Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 ~ The Year In Review

2012 was a huge year for me, mainly because it was the year I became a Mama. Kowhai's arrival has brought such joy to my life, & to the lives of everyone around us. She is so infectiously happy all of the time, & I feel truly blessed to be her Mama.

Here are some more of the year's highlights, along with my books & songs of the year.


We had a tea party to celebrate my sister's 40th. Pretty dresses were worn & it was lovely.

Koko was born! Amazing.
Valentine's Day was spent wandering around the botanical gardens, followed by milkshakes at Maranui where we saw a pod of Dolphins in the bay. 
I became an Aunty again & my brother Matthew became a Dad when lovely little Noah was born.

Our friends Ben & Lisa got married in Masterton on the most glorious summer's day.
We went to Melbourne. It was awesome.
Koko's first easter.
Kowhai & I marched to Parliament with the Asset Sales Hikoi.
My nephew Eli had a wicked lamingtons birthday cake.

Koko was bathed by St Oran's pupils.
Koko met her cousin Ali.

Matching poo suits were worn.

Koko graduated from the front pack to the back pack.

& this happened.
We all met Apa's sister Karina & her daughter Isobel.
We finally got around to burying Koko's whenua & planting her kowhai seedling.
We holidayed up north where Kowhai met her great-grandparents.
Evil Genius turned 1 & we had a huge weekend of celebrations with lots of friends & family.

My lovely friend Alex was a beautiful bride.

Koko was Dr. Hannibal Lecter for Halloween.
Koko attended her friend Libby's 1st birthday party & thoroughly enjoyed the ball pit.

I turned 32 & was given this awesome swan mask.

We hiked up to the Ataturk Memorial on Wellington's south coast.
Koko's first Christmas.
Here's what I read this year (favourites are in bold) ~
~ The Rehearsal ~ Eleanor Catton
~ Mercy ~ Jodi Picoult
~ Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself ~ Judy Blume
~ Under the Bright Lights ~ Daniel Woodrell
~ Muscle for the Wing ~ Daniel Woodrell
~ The Hunger Games trilogy ~ Suzanne Collins
~ Necklace of Kisses ~ Francesca Lia Block
~ Pink Smog ~ Francesca Lia Block
~ Sons for the Return Home ~ Albert Wendt
~ Half Blood Blues ~ Esi Edugyan
~ The Bell Family ~ Noel Streatfeild
~ Sea Fever: From First Date to First Mate ~ Angela Meyer
~ The Kite Runner ~ Khaled Hosseini
~ The Pact ~ Jodi Picoult
~ Dear Fatty ~ Dawn French
~ The Happiness Project ~ Gretchen Rubin
~ How to be a Woman ~ Caitlin Moran
~ State of Wonder ~ Ann Patchett
~ A Simple Path ~ Mother Teresa
Jodi Picoult & young adults fiction are my literary junk food. I devoured The Hunger Games trilogy in no time. Sons for the Return Home was the first Albert Wendt I'd read, & it was so intelligent. When your friend goes on an amazing adventure & lives to tell the gripping tale, you have an obligation to pimp that book out to all & sundry. So, hear this people: GO READ SEA FEVER! Dawn French's memoir had me laughing one minute & crying the next. Seriously, so good. State of Wonder transported me to the depths of a Minnesotan winter, & then the oppressive heat & otherness of the Amazon rainforest. Brilliant.
Here are the songs that I loved the most this year ~
Okay, so not a new release this year, but my love for this song, & this video, continued in 2012. Swagger going swell!
I don't often agree with Simon Sweetman, but I agree with him on this being the song of the year.
I know, I know, I can hear you cringing from here, but it's just so damn catchy! Kowhai loves it too, & I sing it to her like this: Hey, I just met you/& this is crazy/but you are Kowhai/& you're my baby.
I'd love to hear about your highs, lows & favourites of 2012, so leave me a note in the comments. Here's to a brilliant 2013! Onwards & upwards!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Wilder Web

25 Little-Known Facts About 'Black Swan'. (via Gala Darling) "1. Giggle alert: the infamous sex scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman transpires at the 69-minute mark."

Modern Seinfeld is the best twitter account I've seen in a while.

Laurie Penny's analysis of the Nice Guys of OK Cupid tumblr. "Wherever he is, Miniature-Kettle Man probably thinks his worst nightmares have come true: all over the world, ladies who don't even know him are laughing at him. The Hive Vagina has passed judgement on Miniature-Kettle Man. One can only hope he is making a tiny cup of tea to cheer himself up with."

There is so much beauty in these photos of The lost churches of Russia. (via Blue Milk)

Holy Shit! This is completely amazing! ~

(via Dooce)

I am terribly concerned for this child. That didn't stop me from watching this numerous times & laughing 'til I cried ~

(via Pinky Fang)

I am so fucking proud to say that I know these people ~

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wilder Women ~ Sharon Van Etten

I've been making an effort to listen to new music lately, & it's been paying off with lots of great discoveries. Yum & Yuk has been providing some good tunes for me, including this one ~

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wilder Web

Incredible animal portraits by Tim Flach. (via Kimya Dawson)

Oh gosh, cue the happy tears again ~ 18 Joyful Declarations Of Love From Newlyweds In Seattle. (via Yum & Yuk)

The best Ricki Lake show topics. (via Yes and Yes) "Horrible women lie to their horrible boyfriends, and Ricki shakes her head."

