Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update 29 + Inspiration 2

I seem to be locked into a groundhog day - the fabulous movie where every day Bill Murray wakes up and hears the DJ say, "it's cold out there" - except for me "it's raining out there". I get up, light the fire, shave, have breakfast while watching Sky UK news, put on the wet weather gear and go out to feed the animals. I noticed on the news last night (yes the boycott ended with the arrival of Sky TV) there were over 200 slips in Auckland because of the rain - they've had half a metre of rain in the last three months! Woh - that's a lot of H2woe. Doesn't have the same ring though really - 2 hundred slips in Auckland New Zealand as apposed to 4 thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire. That's why Lennon was a genius I guess. On rain - apparently with global warming it means that we can expect a lot more rain now. I know you UK lot have had plenty and we've had three months of non-stop rain (some sunny patches but it's rained at some time every day). Looks like Ridley Scott had it spot on in the futuristic landscape of 'Bladerunner' with the perpetual rain, not to mention that biblical guy who got into a spot of shipbuilding.

We had two more lambs born yesterday in the teeth of a gail. Both black faces and well cute. The hugeist ewe that we thought must have triplets also gave birth - to one very large lamb. That brought the total to eight with more to come.

The mountain scenes are from last week - a heavy dumping of snow. And the buds of a week ago on the Rhodedendrum have begun to sprout but I notice the ones in New Plymouth and Waitara (on the coast as apposed to us higher ups) are well blooming.

Samantha returned home for a week so we're listening to a lot of reggae at the moment! Jacky, Samantha and I went up the mountain for a look at the snow and so we have some new pictures - Jade was sick so stayed in bed. As per time honoured tradition Samantha and I ganged up on Jacky with snow balls and then, again as per tradition, Jacky got us back by dislodging a three metre long piece of ice/snow and throwing it from a foot away at my head. All good fun!!

The olympics have finished and withdrawal now sets in. I read a letter in the Guardian about someone who refused to watch any of the sport because of the Chinese human rights record. Am I missing something here? What does marvelling at Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Valerie Villi, Chris Foy, the twins et al have to do with China's human rights record? I no way condone sending a guy to a labour camp without trial for a year for protesting about shoddy school buildings during the earthquake but how does not watching the olympics help him? Doesn't it actually draw attention to it and help prevent other such craziness? The letter writer deprived herself of some amazing human feats (stronger, higher etc) and probably wasn't an avid sports watcher anyway, otherwise how could you not watch? I can't help getting emotionally involved in the event. When I see our sports people getting gold and hearing our national anthem I get misty eyed ( Like Groucho - I'm a sentimental old fluff).

I also thought it was fantastic that: 1 Team Great Britain did so well - their best games for 100 years; 2 the USA didn't win everything as usual; and 3 we had our best games for a while. Everyone's a winner baby (except for the Cuban dolt who kicked a Tae Kwon Do ref). As for the closing ceremony (yes I watched that too) Jimmy Page and the bus were triffic but the spray painting and umbrellas weren't. Why o why reduce Brits and London to a stereotype of frumpy guys reading newspapers and carrying umbrellas. Not necessary. Stick with the decent version of 'Whole Lotta Love' I say. Either that or hire the Chinese to do the ceremonies and build the venues. I saw a news report on East London's Stratford Olympic preparations and a sinking feeling came over me - not a lot done and only four years to go! How long did Wembley take? Decades? Seemed like it. Oh well.

Currently grooving to...the reggae as I mentioned but in the car I have an old prog rock compilation from Classic Rock magazine ( favs Wolverine and Frost), the second Evanescence album and the Lost Prophets all on high rotate.

Inspiration number 2 - Graham Nugent Purdy and Dulcie Mary Purdy - my mum and dad! My brother Ross and I were/are very lucky. We grew up in a stable, loving, supportive, fun, disciplined family environment that gave us love, values, attitudes, support beyond question, happiness, fairness and backbone. Yes I know everyone says their mum/dad are the best but for us it's not a platitude or a cliche. It's the truth!

