A breath of country air

You may or may not have noted that I haven’t been blogging. For no particular reason my heart hasn’t been in it. However, today I set off for Waipu and as I got further and further away from the city my breath expanded and ideas and poems started to filter into my mind. I stopped at a little cafe in Kaiwaka, I think it is called Cafe Bianca. It is a treasure chest of tea sets, silver, wool, junk, antique odds and sods as well as offering lovely food. it’s a bit like taking tea in the parlour as it is an old house.

Even though I have brought my knitting I couldn’t resist buying this little kit as I have a friend having a baby in November. Last time I was at the cafe I bought a little woolly hat from the same kit set maker, this time I have bought the little jumper and this will be my project while I’m up here.


As I sat down to wait for my coffee and delicious homemade Florentine I browsed the books left for customers read. I picked up an older NZ poetry book and spent a delicious half hour reading it. I don’t think I have ever been to a cafe where there were poetry books. It is such a great idea as there isn’t time to read a novel or even a short story but poetry is the perfect pick and dip option.


One of the poems was a James K Baxter that I hadn’t read before called

‘A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting’, by James K. Baxter

As I was brought up in Dunedin, and flatted there and my mother questioned my morality when I told her I was going “mixed flatting” it made me laugh.

Elicited by the decision of the Otago University authorities to forbid this practice among students

Dunedin nights are often cold
(I notice it as I grow old);
The south wind scourging from the Pole
Drives every rat to his own hole,
Lashing the drunks who wear thin shirts
And little girls in mini-skirts.
Leander, that Greek lad, was bold
To swim the Hellespont raging cold
To visit Hero in her tower
Just for an amorous half-hour.
And lay his wet brine-tangled head
Upon her pillow – Hush! The dead
Can get good housing – Thomas Bracken,
Smellie, McLeod, McColl, McCracken,
A thousand founding fathers lie
Well roofed against the howling sky
In mixed accommodation – Hush!
It is the living make us blush
Because the young have wicked hearts
And blood to swell their private parts.
To think of corpses pleases me;
They keep such perfect chastity.
O Dr Williams, you were right
To shove the lovers out of sight;
Now they can wander half the night
Through coffee house and street and park
And fidget in the dripping dark,
While we play Mozart and applaud
The angel with the flaming sword!
King Calvin in his grave will smile
To know we know that man is vile;
But Robert Burns, that sad old rip
From whom I got my Fellowship
Will grunt upon his rain-washed stone
Above the empty Octagon,
And say – ‘O that I had the strength
To slip yon lassie half a length!
Apollo! Venus! Bless my ballocks!
Where are the games, the hugs, the frolics?
Are all you bastards melancholics?
Have you forgotten that your city
Was founded well in bastardry
And half your elders (God be thankit)
Were born the wrong side of the blanket?
You scholars, throw away your books
And learn your songs from lasse’s looks
As I did once – ‘Ah, well; it’s grim;
But I will have to censor him.
He liked to call a spade a spade
And toss among the glum and staid
A poem like a hand grenade –
And I remember clearly how
(Truth is the only poet’s vow)
When my spare tyre was half this size,
With drumming veins and bloodshot eyes
I blundered through the rain and sleet
To dip my wick in Castle street.
Not on the footpath – no, in a flat,
With a sofa where I often sat,
Smoked, drank, cursed, in the company
Of a female student who unwisely
Did not mind but would pull the curtain
Over the window – And did a certain
Act occur? It did. It did.
As Byron wrote of Sennacherib –
‘The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold’ –
But now, at nearly forty-two,
An inmate of the social zoo,
Married, baptized, well heeled, well shod,
Almost on speaking terms with God,
I intend to save my moral bacon
By fencing the young from fornication!
Ah, Dr Williams, I agree
We need more walls at the Varsity;
The students who go double-flatting
With their she-catting and tom-catting
Won’t ever get a pass in Latin;
The moral mainstay of the nation
Is careful, private masturbation;
A vaseline jar or a candle
Will drive away the stink of scandal!
The Golden Age will come again –
Those tall asthenic bird-like men
With spectacles and lecture notes,
Those girls with wool around their throats
Studying till their eyes are yellow
A new corrupt text of Othello,
Vaguely agnostic, rationalist,
A green banana in each fist
To signify the purity
Of educational ecstasy –
And, if they marry, they will live
By the Cardinal Imperative:
A car, a fridge, a radiogram,
A clean well-fitted diaphragm,
Two-and-a-half children per
Family; to keep out thunder
Insurance policies for each;
A sad glad fortnight at the beach
Each year, when Mum and Dad will bitch
From some half-forgotten itch –
Turn on the lights! – or else the gas!
If I kneel down like a stone at Mass
And wake my good wife with bad dreams,
And scribble verse on sordid themes,
At least I know man was not made
On the style of a slot-machine arcade –
Almost, it seems, the other day,
When Francis threw his coat away
And stood under the palace light
Naked in the Bishop’s sight
To marry Lady Poverty
In folly and virginity,
The angels laughed – do they then weep
Tears of blood if two should sleep
Together and keep the cradle warm?
Each night of earth , though the wind storm
Black land behind, white sea in front,
Leander swims the Hellespont;
To Hero’s bed he enters cold;
And he will drown; and she grow old –
But what they tell each other there
You’ll not find in a book anywhere.


