Monthly Archives: July 2014

The happiness of being at home

  • yoga tick
  • iron 17 shirts and numerous napkins and pillow cases tick
  • wash duvet cat spewed on tick
  • mop laundry floor tick
  • mop laundry floor again after washing machine flooded tick
  • knit dishcloth from scraps, it is a butterfly..tick

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  • sink into minor lack of confidence gloom 30 minutes tick
  • prep a few new tiles tick
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  • have coffee with partner tick
  • go for lovely 40 minute walk along Takapuna beach,enjoy the beauty of small things tick01d0da17ef52891ead4308ba06987a60d0a89ed174

Ask big questions in life like, “How do seagulls stay so white? tick

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And how do shells get those beautiful stripes and colours?01de677a1addf28b8a770a60efd0581250428f76d0      0131f39c1bea49bd643e734bd946bce3f90132c9f7  01883aec1a85842c3bd8aab725832c5fa4d3d1d016 011382ee543a2b03c6afd86e0f1c6a7b27535a820a 0186724e6695b2d3ea5df38c046c7bf1a052678186 0192472d503230e4ef0dfd68dc2a193c88b96fd1bc 01137670f813214ba5aa4ca6eea8bd2a6c2afeabcd

And why is National likely to get in when it is so unfair on the average and poor New Zealander? I am guessing this house is worth around 6 million. Possibly working for themselves as opposed to NZ.

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Make yummy salsa and homemade Heggie pie , diverging from recipe by adding spinach and mushrooms and different cheeses etc…  Tick

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Think about poems using lines I’ve heard recently like:

“Every girls’ dream; an organised closet”

and “Your number 1 enemy-clutter”

Working a little tomorrow. I need to learn how to upload photos nicely. Any teachers please? Hope you have a good day. FG

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Food, flaws and film

Yoga  tick

30 minute walk yesterday tick

healthy breakfast…..not so sure

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Still it will end up being lunch too and the grapefruit is lovingly prepared for me and is homegrown.

Call me childish, the bum pear below reminded me of Miranda, “rude” and also her own fruit friends. I glad someone else is as immature as I am even if it is only a TV series.

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Now, flaws… I have a lot. Sounds like the beginning of a song. I also had a tendency to ruminate and flagellate not to mention berate, myself over every transgression, moment of poor judgement and so on. So today my key words are bounce back and resilience.  Sure, reflect, apologise and try to do better next time but move on! (I’m talking to myself here but you may want to join in if you have the same tendency. )

So after making amends I went to Browns Bay and breathed in the beautiful sea air on a beautiful day and took myself off for a walk. Yes along the cliff edge but had no thought of throwing myself off.  I forgave myself.

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Films: If you get the chance  and haven’t already, go and see The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. Directed by Brian Knappenberger he “expertly documents Swartz’s short life, combining home video, stock footage and new interviews to lucid and moving effect.” (FF booklet). The juxtaposition of this dear little gifted boy in home videos with the lunacy of aggressive, self-serving government prosecutors is profoundly disturbing.

The singling out of this young lad for illegally downloading academic journals to spread access to all and not for profit at all and threatening to imprison him for 30 years sits alongside the cretins of Wall Street, who remain completely free and without prosecution and who now continue to dine with the President.

This film remains alongside and earlier post about the documentary about the corrupt judge who imprisoned hundreds of teenagers for really minor offences. It is called Kids For Cash. I hope you can catch this one too.

http://kidsforcashthemovie.com/

Off to make some Libby Weaver’s brain balls, work on some tiles, take a walk and then another film.  Life is good and I’m lucky, have a good day. FG

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The days are getting lighter and I’m getting heavier

How great that it is getting lighter day by day.  I walked though our local park recently and the magnolias are really getting carried away.

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It is unusual here in Auckland but we have had a couple of frosts but it means the days are beautiful. It has been very wet though so I am searching the net for suitable things to plant in the garden beds in August.