Unfortunately not all of you have met my mum and dad, and only Ross and I know what it was to live at 18 Korma Rd., then 4 Ramelton Rd. with them. Because of the way families were in the 60's we had the most contact with mum because as dad worked in Otahuhu he both left early and arrived late. It was mostly the little care network of mum and her mum that we saw more of/spent more time with. I have very vivid memories of growing up and they are mostly sunny, warm and satisfied. Dad (Graham) is now living in Orewa and as you all know celebrated his 80th birthday on the 26th July. Doubly and tragically unfortunate is that less of you knew my mother (Dulcie). She died in 1983 and so none of my children knew her. Apart from Jacky, I think only Greg and Mike will have clear memories of her. I'm sure Greg will remember the camel-dung-cookies that I had to share with my University friends!

So why inspiration? Well they were together until mum died and they loved each other (and that was obvious) and they were such different people with such different interests but it worked. This inspires me right there and I know I'm lucky. All around me I see students struggling to cope with horrendous family issues (sometimes amazingly no one wants the child) and Ross and I were safe from all that. So this is a tribute to our mum and dad. God bless them! And thanks.

Love and peace - W

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Update 28 - Inspiration (part 1)

I was watching the olympics and reflecting on the awesome Michael Phelps and I got to thinking about things that inspire me. I'm starting with the Buddha for no specific reason other than I was trying to find a eposter of one of my favourite passages/quotes, I couldn't find it, but I did find some classy sites devoted to Buddhism. That led me to a great series of pictures of the Buddha - one of which is sitting on the left in my 'inspiration' section.

The quote I'm referring to is:
As we think, so we become. The thought manifests as the word; the word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit; and habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its way with care, and let it spring from love. Born out of concern for all beings...The shadow follows the body and never leaves it. In the same way, as we think, so we become.
I love the passage because it builds on a number of central Buddhist beliefs. I started really reading about Buddhism about ten years ago as a help with my fear of flying (ie fear of dying). And it did! The book that kick started me is 'Buddhism plain and simple' by Steve Hagen and that's the source for the quotes and bits of wisdom that follow. It's one of my dumbo books as you all know (go back to an earlier post for details).

I'm going to draw some parallels with the mythology presented in Star Wars along the way here, starting with Yoda. Yes - I love Star Wars and it seems to me Yoda is a representative Buddha figure (I have three statues on a set of book shelves in my office - Buddha, Yoda, John Lennon as in Yellow Submarine). Yoda replicates the quote above when he tells Anakin in 'The Phantom Menace'-
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.
Apart from the structural resonance he's saying the same thing - as we think, so we become. If I apply this to me - I think I have a fear of flying (ie dying), that thought leads to anger, leads to hating flying, leads to suffering. With right thought I can conquer my fear/pain. That's how Hagen's book helped.

There is an old story about a man who came to see the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha was a great teacher. He told the Buddha that he was a farmer. "I like farming," he said, "but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and my crops fail. Last year we nearly starved. And sometimes it rains too much, so my yields aren't what I'd like them to be." The Buddha patiently listened to the man.

"I'm married too," said the man. "She's a good wife...I love her, in fact. But sometimes she nags me too much. And sometimes I get tired of her." The Buddha listened quietly.

"I have kids," said the man. "Good kids, too...but sometimes they don't show me enough respect. And sometimes..."

The man went on like this, laying out all his difficulties and worries. Finally he wound down and waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.

Instead the Buddha said, "I can't help you."

"What do you mean?" said the astonished man.

"Everybody's got problems," said the Buddha. "In fact, we've all got 83 problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them, maybe you can fix it - but if you do, another one will pop right into its place. For example you're going to lose your loved ones eventually. And you're going to die some day. Now there's a problem, and there's nothing you, or I, or anyone else can do about it."

The man became furious. "I thought you were a great teacher!" he shouted. "I thought you could help me! What good is your teaching then?"

The Buddha said, "Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth problem."

"The eighty-fourth problem," said the man. "what's the eighty-fourth problem?"

Said the Buddha, "You want to not have any problems."
When Yoda instructs/ teaches Luke in 'The Empire Strikes Back' he says:
Yoda: Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.
Luke: Vader... Is the dark side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
The Buddha said
“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”
In the first part of his speech he is articulating the same ideas as the first quote - As we think, so we become. In the second bit when Luke asks - how am I to know the good side from the bad? - there is a hint of the idea that there are no solid, unchanging "good" or "bad" absolutes. They are beliefs, judgments, ideas based on limited knowledge as well as on the inclinations of our minds. The situation we always live in is like the wise Chinese farmer whose horse ran off.

