if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Its 5:30 am on a Sunday. I am recuperating from an amazing hike down the Pararaha (river, creek, canyon, not sure what to call it) I went on a 5 hour walk/swim. A neighbor, Mike asked if we wanted to go since I had heard about it and kept asking him about access and details of the hike. It was an overcast day, that's fine with me. Jordan opted to stay at home and watch the kids, with the plan of getting some school work done.
There were 4 of us hiking in total, I being the only woman along and having the shortest pair of legs. Mike, our neighbor, is American, but Kiwi raised. He lives up the road with his wife, Monde, and their sweetheart two year old BB. Mike has a business in the US, a catering company for rock bands. The business takes him back to LA for half the year. Monde is expecting her second child, now. Mikes friend, Steve, from Queenstown, the extreme playground and gourmet haven in the south of the south island is a hunter and a historian who works as an art director in the film industry. He was very helpful in providing me with a walking stick and checking up on me, at least initially, until he realized I was somewhat experienced at romping around safely in the wilderness. He had a sharp and quick wit that kept me snickering. I appreciated the stories and background information he provided. The last of my exploring mates was Marc, a guy who I know already from Desmond's school. He has a daughter Dessie's age, named Tiger. He is also in the film industry and is a director of photography. He can be seen with his camera at most school events. Marc took the photos I needed for my promotional material for the installations. We headed off at about 11 o'clock and wound downward first, then steeply upwards until we met with a river. From that point on we took turns wearing the day packs and some would swim and some stay on the trail, which was never far from the river. There were plenty of waterfalls and lots of places of various heights to jump off into the cool water. I loved the swimming element and spent a lot of time in the water. Once cold to the core there was always a good hill to walk up to warm up with. There were so many spectacular places to take in, it was very refreshing. We stopped for lunch and I had brought a can of sardines, after pawning off one or too and having my fill, I dropped the remains into the still pond next to me. It wasnt long before a small freshwater lobster came and was scouting around the area. I think I sent a chunk of fish right into the hole where they live. Soon after a large bronze colored eel was was there, enjoying the little morsels Id dropped. Then the eel had an altercation with something in the crawfish hole and he grumpily slunk away, slipping ever so gracefully through a crack in some rocks and almost coming out of the water doing so. Fascinating! Soon there was another smaller black eel swimming around. Marc referred to the eels as friendly snakes when I asked if they were harmful or any threat to swimmers. We carried on through Kauri log jams from the logging industry that used this waterway to feed the largest sawmill in the Southern hemisphere, down at the bottom of the trek. All there is left today is a huge rusted boiler, resting on the ground like a discarded spaceship. There was a tiny tunnel that the train squeezed through to take in supplies to the crew. The wood was taken by boats away from the Manakau head and shipped all over the world. Kauri and other New Zealand native timber if especially good for home construction and after the San Francisco fires there was a lot of Kauri shipped there for the housing industry. following all that amphibious travel and cold water, the hot black sands of the beach and dunes were a welcome comfort and we ended up on our own Karekare beach, peppered with people at leisure, surfing and patrolling the swimming. We finished off the trip with a last jump from a cliff into the "pearl pool". I was creaking with fatigue when I got home and relayed the adventure story to Jordan, who gets the next turn to go, or... Ill take him to the Pararaha, myself. It certainly is not a hike that my kids would enjoy, too strenuous and treacherous, so a sitter will have to be employed. How amazing to have such resources so close to home. Pinch me, do I really get all this!!?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Charades in the tent at Lone Kauri School

I recently took my hanging parachute installation to Desmond's school for a test drive. It was amazing how quick and easy installation was. Its about 10 feet across and about 8 feet high. It hangs from a commercial grade side mounted umbrella. It was sure fun, and good to get some photos for promotion of the thing for Starship childrens Hospital, who may want to have one on site. Here are some photos.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A discovery!

I have discovered an oasis very close to home, in fact it is at home. I had heard when we first moved to the ridge out west of Auckland overlooking Karekare beach, that there was a lovely waterfall close by with terraces of pools below it. I put the information in my mind and slowly percolated on where it might be as I went for hikes. More after Lillian's screaming is addressed! Kate

Friday, October 24, 2008

Self Direction

I am having my second day of free scheduling. Desmond and Lil are at school and I have hours to use as I wish. Yesterday I went to choir and it was deep and satisfying. It is a women's choir and the leader is a woman named Sarah Pritchard. It was in the Titirangi War Memorial Hall. Titirangi, being a village on the slopes of western Auckland with an artful hum, and War Memorial halls ubiquitous in all New Zealand towns- artsy and utilitarian alike. It was very roomy for the six of us to let our voices out . My singing voice has been hidden in a little corner of myself for a while. We sang an Egyptian heaving song called Zoom Gali Gali and a slow and soulful song called Sleepers. Sarah is just starting the choir. I feel some parallels with her. She is forging ahead, bravely believing that her original works are worthy of focus and participation of others. This is not unlike the leap of faith I am making with preparing my autobiographical writings for publication. It seems at once, self indulgent and yet essential to share. I am reading and inspired by Knowledge of Freedom with these aspirations. Speaking of them, its time for me to begin my work. My blessings are on the breezes to you. Kate

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wake up, Wake Up!

If I search anymore for my soul, Im going to have to start making a map. Today has a sense of the new. The children are having an indulgent waffle breakfast in front of Library videos. My coffee is as deep and bitter as I like it. I am writing more and this always means something good is happening. Today Jordan will return from his academic quarantine to rejoin the family. I have requested the weekend to myself here in our house. It is at once tantalizing and intimidating to have space and time to unwind and be alone. The past two weeks have been full time kids, since there has been a two week break. We've wound through various virus bugs and havent ventured out much. The weather, to put it mildly, is wild and unpredictable. I m going to fling open the windows and door and clean the salt spray off and get rid of old stuff that clogs the arteries of my laundry. Im going to read in the tub and add hot water until Im really ready to be done in there. I'm making a garden in our old row boat and I have baby plants in the windowsill, waiting. Ill miss the children. Desmond with his new whistling and Lillian's impromptu hugs and insightful quips. But they'll be back before you know it. Who knows, maybe Ill be ready for Jordan by Sunday night. Being alone is a therapeutic venture. Im recharging my batteries and preparing to have a visit from my Mom and Her Husband, Bob. Entertaining usually lifts us all. By the way, we have lovely guest accommodations, now. Let me know when your coming.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Moving On

It has been a harrowing winter for me here in New Zealand. Two years of uncertain domestic life have taken a toll. New Zealanders are not as inclusive as I am used to, and that has also been hard. There are warm and open humans everywhere, though, and the best way to find them is to be one. You just have to get over the unsuccessful attempts to connect and learn to laugh at things.
Ive been on my own with the kids for about a month with sporadic visits from Jordan. I find it appealing to be independent at this time. I have some nice poems that my students at the Panmure library (ages 10-13) created that I will post soon. I have some significant writing tasks due within the next week and a half.

I went to a delightful party the other night and met some of the more dynamic residents of Kare kare. It was in a glorified cement bunker, recording studio/lofty home. The man who was having the party was Nigel, who was celebrating his 50th and 25 years in the recording industry. He produced Crowded House's Together Alone album as well as some projects with Pearl Jam. There were some great pyrotechnics and theatrical costumed dancing as well as some neat exotic tee pees and other living features. It was great to get out. I have been doing chef work, for extra money, and that's been nice, too. Procrastination needs curbing now, good day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

breaking silence

It was a struggle to contain emotions. The marriage hadnt been what she had hoped for. The two had been so filled with high ideals and trepidation from failed relationships that they continued down the path of infatuation without looking at the back side of the rapport. Now seven years in the backside was obvious. Her passion and sensual nature knocked around his rational thinking. Her art and mysticism stood outside in the storm while his goals and scientific aspirations sat in the quiet spare room. It took a long time for her to appreciate the storm. Eventually the offerings of the outdoors, it's freedom and unconditional acceptance of her became a thing she valued. She realized it was freedom, not victimization.
Gradually, she divested herself from the mess, the dependence. The air cleared, she could write and play again. The children were the first to notice the change. She put herself in the throne of her own kingdom. The radiance grew. Letting the dream of their plans together loose to run away or home permanently was a huge release.
Her face relaxed, she laughed freely once more. People noted her availability. She saw things she'd missed before. Her creativity flowed. Her incredible strength and commitment to her own happiness brought on the next exciting chapters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Creative Writing Poetry

This was an exercise to avoid the most common words/ images for ocean or beach outings and still convey the ocean.

