It never rains but it … blows

So in Wellington this week we have had a significant earthquake, followed by something in the vicinity of 1600 aftershocks. While this brought about mayhem in the central business district due to damage, this was followed by a LOT of rain and consequently flooding and more aftershocks.  This morning is bright and sunny (yay!) but unfortunately not supposed to last as another weather event is on it’s way, currently hitting the middle of the South Island and due to reach us this afternoon/evening bringing heavy rain and southerly gale-force winds with a severe weather watch having been issued for much of the central South Island through to central North Island.

OK, so it’s been an interesting week so far… but as I previously said, we have so much to be grateful for and things could have been so much worse than they were. Feeling positive and optimistic, I’ll leave you with some happy photos from around my city.

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photomania-d505f62f4e9d0fb39016bc6783db58c9                                                                                            photomania-bd0c7a3298574deaa9d902ee3effb125

 

 

The Animals Closest to my Heart

I recently shared a post called My Small Companion  about our dog.Recently I’ve been learning about editing my photos – altering colours, using filters etc and have been playing with a number of my existing photos.  Today I want to share some photos I’ve been playing around with of our 2 pets: a cat called Scout, and a dog called Fido. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do 🙂

Kia Kaha

kia-kaha

Kia Kaha is a Maori phrase used in New Zealand and it means “be strong” or “stay strong”. It is used as an affirmation, as a term of comfort or solace (an equivalent of be strong – my thoughts are with you) and is sometimes used as a valediction at the end of messages.  It became popular through it’s use by the 28th Maori Battalion during World War II. You’ll find it in books and songs, in poetry and used as a motto.

This is purely my opinion, but it seems to me that in the past twenty-five to thirty years, we New Zealanders have become more aware of our history, our nation, the beauty that we have here, and as our sense of belonging and identity has grown, so has our sense of national pride. As such kia kaha is a term that is often used to encourage those representing New Zealand to the world. My interpretation is that it has come to mean this:

        ‘stay strong, your brothers and sisters in New Zealand are here with you;                                                 you have our support, and we have your back’

I think it’s fair to say that when we see our national rugby team, the All Blacks perform the  haka (traditionally a Maori war cry or challenge) we have a sense of identity, of pride, of something at an emotional level that says “this is part of my homeland, this is part of my identity” even though I am a New Zealander but not of Maori heritage. Such is the sense that “this is part of who I am” that it can, and often does, evoke an emotional response when a New Zealander abroad is confronted with a haka (often performed as an honour towards the person/team/group for whom it is given).

From my perspective this is a wonderful thing – it’s not a nasty overt sense of pride (like a desire to dominate the world), it’s simply an acknowledgement that ‘this is from my homeland; it relates to my sense of belonging; my place in the world’ regardless of where I am currently living.

I am proud to be a kiwi (a New Zealander) and I am proud of my country – it’s identity, it’s beauty, it’s belief in itself – we were the first country to give women the vote, and in the 1980’s we stood up to the world and said no to nuclear ships entering our waters. We are small but we know our mind. We have a sense of honour and value and respect for our country and it’s history and it’s peoples, regardless of where they are from.

To my online friends I offer these words: kia kaha – be strong.

 

Freedom

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lone seagull marks the passage of distance and time

as one day stretches – fluidly – into another

transparent transition

on the arbitrary continuum we call time

 

the seagull knows no minutes, no miles,

only endless space

infinite seclusion in life’s magnificent wilderness

this latitude – his very own portion of eternity

isolated, calm, content, at ease

continuous forward motion

the thrill of the avian arrow

joyous solitude, alive and purposeful

living the aspiration we call

freedom

Violets

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Violets always remind me of my mother. She would pick them and place them in a tiny vase on the table next to my bed when I was coming to visit. It was a simple act of love.

My mother was a kind, gentle and gracious woman. She and my dad raised six children – I was the last and the only girl. She was hard working and spent many hours washing clothes and cooking meals, ironing and darning. When I was young she spent two days every week baking to keep the biscuit tins full for her husband and children.

She spent her last years in a rest home and finally entered the hospital wing of the rest home after strokes and dementia robbed her of her mobility and much of her mind. But in her final years, after she’d been stripped of so much, she was still a kind and gentle woman.

I watched her change – which caused me to change too. She had been the parent and I the child, and then all of a sudden our roles reversed.

My mother was one of the rest home carers’ favourite residents. She never complained, she was quiet and cheerful, compliant and she smiled often, even if she didn’t talk much. She became their friend and they appreciated how easy it was to be with her. Not so for many who came to visit her – as time went by she become quiet and somewhat non-communicative, and as such, her visitors had to make all the conversation themselves. Their numbers dwindled but I don’t think she minded. She just didn’t have anything to say – until she did (which wasn’t often). I used to tell her about what was happening in my world; I’d tell her what different family members were doing, tell her stories about people she’d known, or would discuss what was happening in the world – not much of a discussion, more a soliloquy. I used to sit with her and hold her hand, and if I felt chatty I chatted to her. If I didn’t feel like talking, we simply sat together and stared out the window and watched cars drive by or watch the clouds change, watch planes about to land or those who’d just taken off. Sometimes we just watched a little television.

I became comfortable with her silences because sometimes I was silent too. I was happy just to sit with her.  I believe she appreciated my presence, and I like to think that she knew that she didn’t have to speak unless she wanted to. I felt that there was a ‘comfortableness’ in our being together in her later years, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Towards the end she didn’t recognise me. It wasn’t her fault and I wasn’t offended, just sad. But I visited anyway. I didn’t stay long – she became less comfortable with me – she didn’t know me, so it made sense really.

My mother passed away three years ago last week. The violets in my garden are a tribute to her and remind me of her kindness and her gentleness; a hardworking woman and her simple acts of love.

A small prison of insecurity

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If I squint, if I close my eyes almost entirely but not quite

I can just about make out the bars of the cage that surrounds me.

It might be made of bamboo or wire

like the cages they sell birds in at the markets

But in fact the bars are so much stronger

because they are in my head.

Some days my cage appears to be a box drawn in chalk on the pavement

A box from which I’m not allowed to step outside.

The people laugh or titter or whisper to each other

if I over step the boundary

and I’m left feeling foolish.

Sometimes it’s a tentative step, sometimes a confident step

but the confidence never lasts…

And though they pretend, the people are unkind

with conceited looks they snigger and quietly jeer behind their hands

but never to my face

so I retreat into my chalk-drawn box

that only I can see.

Sometimes it’s lonely in my invisible enclosure.

Incarceration in a virtual box

not big enough to let me dance

but big enough to function – just.

 

akin to shackled feet

this virtual slave

dances in her dreams

 

R.H.

Afterthought:

“Sometimes our thoughts are backed by so much insecurity,                                                     that they create lies we believe.”
―  Unknown