Friday, January 31, 2014

They put raisins in the pork roast and butter on your bread... (Lasse Karlsson)

A student recently asked me what was my favourite film of all time and the answer is always easy: Pelle The Conqueror.

I first saw it with Sam and Stas Sivak in Nelson in the early 1990s.

I bought a VHS copy of the film a short time later and showed SWMBO and the weirdest thing happened. 

She loved it too.

Normally our tastes in movies are very different. If proof is required - Woody Allen has her running for the hills while I love his movies (Stardust Memories is my favourite but Bananas, Mighty Aphrodite, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan, and Annie Hall are all in my top movies of all time list).

Somehow we are united in our love of this long Swedish film with English subtitles set at the end of the 19th century. 

A brief run down from IMBD: A boat filled with Swedish emigrants comes to the Danish island of Bornholm. Among them are Lasse and his son Pelle who move to Denmark to find work. They find employment at a large farm, but are treated as the lowest form of life. Pelle starts to speak Danish but is still harassed as a foreigner. But none of them wants to give up their dream of finding a better life than the life they left in Sweden.

There are so many haunting images in the film. There is so much laughter, so much sadness and so much strength. 

I love great stories about relationships - especially fathers and sons, I love stories about rites of passage and I love films that are inspirational. 

Pelle The Conqueror is special.

It's my favourite film of all time. Nothing comes close.

Love and peace - Wozza

Friday, January 24, 2014

You find yourself just standing there (Neal Morse)

It was a busy old week just past. 

It had it all really: joy/sadness, lack of excitement/excitement, new/old, hot/cold, craziness/normality, visits/visiting, and all sorts of other yin/yangishness.

See if you can match the above to the following:

  • Ross and Lynda and the troops arrived for a look around Red Phoenix Farm.
  • Adam sent us a picture of snow at Ashleigh's place.
  • We shot over to New Plymouth to move Brain (sic), a.k.a. the minister of defence, into his new house.
  • I snatched a few precious minutes to zap into Vinyl Countdown on the way out of NP to buy Blackfield IV and a Beatles poster for my classroom.
  • SWMBO and I had to administer to a fly blown sheep and I had to bury a lamb that died of some mysterious bug.
  • The first day of the new school year happened on Friday.
  • SWMBO and I had to wrap up warm in New Plymouth during Brain's move.
  • We quickly stopped in to see Jacky/MaBelle's mum on the way out of NP.
  • We quickly met Jade in Palmerston North on our way home - she's got a new job in the Mall which takes her closer to JB HiFi to pick up my orders (last one was Big Big Train - great proggy rock stuff).
  • Otane was sweltering on our return on Thursday.
  • Samantha and Jesse sent us a fantastic thank you letter. Yes - letter. Awesome guys!
Just a regular old week upon reflection!

Sadly (that gives it away) I have to report that we also lost Waffles, our perfect little cat, during the week

He dropped off a present on Tuesday morning (a perfectly formed tiny little mouse at the back door) and then vanished. He's not returned for food or cuddles since, which is unheard of from Waffles.

We've searched everywhere, rung all the neighbours, looked around the roadsides, made sure he's not locked into any outbuildings, contacted the authorities - all to no avail so far. We haven't given up but it's a case of expect the worst/hope for the best at this stage.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, January 20, 2014

Earthly pleasure ring out from the rigors of this road (Villagers)

Domestic bliss seems to have been a recurring theme during these holidays.

I've been reading my usual eclectic selection and domestic bliss (or lack of it) has definitely featured in them.

Graham Nash - Wild Tales (Mr 'two cats in the yard' himself). I enjoyed it by and large - he's honest and it presented a more balanced portrait of his relationships with his parents and musical buddies Allan Clarke, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, and Neil Young. It ultimately changed my impression of him. I haven't liked his smug, earnest 'two cats' persona previously but I found myself liking him more while reading his autobiography.

Melina Marchetta - Looking For Alibrandi. We have a set of this at school so I read it to see if I could use it or not with junior classes. The answer was 'sure' as it deals well with family dynamics in particular and a mother/daughter relationship in particular.

Todd Strasser (under the pen name Morton Rhue) - The Wave. I was deciding whether to teach this at Year 11 again so I reread it quickly. Didn't seem as substantial as the last I read it about 20 years ago so I may pass on this one.

