Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Whatever

It's difficult to believe that it was only just over a week ago I finally got back to the torch for a couple of hours after such a long hiatus. It seems so much longer ago than that. Last Sunday morning I unloaded the kiln with little expectation, knowing that essentially I'd played with scrap glass just getting a feel for things again & was pleasantly surprised that my uglies weren't quite as ugly as I imagined they would be.

The mailleman watched my surprise as I examined the beads & commented "You'll have to get torching again this afternoon" & I replied with "No, but I'll be back into it head on on Wednesday". I recall him asking why I was waiting until Wednesday & explaining that I had a few things I wanted to do on Monday, along with dancing (which makes every Monday something to look forward too!) & on Tuesday I was going out with my sister in law in the morning & had some loose ends to tie up in the afternoon.

The 'few things' were getting the house ship shape, thereby eliminating any excuses about not being able to focus on work when everything around me was untidy, & to tidy up the vege garden. Tuesdays 'loose ends' were to finish off a couple of small projects I had been working on & rearrange my workspace. The house got tidied, I know that much.  I recall that on Tuesday morning being so pleased with how the kitchen looked as I headed out the door with my sister in law, knowing I could come home after our outing & put another coat of sealer on my new workbench top, run a couple of errands & then finish off my copper patina experiments all before Gabriela got home.
We all know how that turned out. The house doesn't look so tidy any more either. But none of this is very important.

What I had planned on doing on Wednesday was the important thing. The wonderful girls at Ris'tretto had sold the last of the Haiti Hearts & I'd promised them I was going to make more. That was to be Wednesday task.

Amazingly enough the Haiti Hearts had continued selling locally even after our 7.1 mag Earthquake back in September. I'm thinking that our wee shake back then most likely raised awareness & a deeper understanding for what the Haitians had been through. It certainly added further dimension for me even though the plight of Haiti had been on my mind & heart from that day back in January 2010 when it happened.

How strange it was yesterday to hear Helen Clark, our ex Prime Minister & now based in the USA as  the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, say that the devastation here was on a par with Haiti. She'd visited Haiti  right after their earthquake last year & now Christchurch. It's somehow added yet another layer to what already feels surreal.

It's also had a palliative effect. Perhaps it was a reminder that I needed at a time when it is so easy to get consumed by all that surrounds us.
When I start to feel a bit low & hopeless about everything that is unfolding around me or worry what to do about my girls whom I cant afford to send away out of it all,  & really don't know whether I would want to  be apart from them even if I could afford to send them to school else where in the country, I can't help but think that we have so many more options than Haiti did. We had so many options available to begin with than Haiti did.

I can't help but think of the systems already in place that allowed quick response times by emergency services locally & the speed in which international teams were able to arrive & get to work unhindered by red tape & politics.

Then it is not so difficult to see hope amidst this destruction.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Degrees of Seperation

As a city we've spent almost 6 months pulling ourselves, our lives & our city back together only to see it all destroyed in a matter of seconds.

5 3/4 months ago I called the first earthquake, not a tragedy, but an inconvenience. I got annoyed at friends that bemoaned breakages & damage. I told them that we were fortunate & so incredibly blessed because no lives had been lost. I wish beyond anything I could ever have imagined that I could say the same this time.

To go out among it is heartbreaking enough on it's own. It's a strange & heartbreaking sight, but then this city known for it's old Gothic revival buildings, beautiful parks, rivers & English beauty is now full of unimaginable sights.
Last time, after a short while of mourning the forever changed landscape, I could find the positive in what was left & be grateful for the old buildings & churches that have survived with little or no damage. Now I am struggling to do that.
How can you do that with a death toll that stands at 147 with 200 still missing?

On the afternoon of the 22nd February this city & the lives of everyone in it changed, irrevocably, for the worse. I knew without one iota of doubt when that sucker hit that this was going to be bad. I was shocked when I finally made contact with the outside world 30 minutes later to discover that it was only 6.3 magnitude as it had felt in every way so much bigger & more violent that the first one & I'd been sure in my mind that it was an 8-9 magnitude.

I can't really describe the hours that followed as just small bit's of information trickled in while I was out searching for a daughter that I knew had left school early only 20 minutes before the quake hit, then later trying to get to my Mothers over broken bridges & roads because I couldn't contact her. But later on that night when the power came on down at my Aunts place & we turned on TV the full shock & horror of just how bad it was hit home.

As I've said in many emails & messages over the past couple of days in a country that only has around two degree's of separation, instead of the usual six degree's, it was only a matter of time before we would be affected by the loss of someone we knew or knew of. The same will go for most in this city.

