Monday, March 30, 2009


Well this weekend saw Elizabeth, Eleanor and I heading back to Kerikeri on Sunday for another of our Testimonies study days and to discuss various Quaker business matters arising at a MM (regional) and YM (national) level.

This time the testimony we looked at was simplicity - one I've thought about much over the years and this became apparent when doing one of the exercises. We had to write down on small pieces of paper 10 objects that were important to us, 8 tasks/responisbilities or activities we did and 6 roles we held. Well if that wasn't a challenge enough for us we then had to imagine we'd been given a wonderful opportunity to dramatically change our lives (examples given included a dream job overseas, retirement to a Quaker community, a new relationship etc)... having decided what that was we then had to get rid of half our pieces of paper!

Well, reading on in the handbook it became apparent that they really expected you to be able to get rid of the objects more easily than the tasks/roles etc. They obviously didn't expect someone who had already taken up that dream job overseas to attempt it! My list of objects I wasn't about to give up were the things that I knew already I couldn't give up - my taonga (pendant) from the FWCC Triennial in Auckland 2004, my Granny's wedding ring, my passport and work permit (which I ammended to say 'visa to stay here' having given up my job amidst the cull!) and then photos (and a camera). The rest of my objects were all family 'heirlooms' and childhood memorabilia - I know from the last few years I can live without them but I'd rather they stayed in the family.

Life has proved to me more than once that providence will provide - sure it's handy to have your own this that and the next thing but when push comes to shove it's amazing what you can live without, beg, borrow or recycle without too much ado. I've learned to live without much of the cumber I had accumulated over the years and usually without regret - altho' it was frustrating this morning to discover that the black pair of jeans I though were still in the bottom of the drawer had gone some time back! Oh well, I got away with wearing blue ones for work (it's too cold in the mornings for shorts now).

I was quite happy at the idea of giving up work in the exercise (I've been keen on retirement since before I even started work! It always struck me as akin to the description of being a widow I recently came across in one of the Anne of Green Gables book - you get your freedom without the stigma/public pressure - in that case of being an old maid and to marry, in this of being unemployed and to get a job!) but I realised that I couldn't give up my Quaker involvement (on committees etc) - I've tried that before and whilst it was nice to have a break at first I didn't feel like 'me'...

Simplifying my life is something that I've done both drastically and in small steps over the years. One of the things we read on Sunday stated it's more about living life 'appropriately' than having a spartan existance and I like that definition. With a change in life style this year (having a more conventional working week) and gradually rejoining the world of those with disposable income Sundays session was a timely reminder for me to reassess what is appropriate to where I am in life right now in terms of how I allocate my time, energy and money.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

history lesson

Oh dear, I'm lagging behind a bit....

The day after the Kerikeri trip I was back on the road to the Bay of Islands, but this time with a bus full of school kids! Pukepoto Primary is next door to us and I've been doing volunteer one-to-one reading there with the kids pretty much since I moved here. I only get in once a week now I'm working but I really enjoy my contact with them and they're always glad of an extra pair of hands come excursion time.

The main highlight of the day out was of course watching the dolphins play around the boat we were on - jumping out of the water, swiming along side and underneath us and generally being their usual awe inspiring selves. But apart from that and the boat actually going through the 'Hole in the Rock' the purpose of our day was to get a hands on history lesson.

Now I grew up going to places like Beamish and the Colne Valley Museum etc so Pompallier in Russell as a concept wasn't quite such the novelty for me as it was for the kids and probably most of the adults who went. Being able to wander through a place set up as it would've been in the 1840's, see, and take part in yourself, the processes involved in book making was just mind blowing though for some of the kids. For me it was just great not to see roped off areas and it being a real 'hands on' experience. Whilst the tannery and printing side of things held few surprises for me there were several 'Ahhh! That's how they did it!' moments for me when it came to the bookbinding. It all fitted in rather nicely with the books I've just been reading - Ann Turnbull's No Shame, No Fear and Forged in the Fire set in the days of early Friends against a printing backdrop.

Pompallier is a name I've been familiar with for a while (one of the local schools being named for him) but I'd never really taken in much about Bishop Pompallier. I was impressed to find a Catholic Bishop ensuring that the little known fourth Article of the Treaty of Waitangi got signed which gave equal status to the various religions already present in the islands, of both Maori and Pakeha origin. It's a pity the various Protestant missionaries weren't as open minded to that of 'God already present'.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a weekends wanderings

Well it was nice to have a weekend at home at last, even Meeting was at ours so the only place I had to go was to bike into town to do some shopping, finally catch up with Phyllis again for the first time since Boxing Day and, as it turned out, have a cuppa with Marie-Claire too and the guy she's WWOOFing for.

