Thoughts of Grace

I walked down Queen Street, in central Auckland, today and heard a busker singing this song as I walked past people lighting candles to go with the tributes left for Grace Millane.

I don’t often blog about current events.  In the 18 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve probably blogged about national or global events ten or so times where the news has not directly impacted me.  It’s not something that I do.  I’m not interested in current affairs or politics.  But every now and then, I am touched, saddened, heartened or angered by such things.  I am emotionally affected, and therefore it seems appropriate to share that.

What makes Grace’s story so different from others?  Others have died.  Others have been murdered.  People as young or younger.  People with as much potential or more.  The truth is, I don’t know what makes Grace’s story different.  Only that it is.

My colleagues at work have discussed Grace.  Perhaps that’s because we work literally next door to the hotel in which she was murdered.  Perhaps it is because she is being discussed in offices around the country.  I have overheard people talking about her on the train.  And she has been discussed at home.

Every day as I walk past the hotel on my way to work, I see the tributes that people have left for Grace.  Flowers, gifts, etc.  From people who didn’t know Grace.  From people who never met Grace and never will.  People are grieving for someone they have never met.

I haven’t been following anything on social media, but I did notice there were a few people climbing on their soap boxes.  Saying that those who condemned Grace for travelling alone were perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. That any woman should be able to travel alone and be safe.  I agree.  I agree that any woman travelling alone should be safe.  But it is not the way it is.  I am reminded of the John Lennon song, Imagine.  There are so many dreams and wishes we might have for society, that every person should live in peace and never go without food, clean water, shelter and love.  But that’s not the way it is either.  Does that mean we don’t want it?  No, we do want it.  Does that mean we do nothing for those who are suffering?  Turn a blind eye?  No, it does not.  But it also does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the risks that are out there in the world.

I have been saddened by Grace’s death, and she has been much on my thoughts this week.  I don’t think she is a lesson to be learned.  But it is a tragedy.  As a mother of a daughter, I am very saddened by Grace’s death.  And I felt compelled to write something, to commemorate her.

Armageddon New Zealand 2018

I had a good weekend, all things considered.  My husband was meeting up with a bunch of his imaginary friends streamer mates on Saturday night.  One friend came to stay at our house on Friday night and we made vodka lemon lime and bitters (it’s a Kiwi/Aussie thing, Google it) and got to know each other.  Then Saturday they went to Armageddon and I worked on my family recipe book.  Saturday night we went out to meet up with the rest of their imaginary friends streamer mates. It was a bit daunting, because I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was really nice.  I played an atrocious game of pool with my husband, ate some cake that was waaaay too sweet, and met some new people who might become new friends.  We’re going to try and catch up with some for drinks and stuff one weekend.

My daughter was very kindly given two double passes to Armageddon (thanks Aero!), so on Sunday I took her and two of her friends to get their geek on.

Some of the costumes were insane! I did myself proud and asked a bunch of people to let me photograph them. It’s easier than regular street photography, because they’ve put so much effort into their outfits they’re happy to pose for photos, but I still felt proud of myself for going up to strangers and saying ‘Can I take your photo?’

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There was an author selling signed copies of his books and it was a fantasy series, so I bought the first one for my son and had it signed for him. Another Christmas present sorted. *Bigsmile*

My daughter and her friends really wanted to see the cast from RWBY, an anime series she loves. I say ‘cast’, but it’s animated, so really they’re the voice actors. She knew them all by name though. The line was insane, all the way down the corridor. We joined the queue, but it was moving ridiculously slowly. Instead of quickly signing things for each person, they were having full on conversations with each person. I think we moved up the queue at the rate of about one person per five minutes. Seriously. It was beyond ridiculous. About an hour later we were about 20 people from the front of the queue when a staff member came around and said ‘In ten minutes they’re going to take a break and come back at 3:30pm.’ Wait, that’s an hour an a half away! We’ve been waiting in line for ages and we’re so close! The line moved a little bit quicker then, just enough to give us some hope, then with about 10 people in front of us, when we were close enough to see them, the actors went for their break. Gutted. They were replaced by another group, but only one of the second group was from RWYBY and it wasn’t one that my daughter was especially interested in. Some people left and the others just went up and got autographs from the second group. We told the staff that we were waiting for the other RWBY cast to come back, but didn’t want to start all the way back at the end of the line when they came back, so after much humming and haa-ing, they found a spot for us to wait off to the side. For an HOUR and a HALF. Ugh. My back was killing me. There was a lull in the line and my daughter snuck in and got an autograph from the one RWBY guy in that group. We’d been told that autographs and photos cost money, but thankfully they were giving away small 4×6 prints with free autographs. Then, finally, the other lot came back, and we were first in line for them. All three girls got autographs, and I got some for one of their friends who hadn’t been able to come with us, so the girls were all pretty happy. But tired. So we headed home then.

