And Finally This

I’m thinking that I might just delay New Years. Just for a couple days, until I can have a night off. So then I could have a drink or two without immediately falling asleep.

It’s been a weird year altogether. Everyone seems to be stuck in this idea that it was overwhelmingly awful and they won’t miss 2016 at all, but it’s hard to pin down exactly why.

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Really?… Really?

Well great.

Perhaps my recent lack of motivation for writing also has something to do with the growing body-count of 2016 and my inability to deal with it. I was never a huge fan of George Michael, and I won’t pretend to be now, but I respected him and empathised with his personal struggles. Like many nerdy geeks, I was a fan of Princess Leia but I’m not fool enough to confuse my love of the character with an undying love of the actress. Again, I respected her work and the way she opened up about her problems with celebrity – she could be dryly funny – but I just didn’t know enough about Carrie Fisher the Human Being to count myself as a fan.

Still. These aren’t people who I was expecting to scratch out of the living world so soon. I feel for their families and friends. It does seem like the good (and subversive) parts of the 1980s are falling away, and pretty soon all we are going to be left with is blind Reagan-worship. Someone please take care of Bruce Springsteen. He’s been looking very thin lately.

 

Shifting Tide Lines

It has been a day of developments all over the place. From the supposed (and perhaps momentary) halt on the Dakota Access Pipeline, to the shock resignation of NZ’s Prime Minister, many of my left-wing friends have been memeing for joy all day.

But not so fast…

Now that Prime Minister John Key has resigned, we will almost undoubtedly go into the New Year with a Prime Minister who is worse. John Key started out as a day trader – a bit of a Trump-like figure, who sat on a massive capitalist fortune, who made changes to benefit businesses whilst hurting those at the very bottom, and whose silly over-privileged adult children provided New Zealanders with a lot of amusement. However, his politicking was personality-based and cynical – he went for the type of glibness that would appeal to most voters, regardless of his own personal beliefs. I’m not even convinced that he has entrenched political beliefs. His potential replacements are career politicians – true-believers whose positions will be hard to shift, no matter what realities they face.

And as for the Dakota Access Pipeline… Well Obama can now count the remaining weeks of his presidency on his fingers. The halt called by the Army Corps of Engineers can be quickly overturned by the incoming President-Elect. And given that Trump owns shares in the company that is building the pipeline… Well it’s a surprise that anyone is excited about this. Why on earth would he make a decision that would damage his own personal fortune? When you prime an electorate to believe that all government is corrupt, then you can behave corruptly without much fear of consequence…

However… it was an unbearably hot day to be outside. So my husband decided that we should go for a walk down on the beach in the afternoon to cool off. It would have worked, except that the water was as warm as a bath. And I found a little injured sparrow.

He was lying on the beach, breathing hard, with his beak pressed into the sand. When I went up to check on him and see if there was anything I could do, he reacted with a panicked flutter but he clearly couldn’t fly. At least one wing was broken, and I’d say he’d been badly punctured by a cat.

Nature is a very cruel thing much of the time. It reminded me of my little story about the hedgehog. The natural world rarely offers comfortable and easy ways to die.

There was nothing I could do to save his life, and my presence only seemed to frighten him, so I resolved to do the only thing I felt I rightly could. I broke a branch off a nearby pohutukawa tree and, moving quietly and slowly, sank it into the sand beside him. This gave him camouflage should the cat return, and also gave him shade from the crippling heat. Yes, eventually the tide would come in, and he might have to make a choice to either move or remain, but in the meantime he would be more comfortable.

Just because we can’t fix all the injustices of life, it doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to be nice to one another…

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Thinking about the future

Was anyone else hoping that the conclusion of the election would finally put an end to seeing these same faces on the news day after day? How’s that working out for you? Can we please start focusing on the holiday season now, and just go back to ignoring these people like we used to?

I have one more large event (of four) to complete this week. 12-13 hours a piece, and then back on Monday to have meetings and do my orders and pretend to be awake. All I can really think about is Tuesday, when I have my next day off and I can hopefully get back into the garden and won’t spend the whole day asleep (which is the more likely scenario). That’s life right now: long shifts at work and lots of daydreaming about all of the summer garden prep that’s getting away from me. For whatever reason, getting tomatoes into the ground is much more important to me than the election.

Weirdly enough, it’s probably the same basic drive that pushed the election in the first place. I started planting a vegetable garden several years ago, when the recession hit and I got made redundant. I needed to ensure that we wouldn’t go hungry, and the one thing I had available to me was time. Within a year, I had expanded out to planting pretty flowers too, just because they made me happy in a tough time.

And it was really that simple: I was anxious about our future, so I started a garden… Now I’m just anxious about not doing enough gardening. It’s probably more a matter of distraction than self-preservation right now, but that anxiety about the future still sits in the background.

 

 

Conversations with white men

Whenever I was home over the past week, I’ve been watching South Park DVDs. It has been keeping me sane.

I also spent a while on Facebook yesterday, trying rather impotently to console a friend of mine in Colorado. He’s angry, and frustrated, and scared all at the same time. He probably looks on the outside like an average Trump supporter, but he has a lot of friends who are gay, a lot of friends who are ethnic and religious minorities, and a son approaching military age. All of these things are playing on his mind right now.

