Archives: November 2004
Mon, 29 Nov 2004
Taken from my deck one evening.
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Sat, 27 Nov 2004
The Shape of Things
I find the shape of buildings fascinating, why architects shape buildings in particular ways.
Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, looks different from every angle. It's not a building I would call beautiful, and yet sometimes it is almost majestic, thrusting into the sky. Some years ago, I had the pleasure of having dinner with the then Chief Executive of the museum who had been involved in choosing the architects and the design for the new building. He explained the reasoning behind the design - each side was different, addressing a different side of the city - the harbour, the hills, the urban cityscape. I could see the underlying concepts but, to me, the architects never quite pulled it off. The building does not elegantly tie together all those different themes in a cohesive way.
Unlike The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
I fell in love with this building. It just looks like every piece is exactly where it should be and could be nowhere else except exactly where it is. Designed by Frank Gehry, it glowed in the setting sun, and looked almost malleable, soft. It is truly a stunning building.
Both buildings have been a pleasure to photograph, though. And often, the real beauty is in the detail.
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Variation on the Word Sleep
by Margaret Atwood
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
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Michael was reading an article in the newspaper about the Christmas holiday season. Some "child expert" was rambling on, saying that we really should stop worrying about how much we're giving our kids for Christmas, that if given the choice, kids would really much rather have more quality time with their parents than more Christmas presents, anyway.
We decided to put this to the test.
Parents: "Matt, if you had the choice between spending more time with us, or more Christmas presents, which would you choose?"
Matt, without so much as a blink or a hesitation: "More Christmas presents."
Parents: "No, no, you don't understand, Matt. Think about it. More fun time with us, doing really fun things."
Matt, looking up from his Lego: "What sort of fun things?"
Parents: "You know, going to the park, the playground, playing games, just having fun being together."
Matt: "Nah. I'd rather have the presents."
It makes you wonder just who these "child experts" are doing their research on, doesn't it.
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Mon, 22 Nov 2004
So small in the scheme of things
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Sun, 21 Nov 2004
Okay so I want to marry Gillian Welch.
Never mind that I'm already married and that she's a woman. Why let monogamy or a little thing like gender stand in the way of a perfectly good relationship.
She is so beautiful. She's funny. She's smart. She has long white arms that look oh so good wrapped around a guitar. And she wears a sleeveless, knee-length red dress with real cowboy boots. Sigh.
Oh, and did I mention that she can sing? God, people, can she sing!
She has one of those incredible voices (husky, mmmm, sexy) that takes you from the heights of joy and good ol' thigh-slapping, toe-tapping, feel-good, yodelling, oldtime country music - right down to the depths of despair, curl-up-in-a-ball-and-cry-yer-heart-out blues.
Guitar-picking, banjo-plucking, harmonica-puffing... she sang and played tonight to an audience who couldn't get enough.
Her partner on stage (and in life, I believe), David Rawlings, complemented her perfectly, his voice providing backing harmonies, never over-singing her, but just laying the velvet in the background against which her strong voice could be heard.
For the final encore, they left the stage and the microphones, stepped down into the audience, and sang The Long Black Veil, sad and beautiful.
You could've heard a proverbial pin drop on the floor as we leaned forward and listened to this haunting song being sung just for us, the audience, in this intimate way.
When it was over we stood up and cheered and clapped and whistled and stamped and wanted more.
I've been to many concerts in my life, but this one rated as one of the best. Oh, and if you haven't got her latest CD, Soul Journey, and you like this kind of music, you won't be disappointed.
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Josh has been strutting around the house, head held high, and saying "I'm da man! I'm da man!" in that real Mr T voice. All he needs is some bling bling around the neck, and it would be perfect.
It is the funniest thing I've ever seen. I must get a video of it in order to torment him later in life.
This morning was a quiet Sunday morning. I had just returned from the supermarket and was putting away groceries. Matthew was playing a computer game. Michael was reading the newspaper, I think. Josh was playing quietly in his room. All was well.
I'd just finished arranging the fruit bowl, when there was a knock at the door. I looked up. We weren't expecting anyone on a Sunday morning. Michael gets up to answer the door, and it's Joshua! Standing there in his pajamas!
Michael and I looked at each other. All the doors are shut. How on earth did he get outside?!
"Josh, how did you get outside?!"
"I fell," he said.
He runs into the bedroom and points to the window which is wide open. We groan. He has learned how to escape via the window!
There will be no stopping him now.
