28 September 2011

behind the fence

I took Audrey to a park today, near the Parnell Rose Gardens. Adjoining the park is a childcare facility. They've since removed the sign but I was always a little alarmed at the fact that they took in babies from three months of age.

So we're at the park and I hear a small fiery cry, and I know from experience times two that this is not the cry of a toddler but of a baby. I nonchalently walk with Audrey nearer to the scene (in my mind I am sprinting). It's midday at the centre, lunchtime I guess, and there is a little girl dressed in a pretty white frilly top and pants, and she is sitting down outside, completely alone. Her eyes are red from the length of time she has been crying. It's heartbreaking. What astonished me, and still does a day later, is that no-one came over to her for about thirty minutes. They left her to cry. I went over to the fence and spoke to her through the bars, and in all honesty it felt like I was speaking to a pet in a cage. I rolled a green ball to her through the bars and she stopped crying. I moved away after a short chat with her, and went back to Audrey. She started crying again, and still no-one came. When the centre staff were aware that I and another father were quietly observing this they called out to her in some casual manner, more for our benefit than hers. She kept crying. A while later Audrey and I went back to her, and so did the father and his daughter. She seemed keen for attention, keen for a swing, a hug, anything. Almost immediately a young woman came out, scooped her up and told her how 'silly' she was being. The child might have been around 8 months old, but she was tiny so looked even more helpless. I said 'it's heartbreaking to see her like this '. She remarked bluntly 'what?'. I repeated myself. The young woman turned to the little baby and said 'oh you've been cross all day' and then she took her back into the centre, out of sight. The father turned to me and said 'that remark could have only come from a woman who has never had a child'. It's the first time I felt I could have taken another child home. I wanted to hug her.

Because I am sure many of you have children in childcare, I'd like to point out that what I saw was most unusual, unusual enough for me to approach the child several times and to speak to the childcare person. It was a sad sight. And I guess she is back there again today, being 'silly' and 'cross'.

I do know just how tough times are. In saying that I wish stay-at-home mothers were encouraged more, instead of being viewed as having no ambition or worth. I have seen a little of this attitude, but amazingly almost all my friends are stay-at-home mothers. Maybe it just works out that way, like attracts like. Or situation attracts situation. I know I would find it very hard to work for someone else and leave my children for the day. I don't think I'm that strong. And I am very thankful we haven't had to make that choice. In New Zealand the government offers financial incentives for mothers to get back to work. Stay-at-home mothers get absolutely nothing, not even after paying tax like I have for seventeen working years. I have changed my spending habits though. When I worked full time I could buy whatever I liked. Now a lot more thought goes into it, and I can't always buy what I fancy. But it's a compromise I am very happy with.

P.S. The incredible picture above is by the talented Lisa Golightly of Kiki and Polly. I won Cup of Jo's Friday giveaway! I am beyond thrilled and plan on ordering a large Girl in a Yellow Suit.

24 September 2011

in praise of Woody

I've always thought of Woody Allen as neurotic and painfully annoying. But after watching Annie Hall (what took me so long?) I am a fan!

And this small scene from Banana's is just too much. I think I've watched it ten times over...

23 September 2011

a kris atomic closeup


Have you seen Krisatomic's standalone site for her coverage of London Fashion Week? Amazing closeups, detail, colour. I love the print on the tank above.

And I am so tempted by her prints. Chronic Bitchface I always find hilarious, and this would be rather adorable for a girl's bedroom.

16 September 2011

the fortunate one

I had a visitor today. Well, two, to be precise. The small black furry one hung out for a couple of hours here on my alpaca wool rug watching Rango, eating jubes and carrots and Snax crackers, all in front of a toasty fire. He must surely have his own lucky rabbit's foot.


I then turned him into a little artwork. He said he didn't mind at all, and that his furry body was the least he could offer.


13 September 2011

school is (actually) cool


So I hear. Lucy's into her third week and all is going well. When I pick her up her response to my question 'how was school today' is always a deadpan 'great'. Or my 'What bit did you enjoy most today?' to which the reply is 'playtime' (or lunchtime). And I thought only boys responded like this! So I gently quiz her a little on the drive home. The best way though is to view the masterpieces of art, literature and expression hanging up in the classroom from the day's activities (lots of butterflies, unicorns and spaghetti-like words).

Since we invariably get home from school pickup around 4pm after a compulsory play in the school playground (Audrey goes nuts), I am slowly getting some quick dinner recipes stockpiled. They have to be very good for me to keep the recipe though. Two of my semi-regulars are a no-boil pasta bake and gluten-free pizza.