Following son and daughter along aquatic shelf
It pounds in, pulls out.
churns up froth
the squealing and leaping
is infectious
I finally leave adult behind
and charge and recede from
the walls of water moving in
clean and invigorating and
Horizon of blue and white
promises never to stop.

Here is another one, possibly called prose poetry.

Little dogs and candles

I remember little dogs
Trixy, the black one who might bite.
So be careful.
Then there was Buffy,
the dirty toy poodle.
Also a little unfamiliar with kids.
My sister and I never got too friendly.
Then there was Hoot,
or should I say Hoots.
My grandparents sequence of Scottie dogs.
Some Hoots were friendly
and liked their
stocky wiry backs scratched
and their heads pat.
Others emitted slow low growls.

I remember my other grandma's house
half on land, half over the canal.
You could sleep outside on the deck and hear the sea creatures
between the laps of the waves.
Grandma had a full cookie jar and delicious dinner.
Often within the glow of candles
in hanging muliticolored glass lanterns.

And finally, there is there is untitled one
(from some convoluted prompt at a workshop)

Long day
melodramatic fishing pole
all bite but no catches
Search a new lead
from the quaint box

Fishing makes me hungry
pampas apple I brought sits there
Id rather have chocolate.

When I get home
I pass the serene watermelon
and go straight for
my languid corkscrew.

Oh one more, what the heck! An "I prefer" poem

I prefer wandering to storming
I prefer pomegranates
I prefer old unusual garments
I prefer listening
to speaking profusely
I prefer an old bicycle to a new car
I prefer cobbler
I prefer cherries
I prefer many short visits
I prefer to pay my own way
I prefer the song of waving trees
I prefer the smiling dishwasher
to the hauty maitre d'
I prefer lots of water
I prefer more of what I prefer
I prefer unsolicited affection.

This one is a bit of a riddle


Walking through the darkened park
nervous clammy hands choking me.
Who else is here?
What will I be required to do
if hostile forces converge...
Through trees and fountains
barely breathing until safely
released in warm allied surrounds
Used eventually,
just to cut the cake.

This really will wrap up the poetry session today...

How to get to the blamket

How to get to blanket
First, go back to where you
started the day.
Whip off the blanket, tear away
the sheets.
Launder them,
careful not to mix darks and lights.
Read the care instructions.
Cold means cold.
Scrub, soak, rinse repeat
Hold up to the light
If the weather's fair
hang up the lot.
If not,
make a crazy fort
suspend the corners horizontally.
Chop the wood,
split the kindling,
crumple the paper.
Strike a match
Stoke and stoke
the fire.
Peel off your clothes,
wipe away the sweat.
Keep going.
Turn and check
suspend and circulate.
Split, chop, stoke,
put on your coat
out to the shed for more wood
split, chop, stoke, rotate
Fluff, feel fold.
Fashion your bed
hospital corners, fold down
into your pajamas
and get to the blanket!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flying Angels

I wore my rented angel get up, complete with platform white boots to the Panmure Library where I did a creative writing class for the afterschool kids there (well 7 of them) It was fun. I want to get my moneys worth for the minimum three day rental. I chuckled as I drove in those ridicules boots, thinking if i somehow couldnt access the brakes Id be a confusing corpse. the first responders would say: "Huh, it looks like she's an angel, do they die? I thought they were exempt" "should we call a priest or does she out rank him?" stuff like that. I had a long reddish ringlet wig on, also. More later, I'm going to watch a funny video, now. Jordan is at the bachelors party, its a quiet night. Love to you and your bony working fingers as well. Kate

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is this what dreams are made of...

It's early this morning. I'm getting ready for a comprehensive dental visit. It was inspired by a dream I had yesterday. The dream is so convoluted and perverse I wont go into it. The dream did motivate me to take better care of myself. What's interesting is the contrast of my dream to Jordan's. He dreamt of gleaming new office with fancy modern interior. My dream was about getting fired by my creepy fat bald boss from the diner or truckstop.
One statement of my dismissal was that my teeth aren't white enough. I have been thinking about my coffee coated choppers, and dentistry in general. I called up about a dozen dentists and decided to go for an interesting one not far away. The new developments in dentistry make me feel like an oldtimer, remembering how different it used to be, back when we used needles and drills and there was no option of IV sedation for a dental visit. It seems that the dentists really need new patients, though and are eager to have me. I picked out a grandmotherly one who answers her own phone. Maybe she'll have cookies. I need to get some batteries and a cable for my camera so I can show you my children, or New Zealand winter, or.....

Im working up to some major decisions here, I can feel it. Kate

Saturday, August 09, 2008

how 'my doing? you got an hour, buddy?

This is the paired down quick review of the last week or so. We have been flip flopping about our living situation and have made a few trips to the west to look at potential rentals in the more art influenced and less poverty ridden Waitakere mountains. These trips are expensive as fuel is now about 2 dollars a liter (eight dollars a gallon for you metriciphobes). We first went to Huia which is a sleepy little community all cozy up to the huge bay of the Manukau harbor and some lovely grandiose hills. We looked at a homey little house/cottage and then tried to scope out another rental that a landlord wanted us to do a "drive by" on, only we didnt have the exact address, due to our silly secretary (me). We drove from Huia to an exquisitely remote beach, although we didn't get out due to a sleeping child. On the way back we encountered some animals busy in a scrum of sorts in the road. Upon closer look, we realized it was a young pig and two dogs in a struggle. I saw that the pig was about the size and color (black) of the kunekune pigs that people keep as pets in New Zealand. I felt for the little creature, getting tugged and chewed on by the muscley medium sized dogs. Something in me, an instinct that occasionally comes forth, moved me to get the dogs off of the poor thing. I told Jordan to stop the van. I opened the sliding door to get out and the pig headed straight for it, seeking refuse and surprising Lillian who was sitting on her booster seat in the back with me. I blocked the pigs entrance and hopped out of the van, leaving the van door open. I started demanding the dogs get off the pig. They looked at me, with a momentary confused tilt of heads and continued on with the torment. The poor little pig had one dog on his ear and another chewing on his trotters, which were bleeding. I scolded the dogs and stomped towards them. One ran away while the ear biter held tight. I picked up a half rotten stick and threw it at the dog/pig. Finally the dog let go and moved back towards the other dog. I then looked at the pig, who looked at me and for a second or two grunted and charged in my direction. I had on a big roomy colorful raincoat on which made me look larger than life. The pig either was intimidated by me or decided I was a lesser evil than the dogs and grunted and squealed and headed off towards the van, opposite the dogs. Jordan saw the encounter in his rear view mirror and saw the wild furious pig coming his way, with the door open and noone in the back seat but Lil to deter him if he still wanted to seek refuge in the van. By this time I was hollering at the pig telling it to get out and keep going! The pig, much to Jordan's relief, passed up the van and trotted on by squealing liberally, with his hair standing on end, all two or three inches of it in a tall inverted "v" shape on its back. (I didn't realize Pigs had hackles) I got back in the van and we rode on, reflecting on the incident. Jordan asked what the big collars on the dogs were, I hadn't even noticed them, but I knew from his question that they must have been hunting dogs. It was only a minute or two later when we wound around a curve in the road and there was the pig, only this time there were about 4 dogs on the poor thing, which was really squealing, now. There was a ute (New Zealand for 'pick up' or other personal utility vehicle) with an irate man, angrily pulling his dogs off the pig and trying to get them back to the vehicle. We had stopped the van and were gawking unwittingly. He moved the beast, who at this point wasnt dead, but it was clear that he was soon to be, to the side of the road. we trickled up towards him and he paused from his dog control to show us his pest control license. It was all becoming a bit more clear to me. I asked Jordan to roll down his window and I yelled through it that Oops, i had chased off his dogs who were attacking the pig. He said they were two thousand dollar animals and had been trained not to ever touch the pigs. Well, I explained, I thought it was a pet kunekune pig, due to the smallish size. He looked at me, with some astonishment and asked me if Id harmed the dogs, No, Jordan said, we just "shooed" them. Again he looked at us a little sideways (sort of as his dogs had) He asked us where we were from and Jordan and I answered at the same time, but with different answers. Jordan said we were "just from Auckland" while I said we are from San Juan Island, not far from Seattle, as I think he had asked because of our accents. He seemed to want to talk more but had to press on to find his two lead dogs. I had scared them out of radar, apparently. I realized how foolish I had been, although I'm glad I did what I did. I think the pig got my advocacy as a parting gift, even though he did meet with a grim end.
The wild pigs eat up anything and everything that they find, from worms and grubs in the roots of the forest to eggs of various birds, to even large rats. The cause a lot of havoc for farmers and erosion in the steep hillsides of the mountainous area. They were brought here by settlers a long time ago. Ive seen dead ones on the side of the road (much larger, though) and seen plenty of hunting vehicles and dogs in my travels. The government pays the pest control bill for the pigs. I hope there is some meat somewhere in the equation, someone should make use of the loss of life. I must have repulsed my vegetarian readers, by now- sorry. It was a hair raising experience for the pig and I, there were probably hairs standing on end in the van, too, I cant be sure though. Lillian has reflected on the incident several times.

