Thursday, April 24, 2008

There is the most amazing gift ...

Of love, friendship and incredible support that exists all around me. I have had a few calls from close family who are aware of things. I have been inundated with emails from you all, my blog buddies, strangers yet not so. That is always funny that is. Not humourus funny but unusual funny. Feeling close to people, developing an interest in their lives and outcomes, intimate and yet I have only met a handful of the bloggers who communicate with me. Yet there has been no shortcoming of non-intrusive support and understanding.
I think to myself of this as 'blog etiquette' - say only NICE things, find the good and reflect it back. Softly and carefully give feedback if necessary but always positive, uplifting and even knee-slapping humour is encouraged. At least that's how I operate. I have had blog friends receive negative comments and I don't understand it. It can be very debilitating. I figure anyone who connects with me will not be crappy and likewise, I don't have any crappy blogs that I frequent either. I have not had one bad comment since I started my blog back in January. Sometimes it is really challenging to be so transparent, to be honest and bare all. I know I often cringe at what I reveal, yet I bite the bullet trusting that someone somewhere will relate, maybe be inspired themselves or have a inspiring thought to share too. It makes me vulnerable and I guess if I had a bad experience I might think twice about it all.
Slowly the shock is easing regarding my situation, oh so slowly. I see on the horizon a glimmer of resignation - of what solution yet I do not know. Lots of offers for the life inside me but I sit here waiting for my husband and I to form one mind over this. That is my sole focus for now. Unity with my husband. It is a good focus. It forces me to be gentle and quieten the indignant, frustrated woman who's kicking and screaming inside. She hasn't gone away, she's just shutting up so that there is room for my close ones, my husband and sons to express their thoughts too.
I do have faith and I know so many of you are praying. I do believe that God holds the whole situation in His capable hands. My job is to listen. Isn't that so much easier than scrambling around trying to fix things? I find it is anyway.
"Be still and Know" is one of my favourite verses in the bible.
This is terrible in some ways. So many people in the world with genuine issues and here I am bleating on about something that is more inconvenient than anything.
I have a friend who has scarring from severe burning over a majority of her body. It was caused when her brothers accidentally set her alight as a child. There is an advert on tv at the moment where a woman is promoting a blemish cream, she talks about her life-changing mark which is a mere speck above her eyebrow. It is so tiny you can't actually see anything. My friend and I want to puke when we see it. It's all relative isn't it?
I have walked the beach with my boys and spend a lot of time resting and reading at the moment. Today was my first real day out of bed due to morning sickness (who called it 'morning'?) If I get a moment when I can get up, I spend it completely with my boys who are on term break. They are troopers. They cooked their own eggs and spaghetti on toast yesterday for lunch. Food is a no-go zone for me at the moment.
Can you tell art is not my focus for now? I have been grateful just being able to hold my food down and being able to sleep a lot. That is about it. That and my family.
Tonight we prepare for the arrival of my mother-in-law, my husband's brother, wife and three kids. It will be a squeeze but it will be wonderful to have the others around to bring some more happy noise into this house. Chase out the other funny atmosphere that is lurking around this home. Bring on the island food and laughs and chatter. The ukelele and guitars, Nanny doing the hula in the lounge with her moko's, the talks that go into the night and the buzz of a family come to tour Wellington, our city of which we are most proud.
Again, I want to thank you all for your flood of emails and rsponses, all sensitive and some with stories to share. I appreciate that the people who come here share the same understanding about blogs and it has opened up things for me I had never considered before. I have friends now from all over the world. And yes, you are friends. Friends I have yet to meet.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I am doing ...

