Monday, June 24, 2013

Magical man-hammer

Magical man-hammer is not mine; I borrowed it from a guy called Chuck Wendig (Terribleminds) because it's clever and catchy and I'm not feeling all that clever and catchy today. Here is Chuck's 'magical man-hammer' comment:

"... this isn’t about playing the hero — we aren’t going to fix it with our magical man-hammers, and women are not our Death Star Princesses to rescue. But we can signal boost. We can support." 

You can find the discussion in full here Why men should speak out about sexism misogyny and rape culture

Please check out Chuck if you want to know, without being TOLD sledgehammer-style, magical or otherwise, why (more) men need to enter the feminist fray. The comments are also well worth checking out. Lucky Chuck seems to have some of the most gender-savvy readers and followers of any blog site I've come across.  He's also a damn good writer.

Cheers Chuck; you are my man-hammer of the moment.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beach to myself

The beach to myself today,
not even a camera

Deep jade green sea
you can't believe
is as cold as winter

Sky as grey as sky
or anything

Island guard stretched out darkly,
as ominous as any monster

Rainbow, all the colour and brightness
the sea and sand lack

My pale brown slacks,
pelted with rude wet drops
A mottled effect

The brolly holds
The sun unfolds

The beach to myself no longer

Housekeeping IX (again): Replenishing

This is my second post on what I have called 'replenishing'. Re-filling expired consumables, dealing with packaging, etc, here is the previous post on this most scintillating of subjects:  Housekeeping VIII: Replenishing

My second replenishing post is mostly images: the fruit tray clearly needs replenishing and washing. De-staining, you might say. Fruit rots, just like everything else. If I don't do it, it probably won't get done, though M is a fabulous help.

The famous 'capsibum' was eaten last night in this:  

Put to good use, you might say (not if you happen to be vegetarian).

More replenishing and make-do failed replenishing 

Remember to retrieve the scooper before you pour the replacement powder in, if you buy washing powder in bulk like we do.  I don't need the playing kids reminding me of the purpose of washing, like I need reminding.

Remember to retrieve the scooper before replenishing powder,
otherwise it's like a scene from Witness. 

Best I could do today

Is it an egg...

Can anyone guess what this is?  A white button on a black coat? An almost full moon? Neither. It is, in fact, nothing more, and nothing less than the skylight dome in our laundry on a dark stormy day, hogging all the light rather than distributing it into the room like it's supposed to.  I don't mind so much because it looks this incredible, like an egg; or an eye.

Sinner's sleep

Another nightmare has triggered a story. Too vivid to sleep for all eternity it must, rather, be born into life: the life of a story, no less.

Does that sound melodramatic?


The storm blew the balcony door open in our room last night and spawned a nightmare. The balcony door doesn't close properly without a fifty gun salute slam. At certain times of the year, that is, when the wood swells. Most nights it's not fully closed but in the coldest weather it must be. Last night was freeeeezing, but the door hadn't been closed properly. When it flung wide open early this morning the cold was instantly arctic, almost as shocking as the time we were woken by a cat fight in my wardrobe.

The nightmare came after I finally went back to sleep for about half an hour before I had to get up. Not ideal conditions for peaceful sleep. On top of which, the balcony door is kind of my fault (long - longer - story), so the nightmare involved blame. That will be my story's theme: sinners who get no peace at night. I have my title.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013



Twenty today
Hip hop hooray!

And me a mother that long too

Our dates match up,
Our blood like glue

Your day of birth
My delivery

Twenty today
Hip hop hooray!


I cannot write you

A muse -
you are not

Cat, car, and croquet lover -
you are

I cannot write you

And yet...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sixteen (for Lorraine's boy)

Death must be handled carefully

No two deaths are entirely the same,
Unlike births

Some differ greatly

Some are young

My first death was my father
He was not young

His dead hands sent me into
fits of shrieking public grief

Parents are tough

Children are tougher

A boy is dead



East coast beaches are tidal
kind of like

It's all about change

I step on at one end

of the vast sea of sand
and let it take me, like ice

Tip-toeing across the water,
chasing a vanishing shore.

