Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Foxes Nuzzle Each Other To Say Hello &Other Trivia



I’ll always allude that the truth is stranger than fiction on this blog and here are some odd recent events that again prove it.

Some are scary. Some are gross. Some are surprising. And good.

* If you hang white sheets on the washing line on a lovely sunny day in February in Central Otago be prepared for them to be artistically coloured purple. Ripe elderberries, plus birds, equals purple bird scat. This will not come out in the wash but will require soaking in Nappysan. Sometimes it will take at least 48 hours to get clean sheets. Persevere. Or snip off all the ripe elderberries on your property and make indifferent wine with such a low alcohol content it will not even get you pissed. After one entire bottle.

* Rest assured country dwellers that even if you can’t see them you have stoats in underground tunnels somewhere near you. Possibly right beside your house. Stoats were introduced to New Zealand to kill rabbits. It didn’t work too well. They store their prey and makes nest out of their fluffy remains. They are nasty little fuckers (sorry I don’t like to swear). However, when a stoat walks into your living room goes over the carpet to your sleeping elderly dog sniffs its bum (the dogs) then turns round, looking all butter wouldn’t melt on its hind legs with its creamy ermine tummy and brown back, then walks out again. There is only one word for it.

*Stoats also squeal when scared. I know this because I walked in on one in the chicken house when the chooks were following me in for their mash. Suffice to say. I was SCARED too. And that was not the stoat that walked up the steps across the verandah and into our LIVING ROOM the next day.

*Last October, a woman with short brown hair in a high collared purple coat came up to me outside the Miley Cyrus concert at the Vector Arena. Her lipstick was brown and her smile intent. ‘I’m from 62 Models,’ she began. I thought she must scouting one of my 14 year old charges. ‘We’re looking for interesting older women for our books. You have just the look. I spotted you….” I didn’t really hear much more after that. I was being old and getting flummoxed. I was flattered. I said no thank you. Daughter 14 seemed a bit put out. ‘Imagine coming to a concert looking for old people,’ she said. Imagine.

*If you’re in the radiology waiting room in North Shore hospital for an hour with your 81 year old dad, he might get up and say, ‘I think I’ll cash a cheque while I’m here.' That’s Alzheimers for you. It maybe time for me to stop using my chequebook.

*Sometimes nature presents possibilities that don’t involve rodents. The pretty pink roses pictured in Queenstown gardens for example. A perfect Sunday swimming pool complete with diving platform. And a head in a cloud.

* An amazing opportunity was presented to me on the, 15th December 2014 at 9.59 am precisely. It was an early Christmas presents of sorts that threw me into a spin. It involves a lifetime goal of mine and a character I created 8 years ago. I told my three children if I ever get a children’s book published I'll cartwheel nude across the lawn. I’ve gotten close, but never needed to get in the nuddy. That promise is definitely past it’s best before date. 

I’ll say no more because I’ve been superstitious ever since I was five and lay each night in my bedroom in Beresford St, Bayswater, listing the things I'd done that day in my head. My elder sister beside me not privy to the sinister wishes I hoped for myself if the bad things outweighed the good.

So I don’t want to jinx it. However, if my weekly blog posts are erratic (and they have been), it’s because my mind is tied up with characters and make believe. Elsewhere. 

It’s out with the old and in with the new in 2015. I love surprises and challenges as long as they don’t involve stoats and stings. I've got a big job ahead and along the way I hope I can return some of the kindnesses I’ve received in my writing life. I'm feeling so lucky.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Because Portraits



Sometime ago last year, when I thought I could pass myself off as a professional (as in paid) magazine columnist, don’t laugh, writing dreams ARE free and very satisfying; I signed up for email updates from the New Zealand Women’s Weekly.

Along with the myriad of emails I receive, daily, weekly and monthly I trash them while they’re still black bold. Unread. However, this tempting headline caught my eye.

WIN a family portrait session! Worth $3,000


Apart from the odd dejeuner sur l’herbe shot I have, to date, never subjected myself, my husband and our three children to a posed piece of studio portraiture. 

My mum however, back in the 70’s, from time to time got the urge to seize her progeny on celluloid. The results of which are still, too me, not even laughable.

Because portraits. Are mostly ugly. Even those wealthy, oil painted, gilt framed old farts adorning the walls of the best country seats are plain gloomy. Interestingly, the earliest known portrait of a human was carved upon a woolly mammoth tusk 26,000 years ago. 

One particularly tasty PORTRAIT. Shows yours truly, post haircut with Hasting stylist, Luigi. I HAVE just stepped out of the salon but my long locks and wide fringe of summer blonde are gone. Replaced with a boy cut of brown wedge and flick, nicely enhanced with my train track smile. There I sat, my teenage shoulders hunched in my pale apricot blouse (possibly from a shop) tucked into my sage green wool boucle pleated skirt (lined, but made at home) flaring unflattering. Plainness personified. All corralled within a mottled brown studio backdrop. 

‘You look lovely,’ declared my mother and gran, when this cringe worthy photograph sat like a sad Lladro puppy dog on the mantelpiece in our living room. I suspected they were lying. Those portraits can’t have been cheap.

As it happened the Women’s weekly headline was just guise for a beautiful baby snaps competition run by Colgate toothpaste.

“Colgate knows there’s nothing quite as magic as capturing your child’s beautiful smile in a gorgeous photo that can be shared with family and friends. Simply upload a photo of your child showing off their biggest smile and you’ll be in to win a family portrait session worth $3000.”

No ugly buck toothed children need apply. No royalties will be paid when we use your shots on facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and our homepage to promote our cavity preventing pastes. Hey building your child's profile from a young age is vital. Ya don't mind do ya...

Sadly I may have burned the aforementioned portrait but I found this one of my husband and his family for you. Hair was not done by Luigi. Though it could have been.


I’m immensely proud to say my husband is the hunk on the left. The one who looks like the Donny Osmond I loved through the screen of our black and white TV around the age of 10. And they called it puppy love. Heck, we were soulmates, destined for a blissful life together when we didn’t even know the other existed. 

All I can say is get that family portrait done before it’s too late. Print it. Frame it. Don’t leave it mouldering on some disc. Every time capsule should have one. It will surely bring joy. Sometime down the track.
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