I am listening to ... Hinemoana Baker
I am viewing ... Nina Bagley
I am soaking in ... Mary Oliver

My house is unusually quiet. The weather has turned cold. My husband flies north tomorrow to Auckland city. My boys and I may just don coats and walk along the beach seeking out treasures like heartstones and so forth. My mother sent me a parcel that arrived Saturday (thanks mum) which contained lots of goodies for Aunty Martha and a few bits and pieces for me. Today I spent the day with my friend Chrissie. She is a single mum with four children, two under three. Her home is so orderly and calm, the children happy and vibrant, and she still managed to feed our family and offer me a place of tranquility and peace. She loves the baby-stage but understands that I feel so very differently.
My husband and eldest son are very very quiet for now. They are hurt that I don't feel the way they do. I spent today trying to comfort them and allow them their feelings. Tears are flowing in this home too easily. They are not attacking me but trying to come to terms with what may happen. There is no easy answer, there is no win-win solution yet that has presented itself. I understand this. I am trying so very hard to make the best of this for everyone. We are all trying very hard.
I know I have made my bed and that I shouldn't be in this position at all. I could have taken precautions. However that was then and this is now. I do not believe any person born is a mistake and that nothing happens in this world without a purpose. Somewhere I believe a woman is crying out to God for a child and I am a woman with a pregnancy who feels she has already raised her two children and does not want to revisit this chapter in my life.
Tonight I read my favourite poet, visited one of my favourite peeps Nina, and listened to the sweet sounds of our dear talented Hinemoana. Time out from the responsibility and intense thinking. Time to ease back into the flavour of my life. I need this. It helps ground me. So did praying with my children tonight. They are so precious, I cannot pour enough of me into them and yet still, I feel so guilty and lacking as a mum. It is the angst of motherhood, no matter how much I do for them, still I feel I could do more.
Do not fret, I am grounded right now. I fret for my family, for their pain and for a solution that will come that will leave me with a peace in my heart, in all our hearts.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The News

I am pregnant. That is my news. Sorry no photos because I don't feel particularly visual at the moment. I have a lot swirling around inside me. It explains the moods swings and the tiredness that's seeped right into my bones. My family are all happy but me, I am very ambivalent. I am not prepared for another child. I am writing a new chapter in my life and it doesn't include another person I am responsible for. That sounds cold. I know. Callous even. It is my truth for now.
I am 37. My youngest has just started school, my eldest is starting college in two years. I am not ready for diapers, prams, sleepless nights, carrying someone around for a year or so until they walk, the demanding crying nature of a baby. I just cannot go back there. It is very difficult. A termination is out of the question. However adoption is very much an option for me to a couple who are Christian, have one adopted baby already and are looking for their second perhaps. My eldest son and my husband however very much want this child, have already formed an attachment. I am in a predicament of sorts.
This is very much a time of prayer and meditation for me to do the right thing. To keep the child will require a change of perspective and heart. I am not holding my breath. I like my life now. I love the two children I have. I want us to continue as before. Already I feel intruded upon, invaded as I wade through morning sickness, constantly yawning and falling asleep, and ongoing nausea.
This was like my first pregnancy. I was physically so ill it drained me, plus I was in shock. My second child was planned and I was really excited and prepared when he turned up. But this person has snuck in, blowing open my world for now and challenging me to dig deep, to come to the best possible conclusion for all.
Please share your experiences with me, if you know what I am talking about. I am surrounded by women who love babies, is there anyone like me, for whom the world doesn't move when they are pregnant? It certainly isn't the most popular stance especially as a woman. All my friends congratulate me but really they are just grateful it isn't them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Words without pictures ...

I am taking a leaf from India's blog and posting a entry without photos as that is a long process. I have some photos of last weeks happenings but they will have to wait.
Oh boy, am I tired. I have been in bed sporadically since last Saturday. I don't know what's wrong, I just know I feel unwell in my spirit and body. I have big assignments due this week and have dragged myself to the computer for a few hours every day when I can. My gorgeous husband is incredible - cooking, organising the boys and taking care of me.

Part of me wonders if it might be a case of depression. I suffered from it chronically after the birth of my first son however I can say it was present right from my childhood.

I haven't had many issues with it over the last few years andI think that being a part of a church was helpful during this time. It kept me focused on positive things and I do miss that. Being surrounded by people who care and support. However the politics of it meant that it became too complicated. Too many rules, unspoken ones. If you are a bit left-wing like me, a bit bohemian and independent, then all that judgemental stuff gets too hard to swallow.

It could be hormonal. I don't know. I don't feel unwell enough to go the doctor. I am one of those who hates going unless I am really sick. However if this malaise doesn't lift by the end of the week I am booking an appointment. If a course of Prozac will help, then what the hell! It sure would be better than this lethargy I am fighting.