Markus Zusak - The Book Thief. Again we have a class set and I was looking for a good text to use for Year 13s - this one had me from page 1 - a narration by Death tends to get my attention! It's a brilliantly written story of young Liesel as she tries to survive relocation to a new family in a German suburb during World War 2. There is a kind of domestic bliss amid the death and terror that is inspirational and very emotional. I'll definitely use it at school if I don't use One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Lloyd Jones - Mr Pip. Yep - you've got the idea now - another case of a class set that I may use - I'm currently reading this and so far it's a bit like The Book Thief with a 13 year old protagonist and dislocated family bliss in a foreign land - Bougainville this time..

SWMBO and I love watching Grand Designs on the Living channel (creates a nice balance from Death - The Book Thief's narrator). 

The hooks for us being the human drama involved in seeing a design vision through to its conclusion, the decisions people make in their designs and presenter Kevin McCloud who is acerbic at times and critical when he needs to be but he's also quick to spot moments of success, joy, and inspiration.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I had four construction targets for these holidays - tractor shed, chook house, bird aviary and double carport. Only two have been ticked off the list so far.

I blame Grand Designs.

The bird aviary started out as a simple rectangular design but SWMBO wanted something more stylish. Hmmm, I thought (to my...sorry PJ) - that's going to cause some headaches.

The budget was set at $350. I needed to buy some hardware (nails, latches, hinges etc), some construction board to provide shelter and the bird netting. Other than that I could use existing wood from around Red Phoenix Farm and from Sallie's place and I found a large piece of flat tin in our Three Bay Barn that I could use for the roof. 

In true Grand Design spirit the plans and vision were pretty much in our heads.

SWMBO's design brief for the aviary (after we'd scouted out suitable locations and settled on the area where the clothes line was located) were modest and not challenging at all. They included the need to fit in with existing plants and vegetable gardens; be as transparent as possible so that we could see the herb garden and hedges behind it; and not be boringly functional. Oh - and we also had to incorporate a lovely little birdbath sculpture thing that SWMBO got for a much reduced price from Mitre 10 in Waipukurau.

The other complicating factor was that we needed two distinct sections to the aviary. Lovebirds are my favourite, Canaries are SWMBO's and the two species don't coexist - indeed Lovebirds are extremely intolerant creatures and they kill anything not Lovebirdy.

We love a challenge! Eventually we came up with a double triangular type of arrangement with indoor and outdoor living for the birds.  

We went to work.

Know one thing: I'm a grumpy bum when I'm in building mode. I think a lot, process things in my head and don't explain myself clearly to co workers - i.e. SWMBO, because I know what I'm thinking. This can create a bit of tension - especially around lunch time - Purdys are bears when we're hungry!! It's the way we roll.

First up was relocating the clothes line behind the house. Easy huh? The clothes line was, of course, cemented into a block of concrete roughly the size of Texas. I toiled in the blazing sun for a morning and managed to extract it using a steel bar and move the concrete slab with my sack barrow to the new site. 

Phase two was digging a new hole for the concrete slab. Easy huh? The ground I was attempting to dig into, after the false security of three inches of topsoil, was as hard as, well, concrete really. The sun continued to boil and I continued to deplete whatever liquid makes up my internal combustion but eventually the job was done.

Next - the construction of the aviary.

Generally SWMBO and I are on the same page and you'll be relieved to know that we are not only still happily married but we also ended up with a cool double sided aviary!!

Phase three - we needed some perches and places for the birds to explore so I cut down a large but dying tree in one of the paddocks. It had plenty of gnarly branches to chop up and I needed an excuse to use my new chainsaw.

Phase four was buying some birds and so...introducing Lovebirds Squawk (Jade's suggestion for the female), Dave Dee and the Canaries Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.

I love it when a plan comes together. 

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daydream, I fell asleep amid the flowers for a couple of hours on a beautiful day (Gunter Kallman Choir)

Before new year's day we were visited by a posse of O'Neills (a.k.a. the outlaws). 

Mmm hmmm, yes - this forms part of my ongoing catch up - brought about by my holiday building projects - a tractor shed and bird aviaries but more on that later. They have captured my time, along with reading The Book Thief. It left me an emotional mess - what a book. And again, yes, during the final chapters I cried. How could you not? That's a powerful book huh?

