In the flesh.

In the blogging world we get to meet all types of people. Some we click with, some we don’t. What a blessing it is when we do form a friendship, even if it is in the waves in the air between us. It does not diminish how much these friendships mean to us.

What a joy it can be when there comes a time we can meet up and actually touch.

I experienced that when I was recently in Switzerland visiting my daughter. Many moons ago a lady, with loads of wit, and I connected here through our blogs.

When she heard I was in Switzerland she drove for four hours to meet me. As I saw her sitting on the steps outside my daughter’s apartment building I knew that this was going to be one of life’s better days.

Her laugh, her joy in life, her stories, they all made me walk around with a feeling of happiness.

I so want to thank her for taking the time to add another memory to my trip to Europe. A memory that always brings a smile to my face.

Meet the ever delightfully irrepressible Em.
Meet the ever delightfully irrepressible Em.

Of course we had to have a beverage so we could have a toast or two !!!

Em and I enjoying a Swiss beer.
Em and I enjoying a Swiss beer – photo thanks to my adorable daughter.

You could pop over and meet Em yourself on her blog.

Saying goodbye.

Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita's [next to her] wedding day.
Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita’s[next to her] wedding day.
I don’t have many memories before I was eight that did not have my Auntie Ed [short for Edna] in them. Auntie Ed was tiny. Seriously tiny. She was also a force of nature. Not someone you fooled around with. Auntie Ed had a way of looking at you that made your bones rattle when you had done something you knew was wrong. She [as we Aussies like to say] called a spade a spade.

Auntie Ed was the youngest of my father’s siblings. She had one other sister and four brothers. Though I actually lived with my other aunt, every holiday was spent at the home of my grandparents, where Auntie Ed lived. As well as holding down a job, Auntie Ed cared for my grandparents. My grandmother was blind and my grandfather had taken to his bed when retired, so her plate was full.

She never had her own children, as she married late in life. I always found that such a shame. Auntie Ed would have made one hell of a mother.

She loved golf. She was a wizz at gardening. I think the tomato plants were so scared of her biting wit they wouldn’t dare not flourish. As for her peas. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t turn green from eating them. Each day we’d pick a bowl and it would be my job to shell them. Luckily we always picked way more than needed so I ate my fill as I shelled away.

Earlier this year as I picked peas in my own garden I was transported back to that time.

At the back of my grandparents’ house was a neighbour’s mulberry tree. To this day the smell of them sends me in to a tizzy of ecstatic delight. Auntie Ed had little sympathy the day I raided the tree and ate myself sick on mulberries that were still too green. I think she was actually secretly giggling at my discomfit. I learned a lesson that day…or maybe two. Never steal from the neighbours, and when you do make sure the fruit is ripe.

It has taken me years of practise to try to achieve a reasonable level of competency with baking. But I will never reach Auntie Ed’s standard. I can remember standing in the tiny kitchen as she threw ingredients together for her always perfect scones. I don’t remember her ever measuring anything…not ever…yet time after time they came out of the oven…perfect.

Christmas was a special time at the house in Campsie. Auntie Ed made her Christmas cake and the one thing I craved more than her peas…her Christmas pudding. As she sliced it open and served it with a piping hot homemade custard…the only thing that could make it better was knowing that somewhere inside I would find a shining silver sixpence.

Auntie Ed collected spoons. As I do. I am the proud possessor of some of her collection.

In 2007 The Daughter and I went to Sydney to visit with her. I am so glad she got the chance to meet my daughter, and profoundly saddened she never met my son. We stayed with Auntie Ed and I’d like to tell you about something she did…or rather said…that might help you to know this tiny powerhouse of a woman.

The Daughter and I were sharing a room. Sadly [like my father] I snore. This is not a little snurk now and the, rather like a train, an endless train right next to your ear. So at some point during the first night The Daughter grabbed her bedding and moved to the lounge. In the morning when Auntie Ed got up she she smiled at the Daughter. Then commiserated with her about how she had heard me too…all the way in her room.

This morning…my cousin rang me to tell me that Auntie Ed, at the grand age of 99, had passed away. While I understand when people say what a life she had, and yes she sure did…I am sad. So sad. You see, there are actually some people this world is better off because they are in it. My Auntie Ed was one of them. Today the world became a lessor place. It lost one of its best and brightest stars. I lost the greatest aunt a girl could wish for.

My cousin shared with me a couple of things, these things…they make me smile…because I know that there were people who were with her that loved her right until the end. Auntie Ed had been in a home in Australia. When he got the call that she was failing he spent the day with her. One nurse came in to Auntie Ed’s room. She asked him if she could give ‘Auntie Ed’ a kiss. You see they all knew her as I did…she was Auntie Ed…and they loved her.