I walk quite alone,
except for the sea

Others walk alone too,
so far away they look small.

How many poems of the sea
can one write?

How many poems of the sea are there?

Obama Update

Okay, so a moment of political-personal truth...

I have been a shameless Obamarite since he showed up like ablack comet in the sky portending good news... I have praised his 'beta' guy qualities here on this blog and gone along with the suggestion that he is a paid-up feMENist. As well on this blog I have brow-beaten and blackmailed my cynic anti-Obamarite son to read an RS article in praise of the man on account of how persuaded of his strengths I was. Now...

Well, now, I have a changed view of the guy, to put it simply. I was blind and now I see, to a degree. Based on a source I consider reliable I have learned that the black guy in the white house has not pulled out of wars and warring to the degree that I thought he had; is caught up in and has maybe fuelled the paranoia of the American people about the enemy without, and he's not a true lefty with a passion for social justice. These realities reduce my respect for the guy somewhat.

However he remains a 'good guy' to me in the sense that I believe he would be good and only good if not in the White House. If not with one hand tied by and to vested interests in big business who fund his campaign. If not for the fact that you couldn't get elected without these funds. If not, I guess, for 9/11. For now I am maintaining the view that Obama is, at the very least, the lesser of two evils.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Welcome Back Nana II

Edible stars, almost.

I used these baubles to write Welcome Back Nana on the lemon cake I made (see previous post) for my mother's arrival. She will be staying a week. The baubles are appropriately glittering to celebrate the occasion.

Welcome Back Nana! (I couldn't fit in the 'back').

Welcome Back Nana

It's a family tradition in our house to make a 'Welcome Back Nana' cake. This year it's lemon and yoghurt. Normally daughter B helps, or makes the whole cake, this year she's off sugar and swatting hard for a law exam.

We have set up the bed in the front room for Mum/Nana, which includes moving two tables, one rug and one overflowing dress-up bin. There is a sofa bed in there that has come in very handy for Mum's visits, as well as for cousins and various others. 
I miss baking with daughter B. After twenty years of baking on my own it was fun to have a bake pal. She learnt fast and brought her own ideas and energy to the table. 

We did bake her sugar-free cake together a couple of weeks back, but it's a much rarer affair since she went sugar-free. Good on her, of course.

I will ice the cake and write 'Welcome Back Nana' on it. One year we wrote the message in pumpkin seeds. Another, chocolate chips. Another, coconut on chocolate icing, another another year slithered almonds. Once in Maori. Like all traditions it continues of its own accord. One is compelled by the rule to repeat the exercise and at the same time appreciate some kind of guideline where otherwise you'd have to figure some new welcome each visit. Nana comes to stay once a year, though not last year for some reason that I can't quite remember. So this visit is a little more special than usual.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Housework: A study

I'm supposed to be writing up a new story before I forget it, instead I want to talk housekeeping.

Mum is due in from Sydney tomorrow so a bit of cleaning is going on. I cleaned the downstairs bathroom vanity and part shower, which is supposed to be M's job. He told me not to (because he doesn't want me blogging about it...). The other two bathrooms are my job. But M's busy right now putting up the brackets for the curtain rod for Mum's privacy curtain - she arrives tomorrow (have I mentioned that?). M put the washing on the line earlier, as usual for Saturday. Considering his hours in the office, I reckon M pulls his weight in the housekeeping department, or pretty close, especially with more cooking help of late.

Still, I don't really know the extent of the housework load. We have a large house and no help, so it's quite a bit of work. So I want to make a small study of the housekeeping load in all its monotonous regularity - nothing is as constant -  as well as its infinite variety.