The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs Of All Time as voted by a panel put together by Rolling Stone. I think I'm gonna make it my mission this holiday season to listen to every one of these. (via Nubby Twiglet)

I'm so in love with this elaborate prank that critiques Victoria's Secret & promotes consent. (via The Lady Garden)

This is a very cute & simple Christmas decoration tutorial.

Oh Buzzfeed, you're killing me with the happy tears already! 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year. (via Coley Tangerina)

And now for something completely different ~ DIY Human Centipede Bunting. The decoration that is both hilariously awesome & digustingly gross.

A lovely tribute to the film industry workers who have died this year ~

(via James)

Beautiful ~

(via Yum & Yuk)
Christmas themed hilarity ~
(via Sarah-Rose)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

100 New Recipes ~ Chocolate & Ginger Refrigerator Squares

Part of my Life List challenge to try 100 new recipes ~ #6 Chocolate & Ginger Refrigerator Squares

I used this recipe, which I found by googling "Christmas Baking". I was looking for something to take along to my Christmas Book Club, & this seemed easy & yummy enough to fit the bill. And it was. Delicious! Simple! Quick!

My only tip is to use gingernuts that are easy to crush (so probably not Griffins Gingernuts), & crush them quite small. I left some bigger chunks in my batch which made it a little crumbly. Other than that this recipe is a total success. I'll definitely make it again.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Wilder & Tamer


~ I know it's not a great picture, but the above Pacman flower bed in Wellington is so cool.

~ Heading to the waterfront on the most gloriously beautiful hot sunny day. There were masses of teens jumping off the wharf, & lots of people out enjoying the sun.

~ The Sea Shepherd crews. I really respect the work these passionate volunteers are doing to stand up for something they believe in. I checked out their vessel the Bob Barker on the aforementioned glorious day, & took along some potatoes as koha.

~ The RSVPs have started coming in for my wedding in February. Super exciting.

~ Going out for dinner with friends.

~ Meeting your friends' families & finding out they are just as awesome as your friends are.

~ Good discussions & debates.


~ Getting your hopes up & then being let down.

~ I've been having cravings for Snifters lately. They're not made anymore. Worst.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wilder Web

Oh my goddess, this is genius! Totally stylish women's clothes that are suitable for bike riding. (via Noush)

A hair tutorial for an awesome 'do.

Okay, so The Hawkeye Initiative pretty much rules (though is perhaps a little NSFW). It also illustrates why I'd be cautious if Kowhai ever got into comics. (via Morgue)

I love almonds, therefore I would very much like to be a guest at Joy the Baker's almond themed holiday dinner party.

Eep! This is epic! Time lapse footage of the installation of Te Papa's giant gingerbread house.

Pour yourself a cup of tea, get comfy, and settle in to read the Huffington Post's round up of the best articles of 2012: The 25 Pieces That Should Be Required Reading For Women. (via Gala Darling)

A fascinating piece on Quentin Blake. "I do like children, but only as people. Not as if they’re a special category."

The 50 Best Animal Photos of 2012. (via Dooce)

I've been avoiding coverage & conversations about the prank call to Kate Middleton's hospital, because the whole situation is pretty awful. The Hand Mirror has a pretty good commentary on it though.

Some brilliant anti date rape ads that get the message right for a change. (via Blue Milk)

Wilder Woman Amelia Earhart's letter to her future husband is great. (via Ange) "Please let us not interfere with the others' work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements."

Feel like having a good old happy cry? Then check out this gallery of beautiful images capturing the day 138 same sex couples were married in Seattle. (via Mighty Girl)

Wow. This story about an african american meteorologist being fired for responding to a facebook comment about her hair is a little...infuriating. (via Bitch Media)

I love a good documentary. I'm going to have to work my way through this list of The 100 "Greatest" Documentaries of all time as voted by POV readers. Of the ones I have seen already my favourite is number 39 on the list. (via Blue Milk)

Manic Pixie Prostitute ~

This is joy ~

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Problem with Margaret Mahy

Margaret Mahy was one of New Zealand's most beloved authors for children and young adults. When she died in July there was an outpouring of grief from the New Zealand literary community, and from the thousands of New Zealanders who had grown up reading such classics as The Witch in the Cherry Tree and The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate. The internet was awash with heartfelt eulogies from people whose childhoods had been shaped by Mahy's words. As I read more and more of these sad facebook status updates lamenting her passing, these twitter RIPs, I felt more and more uncomfortable with the canonisation of someone who is, to me, a troublesome figure.