When I got home, and finally sat down and rested, I remembered about the Pokemon event I was supposed to be doing. Ugh. I ended up driving just up the road to a pokestop and putting a lure on. A lure normally lasts 30 minutes but for the event it lasted 3 hours, so that was sweet. Then I put incense on and just caught shitloads of pokemon. lol

Then tonight, we went to the neighbours for a BBQ. We ended up playing a game called ‘Five Second Rule’ where you have to name 3 things in five seconds. It was hilarious. I think the most ridiculous one was when I had to ‘name three words that end in at’ and all I could name was ‘proletariat’. *Laugh* The neighbour was like ‘What about cat, that, hat?’ No, I had to name proletariat. *Rolling* It was so ridiculous, it had us all in hysterics. There were other funny ones too. ‘Name three reasons you’d call in sick.’ One of their boys said ‘You chopped your arm off, you killed someone’ and something else. And there were hilariously rude ones too. And a whole conversation about wanking that was quite illuminating. *Laugh* The conversation always ends up in the gutter when we’re with those neighbours. It’s always hilarious. So much fun. A good night.

Auckland Anniversary Day

As promised, photos from the Auckland Anniversary Day celebrations, which was Monday 29 January.

Auckland Anniversary Day is a public holiday in Auckland, New Zealand.  The whole long weekend (because the holiday is Mondayised) is a celebration of Auckland, and that usually means a pretty heavy focus on the harbour.  After all, Auckland is ‘the city of sails’.  The Auckland Anniversary Regatta is the largest single-day boat regatta in the world (according to Wikipedia).

We started at the port, which was partially open to the public.  They had helicopter rides (which were a little beyond our budget), boat rides, etc.  They had water cannons spraying the crowd with water, which was very refreshing.  It was damn hot!  They also had free sunscreen and drinking water available, which was much appreciated and we made liberal use of.  I even ended up tipping water over my head just to cool down. Despite all the sunscreen I did a little burnt, but thankfully not too bad.

There were food stalls everywhere, with everything from seafood to hot dogs, to traditional Maori or Pacific Island food.  The kids got frozen ice treats with the little bit of spending money I gave them.

There were buskers everywhere, playing music, frozen still like statues or performing magic or acrobatic tricks to entertain the public.  My daughter and her friend liked the acrobatic ones best.

There were, of course, plenty of boats out on the harbour, including traditional Maori and Pacific Island canoes and boats.

 

So there you go.  Happy anniversary, Auckland!

Auckland City Walk

I did the Auckland City Walk today, with my mum, my daughter and my daughter’s friend.  It’s on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges, and is part of a bird sanctuary called Ark in the Park.  You don’t see many birds on the walk, as they’re spread out and tend to stay away from the public paths, but there is an abundance of native plants and trees.

It’s not a difficult walk.  The path is well maintained and it takes about an hour to walk the loop (if you don’t keep stopping to take photographs).  We took a detour and went uphill (and upstairs) for a better view, so we took a bit longer.  There are a few tracks that branch off the Auckland City Walk, and I’ve done some of them previously.  The Montana Heritage Trail takes about four hours, and I’ve done that before.  The detour we took was a small portion of that track.

It was so good to be out and about with my camera.  I’ve missed taking photos.  Been too long.

 

 

It was really too hot to be bush walking today (it’s New Zealand’s hottest January on record), but it was nice to be out and about, and good to be taking photographs.  It’s Auckland Anniversary Day tomorrow (yay, no work!) so we’re hoping to head into town to capture some of the festivities.

Distraction

My feet ached in blue suede heels
I’d bought on sale at Westgate,
but I was distracted by the way
the evening sun caught the Auckland skyline
as I drove over the causeway.