We are on mid-term break next week for two weeks, so I will take a break from art and hard thinking. Our whanau are coming to stay. I have my sewing to keep my hands busy. I think a few days of dvd's and movies with the kids might hit the spot, as well as some nature walks. Main thing is NO STRESS and lots of lovely self-care for me and the kids.

Today I had to pick up the kids from school and took them to the local mall to buy them new school bags as their old one's from Uncle Sean last year finally gave up the ghost.

While in the shopping centre, a gang of teenagers came into the shop. I say gang, cause they were looking for trouble and some were sporting Mongrel Mob colours. The Asian ladies serving starting yelling at them to leave. I grabbed my kids and hustled them into the back corner of the store where they were safe.

One young man refused to come out from behind the counter. "They want to give me a hiding, they will kill me", he said. The shopkeeper didn't want trouble "It's none of my business, you have to leave."

I told him to hang on a minute and asked the shopkeeper to look after my kids. I went outside to confront the group and make sure the young boy was ok.

Here is some of our dialogue.

Group: "He gave my brother a hiding. I want to kill him. He deserves it."

Boy: "They will kill me if I leave the shop. I can't ring my parents, I live in a fosterhome and don't know the number."

It took about twenty minutes to sort out, but eventually the group went it's way as I faced them down and confronted them with:

"You wouldn't do this if your mothers were here. You were all in church on Sunday, this isn't what it's all about. (Pacific Islanders are in general a church-going culture). You need to go to the police or your adults to sort this out properly. Don't be an egg as well. I will call the police right now if you don't leave."

To the boy, I felt for him. At 14, I too was in a State fosterhome. A young woman called 'Mikey' used to stand outside the high school in Mangere and wait for me to give me a hiding (the bash). I had a smart mouth and had offended her, so she was out to get me. When I told my fosterparents they said "Good job, you deserve it." I was so scared and knew no one would help me out. I spent months avoiding her. Walking home extra miles just to avoid getting bashed and then getting in trouble because I was late home.

I spent a bit of time yacking with him. I asked him why he wore gang colours, where did he think that would lead him and I promised him that if he made better decisions, life would turn out better for him. I saved him this time but I wouldn't be there next time. I saw the person, not the situation, not his armour, not his problems.

Gang-related fights and college wars break out all the time in my town. This is a scary neighbourhood sometimes and I fear for my kids. However so much is dependent on a kid's home life. If my home had been more secure, I would have been more secure in myself. I wouldn't have needed to find my security in the identity of gangs and bad heads. I made so many bad decisions myself as a result all the way into my 20's. I just wanted to be liked, to be admired and to gather people around me. That is a sad period of my life.

People tend to walk by. I understand. Why look for trouble? But my life has been saved many times because someone cared enough to put themselves out for me. Someone saw behind my staunch exterior and did what was right, even when it cost them personally.

I have walked by drunken fights, stupid fights, etc because then people are just venting. But when it's a sinister one or like today a whole gang on one young man, then that's different. I felt my spirit rise and if there is one thing I cannot stand, it's injustice.

I hope my sons learned something today. They know we have their backs! We are so there for our boys. God willing, I pray it will always be so and that the worse thing they will complain of one day is that they were bored sometimes and didn't go to the skate park as often as they liked!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Latest workings...

Here is some of my latest work. These are my canvases. I decided this year that I would try not to buy new things but reuse, recycle and remake. These are all second hand clothes, nothing cost me more than $10 (my linen shirts cost me a buck each!) and include silk, linen and cotton. My two cardy's are polyester but have worked a treat. It is hard finding clothes that suit my body shape as a size 20 woman. However I think I managed. I must show you Savemart, our giant recycling clothes warehouse here in P-Town. Here are some of my items awaiting altering and work. Seen here are four cotton tops, two linen shirts, a polyester skirt and a cardigan. Hanging in my wardrobe is a linen dress, another cardy as well as five t-shirts. Seeing as how I am doing all this experimenting I might as well kill two birds with one stone, and create a wardrobe for myself as well. I am not that interested in designing clothes as I am in designing materials. However coming up with ideas for the finished product is fun too. All that's missing is a partridge in a pear tree!

