the time when I throw my heart into a few sheets of paper, and leave my fate for the next year in the hands of the Gods, or at least Bill Manhire and Damien Wilkins.
Description of Project
I propose to write a series of poems about:
A sapphire ring
two Japanese vases
the name of a hill in Wanganui
a pie funnel, made at Hawera, “the approved popular pie funnel, it carries away steam and leaves the pie crust as light and flaky inside as on the surface”
a thermometer from a milk pasteurizing plant
a signed copy of a collection of short stories
an ornate brush and pan for brushing crumbs from the table
a strut from an early aeroplane
a newspaper advertisement dated 15/11/1916, showing a car going up the Paekakariki Hill "Hills level themselves under the wheels of a Chevrolet"
four Chinese nesting tables
a clothes brush, engraved with the initials PC
a Cobb and Co Royal Mail Passenger Coach ticket dated 22/6/08 Westport to Reefton return: £1:10:0
a cairn in Rangitikei
a diary from the first campervan trip in New Zealand
leaves from a bay tree planted in 1866
a silver tankard
two wooden plates
a field magnifying glass
a may bush
a copy of Every Man His Own Mechanic
and a locket made out of two ha’penny coins.
These are some of the artifacts we have, the remnants of the lives of my ancestors, from the settlers who stepped onto Petone Beach in 1840, to my grandparents who died this year.
I am intrigued by this collection of objects. Many of them are ordinary, practical items, others are precious objects that were saved for and treasured. Some of them bring with them detailed stories, others have only barest of details. Some are mundane glimpses of everyday life in New Zealand while others are part of momentous events (the siege of Parihaka, the flu epidemic, Gallipoli, the Napier earthquake, D-Day… Some I can already relate to, others are quite remote.
One of my favourites is my great-great grandfather Henry Bodley, was a type setter with the Evening Post, until he got lead poisoning. His doctor advised him to drink lots of milk, so he started a dairy and milk delivery business in Thorndon. I love typesetting… maybe it is in my blood. His wife’s trip to New Zealand on the Star of India in 1874 was the happiest time of her life but she missed the bluebells in the woods back in England.
I am just as fascinated by the stories I don’t know anything about. What did John Bryce’s wife, Elizabeth, think about the Parihaka affair? What went on in the kitchens, the bedrooms, of these ancestors? The artifacts we have are a tangible link from which to explore their lives and how their stories have resonances in my life.
Tonight I went along to the progressive Jewish temple for the first time. Kind of sad that it took me so long to get there, given that it’s just up the road from St Andy’s... There was an inter-faith event there tonight, and it was really amazing to be a part of.
At sunset we broke fast with dates, because it is the month of Ramadan, and there were members of the Muslim community present. Then we shared stories about what is going on in the different faith communities at this time of year, and I began to feel that Presbyterianism is rather lacking in festivals and feasts – we could borrow a few more from the Catholic tradition perhaps. I love having ritual foods, and really we only do the bread and wine, and at St Andrew's we borrow from other traditions a bit. We're probably lacking in literal fasting too, but I would find that part harder.
Anyway, it was a really interesting discussion, focussing on our commonalties. I only recently learned that Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all share the books of Moses (what we call the old testament) – I thought it was ours! I'd never even heard the term "Abrahamic" before tonight. And I call myself a Sunday School teacher! Maybe I need to do some more study.
There was a visiting Rabbi from San Fransisco, and he explained a bit about Sukkot, and we all crowded into the Sukkah for the ceremony. The Sukkah was lovely, made with a roof of fern fronds, with streamers and painted decorations.
Then we had a shared meal, all beautiful vegetarian food, and a chance to mingle and chat with different people. I met the woman who does the children's programme at the temple, and now I am all excited about organising an interfaith event for children.
Finally we had a chance to see the Torah, which was pretty awe-inspiring – the amount of work that must go into it.
It was a beautiful evening, and really interesting, because I began to feel that we (at St Andrew’s) probably had more in common with people from the more liberal elements of other faith traditions than we do with most of the Christian community.
In the car on the way home I listened to one of Marcella Althaus Reid’s lectures on tape, and reminded myself that there are radical Christians out there, however scattered we may be.
Speaking of radical Christianity, I had a meeting over tapas with a woman from GalaXies, and we are going to organise an art installation at St Andrew’s. It will be up for the whole of advent, and we want lots of different groups to take part, so if you are interested then let me know.
a) Try to get drunk on “gourmet” jelly shots (drink the glowsticks too for good measure)
b) Research the possibility of moving to Antarctica.
c) Buy the L Word on DVD and watch it on continuous cycle.
Unfortunately the above options are unavailable tonight due to lack of credit, so I'm going with
d) Go to bed and hide under the covers.
So much to tell you and so little energy… I got sick on holiday, but it was a beautiful place to be sick in… Work is challenging and interesting, but also swallowing my life whole… I’m preaching on Sunday, how weird is that?! …I have some brand spanking new conditions that I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce (Behcet’s, and polycystic ovarian syndrome)... I have also been getting help from Eating Disorder Services... I’m still grieving the loss of Buffy and even The L Word doesn’t quite fill the gap...
More details later, but for now, sleep for me, and for you, via cankerous beet:
Comment on this post and I will reply using the following, hoping you will do the same for me.
1. I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
4. I'll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal.