25 November 2008

from beach to ballroom...

This weekend was more catching up, this time with South Island relatives. It has been just under two years since I have seen the two beanstalks down there, and how they have changed! I watched with envy and pride as they dipped and twirled around the dance floor, footwork and posture I would love to learn.

Flying around New Zealand is fun. The tiny Beech plane from Tauranga to Auckland, the short and efficient hop between Auckland and Christchurch, it is all so easy! Driving is another story, beautiful countryside, empty roads, large modern cars.

The painting is progressing slowly but surely, but time is running fast. And now, at last, summer has arrived. With it come text messages and phone calls from Italy telling me how cold it is... I'll be looking for my winter coat and wearing that out of summertime NZ to get me warmly home from Rome!

19 November 2008

seagulls, surf and surfies

Today was a day to paint, catch up with friends, then visit family. And while the fish and chips are being collected it is Blog time!

I am sitting where I can hear the surf, see the waves, and somewhere out there in wet-suits are my nephews, surfing. The birdsong is melodic; even where I am staying on the outskirts of the city the birdsong is more varied and melodic than in Europe. I don't miss it when I am in Italy, but I really appreciate hearing it now.

The kitten that thinks the best seat in the house is on the shoulder of whomever is at the computer is playing in my hair. The purring is delightful. Zacchi, you must learn to purr. Or to play gently with kittens.

I hear the surfers return. The fish and chips will arrive in a few minutes. "Oh sweet!" says the first surfer in, when I answer that Mum has gone to pick up fish and chips... the smile is wide, the sun-bleached hair hiding any hint of the ancestry that allows this surfer to compete in the Maori competition.

Surf boards and wet suits discarded, the kitten is now the centre of attention. It's a great place to grow up, coastal New Zealand. But for Aunty Kay, much as I love the place, three weeks is enough time away from the place I call home.

PS: Dad and sister might prefer to use plates, but for nostalgia's sake my fish and chips were eaten out of the paper, of course!

18 November 2008

under the grill

The week in review:

The sun here (when it decides to come out) is lethal. It feels like being under the grill. I think in future I will come to NZ in the winter, renting my house out for the Italian summer...

Zacchi received a gift this week from a Kiwi fan he hasn't even met... a gorgeous kiwiana quilt with doggy paw prints on the reverse side! Talk about spoilt... so last night I let Bonnie sleep on the carpet in my room, can't have her feeling neglected!

I am loving the avocadoes, the feijoa drink (added that just for homesick Kiwis), the home baking and the flower gardens. The other night I breathed deeply all the way home from my sister's house, dwelling on the scents of the gardens, the freshly cut grass, the smell of the sea coming in on a gentle breeze... all that was lacking was Zacchi on a lead!

The supermarkets seem to have a huge range of foods. I guess everything is relative; I am staying in a city, not in a hillside village so choice is to be expected. But there is just so much to choose from, it makes shopping even more of a chore. So far my NZ shopping has extended to buying a pair of jeans that fit the antipodean figure, some art supplies, and now two trips to the supermarket. I am drawn to the olives and the salami, wanting a taste of home. I miss the bread of my Italian town. Sorry New Zealand, this wonderful soft bread just doesn't do it for me! And the cost of wine here - shock horror! It's enough to turn a girl teetotal! Unless it is a special occasion the most I pay in Italy for a bottle of very pleasant red wine is 1.89 euro.

The painting is progressing well enough but still a lot to do... using oils I am pushing my luck time-wise, it is 40 inches by 60 inches, that's a lot of paint and a lot of detail. I have cancelled my early December holiday at the timeshare, there isn't enough time to share at the moment; perhaps I can use the week in Scotland next year. I would rather have more time getting the painting to the level I know it can be, rather than rush to meet social commitments. This is a work and family trip, after all.

However, that said, etc etc, there are lots of people I intend catching up with. It's only the beach and the spa pool and sauna I have cancelled!

This coming weekend it is off to Christchurch. I see that the temperature range is from 7 at night to 31 in the day... crazy! Summer isn't really here. It comes and goes, sun beating relentlessly if you are unlucky enough to have to be out in it, then rain and a coldish wind the next day. It's true, the world, climate and all, really has gone mad!

11 November 2008


The painting is underway. No photos, sorry, but so far I am happy with the shape it is taking.

The sky here is so blue, the greens so bright, the gardens so pretty. I love the smell of the freshly cut lawns. The houses are attractive, spacious, with wonderful views and windows; the furniture is comfortable, the clothing available fits well. Why don't I want to live here? There is no logic in my decision, but that is just the way it is!

