Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Did you know?

Wellington-based writer Mary McCallum has started posting poems on her blog each Tuesday. A fortnight ago, she posted This Cup and last Tuesday, Missed; this morning's Mulling it over is by fellow poet Maggie Rainey-Smith.

Mary's keen to make this a communal happening and invites bloggers (who might - or might not - be poets) to join in by posting poetry on Tuesdays. They can be your own, or others'. I'm not sure how reliable I'll be at keeping abreast of Tuesdays (I sometimes don't know what day I'm on!) but I think it's a great idea (thanks, Mary) and... today being a Tuesday, here I am, poem in hand...

I began today by posting a rather melancholy Easter poem but when I found myself having second thoughts about it, decided to set it aside for another time. Here, instead, are a few purely playful lines written in my car on a dusty side road one late Autumn afternoon, out in the wop-wops* somewhere between Dunedin and Christchurch...


Did you know
spiders do their housework
on Tuesdays in Canterbury?
They hang their silk on particles
of dust, a low-slung cloud,
any available hook
of air or charged electron.
Threads are pinned to telephone wires,
shredded vestments shaken out
and strewn to lie across the tops
of orange poplars. By five, the sun
is loosely tacked behind
a thousand spiders'
webs. It's quite a sight
when they turn the night-light
on inside the mountains.

* wop-wops: NZ or Aussie term for 'an out of the way place.'
News of Tuesday's Poem appears to be spreading - so far, poems are up on the following blogs -
& you will always find poetry to read on Cilla McQueen's blog (NZ Poet Laureate)
Graham Beattie has just posted a short entry in support of Tuesday's Poem; you can find that here.

Links will be added as more poems appear...
For readers out there who are poets (of the not-yet blogging variety!), please consider sending in your poems for inclusion on forthcoming Tuesdays? It would be excellent if you'd do that - and everyone will thank you for sharing your work...
My email address is clarab@earthlight.co.nz

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dawn Chorus

Meet our native Bellbird - Korimako - a spirited little olive-green treasure with an unforgettable voice.

This is the song I wake to each morning -

Stills photograph - Pam Russell
Bellbird song recorded at dawn on the front steps of 22.

According to the ornithologist, W. H. Oliver, the bellbird was undoubtedly the chief performer in the chorus described by Joseph Banks when Captain Cook entered Queen Charlotte Sound during the first voyage of discovery. “I was awakened by the singing of the birds ashore, from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile. Their numbers were certainly very great. They seemed to strain their throats with emulation, and made, perhaps, the most melodious wild music I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells, but with the most tunable silver imaginable, to which, may be, the distance was no small addition.”

And - for its mention of skin, rain, time and a stone that rang like a bell - a favourite Neruda poem...


Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your exhausted scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it has no name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than the flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year lasts four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not I when I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
write them up, make them new-born,
mix them up, undress them,
until all light in the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crackling, living fragrance.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

Some tabbies are tigers towering over trees

Tomas, aged 6 - 1995

Furry companions

It's been a Cat Week - apparently there are lots of us out here with feline-shaped laps, catnip mice on our rugs and dents on our beds.

Have you met Simon's Cats? If not, you're in for a treat. British animator, Simon Tofield, totally gets cats. His three - Hugh, Jess and Maisie (Hugh, mostly) - provide the inspiration for his line drawings. He's made a series of short videos; brilliant observations of the quirks, antics, personality foibles and frankly manipulative behaviour of his - and our - cats. Here are links to three on Youtube -

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rims of light

An exuberant rainbow lit up the harbour this morning.

It was there one moment, gone the next.

It occurs to me that the ephemeral is also long lasting.

And look who's here! Sage. He found his way home. I am overjoyed. I almost can't believe he's back. What a hero.

