December 1, 2010

Pike River disaster - the Twenty Nine

Pike River Official Remembrance Service: 2 minutes' silence at 2.00 pm, Thursday 02 December

We Will Live
by Helen Wilson

We must live, get on with our lives.

I am someone who lives here, and I am no one in particular.

I am not a close relative, just relatively close.

I live amongst you, work with you, pass you on the street,

and as luck would have it, I came home again.

I went to work on that Friday as you did. That's all.

My labrador ready for a run when I got home, my lawnmower and fishing rod waiting eagerly for the weekend.

I lived, and should have got on with my life.
But as I write, my neighbourhood is at a standstill, and I am with them,

paralysed by the enormity of despair, guilt and helplessness.

My lawns have bloomed dandelions, my dog, bored, is digging holes in the weeds.

The media says we are a close-knit community. I prefer to think we are tightly bound to be here,

because living here is not a normal, comfortable life but a strong and uncertain existence;

forever at the whim of our surroundings, we go up the back and go down the mine, up the hill and across the bar.

The earth moves, the winds strike, the rain falls, and the hills remind us of their omnipotence.

We nod to each other in the street in a quiet way because we understand we have lived more than most and we really know how to get on with our lives.

And in a flash, life has stopped us in our tracks and can never be the same.

And in the days after Friday and the anguish, as if we had forgotten and needed a remedial lesson,

we are reminded what it is that is most precious about our community.

And in our despair, we are kinder to each other. We spend more time. We knit ourselves tighter and we behave a little better,

and that in itself brings us the comfort we need.

We will mourn some more, and then wearying of that, we will remember this day and what it is to be alive.

And in the memory of those we have lost, we will promise to be kinder to each other,

Because we have learned all over again what is important and what is not.

To do this gives purpose to their lives, and some sanction for their death.

This weekend I will mow my lawns, retrieve my dog from her pit, and the greyest kahawai will not be safe.

And we will all live for them a little bit better and get on with our lives.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An absolute disaster happened in a country far from here - it happened in my homeland and those who perished were my countrymen. I watched the memorial service on CNN tonight with tears streaming and stood to sing the National Anthem with a very shaky voice. The youngest miner was just 17.

As the Prime Minister read out the names of the 29 who perished, a lone bird started to sing as if on cue.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 7, 2010

The Pit

Its always a sickening feeling when you have to come to the realization that you have or are being used. Its the pit in the bottom of your stomach feeling, you don't really want to admit to yourself that you were that stupid. From the start, there are ALWAYS signs - big, huge, flashing ones - saying DANGER AHEAD and yet we persevere, well I do - thinking that it will be different - I won't fall into the trap, I'll scoot around the outside, fully aware of the situation.

But then something happens, all those signs get washed away or disappear behind the bloom of someone new with shared views maybe. A friendship begins SO when does it change from helping a friend to being used or starting a friendship with someone that you later find out was just a little lonely at the time and you were just a filler until their preferred social network started to take shape? Does the length of the friendship/relationship count? Is it after a certain numbers of days it changes from new friends to friends that you help out or is it the amount of time you spend together, length of phone calls/emails etc? Is there some sort of scientific equation or graph!

But then the flip side is if they are your friend, are they using you or are you helping out a friend, wanting them to succeed, happy to help them with contacts or meeting people? When is it using?

October 16, 2010

Catching my breath

I never feel I have a moment to catch my breath - I've truly felt guilty at times writing my blog or reading a book as that attention should be directed towards the ever growing virtual stack (via email) of scripts that I should be reading for clients and my own production company.

I've also realized that not spending as much time on Twitter or on my blog has made me direct more attention back to my company and therefore wonderful things are happening. I've always wanted to have my own company - I'm not good taking orders from others, I will do if I must! Having spent most of my life working in the corporate world I took a risk a few years ago, leaving a high profile job, the security of a monthly pay check and a very hefty expense account to initially start up my new company from the dining room table in my house (I had to leave sooner than expected). I remember being so afraid - I worked 7 days a week without a break, not wanting to divert my attention for a moment as the bills were starting to pile up and it seemed like money was drifting out the windows. That's a hard habit to break - working 24/7.

I'm trying to teach myself that the sky is not going to fall if I read a design magazine, wander through blogs I like or perhaps even read a book! And also to catch my breath - and remember its not all or nothing.

October 1, 2010


My lovely friend Lisa has written a beautiful post on her blog A Bloomsbury Life about today being the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I left a comment there but wanted to re-iterate it here too.

" I shall think pink today, wear pink today and be glad for all who found the dreaded C with early detection. And my thoughts will go to those who weren't able to defeat this horrific disease".

September 11, 2010


We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment.
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment.
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment.
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice.
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment.
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

Mattie Stepanek, "Hope Through Heartsongs"
September 11, 2001

August 7, 2010

Abandoned blog

Poor abandoned blog - I'll be back when the Emmys saga is over (or maybe before). There may also be renovations - stay tuned (that's if I have any followers left).....