Shhh... don't tell Zacchi, but my dear old Bonnie (aged Springer Spaniel) has been getting lots of cuddles and tummy rubs. She loves living with my dad, but she is certainly happy to have me home. Oddly enough she doesn't understand Italian when I talk to her... or has she just gone deaf in her old age? She is much aged now, more than I had expected, although the truth is that I didn't think she would still be with us. On Friday she gets her summer haircut, and that will make her look younger. Her head is on the angle after an illness, but she still enjoys life as tablets take care of her arthritic pains.

Tomorrow it is off to the Waikato to the bank, the accountant, more check-ups in a language I understand, then hopefully a cuppa... Jan and Alison, are you free after school?

10 November 2008

I guess I should be pleased...

I drove yesterday. It was awful. I had to think, check, recheck, think again, and really felt like a learner driver. I was in an automatic car. Mine is manual. I was on an almost empty road. I don't think they exist in my part of Italy. I feel far safer zooming up Montecassino with its huge buses and hairpin bends or zapping amongst the traffic in the chaos that is Cassino than I do on a Sunday drive in Bethlehem, Tauranga. Half of me thinks that my reflexes should kick in again to this driving on the left, the other half of me is very happy that my Italian driving is so firmly entrenched that driving here is difficult.

Today was MoleMap day. I have been photographed at extremely close range, have viewed the offending blemishes on the computer screen, and am resigned to going home to Italy with scabs and scars. I am lucky, they don't look dangerous. So once the official recommendation arrives it's off to the surgery for a bit of knife work and some more dry ice. There isn't a lot of spare skin on my forehead, hopefully one or two of the worry lines will disappear with the offending pieces of skin! That's as close to plastic surgery as I intend getting!

One of the things I really enjoy about living in Italy is being able to go out into the sun. Just now, however, I wouldn't mind seeing a little New Zealand sun, this is far colder than I expected it to be!!!!

7 November 2008

feijoa juice

hot water bottles
peanut butter on toast
vegemite and marmite
ocean views
wooden floors
books in English
flower gardens

airport announcers I can understand without particularly listening
supermarket products I recognise
clothing sizes and shapes that fit
being short or average height again

all good


here they drive on the WRONG side of the road!
I think I'll stay being a passenger for a while...

5 November 2008


I am back in time to vote. I need to study NZ politics as some boundaries have changed. I don't imagine the NZ elections will have the oratory of the winning and losing speeches I watched last night. The drama will be there though, this election is going to be interesting.

I wasn't going to vote, I felt too disconnected. But then it felt irresponsible not voting. I have three choices. I can choose not to vote, claiming that I am too far removed to make an educated vote. I can vote in my old electorate, which has had boundary changes, or I could change my electoral place and vote where my cottage is. My task this morning is to watch the (recorded) leaders' debate, and do some other research via the media and conversations with friends.

My home is Italy, I feel that Lazio is my turangawaewae at least for now. As we flew into Auckland I heard a man with an Indian accent say "look, I can see my home from here". It made me feel OK about saying Italy, not New Zealand, is now my home.

This time when I re-entered New Zealand I had to fill out the entry card differently. It felt strange but not wrong when I noticed that I was now officially returning for a short time, no longer a resident coming home. But in customs, after checking my passport and entry card, the man looked up, smiled, and said "Welcome home, Jocelyn". The welcome from an official was warm, as though to him any other place away from here had to be some kind of exile.

I don't feel torn between two countries, just torn between far-flung people. We teach our children to fly, so must celebrate when they do. Home is not so much an empty nest but a tree with many branches. When the distances seem great I remind myself that many of my childhood playtime hours were spent climbing trees, testing out those far reaching branches. Now I move more slowly, less lightly, but the will to climb and to reach out remains.

I have elected where I wish to be resident. Now I must choose for elections here. My two worlds are far apart but for me they sit side by side.

3 November 2008


i lostmy internetconnection last Tuesday night,andnow have had thestrangeexperienceof going "cold turkey" fromitat a timewhenIreally neededit formy work,and formy olivepickerguests who are jobhuntingin Londonand were needingto make appointmenttimes etc.

I amnow inBangkokairport,first emailaccess fornearly a week and I get a most erratic keyboard. Still, you willhavefun workingthis out,a bit like a code really! Not so goodformy ESL readers.

14 hour stop-overs are not my favourites,but i havedone somereally rewarding readingandnow need to go for a walk and find someway of entertainingmyself for thenext few hours. People watchingisfun... I play the gameof "who needs a smile,and willI getoneback?"

RealemailwhenI wake up in NZ...

Oh yes,IphonedZacchi from the airportinRomeand he is fine,hadbeenhometo check the houseand trotted knowingly back to his temporary homenextdoor whenI wasn't to be found. he'llbe fine. he loves the foodnextdoor...