That being said, Ill enumerate a few other morsels of this week. I had signed up for a doll making workshop with my favorite teacher and friend Claire Inwood, but, alas, I am not there do to my aggravated ear infection (so much for that whip cracking swimming routine) I have some sub tropical anaerobic bacterial thing going on and an unfortunate series of diagnoses inconsistencies which has now been complicated by cellulites. My ear and neck are very sore and swollen and Ive been on antibiotics and pain med's for most of the week. Down time. I missed the deadline of a writing class assignment, but did get a play written and submitted. Hopefully I can get my money back for the workshop. A hundred dollars is a lot these days. The kids have been sick as well. It may have been that they accompanied me to the clinic and got inoculated there. Jordan is on his own Jordan fest with his new teaching role and has barely noticed our ailments. I had to point out that I hadn't been able to eat or sleep for three days and that he may have to alter his schedule. I wish he was a better nurse, sometimes. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to nurture a sick person, do you , by any chance, give lessons?

Nina had her own disturbing news including a schoolgirl outfit and a ride in a police car.
There, I tattled on everyone!

That feels better, I think, I hope.
Remember if you want a retouched version of life, your at the wrong blog, baby.
So there you have it.
This week in a nutcase shell

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I smell a rat!

Does anyone else think this sounds suspicious? The Bush administration gets it's largest funding for war approved within the last 2 weeks. This unfathomable amount is $165 billion. Then Attorney General Michael Mukasey demands that Congress issue a new declaration of war. This would make the entire globe -- including the United States itself -- a “battlefield”.

This is when my opinions about impeachment cannot be contained any longer. I usually refrain from politics here, but Ill be reasonable in my examination of things and, as always, no problem if you disgree, at least we've considered the scenario. I think the Bush administration has been a very convenient smoke and mirrors gimmick for big money to mow away at our world. Most of my liberal friends say it's just too late for impeachment. "It wouldn't even be worth the effort, at this stage". I think it is worth it to remove power from the lads before November. My arguments for this are

!) These guys have been secretive and manipulative all along, they are up to stirring up trouble, whether to declare war on Iran or allow some security weakness to flare up a terrorism incident, and fan flames of fear and thus, manipulate the election.
(If you think Im paranoid, I would say, better safe than sorry, when the outcome could be as serious as setting parts of the earth afire. Parts where people that have nothing to do with scheme at all happen to live with their children and elderly.

2) What are we showing to future presidents? How will impeachment help to restore our legislative powers and provide checks and balances for our country's leadership in the future.

Lets look at the big picture. I'M for impeachment , you bet I am. Best money we could spend, and it wont take 165 billion either!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I made a long list of things Im grateful for in my big drawing book. I think Ill post it in several places in my home... Or at least reread and add to it routinely. It is easy to see where we don't think life is measuring up. There are models everywhere showing us how we should be and how our lives should be arranged. Often those models have an agenda, though. What about we set our own agenda?

I'm grateful for a few things this morning...

1. The Banana nutmeg and vanilla smoothie I had for breakfast.
2. My Mom is coming soon for a visit.
3. My body is sore from swimming
4. I got some personal emails today (Thanks, Friends)
5. Today I get 5 hours to study without anyone else around.
6. Vail is a wonderful Realtor and Person
7. Tom and Auralee renting our house
8. Your'e reading this blog

What can you appreciate now? send it to me in a comment.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tomorrow is Lillian's birthday. She's going to be four. She has spent more time in New Zealand in her little life than anywhere else. Lillian is a sweet yet strong little soul. She shows her internal workings on her face, particularly her eyebrows. Lillian gestures musically when you smile at her. While Desmond is a whiz at numbers, already getting into multiplication, Lil has a verbal advantage. The things that come out of her mouth often have us in hysterics. She has several dolls which she devotes herself to, many of them are named Cynthia. Her favorate bear is a crusty old care bear that someone gave her at a garage sale. Sometimes I think Ill compensate it and give her a newer, more pristine or perhaps a classic bear. I just haven't found the heart, though. I suppose if we were going to get typhoid or smallpox or bugs from the thing we'd have gotten them already.
Lillian has her second festering spider bite. She climbs trees. She was born during the year of the monkey in the Chinese horoscope. Lil often disappears up. Recently when we were scouting about on a trip, looking for nice place to spend a few days with future visiting family we lost Lillian to a sculpted hedge bush. I left the chat we were having with the host of the B&B to find Lil. The place was a garden, so I rounded paths and looked into neighboring pastures, populated with cows and pigs (are they nice?) My voice had taken on the higher pitched "Im not finding you" tone. Finally when I went back to Jordan, still engrossed in conversation, I saw an uncharacteristic wiggle in a spherical bush just 10 yards away. "Ah hah!" There she was, taking things in, in the privacy of her own little chamber of a tree. Out in front of our new house we have 4 big evergreen hedgey type trees that someone planted for privacy. They are a little ragged on the top and remind me of owls sitting together. Lillian has been known to climb up 20 or so feet in them. She has a favorite perch at the daycare in a small orange tree. She is, thankfully, celebrated there for the tree climbing conversationalist that she is and not confined to the doll house or the 'educational' toys.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Winter Bluez

I'm not going to sugar coat it. I'm not going to look on the sunny side. I'm blue. It's the dead of winter and I live in a little box in the poor and disparate/ desperate neighborhoods of Auckland. What should I do? Should I wrap it up? Should I go home? Where is home, anyway? Why is Jordan so damn chipper? I'm changing his classical station to something darker and more contemporary. Being an artist or a writer or an immigrant just seems too hard.

Ive decided to try something. I know that swimming and reading and writing make me a happier person so Im turning myself into a robot for mental health. When I get internal resistance about doing something "healthy" or "good for me" Im going to turn the switch to auto pilot or to override resistance. Im going to fill a whole day up with "Good Things" even if it doesn't feel authentic. If I cant find the laptop chord, I wont be stalled out, Ill lift my 2000 pound body and find it. Ill swim, later, even if I don't make it to the morning squads, Ill build the trellising for the peas and the cage to keep the birds out of the berries. Ill do this all the while, ignoring the sad little complainer trying to eek up and out from under my overbearing and automatic productivity. Ill try it for a couple of days, at least before I decide which is best. ill call it the preparation for my attitude transplant, pre- ethereal surgery. Dont digest anything fatalistic for two days, your system must be empty of sludgy gloom for the high priestess to do her work. Ill let you know how my robotic optimism approach works.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Welcome to Glen Innes

I am writing from our new house at 5 Hurstwood place. We slept here last night, and today we go back to our Fernwood address to finish moving and clean it. We have been lucky to have lived on that street for a little over a year. We enjoyed the Tamaki estuary and a big lovely park with lots of birds and lush adventures, therein. We enjoyed the romping of three horses in our back pasture, and got to know the local woman, Danielle, who keeps them there. We've had several nice meals with her, her daughter Rosie who is 5 (Desmonds age) and her mother, Wendy who can fill your ears with tales of both woe and wonder. There is a playpark across the street that has a very different and innovative design. This is, however, the past, now.

