Saturday, November 27, 2010

2 degrees of separation

is what is reckonned to be the case in Aotearoa NZ rather than the worldwide 6 degrees. So much so that one of our local mobile phone networks is called 2 degrees.

I've never had much difficulty accepting this as a concept, after all Quakers have the effect of shrinking the world's networks from what I can work out. But in the last week or so in the light of the Pike Valley mining disaster it has been brought home more strongly.

29 miners died in the explosions. None of whom I expected to have any connection to.... after all Greytown is down on the West Coast of the South Island - somewhere I had been in April, but not somewhere where I know anyone. But as the news of the explosions unfolded I discovered that the husband of a friend of mine headed over as part of the rescue team (I'd even stayed with Ingrid and Martin en route to Greymouth!). Once the second, and definitely fatal explosion happened my cousin George put as his facebook status that he'd sat next to the sister of one of the miners on the plane as she flew over from Australia, then in the hope still of rescue. Next thing I knew Natalie posted this link about quilts for the miners families on my facebook page - being a fellow quilter she rightly thought I'd be interested in contributing. Her comment along with the link was that one of the miners was her Nan's (who I've met several times) brother's nephew.

So, so much for my 'don't start anything new until the last project is finished' theory... although I did finish a project this morning first. I've a stack of 29 hearts waiting now for me to get some calico on Monday, then I'll get the squares finished and off to Rangiora ~ where incidently several relatives of mine live/grew up and where one of them, now passed on, used to be Mayor.

It's a very small world around here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Hmmmm, still plodding along with that quilt! Not helped by the fact that other projects have usurped it's place on the priority list....


Kua mutunga ahau te tau tuatahi o Ara Reo! I have completed my first year of Ara Reo! Our last class was on Wednesday. In some ways it will be a relief not to have a rather rushed Wednesday each week but I'll miss it too. Those of us who have been together on this journey since March have really become whanau ~ if we can get through all three years of Ara Reo together (you sign up for a year at a time, not all three at once) that would be tino pai - just the best!

I've got a post mulling around in my head about the similarities between a Noho Marae (Marae stay) and a Quaker residential weekend at a Meeting House - but I'll come back to that one....

I've been going through my Teacher Registration portfolio stuff again today. A few weeks ago I realised that with the changes in Registered Teacher Criteria coming in next year I really needed to get my written work signed off this year or I'd have to use the new format. Having got so far with the old, that thought did not appeal in the slightest! (this year was the transition year). It took me until a few weeks ago to finish writing up last year, yes you read that right - last year, and the first two (of four) sections. I don't know if it was partly to do with the dimensions I was covering or simply because it is damned hard work reflecting on a difficult situation but it took me an absolute age to get anywhere with it. I must admit most of the delay was procrastination - I simply didn't want to go there. But when it came to writing up this year and the final two sections I was amazed by how fast it all started to come together.

Partly this was because I had been collecting stuff throughout the year and some of it just needed filed in the appropriate place, but a lot was to do with the fact that I'd actually been able to put into practice what I'd been taught without feeling like I was trying to get water to run uphill. Also I've been to some amazing professional development this year or PD as it is known in the profession. This also happens to be the same acronym for Periodic Detention - community service done by offenders! You have to be careful to whom you tell you are 'doing PD this weekend'!

Well anyways by the end of today I will hopefully have two more pieces of reflective writing done and then I'll only be one Satisfactory Teaching Dimension away from completion (which bright spark came up with that one? Collect 32 STDs in under 3yrs!!! That's going some...). The fact that I am completely stumped by that final one will hopefully be overcome when I meet with Carol to discuss it all tomorrow. Then all I need to do is clock up a few more weeks teaching (note to self - do not get sick, do not get sick, do not get sick....) which will probably have to go into next year to make up the month I missed (thankfully being sick over Term Break doesn't count against me!).

So having almost completed the shopping side of Christmas presents (but not the sewing...) yesterday in Kerikeri - it really does feel like I might just get everything done that I need to before I head off to the UK for 5 weeks in a months time... fingers crossed and touch wood!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

having a tutū

please bear with me - I'm playing about with new layouts and options etc and don't seem to have managed to quite get the hang of it all yet!

