Monday, April 30, 2012

Bounce upon a Rhyme

....there was a woman who loved people so much, she decided they deserved better air and a finer life so she started collecting seeds.

This was publicised.

Everywhere then in time and after much conversation-inspiration throughout the land and across the world where possible locals set up seed collecting depots in houses, barns, shops, bus shelters, sculpture gardens, tea houses, temples, shrines, churches, places of meditation, schools and shipyards, plus there were more places, but to list them all could take days and to tell this story, we need to be more succinct.

The seeds were all for trees.

Evergreen tree on shoreline of Huia Beach Aotearoa New Zealand April 2012

To replace the world's trees was their aim, all the many trees lost to building, fires, fuel, disease, cleared land for farming, trees which had gone to make furniture, paper, log cabins, the soles of fashion shoes, pencils and food, because some trees are edible. Trees had gone for many more reasons than anyone could list in a day probably but again, here in the shade of this wooden house where we are writing this (our community collection of personalities and ideas working away), we need to be certain not to go on too much about any one thing at a time. (Well, we may try.  This is an effort since we are a little wonky lately due to falling in love - somee of us - and also, it's winter so some are rather slowed down, but then others are often odd in any case, just being human, however we think admitting we're not perfect could be more helpful than not so)....

(Half the world's trees have disappeared since homo sapiens arrived on Earth and started using them for this and that, shelters, fires, boats, rolling statues upon, making wheels for carts, making paper)....

Yes, o yes, back to the story. Here it is, look I found it in this potting table drawer.

The woman's name was Xylona, which means 'from the forest' in Greek. (It had previously been something else but she changed it). She liked how her new name sounded a little like Xylophone, she liked music and also it started with an X, which she thought could be a kiss, and then too like the X people used when they signed their mark and not their name, before many people could read or write. (Perhaps some people still do this)? In any case, Xylona liked the idea of her name offering a kiss to people every time they saw it and also, it reminding them of the basic way anyone could show they believed in something, by simply making a mark to prove they agreed, a simple cross, like a cross-stitch or a couple of sticks laid over each other, or a plain barrier too, a way to close something off for privacy or care. Xylona was sure she'd seen some gates which looked like that.

Gates open and close. They're useful and decorative. Xylona wondered if she could make a gate that looked like a tree, to inspire people to think about them with more practical concerns? She googled tree gate and found lots of great ideas.

Besides that frippery and sideline, she wanted to encourage people to take the seeds which suited their properties or places they wanted to plant, then to get moving on propagating the seeds and growing trees.

Xylona made up songs about growing trees - she started with notes like this, to remind herself that people would find them easier to recall when she made them into songs if they had rhymes then too -

Plant seeds in loamy, rich mix if the tree is a forest or bushland specimen,
for other trees by the shore or in high country potting soil's lighter, not so dense.
Seeds need different tending according to where they're going to grow then,
some suit shade, some love hillsides, others like open country or to be a fence.

Xylona found the subject so enormous she often had to lie down for a rest, or take a break and do other work, because her brain got tired and her dreams went wild, they ran off and hid from her.

Collage and painting by Raewyn Alexander for Tiny Titles presentation (soon at Kraftbomb)

People Who Help, (The PWH) said they could also just ask folk to buy trees from a nursery, or to take up seedlings to replant which had sprouted in gardens and which were not wanted. Some trees dropped their seeds, or they blew away to places nearby and the seeds sprouted after wintering, so springtime revealed a host of seedlings under many trees, world-wide. Or others sprouted year long after rain usually, locals just needed to keep an eye out for them. The seedlings needed transplanting, usually to grow well away from the parent tree, this was often best done in cooler or damp weather.

The PWH also said she needed to make sure people understood the trees always had to be planted where their roots would not lift footpaths, where they would not mess up pipes or underground wires and where they did not block sunlight from houses and buildings which needed light. There were some miniature trees available, especially for people with only small gardens or balconies to grow things on.  Even planting just one tree was a fine effort. A bonsai could also be trained to grow and suit even the smallest apartment.

'Asking experts for advice about trees is a great approach. Talk changes things,' said the PWH.

Xylona agreed those were excellent ideas.

So besides the seed-depot places where people could collect seeds if they wanted, or could buy seeds in some places, they also set up information areas with people there at times to answer questions and at other times, printed materials on recycled paper about how to care for and plant trees, or online addresses to look up advice, like this - in each local. Soon the PWH and Xylona were an organisation, they never did get round to having a name, they were just the local community.

Local communities are everywhere.

People get to know each other all the time.

Xylona went on a tour of the world in a sailing boat powered with solar panels and wind. The PWH and Xylona all recycled their waste at every port and planted trees along the way, too.

In one place Xylona made a speech when someone asked her to, and she said, 'Helping each other out is a fine thing and tree planting can usually make life much better. It's as simple as that. Trees provide shade, fruit, leaves for cooking with or making things, flowers, shelter from wind and rain, they stop erosion on hillsides and they encourage birds and insects into an area which keeps the land and so on alive.

Trees also soak up carbon which people make with their cars and their industries, with their breathing out, then the trees provide people with oxygen so people stay alive. Trees are the lungs of the world, we need as many of them as possible even in places where you think there are enough trees, we need more t-t-trees.' She got a bit tongue-tied there and laughed, since she'd said trees so many times. The audience also laughed. It was a happy occasion.

Gen when carrying her son, reaching up to a tree by the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland Town Hall

'A tree is also one of the loveliest things on Earth, it is as marvellous as a poem, some say it is better than poetry.'

And then Xylona sailed back home with PWH, all over the briny blue ocean through dips and storms and conversations, some disagreements but not many because they'd started out well and finished well, too. Now they're planting more trees in places which need them, like South Australia, and they recommend you do this as well.  That's because giving to others is essential for happiness.

The recipe for happiness is to have firstly, lots of sensual pleasures like good, plain, healthy food, comfortable, well-made clothes you like to wear, staying clean and enjoying good views, balmy air, loveliness and good music, a safe, warm place to live, a decent place to work, etc., that's what we need the most of, to be happy. That's the bottom of the pyramid of happiness and the biggest.

Next, we need goals and aims, intellectual pursuits, planning, those kinds of things, and we need to achieve some goals and aims, to get where we want to go. We need those to be not quite as much time spent on them as the first things. The aims and goals, our thinking of what to do and getting there, and so on are the middle of the pyramid of happiness. They are the second biggest area of life.

Lastly, to complete happiness we need to give to others when we have the rest sorted out. Giving to others is the least we need to do, not the most, if we find we are giving too much then we need to go back to caring for our own welfare and happiness with sensual delights and making for those goals and aims in life again, achieving those. Planting one tree once in a while, or presenting a tree to someone could be a way of giving to others, surely? It could be how to achieve a truly happy life.


Our Bainie graduated with his degree in property, ooo, on the second tier there.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ancient Greeks and Walking

 Surprisingly when I was swept up and along in the wonderful state of friendship I enjoyed in Am er i ca, (recommended, friendship's the best way to see or do almost anything I'd say, since love and care surely appears more readily and isn't that how we best make the world finer)? yes, hmmm, so when I was there and as I am still in that state of connectedness now, (distance does not diminish friendship and in fact may make it stronger,) well, I really wanted to (want to) change my name and be someone else, so I can keep living the dream.

O yes, I wanted to (want to) stay there, so much, and I may need to one day.

No one I knew or met whom I mentioned this desire to, (want to) in the States appeared surprised. They love living there so 'of course you'd want to stay', they seemed to think. However, the only way I could stay at that point was to do so without permission and I don't behave that way, so here I am home again.

Something started well usually ends well. If I do ever live elsewhere it has to start properly. I think the reason I'm so happy here in my place is because getting this house and moving in started out well all those ages ago. I have tried this theory out before in fact, you see.

Well, now let's be fanciful. I love imagining things.

A name that sprung to mind for my new life, (I feel so changed by the journey) was Penelope, which I mentioned as a joke in a way, initially because of Lady Penelope in the Thunderbirds. She's a foreigner in the retro-TVshow amongst Am er icans, (puppets, grand), and rather posh, (some A meri cans find my accent la de da, do not laugh). But then also, I was reminded last night, (after Mandy et al had been out on a farm's wetlands where the birds need culling at times, they actually chased and caught a wild goose, (cooked in milk to be tender) which proves the impossible is possible, ha, a wild goose chase may be bountiful), so yes, I was reminded there by the master painter and print-maker Stanley Palmer about Penelope - 'O yes, she waits,'  he said.  Then he told us how Penelope wove, embroidered and created while she waited for her love to return to her, and undid threads too so she would not be forced into making a decision, kept biding her time.

