Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Bone to Let Go of

Yahoo and Yippity-Yop Yop!!! Ben  and Kristen arrived home accompanied by Nina and Gabriel, a delightful couple from Germany and France respectively, who wished to be with a real kiwi family for their first 'Down-Under' Christmas.

Cossack, in his preparation of a kiwi feast, was unwise enough to toss a huge ham-bone to Pinnie and then attempt to remove it from her two minutes later as there was way too much meat left on it and over-indulgence was a distinct possibility.

Pinnie was understandably enraged when Coss suddenly snatched the bone and pulled it up and away, the only problem being that our dog was still attached to it. Fueled by fury, her teeth had clenched around that bone something frightening to behold.

Cossack found himself twirling our rotund dog round and round through the sky like an insane fang-baring ferris-wheel until the law of gravity dictated that either my spouse wreck his arm or Pinnie's weight fail to keep her air-borne. The latter happened, Pinnie plonked to earth and Coss fled into the kitchen, grateful to be alive.

On Christmas Eve Ben and I went shopping for enough food to fill the bellies of whanau and friends next day. When we both craved caffeine my son insisted we go get our fix at the very cafe from which I had walked out as a disgruntled employee ten months ago.

I said, "No way" and Ben said, "Yes" and I said, "No way" and Ben said, "Yes" and I said, "No, Ben" and he said, "Yes, Mum, you and I will be two customers drinking coffee, simple as that".

So we did because he was right. I took a deep breath, let go of my bone of contention and pleasantly ordered two coffees with the casual banter of a customer who might have been in just yesterday. My ex-boss was polite and nice enough if perhaps a bit mystified as to whether or not I was an optical delusion.

Now, while I feel no need to repeat the exercise, a warm fuzzy goodbye-to-awkward sensation percolated inside me, a brew even better than any double-shot trim Flat White, thank you very much.

Our European guests made us smile with their version of sight-seeing. Cossack and I had suggested some things to do in nearby Rotorua which of course included the mandatory geysers, mudpools, a Maori Concert, strolling through the redwood grove and driving out to the surrounding lakes if time allowed.

But what did our unorthodox tourists do instead?  They found a natural very-hot-pool somewhere out of town and relaxed in it for hours while contemplating life in general and an insect in particular. Apparently they had never before encountered Monsieur Stick-Insect and they captured this intriguing master of camouflage in photo after photo after photo and even a video.

Gabriel and Nina, you are welcome back in our home anytime because we like your sense of fun and enthusiasm.

OK, the only New Year resolutions I made for 2012 were:

1) Just like Pinnie and her ham-bone, let go of your bone of contention, however reluctantly, lest it make you sick.

2) Walk more. Talk less. Think hard.

3) Find interesting things in the ho-hum of your daily life to wonder at - a piece of driftwood that resembles a coat-hanger maybe or a news item about a Swedish woman who finds her lost wedding ring after 16 years when she pulls a carrot from her vegetable garden and there was the ring encircling it, how amazing is that? Or it could even be a stick insect.
Aroha from Bern-the-Bone

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rabbit and a Scamper

Several days ago I found an old dead apple-tree. It was laying on its side, its limbs as sprawled and contorted as those of a drunk in a gutter. I sawed off a big branch and lugged it home for our Christmas tree. Once decorated with numerous shiny silver balls I thought it looked intensely fabulous.

To complete the Christmas feel I lit lots of candles and put a CD on. "Silent Night" wafted sweetly through our living-room.

I noticed a fat rabbit nibbling in a grassy corner of our front-yard and knew that Cossack would blast the silent out of night if he spotted it too.

Normally I approve of pest eradication, but because Cossack had unkindly declared my decorated apple-tree "a bit crappy", I ran to the window and banged wildly on it.

"Run Rabbit Run! "

The rabbit scampered at the noise and that is how I saved its life from Cossack's bullet.

Just as I was debating back and forth in my own head as to whether I had done the right thing, because wouldn't a rabbit-casserole have been delicious, the phone rang.

A foreign voice with a very poor command of the English language informed me that there may be a problem with my computer but he, an expert from a local computer company, would help me out if I would just go sit in front of my screen and do as he asked.