I was up in the wee hours last night and was just about to switch my bedside light off when he came bounding noisily down the passage and onto my bed, announcing his triumphant return at the top of his voice. There was much rubbing and rolling, pastry making, bed exploring and non-stop purring. I fell asleep with him curled up on my chest (amidst much rumbling!); neither of us woke till well after 9.00AM. Sleep like this is completely unheard of for me. It'll be relief, I guess. Mine and his. And joy that he's safely home.

His vocabulary is different; there are new notes in his voice - and he won't stop talking. Apparently he has three days and nights of adventure to report on. I am ever so happy to listen.

Thank you, kind friends, for sharing my concern - and now my jubilation xx

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breathing space

Nothing seems to want to unfold in a straight line these days. Moments of sweetest joy are followed by rough jolts of sorrow. I know, this is the stuff of life. But still. This past week has been a tough one - which possibly shows, even though I've not known how to articulate the half of it.

There's so much ache out there. In here. I feel as though a big chunk of cartilage is lodged in my throat - a heavy shape that I can neither swallow nor pry out. The throat is a place where grief sits. Which makes sense. Yesterday I learned that a dear friend's chemo treatment is not yielding the results we all so much hope and pray for. Another friend is in hospital awaiting bypass surgery. There are many reasons to stay awake, to light candles.

On Tuesday, my much-loved adopted grandmother farewelled her home of six - nearly seven - decades. At ninety, she grieves - as though it were yesterday - the loss, three years ago, of the man she's loved since her early twenties. How must it feel to leave behind all you have known? When I talked with her yesterday, she said we were not to worry about her, that life is about change, that she's at peace with this new reality, though 'of course, there are small adjustments to be made, dear.'

It's strange, isn't it, how things can change without a moment's notice. One minute, the world looks and feels crisp, benevolent and full of promise; next thing you know, the safe and familiar are tipped on their heads. I find myself looking inwards and outwards with a mix of astonishment, shock, and compassion.

For reasons largely unknown, these are muddle-some, meddlesome days. I don't know when last I felt this full and this wretched. I've been wondering, too, whether I might need to take a pause from blogging for a while.

It doesn't help that Sage, my sweet tabby companion, went missing on Friday. He's not used to being beyond the safety and cosiness of home and will be lonesome, hungry and frightened. The thought of him possibly not finding his way back to me has me weeping. I am listening for him, willing him please to come home.

On a brighter note, yesterday was the Equinox - the joyful advent of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn in our Southern one. For the next few weeks, we will share similar day/night temperatures. The distance between here and there will not seem so great.

I wish I could draw a rim of light around everything.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Contrapuntal Seas

We sail through contrapuntal seas -
our private charts, our common geography.

Henry Kaiser captured this footage of one of my little bamboo boats adrift beneath the sea ice of Explorers Cove, Antarctica

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small notes

Sunshine ii

Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.

Michael Leunig

Last week, Massachusetts-based poet Miriam Levine - Mim, a wonderfully observant and subtle writer - was nominated for a Sunshine Award. She generously passed this award on to me and a group of other bloggers whose sites she regularly visits. Thank you, Mim. It was a joy to receive and now I have the pleasure of passing the good will on.

There are a few suggestions that come with this award:

-Send it on - nominate a group* of bloggers whose sites you visit
-Put the logo in your sidebar or within a post
-Link the nominees within your post
-Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
-Share by linking the person from whom you received the award


* the suggestion is a group of 12 - a comfy dozen

Before I go any further, I need to do as Michael Leunig suggests and 'let it go. Let it out... '

For some reason I managed to get myself into a complete state over the innocent number 12. How crazy is that? Especially when it comes to the bigger picture; the greater scheme of things. Ah me. We can be our own worst enemies at times. The thing is, my last post (the one I've since deleted) was a wrestle from beginning to end. I kept stumbling into potholes, should have taken this as my cue to stop and wait patiently for the tizz-wazz to pass... but, I didn't. Instead, I crashed on, took a few odd turns and ended up on a weird trajectory speaking in a voice I barely recognized as my own. Eeeugh... Next thing I knew, a sharp jab came out of an unexpected corner, leaving me feeling both floored and felled. Without going into the details, suffice to say I've had an interesting time wandering the shadowlands these past two or three days.