Penelope lives in ancient Greek legend, portrayed as an age when an eligible woman alone had to have a partner, had to be married if possible. Luckily, even if there are extraordinary pressures still to conform that way, some of us have the choice to stay independent if we wish. We make many lovely things, however we do not undo them to delay making any decisions about our love-lives. Any prevarication on our part is from genuine bewilderment and wonder, possibly. We're perhaps making then unmaking plans for the future in some respects, nevertheless, stepping in time on the spot while many images flash and blink, change and whirl, nothing fixed, not yet.

Need. Love creates a need, it may make another person's presence or attention appear absolutely vital to our well being, love is not a want. Lust is want. When we need another it is love, that's how we tell the true.

Friends in need are friends indeed too.

This morning I looked Penelope up, and there she is from legend where I'd read about her years ago, (I love and yes, need those ancient stories), Penelope who fended off suitors to wait for her true love, Odysseus. She's a symbol of fidelity but also, a puzzle of a woman who is sometimes difficult to fathom or who feels she cannot continue in her resistance and waiting for her true love, so she's tempted by other lovers and other paths, all the while weaving and undoing a piece of work to delay making any decision and in hope Odysseus shall return to her.    

I notice the goddess Athena is blamed for Penelope's dithering and succumbing to 'fanning the ardour of others'. This may be because the storyteller is saying it is wise to behave like a human being and not any idealised version of oneself. Unrealistic expectations create unnatural and dangerous situations otherwise and the goddess of wisdom, Athena is shown in this story as having an influence to maintain Penelope's flawed human self, as best.

Now this is all very well, but what of real life? Hmmm, let's see....

Leap with me if you can spare some minutes, now, can you hear people chanting? 'Aotearoa is not for sale.' Only yesterday chanting in the streets of Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand where an enormous group of thousands of people of all ages and from many backgrounds walked up our main city street. In the spirit of arohanui, love of community, in a pleasant atmosphere of friendship and determination, we walked and sang, we chanted and held our placards, we stated we shall not allow our assets to be taken from us in Aotearoa New Zealand, not now, not tomorrow and not ever, amen.

These are the pix I took, below. I have some links I could add later too and I'm going to mention here that yesterday morning I saw Zero from the Suburban Reptiles being taken away by some young punks, they were all laughing and shouting. Someone mentioned a celebration. This appeared to be as vivid as if it happened in front of my eyes, outside Pack and Save Mt Albert but it may've been a vision. I hope she had a good time anyway, what a stunning woman and talent.  Zero's magical puppet theatre will be at the launch of my Mess of Travelling book in November, so we'll plan to be here at The Happy Tea House, Grey Lynn, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland Aotearoa NZ and we'll see, then o yes we shall, tra la la. I've made four of the complicated, collage and writing pages already and someone at pretendGeniuspress told me they look cool, (thanks), I think they also submit work to this site 

This is the post-apocalyptic age, (thanks James Browning Kepple, Post-apocalyptic Hillbilly and the New face of Punk Rock for so aptly explaining that. O and gorgeous women were looking at your books I showed them the other day by the way). Yes, we're rebuilding the world. It's already looking much better. I may add ribbons.

And yes these photos are blurry, it's a post-post-contemporary-impressionist photo essay.  (Laugh, go on, we deserve lots of those).


Thursday, April 26, 2012


The end of the street I stayed in, looking from Lower East Side towards Soho, NYC April 2012

Any journey to a place never ends as long as you recall the trip. Each day my travels develop more in mind and affect my life back here in New Zealand.  The love I have for my friends and my deep appreciation for one in particular is so affecting I feel like singing in the supermarket queue and did so last night, quietly, which caused a number of people to smile at me and everything was so much more pleasant. This is Grey Lynn, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand where people appreciate such things as a quiet song in a waiting time, I love where I live and I loved travelling to Am e ri ca, I am so full of love there's plenty to spare.

Here's a place to practise your Maori for when you get here by the way, Julie, Dana and others who are considering this trip -
There you are Julie, easy to learn when you have the google, ha. Go on, surprise us.


I have lost a lot of my photos due to a theft of my laptop at LA Security Check, in their airport, so this picture is from this site -

For all my time since I've left America I have every day been haunted by the image of a homeless man who approached me in the Lower East Side, just before I got to the post office. His picture floats into my mind occasionally and I want to stop, reach out to him in some gesture of greeting, dip into my purse and give him money, chat for a while and find out what he needs, where he's from and how he came to be there taking off his hat and speaking to me, asking for help. I want to take him to a hotel and give him a warm place to sleep, get someone to wash his old body and sing to him. I suppose to me this aged, oddly charming and strange man represents every homeless person I have ever seen, all the issues I wish I could change in an afternoon, but also, there was just something about him, individually. I have to write about this or it could break me open like a pinata, all my insides strewn everywhere for wild children to grab and run off with....

Writing helps me understand and move on.

It had been quite a trek from the edge of Soho past a park on my right, to a busier road into the Lower East Side through sudden odd sounds, peculiar sights and weird smells. I was totally unaccustomed to this great monster and gem of a city, despite all the movies and films I'd seen set there, despite all the books I'd read and songs I'd heard, (despite having been there a few days already). Using a stick to walk with, (my arthritis still an issue then and I liked how some people took extra care round me when I held it, plus I thought I could use it as a weapon if I had to), off I went along and across streets where people drive on the wrong side of the road as far as I am concerned.

Constantly looking everywhere for fear of being run over, I looked demented I knew, but really could not get used to looking the new way to make sure a car wasn't going to smash into me. Anyway, no one much cared what I looked like, really, (except when I seemed exotic, then they were curious). People in NYC are characterful, all of them, exaggerated by their circumstances and the furious struggle to stay in control, to keep life going while anything seems possible, it's exhilarating. It was a relief in many ways to not be peculiar particularly, but to be in a huge crowd of oddities and wonder, the people o wow, the NYC people, they're magnificent. (I was so lucky James showed me around too, I'd never have seen so much without his brilliance and kindness).

So, James who looked up where the post office was for me on his phone the day before, showed me the route on the tiny screen, then. It looked simple but we both knew I'd find it tough. I thanked him in this doubtful tone while I looked at how many streets there were to walk along, alone, and he laughed, not unkindly but in a challenging way I suppose. (We're both of us from places outside New York City, where what we're accustomed to is less harsh shall we say and less busy, where our sensitivities are assailed in quite different ways and the struggle to survive is not so evident everywhere about us. We've also known each other for many years online, we're artists, we find everyday life startling at times even if it's 'normal'. So James and I shared an understanding that this walk to the post office I wanted to take to post things to NZ, Chicago and Seattle was not any saunter in the park for me, no toddle).

I suppose many people reading this blog may imagine it was all a delightful fun time, with new sights and relaxing conversations abounding, but travelling alone, an older woman travelling by herself and travelling so far in these times of extra-checks and dang er, really takes a toll. I'm an artist too, so I do feel things at times more strongly than others may do. This can be terrifying. A woman alone is too often shown little respect generally, we're like this target for some people, they're scornful or treat us like we're to be pushed out of the way, because they're in a group and bullies. I had to mention my attachment to a particular man to get some of them to stop behaving like I was some kind of bad omen, in some places. People have the strangest prejudices.

I do not like the narrow-minded as I may have mentioned before.  That's one of my biases.

Yes, so anyway travelling takes a toll on a person, on anyone, let alone someone like me who can get agoraphobia in Grey Lynn Auckland. I am at times scared to go out here where there's hardly anything going on, imagine what I was like in New York City, just off Soho after travelling for almost a month and a half. Ha.

Sincerely, if it wasn't for my friends and us having so much in common, so I wasn't flung into strange places and peculiar situations so much as shown things people loved, by great people who I already had a real rapport with, if it wasn't for those wonderful people, my friends, I could never ever have done this trip, probably not even with someone else along.

