abundance of delicate new life. Together with his equally age-full sidekick, he informed me on the several punnets of varying varieties of heritage cherry tomatoes and eggplant seedlings that I departed with for the total sum of five big ones. I felt a little like I'd cheated them having paid so little, but I think these two old chums were just simply chuffed to see youthful vegetable-gardening enthusiasm reminiscent of their own long-passed, once young selves.

In deed there was then the heritage linen section inside the hall, and yes I did venture past the... several men with largely lensed cameras.. to have a wee squizz. Although my budget did not allow my indulgence, nor did my rather limited time allowance. More unfortunately was however, the hovering crowd of people impairing my view, due to their flocking like seagulls around our country's Prime Minister and his politician friend; who'd so kindly ventured out to visit this little old church fair. Hmm, kissing babies, smiling so nicely at their mothers, shaking hands with happy little children, men with big cameras, police babysitting outside... I see, this was a circus with side shows.. not just simply a fair; and having studied two politics papers this year, progressively becoming more and more disheartened by the party for whom this man stands for, I was pleased to move our days journey along.

My market was fantastic as usual, and my little man was back to his normal self. I filled my basket with vegetables, and he again disappeared only to return having spent his remaining four dollars pocket money on a bag of organic apples, and a bag of organic tangerines. "Because they looked soo organic and delicious" he said, and then refused to let me pay for them, because that was what he wanted.

We made it to swimming with two minutes to spare and he was like a shark in the water, so proudly was I father. Once home, we concocted a marvelous ball of sourdough in preparation for our evenings eating activities with friends; and while it proved we went on a brief adventure, I by foot and he by shiny retro wheel. We strode in the unusual inland direction as opposed to our normal ocean orientation, and stumbled upon a lovely though slightly airy little woods.

On our way home the clouds began to clear, and in flowed a calming sense that matched. Our evening was successfully filled with delightful company, delectable food, ginger beer, tiddly winks, the smell of baking bread, and laughter that caused tears.

And somewhere in-between, beyond the field that's rather neighbourly with the lawn behind our house; the sky opened and offered us this...

...with an endless abundance of life x

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day by Day

 There's something a little more interesting about starting a day with porridge.

Then by the end of the day it feels remarkable to look at the several past hours accomplishments and feel thoroughly rewarded by your own productivity. To be honest I don't think it has anything to do with the porridge, because my home baked sourdough, toasted and smothered with the best organic butter and my delicately concocted marmalade does itself proud all the same. But this papa bear does like his porridge, as does his baby bear.
Maybe its the general optimism which by virtue one can then see all aspects of life through lovely rosy coloured glasses, despite the trials and tribulations that more often than not are always lingering about somewhere anyway. 

Today we lived, like every other day that we do, simply because we enjoy all of the little things. The dreamy pause that comes when you catch the sweet scent of wild flowers on the breeze; or my glorious discovery of vintage spools of hand-spun wool for less than a dollar each at an op-shop this morning; or the look on the faces of friends when they bite into the first mouthful of excitement from a meal cooked with friendships passion. Sometimes I wish I could see my own face as it lights up with overwhelming pride and enthusiasm when I occasionally cook for just one; a private accomplishment. But tomorrow I get to cook for a couple who have become marvelous friends over this past year, and with that passion I look forward to viewing their food face expressions of appreciation.
Oh how food makes life more colourful, more aromatic, and of course more flavoursome, but it simply adds character and potential to an otherwise potential drab journey. Please don't get me wrong, life in itself is marvelous, but take away all of the flavours in the world and life would represent more of a dull rainbow in several shades of fading grey. So tomorrow Leonard, my little kitchen hand and I, intend to share with our friends all of our favourite spring colours in all of the shades that our garden and Saturday morning farmers market can encourage.

However, first we have a date.....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Passing the Passion

As a single parent and a full time student, sometimes my financial means can become a little thin. Its not always comfortable, but to have built my independent adult life from simple beginnings has nurtured something I now find profoundly rewarding. Although, its also been partly inherent by nature, with parents as passionate as I about the relics and often forgotten simplicity of those beautiful lives of the past. I cherish my now well developed resourcefulness, it has become a way of life that I would not change for all the money in the world. It has coloured every element of who I have become, and it greatly influences both my appreciation for the simple things in my life; and the way in which I present my philosophical views of life in how I raise my little man.