We have moved further into the neighborhoods of Glen Innes. Glen Innes is a suberb that has an aged feel about it. I didnt appreciate Glen Innes upon first discovering it, but with time, I warmed up to it's unglamorous welcome. There is a great Croation fish market, called Marsic Brother's Fish. You can get the best of what the shores of New Zealand can produce there. I like the hand written signs there: “Ivan's special! Smoked Mullet” or “Flounders: caught last night while you were in bed” There is a good selection of Op-shops or thrift stores in Glen Innes for those who like the egg hunt of shopping used goods. We have been making a lot of contributions there, during the move. I have gotten some very cool kitchen goods at the Salvation army, namely cute classic tureens and vintage New Zealand Plates and cups, many from the old railway service. The population is largely Pacific Islander and we are unusual to the Glen Innes community with our “Canadian” accents and our unpredictable personalities. You can buy Plantain bananas and taro root in the convenience grocery stores as well as big pineapple pie turnovers and other unusual finds I haven yet tried. Of course there are the ubiquitous fish and chips/ chinese food shops and lots of Asian grocery stores. You can get all kinds of extremely cheap stuff at the 2 dollar stores, which I have given up on, but the kids still enjoy. Id rather buy something pre owned, myself.
Im reading Animal Vegetable Miracle right now on my Friend Cate's recommendation. I like it , Its fresh. Many of the ideas in there are already familiar, like the notion of getting involved in feeding yourself locally, such as growing your own food and not eating things shipped from here to Timbuktu, (well Timuktu to here actually). (It's easy for me even consider adhering to, I live in New Zealand where you can grow coffee and peapods.) It suggests acting with optimism as if life will continue and responsible operation is to be emarked upon. Its good to read those words in print. Growing one's own food can save the world, according to some, I suppose it depends on how much extra time you can spare and if you have space and water to cultivate something. If your replacing television or video game time with gardening, it might save your mind! Speaking of gardening, I just got a load of strawberries and their daughter's in the ground. The last strawberries kept producing berries until midwinter, they didn't ripen very well though. Is there a recipe for green strawberry mincemeat out there?

It is a ridicules in a way, but we have just moved our garden, well it still is getting moved. "Near mature Cauliflower, your takin a hike!" We decided to eat the baby carrots now, though. We spent 300 bucks on prime dirt about six months ago. I also collected bags of seaweed at the shore and plenty of horse manure and compost and mixed up a great concoction for the plants. , That was why were have been schlepping dirt at all hours in the middle of winter. Fortunately, our quirky and cooperative former landladies, who were just going to put decking over the spot, told us “might as well save them! “ (said with Scottish Burrrr. ) Now replanting is the task that gets the odd moment every day and sometimes true big hunks of time.

My Evergreen studies have come to a close for a while and my Massey writing is looming with a deadline for a story in 3 days. I have one cooking, about a plant rebellion, but more ideas come and the other stories want out. Oh to control our use of time, that is the biggest element of success, it seems.

We have a resurfacing idea to get a shoreline section of land down on the north of the south island. We will buy a sailboat and live within it in the winters and work on the property during the summers. This, a romantic notion- I know, comes, possibly from our visit to a local point of interest. Today we had an interesting and inspiring day downtown Auckland at the Maritime Museum. Auckland is coined, after all, the "City of Sails". We saw 'old timey' and primitive boats neat old sailboats converted to play structures, whaling operations, crowded immigrant berths and newfangled cork boats for rowers to cross oceans on, complete with tiny sleeping quarters for resting crew. Recently an Australian group with an specially designed little hydro bullet crossed the Tasman sea by their own propulsion -just about the time that the New Zealand boys, much more traditionally, in kayaks, were finishing up on the New Zealand shore. They got bumped around by some big meanie sharks, I hear. What an adventure! going out into the powerful arms of the ocean. I have a friend named Todd Fornay, he is on high seas, all alone, for months on end. He did remember to bring a sat phone and he sends updates to us as he roams. They come in the form of emails. One can respond free with a limit of 160 characters. It blows me away, (and forgive that very bad pun, please) that he is so alone out there where the sea spreads out almost forever. Sometimes his posts are disconcerting like some system's failed and things feel really grave. Other emails are waxing so poetic and once he said the sky was pregnant and a sun was to be born in some acid tinged moment out at sea. I guess that solitude is pretty potent stuff, huh Todd!

Here is his latest one:


I cant remember where he even is but, a part of me is out there, with him. One time I wrote him and told him I'd astral project to the sea where he was to see him. I forgot to do it, though, I guess its never to late to learn to astral project, now. Hey, by the way, What would happen if we unlocked the power of our minds telekineticly, could we handle our capacities? If we could flip the switch of the light with our minds or shift our consciousness to another location, what would that imply for the rest of our lives? Would it isolate us from those who haven't figured that stuff out yet? Consciousness is getting some new territory for humans to stretch out in now. Do you ever feel your connection to a wider web of energy? Like awareness of other's thoughts and beliefs that are in resonance with yours? I always have. I don't know how to express the knowing in concrete terms, connection is a psycho-emotional state that cannot be measured and is rarely discussed, but surely-knowing something is a very beneficial mindset for many, and somehow knowing there are more with the same convictions away out of smell and sight and touch, but breathing and thinking on this big ole lively ball of life is comforting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

more poetry

Moving out of my house
Disposing of
someone else's things.

The smells involved
intoxicating lilac, fresh paint,pungent rodent
Studying the tiles of family
Painting over names and heights on the wall
Golden cork floors from Ferdinand's Spain
My friend, the brass Imp on the front door,
Smirking with me about the secrets.

My gardens
flowering cherry, apple and plum
The pink edges between melancholy and moving on
Beach rock mosaics of my life
excavation of stone terraces
Fences to keep out the noise
Chaos to stillness

letting go of the excitement
of one plan
and embracing the next

Sunday, June 01, 2008

poems from my course...

This is a poem where you take a word and explore the words that ere within it and and word smith some sort of connections around them. One thing about poetry that I love and didn't realize is that a poem may be a better poem if it takes its own way instead of starting to fulfill a preconceived role, often surprising even the poet.

Antelope the interloper

Antelope interloper

Cant elope, though

Just a joker

Only jumping through:

An anti lover

Aunty Lope

leaves Uncle Saunter

Uncle now an anti loper

Telo-pathic antics

up the ante

Its fruitless

Cant elope

Just a joker

Antelope a loner

Ok try out this one, it may be easier to swallow...

Swimming from Rangitoto Unit 5, Exercise 1

Last of March, on the calender for months

Collecting apprehension there

Boat with swimmers purring, creasing the channel

Absorbing my uneasy breaths

I watching waves while the winged watch me.

Itching to be anywhere else

I stare down the unapologetic water

Disembark on a symmetrical isle

Under dressed, uncomfortable, unctuous and ambling

Bullhorn rips release, causing cringe

Seven hundred swimmers surge to settle the score with ambition

Obvious opponents:

Fear, ferocious fish, stinging fronds, freakish fantasies.

Stroking and breathing, breathing and stroking

Forgetting and remembering, again and again

Getting lost and finding

The distant cliffs that mark the other side

Tiny swimmers on jaded sea

Mental toil turning over

The welcome shore comes into view, wild sea washing me forward

People on the shore, friendlier by the stroke

The pale sand coats me with a glimmering goodbye

Work winds into winsome

and finally my anti nuke pet poem about the newscast I saw of the ever so tantalizing and titillating missile silos in Montana on King 5 news. My scowl turned into this poem. Beware, it says the word Fucker. If you dont like reading that then you may not like it. Given the way I feel about Nuclear weapons, it seemed an appropriate word.

First time press access,

Such a sensational story

Eager newscaster, stupefied interest

Fresh farmed American fear

Who eats this stuff?

Why are they showing us?

That bulbous sinister Fucker,

Sits there like an arrogant stone

Let it sit there forever

Silence the silo

Smooth and polished, the camera catches

It's aerodynamic snicker.

Lay down old man missile

Your time is over.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Home Found!

Today we picked a new rental home after searching near and far, we decided to stay in the area where the kids are thriving in school. We got another former state home. Solid and uncomplicated and 50 bucks less a week! More soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old buddy old blog...

I see the bookmark on my browser, dear blog. I feel guilty when I pass over it, mumbling..."but where would I begin..." I will thank my external prodder for nudging me to write (Mom). Ive been roving along composing transitions lately, it is yet to be seen if anyone will show up to play my score, though. My recent trip to the US was sort of like a very social boot camp. I can say that the most satisfying part of a 26 day trip back to San Juan Island was the human contact. Having daily visits with my beloved Nina and her world was wonderful. I stayed with my generous and tolerant friend Nancy and her home and her company was a sanctuary from the rigors of landlordship, house refurbishing and fsbo marketing. Smack dab in the middle of the trip Nina and I took a sojourn to Spokane to Dustin Hannafious's college graduation. Dustin graduated from Gonzaga having studied civil engineering. I loved the collecting of family and the goosebumpy bagpiping ceremony. Nina and I stayed in the fanciest hotel ever, called The Davenport. I got in a nice swim and Nina a treadmill walk there as well as a dandy mother's day breakfast downstairs. I was able to visit with my Evergreen sponsor, Gail Treemblay, on the way home , revealing much more common ground than I had realized before. She has created and shown some incredible installation artworks, often with a political message. It's great to have made the connection.
I had several nice visits with Bob, my father in law. I worry about him, there all alone without us close by to lend an occasional hand or ear. Bob showed Nna and I his garden grounds and he came to a rollicking potluck where some spontaneous theatrics came to life. One highlight was Larry , Nina's boyfriend portraying a blind female chef. He belongs in the family, I think. I was a fifth grade teacher with turrets syndrome and Chinmayo's horse at aerobics class had me in stitches. These roles were imposed by the crowd who added them on one by one as we struggled to portray them while standing on the "stage" (or sauna foundation) I had a seaside visit with the girls, including Cate McKee. Kim Bell had another set of girls out to her lovely rustic cottage and showed us her studio where she makes grand and whimsical birdbaths.

