Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a bump no longer!

Welcome to the world Orla

I have a very excited and proud godson who has no doubt equally proud but far more exhausted parents! The wine obviously did the trick then Lucy =)

Thank heavens for Flickr etc. - it's not the same as being there but at least I get to see the pictures now and don't have to wait until we're in the same place again.

there's no place like home

I was trying to write a comment on Mair's blog about 'home' (why can I never get a link to your site to work sensibly?!) and realised it was turning out to be longer than the original post so it's here instead!

Where is home? What makes it home?

Places I call home without thinking -
the house I live in
Wellington (where I live now)
but also...
Mum & Dad's house (regardless of where they might be living)
Holmfirth/the Holme Valley (where I grew up)
Edinburgh (where I lived for 12 1/2 years before moving here)
Scotland (ditto!)
Britain - but rarely England! (where I'm 'from' - which opens up a whole other long list of options/definitions in itself)

That covers a good few thousand miles of a round trip to visit them all!

If 'home is where the heart is' then that conjours up an image of William Wallace - in otherwords, decidedly scattered. If it's where the majority of my stuff is well I can't say that a storage locker in Sighthill (Edinburgh) holds much in the way of an emotional attachment that's for sure.

I've said to many people that I feel at home here in Aotearoa New Zealand, more at home here than anywhere else I've lived - yet another definition of home... in this case a sense of belonging, of connection to the land and people. In Edinburgh, despite having been there so long (more than a third of my life), there was always the sense of not quite belonging, but I'll still say 'back home' and mean there!

I shipped over a couple of boxes of stuff here to 'make it feel more like home' - and having some familiar things around does help, even though quite a few of the things are ones that weren't so prominant in previous 'homes', or that haven't been for some years. It helps the space feel more 'me' though and less transient, it takes away the B&B feel that the guest rooms (unsurprisingly) have. Making a house a home is something I find fairly easy, but whilst I may call the town where I'm living home automatically it needs to be more than that to stay 'home' after I've left - even after 5 years in Newcastle it was never home in an emotional sense.

My ex used to get quite indignant when I talked about 'going home to Mum & Dad's' and say 'but this is home', as if I were belittling our own domestic set up (which I also called home), and once they left where I'd grown up (again!) and I called their new house home even before I'd been there that just went beyond all understanding for him. But their new house still had them in it, and the stuff I'd grown up with so why shouldn't it be home? The view had changed but I instinctively know my way around where things are likely to be as it's, well, home... somewhere where I know 'the rules', can relax and just be.

I get asked 'what are you going to do when you go back home?' quite often yet it still throws me each time as both the 'what are you going to do' and 'back home' parts of the sentence feel like complete blanks - 'back home'? Where is that supposed to mean? In this context it implies that my home isn't here and yet here is 'home' far more than anywhere else on the list, and in anycase I don't actually have an actual physical home to go back to nor a reason to head to any particular place to make one. I'm waiting for the next call still, and hoping that whatever comes along keeps me somewhere between Cape Rienga and Stewart Island.

Home is another of those words, like love, that can mean so many things that it is almost beyond definition. But if I were to click the heels of my red shoes together I'd end up either in the house I live in or down on the Wellington waterfront.

Monday, March 27, 2006

at last!



opens April 14th

Excited? Me? Maybes...

Book your beds here now.... =)

UPDATE: only running until August 20th - final leg of the exhibition's tour so it's now or never... Audra, get those tickets booked!

glutton for punishment??

When I went to Australia YM last year the YFs were playing some getting to know you games, one of which was going round the circle saying what our 'addictions' were - the usual - chocolate, caffeine, shoes, shopping etc etc came up - mine? Well having just come from there (and really, really not wanted to leave) I said New Zealand!

I'm now beginning to think I may have another addiction - organising Quaker events! You'd think after WGYF I might have had enough for a while and yes, it has been great to have a break for a few months but now we have got started on planning the next Summer Gathering I'm realising how much I've actually missed it! Maybe it is also a case of doing something as a team again - most of my work here is decidedly solo, or with one other person. I'm not great at working on my own, I need to be able to throw ideas around not to mention having someone to say - have you done...? - especially when I haven't!