Many of my friends had received calls like this so I thought I would just string this technological wizard along and waste as much of his time as possible.

He got me pressing this and putting the mouse on that and finally, when I was confronted by a whole list of system log-file entries, he asked me,

"Lady, you maybe see yellow triangles with exclamation marks?"

"Yes!", I wailed into the phone, "I see lots of them!"

"And, Lady, you see words that say, 'Warning'?"

"I do. Oh no! Is my computer dying?", I groaned.

"Oh, heavens above heaven!" he cried. "Yes, it is, but I am here for ignorant lady like you".

"Don't you 'ignorant lady' me!", I yelled into the phone. "Where are you? In a Nigerian internet cafe, I bet! Want my password do you? Here it is nice and slow and loud. Listen carefully, my password is B. A. S. T. A. R. D!"

Mr Scam-the-Gullible had hung up at some point during my tirade but I was on a roll.

"Did you get that? I'll repeat it. B. A. S. T. A......!"

"Joy to the World" suddenly burst forth out in the living-room. In the twinkle of a star I surrendered my bad thoughts of far-flung Lagos and also hung up.

After all, we have Christ in our Christmas and family and friends without whom life would be a dead tree with no ornaments, pretty wrapping-paper with no gift, a banquet with no taste.

May your Christmas be beautiful too and 2012 bring you closer to what is important to you.

Love from Bern-the-Candles

Monday, 5 December 2011

Marriage In-Capsulated

Once in a blue moon, your spouse can stun you with an idea so beautiful, it brings a tear to the eye. On the other hand, the tear I shed today could have been caused by the irritation of  dust from the dead kiwifruit flowers.

You see, it's time for male-pruning, a hot and strenuous task for a 'wahine' like me, whose biceps resemble thin air, mainly because they ARE thin air.

With huge loppers, I  hack off lots of male bits and tug at them until they fall to the ground in a huge pile which later gets mulched. It is quite a battle, believe me, because the vines are long and tangled. One has to be quite forceful.

Imagine my afternoon. It was horribly humid after rain this morning. My right arm was almost dead from so much loppering and, about spitting distance from me, a little fox-terrier decides to bark continuously in a very high pitch at a bird's nest it sees up in the vines.  It jumps like a crazed pogo-stick in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the nest - up down up down up down - with that high pitch carrying on and on and on until I was ready to pick that animal up and hurl it into the next orchard.

Just then that insane dog's owner appeared out of nowhere and I had the presence of mind to smile and gush, "Oh, Hi there! Isn't your dog just so hilarious?!  She sure can bounce! How old is she?"

 I seem to have digressed considerably. Here is, what I thought was, a perfect example of a spouse with a beautiful idea.

This evening I saw a big colourful advertisement in an open magazine and Cossack's credit-card nearby. I admit it was hard to get excited at first but the more I thought about a "Noah- Capsule", the better it sounded.


My husband was about to order this flotation capsule made of enhanced fibre-glass that you clammer into should a tsunami threaten to sweep you and your loved ones away.  I couldn't believe that such a romantic gesture had occurred to someone like Cossack.

And, even better, when there was no emergency to float off into, I would have my own personal Blog-Office. Coss would have to knock before entering unless delivering coffee or chocolate.

As you can see, the Noah-Capsule is very cute. It is bright yellow and has a window and breathing holes, which I am quite relieved about. Just imagine Coss and me, all snug, blissfully bobbing up and down in a surging sea. ...day after day after day....until we are ready to throttle each other....so please please please tell me that speck I see out there IS a seagull with a kowhai branch in its beak? ...".

"Coss, if there was a big flood, who would you rescue if you had say, a "Noah-Capsule?", I asked him, sidling up to him and fluttering my eyelashes.

"Um, let me think, Bern. If I ever bought anything so daft, my order of rescue would be, my mother-in-law first, then Pinnie and a dog-roll. If there's enough room after them, um....a crate of cider, oh, and my passport..... and ..."

"What about me, Coss?"

"My little Moon-Beam, if you are in grasping reach, of course I'd save you",  and he practised some grasping there and then.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tangelos and Tears 11-11-11

For several months I have wondered what today - the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 2011 - might bring. Would a mini-asteroid hurtle itself right between my eyeballs in some kind of cosmic baseball game or profound words appear written in the sky at exactly 11 minutes past 11am?  Neither happened.

