Saturday, August 27, 2011

The quiet house

The house is utterly quiet again, because Julio left today. He loved Wellington and had a great time, and so did I - I'll miss him. But having him here has, I feel, sort of shifted me along to another standing-place where I'm more able to cope wth my new state, even though I'm on my own again. I'm still not at all sure what the point is, but the feeling of pointlessness is diminishing, and I spend less time staring blankly out the window.
         At the same time, I can't help grieving because having Julio here has also emphasised that the distance between Harvey and me is widening. It's as though we'd been travelling together for a long time and then he suddenly had to stop where he was, while I have to move on and away into new territory and new experiences he can't share, leaving him further and further behind.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I'd looked forward to a lovely week, with my friend Rosemary coming down for Wellington on a Plate (foodies go here). We were lucky - she was on a reasonably early plane, so she just caught the fine clear patch before our second lot of snow arrived, settling on top of the first lot. I know I'm turning into a snowbore, but it was all so astonishing I had to take more photos.

On Monday night the power nearly went off - the one remaining transformer (out of four) was hit by lightning.
By then even the drive was covered in snow.
On Tuesday night it was white again, so we caught a taxi to friends for dinner - only a ten-minute drive, but it was up a reasonably steep hill and I was too chicken to take the car out. They had a big snowman across the road, but it was too dark to take his photo.

It was great having Rosemary here - I wouldn't have fared nearly as well without her, especially when the snow gave way to freezing wind and rain. Despite being an Aucklander, she was completely unfazed by Wellington's worst weather for decades. The faithful heat pump kept us warm, helped by three layers of underwear and two of merino, and her company thoroughly cheered me up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weeping waters

It's Sunday evening. Julio is talking to his wife on Skype, and I'm very weepy because I can't talk to my husband and I've just watched Tangiwai: A Love Story. Harvey would have absolutely loved it, it had everything - romance, cricket, tragedy, and a superb portrayal of a slice of New Zealand history he would have remembered so clearly - including the divide that used to exist between Catholics and Protestants. So I'm crying partly because he couldn't be here to share it with me, and partly because those poor people died, as he did, at Christmas, and the grief of those who loved them was so movingly conveyed.
              And the other reason I'm feeling his loss so keenly tonight is that this afternoon, astonishingly, it snowed in Karori, and not just on the hills but in my own backyard. It wasn't a few flakes melting when they hit the ground, as happened twice in the twenty-seven years we lived in Northland - it was real snow, falling for long enough to cover the grass and trees in white. And he wasn't here to see that either.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Looking and being looked after

It's over four years since I went on a long car journey, so it was a great treat to be driven halfway up the island. The mountains were more thickly covered with snow than I'd ever seen them - they looked as if they were wrapped in shiny plastic, gleaming grey in the shadows. We talked all the way, of course, so the trip went very quickly, and both sisters looked after me so warmly and kindly, especially as it was a busy time for them both - one teaches, and one grows orchids.

I saw my mother twice, and it went as well as could be expected. I think the unfailingly kind and considerate people who work there are saints. As I expected, she didn't say anything to me about Harvey, but she didn't ask how he was either, as she's done every other time. My son had sent a special email for her from China, all about his life there, and she enjoyed hearing it.  On Sunday I showed her this photo, taken on a walk near my sister's (as you can see, it was a brilliant day), and instead of her usual response of  "How lovely!" she said, "Idesia."

But I came home newly resolved to Get On With It - in this case, my book - while I still can. And this week I did make what feels like some real progress.
         There's been progress in the garden, too. Ali came round on Tuesday to give me the first go of my birthday present - a day a month working in it with me. We planted the big purple violets she brought me from her garden (like the ones Harvey grew in abundance and picked for me in Farm Road); two new shrubs to fill a gap in the mulched garden (at this stage the labels look much more interesting than the plants)... 

...and a new tree in the far corner, a kind of magnolia with a splendid name fit for a Victorian heroine - Michelia Maudiae.
         Ali also presented me with a beautiful old-fashioned badge which I wear with totally undeserved pride. It's green, with gold lettering, and it says "HEAD GARDENER".