I've also said I'll take on trying to revitalise the local Quaker teenagers group - in theory something well within my capabilities and a chance to put some of the youthworker course stuff into practice again but I'm used to working with a team of people who've all gone through (or mostly anyway) the same pattern of events, had the same people train them, and who mostly have been Quaker teenagers themselves - oh so different from what I've got to work with here! Hmmm... should have tried harder to get Simon & Susie to consider emigrating! Ruth are you still planning to come over at Christmas? I'm doing the teenagers programme at Summer Gathering too!!!!

Hopefully I'll be able to round up some recruits at YF Camp at Easter - what is really needed here is to train up a core team who feel confident enough to organise stuff themselves for young people, and make sure we get some of the peer group involved too. It reminds me of sitting in Common Grounds (alas no more) with Simon, Roz and Luke planning Link Group weekends over endless pots of tea many years ago. Well if I can get bunch here to turn out as well as they did we'll be sorted! =)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

to do or not to do...

Ok, ok, I get the hint - time to put pen to paper again so as to speak!

Where to start?

Probably where I should be starting right now is the final stretch on the youthworker course on the grounds that it is supposed to be finished by the end of March and there isn't much of it left... but I should also be thinking about the session at YFs that Marion and I are doing in a fortnight on Eco/Ethical living... and having got so close to finishing putting together the front of the patchwork quilt I'm working on I really want to get it done and on to the next stage, not to mention the next quilt (although that probably requires me to mop the Quaker Centre floor first as it is the only space big enough - without moving furniture - that I can spread it all out flat, and I'm blowed if I'm going to get crumbs and any spilt soup on it from the impromptu YFs lunch we had there today).

I should also have brought in the washing that I've just remembered is still out on the line getting damper in the night air rather than dry.

However instead of all the above I'll wish Mum a Happy Mothers day (I'll ring you in the morning Mum - my morning, not yours...) and toddle back across to the house and go to bed soon.

It has been a long day with a lot in it - much food for thought. We had the bible study group this morning which I am realising is a lot like an English Lit group in a way as we grapple with what was the author trying to convey by.... how do we interpret that now? What meaning does that have for us in our own lives (if any)? Can we relate to that sentiment/experience?

Meeting for Worship was one of the best I have ever been to in Wellington - even though there were about 6 or 7 pieces of Ministry which usually for me is a bit much. It felt incredibly gathered, the Ministry flowed and 'spoke to my condition'. Having an impromptu lunch together afterwards was great - definitely something we should do more often - soup for 10 at the drop of a hat? Only 10? No worries! I've served my apprenticeship well =)

The evening has been spent in deep conversation with a dear Ffriend with the wonderful realisation that we've been able to reach out to each other on a far deeper level than before with such an incredible amount of openess, trust and comfort in a way that often takes years and/or many ups and downs to reach.

So much to do, much of it needing done now if not yesterday yet it feels like not a moment of the day could have been spent any better, any more wisely, any more productively in the greater scheme of life. So the rest will just have to wait.

Monday, March 13, 2006


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

The more I follow Quaker blogsites the more I find that in many ways it is like being at Meeting - so often thoughts/concepts will be bumbling around in my head trying to find some kind of shape that makes coherent sense and then I'll find someone else writing about whatever it was, often on a slightly different tack but bringing to light the missing piece of the jigsaw that suddenly makes the rest make more sense. This time it was Amanda's post.

Serenity is something I've aspired to for a long time - probably since first reading 'I take Thee, Serenity' by Daisy Newman. I like to think I'm closer to it but know I've some way to go yet.

I don't do angry very well - I'm far better at upset. Hate has always, thankfully, seemed like a waste of emotional energy so I don't tend to go there. As I've said serenity doesn't always prevail though and I've found acceptance of somethings things harder than others. Well maybe that should be some people... things I'm usually ok with! With people I need to understand before I can fully accept. Until I have that understanding things tend to land by default into the 'things I can change' category, I assume that there must be something I can do about it and not knowing what it is can drive me to distraction, sleepless nights and lots of worry - albeit along with (and I'm getting better at remembering to do this!) holding the situation in the light and asking for guidance. Maybe I should also be asking for patience to wait for the full answer instead of expecting instant results and assuming the first inkling is the whole deal...

Just a week after I arrived in the country I was talking to someone over a meal at the Quaker Settlement at Whanganui and he very insightfully suggested that maybe the lesson I had come here to learn was how to let go. Maybe he was right - I certainly seem to be getting better at it. But I'm wondering now if it is more along the lines of learning 'the wisdom to know the difference' and maybe a creating some kind of 'holding bay' for things, a kind of wait and see box to put things in until I have got the wisdom to know whether this is something I can or cannot change.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

loss and light

I came home today to the report via Quaker Blogwatch of Tom Fox's death in Iraq.

