From Renée's garden
  • Let us sit down at the table

    October 13, 2021

    Kia ora koutou,

    The following poem was inspired by some lines from my play Setting The Table (1982). Two characters talk about why they’re doing what they do (marching for women's rights, working to keep streets safe at night, looking after victims of abuse) and one says to the other,

    We’re setting the table, right? We might not be the ones to sit down at the table but we’ll get it ready…'

    So the poem is a celebratory over the top one about the day we all sit down at the table. Its been published before and is in my memoir These Two Hands pub Makaro Press. Ann Marie Stapp quoted it in the play I wrote for the Otaki Women's Labour Committee, and she did it again at my 90th birthday in the Barn. I thought of it over the weekend when I was going through old photos and there was a group of us who stood together on corners and shouted...this is for them...

     And as we gather..

     Let us thank the stranger on the train

    Let us agree to smile at everyone

    Let us buy one hundred books of poems

    Let us pick roses and common thyme

    Let us create seven chocolate desserts

    Let us pour red wine into glasses

    Let us dance our way to the room

    Let us sing those forgotten songs

    Let us celebrate this shining moment

    Let us sit down at the table




  • It all in the taste…

    October 6, 2021

    Kia ora koutou... Sight, sound, taste, touch.smell, the five senses and the greatest of them, it is said, is taste. I don't know how true this is but its certainly up there. I had my first taste of asparagus for this spring, last week, and as always I soaked the ends in water in a glass, then when I was ready to cook them, I broke off the hard bits, boiled some water, poured it over the top and cooked them. Not too soft. Then I placed them on a plate, put some butter on top, scattered some salt, grabbed a fork and stood at the bench and ate the delicious mouthfuls. I looked out the window but I wasn't seeing the apple tree, the pruned roses, the flower growth, the weeds, the lawn, I was seeing my brother and sister come into another kitchen, both looking a bit tired, both hungry, both triumphant. Joe, their boss, had given them a bunch each today. They had been up to start picking by 5am, the start time, and once there, backs bent, had worked nonstop for two and a half hours, cutting the new day's asparagus and placing it gently into… Read more…

  • The 4/4 beat

    September 29, 2021

    Kia ora koutou, this is a poem (or maybe doggerel) I wrote while doing a class with Lyn Davidson. I was trying to get the beat of marching and , the idea of going on and never ending,  nature of the problems and so the poem ended up with that old 4/4 hymn beat – very old fashioned and a bit irritating when it goes on too long. On the other hand I guess its dah–da-dah dah-dah illustrates the ongoing nature of what I'm talking about, not inspiring or romantic – just keeping on when most of the time you'd rather be lolling around reading a book and eating cake...   Push and Pull   I stand up straight on the corners Shout out at them and at us Hug and complain of the failures Hand out scones and a list   Still those stony paths call me still I hear cries from the swamp still there’s that sharp edge of anger still there’s the patchwork of want   Over the edge of the current Beyond that green hill of distress Down by that pool of depression that’s where they stand – dispossessed   I stand up straight on the… Read more…

  • Marta and the Red Scorpion, part 3

    September 22, 2021

    Marta struggled against the chains that tied her to the railway tracks. The Red Scorpion watched, smiling evilly. In the distance the lights of the train could be seen. Smoke from it chimney floated in the air as it approached the crossing and its whistle roared, 'Coming, ready or not.' 'You have one minute,' said the Red Scorpion, his evil smile revealed gleaming evil white teeth, 'one minute my lovely, so choose quickly –  Me or Death on the Rail?' In the distance the Black Figure shouted to The Red Scorpion, 'Untie Marta, untie her you pernicious evil wretch.' 'Help, help,' screamed Marta, her lustrous long black tresses tossed by the wind, her lustrous dark eyes full of fury. 'Untie me me you foul fiend,' she shouted. Lights from the train came closer...the chugging got louder, 'Whoo whoo' screeched the train. 'Oh dear Medusa, will no–one come to my aid?' screamed Marta. The train got closer but just as it was 20 seconds away from the crossing, over the hill marched the Otaki Old Girls' Marching Team. 'Oh Dear Heaven,' cried the leader, whose name was Marian, 'Get a move on girls, we are on a mission – '. Marian… Read more…

