Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's all about family ...

Here is son #2 playing with my camera.
This is what six-year olds do to their poor unsuspecting mums. It is all about butts, poos, wees and farts. Everything and anything of that genre is hilarious if you are six. It's another matter if you are 38 years old, just had a baby and are caught wearing your pj's. Still this is us in real life.
My, how glamorous!
Dillon's birthday party today - Marcus being ever so shy.
Marcus, Caleb, Ojan and Dillon.
You got to love 'em! I do. (Spot the lady).
Porirua skatepark, March 09
Marcus warming up.
Chilling out on mum and dad's bed.
My sweet baby Knuckles plays with his puppy on our bed.
Little Richie
The boys wait patiently for everyone else to get ready.
Maia and little Richie
Knuckles wears his gorgeous new hat (thanks Betty-Ann) and the little purple velvet dungarees I found a Trash Palace for 50 cents. The embroidered Indian top underneath was 20 cents from a little shop in Tawa. All Knuckles needs is some dreadlocks. He was my gorgeous little hippy baby today.
Little Richie
This baby brings us all so much joy. He's so easygoing, readable and goodnatured. His brothers fuss over him. He has three fathers - dad and his two big protective brothers. They hover around me, fight over who's turn it is to hold him, cry or sulk if they get miss a turn or it's cut short, and critique my skills as a mother letting me know when the baby is hungry, hasn't had enough milk or has been left to cry too long. Sometimes they just glare at me when I put him down awake for his naps. Anyone would think I was new at this. Maia is 12 and has woken in the night, fed and put his baby brother back to bed without waking us. Marcus is proud as punch when we are in public, he just wants to show the world his cute baby. These are some special boys. We are feeling proud as punch about all of them.
Nemaia's classic pose, kissing his baby brother for the millionth time.

Last week little Richie had a dedication service along with all the new children at our church in Wellington. Marcus asked "What's a dedication thingy mum?" So I explained that it is where the Pastor says a prayer and we give Knuckles back to God because he doesn't belong to us. We're just get to keep him for a little while but he belongs to God. Marcus was quiet for awhile and then in all earnestness said "So, does he (the Pastor) throw him up in the air?" The kid is priceless!

Arise Church Wellington
Baby Dedication Service
March 2009

Richard (Snr), little Richie, and that girl from Ahipara.

Ps John Cameron blesses our dear wee one. It was truly magical.

Gillie give him her blessing and her warm smile.
Our extended whanau for the day: Hilarious, Knuckles is yawning his head off.
The Gregory's; The Baxter/Maurice's; the Cupples; the Teikamata's, and the Toimata family.
The four honey's - Beautiful women of God.
Ojan, Ayla, Elyn and Kat!
Marcus, Rich, Richie (aka Knuckles), Rachelle and Maia.

We could all hear the theme song to the Simpsons playing as we tried to squish ourselves into the littlest couch in the world. I kept trying to do bunny ears behind Maia's head but he is too old to be caught out anymore. Poor old Marcus, I just want to scoop him up and plonk him on my knee when I see these pictures. I didn't see that he was sitting on the floor. Nevermind, it looks like he's over the whole process anyway.
This is my blessing, to be part of an amazing group of men, all four of them. It's exciting watching their lives grow and their unique character take shape and form. I have been blessed abundantly. Talking with friend Danny today at the skatepark, we agreed that "it's all about family". I love it!
(I need to mention these dedication photos were kindly taken by Laurie from Arise Church who patiently waited while our lot made their way to the assigned area and organised ourselves. No easy feat although we had some laughs as we sorted ourselves out. Lots of fun. Thanks Laurie, the photos are great.)

whimsical meanderings ...