But this isn't just Christchurch's tragedy - it's international. Japan has 26 students missing, China 20, the Phillipines 14, 2 South Koreans & 6 from Thailand. It's thought that there are deceased & missing from over 20 countries. How on earth do you deal with that? Not just the people you know - but visitors that came to New Zealand, to Christchurch, by choice to study English perhaps or work in a country that was safer or the pay better. There are parents, children & families all around the world that are holding out hope that fades daily or already grieving. This all just breaks my heart.

I can find some tiny bit's of consolation in the stories that are coming to light, some extremely close to me, of near misses. A missed appointment in one of the buildings that collapsed or a detour that meant someone was late getting back to work in another, but they don't make the losses any less significant or heartbreaking.

To others the damage & loss of homes is a very real & immediate problem. Areas that escaped very lightly in the first Earthquake got hit hard this time & area's that got hit hard the first time have been hit again with even more velocity & damage.
With the September earthquake, because of where the fault line was, the hill suburbs avoided damage & most of the impact was felt by those to the South of the city,  in the city & the Eastern suburbs.

Five & 3/4 months of cleaning, making do, waiting & dealing with the EQC & insurance companies ensued, people got tired. Rules changed - so did what people had originally been told. The elderly especially wanted to know what was happening & how long it would take. Lets face it, some won't be around by the time their homes are replaced or repaired.

Now the suburbs that were hit the hardest last time have been hit hard again, roads damaged beyond belief & more homes damaged beyond repair. The hill suburbs have taken a huge hit with houses extensively damaged or destroyed by rock falls. Five days in & a lot of them  still have neither power or water. This also means that many of them have no real idea of the utter disaster in the Central Business District. They may have heard bits & pieces but that is completely different to actually seeing the devastation.

I have 49 years invested in this city, it may not be where I'd like to live the rest of my life, but it is as much a part of me as the blood that runs through my veins. The images I've seen stun me, each time it is like a physical blow to the chest - I can only imagine what they will do to the elderly that are perhaps ill prepared to deal with it.

I live in a little pocket that is seemingly untouched - yet I only have to walk as far as the end of my street to see the signs of liquefaction, a 5 minute walk up the road & around a corner & it is like a different planet, another 500 meters away in the opposite direction & the power is still another subdivision around the age of this one that has suffered structural damage to many of it's homes. It beggars belief.

My family are all safe & well & I live in a small subdivision that is appears to be untouched.I've seen this referred to as luck - but do I feel lucky? No, I feel blessed, but also very conflicted. 

I see the hurt & the loss of others & feel so useless, it feels selfish to be happy about what I have got. Part of me wants to get in the car & drive as fast & far as I can away from here - but would I leave now if I could? No!! I want to reach out & help everyone that's hurting in some way, but all I can do is offer to share the safe haven & facilities we have here with whoever needs them or be supportive to people who need support in any way I can. But somehow it isn't enough. I want to do more & don't know what more to do.

It eases the heart a little to see the overwhelming International support. Teams of experts in all fields have flown in from  7 countries to do a job that few of us would want do, putting their lives at risk in the process. The 55 strong British search & rescue team, last deployed in Haiti, brought with them 11 tonnes of specialist equipment - mind boggling! Australia, the USA, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore have sent teams & support people to work alongside our NZ Police & Search & Rescue teams.

The NZ Military is putting every man it can on the job over & above the 1000 strong contingent that were already in the area from all around the country preparing  to leave on a Military exercise when the earthquake hit. It's humbling.
It's also reassuring to know that we have the best the world has to offer here at this time. Thank you world.

Please understand that the people of this city are bewildered & in some part scared. There are so many questions about the future that right now simply can't be answered. We have to get through the 'now'.Nothing in this city makes much sense any more. Soon enough the world will have other problems & media will move on & focus on the next news worthy issue. For those of us who live here, those that call Christchurch home, this is a luxury we don't have.

Broken lives, broken hearts, broken roads & broken homes - but not ever broken spirits. 
Kia Kaha - Forever Strong. That is Canterbury!

The UC Student Volunteer Army, organised by a University of Canterbury student to go out to the suburbs & help with cleaning up the silt & whatever needs doing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Words Fail Me

I had a blog post planned in my head for tonight in order to try & describe what is happening here, but find now that I just can't pull up the right words.

For some reason this song has been on my mind so I'm posting this instead.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February Artistic Challenge - Well, Colo(u)r Me Copper!!

Valentines Day has now ended here in New Zealand & this months artistic challenge is already upon us....

Truth be told - we're late in announcing what we are up to.But oh my - didn't this month sneak up from behind & catch us both  unaware!! We are both a little pushed for time, with Mallory preparing for a show & me never knowing what the each day will bring energy & concentration wise, so we have decided to simplify things for February's Artistic Challenge.

