Monthly Archives: July 2011

Weekly photo challenge: Broken 2

Reminds me of Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven'

I wonder to what or where these once rose. Now they are just a broken relic of times gone by … beautiful in their solitude.

Photographed near Moeraki Beach, Otago, New Zealand.

Two hundred more …

The smiles a hug can bring ... priceless!

If I could have 200 more of anything – what would I choose?

Would I want more money. Perhaps $200, or perhaps 200 x $50 notes as one blogger suggested, maybe even 200 x $100 notes …tempting…

Two hundred more sleeps – unless I took them as naps during the day, they’d at least buy me a bit of extra time. Two hundred more nights – definitely useful.

Two hundred more tubes of moisturiser might see me out. I could bequest the remainder to a good cause. But they’d run the risk of  turning rancid. What a waste that would be of my 200 wish.

I don’t really want 200 more possessions – my life is cluttered enough as it is. I’m at the stage where I want to purge, not acquire.

What I would really like are 200 hugs – not all at once. Evenly spaced especially when I need them or when I want to give them. I’d love them with my family but heartfelt hugs with friends are just as precious. Warm genuine embraces, the sort that leave you feeling special, leave you feeling loved – ones where you’re giving as much a receiving. I’d really love that …

Loaded messages

Une petite french morsel!

This morning, while sitting over a coffee in the local cafe, I picked up a magazine and opened it to the editorial. Even without my glasses I was able to read enough to want to read more.

The editorial written by Natalie bridges is entitled ‘Loaded messages’ is in the latest (Winter 2011) New Zealand Simply You magazine.

I wrote a blog recently expressing similar sentiments; this says it so much better.

“What we wear on our backs cannot be underestimated for its immediate and daily power to move those around you. For all those who belittle fashion, confining it to the realms of frivolity, ask them to ponder the following.

What you decided to pull out of your wardrobe this morning was a loaded message. Those clothes were the vehicle in which you went about your business, transferring important impressions to all who saw you. Those clothes may have been the one single communication you had with that person who walked past you on the stairs or with the one who stood behind you in the queue at the supermarket. Your clothes may have amused someone, shocked another, made the person sitting across from you on the bus jealous or intrigued.

My point is that, rightly or wrongly, we are being judged by our appearance – our clothes, our hair, our make-up – all the time. Our appearance can influence people, help you make friends with people, allow you to more easily fit in with a group or, by the same token, set you apart. It can mean the difference between getting that dream job – or missing out because you were inappropriately attired in the eyes of the interviewer.

from the feminists who burned their bras in the Sixties for equality, to the power-asserting suiting of the Eighties and the current return to prim and proper two-piece feminine dressing (which can be interpreted in all manner of ways – are we reverting back or are we now comfortable in our own skin?), clothes are the loaded symbols of our age, of our social status and trends.

While we were shooting the best of New Zealand fashion in the exquisite city of Florence for this issue, I was in awe of the polished presentation of Italian women. They were not necessarily in the most ground-breaking trends, but their attention to detail – well-pressed, groomed hair, perfect nails and make-up, opting for classic elegance as opposed to fads – made a big and positive impact on me and on the impression I took away from the country.”

This is so true.

How much better and more positive I feel when I walk out the door knowing that I’ve got it right – that the way I look reflects the way I feel.

The woman pictured caught my eye for all the above reasons. Oh, to be young again! It was late afternoon a street in Saint Germaine, Paris and in her hand she carries a pastry from the famous patissiere Paul.

The pen – mightier than the key?

Brainstorming - useful technique for gathering ideas

Do you find it easier to write in long-hand or is the keyboard your tool of choice? I do most of my writing straight onto the screen these days but a recent experience made me wonder whether I’m doing justice to the writing process.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months writing cover letters, tailoring my CV to the particular job description and preparing for interviews. So far all attempts have been fruitless – I still haven’t managed to land a job!

Before one of the recent interviews, I was informed that I might (just might) be asked to write something. That’s ok I thought, I can do that.

The day arrived. I woke early giving myself plenty of time to choose the appropriate ensemble – not too corporate, not too laid back – and arrive in town with time to spare. My father placed enormous value in punctuality which has guided me all through life. I hate being late!

After a fortifying long black I made my way to the oldish building, squeezed myself into the elevator built for one, and clunked my way up to the office. The receptionist greeted me without even lifting her head to look, and ushered me hurriedly into the interview room. A large bare room with a view out over our magnificent harbour. “You’ll be doing your exercise here first,” she said “I’ll go and tell XXX you’re here. Make yourself comfortable.”

With that she exited closing the door behind as she went. Comfortable? She’s gotta be kidding …

Enter XXX.

Formalities over, she gave me a piece of paper and asked that I write a 100-150 word teaser based on the information given. “Just use the lap-top and save it when you’ve finished. You’ve got 20 minutes.”

Then she left.