James K. Baxter, ‘A Small Ode on Mixed Flatting’ in Collected Poems (ed. John Edward Weir; Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1979), 396–99.

As I drove over the Brynderwyns, the east coast came into view and the panoramic views were simply stunning. i am now ensconced in my little cabin up in the Waipu hills and this is the view I have as I type this.


Unfortunately I am also simultaneously torturing myself with watching mad Trump and Clinton debate. My stomach formerly relaxed, is now clenched in a knot as I watch that bullying moron shouting over the other candidate.

Earlier I walked up the track to check on the chickens and to collect the rural mail. What a simple pleasure to admire the camellias, smell the woody scent of the bush and be so glad that I live in New Zealand.

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Listening to that pratt talking about nuclear weapons is chilling. “We got ’em why don’t we use ’em”, I feel very helpless listening to him. Is it possible that this moron could be running America??


I cannot end my blog on this man.

So, I am doing another MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) at the University of Iowa and it is a joy. https://iwp.uiowa.edu/fiction-2016 There are literally thousands of people from all over the world participating, On that note I’m off to do my homework. FG





It’s been a long, gloomy, grey month in my mind so I have stayed home and hibernated. I’m in the middle of three books, all of which I am enjoying. They are Lawrence Fernley –Degrees of Separation, Maggie O’Farrell, This must Be The Place and  My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.


I have also bought today and read half of, Dr Libby Weaver’s new book Women’s Wellness Wisdom. I feel compelled to eat more sensibly and get moving.


She is very encouraging, not about dieting and generally has some new and interesting ideas about wellness. She is definitely not about calorie counting. I am also doing My Food Bag for one every week now as I am sure it is cheaper than making lots of trips to the supermarket. I now only go to the supermarket for shampoo etc. There is always plenty left over for lunch and one of the meals is for two so I often have a friend over. It is extremely well-organised, always arriving on time and food is organic or free range etc. My only complaint is that there is a bit much red meat for my preference.

They recently did a survey about possibly working with Weight Watchers to produce a slimmer’s bag which I would definitely get.


  • Feeds 1 adult
  • 4 recipes for 5 meals every week (1 of the recipes will feed 2 adults)

Only $18.90 per plate, 94.50 per week

I have been doing Steptember so feel free to sponsor me as it is raising funds for cerebral palsy.

I’m in the KatTrishSue team,


Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a permanent life-long condition but generally does not worsen over time. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture, and balance.

Did you know, Cerebral Palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood?

For more information on cerebral palsy please visit www.cerebralpalsy.org.nz

I haven’t managed 10,000 steps each day but I have done a few 16000 plus to make up for it.

I have also seen a couple of good movies lately. 

I don’t care what the reviewers say, Bridget Jones’ Baby is funny, well-scripted and a wonderful couple of hours of escapism. If you just want a good laugh, go along, I loved it.


I also went to see The Confirmation which, while it may not live long in the memory was nevertheless a lovely film and another film to enjoy on a rainy afternoon. .

This morning I listened to a gripping interview on national radio with Kathryn Ryan talking to  Christine Spring.

