On Seeing Grandma

I suppose with any dreaming story you can start anywhere. This one starts with me following a tangi procession from Rotorua to Rotoiti before I can accelerate around the lakes and over the Rotomas where there was a slip (as usual) and workers stabilising new roadworks.

I arrive at Mountain View rest home around 10.30am. This is the place I was born when it was a maternity hospital. Time stands still for no-one.

There is a relief worker on reception who doesn’t know where the Armstrong Wing is and therefore Grandma. Another lady leads the way toward her room until we find her sitting with others outside a lounge. She recognises me immediately. She’s clearly been waiting for my arrival. She gives me a big hug, raising her arms. Great. I can’t believe you’re here, she repeats over and over.

All I can do is let the warm tears roll down my cheeks.

I push Grandma through to the Awhina Wing lounge and we chat away from the others. She is very lucid and clear of hearing – seems to be a voice pitch and direction that troubles her most – though at times she zones out. But she seemed pretty much on the ball, and the more we talked the more alert she becomes.

Grandma laughs at my beard, and I tell her Mum doesn’t like it. Grandma just wanted to know if it itched.

While we chatted Grandpa in his white-eye bird form visits and tries to get in the window. He sits and stares for a while and then has to make do with eating spiders from round the window frames before leaving.

Grandma is certainly into a routine and prompts me to wheel her back for lunch. ‘Walter’ is away so I take his seat next to Grandma at a table in the lunch room. Top feed of lamb curry, cauliflower and cheese and ginger silverbeet. Clean plates from both of us. Ambrosia for desert (sweet yoghurt), yum. Cup of tea to finish which was a bit hot for Grandma til it cooled.

After a lunch I take Grandma for a spin outside and we do a bit of a loop of the complex. The sun is warm and a tui calls from a nearby tree. We were near Mrs Davies flat (old neighbour from Robinson Ave and River Road) and she came outside and was chuffed to see Grandma. A 40 year+ plus friendship, she regularly visits though she mentioned Grandma had been asleep on recent visits.

The wind was picking up and the stench of the Mill was now coming in our direction. All the while the Mountain loomed large over us all.

Back inside Grandma showed me her room and we went through the photos. I had a read of the paper and we chatted some more. More large photos for the wall needed. Grandma could name everyone. She remembered Sharna Lisa (old home help) and that she was pregnant when I asked her who it was in a photo. Earlier I had asked her about Sharna Lisa and she didn’t know who I was talking about.

Grandma was starting to tire so I told Janessa (nurse) I’d be saying goodbye soon and she said she’d check up Gladys shortly. All the staff are so attentive and caring and respectful which is comforting.

I say my goodbyes. Grandma holds my hand tight, as she always has, and we have a big hug and kiss.I don’t want to let go. I’m not sure she understands I’m not returning on this visit. It’s 1.45pm.

And down my cheeks the tears roll again.

I follow my songline back past 250 River Road, over the Rotomas and around the lakes past Aunty Lorna’s place.

NZ Cultural Stereotype

I’m not sure how some Australian media organisations work but this sub-editor must have really been struggling to make an otherwise routine story into something dramatic.

The article was titled: Maori property spat with Aussie investor

It details how a Maori group had been served trespass orders on a property in Kaikohe, NZ. All very routine.

Except for the accompanying photo.

Anyone with a vague understanding of NZ knows that this photo is not of any representative of any of the parties in the article. It’s a photo from a Maori cultural performance. The photo when I saved it from the article is even titled “803060-maori-haka”. Clearly a stock photo from the Daily Telegraph’s photo library.

More than 1 million Australians apparently visited NZ in 08/09. I guess this newspaper is trying to appeal to the other 20 million who have not been there and have some prejudice. The newspaper must also think that most Australians have a 18th century understanding and perception of Maori to serve this up as fact. Wierd.

Tourism NZ  spends large sums of advertising dollars with News Corporation. I wonder if they monitor such media? Seems their efforts have gone to waste in this case.

The 3Ds

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of the band The 3Ds. This post is in celebration of the fact that they have recently played their first live show in 12 years in North Carolina where their old record label, Merge Records, is based. This little known NZ band is one of those ‘next big things’ who never quite made it. The band split before they could spoil their legacy or realise their full potential.

Word has been about they were reforming now that all members are back living in NZ. In this day of middle-aged rock nostalgia I’m thinking some select shows are in the offing. For some one like me who has all their records but has never seen them live the possibility of a tour would be some sort of sweet realisation.

There’s a cool little review and photos of the 3 songs the band played and guitarist David Mitchell’s antics over at Triangle Music.

For all times sake here’s ‘Hey Seuss’ by The 3Ds (1994)

Swanndri Fail

How is it possible that the iconic NZ brand Swanndri can be out of stock for its iconic Original 100% Wool Bush Shirt?

Surely a Medium Olive version would be available somewhere in New Zealand for sale. Some web manager isn’t doing their job.

One word: Fail

I’ll try again another day.

For now I feel like I’ve had the shop door slammed in my face. For an item that you would buy once every 10 years minimum that’s a really poor experience to have with a brand, to say the least.

3 Things You Should Know

I received an email today from my mate Junior. It read:

The new dinosaur Jr album is sooo damn good.. sounds even better wearing flannel

The new sonic youth album is also very very good.

I saw nunchukka superfly at club 77 last week by myself and about 20 other over 40 and they fucking blew me away.

I tells ya there’s something about personal recommendation – passionate, informed, and real – that will always win out.

Having seen Nunchukka Superfly live with Junior makes his observation even more credible.

5 Indicators You Are Enjoying Your Job

1. It’s Sunday night and you are looking forward to Monday morning.

2. It’s Monday morning and you are not looking forward to Friday afternoon.

3. You go home from work tired, but strangely exhilirated.

4. You don’t have time nor inclination to waste time roaming the Internet during work time.

5. The time you used to spend moaning about your job is now spent talking it up.

Sam Hunt

I was lucky enough to get given a signed serviette from legendary NZ poet Sam Hunt recently.

My parents bumped into him in Matakohe, NZ, of all places. They don’t know him, he was just there, and they know I like his poetry.

Got to think a poet writing his name on a napkin is kind of poetic in itself.

My brother actually has hair from his now departed dog ‘Minstrel’ from years ago.

Surely someone can find time to do a new documentary of Sam performing?

My favourite poem of his would have to be ‘Maintrunk Country Roadsong’.