I sat down with the screen before me … no mouse. OK. I read the script, a lot of unnecessary  information masking the key messages. Not really enough time for brainstorming … I sat poised waiting for my opening line. As soon as the words came I started typing. Reality hit, this was one of those screens operating on time delay. I’d type the word then have to wait a few seconds before it registered. Not only that, the cursor had a mind of its own – it was flying all over the place. I’d try to scroll down ever so carefully, and the page would fly at great speed in the wrong direction, up then down, then back again. What the ??? My heart sank …

OMG – I’m too old for this, couldn’t they just give me a pencil and paper?

I duly got a couple of paragraphs onto the screen, in between leaving the room for a comfort stop and swearing at technology. When I tried to find the word count tab somewhere – anywhere – I couldn’t find it. I don’t even know what programme I was working in, it certainly bore no relation to Word. I knew there were far more words than required and my time was nearly over.

Then bang – all over and I wasn’t even sure that I’d saved it correctly. I wasn’t pleased with the result – one or two good sentences, but overall not great. Let’s be honest, I’d made a real hash of it!

Now I’m no slouch when it comes to technology. I’m fairly competent. But I felt that in this instance, it had got the better of me.

If I had been given the option of writing as opposed to typing, I’d like to think I’d have come up with a far better result – with logical flow and more vibrant language. Cutting and pasting has its place, but only in the editing phase at the end when you can look back and see the big picture.

For me, ideas flow much better when I’m poised pen in hand, over a blank sheet of paper. My better blogs, the ones I’m most pleased with, are ones that I’ve written in long hand first.

Also, I hate to say it, but I need more than 20 minutes. I need the time to think, rethink, substitute good words with better words, make sure the language fits the purpose, walk away and return with fresh eyes. I like to mull things over.

You can tell a lot about a person from their handwriting. The same can’t be said of a keyboard. Aside from the choice of font, colours, and spacing between lines and paragraphs, the screen doesn’t give a lot away. I’d like to think that the way I write – physically – further informs the reader about who I am.

From this experience I’ve learned that if put in this situation again, my best plan of attack would be to put my thoughts on paper first before committing them to the screen. At least then, if I run out of time, I can still produce a hard copy version – old style.

Weekly photo challenge: Colourful

Photographed in the Musee National Marc Chagall, Nice

The works of Marc Chagall are among my favourites. Not for their biblical themes but for their colour and whimsical style.

I couldn’t believe it, when my daughter and I last year visited the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice, that we were able to get up close and photograph all of the works on display. We felt privileged,  spending hours in the purpose-built gallery soaking up the magnificence and colour. I’ll share more of my photographs throughout the week.

I wrote a blog about it: Focus on Chagall

Hills are our friends!

A very bleak looking Wrights Hill from our turret window

It’s now mid-winter down here in the Southern Hemisphere – the temperatures are dropping. Today it hasn’t yet reached double figures.

When I awoke at 7.15am (very late!) I heard nothing. That’s good I thought, no rain. Time for a walk before the day turns to custard.

So, on with the walking gear, grab iPhone and earphones, find some gloves, finish off with my lovely warm jacket – and better stuff some tissues in my pockets. Cold weather always gets my nose running. Out the door …

I tuned in to Desert Island Discs podcast of Kirsty Young (with her gorgeous Scottish accent) talking to setter of fiendish crosswords John Graham, and set off of my normal route on flattish terrain – a walk of around 35 minutes. I hadn’t got too far, was about to listen to John Graham’s third music choice, when I saw an old friend also out walking. Oh my God, the last time I met her she told me that she walks the HILL every morning, and suggested I come with her one day. I was not going to be able to get out of this one with dignity!

‘Why don’t you join me?” she shouted from across the road, “come on…” followed by a big inviting smile and gesture. No way out … I thought of Greg from martinidesign, who yesterday, or was it the day before, ran up Mt Kaukau. Guilt … of course I can do it, I know I can …

OK – off with the iPhone … later Kirsty, later. A girl’s got to take all the company she can get, I spend far far too much time on my own!

We used to play on Wrights Hill when I was a child. When it was virgin territory, no streets and no houses. We used to clamber up the hill and, much to our mother’ annoyance,  slide down on our backsides. The hillside, covered in yellow-blooming gorse, was an exciting playground especially the World War II gun emplacements at the top. I’ve always lived within sight of it.

I could feel the pull on my leg muscles as we progressed upwards, repeating the mantra to myself  ‘hills are our friends, hills are our friends, hills are our friends’ while we chatted, catching up with family news. I absolutely hate being seen as unfit or struggling, so I put on extra pace, then started worrying about not having any sugar on me, and I hadn’t cleaned my teeth … after all, I only intended to go out for a sedate suburban walk. Didn’t even take the key to the house …

The climb finished off with a stairway ascent was worth it, the view spectacular along with the feeling of accomplishment. I’d done it – legs feeling good, bit of a pull in the glutes, not puffed, not strained, a damn good time. Yes!!!

Going down was easy, a just reward.

As we waved our goodbyes (yes, I will join her again), I retrieved my earphones and rejoined Kirsty and John. Twenty minutes later I was back home, feeling well and truly set up for the next twelve hours.

Hills are our friends … no need for a swim today!