And it all started 'cos I clicked on something I didn't mean to! Ho hum...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

double blogging

As if I wasn't having enough problems keeping this blog up to date I now have another one to contribute to too! Our kindergarten has a blogsite - it's not public yet, but the plan is for it to become so in the future. Watch this space for updates...

We started off early this year just getting used to using it, writing posts, uploading photos and video links (practicing with inserting the Wonky Donkey on a page before we tried putting any footage of the children up there!). Now after a recent workshop with our mentor Tanya Coutts of CORE Education we're ready to open up to parents... we've another meeting with the whanau group (families group) coming up where we'll explain it all to them and then the next step is having online folders for the individual children as well as having their physical kupenga pukapuka (lets just call them scrapbooks... ask me if you want a full explanation of the name which is a 'gathering net' book! It's quite poetical really but long-winded to explain)

It's all quite exciting really - and at least I get to blog at work!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

time passing

well I still haven't finished that quilt.... but I'm getting there!

It's been another time where it was difficult to know what to write - sadly my beautiful cat Sirius met with misadventure a few weeks ago and went to join Cammi buried at the bottom of the garden. It seemed a fitting place for her final resting place given how much she missed Cammi when we lost her. I still keep thinking I've seen her walking past out of the corner of my eye so I didn't think twice earlier today when I thought I saw a cat walking past in the corridoor. Then I did a doubled take - no I really had seen a cat walk past! It did a runner once it realised I'd seen it, but then I saw another moggy this evening out in the garden. Maybe it has become known in the cat world that this territory is up for grabs again?

The last few weeks have seen me trying to catch up on some things in life that had slipped due to being ill. My teacher registration portfolio for one... it's suddenly starting to fall into place and seems more achievable but I'm not convinced I'll have it all done by the end of this year. That is something of a pain as the new criteria come into play next year so I need to try to get as much done as I can on the system I started with.

It is also coming up for the end of my Ara Reo classes for the year - and I have a whole heap of homework to catch up on for that too... my kaiako (teacher) thinks I'm ready for Year 2 next year but having missed so much of this year from being sick/too run down to attend I'm not convinced. We'll see, classes don't start again until March so I've plenty time to think about it.

Next year... that feels such a long time away still! Yet it is only 8 weeks until I fly to the UK for my summer holidays. Yes you did read that right - people here think I must be mad to trade a summer here for a British winter. But it's not about the weather - as the whakatauki (proverb) here goes

He aha te mea nui o tēnei ao

Māku e kï atu

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

But if you ask me what is the most important thing in the world
I will tell you
tis the people, tis the people, tis the people.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

mission impossible?

After several weeks (months?) of inactivity on the sewing front I've been making a concerted effort over the last month to catch up on what I have variously heard referred to as PHDs - Projects Half Done, UFOs - UnFinished Objects and work-in-progress.

I have finally finished a plaited rag rug that had been frustrating me for months. Eventually after unpicking it several times as it was turning into more of a bowl than a mat I gave up trying to follow the instructions I had and sewed it together my own way!

I've finished a patchwork-edged and appliqued blanket having discovered a cunning technique that got me over my fear of applique edges - cheers Natalie, if you'd not sent me the link to the bibdana pattern who knows when it would have got done!

I'm now making good progress with a quilt that I'd ground to a halt with at an early stage as the intended recipient sadly didn't live to see it, however I'm still making it for the family. It's taken me a while and a few rethinks as to what to do with it. I'm trying to decide whether to turn it from a cot sized quilt to a single bed or family sized one....

I've even cleared my mending pile!

But there in my cupboard, discovered when looking for something else (as you do!) is a project that I can't actually remember how long I've had waiting completion, other than it is at least 7yrs old as I know where I was living when I started it! The only reason I stopped work on it was my sewing machine died on me at the time. As it was a wedding present it got replaced with something else (I've now forgotten what!) and so once the machine was fixed any urgency had long gone and it went to the back of the queue.... time I bumped it up to the top again methinks as I'm hoping to see the (thankfully still happily married) couple in a few months!

