Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dunedin Poets Live!

At last - one of the things that makes living in Dunedin worthwhile after all, despite the bully boy council, and the tiresome old boys network with its stifling incestuous stranglehold on almost any aspect of life and culture that you can think of... Grrr. (Did I mention the weather?)

Forget all that and come and hear the poets, drink some beer and eat yummy Indian food.

Tomorrow night, SUE WOOTTON is the headline poet, and always worth hearing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Time Machine

If you live long enough, they start putting everyday stuff from "your day" in museums.

Like, the corrugated iron shed above, in the North Otago Museum in Oamaru.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Four-and-twenty waxeyes

Pictured: a bowl full of waxeyes in my garden, drinking the sugar-water.

Like finches, these quick, tiny birds move in fleets.

There's no such thing as a single waxeye.

They're really hard to photograph without the requisite equipment for capturing small shy swift things.

a thought

quick as a bird

a bird

quick as a thought

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Graffiti Knitters

Well, here's a concept... the graffiti patchwork bombers of London, beautifully exposed on the exquisitely cool WEE BIRDY blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beach House Reading Matter

Still no TV at the beach! Still no phone!
PS: this is the first time in my life I have not shelved my books in strict categories. They still do fall into some natural groupings (because that is the way they travelled together in boxes from the city, when they were selected as appropriate beach house reading...)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The northern end of the Otago Settlers Museum is home to the first steam train used on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers railway.

Josephine, as this train is known, made its first run on 10 September 1872.

On 6 September 1878, it was also one of two engines used to haul the first Christchurch to Dunedin through express train south from Oamaru. Later used for railway construction work before being sold to the Otago Iron Rolling Mills,

Josephine became an exhibit at the New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition in Dunedin in 1925.

In the following years Josephine sat outside what is today the Otago Settlers Museum, slowly rusting away in the open air.

By the late 1960s the old engine was perilously close to complete disintegration. Instead a public appeal raised money for its restoration and a special shelter to incorporate the engine within the Museum building.

Josephine is a Double-Fairlie locomotive and one of only five such engines surviving around the world.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Spring is Sprung

The springtime tsunami has hit town, and not just in the florist shops, but out in the real world too, with a wave of blossom and colour rolling over the tree skeletons.

Friday, August 14, 2009


"When you lose control

and you've got no soul

it's tragedy!"

- The Bee Gees

I've got a worm in my ear today, and the falsetto voices and fast catchy beat of the song couldn't be more inappropriate a setting for the simply tragic lyrics.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From the dream journal

Listen to this, I said to Schroedinger. It's a dream I wrote down in my writing notebook about a year ago:

Dream of winter.
There was a big orange cat with a paw the size of a grapefruit.

Nothing was anything I knew.
It was a strange snowy place - a house deep in the woods on a hill.
I had fled to avoid the bombs.
I was anxious that we had fled too far from the bomb near our city & had positioned ourselves too near the bomb of the neighbouring city.
But no I was assured it was OK.
We saw the flashes and felt safely distant.
We had arrived by river,
icy river.

Then some strangers came & seemed harmless,
but one man suddenly swallowed some powder & a cup of water
& spat it all over us. We would be dead soon. It was radioactive
(like the Russian poison), we were also dangerous to
anyone we got near.

I was particularly worried about the large marmalade cat.
I fed it a pot of meat. It seemed to have an appetite.

"That's very interesting," said Schroedinger, "and it has all come true, too!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Here I give thanks to Google

As part of my daily work today (reading proofs), I needed to choose between the spellings milk maid and milkmaid, and as one does, I idly Googled the term.

I have to say, that apart from enjoying the access to an image of a painting I love dearly for its poem on the nature of light, and even though - paradoxically - I blog courtesy of their worldwide domination, I consider that Google is the prophesied evil antichrist, thief of copyright and destroyer of the future of publishing. (I am referring to the Google Settlement.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Discussion Starter

This cartoon is by Dave Walker, and can be found at
We Blog Cartoons.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wax-eye City

Two wax-eyes with lard, corrugated iron, and mudflats

Three wax-eyes with porridge bowl

also known as wax-eye, white eye, and silvereye,

is a small NZ bird. Along with the tui and the bellbird, it loves to drink the winter gift of sugar water.

Tauhou also likes cooked rolled oats. I learnt about this from a marvellous recipe book called TEA FOR THE TUI.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Living in the landscape

I took this photo this morning on the way into the city to work.

Looking down from the Mt Cargill Road over the harbour towards the Otago Peninsula.

The photo is not great, it's only an aide-memoire.

In truth the light was amazing, and rising up over those views was almost like floating through a McCahon painting.

I had to spend several hours doing some research at the Hocken Library, so I took the opportunity to have a look at the exhibition of Brasch-donated works again.

Sometimes I hate Dunedin, but not today.

The Madonna in the Suitcase

The Book Reading for this week (beginning 3 August 2009) on National Radio, has been from The Madonna in the Suitcase, by Huberta Hellendoorn.

The book was adapted and read for radio by Huberta Hellendoorn herself, from her self-published book of the same name.

The Radio NZ web site says the book is about: the challenges and rewards a Dutch New Zealand family experience in caring for a daughter with Downs Syndrome. Miriam thrives in the loving family home and defies expectations by earning recognition and respect as a painter.

Huberta is a well-cherished member of several Dunedin communities (as was obvious at the standing-room-only launch of this book earlier this year), active in the Society of Authors, and it's been lovely to hear her voice telling this important story with its original and fresh perspective, and admirably, she manages to relate her experiences without sentimentality.

There are reviews of the launch and the book at Claire Beynon's blog, and at Vanda Symon's blog.

I've been looking for the link to the podcast but it looks like there's no downloadable file.

If it sounds like a book you need to read, and it does come highly recommended, you can email huberta@earthlight.co.nz

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Did the earth move for you?

Well, there was an earthquake about 20 minutes ago and that's what it looks like on Geonet.

(The red colouring indicates that the extent of the line has been abbreviated because the quake was so big that the 'needle' swung out to the edge of the 'paper'.)

'I'm still settling down. As is the earth, apparently.

There have been lots and lots of 'aftershocks' since the major quake a few weeks ago.

I managed to feel this one very well as I am currently sitting at my computer in South Dunedin where, apparently, when "the big one" hits, the reclaimed land will liquify and many houses will be shaken so fiercely they will disintegrate...

This was the biggest 'aftershock' as far as I know, and it was a bit alarming. I went and stood under the door frame.

But at 6.1 on the Richter scale, this particular tremor was not probably big enough to move Dunedin another 1 cm closer to Australia, as the monster 7.8 quake last month did.

One cm closer! I can't wait till we get there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roll of Honour

Congratulations and Admiration are due to those NZ Citizens who declined to accept the retrospective application of a British Imperial title to the Popular honour bestowed upon them by the people of New Zealand.

Titular honours were abolished by the Labour-led Government in 1999, but extreme right wing Prime Minister John Key who continues to masquerade as Labour lite, announced in March they would be reinstated.

Those made Principal or Distinguished Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit (PCNZM or DCNZM) since 2000 could opt to be known as Sir or Dame.

Among those who resisted the seductive honour (see the list here), were magnificent authors JOY COWLEY, VINCENT O'SULLIVAN, WITI IHIMAERA and PATRICIA GRACE, along with actor SAM NEILL.

Good on you, Citizens. Respect.