When all those number ones lined themselves up so obediently in a row, we were busy picking tangelos, standing on wooden-benches to get at the higher ones. My senses were bombarded by nature's loveliness. The fruit glowed brilliant orange against a bright blue sky and zillions of pretty white blossoms filled the air with a heavenly scent. As I reached up to snip each tangelo my face was warmed by the sun that shone gently through the branches.

When I got thirsty all I had to do was pierce a large ripe tangelo and squeeze the sweet juice straight into my mouth. It trickled down my face and arms and I was a grubby little toddler for whom life is simple and good.

But life isn't always simple and good. Sometimes it is confusing and unfair.

This afternoon the same gentle sun shone down on a group of us as we gathered at the cemetery to farewell a baby in a tiny white coffin all covered in yellow flowers. He had never even taken a breath or cried or gurgled in delight because he was still-born last monday.

There is something so wrong in this scenario where a baby, so eagerly awaited, is lowered into a hole in the ground as we all shed tears and wonder why. I watch as the mother and father toss rose-petals over their son and then step softly and sadly aside to let the rest of us do the same.

Back in 2009, Kristen insisted that our family go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert to be held in Auckland because, as she correctly pointed out, "They are incredible and they might never ever perform together again". She was a poor university student at the time so, of course, the idea was that Cossack and I pay for the very expensive tickets which would provide an evening so special and beautiful that our family would be bound by the memories thereof  for ever and ever, Amen.

Those of you who were at that wonderful concert on the 13th June at the Vector Arena will remember that during, "Bridge over Troubled Water", the sound system mucked up leaving just the stage sound and a confused-looking Simon and Garfunkel.   The crowd took over and sung the words until the sound came back on.

"That was the nicest thing an audience has ever done for us", remarked Garfunkel.

And tonight, by beautiful planning on the part of Radio New Zealand, they played a 1969 Simon and Garfunkel concert at 11pm while I sit here tapping out this blog on 11/11/2011.

"Feeling Groovy" was followed by "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Homeward Bound" and the others that stir up our souls.

When you're weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, let us carry you through. And after however long it takes, we can one day get back to kickin' down the cobble-stones, feeling loved and feeling groovy.

Rest in God's peace, Ethan.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gifts We Don't Get Excited About

Yesterday we got a letter from Hope Eternal, our sponsored child in India. I don't know how she acquired such a spiritual name - perhaps in her own language her name is something like our Katie or Charlotte but the charity we support probably thought Hope Eternal has a nice "sponsor-me" ring to it , which of course it does.

I quite like "Bern -Eternal", but then again, some people might mis-spell that as "Burn Eternal", and I'd prefer a less hellish name, thank you very much.

Anyway, imagine how awful I felt when I read the translated letter from Hope Eternal in Orissa. She started out thanking Cossack and me profusely for sponsoring her and she loved the pencils and hair-ties but, " the dress you send it does not fit me. But please never mind because it is very nice".

It was a cute pink flowery tee-shirt I had sent her, not a dress! How shocking to think the poor girl tried it on and it only came down to her navel! How disappointed the poor girl  would have been. Do girls not wear tee-shirts over there? I am so confused and now will have to rush out a buy a dress for a thin 12 year old who maybe now thinks her sponsor sends immodest gifts to poor people all around the world.

Speaking of gifts, this year Cossack and I have decided not to buy the usual Christmas gifts for Ben and Kristen - you know, new shorts, jandals and a CD or a Glassons voucher, papaya body-butter or stuff to massacre eye-lashes with.

No, Cossack and I now despise consumerism with every atom of our beings and can hardly wait to see our children's delighted faces when all they get in their stockings is a certificate declaring that they each gave a goat to a needy African village.

I now know the disappointment Hope Eternal must have felt when she got her navel-length dress - today at work, Jack, one of the other workers, told me that Neville was thinking of giving me a higher position in the orchard.

"Yes please!", I shrieked, thrilled and astonished all in the same breath. Of course I wanted a promotion! Was Neville going to give me my own flash office in one corner of the Smoko-Room where I would do the orchard accounts? Of course I would need a new lap-top computer and coffee-machine but won't mention that right away.

