28 February 2013

Beauty just for fun

Yesterday morning I took up an invitation to visit a potter's studio with a friend. Live like you're dying, and all that!

What fun it was.

Here are some of the photos I took of that lovely place, the Ugly Beautiful Pottery Studio, belonging to potter Dawn Hansen.

Some of those lovely things were even for sale because they were seconds. As a result, a small item even found its way home with me.

I couldn't resist snapping some other pretty things there. Her husband does wrought iron work - and how funky it is. He can apparently make anything, you just need to show him a picture:

I loved Dawn's vege garden, especially the garden in an old water trough:

It was overhung by a pear tree, from which she gave me lots of pears! Let me know if you have a fabulous pear recipe.

Finally, she had a beautiful retro-looking bike. Check out the seat.

I'm keen on a bike like this for myself, but with gears. A few years ago they were hard to get, but now Avanti has about 10 to choose from! However, the truth is I'll be a non-consumer and stick with my $5 garage sale Avanti. I might splash out on having it serviced though.

24 February 2013

Living like you're dying

Last week I had the pleasure and sadness of attending a friend's funeral.

Old St Paul's church in the centre of Wellington.

Enormously sad, of course, because she was my friend, and I will never see her again. I wrote about my recent visit to her here.

Pleasure... what people I met. What things I was reminded of.

I met kind, wonderful people who were also her friends.

I was reminded, as I always am by death, of how to live life. Of the importance of being kind to people, and seizing all possible moments for wonder in every day life. Taking that walk, going on that picnic, meeting up with friends. My friend and her husband did all those things. They knew she was dying, and they absolutely made the most of every day.

Here are some photos of her 'things' (and her husband's). A tiny attempt to show her style and personality.

I love their driftwood 'no junk mail' sign. Expect
one on our letterbox one day soon!
A stone sculpture I'd helped them finish
 building last time I visited. My friend chose
the angle of each stone.

Their local Lyall Bay cafe. It oozes retro style. I think
New Zealand does cafe food really, really well. Everything's
full of flavour, creative and fresh from the kitchen.
A lighthouse I'd noticed during a walk
on my last visit. You can book it to stay in.
The wind whips in very strongly to Island Bay. Check out
this old toilet block.
The recently installed glass insert of their front
door. They designed it.
 My friend.

18 February 2013

Ukulele maestro

What a night.

Last night we went to hear the Wellington international ukulele orchestra. They were a crowd of kiwis clearly dressed in op-shop clothes. One bloke had a voice like Fred Dagg and the other wore very short cut-off jeans that I think might have had something sparkly around the waist. Jack said he was wearing girls' shorts. One generously-thighed lady wore fishnets and jiggled her flesh a lot. 

They were totally down to earth and so uncool as to be, in my opinion, utterly utterly cool. They were very funny and sounded absolutely brilliant. Their first song was called 'I love you Raylene', based on the deep meaning of a drunk teen painting those words on a concrete wall somewhere mundane. Just like them to see the humour in that. 

And the women's voices - boy can they SING.

They were upstaged a little bit by the long-haired, bearded chap who is said to be the world's best ukulele player. James Hill. He's been a Big Name in our house for a few months now, since we discovered him on YouTube. I don't know why I mention him after the WIUO. Maybe because I can't describe how he can make a ukulele sound the way he does. Every cell in me thrilled to the sound. He had his cellist fiance with him, and she was a knock-out, too.

We sat outside on a summer evening, lush ferns and maori carvings close by, the sky clear with a half-moon tracking its way above the stage as the night progressed. 

The best thing about it was Jack. That nine year old sat next to me, his huge blue eyes fixed on the stage. When each song ended he turned to me and said "Are there going to be more songs?" He was transfixed! We got home after 10 pm and I bet you can guess what he did: picked up his ukulele and played and played, until we made him go to bed. 

Highly recommended, people! They're touring NZ together for the next few weeks.

The concert was part of the Hamilton Gardens summer festival. This cup and saucer made by a local artist was one of many quirky things going on in that place at the moment.

