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Friday, January 6, 2023

Eight years.


We have just come back from staying for almost three weeks in a friend's home.
I loved her home so much, and spent ages looking at her bits and bobs
and wondering what the significance of some of them.
(One unsmoked cigarette? no idea.)

I loved how her home was put together with things she has made, 
collected and salvaged. Like mine but more so, you know?


I was thinking about my home and the things that I want to do to it.
There is still so much to do.

But then I remembered that it is only 8 years since I changed my life dramatically.
And actually that is not that long really in the scheme of things. 
It takes time to fill in the gaps again with things that are meaningful.


At first when you start again, you just fill the gaps with things that you need.
But this year when Annie decorated the Christmas tree, 
I realised that we have collected Christmas decorations that are meaningful to us.
Birds that Cat gave me, some pottery ones I got from Gill,
some baubles from Michelle and so on. I enjoyed looking at each one
and remembering the reason they are special.

I ordered two ornaments for next year,
one to remember Nana Robbie and one to remember Tahu.
I like to think that every year when we pull out the decorations,
we can remember the people we have lost as well.



This Christmas I found this little wooden Santa in an opshop in Hawera.
I love his little heart, I love how he seems handmade.
I wonder what his story is? For us, he will remind us of the special time
that we spent at Taiporohenui Marae with the Hikuroa whanau.
We left Tahu's ashes there where he belongs
and we take away our precious memories forever.


 And now here I am putting away Christmas for another year.
I am reflecting on how far I have come in the last eight years.
I'm so so grateful for the life that I have now.
I have a qualification and a job that I am proud of.
I have four amazing young people who love me and I love them.
I have a ramshackle home that I love
and a wild and crazy garden that brings us joy.

I've been putting my life back together for eight years
and I think it is beginning to actually come together.

Hurray for second chances.
Hurray for new beginnings.
Let's keep moving forward.

Friday, November 25, 2022

For Chrissy xox



These days when I make quilts, I mostly just sew squares together. I love the soothing repetition of the act of sewing them. I love the fabrics and seeing the happy surprises of it all coming together. I love making bright happy quilts, but I also like making snuggly quilts, quilts made from fabric that nobody else loves. I love using fabric that was heading for landfill.


I have a pile of these quilts. My dream is one day to own a little cottage by the sea somewhere,
fill it with books and quilts (and probably cats) and have my friends and family come and visit me there and I'll feed them till they burst and do their laundry for them and mend their clothes. I will listen to their lives and then send the on their way again into the big wide world. I imagine these hardy quilts wrapped around folks as they sit by the fire and are gradually restored in body and soul.


One day when I die, there will be so many quilts for my children to disperse, but what a lovely task that will be. There are already so many of the quilts i have made out in the world. I like to think that my quilt hugs will live on long after me. I've tried really hard to be a useful person, but sometimes I wonder if the most useful thing I have done is stitch quilts together that will comfort people when they are having a hard time. I don't think it is a terrible legacy to leave really.


Anyway months or maybe years ago, someone (I forget who) gave me a pile of poor quality flannelette fabric. I cut it all up and stitched it all together. It made two identical quilt tops. A few weeks (months?) ago I went to my friend Jess and we basted one of them on her huge floor. And this week while I have been laid low with Covid I have been stitching across the wide wide width of this quilt. Not particularly straight, and not particularly small. Just slow stitches holding the whole thing together.


While I have been stitching at one end, Miss Annie has been loitering at the other end. And Kenny tries to sit in the middle. It's a big quilt. It has an unfinished top of uncertain origin on the back that I bought from the opshop for $6. It's so so snuggly. When I have energy to get out of bed, I'll go and get some fabric from my friend Ngaire and bind the thing. Then it can have a wash and a flap about in the sunshine for a bit.


There's still the other quilt top. I've given that to Chrissy. I imagine that will sit in her craft room for years. But one day she will pull it out and start putting in the slow stitches herself. I am hoping she will fall in love with the slow slow process. That she will learn to love snuggling under the quilt as you slowly slowly quilt it together. I hope that for her (like us) she makes some memories as she stitches it together. Because I could have stitched it for her, but this time, my gift to her is the gift of slow stitches. Of doing a little bit here and there. Of using what you have to hand and of tiny pieces of joy in a grim old world. I hope that she stitches it together one day and learns that love is a usually stitched with imperfect stitches.

Friday, June 17, 2022

This and that...


It's a difficult time to be alive isn't it?
It seems like humanity as a whole is having a hard patch. 
I've pretty much stopped watching the news or reading the newspaper.
There is literally only so much I can cope with.
I'm dealing with doing the things that I can in my little corner of the world.
I work hard to make a difference where I can, that's the best I can do.


This week our kittens visited the vet for their jabs
and got a new cat tree which they are so pleased with.
We never planned on these cats but they are the best kind of therapy
for the end of a hard day. They love us more than any other cat 
that we have had. And somehow love from a kitten is the best kind of love.
They don't have an agenda, they don't talk back, they don't make trouble
these kittens just want lots of cuddles.


I've picked up some writing work and I'm loving it.
It also turns out that using your brain for something else is a good thing.
Secondary tax is actually criminal. If I was the government,
I would not make secondary tax so bad for people. 
Maybe make it for people who earn over $100K which is none of us lol.
I mean the combined income in my household would not be $100K.
But anyway money is money and I want to tile the kitchen splash backs.


I've been trying out sugar free products.
They are a mixed bag but it is nice to have a treat sometimes.
The side benefit is that if you eat too many,
you get shiny clean insides.


After a lot of thought, I dyed my hair again.
It's a great change and I feel good about it.
I loved it when it was grey and now I love it now that it is chestnut.
My hair is the only thing I can change about myself
and it's a great change.