Honestly, I am so random sometimes, I astound myself. For instance, I have been having the most disjointed conversations with people and getting myself in knots and twists. I can't follow a track of thought properly. Totally the medicine and pain. However husband says I always talk this fast and this much. But I hope I make more sense than I have been this last week.
That aside, I am really enjoying my life, complete with it's challenges. I am meeting the most amazing people and feel so surrounded by loving kindnesses. All around me are incredible happenings. Friends are having personal breakthroughs, my kids are shining, my husband and I are on the same page all the time, we have finally found a great home church that has lovely people who genuinely love God (not just a facade) and new opportunities are opening to me. And all without the mad striving I have experienced over the last several years. Just gently, quietly and easily things are astir. I can see God's fingerprints all over my life. It's so reassuring.
I have even learned to love my own company. It's new to feel comfortable being alone at home with my wee babe. I can't believe how freaked out I was when I found out my third son was on his way. I know it's because my first children were born when I was up to my neck with historical personal issues, my relationship with my husband was still in it's infancy and I was scared of being a bad mother. I was cut off from any form of support system and what friends I did have didn't know where to or how to begin to help me, I was really complicated.
Yet here I am pottering around during the day and looking forward to the arrival home after school of my older boys and big honey after work. Smiling as I wait for that little Knuckles of mine to wake up and warmly greeting his sleepy face. The odd cup of tea and stitch-y day with friends, an outing to a thrift store if I'm able for a little look-see if I can find an old stash of lace or pearl buttons. It's a simple life, a far cry from the past few years where I have found myself wanting to move ahead yet frustrated on so many levels.
I can't wait to return to my quiet strolls along the beach looking for treasures washed up - little heart shaped stones, smooth sea glass, shards of pottery, tiny shells and of course, my wonderful and growing collection of sea buttons, that's right plastic buttons thrown ashore from who knows where.
I love this connection with the land, the ocean, the sky and nature. My love for raw materials in my artwork is testimony to this I think. It is when I feel closest to God on a personal level. Just me and my Creator, chilling and admiring His beautiful artwork. No religion or hype here. Just wonderful peaceful meanderings with the odd sigh from my little Knuckles as he snuggles in for more cuddles. The warm weather is coming to an end, but we will just bundle up and brave the elements for these chats with God. My prayer closet is my local beach. It's where I find my sanity when it occasionally goes astray.
I love living in on the outskirts of the city, here in our little beachside community. I love all the people and activity too. I always have but I am just also just as happy to quietly puddle along as my healing body and circumstances allows.
And I also love old things. I guess living with my grandparents as a kid has influenced me, and the more stuff I make, the more I am aware of how much nostalgia plays a part in my flavour too. Things like old vintage buttons or a piece of fabric that was like my curtains in my room. Or wall paper. Or a handknitted baby blanket. Or handstitched baby gown. Scones, jam and cream tea's. And making stuff of course. It's all about the craft. I am a craft-inspired artist. That is my bent and proud of it I am.
Due to my restricted movements I have been spending my free time checking out other creative blogs (and spending a ridiculous amount of time checking out Facebook, it's too random, and chat like - I still love blogging because it's ALL about the story). Anyway ... I love that I can go all over the world, meet lovely people, view inspiring lives, homes, women and craft - without leaving home.
When my first child was born, I felt my life had ended because I couldn't go anywhere or do anything. I felt so isolated. Now, however my inbox is full everyday with news from different artists from around the globe. To little old me down here at the bottom of the Earth. My life has become richer and exciting being part of this amazing community of people - many who are are accomplished from being simply being great mums, published authors, to famous artists. And when I disappear for awhile they are there gentle checking to make sure that all is right, sending me encouragement and inspirational thoughts, and reminding me that I matter. It's pretty heady stuff alright. My big global community.
Here are some old and new finds in blog world. Take the time to head off and visit these lovely reads arouund the world. Check out their blogrolls and visit their recommendations. Go on. It costs nothing and can change your day as you see what these ladies have to share with us all. From free tutorials, to inspiring stories about everyday life, from studio tours (I love looking at other peoples art studios and art-y homes) to beautiful works of art like Nina's jewellery.
I love Soulemama, Amanda is such an amazing and inspiring woman. She is like Martha Stewart but more authentic and real (meaning without a load of assistants backstage doing all the work for her). She confesses to mess in her house, baby crying and keeping her awake, and yet makes gorgeous handmade things for her kids and is able to inspire women all over the world with simple, crafty goodness. Go to the following link for an amazing look at her lovely studio space ... In the right-hand corner is 'slideshow' option which is so helpful. I just watched it over and over and it just confirms to me that I want to live in a space that inspires me. Not just practical but a home that inspires me on to more creativity and life in abundance - in all aspects: spiritual, physical, psychological, emotional, relational - all that touchy-feel good stuff.

Speaking of buttons, I also found a newie today.
Omg, I love this button tree. If you scroll down her page's right-hand column you will see a bunch of tutorials including this one. Seriously it's pretty labour intensive but I think it's gorgeous and if you want something lovely then it's worth the effort. Plus if you have a stash of buttons and are looking to alleviate some of that haul, this may just tickle your fancy. Every year at Xmas I make my own handmade ornaments, and I may just have a go, if I have nothing better to do for eight hours! I read her touching account of a destructive visit from relatives and it's impact on her son. My heart went out to her. We all have stuff we are dealing with, all of us. It is great that we can reach out and be connected with support and kindness even from strangers.

This photo made me laugh of a sewing machine that has been embellished completely with buttons and other ephemera. Whimsical and impractical. The author of this blog has created a lifestyle around her button collection. She has authored a book and is currently starring in a few blogs of other well known art/craftsters including Amanda Soule Blake.

