Away to the beach.

I’ve just returned from a few days down at the family bach, which we’ve owned for 50 years. My Dad was a policeman, so I grew up in a never ending array of police houses, and this bach was bought when I was young. At the time I felt, very profoundly, the fact that we actually owned the land. The first thing I did was plant some peas in a small row in the sandy soil. It was a simple kitset dwelling that Dad had put on concrete blocks to make a two-storey house. For a long time we had a long-drop toilet in the back yard, and water that we pumped up from a bore in the ground. Back then (1983), I sketched this in my diary :

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Nothing much has changed, except my dour expression is much lighter these days, and the prickly pear cactus MUCH higher. It is higher than the roof and has twisted past it to reach for the sky.

Still, I go down there to do much the same things as I did as a teen. Reading, lying around, and now, cycling down to the choice of cafes for a coffee, before throwing myself into the surf to cool off. It was particularly nostalgic this time, because in the space since the last trip (in January), Mum has died, and this bach will be sold as part of the estate. So after 50 years, I’m going to have to find somewhere else to base myself from, in order to walk the beach and ruminate on life. Here are a selection of photos over the years doing just that.

I’m not sure what it is about wind, surf, the stretch of watery horizon touching the huge arc of the sky, but it draws me out of myself, and lifts my vision from the immediate and into the future and away. When I lived for some years in Georgia, USA, it took 8 hours driving to reach the sea, and I didn’t do it for three years. When eventually I got there, I remember throwing myself onto the sand with my kiwi friend, and gulping the fragrance of the ocean in. It was amazing how I had missed it. Here in New Zealand, you can’t be more than two hours from the sea anywhere – usually much less.

I’m going to hope there’s another trip to the bach yet. Legal wheels turn slowly, and I can’t bear to think that this old weathered bach has seen my feet tromp up the stairs for the last time. Watch this blog.

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Long Easter Break at last!

We in New Zealand get a good long break at Easter – well, if you work for the University or Public Service – so from Thursday night through to Wednesday morning, I can do my own thing, and I’m rushing around doing just that. Fortunately the wild windy storm that has battered the country has moved on, and after a nice sleep in this morning, I woke to a clear day along with my hot cross buns and coffee.

I took these out to the front porch to consume, and watched as people walked by with their dogs or just briskly enjoying some exercise. SO MUCH for my intention to read the book that I had in front of me.

So I took it all back inside, and pulled on my walking sandals, took my iphone, and set off at a brisk rate toward the foreshore.

When I reached the wetlands I saw the bi-annual Sculpture Trail was open, and so I paid my money at the caravan, and set off around the moist paths of the trail, with a cool breeze and potential surprises around each corner. I was not disappointed.

It was a great way to reflect on what is always a reflective day for me – Good Friday. I had already stopped for a moment before I actually got out of bed, to consider the meaning behind the day, and feel a deep gratitude for the love that surrounds me. But on this walk it was a joy to see how others express their view of the world, in a setting that cannot be beaten.

I love the interplay of light and water on glass, crystal and resin, and a number of pieces showed that off well:

and after a stimulating wander in and out between the ponds and richly green foliage, I resumed my walk home. Revived.

I wish you all a reflective Good Friday, and a joyous Easter.

 

Whip-fast Weekends

Now that I’m working a temp job full-time, I’m beginning to have a profound appreciation for leisure time, and particularly weekends. It has been SO LONG since I’ve worked a steady 8 hour job for five days in a row, (plus the hour traveling time,) that I have forgotten how little of my own ‘stuff’ I get done when I’m doing this. Now, please remember, this is NOT a complaint. It seems to be the space I’m occupying right now.

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Above: The campus at North Shore Campus, AUT University, where I am currently working. It’s not too bad. This is the path to the bus station.

A simple equation: to have money to live on, I need to work a mundane job for a while. Then I will be back to my lifestyle, which doesn’t earn much, but is much more fun.

My creative juices BURST with ideas most days and find outlet in many forms, most of which don’t bring a lot of money in. When I’m working my data-pushing around keyboard tapping admin job, the only satisfaction is knowing that hard-won savings aren’t being encroached on for food or rent. It’s a difficult balance. During this hiatus of ‘work’ I rise at 5.50 and am driving into a slow steady trail of rush-hour traffic for 30 mins to reach my job. After eight hours there, I join same traffic to return, and by the time I’ve had a walk, and dinner, I’m pretty much done. NOTHING creative happens except a slow descent into bed.