Image result for christine spring

She is an engineer and  heads up two companies but her passion is photography. She went to a Global Women conference and serendipitously ended up sitting by the head of Unicef on a delayed flight home who invited her to Lebanon and the Syrian refugee camps there, (along with Sonny Bill Williams incidentally and I think, Mike McRoberts). The result of that was a photographic book called simply, Hope. Totally worth a listen.


Skin in the game

It’s been a quiet week. I have a new nickname-Crash. Thanks Patsy. Yes I was in a hurry and no there was no alcohol involved. I “bounded”, sylph-like off a low concrete wall in my car park and did a flying leap into the concrete. I was wearing my glasses and they have graduated lenses so I’m using that as an excuse. Unfortunately I broke them as well as my watch.


I looked a bit of a wreck but I am amazed at the properties of skin. I suppose that sounds really naive but horrible grazes and bruises have pretty much healed up over a week. Pride of course takes a little longer.

I have enjoyed painting a cabinet, hosting book club and have started knitting more frequently again. I have just finished The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. It was an easy, fun read and it got me all fired up about taking a canal trip in France. Anyone keen?

Friday is National Poetry Day so there are lots of events on around Auckland. I’m going to hear some readers at Point Chevalier Library on Saturday.

It got me browsing my poetry books and I came upon a book belonging to my late husband, Brett Gracie. He was an English teacher like me and loved poetry. The book was by Hone Tuwhare  and in 1998, by chance Hone was coming to Christchurch to do a reading and I was responsible for hosting him at home. Sam was 6 years old at the time and Hone signed Brett’s book for Sam. Finding that tonight and seeing Brett’s familiar signature and then the little inscription to Sam was quite poignant.

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As it seems to be raining so much I picked this short one to include in this post. His other poem Rain is probably his most read poem but I like this one, especially the line, “can bring a mountain weeping to its knees”

Reign Rain
Neither juggernaut
nor crawling thing
with saintliness and ease

can bring
a mountain weeping
to its knees
quicker than rain:

that demure leveller
maker of plains

Hone Tuwhare

I remember hearing Hone say how magical it was as a little boy discovering the library . He couldn’t believe that he could just go in and choose books for free. Recently, a young teen living with her family in a van in South Auckland was on national radio saying she really wanted to get out library books but didn’t have an address.

Every now and then the ugly head of charging for library books raises its head. May it never happen. As a child in a family of 8 there would have been no way that I would have been able to read as a child without a library. To this day I can tell you exactly what the covers of the books I loved looked like: My Friend Flicker, The Yellow Fairy Book, Cammie Rides Again, Quarrelsome Queenie and on it goes. There was nothing tame about these stories. I would weep and snivel and fear the dark forests and the evil just around the corner. there was nothing tame about the faraway tree.  Apparently I cried when my mother was reading Noddy. It was probably those naughty goblins.

Mind you I was never keen on that monkey or the skittles. They might have been the precursors to my terror of clowns.


I remember walking down the hill to the library in a funny old Dunedin building with my pink library card and then lugging the books home again. I can only assume that some of my siblings were supervising but I don’t really remember that part. I loved that little machine that clicked and stamped the card with the date. There was always a slight anxiety that I might not get the book back on time and get fined. FG

I do remember being smacked for not listening to my father as I was completely lost in a book. I did it again recently on the ferry. The lovely young steward came up to me and quietly asked me if I was going back in to town. I looked up and everyone else had disembarked and I was still there reading my book. I felt a bit of a twit.

The joy of escaping into a book when all else is crumbling around you is fantastic. Long live libraries and poetry.


Finding a routine

I feel as though today is the first kind of “normal” day I have had in a long while. I want to get back in to a routine of some exercise, some writing, some knitting, some reading and some meditating.

However, I have spent the first 20 minutes gazing out the window. I like to watch the building progress and I have a good view of some from my kitchen window. (All men wearing shirts in this weather…)


People often complain about the noise from the trucks but it really doesn’t bother me. I like to think people are out and about doing stuff even though I am totally blissed not doing that. I never get tired of waking on a Monday and knowing I don’t have to go to work. It’s not that work isn’t rewarding it’s just that I like to do my own stuff. Last night I knitted a little Alpaca hat for a friend at work who is pregnant.


