Monday, 26 January 2015

A weekend to bottle

There are some weekends that need to last much, much longer. That could be Groundhog Day and I would be very happy. This weekend was one of those, well I could have skipped the cracked ribs incident, apart from that it was perfect. Sun, swimming, sailing, food, wine, conversations with excellent company. A variety of company.

I get a hard time for my chatting, where I pick up a conversation with another from the slightest contact. How else would I have met the lovely young couple with their vintage film cameras enjoying the boat sheds, pleased to find one open and seeking permission to photograph the ropes on the door. The Irish man who was basking in the sun seeking information about things that might maim him in the boat harbour. We talked of his home in the north and his New Zealand adventure with his friends. The English man who wanted a sail and came to crew on Friday evening.

New friends and older ones like Julie who happened to walk past and Mark a sometimes crew member, like on Friday evening. Interesting, well travelled people whose stories expand my world. Our Friday night sail, we won. On handicap and that's still a win. Mark set the spinnaker and helped me fly it, while Pete kept it all under control. We hummed along keeping close to the pack. Drinks and food followed, tall stories and true. The skipper didn't quite make it home, sleeping with the ropes.

Saturday was more social time, lots of basking in the sun and sleeping off Friday night. Sunday was a quick ride down to sail again in the light breeze. My bike is coming in really handy these days as I negotiate the people wandering along the waterfront in the sun. I got to helm on account of the ribs, Pete was sympathetic. What fun, it's the first time I've really helmed out on the harbour. Anchoring was not my strong point, procrastinating before making the plunge into the chilly water I was better at.

So I've had my first swim in this much colder water. A refreshing much needed plunge and then some sunbathing on deck before dinner. It really was a weekend to bottle, one to repeat many times before the end of this, the warmest of New Zealand summers.


In my element

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Blowing with the wind

It was a bit blowy yesterday, I thought discretion would reign and the rum race would be called off. Down to the sheds I wandered feeling grumpy and groany. Grumpy after a less than satisfying week at work, very bored with the whole work thing and realising why for the first time, that dawning of  an epiphany, that 'ah ha' moment. More on that later as I unpack the so what of it all.

I didn't count on there being two Petes at the shed, all gung-ho and ready to go. They of course managed to convince me, wasn't that hard really grumpy as I was I needed water time. The lovely Aaron, a young sailing friend from Cayman, said it wouldn't take me long to get a crew space if I went to the Port Nic club. True. He also said that 25 gusting 35 wouldn't be so daunting after a while. For non sailors, that's knots and what's commonly known as blowing a hooley.

Boat breaking winds. For the sturdy Davidson 28 that is Tortimony it's child's play. Out we went, I was still unconvinced. We reefed the main and off we flew, what fun it was! The boat hummed along taking the gusts in its stride. This mainsail trimmer had work to do. Plenty of it as we careened down the harbour. Three up all that was need for the work, an extra for ballast would have been good.

What a gift sailing has been, thanks Jo and the crew in the Caymans. It's most certainly different here although the social aspects are the same, without those pesky mozzies. Last evening Pete excelled himself. BBQ out in the still gusting wind cooking some yummy fish. We won the rum, dark and stormies were the drink of the evening. So good.

Stories were shared. Pete 2 had some amazing ones. Seems he's been places no one much goes diving and the like, like Antarctica! He even made this hot house flower want to go there too. Just for a short time to take photos, well rugged up if course. He is quite a photographer. Check out his blog, he does such interesting work for NIWA. He knows a bit about weather.

So the day turned into the wee small hours with rum and adventures shared looking out over the gorgeous harbour I've come to love. My mood much improved, thankfully. Today there's not much planned, maybe some helping with the boat bits and then an evening out practicing the dance moves Diana and I learnt at Ceroc. Have I said I've started going to Ceroc, dance lessons and lots of fun practice with more experienced others. Just the right way to learn and so much fun as well.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A guest entry

I've had so much feedback from this mornings post, all supportive, some so eloquently written. So much so that I've asked for permission to post this comment from a person who understands the conditions of this world so well. I just wish others got like he does. So here are the words of my most eloquent friend, enjoy:

Ideologically, I'm deeply rooted in the humanism that believes in the inherent goodness of individuals, in our innate desire to love and be loved, to do good by others, to live peacefully and well within family and community, to enjoy beauty, to strive for happiness, to treasure our children, and to make sacrifices to achieve these ends. I think all human societies share very similar aspirations.