I enjoyed various Lawrence women from Natalia and her new daughter, Charley to her solid new grandma, Lisa and a new exposure to Anna, who was a smart and hilarious co house guest at Nancy's. Nancy was galivanting around some, between her cutting edge job of facilitating an affordable housing structure within the community and beyond at conferences and her devotion to her two grandchildren. I had too short of time with Laurie, who is always at the helm of her popular eatery The Market Chef and her energetic family home. I sadly missed my friends Bruce and Tina altogether! I guess we'll have to meet on some other corner of the planet. I could go on forever about the cozy cradle of friendships that I have even more appreciation for now, after living in the socially cooler climate of New Zealand for a couple of years. I am Proud of Sue for putting herself onto the list of important people to nurture. I see Mary Nash mellowing into her role at the top of the welcoming and sending off point that is The Doctor's office. Restaurant ownership is a heck of an education! isnt it.

The house project that was the focus of my trip was both an ordeal and a labor of love necessary for me to move on to what is next (which is?) The fact that my tenants hadn't found a new home when I had arrived and the property manager who put them there wouldn't even answer my calls to give me "starting point" documents (Im glad I never voted for her) (oh stop it, Kate) Alls well that ends well, or should I say once the boat is launched why worry who was not there pushing off. Im happy with the cooperation and civility that we had during the stressful time of all that transition and I must say, I don't relish the job of landlord.

On the flip side of that, since Ive been home, I have been absorbed in the process of finding a new rental home here in Auckland. Our delightful landladies, a couple comprising of one opera singer and one Prison warden/ housing New Zealand manager, need their house back. We knew this was coming, but it doesn't make it any more fun to be at the mercy of the many various property managers. Some are very nice and some are patronizing and snooty. Some have such thick accents that the messages are questionable. Im not racist, but if I have a human relations based business, I'd pick someone who people can understand as a receptionist! We have spent three days looking at houses in the area where we currently live. Yesterday we were given very overt messages from some pretty shady characters. There are Tongan gangs to the south and Maori gangs to the north. Which do we prefer, Got me? What do they eat? could I cook my way into their hearts? Cant we just move into the no gang neighborhood, oh yes, just move the decimal once to the right and your safe as a cherub. We had such good luck in finding our current house, we'll have to think positive and find another one. The truth is that we have it pretty good, while lot's of families around us have a lot more uncertainty and struggle. Why is it this way? Why are resources squandered on violence and hate while innocent children navigate such scarcity? Can we just get on with evolution and take care of ourselves here? Easy for me to say i suppose... Ill stop here, before I get any soggier. More when the sun comes up tomorrow. Kate

Friday, May 09, 2008

Potluck on Friday Night May 9 Barnard's 6:00

Hello all you readers. If you are reading from San Juan Island and it hasnt come to be Friday Night, the ninth of May then Ill urge you to come to a potluck at the Barnards house at 417 Point Caution road (off Sutton road or as you may know it- the dump road) It is at 6:00 and I think Daniel Finn is coming and possibly the Chadwicks and anyone who wants to hear the New Zealand quips and quandries and eat some springtime vittles, and undoubtedly laugh. We could play charades or maybe I can get Daniel to bring his guitar... anyway, I hope to see some folks there that I havent had a chance to see thus far on my focus pocus house selling trip to the island. It looks like the house is just about empty of the folks who were living there so it's full steam ahead with selling it. Ive decided to put a prenegotiated price of $317,000 on it to move it before I depart the country on the 21st of this month. Come on Buyer! I know you are out there! I enjoyed a campfire last night at fouth of July beach. The girls and I got a few songs in and a couple of us had a skinny dip or two in the shining pastel and certainly bracing water. I have had regular emails and calls with the family at home who are living on pesto and cucumbers from the garden and doing such unconventional acts as eating dinner at the park across the street, that, apparently was Lilli's idea. On with the day!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oh Life!

This evening I am thoughtful.
I am staying at my friend Nancy’s house and there is another house guest, Anna Lawrence who is here to visit her niece, Natalia, who has a 12 day old baby (who was 10 pounds 9 ounces at birth) We are a funny trio: witty, loud, reflective, and passionate about our families and opinions. Tonight we had a dinner that Anna prepared, delicious salad greens with lot of surprises. Tomorrow we are having a Primary Pizza feed. Anna and I have been warned about the seriousness of the gathering. I hope we can behave!

My brother in law, JD had brain surgery today. It really puts into perspective how even the most centered and competent people- well, all of us actually, are not exempt from vulnerability. I feel especially tender-hearted about JD and I am at odds as to how I can help, or even express my feelings around the situation. The human spirit is strong, though, and many, many families navigate these treacherous waters and all of them arrive on the shores buoyed and nudged there by hope gathered from sources, both familiar and unexpected. My prayers are with you, JD.

I am here in Friday Harbor to sell our house, which is a modest and artsy first home. I arrived here to learn that the Matthews, our tenants, had not yet found a place to live and two days to go until the end of the lease. I felt the tension of the situation, and struggled not to react. How was a bitchy, impatient approach going to help, anyway? I was glad to have refrained from bearing down heavily after they had secured a place in two days. Today I went there with Nina to garden while load after load was moved out of our little house. How did they walk around in there?
Compassion is a generous friend. If you remember her, she’ll shower you with true satisfaction and contentment that is far better than cakes or wine, flattery or pride.

My friend Natalia’s baby’s name is Charlie, She is a solid little nubbin with lots of long black hair. She looks perfect. Natalia is exhausted and depleted by the ordeal of 40 hours of labor culminating in a C section. Natalia is in that chaotic first two weeks of having a baby OF YOUR VERY OWN! She has her wonderful whispery humor and smiling eyes, though. I think she and Charlie and her dad, Adam, will have a wonderful time together. What wonders!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Global Cat Sitting

MY name is Caterina E'stone and Im an international cat sitter.
This was a hilarious post that the internet gobbled up. Pooh! More when I get over it. Kate

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

American Soil!

Whew! I am back on American soil!
I’m at LAX awaiting a flight to Seattle. Its been 20 hours of travelling and Ill have 11 more before I get where I am going, which is San Juan Island. It is great to be with my own countrymen. I can tell I’m here because there are people with obscenely large Starbucks cups and there is such a variety of 'looks' here. I’ve seen two different kinds of Jewish sects already: One with big hats and one with little hats. They had loads of kids who didn’t seem any different from the average modern kids in dress though, huh? The American public is more inclined to talk with strangers, and have a laugh that spreads around a little. I never noticed that until I lived in the well behaved and reserved land of New Zealand. Here in the states, sometimes people (strangers) even touch each other, just as a gesture to urge you on in a line or some insignificant part of a conversation. Its refreshing to me.
I had an interesting experience that colored the flight from Tahiti to LA which is an overnight 8 hour flight. By some stoke of luck or karma I got an entire center row to myself. I have never been able to sleep on planes and I find the long flights quite agonizing, especially because I usually have a couple of kids to fend for. They pass out in some splay of a position and I watch them enviously as the slumber in the sky. This time I have no kids and four glorious seats to completely spread out on. I anticipate someone could ask me to share my luxurious row of seats and am a little conflicted about what I might say if asked. Sure enough, a woman about my age, yet with a skinnier, more professional look, asked me if she could have some of the seats. I hesitated. (This is where she was to take the cue that no, they were mine) God had given them to me because I am on a travel marathon here. I had won the seating jackpot; it was my payoff for sitting underneath and next to all those kids and strangers and my sleeping husband for so many trips. I might get some sleep, myself! I wavered there for five minutes inside of ten seconds and agreed to share the seats with her. I was immediately mad at myself for not having the courage to take what I needed, at the risk of looking (and being) selfish. Also, something in the way she asks bugged me, she is guilt tripping me, she kept saying “so I can sleep, so I can lie down” “It’s only fair” I at least told her to let me know when she wanted to sleep and I would move my legs at that time. I had heard her say she was hungry and I figured she could stay in her seat long enough to eat her meal and I could at least revel in my seats for an hour or so.
Now I have a well practiced pattern of serving the needs of others first. I was taught that credo as a child and years of being a restaurateur and chef has further ingrained it in me. If someone wants something, give it to them, without question, and without delay. Well, it isn’t always a winning way to go. Sometimes it’s a good idea to think of yourself first. My mother in law, Linda, once told me about how she was using the airplane breathing mask instructions when her son was a hungry bear cub and wanted food NOW. She, however, fed herself first and then helped ‘put the mask on’ or feed her child. It caught me off guard at first when she told me that, hadn’t she heard of the selfless mother oath we are supposed to take as we give birth? Wait… not everyone took that oath of unconditional martyrdom?! Oh heck

