Monday, June 3, 2019

Back to blogging

Mum died.

I started writing a blog years ago when it was new and edgy. I wrote about teaching and family life and home-based care and my studies and my garden and my interest in words.
Then I got a full time job and got too busy to have thoughts, much less write them down.
Then I saw this BlogJune thing, and thought: I used to blog. I could do that.
So I signed up.

But, faced with a page all I can think is that Mum died.

Mum was dad's caregiver, so now we're taking turns of a week or so each to come down here and care for dad. And grieve alongside him. And have too much time to think.

It's coming up six weeks since mum died.
The first week was easy. It was a shock that she died at all (she was supposed to get better), and I knew I'd end up being the one to write and deliver the retrospective talk at the funeral, so I had to keep myself together to be able to speak in public. So I stayed aloof.
Then, after the funeral, and after all the visitors went home, it was just me and dad (I did the first week after that), to sit and be quiet together, and be shocked by the fact that Mum died.

Week three I was back at work, and that was hard.

I felt like my grief was a rather quiet relative who had come to stay with me, and hovered behind my left shoulder. I'd be in the middle of a conversation, and I'd suddenly remember Grief was standing there, and I'd say: oh, I'm so sorry, have you met Grief? she's staying with me for a while.

The first thing almost everyone said when they saw me was variations of "I'm sorry for your loss". That was hard, but it would have been a whole lot harder if they'd not mentioned it. So I'm glad that's the culture there.

The next two weeks the quiet relative wasn't hovering so near, or present so often. But she would pop up unexpectedly from time to time. I learned to say: I'm carrying my mum a bit heavily today. That was ok.

This is week six, and I'm back with dad. We need to sort out coats and warm jumpers tomorrow, to give away now that it is Winter and people will want them. I want the memory of Mum to keep other people warm. I hope Dad will be comforted by that thought too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What happened to the sandpit?

The sandpit of this blog title is at my house. It was built (by Bernard and me. I think Michael might have helped) when Elanor was four, and was a huge attraction when the children were young. I had other people's children in my garden for seven years - and they also enjoyed the sandpit in its time. (Ok, they went home nights.)

Last year "the sandpit" underwent a major transformation. I had stopped looking after little kids at home, and it became a vegetable garden.

It doesn't receive much sun for much of the year. (Ahem - 'none' for a lot of the year!) The 'interwebs' suggested that leafy greens did best in partial shade, so I planted in mint, silverbeet, kale, spinach and parsley. (I knew the parsley would do well because it self-sowed in the sand pit itself.)

So, if a great deal of forethought had been used, I would have had a 'before', 'during' and 'after photos. I didn't, so I'll just have to paint you a word picture.

The sandpit was pretty neglected for a year before I decided to give it a new life. Weeds (parsley!), old toys and junk. Yuk!

I googled, and obviously one should add lots of composted matter as the dirt was, by definition, 'sand'. Not ideal for growing plants, although definitely free-draining! One site also suggested lots of shredded newspapers on the sand before adding compost. And advised on what to plant in a shady (semi-shade in summer only) spot.

I didn't have enough compost to fill a volume 2m x 1.5m x 40cm all at once - that's a LOT of compost! So I hit on using a plank to section of 1/3 of the space first and plant that up. A few months later I had enough to fill a 2nd 1/3.

(Actually, I was impatient and hadn't left my compost to 'cook' long enough, so I spent 2 months pulling out little pumpkin seedlings which weren't part of the planting plan. That was kind of funny, and they've stopped turning up now.)

So the funky tiered look is more by luck than design, but I quite like it. I planted lots of little seedlings - lots from the garden centres, and then some I'd raised from seed. And a few months later it looked green and lush!

This sandpit garden has been giving me all the leafy greens we can manage to eat, and means I can use the sunny vege garden for things that really need the sun. (Oh, and the patch of silverbeet and spinach that I planted in the dead of winter and is still going strong.) I'll be really interested to see how long it keeps producing.

