Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A snip of a price

This morning's post brought two more books. My latest TradeMe purchases. The 21st Century, online garage sale equivalent. Isabel Allende's Portrait in Sepia and Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers. Only $1 apiece and both in as-new condition. I am absolutely delighted. This is definitely the way to buy new books. Here in NZ, good fiction paperbacks generally cost anywhere between$25-35.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An ever-changing lens

For those who expressed interest in the Uncertain Space photographic exhibition: The exhibition opens in two days time. Though it is a group show, each of the three photographers will be exhibiting their work in separate rooms in the gallery. The photographer with whom I collaborated, Liz March, is showing 47 pieces, collectively entitled 'An ever-changing lens'. They include 10 excerpts from my writing, which have been laid over a variety of soft colours, tying in with the photographs they will be situated next to . Each work is A3 size. Some B&W, some colour. I saw the enlarged photographs a couple of days ago and they are quite superb. All credit to the photographer. I found it very interesting, and strangely moving, to see my words presented in such a way. Almost as if I were not the author. I hope to post some photos of the exhibition at a later stage.

I wrote a very brief explanatory note about myself, to accompany the exhibition. I have decided to post it here:

____ was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1992, aged 32. Over the ensuing years, the condition has gnawed away at her physical status, its progression sometimes unhurried, sometimes disturbingly rapid. Today, _____ is confined to her home in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges, where she perceives life through an ever-changing lens.
We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are. Anais Nin

Photographer/Liz March

Black Turtle Bean Soup

(I am in two minds about posting a recipe but, oh well, I have described DoubtEverything as a miscellany).

This soup is not beautiful but its deliciousness rates second to none. Insofar as my tastebuds are concerned anyway.

11/2 cups black turtle beans (dried)
extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin seed, freshly ground*
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1 litre chicken stock
500ml water

Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain. Heat oil in large heavy-based saucepan and cook the onions, garlic and cumin until soft. Add chorizo and cook 2 minutes. Add beans, chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for approximately 11/2-2 hours or until beans are tender. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Cool slightly and puree half the soup, minus sausage pieces, in a blender. Return to the saucepan. To serve, add a dollop of sourcream (opt) and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander or chives.

*An electric coffee grinder is perfect for grinding spices. The flavour of freshly ground spices is incomparable

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Humour me if you will

A dearth of present inspiration gives birth to re-reading previously constructed writings. Mavis Diamond was conceived about two years ago. I thought she may develop further but she got stuck at around the three-pages mark. This is a little taste. Humour me if you will.

In her childhood, a new year had always been treated with a certain degree of reverence. Mavis’s parents, who were somewhat non-conformist in their thinking, had considered it a time for new beginnings and always instilled in her the sense that she could give to the coming year what ever ‘shape’ she wanted. It was a blank slate and she, the artist. She was the author of her life and, as such, had the power to engineer and facilitate opportunity or, conversely, limit herself by taking an unconscious approach. As a child, this had always seemed to her rather magical. That a person, a child even, could make decisions about the direction their life would take during the coming year, was something altogether remarkable. She understood that it didn’t mean she could have complete control over what happened, her parents had been quite clear about that, but rather that she could make certain things happen if she wanted. From a very young age, Mavis had always treated the matter very seriously.
Near the end of her Standard 6 year, when the following year’s move to high school loomed large in her mind, Mavis began to consider her future career and what subjects she would need to study to prepare for it. Her parents listened as she thought aloud and explored the various paths she might go down. They never steered her in one direction or another, simply opened up each possibility as widely as possible and allowed her to journey through it as she liked. Whether it was teaching or veterinary science, they greeted each option with the same reserved enthusiasm. Mavis soon came to comprehend that, amongst her friends, she and her parents were unique in their approach. She had thought all families were the same.
- What subjects are you taking next year Barbara, Mavis asked her best friend.
- Dunno, book keeping or typing I s’pose, my parents say I’ll be going to secretarial school when I finish school anyway.
- Do you want to be a secretary then?
- Dunno, haven’t really thought about it, s’pose so, all the other girls will be doing commercial subjects.
- So, do you want to be a secretary Barbara?
- Oh I dunno Mavis. Come on, race you to the garden. There might be some new peas ready for picking. Come on.
From that day, Mavis Diamond never took the knowledge, that she could manoeuvre her life, for granted. Other people, she increasingly came to recognise, were rarely apprised of that knowledge and suffered as a consequence, stuck in their boringly conformist and unconscious lives.

Photograph/Epsom Girls Grammar Form 3 1952

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where I'm From

I am from home-delivered milk in glass bottles; from Jungle Juice, Eskimo Pies and the Edmonds Cookbook.