Having heavily hydrated myself at the Tahiti layover, I finally went to the toilet on the plane. When I came back she was all spread out on the seats. I told her I thought she might do that. She said, smugly, like I used to hear from pampered girls in high school “well, that’s what we agreed on” She was right, I had. I wish I hadn’t though, and it started to bug me. I tried to explain that I was hoping to spread out until after the meal, that I had already been travelling for a long while (she had gotten on in Tahiti) and even that two seats aren’t really much better than one, since there is the tension of falling asleep and falling off or onto someone else’s precariously placed body. I wanted to renegotiate. She got more entitled and snotty with me and when I pointed out that she had an attitude she denied any tension between us or any attitude and again said it was only fair. I asked her if she always shared her good fortune when she got it. Well OF COURSE she did! At this point I was agitated beyond sleeping or eating and I actually told her I had changed my mind! Wow! That is so not me! I usually would stew and brew with the festering splinter of victim hood. I had taken action, stuck up for myself. She said she hadn’t changed her mind! She said softly, “hey, we are both small.” (Nice try, honey) I asked if she would be willing to lay sardine like so we could both stretch out. That is what I wanted, not to be curled up. At this she said “You know, I’m not going to do this” She collected herself up and with a stony stare went across the isle from whence she came. She noted that I was very rude. Yes, I know I haven’t been graceful, but I’m learning. . She also said simply “Karma” I told her I thought that was what brought me the seats in the first place! Next time I’d say, “Sorry, I’m on a very long travel and I’m taking these seats for myself” Or I may say: “look, Ill take them for half the flight and you can have them for the other half”, then we’ll both get an opportunity to really stretch out. Actually next time Id offer them to someone who is warm and sincere, someone Id like to sit by. I don’t want to be manipulated into it, though. I’m sure she’s writing up her version on her blog right this minute. Pardon me for my laundering of social soils in front of god and everyone. I’m not really sure God reads my blog, I hope so.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What are you reading?

Someone recently asked me what I was reading and I lied. I picked one book. In my most annoying approval seeking way I told them the book I thought they would appreciate the most. What I should have said is "Hey let me get some comfortable furniture for you to sit in and some big steaming hot drinks for us to blow on and I will tell you what I am reading right now." There is that comfortable? OK

First of all I'm reading about 10 books
Its not that good of a strategy, really, but that is what's happened.
The first book Ill share is the one that calls to me every day. Its called Knowledge of Freedom Time to change and it's by Tarthang Tulku. It seems extremely pertinent and helpful with my quandaries about what we as a race and I as a person can do to evolve past the fear driven living as a entity looking at everything outside myself as separate. Its a readable and captivating book but oddly I can not sum up what it's about. The first third of the book has been a overview of the cosmic (as in cosmos) realm and the formulation of our world, moving into more anthropological and pshcho social observations. It has a salve for a soul who regularly hears the starting gun of the rat race, and even competes in it. I look forward to the future chapters where specific suggestions for changing our competition based existence are offered. OK it's not pulp fiction... I read most of it in the early morning dark, while riding the commuter bus, somehow it seemed the perfect reading then, harder to read by the light of day, though. I read it out loud to Jordan who speaks highly of it and doesn't start snoring, usually.
The next book, some fiction, is by Mary Wesley (she published her first novel at 70 and followed it up with 9 more bestsellers in the next 11 years.) is called Jumping the Queue It's a story about a widow who plans to have a final picnic before she takes some pills and swims out to sea once and for all, only her plan is inadvertently foiled by some carefree teens. It does give the chance to meet and become curious about a matricidal criminal and well thats as far as Ive gotten. It is set in England. It is sparky and concise and I like the writing.
It would not be fair to leave out the Massey Extramural study guide for my creative writing course, which is half poetry and half short story based. It is good reading but I have to read it into a voice recorder because my mind checks out and I cant follow it while reading it. I hang the laundry and do the dishes to to the lectures and they seem to get into my brain better. I suppose that means I'm a kinetic learner. I am enjoying the poetry, and still look forward to the short stories. In June, our dead of winter, there is a contact course where I will meet some of the other correspondence students on a 3 day retreat.
My Grandma Kelly (of the salty oatmeal cookie fame) once told me that she learned that if a person could get control of time, they could master plenty. I thought of her when I found a book at some garage sale called Getting a Grip on Time. It is by Robyn Parsons. The book is wholesome and welcoming and reassuring on such a fast spinning globe. It turns out that she lives in Glen Innes, my neighborhood. She recently had an evening speaking engagement at the local library. I cried when I couldn't find childcare (but not for long). I pick up the book a lot but not many pages have been read. As soon as I cheat and don't do an exercise I lose interest. Oh well.
Im studiing rituals for school and I have a couple of books going with that; one is Celebrating the Southern Seasons which is written by an Auckland based writer psychotherapist/artist/teacher (whew) named Juliet Batten. It is chock full of great celebrations and rituals to confirm the seasons and what they may represent. The other ritual study book is a glossy slick Atlas of Sacred and Spiritual Sites. It is got everything from famous places of worship, sites of pilgrimage, isolation and meditation sites to stone circles and megaliths. I love leafing through and reading a new one when it grabs me.
I bought a book of stories by Salmon Rushdie called East, West The stories are good. This is my first time reading this Indian author. The libraries in Auckland sell discarded books for 3 for a dollar and this one was an excellent buy.
One of my co reads with Jordan is the book Blink: The power of thinking without thinking by Malcom Gladwell. Read at bedtime, truly fascinating, but usually the eyelids win. Its about our quick intelligence that happens right away when we confront a situation. Perhaps intuitive impulse might be a good way to put it.
One day as I was showing Desmond the other Desmond Alexanders of the world on Google images when he asked me to look up the images for "Joe". I did and something caught my eye, a site for Joe Vitale. He is a marketing whizz and a sort of life coach. I flitted around the internet and found he had discovered a Hawaiian based "system" that I found interesting. I looked it up in the Library and ended up ordering two books by the guy. One called Hypnotic Writing and the other one called Zero Limits (the Hawaiian one). These two books are sadly sitting in the bag awaiting their turn counting the 21 days skeptically.
The last story is one by New Zealander Rob Hewitt with help from Aaron Smale. It is a story of Rob's 75 hours in the sea off the coast of North island NZ. He was lost, having gotten separated from his diving party. Just think of that! While he was making up rhymes to keep his mind alert and focusable police were searching for his dead body! Its a good reality check, this book.

Thats about it! How about you? What are you reading? Tell me please on the comments part of this blog. It always interesting to here what people have chosen to read, plus, I need some suggestions for when I get these read!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Life (temporarily) without Jordan

Today is Monday. It is a dreary day here in Auckland. After a very sunny and dry Autumn we finally are getting some rain. This morning started at 4 AM when Jordan got up. He thought it was 5 AM because we haven't changed our cell phone (alarm) to "falling back" time yet. He has a computer science conference that he is attending in Christchurch this week. He flew out a few hours ago.
Last night I was very tired and went to bed at about 7:00. I had swam in a race simulation the day before and I have the ocean flea problem again, polka dot-pocking my midsection. The swim was only 2.8 K but the sun wasn't out and I got a little cold. That is the last ocean swim I'll do for the season. I have really enjoyed the weekly clinics and the races I entered. Anyway, Jordan was extremely energetic with the children in the evening after I turned in. They thundered up and down the hall and laughed hysterically about God knows what. This morning the room was rearranged and there was a big floor puzzle put together. I guess he was getting in some power parenting before he took off. I let Desmond stay home, today, rather than take him in late. We went to the library and got some great books, movies and cd's to revel in while the wind chases the rain around outside. We have a deal about tomorrow, though- business as usual! It's a little sad, the idea that Jordan wont come home from work today and greet each of us all with his own signature hello. I suppose this is what helps marriages last. Appreciation.