Of course I would be remiss to not mention my favourite jeweller and dear friend Nina Bagley. She has injected a new stream of materials into her amazing jewellery. We are seeing lots of textiles including vintage laces, leather and stitch being used as well as her lovely trademark poetry, photographs and cast trinkets. I adore her work. And of course my favourites - vintage mother of pearl buttons. Her website is visual poetry, she has a gift with words and I adore adore adore her work. She is a key influence and mentor in my life. Every entry on her blog moves me - her honesty, her love for her sons, her home and treasures, her ability to take the seemingly ordinary and show us something extraordinary. I have learned to slow down and notice beauty in my everyday surroundings. This woman has imparted more gifts to me than she is probably aware of. It's all there, just click on 'Ornamental' to be transported to another world up Firefly Lane. These drawers are gorgeous overflowing with tiny treasures. Aptly todays post was titled: 'The Secondhand Shop' ... need I say anything more. I admit to wanting to meet her so much. Our connecting up last year here in New Zealand was rendered impossible with chronic morning sickness - mine not hers.
Of course there are my other usual haunts too - India Flint ( is bubbling over our friend Imbi's ( wonderful exhibition currently showing - go see her amazing work, it left me speechless and that never happens. Melissa at Tiny Happy (tiny happy) is busy stitching, homemaking and being her usual productive self. She is one of those people who can whip up a brand new dress for herself in an afternoon whilst caring for two lovely kids and noticing natures loveliness around her. Robyn takes me through her beloved Africa and on sightseeing trips of other artist's work while herself being a hoarder (in the good sense!) just like me creates the most amazing mixed media carvings. She is often observed working by a family of monkeys in a tree overhead.
Meanwhile I sit here drinking tea, listening to the happy sounds of my family, enjoying the rest after a long day. I have so much to tell you, I don't know where to begin. Truly. And yet, I think I have said more than enough for today.
Thank you for all your kind wishes and prayers, gifts and emails, phone calls and for the women in my community who have rallied around our little family so generously, we thank you for the love you have shown us. Like I said, His fingerprints are all over this.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Update ...

Thanks to her landlords who allow the rent to be delayed while husband supports her for two weeks;
Thanks to crafty knit nut and new friend Betty-Ann who bought Knuckles a handknitted beanie, his brothers and father some apple muffins, and for her, some lovely greenery and sea glass she had collected, plus a promise to upskill my knitting abilities;
Thanks to Pip and Lizzy for dinners roast chicken, vegies, meatloaf and salad greens;
Thanks for the emails of support and encouragement from India, Imbi, Cheryl, brother Ian, twisted sister, gina marie, robyn, martine and yvette.

She is thankful and feeling loved.
She is also spacey and racy because she has finally got some drugs that work - Wahooo (no more pain just random conversations at 90 miles per second although husband says that's normal followed by sleep that would challenge the dead).
She was told she will heal in time and that it isn't permanent
She is overjoyed to hear she can have more children in time if she wishes
She can't wait to be able to hold her son again properly
She loves life
She is grateful
She has also discovered Facebook, so she is not in bed healing but glued to her 'puter talking to herself at 4.30am.
She is feeling tired.
She is wishing you goodnight.

PS ...
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
I'm up ...
I'm up who?
Hahaha, you're a poo!
(say it to self slowly and it should dawn on you, joke courtesy of Marcus at 6 yrs).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prayers please ...

my latest accessory ...

She is sore all the time

She has constant pain

Her back doesn't work like it used to

She has trouble walking, sitting, standing, sleeping

She needs a lot of help and assistance

She can't lift her baby (or hold or care for or snuggle him :( ...)

She is in treatment for her back

She is praying and believing for a miracle

She asks you to pray too.

She is thankful.

Afghan textiles, Pt 3 ...

(Part 1 explains how I got these cloths, and Pt 2 has views of bodices, and just a reminder that these pieces are ALL handstitched...)

Cuffs and Borders
Front View
Back View
Front View
Back View
More beautiful pieces ...
The back cloths are just as beautiful as their front covers.
And yet more ...
Gotta love this cotton backing cloth with it's lines of running stitches and patches.
And row upon row of stitching still.

I am in genuine awe of the work involved in these cloths. I sound like a cracked record but have to pinch myself that these are mine each time I show someone.

Afghan textiles, Pt 2 ...

(See Part 1 of these posts to find out how I came to be the owner of these lovely cloths including a detailed look at the piece in the upper left hand corner as well as some beaded beauties...)

Back views of the piece above. Again the amount of handstitching leaves me astounded.

Beautiful Afghan Textiles, Pt 1 ...

