Category: sights

Seven-week slowness

Coronavirus lockdown day 49

Seven weeks this weirdness has continued, and soon it will be Level 2. I’ve been thinking a lot about what lockdown has meant.

Certainly it is history in the making and the end of many things. As the US and the UK have shown, the world really could do with looking elsewhere for leadership.

Here, budgets at local and central government level will change dramatically. Things won’t be the same.

On a personal level, it has been a period of creativity and productivity. It’s also given me a fairly good idea of how I want my future to be, and how lucky I am to be able to have some input and direction over how that future might turn out. I like the slower-ness. I like doing less, but with better focus. I like learning about new things, and with new teams. Change isn’t bad, or good, it just is.

As the sun sets, the moon rises.

Port Nelson
The Moana Chief in port (bottom left)

Mother’s Day

Coronavirus lockdown day 47

A trip to the supermarket last night yielded ingredients for the Mother’s Day breakfast. Pancakes, bacon, banana, maple syrup, icing sugar, lemon … and it was good. Not quite as good as the birthday pancakes, probably because I didn’t have help this time …

Anyhoo, it was another lovely day and we went for a drive to take the dog for a walk. It was good, but the dog puked in the van on the way home. Yummy!

After that delightful task, came inside to find a a new mix of the song we have been working on waiting for me, and man, I am proud of it. In less than a month it’s gone from very raw to almost finished product. There’s still finesse work to do, but it’s got a great feel, and my bubblemate said it was ok – which is high praise indeed.

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

Ooooooooooo (Four bars)


Rain and fire

Coronavirus lockdown day 38

We have decided we’re going to enter the competition. One old song, one new.

SO spent some time figuring out the new song’s structure, chords, phrases, that kind of thing. It’s funny to look at work that way, like the editing process it’s a different skill set and outcome you’re working on.

The first task is to document what we actually played – as we’re all in separate locations, it’s not always clear. There’s also what we call the beautiful mistakes. Things that you didn’t mean to play or sing that kind of just appear. Some you keep, some you don’t.

Then it’s thinking about what you want to change, and if the song needs it or not. The hardest part of this is that you end up listening to the song hundreds of times, or listening to small sections of it repeatedly.

Don’t release a bad song – it’ll probably be the one that becomes a hit.

John Prine said this, or something similar

So we’ll see where we end up. We have about 10 days to get it all together and submit it. And since it rained all day and was generally grey and miserable, we had the fire on and watched The Half of It on netflix. It was good.

A stand at dawn

Anzac Day 2020

Dawn over Nelson on Anzac Day 2020.

We don’t usually go to the official services on Anzac Day – while we commemorate, we don’t celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful to those who served and fell, the pomp and ceremony isn’t my cup of tea.

This year we did. We all got up and stood at our gate at dawn, looked at the stars, got uncomfortably cold and reflected on history and the stupidity of war. We felt the sadness of all those lives lost and the damage done to ordinary citizens.

We heard the last post played a few times from the surrounding neighbourhoods, as well as on the RNZ broadcast on our phone. Maybe half a dozen neighbours stood on our street, sharing a historic moment before all retreating to our bubbles.

Coronavirus lockdown day 31

I guess we wanted to mark history – the first time there haven’t been services, is the time we should remember.

Three strange weeks

Coronavirus lockdown day 21

Different day, same old shoes; Different week, same old blues. It’s getting harder to remember what we did each day. Ther was admin, emails, a headache that came and went. Feijoa fell and the sun shone.

I went to the supermarket, only the second time driving in three weeks. It was quiet, and most people just kinda stumbled around. We’re easily spending $50 or $60 more on groceries. No one-thing seems super expensive (except perhaps tip top ice cream at $7.50 for 2l) but everything seems to have gone up a little bit, so the overall bill mounts up a bit quicker.

To be honest though, I’m just thankful there’s stuff to buy and that we can afford to shop.

Twisteddoodles summed it up best:

Yes! It might also gradually increase in speed as the lockdown continues…

And the wind cried, really?

Corona virus lockdown day 12

Sometimes you surprise yourself. You work on something for a while; it’s good. But then you collaborate with someone and something unexpected happens. Flamenco triplets turn up in a straight 4/4; a new cut builds momentum where there was a lull; Random chord injections, resolve and make sense. Suddenly the thing takes off and flies!

Does it mean change? Yes. Does it mean dealing with the unusual? Yes. Does it matter? No. The thing is better than when you started. So it was today with something we dubbed a frankensong – made up of bits of old songs strung together differently put together over a new drum and bass combo. It took an unexpected twist for me that evoked Tex / Mex, Lucky Luke style horse-race through tall stone columns and cacti.

It’s like being physically separated makes us more disciplined at the music. That sounds unlikely, but the advantage of it is that what we hear, in the end, is most important. If we were in the same room would it be the same?

Certainly it would be harder to play what we’ve made, as we’re all using effects and multiple tracks – rather than playing a single part, we’re mixing fx and double tracking, improving what we’re capable of.