We looked at a cute little cottage in charming little Laingholm yesterday. The house was a tidy, cozy house on the right slope to get the sun in the foothills of the Waitakere range. The family selling it has moved up north and taken up sheep farming on 50 acres. We looked at the paperwork for the house and it was interesting, noting everything from its inexpensive beginnings to its lack of proof of a permit due to a council records fire. It would be a nice little place to call home, but no real "Got to have it!" flood of feelings came rushing in like the other place we are interested in.

Its now extremely quiet and I must see why....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Quarter is about making spaces

This Evergreen School quarter is a Fine Arts/ Anthropology combination. I am incorporating the installations that I'm making with events which could happen inside them. This could be a meditation or a cathartic ritual or any kind of ritual you would want. I will be studying the history of rituals and whats going on in rituals today. Here is the third environment I have designed, it is just the basic structure, ready for its beautification. It's nice to give a focus to this unusual artwork that has been looming in my mind for a couple of decades. This one is about 5 feet across. The larger one I'm making is 10 feet across and is made out of a French silk cargo parachute. Im hoping to have several to show together within the next few months. Its not 'paint by numbers', that's for sure!

househunting with Lil

I was looking at a house the other day with Lillian. Jordan had a strange swollen foot and Desmond was glued to something on the dvd player. The house was a strange place. It was all torn apart with no gib on the walls or ceilings. It was in a very private hollow of bush. The road to get there was a hairpin single lane that clung to the steep terrain. The place had been left unlocked for us. Lillian immediately wanted to get out. the hanging cobwebs and dark afternoon lighting was a little eery. It was a large "L" shape. I knew the driveway was bad when I went down it, very steep. I didn't worry too much about it, though. Heading out I couldn't make it up the drive. I had to inch downward and was quite close to the edge. Lilian was amused by my intensity and determination to escape without injury. After three tries we squealed and lurched out into the not very spacious road where, luckily, nothing else was approaching. I looked back and saw a cloud of smoke, YIKES! I think the writing was on the bulging vein walls, the answer was "no thanks"

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wishes are fishes and Im hungry

Jordan and I have been looking at property to buy for our home in New Zealand. We have looked at raw land and at shacky shanties and dreadfully boring suburban boxes. We are smitten with a house on a piece of property out west of Auckland. It is 11 acres with a house and a studio on it. It has an orchard, chicken house, waterfall, gardens, and is at the end of a long rustic downhill road. It is financially ambitious , to say the least. This has motivated other changes. I will be returning to fix up our Friday Harbor house and prepare it for sale at the end of this month. There are so many ideas we have that could be implemented up there on that coastal mountain ridge. I find myself in some emotional jeopardy from my desire for it.

Are we allowed to have something so wonderful? Can we generate the $3900 monthly mortgage? If not, can I find an investment partner to share it with? I know risk offers reward, but where is the line I shouldn't cross? Am I missing the point of where we humans need to be focused all together? If we are to have a life sustaining planet for our children should we forget about securing ourselves future comfort and think about the greater whole instead? Perhaps if I pledge to help others with the land, share it, I can have it. Ive been at the table with god before, offering promises for outcomes I want. Usually it is about my children's safety or some dire situation. I'm sorry that I call meetings with God for such needful times. I think God knows she's/he's always invited for all the times, plain and grandiose ,though. How did we get to God, anyway??

I look forward to seeing Nina, my daughter, and to visit and philosophize with Cate Mckee and tell Nancy about my exploration of Devonport on my recent week of working there. Ill see Natalia's baby and eat Tims pastrami and have roving walks with Barbara, where we really let out our reflections and true secret opinions. Ill hopefully get to cook with Laurie and maybe do some ritual magic with my women friends who meet on certain moons. Ill catch up with Beth. Chinmayo and I will sing and laugh. Larry will be his lovely jovial self, neighbor Jim will greet us from his patch. Serene Sue will have coffee in the thermos and Bill will give me that Scooby doo smile. Debra will undoubtedly show up to say hi at the perfect time and Ill get to see her domain's progress. Annie will have a few new masterpieces done. It will be something of a closure, I suspect. I look forward to the lilies poking up and the tulips unwitting cheer in my front yard. Ill feed the strawberries and tell them goodbye. Ill lay down on the stone terrace I built and soak in it's heat. I'm coming home, for the last time.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Here it is! The thrilling finish line, complete with naked white elfins. I added some drama to the Rangitoto/St. Heliers swim by waiting too long to register and it wasnt clear if there was going to be room on the ferry to Rangi'. As it turns out there was a smaller vessel that got hired for the first 40 late registrees, and I was one, so alas I swam!

Sometimes, like when I am about to do something on the edge of my usual behavior , such as swim a few miles with hundreds of other people, I consult my cards. I pulled out my goddess cards and got Coventina, who lends purification and Irene who is all offers peace as her message. So since I didnt get the Goddess of the shark kingdom, I followed my footsteps, which pretended like they were going to the swim all along. I will articulate the swim for you in the very next blog entry, very soon. I am temp cheffing this week between school quarters in Devonport, which is quite nice and a lovely ferry /bus commute!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Giving it up

I have been experimenting with weeding out habits. I went for a month without coffee a while back and I slept much better and my mood was more even. Coffee slowly crept back in and is on the chopping block again. I also stopped drinking alcohol, its been a couple of months, now. Im not a problematic chronic alcoholic, I'm actually a fun episodic drinker. The trouble is that the occasional episodes are debilitating afterwards, causing lethargy and what I call comfort eating. If you do that once a week then the calories and time use setbacks add up. I also have a tendency to get overly nice and generous to a point of making decisions to give raises, invite distracting guests and, earlier in my life, cock eyed (no pun intended) romantic choices. I decided that I could use that time and control of my life more than I needed that luscious, complex, rusty lobe of red wine in my graceful clasping and sophisticated hand. As you can see I have been pondering the role of alcohol plays in rewarding ourselves and my notion of it being glamorous and stylish. I don't want to be one of those non drinking zealots, or have a dogmatic approach, either. I have to find new rewards for myself after that long day or to celebrate that great breakthrough. At first I was sensitive to alcohol around me, in movies, on billboards, hearing the neighbors always emptiing the bottles into the recycle bin. Somehow though now, I'm not as bothered that half the world still drinks. I wake up fresh as a daisy and there are no onion ring sessions with Sunday brunch anymore(sorry to my friends who have that as the favorite activity, and you know who you are) or gooey Carbonara to ease the ugg.

One nice bonus is the money one saves if you remove that bottle or two of wine or those beers from the weekly shopping cart. This is particularly important when you are raising a family on two student allowances. If you don't buy the wine, you can splurge on those other indulgences like the "grab me now" thrift surprise at the "op shop" (New Zealand's word for second hand store-opportunity shop) Yesterday I found a NEW pair of my favorite Tasmanian boots (200 bucks in NYC or Vancouver) for 8.00. I felt like angels were involved, since my pair are starting to have a "farmhand" look. Eight dollars, that's just one bottle of the cheapie New Zealand Sauvignon blanc.

It seems to be working out well, so far. We'll see how it goes when I work at a gourmet deli and wine shop next week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Honey, Im home!

Hi, I'm back, I missed you. I have wrapped up school and now I have to make the next contract. It's always a dog of one sort or another chasing my rear! I am relieved to have finished that school term and am reveling in my tertiary credit. I noticed that I was just exhausted after finishing up various writing projects, sewing together things and always trying to get to the pool. I love the new habits, though. I'm going to hunt something down to put on here. It;s someplace in my emails let me find it. It's a confession of how many things Ive started (writing) It was meant to be an evaluation for school but it soon wandered on a walkabout and although I didn't dare use it for something as formal as a school evaluation, I thought it had value. It reveals my A-1 good intentions to write. I know some people say "better not talk about projects in the making, thus let the energy out" where (I guess) it will run away and find a new owner and they (not I) will make the kazillion dollars and the Caldecott/ Nobel prizes while I'm still pondering or (worse yet) talking about how I'm going to write it.
Well I say "phooey!" My good ideas aren't going to run off to a new thinker/doer- they are going to be promiscuous and actually multiply! I'm letting them out! Even if someone took my story line, it would be different than what I would write. If the flow of what I'm thinking is getting out there, then that's progress. Darn it, I'm trying to be a writer and assert that I have something to say, aint I! Let's go! Keep it coming, churn out the pieces 123.
Well It doesn't work that way, really. At this stage, at least there is a lot of crumpled paper and rewrites that make me wonder: which was better, the raw or the refined? Here is the excerpt so You can have a look see into my little brain.