I have cooked with scant regard to seasonal vegetables when on a good salary and made the mistake of making a yummy vegetarian dish from Libby Weaver’s Real Chef  book.

http://www.drlibby.com/real-food-chef/

However it required about 5 peppers, 2 avocados and 1 1/2 cups of cashews . Peppers at this time of the year are up to $3.00 each so this isn’t a cheap recipe in July. I need to think more carefully about buying seasonal vegetables for cooking. Weaver doesn’t use any bread, dairy, gluten etc so I decided to have a go at making my own tortillas  instead of using her suggested silverbeet to wrap the beans and salsa in. It was so easy! I will definitely do that again.

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Just throw 2 cups of flower and a teaspoon of salt in with enough water to make a dough, rest it for ten minutes, divide into 8 balls, roll them out and do a minute a side in an oil sprayed pan. They were great for wrapping the leftovers for Bruce and Sam’s lunches.

While I love a lot of Weaver’s recipes, many of them are beyond the reach of middle income families. A friend made one of her desserts and it cost around 50 dollars. They aren’t all like that though.

The joy of cooking though , is in the sharing. I love to watch my son chowing down on a great big healthy vegetarian wrap.

I was really lucky too yesterday, as my friend Patsy went halves and gave me a delicious rhubarb ginger crumble with gingernut biscuit topping, mmmm.

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I don’t want to introduce the topic of weight loss really because so many of us use an inordinate amount of time discussing it. My view is, if you don’t intend to do anything about it then shut up. and yet, here I am….

Despite yoga everyday, my weight seems to be steadily increasing. I put on a couple of kilos in France and then just haven’t been able to get rid of them. I really thought healthy eating at home would work. I just can’t face Weight Watchers or dieting so I am going to try to do at least thirty minutes walking a day and write it down at home. Here it is for all the world to see….

Off to the library in Browns Bay and a walk along the beach for thirty minutes.

Have a good week. FG

 

Poetry is pleasure

Our Tuesday assignment was to write something delicious. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of poems about food. 🙂

I ended up writing about a painting I have by Margaret Hudson Ware (she paints under the name of Margaret Tyndall). It isn’t a delicious theme, I not great at delicious. I am putting the poem here and then below it the painting and what I was thinking about. As poems shouldn’t need explanation and analysis don’t read the other bit if you don’t want to. FG

Her spine a straight line into weather

The cold grey light against the white river the grey stones the grey and white clouds.
Probably the mouth of the Rakaia.
I can see the top half of his head in the side mirror, furrowed, impatient, impotent.

This image distracted me from the flying baby and you in your long red dress.
Your oversized forearm, a wrestler’s desperate hold around her bare bottom.
Arched bare feet in shadow against the boulders.
Your other hand gripping the tiny foot, her arms
reach for the grey white sky.
Her spine a straight line into weather.

Your lips are frozen stone on her bald round head, your eyes grey slits.
She’s heading straight for the white river, a slippery fish, cold and urgent.
And you, you go under, sink stony frozen, grey and white.
Your air is oxygen is and there is none.

He revs and revs the engine.

Sue Heggie

I have owned the painting for over 20 years and it is again, one of those “things” I would hate to live without. (see yesterday’s post)

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I have always thought the man in the wing mirror is her angry father and she had the baby “out of wedlock”- hah what a phrase. She has been made to put the baby up for adoption and is saying her last goodbyes in that cruel and stony environment.

So poignant and painful.

Still on a more cheerful, delicious note I am so happy to be at home all week without any obligations. Please send me opinions, feedback anything you want to contribute so I know you are out there. FG

 

Just a post on the meaning of life and everything…you know shouldn’t take long

Today our Iowa Mooc talk was on the pleasure of poetry and we are to write a poem for the pleasure of it. It is true that I have been feeling that my writing poetry is pointless, what am I doing it for etc.  and the lecture today was so comforting, if that’s the right word.  Walter Pater says poetry, “offers nothing except for the quickening of your moments on earth”.  James Galvin talks about poetry’s ability to “speed you up and make you more intense, more alive.”