You'll remember that Mallory, of  For the Love of Beads fame, & I said at the start that we would push ourselves to play with media that we hadn't before, or experiment with familiar media in new ways. This month we will be doing just that. We are going to explore copper further - this time in the form of using various patina's - hence "Well, colo(u)r me copper".

This one should certainly feed my artistic soul - as I adore colour!! Pop on over to Mallory's blog & check out her side of the story....

I don't have an image to use with this post - so am borrowing one from a local artist that works in recycled copper.

John Dory - by CopperWorkx

Check out Christchurch's CopperWorkx in particular their Marlin, it's amazing!! In fact have a browse all around their website & you can get a feel for just how many looks copper is capable of. I've been in love with their work for years & am  blessed to own a couple of their pieces - a  Gecko & a Piranha.

Thanks Jeremy - you know what your Mumma likes ;)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Life is too Short to be Conformist

to do what is standard or expected of me. Just because I have a perfectly good large, comfortable bed inside it doesn't mean that I have to sleep in it!

As kid's we'd set up a tent & sleep out in the garden, with the vast darkness of the golf course just over the fence....ok, maybe we'd last until it got really dark & quiet enough to hear the snuffling of hedgehogs & whatever else used to shuffle around under the pine tree's that edged the property before we crept back inside to where Mum & Dad were & the safety of our beds....

But the thought was there, the excitement of doing something out of the norm.... the sense of adventure. It was warmer here then too - the summers were hotter, the nights were balmy....a lot like this summer, which is the best we have had in many years. When do we lose that sense of adventure that such simple things can offer?

As I write this just before midnight it is still 28°c (82.4°f) with a balmy breeze & twinkling stars - with a chance of rain before morning. I'll take that chance! Two hours ago I decided that I was going to sleep under the stars one way or another.I'm going to just lie there & enjoy them with only the company of cats as they wander in & out & perhaps the odd spider.

Not quite the desert with the sound of camels making whatever noise camels make in the background - but an adventure none the less!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

HaPpy New Year

No, I'm not a month late in saying that - I'm referring to the Chinese New Year.
Today, 3rd February, is the first day of the Chinese New Year; the year of the Rabbit.
A rabbit year is quiet, giving respite after the year of the tiger & that was certainly the feeling as I tagged along today with some of the Ladies from Line Dance Christchurch to the Buddhist Temple where our group were doing a couple of line dances as part of the multi cultural segment of the celebrations.

Before our group was scheduled to dance the Lion Dance troupe performed the cai ching.

Afterwards we were able to watch a demonstration of Aikido - a non aggressive Japanese martial art. It might not have been aggressive but it was effective & mightily impressive. I'd love to learn more about this.

 In the blink of an eye you can disarm an opponent with just some pressure in the right places!
In less than a second you can go from this......
... through to this....
 ....ending like this!

Somehow I don't think my back or shoulder would handle it <---- that is the voice of one who a couple of nights ago ended up flat on her back in the garden in about the same amount of time as the above sequence took ;)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Holidays are Over too Quickly

I'm not so sure that I'm looking forward to my baby girl starting High School tomorrow as it represents the end of an era for all of us. That said it is exciting & I know that, regardless of age, Gabriela will always be my baby girl!

I wonder what the future holds for her over these next few years that will gently shape her into the adult she was always meant to become.
I pray that I'll have the vision to see what she needs even when she thinks she doesn't need it, the wisdom to keep my thoughts to myself when she doesn't want to hear them & the strength to set her free to fly unhindered along  her own path when the time comes.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hello February !!

I have to admit that I am rather pleased to see this month. I have a feeling that good things are about to start happening around here & that there is much to look forward to.

One thing that I know I am absolutely looking forward to is the release of Teresa Laliberte of Lavender Creek Glass's new Mask tutorial in a few days. You have no idea how long I have been waiting for this & to say that I'm excited would be the understatement of the year (so far!).

For those not familiar with Teresa's work let me say this - it's distinctive, unique & absolutely stunning. Everything Teresa does from her Goddesses through to her Water Bearers, & everything in between, has an understated elegance & sense of timelessness about it. Take a look at her album on Facebook - you'll see what I mean.

Teresa's Introduction into Sculpting with Glass ~ Goddess tutorial was one of the very first tutorials I purchased. I wasn't even particularly good at just basic beads at that point, but the way the tutorial was written & the steps explained was so clear & concise that my first attempt resulted in a very recognisable Goddess. It helped me learn a lot about heat control & choosing the right glass for the type of piece you are working on. I learned a lot & added new skills to the few I already had. In short it was invaluable & I have no reason to expect that this upcoming tutorial will be any different.

Keep your eye's open over the next few days for the release of this one. I certainly will be!!
In the meantime Teresa's existing tutorials in the Sculpting in Glass series, along with her luscious beads & jewelry, can be purchased in her Etsy Store.