So the list as I have loosely assembled it so far here is:

1. Sweeping floors
2. Vacuuming
3. Bed-making
4. Shower, bath, vanity, walls
5. Emptying (and loading) dishwasher
6. Folding and sorting clean washing
7. Drying washing
8. Replenishing
9. Shopping
10. Clothes washing (collecting dirty clothes, washing them)
11. Toilets
12. Cooking
13. Surfaces
14. Stains
15. Maintenance
16. Entertaining

The order is shambolic. I might try to order the chores more logically and in order of burden level: One being  most burdensome:

1. Toilets. 2. Showers. 3. Cooking 4. Washing 5. Shopping 6. Drying washing 7. Bed-making (replacing sheets) 8. Stains 9. Surfaces 10. Replenishing 11. Folding and sorting washing 12. Sweeping floors 13. Rest of bathroom 14. Emptying and loading dishwasher 15. Maintenance 16. Entertaining.

I think Nana's privacy curtain comes under 'maintenance'. Yesterday I finally got around to buying the fabric for the curtain as well as the iron rod. M put the bar and braces up this morning, now he's touching up the paint round the edges. Maintenance includes light bulbs, non-consumable purchasing for the house, from towels to taps, as well as house painting. I do almost all the purchasing for the house and M does almost all the painting. We have painted our entire house and repainted parts of it many times, so this is a big job.

But these listed chores are otherwise done mostly by me. M does the vacuuming. He makes the fires and empties the bins. He washes the big stuff that won't fit in the dishwasher. He mows the lawns and tidies the garden, once every one or two months. He does about thirty percent of the cooking and bathrooms, and about forty percent of the clothes washing and drying.

Sensible sewing

I could only get to first base with daughter B's sewing machine

Sewing is sensible, isn't it? I have always dismissed sewing just a little on account of its 'sensible' aura. Not all the sewers I know are sensible, but most are.

Removing frayed edges: a big part of sensible sewing

Not that there is anything wrong with sensible. Some of my best friends..., and all that. It's just a limited virtue, like politeness. Plus, not being so sensible myself, I have nothing invested in the virtue.

Anyway, all this condescension towards the skill and craft of sewing has left me up shit creek without a paddle today, as I try to ready Mum's privacy curtain for tomorrow when she arrives from Sydney. I need to sew a tab top for the wrought iron rod (made and bought yesterday in Glendfield along with the fabric, all at the last minute) to thread through in order to hold the otherwise un-sewn curtain up. Curtain-making made easy. All our curtains are tab tops.

I made it this far with the job, pinning the tab top at what I hope will be the right length for the door where it hangs, and getting my daughter's machine light to turn on, but could go no further. I couldn't find an ignition pedal or handle to start the machine. Daughter B is in at uni sitting an Art History exam so cannot be reached on her mobile to tell me how to make the machine go. None of the males in the hosue would even know what a sewing machine is. Daughter B is a competent (sensible) seamstress herself - for her age.

So I'm going to leave the curtain pinned and try and thread the rod through and see if the pins hold. If they hold I'll probably never learn how to work the machine.

Seriously sewing,

Friday, June 14, 2013

A foot

The largeness of other people's lives

Your life's significance is
no more important
to them

than their big toe
at most.

That's if you know each other.

Maybe one foot
if you are

Compared with the significance
of our own lives,
other people's lives
are barely a pin prick in that
big toe.

It is impossible to conceive
how little we matter
to others.

Still, I wouldn't want to lose a toe.

The Block

The house that was expected to be moved by the house-moving truck in our neighbourhood was in fact moved further forward on its land and three new (old style) houses trucked in. Just when we thought we were in danger of a high rise we find we are in the middle of a reality TV show:  

The idea of the show is that good-looking couples compete to do-up their crap shack best. Those who do the best job get to keep the done-up house, at least I think that's how it works. 

That's all very well for them, but meanwhile the residents have to put up with at least twice as much truck traffic as usual and some noise. I'm just lucky I'm not close enough to hear the diggers all day. I hope the immediate neighbours went away. 

