Tuesday, January 31, 2006

the Port Hills

Well, last night I finally went up the Summit Road. I didn't expect it to be amazing, because it wasn't one of those days where everything is... painted in neon. But I was surprised. Just the drive up was great, but what struck me the most was how when I stopped the engine and got out, everything was so quiet. It's hard to describe things that aren't there, like silence... but it was just such a welcome change, after all that chugging up the hill in third or even second gear in the tired old car. And it was lovely watching the sun gradually set. It started off with really delicate hues of amber and blue and gradually got more and more vivid, though the same colours. And if you looked to the east, you could see this huge cloud creeping in over Christchurch city on one side of the hill and Lyttleton Harbour on the other side, and seeping into the bays. It was kind of like seeing a massive tidal wave in slow motion. It was pretty depressing coming down from that; once you reached the Sign of the Takahe (the building above) you couldn't see the sky properly anymore and everything was cloudy/smoggy. It was even worse on the flat (Christchurch is completely flat except for the Port Hills to one side of it)--it was so cloudy and greyish that it felt like winter, except it was too hot, and the only hint of the sun setting was this dark orange circle vaguely showing itself through the clouds in the west.

I like that photo of the Sign of the Takahe; if you ignore the bus and the road signs, it makes me think of Macbeth's castle or something like that, all mysterious and dire with the mist around it.

Today I spent a full day babysitting the nephews; we went to the airport to look at planes and baggage conveyor belt thingys, and then went swimming at a big public pool that has a hydroslide. Someone stole my sandals. Grrr. But I can't help laughing, because they didn't steal my wallet, and the shoes were only $10. :D Ha, what fools. To choose my shoes when there are countless others lying around in an area of town where most people would spend about five times more on their shoes than me... at the very least.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Patty is right

Thanks so much for your comments on the Irishman Creek post, Patty. I went and looked at that entry, and I agree with you completely. Time machine is the perfect word for that type of photo. I think that's the power of the visual. It takes so many words to describe the smell, temperature, appearance, feel of a place, let alone the way you felt and the way the people around you felt, but one little picture brings back such vivid memories in one tiny flash. It doesn't even have to be a good photo. I've been quite annoyed sometimes because a photo I really liked has just been brushed over by others, but then you remember that they may not appreciate that expression on that person's face, or that camaraderie between those people, or that private joke. Which is a pity. I guess the most skillful photographers are the ones who can capture moments or expressions and make them seem like a memory to anyone who looks at the photo.

I think that's one of the reasons I'd really like to start collecting old black and white photos, of people. I like to look at pictures like that and imagine what they were thinking, and decide what sort of relationships they had with other people in the photos. Photography is one of the only ways normal people can live on after death, like that... you usually can't help but show your humanity in a photo. I think that's why some photos have become so iconic--they emphasise shared humanity.

Patty, thanks so much also for your comments on rats and passion. :) Sounds funny now, but I really appreciate that.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

my lovely stroll

This afternoon I decided to go for a walk. I was going to go for a big walk around some of the Summit Road, which is basically on the rim of the extinct volcano I mentioned the other day. You get a fantastic view of Lyttleton Harbour and I was all ready to go when I stepped outside and noticed how hot it is. There is absolutely no shelter from the sun up there. So, being sensible and a bit too lazy, I decided to walk along the river near where I used to live, instead. (There happens to be a very good cafe there as well!) It's really pretty along there, and it's almost all shady, so perfect on a day like this. And I took my digital camera and all inspired by Patty's gorgeous photos of baby deer, decided I was going to try and take wildlife photos as well. Until--as I skipped happily along the woodland track, admiring the little ducklings in the river and the chirruping of crickets and the birdsong floating from the trees--a huge rat suddenly pranced across the track ahead of me.

I am proud to say that I did not scream. However, it did take away any desire I had to walk along the track anymore. Luckily I'd already walked a fair way and taken a few photos to prove I'd been there, so I had no qualms going back to the car as quickly as possible.