The Children's Bookshop had a particularly unsettling Facebook status on July 25th with ~
We have a growing, and perhaps irrational frustration at the comparisons of Margaret Mahy as "up there" with our finest authors, Katherine Mansfield and Janet Frame. Hell, she wasn't up there, she was streets ahead. We like some of Mansfield's stories, but her's was a slight cannon of work over a short time span, most of it written in the many years she spent overseas whinging about how restrictive New Zealand was. Janet Frame lead a reclusive life, and wrote for a small literary audience. She wrote brilliantly, and has had some international recognition, but could walk down the street without being recognised. Margaret Mahy is the greatest writer we have ever produced, in any way you measure greatness. International recognition, generosity of spirit, quality of output, length of career, range of genre, awards won, languages translated into, critical acclaim, markets conquered. Is it because she was a "children's" author that they need to qualify her greatness, or a we just being unreasonably insensitive. (and feel free to tell us if you think we are.)
I definitely think The Children's Bookshop were being irrational & unreasonably sensitive, but I may get a little irrational & unreasonably sensitive myself.  I didn't grow up reading much Mahy. I have vague memories of some of her picture books, but none of them have stuck in my mind as old favourites. I know I enjoyed The Door In The Air, but I have no memory of what it was actually about. I came to read Mahy as a postgraduate student taking a paper on New Zealand Children's Literature. Among the prescribed texts were Mahy's The Haunting, The Tricksters, The Catalogue of the Universe, & Memory. I never got around to reading The Haunting so I can't comment on that. The Tricksters & The Catalogue of the Universe contained some of the most dysfunctional families & narcissistic characters I have ever come across in literature. But that's not where my problem with Mahy lies. Allow me to go off on a tangent here.

For some years now I've had an interest in the Tarot. I have no idea where this interest came from, but it probably has something to do with the former art history student in me being drawn to the imagery and the complex symbolism. I'd also noticed the Tarot being used as a theme in some of the novels I'd read; Chocolat, Vanishing Acts, & White Oleander all use Tarot. I'd even discussed the use of The Tower card in The Bone People in an undergrad essay. I had thoughts of including this interest somehow in a more detailed thesis as a postgraduate student, though I wasn't quite sure how I was going to go about this. And then I read Memory. 

Not only is Tarot used in Memory, but The Tower card in particular is central to the story. This was perfect! I could use The Bone People & Memory in my thesis, two books by New Zealand women authors, focusing on their use of the Tower card. This shit was writing itself! I was stoked. Until I got to page 181 & came across this line : "All those lessons in ballet and reading Winnie-the-Pooh and she's gone back to the marae. All that culture for nothing." Um, what the fuck, Margaret Mahy?! Seriously, what the entire fuck?!?!

Is she seriously saying that ballet & the marae are mutually exclusive? Is she seriously holding the marae & culture as opposing ideas? I just don't even know where to begin ranting about this, that is how infuriating I find this one sentence. Can you even imagine how a Maori kid reading Memory might react to this sentence? I just...I can't even...Okay, taking a deep breath now. You see, I have a Maori kid. And I sure as hell hope she is going to be a reader one day like her Mama. And yes, she'll also most likely take ballet lessons as well. But god forbid she ever think her ballet lessons make her any different, any better, than her cousins growing up on a pa.

In case you haven't read Memory, here's a bit of context for that sentence. Two of the characters in Memory are the adopted daughters of middle class Pakeha intellectuals. The older daughter, Hinerangi, is Maori. While she is a minor character in the story we do know that she is an activist who is on the run from the police, & who eventually is arrested towards the end of the book. The younger sister, Bonny is the owner of the Tarot cards. It is during a conversation with Bonny that Jonny, the story's protagonist, utters the loathesome line. So not only is Hinerangi throwing away "culture" by embracing her Maori heritage, she is also a criminal. Way to reinforce negative stereotypes Margaret Mahy.

This post was originally going to be about Margaret Mahy & that one sentence that ruined her for me, but now that I've had a little time to think about this I realise that the problem is more far reaching. The problem is with New Zealand Young Adult fiction in general. Here are some of the other books we read for ENGL420 Modern Fiction: New Zealand Fiction for Children. Maurice Gee's The Champion ~ A book about race relations, featuring a girl whose own grandmother hates her because she is Maori. Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox ~ a fantasy set on an island that is an alternate reality to New Zealand's South Island, but with "no native population". How convenient. The Conjurer by Jack Lasenby, a futuristic apocalyptic NZ where the Maori population have become evil overlords, taking the Pakeha as slaves & murdering any child born with blue eyes. And finally, tacked on to the end of the course, Patricia Grace's Mutuwhenua (about which we debated whether or not this is actually a children's book). 

So when NZ children read fiction, are these the only representations of Maori people and culture that they are getting? Stuff blogger & Christchurch librarian, Moata Tamaira, posted about her childhood experiences with Mahy's work. She talks about identifying with the protagonist of The Changeover, a part Maori part Pakeha girl from Christchurch. Tamaira says "what Margaret Mahy was good enough to want to teach me, was that a part-Māori girl living in the Christchurch 'burbs could still be the heroine of her own story. She could be brave and scared but achieve extraordinary things. It's a sad fact that some kids, particularly Māori kids, don't have that self-belief. That you can be things. You can do things. Most important, that you can save yourself." Again, I haven't read The Changeover so I can't comment, but if it is indeed teaching Maori kids that they can be the heroines & heroes of their own stories, it would seem to be a rarity in New Zealand children's fiction.