Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pollyanna time

I never read Pollyanna as a child, but I read it online a few months ago - getting the book from the library would have been a more sensible option given I ended up sitting almost frozen in the office trying to finish it it instead of going to bed, but it was one of those spur of the moment things prompted by a comment from Sarah.

Peggy's post made me think of it again, of finding things to be glad about/grateful for when it appears that there is nothing good in a situation.

I sat and wrote a list this morning of things I should be grateful to a particular person for, and got to 20 before I realised that I really should be getting the place ready for Terry to come and knock down the sitting room wall instead! I've thought of a few other things to add to the list since.

Amongst other things the experiences of the last few months have shown me just how much loving support I have here and have helped me put a number of feelings and emotions into perspective - it has taught me what and who really is important to me. I've gained a better understanding of myself and my limits. I've also learned to put more faith in my intuition and gut reactions, to listen to the cris de coeur that come winging their way through some sixth sense and to the wisdom I find around me no matter what it's source.

Will knowing and acknowledging all of this help sort things out? Will it make the situation any better? Possibly not, but it helps me deal with it within myself and do what feels right.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

call waiting....

The Resident Friend post in Auckland has unexpectedly become available again as of April next year. I've been asked a couple of times if I'd consider it, either for the full year or part of the year. Now in theory I could - I'd just need an extension of my current visa and a promise from the Meeting to give me a hand looking after the rather extensive grounds. It would give me an opportunity to help Auckland YFs find a bit more direction and cohesiveness and the money to live off would no doubt turn up from somewhere, it usually does when it's the right thing to do...

... but there lies the crux of the matter. It doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

Part of me can't quite believe I'm turning down the easy option of another years visa. But the rest of me is completely and utterly convinced that that's not what I'm meant to do next. Sure I like the idea of being a 'reliever' for both Auckland and Wellington after I've finished here and that would give me the chance to carry on with the YF dinners etc and a great opportunity to keep up/develop new friendships in both cities. But I just can't get away from the strong gut feeling that it's not what god/the universe/what or whoever has in store for me next.

No matter what source of guidance or inspiration I turn to at the moment I'm getting the same message no matter what aspect of my life I'm considering at the time - have patience, ask for divine guidance and trust your instincts. So I am doing, and hoping sometime soon I start getting an idea as to what I'm waiting for....

But if anyone out there is feeling the call to be Resident Friends in Auckland for a year from April 2007 and thought they'd missed the boat here's your chance! www.quaker.org.nz has all the contact information =)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

family archives

Jon (with Tuppence), Granny Dunford and me at 'Somersey', Woking, Surrey - c1985 judging by my jeans!

Mum & Dad are coming over to see me soon and I asked if they could bring me some old family photos as I don't have any here. So Dad has been scanning some old photos and emailing me some to be going on with. I've uploaded a couple of the others he's sent too (but not the one of you with your 'angel wings' Mum so you needn't worry!).

Kate - remember Jon and I looking like this?! Apart from Mum & Dad I doubt if anyone else reading this does, but if you do sing out!

Not convinced about that top I'm wearing... jeans no doubt a Huddersfield market special, I seem to remember them having an elastic waistband and a popper strap at the ankle too (worn with cream anklewarmers and maroon pixie boots in winter - but I'm not entirely sure I should be admitting that....)

Friday, October 20, 2006

journeying north

After I'd been at JYF Camp I headed north for a 'real' holiday rather than a week not in Wellington feeding 20-25 people! I needed it... although how much of that was due to a week on my feet in the kitchen and how much due to a rather late night and the ubiquitous session of ratchet screwdriver/the kissing game is up for debate. My bruises weren't a patch on the YF Camp ones but then more of the participants were smaller than me this time (altho' my stomach did take a while to recover from landing on Roland's foot...).