Or maybe I would be a kiwifruit consultant without any formal training whatsoever because that's how competent Neville thinks I am. I would drive around the whole district advising orchardists on new disease-resistant varieties to grow, how to eradicate the Moroccan weevil and suggest better pruning techniques.
Yip, the possibility of this role excited me beyond belief.

I should have known better. My boss emerged from the shed with a pair of stilts while Jack hooted with laughter. Yes, stilts. Not those long sticks that clowns walk around on, but aluminium 6- inch high frames into which my boot-clad feet were to get firmly strapped. Under my dead body, I thought!

I stared at them like they were a couple of over-flowing portaloos, but Neville just said, "Put them on, you need the extra leg-height for tipping".

As I waddled in my stilts down the row, I could easily reach up and, with a little wooden clapper-thing, press the tips of the elongated new kiwifruit growth in order to stop them shooting out of control into a hideous tangle. It is a tedious and slow job that is literally a pain in the neck because while my new height allows me to tip with ease, it also means I frequently bump my head on the overhead wires.

I was a bit wobbly on the stilts at first but they are amazing when you get used to them. I felt tall and important. What a shame there was noone around to pat on the head in a condescending way.

OK, now to get serious . Have you heard of Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae, better known as P.S.A?  It is a bacterial infection, rampaging through Bay Of Plenty kiwifruit orchards, causing heart-ache and economic loss. It is the topic of most recent conversations in Te Puke - we do and don't want to discuss it because will we walk away feeling better or worse?

Anxiety is pointless but clutches to our orchardists nevertheless as they realise that years of hard work may be eradicated by a heartless chainsaw that cuts through infected plants that bleed red sap, ironically the same plants that were once the life-blood of the Te Puke economy.

The ripple-effects will be ongoing and while Te Puke and district tries to remain optimistic, we all know that everyone will be affected by PSA as our lives and jobs are all intertwined.

I could go on but won't - it's too sad. We have dear friends who hoped and prayed PSA would skip over their orchards but they got it anyway.

And so while I still have a job on an unaffected orchard I will be grateful . Truly grateful.

I will wear my stilts and walk tall for Te Puke because I love this town and its people.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Directionally Impaired

Apparently I had a shocking sense of direction right from the start when I had trouble finding my way out of my biological mother's womb into the big wide world and had to be caesarean-sectioned out of her rib-cage instead.

Yes, there above my tiny nursery bed in the maternity annex was a pink sign that stated my name, weight, time of birth and the blunt but official diagnosis, "Directionally Impaired", and I swear it has been a self-fulfilling prophecy ever since.

As a little girl I often got lost on the way to school and inevitably ended up somehow at the corner dairy where I spent all my pocket-money on aniseed-wheels and sherbert-sticks as some kind of consolation prize.

At High-School, I couldn't find many of my classes and all I ever taught myself in Science was how to harness sun-rays to burn holes into my hideous maroon pleated uniform with a magnifying glass that was intended for studying insects up close.

I still get all churned up with a sense of unfairness when I reflect on how Robyn, my younger sister, greedily inherited way more than her fair share of  S.O.D genes leaving me with next to none. She helps out with Search and Rescue, retrieving lost or injured people from rivers and mountains using a compass or the stars in the night-sky or something clever like that.

Now, I know that Robyn and her incredible team would rescue me if I were ever lost in the bush, but in order to rescue, one needs some information to work with, does one not?  I would therefore probably die a dreadful death because of the inadequate information I scrawl in tramping huts.  Leaving a message like, "Bernadette went that way", with an arrow on the page indicating which way I ventured forth with my back-pack and muesli bars would probably be next to useless if somebody moved the visitors-book ever so slightly.

My Boss gets a teensy-weensy bit annoyed when I can't find where in the orchard I am supposed to be. Well, it's frustrating for me too, you know. Like the time I was desperately in search of Block 11. I had been working there just a few days before so where on earth had it got to? I frantically zoomed around and around and around on the quad-bike, and of course Neville would have to catch me out on my fifth lap of the orchard, alerted no doubt by the enduring noise and an intense curiousity as to what I was up to this time.