June 9, 2010

Lost L.A. Archives

Hollenbeck Home for the Aged in Boyle Heights on Sept. 6, 1896
The photo above is Hollenbeck Home for the Aged in Boyle Heights on Sept. 6, 1896: A Home for 'fortunate unfortunates'.

I've been reading this once-a-month column for some time now. Its truly fascinating and reiterates that Los Angeles does have history.

Click here for the link to: Lost L.A Archives

April 15, 2010

That secret club

In front of me pinned to my cork board on a scrappy piece of paper is a quote..

"Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else".

Well what disturbs me is this firm grasp on the phrase....."well I'm a writer" as though it's a secret club that requires a membership card or perhaps a secret handshake and a nod of the head.

I believe everyone has talent. Some have had the time to hone it while others have disjointed ideas, written in journals or on yellow, lined legal pads stuffed into drawers or under the bed.

My lovely friend Tania of Backwards In High Heels fame wrote a lovely series about writing last year. She was teaching a 5 day writing course at the time as part of the Aboyne Arts Festival and was extremely kind to transcribe it onto her blog. This is Day One of the written version. There are five days in all and by the time you finish reading, if you have a yearning to write, you will be brimming with ideas and new found excitement.

This is the opening paragraph of her writing series....

"The Fear takes many forms. The most profound is the secret, crippling conviction that you are not allowed to be a writer unless you have certain qualifications. You must be born in the right place, to the right parents, with the right education. You must also have a specific God-given talent, a feeling for words, the equivalent of a musical ear. The other form of the Fear is an internalised memory, of teachers mostly, telling you that no, no, it is not done that way, and if you do not do it in the correctly prescribed way you will never amount to anything. There are rules, there are criteria, there are things that people expect. All of this is nonsense. I cannot stress this enough. I will say it again: all of this is nonsense. The point about writing is that if you are willing to work hard enough, to listen closely to your own voice, to push past the terror, you will be able to do it. I’m not saying it will be easy. All good writers know that writing is hard. Bad writing is a simple matter, you just have to put your fingers on the keyboard and go. Serious writing, and writing is serious, is difficult. But if you put in the time, it is not beyond your reach".

What struck me was the generous way in which she wants to lead anyone who's scared, to feel comfortable in revealing themselves as a writer and to come along for the ride. She demystifies the angst and terror of rejection, the "oh you're not a writer". I read and digested the entire series as I am secretly, that person. I don't have the time to hone my skills as the other side of my brain has a death grip on my focus running my company, reading other people's scripts, books, plays, TV pilots or 10 page "can-you-help-me" letters.

I'm a writer because I write just as trillions of others do - am I a good writer - I don't think so but I have the passion and the desire to learn how to be. I'm constantly surrounded by people who aren't shy to profess "well I'm a writer" - they are the ones in that "secret writers club" where they feel you do need to be born in the right place, on the right day when the light is just right. What defines a writer?

April 5, 2010

Being of service

One thing I've learned over the years is - its better to give than to receive. I have a very fortunate life filled with great family and friends and am truly thankful for that. I am involved in the Big Sunday weekend (May 1st and 2nd) - through an organization called Big Sunday which gives back to the community in which we live. Here's the link to the actual volunteer form - as you can see some of the programs are for a couple of hours - from painting schools, to organizing lunch at an Aids hospice - there is something for everyone. BIG SUNDAY.

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seemingly for a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received." Albert Einstein

March 17, 2010

I'll Be Back

To all my lovely readers, followers etc and in response to the overwhelming amount of emails I've received, I've popped in to explain where I've been and that I haven't abandoned y'all and stopped blogging.

The beginning of every year and through to the end of the "Awards" season is the busiest time in my profession. Then there's the high sigh of relief that last for about a week after that.

Until I surface (very soon) - here's a little space to breathe and thank you for all your continued support.

Coromandel 2009

February 20, 2010

Being soba

I have a passion for soba noodles right now. My dearest friend E arrived at my house last night for a drink - much needed by him as he's being edited a TV reality show. Drinks turned into dinner and as it was a rainy night we decided to stay warm and dry. I scoured the kitchen and put together what became a delightful dish - Soda Noodles with Chicken and Spinach.

Start by cooking the soda noodles. Make sure to use an enormous pot (I used my pasta pot) as they will try to boil over twice (which is the point). Instructions on the package are very straight forward.

While the noodles are cooking, chop 1 chicken breast into large cubes. In a large saute pan (frying pan) heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the chicken. As its nearing the end of cooking - add 1 large bag of pre-washed spinach - which is about 3 large grab-fuls of spinach and let it wilt into the chicken.

When the soba noodles have finished cooking, rinse in cold water. Add to the chicken and spinach - give it all minute as the soba noodles need to heat up again.