The flight up to Auckland was spent head against the window drifting in and out of sleep and clouds. There was some debate as to where we were at one point between the passengers and flight attendant - we had been late setting off as the navigation system had failed but had been fixed just as we were about to head across the tarmac to another plane, so when we found ourselves well out to sea on a route that usually hugs the coast there was somewhat greater interest in where we might be than usual! It turned out that a backlog at Auckland airport meant we were some miles out from Manakau rather than half way to Tasmania. As we came in to land we discovered why there had been a backlog - now Wellington can do rain pretty dramatically at times but Auckland that day probably got enough to green the Sahara. Taxi-ing along the runway a bright flash was seen - lights? lightning? Nah, came a voice from the back of the plane, it's a speed camera. I wish it had been, we got drenched just going the 50yds from the plane to covered walkway with thunder and lightning all around, but better drenched on the ground than still up in the air when that hit I reckon.

For me Auckland as a place is a staging post rather than a destination. Much as I love the people I know there I'm always glad to get going again; it's just too big and busy and the air and water have a definite city taint. On a visa application you get an extra 10 points for not wanting to be in Auckland - woohoo, gimme, gimme! Altho' given the choice of Auckland or leaving I'd thole it there. I do like catching up with the people in Auckland tho' and getting fed by Sarah and Margaret was doubly welcome after all the cooking at camp =)

It was a somewhat surreal interlude of being in the big smoke before immersing myself back in the countryside again. I felt a distinct sense of relief as the bus headed north and I watched the suburbs give way to fields, bush and seascapes. So with Don McGlashan playing on my discman (an album now reluctantly returned to it's owner... cheers Pete!) I gladly watched the miles pass by as we headed up the more scenic stretch of Highway 1 (that you would pay to see!) and then round the coast via Bay of Islands and Kerikeri to Kaitaia. I hadn't seen the route north of Whangerei since I was up with Si & Susie so even though it meant the journey took far longer than the more direct route it was quite nostalgic and a good reminder of what's worth another visit when Mum & Dad are over next month. They are still resurfacing the road north of Paihia though...

Paihia itself is so touristy it doesn't feel like a 'real' place - having spent the majority of my life living in tourist destinations (the Holme Valley & Edinburgh) I have something of an aversion to the over touristification of places (not sure if that's a proper word but it'll do). You used to be able to buy badges in T'Paper Shop that said 'I'm not a tourist I have to live here' with a rather badly drawn sketch of Compo on them. There were times when I wished I still had it in Edinburgh - especially during the Festival. It's hard to strike a balance between what brings money into a place (especially when traditional industries are fading fast) and what people need as part of a community to survive day to day and particularly outwith the tourist season. You can't eat tartan tack (other than Edinburgh Rock and Tablet but that's not going to keep you going anywhere other than the dentist's) or collect a prescription in a gift shop. However despite my antipathy towards the place I could have done with more than the 5 minutes we had between buses to get a decent lunch in rather than just a hastily munched half sandwich! You can't eat on the bus and we'd lost our lunchbreak due to being late so I was starving by the time I got to the end of the journey!

The further north we got the stronger the feeling grew that I used to associate with crossing the Border just after Berwick upon Tweed, going over the crest of Carter Bar or catching sight of Berwick Law and Arthurs Seat coming round the coast or dropping down through Pathhead, and years before that coming over Holme Moss, especially after dusk and seeing the twinkling lights of the Valley stretched before us - a sense of coming home. When we reached Mangonui and turned the corner so Doubtless Bay was laid out before us and then being able to see the sandhills near Ahipara in the distance I'd've happily torn up my ticket back to Wellington.

Obviously I did come back to Welly, Marion would never have forgiven me for dropping her in it if I hadn't! I haven't got my photos yet from up north - somehow I've managed to mislay the film I finished up there and haven't finished the next one so you'll just have to wait a bit longer for those. However to tide you over until then and I get around to writing an account of my time up there you can read what Ruth said about it all =) My stay was over two of her diary weeks so it can be found here and here!


As many of you will have worked out by now I upload my photos to Flickr. This means anyone can look at them. When I log in there is a clever little counter thingy that tells me how often each picture has been clicked on and viewed rather than just looked at as a smaller version on a page with others. What it can't tell me of course is who is looking!