And it’s freeing creatively, and better bang for your creative time. One drum and bass mix can lead to two or three – wildly different – interpretations. It also allows for creative difference, I guess, so there’s little need to worry about the creative choices. I suspect we’re all too old to care anyway.

So how did we spend day 12?

Metting each other in brief moments around the house. Filling up the rubbish bin. Cleaning, working. Is it weird that we’re enjoying it and all getting along? Even the dog was well behaved today!

For your viewing pleasure, an old episode of Lucky Luke; originally French, great voice acting and more political than I remember.

Quarasurf, or Jamkazam

Coronavirus lockdown day 6

It was just like the old days at Sawyers Arms Road. Well, it would have been if I was in the garage. Two of the three of us were. We used to jam and write and never, ever drink in a tin triple garage out the back of a flat where countdown is near Northlands.

We’d record there to, and send the tapes (!!) off to our drummer, who would visit once a month when we’d all play together.

This time around the drummer sent the bass and drums tracks through and via the wonders of the internet we managed to cobble together everything we need:

  • A shared directory for our tracks,
  • The start of a shared language and process,
  • Plenty of trash-talk and a beer or two,
  • the discovery of, and
  • Someone got told off for being too loud.

It’s going to be great to see where this leads.

So how did we spend day 6?

Slow start, but it got busier and busier. Teenager decided it would be a good day to Kondo the room, everything that doesn’t bring her joy is now spread all around the house – ensuring it doesn’t bring anyone else a single speck of joy either. All the transfer stations and charity shops are closed…

Stir fry rice for dinner, and discovering that the peril of getting beer delivered in the groceries, is that you drink it …

We won’t go back to normal because ‘the normal’ is the problem

Coronavirus lockdown day 3

I saw this on twitter and it struck a chord. There’s massive social and economic change ahead; the carnage will be painful but it also gives us a chance to rebuild differently.

After Christchurch there was massive engagement with the city rebuild. The Share an Idea campaign (where anybody could put an idea on a digital wall like a sticky note) drew over 100,000 suggestions. Never had the city seen civic engagement like it. Sustainability, green city, with good public transport, a city that worked for its people, was friendly for all ages and innovative – that was the overwhelming desire. Unfortunately, the government of the day stepped in and said ‘yeah, nah’. Their blueprint got the go ahead – a conference centre and a stadium were the anchor projects.

Neither are finished yet, more than nine years later. And sport and tourism are in the toilet thanks to the virus. Even the magnificent Tūranga, the public beacon of hope and ideas also known as the library, is now closed to the public. At least that will re-open and be used for another 150 years.

But something else changed after the earthquakes. People reviewed their lives. Many changed career, moved suburbs or towns, went back to study, or started chasing their dream of writing, or singing or building or inventing or whatever. The knowledge that life is all to short and precious got replanted in thousands of people who all decided not to wait for ‘some day’ and just get on with it.

For this emergency, the rebuild won’t be of buildings. It will be of the economy, and of social conventions. Who are the essential workers? Should we pay them properly? Do we need to have offices? Why don’t we go back to the old days of neighbourhood shops. How we work will fundamentally change – people will see possibilities and new approaches will spring up.

My hope is that we reset some fundamentals, that the relentless growth and exploitation of late stage capitalism is replaced with different imperatives. There’s already talk of a Universal income. I’m all for it.

So how did we spend day 3?

I had cereal, did some work, and watched a rat climb over the fence and die while I was on a phone call. Later the neighbour phoned to say he’d laid some posion.

I cheered when I heard Ashley Bloomfield got the day off.

Other than that it was a fine day, so normal chores. Cooked a nice casserole with rice (the red wine vinegar with the beef kind). Watched a silly movie.

No repeat weekend

You remember when people listened to commercial radio? One of the tricks they used to keep people listening was the “no repeat weekend” – a promise of if you caught us playing a repeated song, we’ll give you a thousand bucks, or a weekend away or something. (See also: No repeat workday”)

They’d “mess up” once a month or so, or more if it was ratings time, just to keep the interest there.

Recently I had a much worse version.

Friday, discovered we needed two new tyres. Organised for Saturday morning.

Friday afternoon the laptop fell off the armchair onto the carpet – broke the display.

Saturday morning a plumbing emergency at the crib: a leak that went undiscovered for months revealed itself – by soaking and collapsing the newly painted and finished roof.

Saturday trip to the dentist ended in a tooth extraction. Drove home with a mouth full of blood and the bits of tooth in a packet. Correction – most of the bits of tooth.

Sunday, discovered not quite all of the tooth was out. A little vertical edge was still attached – gradually it came loose and out, but that little bastard hung on for dear life.

So a painful, blood soaked and expensive weekend. No repeats, thanks!

The world’s best Sauvignon 2019

On the upside we caught up with some friends we haven’t seen for ages on Sunday at the St Clair vineyard. We had some nice platters (although there’s never enough bread when five of you are sharing) and chatted for ages.

We also sampled the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc for 2019: The St Clair Wairau Reserve. 

Will save that up for the next one …