But governments across the world have created a political system where resources are concentrated overwhelmingly in an ever smaller group of predominantly "western" nations, and ever smaller oligarchies within them. The suffering of others does not drive policy making. The United Nations is a byword for bureaucracy and the intransigence of various power blocs. So despite having the means, medicine and countless other resources, we collectively do so very, very little to alleviate poverty, disease, starvation, degradation and subsistence living which afflicts billions of people. UNICEF calculates that 22,000 children a day die directly because of poverty. 

We are casually callous, immune to suffering on a scale so immense it's easier to ignore than to address.  How pathetic are we when, every few years, a motley collection of rock stars come together to release a single aimed at getting us to "Feed the World".  We have resources enough to provide clean water and to create sustainable agriculture across the planet, but just lack the collective will because there's no short-term profit in it. But we'll open factories and processing plants in the third world to exploit cheap and child labour, creating misery abroad and unemployment at home. 

This wilful blindness to global suffering is mirrored in how  we tolerate more localised deprivation. How can the world's richest nation accept having no welfare system worth the name, plus huge inequalities in its health and education provision?  

At my most deeply cynical I can believe that the "War on Terror" is a US/UK invention to channel an uneasy populace's antagonism toward a perceived external threat, creating  fear which makes acceptable the government giving itself emergency powers. George Orwell could hardly have created better euphemisms than the "Department of Homeland Security" or the"Patriot Act". Bush senior coined the term "War on Terror" within hours of 9/11 - it's a brilliantly elastic phrase that can apply to activities in Bali, Beirut, Birmingham or Brisbane - as it doesn't name an enemy beyond anything that scares us. Such as weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, Saddam’s supposed collusion in 9/11, and so on. 

The War on Terror has created the very thing it purports to oppose: imagine the terror of those held and tortured without trial in international detention centres and at Guantonomo; the terror of civilians in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Libya, the Gaza Strip and other places bombed to oblivion.

Yet somehow the War on Terror excludes what happens in the Ukraine, in China,  in Zimbabwe, in Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria, Gaza, various Gulf States, and a host of other places. Leaving aside the dynamics of what is actually happening in Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
But 12 dead cartoonists/satirists in France and we can get a couple of million on the streets. Including a bevy of world leaders. Three dead in a Sydney coffee shop fills the national cathedral and is portrayed as a profound national tragedy, a loss of innocence. But that innocence was lost the moment our soldiers’ boots first tramped across middle eastern sand.

Any deliberate death is tragic and irrevocable for the bereaved but, weighed in the scale, our collective grief is but a feather compared to the oppressive burden many peoples carry daily. We wave our feathers around to show our unbreakability of spirit; but then go home to live in comfort and security denied to most of the world.

Problems out there in our world

There's a huge problem out there in our world, people going about their daily business are being killed. And not just in France. All this outpouring for the people killed in Paris has left me feeling uncomfortable. There are many questions in my mind about this and I've been largely silent in the places where I usually engage, trying to make some sense of it all.

I read a comment made when a prominent leader of an Islamic country condemned  this heinous act. And don't get me wrong, I am as horrified as everyone else that gunmen entered a building and killed people as they did. My heart goes out to their families, I can't image how they must be feeling. I recognised my disconnect when I read that comment.

The reader asked where the condemnation was from this leader for the thousands killed in Palestine. Where the Islamic leaders were while Gaza was destroyed. And Syria. Another commentator asked where the condemnation was for the atrocities by Boko Haram. There are many examples of people being killed by extremist groups or individuals in the name of their religion. Examples not treated with this same outpouring.

Why not? There is research that shows people are not able to cope with mass destruction, that the sheer number of people involved in some of the worlds atrocities is so overwhelming as to be unimaginable. Take an incident where a face, a name, a personality can be shared and honoured then people can relate and feel the outrage they must at these types of acts. Maybe people have had enough, the straw that broke the camels back as it were.

Then there's that emotive word terrorist. So what is a terrorist? Are the only terrorists in the world Islamic? Surely one would have to be naive to believe that. Or listen to the mainstream western media with their emphasis on terror, terrorism and Muslims. Synonymous? Not unless the only people who can feel terror are non Muslims.

