Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For Isla

Sunday was my littlest cousin Isla's naming ceremony (I keep describing it as a 'pagan christening', but that probably sounds like we dance around with sticks or something).

It was an amazing day weather-wise, I got to look after Isla for ages (give her her bottle and get her dressed and carry her around - I realise these things are more fun when they're a novelty rather than everyday tasks...) and play with the two other wee cousins. The house was decorated with flowers and my bunting got another outing strung up on the big deck. The blue and white Russian doll in the first photo was my Christmas present to my aunty a few years ago, the flowers magically matched it! I also love her photo wall.

My sister and I were 'guardians' so we each did a reading, I wasn't a fan of the reading the celebrant suggested so I wrote my own poem for Isla. It wouldn't win any prizes and I woke up on the day thinking, 'Why have I done this?' but in the end I was glad I did.

And, of course, the food was a highlight.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Norma and Bill

As I was driving over to the Wairarapa on Saturday morning I was a little bit excited about the afternoon ahead, for a really dorky reason: I was going to interview my Nana (Norma, my Mum's Mum) about her life.

I decided this needed to happen the other month as I was writing the end of my grandfather's eulogy for my Dad (just to clarify, the grandfather that died was a Jacobson, his wife is still going strong but she is not the Nana I'm talking about here). I was sitting at Nana's kitchen table with the laptop and referring to a spiral bound Jacobson family history book written by my grandfather's two sisters and other members of their extended family. Nana saw me looking at it and said, 'Oh yes I read that when Megan brought it home, it's very well done, but I won't be writing anything like that about my family so you'll have to make it up when it comes to me.'

I wasn't having that. I declared I would write something on her behalf and she didn't seem too averse to it. That was how I came to be sitting on the couch with my Nana on Saturday afternoon, with the laptop on a small coffee table in front of us, recording her telling me all about her parents, her childhood, my grandfather I never met, and my Mum and aunty and uncle when they were younger. We sat there for three hours (luckily I had bought her lunch on my way to her house and made her a cup of tea before we started) and I am so pleased I did it. She was really amazing about it as well, I thought she might be a bit awkward or find it a bit strange but, just like the time I asked her to pose for some photos for a Gender and Women's Studies project I was doing about images of older women, she had a sense of humour about it and in her own unassuming way she just got on with it.

(This is a photo of a photo of Norma and Bill, I'll have to ask her where they were off to - probably the Carterton A&P Show for which she said she made a new dress every year)

One of the best parts about the interview was learning a bit about my grandfather, (William) Bill Hartley Mouldey. He died when my Mum was 14 and no one ever really talks about him. Because of this, for some reason, I had always imagined he was grumpy and mean. But I think it's just because it was a long time ago and one of those hard, sad things some people find it easier not to talk about. I knew he had worked as an engineer at the freezing works, but on Saturday I learned he was a very involved unionist during those years which made me really respect him (probably because I'm reading the autobiography of Sonja Davies and there's a lot about unions in it and how hard people leading and organising them worked). He was five years younger than my Nana, they met when he was 17 and she was 22, and they waited until he was 21 before they got married. His father was killed only a few weeks after he and Nana first danced together, but she didn't know his surname so when it came across the radio that a man had been killed crossing the road coming home from the pub, it was Nana's older brother who told her that that man was the father of the boy she'd been dancing with the other weekend.

He made these gates for the house he and my Nana built (which she still lives in) and when my sister and I were little, they were shifted to our house in Martinborough where they have stayed. So when Megan and I were in Martinborough on Sunday for Toast, I made her walk past our old house with me, to see the gates again and take a photo.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The weather seemed a bit questionable this morning, but by the time we got to Martinborough it was beautiful. I had to buy a big floppy hat and, although the wind meant I had to hold onto it at times, it was a wise investment. Even if I did look like a 40 year old woman.

My favourite place for food was Ata Rangi. This year Toast Martinborough celebrated its 20th anniversary and Ruth Pretty Catering is the only caterer who has been with the same vineyard every year. My sister and I shared a venison burger with orange ginger glaze and zucchini pickle, and I pretty much ate all of the white chocolate and blackcurrant creme brulee.

We also had fried camembert with mint yoghurt and beetroot chutney at Martinborough Vineyard, chocolate brownie at Murdoch James Estate, crispy pork belly with cabbage slaw, steamed rice and chilli/pomegranate/lime caramel (I'm not sure what that means but it was amazing) and a haloumi crumbed chicken schnitzel turkish sandwich at Palliser Estate where we finished the day. The wine at various places was yum too. I was happy that quite a few places had pinot gris.

We had some good dances, although it got pretty hot at one point, especially at Murdoch James Estate which was basically a giant paddock with no shade. Mostly I just loved being home again. I love Martinborough.

Vynfields' big white house 

The rain started about twenty minutes before we were due to be picked up, but even that was nice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Get your card on

Essential ingredients for card making
(although, actually, it wasn't alcoholic, just cranberry and mint with an umbrella)

On Monday night I went to Gabe and Simon's for dinner and a card making evening. I wasn't sure how much card making would get done but Gabe was determined to create a stockpile.

What you can't see in this photo is Simon sitting on the couch hard at work sewing onto a card, and my flatmate Tom sitting on the floor drawing. You can see some of the various fabrics on offer, Jess made excellent use of some pink sequined material. Her cards were very...creative.

Actually all of the cards were quite hilarious as well as amazing. Simon's sewn candy cane card can be seen at the very front of the display, he had been keeping his sewing a secret the whole time and was very proud of himself when he revealed the finished product.

