Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nice things

With all the loss and hardship in Christchurch right now, I am especially grateful for all of the nice things in my life. And even the not so nice things, because they're very trivial in comparison.

Last weekend I went to a 'Kitchen Fi Party' for my friend Fiona who is getting married at home in the company of her closest friends and family on the 5th of March. There was delicious food and some cute fun games - I got 12 out of 12 for the 'celebrity hook-ups and bust-ups' picture quiz. I swear I don't read trashy magazines!

When we arrived we each got given three pegs to clip on our clothes; if anyone was heard saying any of the banned words helpfully stuck on the door, a peg was taken off them by the person who heard the word. The person at the end of the afternoon with the most pegs was the winner.

Everyone who attended the Kitchen Fi was asked to contribute a recipe prior to the day; the recipes were then compiled into a beautifully designed recipe collection entitled 'Fi's Food Formulary' - I contribute a recipe for cupcakes. Knitted cupcakes.

On Sunday I had high tea with Alex and Sarah at Martha's Pantry. I had been wanting to have high tea there for aaages and Alex and Sarah and I had been trying to fit in a date for aaages so it was the perfect combination. Everything was so quaint and the food was AMAZING.

(Yup, I had a Charles and Diana One Year Wedding Anniversary commemorative teaspoon)

The little sandwiches, the little savoury things I don't know the names of but were YUM, the little scones with lemon curd and cream, the tiny cupcakes, truffles, and melting moments. DREAM.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh Christchurch

I was going to recount my delicious and quaint high tea at Martha's Pantry on the weekend and I most likely still will sometime soon, but right now it seems pretty trivial compared to what has happened and is currently happening in Christchurch.

Thankfully everyone I know who lives or happened to be in Christchurch on the 22nd of February is okay; however, speaking to my sister on the phone last night and having her burst into tears while describing things from the kitchen cupboards falling on her as she made her lunch while at home on her lunch break and then the kitchen door swinging back into her face and knocking her down as she tried to get out brought home the terror and the awfulness of the situation even for those who haven't been injured or lost loved ones.

She managed to drive out to my Mum's farm in the evening but apparently has to go back into town for work tomorrow; the office of the courier company she's working for at the moment while she applies for teaching jobs is being used as a dispatch depot (whatever that means) and they've asked staff to come back to work. It makes me feel a bit uneasy thinking of her being back in the city, even though of course she won't be right in the centre of the CBD. It also makes me feel really far away from her and my Mum.

Monetary donations (I donated to the Salvation Army but here's a list of some other ways to donate) seem to be the best way to help at the moment and it's heartening that the majority of people's generosity knows no bounds - a colleague's elderly mother was in the central city when the earthquake struck and ended up at Hagley Park, separated from the relatives she had been with (and her handbag) and unsurprisingly she was very distressed; soon after someone came up to her and offered to take her back to their undamaged home for the night so she didn't have to spend it in the park or go back to her house alone without knowing if it was safe or not. Apparently this sort of kindness has been afforded to many people.

It's so sad to think of the beautiful buildings that have been destroyed, of people's homes and businesses - I think of the crazy old fashioned shop I visited in December absolutely packed with grocery items on shelves and teetering in stacks and I hope those two white-haired men in white dust jackets managed to get to safety as it all no doubt came crashing down.

It's very surreal that life goes on here as if nothing has happened - apart from the flags flying at half-mast, the contents of the newspaper, and the fact that I keep checking Stuff every five minutes; I'm still sending a million and one emails relating to our Auckland Fringe show next week and worrying whether we'll get enough audience members to break even, planning how I'll get the car to the mechanic by 7.30am and get back to my street so I can get picked up by a colleague and get to a literacy and numeracy symposium in Porirua by 8.45am tomorrow. Yet in Christchurch this event will take years to move on from and for many people their lives will never be the same again.

Poor Christchurch, I just want to be able to give you a nice cup of tea and a lie down - aftershock free and with plenty of sugar.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Your presence is presents enough, but...

When buying people presents of any kind, I try to put a lot of thought into them, from the actual present itself, to how it's wrapped and the card. So when I get a present that someone has clearly put a lot of thought into as well, I really really love it.

A few weeks before Christmas, my aunty Tricia emailed me checking that I didn't have anything planned on any weekends in May or June. I was very intrigued. Often I know what I'm getting for Christmas because people have asked what I want and my list gets increasingly shorter as the years go by, so I especially love presents that are a surprise. I thought maybe she was taking me to something to do with food, as Tricia loves cooking and she knows I love eating... So when I saw a present wrapped in an old pattern, tied in cotton with a pink button attached under the tree on Christmas day, I had no idea what it was. Needless to say I was very impressed by the wrapping and the thought that had gone into it.

Tricia is my Mum's younger sister and has always been the 'cool' aunty, sending my sister and I postcards from Egypt and Turkey while on her OE, regaling us with stories of her adventures (a favourite is running for help for her friend who'd been stung by a jellyfish in Bali and having a very attractive man follow her back to wee on the friend's foot, "Nikki said, 'Why did you let him do that?!' and I said, 'Well it was him or me and I figured you'd much rather have a good looking man wee on you than me.'") and occasionally staying at our house and borrowing my toothbrush after stumbling home in the early hours of the morning after a night out (that actually used to really annoy me, I have always been very concerned about germs).

She now has two extremely cute children, one of whom does not appreciate knitted cupcakes and both of whom love playing with my camera - this is an example of their photographic artistry from my Mum's birthday dinner the other night (they basically take turns dancing crazily in front of the camera while the other snaps away, often laughing hysterically at the dancing antics):

Tricia very rarely stumbles home these days, so my toothbrush is much safer. However, she is still definitely the 'cool' aunty. My present was a voucher for two classes at Handmade 2011. I hadn't even heard of Handmade 2011 before so it was doubly exciting!

