Monday, November 28, 2011

Please respect my vote

Down here in New Zealand, it is easy for our people to take things way out of perspective, being so far away from the rest of the world. This year’s general election took on a whole new dimension with the advent of sites like Facebook and the increasing number of people who find their voice online, and while that can be good, there was, and still is, a surprising amount of anger gracing my newsfeed the day after the election.

With the anger has also come disrespect, which has been keeping me awake at night.

It’s like religion. In my family, my parents, my siblings and I are all baptized but the only ones of us who go to church are me, my dad, and my sister, and it’s only once a year – on Christmas Eve. My great-grandfather was a minister and my grandparents were all highly religious. So although we don’t practice religion, we respected their beliefs, and still do although none of them are around to practice them anymore.

I hate when people from different religions come to my door or hand me flyers or preach at me in the streets to try and lure me into their way of life. The way I see it, I have my beliefs and I respect yours, but don’t push your beliefs on me because I won’t push mine on you. I live my life the way I want.

The same goes for election time, and the only difference is that the door knocking, flyers and preaching is replaced with cowardly, faceless comments on Facebook.

I voted National.

National won the election.

Why? Because 48% of New Zealand voted for them, as opposed to the 27% who voted for Labour.

I don’t feel the need to justify my vote, but I did think it through, despite those Labour supporters who think not one National voter thought about their vote and just voted for them because John Key is a good kiwi bloke. We had our reasons just like you had your reasons.

And most of us are smart people, despite those Labour supporters calling us F***ing idiots for not having the same opinion as them. We’re not calling you names because you voted for the weakest party of the two.

So, voters, feel free to talk about your political beliefs on Facebook, but have some respect for your fellow kiwis.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

 This book was recommended to me by one of my good friends Jamie, who I met at Camp Livingston while working there as an Arts and Crafts Director three and a half years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long!). Being as in-love with books as I am, she wrote me a three-page list of books I should read, and that’s how I heard about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

I didn’t like it at first. I knew that the whole thing was written in letters, but I was kind of hoping there would be some break in between letters – but there weren’t, and after a while, I started to love it. Once I got used to the letters, I found myself very impressed and slightly amazed that the author managed to create such deep, whole characters from letters and make me fall in love with them all.
I challenge anyone to read this book and not want to meet Dawsey, Isola, Amelia, Eben and the rest, and be a part of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, book lover or not.
There’s not much else to be said about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, other than – READ IT – and now I plan to visit Guernsey on my Big OE, simply because it's a beautiful place both on paper and Google, and, of course, for it's history.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb?
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dreaming of...... Guernsey

So I've almost finished reading The Guernsey Potato Peel and Literary Society - highly recommend it - and I have fallen in love with Guernsey just as Juliet Ashton did.
This may sound funny to some of you Northern Hemisphereians, but before reading this book, I had never heard of Guernsey - and it's always a great feeling when you find out a place you read about in a fiction novel actually exists.
Now that I have Googled Guernsey extensively, it's officially been put on the Big OE list. I think part of my Big OE with my partner will have to include going on a wild goose chase around the places I have read about in books, such as Culloden, which features in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and is apparently quite a moving place.

So before I post my review of The Guernsey Literacy and Potato Peel Society, I thought I would share some beautiful images of this beautiful place that I found on my Googling expedition.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The green thing

This was sent to me by my friend Murray Clarkson, who does an amazing job of managing the Featherston Community Centre, and it really struck me and made me think, so I thought I would share it and maybe it will make you think too...

