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!”

A Slight Obsession

My mother read us books by the fire after our baths and before bed.  We had no television.  I remember “Masterman Ready” by Captain Marryat and “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery.

We went to the Invercargill Library regularly, where the children’s librarian, Miss Miller, helped us to choose.  I became an avid reader and because I had read all my books before it was time to return them, I was allowed to go to the library by myself on the bus at the age of eight.

I still have some books from my childhood. Each year, I saved up 12/6 to buy the School Friend Annual.


I still enjoy children’s books, including pop-ups. The pile, top left, is mainly Tintin  – the full set.


Limited shelf space means things get a little mixed up, but here is my crime fiction collection (in the living room with a rope).  There are also some DVDs of film or television versions of books.  Gardening books are on the bottom shelf.


There’s a shelf of books about books, next to my book journals and book bags, book cards, book pencils, book marks…


There are classics – and poetry:


And just old books.  The one on the far left is a Bobbsey Twins, The Greek Hat Mystery.  Intriguing.  I have read only one of these (the poetry) but have read Little Women and The Girl of the Limberlost by Alcott and Porter respectively.  I just like the age and look.


The Girl Crusoes was a childhood book of my mother’s.  I loved it as a child, but cringe reading it now.  It’s more or less a girls’ version of The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne, which William Golding satirised in Lord of the Flies.  Enid Blyton, however, was not approved of at home, so a teacher used to lend me the books, beginning with The Secret Seven.  I try to pass on the reading bug to my students too.  Colourful bunting across the room says: READ LOTS.  Many of my books, suitable for young adults, are on flat-pack shelves in my classroom and can be borrowed freely.  Often they don’t get returned, I don’t keep a record, and I hope they are out there somewhere circulating.  Sometimes I give them to a student who clearly loves a particular book.  And anyway, there’s not room for them all at home!  I have even resorted to reading books on the Kindle app, particularly when travelling, or when it isn’t a book I would particularly like to keep.


General fiction and non fiction, are overflowing in this bookcase:


Mixtures, including Little Grey Rabbit’s house (Alison Uttley) on the top shelf:


Bed-side books, most of them waiting to be read:


P. G. Wodehouse is “balm for the troubled soul” according to Stephen Fry.  I agree.  To keep us calm, Mum and I watched the full box set of Jeeves and Wooster after the February earthquake.  Here’s a favourite piece from The Inimitable Jeeves. Bertie is saying how he doesn’t get dragged into family rows, “the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps”.

I made this bookcase at night-class in the 80s.  It’s ugly but it holds books!


All of Shonagh Koea’s books, which I wrote a thesis on in the late 90s, are on the bottom shelf.   My father made the bookcase when he was at school.  I painted it blue in the 80s.


More New Zealand books:


There are cook-books, of course.  More often looked at than used.



In addition to books, I have a compulsion to collect book-related things.  Here are Hunca Munca from The Tale of Two Bad Mice and Rupert.  I always found the Rupert books a bit strange, but it’s the only book I remember of the huge pile of books that a boy from down the road staggered into the house with (despite mum protesting that we were all infectious) and deposited on my bed to cheer me up when I had chicken pox or mumps or measles as a child.

That looks like a home-made bookcase too; probably made by one of my brothers.


Bookends which spell BOOK (if you look closely) bought at Trade Aid.  Note Mr Pecksniff, a Dickens character from Martin Chuzzlewit, top left.


A lamp which looks like a book when it is open:


And when it is closed:


My key ring features a dog reading a book:


This painting by Dunedin artist, Pauline Bellamy, interprets the annual book sale:


And, even though I’m not a fan of garden statuary on the whole, I couldn’t resist this one of a child reading.  The staff at the garden centre, where I found him, had already called him Hamish.  I added a little plaster bookworm.


So, a slight obsession…don’t you think?

Still Life and Shelf Life

My eye was caught by this accidental arrangement of objects yesterday.  A still life, I thought.


The iris was accidentally broken as it was hanging over the path, and had been rescued.  It was a bud when broken, and yesterday it opened in the vase, as did the other irises in the garden, perfectly synchronised.

This happy arrangement sent me around the house looking for other potential “art work”.  I made a rule that nothing was to be moved, just photographed as found.  The framing is the only editing.

The shopping list:


The printer:


This is were it all becomes more shelf life than still life.

Mum’s tea cups on the piano:


The kitchen mantelpiece:


Games and a witch with pumpkin on top of a bookcase:


The top shelves of the dresser:


Pangur Ban on the picture rail, next to “Senior Moment”:


A book shelf (note Dad with a considerable cauliflower):


Cats are great commentators on events.  Here’s a case in point on the picture rail:


Picture rails are useful places.




Such clutter, and all is vanity, as we know.