We (my illustrator friend and I) are working on a children's book about an Alligator which comes up the sewer and his host's creative solution to get him back home. The story is written in alliteration. Further children's stories are in various half composed shambles on the floor of my little life. What's Your Treat? is a comparative journey of what various people and animal's favorite treats are. The Old original "Down at Katrina's Cafe" mother/daughter seaside restaurant book got a visit from a storm ridden mermaid. She's working a few shifts before she goes back to her watery ways.
I have barely started work on a novel, as well, which is about a woman who gives up a child earlier in life with legal clause to be notified if the adoptive parents die. They do, She gets contacted, she oozes with guilty motherhood and shuts up her unconventional remote life to return and 'become' a parent. Everything takes a strange turn when it is revealed that the child is responsible for the deaths. I have the vague plot outlined (obviously) and I have written a couple of scenes out, specifically the aborted abortion and the labor. They are just scraps, but they weren't there before. I think I'll either get a book on the process of writing a novel or take the Massey course. I have friends on San Juan Island working on novels, they support each other in a writer's group, also.
Did you see the gardening poems that I sent? To me,they don't shine so much, after getting a scope of what a poem is supposed to be like from my writing class, Deception, nuance without a prescribed agenda....a lie that tells the truth.

This is just a reject communication to my adviser, but it gives you an idea of my octopus approach to creative writing. We'll see which ones will make it to the finish line, now, wont we.

Speaking of finish lines, I have my most challenging swim coming up on Sunday the 30th of March. The Rangitoto to St. Helliers swim. Its 4.6 kilometers and I'm getting scared! I went to the swimming clinic a couple of days ago and had a run in with some organism that 'stings' you , although it is painless when it happens, the result is almost exactly like a mosquito bite. My torso looks like it was in a cage with 250 mosquitoes and my hands were restrained! I haven't counted them, but even Lillian was impressed( and she holds the record for the most bug bites in our family) Is this legitimate excuse to back out? I suppose I could get a darned wet suit like everyone else and it wouldn't be an issue. I'm such a purist/snob when it comes to wearing my own skin to swim in. I think Ill take the kids on the Rangitoto ferry tomorrow to check out the scene and see how many big red (read painful) jellyfish there are between here and there. I have looked forward to this swim with ambition and trepidation for months. I want to hear corks popping when I drag my soggy self outta that water! I have the adoring children and proud husband at the shore in the scrapbook of my future that I leaf through all the time.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I am taking a week off to finish up school projects, more later

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Recipe of the week: Cassoulet

I decided to post this recipe because it is good in both Spring and Fall, pleasing both hemispheres at once. I remember having cassoulet for the first time at the Springtree Restaurant in Friday harbor. I was working as a baker there and I was learning a lot from the chefs Jodi Calhoun and Daniel Von Hamersfeld. Daniel made many classic European dishes with ease and delicious results. One such dish was Cassoulet. This dish, although it has had a renaissance in "hoity toity hoi paloi" restaurants, it is really a peasant dish from South East France. This concept of a slow cooked hearty bean stew seasoned with available meats shows up in many other cuisines, though, such as feijoada from Portugal and fabada Asturiana from Austuria (an autonomous community within Spain) and even good old Boston baked beans.
Cassoulet, the title, is really from the word "cassole", a ceramic dish that one would make the stew in, often on the back of the cooking hearth. The food dish is made with white beans and various (often leftover) meats, (traditionally duck confit),sausages, game and poultry, then herbs, onions or shallots, garlic, herbs and, in my recipe, breadcrumbs and vermouth all add dimension to it. It is one of those dishes that is different every time you make it, depending on what you've got in the refrigerator. It can be made in a modern crock pot if you do not have a wood fired hearth going these days. It tastes as good or better the next day and is rib sticking. If you eat it mid day you'll have time for it to fuel you for hours. Here is my favorate recipe for it, modified from the Silver Palette cookbook's recipe. Now remember that you can simplify and eliminate meats you don't like, cant find or don't have the budget for. If you eliminate the fatty meats such as the pork rind, bacon or sausages you may need to add some high quality oil to add the silkiness to the dish that the meat fats offered. (This isn't the cholesterol watching meal, for that; try the Pasole, its more virtuous. I'll try to wrangle that recipe from the best Pasole chef I know Senora Linda Pickett Friedman). But for now it's Cassoulet. This recipe is a two day process and is not for the crock pot. I would call this "company cassoulet" for when perhaps you've got such gustatory guests as Thor or an Amazonian girl's choir coming for a visit. Simpler recipes involving less time are on the internet, I am sure.

2 pounds dried white beans, soaked overnight
1/2 pound fresh pork rind
5 pounds duckling or chicken
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 1/4 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil, if needed
1/3 cup rendered bacon fat
2 cups chopped yellow onions
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
6 ribs celery, diced
2 cups dry white vermouth
6 ounces tomato paste
5 cups stock, preferably home made
9 large garlic cloves, peeled
5 bay leaves
1 1/2 pound smoked or fresh sausage or kielbasa
1/2 pound salt pork
4 cups bread crumbs (dried)
mixed with
1 cup chopped parsley


Score the fat side of the pork rind, cover it with cold water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water again, and repeat the process, this time simmering for 30 minutes. Reserve the pork rind and its second cooking water.

Drain the beans and place them in an 8-quart oven-proof pot with a lid. Cover them with water by at least 3 inches, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook briskly, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let beans stand in the cooking liquid.

Cut off wing tips of duck and set them aside. Discard the organ meats or reserve for another use (like the cat). Pull all the fat out of the duck and season the cavity with salt and pepper. Put the duck in a small roasting pan and roast in a preheated 450F oven for 45 minutes. Drain accumulated fat frequently. Remove from oven after cooking time; duck should still be slightly underdone. Drain juices from duck cavity into a large bowl and reserve. Cool, cover and refrigerate duck.

In a heavy skillet, brown the cubed lamb in batches, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Do not crowd the pan. Remove the browned lamb to the large bowl and reserve.

Without cleaning the skillet, saute the pork cubes and the reserved duck wing tips in the same fashion, seasoning with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of the thyme and the allspice. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil if the skillet is particularly dry at this point. Reserve the browned pork in the same bowl with the lamb.

Do not clean the skillet. Melt the rendered bacon fat in the skillet and saute the onions and carrots for about 20 minutes, stirring, or until tender. Add to the pot with the beans.

Add the vermouth, along with the meat juices accumulated in the large bowl, to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly and cook briskly, stirring, until vermouth is slightly reduced and all browned cooking particles remaining in the skillet have dissolved. Pour the vermouth into the beans.

Stir in the tomato paste, the pork rind cooking liquid, the broth, remaining thyme, 6 of the garlic cloves, chopped, and the bay leaves. Add additional water, if necessary; liquid should just cover the beans. Put the pork rind, fat side down, on top of the beans, and cover the pot.

Bake in the center of a preheated 350F oven for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the beans are completely tender. Remove and cool to room temperature, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, prick the skin of the fresh sausage all over with a fork and simmer in a pan of water for 30 minutes. Drain and reserve. This is not necessary for the smoked sausage.

Put the salt pork in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water and repeat, reserving the salt pork in its cooking water.

Remove the pot of beans from the refrigerator. Discard the bay leaves, the duck neck and wing tips.

Drain the salt pork; cut off the rind and discard it. Chop the salt pork into cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Puree to a paste, dropping the 3 remaining peeled garlic cloves through the feed tube while the motor is running. Stir the paste into the beans.

Skin the duck (or chicken), pull all meat from the bones, and cut into chunks. Stir duck into the beans. Skin the sausage and cut into rounds; stir into the beans.

The beans will now cook for another 1-1/2 hours. If they are too dry (it is preferable that they be too moist), stir in another cup or two of warm water. Smooth the top of the beans and sprinkle heavily with half of the bread-crumb and parsley mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 325F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, stir the top crust into the beans, sprinkle on the remaining bread crumbs and parsley, and bake further -- for another 45 minutes, or until crust has formed and browned well. Serve immediately. Accompany with a nice leafy salad dressed lightly, crusty bread and a good crisp white wine.

Serves 12, great leftover.