When I went to work, one of my colleagues (a young, blond, blue-eyed Czech) was confused more than angry. “What were they thinking? The last time a Western country voted in someone who talked like that, it didn’t work out so well.” And we both know that he’s talking about Germany in the 1930s, because he’s from central Europe and that history is alive and real to him. Plus we have talked at length before about the similarities: vitriol against ethnic and religious minorities; nostalgically hearkening back to a “great” time in the nation’s history that never really existed; harnessing the frustrations of people who don’t like how their world has changed; inventing “crimes” committed by his enemies; the implication that the people of this nation (or rather, some of them) are special and superior to the rest of the world…

Later in the afternoon, one of the young waitresses at our event (not white) asked me what I thought of the election result. The Head Chef interjected. “He’s a fucking idiot. But we’re on an island, so don’t worry – it’ll take a while for the nuclear fallout to drift this far.” I added that we could dig a bunker in my yard and she could come and live in my bunker if she wanted.

I had been feeling heartsick (and powerless) all day about my friend in Colorado, and all of his friends, and all those like him. When I got home, I sent him the link to the Skilled Migrant list for New Zealand immigration. I suggested he share it around, as pretty much every job in his industry is on that list (including his own). I said I’d be happy to help out and sponsor anyone who wants to come live here for a while. It’s not a bunker, and it’s not a suggestion that people should give up on America – just an acknowledgement that some people may feel safer if they move away for a while. And hopefully things will all be okay… but they might also get very bad in the short term.

None of us really know what the future might hold.

Hibiscus

Well, that’s the thing about elections, isn’t it? Despite all the polls, you never really know what will happen on the day. Perhaps it was a sign when the hibiscus I bought (which was meant to be pale yellow) bloomed a vivid shade of red and orange.

I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Some were always going to vote Republican, whether or not the liked Trump. Some were always going to vote Democrat, whether or not they liked Hillary. What has been most interesting over the past few months is the sense of dismay that many of them revealed – largely along the lines of “Really? This is the best candidate you can give us to go up against that POS?” Hatred of the opposition seemed to be a stronger motivator than any affection for their own party.

But then, there were others who liked Trump. I’ve never been able to figure out that quandary for myself (in the 30+ years that I’ve been aware of his existence, he has always seemed to be a creepy and duplicitous individual to me) but these were the people who seemed to be both the most vicious and the least able to explain why. Possibly the best justification I’ve heard is from people saying that he’s a good businessman… but then I think we’re both looking at the same business and coming away with very different opinions of his abilities. Those who attacked Trump in my presence largely did so with humor, and I was quick to turn away from anything more nasty than that. But those who defended him seemed to lack a sense of humor that flowed the other way. Out of everyone I have encountered, they were the ones who took this election seriously.

Some friends have now come back online to mourn, while others have come to gloat. Either way, it’s ugly and sad… and that is possibly the best outcome we could have expected from an entire election cycle that was both ugly and sad.

2016 began with the shock death of David Bowie, and then Prince. It brought us Brexit. It has so far been the year of “Surprise!!! Things are way worse than they seem!”

And I want it to be over. Because I want to go back to feeling good again.

I guess that’s all anyone wanted from this election in the first place.

 

Light Blue State

I’m currently in love with the blue tint on my white ixias. Just gorgeous.

I’ve broken my Monday and Tuesday into little short shifts at work, which hopefully leaves some more time for gardening. So naturally it is windy as all hell, and raining. Because that’s just what happens when you have time for gardening but still need to have presentable hair for work.

The good news is that I have Wednesday off entirely, and it’s looking to be a clear, sunny day… so I can spend all day working on the new section and carefully avoid any US election news until it’s all over.

Flowers are more rewarding anyway.

Shed Works Good in the Rain

Someone posted an interesting observation on Facebook tonight. With all of the flack that Trump is now receiving from the media, and his supporters are receiving online, how many people are now just keeping their heads down and not mentioning who they support? I think he’s quite right to ask, and I think that the vote will be a lot closer than polls are currently predicting. When you’re alone with your own thoughts in a voting booth, you’re not answerable to anybody else… Plus, as I said many moons ago, people like an underdog. The Brexit vote had pre-vote polls showing a strong lead for remaining. Yet the referendum pivoted on the people who went into the booth and voted to exit (many probably thinking that they wouldn’t win) quite simply because it was a protest vote against the establishment. Trump will no doubt get the same swell.

However, I’ve had enough of talking about politics for the week.

***

In the middle of all my ranting this week, I have actually managed to get some work done. And not just boring event work. I planted some fruit trees and generally tidied up the new section. And during the rain showers, I could sit in the new shed and have a snack. 🙂

It’s still so heartening to see the spring growth coming on well. My potatoes are all growing like mad. The strawberries are too. The rhubarb has bounced back (at least for now). The boysenberries are already starting to creep, so I’ll need to think about how to restrain them pretty soon. The shallots and garlic and yams have all poked their heads up.

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The beautiful puka trees, which had been so badly damaged by the wind, are now in plastic sleeves and are coming back with lots of waxy new leaves.

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The little baby clumps of toe toe are now looking like… well bigger clumps of grass.

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However, this is a good thing, since eventually they will need to look like these very big clumps of grass:

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Even the daffodils, which I neglected so badly, have exploded into flower. It’s remarkable since I only found a place and time to plant them back in September! Here’s how they looked on 6th Sept, and how they look now, just five weeks later…

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Since we are still combating the wind, I have doubts that any of my new trees will bear fruit this year. The blossoms are lasting only hours, but all the new growth gives me hope for next year…

Even if we can’t get everything else sorted, at least our garden will bloom.