However, whilst I work through this pile of projects I'm aware that there are more babies being born, birthdays slipping past and Christmas presents to be thought about and made! Will I ever catch up? Probably not....

Friday, August 13, 2010


My apologies for my extended absence from the blogosphere. I didn't stop reading other people's blogs but it just got a bit too difficult to write.

Basically it felt like too much was happening at once and so much of it was "other peoples' news" rather than my own it didn't feel quite right to be blogging about it as it unfolded, yet to write and not mention it seemed superficial given how much it was all preoccupying my mind.

So here I am several months down the line... what has changed? Well in some ways things have slowed down a little and breathing space has been had, time to cogitate and put things into a different perspective. Time, as they say, is a great healer. Not that everyone is healed either emotionally or physically in some cases, yet my ability to cope with it all has improved.

Since I last blogged various people very dear to me have had a lot dumped on their plate - losing a baby at 8mths pregnant, discovering a brain tumour (benign but not far off inoperable due to location) and another with a bowel tumour. Two are watching their mothers go through the final stages of advanced cancer and another watching far too many of his fellow sufferers of Cystic Fybrosis die before they get the transplants or advances in medical science they need. Added to that are marriage breakdowns, assorted medical diagnosis of a less life-threatening kind yet still life long impact and another got bad news from the oncologist this week.

Daffodil Day is coming round soon.... if only it were no longer needed.

It hasn't all been doom and gloom by a long way though - a fantastic holiday on the Mainland (the South Island) tiki touring around with an old friend from uni days (first time round, not recent studies!), and unexpected bonus trip to Sydney for the w/e and a chance to catch up with Natalie (uni 2nd time!) and her boys.

I've got a new job at my existing work place - a job share with an old colleague who I'd been sad to leave behind when I went to kindergarten. Great getting to work with her again =) However I managed to get sick for over 6 weeks and have only just started my new post and hours. I think I've just about got to grips with my new timetable though.

And... I'm planning a trip back to the UK for Christmas and Hogmanay (plus a bit!) to catch up with friends and family. A real bonus as I'd been expecting to have to wait until 2012 for that to happen again. Big thanks to those making it possible!

I'll try to be a bit better (ok, a lot better!) at blogging more regularly again now life is starting to settle into a new routine - but no promises eh?!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

time management

a wee while back Holly wrote a Note on facebook about the fact that many Quaker roles and responsibilities tend to fall on a few shoulders and maybe Meetings ought to spend some time discerning what work really needs to be done rather than just perpetuating them ad infinitum.

As I'm on our Yearly Meeting Nomination Committee it is an issue dear to my heart as we try to find people for committes that everyone seems to want to keep but no-one wants to be on! As someone who has four Quaker roles already and often gets asked to do others I am very glad that somewhere along the line I learned to say 'no' without feeling too guilty about it. Taking on too much and then burning out or not achieving what is necessary is a way too common a phenomena in Quakerdom.

Having cut back my working hours fairly recently I've gradually started to catch up with the various Quaker roles I've taken on and am realising why it all felt a bit much towards the end of last year. I spend over an hour a day dealing with assorted emails, paperwork and reading material circulated and I still don't get through it all within the wished for time frames. On top of that I still seem to wear my overseers hat on a regular basis even though I officially hung that one up a few years ago!

I have to admit that tasks that get done promptly aren't done so because of any deep and meaningful spiritual discernment process that prioritises importance but on a basis of what is quick and easy. Anything else takes it's chances in terms of allocated time and attention. That annoys me in itself but at least means that some things get done on time!

As Holly said "Where is room for testimonies of simplicity and integrity? What can we realistically commit to as a Society? If we could see where all Quaker committee, spiritual enrichment and volunteer/activist hours were going, would we like the picture it paints?"

At our MM residential recently it was acknowledged that we need to spend more of our time and money on looking after ourselves as a MM, doing the nurturing and spiritual enrichment we need to hold us together as a community rather than 4 geographically scattered worship groups. But it kept coming back to the inevitable question - who will organise it? at which point there was a deafening silence...