This is one of my altered shirts which has been appliqued with various pieces of silk. The pocket has images of my screen printing on it. The top right hand corner has shibori dyed fabric.

The collar involves zillions of tiny running stitches and a shiny piece of silk velvet (well, a silk/polyester blend).
Here is a blanket dyed in eucalyptus and then I am playing around with running stitch on it's surface. The circles are both a nod to my 'influence' theme (Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of human development) and my photos of the stones on the beaches I walk.
Details of running stitch. This is a very calm process and I love that I can sew while spending time with the kids. I can do it at lectures, waiting, anywhere. Even in bed (although I lose the odd pin only for my family to find them with their feet - ow). Some of my work, like this stuff I do in isolation away from the eyes of art school. I no longer over think things, if I think an idea, I just give it a go. I have no idea where these things will end up, although there are definitely themes emerging like texture, tone-on-tone, natural materials, resourcefulness, and concepts like the systems, influence and culture.
Below, this is a box of my materials including samples and pieces of silk and wool felt, dyed and awaiting a new home on one of my garments or artworks. This is probably where I spend the most money. Silk is difficult to source in great quantities secondhand, even firsthand it retails $15-$30pm for plain silk. I am able to get it at a reduced price through school, however it still remains costly. So if you have silk that I can use, or know of a good source (which would be great) then please leave a comment. I know Asia is excellent for silk.
These are my clay heads. I love them so much. I could make 'people' anytime out of anything.

I also have my seaweed baskets drying in the garage, they are a bit stinky but already they are starting to keep their own form.

As I drove up my street yesterday, I managed to catch the following view in my rear side view mirror.
This is my interior rear view mirror. How cool is that. Like a wee artwork framed in my car.

Flowers forever.

Aunty Martha and cousin Cecilia. Our Aunty who grew up with my mother-in-law in Aitutaki. I enjoyed spending time with the whanau yesterday. Aunty Martha was never married and has spent her life looking after other people. She is creative and generous and has a gentle nature coupled with a whole lot of mana. She is a staunch Catholic and loves flowers. Oh boy, does she love flowers. In the Pacific Islands, flowers are such a significant part of our cultures. Traditionally they adorn our heads as 'ei's, our clothes in print, our homes, and you rarely see a woman without a flower behind her hair. Most of the Pacific Islands are tropical so blooms are plentiful. In Wellington, where we live, the climate is cool, so Aunty has created her own version of flowers from fabric so that we can wear them year around. If you wear it behind your right ear, you are married, if behind the left, you signify your availability to men that you are single.

Below, this is my Aunt's lounge. It has one small path in and 2/3rds of the lounge is packed with clothes waiting to be packed and sent back to relatives in the Islands, and the rest is adorned with photos, shell necklaces, and hundreds of Aunty Martha and Cecelia's floral creations.

These are blooms from in the hallway.

Hibiscus and orchards, and Tiari tipani or the frangipani. Aunty Martha has been experimenting with different colours. Of course frangipani is not brown or green, but those one's sell too. They just make sure there is something for everyone.
Cook Island people are also called Maori. These are their hats for church, and their 'ei's' which are floral headbands traditionally worn by woman at important events like weddings. Not just the bride, the whole congregation is decked out in white and flowers! And of course the shell necklaces which are exchanged and given as gifts.

Aunty Martha trying to give me so much stuff. I took home three wee blooms but I will be back for one of these ei's. There are some more below.
I loved this 'ei. It is made of white frangipani blossoms, and purple orchards.
There are flowers everywhere, in the hall, lounge, kitchen, adorning the floor, the fridge, the tables, the photos, the stereo, and the ones in the garden. Those are real.

Here are my three flowers. I love green and brown. These are made in the form of frangipani which traditionally come in white or pink. Throughout the Tahiti and the Cook Islands, the black pearl is the jewel of the Pacific.

This orchard is so beautiful. The photo doesn't do it justice.
Aunty Martha is guarding her skills for her mokopuna. Although people have asked her teach and talk, she has refused. She wishes to pass these skills down to the next generation. It is her legacy to us, the family. I left with a bunch of blooms, both real and created, as well as a tray of eggs and a real sense that I am a part of my husband's family. I am incredibly inspired to evolve my work to involve more Pacific themes after discussion with my husband and our Niuean / Cook Island family.