I also got out the Moosewood Cookbook. There might be a few nostalgic sighs of recognition out there. I made my favourite Gypsy Soup, perfect for a cold and rainy day. I had bought some quinoa and sprout sourdough from the Hobsonville Point Market market to go with it.

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I also went along to The Carer at the weekend. It was the perfect kind of film for a winter afternoon, satisfying, no violence or grimness and great acting on the whole. It is a fairly familiar story, think Me Before You or the The Untouchables but I liked it better than both of these. Maybe because I am a fan of King Lear. Brian Cox as Sir Michael Gifford is great and

Coco Konig as his carer is also compelling. It is all fairly predictable but  well, I like a happy ending.

My latest read was a good one too. Different, funny and interesting. I can’t tell you about it without revealing a critical plot twist so I’ll just leave it at that. Suffice to say it is weird but ultimately believable.

How can it be August? I seemed to have skipped June and July. I’m at the stage where I find myself looking at options in the sun. However, they involve long flights, snakes and spiders, terrorists or tsunamis. I think I’m becoming a bit feeble.

I think I’ll just comfort myself with a nice cup of tea.

Unfortunately so far the Olympics have passed me by. I struggle with golf as an Olympic sport, bring back the synchronised swimmers I say. Is it odd to you as well that you only ever see synchronised swimming at the Olympics?

I’ll leave you with my favourite Leunig’s Olympic comment. (Well they did it in cycling) Happy Monday FG



Home sweet home number two

It’s been a busy few weeks. I managed to shift and put all the paintings and everything up in four day  before my visitor arrived for the film festival. I feel great being here as the size is more manageable. Things I’ve learnt:

I am never going to be a gardener– I love herbs for cooking though so the pots are perfect.


I love wooden floors and they are much easier to clean than tiles


I still have too much stuff even though I ditched a lot.

I dithered over my grandfather’s roll top desk as it was left to Sam in my father’s will. Sam showed nil interest in it and I just couldn’t store it so I ended up selling it to a local trader and giving the cash to Sam. I ditched some more stuff at the hospice including all my funny little books and teddy bears etc. I abandoned the lovely Beatrix Potter baby mugs and dishes as I never actually used them for fear of them being broken. Plastic rules with small children.  I still couldn’t abandon the Beatrix Potters though.


That one open plan space is all I need. At my previous place I had two living rooms and one me. It wasn’t necessary and I love just heating this space and even better it has a void so the bedrooms upstairs are deliciously warm by bed time.

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I understood the advice to buy something that suits what you do most of the time.

I have a guest bedroom but no separate bathroom. Horror of horrors! ( A spare loo though). My guest and I managed perfectly well for her 5 day visit and now I don’t have another bathroom sitting there 90% of the time empty and needing dusting.

I like technology – my new appliances that came with the house are quite cool. Although I did have to replace some of my pots for the induction cook top. A lot to learn but I am actually reading the manual. Despite watching the video and programming the heated tiles I have had no luck so far though. So much for living simply.


All in all, happily ensconced. It was a mission shifting again so soon and I feel a bit jaded but it is all done now.

I didn’t’ go to as many as films as I usually do as I was busy shifting but here are my one liners:


Obit. – – eccentric New York Times’ writers of the obituary column. Great doco.

Weirdest film 

Author: The JT LeRoy Story


So odd I couldn’t help watching. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Film I went to sleep in –might have been good but I just couldn’t tell you. Neruda.

My latest Fluffy George poetry post was a bit of a mission as i decided the content warranted it being printed on cotton material. Here is the newsletter that went with it.

July 2016 Newsletter Fluffy George Postal Poems


I wrote this month’s poem when I was thinking about all the women who were made to give up work when they got married, all the voices silenced by drudgery, all the poems and artworks and ideas and inventiveness lost in the day to day work that women have always done. I think of the kitchen drawers with string and cotton and safety pins and snatches of stories and poems among them.

I love Lauris Edmonds’ work. She died at the age of 75 and was the mother of six children, five of them daughters. I am also a huge admirer of Patricia Grace’s writing. While teaching and raising her seven children, Grace joined a writing club and began to publish her stories. How did they do that??