All in a good cause (not), except done-up villas are always so much nicer than done-up houses. I expect at least one of the do-ups will remain on the land, so that should be nice.

Housekeeping XV: Surfaces and Stains

File:Washing clothes by the Ganges, Varanasi.jpg
Stain removal: Ganges style 
Dining dust 
Only myself to blame for the stain

For some reason this photo has taken me half the day to upload -
the washing took a little less time than that to dry.
Good as new
I know I said no more housekeeping but..., it keeps coming! I forgot a few aspects. I would like a total record and inventory, ultimately.

What I left out, for starters, was surfaces and stains. The kitchen is a series of surfaces, so is the dining and living, to a lesser extent. Keeping surfaces clean is a big part of domestic housekeeping, I don't know why it took me so long to blog it. 

This surface is our dining table. It is not my favourite table of all - used to be M's father's boardroom table, no less. Usually lives beneath this rather elegant lace table cloth, the deep rust colour showing through rather prettily. The cloth was a wedding present all those years ago (25). Unfortunately it lets the food through, though not all of it. The larger spills are caught on top, unless entirely liquid. If it was permeable I'd be cleaning it more often but would not have to wipe the table down once every couple of weeks.

The house is also a series of stains, or potential stains in the making. Just off the top of my head I can think of the table-cloth, the bed sheet, the underwear..., the carpet, the everything where our poor old puss with the weakened bladder control is concerned, the shirts and the trousers, skirts and dresses. 

The stain is our faithful table-cloth stained by my own hand when spilling the berry crumble afternoon tea last weekend (five days ago!). I put off cleaning it. Shame on me.

I have now scrubbed the stain off with soap, hot water and gentle rubbing. I've thrown the cloth, along with some hand towels and other kitchen laundry, into the machine on a short wash. I will hang them up later and hope it doesn't rain. There's a bit of a wind up.

The R-word

Let's see if I
can't write
my way
out of
Rejection gloom...

Rejection is the R-word -
in this poem

In a writer's world,

In an artist's world,
in general.

One man's art
is another woman's

Art is only objective in part,
the best part, but,
not the easiest-to-spot part.

Writing talent is most
difficult to discern
because so varied.

Writers are least limited
by the material world:
not even ink, these days,
which permits much range and variation.

rejection feels like
an empty pen
with funds for a refill
dried up...
and the year is 1962

Haven't exactly written myself out of the gloom...


My vacated desk

A desk is a bit like a ship. It keeps things afloat. Keeps you afloat in a sense, even when you're not using it. This is my desk exactly as I left it about a month ago to work downstairs on the coffee table. Two projects lie open waiting my attention. For the time being I am ignoring them in favour of other projects - like a third story for the Mansfield that I started this morning.

Old Sydney town in the black and white sketch against the wall. My youngest at the age of seven or thereabouts, propped up in front. My nephew just turned one on the far wall, my parents at their engagement being coy behind paper. 

When I look at this picture I see words. Everywhere words. Indeed admission to the desk boat is primarily by word, quality and quantity. It looks like I might be working on the principle of more is more as far as words go. These days I write almost entirely on-line, although I have a printed sheet of foolscap paper next to the computer at the moment. Beneath that, another folded, smaller sheet covered in blue pen scrawl. I have put that on the computer already, but not finished the top one. 

I am a compulsive writer. I have been writing in pen all my life, from cards to thank you letters to thirty-six page letters home. Most writers are the same. I am a little different to most writers in that I kind of didn't realise I was a writer until other people told me. My father did suggest writing if ballet didn't work out, back in the early eighties (83) based on my letters home, and they then gave me the Brontes for my 21st, but I didn't take the hint. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I did read the Brontes, mind. I loved Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I read lots of stuff. D.H. Lawrence before I was twenty, and I left school at 14. So I must have had some idea about writing from fairly early on, I just didn't quite realise it. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clothes too clean

At the hairdresser's -

Women's magazine central

People (actors) placed in houses For Sale

What, the people?