I'm still making things here and there,
both hand stitching and machine.
It is slightly trickier because I have less space now,
but being tidy is probably good for me.

I've been missing being in this space regularly
and especially taking photos with my camera.
I've been thinking about dusting it off and getting back into it again.

Anyway here's a bit of this and that.
Here's to keeping warm this weekend 
and finding the little bits of joy in our day.

 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

How it began and how it is going now...


Last week Annie and I were at the opshop when we found this embroidery hoop. 
We looked at it in astonishment because it was our family as it used to be. 
Even with Mondo (our dog who died) and Kenny who lives with us now. 
It was so weird, we could not work it out, who else had a family just like ours?
 but it was $4 so we took it home to ponder over.

I have been making a conscious effort to talk about the times before with Annie, 
the fun things that we did and things like the camping trips we had.
A 22 year relationship was a mixture of things and now that it is 
seven years in my rear view mirror, it is easier to remember the good things.

I think it is a good thing to be able to recognise the good parts of a relationship.
To notice the times when we had fun together,
and the things that we did that made us a family.

Like the time when we first got Mondo and we took him around to visit all our friends.
Or the overnight tramps that we did before my hips gave up.
We did a lot of renovation projects and ate a lot of microwave popcorn.
We had Nana come every Monday night for dinner,
and she always brought Arnotts Animal Biscuits and a carton of Just Juice.

Speaking of Nana, she is 99 now and a bit poorly. 
She moved to a different room in the rest home.
I think this embroidery was actually hers, and it was our actual family.
I'm guessing they had a clear out and it went to the opshop.

We have just recently starting hanging photos of ourselves on the wall.
It's the first time in seven years that we have and I think it is a sign that
we are feeling like a family again. 
I've hung the picture of our family as it used to be on the wall too.
Because that is how it all began.

It looks a bit different now, but that is ok.
Have no regrets they say, and it is true.
It is also true that things will not always be the same.
They change, both for good and for bad.

But either way, the past will always be part of us
and I think it is a grand idea to make peace with it.



 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Thanks to the great women in my life...

Today it is International Women's day.  It might be a day overtaken by businesses using it for marketing, but I for one am so so grateful that I have so many amazing women in my life. For example, today I have...

  • worked with some amazing passionate women
  • talked to women, I listened to women and I advocated for women
  • listened to some excellent advice from my manager (a woman with presence)
  • took some treats to my sister who probably has Covid
  • messaged my women friends
  • took my youngest daughter with me in the car and we did chores together and chatted about stuff
  • listened to my strong wonderful friend talk about women who never found the limelight
I'm not usually that keen to celebrate International women's day, but this year I am working in a new role and I share this role with an incredible woman. I was initially very anxious about what it would be like, sharing work with someone else and I joked that it was like an arranged marriage. I have discovered that it is a wonderful thing to have a coworker in management who listens to what you say and does not feel obliged to belittle you in any way. Someone who truly has your back and that you can trust.  Someone who is working every bit as hard as you are. Someone who you genuinely like and can be honest with. 

So this year, I'm just taking a moment to be so grateful, and to celebrate the truly good women in my life. I know I have always had good women in my life (hi mum, hi to my sisters) but it is a new thing for me to work with women and it's so so good.

(The photo is a picture of my friend Miriam Fisher's work. She has done a thesis that includes hours and hours of handwork. Her exhibition is called A Whakapapa of Faith - conversations in stitch and poetry and you can see it till Sunday March 13  from 10am - 4:30pm every day at the Pūmanawa Gallery at The Arts Centre.)


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Final Assignment

Today I give my final presentation of my practice framework to my Fieldwork Educator and to the University of Canterbury Placement Supervisor.
It's been a long journey these last three and a half years
and this year has absolutely been the hardest.
But it is worth it.


I've come a long way from that Playcentre mum who was doing the courses
and finding that she could! Up to that point, I was not sure that I had any brains at all.
It was my sister Sharon who suggested that I apply for university.
Such a thing had never crossed my mind.


I wondered what I could give up so that I could fit it in.
I decided to give up sleep and enrolled in a Massey University paper.
I got up at 5am and studied for two hours for a whole semester
and passed with an A.


I was amazed.
So then I made a lot of changes and enrolled part time at University of Canterbury.
During the time I was studying my BA I become a single parent
and then I supported my family writing websites for a few years.


During this time, I was in Pysch Emergency with someone,
and there was an amazing social worker there (I've forgotten her name)
She was so good. I thought, I could do that.
So when I was made redundant from one of my jobs,
I signed up to do my masters.


 And here I am three and a half years later,
about to do the final task.
I've had a lot of support from my friends and family,
or I would not have made it.
It's been truly hard mahi.

But I'm so so grateful to be at today.
I made it.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

A post about my garden because I love my garden


At the beginning of this year we cleared all the rubbish off our back yard
and a friend built some garden beds.
Our neighbour sourced some free bark for the paths
and helped us lay it.
Another friend sprayed the weeds.


Yet another friend gives us plants.
And Annie and I work away at keeping the weeds at a semi acceptable level
and plant as many things in our garden as we can.


Quite a lot of our stuff bolts straight off to seed
or gets infested with white fly.
But we don't care because our chickens and our neighbour's chickens
eat the greens and give us eggs.
We planted 15 fruit trees (thanks to our family and friends
who gifted us $$ to buy them)


We wanted flowers and we have flowers.
We have a beehive too which we love far more than we ever imagined we would.
We eat lots of parsley and mint and silverbeet.
We ate about 70 leeks.
We grow chives and celery successfully.
And lettuce very badly.


But mostly Annie and I just love being out in the garden.
I pull weeds for the chickens and Annie chats about her day.
It's been an absolute lifesaver this year.

It is the cottage garden of my dreams.
It is perfectly imperfect.