In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right - our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile.
But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales .
In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a tap when we were thirsty instead of a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service.
We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A blues convert

Way back when, blues music conjured up images of smokey underground bars, entrancing African-American voices that sounded like warm honey, and suave men wearing tuxedos sporting swished-back hair getting lost in their saxophone.
These days, when you hear the words “Cross Creek Blues Club”, the word “club” is enough to make you see wizened old men whose music dreams failed and who get a group of like-minded old men together to share their woes and their bad blues music.
After joining my friend Tory, a Cross Creek Blues Club fan, at the Tin Hut in Featherston on Wednesday night, my visions were proved very, very wrong.
Sure, the club captain was a wizened old man, but he was sweet. And sure, there were a couple of middle-aged men up on stage and in the audience, but they had style. There were definitely no stereotypes in that place – every person seemed worlds away from each other in terms of personality, but were brought together by a love of blues music.
I have worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for nearly a year now, and have written many articles on who is set to be playing at the blues club each month, but I have never actually been, or met any of the members. So when Tory asked me to go, I though, why not? I’d had a busy week and needed a glass of wine and a catch up with my fellow journalism school survivor, and the music might be okay.
Well, I arrived, got myself an $8 glass of wine (seriously, in Featherston?!) and sat down with Tory. Then began the people watching. In front of me sat a boy of about twelve, there with his parents. Across the room were a few young guys, maybe in their mid to late twenties. Behind me were a few young couples with a great sense of style and warm smiles, something I see seldom in Masterton but often in places like Featherston and Greytown.
At the bar stood a small woman with a cute black pixie cut who looked like she has just flown over from Paris in her beautiful brown overcoat and red hat, standing by a young man who also looked like he was straight out of Paris.
So with my attention back to the conversation, which was generally sharing war stories of our time at the Wairarapa Times-Age and Whitireia Journalism School, the music played on in the background. It was quite good.
After a couple of people had played, two words pricked up my ears: Jimi Hendrix, and as I do most times I hear that amateur bands are going to cover songs sung by music legends, I inconspicuously crossed my fingers and prayed this particular band wouldn’t murder a great song.
Well, this guy was so good that I almost fell asleep in my chair I was that relaxed. With some good sauvignon flowing through my veins, I closed my eyes and let the music flow through me. I’m now on the hunt for a Jimi Hendrix record.
Turns out the French-looking woman from the bar was featured singer Alda Rezende, and the young French-looking man was Lucien Johnson, a saxophone player, who plays in a band The Troubles, which was backing up Alda.
I’m not the best judge of nationalities it turns out – Alda was Brazilian. I may have been right about Lucien though, but I never actually heard him speak, I only heard his impressive saxophone playing.
For such a petite woman, the voice that came from little Alda was definitely unexpected. You wouldn’t expect to hear Brazilian music at a blues club, but somehow Alda’s deep, husky voice that sounded neither male nor female by the end, fitted in seamlessly with the eclectic mix of musicians there that night.
I will definitely be back next month, Cross Creek Blues Club; to listen to the musical stylings of Vinyl Bison I’ve heard so much about.

Photo by Mike Warman

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Summer loving

Okay, I know it's not officially summer yet, but it's November 1st, and while I'm writing this it's 20 degrees (celcius) outside, so I think it's time to really start looking forward to sunny weather, especially since summer seems so long ago with the terribly cold winter we've had. So, this summer, I'm looking forward to:

 ♥ eating gelato ♥ exploring new places in the Wairarapa like Herbertville Beach and Gladstone ♥ christmas ♥ celebrating new years at Castlepoint Beach ♥ camping ♥ roadtrips ♥ writing poems ♥ getting my camera back up and running ♥ experimenting with my new vintage Agfa camera ♥ concerts ♥ planting a herb garden ♥ reading books in the sunshine ♥ swimming in the ocean ♥ jumping off the Eastbourne wharf into the ocean ♥ woodfire pizza on the beach ♥ bike rides ♥ summer dresses ♥ barbeques with friends and family ♥ roasting marshmallows ♥ salads ♥ parties ♥ singing to summer tunes up loud in the car with the boyfriend, not caring who's listening ♥ walking around in bare feet ♥ inventing fruit smoothie flavours ♥ chillin' at the Waitarere Beach bach with the family

What are you looking forward to this summer?

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. ~James Dent