Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Tipple

It's been awhile since we had a tipple together hasn't it! The universe (well, my small part in it anyway) has conspired against me in that I haven't any glassware to serve my drinks in. And by the looks of it, I shouldn't be in a hurry to replace it all anytime soon.

Anyway, there is always the picnic-ware (or a bucket and straw)...so, what do you say that we try one of these:-

Tom Collins
 1 tablespoon sugar syrup

Juice of 1 medium lemon
Shot or two of Gin
Stir all and add 4 ice-cubes. Fill with soda water, stir again, and serve

Now this clip isn't a farewell to Christchurch, it's just a song that means a bit to me at the moment as our city is so changed. I miss it the way it was and the way it will be in future. I went for a drive about the city to the edges of the cordons and looked down the streets that are so devoid of people, buildings and life....having a 'sorry for our town' day. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Burnt Offering from a writing class...

A few years ago, I took a writing class. It was fun and i met some great people, but the main thing it taught me was that I'm a bit of a lazy/sporadic writer. Sometimes it's all I do and then I go for months not bothering. I also find that I write better when I am meant to be doing something else!

Anyway, at this class the tutor read us a story and then told us to write it ourselves, the concept has to remain true to the 'real' story but we were free to put our own stamp on the tale.

I'm not too sure now who wrote the original story, but here, keeping the same names for the main characters, is the re-write that I did....

The Burial (c) - Amanda Stephens

Mary peeked into the small shabby room where the twins were sleeping peacefully, satisfied they were asleep she tip-toed down the hall and looking into the room to the left could see that Megan was also asleep. She made her way in the dark back down the hall and into the kitchen where her younger brother Romey was waiting anxiously. “Well?”

“Yeah, they’re asleep. Let’s go.” She pushed open the door and stepped out into the night. A nor’west wind blew warmly and the stars winked brightly in their brooding nest as Mary, leading Romey by the hand, opened the shed door and grabbed the handle of the faded green trolley. They paused in their efforts to drag the trolley through the shed door to look at the body on the trolley. Their father. Fine last night. Happy as a sandboy, every one said that about Roy. This morning dead. “As a door nail,” Romey had said although Mary scolded him that he really didn’t know what that meant and shouldn’t have said it.

Sighing with effort and sadness they moved the trolley through the gate and out onto the west paddock, Mount Torlesse almost invisible in the darkness. In the distance they could hear weka’s calling out and occasionally the gentle hum of freight and cattle trucks slowing down as they travelled through Sheffield before heading out on the nearby highway to the West Coast. “Smells like rain,” Mary had often heard their father say that but for some reason it wasn’t until this very moment that she knew what he had meant. From where they were standing it looked very much to Romey as if the whole of Sheffield had disappeared, not just his father, but Mary assured him that they just had their lights out on account of it being so late. “Although maybe the Worrall’ s are up because they got a sick horse,” she added.

The body lurched suddenly as the trolley hit a tree root. Romey whimpered. Mary checked that the body was still on properly and they continued heaving the trolley through the tussock, making their own track as they went. Romey cried out as he grazed his leg against a bush.

“You’re going too fast.”

“We’ve got to keep on, Romey,” Mary panted, pushing the trolley into her brother’s legs to get him moving again.

Romey sat down, dirt and tears staining his face. “We shouldn’t. We’ve got to tell.”

“I’ll do it myself then, cry-baby. Do you want the welfare to split the family all up? At least after Mum died we had dad to look after us, now its up to me to keep us together. That’s what we have to do - stay together,” she slashed at the beech trees with her spade. Romey tried to get his eleven year old brain round the prospect of not being in the family he knew so well and loved so much. Maybe they would all be sent to different towns? “Probably different cities!” Mary muttered darkly. Romey got up and together they tugged and pulled, effort rippling through their frail bodies, as they manoeuvred the overloaded trolley. Reaching the place Mary had picked out earlier in the day, a final shove sent the trolley shooting over a dip and into the dry river bed. Mary started to sob. Romey stood looking in terror at the stiff figure that had been his father such a short time before but was now lying grotesquely and awkwardly, mouth gaping like a fish out of water. He shuddered.

“M-Mary, we could go and get Mr Jackson,”

“No – nobody can know about this. I told you. I told you.” Her chest heaved and she wiped her hand across her face, down over her soiled dress. “Come on.” She strode over to the body. Her father. Her dear father. Hot tears pricking at her eyes, she angrily grabbed the once-loving arms and pulled with all her 14 year old strength. Anguish marked her face as she slowly dragged his body to where she had dug a shallow grave that morning. She rolled her father’s body over and into the grave so that he lay face up. “So he can see where he’s going,” she explained as soothingly as she could to Romey who stood crying wretchedly by the mound of dank dirt.