Now, instead of sitting in the sun digging a hole and filling it with water, I'm more likely to be pulling weeds, tending baby plants and picking food. And of course lots of messing about with mud and water. Still just as much fun. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The joy of learning

This morning I dressed early, as I've signed up for relief teaching this week. A call could come anytime from 7am. When I wasn't called by 9.30 I was able to plan my day. It felt like an extra holiday day. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I don't get paid. Details!)

I did some desk work, had a haircut, and met Rowena in town for lunch. Then we went to my favourite 2nd hand bookshop for a browse. (Actually it's a "2nd hand anything" shop with a very good quality book wall. I'm not saying which shop.)

(Everyone is reading the Luminaries this Summer. Unless I borrow it sooner I expect to wait until it turns up on this bookshelf for $4. I wonder how long it'll take - there are lots of copies out there, but if it's very good it could be longer before people start letting them 'return to the wild' of 2nd hand shops. There were books from 2 summers ago there today.)

It's hard to explain the delight of a pile of books, especially when the house is full of piles of books, we've had new piles of books for Christmas, I have happy shelves full of piles of books in my office, and it can get quite stressful thinking of all the books I'll never get around to reading (or finishing).

The Steinbach has this to say in its introduction:
"My hope is that by the end of our journey together you will share with me what my role model, the late Richard Feynman, called "the pleasure of finding things out." Feynman, a Nobel laureate who was a legendary physicist, accomplished bongo drummer, and expert safe-cracker, summed up his lifetime of learning this way: "I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there." I offer here stories of my efforts to add little bits of knowledge here and there to what I was born not knowing."

I like that. It's not about knowing "to know." More about knowing "to grow," to have a richer perspective by being about to bring the 'then and there' to the to 'here and now'.

It's also about learning about things, places, people. The nice thing about books is that someone has gone to the trouble of finding out and reflecting and putting down what they think is the most important (admittedly, for their purposes), in a handy package. Much easier than an old internet search.  

Anyway, I've just spent $16 on perhaps 60 hours of reading or more, of which I shall probably complete less than a 1/3, but it's not a test so I don't have to read any of them - I can dip as I choose. The thought is pure pleasure.

(The book on Tolkien is a gift for Elanor - I needn't read at all.)

And in a few years I'll return half of them to another 2nd hand shop to keep them in circulation.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Farewelling another child...

Sophie is off to Brazil for a year next Friday. With Katie and Rowena out flatting (R in Dunedin), it's going to be one quiet house. Only one daughter left. A bit sad when I think about this. Sophie has promised to blog at least twice a month. Wonder if I should start blogging again. Haven't decided. Have found out about postage to Brazil. I know *everyone* sends emails nowadays... but people really to *like* a hand written letter. (Don't have the address yet.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

International Play Association conference in Wales

Playcentre is sending a delegation to the International Play Association in Wales next week. Including me! Can't believe it's finally come around, after having planned this for over a year.

Playcentre is doing a kapahaka workshop, and symposium of several related papers (and discussion), and a static display with poster and dvd.

Just have final preparations to make. Actually write down the words for the presentation (;-) and get the business cards printed. And pack, of course.

Very exciting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It has been really odd weather here today. We're not used to humidity - that's an Auckland phenomenon - but we have had it today. Hot, hot, hot, and then it suddenly rains, but doesn't cool the day off, and hot, hot again.

Despite that I got outside to play with the water trough and hose, and sandpit, with the little kids for quite a while this afternoon. I was surprised at how dry the soil was when I did some weeding. Toddlers with buckets soon fixed that :-)

After dinner, and I was just sitting outside in my arm chair, watch the westering sun illuminate the black rain clouds. I was able to scarper back inside (with my upholstered chair) at the first drop.

I suppose we should take the kids to the beach. They can swim in rain or shine, and it'll cool them off.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happiness is...

...three kinds of cake for dessert!

Well, there were three kins of cake, but we couldn't manage to eat them all for one dessert. We'll probably have to have some of one of them for breakfast, and there will still be more of all of them.

How did we come to have such a abundance of confections, you ask?