Yuck! I can't help shuddering. I hate rats. I've never actually seen one in Christchurch before. The last time I saw a wild one was in Bangkok; a huge, black, filthy beast climing out of the gutter. Eugh.

Happily, on the way back, I admired some more ducklings, bought some lilies (there's always some sort of produce--usually berries or flowers--for sale along that road in summer), and stopped to watch a huge convoy of old cars driving past on their monthly club trip/parade/thing. I think they all drive from Halswell to the beach and have a big barbecue there. It makes me want to get a styly old car. I tried to take photos of them, but the digital camera didn't really behave--it always took too long to actually take the photo, and then even longer for the screen to readjust. I think I'd better take my normal film camera in future whenever I want to capture moving things.

I'm still going to go up on the Summit Road track. I just think that I'll do it in the evening one day. Maybe just before sunset.

Irishman Creek

It's funny how sometimes you come across a place, at a time, on a day, and it just happens to be the sort of perfection that looks as if it can only appear in a photo, and it would be hard to mess up any photo you tried to take of it. That's what it felt like when Eva and I drove past this, the little hut at the entrance of Irishman Creek Station. We had just been to Mount Cook, and the drive back was beautiful--it was late afternoon, with all that beautiful golden light and those long shadows. I love the vividness of this photo. It's one of my favourite photos ever, I think, because the vividness of the photo matches the vividness of the memories. We had Coldplay playing, and whenever I listen to that particular album now (A Rush of Blood to the Head), the image of driving back from Mount Cook, after a long and beautiful day, comes involuntarily to my head.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I give in

I feel I need to indulge my obsessive-compulsive nature. This will be by making LISTS. I am going to go away and write down 'top ten...' lists. I am going to name my potential children. I am going to make the perfect mix CD. How blissful it is to succumb. I might even allow myself to start collecting a new thing (in the past it's been stamps, packages, phone cards, the corny quote-for-the-day off raisin packets). I recently saw a lady on the Antiques Roadshow (now you really know how weird I am--it's one of my favourite shows) who had a collection of wedding photographs, and I loved the idea of collecting old photos. I am very tempted to do so.

And there is nothing wrong with loving the Antiques Roadshow. :) To tell the truth, it's not the antiques I watch it for, usually--it's the funny old British men who know so much about some obscure portion of history and get so excited over someone's dingy old clock or grimy teaspoon.

they have not died

Thanks for the good luck wishes, Patty--it has obviously worked because here I am five days later and the nephews are still alive. :) It's actually been quite fun, amazing to say. They have a pool at their house, which has been a complete blessing as some of the days have been stinking hot (although my hair is all gross and chlorine-y now). I've even enjoyed cooking the meals; though nerve-racking, it's been a completely new experience to just see what's in the fridge and make something with it. My mother was always super-organised (and I mean SUPER) and if I was cooking one night I'd always have to tell her what my plans with her at least a day in advance so we'd have all the right ingredients. So it's very novel to just hash something together out of odds-and-ends, especially if the boys actually like it!

I've also got to do a lot of fun things with them. The other day we went to see Nanny McPhee, with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth and the cool little boy from Love Actually, and it was FANTASTIC. A kids movie, obviously, but it was just so cool and clever and well done that I loved it. I would even go so far as to say it's one of the best roles I've seen Colin Firth in since Mr Darcy. I actually didn't really enjoy his portrayal of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones' Diary that much, and although I liked other roles like Jamie in Love Actually, this one was just a really good one for him. I might even buy the DVD when it comes out (a big deal for me).