My own mother had six children and made all our clothes and washed, ironed and cooked endlessly. I can recall, in a heartbeat, the smell of the wooden stick that sloshed the clothes around in the grey water of the old washing machine. Her creativity was expressed through sewing as in the three lovely spotted dresses above. I suspect I wore handed-down spotted dresses for some time.  My mother had no ambitions, as far as I am aware, to write or paint.  I wonder how any of the women who had these ambitions ever had any time to themselves, to write, to think, to read?

I think of Sylvia Plath, on a day described by her mother as one darker than the rest, when she left her two toddlers in the other room and gassed herself in the oven. I wonder how things might have been different if some kind neighbour had popped in and taken the children to the park on that dreary London day.

Mary Wesley is my shining light. She published her first novel at 70 in 1983. Her family did not approve of her books. Her brother called what she wrote “filth” and her sister, with whom she was no longer on speaking terms, strongly objected to The Camomile Lawn, claiming that some of the characters were based on their parents.

Mary Wesley

Lauris Edmond


I have plenty of time but still manage to make excuses continually for just not getting on with writing; I have nothing but admiration for these women juggling all these things in their lives.

So this month’s poem is paying homage to all those women who wrote and dreamed and finally were published, or not. I think of all the work that may have simply gone up in smoke, or was trivialised or ignored, and never saw the light of day because of the time they lived and the society of men who decided what would or would not be allowed.


Poem on cotton

All looks easy but my first print run meant the poem was in mirror image when ironed on… thanks to a friend and her Apple Mac she finally got it sorted for me.

Many years ago my late husband gave me a book entitled, A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now, edited by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone.

In the section called Anonymous Songs from the 15th and 16th century there is a poem that has always made me smile, albeit still tinged with a little anguish. This young woman’s lyrics are surely the precursor to the modern song, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, by Cyndi Lauper.

Since I’m a girl

I want fun.

It won’t help God

For me to be a nun.

Since I’m a girl

With long hair

They want to dump me

In a convent.

It won’t help God

For me to be a nun.

Since I’m a girl

I want fun.

It won’t help God

For me to be a nun.

I don’t want to be a nun.


I am a girl waking to love.

Leave me happy and daring

With my love.

I am a girl in pain.


Possibly not as angelic and serenely content as it seems.

I really hope she didn’t have to become a nun and I hope she had a chance to be daring and happy.

Have a daring and happy week. FG


You don’t know what you’ve got until you don’t need it…

As many of you know I have waited a year to move into my new house in Hobsonville Point. I have been here just on four months and … I’m moving around the corner. This home has 3 toilets, two bathrooms, two living areas and three double bedrooms as well as a large landing/study. In addition I have a lawn, a garage and a car space. And there is just me. I tried b and b just one night and quickly realised that sharing my house with strangers is not for me.

Furthermore I was approached by a family who were urgently looking for a home and couldn’t wait for one to be built. The upshot is I’m moving next week and two little girls filled with fun will be filling out those empty spare rooms.

My new place isn’t much smaller but it has a completely separate downstairs which has a separate entry and I have let that to two people looking for office space. I will occupy the top two floors and now just have a lovely large deck.

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I didn’t know my current home would leave me feeling as though I was rattling around and so while it is an effort I just bit the bullet and am now packing again. It feels completely right to me.

I have given away or sold bits of furniture and I advise anyone to not store their children’s stuff once they leave home. Sam has had to collect his stuff as I just can’t accommodate it. (Thanks Bruce and Sam). I did have a massive clear out at my old place so it isn’t too bad but it is amazing how much extra stuff you can collect over a short period of time.

So today I am organising files. I am a bit hopeless when it comes to record-keeping so I am going to try and do better. I’ll let you know if it works.

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Letting go of stuff at my age is difficult as it comes with memories. I find it hard to dispense with the things people have given me, or I have collected on my travels. For example I have a metal hand-painted set of Beatrix Potter figurines that I was given by a boy when I went to play at his house. I think we must have been about 8. I knew that his mother was cross that he had given them to me but she was too well-mannered to take them back. I actually found him recently on FB  and asked him if he would like them back in case he had had children but he was happy for me to have them. At least I value them and have carried them through my life for a very long time.


Sam inherited my father’s roll top desk but has no place for it. I was going to simply trade it in but then thought to ask the rest of the family if they wanted it. My nephew and wife would love to have it so I will be packing it up for Dunedin this week. This is a great solution as it remains in the family with someone who will take care of it.

