Fiona Kidman and my Dad

We had a weekend away for my Dad's 70th birthday which turned out fabulous. The children enjoyed getting brown bottles of drink out of the ice boxes to drink and sitting up by their uncles drinking just like them. Ginger beer is trendy stuff.

On the way home we stopped at the Maruia Hot Springs. In 35 years of travelling through the Lewis Pass I have never stopped there. It was a truly beautiful experience and I could have stayed all day. The children liked it but they could not have stayed all day which is why we did not. The utase-yu, a cascade of warm thermal spring water which you sit under, is particularly wonderful, like a back massage. I stayed until the very last second when the others were all out of the pool and getting impatient, just like the children do to me at the playground.

Today my two three year old helpers and I went to the fabric shop in town and I picked out some more poplin to make twirly skirts for my outlaw nieces. Orange fabric with black rick rack for the six year old who has her mother's dark colouring, and bright pink fabric with pale pink rick rack for the four year old blondie. Does this give the appearance that the Christmas grouch is making presents in October?

Why yes it does. You could call it growing up, depending on your thoughts on the importance of Consumermas, or indeed I might call it making something for two little girls I have never met who we will see on Dec 25 which is personalised as I refuse to buy shop stuff for children who probably have it all anyway and if they don't, then they don't need it 'all'. We start the northward trek in less than seven weeks, so a little forward planning is just the capital E side of essential.

I finished Fiona Kidman's memoir, The End of Darwin Road, last night. It turned out she is a 1940 baby like Dad. It was fantastic. After a party peppered (not too heavily, for which I am grateful) with comments putting me in a box, I found it nourishing to read of this woman who loved her children and wanted to be with them and who simultaneously longed for something which wasn't housekeeping and suburban mores. She fought hard for her sense of self and paid high prices at times, some of which are only alluded to rather than spelt out. I realised that one thing I like about Wetville is that it is kind of wilder and more free, even in its suburban form, than other places I have lived. Our chooks symbolise something about our lives, not just about the greenie slightly self-sufficient thing but the refusal to create smooth lawn surfaces, bland and tidy exteriors. I've come back clearer in wanting to keep living here, just a few hundred metres from the waves and gnarled logs washed up by fierce weather.

Most of my potatoes are up, I've got two zucchinis and four pumpkin seedlings (have to grow them from scratch when you see the prices in the garden shop - $3.80 per pumpkin plant!) and the tomato seedlings are looking very healthy. Tomorrow I will do some transplanting and move the stronger seedlings off the windowsill and under the lean-to. I set up some beer traps last night after observing the carnage on my broccoli when I was too lazy to lay beer traps as soon as I transplanted.

Off to read the second volume of Kidman's memoirs...

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