What about the terror of having your country invaded, your men and boys imprisoned in some far off detention centre for life with no trial. What about the terror of a bulldozer destroying your home as you stand by helpless with soldiers' guns aimed at your family, your children. What about running from bombs as they rain down on your homes, sheltering your small baby with your body. What about the terror of the 92 young people killed in Norway or the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram or the many school shootings in America. There is no monopoly on terror or terrorists. They have no one true religion, race, culture.

There does seem to be a concerted effort by western media, in particular channels like Fox in the US, to hype up situations with talk of terror and terrorists and Islam. Interchangeably. Birmingham is even an Islamic stronghold where non Muslims don't venture. Now those who know may well laugh at the ridiculousness of that, and Fox has since apologised, but those who don't know may well believe this to be true. Say it often enough and loud enough and with enough authority to a wide enough audience then it becomes the truth. There are many examples of this in our recent history.

Much of my discomfort comes from the condemnation of a group of innocent people who practice a peaceful religion, family people, people who contribute greatly to our world and do not deserve to be condemned. Who should not feel like they have to apologise for the destruction perpetrated by a minority group of fundamentalists. Does this happen to people of any other religion?

My thoughts are also with the family and friends of the young men killed in this tragic set of events, those who killed in the name of their religion. Their families must be grieving for their children too. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

I owe I owe

It's back to work I go. Not willingly. It's been a lovely break, one I wasn't ready to end. A few days in and work doesn't appeal. I need to stop that stuff, soon. Not just yet. I was ready to arrive home, to relax and be in my own space. I brought home a suntan, fading a bit after some days inside.

There was such a treat waiting for me at home. An awesome photo book from Sasi and Kieran, photos from the wedding. So many gorgeous photos it brought tears. A wonderfully thoughtful book that will bring pleasure for years to come. I still want a canvas of that full family photo so will need to arrange that.

I'm having a night in tonight, on my own after Sue, Neil and their gorgeous almost 5 year old grand daughter whose name I can't spell and who really enjoyed my magic couch bed, flew north. We had a lovely evening, pizza, wine and great company with some friends of theirs over. TV is on the agenda, with a nice white, then a sleep in tomorrow. There's the promise of a sail and a night out socialising tomorrow. I'm back.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Resolutions and resilience

I have a small secret I don't often share. So don't tell anyone. I subscribe to Jonathan Cainer and enjoy my personal and general horoscopes whenever I like. These can be the bright spots when I'm not feeling bright, the guides when my compass is not working so well. The gems that spark thoughts and feelings to explore. I know others scoff at this, probably why I don't admit it often.

So last year was a kind of hibernation, a rest time, a time to rekindle and enjoy those family relationships that have been so fleeting and unsatisfying while I've been away. This year, well I'm not sure what it will bring yet, although there's an air of promise. An air of optimism and change.

Change takes resilience and I know I have that in spades. The ability to pack up and pick up in a new place, a new country, with a sense of excitement and only that small niggle of 'oh dear what have I done?'. That sitting on a new bed in a new place, temporary accommodation usually, and having a moment of panic. That panic when you don't know another person in a place, you don't know the country, the culture, the expectations, the new job you start on Sunday or Monday.

That even happened when I came back to New Zealand, to home, after some time away. To a new place where I had never lived, new people, new neighbourhood, new job. Family so tantalisingly close.  Contact with friends really helped, meeting new ones through the Meetup groups did too.

So now to the resolutions. There are the usual ones that I know will not last too long, except for re starting yoga. That will last. Then there are the questions one must ask oneself. Those key ones when it comes to resolutions. I didn't come to these myself, although they were hovering, and the words of Mr Cainer rang true again this morning.

"If you could have what you want, what would you ask for? Why would you ask for it? What key factor would over ride all others? What would become the most burning priority of all? Ask for that"

I'm reflecting on the answers. The obvious ones come to mind, the big picture ones. The deeply meaningful and personal ones may take time to evolve. 

Friday, 2 January 2015


And the living is easy. Holidays, sunshine, gardening in the warm, suntan. Much needed on these white legs. I'm not a gardener, it doesn't come naturally although I do like the results. Lawns are mown, brown grass topped for summer. The wood stacked inside for winter.

So while it's been a relaxing time all in all, I did pack my bikinis just in case I got to lounge at the beach. That hasn't happened. The water is still way too cold for a swim. Home time means no real photo ops so heres a couple from the garden. Happy new year to all my readers and friends out there.

Riot of colour

In Flanders fields......

A busy bee