Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Time-Zone of my very Own


I got my annual promotion today - please don't bother getting excited on my behalf - for my raise consists of two aluminium platforms which get strapped to the underside of my work-boots thereby making me about 15 cm taller.  These cumbersome contraptions will grace my feet for the next few weeks while I reach up high to squash the tips of the kiwifruit canes to prevent them becoming too long and unruly.

So, there I was thoroughly engrossed in my new task when my little transistor radio beep-beeped for the news and I flung myself free from my stilt-things and raced excitedly to the Smoko-room for a heavenly plunger-coffee and Toffee-pop.

But where is the boss? Where is John?  They are always here at 3pm on the dot. Feeling a bit lonely, I decide to evaluate my appearance from the head down just for something to kill all of 12 minutes. Someone has to take ruthless stock of my forlorn self occasionally and I'd much rather it was me so here goes:

Baseball cap on head.

Sunscreen on face, especially on my nose which my friend, Jenny pa-Lenny, once summed up like this:

"Bernadette's nose", she announced in this very Smoko room, "looks like it is moulded from wax but then she stood too close to a candle one day and the end of her nose melted and then hardened into its current downward drip-shape.  There is nothing at all she can do about it now".

So final and pessimistic a verdict. I was tempted to get all insecure about my nose but then I figured that's just a wasted emotion now that me and it are middle-aged and inseparable. It's not like I can divorce my nose, is it?

Speaking of marital matters, Cossack snipped his wedding-ring off his finger last Saturday night, right in front of dinner-guests, I'll have you know. He just suddenly grabbed a pair of side-cutters from the office and with a huge groan cut right through the ring!

He then waved that vandalised symbol of our eternal pledge of togetherness victoriously in the air like it was the most thrilling thing he'd ever done.

Ok, so maybe a bee did happen to sting Cossack that afternoon and yeah, maybe his finger did swell up to look exactly like a pregnant frankfurter but honestly, you'd think, would you not, that he could endure a bit of severe discomfort to keep his vows intact?

But no, it seems that I am still married to Cossack but Cossack is gloriously single.

Where is my boss? Where is John? Oh well, (slurp of coffee) let's carry on...

My upper half is wearing a black tee-shirt with a picture of two lizards on the front caught in a very romantic moment and the words say, "Ensuring continuation of the Species". When I purchased it at a Thrift Store, I didn't have my glasses on but never mind - I am all for conservation of  New Zealand's endangered species.

South of the tee-shirt are my washed-out black Levi jeans with drips of red paint from when I painted the pruning cuts last winter and the winter before.

And south of the Levi jeans are two pairs of socks on my feet - one Norsewear grey-flecked wool and an outer pair to protect the inner pair.

My brown leather-boots are outside the door obeying the strict rules.

Strange...still no boss and still no John. What has become of them? I sincerely hope they are not pinned beneath a tractor or attacked by a mutant kiwifruit vine that has wrapped itself around their necks... are they out there emitting blood-curling screams while I am absorbed in self -analysis of the most useless kind?

I exit the Smoko room only to be bombarded and almost toppled by a crazed cocker-spaniel who considers it her mission in life to excessively adore me.She leaps into my car and we return to the orchard with radio blaring.

"The time is..", says the announcer at the tail-end of  "Anchor Me" by the Muttonbirds...

...."16 minutes past two..."

I stare at the cocker-spaniel and she stares back at me.

"Oh, dear Lord", I say to the cocker-spaniel, "I was a whole hour too early for Smoko!"

I drive as unobstrusively as possible past the kiwifruit block where I suspect the boss might be working but he sees me and I swear there was that mystified look on his face, the look he often reserves just for me.

I groan for now the afternoon ahead is going to be longer than I had anticipated.

While I am re-attaching my stilts and the cocker-spaniel is running ecstatic circles around my ankles, the sky turns metallic blue-grey so I look up and see a spectacular rainbow stretch itself right across my world.

It was so very beautiful my heart was stunned.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

In Which Cossack Cannot Find His Cheese


One minute I had a heavenly job at the orchard sitting in a sun-drenched shed and leaping up out of my chair only to staple labels on the bins of kiwifruit that the tractor-drivers delivered to us during the most important ten days of the whole year - the harvest!

While the contract-gangs slogged away under the vines picking at a whirl-wind pace, I had more than enough time to record the number of bins coming in and make sure they were not under or over-filled. There was time to laugh with the cheeky fork-lift drivers, time to drink coffee and eat cream-filled doughnuts.

But all good things come to an end and the following week saw me up a high ladder pruning off terribly spikey bits of plum-tree that scratched our arms and mocked us often by remaining just out of reach of our long loppers.

While my knees bruised against the top ladder-rung I wondered whether I should laugh or cry. A compromise seemed appropriate so I smiled as I surveyed my plum-tree world from where a bird might generally perch itself.

I am fully aware that life dishes up both the good and the bad, the fun and the drudge, the tripe and the fudge, so no point grizzling, sister!

And, after all, it's all relative isn't it, because the Bangladeshi woman who sewed the sleeves into the tee-shirt I am wearing up the plum-tree would probably swim a huge ocean to have my life.

Speaking of good and bad, Cossack is both those things, He can be a responsible citizen one day, pacing up and down our country road picking up rubbish, and immoral the next. Oh sure, Coss had an explanation for growing tobacco that had nothing to do with smoking but it shows poor judgement from the pillar of society that he obviously isn't.

"One of my students gave me those seeds and I merely wish to conduct a little horticultural experiment", my spouse said and he must have done something right because the plants grew high and happy with huge leaves but pitiful flowers.

Well, a couple of months ago Cossack was about to chuck the ragged plants, his curiosity having been satisfied but curiosity had only just started smoking away in my head..

I rescued some leaves and pegged them to our washing-line in the shed to dry. Then, today, I borrowed a cigarette-paper from my mother and here in our kitchen I chopped up the tobacco and rolled my very own lop-sided, sad-looking cigarette.

I got the only mildly amused Cossack to light up for me and tried to look sophisticated, even when the cigarette just spluttered and died like I almost died with the terrible taste of doom and destruction.

In church the other day we all got handed these little 'Self-Denial' draw-string purses and the idea is to put the money into it over a three week period that you would otherwise have spent on something unnecessary in your life. You know, like takeaway coffees, chocolate, restaurant meals, videos, wine...

Immediately, I knew what Cossack should give up. Now that winter is here, he has started grilling thick slabs of cheese on toast almost every single night and that is just not good enough for a man with high cholesterol.

So, I've hidden our block of cheese over in my mother's fridge at her house.

I am honestly thinking of Cossack's well-being and the 'Self-Denial' fund but I do feel a tinge of nervousness about when he can't find the cheese for his favourite snack.

He might even holler.

He might demand to know what I am giving up? Am I giving up my mallow-puffs, he will ask? Am I giving up my $4.20 coffees? Or my roasted cashew nuts?

My reply will come swift and sure.

"Cossack, I am giving up two things forever, not just three weeks of cheese like some people. From this moment forth I am never again buying clothes in factories that exploit their workers and I have decided to quit smoking".