14 February 2013

A love story, and sunflowers

I have such a good husband. Every Valentine's day, Mother's day and birthday he makes me a card. He has a stash of coloured pencils and pastels to make them with. Being a witty kind of chap, the cards are always very funny and resonate with his lateral way of thinking (i.e. lots of people don't get his jokes! But they are often brilliant!). They are loving, too.

Due to her current fascination with burglars, Anna confirmed to me today that her Nana had been burgled, and it reminded me of another reason I am lucky. She said that Daddy had told her how when I was still living overseas, and he had come back to New Zealand, he used to go and visit his parents. Each time he would put some money for me in a piggy bank there. There was quite a lot of money, accumulated over two or three years. He knew I was saving hard while I was away, and it gave him pleasure to think about how happy I would be with his gift. I was to spend it on whatever I wanted.

But one day while his parents were outside, a burglar entered the house and took the piggy bank. All gone. He was so sad. So I never got the money, but the thought meant just as much to me. I'm very happy to have such a kind man.

The sunflowers are from our garden, where they sprouted wild from last year's crop. They are looking so beautiful the vase!

11 February 2013

In a sigh

Last week I was away for a bit, in Wellington. That place is gorgeous! The sparkling sea, the hills and mountain ranges, and surely the freshest air of any of the world's capital cities.

It was a time full of emotion, because I visited a formerly vibrant, clever, attractive friend who, in her mid 40s, is slowly ebbing away. She's fairly ebbed on the outside already, and the words of hers that I could understand were few, but on the inside she's still all there.

Wellington's south coast (a bit further along from where we
walked). Painting by Don Wilson, used here with his kind
permission. His website's here.

One evening I pushed her in her wheelchair along Wellington's south coast. What a wild place! But it was a mild, almost windless summer evening as we traveled together along the footpath that skirts the coast. I know she loved it, because it came out with one great, big, happy sigh. So much feeling can be put into a sigh! There we were, old friends, strolling along in a place of great natural beauty - the kind of place we both feel our best.

6 February 2013

Sweet pea happy

In spring I planted some sweet pea seeds, and wrote about it here.

Now the flowers are here in abundance, and they live up to their promise.

Someone picks them every day...

Which letters do I use to describe a big, happy sniff? Hmhmhmhmhm?

4 February 2013

Most stylish hut

Yesterday I went outside - into the unbearably blazing summer day that was stifling all my energy - to discover what the afternoon's old-towel-and-sheet borrowing had turned into.

Anna had made a hut, complete with welcome mat and a plant to each side.

She sprinkled petals over it, and introduced it to the cat.

The cat approved, and this morning I discovered him curled up inside it. I'm on the lookout for a small second-hand dog kennel for him to cosy into over winter.

But last night it rained, and most of the hut (apart from the cat's spot) is dripping wet!

2 February 2013

Vision of gorgeous

We've been at the water. Firstly a river, then the beach.

I think I'm a bit more in love with rivers than the sea. There's something so magical and romantic about a babbling stream that widens out into welcoming swimming holes along the way. And the sound... divine. I only like them if they're surrounded by abundant and beautiful vegetation - a stream through a paddock does nothing for me.

We stayed at Te Mata Lodge on the Coromandel Peninsula. This was the river. We had fun relaxing, kayaking, swimming, sleeping.

The two bedroom cottage we had was simple, comfortable and charming. Reasonably priced, too.

The river regularly throws out gems and crystals, and the children spent much time searching for them, coming up with a few - quartz, etc. There was a bit of gold-panning, too. Fruitless, of course.

Our super friendly host told us that sometimes moa gizzard stones are found. Moas swallowed them and held them in their gizzards to help grind their food, much the same way as our chickens swallow grit and stones.

Then, one evening, he gave us one! This is it. It's made of quartz, which moas apparently preferentially swallowed because it is so hard.

Mother duck thought it was a good river... "Six little ducks went swimming one day."

Highly recommended.
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