Reasons to be cheerful (Part One)

This Sunday morning, the view from my bedroom window was so cheering I had to sit a while and enjoy it. I’ve had those two geraniums in hanging baskets for years – as long as I’ve been in the house, which is over thirty years. The baskets are new, and the proliferation of flowers must be their cheerful response to being in fresh potting mix. The fox gloves beyond come up wherever they like each year, as do the aquilegias and geums, and are full of bees.

Usually on Sunday morning, a friend and I walk on the beach. Today was a little wet for that, so we opted to walk the new city promenade which opened today.

I took no photos. There was so much to look at, I didn’t know where to stop for a photo. I just had to keep looking at everything: the  sculptures, buildings, gardens, people…it was overwhelming and joyful, tinged with a little sadness and nostalgia. Every time I’m in the central city there is more to take in, more to hope for, more to farewell.

We walked from the Margaret Mahy Playground to the Pegasus Arms, pausing to fill in answers on the quiz cards handed out by volunteers to celebrate the opening of the promenade. We admired eight part-grown Paradise ducklings, the Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers, and the Pou Whenua in Victoria Square. I contemplated ways of removing the duck-poo which was all about, looked for Ada Wells among the women on the Kate Sheppard memorial, and touched the greenstone by Oi Manawa, Canterbury Earthquake Memorial. 

My friend left me at Turanga, the new central library, and I explored all four levels. I found it very moving; a wonderful building built for people  – and it was full of people of all ages, notably parents or grandparents, and probably aunts, with children. I took one very inadequate photo, and that was of part of the children’s section.

Children can sit on cushions on the roots of the tree sculpture. This section, on the first level, looks wonderful from outside too, through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The circular lamps are magical features and there were many cheerful children beneath them.

There are a great many books of all kinds, and play areas, reading areas, interactive areas, relaxing spaces, working spaces, discovery spaces – with people looking at home in all of them. This is a place with heart.

The view of the city from the upper levels is breath-taking, even when it is of the wrecked cathedral, and fenced-off spaces yet to be developed. I was drawn to the view of the cathedral, framed by a huge crane, with the hill suburbs in the distance and moody, misty skies above the hills. Below, opposite the other side of the library, there was a young girl dancing joyfully on the Gap Filler Dance-o-Mat and children playing on the giant green chairs beyond that.

And so, fully cheerful, I headed home for lunch. By the playground, I photographed the real roots of a poplar tree. There’s something magical about them too.


It’s a week since Cosmo died. It doesn’t seem that long. 

The things I have, at times, looked forward to without him seem a little hollow, as if part of the heart of our home has gone.

I can walk into the living room without looking for puddles  – or worse – on the wood floor. I have put away the bucket and mop. We can keep the warmth in the house now we don’t have to leave the back door open. I can get to my computer without taking a large, sometimes perilous, step across Cosmo’s bed.

I have stored his bed in the rafters of the garage. The towel we kept by the back door to dry him off if he had come in from the rain is on the line (in the rain). 

His blankets have been washed and stacked in a corner.

His bowls have been washed, but sit empty (for when Jock comes to stay again).

His treats are still in a basket on top of the fridge.

His collar and lead are by the front door.

The bag holder is also ready by the door, convenient for setting out on a walk.

And this is on the back door:

Cosmo had soft little dark ears and nose like that, a ginger tinge to his rough coat, a white patch on his chest, and deep brown eyes, but never an expression which was quite so malicious – although a hedgehog or rabbit might disagree. 

We miss him.

Dog’s Day is Done

Sadly, Cosmo died yesterday. The vet came to the house, and the end was peaceful and in familiar surroundings.

Cosmo was on his bed sleeping mid-afternoon, and it seemed right that that was where his day ended.

It was a sleepy sort of day for everyone, overcast and cooler.

Jock, our visitor, one eye open
Nola, nodding off.
and Cosmo on his comfy bed.

It seemed fitting that Cosmo had an active day on Friday, enjoying the grass on a sunny day (see previous post). 