Well, in a way, but no, more
the walls, the floors, the windows.

They look too placed to be real -
especially the women

Clothes too clean -
especially the men

Smiles too matching
Croissants too fatty
Cat too coiled
Pool water too chilly

Going begging

I think I was particularly vulnerable to beggars in the U.S (Nov-Dec 2012). Most of them men, they know women are a soft touch compared with men (being men themselves), but they would get booted off the streets if constantly approaching lone women. So the safest bet will be women in couples. Women travelling with men, other than those who are built like Schwarzenegger himself, I guess (mine is not).

Having our daughter with us probably put some off but the shoe shiner shined her shoes too. I certainly got hit upon for money everywhere I went. I succumbed a few times too, but wizened and toughened by the time we were on the east coast.

Some beggars are buskers, rejects of the great fame game, working on the perimeters to highlight, by contrast, the value of the game. One guy left his piano permanently in the park all alone in the cold at night, not even in a coat, as a horse would have, then came back to busk there in the day. The piano remaining in working order throughout. Another guy audaciously begged for money to buy 'weed' with a wry smile on his grubby face. Those guys earn their nickels and dimes, others just come up to you brashly, trying to bully the money out of you. With beggars, as with people in general, you get all sorts.

Must sign off. It's not yet 8am and this is my second blog.

Soft touch,


Up even earlier this morning, more layers of wool on than for yesterday's beach walk. Four. A orange-red-pink blanket is top, because most accommodating, then, like a Russian doll, you can peel back layers, you can open me up and find more layers: a red possum jumper, a black, roll-neck woollen jumper, and beneath that, a blue scoop-neck, long-armed woollen vest. 

Winter bird: Cardinal
The glass is black on the curtain-less window. The French Doors however have their curtains drawn against our night exposure to the neighbours. The light is on beyond the computer glare. Oh dear, I believe I am going to wax lyrical about the night again! It's a fairly worn out theme. I will resist...

Daughter B is up indeed, readying herself for her long day in at the varsity library studying for exams next week, so it is hardly night. Husband M is out the door just now, beating the traffic and the birds. C1 and C2 are still in bed, I will wake C2 at eight as usual. C1 would normally be up at 8.00am to catch the 8.20 bus, but it's study break so he'll be up at two.

The cat is running across the floorboards with a pitter-patter as fast as an insect's. Her daughter, Trixie, on the other paw, is probably asleep on C2s face, or somewhere as close as she can get to his heat. They are very close, although only in winter.

I am typing on the couch at the coffee table. I have a hair appointment at 10.15 this morning. Cut and colour for Mum's visit and B's birthday bash. I have left it very late this year. My last cut and colour was October. June is almost a year.

I will get back to you on that, perhaps with an after photo.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Toenail and moon

Toenail and moon



Fat in the centre,
like a smile

Thin at the edges,
like a smile.

How is the moon so clean?

The light so crisp?

It's a planet and a sun
It looks plastic


Can a man be a feminist?

Why we need feminist men

Read these and get back to me...

Part II this morning:  FeMENist II 

I am going to find a suitable picture and leave you to ruminate on the question of male feminists. Of course men can be AND ARE feminists, the problem is there are not enough brave souls. You've really got to have your masculine shit together, kind of like Brad Pitt, to be a liberated male. Obama is cool too, I am married to such a man, so I am lucky. My man is better than Brad in many ways, I won't go into details. Better for me, at any rate.


The Mansfield

Forever young Mansfield

I have just finished my story for the Mansfield (BNZ creative writing prize). If you opened the file up now ('Bethnal Park') you would see 3,000 words exactly. At the moment my story is exactly the word limit. I edited it down from 250 over, but didn't fuss over the last forty. Still, exactly 3,000. I won't submit it like that. There are bound to be more edits.

I have two more stories I want to submit, or at least prepare for submission. I must check if you are allowed more than one. Usually you are if there's a fee, the Mansfield has no fee. Yes, I think that is right.