I did it for friendship. That's why I went across the Pacific Ocean in a cruise ship. A boat uses less carbon per person than a plane. I wanted to be a friend to people I didn't even know, to buy things on islands where people depended on tourism to live above subsistence. I didn't want bargains, I wanted to contribute to their economy. I wanted to appreciate their countries and love them.  This I did. It was a joy. Then in Am e rica I wanted to meet friends and strengthen those invisible bonds we enjoy, which we need now more than ever before, all of us everywhere. It is not necessary to travel to do this of course, but having not had a holiday for 20 years, I decided I could plant trees to cover the carbon cost and just go, enjoy myself properly for a change doing something I'd always dreamt of and longed for, since I'd got to know these other writers online. So I did.

It still feels daring.

I'll never be the same.

This was like adding on an entire new floor to my house of myself and furnishing it, then inviting people over who came and loved the place. We're still in there, conversing.

For past decades any spare time I had I always went to see my mother, so it may have appeared I was going on a holiday, 'to the beach' but it wasn't at all.  The driving eventually gave me OOS, or contributed to it since I was going there every three weeks when Mum got really ill, driving three hours one way then three hours the next, it almost did me in. Whangamata is a lovely place by the sea, however I hardly ever saw the ocean or the beach I liked to visit with my mother and talk or just be there in the house where she lived alone. I'm not going to expound upon this except to say I am glad we had so much time together talking, now I can imagine conversations between us and they are some comfort since she's gone.  My mother was a great storyteller, inspiring.

An ex also insisted we drive round the South Island for two weeks which I did enjoy in a manner of speaking, but did not choose to do myself, nor in conversation or any kind of planning situation. It was rather an ordeal for the most part, and expensive in ways I had to pay for over some time later. This also I did not consider was a holiday, since I hadn't agreed to it in any kind manner and yet I forgive that whole shemozzle, the past cannot have been any different.

Now some may recall, I was flown overseas twice to England, conferences for my work in education, but that also was not a holiday, believe me.

Once I realised carbon was killing people and the planet I refused to take any plane trip like that merely for my own enjoyment in any case, it seemed criminal and it still does unless I do something to undo the damage I'm causing. That's why I'm planting trees to cover the carbon, and buying some in South Australia, so I do not feel like a mur derer.

However, enough of that, now there I am on the last part of my poeticjourneytoamerica in fact, in the last week, on a walk alone through a sunny spring day in NYC, to the post office in the lower east side.

Here it is here, but this was at a time of day when it was all in shadow -

Then this homeless man, he appeared at the end of my long walk, just when the post office was in sight on this grey street in shade, with graffiti on the blue postbox ahead, brick buildings beside me and a few rather stunted-looking trees growing from places in the sidewalk, at intervals. A slightly run-down neighbourhood; quite a few people looked worn out and wore serviceable mid-colour and dark clothes, less flash than around the edge of Soho where I'd been staying. He wore dark blue and black clothes, was a really dark man himself and slim, quite tall about six foot two, wearing a wide-brimmed newish yellow straw hat. This man was also hung with various objects like large wooden spoons on strings and his face looked crumpled like he'd had an accident or a stroke, so it all kind of sloped to one side, but he saw me, eyes lit up a little, looked like he admired what I was wearing in this really benign manner, he stopped, spoke and his cracked voice was so gentle, so lovely even though I could not understand a word, precisely. But I think he said, 'Please Ma'am, could you spare something?'

I almost stopped, gaped, felt in awe of him.

We were about a metre apart or a little more, maybe two metres.

I eyed the post office ahead, where I imagined it could be. But I glanced back at him. My steps were all in slow motion.  I noticed all this about him in mere moments.

The strange man held his straw hat in one hand the crown down, and the other hand gestured outwards a little. He did not move otherwise from the spot he stood in, as if he could wait there for all time til I responded.

And I wanted to react and stop so much; only a moment I gaped at him. Then I remembered my rule for safety, 'Keep on walking, do not stop for anyone,' (since I did live in our inner city for years and there you never stop for people who ask you things at night or in dodgy ways, so I grew accustomed to not stopping at all for anyone ever, unless I knew them).

It felt like a crime to duck my head and break our glance, to keep on walking and go on by. But I got a sense of complete understanding from this man as I did pass by, it was like he appreciated my doing whatever I wished. He did not swear or growl, he wasn't angry or disappointed. It was fine, except I wished things could've been better, different, more give and take.

I can see the man in dark blue and black with his wide straw hat in hand now, even though I did not look back, can see him watch me go since he could've turned a little and maybe admired my long, green paisley overdress. There's this kind of appreciation society world-wide for funky, I make appreciative glances at some people's look and they at me, reasonably often everywhere, it's fun and just human beings sharing a style moment. (Two dark men in Atlanta airport sat opposite me and one murmured to the other, 'O ain't she rare.' The other murmured agreement. It wasn't intrusive, just appreciative. I loved it, kind attention always welcome). Anyway, I think he really did like how I looked, (anyone who knows me surely understands I have this extrovert style), and I think he gathered that I was really rather amazed and impressed by him. We'd done the mutual admiration thaaang. 

Then I imagine he put his hat on again and walked on with his wooden spoons and things swinging about himself.

I love the image of him in my memory and will always treasure it.

And if you ever see this man in the Lower East Side of NYC and have something in your pocket please, give it to him.

Now, I like to think this man in dark blue with his sensible shady straw hat was so charming he went on and gathered a goodly amount for himself that day. It's writing about him that brings me to this conclusion. A person so memorable and gentlemanly, so stylish and even elegant with his outrageousness, this all the more wonderful because he appeared to be in a state of extreme hardship and oddity, what a rare and wonderful human being to have met however briefly. Luck takes many forms.  And maybe he wasn't homeless, but an artist who took to the streets and gathered money simply for how he looked?  Maybe some people are paid to be themselves?

There are anyway some programmes and people helping to reduce homelessness in NYC -

There is too this poem for today -

suspended in the sound of bells

keeping out of mischief

could concertina the ocean

some darts with pins perhaps

make it easier to paddle over there

this minute to miss you properly

you'd be away or busy

turned into a sunning creature for weeks

somewhere foreign in the neighbourhood


then there's the distraction of running

wondering if my voice has been hi-jacked

hooligan secret identity mongers

smiles and rattles in mid-sun

an aeroplane cuts across

talking about trees





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confessions and Planting

Look what I found at Lucy-Mae 600 Great North Road yesterday, the longest button necklace in the world, I love it.

My name is Raewyn Alexander and I'm a writer. I also tutor writing and do manuscript assessments, editing and critiques.  (Enrol now for May). 

Ha, this feels like a confession in a self-help group. Is it wrong to write? Well, yes, in some people's eyes it is, but I can't help it so what am I to do?

It's not often writers are as extrovert as I am, this circumstance causes consternation and even despair amongst some of the literary wallahs, spiffs and wanna-bes but I yam what I yam, and although Popeye is perhaps a silly character for me to align myself with, I can be rather quick to react in a furious manner to anything untoward. That tempestuousness appears less lately obvious, I've mellowed you could say and I think someone in particular has tamed me, astoundingly. O yes, we know the play don't we, William Shakespeare's most sexist piece of theatre some say, that one with the shrew in it, and not that popular in Aotearoa New Zealand since we believe stroppy women are people to be proud of in many places but, no, it was not really so much my shrewishness as self-preservation against, erm... ha, I've forgotten.

My trip, tour, journey, (whatever you like to call it) for a month and half across the Pacific Ocean in a boat, (the ship Oriana) to Tahiti, Hawaii then mainland Amer i ca - San Francisco, Seattle, Iowa, Chicago and New York, where I visited friends who are also writer colleagues has altered me forever and for the better, too. I'm thinner, fitter, happier, more connected with what I believe and enjoy, working with far greater speed, focus and wit while also, feeling more inclined to help others and interact with them.  I believe I've grown to be more myself.

Sometimes however, (here's another confession), I think I was born in the wrong country. I suit a larger place. Always thought I was in the great wide world, not just on a small island at the edge of things, while I was growing up.  A shock to realise the population here did not often agree with me and still does not.  'Writers do not call attention to themselves.'  There's one comment someone directed at me, once, in an author's meeting. 'Writers are boring in everyday life, rarely talk with other people and are usually off to write something, they want to get back to the work.'  Another one, perhaps well meaning but for me it felt like they wanted to push me into a cupboard and lock the door.  These are the kinds of hints people in NZ, some of them, slide at me as if they are prescriptions for living I could take like bitter medicine and just shut-up, (with my face all wonky from the bad taste but so what, I'll be in my cupboard being quiet).

