Learning how to read, write and live on my own for the first time in my life
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Parrots, plaques and prose
As someone who spends a lot of time with words, I really enjoy getting away from them - drawing and painting or, much more frequently, cooking and sewing. This week I did my first sewing for a long time. I had a friend of over fifty years coming to stay, and a week ago I found a remnant of furnishing fabric that I knew she'd love - brilliant tropical flowers, leaves, and parrots.
Her house is full of bright Pacific artwork, cushions, etc, and she actually has her very own parrot, the devilishly clever Claude. (Parrots are notoriously hard to sex, but she knows he's a boy because he likes to hump her hand.) Whenever he does anything wrong, he tries to blame the cat by shrieking "Puss!" He lives on the verandah, and when a sudden gust of wind toppled the clothes airer, full of washing, he screeched endlessly. When she came out to see what the fuss was about, he was lying on the floor of his cage with his claws in the air to show her what had happened.
I found a couple of bright red cushion covers and stitched on squares of parrots and flowers. There was just enough left over for a table mat. She loved them, and I loved making them.
I've never felt nervous sleeping in the house on my own, but I'm always just that little bit more relaxed when I have someone staying here. So by the time she left, I was well set up for my next undertaking - going to Guardian Memorials to look at the options for Harvey's plaque. I didn't go alone, I had a steadfast friend with me, and it also helped immensely that the person who dealt with us was a warm, empathetic young woman.
From a quick look at other plaques in Karori Cemetery, I'd thought black granite was the only option (I didn't want bronze). But you can get different colours, and we chose a lovely dark green that looks like pounamu, a good fit for Harvey's love of nature and gardening. Now I just need to work out the wording, and later we'll get together for an unveiling (I don't think that's at all the right word, but there doesn't seem to be another one).
And earlier this week, I finally managed to begin work on the next chapter of my food memoir, after a nine-month drought. I used a trick I've often taught to other people: you turn off the computer screen, so you can't see what you're writing and have to concentrate on the words in your head. Two hours later I had 2,500 words, not all of them useful, of course, but still - it's a good start.
My partner of thirty years, Harvey McQueen, poet, gardener, educator, 13/9/1934 - 25/12/2010
The Colour of Food: A memoir of life, love and dinner
Here's the cover of my food memoir, to be published in June 2013 by Awa Press as an original e-book. Click on the cover to go to the book's Facebook page.
MY FOOD BLOG
Click on the lemons to go to Something Else To Eat
Harvey's last anthology, These I Have Loved: My favourite New Zealand poems, published by Steele Roberts, was launched on 10/10/2010. To see what Beattie's Book Blog has to say about it, click on the cover.
"I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most." — Margaret Atwood