So…a life well lived. A person well loved. A woman who gave me so much more than just a love of spoons. For all this I am grateful. I just wish Auntie Ed could have lived forever.

My Best Friend

My best friend took a long time to get to know. She…yes she is a she…is a rebel [in her own way]. According to Jung she fits the rebel archetype that he ascribed to. You see she  sees injustice everywhere and wants to shake up the entire system! According to Jungian psychologists, this type believes rules are made to be broken and is driven by the desire to shock and provoke people. She is deeply principled but still possesses a free spirit with few boundaries. I believe she has the potential to really change things, if she learns to reign in her rather extreme tendencies.

IMG_1666 copyYou might be surprised to learn that the colour of her aura is…

IMG_0320White – the colour of Perfect Balance – surprising I know, but the longer her I know her the more I realise that her strongest qualities are more spiritual than physical.

If I had to think of a quote that fits her it would be this…

“It is during our

darkest moments that

we must focus to see

the light.”

Any idea who said that ??

Day 37 - 8.3.2013She hasn’t had the perfect life experiences. At times she has been broken…but never it seems beyond repair. She’s had more than her share of heartbreaks, conflicts and disappointments. It was hard, but she always tried to see the bright side of things. When she looks back, I remind her that those experiences helped her become the person she is today. She is living proof that no matter what, the human spirit can always evolve and find happiness!

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I have heard people describe her as unique, different. She reminds me of  Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. Always marching to the beat of her own drum.

IMG_1953 copyPeople tell her that she is incredibly clever [she has her doubts], but she sees things in a completely different perspective to most other people and I think sometimes that does give her some valuable insights. Although most would describe her as an extrovert, they are not right. In reality she is still a shy little girl and is actually a bit of an introvert. She is incredibly comfortable in her own company. Over the years one thing she has learned is that being yourself is much more interesting than being someone else.

IMG_1662-2 copyHer favourite Luna Lovegood quote: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

Astrologically she is a lion.

Photo163 copyBut deep down she feels much more in tune with Pegasus.

Pegasus by 'thedrawinghands'
Pegasus by ‘thedrawinghands’

She has been there with me since before I knew what memory was. She laughs at my jokes, she cries at my losses…she even tells me when I am wrong sometimes. Not that we always agree on that.

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I have loved many friends [and still do] in my lifetime. But learning to really know her, to understand her, and to love her as my best friend has been the longest journey of my life. Because she makes it hard sometimes…to know the woman behind the mask.

P1100021Luckily she stuck with me while I make my way on this journey of self discovery. I sure hope she’s around for a while longer because every day with her is a surprise.

Day 160

“Love

yourself

first

and everything else falls in line.

You really have to love yourself

to get anything done in this world

– Lucille Ball

Oh…and late at night when she can’t sleep, when the characters on the page won’t do what she wants, when the photo images all seem blurry and not very good – she does way to many stupid quizzes. Even she admits that !!!

She also goes looking for hilarious videos. Just to make you smile !!!

Part of the Weekly Photo Challenge.

 

 

 

Goodbye my Friend.

This morning Gilly messaged me with the news of Christine’s passing. As I went to her blog to read Stuart’s post I was not surprised to find the tears rolling down my cheeks.

Friendships come to us so unexpectedly at times. We might be sitting in a Chinese restaurant when it walks in, in the shape of another 17 year old. It can happen at a writers’ group when a smile across a cup of coffee cements it then and there for life. My friendship with Christine happened over the internet. One day I opened up my comments and there she was.

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2011…the year I started blogging. As I progressed further, so did Christine. Time and time again she took me home. When I would visit her blog there would always be some sense in me that was awakened. Her photos let me smell the grasses that lined the dunes of the beaches she walked. I could taste the salt spray that the sea breezes left on my lips as she caught a sea bird riding the air currents over blue waves. I could feel the softness of the petals as Christine brought me closer to the flowers in her garden or on her many walks around the land I still call home.

Her visits and comments so often brought a smile. Some were cause for reflection.

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I have read…though not yet commented on some wonderful tributes that have been written for Christine. It is not that I don’t want to…I just can’t yet for some reason.

I know that today…when I speak to some friends here of my sadness, my sense of loss…they will not understand.

We do not always need the physical presence of someone to feel the pull of friendship, the camaraderie of interests or of having shared roots of heritage.

For them blogging is an artificial world.