I needed to get away. Possibly I'd been aiming for this all the 12 long wonderful years I'd known those fine people I met up with in the States, befriended online that is.  We've corresponded at length in many ways and I published some of them in Magazine, I've also reviewed some of their books and assisted with advice when a few set up a publishing company. I liked to be critical at times as well, although this did not always work as an academic exercise and I have suffered since for perhaps saying far too much, but I understand now we do have vast differences in our cultures.

Those writers I stayed with or met up with in any case, to reiterate, are not merely people I have a passing acquaintance with either. We know so much about each other we're almost like family. About twelve years ago, here in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland NZ, on a computer someone was about to throw away but which I resurrected, (thanks Janet Charman and Max White) I sought out people in cyberspace who I could find out more about writing with, I explored online as soon as I knew other writers existed there and when I'd discovered how the internet worked.

It was a deliberate act to look outside New Zealand for support and advice since so few people here had a vision of our work as being formed from a world-view, not just a local one. Also, I wanted my work to be read world-wide, not just in my own country. Then too, I needed to acknowledge all the wealth of literature I've read in my life, including song lyrics, from everywhere and in large part from America. Just off the top of my head - Mark Twain, Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, Louisa May Alcott, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Adrienne Rich, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Frank O'Hara, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost... I can reel off some names easily, and those do not include the film or TV writers, the artists who've written about their work neither, nor, no. Plus, I could read ten books a week in the school holidays if I could get my hands on them, when I was younger. That was my record for seven days when it rained a lot one August holidays, anyway, so there's a pounding stream or river or torrent of words have flowed through this old noggin and many of them were from American greats.

Writing brought us together, talking about the art and craft of literature online and then, we also read the work itself. Our writing we shared with others and some of it was stupendous, some revol u tion ary, some diabolical, a great deal lovely, inspiring and delightful, and even more just mad experiments, but for the most part we were determined to improve and learn more. I think we writers, (and I mean those I worked with mainly through writethis and Creative Writers), all had a desire to learn better in common, apart from our obvious talents and a drive to stay true to ourselves. We generally admired each others' work as well, but not in any slavish manner for the most part. Respect then plays a part in our relationships, while we're quite good at telling each other off, or to shut-up or we may also be off-hand too.

Meeting them in person has made our relationships all stronger and in some cases changed them so much I am still not sure what is going on.

It still feels like I was spellbound to have gone there and even more entranced afterwards.

Right now I want to buy a ticket on a plane and fly straight back there.

Instead, I'm looking out the window at the tree I planted yesterday for Jimi Hendrix. It is a Ballerina apple, so there's a musical connection.  I'm hoping some of my friends will visit me here and see it.

I'm praying I do not go insane and give up everything here, leave what I've built up and striven for in New Zealand, to travel again so soon. It's going to be interesting to see what happens, I suppose.
If I get enough of my books onto Kindle then I can earn money while I am anywhere in the world, so there's another project I need to finish before I up sticks just like that, (so I tell myself).

I can just see how easy it would be to sell almost everything in this place, rent the house, pack a few things and then....

Okay I must take a sterner approach, obviously.

When planting a tree, I like to say a karakia or prayer first, asking things to go well, blessings to be on the garden, the work, the people, the neighbourhood and the world, amen. I pray to the God and Goddess, I prefer a balanced deity image of that nature, sun and moon, that kind of symbolism, rather than one obvious picture of goodness even if the sun, or Jehovah or other more singular deity name is such. Then also, I've already made sure it is not being put in a place where the roots will disturb underground powerlines, pipes and so on. (I like to be esoteric and practical, they go together in my mind. One is not much without the other).

If you are not religious then it can be a good idea to have some kind of ceremony for tree-planting nevertheless, a working bee perhaps with friends round to plan and dig. Someone makes a speech of welcome. This lends gravity to the situation and makes people more likely to see the work as important, because a tree is a larger plant and requires care to be planted properly and to grow well. It also draws fine attention to the act of planting itself and could inspire others to plant trees, if due importance is given to the action with ceremony.

I am on a mission to get as many trees planted world-wide as possible, we need more of them for our own good. Half the world's trees have gone since homo sapiens appeared on Earth. We need more trees to soak up our carbon, to provide shade, to provide food, to provide us with oxygen, to give us fuel in time and building materials, we need them for their beauty, their eco-systems and more.



O go on, plant one.  At least one.  A shrub would do.

Dig the hole a little bigger than the pot and make sure the tree itself will be a little above the ground, not in a depression where water could gather and rot the roots and trunk.  I usually place some compost in the bottom of the hole and mix with the soil. Ask for expert advice and read the label if it is a bought tree, or google it if you've grown the tree yourself from seed or a cutting, or someone's given you a tree. Follow the instructions. Enjoy yourself.

 Place the tree in the hole, (you may water the bottom of the hole first if you like).  Then pack in the soil you dug out, turn the grassy bits upside down so they will eventually rot and be helpful.  In this pic, (above) the soil I dug out is at the back over the grass.

Then here in this photo I've placed all the soil back round the tree, pushed it down firmly with my feet and added some mulch of compost then watered it all.

It's a Ballerina apple tree for Jimi Hendrix, so the tree can kiss the sky for him. He died too young, perhaps partly because people supposedly caring for him didn't realise then how easily our most talented and sensitive may be hurt and damaged then fall apart, as if made of thin air. Some possibly wanted him gone, they were envious or they just didn't care and imagined if he was gone they could take his place, be famous instead.

Take care out there.

Fame is how other people view celebrities, it's a window placed gradually between the celebrity and the world, fame's a colour, a filter and a viewpoint. Usually it comes from doing something well.  The window pane of glamour slowly layers itself over time, til there's a barrier between the celebrated and other people. Even when the barrier is clear it exists and once it is there it's almost impossible to get round it to the other side where once, if memory serves, other people seemed far closer than they appear once fame arrives. Glamour is upon the famous, moonlight shines over them 24 hours a day, the fairy dust gets into their pores and their words and their bellies til they're a great repository of shimmer, o but human beings need more than that to survive. We can't eat a dream.

Bowie wrote a song about it, '...what you like is in the limo.' He said there's no tomorrow with fame, in the song lyrics, (I think that's because glamour and fame present an always present evening and starlight, while also believing that the hype makes you invincible, well, that can kill you). Perhaps seeing fame for what it was helped David Bowie to avoid the dangerous places fame hides with reflections, in part anyway. Fame seems protective but is really only a screen which makes things appear different, if the screen is removed things suddenly look like they did before or even deteriorated, since time has passed. Oprah, (who had some great moments), said something like - fame is all about people wanting a ride in the limo, but what you want is friends who will ride the bus with you when the limo is not around.

I like to think I know who those people are who'd get on the bus with me if I needed them to, like to think I have their confidence and kindness most of the time. It's a good idea to know, to take stock now and then, in my opinion. Usually, human beings can count on the fingers of one hand who their true friends are, then on both hands who the other friends are who are pretty good, then if you're lucky, (using your toes we could say to count), there are some rather more distant people you know who are okay, who maybe would ride the bus, but you don't know them that well and could have a somewhat silent journey without a lot to talk about, however you wouldn't feel about them as if they were total strangers, and so on.

Success sure sorts out who you can count on and who you can't, yes. Family and friends show themselves as worthy or not, kind or not, greedy or not, controlling and scary or not, able to accept you as you are imperfections and everything like any human being or not, pretty smartly. Also, fame or success sorts yourself out because it's a challenge to stay well, happy and balanced if lots of attention, or money, or good press or all of those come your way for some reason.

A fairy trick and a moon-age nightmare sometimes, fame - but the work produced by people who are famous may stay with us for all human time and give some kind of solace, soothing us when we're frantic, stunning us when we need to be dazed or uplifted, providing at the least a kind of repair to the rips and frayed places we worry over or try to hide just in case we're damned for them. How perfect we are supposedly supposed to be, when really here we are too often hurt, wondering, incomplete and lost even if only in thought or desires. Brilliant work helps us to dazzle and razzle, forget everyday demands and niggles, can even make us feel something like whole again for a while.