When his neighbour came to console him the farmer said, "Who knows what's good or bad?"

When the wise Chinese farmer's horse returned the next day with a herd of horses following him, the foolish neighbour came to congratulate him on his good fortune.

"Who knows what's good or bad?" said the farmer.

Then, when the farmer's son broke his leg trying to ride one of the new horses, the foolish neighbour came to console him again.

"Who knows what's good or bad?" said the farmer.

When the army passed through, conscripting men for war, they passed over the farmer's son because of his broken leg. When the foolish man came to congratulate the farmer that his son would be spared, again the farmer said, "Who knows what's good or bad?"...(and so on and so on).
Yoda's response to Luke - You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive - implies a zen attitude much like the wise Chinese farmer/ Buddha. The foolish neighbour is the active, the wise Chinese farmer is calm, at peace, passive. Buddha said
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
What Yoda advises Luke to do is 'unlearn what you have learned' - Buddhism points to attending to immediate experience, cultivating the mind, and really seeing the natural order of things, how things are interconnected, and how events unfold. Then you cease acting in defiance of reality. Yoda says exactly the same thing when he's talking to Luke in 'The Empire Strikes Back'
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
The passage that most helped me with my fear of flying centred on control and the maple leaf story - let me explain. Generally our desire, our actions, our words, and our thoughts are geared towards bringing about some particular end by exerting control. Then when these efforts at control inevitably fail, we suffer.
The buddha - dharma (the teaching of the awakened) doesn't ask us to give up control. Instead, it acknowledges that we never had it in the first place.
How liberating that statement was from the Hagen book when I was flying between Hamilton and Christchurch ten years ago. When asked about my fear I always indicated that I hated being a passenger, hated giving over control to the pilot. Hate leads to... So reading that statement was a huge moment of awakening for me and allowed me to fly to London and back (three times now!). When I realised I never had control to start with the desire to control naturally began to wane. The point is not to stop exerting control but to see things as they are. The suffering ceased!

The maple leaf section builds on this and builds on the Japanese zen poet Ryokan's poem
Maple leaf
Falling down
Showing front
Showing back
The action of the slowly drifting (natural, unwilled) maple leaf demonstrates right action. Our tendency is to work against this natural action and try to influence/control things so they go our way. The result of this is longing, craving, and pain. The realisation of this is utter release from suffering (duhkha pronounced doo-kar). Leda's recent experience is a case in point - hope you don't mind that I share it Led. She applied for a job, really wanted/craved it/didn't get it. Then she relaxed - went with the natural direction (a return to NZ) and the employer contacted her with the news that she now had the position. Easy huh!!

So that's the first of the inspiration posts. More next time!

Love and peace - W

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update 27

Greetings everyone/Kia ora tatou - highlights this week for those of you who read the first paragraph only - 1) Christine rang from England - yeh Christine - I love you and I love hearing your voice!!; 2) the Football started - yeh football - Rochdale off to a winning start (a draw and a win actually) and the Arsenal kicked off their new campaign with a win against West Brom. Unconvincing but a win nonetheless. 3) The All Blacks smashed the 'boks 19 nil - wow!! 4) kiwis won two gold medals at the olympics 5) I've been listening to some great music this week - I found a fantastic compilation of kiwi music 1970 to 1975 and the memories came flooding back and 6) spring is sprung (kinda).

First up - here's a picture of me getting my hair cut at Headquarters (in New Plymouth) by Jenna. Jenna has the huge honour of being trusted with the dynasty's hair, so that's not only me but Jacky, Jade, Samantha, and Michelle.

This comes to you courtesy of bluetooth technology and Jenna's insistence that I put her on my blog. Job done!

