Setting the year ablaze

For the last few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year – something to mull over, to set intention, to facilitate ongoing inner growth…

For a few years there, the word was ‘No’, as in learning to say no, to be assertive, to DISCERN what was and wasn’t important to me…

Last year’s word was SHAMELESS, read about it HERE and HERE. See my SHAMELESS Pinterest board HERE. It was somewhat successful, although I did slide down into several shame spirals over various things – I think shame is in my DNA, maybe it is for all women, given the culture we live in.

Since the solstice, I have been mulling over a word for this year…all words of a gentle, nurturing nature were not doing it for me…I wanted something with an edge, with big metaphoric possibilities, with high-energy. Energy is what I hope for for this year. I’ve had a few ‘damp’ years, fallow years, resting years, compost years – and I accept them as part of a life passage, part of an organic process.

‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.’

-Zora Neale Hurston

Some credit to this year’s word must go to my friend EMMA – as part of my Christmas present she gave me a box of fancy matches which have the saying ‘The inner fire is the most important thing’ on the box, as I unwrapped it she said: ‘Well, you are a pyromaniac.’

It’s true. I love a good bonfire and often have a big burn in the backyard. I love candles, and incense. I use matches rather than a lighter because I get a small thrill from striking a match.

In yoga-teaching, we talk about ‘igniting the inner-fire’ – meaning both physically, as the core warms up, an internal heaters starts to fire, deepening the breath and warming the body…and metaphorically – the inner-fire being our drive, energy, prana, shakti!

So my word for the year is FIRE.

See my Fire Pinterest board HERE.

Like The Pixies I’m DIGGING FOR FIRE.  Hoping that this is a year that answers questions, and hoping to light a match to all my desires… watch them turn into the biggest bonfire on the most beautiful beach under the fullest moon.

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Backyard hobo bonfire in a rubbish tin.

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Plant fire – calendula in my vege garden…

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Winter solstice celebration from some years back…

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Fire sky, Queenstown 

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Growing my fire and eating my fire… 

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Backyard fire at a friend’s place…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”

-Jack Kerouac

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Autumnal rambles around the Wairarapa

For the past four years, I’ve had an annual visit to my friend Emma’s in Featherston for a weekend of fun, food, junk-shopping and Nana-ish great times…we did it earlier than usual this year and it was entirely great.

We stopped in at cafes (Cuckoo, The French Bakery and Trocadero), many lovely shops, one pub (Cool Change, Martinborough), Emma took me to see a local-knowledge icon -The spooky abandoned house on the hill- which I didn’t get a photo of because there was a gang of tourists taking photographs of it and I didn’t want to join the tourist throng, even though I totally WAS one!

We also went to see the Wes Anderson film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ which I experienced as PERFECT. Beautifully styled, superbly acted, and funny funny funny. I loved it! It’s definitely a film that cries out to be viewed on the big screen, and now I want to see it again, and soon.  The cinema in Masterton is wonderful,  a real step into the past. I thought Emma’s heart skirt went quite well with the cinema carpet…

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1960s handbags on the wall at Cool Change:

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I hovered for far too long around this suitcase of soulful old teddies in a junk shop, but given I’ve just sold off my vintage-toy collection on trademe….I tore myself away lest I ‘accidentally’ start a new one. I do love old toys, though, they are so characterful!

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I had fun times spotting old fonts and signs:

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I love the name of this pipe band ‘Fern and Thistle’ – I’m guessing the fern = New Zealand and the thistle = Scotland. I said to Emma, ‘Do you reckon The Fern and Thistle Piping Band is still going?’ and she said ‘Doubt it’ but she was wrong….a quick internet search revealed that it is! It’s ‘the Wairarapa’s only pipe band, established in 1958′ and not only is it still going…it has a facebook page! So there you go. I wonder if this sign was painted in 1958? The font of ‘secretary’ looks to be a 50s/60s font. (Font-nerd IN THE HOUSE.)

Are you old enough to remember four-digit phone numbers? I am!

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There’s always pretty corners at Emma’s house. She got a big scratch on her hand picking this lichen-covered lemon-bough for the room I was sleeping in – now that’s friendship!