There are 3 photos that have been viewed far more times than the others - one from the Wellington Writers Walk and has a comment long enough to need to click on the picture to read the rest of it, one of me that Liam took at Summer Gathering (I'm blaming Mum for that!) and one of Karl at Matai Bay.

It's the last one that intrigues me. I have better pictures of the bay and far better pictures of Karl taken around the same time - neither of which have been viewed anything like as often - so why this one? Ok so putting this out here probably means it'll get even more hits but he's quite chuffed it's so popular anyway and is unlikely to complain!

Suggestions on a postcard please.... (or even comments!)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


... as I've said before, is a strange creature.

I've been here just over a year now. In some ways it feels like far longer, yet I find myself thinking things like 'the Diwali Light Festival? Again?' as it hardly seems possibly that a year can have gone by since last time.

Time. Something I constantly feel like I never quite have enough of, but somehow all the things that matter get done, and if they don't get done it doesn't matter.

Time, (as the song on the radio this afternoon said) can do so much - allow bridges to be mended and crossed, or (to jump lyrics) where there is no bridge - time to row... methinks I could be in for a long haul though and will need to 'put my trust in wind and sail' when 'my arms, shoulders fail'...

Time. Something that feels like it has stretched almost tardis-like with friendships here that have grown to such depths and intensity that belie the fact that they so far make up such a short part of our lives when they feel like they ought to be lifelong to have got this far (or at least the same 17-20yrs I've had knowing the likes of Fran, Marion & Margaret).

Time. Something I'm apparently (according to varing soucrces of wisdom) supposed to let have it's way. The world is trying to teach me patience, and as I said to Mary I wish it would hurry up and get on with it... bah humbug. I thought I was good at being patient but I'm not so sure any more.

Time. Something that for me is going to be a shock to find hasn't stood still in Britain whenever I do get back there. Whilst I know babies have been born, F/friends have got married and engaged (woohoo Ruth & Bri!!) and several Friends just won't be there at Meeting at Victoria Terrace any more having died, it all feels a rather abstract academic knowledge rather than experiencial as it would have been had I been there.

Time. For bed....

Monday, October 16, 2006

dream job?

What would my dream job be? Dunno really, altho' I have a great long list of things it wouldn't be! (which covers most jobs I've done before...) It's a question that has popped up a few times lately in various guises and conversations - the universe seems to have realised I need to make a few decisions along the line of employment again.

Not long ago I was showing Julian some stuff on Person Centred Planning - a tool we used in residential care when trying to plan future accommodation needs for our residents, a tool that can be used for many life decisions and also for organisations (the latter being why I was showing Julian given the organisational strategy work he does). When we did our training in PCP we were told we couldn't do a plan on anyone else until we'd had one done on ourselves so we had an understanding of what it felt like to go through the process. Fairy snuff, so Vicki and I sat down and and did an admittedly somewhat abridged plan on each other - both of us picking a new job as the theme for our plan as we'd both been saying for ages we needed to get out but didn't know what else to do. Within 6 months we'd both left and gone on to something that matched what we'd come up with in our plans, can't say the plan we did for Pauline was as much of a success but hey we had our freedom and a new direction in life =)

I guess it's time I got those sheets back out of the folder and had another look at them, I've got some aspects of 'the dream' clear; part time work ideally, something where hours were flexible and I could work from home some of the time (no matter where that ends up being), something that involved some travel so I could combine it with Travelling in the Ministry, work that was people orientated but with time to work alone, deadlines to work to (otherwise nothing gets done!), working as part of a team but being able to organise my own workload, ideally Quaker work or for a Quaker, something I can believe in that benefits society... and above all else something here!

I want a job where I still have time for a life, where I have time to do things like spending time with children having fun and reading stories, growing vegetables and doing my patchwork, cooking and baking and having time to spend with the people who are around to eat it, being able to be there for my friends still when they pop round or phone up, still being able to take time when needed to help friends look after their children (or animals!) and having time to continue doing as much Quaker stuff as I felt able to take on, in fact I'd quite happily not have a job at all but unfortunately needs must financially and immigration would take a dim view of me not having one. Maybe I just need to borrow Kate's dream instead?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

hearing voices

I was told few days ago I write like I talk, given this comment was made after trying to decipher 12 pages of handwritten scrawled notes I'd taken I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but the comment was made more about the 'Britishness' of my English than anything else. Personally I think the style of what I wrote had far more to do with me trying to paraphrase people who were talking too fast about things I didn't really understand than anything else!

