Saturday 30 May 2020

I Did it My Way ( but shouldn't have)

There are good days and then there are days that I could just curl up in a foetal position and howl like a coyote.

Today started off alright - in fact I was in quite a jovial mood - but at about 9.15 am my work-buddy, Spike, came running over because I had gone all white and was trembling so much my secateurs rattled in my leather-pouch. I felt nauseous, went hot and cold and clutched my chest.

I was in shock but do recall muttering over and over, "Look....look what I've done, Spike. Oh, look...look at that.  No don't! Spike, grab your loppers and stab me to death right now. Please do it quick!"

Spike saw the problem immediately. Well, actually the problem was that he couldn't see what he was meant to see - the perfectly good kiwifruit plant with two new leaders all tied down to the top wires was no longer there.

It had been reduced to a near-stump. Yes, my chainsaw had miscalculated!

What you have to realise is that the fatal cut inflicted was only about 20 centimeters below where it should have been so please don't think I make a habit of randomly swinging my chainsaw around to see how much mayhem I can create. On the contrary, I am usually careful and can only put this disaster down to a moment of insanity.

It is a sobering thing that permanent is so permanent. Some actions - like a chainsaw cut - are irrevocable. You cannot un-saw what is sawed, just like you cannot revert an omelette back into its original eggs.

A surgeon, if he or she amputates the wrong leg, cannot just super-glue it back on the patient. The patient henceforth will be leg-less. That is a serious consequence indeed and that is why every care is taken to ensure such a terrible mistake does not happen.

The medical team in hospital ask you over and over which leg you are getting chopped off today. You sign papers. A red cross is painted on the doomed leg, and even so, it is checked and checked again.

How I wish I had checked over and over before slaughtering an innocent kiwifruit plant that had years of potential in it.

I never thought of myself as a chainsaw-killer.  It sounds so harsh somehow but, Bernadette, tell it like it is. That is a precisely what you are.

After the initial shock, Spike was very merciful and said reassuring things like, "Oh, well, we all make mistakes but, yeah, this one is particularly bad", and, " It couldn't have happened to a nicer plant".

Spike said not to lose sleep over it but I wondered how to tell the boss. Would he even notice a gap in the canopy? Would the Pope notice if someone fired a cannon through the Sistine Chapel ceiling?  Would the Queen miss one of her corgis if it were abducted? Of course!

After a good strong coffee and a Tim-Tam I regained some of my equilibrium in that I felt silly and guilty in equal measure but the trauma was lessening and common sense told me we all stuff up sometimes and that I am a human-being, prone to mistakes now and then.

For instance, we didn't go on and on and on and on and on about when Spike was parking the buggy in the shed and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake. The resulting damage to the back wall was considerable but, after we all fell about laughing, we consoled Spike. We were there for him and fortunately, so was the company's insurance to pay up.

And Nodge, look at how many wooden posts he has demolished with his tractor.

These things happen so tomorrow I will tell the boss about what my chainsaw did. The result of that awkward conversation will be the topic of my next blog.

In the meantime, I leave you with Frank Disastra,

'My Way'. 

"Regrets, I've had a few,
But then again, I hate to mention,
I did what I shouldn't have done,
And sawed it through without exemption,
I didn't plan this uncharted course,
That careless chop along the by-way
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew it, 
When I sawed too low and really blew it, 
But through it all, when there was doubt.
I didn't think, just cut it out, 
I'll face it all, one day walk tall but... 
...woe is me, I did it my way"

So, it is over and out from me! And over and out from the kiwifruit plant!

Sunday 24 May 2020

A Rising Renoir

My reputation as a nice and nurturing mother was totally obliterated in one foul swoop of a post that my 31 year old daughter put up on Facebook a couple of months ago.  Many of you will have seen it and now be wondering if this blog can even begin to undo the damage done.  Well, read on. It can only get worse. 

It was just an ordinary morning in March when I was scrolling through my news-feed on Facebook and saw a reproduction of a child's painting. A colourful nice-enough portrait of a pony-tailed girl with fishing rod sitting on a wharf.

It looked vaguely familiar.

And then I read my daughter's words accompanying the picture and all was explained. Of course! The painting looked familiar because she was the artist!

This is what my indignant cherub wrote.