  • Marta and the Red Scorpion – part 2

    September 8, 2021

    Outside the wind howled and bats flew around the old cottage. Silas Ridgeway, drunk and afraid, slumped in his chair. Outside shadows loomed behind the old barn, trees shook and blew, thunder rolled and electricity flashed its evil signs across the heavens and bats screeched and sang sad songs as they lost their way in the dark. The Red Scorpion, made his evil way through the thunder, lightening and rain. He raised his fist at the heavens. 'I will win this battle,' he cried, 'all you puny creatures will become my slaves. I will rule the world. A day and a night and I will be in Otaki where my moated castle, The House of the Blue Sapphire, gleams through the stygian darkness of Tasman Road.' Maria moaned, 'Where am I?' she whispered weakly. 'Oh dear heaven, what has happened?' 'I have you in my power,' laughed The Red Scorpion, 'you thought you could defy me but I am too strong and too evil for any human being to overcome my power, especially a weak, feeble, woman.' Marta removed her shoe dealt him a heavy blow with the long black heel, right where the rubber hits the road. 'Oh –… Read more…

  • Marta and the Red Scorpion

    September 1, 2021

    Kia ora Kotou, I was thinking about the fact that I'd never written a melodrama. Not intentionally anyway. This style of theatrical presentation went out of fashion as a regular dramatic offering some time on the 1930s as the film industry, to a large extent, took over that area. Theatres still presented them on their programmes from time to time as historical pieces, to make audiences laugh and gasp, and to display individual talent. Marlon Brando's almost inaudible one word three minutes silence one word three minutes silence style worked because of cameras, music and lighting, and of course because his personal charisma got very high viewing at the time. Close–ups of expressions caught on camera often said more than words so words, which had been the basis of melodrama, went out of fashion. It began to be realised that the fewer words you used, especially in a dramatic scene, the better. This was the exact opposite of melodrama where words, actions, music and dramatic sound effects, revved up the audience's response to what was going on on stage. The same thing is done with films and TV now. Anyway its Lockdown. Time, I decided, to write a melodrama. It… Read more…

  • Lockdown

    August 25, 2021

    Kia ora Koutou, its obvious that Lockdown affects us all in different ways. A lot depends on a situation. You might be in a house with another adult and two small kids, you might be old and on your own, you might be in an ancient villa with five other people or in a shed all by yourself. Whatever your situation is you have to eat. To eat you need money and during Lockdown you need to know how to cook or live with someone who does. You need to shop for food but you also need to know what to buy and you need to know how to present it in a way that you and others will eat it. YouTube can show a novice how to cook a particular dish but that novice still needs a power point. I'm wondering how those who can't or don't cook, manage? There are meals on wheels possibilities for some, or frozen meals available from other suppliers but these all cost money and they also need an address to deliver to. You can only go so long on bread and mashed sardines, or eating cold spaghetti out of a tin. If you… Read more…

  • When winter comes…

    August 18, 2021

    Kia ora Koutou, after I wrote the Busk below we had the news of Level 4 Lockdown. Had dental appts which I've just cancelled, will set them up again after Lockdown. Stay safe everyone. Wear masks when you go out, stay in your bubble. I had an annoying confrontation with my fire alarm this week. A few years ago when it started cheeping one night I thought it was a bird in the roof, maybe a young bird, calling for its mother. It was irritating but I felt sorry for it so I put up with no sleep. Next day I told a neighbour and he listened and said, 'Its your fire alarm, it needs a new battery.' Now I am five foot one inch or whatever that is in metrics. Some years ago when the nurse measured my height and translated it from metre–speak, I pulled a face and said, 'I used to be five foot, three.' She said, cheerily, 'I can go to five foot one and a half, if you like.' So it doesn't take an Einstein to see that if a fire alarm is up near the ceiling it is unlikely someone five foot one can… Read more…

  • A Song in the Heart

    August 4, 2021

    Kia ora Koutou, here it is, the beginning of August and I'm remembering my brother whose birthday was on the second. Russell, always called Jimmy by his mother and sisters, friends who knew him then, was short for his first twelve or so years, then shot up to about six foot overnight, it seemed. Tall, skinny, dark skin, dark–haired, he had a one-wheeler bike which he rode everywhere. School, shopping for Rose, football (rugby) practice, or anywhere else he wanted to go. He had great physical balance. He played the pipes in the Caledonian Pipe Band and Rose made him practice in the woodshed. I can't say I blame her. He looked very handsome in the green kilt and my sister and I suddenly had lots of girls wanting to make our acquaintance. He told jokes to my sister and me,  jokes we thought very funny. The three of us might be ostensibly looking for those little black seed–like things called ergot, 'for patriotic purposes', whatever that meant, but in reality we were listening to jokes and tall tales that kept us entertained while we did the boring job.  Ergot is very small and it took a couple or more… Read more…

One chapter. One week.

One chapter. One week.

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One chapter. One week.

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From my garden

From my garden
From my garden
From my garden