I never met Tom, nor had I heard of him until his capture but since then I have read several moving and heartfelt accounts of his work with young Quakers in the States and the enormous impact he has had on the lives of those who I hold dear to me.

It is they my heart goes out to - those whose lives he touched, who he inspired - of which I am sure there were many in Iraq as well as the States. Maybe people he couldn't himself recall individually and who he probably wouldn't even realise what a difference he has made to their lives. It is their grief I feel for most as it is the unacknowledged grief. How do you explain to those around you who haven't met someone who has influenced their lives in such a way why it hurts so much, why the tears are flowing? They won't get a day or more off work or college, they will be expected to carry on is if nothing had happened and function as normal. After all, it's only something in the news isn't it?

The world family of Friends is well called that. Many who discover Quakers talk about feeling as though they have 'come home'. Many know what it is to have surrogate 'family' members within their Meetings. Ffriends of mine when complimented on their kids always say that their Ffriends brought them up that way as much as, if not more than, them.

On top of that sense of family is the fact that we are a relatively small community with some amazing inspirational and sometimes well known people amongst us. We get to know them - these people who appear on the news and whatnot - and love them. They don't hold themselves apart but muck in, they are one of us. Sometimes we don't even find out what they've done that's 'famous' - we remember them for their smile, their ministry, grace, kind words and laughter... so whilst the obituries may talk of their work lives for many of us the loss is of a person not a catalogue of achievements, campaigns or a figurehead.

Earlier in the week I received the words to the songs we had sung at WGYF which included 'Live up to the Light that thou hast'. Being a Quaker has brought me into contact with many who do 'live up to the light', who inspire me. Some I know and love well, others I have met long ago but still vividly remember how brightly they shone. Some I have already mourned the loss of and can only hope that somehow their light can continue to shine through their influence on me and others - chances are it won't be as bright or even shining in the same direction but who knows whose path it may brighten and what they in turn may achieve.

(20.15) In its history the Society of Friends has produced many people whose lives of conspicuous service have profoundly influenced their times. John Woolman, Elizabeth Fry, Joseph Sturge and many others would have made for themselves no claim to a special dedication to service, but they were none the less able, out of the depth of their love for their fellows, to take great opportunities that came to them. Their service sprang directly out of their religious faith, but this faith was itself stimulated and fostered by the religious atmosphere in which they lived. To this atmosphere the lives of many Friends, now nameless and unknown, contributed by their faithfulness in inconspicuous service, and so made it possible for the greater spirits to grow to their full stature.
Gerald Littleboy, 1945
(from Quaker Faith & Practice, Britain Yearly Meeting)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

posts are like buses...

...nothing for ages and then three come along at once.

This was a do it now or I'll forget again scenario; so having promised Anders I'd do it I thought I'd better...

I just got this in an email from him (and yes that is Anders as in Stefan and Kester...):

There is a misquote or two and some dodgy info, for example 'Mr Gibson has been told by doctors he will die unless he gets a lung transplant by the age of 31'. The doctors haven't told me this, so don't write your eulogies yet.;)I have plans to go global in 2007.

Glad to hear he's not on the endagered species list - yet... I guess this helps him go global in 2006!

For many British young (and not so young) Quakers over the last 15 years or so the 'Anders question' as it has become known amongst us has challenged our principles and priorities. Basically he wouldn't still be with us if it wasn't for animal drug testing. It is very hard for a speaker coming to what they think is a sympathetic hall full of young people to talk about ethics to have someone stand up and point out that if it hadn't been for animal testing they wouldn't be standing there. What do you choose - your friend or your conscience? My answer has been to uncomfortably accept the reality that has ensured he's (thankfully) still with us but carry on rejecting out of hand the necessity for animal testing for beauty, cleaning products etc and food. Personally I'd rather far rather these things were just tested on humans and in many cases the products aren't even needed and are harmful to the environment one way or another. Having read Plague Dogs and Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH at a fairly young age my views on such animal testing are somewhat entrenched and established.