I guess that depends on how good you are at writing it but it is certainly true  for me when reading poems.

I then started thinking about happiness. There are lots of articles around about money not buying happiness yet we still buy a lotto ticket each week and spend it in our minds. At a dinner party recently we started talking about what we would do if we won 25 million. Most of us could only manage to spend about 5-6 and actually were were all pretty happy with what we had.  An interesting discussion ensued about where the buck stopped in terms of giving it away to friends. Evidence shows that winning the lottery ruins social relationships and winners become more antisocial.

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness

Michael Norton on the TED talk above says money does buy happiness, it just depends what you spend it on. It turns out people get the most pleasure from spending on others.

So the ways money can make you happy are apparently as follows:

  • Spending money on others
  • Buying experiences rather than things
  • Going out for a few nice dinners not a whole lot of mediocre ones
  • Anticipating an event often increases happiness more than the event itself
  • The best way money increases happiness is when it buys time (cleaner, house close to work to reduce commute etc).

Henry David Thoreau says, “We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”

and Epicurus reminds us, “unchecked acquisition can lead to tangible anxiety.”

I have always been a stuff buyer in the sense that I love being at home and I like art and books and candles and flowers….and clothes.

Last year, after a lot of thinking I recovered an old set of six chairs that I bought for 165 dollars all up. I covered them with deliciously soft gray/blue velvet that cost 183 dollars a metre and then had the backs printed with chandeliers from one of my favourite shops, Front Room Fabrics. The upholsterer thought I was bonkers. I know they are only stuff and any old chairs would be fine but I still enjoy looking at them, touching them and sitting on them. I often say when I am looking at  materials or art or anything really, this moves me or it doesn’t. I even feel the same way about clothes. The Front Room stuff not only looks beautiful, it feels beautiful.

http://frontroomfabrics.co.nz/

Poppies Cotton Pillowslips - Pair

 

Recently I bought an expensive article of clothing from The Keep. Lela Jacobs designs the clothing and owns this shop. All her materials are chosen with great care and feel fabulous. The shop is called The Keep because the clothes are designed “for keeps”. Am I justifying my extravagance? Probably! (hey, it was in the sale…) More about Lela below.

http://pikdat.com/blog/2013/7/28/pikdat-profile-lela-jacobs

http://magazine.wearethefrontier.com/issue-02/the-keep-lela-jacobs/

I went to The Keep after a film in town. I got lost in, and overwhelmed by an ugly mall, stinking of takeaways, camphor from the $2,00 shops,  and glassy gaming machines. I couldn’t find the exit to the car park and was feeling utterly frazzled and grubby. It was such a pleasure to enter Lela’s quiet space, with lovely music and beautiful fabrics. It soothed me completely. So…sometimes stuff can buy happiness, that’s all I’m saying 🙂

When I was building a house I really needed taps above anything but on my birthday at a local cafe I spent the tap money on a painting by Megan McCormack. I have never for a single moment regretted that.

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Megan is an art teacher at Christchurch Boys High School and I hope she finds time to work on her own art while encouraging others in theirs.

I have given up a substantial salary in order to be at home, so furnishings, clothes and stuff will be beyond me a lot of the time. I do know though, that it makes me more selective and thoughtful about the things I do buy. But I am happier than I have ever been. So I guess you don’t need money to flourish but if you have money it can bring happiness but it seems only when you think about how you are spending it.  I do believe poverty brings misery. I think it is about having “enough”, however much that is…..

But, hey, what do I know? There are a couple of links to other articles below.

http://www.theminimalists.com/money-poverty/

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html

Let me know what you think. FG

A little nostalgic trip

Today I have been working on chapter 4 of our little Pyrenean adventure and writing about our first few days. I remember vividly the crying, the homesickness, the cold and Bic Runga on the CD player.  She brought us a feeling of familiarity and comfort those first few days.