This week generally has been another hectic one - night meetings do me in, especially three in a week - cream crackered, Jacky had to have a cortisone injection in her shoulder (youch!), two more lambs were born, both rams - Jade did a great job saving one of them from the elements - yes it's been raining heavily still, and all the usual school discipline and management stuff including teaching my class - I have a Year 11 Unit Standard English class - not the most able English students but great fun and keen - only three girls which is s.o.p. Currently they are finishing off a unit on practical texts - recipes, newspaper stories etc. During the week I also signed up to Facebook - much to the amusement of the kids, well Keegan, Adam and Jade - Samantha lost her phone and therefore we had no contact with her for the week but she'll be amused no doubt. I'm not sure why they thought it was hilarious I had a Facebook site (link is opposite). It all started with getting Leda's photo which I found on her Facebook, then I was trying to establish contact with Noel Forth - a guy I'd written to and swapped Beatle records with many years ago way before Keegan arrived I think. When I googled Noel I got his Facebook and then had to join up to send him a message. Then the thing snowballed and a lot of former students and friends joined me. I rather naively didn't think these sites had a cool quotient but looks like they do and the younger set don't tend to use Facebook - wow! Txts Bebo and MSN are their networks. I did read in the Guardian (so it must be true) that Facebook is the fastest growing social network site or something like that. So anyway..

My two cents worth on the olympics - one world, one dream, one great viewing experience and a great time to be proudly Chinese (my version of Kennedy's 'I am a Berliner'). I'm not one for watching the opening ceremonies of events so I only caught bits of it - hugely impressive it was though - Jacky watched it all and was amazed and then indignant when she learned of the fudging of fireworks and the little girl who sang except she didn't. I'm not bothered actually - the whole event was put together by Zhang Yimou - the director of one of my favourite films 'House of Flying Daggers' so I wasn't expecting reality - it's the opening ceremony after all. The best comment I saw was in the (surprise surprise) Guardian:

The pyrotechnics were followed by a parade of athletes as all 204 nations waved their way around the stadium. Finally Chinese gymnast Li Ning was hoisted on to the roof to light an Olympic torch. At the closing ceremony the torch will be handed to London mayor Boris Johnson, who is perhaps even now ripping up plans for the morris dancing parade and thinking maybe he should buy some more balloons.

Personally I can't wait for 2012 and London. Bring it on!!

It was great to visit the Warehouse (chain of NZ department stores) and get that CD -called 'Under The Southern Moonlight - The kiwi rock scene 1970-1975'(UTSM). Boy oh boy - I didn't quite realise how strong each song was in terms of attached memory. It's the music of our youth that always has the greatest hold - for John Lennon no one ever bettered 'Whole Lotta Shaking Going On'. 1971 to 1976 are my secondary school years (yes - 6 of 'em thanks to a failed year at School C 1973) and you'll see on my whanau map that this post goes to some old school mates - all of whom love music and humour - why we gravitated towards each other in the first place. The aforementioned Noel is the same and if he was slightly younger and had been at Mount Albert Grammar with us (Greg, Pete, Mike) instead of our opposition (Auckland Grammar) we would've been mates a bit earlier. Roger Marbeck ditto. Rog is our age but not a grammar boy even tho his dad is a MAGS old boy. So for many of us 50somethings then it's the early 70's that resonates.

Actually I have Noel to thank for meeting Rog in the first place. Noel used to send me Aussie currency to buy Apple stuff for him from Marbecks which used to be the greatest music store in the universe and that lead to me meeting and working with Rog. To update Noel - Rog and Murray sold last year. Anyway...I digress (again)...

Here are some random memories derived from some key tracks on UTSM - Where to start? Okay Blerta's 'Dance all around the world'

- the NZ Loxene Golden Disc awards were a televised event that were subsequently put on record and 1971/1972 were stellar years. It was the pop idol of its day and along with 'New Faces' was the only avenue for new groups/singers/whathaveyou

( Space Waltz 'Out on the street; Split Ends '129' ) to be on TV so it was all we knew. I loved the eclectism of the shows and the records - Suzanne, the Rumour, Chapta, Lutha, the mighty Quincy Conserve etc etc were my first accessible musical moments really. I didn't know about Chicago or Blood Sweat and Tears when I listened to Quincy Conserve's brass heavy rock. I just knew they were great! The fact that others were New Zealanders from Ponsonby (Dragon) or were playing at our school ball (Th'Dudes) or were playing at the school during lunch (Tole Puddle) or were playing at the University (After Hours/Waves) made these sounds more meaningful/accessible during the 70s for us. Hearing the Blerta song again (I bought it on 45rpm at the time but haven't played it for years)instantly brought back memories of watching those shows.