"I painted this masterpiece at age 10 or 11. Two decades ago. I have not seen it since. Today I bought it in an op-shop in Whakatane for $4. Weirdest. Thing. Ever. Mother, can you explain???"

Her post had me Mortified with a capital "M" and psycho-analysed in screeds of comments from all over the world, the common theme being how could I, her mother, have done what I did?  Apparently I had failed to see in my paint-flinging little girl a rising Renoir, a gifted Gaugin, a morphing Matisse.

People hooted, commiserated, were shocked, aghast and disturbed. Why would a mother give her 10- year old's art-piece away? Why did the now-grown-up and married artist have to endure the pain and humiliation of seeing it hang in the front window of a Methodist Op Shop?

Why did she have to buy back her own masterpiece for a measly $4? ( That joke-of-a-price was of course the ultimate insult to the artist)

Comments ranged from, "This is fricken hilarious. look forward to your mother's explanation", to "No way!" and sprinklings of "omg" and, "That's so bizarre"

While the multitudes ranted, I was desperately formulating a plausible explanation to redeem my seriously besmirched reputation as a mother..

When one person wrote- "Your mother is oddly silent..", I decided to just spit out the truth which involves Marie Kondo of 'Spark Joy' fame. I am a devoted fan of hers and she and I have so much in common except for the fact that she is Japanese, dainty, petite, sweet, charming and demure. And now very rich.

This is my reply.

"I blame Marie Kondo for my daughter having to buy back her own painting in a Whakatane Op-Shop. I now recall giving an old suitcase full of picture-frames to charity after a de-cluttering frenzy in my home. One by one, I had held each frame close to my chest and asked, "Does this spark joy?"

The cheap and nasty red frame definitely did not spark joy so into the suitcase it got biffed but I totally forgot to first extract what it contained - a masterpiece of enormous artistic and sentimental significance.

Forgive me, daughter, for the emotional damage done. If it helps, your father is also unimpressed by my de-cluttering. He went to close the curtains one cold evening and they weren't there. I explained to him that those curtains no longer sparked joy and he just stared at me - confused. I have a gut-squirmy feeling that if he ever jumps on the de-cluttering band-wagon, I will be the first item to be pitch-forked upon it.

I am real happy, daughter, that the universe returned your child-hood masterpiece to you. Events often unfold as they should. Like a message in a bottle that gets found by the right person.

We had a couple stay here in this very house - he, a German man, had tossed a bottle from a ship years ago and it got found months later by a lovely English woman just strolling along the beach. The friendly note contained an address so she wrote to him and he wrote to her and she wrote to him...and they met..and got married!

And such is life!

Over and out!

PS Coss can't find his pyjamas.

Friday 8 May 2020

Chainsaw Cuts

I just loved lock-down during Alert Level 4. My bubble was pretty blissful really. No work. No pressure. No rush. No must be here and there. No ironing Coss's shirts because he works from home now and is wearing scruffy, slouchy, comfy clothes. No need to set the alarm-clock.

In fact, each morning I'd wonder if it was Monday, Saturday or Tues-whatever- you- like day?

But New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3 at the end of April and that meant back to the orchard for Bernadette. It was good to see my work-buddies again but we had to greet each-other from a respectable 2- metre distance. No hugs, slaps on the back or clip around the ears. Not even a hand-shake is permitted. Now, considering we are all great friends, this stand-offish politeness is abnormal. Weird even.

And then there was the shock to body, soul and mind, after weeks of exquisite relaxation, to be suddenly wielding a chainsaw and loppers, cutting and chopping out unwanted wood and replacing it with better canes for next season. And does this mean just reaching up and grabbing that replacement cane with one hand while texting a friend with the other? Oh no. We climb up a step-ladder and tug and fight to untangle the desired cane from the jungle over our heads, then wrestle it down and tape it to the leader wire.

It's at times like this I truly wonder, "Why, at age 62, am I dangling in the orchard canopy like a chimpanzee?" and, "What if I cut my own head off with this chainsaw?"

And then, I worry that there won't even be a funeral for me because of all the lock-down rules. Would the boss just chuck my corpse into one of the many rabbit-holes here on the orchard and my work-buddies go straight to the Smoko-room fridge and plunder my Tim-Tam cookies?