I heard my son Sam chatting to someone awhile back about starting new things. He has been to seven primary schools and now at 21 has held down several part time jobs while studying. He was telling them it is always hard at first but it gets easier as you get to know people.

It is such an important life lesson I think to know that it is sometimes unfamiliar and tricky but if you persevere things get better. It never occurred to me that Sam would be upset about going to a French school when he didn’t speak French or that he had a right to complain about being dragged away form his friends. Looking back,  school was a very long day and must have been terribly boring at times. People said I was brave to go but I think Sam was much more so. I think experiences like these make children very resilient and tolerant of others.

If you are interested in the story of our travels please see the tab above.  Some pictures to whet your appetite:

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Sam playing “le foot” outside our converted barn.

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Puivert from the bridge where we played table soccer and I drank coffee and pastis.

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My beautiful Renault Clio

Bic whose songs made us feel closer to NZ. Coincidentally she was taught by my late husband at Cashmere High School. We still have a self-portrait he bought from her when she was in Year 11. She is so talented and could have been a poet and an artist as well as a musician.

http://www.bicrunga.com/

 

found poems, films and cats

Our cat, it has to be said, is a grump. She disdains affection, except from Sam, she vomits on the carpet and leaves dirt and hair all over the place. She is a dissatisfied house guest and has this look on her that conveys all sorts of phrases like:

“I’m waiting, get the door open.”

“I’m not eating that old tuna so you can just get rid of it”

“So you’re back from your fancy holiday are you?”

but I think she is dying.

Her back legs are giving up, she has developed a sweet old white haired look, she sleeps a lot more and both of us are becoming hopelessly devoted to her needs. We will all miss her terribly. (but it will be good to be able to replace the carpet…)

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Our poetry exercise for Tuesday is to “use other people’s words”. That mean we can pick phrases form different places and put them together anyway we choose. You can be very formal about it and choose from a jar, sort of poetry bingo and choose only from certain lines and so on or you can just randomly go for it. I have done two, one form an article and the other from two books. It is really creative and fun to do so have a go and submit your results here on line please!

From an article about

Plants for Bees
The humble honey bee
Mumbles farmers can help
Quality pollen.

Queens breeding right royally
Recommend abundant flowers
By beekeepers in flowering times

As the news is so grim right now and I’ve written about plane crashes, domestic violence, oppression of women and so on, the thought of examining an oil spill article was too much  so I went for two books. Firstly, 100 Afghan Squares To Knit by Debbie Abrahams and secondly Dear Heart, 150 New Zealand Love Poems edited by Paula Green. The latter was given to me for my birthday and I love it so it’s a lovely gift for those who like poetry. The former continues my obsession with knitting squares.

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Tell Me You’re Waiting

Being a child of the seventies it was inevitable,
None of them have stayed together.
He was my bright sea-bird on a rocky beach,
Bright happy colours embellished with beads.

The moon is a gondola
While the flower is a basic repeating shape.
With your fisherman’s knife you slash a red bloom
From the rosebush.
Wildflowers work until completed.

I have always been lucky with ribbon and rosebuds.
It is reminiscent of the pointed bunting
Strung along the busy side-streets.
When things get too hard to bear,
Place the old pink yarn over the new blue yarn,
Ending and going home to where love lives,
High above the town.

The Auckland Film Festival has begun. They have really upped their game on the app for it thank goodness.

So far I have been to Love is a Strange about two older gay chaps who get forced out of their flat because they decided to get married (after 39 years!) and the religious school one of them teaches at, fires him. They are forced to camp at friends’ places and so are separated for the first time and have to live with all the close-up foibles of themselves and others. I thought Charlie Tahan as the troubled teen was terrific.

I found it charming and very enjoyable and would recommend it. It will probably go mainstream.