"A middle-aged joy-ride, is it Bernadette?", Neville wanted to know after waving me down.
"Of course not!", I replied indignantly, "but I have temporarily misplaced Block 11", I added sheepishly.
"How is it possible?", he groaned.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Who Cares about the Money?

My 79 year old mother lives on our property in her own little house. She and her boarder are both insomaniacs with erratic sleep patterns and frequently indulge in little tea-parties at midnight. Actually, Pinnie prefers slightly warmed milk to tea but they both love fluffy omelettes with bacon-pieces, crackers with blue-vein cheese, warmed up chappatis with dahl and chocolate-eclairs. On any given night, one or more of these snacks is served on pretty little blue and white saucers. Pinnie's way of saying thank you is a contented snort before loping off back to her smelly bed in an old suitcase under the dining-room table.

So, is it any wonder that our dog should weigh a cumbersome 15 kilos when she is only the height and length of a box of Honey Puffs tipped on its side?  Sure, it's embarrassing when I take her for a walk at the beach and people smirk condescendingly as they pass us.

If I see a really slim dog being marched our way, I quickly fling a piece of driftwood into the sea for Pinnie to retrieve. By the time she has completed this arduous task the offending poodle or jack-russell or whatever has generally long gone leaving our dog free from the bad-body image she isn't yet aware she should have.

Of course the real culprit in this sad state of affairs is Kristen, who at age 10 hollered, "I WANT A DOG!!!!!!", and got her puppy (which is a baby dog)  from the 'Free to a Good Home' column in our local rag. For the next six years, Pinnie, a black and white cocktail of unspecified breeds, was walked, worm-tabletted, raved about in school essays, dressed in ballet tutus, taken on rafting trips, adorned with tinsel each Christmas and generally adored beyond belief.

But then Kristen had the audacity to leave home at age 16 and Pinnie lost all pride in her appearance.  Honestly, young children who demand pets should be forced to take them wherever they go once they fly the coop as teenagers. Pinnie should have accompanied our daughter to Italy and university lectures and all dates with boys so she could nip the overly-hormoned ones in the groin.

But no, we inherited Pinnie and yesterday the vet informed me that she has a heart condition and will need two tablets per day, each costing $1.50. That adds up to more per year than we spend on our sponsored girl in Orissa, India.

"Nah!! No beep beep way are we spending that kind of money on a dog!", I muttered as I went to collect the mail in my bright red dressing gown with snowmen printed all over it.  Each morning there is a 50% likelihood that I pull it over my head back the front and that's what happened today. The hood hung in front of me like a huge red sick-bag so, just to be silly, I thought I'd see how far I could walk as a blind woman and pulled it up over my entire face.

I did very well for 23 large strides but then tripped over a brick and banged my face against the gate-post. It hurt like crazy and blood spurted from my right nostril. I felt dizzy enough to sit under our cherry tree and cry very briefly. One does get desensitized to pain and humiliation when it is a regular feature of your life - like it is is mine.

Pinnie wandered over to comfort and nuzzle and gaze at me with mournful eyes of brown velvet. I knew then that this animal deserved her medication and whatever possessed me to doubt it for one minute?

Monday, 26 September 2011

When The Cat is Away

I wear a leather pouch around my waist. It contains hundreds of white stretchy-ties and black plastic clips with which to tie down the kiwifruit canes to the wires. I love my pouch because it makes me look like a real anti-stiletto woman, tough and practical and rural.  One who knows how to fix tractors,  weld bits of metal together or shoot a rabid dog. Believe it or not I cannot actually do any of those things and Neville seems reluctant to let me practise the latter skill on his Dalmations. What is his problem?

Today started out smoothly enough with me looking anti-stiletto and all. I sauntered around the shed awaiting instructions and, can you imagine how thrilled I was when my esteemed boss said he had to go into town and I was in sole-charge of his entire horticultural operation.

Well, once again I have resorted to a wee bit of paraphrasing because of my intense need to feel important.
What Neville actually said was, "You misbehave, Bernadette, and I replace you with a Punjabi. Understand?"
I do understand him very clearly when he eyeballs me in that tone of voice so I smiled submissively. Cossack would faint if he saw me smile like that.