I am submitting so much of late I might achieve some kind of saturation. The Mansfield story is not in the least poetic and I have blogged and submitted more poetry in the last two months than I have ever written in my life. Way more. But this is not one of those poems. This is a story. Indeed in this story I feel  the subject let's the story down a little - and with poetry, subject is king and queen. But I like it nonetheless, which must be the acid test; as well as if you like it, of course.


House maintenance

The curtains are ripping, mimicking the balcony door and power pylon beyond. Every time I open or close them I am in danger of tearing a deeper rip and having to buy new. They're only calico but they are custom-made for the balcony doors. It will be a pain to have to have to have new curtains made.

My dream house, someone else's house
(though I do love my own house.
Not really my dream house: too white)

House-keeping is one thing but house maintenance is quite another. This ripped curtain in the Master bedroom comes under 'house maintenance'. It will be my job to fix them or order new ones. M's main maintenance job is painting. He painted these white doors and most of the walls that you see in all the blog pictures. I painted about 10% of the walls and doors. He is the painter in chief.

But other maintenance chores arise. I will make a list in order of priority using this rip as the standard. From most urgent to least:

Repair or replace calico curtains
Order a new curtain railing in the spare room for Nana's privacy
Buy cover for lounge suite to hide cat claw marks
Buy new curtain for Nana's wardrobe door
Get picture of blue truffle mounted and framed for above the pantry 
Get piano tuned
Buy dining table and chairs for eight

There are others, but lists get boring fast. 


An Indian man has just delivered a box to my door. No signature required? Head shake. Nor Ma'am.

What, just the box? That seems a little odd doesn't it. I look at the thick white cardboard for some reassurance and find the word 'Customs'.

I once got done for leaving a suspicious bag at the passport office here in Auckland. My beta half had to go to some bother to extricate his wife from that little drama. Of course, anyone can forget their bag (can't they?). Perhaps I was pregnant at the time. I have been pregnant for twenty-eight months in total (three nines plus one month for the extra week-plus for each baby). Hopefully this is not a suspicious box.

The box is now on the arm of the couch: Priority Mail, must be important. The Indian man dashed off as flashingly as he had arrived, leaving the box squatting there like an awkward visitor.

The box is for C1, as it turns out (I read the fine print). His name appears in font no larger than anything else written on the box, annoyingly. What has he ordered, I wonder; and who paid for it?


This picture took itself

Is it just me... or is this capsicum extremely sensual?

As the caption says: the picture took itself. The lights drew attention to the curves and I was just fortunate to be at the lower living-room level to notice the sexy capsibum at eye level.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The sky is blue

The sky is blue, the sand is gold
The sea is both

The froth-edge is so white it
evokes a snow sea skirt,
a great gypsy at rest

Three layers of wool on the beach today
Still, you can't beat the beach..

The sunset is now a jigsaw of blues and pinks
and other surreal colours

The calm descends with the colourful night
the houses come out

Glass glows the colour of money
The sea rolls its all-seeing eyes

Housekeeping XIII and XIV: Cooking

Gravy I
Gravy IV
Lemon chicken

Boys' lunches

Colourful compulsory coleslaw
Daughter B's requested birthday dinner pumpkin soup
The morning after
Housekeeping 13 and 14: Cooking. The final instalment of the Housekeeping log (not as it turned out). Fourteen regular housekeeping duties, from sweeping floors with all its mindless meditative repetition, to cooking in all its wondrous variety and exhausting management, housekeeping is nothing if not constant.

I have never employed a housekeeper as such, though I have worked as one while in Wellington, finishing my degree and nannying two boys. I nannied as well as kept house: ironing work shirts, vacuuming upstairs and down, cleaning the bathrooms, doing the dishes. It was a lot of work for average pay, but I enjoyed the nannying bit.

When it's your own house the 'keeping' part is not quite so bad. There is some enjoyment in almost every task, cleaning the toilet notwithstanding. Bleach stinks wherever you use it.