The other turned out to be 3.5 hours long and was called The Last of the Unjust. This was an extended documentary interviewing the last of the Jewish Elders who survived the concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The interview took place n 1975 but has just now been released. The subject of the film, Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese rabbi was reviled for his complicity with the Nazis. He is hard to like but you start to think he is human and also not the person he was painted perhaps. I like his thought, “All people in the camps were martyrs but not all of them were saints.”

Once again it is an examination from a different point of view of the “Final Solution”. Recommended.

Today I am grateful for the rain, the warmth and the time. How about you? FG

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to know

which way up the world is today. The plane crash has left me without some kind of compass and yet it hasn’t. I carried on going to the film festival and treating myself to a new piece of clothing and meeting friends for coffee. i

A few days ago a doco on Erebus was on television and they interviewed the very young policemen who had to deal with the bodies on the crash site. one described it as destroying him from the inside out. The news is consumed with finding out the nationalities of the poor victims and I guess that is important but somehow are they all important? young, pretty, old, unfaithful, boring, brash, boorish?

I wrote these two poems after other air-crashes, one when a light plane crashed in Christchurch and I had taught two of the young men, the other is self-explanatory.

Last Evening

Last evening, just at the moment I was sipping
my red wine and stirring bolognaise for the spaghetti,
a light plane was beaming in on the landing strip. A young
wife was looking for loose change for the meter and buttoning
up the jacket over the pajamas of the smallest child.

It was dark and foggy and somehow the plane became
lost and smashed into a field near the airport as I was getting
the plates out of the oven. Amazingly, tow of the ten survived
and cried all the way through Holmes and some of that new
television reality series,

The is morning over a cup of tea I see all their loved faces,
Smiling at me from the front page and also a picture of the wreckage.
It’s a small city so I recognise two young men from high school.
One was head boy, one was a twin and both had Phds.

Their supper is untouched, congealed and cold at the sink.
Tomorrow the paragraph will be smaller. Some funerals will
covered. It’s certain an aviation investigation will proceed.
Relatives have been contacted and flowers and cards
have been laid along the fence at the crash site.

It is raining today and the petals have browned forlornly and wilted,
ribbons have escaped and caught on barbed wire, the words blurred
and illegible on the cards. The turbulence is visible, grey cloud
Is racing across the sky and it’s hard to tell
which way up the world is.

Universal Studios

I was in the classroom when the two planes
ploughed into the sides of the skyscrapers
fucking up the skyline.

One boy, agitated and excited, wanted a slow motion
replay because it was cool. The rag dolls plummeting
was an awesome special effect.

He was instantly rewarded again and
again. Pause and rewind were possible,
“Cut take two” proved infinitely more difficult.

King Kong did not miraculously appear, towering above
the buildings, gentle primate palm cupped to rescue
the beautiful secretary. Superman, arms outstretched
elsewhere, that particular morning and Wonder Woman,
caught unawares, was having her nails done.

Sorry that’s all folks, this was a low budget pilot
for a series that everyone will be cast in.
Heroes and extras alike will be there for
the epic and universal studios will
foot the bill.

Sue Heggie

How is your world looking today? FG

 

 

Back at work temporarily and domestic violence (male violence?)

Hi there, I thought I would reflect on what it is like to be back at work. It is nice to feel the warmth of former colleagues and recognise familiar faces but what is also familiar is the tightening of the stomach and the hunch of the shoulders. I think my problem is I care too much about my own opinions!! Surprise surprise. I am  ruminative and at my age  it’s time I stopped. I don’t mean stop caring however.

I want to be able to finance my new life so it is a matter of striking the right balance of doing a little work to ensure  I can sustain this life. I noticed immediately how much more money I spent on parking, lunch, dinner, etc. and almost had a sense of entitlement to do so.  I think this is a trap I really don’t want to fall in to.