I digress. Getting back to all the chopping and cutting, I can honestly say that the result of our slog is satisfying. It's the buzz we all get when we take chaos and bring about order. In this case I know that a better kiwifruit crop will come because of the rubbish we cut out and the good wood we put into place.

Actually, many of us have discovered a similar process at work in ourselves during this whole Covid-19 pandemic. Lock-down descended as abruptly as a chainsaw on almost every aspect of our lives cutting out so much unwanted crap.

CHOP CHOP to hurry, hassle and haste, commuting and flying, buying and waste.

And what good did we tie more firmly in place?

Well, all sorts of things like that chat at the mailbox with a neighbour we seldom see. A new recipe tried out. A good book that got us thinking. Walks through crispy Autumn leaves. Appreciating our friends and family more. Letting go of petty grievances and shaking the cosmos flowers to collect seeds for next year.

Yes, I do know that Covid-19 has brought about blessings but has also been a cruel chainsaw to many people all over the world, wrecking their security and wounding them with anxiety, loneliness, unemployment and financial ruin.

My hope and prayer is that good will come out of bad for all of us, that we re-think our priorities and oh please, may our government choose wisdom over panic and long-term benefit for the planet and its people over short-term blunder.

Over and out to work!

Monday 4 May 2020

Pieces of Blue Sky

Apparently it is important to have structure in a Covid-19 lock-down day so we do not become lethargic slobs that just loaf around in pyjamas, doing nothing more between waking up and going to bed except add a few more pieces of blue sky or white polar-bear to a jigsaw puzzle. Or bake yet more chocolate chip cookies. Or think yet again about cycling around the block but take a nap instead.

And how exactly are we to structure and give purpose to each day? Well, we are urged by lifestyle gurus to make our bed as soon as we arise. We feel better having done that but, personally, I feel best if I pee before accomplishing any other task, (after this blog, not personal any more) so I do that and then wash my hands for as long as it takes to sing all of, "Pokarekare Ana."

Then, faithfully each day, I make our bed.

But, as the lock-down weeks dragged on, I felt I should challenge myself and up my game. So, now I make the bed while I am still in it and then squirm out the top. The result isn't perfect but does that really matter in the midst of a Covid-19 world-wide pandemic?

Coss doesn't appreciate my making the bed if he is still asleep in it. Upon waking he feels like a moth pinned to a museum wall. so tight have I tucked in the sheets and blankets.

Another of my lock-down hobbies is trying to locate my cup of tea. I have never drunk so many cups of tea in my life but I am easily distracted by a squashed raisin on the kitchen floor or a phone-call, picking up feijoas from under the hedge or collecting the mail.

Then do you think I can remember where I left my latest cup of tea?

I search, search, search the whole house. I lose my mind trying to find my tea. Eventually, of course, it is found somewhere obvious like in the laundry basket, on the mantle-piece or behind the macaroni.

In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko is recommending that his citizens drink vodka, go to saunas and return to work as the best way to deal with Covid-19.

I think abiding by the lock-down rules and keeping healthy is the more sensible way to go. We are so blessed in the Bay of Plenty. This lock-down may have deprived us of our social life and bags of flour in the supermarket but we have plenty of Vitamin C.

Incredible Hass avocados which I love most when smashed on Vogels toast with salt and pepper.  Sweet gold kiwifruit -all free rejects that never even got to the pack-house because they are too flat or hooked or blemished in some way. Then there are the above mentioned feijoas which drop when ripe from our hedge to the ground. We just cut them in half and scoop out the contents with a teaspoon. How do you describe the taste of a feijoa? You can't! So good you just have to try for yourself.

We have sun and fresh air. We can walk and cycle and cook. I've been trying out some vegetarian recipes and my lentil-patties were a roaring success in that Coss ate them. He never was impressed by anything chick-pea-ish that I produced in the past stating it was dry and unpalatable but he ate the lentil patties without a squawk. There is hope.

In fact, Coss said he would even consider being a vegan if he can sneak in just a few extras like schnitzel, chicken drum-sticks, salami on his pizza and sirloin steak.

This afternoon I sorted my orchard-gear - boots, loppers, secateurs, head-phones, leather-pouch, thermos-flask, cups, teabags, Tim Tams and then tonight I did what I haven't had to do in 5 weeks....

I set the alarm for work...