I've just been looking up the part in Britain Yearly Meeting's Advices and Queries that sprang to mind "28. Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or relenquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness"


Sunday, February 21, 2010


Things have been a bit subdued around here lately. A few nights ago Cammi (our, well technically Simon's, long haired dachshund - something of a Hairy Von Krumm) decided to go off and play with the traffic. She lost.

She's been buried down at the bottom of the garden, by the creek. I still can't quite bring myself to go and see - it was all done before I'd got up that morning so at least for me my last memory of her is as she usually looked, not the mess she apparently was. I do need to go and say 'goodbye' properly though.

For a dog who used to infuriate me on a regular basis I miss her heaps - and usually when she's not there to fall over! I still check the floor outside the bathroom door when I come out of the shower to make sure I don't trip over her, I check the floor under my desk before I move my feet or wheel the chair over, I glance down before moving in the kitchen, I still tiptoe back into my room at night if I've been up so I don't start her off whining outside my window wanting to come in. I still expect the deck doors to rattle and bang when I come home as she tries to hurl herself through the glass to say hello.

We'll have to clean up food spilt on the floor, no longer need to guard any food left on the table, the compost heap might actually fill up a bit quicker now the 'best bits' of kitchen scraps won't get grazed off the top. There are even enough empty chairs to sit on in front of the tv and the rug might finally stay looking clean for more than half an hour after being hoovered (and no-one tries to attack the vacuum cleaner as you use it!). The strawberries, grapes and peas will be able to grow in peace, we could even try melons again. Oh and I'll have to think of something to do with cherimoyas next season...

Poor Sirius (my cat) is most discombobulated, her bowl is now on the laundry floor not up on the washing machine as no-one else will steal her food now. She keeps checking chairs to see if Cammi is there. She looks very suspiciously at the deck where the kennel used to be. They'd become such good friends, we'd often come home to find them together on the deck waiting by the doors even though Sirius could get in through my bedroom window. They'd chase each other around the garden as if possessed and roll about on the gravel driveway - when Sirius had had enough she'd climb up the nearest post in the vineyard leaving Cammi stuck on the ground below.

Trips to the beach will no longer be quite the same, we'll be able to get a towel out of the cupboard without her going crazy hoping we're off for a swim. The sand in cars quota will drop and there will be one less joining us for Meeting when it's here.

She was a small dog with a big presence and I'm only now really appreciating how big. Daft mutt. I loved her though.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

right ordering

It's report time around here, no not school reports but Quaker ones. Our Yearly Meeting produces a Documents in Advance book of reports as part of the lead up to our annual face to face Meeting for Worship for business in July (subsequently followed by White and Gold Papers). All committees, representatives and Monthly Meetings are expected to send a report in.

I've spent the last couple of days working on the Friends World Committee for Consultation one (I'm one of 2 YM reps on this) and chipping in on the content of our Monthly Meeting one.

I've come to the conclusion that what our YM needs to produce are some guidelines on how to write these! The 'problem' with Quakers organisationally is that we're not very good at telling people how to do things in advance, but there are plenty who will gently (or not so...) 'elder' you afterwards if you get it wrong! Some people don't like it if you tell them that what they have written is not in 'right ordering' (Quakerspeak for the right way to do it!) whereas others are grateful for the guidance.

I've found myself both in the guiding and being guided roles over the last couple of days - I'd followed someone else's previous report as a basis for my own but when I sent it to her for checking discovered that she had been eldered about that one and had amended mine accordingly! A couple of emails and a phonecall later and we both had something we were happy with, I felt too that by the end of this process we'd grown a lot closer than we have been in the past.

Getting our MM report into shape however is proving to be harder work! In fact getting our MM into shape is proving hard work in itself. There are times when being at least half the age of certain 'weighty Friends' and relatively new to the country and MM really does not count in my favour despite having been steeped in Quakerism and Quaker process for the best part of 30yrs! Whilst my original MM had a tendency to produce 'he said... then she said...' type Minutes in those early years of my involvement they did introduce me to a lot of the Quakerspeak language and due process.