Thank you Aunty Martha for your love and tautoko. You are a beautiful flower in our family.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

lots of art

I will post some photos soon, promise. I am flat out doing assignments, developing both techniques and my concepts for this semesters body of work (um, that just means art work). I also have been mingling with my Pacific Island family and bringing more culture into my work as a Pacific artist.
I am looking forward to a break in two weeks time, and spending some time with my boys. The dynamics at school have changed somewhat and I have been approached to be involved in a cultural initiative on campus.
I am also meeting with my dear friend Dagmar this week to start work on a collaborative project involving, of all things, a fashion show. But with a cultural twist. More later.
Things are developing along. As my mum so aptly put, dramas can be so temporal. You know, here today, gone tomorrow. Better to focus on what's important. And that is preserving one's sanity, being peaceful or at least avoiding more conflicting situations, and focusing on my destination. She is a wise old girl. I feel like I gained my mana back in that conversation. So onwards, and upwards.
My flow is so on at the moment with my work. I love it when it is like this, when it flows and flows deeply. I am consumed and enjoying that sense.
I went to visit Aunty Martha and we talked about art, the history of Aitutaki where she's from in the Cook Island. Her house is full of flowers, handcrafted from wire and dyed nylon stockings. Flowers in the islands are very important. They represent beauty, and "make your heart feel good" she said. I am looking forward to incorporating Pacific Island themes more into my work. I am also studying the intricate designs found on Niuean barkcloth, Hiapo. Screenprint, dyeing, embroidery and altered clothing. It's all there.
On Friday I will visit with the local Vaini Tini who meet together to create Tivaevae, a very unique form of sewing similar to applique but with a very Pacific flavour - floral and colourful. This art form comes from the Cook Islands where my mother-in-law Pari hails from. Niue is where my father-in-law is from. So it is my tamariki's heritage too. All this flavour is wonderful.
Thanks for the emails everyone, I haven't dropped off the planet, just head down tails up with mahi (work).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

still here ...

I received some photos of my wee nephew via email today. How gorgeous is he? He looks Scottish. Check out those big baby blues and red curly hair. Mind you, my brother Sean is a strapping big white fullah and has blonde hair, blue eyes and is half Maori too. My other bro, Quinton is big and black and gorgeous. So funny. I had red/ blonde hair as a kid and have green eyes and olive skin. Stick us in a crowd and you wouldn't pick us to be family let alone siblings. My great grandfather was of Yugoslavian descent, which is now Croatia. He came from a little village on the coast

Both my bros are happily married in Australia and within months of each other, heralded in their firstborns, both sons. I sometimes wish I could tie a rope to Australia, and pull it a little closer so we wouldn't have to leave our homes and could live in our countries of preference while still being able to pop over for a cuppa and some fried bread.

Artwise I am making clayheads, a body form for fitting my clothes onto and completing my workbooks. Tomorrow I will make my own mannequin from chicken wire which will be fun. The craft hub was abuzz tonights, ladies working on altered clothing, books, jewellery and claywork. My friend Cheryl came along, it's so nice we will see each other often and make things too.

Counting down to a significant date for me later in April. It just might be I will get to meet someone I rave about here all the time, but I will wait until it happens before I spill. Until then, just know the anticipation is palpable and mounting. She is wonderful and American and quite possibly coming to visit me here. I already am thinking of Trash Palace and local op shops, Hongoeka marae, beach combing our windswept beaches for heart stones, a trip to Owen's house (a jeweller, carver and collector extrodanaire), lots of tea and coffees, maybe a few wines and some wonderful bonding. I want to make a gift, but I am not sure what to create as this person is so creative in her own right. Do you have any ideas? Do you think a felted eco-printed wool/silk scarf would be ok? I know I would love to receive one ... If you have any other ideas, let me know. Hahaha, no pressure, yeah right!

By the way, the RSI seems to have disappeared, I just have to remember to stay off the computer for lengthy periods.

Ok, go well friends and family, rest, play, smile, do what you love, and definitely kiss more.

Arohanui koutou