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Fri, 19 Nov 2004
The rose carried weight of love
but love is at an end - of roses
It is at the edge of the
petal that love waits
Crisp, worked to defeat
laboredness --- fragile
plucked, moist, half-raised
cold, precise, touching
from The Rose, VII of "Spring and All"
by William Carlos Williams
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Thu, 18 Nov 2004
Making a Fist
by Naomi Shihab Nye
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.
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Wed, 17 Nov 2004
Sometimes soft and feminine is oh so nice.
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The Zen of Matt
Sometimes Matthew is just too old for his six years.
Michael walks into the bedroom one morning last week, and Matthew is sitting in the middle of the bed, chin on his knees, looking very thoughtful.
Michael sits down beside him, and after a few minutes asks,"What ya thinking about there, Matt?"
Without any hesitation, Matt replies, "I'm trying to clear my mind."
Michael nods, and says "Is it working?"
Matt: "Unfortunately not."
Tonight Matthew and I are having a quiet mother-son moment. He's sitting on my lap and I give him a big hug and say "I love you, my boy-who-asks-a-million-questions-a-minute."
Matthew sighs and says "Mum, that would be impossible."
"Okay, maybe only 10,000 questions a minute."
"That would be impossible, too."
"Okay, maybe just a thousand questions, then."
Matt thinks for a moment.
"Ten," he says. "Maybe I ask ten questions a minute."
Seems like more than that to me!
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Mon, 15 Nov 2004
At the moment I'm reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves : the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.
Okay, yes, I'm reading a book about punctuation. Before you all yawn and nod off to sleep, let me say that it's a very funny, well-written book, if a little over the top. I sometimes think she tries too hard to be not boring because some of the jokes are a little strained. That, however, is a minor criticism.
I sympathised when she bemoaned all those misplaced apostrophes everywhere - Bobs' Motors (more than one Bob?); Pupil's entrance (only one pupil?); Member's May Ball (but with whom shall the one member dance?); and on and on.
I especially enjoyed her account of the history of punctuation which was first devised by Aristophanes of Byzantium (a librarian, of course) around 200BC as a system of notation to advise actors "when to breathe in preparation for a long bit, a not-so-long bit, or a relatively short bit."
And I loved her example of why the comma is so important. Consider the difference between the following, she asks us:
"Verily, I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
"Verily I say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
The first is how Protestents interpret this passage which, as Truss puts it, "lightly skips over the whole unpleasant business of Purgatory and takes the crucified thief straight to heaven with Our Lord. The second promises Paradise at some later date (to be confirmed, as it were) and leaves Purgatory nicely in the picture for the Catholics..."
Entire doctrinal differences hang on the placement of a single comma.
A good read if, like me, you're interested in language. But, hey, I grew up learning how to diagram sentences. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I know what a gerund is and can identify a subordinate clause.
And you do know the difference between "its" and "it's", don't you? Don't you?
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Sun, 14 Nov 2004
Summer has arrived
Today was very unlike Wellington in late spring. Usually the northerly winds blow a gale well into December, until you are nearly mad from the sound of it. Today, however, was hot, humid, still.
We went to the Botanic Gardens for a walk, armed with a picnic, drinks, suncream and hats. The boys love the playground and the duckpond.
By early afternoon, clouds had gathered, but offered no respite from the heat or humidity. There was some relief for the boys, though, in the fountain in the Rose Garden. In the end, they had both stripped off their clothes and were splashing around in their underwear, soaking themselves.
We started to walk back to the car just as the first spits of rain hit. You know summer is truly here with that first smell of rain on hot tarmac.
The wind has shifted now, coming in slightly cooler from the south. Perfect thunderstorm weather. Here's hoping. I'd love a good thunderstorm.
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Sat, 13 Nov 2004
I saw Lynn's photo taken in a laundromat, and was reminded of this:
This poem was found written on a paper bag by Richard
Brautigan in a laundromat in San Francisco. The author is unknown.
By accident, you put
Your money in my
By accident, I put
My money in another
On purpose, I put
Your clothes in the
Empty machine full
Of water and no
It was lonely.
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The Kiwi Bach
In New Zealand, a "bach" is a beach house. Traditionally it was a small place, thrown together with timber, corrugated iron, whatever was at hand. It was a place to unwind, kick back, not worry too much about cleaning or getting sand in the beds.
Nowadays, baches are more likely to be architecturally-designed houses, or at least tidy-looking holiday homes. City folk want their weekend retreat neighbours to be a bit upmarket in order to keep the value of the property up.
There are still a few old-fashioned baches around like this one, but their days are sadly numbered.