The pasta bake really is a goodie, so I have to share the recipe (found somewhere on the web):

1 26 oz jar pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups water
15 oz ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella (I've just used cheddar)
8 oz uncooked pasta (e.g. shells)

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine sauce and water.
Stir in ricotta, parmesan, and 1 cup mozzarella.
Add uncooked pasta.
Spoon mixture into appropriately-sized baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake 55 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

Serves 8.

The above recipe is a good basic recipe, so add your herbs and seasonings, a little tofu (or meat if you really must) and go wild with it. The recipe alone is rather tasty so I can only imagine what added extras will elevate it to.

And for the pizza, I admit I haven't been making my own pizza bases because I haven't taken the time to master yeast yet, so I've been buying these gluten-free bases.

My own vegetarian favourite, based on a nearby Italian restaurant's version I love, is caramelised onion, blue cheese and pinenut.

I preheat my pizza stone for as long as I can, one hour is best. Truth be told, I almost always don’t have an hour to spare (or rather the thought of the oven being on for that long without food in it makes me uncomfortable) so I settle for 30 minutes. During this time Lucy and Audrey are having a bath and by the time they're in their pyjamas the stone is ready to go.

I spread the gluten-free bases with tomato paste, add random dollops of caramelised onion, crumble blue cheese on top, sprinkle with pinenuts and then grated cheddar and top with fresh herbs (last I used rosemary). They're baked for around 10-15 minutes/until golden.

The most pleasing thing about these sorts of dinners is that there are very few dishes. That makes me deliriously happy.


Lucy (far left) and her class walking to the school hall

10 September 2011

a little light


Last night, from our upstairs balcony, a look above shadowed trees of the fireworks display for the opening of the Rugby World Cup. The finale cracker drew loud cheers, which we heard some 7-8 driving kms away. Not bad for a free seat I thought. And far better than being jostled about by 60,000+ souped-up rugby fans (you could say I'm not rugby's biggest fan).

6 September 2011

at the schoolgate


Converse hi-tops had become my daily shoe. Now that Lucy is at school I needed to make slight changes to my school run outfits, something a little more polished. I have been wanting these Dieppa Restrepo loafers for quite a while now, which are available for pre-order only. But admidst my deliberating I chanced upon these barely-worn loafers in a thrift shop (though the prices were far from thrift store prices). Made in Italy and full leather, with the black patent and suede combo I so love about the Dieppa penny loafers, they almost seemed too good a find to be true. I paid $38 for them, which in an op shop is outrageous though anywhere else it would have been a steal. I've have worn them probably every second day since I bought them two weeks ago, and even though I'd still love the Dieppa's I've stopped my incessant pining.

So basically I still wear my same pants, shirts, tees and jerseys but with a more polished shoe it moves the outfit away from overly casual.

I was told by a friend whose daughter goes to a nearby school that the fashion stakes are high. She has heard of women who have recruited stylists for schoolgate outfits. Utter madness! I can't believe people think they have to compete, and to that extent. It's one thing to look either tidy or polished or whatever look you're going for, but to pay someone money to tell you what to wear to drop off and collect your child(ren) from school just flabbergasts me. I'm sure this happens alot more in larger metropolitan cities, but it just surprises me here. Here's an interesting read on the topic.

This is not only a new world for Lucy, but for me also. I have a lot to learn. Or rather, a lot to discover.

4 September 2011


Lucy's new teacher posted this on their school's website and it bought back such vivid memories. Truly mind-altering, psychedelic memories. It is quite possibly one of my earliest recollections, perched in front of Sesame Street watching that mesmerising little pinball. It came out in 1977 (Wikipedia tells me so) so I would have been about four, or a little older if we got it later than everywhere else in the world which was often the case. It was such a trip! Did you know the Pointer Sisters sang it?

3 September 2011

the allure of the seaside village

I hold a particular fondness for picturesque, usually seaside, villages (which goes some way to explain why I enjoy Doc Martin). I haven't made it to Europe yet, and I still find it utterly fascinating that the English can travel to France for a day trip whereas for me it would take the best of two days. Whenever my mind wanders to living somewhere like New York, I think ultimately I'd find the pace too hectic.

New Zealand is a young country, and though not in the same league as Europe we do still have some beautiful (younger) heritage and historical buildings. But sadly it seems the government gives too much free reign to distasteful developers, allowing these old buildings to be demolished for cheap eyesores. I do wonder what this city will look like in another 50 years. Where will our history go?

So sometimes I dream of places like these (bern switzerland, cuenca spain, dinant belgium and portofino italy):

But just so you don't go away thinking I am unpatriotic, here is an image of my hometown in Hawkes Bay, shot by local Sandy Austin early one morning this year:

And Havelock North is, in fact, a small seaside village!

top four images via flexijourney