So this is a post about confessions and planting. My confessions are about my own frailty and doubts, how I have to resist making silly decisions based on selfishness or greed, or on a desire for more than necessary. I confess my own foolish imaginings could lead me astray into places I have no real idea about, where life could be too dangerous. I need good people to point those dangers out to me. I require decent advice and loving attention, I must be treated well or I could grow to feel hurt so much I will fail and collapse, I at times feel close to that.  Luckily, I also know when to go and get help and have done, (so anyone secretly delighting in the prospect of my ruination can stop that, thanks).  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT) is the best assistance I've enjoyed lately and if your GP is Pro-care in NZ you get some sessions free in Auckland anyway, do ask.

I think it best when baring ones inner self to the world for reasons of self-development and sharing experiences, to also think about something practical which symbolises a decent attitude, in fact. The tree I planted then is certainly for Jimi Hendrix as a tribute to him and to my dear friends in Seattle who kindly showed me their city, but it's also my way of saying I'm trying my best to be a good woman and take actions which bode well in the world, but I also need you, my family and good friends and you know who you are, to help me out and support me, or I am nothing. I know that. I love you. May our futures be well, improve and blossom.  x

The tree I purchased locally from our wonderful new garden centre in Grey Lynn, (they are having a scarecrow competition at the moment in local schools, go see the one they have on the street it's fabulous),   554 Great North Road 
                                                           ph Mark Lewisham on 09 376 2640 or 027 499 3277.

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seattle with Dean and Amy

Screenshot of a montage of the video which is on the link below

Please click here to view -

A grand time this was driving round Seattle this April, 2012. (I've been looking through movie footage I have from the trip, this was taken at the start of my mainland U S A journey, just after Alameda, San Francisco).  Thanks so much to Nigel Rowe for putting those films onto disks for me in Chicago, they're the bulk of my images now after the theft of my laptop, except I hope to get some pix eventually from my 'merican phone.

I miss Seattle's dark spiky trees and the crows, so many large black birds the size of a small cat and vocal. One crow I managed to get quite close to, its black feathers reflected a little light when it stretched out its wings and flew away in a leisurely fashion. That was in the grounds of the old nunnery, where Amy took me. We walked the gravelly pathways, our footsteps crunched while talk smoothly smiled from us even when we were serious.

Mainly an overcast or rainy place but sunshine did appear occasionally and all the more brilliant with the contrast. Then those magnificent mountains surrounding Seattle, white on dull black as if someone placed a special effect in the sky by Georgia O'Keefe, (her painting in the Chicago Art Institute reminded me of mountains and snow), Mount Ranier enormous when it decided to majestically loom above and one day wearing its hat of clouds. I can see why Jimi would've wanted to kiss the sky, I still wish I could reach out to those mountains and touch them, run my fingers across their contours and feel the icy coldness of their slopes.
A screenshot of extra-short vid 1, the link to longer vid 2 of Hendrix memorial in Seattle is below

I feel like I should've washed my hands after visiting Jimi Hendrix's memorial in Seattle, but I didn't see a tap there. I think the only way I can do this ritual, (it makes things 'normal or everyday' again after visiting a sacred place), which some people in New Zealand follow, is to plant a tree to kiss the sky in his honour and wash my hands afterwards. I'm going to buy the tree today. What will appear to me especially for Hendrix I wonder at the garden centre in Grey Lynn? (Yes there's one there, a new place near Snake Studios and opposite the Roast Dinner place).

A Movie before the Real-life Story goes Private

The woman dreamt of rough plank buildings arisen from red-brown dust
in a long-forlorn town on the edge of what could be in one play a film set.
She saw the man at a table on the dried mud street with a bottle of something tan;
wherever he placed his hands palm down, shadows looked like calendar water.
They knew each other but did not speak or make eye-contact, just curl-smiled.

She said she believed the beginning of a love affair usually had more greenery.
He didn't reply to her almost-question but kept touching surfaces blue.
They were recently other people more like cartoons or children's drawings,
because of this each drew fake escapes sometimes and half-true identities.
The woman slowly gathered she needed to sieve the details and hush more often.

But a million-headed monster swallowed her whole; and blackness consumed her treasure.
Softness tumbled here or there away while mistakes snarled in the darkness.
The man watched from a telescope distance like a captain on a ship near icebergs,
as unreadable as anyone in a uniform may appear for reasons of safety and triumph.
Time lacked character, nevertheless behaving like it presided and counted.

It has to be said the woman felt she was being watched, categorised and measured,
even if this wasn't true - out in the fields near the dusty town, long grasses swayed.
She folded the ocean up in a concertina of silent reading to bring shores closer,
some words obscured but kissing skies and rolling with tones of voice.
The man she imagines has taken to tracks between trees for better viewpoints.

No one knows how anything can end or even if a finish exists except polishing;
guesswork a way to while - (views from the lania) laundry dries and trees grow.
The woman stepped out of the film frame and dust on her shoes patterned every day,
if she looks back the street and buildings appear flat like they've packed up.
The past lets people go into gardens and spin, cascades of water, petals and walking.


Please feel free to comment and thanks for reading, there are more and more views every day and I really appreciate your attention.  x



"she wrote her phone number in machine gun bullets
on his bedroom wall before she left," her friend announced, laughed.
then she remembered a movie about a woman who forgot
black lace has its own signal like smoke.

the beautiful and the doomed trace
their names in sand at night with sticks;
murmured spells of backward - almost swallowed
to digest the possibility of stillness and holding.

a tear in the page of her plans
where his indifference belied itself and ripped;
stares and a noise like clearing the throat.
this silence harbours adjustment and tunes.

in order to reach the destination she has to remain
true to a course of vitamin-ideas.
he strides about dunes or deals hands
escapes and games for the unknown to appear closer.

muscles in her arms and legs flex in random jolts
they visit each other supernaturally with drunken songs.
the neighbourhood pretends alarm
while their conversations set up targets.

the distance between two countries is a long letter
or a difference in how tea is prepared.
between a man and a woman the measurement changes
according to how their listening is regarded by the other.

then falsehoods work the rest into news
or parcels of assistance towards comfort.
she stands here now with eyed messages
a fistful of hard candy and the leash of her art.

the most difficult thing to stand inside is almost asleep
and then next, the half-open entrance.
she stood in a doorway and shook with want
a cold and desperate decision to deny access.

the house did not collapse but filled with voices.
not finished with suspense nor with pulling.
how long does this bridge need to be?
why are they both tunnelling like half-dressed miners?


the mysterious way poetry reveals what I'm really thinking to myself is one of the great pleasures and also, a trial since I am so tired this moment I can barely stay awake.

adjustment to life here in NZ is going all right but I wish I was back across the Pacific Ocean and could enjoy some actual conversations, instead of imagined dialogue and these half-waking dreams I have, constantly.

it feels as wonderful as being dressed in the finest fabrics and given the best food, then being held and hugged and kissed with true kindness to be so beautifully welcomed home by so many people. but there was not enough time in each place across Am er i ca for my liking. i keep seeing a road I did not take and thinking of something else I could've said, or a better way I may've listened. spellbound and recently converted to a broader, deeper consciousness I am a fool still and always, really too impatient and dumb with longing to understand what to do next, but at least I could sleep now. I hope to find a better light tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

where to go but backwards?

When a fine experience, an exotic holiday, a transporting concert or such is over some people move on along feeling enriched and enlightened, happier, just segue into the rest of their time in a linear fashion and do not look back so much as occasionally find themselves surprised by a great memory, or a souvenir triggers some vivid view in mind of a place and time they'd thought forgotten. I'm more likely to deliberately go back over memories, those good times and fine lines I want ingrained in me like I could become carved of them, some of them, etched, scrolled all over my mind and into my heart which is a vast place and not made of flesh but any substance I consider fitting. A heart may be in many places at once too, and can be shared, may grow or leap without harm.

Yes, memories of my trip across the Pacific Ocean and then Am e rica the U S (the top part of it anyway) I'm going over and over those pictures, those sounds, smells and feelings now, to have them link with other ideas, to become a part of me as close to who I am as possible so they're enmeshed and change me deliberately for the better. The poetic journey to America has not stopped, if anything it has only just begun. The poetry already beginning for my book The Mess of Travelling, with some contributions from people I visited in the States.  The launch is due in November 2012.  I just hope I get it done by then, the hand-made pages take days each.  I did make the start of two yesterday, but they need colours and also embroidery. I have some excellent glittery thread from a San Francisco craft store in Haight Ashbury, I think it was, (thanks Adam Gillitt for showing me the place).

Nevertheless it is as easy as deciding to make a change for good, which changes the future for the better. Decision, a grand or simple or betweenish idea, a plan, a magic piece of a puzzle which all clicks into a larger formation, then slowly or quickly or inbetweenerly, (yes, again) wheels open a new door, invisible except now you're in a wholly fresh circumstance and heading for better things than before. Friendships deepen, planning is easier, the world appears more benign and it is, this is the truth, every step strengthens and  assists, so we're then better able to work with others and get what we need, even what we want sometimes. 

(I could put a Rolling Stones song in here, o I shall).   There's no limit on rock and roll, it's eternal.  Even if this sounds a bit tired, I love them for their determination and keeping on. (I was more a Beatles fan when I was younger tho' - Ringo my favourite - these guys were far too scary, ha). This song sounds good when reading the next part of this anyway, bit of leavening.

Erm... now, where was I o yes, forgiveness by the way can be useful in this kind of situation. It means accepting the past could not have been any different. Forgiveness is also for yourself. It rids our self of anger and frustration, it stops us going round in circles over old ground where a hole is growing and we're sinking into it. Forgiveness allows time to build a ladder out of there, then to fill in the hole with all the old dirt piled beside it and walk away, on to a new place and better days.

I love forgiveness. It makes me stronger and able to work with far more heart. And yes, I had and often have a great deal to forgive, but that's just the past and it cannot have been any different. (See, I mean it. "See she does, watch the spectacle of freeing oneself," cries the showman and the circus huckster). So now, ills fade into the background, gone, hard to see easily, not affecting me as much any more or at all in some cases.

With forgiveness I took back my own fate, it's here in the better place, now.

This was drawn at Veronica and Miguel's gingerbread house in Iowa, where they cooked Julie Payne the quietly-spoken great shot and mixmaster and I delicious Mexican food. We had corn chips with hot sauce too. Then Veronica mixed some wicked tequila cocktails with grapefruit soda, (recommended). I just think I'd use soda water and grapefruit juice for the New Zild version since we tend to have less sugar in things. Their house looks like it is made of cookie fragments in a pattern like crazy paving, a mid-lemonish brown colour and other darker browns, if I recall. 

Since my laptop was stolen many of the photos have gone but I have this drawing above, which looks like a madcap hen.  It reminds me. And yes, I could be the silly chook, sure, go ahead, laugh but it was a wonderful afternoon.

A large flowering cherry grew in the back garden, and violets all through the lawn, so the grass was dappled with purple. The children played with brightly coloured pretend-kitchens and dollshouses on the concrete area by the grass, or they ran to the swing set and swung, laughed, raced about. About ten children seemed to be there. It was lovely. I do not get to see my own extended family often enough for reasons they may explain one day but which I do not understand, so it's always a real pleasure to be invited to other people's places for fun family occasions, more than I can say.

We talked and ate and talked and drank and talked, o we did talk. Veronica is a teacher and we discussed ways she could approach her studies and a test she needs to take soon, that kind of thing. Miguel's friend arrived and the men sat out somewhere else to talk together with their beers. Dana, Julie's daughter turned up too, (didn't she or am I forgetting)? with her little girl who loved all the other young company and cried to leave. It's difficult to explain to a toddler they're not going to lose their new friends forever, the drama of childhood is so all encompassing.

To build a stronger sense of myself, to draw life closer then expand its majesty, I write, draw, take photographs, make films and discuss things, (conversation also being an art); feel more attached to where I am and what I think, feel and experience. I have a drawing I did after a drive in Seattle, with classic Hendrix playing on the car stereo, rain sheeting down in great drifts, cataclysms of greeny-grey water upon the immensely-laned freeway, jammed traffic and whirling wheels before us. I couldn't help moving in my seat to the music, finding it extremely difficult to sit still in any case and now I'd been possessed by the notes, they played me in some fashion, originality always does it for me. My kinesthetic learning style had something to do with this, taking new information in mainly by doing, by taking some action or trying something out in fact, seeing how it works, feeling it is a part of my experience in as many ways as possible, not so much by seeing or just listening, although I use those senses as well, to learn. Disruptive or difficult people are often kinaesthetic learners and need to be allowed to move around to function properly.

So now here I am looking back deliberately, impressing myself with the all-encompassing entrancement this poeticjourneytoamerica gave me, how uninhibited I grew, how strangely easy it was to believe I was free to dance, sitting down like a mermaid wriggling on a rock. Lately, I do belong to The Stranded Mermaids so this analogy is not as far-fetched as some may think, by the way, (and we're a Tea-time League of talkers, laughers, singers, writers and actors - this coming summer, btw we're thinking of doing our version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Happy Tea House, shall keep you posted).

Recalling the fairy tale, the magical, (no other word for it) aspects of this trip across the Pacific Ocean on a ship then across America mainly by train, to later fly home (it was too difficult to train back across America and fly home from LA so I will just plant more trees to cover the carbon and I have also become mainly vegetarian), anyway yes, recalling the spellbound qualities which still hold me in a new dimension, I have to admit I'd never dreamt this was possible. I feel I may now lead a far better life than ever before. This effect from travelling to see friends I'd only known online for 12 or so years, (most of them) this transformation I'd not realised would happen, at all. But I'm so delighted I have to write it down so it becomes ever more impressed upon me.

By the way, becoming vegetarian saves more carbon than giving up your car.

Now, I believe this all-consuming joy is a direct result of showing love to others and being loved so generously in return, in an unconditional manner. Love achieved this effect, this glorious, deeply appreciated sensation and words do not do it justice. I'm in a state beyond words or art, (perhaps music can approach showing it). This state I'm in is a place where I think we best dwell and need far more of, so I intend to manifest this in my work as best I can from now on and hopefully others may catch hold of it in some way, then also weave it into their own lives.  

May this great love never leave me.

This song was played by friends last evening, (thanks so much Harrisons for a thoroughly enjoyable evening, excellent) and it's close to expressing what I'm talking about. The song was written by U2 but is performed here by Cassandra Wilson, (who I vastly prefer).

Then there's the admission of romantic love or 'falling in love' as some people can call it, but the feeling is more like rising into a cloud of some wonder-substance and then trailing it with oneself wherever one goes. I'm talking posh because it feels so luxurious. This is not demanding, it just is, feels like walking in a field of some lovely flowers and breathing in their scent continuously wherever I go, no matter what happens things can only appear better than before. Yes, I have my own field of wildflowers perfumed with all manner of loveliness and this simply appears with me, always, I think that's the best way to describe it. I almost tumble into the soft grasses but do not, I manage to keep on somehow with tasks and so on as needs be.

A book was recommended to me by Rene Harrison, (he's so well read) last night - Eroticism, Death and Sensuality - 'One of the most poignant lines Georges Bataille gives us is: "Nor is love the desire to lose but the desire to live in fear of possible loss, with the beloved holding the lover on the very threshold of a swoon. At that price alone can we feel the violence of a rapture before the beloved." (242)'  If anyone wants to buy it for me for Christmas, please go ahead.

I'm still somewhat in a state of grief over the loss of my Iowa iMovie and all those other photos from my trip, but hope the LA International Airport Police do find the criminals who stole my laptop and retrieve it. If the thieves make a habit of this kind of thing, they could have a hoard of stolen belongings and my laptop may be there still not yet hacked into or sold on.

Mainly, I refuse to dwell on the trouble. It cannot do me any good to do so. I've let it go into the inky abyss of things best left alone to grow dark and disappear. I think and feel there is no need for me to linger there. Things shall work out somehow eventually.

If you ever have your laptop stolen by the way, go immediately to a friend's 'puter or an internet cafe, log-on, go into everywhere you have a password and change them. Sometimes the thieves can get into your hotmail or bank otherwise, because there is a record of your using those passwords on the computer or you've stayed logged in on your browser. DO NOT leave passwords for things on your desktop or in a file on the 'puter somewhere.

I did have a password to get into the actual laptop, but then we all know a techie can get past those if they have to so the thieves could have a bent techie working for them. I've changed all my passwords, it took awhile but it felt good mainly, taking positive action to make a better future.

That is what I intend to build on now, taking positive action wherever possible.

I have this great footage, movie footage of driving in Seattle which I will post soon too. I had some disks of movie footage made by the wonderful Nigel in Chicago. This little piece of film shows the road ahead and I love to see the asphalt, the concrete, the gravel or whatever appearing and disappearing as I travel along, it is like my life really.  Nigel in Chicago and I discussed this. There may be things happening along the way but really, there is just this relentless movement towards some end, and I want to make the absolute best of the time I have left on this road now.

I hope to post that movie tomorrow. Thanks as always for reading, lovely to read your comments. Thanks so much. x

Here's a little extra. Gretyl Grimm and Aray went to a tavern in Iowa. They got to discussing various serious matters. One of these was, according to Aray, 'If you're looking into your glass when finishing a beer or other alcoholic beverage, you're too drunk and should stop drinking.' This means you care too much about the beer and not the company, was her reasoning.
Gretyl said, 'You should only look into your glass when your glass is shaped like a glass boot. That's because there is air in the toe. If you're not looking out it will come back right at yah.' 


Then they got to talking about drunkeness, temperance and how easy it is to recall the deadly sins but harder to bring to mind the seven virtues. But soon, pinkity plink tap with google on Gretyl's phone, they found those too.  Courage is by the way sometimes called fortitude. These virtues are aims to keep in mind if we wish, no one's perfect and the little drawings are to remind Aray of meanings. It can be easier to recall something with an image attached to it.

A quest between the talk and laughter, besides the easier ways to be, a challenge to develop skills along the beingness of be. Now. Gooder.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

kia ora - be well - c'est la vie

I arrived back on Aotearoa New Zealand tarmac with the usual sudden feeling of deceleration as the plane braked and I lost the feeling of nowhere-floating which is a subtle pleasantness about flying, I now realise.

I paid for myself to fly premium economy, (and have used up all my holiday dosh now, o dear), because it is literally torture for me to be crammed into those other teeny seats for 24 hours or whatever it takes these days, (I get bruises and cannot walk easily for hours afterwards otherwise) but I did get some sleep on the way back this time, and arrived with a few sensibilities working.

The service in that part of the plane is also exemplary, chamomile tea at bedtime, socks for your feet and a little bean bag to rest them on, a toothbrush and toothpaste amongst other things like Clarins moisturiser (teeny but the real thaaang) in a felted pouch, cuddly rug and an array of movies etc., which did include a couple I quite liked, for a change.  The Edgar film was rather good and so was The Artist, (though I'd seen the latter on the boat already, coming over). Lots of room, I could relax, move about easily and understood most of the luxuries on offer, although the kindly gentleman next to me had to show me where my headphones plugged in, (I am hopeless with such things). The toilet on board in that section also has more room than usual, and faux-books on the wall like there's a library in there. Air NZ are amusing, they had titles of books about flying and our country, some of them invented, it was quite a laugh. If I hadn't been so shattered I could've made notes but I was quite.... Yes, so, the whole wall on one side is taken up with this fun 'library' wallpaper, in the aeroplane loo on the Air New Zealand flight, premium economy.

And, I deserved to be really well-treated for a change for weeks and weeks, (although it was terribly hard work to organise and also being so alone there when not with friends was harrowing occasionally). I deserved to see my wonderful, hard-working, clever, sensitive friends in America, to show them how much I love them and deserved to enjoy a real holiday for the first time in 20 or so years. I deserved to just take it easy and see some sights, not be working seven days a week and helping others all the time, often for nothing. Okay. If anyone here in NZ or elsewhere has an issue with my six bare weeks holiday which I delighted in, and of course I would, they can tell me to my face, but any sniping or back-biting or anything else nasty any of you think I deserve can just come straight back at you, right this minute. Yes, I have noticed a few ripples here and there of nonsense, so there's some waves from me, hooolaaa.

I feel this is a real issue and it needs to be discussed.

Envy can be a kind of national sport in my lovely country, (and maybe in others) but it's time we called a halt to it. Surrender. Give it up. Go on and love your life, be of joy. I recommend it. Works for me. Nuthin's poifect, but life itself is a blessing.

Aaand treat me well or leave me alone - that's my new motto. Thanks. Meant most sincerely like a song and dance with epic verses which someone paid mega-moola ring-a-ding for, then recorded and put in the libraries of the world. If I think I'm not being treated well, then I will be leaving you alone.  (And yes, this does need to be said, too). I am not a target for others to treat however they think they can get away with, got it?

I do enjoy the company of many stunning friends and colleagues and we will all work well together or apart but often overlapping, and debating if needs be, from now on ever at all and on to the future then some to make greatness occur and everywhere niiice, gooder, being, no matter what, o....

I love how America has made me stronger, tell yah what. Love how my friends there believe in what they're doing and in what I'm doing, we matter, we deserve to be treated well and create great writing, stunning performance, publishing better books for the world. This means you, anyone who wants to make it them, go on ahead and believe in this.

'Write poetry as if you owe a debt to the world,' I read in an Adrienne Rich poetry book, one of the quotes she had at the start, (RIP

Symbols and Textures by Jan Nigro

I must say too RIP one of our greatest artists ever Jan Nigro who sadly passed away when I was overseas, it was the first message on my answer-phone from her long-time friend and colleague the inimitable Rita Webster.

Jan has gone, I thought she'd be with us forever. Her vibrant, insightful, daring work as fresh and original in future as it is today but she, Jan has gone.

I shall miss Jan Nigro and so will many others. Jan assisted so many artists I would be willing to bet there are thousands of us grateful for conversations we had with Jan Nigro over the years. I shall always remember her comments and her laugh, Jan Nigro had an excellent laugh and a talent which puts her art up there with the best of the best, ever.

It's awful too how life then goes on. I often think it's a fright how grief appears but life just rolls on anyway, but hey, wheels and reels....

So, we came in for landing and the enormous stretch of lit Auckland pooled about us. One of the largest cities in area in the world all stretched out and lazy la-la, lovely twinkle blink and glow. The pleasant but professional atmosphere inside the terminal gave me a feeling of truly, deeply knowing where I was, (a lack of fearfulness I suppose it is) while all the officials are extremely watchful and thorough nevertheless, the South Pacific has its own attitude like every country. We're sunny and open you could say, but those dogs sniff everyone's bags and the security is there, lots of it.

My Indian medicine pouch from the wonderful Julie Payne and her husband and family, (Cherokee) was carefully inspected by a customs official. I think they were also a little impressed by it, (as am I). They also made sure nothing on there could possibly bring in anything to contaminate our agriculture which we depend on for our livelihoods for the most part.

Someone really clever who I know in the States pointed out that bringing in books and films from elsewhere to a country can also be like a seed, could also make things grow there which should not, however his analogy is too far flung, not apt. Closing our minds to other knowledge is often cause for the ideas we do have to wither and stunt themselves, human thinking feeds off new and unusual material as much as the classics and local fare. I think he wanted a discussion anyway, I don't think it was something he truly believed.

O yes, talk. We've all done lots of that over the last while on this journey. Many people talk about trees, they show them off to me and assure me they do not need trees, no not here, but I will be getting some for Australia and posting the evidence, plus there are about 25 trees I've seeded myself and I'm giving those away to people, native NZ trees.

Already nine or so trees I propagated have gone to good homes.

I could be seeding more of those too in the coming year and they'll be at the market I sell at, in Point Chevalier once a month. My house-sitters Marj and Bob are still in situ and they've been looking after the garden, I see they've left in some seedlings which have come up here and there and only need repotting. Maybe tomorrow when I am off to the market I'll get some ready to take along.

Planting trees for travel can be a pleasant activity. It need cost nothing much more than time. Seedlings are often easy to grow from seed or cuttings and people may happily accept a gift of a tree, shrub or large plant. The rose I bought for Adam is large, it could grow for 100 years, it's a climber.  A tree may mean a fruit tree or a small shrub, too it need not be a redwood or a kauri.

I've grown a few kowhai trees, I'm pleased to say. They're hard to propagate. Some are growing now from this project in gardens in New Zealand, along with other trees.

Touchdown, home again, feeling pretty pleased with myself to have made it.

It was delightful to sit in the shuttle bus from Auckland airport and strike up a conversation which pretty soon turned into something about education with a sharp-minded, younger man, a school principal from Albany and an Englishwoman who seemed around my age and was aiming to edit students' theses in future, her refresher studies soon to be over.

In New Zealand, many people may chat freely about this and that with strangers or new acquaintances at bus-stops or in a shuttle taxi kind of thing, NZ locals will often do so anyway. It is, I think a tradition from the old days when farmers and others needed to share information freely, (and they still do need to) so they'd all be in the loop and get on.

I have seen many foreigners alarmed by this behaviour, but it's just local, nothing to worry about and once you get used to it, greatly enjoyed. That is not to say we talk about things as if we are in fact friends, but simply in a friendly manner, to be simplistic about it. I did have to curb this tendency in the States, where such behaviour is not usual at least in the larger places, I gathered.

We covered a great deal of conversational ground on the 45 minutes or so from the airport. I was arguing for student-led education for those 'difficult to teach', (although I believe that model could suit almost everyone to a degree), while the school principal thought still there could be a way to implement the new 'standards' more effectively. I had a lot to say there and fast, since those standards are based mainly - by accident or design - on the furtherance of ignorance, (a ploy for crowd-control or population management 'keep them stupid, keep them in line' which has proven over and over again to be ineffective long-term for sound nationhood and economic growth). I did suggest he could hold two opposing views in mind at the same time to contrast them and see which in fact was stronger. To his credit, this fine man and teacher appeared to take this on board. I'm so glad a man like that is in charge of one of our schools. The dialogue we all enjoyed was real and engaging, useful in my opinion and heartening.

A few other people sat in utter stillness in the dark shuttle, maybe a little alarmed we were exercising our talkativeness so early in the morning. It was around 6am. Or perhaps they were just listening, could go on themselves later and discuss what we'd said with people they knew....

Denial is one of the strongest intellectual forces we employ, I also mentioned.  Love may over-ride everything and is best to rule us generally, however it is not reasonable. So to be effective we need to be loving and also, thoughtful while remaining connected with other people and where we live. But denial masquerades as decent thinking, (because it is powerful) it can by its very nature trick us into thinking we know best or need not think about something, even when there are radically incorrect things going on which we could change simply with discussion or reaching out to another for assistance.

Denial makes things look neat and tidy, we think this is orderly but it is in fact chaotic behaviour like shoving all the mess into a drawer or cupboard and closing the door to pretend there's no issue. We may be loving too and still in denial about so much. It is often possible to deny things in mind because it appears simple, easy and efficient but the situation grows disastrous when we deny so much we cripple ourselves and atrophy. If we have not tidied up, if we've kept on cramming things in cupboards instead of cleaning them, ordering them, well, then we run out of dishes, clothes and so on then need to buy new ones, or face the mess and clean it up. We cannot go on denying we have responsibilities, things to tidy, stuff to order, or money and resources would run out and it's wasteful, an unhappy way to exist and icky, to be blunt, yes, ick ick ick.

Makes things a bit blue.

Blue Impressions  by Jan Nigro

But cleaning and ordering is a certain joy with the best attitude and even an angry session of mopping floors is better than walking through filth in a daze.

Human beings really do need that careful, tidying time. It does something good to our minds and hearts, to how we connect with others. It is not gender-specific either although men and women as individuals will have their favourite times to clean, places to order and things they care the most for, et cetera.

In the case of certain policies in education, we are being messy while pretending to be smart. Denying the fact (in many places in the world) that those in charge may not have our best interests at heart, or may be woefully ignorant and only pretending they know things, some people just sail on hoping for the best and who can blame them?  We can't know everything. We are however denying the fact that peace and prosperity on a decent, sustainable level is not that wildly profitable, so chaos and disorder is needed to feed the Mammon machinery and certain people will keep on working to make that happen, will manipulate the majority of decent good people to get idiocy and mayhem to happen, to create wastefulness since then people have to buy more and more. We have to repair, to replace, to rebuild....

We need instead to steadily work to keep things well. A choice of attitude, a change, we may be like water which flows a certain way and not another way.

But enough of education philosophy according to most people in the field whom I know, hmmm, economics - they're important too, how things are priced and why, what people usually behave like and how cash flow affects that and is affected by the same. The shuttle bus from Auckland airport is still a great deal price-wise, much cheaper than a taxi. It was however far more expensive than the bus I took from New York City to Newark on my departure from my beloved America and all my wonderful friends there. (I sobbed as if my heart would break when we took off from LA international airport, my last stop before home, it shocked and changed me how strongly I felt about leaving the U S A). But yes, anyway, so many things in New Zealand cost more than the U S or Europe or even Australia since the necessaries for them have to be imported and from a long way away.

If we do, (just thinking about it) lose out on the petrol front however in future, like we did during WW II, then we'll invent something else to use like we did then. We devised many new ways to get around and they worked fine, we also stayed put more often which could be a good thing to start even now to a degree where possible. New Zealanders are famous for making do and thinking on our feet, adapting fast and understanding new ways to approach old issues, we're the inventive protective and resilient types of legend I tell you.

So I am home, but have much footage and many U S A notes to keep on with on this blog, even though my laptop went missing during the security check at LA airport, (shocking state of affairs).


I cried and gasped.

Nope, it was not there. Gone.

I trust they will find it in LA Airport's lost and found eventually, a battered old Apple which has seen far better days.

Meanwhile, I had to get another and luckily knew someone who could get me a decent deal and so on. In a rush it was, yesterday after I realised on my return I could not just log-on and tell people I was home. I searched my satchel over and over like a person demented, crying, then rang our police and they put me onto LA Airport Lost and Found, I had to make an international phone call there and then.

No word from them yet.

I'm giving them a few days then trying again. Is that wisest?

I also had back-up files, do you?  If not, get one of those thingamies and back-up your files. I had over a decades' work on mine, not lost.  Not the writing from before I left NZ anyway, not the writing on my blog, but other writing has gone which I did in America, some poems, many I sent to people in emails so some may be saved but.... Tappity tap tap toddle to....

AND photos I took over there are all maybe lost, (I keep hoping I will have the laptop returned)  except those pix on my three other cameras/phones and on this blog. So PLEASE my friends if you took any photos of me or of things round the time I was there when we went places, please send them to me. I'm so sad I've maybe lost all those pictures.

A TERRIBLE LOSS - sorry to shout but this took most of a day to make - The entire iMovie I made of Iowa, the entire 17 minutes has gone, it had a voice-over and sound effects I was going to split it in half. Now it is over there somewhere, I hope in an office awaiting inspection, awaiting identification, awaiting return, eeep.

My laptop may be cleansed of anything sensitive by those excellent U S A security people perhaps, I realise they have to be careful. I hope that is what happens. The laptop is cleared and sent back, with some pictures I am allowed.

Pray for me and my little tapping away here, in the lone and chilly mornings often before the sun comes up. I think of you all so fondly, my readers, it's lovely to know you are there. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking any notice at all of these lines, please feel free to comment and kia ora, kia kaha, kia toa tatou katoa, all the best, bon chance....


Here's Jan Nigro MBE mentioned again, my friend and I feel so lucky to be able to say that. Jan flatted with us for some time round the time my daughter was born, in Quay Street Auckland city over 20 years ago. She was so adventurous, going flatting with all these young people. I think Jan was 70 years old or so. There were 11 of us and I managed the place, what a task.  It was huge, up five stories in an old building where Artspace was downstairs and over-looked the wharves, a grand view and in the middle of the city.

Jan fitted in fine, as much as any of us diverse bunch did. I loved the colours she wore, bright orange and bright yellow....

I have two oil stick drawings she did of me from that time. Jan set up an artists' group who met at our place and drew quite a few of her flatmates, if I recall. Then she gave me two of the artworks much to my amazement. I worked with her on one, she drew my portrait and I dressed it with collage fabric, (Jan knew I ran A. Ray, fashion boutique in Queen Street, wearable art and wild things).

Jan Nigro a great fine artist for the world, a mentor to countless other artists, a wonderful woman who could say so much with only a few words, always so careful and with such a great sense of humour and decency. She also did not stand for any nonsense and could cut right to the heart of the matter with some terrifying skill.

I thought of Jan when I was away in the U S A throughout a day, I kept thinking of things she'd said to me, how they mattered, what import they always brought with them and often in subtle or hidden ways, she really understood mystery and beauty, the inner needs of people. I believe it was the day she passed on when I thought of her so intently and fondly....

Always with us Jan lovely, always....

Jan Nigro, who was 91, died at her home in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore on 28 March 2012.
Nigro's career began in 1936 and she exhibited at galleries here and in Australia, gaining accolades for her vibrant paintings.