This weekend I recived an email saying the programme for the event has just been finalised and it's actually going to be so difficult to choose two classes. I may have to treat myself to another class if I really can't narrow it down to just two. Knitting, stitching, repurposing, cooking, lectures, tours...I am so looking forward to it! It was such a great present.

Something else I am really looking forward to visiting a little sooner is Holland Road Yarn Company. A brand new yarn shop being opened by the tireless and amazing Tash of Knitsch Yarns. I am really disappointed I can't make it to the opening of the shop due to rehearsals (Auckland Fringe is one week away....) but as soon as I get a chance I am making a bee line for Petone. I have a feeling it's going to be knitting heaven.

Oh, also, look at this!

This was one of my Mum's birthday presents - wrapped in wallpaper I found on my way home from rehearsal the other night. It had been dropped off outside the Salvation Army shop and was in perfect condition. I felt extremely thrifty. It's a big roll so I have lots left - pretty much anyone getting a present from me in the next year or so can expect it to be wrapped in this paper. The card is by Katydid; I've decided this year when I don't have time to make cards I'm going to try to buy only NZ made ones. I got this one from Swonderful and it's perfect for my Mum because she loves pavlova. If we ever have pavlova and there's any left over, she will always eat it for breakfast. Yuck.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Campus a Low Hum

Hipster camp was amazing.

The weather was beautiful - so, so hot it made the freezing cold showers a gasp-inducing relief.

Camping was fun - except for getting bitten on my leg by what was probably a white tail spider; it swelled up to resemble a poached egg (there is a gross photo but I won't share that) and I had to go to the medical centre in Marton on Sunday morning. Luckily they just gave me antibiotics and bandaged it up and I was able to get back to having a nice time pretty quickly.

The bunting got an outing again, it looked very cute strung up between our two tents (and our Palace Tent was amazing, so big that I was able to have a double air bed all to myself - we were pretty much glamour camping, aka 'glamping'). Beth had the best retro umbrella to escape the sun under, complete with a fringed edge.

I saw so many great new bands and one that I had discovered the week before - an all female Wellington band called St Rupertsberg. They dressed in mumus for their set. I love them. My favourite venue was a big empty indoor pool, especially at night, but the bands also played in the empty barn, outside on the lawn, and one band played on the roof of the old bike sheds.

There was a weird and hilarious 1am 'visualisation session' during which pretty much everyone just fell asleep, secret karaoke at 3am in one of the squash courts, a whole room that had been turned into a camera obscura, so many empty buildings (I got to play librarian in the empty library - for that role my 'Keep Spirit: Peace for All Over the World' hat that Alex bought me from the $3 + GST shop had to come off: 'No hats in the library please; sorry all the books are out this week') with random remnants of their past life (such as funky wee chairs) and Flock House itself was old and intriguing.

It was definitely one of the best 4 day weekends I've ever had - even driving out singing along to Fleetwood Mac in the car was a fun time. Alex and I made up a new comedy character to join our steadily increasing comedy cast. And of course there was dancing. So much dancing!

This photo pretty well sums up my feeling towards Campus A Low Hum.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beehives and Joy

Broken China at BATS Theatre, photo by Almost A Bird Collective

I love my new house. But I do not love unpacking. Yes it's fun deciding where things can go and hanging posters and pictures on the walls, but I still have so many boxes piled up in my room and SO MUCH STUFF. So many books, so many tea cups, so many photos in frames, so many items of clothing that I can't get rid of even though I never wear them because 'they might be good for a costume one day' or they were bought specifically for their costume potential.

Lucky I am going to hipster camp this weekend at which there are THREE dress-up parties... A four day weekend! Camping at an old agricultural school! Random bands! Dancing! I cannot wait. And hopefully I can just forget about the mess of a room I will no doubt return to. But really, it's only been a few days and I've hardly been home to do any unpacking. I've had better things to do, such as see Broken China at BATS Theatre. I now want to wear my hair in a beehive all the time!

The other week I finished Joy Cowley's memoir, Navigation. I requested it for Christmas and my request was duly granted - fortunately this time it didn't take me almost a year to get around to reading my Christmas book.

The style of the first chapter (very dreamlike and metaphorical) made me a little wary as to whether I'd end up enjoying the book or even make it to the end, but it seemed to serve more as a preface to the book and the style of the second chapter was much more what you'd expect from a memoir and carried on throughout the book. I have a particular interest in children's and young adults' fiction which is why I was keen to read Joy Cowley's memoir - I loved Bow Down Shadrach when I was younger. Plus I am nosy and like reading about other people's lives.

Being a memoir, it's more a collection of themed chapters than a detailed, chronological account of her life to date, which made it an easy read. Some things - such as the end of her first marriage - were only very briefly touched upon and the few details dropped in here and there leave it up to the reader to work out what happened and how she felt about it. But you get a great sense of who Joy Cowley is as a person - very caring, hard working, spiritual, and with a great love of, connection to, and respect for the outdoors. She has led a very varied life - she loved motorbikes and learned to fly a Tiger Moth before she became a mother, and she trained as a pharmacy assistant (the story behind how she came to do so very much reflects the times she grew up in in terms of expectations and attitudes, especially with regards to women, and the fact that she ended up enjoying it, considering the circumstances, is quite surprising and goes to show that sometimes when you think the worst has happened things can actually turn out rather well).

Overall, the 'story' moved along at a steady pace and I enjoyed it, although I was hoping for more detail about her journey to becoming a writer and how the various individual novels came about; but she was clearly very selective about how much she wanted to share about all aspects of her life, and I guess you have to respect that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011