I feel better this evening. The internal wobbling has settled; I've dusted myself off.

Grit can become grist.

The stone-that-was-once-a-boulder has taken on a new shape; one that I can look at with interest and understanding instead of distress. I'll pick it up from time to time, ponder again the smoothness of its contours and, too, its rough, flinty edges.


The blogs I visit regularly are on the right hand side of this page, each one a welcoming place of good will, inspiration, humour, instruction, nourishment and companionship....

I'd like to pass the Sunshine Award on to all of you, as a great big bouquet. (I'm afraid I seem quite unable to think in terms of a specific number just at the moment - hope this is okay, Mim) . . .

. . . Visit Pam Morrison at Cadence; the title of Pam's blog resonates perfectly with the range and timbre of her musings,

Penelope Todd at The Intertidal Zone, NZ writer whose succinct snippets lead us to ledges and edges it is hard to resist peering over,

T. Clear at Premium T, whose images, food and life-affirming conversation kick-start so much more than appetite,

poet and gentle chronicler of the land (whenua) and her people (whanau) - Kay McKenzie-Cook at Born to a Red-haired woman.

Zoe Keating is a cellist whose way of being in the world I have admired for some time. Something about the way she works and makes her music available to the world echoes with the ethos that underpins Lewis Hyde's book, The Gift. She blogs less frequently than many of us, but her music reverberates between postings - Zoe's Incredibly interesting blog

Alice Walker's blog - the subtitle of which is "The Cushion and the Road: Meditation and Wandering As the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way." Her website can be reached via her blog and offers visitors a place akin to sanctuary.)

Vesper Sparrows Nest articulates her truth about place, time and experiences that are at once weighted and weightless. Beautiful writing. "... What are time and space for us now? We are still afraid of the dark. If faith and history have failed us, our sciences are incomprehensible, and philosophy unprovable, all we have left is the truth of art..."

Tony Bridge is a Hanmer Springs-based photographer who muses on subjects technical and aesthetic and poses questions to do with the difference between seeing and perceiving.

poefrika - a green weblog of creative, Africa-inspired writing,

Mary Parker at beautcommute - 'Good stuff for commuters'

Tania Hershman who writes an inspiring series on Writing and Place - how where you are affects what you write.

Vanda Symon, The Paradoxical Cat and O Audacious Book are a triumvirate of local, and not-so-local writers - women who have their antennae out and their ears to the ground.


Thanks all.

(And there will be no further wrangling from CB - at least, not for a good, long while...)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A (necessary) tangle

I've been in a dreadful tizz and am not sure yet what to say or do about it. The ground beneath my blogging feet has shifted in the last twenty-four hours. What once felt firm now feels unstable.

For various reasons - not least, a stomach-twisting anxiety - it seemed prudent for me to temporarily withdraw my last post while I reflect on a few things. Forgive me for doing this - I'll be back soon with a more considered version of the same post.

Meantime, I have a bit of wrangling and untangling to do. Ah me.

Take care

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

for Radish King

- in response to your dream.

"Last night I dreamed of a huge room full of very young Asian girls, 3 or 4 years old, hundreds of them, all in blue dresses, and they were playing violins and these jellyfish beings floated out of their violins and flowed toward me and the air was blue... "

Clione limacina

These sea angels are found at both poles and - on rare
and wondrous occasions - can be seen floating out of violins...

(Pics posted here because I don't think there's any way to upload photographs to a comments boxxx)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Something in the way she moves

Video clip: Shawn Harper, research diver & underwater photographer

(Thank you, Shawn.)

"... Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning

And I find myself careening
Into places where I should not let me go.
She has the power to go where no one else can find me
And to silently remind me
Of the happiness and the good times that I know, got to know... "

from "Something in the way she moves" by James Taylor