'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A place of one's own

About 14 years ago I moved to this old house overlooking the river.  
It felt like coming home.  
Although there are times when the maintenance gets me down a bit, the three offspring and I have had a lovely existence here.  
It is quite a large piece of land, bounded on one side by the river, and on two of the other sides by a park, more or less; there are some other houses between.  
The garden is rambling and some years has become quite out of control, but here behind the fence and gate I have always felt snug and secure.
The first year we removed the rotting totara and kauri piles and repiled the whole house. Next out came the bamboo grove which was replaced with truckloads of topsoil.  Some years we have grown a lot of vegetables.  For three years or so we had hens.  I did up the kitchen,  dining room and spare bedroom.  Then the bathroom.  
Recently the big project has been the steepish bank down to the river.  Handymen and friends have chainsawed and brushcut, and T. has made a fantastic set of wooden steps down to the water so we can launch the kayaks almost from the back door!  I got the "Tree Wise Men" to take one of the Lawsons out, and trim up the other.  Lots of firewood now - big rings which we are slowly lugging up the zig zag path. They will be dry enough soon to split for this winter's fires. 
This week we have started redecorating another bedroom.  Daughter's choice of colours:  Palest blue, cream and gold.  
It's a good life.

The Limpopo

Inspired by Steve's wonderful photos of Manchester, I slipped down the bank (literally, actually - never mind, it can be washed) to take some photos of my river.  I usually kayak, but wasn't much tempted today.  After all the rain it was slipping past at about 30 kph and looking silently, scarily magnificent - great and grey-green and greasy...

This is what my river usually looks like:

Monday, 28 April 2008

Holiday mode

I've been far too serious recently.  Lighten up time.  It's the school holidays.  Time to sleep in, 'lax up, kick back and chill out. Heh.  I've been reading some wonderful blogs, from opinionated,  witty and (some) just plain delightfully silly people.  What fun.  Here it's soft autumn days, the odd fire in the evening and the beginnings of colours on the trees.  Look at this photo from my front verandah.   I've even indulged myself in a membership to fatso and the movies arrive in the mail box... bring on winter, see if I care!  

Friday, 18 April 2008

Tall ships

Over the past few years I've been slowly working my way through the Patrick O'Brian books.  I discovered them through the movie "Master and Commander", and found to my surprise that they are strangely addictive.  I say strangely because, although I've done quite a lot of sailing with my father when I was in my teens, I have never been especially drawn to seafaring stories, especially ones so detailed and full of mizzens and such.  But O'Brian is peerless.  Witty as Dickens or Austen, and, oddly for his time, (He died in 2000) incredibly historically accurate. It is this wit as well as intelligence, the richness of language, and relationships in the stories that draws me.  I find I am disappointed that there are only twenty, yet I'm in no hurry to read them all quickly.  I savour each one, pausing for months between them, there is so much in each, and plenty to reflect upon.

Tonight I stumbled on some information about the Soren Larsen.  She appears quite regularly around our coast in summer and I idly thought what a nice adventure it would be to sail on her.  She does a circuit each winter around the Pacific.  I even looked up the route and cost. Avoiding a decision, one website let to another.  Suddenly this quote hit me between the eyes:  

"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know.  The day will come when I will die.  So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time.  I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and soar in the breeze."
- Richard Bode 

A perfect summary of my life's philosophy!  In the past I've not just sat back and let life happen around me.  Well, not for long, anyway.  Perhaps I will sail again out of my comfort zone and book a bunk.  Remember where you saw it first...

Finally, on a much more pragmatic note, thank you GH for taking me out sailing.  It was a  perfectly lovely day!   Do you like my photo?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Some days are diamonds

A horrible day at work today.  
I had a bad headache yesterday which didn't go overnight, and it seemed to colour everything I experienced.  And it was a testing day for other reasons too.  The opposite of a rose-tinted day! 

Some days you just do what you have to do, calling on the reserves and memory of other, diamond days, and just keep looking at the big picture. 
I tried to keep in mind what I'm there for.
The children.

"....children ... are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you."

- Kahlil Gibran