I am keeping the herbs and lime trees in pots for my new deck but am very happy not to mow lawn. So all in all I am very pleased with the move even though there is a lot to be done. I like having less stuff even though my minimalist neighbour would still think I had plenty. When I’m dead and buried I don’t mind what Sam does with it all as it is my stuff not his. The next major job is photos…. where do I start?

A friend collected every concert ticket, football match stub, train ticket he ever purchased which I thought was madness but he has recently scanned everything and then thrown them out. (Actually I don’t know if he has actually thrown then out but that was the plan). I have given up some of my late husband’s sculptures but the photos make me sadder so better not to look at them I think.

Some things stay the same. I had my favourite IKEA light in Sunnynook but the purchaser wanted to keep it and so I bought another for here.  My new purchaser wants to keep this one so I have gone over the top and bought the really big one for my new place. I first saw them in Germany in an architect’s office that I passed most evenings on my way to my favourite cafe. He had two of the large ones and I assumed they were some expensive architecturally-designed light. They were somehow quite magical in the dusk of a cold winter in Munich and each evening the architect would look up and smile at me peering in his window. He was probably wondering who the creepy woman was. Turns out they are two a penny and from IKEA. I hope the big one doesn’t look too over the top. It is not just about the light but the memory that comes with it. For my birthday card, a friend gave me a postcard of the cafe. I’m just not ready to throw those kinds of things out.


This move will also give me a little more financial freedom and protect me from the vagaries of the Auckland market. So off I go Thursday next week. I need to get to grips with an induction stove top but I’m sure I can cope with the heated tiles in the bathroom.

Crazy but happy, both with the home I leave behind for the right number of people and also for the new pad which is more my size. Have a good weekend, FG

Getting good help…

The other day while talking on the phone and carrying a bag downstairs my slippery slippers slipped me down the stairs.


Shiny bottoms.

The results is a painful shoulder and a broken bone in my hand.


Pink was my colour of choice of course and nails to match.

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Wrinkly old hand but pretty pink colour-coordinated nails.

Being left-handed hasn’t helped and I have had a few challenges. I’ve resorted to doing up my bra the way my mother used to. That is, do the hooks up round the front and then swing it round into place. Awkward… I’ve also had to prevail upon my wing woman possibly more often than she likes.

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Deb making all my Fluffy George Postal Poems envelopes and origami.Grouchy face on.



Oddly she is happier doing the ironing.

My neighbour saw my plight and offered to help with the book club supper. Usually we have a few biscuits and some chocolate with wine….. I felt like having a proper party instead. Fresh asparagus rolls, yum!


Book club supper extraordinaire. There were two layers of rolls but before people arrived it had mysteriously diminished to one.

It is good to me reminded to appreciate good health. Even pegging out the washing is tricky.


Wing woman at work again. She isn’t happy with the wine for work pay rate.

The moral of the story is hold the hand rail, don’t try to do other things while going down stairs  and buy slippers with some tread on them!

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Have a good week, FG

A Few Days in the Country

and I don’t want to go home…..


My friend knitted me this beautiful rug so it came with me for my country break.



I became not a little obsessed with spiders’ webs.,,





And toadstools



And with undergrowth

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If I could paint or be a photographer, I would take photos of undergrowth.

Like Durer only probably not quite so good.


But I really don’t like dogs…except maybe Stanley and …Millie




I lich lichen


And light

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And firewood.

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01872ceaabcb5554c8156fe415ff37f3519632eb5c01684d8269cb806fb2e2ae485de11a22a315dcccce01e1b790bb8304e498db213092643568e47760d2be And the beach


But could I live without the film festival? Maybe…


Home sweet home away from home. FG


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Th Meaning of Life and all that…

I’ve mentioned before that I follow the Greater Good Science project done at Berkeley University. I subscribe to their newsletter and today I was reading through a few articles and came across the book below:

<a href=“http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062409603?ie=UTF8&tag=gregooscicen-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0062409603”>HarperOne, 2016, 288 pages</a>

According to Strecher, the strength of one’s life purpose—which involves a combination of living according to your values and goals, and striving to make a positive difference in the world—can be measured, and it correlates highly with psychological wellness and even markers of physical health and longevity.