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I read many of the great magazines Emma bought home from her trip to Japan. Check out this bonnet shaped like a beef steak, and the perfection of the granny-chic picture below…

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You can read Emma’s take on the weekend HERE.

Last time I cam home from Emma’s I went down with pneumonia. This time the worst that happened was a bit of indigestion from eating too much delicious food. I had a grand old time and now feel very relaxed and inspired, Hoorah!

 

free nature mandala*

*those of you who are ancient like me, might get the bad pun in the title…

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I love mandala. I often make little ones out of windfalls and flowers, in my backyard or when I’m out and about. I love the idea of art that sits there until the weather scatters it off in all directions. It’s meditative to make, then it goes…perfectly biodegradable art.

Here’s a simple one I made over Easter at Lake Taupo – there wasn’t much around so I had to hunt harder for materials – gorse flowers, pumice, kowhai pods…

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For some colourful mandala inspiration, check out my Pinterest board on this topic HERE.

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the drought breaks and with it my rage and I farewell the tomatoes

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It’s been raining a good few days now – after nine weeks without rain, this wet stuff falling from the sky seems a miracle. How quickly the garden wakes up, too. From desperate and dusty, to enlivened, greening…drinking it all in…

Just as well, because I was getting major ‘drought-rage’. What’s drought-rage?

Drought-rage is walking past a house where someone is using multiple sprinklers to water their….lawn.

Their f**king lawn! …….when there are water-restrictions in place! It made me want to run in, turn off their sprinkler and throw it through their front window. Selfish sh*ts.

Drought-rage is seeing a man using precious water to clean his…..driveway. Yes, the concrete which his car drives up. Because it’s so important that HE have a clean driveway, right? I mean, droughts get dusty, after all. Surely anyone who cleans their driveway must be sociopathic?

Drought-rage is hearing the DJ on student radio saying she ‘really hopes it doesn’t rain because (she) has to walk home’. Yes, because the weather is all about you, honey. Never mind if there are no vegetables to eat this winter because the market gardeners couldn’t irrigate their crops.

You get the idea.

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Oh boy, the profound disconnect of people….with the weather, the local eco-systems, food sources, this earth which is our home. It pains me. It hits me in the heart.

On the recent writing retreat, my friend Helen said ‘there is a lot of rage in your writing at the moment…a bit of a rage-theme’ which made me laugh. Yep, I get ‘the rage’ about injustice and human stupidity often and intensely, but that is because I also get ‘the joy’. Two ends of the same spectrum. I love this world and this life so much that rage flares when I see people asleep to the riches around them and what their part is in the stewardship of what we all share…but joy rushes up just as quickly. I prefer my rage/joy existence to a sleepy/numbed/re-or-de-pressed one.

I was reading some yoga philosophy recently and it was describing how our environment, where we dwell, is part of our extended body. It described our physical body as our local body and our environment as our non-local body. It made total sense to me. The air we breathe becomes part of our body. The food we eat becomes us. Therefore our bioregion IS our extended body. Therefore, we should not waste the precious resources (like water when there’s a drought on) of OUR OWN BODY. & If our extended body is in drought, we ought to be happy to have to walk through the rain…in fact, if we are connected and awake…

that rain will feel like a baptism and a gift.

The magic in your life depends upon the quality of your attention. 

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write a rave – I meant to write about how the wet weather got me out into the vegetable garden, which as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had somewhat neglected because of the drought.

I pulled a whole lot of crops, the rest of my squat little carrots, the last tomatoes, the last of the summer beans…(I’m going to make a big pot of ‘farewell tomatoes’ soup this afternoon)….I gave the chooks a good go at what was left and am now deep into planning the autmn/winter planting.

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I’m inspired to make it a good season, despite the stalled start.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain…

See you next summer, tomatoes. x x x

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tiny worlds of the Adam/McIntyre household

When I went south to see Neko Case recently, there were tiny worlds within the tiny world that is the small Wellington villa of my friends, Pip and Brent.

Brent and his daughter had made some miniature lands by planting some real grass in pots and populating these micro-farms with plastic animals.

The organic meets the inorganic:

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The perfect vegan farm:

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Giant pig or tiny barn?

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And Pip bought this small, ethereal and spooky populated terrarium for Brent’s 40th birthday:

Is she longing to escape or happy to be sealed safely in?