Mary gasped as a light, warm rain began to fall softly from the bruised sky.

“I want to go,” Romey pleaded, kicking at the trolley, his hands firmly in his pockets.

“Just help me here then we’ll be finished,” Mary wheedled, handing her younger brother a trowel. Romey gingerly took it and threw a trowel full of dirt into the grave, it landed heavily against his father’s shoes. Crying out, Romey ran off through the paddock leaving a sobbing Mary feverishly piling dirt on top of her father. She carefully placed stones and tussock over the grave and went to leave but something gleaming in the wet moonlight caught her eye. Her father’s pipe. She picked it up and caressed its bony handle against her cheek. As the aroma of the tobacco stamped itself into her very being she wiped her eyes and set off across the paddock after her brother, dragging the trolley effortlessly this time, the pipe snug in the pocket of her apron.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

Having just experienced our first good shake in our new premises, I think it's time for a drink!

I'm keeping it very simple today...head to the local wine shop and see if you can find a bottle of Pinot Noir. I recommend John Henry Hudson from Martinborough, in our North Island. It is quite 'beefy' for a Pinot Noir and plays well with others!

I had to take my car for a warrant yesterday, the guy said it would take half an hour so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk while he toiled away under my bonnet and spun my wheels. The garage where all this activity was happening is only a block away from my old workplace, and here are two photos which took my fancy....

This one... well, the colours!! I adore autumn colours and we have so many of these beautiful trees swapping their summer duds for rust and orange, red and brown. Plus the sparrows as you can see are taking full advantage of the fact that there are hardly any cars on the streets at the moment...

Now remember when the kids were young and you would read them stories, one of the favourites for my two girls was the Crooked Man story...you know, not the kiddie fiddlers or the naughty bankers of todays folk-lore but the genuine crooked man who had a crooked leg and lived in a crooked house - I found his house!

I wonder how it is still standing, the angles must be just right or something when you consider the initial earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks. They just don't build houses like they used to.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Autumn leaves when she arrives!

It's been difficult trying to find the time and enthusiasm for blogging lately, not that I haven't thought about everyone and have even called in to a few places to see whats been happening. I haven't always left a calling card but rest assured I have wiped my silty feet on your mats, read your mail and raided your biscuit tins!

We finally got access to our work building last week following the destructive earthquake on 22 February. I have to say it was weird going back into the place after leaving it in such a hurry in fear and panic on the day. To get back to the building we had to register at a check point, don hard hats and hi-vis vests and ensure we had suitable footwear. That done, we were rounded up into a tent and given a safety briefing before being loaded onto a bus and driven to a point near our building. All very military.

Once at the building, we were given another briefing (what to do if another aftershock hit and stuff like that) before being given just one hour to get what we needed, carry it up/down the stairs to waiting wheelie bins and we were off! Luckily, our office is on the second floor, those poor sods on the fifth floor were looking knackered very quickly. Most of my stuff was in a sodden stinky pile on the floor, ceiling tiles hanging loose and mould everywhere. I left most of it there, no point carting that sort of stuff away unless it was to the tip and there will be time enough for that later.

Thankfully Mother Nature was kind and we had narry a cough from the old bat, exactly one hour later a whistle went and we were ordered out and back to the bus etc. 

So, we then got to cart everything to the temporary offices we are trying to work from this week and from now on. It is a far cry from the inner city carpeted premises near shops that we were used to but none of that really feels important yet. I suppose it will one day but for now it's all I can do to get my feet working as  a team! On the home front, the house is looking better and despite losing all three of our fireplaces we now have a log burner installed for winter. We could have done without the 5.2 shake on Saturday morning, but the Propeller Heads reckon the Faults have all but done venting and we can look forward to quieter times....I guess we will just have to wait and see and make sure things are nailed down anyway!

My two kids have to bus across the city to another high school where they are sharing a campus. It's not ideal. They don't start lessons until 1pm and the last lesson is at 5.35pm, they then board a bus and bus home again not getting home til around 6.30pm. The lessons are shorter (45 mins each) with a 20 minute break at 4pm for a snack. Rather them than me! This will probably be their lot for the rest of the year at least, their own high school is 'munted'. Still, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger so on we go.

All over the city there are empty lots and piles of rubble, we struggle to recall what the buildings used to be. But Autumn has arrived with her rustic charm and I for one am thankful for many things.