A welcome contrast to the previous weekend, much as that too was very enjoyable. On Saturday evening we'd gone out to Honeymoon Valley for Peter's birthday get-together (he works at the kindy where I did some relieving etc last year). It's an amazing place although my stomach wasn't overly excited about the Peria Road - or maybe it was a bit too excited and wanted to go back and see the bit we'd just past? In any case I managed to hang on to my insides and we found their place hidden away in the bush. They've cut a clearing for a caravan which now sits under a very impressive roof - the support beams made out of the felled gum trees, gradually they are creating a home and garden there out in the wilds. Definitely simple living out there but you'd be stuffed without your own transport.

With a campfire (the rain having lifted the fire ban!), live music, a good spread of food and convivial company it was a very pleasant evening - and the mozzies stayed away!!! However we didn't stay all that late as Elizabeth and I had to head for Kerikeri in the morning.

Kaitaia and Kerikeri Worship Groups (Quakers) have started working through the BYM Testimonies Toolkit and this was our second meeting, with the focus this time on 'truth and integrity'. In the way that things sometimes take on a life of their own we found ourselves considering our position in the Monthly Meeting which theoretically covers everything north of the Waitemata Harbour (Auckland) but from which we have felt somewhat separate from geographically and spiritually in recent times. From time to time the two Worship Group have sent Minutes to our Friends further south who hold the regular business meeting but there hasn't been any sense of real connection with the affairs of the Monthly or Yearly Meeting. Well Dad doesn't call Quakers a DIY religion for nothing, chances are if you want something done you need to do it! So there and then we had our own 'Northern Friends' business meeting and decided to do so regularly in conjunction with our study days.

Well we've possibly rocked a few boats and stood on some toes already but it feels like a really positive step for us as individual and joint worshipping communities up here. We'll see where it all goes from here.

Along with the Quakery aspect of the day I also managed to squeeze in seeing Natalie (one of my classmates from last year) and her 2yr old Matthew at lunchtime and collect Marie-Claire who a mutual friend had put in touch with me as she was coming over to NZ for a few months. So the day involved a fair bit of mental gymnastics with catching up on completely different aspects of my life! I don't like pigeon-holing people and quite like it when my various worlds meet. I had nothing like long enough with either Natalie or Marie-Claire so it was good to realise I'd see them both again before long.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Auckland and back... again

Well the last couple of weekends have seen me heading up and down SH1 to Auckland and back, I don't go there for months on end and then totally over do it! I'm shattered but it has been great to catch up with folk, and to retrieve my stuff out of storage!

The first trip was timed so I could see Alice, another (Quaker) Summer Schooler to make it out to visit here. She's marrying a Kiwi (sensible girl) so came over for a few weeks to meet the prospective inlaws and fell in love (as one does) with the country too, so hopefully she'll be back for a few years at some point =) There is something about the Summer School/NYFSG connection that squidges up time between meetings in that it never really feels like all that long since I last saw whoever I see from there regardless of whether it has been a couple of weeks, months or years (I haven't quite had to put decades to the test yet but that'll no doubt happen when Rachel from Holiday School moves out here!). Maybe it's because so many of us are used to seeing each other just once a year anyway that anything less is considered a bonus.

I stayed with Margaret & Robert and children that trip, first time I'd seen them in over 6 mths so there was much catching up and exchanging of news and gossip to be had (although the juiciest bit I knew I was then still sworn to secrecy about, most frustrating...). Much to my delight Benjamin remembered me still and Lucy only took a couple of hours to get used to me instead of a couple of days. As Margaret is a 'playcentre mum' we spent time talking shop too - learning stories and other forms of documentation of early years learning.

A colleague gave me a lift down and back and as he has a truck (translation: 4x4 thing, not a ute or a lorry!) we managed to squeeze almost all my stuff from storage into the back - the remaining cabinet went off to be restored and collected the following weekend. The cabinet was my grandparents American wireless cabinet and had suffered from being used by the infamous 'landlord's father' at Croydon Rd to sit a bucket of plaster on. Okay so it's taken me over 15yrs to get it fixed but now it is back to it's former glory (and probably in better nick than when I inherited it). The next step is to shift it north from Sarah & Karl's shed...

We couldn't bring it back with us this weekend as it wouldn't fit with 4 of us in the car - Ryan joined us to go down for Kerehoma's 1st birthday party (well actually it was at least his 2nd birthday party having had one the weekend before in Invercargill, but still to celebrate his first birthday!). It was removals in the opposite direction this time as we had a car-load of Mim's stuff following her down for the new uni year. Thankfully it was cool enough on the way down for Ryan and I to be quite glad we were snuggled up all squidged together, somewhat different from the much hotter (and far less cramped) journey back. Having been sick at Christmas when they were up home it was great to spend time with them all whilst feeling up to being sociable!

There were so many other people I'd hoped to see in these trips down but other than popping in to see Faith & Margaret, the current Auckland Resident Friends soon to be heading back to Sheffield, it just didn't happen. Probably just as well though, I'm worn out enough as it is! Hopefully it'll be a quiet week at work - yeah right....