My other memory of Split Ends, later to become Enz, was Mike Budd giving me a copy of the single when we lived in Asquith Ave (where Pete lived too) in Mount Albert. He was working at the Heards sweet factory where members of the Enz were also working and they gave him some copies for his mates.

Space Farm on this compilation as well. I remember taking this album round to Greg's place for him to listen to - maybe I even swapped it for some Apple singles Greg? BTW - Greg and his brother Michael and I went to lots of shows at places like His Majesties Theatre and heard heaps of NZ bands - the Enz, Citizen Band, Hello Sailor, Streettalk etc. Great gigs!

Headband are also there on UTSM - two quick memories - Led Zep raving about the album when they toured (1972?) and dad playing the track 'The Laws Must Change' incredibly loud to test some stereo equipment in the underhouse garade at 18 Korma Ave, Royal Oak, Auckland. Enuf - and I haven't even mentioned the two best tracks on UTSM - Tramline's ' Villards Song' and Murry Grindlay's Nova's Song'. Excellent excellent stuff.

Nature watch: This week's daffodil photos show that spring is slow in coming - still firmly wrapped up.

I took the photos of some buds and flowers in the garden and Bazil and Finn have finally been able to get out and about in between the showers this weekend. Saturday my boys football lost 3 - 1. I ref'd and in the first half we had hail and sleet! My face hurt.

See you next week - have a good one!!

Love and peace - W

Friday, August 8, 2008

Update 26

Hey everyone – a bit of a departure this post as I reflect on other people’s blogs in a rambling Robert Fulghum kind of way (link opposite is worth checking on Fulghum – one of my favourite writers, that's him on the left). Rambling because I want to try to work out/reflect on a few things for myself and it often takes a little time. This reflection was prompted by an off-the-cuff email comment I made to Leda (that's her on the right - helpful aren't I?) – when she sent me two of her friends blogs for me to have a look at. My comment back was that I couldn’t hear their voices, and I didn’t know them as people so it had a limited impact/appeal to me. But I’ve been reflecting on this, especially after I was shocked to see some red dots appearing on my clustr map from California and Europe! Hmmm…maybe my judgement to Leda was too hasty. Who I wonder would be interested in my blog who didn’t actually know me? Did they hear my voice? Did it matter if they didn’t? Does knowing or not knowing an artist (and hearing their voice) make me appreciate their art any differently? Not that I'm an artist yunnerstand. And what about these connections to other random people? Questions questions connections connections.

Okay – this is going to get a bit bumpy – feel free to forget reading the following rant and jump to Nature Watch and the pictures, I won’t be offended (Jacky and dad’ll hate this stuff). And there is poetry ahead!!!

Right – so if you’re still with me, hey ho – let’s go. The above series of thoughts/questions have been a bit of an old conundrum for me. I remember writing about these very things in an old journal I kept at university during the late 70’s, early 80’s. Those self-indulgent varsity years are making a comeback for me (and others). Anyone (me included) can start a blog now, post their thoughts in a self-indulgent way and…people read them (or not)!! Amazing.

But I digress…I used to think it (knowing or not knowing an artist) did to an extent make me appreciate their art differently, but now I’m not so sure. Many years ago I thought that if I could know more about the person behind the writing I could appreciate/understand it on deeper levels. This is the impulse that has fuelled the celebrity craze since Frank Sinatra made the girls go crazy. These days with the net, sky TV, celebrity crazy tabloids et al we can find out any and all details on any body in a second. But did me buying the Lennon outtake boxset add anything to my appreciation of his released songs?? Did it eck as like. And it's not just celebs - it's all of us. How did I get that picture of Leda? Easy - google led me to her facebook and the rest is a right click/save/cutnpaste. Less is more!

Let me expand on a frinstance – William Wordsworth’s poetry (yes that's a famous rendition of the great man). I used to think (when I was an English student at Auckland University) that if I could understand his background, and his philosophies I’d appreciate it more. After all he wrote the huge autobiographical poem ‘The Prelude’ to know and explain himself and his autobiography is where my teachers started. However when I taught the poem to an A level class in England they had no real desire to know Wordsworth. They wanted to understand the poem and pass their exams but they didn’t care about the person or his voice. Now I think that reading The Prelude doesn’t actually help me with appreciating Wordsworth. Actually that’s not quite right – I love parts of the Prelude and they’ve stayed with me, especially the boyhood/growing up sections in the Lake District but it’s the initial magic connection that is the key. For Wordsworth it was listening to the words as my lecturer (at varsity) read them to the class. Suddenly I got it – I could see the scenes and I could hear a voice behind the words and I could connect.