So I’m now looking forward to the end of the tunnel in three weeks – when I’m back in studio planning how to increase the workflow there, so that I can work for myself, and in something much more suited to my skills and personality.

The weekends are crammed with a dual goal: get everything I couldn’t get done during the week accomplished, and truly relax for the first time in five days. Fortunately for us, we have two days to do that in, and so Saturday is the busy one. (I actually almost reached my 10k steps goal yesterday) Today, when I look at my fitbit, I see I’ve walked just a little over 2,000 steps. SHOCK.

I sure would like to stumble upon a range of creative outlets that earn my keep –a combination of online products and maybe some ongoing writing, and graphic work. Tucked into my long-term goals is more travel – and possibly more travel journaling.

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Above: Not sure a bad view from near my office on the first floor. That’s Rangitoto volcano in Auckland harbour in the distance.

Meanwhile, it’s Sunday night, and after a brief stint of TV watching (Night Manager!) I’ll be hitting the hay, ready for an early morning rise tomorrow. And so the wheels turn around. If you’ve been wondering where I am – this blog is the why.

My Daily Bread

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This is me last week, using a little known skill of flipping eggs, onions and bacon in order to churn out hundreds of burgers for the School of Sport and Recreation at AUT. All part of the Temp Job, that sees me hunched in front of computer in my own office, attempting to grasp data spreadsheets and make sense of them.

Now I don’t mind hard work, and I sure don’t mind being paid for it. I’m as grateful as anyone who hasn’t had regular income for months, to finally get some. But since November I’ve kind of been hopeful of my old job back – it was a part-time position doing mainly graphic design, and came with the happy perks of being a staff member at a University sometimes gets. And I like to think I added some personality to the role. I was interviewed for it last week, and I thought it went well, but to my great disappointment this morning I found out that ‘we were surprised by the quality of the applicants’ and I missed out. I guess that’s meant to make me feel I was somehow not quite as good quality.

I’m going to try very hard not to believe that.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is: I DO have a lot on my side. I am mature, self-motivated, creative, friendly, adaptable, and willing – and yes, I put all those qualities ahead of these others: I can do graphics, cartoons, illustration and design. Sadly for those of us who are reaching ‘a certain age’ it is more and more common to find that younger, more-skilled-in-recent-software, ambitious, and cheaper-to-employ beat us at the gun when it comes to interviews. Before you think I’m going to take it sitting down and continue bemoaning my situation, I’m going to put you straight.

There simply must be something better out there for me to do.

I have never ever looked back on my life and regretted that I made the career choice I did. Usually what happens is that it forces me to adjust my perspective, try out new ideas, open doors I didn’t see, reassess what I value, begin reinventing my occupation. So it’s a good thing really, that I didn’t get the job.

I’m putting this out there, because I just know that come a few months, I will want to come back and read this again. The brave, stepping out in faith into the unknown, is usually the better choice – or has been – for me.

The shock of full-time work

The reason I have not been active of late, is down to the shock to my system of a ‘full-time’ job. Yes, the temp job that starts at 8am, causing me to jolt out of bed at 6am, bleary-eyed and groping for the shower. By the time I have sat mind-numbingly staring at the screen all day, helping with collation of student enrolments and other numerical data, I come home glassy-eyed.

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Now, I know all of you who have been working full-time for the last year or so will struggle to find any sympathy, but the fact of the matter is, I HAVE been working all that time too: On my FUN projects. Writing my book, going to Scotland, doing memes, setting up a blog. Yadda yadda yadda. I would like to reserve some time to continuing to do JUST THAT, and so this temp job is a way to bolster the bank account and free me to find the job of my dreams.

Okay – let’s discuss ‘the job of my dreams’. I’m going for an interview tomorrow for the one I really want. It’s at the AUT University in the Library, and is a 3-day-a-week job, freeing the rest of my time up for the other things I love to do. Here’s hoping!! Think of me at around 11am NZ time will you?

Gotta go – got to get my portfolio ready. Then go to bed. Until later. I WILL report back if I am successful – that’s a promise.