Then today, we went to Quail Island for the day. Just over the hill from Christchurch is Lyttleton Harbour, which is actually the crater of an ancient and extinct volcano, and in the middle is this island which takes about three hours or so to walk around. We took the ferry from Lyttleton to the island and did a walk around about half of it, past the old leper colony buildings and graveyard (of about 100 years ago), and round to a ship's graveyard, where there are about eight skeletons of ships that have been abandoned near the beach--really quite cool. It was a lovely, sunny day and it was really fun, although the kids did fight a bit when they got tired. But I was wise, and brought marshmallows, and whenever they were being particularly painful I would pipe up with "When you get to the top of this hill you can both have two marshmallows each!" Then I sat on the beach reading Jane Austen literary criticism while the boys collected shells and found crabs, until the ferry came back to pick us up. We went back through the tunnel under the hill to Christchurch (always a bonus) and went for a long swim in their pool! Came home feeling ravenous. [The photos above are of Quail Island today.]

Monday, January 23, 2006


Today I am starting babysitting for the two nephews Sam and Alex. I am very worried, firstly that they won't do what I say (I'm the fun aunty), and secondly because I have had an awful premonition that I will be responsible for their deaths or grievous injury or something.

Okay, so I don't think I'll quite kill them both off. But it is kind of nerve-racking. I've been desperately praying that nothing bad will happen on my first day. Luckily, I'll only be looking after them for about an hour and a half today, but I have to cook dinner as well so it might be rather a mental hour and a half. I think it will be actually quite fun when I spend the whole day looking after them; we can go out and do some fun stuff. But in a way, a small period of time like today will be harder. :S

I feel the need to look at calm, peaceful photos like the one above and breathe slowly and deeply. In. Out. In. Out. [The photo above, having mentioned it, is of Lake Ohau, near Twizel, in the Mackenzie Country. Eva and I stumbled across it and it was so exciting because we've got this beautiful painting of it at home and I'd never seen the real thing before.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

why Jane Austen is a genius

I have lately been reading, in small doses, a book called A Fine Brush On Ivory, by Richard Jenkyns (Oxford University Press, 2004), which is a study on Jane Austen's writing. It got me thinking, quite a lot, on why, exactly, I think Jane Austen is so great, and what particular things I should try to learn from her.

So far, as I read through the book, I have concluded (I feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes saying things like this) that Jane Austen's gift is ordinariness and restraint. That doesn't sound quite like I mean it to. But what I admire about her writing is that she takes tiny, small situations with a limited amount of people and an almost non-existent amount of novel-type drama and looks at the drama, at the depth, at the comedy, in ordinary people. Charlotte Bronte couldn't see why Jane Austen caused so much fuss; she thought her books were empty of all proper novelish feelings and scenery and passion. But since my mother died, I have come to realise that when drama happens in real life, it's not generally marked with screams of anguish or wildly beating hearts or whatever it is often marked with in fiction. Real drama is often more subtle than that. A day before Mum died, I was sitting talking with my father (whose first wife, the mother of my siblings, died about 24 years ago) and one of my sisters, and we were listening to Christmas carols. As Away In A Manger played, my Dad suddenly said, "That song has extremely vivid memories for me." He explained that he remembered putting my sister Felicity, who was only two, to bed one night. While next door her mother was in her sickbed, dying, Dad and Felicity lay on the bed singing Away In A Manger.

For me, that story has so much power and poignancy and personality. It involves no hysterics, no wild emotions, no crushingly depressing dialogue. Yet it is more real than most things I've read or watched on TV on the subject of death; it is more dramatic than drama.

Richard Jenkyns writes, Jane Austen's is a chastened art. Her instinct to purify and concentrate tells her to keep the scenery to a minimum. ... It is significant, too, that there is even less overtly dramatic incident in her later novels than in her earlier work: she does not develop her range in these later books, not, as we might have expected, by taking obviously bigger themes, but through yet more intimacy and refinement. They become even more 'ordinary'. (page 22)

So, in four paragraphs, that is the main reason why I think Jane Austen is great. That is what I am trying to teach myself. Of course there are other things I think she does masterfully, better than anyone else, but if someone were to ask me one reason why I love her writing so much, that would be what I would say... maybe in a more concise version!