Once out under the vines I worked hard but just before lunch I felt an overwhelming urge to sing like Sister Maria. It was incredible how my version just tumbled out.

High on a hill was Neville the devil
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Waving his pitchfork, lookin' so evil
Lay ee odl lay ee odle-oo

When the cat is away, the mice wil pla-ay
Lay ee odl ley odl lay hee hoo
Mousie might give herself a big payrise
Ley ee odl lay hee hoo!!!

I yodelled at the top of my voice, pranced and danced but flew back to work like a nun when I thought I heard voices behind the shelter-belt.

I was surprised to see Neville in the Smoko room when I went for my lunch break. "Back so soon!", I said quite unnecessarily because it was quite obvious that he was.

My esteemed boss just stared into his stained coffee-cup in silence. I offered him a ginger-nut but I was ignored, so I just prattled on about stuff in general.

When he finally raised his head to glance in my direction I saw that Neville had new teeth.

"Oh, they're beautiful!", I exclaimed, and ate his gingernut.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Apple Trees and an Empty Nest

I felt some sad twinges of the heart when our daughter, Kristen, age 22,  flew off today at lunchtime to a new chapter in her life. This is how it should be of course, and she's done it several times before, but I feel closer to her these days, now that she has discarded adolescent surliness and encountered enough turmoil of the heart to make her kinder, more sensible but still zany in the right dose.

She has gone to Wellington to start her very first proper job since completing her Business degree and, while Cossack and I are happy for her,  I will miss her like crazy on the orchard where she's been working with me since leaving university.   Thanks to her company I survived a couple of terrible jobs Neville got us to do when he obviously forgot that women are too lovely and delicate for such things. Like slaves, we spent three days pitch-forking shelter-belt tree-trimmings into the middle of the rows so that they could be mulched. Our elbows nearly wrenched out of their sockets and our hands blistered and our eye-balls blood-shot themselves and then popped out with the exertion of it all.

Neville laughed out loud at our grouching and griping and I tell you, angels must have been protecting his buttocks from those very same pitch-forks he was silly enough to entrust us with. Of course we completed the job with his superbly masculine help and I have never been so thankful for Smoko with a strong plunger coffee and Neville's admission that Kristen and I were indeed superb and incredible. Well, I feel compelled to paraphrase his actual words because as I recall it, all he said was,  "You did ok, tomorrow we prune the apple trees".

Pruning the apple-trees was even worse because I am scared of heights. When obliged to perch precariously on the top rung of a big red ladder and attempt to reach stupidly high stuck-up-in-the-ozone-layer- bits- of- tree, I am prone to failure of heart, lungs and liver too. Kristen was a bit braver and more reckless as she leaned over toward the middle of each tree from the opposite side to me and lopped angrily at those evil spikey branches. When our eyes occasionally met we exchanged conspiratorial winks and wickedly snapped our loppers in the direction of Neville who was pruning up the next tree, as deliriously happy as we were miserable.

Truth be told, and it must be, Neville is very good to us and I could never ever stab at his buttocks, even accidentally. No, indeed I couldn't, for our boss cannot do much about the plain fact that some jobs in life are unpleasant but must be done. He is the first to be kind when a situation requires kindness and is incredibly generous. For hours each week Kristen and I got paid our usual wages to pick oranges, then wash and grade them, all so that Neville could put crates of them into his vehicle every Sunday and deliver them to various churches so that people could stuff them gratefully into plastic bags and take them home for free.

Most of the jobs I do at the orchard are good for my current state of affairs and I get more of that longed-for fresh air than I know what to do with. It whizzes all around me as we zap on the quad-bike to whichever kiwifruit  block we happen to be working in. Three crazy dalmations dash delightedly alongside us and back again, even faster, for each Smoko.

I like our Smoko-room with its tannin-stained mugs and women's magazines lying around that we glance at if desperate for gossip about Kate Middleton or a woman who didn't know she was pregnant until she gave birth or a a teenage male who confesses to wearing  his aunty's cocktail dresses when she's at work.