It was the first time I saw John Lennon with The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that was the trigger to everything else in music and a life long love affair with Lennon/Beatles. By the wonder of modern technology - here it is for you:

Everything I’ve since learned about him (and believe me I’ve read a lot!!) has not changed that key moment.

I did some writing about it in 1996 – and wadderya know - here that is too:

Warren Ono Purdy

can’t help it
my eyes are drawn towards you
every time

those legs – slightly apart
and the guitar
seems to sit uncomfortably high

the knees bend and pound

out the rhythm Johnny
snake oil
the real deal

even when paul and george
are in the shot
I look only at you

and sense myself
being pulled into the celluloid

the myopic stare
fringe down low and cocky but still
not very confident public face
of the icon
you have become

much much more than rhythm guitar
you are it
all silver and flesh
in the suit

tall and placed slightly apart
from the fab three
you had a mike to yourself
and you controlled my life
from that first 1964 meeting
on the ed sullivan shew

me on the floor with my mouth
wide open and my young knees
tucked up
like I sat and watched you last night
with the same awe and power
to capture all my senses

but it wasn’t so much the music as it
was the sight of you
and the stance you took

that sent me on this spiral which is now
getting on a bit

my children now watch you and ask me questions

not about you but more about my obsessions

you love him don’t you dad

Yeah Yeah Yeah


Just one of those random moments in life that turned into an epiphany. Why was I watching Ed Sullivan on a Sunday in 1964 age 7? Why is it that that one moment is seared into my conciousness? I can name for you how I was sitting, where the TV was, what the room looked like etc etc etc and it was 43 years ago!!!

So back to Wordsworth. Isn’t this exactly the same for him – isn’t the Prelude (and other poems), and especially Tintern Abbey, him writing about things that are seared into his conciousness. So it’s the experiences and preoccupations that make his poetry so vivid for me. And it’s his ability to recreate the vision and the epiphany that connect somehow with me.

Actually going to Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley (pictured) or walking across Westminster bridge is what helped me reconnect with the poems on a whole new level, just as going to Abbey Road or
251 Menlove Avenue in Liverpool (Lennon's boyhood home)with Christine and Fran reconnected me.

I didn’t really truly hear Wordsworth’s voice until I stood in the silence of Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley's beauty. The solitude is tangible even when you're surrounded by tourists. Then I reread the poem and this shared experience deepened my earlier connection.

Here's some lines from 'Lines...Tintern Abbey' to get you in the mood:

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye;
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration: -feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love.

The experience was now something I could/can really relate to (and reflect upon here some 18 months later sitting here on a sunny Saturday morning in Stratford, New Zealand - don't worry it rained later in the day). Here's a bit of Tintern Abbey for you (I've scoured youtube for this - there are some truely terrible amateur videos on there spoiled by noise or garish overlaid titles - this one is short and relatively noisefree and miraculously the power of the place shines):

So - back to the blogs of Leda's friends - it is this then - I lack the intimate connection that Leda has with them, I lack the knowledge, experience, or sharing the preoccupations of Leda’s friends that is a barrier for me when I see their blogs. The point of my blog is that it really is Wozza's place - you all know me in some form or other so you can hear me, see me, feel me (um...yeah..apart from those in America/Europe - still not sure about that). Make better sense?

The other prompt for this series of thoughts was a random decision I made a while back – to click the ‘next blog’ sign at the top of this page. I found myself in a strange land - looking through a seemingly (? I don’t know if they’re arranged in any kind of order or how they get there but they change regularly) random sampling of other people’s blogs (maybe that’s how mine was accessed or it was some random action or maybe by mistake?). I actually found this quite fun, way more fun that doing a search on blogger (I tried a search, typed in Beatles just to see what I would find but sadly I didn’t enjoy any of the blogs that the search revealed - that connection thing again). If you get some time try it (the ‘next blog’ click) – there are artists, blogs in different nationalities, blogs on all sorts of topics and in all sorts of styles with surprisingly few nutters present (the layouts too are fantastic – great to see what other people do and paradoxically - I don’t know any of them). The zinger here though was that I didn’t need to know the person to enjoy the blog. None of the ones I came across that were in English were personal to the degree mine is. My tagline above is – ‘a personal blog for family and friends’. Generally these taglines on Blogs are a true indication of theme/content.