[Photo at the top: Lake Tekapo, in April 2005. On same road trip with Eva.]


I have been making a scrapbook of sorts of my mother. I went and copied about twenty photos, spanned throughout her life, and put them in a book with pretty coloured paper and all that stuff, alternated with the tributes from people at her funeral, or letters from people that knew her really well before I did, and so on. At the back I glued in all the cards I've been sent so far. It was one of those things that I get the idea for and in a rush of feverish action, I do it all in one day.

I'm finding it all so weird at the moment. I don't feel sad at all most of the time. I don't feel at all like I feel I should. Sometimes, I feel a slight twinge or two--like when my brother-in-law John, who is one of my favourite people, sent Dad and I a card, because he wasn't able to come from Australia to the funeral. It was just a really lovely card and for some reason I got a bit upset over that. And then another time, my friend Sarah, who is one of my very best friends, gave me a photo of me and her that she'd kind of stuck in a pretty card and written on the back, because she's leaving soon for two years, to go to Samoa and do her DTS (Discipleship Training School, with YWAM [Youth With A Mission]). That was really nice too and it almost made me cry but I can't really figure out why it's these isolated incidents. And there was one more time too, I got a card a couple of days after Mum died, which was from my old workmates at Spreydon Library, and I had no idea they even knew. I really think it will take me a long time to ... understand what's happened, and to understand what effect it's going to have on me, and what life's going to be like without Mum.

It's funny, when people treat me as if I'm some grieving, desolated mourner, I feel the most like I'm not. And I wish they'd stop it, yet I kind of appreciate the attention. :S

Well, anyway, today's photo is of the Alpine Memorial in Mount Cook National Park, when my friend Eva and I travelled there and did the Hooker Valley Track. Mount Cook itself (the biggest mountain in the southern hemisphere) was behind me as I took the photo, and I was looking back down that particular valley towards Lake Pukaki.

A girl has just started coming to my church who is doing her first year at uni next year, and doing exactly the same courses as I did, for English and History--and, we found out that both of us want to be authors! It's always really nice to meet someone else like that. It's funny when you do, you both take a little glance at each other and realise you're really quite similar.

Patty, thanks so much for putting me on your links. I would do the same but I can't really figure out exactly how to! There doesn't seem to be a way to make a "blogs I enjoy" list in my editing profile information. Any advice? Oh yeah, and five hours--yep, it's a long time, but it's definitely worth it. Colin Firth is Amazing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I thought today (sometimes I do think) that if someone were to ask me if I could discover any lost tomb, manuscript, skeleton, painting, whatever, whether mythical or real, I would discover a completed novel of Jane Austen's that was lost and never published. Sigh... dream on, I suppose.

Last night my sister and I organised all the days I'm going to babysit her two sons over the next month or so. It's quite exciting to be doing some proper work these holidays instead of just bumming around, although my excuse to not work was probably as good as they come. I think it could be quite fun, babysitting my nephews, if I make an effort to do fun stuff with them. They also have a pool at their house... velly nice in February, the hottest month of the year here, in the southern hemisphere where everything is upside down and backwards. (Or, as we see it, where everything is as it should be.)

This is a photo of an angel at a graveyard near my house. Taking photos of graveyard figures is one of my little interests. I think they're beautiful. I was inspired to write a few short stories because of an angel in another graveyard. One of them will published on the next issue (in February sometime) of the e-zine I contribute things to: Halfway Down The Stairs.

Patty, I think if you've never read any Jane Austen books before, don't go for Northanger Abbey first. I think it's one of the shortest, but Pride and Prejudice is probably the best one to start off with. Oh, and if you're going to see the new movie of Pride and Prejudice, make sure you also see the older BBC version (5 hours long, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle). The new movie's okay, but in my opinion it just doesn't measure up to the older one.

Right! I'm off to make chocolate-chip cookies! (Yummm...)