Pete drove many miles yesterday to share the grieving and the happy memories. He was Cosmo’s first owner.  Cosmo came from a Masterton breeder, and was 12 weeks old when Pete collected him in November 2003, and we celebrated his 15th birthday on 1 August this year.

Cosmo was a feisty little border terrier, curious and eager to be part of everything, a companion for Pete and for Kate and Will. Pete’s sister, Jean, once commented that Cosmo had the ambition to be a hood ornament as he pressed his nose to the windscreen, eager to be on the move and going somewhere interesting. And he did go to lots of interesting places – sometimes unaccompanied, until Pete worked out that Cosmo was climbing the ladder to the tree house and launching himself over the fence to freedom.

With me, he had daily walks, mostly with Nola as he got older, and a weekly visit to the beach, followed by a bath in the wheelbarrow. And there were camping trips and rabbit hunts with Pete. 

He recovered well from a pit-bull attack, tooth extractions and a bout of Cushings, to have a more settled old age.

This morning, the first dog I saw at the beach was a border terrier who seemed quite unconcerned to be made a fuss of and wept over. Dogs are much more matter of fact than we are.

It was great to see that there are many more dogs having their day on the beach, on the street with owners on leads, and in cars with their ears in the breeze.

Now, particularly that cheerful, distracting little Jock has returned to his home, it is Cosmo’s absence we are noticing about the house, whereas it was his presence we were always conscious of before. 

Here is his grave, beneath the apple tree and grape vine, close to the house so he is part of the embrace of home and of us, with his old companions, Mack (border collie, died 2012, under the raspberries) and Skipper (cat, died 2016, by the rosemary, near previous cat, Holly), not far away.

Rest in peace, wee chap.

A Dog’s Day

Indignities heaped on indignities.

First a visit to the vet for vaccinations and toenail clipping, then wee Jock comes to stay. Here he is making sure his owner has left.


Then he ingratiates himself with my humans.


And gets taken to the beach, while I turn in ever-decreasing circles at home.


He sneaks onto my bed.


And invades my personal space.


Whoever said life’s one long drink of water had the right idea.


I’m getting to the bottom of that glass, it seems. Legs not working so well. Mind going. Wetting the bed. Getting lots of treats, though. Somebody loves me.

Our Librarians

There are some amazingly creative librarians in our library. They make displays for every occasion. At the beginning of Spring, they used old CDs and paper to make a little picket fence and daffodil design on the automatic glass doors.

At the moment there is a display for Diwali and one for the race season. I’m not keen on horse races and listened uneasily to the Melbourne Cup today. The race coincided with the news at five o’clock, as I was driving home, and Radio NZ interrupted the news to broadcast it on both National and Concert programmes, so there was no escape. I later heard that a horse was injured and did not survive its injuries.

But the library display is rather wonderful, and all made with found materials – whatever was at hand. The dress is made of newspaper.


Note the related books beside the mannequin. Here’s a close-up of the paper jewellery. Note the blue flower on the hem.


The shoes are made of foil and paper.


There is a display case as well:


One of the creative librarians showed me the book about Creative Paper Art which gave them the inspiration.

Another triumph for books.

Creative Card

Five of my students presented me with a clever card featuring the banner they had made at the start of the year. The banner has been hanging in the corridor outside our classroom all year and cheers me up with its bright colours and cheerful message. It was made for our whanau group for Gala Sports day in February. All the banners this year were supposed to show the values of the school and how we celebrate diversity. We didn’t win the prize, but it’s my favourite.


So, I was thrilled to be presented with the card last week before the Year 11s left for exams. This is the front of it:


Inside, it’s a pop-up card:


Heart-warming, despite (or especially because of) the grammar and spelling. Just think, if they’d produced it on a computer it would have been automatically corrected and have no personality at all. Plus, we need a little irony in our lives to give us perspective. Really, I’m thinking, “What have I taught them?” But mostly, I look at their faces and think, “Awww!”