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Sun, 07 Nov 2004
The Joy of Joshua
Joshua, aged two and a half, is both a delight and a devil at the moment. One minute he will have me laughing with glee and the next I will be pulling my hair out at something he has done.
Here are a few Joshua moments from my weekend:
Joshua is lying on the floor of the hallway, playing with some cars and trucks. He has one of the bigger ones pushed up against the wall.
"Whatchya doin' with that big truck, Josh?"
"That's not a truck, Mummy. That's a fire engine!"
"Oh, okay. Are you putting out a fire with that fire engine?"
"No. It doesn't work. It's recharging."
Yesterday afternoon, a warm sunny day, and I am getting Joshua an ice cream cone. I put a scoop of chocolate ice cream on, and then a scoop of vanilla. He takes the cone and looks at it with interest. He has never had two different flavours before in the one cone.
"Look, Mummy, look! A bunk bed! There's the top", he says pointing to the vanilla ice cream, and then points to the chocolate scoop, "and there's the bottom bunk!"
Joshua has learned how to open up a CD case, take out the CD, insert it into the CD player, and push play. He knows also how to take it out again, and put another one in. We are trying to stop him from doing this as he is still too rough with both the CD and the stereo.
"Joshua, no touching the CDs, please."
He just looks at me and continues to take the CD out. I take it away from him.
"No, Josh. Please don't touch the CDs."
He gives a little grunt, and turns around and takes the CD again. I take it away from him.
"Joshua, if you take the CD one more time, I'll have to put you in your room for a little time out."
Sure enough, he reaches for the CD. I take the CD away from him. This time he starts to cry and get angry. He drops on to the floor and kicks his feet and flails his arms.
"Come on, Joshua, I think you need a little time out until you calm down, don't you?"
He sniffs, nods, takes my hand and I lead him to his room and close the door.
That was too easy, I'm thinking. I go back to doing the dishes. I can hear him doing things inside the room, and it doesn't sound good. I leave him for five minutes and then go back and open the door. I groan in dismay at the sight.
He has taken every plastic storage box and tipped it upside down... all the LEGO building blocks, the LEGO Star Wars, the Playmobil, the Action Men, the Toolbox... all of it, all over the floor.
And he's sitting in the floor in the middle of the mess with the biggest grin on his face, and you know that he's just thinking "You shoulda let me play that CD!"
It is a beautiful day, and the house is full of children. Matthew has invited two friends around for the afternoon, and they are all running in and out.
Joshua runs out the front door and around the side of the house. From just inside the door I hear this THWACK sound, and then the sound of Joshua squealing. I go around to the side to investigate and see that Josh has picked up a rock and thrown it at the neighbour's kitchen window, cracking it.
Joshua looks up at me, smiling. "Look, Mummy! I broke it!" he says proudly, pointing at the broken window.
"Joshua Dylan! That is so naughty!!"
I sigh. We so do not need a glazier bill right at the moment.
Joshua reaches up with his dirty little hands and puts them around my neck.
"I like you, Mummy. You're MY mummy."
My heart melts and I hold him close and kiss him.
"I like you, too, Joshua. I like you too."
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Heat at the Center
by Marvin Bell
Sweeping from the shrouded mouths of volcanoes,
in gusts, in feathers,
coaxing the trembling leaves to fly from their anxieties,
covering the pathways with sweat,
bathing the sanctuaries in encrustations of uncivil marrow—
hesitating, plunging, crazy with romance—
this heat is totally absorbing, busy, irresistible,
and it has caused many marriages and children,
and one day soon it will cause the oceans to beat,
and the oil to explode in car motors,
stranding unsuspecting travelers in the middle of the night
with lovers and dreams of lovers, unable to distinguish,
and then everything in the world will expand somewhat—
mouths and hands, clouds and fantasies,
wings of myth and pitchforks of legend—
and finally, in the days before ashes, a kiss will take us forever,
and every act of love, audacious as the wild carrot,
and the whole world, will be sad and humorous.
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Sat, 06 Nov 2004
Dumb and Dumber
This picture sums up my feelings about the election results better than I could:
Shouldn't there be a minimum IQ for presidential candidates? Probably for voters too.
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Mon, 01 Nov 2004
I've been listening to Tres Chicas. Over and over and over. Lynn Blakey's voice in this song just unravels me. Soulful, bittersweet harmonies.
Listen with me, if you want: mp3 version, 3.7mb, or streaming Real Audio, 2mb. Sorry for the quality. The mp3 is better, I think. Sounds incredible on my stereo.
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