Monday, January 16, 2006

gravel faces & censuses

This is my brother-in-law John, skipping happily along a gravel face on the Otira Valley track, Arthur's Pass, NZ. I really like it just because I love gravel faces and walking along them (it's a bit of a thrill--they feel more vertical and unstable than they are), and because I think John's funny. :)

Thanks djohns and patty for checking out my blog, nice to meet both of you... Patty, right now I agree with you that I'd pick Jane Austen over U2 if I was stranded on a desert island. Theoretical quality aside, books would be more useful, in case I needed to light a fire, or send a message in a bottle, or something like that. Northanger Abbey is a good book. It's her first published novel, I think, or at least the one she wrote first, and at points it's kind of a parody of other novels. So not quite so serious as something like Mansfield Park or Persuasion (my personal favourite), but funny and readable and Nice.

I am considering applying for a job as a census collector from February to March. It seems like quite an amusing job to have but I can't figure out exactly why I should think that. I like censuses; the last time we had one here I was a lot younger and was really gutted because most of it was only for people aged 15 and above. I love filling out forms. It's a bit like my obsession with making lists, or perfect mix CDs.

Friday, January 13, 2006


As you may have noticed already, I love taking photos. And just before, I stumbled across some guy's blog where he's posted a whole heap of photos he's taken around Anchorage in Alaska, just on a normal point-and-shoot camera, and they're beautiful. So that inspired me to take more photos... and to post some of my photos on here! I won't do it all at once, but just randomly as I post every now and then. I think I've put some of then on before but I'll do it again just for the heck of it :)

This photo--the first of my new scheme--is of Lake Alexandrina, near Tekapo, in the Mackenzie Country, Canterbury, New Zealand. (Phew, long list of directions.) It's a beautiful spot, very peaceful and soothing to be around. There's not a whole lot to do there other than relax or go out in a boat, but I would recommend it to anyone going to that region. I think this photo is kind of the classic shot of Alexandrina.


This is a photo of my mother's grave as it was today (with the surname censored!). I went to visit for the first time since she was buried, which was exactly two weeks ago. Heck, I think I was there at the very time she would have been buried. I took some flowers I picked from our garden that I think she really would have liked (you can see them just to the left of the cross, in a jar), and a little metal dragon fly thing that bobs in the wind. I also took the little fake yellow roses in the pink paper. As much as I don't like fake flowers, I have to admit they last a whole lot more than real ones, in summer, and these ones didn't look too fake. The real ones I took were already wilting by the time I got there, which was kind of disappointing, but as you know, it's the gesture, I think.

It was nice, I sat beside the grave for a while. I didn't talk to her or anything because I know she's not there. I didn't even think about her that much. But it was really nice and peaceful. I think I'll try to go back every two weeks or something like that. The plot is still sandy, I don't know when they're going to put grass seeds in, I wonder if my dad and I have to take care of that? We haven't really thought about the headstone yet, except that we want it to be different than all the rest of the ones there. My aunty Joy who died two years ago has a beautiful headstone at the same graveyard, a piece of West Coast rock that my uncle fashioned into a grave stone himself. My dad's first wife is also buried there, two rows away from Mum, and my grandparents are there also. I never met them. But it's quite nice to see a few people's gravestones while you're there. I took a single flower to Joy, my grandparents and Jean's graves as well as the bunches on Mum's.

The funny thing about death is that although the afterlife is so illogical to some people, it really makes sense once it happens to someone you know so well. Death actually makes it easier for me to believe in God, in some ways. My mother is no longer within her body, I can see that easily. But there's no way I can believe that my mother's soul, the essence of her personality and spirit and ways has just disappeared. Although her soul may not be physical, there's substance to it, and that will last far longer than physical things that just turn into dust. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but God put something of himself into us--we're made in the image of him--and God can't just fade away.