I am from the three bedroom bungalow on the slopes of Mt Hobson, the big goldfish pond in the back lawn, the tree house in the monkey apple tree and the irresistible smell of just-baked bread.

I am from the big grapefruit tree that provided breakfasts when in season; from blue hydrangeas and the much played-in Chinese garden ‘down the back’.

I am from fish and chips with the next door neighbours on Friday nights; from gratefully accepted slender genes; from Hannah, who preferred her middle name and was known as Vi; from Neil, who took my brother and me tramping and ‘protected’ us from Rover; and from Pa, of the bottomless Minties bag.

I am from internalised anger and understated emotion; from the Santa Claus who liked a bottle of beer and a few biscuits before he flew on to the next house, and a mother who would get sent to jail if we didn’t to go to school.

I am from St Aidan’s Anglican Church, where I was christened and sent to Sunday School; from more charismatic experiences, entered into as an adult and pursued for eighteen years before being abandoned in favour of reality.

I'm from New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and England; from creamy fish soup with parsley and raw mushroom salad; from cream filled sponge cakes served at Sunday afternoon teas in the house overlooking the Tamaki estuary.

From Nana and Pa who were not next in line to marry and so married secretly until it was their turn and they could safely let the cat out of the bag; the mysterious sibling who preceded me in the womb but miscarried before his/her time, and Poppa who, at the age of eight, drove a herd of cattle through the King Country backblocks, single-handedly.

I am from black and white ancestors, collected between the pages of family albums and viewed through the eye and fascination of a child; from the little 19th century birthday book, passed down through the female line; from the Venetian glass vase filled with Proteas; from snippets of long-past events, relayed via fragile memory; from people, unknown but no less influential for just having been.

Acknowledging Lulu's part in this exercise. To try your own hand, go to: .

Artist/Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Constant Gardener

I've never particularly enjoyed watching Ralph Fiennes on screen but after listening to a very promising review of The Constant Gardner on National Radio (NZ public radio), I put the film on my must-watch list. And this afternoon I did just that, watched it. In short, no regrets.
The Constant Gardener strikes a comfortable, happy and thoroughly engaging balance between wonderfully intimate love story and disturbing tale of murder and politcal/industrial intrigue. Both Fiennes and the, previously unknown to me, female lead, Rachel Weisz, give superb performances. Nothing short of believable. In fact, all performances are excellent. The cinematography also deserves special mention for the inclusive familiarity which falls just short of voyeurism. Kenya, in which the film is largely shot, and its people offer a colourful, warm and stunning backdrop to this thoroughly commendable film.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Autumn's other face

The autumnal scene out my window this morning is nothing short of magnificent. Sun shining brightly. Gentle breeze. Fig tree in the foreground. Mostly denuded of leaves. Dotted with a handful of waxeyes enjoying the absolute last of the figs. Liquid Amber tree just behind. Clothed in the season's variegated coat. Ranging in colour from stubbornly green through to yellow, orange and red. The grass below both trees covered in a generous carpet of leaves. Food for the ground which has nurtured their growth through the previous months. A sort of 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' arrangement. A pot of rosemary, tinged blue with flowers. Purple salvia, on its last legs. Agapanthus, one of Waitakere City Council's banned plants, comfortably nestled up against the fence. Long, narrow, bright green leaves surrounding half-dried seedheads on sturdy stems.....Then, as if to remind me that it is autumn after all, the sky completely clouds over and rain begins to fall. Autumn's other face.

Photograph/Waxeye by Liz March

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Finding the world

He was like someone sleeping who woke suddenly and found the world...all the beauty of it and the sadness too...the hunger and the thirst...everything he had never thought about or known was there before him, and magnified themselves into one person, who by chance or fate, call it what you will, happened to be me.

Daphne du Maurier My Cousin Rachel

Artist/Marc Chagall

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spoiled, for birds

Living here, in the Waitakere foothills, I am spoiled, for birds. Absent for a week recently, I was reminded of the avian privileges afforded by this location. My temporary viewing platform offered a very different and much reduced avian menu: ducks, seagulls, black-backed gulls and a couple of pukekos. While I have a soft spot for pukekos and the ducks were highly amusing and the black-backed gulls looked quite wonderful perched atop a visible street lamp, my heart cried out for the vast array of both native and exotic birds I am accustomed to observing on a daily basis. OK, lesson learned, I shall never again take my feathered garden residents and visitors for granted. Not that I was in the least aware of having done so.

Photograph/Kereru (NZ native wood pigeon)