I’m not sure I have a life purpose except that when I gave up work full-time I felt much, much happier and healthier.  I’m not making a difference in the world, and what Strecher makes clear is that it isn’t easy.

“Of course, giving lip service to having a purpose in life is not going to cut it. It has to be genuine and to truly reflect your goals and values. Also, there is a difference between finding your purpose and acting upon it, says Strecher.

“The dynamic process of aligning yourself with your life purpose requires energy and willpower: wind in your sails to move you forward, and a strong rudder to prevent being blown off course,” he writes.”

He goes further,

“If I were you, I wouldn’t wait around for more research. I’d just get a purpose,” writes Strecher. “The scientific evidence supporting the benefits of one is extremely promising, and, at the risk of sounding a bit alarmist, we need it.”

Not sure I have the willpower or a purpose but I am more grateful generally and living more keenly in the present. Mindfulness needs to be practised not just thought about so willpower is definitely important for me.  I was tired this morning and not very focused so when the Greater Good Science email came through it helped me get back on track. I also read about the more detailed specifics about a gratitude diary. At the moment  I just tear off the next page of my calendar and write it on the back and put it in the box the calendar came in.






Apparently, when you dig into the research, you find that gratitude journals don’t always work—some studies show incredible benefits, others not so much.

Emmons, a professor at the University of California, shared these research-based tips for reaping the greatest psychological rewards from your gratitude journal.

  • Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
  • Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
  • Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
  • Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
  • Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
  • Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counter intuitive, but it is how the mind works.”

So all this year I have been doing it wrong…for me though it is having the time to just stop and think and I know I couldn’t persevere at all if I was working full-time. Now I can rethink the journal and adjust how I do it. Friends who are working full-time find it really hard to fit daily practices in of any kind when they are working so hard.

Last night I watch all four episodes of Why Am I? based on the longitudinal study of over one thousand babies born in Dunedin in 1972 (which is why I’m tired but I just couldn’t help ti, they were addictive). Forty years later 94% of participants are still in the study. In terms of scientific research this is very unusual. It is gripping viewing and the research out of it is incredible-something like one published paper every two weeks for forty years.

Research from the "Dunedin Study" has provided an insight into the lives of all of us, believes Mark McNeill.

I can’t remotely summarise it here but some of it is what we intuitively know and it can be hugely mitigated if we put resources and weight behind the research. The most obvious is that a happy, secure childhood is  absolutely critical to an adult’s well-being. Teaching children self-control is also highly possible and important. The outcomes for Moko if he had survived look grim.

Other results are really surprising and ground breaking and they seem to apply the world over. Our very high suicide rate is inexcusable and unacceptable. The really surprising outcome for me was that children raised in poverty cannot escape their past. Even if they go on as adults to live prosperous and healthy lives, the poverty legacy remains and the health outcomes don’t change. The inflammation in childhood stays in the body.  So the millions it costs in combating crime, poor health, victim impacts, the economy, etc etc could be minimalised by focusing on and resourcing babies and the under fives. I can do without a damn tax break, I want my money put into children.

It is completely absorbing and compelling viewing. Let me know what you think if you watch it.

I went to Christchurch for a few days this week and getting to and from the Auckland Airport was a nightmare. Pouring rain, heinous congestion and 2.5 hours before I actually walked into the airport. However, once I reached Christchurch I loved the proper autumn weather and even the autumn chill. Having four clear seasons is rather lovely.  The Riccarton market in Dean’s bush is still my favourite as it doesn’t just have the luxury extras like chutney, it has gorgeous greens and fresh vegetables of all kinds.


Looking out at the runway in Auckland prior to departure.

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I did experience a little shake though…no-one else even noticed but it was there on Geonet.

I’ve just finished God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson’s follow-up novel to Life After Life. They are both fantastic if you need a good read. My father was a radio man flying Sunderlands in the war and this gave me a real insight into the whole horrendous bombing raids over Germany.