That poem, Footprints in the Sand, where a man is walking down a beach and talking to God, and he asks God why, when he was going through the most difficult times of his life, there is only one set of footprints walking, not two, and God replies, "Those were the times I carried you"--as much as I get sick of that poem because people always quote it--
It's True.
The last few weeks I have felt abnormally at peace. Even more than I usually am, with nothing going wrong. Sometimes I have felt like I can't feel God around me, and I've wished he would be more tangible in my life, but all the same--I am sure of it, he has carried me.

Psalm 40vv1-3 (NLT):
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.

So I'm going to praise him, no matter how I feel about his current tangible presence, or what's happening to me, because he is always with me, he has walked in my shoes, he understands me more than anyone else ever could, and I love him.

I am happy that you can't prove what's happened in my life because of him. It could be just a fluke, I suppose. But I am happy that finally I'm coming to see that sometimes the step I take to believe, the risk I take, gives me something that is better than proof.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

she hath my heart in thrall

I just got a CD out of the library by the Corrs, a collection of Irish songs. One of my favourites is "My Lagan Love", and I love the words 'she hath my heart in thrall'. Why do we have to throw words like that out of the modern dictionary? Sighhh... instead we have stupid rap songs saying things like 'you're my boo' or 'i must stick wit u'. *grimace* I hate bad spelling and unpoetic words. I don't want to be snobbish, I really don't, but I can't see why people throw away words that actually sound good and replace them with some stupid morphed boring word.

I wish I lived in a book.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

recommended reading

Good books I have been reading this summer:
Persuasion, by Jane Austen
Zorro, by Isabel Allende
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
Lost In A Good Book, by Jasper Fforde
Jetlag Travel Guides: Molvania
Venetia, by Georgette Heyer
The Case For Faith, by Lee Strobel
A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby
The Ordinary Princess, by M. M. Kaye

There you have it. Some new ones for me, some well-loved. All enjoyed thoroughly. Some serious, some the opposite, but I would recommend all. I meant to read more for my Eighteenth Century Novel course this year but started Moll Flanders and got so bogged down in the first five pages that haven't picked it up again. What is even less tempting: Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment for my Nineteenth Century Russian Novel course. I used to want to read Anna Karenina lots, but then my sister told me what happens at the end by mistake and it completely drowned any urge I had originally.

I enrolled for varsity today. In my first semester I will be doing:
ENGL203 The Eighteenth Century Novel (off the top of my head, some of the books we'll be doing are Moll Flanders, Northanger Abbey, Lorna Doone...)
ENGL220 Creative Writing: Short Fiction (yay, got into this, a limited class of 24)
HIST274 The Soviet Experiment and its Aftermath
I wanted to do a Linguistics course in Syntax but didn't have enough space.
In my second semester, I will be doing:
HIST239 War and Society 1900-1945
RUSS215 The Nineteenth Century Russian Novel (Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, as before)
LING207 Phonetics and Phonology (yay!)
ENGL115 Childhood in Children's Literature (decided to do this, as last year it was a second year course and I was really looking forward to doing it, and then they changed it to a first year course, so hopefully I'll be able to manage a fourth paper)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


New Year's resolution: Purity.

I suppose most people would take that to mean sexual purity. Although that's part of it, I mean something larger than that. I think that at the moment my biggest problem, the thing that holds me back from God the most, is my mind. (And no, I don't mean I can't logically believe in God, as many would leap to assume.) My outward actions tend to be okay but my mind can be a cesspit at times and I want to stop thinking certain things about other people that are cruel or crass. I want to start focussing on good things. I don't want to be so sarcastic or cynical anymore. I want to act more, rather than mull things over.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