For inspiration I always go back to the blog http://down—to—earth.blogspot.co.nz/

My partner thinks I get far too involved in news items and horrible happenings and it’s true I do and there’s certainly no point if I don’t intend to do anything about it. The poem below is one I wrote for our last exercise to the Iowa poetry MOOC I’m doing. There are 75 New Zealanders on it and I have linked up with a couple who I hope will want to continue sharing their writing afterwards.

My poem is in response to some of the hideous acts of violence against vulnerable children.

Cave men

Shedding new light on old walls
bison and mammoth images in blurry outline,
glimpsed in fleeting white beams of life.

Children’s hands printed surely across the ceiling
on the shoulders of mothers and fathers
by firelight ancient and wavering.

Was it language? Was it play? And
Were their perfect bodies thrown carelessly
To the cave floor? Or is it just today

Dads, stepfathers, kick and maim at will
No will, ill will, I will, freewill
I can, I will because I can.
Baby flesh and blood, and more blood
And flesh, fresh blood/meat
Speakable horror, upon horror
Oh baby, baby.

No easing of troubles, easy trouble,
easy meat. Smashing, bruising,
breaking, sucking baby thumbs, oh baby, baby.
Soft curve of fontanel, so tender, such easy
reach, pressing, hard, harder, shaking
splitting, spilling, font, fountain, fend, faltering
Father, fiend, fractured, frightened to death.

Shed old light on new walls quickly, quickly.

 

Sue Heggie

Does poetry influence or is it just a pretentious toss into the void?

To marry or not to marry

A young friend of mine recently became engaged and it got me thinking about our need for ceremony. It seems we have reverted back to the big white wedding thing costing thousands of dollars, young women changing their names, enjoying the engagement ring/proposal etc. whereas “in my day”…. it was the height of the feminist revolution and these things were a lot less common. Below  are two poems that I really like- not ones that are read at marriages very often but I think they have interesting things to say.

Why Marry at all?   A poem by Marge Piercy

Why mar what has grown up between the cracks
and flourished like a weed
that discovers itself to bear rugged
spikes of magenta blossoms in August,
ironweed sturdy and bold,
a perennial that endures winters to persist?

Why register with the state?
Why enlist in the legions of the respectable?
Why risk the whole apparatus of roles
and rules, of laws and liabilities?
Why license our bed at the foot
like our Datsun truck: will the mileage improve?

Why encumber our love with patriarchal
word stones, with the old armor
of husband and the corset stays
and the chains of wife? Marriage
meant buying a breeding womb
and sole claim to enforced sexual service.

Marriage has built boxes in which women
have burst their hearts sooner
than those walls; boxes of private
slow murder and the fading of the bloom
in the blood; boxes in which secret
bruises appear like toadstools in the morning.

But we cannot invent a language
of new grunts. We start where we find
ourselves, at this time and place.

Which is always the crossing of roads
that began beyond the earth’s curve
but whose destination we can now alter.

This is a public saying to all our friends
that we want to stay together. We want
to share our lives. We mean to pledge
ourselves through times of broken stone
and seasons of rose and ripe plum;
we have found out, we know, we want to continue.

 

We read the next poem by Margaret Atwood at our quiet little marriage ceremony with nine close friends and family in 1994.

Habitation

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

And finally a much better known regular of the marriage circuit but it still resonates with me. This is an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.


You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.

Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.

That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

What do you think of the institution of marriage? What poems or quotations did you read at your wedding?(s). Was it actually the happiest day of your life??

Below is a picture of my late husband and our son at our registry office ceremony. A few days later we told friends and family that we had married and had a fun weekend in some colonial cottages in Kimbell near Lake Tekapo in Central Otago.  The total cost was around 1000 dollars as my best friend arrived with all the lovely food we needed as a wedding present. Sadly, three weeks later my husband died in a climbing accident on Mount Sefton in the Mount Cook National Park. Fortunately we had lots of lovely photos and memories from our ceremonies. FG

Sam and Brett at the registry office May 11, 1994.

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