For me it is the world coming to me. It is what allows me the great joy of finding people to enlighten me, to make me laugh, to make me cry…to connect with on so many different levels.

Christine did all that and more in the three years I have known her. I will miss her wonderful photography. I will miss her joy in her life. I will miss her wise words. I will miss Christine.

I am grateful for the chance to have had her in my life…fleetingly, from afar, but most definitely a presence. I wish I had had the chance to meet her in person…but I met her spirit. How lucky am I.

Perhaps it is fitting that when I checked my comments this morning…the very last comment on the blog is from Christine.

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Farewell Christine. You will be missed.

Invocation – Rod McKuen

It may happen
that in some hidden
middle night

you’ll rise up
and come to me
in solitude or silence.

We will meet
as we have met
on a train or at the end
of some new train of thought.

 

Share Your World – 2014 Week 22

Cee’s Share Your World – 2014 Week 22 had a few interesting questions…so…here goes.

Regarding animals would you prefer not having them around or having domestics pets, farm animals, or seeing them in nature or the zoo?

I would shrivel if I didn’t have my fur companions. That said I feel there should be more restrictions placed on people having pets, and most certainly breeding them. They are not and should never be treated as commodities.

Living here in New Zealand where factory farming has become the next big thing I abhor animals being kept in these atrocious conditions. It astounds me that with so much land available we lock chickens up in tiny cages where they can barely turn around let alone take any pleasure in their lives. They live in great smelly buildings instead of breathing fresh air and being able to scratch and roll in the dirt. Our pigs are just as badly off. Most are locked in pens and sow cages that stop them from nurturing their babies who are then taken from them for slaughter. And now our government is allowing cattle to be treated in a similar fashion.

As for zoos, I am in two minds when it comes to them. I have seen too many animals kept in conditions that make their lives miserable. Thankfully many zoos are now changing, and realising the need to provide a natural habitat for these creatures. While I understand the work some zoos do in educating people and allowing them to see these animals and hopefully develop empathy for them there are still way too many factors that bother me. Case in point the zoo that recently bred a giraffe then while he was still a youngster shot a bolt in to its head as he was surplus to their genetic needs. I deplore this attitude many humans have of believing we have the right of dominion over other species. Until we put that behind us and make sure these creatures are able to roam free in the natural habitat then we are nothing but slavers.

Are you a collector of anything? 

Oh yes I am.

I inherited this addiction from my darling Auntie Ed, my father’s youngest sister.

Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita's [next to her] wedding day.
Auntie Ed is in the blue. My Auntie Rita’s [next to her] wedding day.
If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? 

1 minute 29 in…oh that is so me !!!! Then there is 2 minutes and 41 seconds. Oh yea baby !!!!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful that my fire is fixed as it turned cold all of a sudden, and that my three fur babies are all well and content. The upcoming week looks a bit wet…so I am grateful for that. It makes me feel less guilty for being indoors and working on the book.

 

The final farewell

IMG_2062First I want to say thank you to all of you have expressed your sorrow and sent your hugs in the last couple of days. It has meant more to me than I can ever express. Chevvy, Charlie and Jackie are all taking very great care of me.

On Tuesday I buried Crash close to the house so that he will never feel alone.

A friend was kind enough to drive me to our vet in Tauranga to pick him up and bring him home. They had wrapped him in a lovely patterned towel and placed a blue flower in with him. Celia took me for some food on the way home. And we both raised a glass of wine to toast my sweet boy. She was kind enough to ask if I wanted her to stay and help with burying Crash, but I said no…this was really something I wanted to do alone.

After finding a box suitable I added some toweling and went and picked a bunch of lavender sage leaves from a plant Marianne gave me when she visited last year.

2014-05-01 10.02.33Their smell is beautiful and soft so I lined the box with them and laid Crash on top.

I replaced the blue flower [which is now by his photo] with a bunch of the lavender sage flowers

2014-05-01 10.02.49and some brilliant red hibiscus flowers from the garden to make a blanket for him.

SAM_0108.1I knew the spot I wanted to lay him to rest. Not only is it close to the house, but it has a very serene feel to it.

2014-05-01 10.06.13
Crash rests under these palms next to the small bush.

I talked to him a lot during this whole process. Told him I loved him, I missed him. Laughed about his silly antics, and how much I missed the sound of him throughout the house. I cried…a lot. As I filled in his resting place I said goodbye to Crash with this poem.

Invocation ~ by Rod McKuen

It may happen
that in some hidden
middle night

you’ll rise up
and come to me
in solitude or silence.

We will meet
as we have met
on a train or at the end
of some new train of thought.

 

 

 

 

Crash is in hospital.

cockatielMy little boy Crash is not well. I rushed him in to the vet this morning. When I got him up he was on the floor of the cage, very lethargic and wobbly.

In the past he has had respiratory infections. I came close to losing him when he was still a baby really. It took a month of getting up every four hours to medicate him, as well get water in to him and food and changing his hot water bottle so he didn’t have to use his energy to keep warm.

Trouble is, with birds being prey animals they cover up being sick until they can’t cover it up anymore. So the vet says he is really sick. I am lucky that she is also really clued up about birds. She runs a wildlife trust that treats lots of injured New Zealand birds.

Now it is a wait and see game, They are giving him antibiotics, vitamins, fluids and someone from the practise will take him home and keep an eye on him overnight.

Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for Crash. I am not really ready to lose him just yet.

Crash

Share your world – 2014 Week 16

I really liked the questions in Cee’s challenge this week. Gave me an opportunity to play with photoshop again. Here we go then…

How many places have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities.

  • I was born in Sydney, Australia
  • I lived in Wollongong, Australia until I was about eight, then moved back to Sydney where I lived all over the place…it is a big city. Some of the suburbs I lived in were: Fairfield, Guildford, Matraville, Kensington, Randwick, Tregear, Yagoona, Sylvania Waters, Bexley, Canley Heights. There were more, but those are the ones I remember.
  • Bennekom in The Netherlands became my next home. For three years I lived there in the eighties.
  • During that time I also lived just out of the town of Boppard, working at a camping ground on the Rhine in Germany for six weeks.
  • Back to Australia after that and I moved to Childers in Queensland where we had a lychee farm. We also grew longans, mangoes, tropical peaches and nectarines, We even grew okra…goodness how I hated that stuff.
  • After Queensland it was back to Bennekon for nine months.
  • Next stop New Zealand. For a month we lived in Martinborough with friends while waiting for our container to arrive from Australia. Then we moved to Napier [where I hope to move to again in the future] for a couple of months. I loved it there. Our plan was to buy an apple orchard, but the ex was colourblind. This meant he could not see when to pick the apples, so we moved to Katikati. I am still here 20 years later…the longest I have lived anywhere.

What type of music relaxes you the most?

That is a hard one to answer because it really depends on my mood. At the moment I have these on my computer for when I write.

  1. Adam Lambert
  2. Queen
  3. Altiyan Childs
  4. Bon Jovi
  5. U2
  6. Florence and the Machine
  7. Gin Wigmore
  8. Fleetwood Mac
  9. Midnight Juggernauts
  10. The National
  11. The Beach Boys
  12. Iron & Wine
  13. INXS
  14. The Eagles
  15. Jim Croce
  16. Rodriguz
  17. The Beatles
  18. Melissa Etheridge
  19. Mumford and Sons
  20. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  21. Michael Jackson
  22. Cat Stevens
  23. Modern West
  24. The Who
  25. Elvis Presley
  26. Eurythmics
  27. Bowie
  28. Frank Boeijen Groep
  29. Aerosmith
  30. Kings of Leon
  31. Curtis Stigers
  32. Janis Joplin
  33. Justin Timberlake
  34. Donovan Frankenreiter
  35. Jeff Buckley
  36. The Police
  37. The Rolling Stones
  38. Madonna
  39. Katy Perry
  40. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  41. Johnny Cash
  42. Coldplay
  43. Robbie Williams
  44. Santana
  45. Savuka
  46. Joshua Kadison
  47. Fine Young Cannibals
  48. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  49. Tom Petty
  50. Styx
  51. Debussy
  52. The Doors
  53. Procol Harum
  54. Natalie Merchant

If you could instantly become fluent in another language, what would that language be and why?

Italian, Italian, Italian. Because you talk with more than your mouth.

If you could fly or breathe under water what would you prefer?

Hard, hard choice. Being a mermaid would be absolutely wonderful.

Jo MermaidBut you know I have always had a fascination with flying. The thought of having wings, hearing them whoosh as they flap…I can’t choose.

Jo Angel
Wing brushes courtesy of AquaLilia Wings Brushes.

I think I should be another Persephone. I could spend half the year in each world.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Very grateful to have heard from The Daughter while she is away. For hearing the crackle in the light switch and getting it fixed before my house caught fire. For not having any damage to my home in the storm that hit us the day before Good Friday. Two friends of mine did, and they are doing it tough. I never know what is going to happen in the future. A planner I am not.

Thanks Cee…for Week 16 of the challenge.

Don’t forget the animals. They need our voice.

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And a shameless plug for me !!!