Salt and pepper to taste throughout although I tend to wait till the end to pepper as I don't want the heat from the cooked pepper overpowering the soba noodles.

I usually use tofu in this dish. Cube a block of firm or extra firm tofu and brown the same way as with the chicken.

I tend to cook the entire packet of soba noodles and then add them to soups, salads and stews. This recipe is so easy and can be put together with a glass of wine in hand - I chose a crisp Pinot Grigio from Italy.

Do hope you try it.

January 23, 2010

Tomorrow's Toussaints by Kalamu ya Salaam

this is Haiti, a state

slaves snatched from surprised masters,
its high lands, home of this
world’s sole successful
slave revolt. Haiti, where
freedom has flowered and flown
fascinating like long necked
flamingoes gracefully feeding
on snails in small pinkish
sunset colored sequestered ponds.

despite the meanness
and meagerness of life
eked out of eroding soil
and from exploited urban toil, there
is still so much beauty here in this
land where the sea sings roaring a shore
and fecund fertile hills lull and roll
quasi human in form

there is beauty here
in the unyielding way
our people,
colored charcoal, and
banana beige, and
shifting subtle shades
of ripe mango, or strongly
brown-black, sweet
as the such from
sun scorched staffs
of sugar cane,
have decided
we shall survive
we will live on

a peasant pauses
clear black eyes
searching far out over the horizon
the hoe motionless, suspended
in the midst
of all this shit and suffering
forced to bend low
still we stop and stand
and dream and believe

we shall be released
we shall be released
for what slaves
have done
slaves can do

and that begets
the beauty
slaves can do

(from the collection Iron Flowers)

This is the poignant poem Morgan Freeman read last night on the Hope For Haiti Now telethon.

January 17, 2010

Haiti:I Wonder As I Wander

"Haiti, land of blue sea and green hills, white fishing boats on the sea, and the hidden huts of peasants in the tall mountains. People strong, midnight black. Proud women whose arms bear burdens, whose backs are very straight. Children naked as nature. Nights full of stars, throbbing with Congo drums. At the capital lovely ladies ambergold, mulatto politicians, warehouses full of champagne, banks full of money. A surge of black peasants who live on the land, and the foam of the cultured elite in Port-au-Prince who live on the peasants.

Port-au-Prince, city of squalid huts, unattractive sheds and shops near the water front, but charming villas on the slopes that rise behind the port. A presidential palace gleaming white among palm trees with the green hills for a backdrop. A park where bands play at night. An enormous open-air market.

"Ba moi cinq cob," children beg of tourists in the street. Cinq cob means a nickel. They speak a patois French. The upper classes, educated abroad, speak the language of Paris. But I met none of the upper-class Haitians," - Langston Hughes, from Autobiography: I Wonder as I Wander, 1956.

From Andrew Sullivan: The Atlantic

January 11, 2010

Coming clean

What gets you out of a funk? Do you try to ignore it and get through the day with a perma-grin on your face, repeating "I'm fine" to those who may ask you how you're doing or do you submit to it, stay in bed watching television and eating what you want; the unhealthy the better.

I have a hard time as one part of me wants to slap myself across the head and say "snap outta it, you have nothing to complain about - you have so much to be thankful of. Don't be a self centered ninny - get out there and soldier on". The problem with that is I feel like a phony, untruthful, playing a role that doesn't sit well.

I'm incredibly unsettled; one of the side effects of being a legal alien. Years ago I would have tried to avoid these feelings, gone back on some kind of antidepressants to calm the dull funk and uneasiness, but not this time.

One of my dilemmas is trying to find the importance in what I do and where I live. I want to be fulfilled, feel like I have made a difference somewhere. Its easy for me to post poems and photos of places that give me joy but honestly at times, I don't truly feel that way. My younger sister works for the Human Rights Commission; my older sister is now working in Zimbabwe as an aid worker, after having spent 1 year in the Sudan. There is importance in what they do.

I'm contemplating taking a hiatus from my blog as I don't want it to become a rant about how unsatisfied I am and bore you all. I will keep you all posted.

January 6, 2010

Coming into land

I am feeling slightly normal again after sleeping for more than 14 hours - jetlag can sometimes be the worst and hits me rather hard. My father gave me the best piece of advice years ago - don't make any decisions in the first 24 hours after flying - and he's right.

Firstly I'm always incredibly weepy and start to compare ridiculously. Yesterday was no exception - I landed at 7:00am and by 8:00am in my mind my entire life here was packed up, animals in quarantine and I was on my way. Its always so easy to blame the place rather than look at ourselves and I'm completely to blame for my mundane life here, I've become lazy and unadventurous. I have made a small list of the things that I would like to accomplish this year; its a reasonable list. Top priority: to dive into doing things by myself rather than waiting to find others to join me.

Here's to an adventurous, busy 2010!