 

Yep, this is another poem recorded while driving home.  See, I told you I am more inspired when driving than any other time!  Ha ha!

I wish I could have taken a photo for you, as the Auckland skyline really did look amazing in the evening sunlight.  There’s a spot when you’re driving along the Northwestern Motorway, just as you go over the causeway, where the Auckland Harbour Bridge lines up perfectly with the Auckland city skyline.  Unfortunately, there’s nowhere safe to stop and take photos, so instead, you just have to take my word for it.  🙂

Murphy’s Aurora

Apparently New Zealand is in the middle of a ‘super massive’ Aurora. The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, are supposed to be the brightest they’ve been in two years. Photographing the Aurora is one of the items on my photography bucket list, so when they said that visibility would be better from the east coast, I headed to my mother and sister’s house. They live about an hour away from me, on the east coast, whereas I’m on the west coast.

I headed up straight after work, and while Mum was making dinner, I did some research on how to photograph Aurora. I found this article really useful.

My mother and sister had a yoga class to go to after dinner, so I sat and read my book while I waited for them. When they came back they informed me that the cloud cover hadn’t dispersed as predicted, and so we might not be able to get a clean shot. I figured I might as well make the most of the two-hour round trip, so I suggested we head out and take some photos of the Auckland city lights at night. Well, we set up our tripods and snapped some shots, but the wind kept buffeting our cameras and ruining the shots. Then it started to rain.  It clearly wasn’t meant to be.

As it turns out, we were never going to see the Aurora. Firstly, it was only going to be visible ‘as far north as Wairarapa’. Ugh. That’s nearly 8 hours’ drive south of me. Secondly, there was a full moon. Thirdly, it was delayed and didn’t arrive until 6am which means it was only there at daylight when no one could see it anyway.

My sister was laughing at me, and pointed out that I had driven all that way to read my book in their house while they went to yoga. #fail

Then, in the way of Murphy’s Law, the motorway was closed for roadworks and it took me longer to get home than it should have. *facepalm*

I’d say that the moral of the story is to do your research first before leaping into action, which would have saved me the trip, but I actually don’t agree with that sentiment. Yeah, if you’re spending a lot of time or money on something, definitely do your research first. But spontaneity has its place. So, it cost me a couple of hours of my time. No big deal. We had a laugh, and learned some stuff.

My kids love it when my husband and I surprise them with spontaneous silliness, like driving to Pokeno (an hour’s drive) for an ice cream, or deciding that each person in the car in turn can decide which direction we turn at the next intersection. Ha ha, that last one saw us driving in circles around Blockhouse Bay. The kids thought it was hilarious though.

While I was at Mum’s, she asked me what I was reading at the moment. We share an Amazon account, as we both read romance ebooks. She reads more historical romance than I do, and she doesn’t read my m/m books, but there’s a lot of overlap. Anyway, I said I was in the middle of a m/m book (Found At The Bookstore by Christi Snow) and she said she was reading a Lori Foster book. She’d read When You Dare, the first book in the Edge of Honor series, then moved on to Bare It All, which is the second in the Love Undercover series. I asked her why she wasn’t reading them in order, and she said that because it wasn’t obvious by the title, she had no way of knowing the reading order. So I looked them up on Lori Foster’s website and made a list for Mum of the correct reading order for the two series. I also thought she might like the Buckhorn Brothers series, so I wrote down the order for that one too. So see, I did accomplish something. Ha ha!

Winter in Auckland

Landmarks slide in and out of the fog.
Dancing behind a vaporous veil,
landmarks slide in and out of the fog.

The sea spits mouthfuls of frothy ale,
like an oil painting I once saw,
dancing behind a vaporous veil.

Gulls tumbling above the waves screech and caw
as the wet wind tosses them to and fro
like an oil painting I once saw.

The sodden remnants of autumn’s glow
cling desperately to clammy concrete
as the wet wind tosses them to and fro.

The whistle past my ears, on repeat,
as fat droplets of water bunch and
cling desperately to clammy concrete.

A soft focus scene, dreary and bland,
landmarks slide in and out of the fog
as fat droplets of water bunch and
landmarks slide in and out of the fog.