And then there are things like maintaining Leonard, our temperamental 1950's fridge. He's a jolly reliable old chap, ruggedly handsome for his age, and was an absolute steal. Though lets put it this way; he's Not equipped with a frost free freezer.

But there's something so fulfilling in emerging from one of my friendly little secondhand stores, my meeting places with others discardedness, tightly clutching something precious and helpfully inexpensive. I rather dislike the disposable societies that are establishing themselves all over the show; throw away packaging, throw away plastics, throw away people... Although the one and only upside, is for those of us who enjoy the excitement and reward of the forage. Searching for the beauty amongst others rubbish.

It has become effortlessly part of most days for my little man and I. He knows where to look as well as I do now, and oh how that enthralls me. He disappears to his own little hidden boxes and tables before I've seen him gone. I can see that passion growing in his eyes. He loves doing anything I do, but I can tell with his few jingly coins in his pocket he's started to love it for his own enjoyment. So this week we went, as we do, and we found, as we hope, more of the things that fill our house with life, and character, and our beloved vintage. Being the school holidays, the best thing he could have found was something that would entertain him for a few moments at a time, while I wrote by very brief and small installments a lengthy politics essay...

But this Whizzer and Chips Annual from 1977 that he bought for a dollar full of quirky little comic strips, captured his attention for hours upon hours. To the point that it needed confiscating so that he could eat, and he loves to eat.

I discussed with him a few weeks back about the production of things in China. A few days later as we foraged, he stopped himself in the middle of asking to buy a small plastic toy, quietly returned it to where he'd found and we left. As we walked away from the shop he told me he wasn't going to buy it because he'd realised that on the bottom it said 'made in china'. Life's all about choices, even when your a child.

 courtesy of the seventies. whizzer and chips.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Inside - out

School holidays as I vividly recall generally contained at least a week at holiday-camp; spent amongst a cabin of smelly boys, a particularly brave "team leader"; and, the occasional, rather alive eel in your sleeping bag if you weren't careful. I remember every night eight boys on the top bunks with their ears pressed hard to the cold concrete wall at lights-out; listening to the girls talk absolute nonsense on the opposite side of the sleeping quarters, just in case a familiar name was mentioned. Although, the walls were so thick if ever one was heard, to make out whether it were being used in an endearing context, or one that was not at all so; came down to who's name it was being mentioned and then by general consensus amongst those of us eavesdropping.

The other weeks of school holidays I remember, began with a very tedious ten hour bus trip... and then ended with a very tedious ten hour bus trip. Although, the in-between was filled with glorious days of creativity with my Nanna, as she nurtured my artistic passions; painting my first oil painting; sketching in all different shades of pencil grey; building sculptures out of femo; or secretly exploring all of the corners of her and Grandpa's house or mysterious garden, I'm assuming when I had completely worn their poor old bodies out.

I now face school holidays from a different perspective. As a parent.

The first few days of these current school holidays were spent looking longingly out the windows at the never-ending, solid grey sky, heavily dowsing our freshly mowed lawn, that was awaiting transformation into our very first vegetable patch. Holidays can be challenging at the best of times, but when a wall of water prevents even leaving the front door, the challenge must be approached in a far more carefree and creative sense.

So we got to work. The little man designed his 'super-suit', and used his fancy new writing skills to make lists of the qualities and abilities that his super hero persona would have; and I got to use my fancy new writing skills to write essays about politics. And he though he was lucky.

We read books, played chess, baked bread, strummed instruments, watched some good action flicks, and then banged our heads together when nothing else seemed to be satisfying. 

That was until....

... there seemed something different about this morning, I knew it before I'd even opened my eyes. The rain had stopped! So after some particularly palatable porridge, and rattling out a few more pages of political jargon; out we ventured, amongst the sog, and into the real work of beginning to build our soon to be vege-filled garden. 