Yesterday I got the newsletter through by email from South East Scotland MM which had a fantastic piece by Geoffrey Carnall on how to make his wonderful bread. Trust Geoffrey to make a recipe into such an entertaining article! Having heard him relate many an anecdote over the years I could hear his voice so clearly as I read it as it was if someone had transcribed him talking. It was like having him in the room and I could clearly imagine him standing there, leaning slightly forward complete with the hand gestures that no doubt would accompany the telling.

Given my nomadic life and tendency to pick up the words and phrases used around me my accent is often difficult for people to place other than maybes Northern England (mind they soon realise if they say 'Manchester?' that they got the wrong side of the Pennines!), altho' when discussing this with someone recently they said 'ah but do you say t'internet?!' in an attempt to establish my Yorkshire credentials - well funnily enough no, in fact I've never even heard t'internet said, which given I left Yorkshire long before I'd ever come across the internet and I've hardly been back is not surprising really.

However I do have to really concentrate when pronouncing Māori words as pretty much all the letters get pronounced - which after a lifetime of dropping my h's is 'ard work I can tell you. After all, I grew up in 'Olmfirth, in the 'Olme Valley, near 'Uddersfield and when it's cold I wear an 'at on me 'ead... There's a word for how h's sound in Māori and whilst I know it probably isn't exasperated that word has got stuck in my head now and I can't think of the right one, but basically they are most definitely there and not dropped and replaced with a glottal stop! Slowly I'm getting to the point where I can see a word/place name and hear in my head someone with good pronunciation saying it which helps me have a go at getting it somewhere closer to right than not. I was quite indignant when the bus driver back from Auckland, despite his obvious Māori heritage, insisted on saying Taupo the anglicised way - how on earth are we Pakeha supposed to get it right if we don't hear it pronounced correctly by those who should know better?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

seeing the way

For epilogue at JYF Camp the first night at Totaranui we walked from the homestead down to the beach in the dark with only candles to light our way, the slither of a new moon giving us very little light at all despite the clear sky.

It was much further than I had expected and I had no idea where I was going having not left the buildings since we had arrived due to a small matter of organising the kitchen supplies and being in charge of feeding everyone.

It was supposed to be a silent walk but it was soon peppered with expletives of varying descriptions and volume as the breeze decided to play with the flickering flames and muted mutterings drifted through the darkness as people relit their candles from each others.

The three of us bringing up the rear had to stop many times to re-light each others candles and occassionally we had to catch up to those in front when they all blew out at once. It was at one of the times when they had all blown out that we realised that it was actually easier to see where we were going without the candles as the white track glowed faintly in what moon and starlight there was. When concentrating on the candle and trying to stop it from blowing out it was all too easy to wander off the side of the track into the ditch, our periferal vision hampered by the brightness of the flame.

We had a choice, concentrate solely on what we were trying not to lose or be able to see where the path led. We couldn't do both without getting burnt or hurt.


After just over two weeks of finding my way around other people's kitchens I'm back in Wellington - but still hunting through the drawers and cupboards for things that I know should be here somewhere... along with the hand towels being not quite where they usually are and various other little bits and pieces.

That coupled with the strange sensation of walking into an immaculately tidy and spotlessly clean house (thanks Margie & Keith!) meant it didn't really feel like coming come but coming back to someone else's place. Needless to say it didn't take long for me to make it look more like home but I'm still having to hunt a few things down in the kitchen.

That first night back just felt like another stop on the journey rather than the final destination, it was a reminder of the transient nature of my life. Even though Pete came to pick me up from the bus (in his little red sports car which is most definitely not designed with rucksacks in mind) and even with Charlotte popping in to visit within minutes of me getting in the door there was still a definite feeling of Wellington being but a stepping stone. We may be nearer magnetic south but it is the north of this land that calls.