It was Rowena's birthday last week. But she was at camp, so this afternoon Elanor made a chocolate cake for her birthday, iced with chocolate icing and pink writing and blue flowers. Good job Elanor!

But at the same time Rowena was at afternoon tea at a friend's house (Sophie). The friend had made a cake for Rowena's birthday too (carrot), AND a cake for Anna's birthday as well (chocolate). But Anna wasn't able to come, so they had two large cakes and only 4 girls to eat them.

Sophie has a small family, so when it was time to come home she gave Rowena half of each cake to bring with her. So Rowena arrived home with 2 x 'nearly half' cakes, each about 10 cm tall - that's a LOT of cake!

Of course we sang for the one Elanor had made, and cut that first. Then we (not Ro - she was already ahead) had carrot cake too. But the 2nd chocolate cake (and all the other leftover cake) is just going to have to wait for breakfast. Or supper... :-)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back to blogging

Ok, so the title is aspirational, but perhaps it would be good to blog occassionally.

My dedicated reader (only one!) has noticed my absence from the blogosphere, and commented on this with regret. I blame it all on facebook, which encourages quick, low effort, updates. But if I do one post today, that will be one more than last year, and you never know - it might become a habit.

(The theory is that if you perform an action every day for a month it will become a habit, and will become easier to maintain. Not yet sure if I have a commitment to one month...)

Anyway, what is today like here? Hot, windy, and I'm tired because I've just come back from one of those weekend meetings I have.

I did say on the Friday that I'd realised that I need to take better care of myself, and I do need to sleep. (This caused some amusement among my friends/colleagues, as I'm the one who gets my '2nd wind' in the evening and is then able to work until quite late.) And that perhaps we should agree to stop for the night at dinner, or 9pm, or something. Obviously we didn't agree that very strongly, because we worked much longer both evenings. Oh well... they can't say it's me keeping them up ever again.

That said, it was a useful, productive, and relatively relaxed meeting, so it's all good. And we seem to have gelled as a team and understanding each others' working styles.

Nice to be back with family this afternoon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mum and Dad are staying with Annie and family for the week. (They have come up to go to the World of Wearable Arts show this evening.)

Yesterday we took a drive to Palmerston North to see Grandma. That's dad's mum. She's 98 and living in a old folks home now.

Our visit was a surprise to her, and she was very pleased to see us. Big smiles. We chatted for a while, but it turns out that she is deafer than I had thought. I thought I was talking loudly and slowly telling her all about Katie being in Austria, but I wasn't sitting right next to her, so I think she missed most of it. Later she asked me about Katie - what's she doing now, is she at university, etc. So I sat right next to Grandma and told the story again. (I think I will write her a letter.)
The light was strong coming in the window, so Annie and my faces are in shade unfortunately. I was pleased I had the camera and remembered to get it out. I whipped off the first photo of Grandma (with mum) very quickly, as she gets tired of having her photo taken quite quickly and turns her face away. But something happened to make her laugh while we were setting up the 2nd groups, which meant she was a bit more animated for the photos.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anzac Biscuits

Here is the recipe for Anzac Biscuits, out of the Edmond's Cook Book.

125g flour
150g sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup rolled oats
100g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon biarb soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

Mix together flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve bicarb soda in the boiling water and add to butter and golden syrup. Make a well in the centre of flour, stir in the liquid. Place in spoonfuls on greased trays. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 180 C (350 F).

And here is Elanor with her biscuits made today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sophie does Workshop as a subject at school. This is because she likes making things. She would have also done Soft Materials ('clothing' in another era), but they make really lame items in the 3rd form apparently.

So this year S has had units on wood (she made a tiny bookshelf - a divided box really) and metalwork (a cast frog). Her latest unit was on plastics.

Sophie finished her clock and was able to bring it home the day after Katie left for Austria. She was a bit disappointed that she couldn't show Katie - so, here it is!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Katie's rose

Matt gave Katie a really lovely single rose a couple of days before she went away. We have been enjoying looking at it. I thought I would post a photo so Kate could look at it again too. It's lasting really well.