I went to the Newtown Fair. Down a side alley, behind a big fancy stall sat a chick with a box and a few little sundries. On the box was a handwritten $2 sign. She was standing with some Indian women who were selling a few saris draped over a fence. Seriously, it was the most understated stall in one of our cities largest fairs. No big deal right? Wrong. I am never one to pass something that looks out of place. I mean seriously, there were fancy stalls, big tents, everyone had some kind of hooha to attract you. This girl (cause she's younger than my 38 years) sat on a plain stool with just a few bric-a-brac and that box.
Well let me tell you, I nearly fainted when I looked in the box. Inside were extraodinary handsewn embroidered cloths from Afghanistan. They were worn and old because (as she told me) they had BEEN BURIED during the war to stop people stealing them. So work it out. I have $50 and there are nearly 50 pieces in this box. I could've cried. I wanted to pick up the whole box and take them home. Or to a museum. I mean these are works that women have handstitched and trust me, it takes a lot of strength to pull a needle through up to eight layers of cloth. Times that by millions of stitches. hand beading (yes indeed!), handwoven fabric, shisha (the little mirrors seen on Indian clothing too) and we are talking serious treasure. I nearly peed my pants.
I think someone gave them to her. A dealer in town had gone through and picked out the newer nicer pieces so I got the OLD, DISTRESSED BURIED ONES which was fantastic because I love things that tell a story. Some of them still have the earth on them. I did check because it did cross my mind that they may have come from graves but she said to her knowledge, no. So I did a quick prayer and scooped up as many as I could.
I am in two minds about artifacts from poorer countries (due to exploitation by greedy ones) but also believe that when they fall into the right hands, have more chance of surviving and being valued. At $2 per piece nobody is going to make a profit I figure. It's sad that these came to be in that box but somehow I had a good feeling about it. One senses these things.
Last year I viewed clothing that a collector had gatherred off burial grounds. It including clothing and even a baby wrap (bless). The bodies had been exhumed by robbers and the jewellery taken. The rest was left to the elements. Being a serious collector of artifacts his reasoning was that this way these textiles would be preserved and saved rather than disappear completely. It challenged my thinking for sure. Who would ever believe perhaps our clothes will live on to tell our story across the other side of the world after we are long gone?
Likewise when the English came to New Zealand and took Maori artifacts back to England there was a huge uproar about the removal of tapu (sacred) objects including human remains and some of these have been returned to various tribes here in Aotearoa. Still in hindsight we can see that the greed and genuine intrigue of one race ensured the survival of important historical artifacts for another. Still I ain't gonna ever justify the desecration of such personal things nor the improper gain of goods. Can you tell the jury is still out on this one.
Now mind, I have a crook back (The last remnant of being preggers and delivering my wee babe knuckles) at the moment and had to take these photos while half-reclining on my bed. The light is shocking and the camera I have so old, that no decent shots of close-up shots of the handsewing on the back turned out well. Still I want to show you. If anyone can shed light on these pieces I would be interested to know. In the meantime I am feeling amazed at this serendipitous find. I love that. Serendipity. It is a wonderful thing.
The following site is one I looked up regarding textiles from this region.
I hope you enjoy seeing them. I loved Raiders of The Lost Ark when I was a kid. It was the ancient artifacts and treasure hunting that did it for me. This has that same sense about it. I feel so lucky to have these in my possession. It is a pleasure to view each piece, the handstitching, the layers of cloth, the detail, the skill, the mystery.
I will post more photos later.
My big pile of beautiful textiles

In a museum I would be shot for touching but I can touch, gaze and investigate to my hearts content. I have touched up my photos due to the poor light in my room but the colours are slightly more muted than they appear here.
Still that green is an emerald green so they aren't that far off to the real thing.
Here is just one bodice. I have about ten of these. Some with the dust and soil. Evidence that they were obviously once buried.

The back view. It is more pink than this.

Turned inside out.

Layer upon layer of cloth is stitched together.
Thousands of tiny stitches through the many layers of cloth.

The button (and loop) closure at the back.
Details of the colourful bodice that is handworked.
Shisha embroidery with those little mirrors (origin is India)

Beaded Treasures
I want to do something with this but for now just goggle at it in awe. And wrap it around my wrist (but it's too long) so then around my upper arm (perfect).
Those little white beads are all worked into the cloth threads indivually, woven not stitched I suspect. You can just glimpse that in the photo below.
These beaded medallions are handstitched ...
...onto course, thick felt which I am guessing comes from yak hair or something because Afghanistan is also the home to those peeps that make yurts from felt. See!
And this small piece looked pretty unspectacular ....
...Until I turned it over and realised it had been handstitched. Holy moly, my head cannot even get aroung some of these pieces.

I will post more later.