Okay so what’s all the point of this? Well this random bumping into people (the internet’s version of body spam) reminded me of Walt Whitman’s poem that I used as inspiration for one of my own poems (called ‘divinist aromas’) many years ago. He (that's him on the left btw) is concerned with all of the people who’ve come before him, all the generations who’ll come after him and how he connects with all of those around him. He was ahead of his time!

The Walt Whitman poem was found in a random way when I picked up my copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’ and opened it at random for some inspiration (I’m big on random). Here’s a bit of what I found, if you want the whole thing go to the link (poetry search):

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
by Walt Whitman

Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you
are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home,
are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me,
and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

The video is on the cheesy side but has it's own charm and includes some of the next section of the poem.

I wrote a poem in 1991 which still seems relevant for me. It contains my thoughts about sending off letters (now posts via the blog) and the person/people (you) who read them. If you’ve stuck with me till now (in more ways than one) you may like to answer my question contained in the poem. Here tis:

From Me To You

I’ve been writing more letters to you.
Sending out little packages of myself
into the unknown.
Little abandoned love birds, with wings –
thrown out of the nest.

I’m waiting for replies.
I’ve postponed reality for a few more days
and I’ll live in the moment
of expectation and fantasy.
How do you feel about this –
this long distance dialogue
between the selves?

Camels in the desert go for days
without drinking.
To me, your letters are water,
my own elixir of life.
I can’t get enough
and I hate having to wait
for my dose of you.

Just before I get you back on track - Jade just asked me what I was doing. I told her I was sharing some poetry in my new post and so she asked me to include ‘her’ poem. ‘Her’ poem is one I wrote about her when she was two-ish and it’s pretty self-explanatory.
The picture shows that she has always been cute! It was taken by Jeanette actually and this plus one of Samantha (one day Samantha) appeared as pictures for viewers choice on (I think) Wheel of Fortune 14 years ago. Great photo Jyn!

Bun in a bacon shop

The pre-school daughter
taught me this one;

a game she first learnt
in the hurley burley
of kindergarten, I assume.

She makes me stand
in the middle of her room,
then grabs her teddy
to lead me to a seat.

I do as I’m directed,
holding teddy’s hand,
then sitting down, I’m
easily lead.

We laugh, the three of us,

me from a grown up confusion,
she from the pure joy of
seeing daddy joining in her game,
and teddy, yes the bear,
he laughs at my clumsy
grip on his paw.

I love this game, being,
she calls, a bun in a bacon shop.


And in other news - as I mentioned in my email - dad (the handsome little tyke pictured a couple of years ago) had his 80th birthday recently. This next bit's specially for him:

Nature watch: Welcome back! Apparently it’s spring! It's blimin' cold for spring!!

I've just harrowed the horse paddocks and my face is numb (beenie/gloves and 25 layers of clothes helped a tad). The daffodils are starting to open in a really tentative way. I don’t blame them – the ground must still be cold (and I currently have one because of the temperatures I’m sure). The sheep are also holding back with their lambs – we still only have three. The ducks and birds have returned to the lake and the trees around the house after the heavy rain abated from last weekend. The Pukekos have clearly been busy procreating during the winter – we counted 10 of them in Duckies’ paddock. I forgot to include a photo of Rambo in the last update. Rambo is our goose.

Currently grooving to Opeth's 'Damnation' album - a Scandinavian death metal outfit usually but Damnation sounds like the Moody Blues (no really) - I love that mellotron sound. It's probably their most accessible album - Blackwater Park is a tougher proposition and their more famous album (I still find it a bit hard to take the guttural vocals at times) and on the whole their best but Keegan put me onto the mellower 'Damnation' and it's great! Riverside remain my fav band in this genre (prog metal) though.

Okay kiddliwinks - that'll do it fer now - take care.

Love and peace - W