Any way, it’s stopped raining for a bit so on with a raincoat and off for a walk. Doris Lessing probably has it right. Have a good week, FG




Documentary Edge

It has been a fantastic week of documentaries. Q is doing a great job of running this festival and it finishes on Sunday. I also really appreciate the over 60 prices :)



I have been to the following:

Driving With Selvi 

3.5 stars from me. The Indian patriarchal society is very much alive and well and Selvi was married off at 14 to an abusive creep. She ran away and found her feet at what seems to be a very well-run home for young girls and women who are escaping violent homes. She becomes the first female taxi driver in the area and thrives on the freedom and responsibility. Selvi falls in love, much to her surprise and the husband accepts her without a dowry. When she has her daughter he won’t “allow” her to go back to work until their daughter is older. Selvi finally has the chance and trains to drive buses and large trucks and sets up her own business. She and her husband now share a trucking business. The most delightful part is that she is determined her little girl will get an education.

The Man Can Make a Difference

Ullabrit Horn’s  movie chronicles the eventful life of Hungarian-born Jewish lawyer Benjamin Ferencz, who fled to the USA as a child and later became Chief War Crime Prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1949. Fifty years later he was also one of the founding members of the International Criminal Court. Ullabrit Horn portrays a man, who was able to change world history through his actions – A man can make a difference. Originally the movie title was Law not War. It was amazing to see this very young man at aged 27 as the Chief War Crime Prosecutor. As an aside, Ferencz is totally opposed to war at any level but is estranged from his daughter. I wanted to know why. Definitely compelling viewing 5/5 for me.

The Infinite Happiness 

This doco is about architect Bjarke Ingels’s ‘8’ building in Copenhagen.

The film is like a series of chapters about the residents and residences in the complex. We see the building from many perspectives- a frenetic child’s birthday party, the terribly disgruntled owner who is plagued by nosy tourists looking in his windows all day and the eccentric inventor who has a workshop in the basement among others. It was marred a little for me as it began extremely loudly and this was both annoying and uncomfortable. I wanted to know more about the architect too, but it was an interesting watch and got me thinking about the Hobsonville aims and objectives. The 8 is a much more exciting and innovative idea and it would be great to see some of this thinking put into Auckland.  3/5

Be Here Now- The Andy Whitfield Story. 

“An inspiring love story between superstar, Andy Whitfield, of “Spartacus” fame and his charismatic wife, that reminds the audience that the journey is more important than the destination.” http://www.beherenowfilm.com/  In a way it wasn’t an extraordinary story because we all know someone who has gone through the anguish of cancer but maybe that’s why it was a good story. It reminds us to be here now, that cancer is not choosy, that it can happen to a gorgeous movie star who has the resources to travel to India and live in a beautiful house or it can happen to our neighbour, our children, ourselves. A friend of a friend mentioned in passing that her friend’s son died recently aged 23, of a brain tumour. My Sam is 23. It frightens me but all I can do is remind him to check on any suspicious-looking mole or lump or pain, not ignore it, even if it is nothing and then Be Here Now.

Dancing in Ohio

I loved this tender, funny, moving film about high functioning autistic teens preparing for their spring prom. Their teacher was a lovely man who questions himself in challenging them to get involved in a life that is always hard and messy and difficult for all of us but much more so for  his students. I thought the parents were absolutely wonderful -loving,patient and truly accepting of their teens’ disabilities  and who they are and who they could become. A humbling and very affecting film. 5/5


Finally, my favourite film despite its weirdness. This review sums it up better than I ever could.


The adage truth is stranger than fiction holds true here. There was absolutely nothing likable about the poisonous, self-centered Marianne but her children and grandchildren were extremely likable, despite the damage she caused them.  Fascinating. 5/5

I posted out the May edition of the Fluffygeorge post yesterday so look for it in your mail box, those of you who have subscribed and thanks again for supporting my little project. It nearly didn’t happen because the roads in Hobsonville Point are not yet on GPS and my parcel of printing from Australia all went to a house in Sandspit with the same street name. This meant my wing woman and I had to go north, find the house and then chase the courier van to retrieve them. Fortunately we managed to do it and squeeze in a coffee at the lovely Brick Bay Cafe http://brickbay.co.nz/

We didn’t have time for the sculpture trail and I have been before but it looked as though they had some new sculptures so it will have to wait until next time.

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May FG poetry post

I am off to Christchurch for a few days but it is so lovely to be at home with the rain on the roof and the double glazing. It will good to go and good to come home again. Looking forward to a catch up with friends. Have a happy week. FG