i am a couch potato

My father and my grandmother have both tried to get me to go to Le Bons Bay with them tomorrow. It's not going to happen. One, the drive over to Akaroa Harbour makes me queazy. Two, I have to take my sister and her husband to the airport. Three (the most important of all), I can't be bothered. I have come to the conclusion that I am a lazy bore when it comes to some things. To tell the absolute truth, I probably would go if siblings or friends were, but when there is probably only going to be people there who are fifty or over, it doesn't sound that tempting. Le Bons Bay is beautiful, and it's summer, and I love it, but... I am so lethargic at the moment. I feel bad, actually, because I spend a lot of time doing solitary things in my room, or elsewhere, and I hope Dad doesn't feel too lonely. But I can't help that; it's how I function. I am a lot younger than my sisters and brothers, I have become a solitary person by necessity, I have to entertain myself: reading, writing, cooking, playing on the computer, drinking coffee at a nice cafe, watching movies, going for occasional walks, playing or listening to music. If I were Dad, I'd go out for bike rides and walks and work in the garden. Ce n'est pas moi. My friends all think I'm really odd because I often enjoy going to movies by myself. They hate that, they feel friend-less. But I like it because I feel independent and I can enter my own moods/opinions/ideas after the movie and not have to enter into theirs. Basically, I am a very selfish person.

Plug time!! Go and visit the creating writing e-zine a few friends from a writing group and I have put together. It's called Halfway Down The Stairs, and features original fiction, poetry and non-fiction, publishing issues four times a year. Our last issue was Enchante, featuring re-written fairy/folk tales etc, and the new issue due out in March is Wanderlust.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

almost forgot... it's 2006!

There's something funny about a new year. Really, I know there's nothing to it. Big deal, a number has changed. But sometimes these things do feel like a new beginning in a sense. It's easier when you live in the southern hemisphere and each year brings a new stage of education -- I'll be doing second-year level courses this coming year at university. I guess it also helps, in my case, that with my mother's death, it really is the end of an era for me and the beginning of something new. I don't think I can understand at the moment that my mother's soul is no longer firmly ensconsed in her body, and there is no way I can imagine her in heaven. But I miss her a lot already. It seems weird living at home without her, just me and Dad. I've been looking at photos of her and reading people's cards and tributes to her and it all seems so surreal, as I said in my last post. The photo to the right of this is Mum, with one of my nieces. I think it's the last photo anyone ever took of her, and she wasn't very well at that stage, although it was a few weeks before she got really, really, really unwell.

I've never made a point of making new year resolutions; they seem as if they're made to be broken, and I'd usually just forget them. But I wonder if I should this year, as it really is a very significant new beginning for me. I don't want to just make them up, off the cuff, here and now because I don't think they'd be very significant in that case. I'll think about it, and if I alight on any good ones, I'll post them up on here. I guess the main thing that has been running through my brain the last few days is that I don't want to do anything my Mum would be ashamed of.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We-ell, it's been kind of a surreal week. My mother's funeral was on Friday the 30th (see photos above) and turned out really well. The Samoans at my church honoured Mum by putting a tapa cloth over the coffin to show their respect for her. One of the nicest things about the funeral as a whole was how at the gravesite, the kids (grandchildren, vague relatives, and other) let off helium balloons into the sky. It was a beautiful gesture. Apparently Mum had loved that at my aunty's funeral a couple of years ago. It was also just really good to see some sort of physical mirroring of what I think death must be like. It made it sink in a bit more, yet not in a bad, or gloomy, way.

Most of my sisters and brothers have gone back to the respective homes now, or on holiday, except for one sister, Felicity, and her husband, Mike, so I'm just having a relaxing time, reading books (in particular, Zorro by Isabel Allende, and Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde, and I will start Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe soon, in preparation for my eighteenth century novel course at university this year), watching movies (Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War, Runaway Jury, Whale Rider, Ocean's 11, etc...), going to cafes... I went to Akaroa yesterday with Felicity and Mike and his parents; it's a village quite near Christchurch which is a bit of a holiday destination, being by the sea in a beautiful harbour, having lots of cute wee shops, and milking the French history for all it's worth (on Rue Jolie, even the petrol station is called L'Essence-- puh-lease!). I guess soon I'll have to start sorting out my university details for this year in earnest. Sigh. I feel like being lazy at the moment.