It is sad when the quip about it needing a good few Quaker funerals to solve the issue gets trotted out but sadly it may prove to be true. Whilst I was in the end very glad to walk away from such intransigence and unwillingness to being open and learning from each other at work that isn't an option here. Thankfully there are others willing to speak up too even if it does take encouragement from me to do so. Hopefully we'll find more unity within our MM this year but it has to be said it hasn't exactly got off to the most promising of starts! However the dialogue is ongoing and that has to be a good thing even if it does feel about as productive as stiring treacle with a feather... definitely a testing of our faith and our community.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

beginning again?

Well so far I've had just over two weeks practice at being 40. In that time I've managed to graze my knee (getting dumped on a tuatua shell by a wave that I failed to bodysurf) and put a sewing machine needle through my finger. As someone who spent their early (and not so early) years keeping Elastoplast in business I'm coming to the conclusion that it isn't so much a case of life beginning again as a 2nd childhood! After all I am happy to report that I haven't filled my nappy or needed milk to get to sleep... give me another 40yrs however and that too may change!

I've been thinking quite a bit about how life was supposedly going to change, especially since reading Melina's post about 30 things to do before 30 (which she wrote aged 29) and thinking I ought to come up with 40 to do before 40 (about 18mths ago... ). Great idea but as I never kept a list I've no idea how many I came up with in the end, let alone achieved! But what it did do was change my attitude to doing a lot of things. I realised that in many ways I still went through life assuming I couldn't do things rather than just having a go.

Partly this is a result of being decidedly hampered in my early-mid twenties with a combination of a post-viral condition and psoriaic arthritis which left me with fluctuating energy levels and limited mobility/dexterity so at the age where most people were stretching their limits mine were being shrunk. Partly it is a result of me taking on board childhood warnings about things being 'dangerous' (eg power tools!) and never quite letting go of the subsequent fear that was a bit too firmly entrenched. Partly it has been a case of lack of opportunity/encouragement or there simply being someone else around who just did it for me and/or reinforced those childhood reservations rather than encouraging me to get my head around the fact that by now I was probably way older than the adults who had told me to be careful and keep my fingers back! And the rest, well no excuse other than general laziness or a/patheticness!

So, admittedly with a degree of trepidation, I've been using the power drill to put in/take out screws at work and using the hot glue gun (if a 3yr old can do it so can I surely?). I've only refused to swim in the sea on the grounds of temperature (or rather lack of it) rather than the size of the waves (altho' I still prefer it when there isn't much surf). I got up to do pilates before breakfast all but one morning at Summer Gathering (and could not only touch my toes but the floor by the end of the week). I've learned to cook what had been 'scary' things like jams and pickles and I got to grips with the overlocker at work! I've read books that have hitherto been on the 'too hard shelf' either because of their perceived 'weightiness' or past bad experiences (A Level English has a lot to answer for). And plenty other things too - like making clothes with zips!

None of these 'achivements' have been of an earthshattering nature nor, in isolation, life changing. But taken all together it has changed my life... I've also reached the point where the realisation has hit me that if I don't do it now I probably never will, so what the heck go for it - albeit tempered with the wisdom of experience! I guess no-one could really accuse me of not living adventurously on some levels (such as jacking in my job/flat/partner and going travelling, upping sticks and moving half way around the world, going back to uni etc etc!) but I feel I've still a long way to go, especially at the smaller end of the scale.

So on a physical level I'm planning to walk up a glacier and go tramping in Fiordland at Easter (altho I did baulk at the idea of a 4-5hr sea kayak on Milford Sound - we'll be getting the boat!). On an intellectual level I'm starting Ara Reo (Maori language & culture lessons) this term and I will get my teacher registration portfolio up to date.... On an emotional one I am determind to get over my (now) irrational fear of various power tools. Also having wussed out of making a decision on which laptop to get last year (thanks D, you're an angel!) I'm going to grit my teeth and chose a digital camera - I am really, honest (oh how I hate making that kind of decision!). No doubt I'll add to the list as the weeks roll by.

I can do it, really I can....