These are my cards. I made a total of three in two and a half hours... I hadn't realised how slow I am at making things until I was with other people. I sit and think and then rule and cut and arrange and glue very precisely. But I love my cards so it was worth my snail's pace. I got a bit carried away with the old sheet music Gabe had for us to use. It's so pretty. For the front card I used some scraps of wrapping paper I had tucked away, it's going to be for my baby cousin Isla's naming ceremony in two weekend's time.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

'Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost'

Last night I cooked my first ever roast. It was a success. I mean, obviously, sticking some meat in an oven isn't difficult but timing everything else that goes with the meat is, I have decided, an art. I also made apple and blackberry crumble, using the topping recipe my Nana always uses.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
150 grams butter, cubed

You mix all the dry ingrediants together and then rub the butter into the mixture until it's all crumbly. Pour it over stewed fruit in a baking dish and bake at about 160 degrees until the top is all golden and crunchy. So good. Especially when drenched in cream...

This afternoon I went to the Roxy Cinema for the first time since it opened in April this year and saw Pina - A Film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders. I didn't really know what to expect of Pina, except that it's a 'dance film' and in 3D.

It was pretty amazing, if a bit long for my short attention span. It's kind of hard to explain the film; it was initially conceived as a documentary about German choreographer Pina Bausch and her company, but she died suddenly early on in the project - hence the 'Film for Pina Bausch' part of the title. It's now performances of parts of pieces she created, historical footage of her dancing, interviews with members of the company she worked with, and, above all, lots and lots of dancing with amazing costumes and simple but striking sets and out in the city of Wuppertal where her company was based. I particularly loved the rain falling on the stage and the piece entitled 'Cafe Muller' where dancers dance with their eyes closed as tables and chairs are moved around them. All of the pieces have lots of repetition and evoke really strong emotions; in the interviews members of the company talk about Pina's mix of fragility and strength which is a strong theme in all of the pieces. The dancers' bodies are incredible - you can literally see almost every muscle moving and they work so hard. Some of the dancers have been with the company for over 20 years and they are so committed to their work, they talk about pushing to create honesty in their work and breaking down their boundaries. Dancing is their whole life.

Also, I was particularly taken by the suspension railway that was shown a number of times in scenes in which dancers danced in and around the city (you can see it in the trailer). I've never seen footage of what looks like an upside down train before. It's so strange and I'm not sure I'm a fan, it seems to dominate the landscape in a weird way because it's above everything - what if a carriage fell down?

Finally, the Roxy is lovely. Very elegant and art deco. I really loved these lights.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time travel, Veronica Lake, rage.

I took this a couple of weekends ago, it made me feel like I'd time travelled.

Last night I went to see Drowning in Veronica Lake. It's a solo show and the actress is stuck in the middle of the stage for the whole hour, wearing a white dress with a giant skirt that reaches out across the stage. It was very effective and despite being unable to really move, the actress held my attention the whole time which was pretty impressive because I usually end up looking at my watch at some point during a show, even if I'm enjoying it.

Veronica Lake was a big movie star in the 1940s who suffered from alcoholism and following the collapse of her movie career ended up working in a hostel bar to pay for her accommodation. I am currently reading all about her through my best friend Wikipedia.

This week I watched season 1 of Parks and Recreation and I loved it. I am now really angry because I can't find season 2 on DVD anywhere.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's errupting! (But not really because that would be terrible)

On Saturday night I was babysitting. From my vantage point, it looked like Mt. Vic was errupting.

This was a happy accident.

As well as the sound of the sea, walking on the beach, and Maranui cafe, Lyall Bay has Queen Sally's Diamond Deli. I went for the first time on Sunday and wanted to take a photo of the inside because it's so cute, but it was way too packed. So I brought my sweet treat home and put it on one of a number of Kelly's awesome small plates.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

View from my window

For the next two weeks anyway. I'm house and dog sitting at Lyall Bay. The best part is being just across the road from Maranui...and lying in bed listening to the waves at night.

Am listening to the new Florence and the Machine album 'Confessionals' today: so far, so good. Quite dark, much like a dance show I saw at Downstage on Thursday night, Carnival Hound. There were some really amazing moments in the show - a combination of the dancers (who were really, really good), the set/props of chairs and mannequin body parts, lighting, and music. There was even some actual magic, and by actual magic I mean for a moment you are truly tricked.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unusual Suspect

Last night I drove to Masterton, spent approximately three hours there, and then drove back. This is because I am both crazy and a highly dutiful family member.

While in Masterton at my great aunt's birthday dinner (which was really just an excuse to get everyone together as some family from Australia were over), I got some lilac and entered a Melbourne Cup sweepstake. I got number seven, 'Unusual Suspect'. I have no idea what my odds are but I'm guessing not good.

Interestingly, two people had stories about lilac and funerals. When I asked if I could pick some to take some home, my Nana Gail said that her mother-in-law (the great aunt's mother) had died during lilac season and they had placed lilac all around the opening of her grave.

Then, when I called into my other Nana's for a cup of tea on my way through Carterton, I gave her some of the lilac and she said (unaware of the earlier anecdote at another house), 'My mother died in October so we had a lot of lilac at the funeral. It's got a lovely scent.'

So there we go, lilacs and funerals. I don't think I'll be able to see or think of lilacs without remembering that coincidence from now on.

Unfortunately, I ended up forgetting to take the rest of the lilac home from Nana's, which is a shame because it does smell amazing.