Anyway, the O'Neills - sister-in-law Michelle (a.k.a. Ma Belle) is responsible as she married an O'Neill and Gavin has brothers who include this one - Paul and his wife Jacobi. We had a great visit and a full house (which pointed out once and for all our lack of furniture - we really are geared up for a couple these days). 

Max susses out sundry O'Neills - Paul, Ma Belle, Gavin
SWMBO, Jacobi, and Ma Belle caught again
A tour of Red Phoenix Farm.
Caption competition time or too easy? 

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

And so this is Christmas (John and Yoko)

Yes I know - it's bin and dun but I'm a little backed up with posts and photos. Please forgive me.

This year we were at home for the first time in a while (last year it was China's winter wonderland remember) and so were Adam and Ashleigh (from Japan) and Jade (Palmerston North).

Time for a Nu Zild Purdy Christmas - that means trifle and more trifle!

Spot the Dookie


Shock horror - Adam goes for the trifle

Love and Peace - Wozza

Monday, January 6, 2014

You know I love you so, baby please don't go (Lightnin' Hopkins)

You know I love our family heirloom.

As an heirloom it can be traced back, at the very least, to my great grandfather, William Nugent Purdy (notice how my initials and his are the same, I love that). Like his ancestors and his sons he was a master plasterer.

The heirloom is a concrete mixer and it still makes concrete like a dream.

It's been residing in Taupo for some years - it was used by Ross at his Mt Roskill house and in Taupo by dad before being stored at Ross' new Taupo place.

Many people have borrowed and used it over the years and it's gone through a number of parts and motors but it still makes the same unmistakable wonderful rumble.
Me and my grandad (aka
Deedoo)  in the back-
ground - I'm showing him
how it's done!

I must have cement/concrete/plaster in my veins. One of my early photos shows me working with Deedoo to build our first house (Korma Ave in Royal Oak) - I was 2. 

The family story goes that I would take my little wheelbarrow up to the mixer and say, "More kroncrete Deedoo".

When I was 15 I mixed the mortar for Deedoo who was helping with the brick work on our second home at Ramelton Road in Mt Roskill.

40 years later here I am mixing more concrete to provide solid footings for a tractor shed.

Man I love that concrete mixer!

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wild horses couldn't drag me away (The Rolling Stones)

And so it's January. Happy new year y'all.

I've flipped the desk calendar back. Yes you read that right. I have a calendar from 2004 that I use every year. Each month of that year had a fantastic (and appropriate) quote that I need to be reminded of every year. 

January - Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals - Sydney Smith.

Here are the photographic reproductions that have piled up over the last three weeks.
Randy, SWMBO and Pat

Wozza - shotgun
SWMBO, Wozza and Pat at their Ferntower down under.
Jade and Shimara receive wisdom in Mabelle's kitchen
Christmas dinner at Belle and Gav's with the out-laws
SWMBO and I embrace and recommend the two potato diet

Next edition - the family heirloom!!

Love and peace - Wozza

Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down (Crosby Stills Nash)

Well - I've just done my 4th 40 minute workout since the end of December, showered and made a cuppa. 

It's time.

The Christmas period is done and in the books. 

SWMBO and I went to New Plymouth when school finished for the year and had a merry ole time celebrating an early Christmas dinner with the in-laws and visiting friends Pat and Randy (more on these things soon).

We had only been home a few days after that and were busy planning for Jade/Adam and Ashleigh's Christmas day visit when I learnt of the sudden death of one of my Year 12 students. It was like the world held its breath for a few seconds and time was suspended.

In thirty years of teaching I have known two students who have died while they were students at the school I was teaching at. That's two too many.

For the next two weeks I found myself waking at odd hours of the night with an active brain and seeing her face as she handed me work on the last day of term.

I've known my share of death - all four grandparents (although I never met one of them), all my uncles and both parents - but it blindsided me. 

It was a relief that Adam and Ashleigh visited us for Christmas and joined Jade at the Christmas feast; normal in a strange sort of way. We haven't seen Adam and Ashleigh for a year (they visited us in China). They return to Japan soon. We had a phone call from Samantha (from Scotland) and Keegan (from Auckland). It was good to touch base with all the sprogs.

We have continued to be visited by a number of the whanau around new year which has been cool - more on that soon too. Sadly we weren't around when Steph and Dunc treked north (giz us a heads up next time guys).

Love and peace - Wozza