BB2014-PCA-vote

Sunday Post: Easter

Although Sunday has come and gone here…I couldn’t resist taking part in Jake’s Easter post.

img035I thought I would start off my Easter post with an ‘awwwwww’ moment.

Well…a couple of them actually.

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Then a touch of humour with a mix of creativity…who can resist a fluffy bunny ???

Jo Bryant

And some more Easter fun…

So yes I know this has actually nothing to do with Easter…but…I couldn’t help myself once I started.

I think I like being a billboard girl.
I think I like being a billboard girl. And they got it wrong. I could !!!!

Hmmm…well you just know I didn’t stop there !

I could always be an artist muse if the billboard thing didn't work out.
I could always be an artist’s muse if the billboard thing didn’t work out.
Once the artist found fame it might be amusing to find oneself hanging in a gallery.
Once the artist found fame it might be amusing to find oneself hanging in a gallery.

I thought in ending I should probably get back to the subject of Easter.

Bunny Jo
Now I have pink ears and feet !!!

I hope the Bunny was good to everyone. Time for me to hop off and do something like walk the dog.

But before I do…I would like everyone to remember this Easter the bunnies who live lives in cages in laboratories all around the world. Many put through very cruel treatments so that people feel safe using cosmetics. Luckily countries like India and others are now banning these practises. I wish I could say New Zealand was part of the movement but it isn’t. If you can take just a minute and e-mail your MP [wherever you live], and tell them it is not okay to torture animals, I know they would thank you if they could.

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Colin Arthur Bryant and the third child.

I don’t do this. Reblogging I mean. At least NOT my own posts…but you see today is Dad’s 105th birthday.

Three years ago I awoke early on the 13th of April and words poured out of me. Like the molten steel you see running down in to a mould, burning, shining, a completely unstoppable river that once cooled within will form a weapon. That post became my weapon you see. After a lifetime, it sliced effortlessly through the things that guarded my past and held me captive behind a solid door of emotion.

I love my Dad. I loved him growing up. But ours was a tumultuous relationship. Because as deep as my loving was, my understanding of him was shallow. Colin Arthur Bryant was not a sharer. I know that. Yet I was luckier than most in our family. I saw more than the others, but even with that I grew up knowing that I would never be able to say I really knew my Dad.

It has become important to me that my children will never think that of me. Some may say that I over share. I understand their view. I also disagree. Through the circumstances of my life I grew up knowing neither my Dad or my Mum well. I can’t tell you their favourite colour, what smells reminded them of moments they had lived, what their joys were or what their sorrows were. I know nothing of why they once loved each other or why their love became so twisted and full of emotions that drove them to acts I neither know if they regretted or were glad of their doing.

So words have become my path to a future for my children that will enable then to say…this was my Mum. I knew her well !

Again I digress. A habit I am not sure I want to break as it often leads me in to places I had forgotten existed. As I age I feel a growing fondness for finding places that lay hidden in the recesses of my mind and my memories, if only for the lessons that each journey has had, and possibly still has for me.

Time though to revisit Colin. I had thought to write a post today for the celebration of the day he was born. Instead I found myself drawn back three years to this post. I realised that this post had said everything I want to say about the man I called Dad and the years in which he graced my life.

I cried today reading it as much as I did the day I wrote it. Both for the possibilities that were grasped and for the ones abandoned and lost between us over the years. Those tears are good tears…the healing kind.

With all this…I still feel an ache that has never diminished.

So to Colin I say this:

“Happy birthday Dad. I know that you did the best you could with what you had. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for you. I miss you no less with each passing year. I will love you no less on the day I die than I did on the day you passed from my life. I feel you in each step I take forward.
Your loving daughter,
Jo.”

I hope you will have the time to visit fully with my Dad. Get to know him as much…or as little…as I did…in my post from three years ago. That is of course if you haven’t seen it before.

Chronicles of Illusions

One hundred and two years ago Caroline Ada Bryant had a baby boy on this day. Her second child, also her second son.

She named him Colin Arthur Bryant.

As a young boy Colin had hydatids. Maybe that’s why he was a little iffy around animals. His body bore scars from where they had operated to get the small sacs off, and save his life.

He married twice.

His first wife died after they had a son and a daughter.

Colin & Mary Bryant (c) Jo Bryant

His second ran off with a no-hoper from the circus after she had a daughter.

He carried that scar with him for the rest of his life as well.

Once a month until the third child was twelve he came to wherever she lived for his visit. He was always dressed in grey pants with a crease down the legs, a grey jacket, white long sleeved shirt and tie.

The…

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