But Anders' current foray into the media circus is in aid of the organ donor register. Although 90% of the British population say they are willing to donate organs, only 22% fo the population are on the organ donor list. 400 people each year die wating for a transplant and sadly only 50% of those needing a lung transplant (which is what Anders will need) ever recieve one. There is a great shortage of organ donors! If in Britain please look at http://www.livelifethengivelife.co.uk/ which takes a positive look at organ donation and focuses on the benefits an individual can make by joining the organ donor list. If you are elsewhere then do find out how you can register your wishes in your own country.

Good luck to Roz who is running the Britannic Asset Management Women's 10K in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust on 31st May, if you can sponsor her please do. Thanks, from all of us who have lived knowing someone with CF and the knowledge that their time with us might well be short.

turning the tables

Last night in conversation I was recalling a Bermudan guy I had met on an Outward Bound Course some years ago. He was a descendant of plantation workers - no idea quite what his ethnicity was, it wasn't the kind of question I ever asked and still find hard to ask. All my conditioning tells me it is rude to ask such questions - yet slowly the message is sinking in that for many people of colour who are minorities within the society they live in it is important to them and they want to be asked, to have that element of who they are acknowledged. This is still very difficult for me to get my head around and goes counter to the 'it doesn't matter what colour we are we're all the same' kind of doctrine I'd grown up with. But it does matter and as someone who constantly corrects people when they say England and mean Britain, or even worse Scotland/Wales/N.Ireland you'd think I'd be able to get my head around it more quickly.

But what I was sharing about Laurion was how he had turned the tables of language use on us. He called everyone Mr...., Miss or Missy.... We were all around 18-22yrs old. He was deliberately choosing to use this form of address - and boy did it sound weird half way up a mountain in Wales! It made many of us uncomfortable - it was language which implied subservience, colonialism and oppression... things which we neither approved of having happened in the past nor had any intention of being part of.

Several of us tried to get him to stop, saying please you don't need to, it's not like that here. I pointed out that as Quakers we didn't use titles and that no-one calls me Miss Anna, let alone Missy Anna if I can help it. But he quietly and seriously (which was a far cry from his usual loud and comical manner) explained that it was his way of turning the tables. By choosing to use these terms he was making a point. The fact that we were uncomfortable with it was proof that it worked. He didn't see himself as inferior in status to us, he wasn't using these words in deference but out of defiance.

He was proud of his heritage and understandably was far from impressed with the way in which plantation workers on Bermuda had been treated and the whole issue of slavery. Rather than being angry about it and carrying a chip on his shoulder (as I've seen happen against 'the English' in Scotland let alone further afield) he had opted for one of the cleverest forms of awareness raising I've ever come across.

There were three Bermudans in our group - one obviously white, one very black and Laurion who was, I would guess, of mixed descent. We asked the girls what they thought of Laurion's way and did it sound as out of place to them as it did us? Their response was that some people in Bermuda would take it as we did, yet some sadly probably wouldn't even notice or consider it anything other than what they were due. But Julita added that some people of colour, especially those darker than him like herself, would actually find it offensive if they didn't stop to find out why. At first when she met him she had found it embarrassing, that she felt like she was being sent up - especially as he was one to clown around a lot. But once she had heard him explain she was impressed, recognised that he was setting himself up for ridicule and admired him for sticking to it.

That was all 15 yrs ago. It has stayed with me and made the stories I had heard about the slave trade feel a lot more real, a lot more personal. It suddenly wasn't just something that happened in history, that just affected the countries of origin and destination of these people. Looking back it also makes me realise the power we all have to change people's attitudes, understanding and behaviour, even if it is just one person at a time.

Dunbar dispatches

Martin just sent me this link =)

Why is it I get the gossip about Scotland from folk in New Zealand and then hear things about NZ from Scotland? Google were hitting the headlines here on the radio this morning but because of the 'accidental' release of their plans to have a 'gDrive' where you could download your hard drive as a back-up - an idea appealing to me greatly right now having just lost my laptops hard drive, and whilst I have back ups of all the music/photos/data it's all in storage in Edinburgh. (Don't know how long the link will last - scroll to the bottom - 'Google Plans Leaked')

Oh and for those of you who are interested No3 is still a bump...

Monday, March 06, 2006

even more pics =)

VOR yachts moored 6
Originally uploaded by annadunford.

More pictures now uploaded to Flickr - some from the Volvo Ocean Race that I've already mentioned, some from the Wellington MM Camp which I visited for the day and others just around Wellington.