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i’ve revenged myself all over myself, there’s nothing you can do to me*

*lyric, Neko Case’s ‘Night Still Comes’

I’m going to see Neko Case tonight!

I ADORE this woman. As a poet, it sometimes rubs me up the wrong way when people describe song lyrics as poetry, but I really believe Neko Case is a poet and her lyrics are poetry.

Look at this live version of ‘Night Still Comes’ – when I first heard this song, it made me cry cry cry like a baby – something about the lyrics – the line above in the title of this post – which I could relate to in terms of how much I mentally torture and self-sabotage myself sometimes and the key line of the chorus ‘You never held it at the right angle’ – poignant, sad, beautiful…

I can’t quite believe I’m going to see her real soon!

Feeling very…

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reaping what you sow

Abundance of late:

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I do love my slightly-twee ‘picking’ basket, which I op-shopped last year.

So much goodness coming out of the garden right now…

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But on the downside – there’s been a bit of a sneaky drought on here, lately. I say ‘sneaky’ because it hasn’t made the news but it is definitely very dry lately. It hasn’t rained properly for weeks….so I’m behind in winter-planting because I want some rain to come before I entrust vulnerable seedlings and seeds to the ground. (I do water the vegetable garden, but it’s hard to keep it damp enough to support new life.)

So while it’s all full-baskets now, soon there is going to be slim pickings, while the baby leeks and spinach and silverbeet and fennel and parsley take root.

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Anyway – gather ye rosebuds, and all that…. or in my case, tomatoes.

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crochet ghost stops his haunting to eat breakfast

My boy likes to hide in blankets.

He loves lying underneath the bean bag.

He loves making a nest of blankets and pillows in a tight corner.

He loves a three-person pile-up where the whole family lies on top of him, squashing him until he can’t quite expand his lungs…

& having a crochet-ghost at the breakfast table is not an unusual sight around here….

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an everyday dreamer

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(Sweet peas from my garden. I planted them amongst the bean vines.) 

I was trawling my photographs looking for blog inspiration and I thought – Geez, there are so many random shots which aren’t really ‘about’ anything….’

…and there I found this post.

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(Friends of mine have a red window at the end of their hallway, which imbues the outside world with a trippy feel…) 

Superficially, my life could look quite dull. I live in a small city with a reputation for mediocrity. I live in an urban bungalow, parenting two kids and trying to cling on to my creative life while I do it.

But it’s rich in my head, folks, rich and vivid and alive and busy….the only way I can stop my whirling mind is yoga, especially savasana which I is why I have taken to it so intently – it’s less about the physical practice for me and more about the break from my brain.

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(My friend made this paver in a mosaics class we took together years ago. I am not sure about my new gold nail-polish.) 

So long as your inner life is rich and interesting, what does the outer life matter, especially?

& my shitty little Canon Ixus is like an extension of my mind – creating/capturing the world as I see it…which is a world of colour, beauty and random excellence.

Images are doing far more for me than words lately. Increasingly words are inept for all that sifts through me.

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(My brother, a blokey-bloke with big builder’s hands, decorated the Christmas pavlova and was so sweetly pleased with it and himself. An uncharacteristic moment.) 

 

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(A window in my local cafe. Yesterday I sat there with a coffee for over an hour, staring at this window and writing the world’s longest to-do list, post-school holidays.) 

I am an everyday dreamer.

My life is not particularly special/glamorous, but I am good at finding the special in it. It has taken me a long time to a) recognise this about myself and b) value it.

 

fresh inspiration

When is an ‘inspiration wall’ not an inspiration wall?

When it’s been up for almost two years and you’ve stopped seeing it anymore…

I have a creative room out in my backyard. Our garage was converted to a sleepout by previous owners and now we’ve set it up so half of it is guest-room (well, guest-nook) and half is my creative space.

The wall beside my desk I put up a montage of inspirational images. It was overdue for a freshen up, so for a couple of months I slipped anything that caught my eye into a folder (magazine cuttings, mail my friends sent me, vintage book pages etc etc) until I had enough material to redo the wall.

Here is the old inspiration wall:

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& Here is the new:

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Do you think I am the only 41 year old still sticking photographs of pop stars on her wall? Ha ha.