There is nothing better than a good coffee and a rock-hard ginger-nut  when you know you have worked hard enough to deserve it. Laughter feels funnier and chit-chat flows as easy as the sap from the cut vines.
You go home at 5pm tired but satisfied that you tied those canes up nicely and managed a few more bays than yesterday and can now go home to a hot shower and meal which will be wolfed down in about three gulps.

Yeah, I miss Kristen already and wonder if she and her brother, Ben, are in some Wellington pub watching the New Zealand vs France rugby game on a big screen. Or has she succumbed to sleep? And would she mind very much if Cossack and I rent out her room to a Punjabi orchard worker?

Good night.

Tone the Clock Forward Please

The only thing that has delayed my writing for years now has been not knowing what tone to adopt. Should it be cynical or sunshiney  because in my real inner-self those two co-exist fairly harmoniously except for when they don't. What is a reader to make of me? Do I strive for an intellectual or slightly ditsy tone? Confident or insecure? Wise or floundering? Am I Page-Fright suffering from Bernadette or Bernadette suffering from Page-Fright? And why all this ridiculous over-analysis anyway?

Procrastination has always poked me in the side with little taunts so isn't it time to knock him on the head with my oar and start rowing down my own little Creek Of  Consciousness, which trickles thoughts like Winnie-the-Pooh sticks rather than rushes them like logs down a hasty stream?

By the way, Daylight-Saving starts tonight. In the name of efficiency I have already put all our clocks forward by the recommended one hour. I changed the microwave clock at 5.04 pm  to 6.04 pm but this premature tampering with time confused Cossack no end when he went to watch TV. Why was the news not on? He sat there looking at the screen like a betrayed man until it clicked in his head what I'd done. He groaned just like he does when I put the jam away before he's put it on his toast or make the bed while he's still in it.

I enjoy the challenge of making our bed while Cossack is still in it. He teaches Night- School on Tuesdays and Thursdays and therefore feels entitled to sleep in a few minutes longer on Wednesdays and Fridays. So, on those mornings, as stealthily as I possibly can, I pull up the sheets and blankets, straighten and tuck them with all my strength across his slumbering form until he is in a very tight squeeze indeed. He continues to lay there in bed for a while like a mummified corpse until he tries vainly to wriggle an arm or leg. He can't of course and that can be quite funny. When his alarm-radio starts blaring Cossack is considerate enough to emerge from his straight-jacket very carefully so that the bed is ready to creep into that night with just the right distance between the sheets.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

In Which Loppers Hack at my Mid-Life Crisis

Armed with a make-belief sense of menopausal power and a large pair of loppers I have been pruning kiwifruit vines over the last couple of months and, with each cane that I flung to the ground, came the intense satisfaction that comes from seeing order emerge out of chaos. Neatness from a tangle. Sweetness from a wrangle. Each particularly difficult hunk of wood that I lopped and then had the pleasure of kicking into the middle of the row for mulching came to symbolize my last boss whose  sarcastic words and withering glances caused me to quit a job I really liked. 

I departed that cafe job there and then before my ego could be minced any more  like flour, eggs and spinach in a pasta machine and then boiled of course. So, with head held high and any would-be-runaway-emotions tightly corseted to my chest I calmly but fearfully walked out.

My grin started out in the car-park and got as wide as  a banana while I contemplated my freedom.  I have a life to live. Things to do. Sensational moments to stumble upon. 

It wasn’t until I got home that I doubted that very much. "So much for your  magnificent bravado today, Bernadette!", I sighed to myself. "You have cast yourself upon the rubble heap of unemployment.  You are a middle-aged, impulsive and incredibly stupid woman".  I was about to thump my forehead several times in succession against a very hard wall when the phone rang. 

Thank God for our orchardist friend who said, "See you at 8 am, Bern, and not a minute later". He didn't ask. He instructed. He had obviously heard about my self-inflicted predicament and felt either sympathy or intense amusement.

And so I turned up next day at 7.46am looking like a scarecrow in clothes so old that even the Op Shop where they came from once upon a time would never consider taking back.

I threw my peanut butter-sandwiches and banana into the Smoko Room and thus began the new chapter of manual labour mentioned above.  And if it has proved to be a little harsh on my scrawny body, it has also been a little bit good for my soul that thirsted like crazy for a breath of fresh air.