Amazing how enjoyable a day outside can be, when you had to spend the past three before it held captive inside. 

...tomorrow we get to mix a large bag of horse manure into the freshly dug soil, and for some earthy reason that's beginning to sound rather appealing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Growing pains

Occasionally we all have those days or sometimes weeks when we feel a little uncomfortable and overwhelmed; and it isn't instantly clear why. Those days when its best to stop and remember where everything sits in perspective; although, having already lost composure and now unable to remember quite where all of the normally functional little pieces fit, more often than not, is because they no longer do. Somehow without noticing, they've changed shape and evolved; so in fact it's no longer re-placing the pieces back to where they used to fit, but redesigning the slightly different shaped pieces to fit more comfortably into something new. More commonly, this is known as CHANGE... and there's still something about change that occasionally troubles me. I enjoy the idea of change, in processing the fresh and new, or reinventing the tired old, but change isn't always expected or predictable. Occasionally it may offer subtle signs or prompts in the peripheral before it rouses its sly little eyes to the window sill to catch us unaware, regardless of the fact we were uncomfortably trying to ignore it and see whether it might go away. But, when finally we acknowledge and accept it, its already happening; and it wasn't really all that terrifying after all.

I now know personally that those slight discomforts, that feel oddly familiar, but equally new and unrecognisable, are the growing pains of change.

So after a week of growing pains, and unhelpfully not being all that honest with myself in recognising their presence; I hit that wall. Although, having a little more familiarity with my wall and being much better at negotiating tall buildings these days, I've come to realise that its the final obstacle to conquer in each little chapter of my life. That is, before finding that the wall is actually more like a door, but seeing that everything is slightly distorted and out of perspective, I was unaware it was there to direct me, not to be obstructive. Then waking yesterday, I sensed an interesting hint of significance in the air, everything about it felt clarifying.. A day of growing I would say metaphorically speaking, yet from the moment I woke my entire day was filled with the refreshing presence of growth; and I partly have Spring to thank for that.

I have to quietly admit a small unnecessary addition to the discomfort of these growing pains was caused by my school books need for attention, but as did the abundance of fruit in my kitchen. So I went about this remarkably pleasant day, attempting to do both. Unfortunately the sun streaming through my kitchen windows and the baskets full of colour on the table, left my books feeling a little neglected. But the inspiration was far better suited to the concocting of flavours, and the coinciding wofting of aromas that sifted out from every open window to catch upon each softly floating breeze; than spent nuzzled amongst that very academic style 'black-on-white' of book pages.

So to make the most of not just the day but all of the apples, pears, and citrus fruit I had, my resourceful enthusiasm became;

Cinnamon and star anise stewed apple;

 A rather wholesome pear and apple cake;

A marvelous batch of marmalade;

 in the most sticky shade of orange;

.. And a particularly inexpensive lunch; one of the first picked nearly entirely from my garden, tossed together with a few wild leaves from the rivers side, and a few lonely leaves from the sprouting red cabbage heart in the side of my compost; which proved equally inspiring. Also having discovering that my home-made sourdough, fried with olive oil, thyme, and sea salt never seems to go wrong with anything (and everything), it has now become rather deliciously routine.

And to see all that I had accomplished by the end of the day (reading aside), with little expense other than my time, that was more spent pensively in the calming clarity of my kitchen, I re-found my perspective. 

So from beginning,

To end,

.. with every beautiful spring delight that surrounded me in between, yesterday was much clearer than had been the last few days before it; And everywhere I turn everything is finding space to stretch out and grow; and with my appropriately self-diagnosed growing pains, clearly that was me included.

However, now having acknowledged and accepted the latest inevitable path of change, the next part is what I enjoy most; the knowing that I've got unexplored places ahead to discover. I often hear stories from friends of their intrepid journeys to far away places, whilst I've never left the shores of the island on which I was born. Yet no less exciting by any means do I find my journey and my exploration of the great unknown. So once again I pack my bag, slightly more well equipped than before, to face the challenges and enjoy the experiences on the next chapter of my journey.

By the way; Thanks again growth and change, you sometimes make me a little weak at the knees, but I'm actually rather fond of you. x