Saturday, May 31, 2014

Impossible Graffiti

There is a lot of graffiti in Christchurch. That's nothing new; it's just an observation.

I've had a certain fascination for graffiti for a long time. "Street art" is trendy now. Its bastard step-child, tagging, is less so. And sometimes the difference between the two is difficult to recognise.

There are a lot of graffiti photos in my Flickr photostream, and every now and then some more will catch my eye. Yesterday in the CBD, something really intrigued me, and I got to wondering.

Now, this sort of graffiti (in the photo on the left) is fairly typical. Click on the photo for a larger view, and you'll see the graffiti better. And it's easy to see how, even tho it's really high up, the "artist" was able to paint it. They still have to scramble through barriers and closed, boarded up buildings, and sometimes, it seems, hang out on some edges to paint. There are some daring street artists around.

And there are certainly enough boarded up, high rise buildings around town.

But I've noticed a few pieces of graffiti around town that stagger me. Fascinate me. And vex me. Because I can't for the life of me figure out how the hell it got there.

The piece I saw yesterday is in the old Sol Square. Is it still called Sol Square? I guess it is. I have an album of pre-earthquake photos of Sol Square, one of which is a photo of the Mini Cooper that has stayed pinned to the wall through all 12,000 plus earthquakes we've had. And it was that Mini Cooper, and the piece of graffiti above it, that caught my eye.

I stood in the street for ages, looking at the Mini, and the graffiti. Wondering. I thought perhaps there was a way to it from the other side that I couldn't see, so I walked around the block.

I'm stumped. 

It seems obvious that the graffiti was painted by someone standing on the Mini, but the question still remains, how did they get onto the Mini in the first place. Drop from the window? That's a ten foot drop. More? Maybe they had a ladder? Possibly, but the thought of a marauding band of taggers, wandering the streets of Christchurch at night with a ladder just didn't compute. I also wondered if the graffiti had been there since before the earthquakes. I didn't think so, but I thought I should check the PE photo

Maybe they helicoptered in? What do you think? 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Haunted by Balls

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving Josh to school, and something small, round and yellow, ahead on the side of the road, caught my eye. As we zoomed past, I noticed it was a ball and it reminded me of one of those small smiley-face squeezie balls. On we drove and I thought no more of it.

Until the next day. I saw another one. In a different place.  As we approached the area where I'd seen the first one, there it was. Pretty much in the same place I had seen it. Not really a big deal, but it had piqued my interest now.

The following day I saw another one, in a third different place. And every day for the last two weeks I've seen at least one. Sometimes in the same place as the day before, sometimes in a totally different place. I don't know if they are new ones, or the same ones moved by wind, rain or cars.

OR IF SOMEONE IS FUCKING WITH MY HEAD!!! (as in some evil troll who is placing them around the various routes I take, just to drive me nuts)

Halswell Junction Road

Because now, as I drive to school, I find myself distracted, looking for them. I've got Josh looking for them and he's been nagging me to stop so he can get one. And still they keep showing up in the most random of places. I've seen them at at least 5 different places - from Selwyn Rd to Aymes Road, which is probably a distance of 10-15 kilometres.

There was one at the Springs/HJR roundabout for a few days in a row, but it's disappeared. Now I'm wondering where it's going to turn up.

The HJR ball (above photo)

This morning, I promised Josh we would stop after school when we saw one and have a closer look. So we did (have you tried manoeuvering in peak traffic on that road??). And we discovered they are actually golf balls. And the black stripe suggests they are from a driving range. But there's no driving range I know of on the route from home to school.

If I see another one on a route other than the home-school drive, I'm gonna freak.

I think I need help.
Shands Road

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Dear Mother Nature…you owe me $175

I’ve been called many things, but I can’t recall ever being called “brave.” I am, in fact, by nature a bit of a chicken.  This potentially embarrassing fact was reinforced to me today in a way I never anticipated.
As you may know, Josh and I are on a bit of a road trip. Christchurch to Hamilton and beyond. We’re motelling and hotelling. The car trip to Picton was uneventful. The ferry crossing was the smoothest I’ve ever had. We’re taking our time and feeling pretty relaxed about it all, and I didn’t even flinch when we pulled out of the ferry terminal into rush hour traffic in search of our Wellington Central Hotel. Which we found rather easily. We checked in at the office, got our key and were directed to our room. On the 5th floor.
It’s an old building. I assume there are new buildings in Wellington but I don’t think I’ve seen any. It’s creaky and musty. And doesn’t look much like the photos on the website. But the 5th floor? The moment I walked into the room it hit me. The earthquakes. Until that moment I hadn’t considered either the fact that Wellington has had some fairly severe earthquakes recently, or that I might possibly be bothered by being on the 5th floor of a building.
Now, and for the last few hours I have been considering little else. It occurs to me that since September 4, 2010, I have not been in any building higher than two stories. Since February 2011, I have actively been avoiding any building that might appear to be risky in an earthquake. And what’s more risky in an earthquake than a building such as I am in right now, a stand alone concrete building that was probably built sometime before my father was born.?
So I stood in the middle of the room wondering what to do. On the verge of a panic attack, my mind could only think of one thing. The building falling down. I know the chances of that happening are probably minuscule. But three years ago I’d have thought the chances of buildings falling down in Christchurch were minuscule. And look how that worked out. And it didn’t just happen once. A building fell down in Christchurch just the other day. I can never rest easy again believing the building I am in will not fall down. Such is the legacy of the Christchurch earthquakes.
I thought I had coped well with them. I didn’t think I had any lasting issues about them. I thought I had survived.
But it’s 11:30pm. I’ve been awake since 5:30 this morning and at this very moment I have no intention of going to sleep any time soon. I’m still wearing my jeans. And shoes. Like those days after September 4 when many Christchurch people got very little sleep at night – nights were worse, weren’t they? – and what sleep they did get was stolen wearing clothes and shoes, ready to bolt every time the earth shook.
We went for a drive this evening around Seatoun and the airport. Got dinner. I calmed down a bit. I never did find a solution to the problem. I wanted to pack up and go find a nice, tidy, one-story hotel but in Wellington in the school holidays that wasn’t going to happen. Today. Tomorrow, it will happen. We’ve prepaid this room for two nights. I can’t get a refund. But neither can I spend another night here. I’m not sure I can spend this night here, but it looks like sleep or no I will be here on the 5th floor all night. Waiting for the building to fall down.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My New Little Friend

So...I was sitting in the car park at Hagley Park and this little booger goes bounding across the stones and tucks himself under the tyre of one of the cars parked.

I get my camera out, thinking, no way I'm gonna be quick enough.

Quickly, he hops between the cars and hides under another one. I'm pretty sure he knows I'm there. I can sense his caution.

By this point I'm thinking surely my time is running out. He's not gonna let me get any closer, and he's going to make a break for it any minute.

Then, he's gone. Scurried away.

But hang on. What's that little blob?'s him again. Bolder....he's sitting out in the open, munching away on something little, not a care in the world. I think he's decided I'm not going to hurt him. 

 But he doesn't sit still for long. He's on the move again. Runs to a huge oak tree and starts to climb. 

This little guy is watching it all from a safe distance.

Time for a rest. He tucks his nose into a tiny crevice, breathing hard. This being a model is hard work.

Now I'm wondering about the macro lens. It'd be fun to try and get some close up shots. But the car and my camera bag is 50 metres away. If I go get the other lens he'll probably be gone when I get back. So I watch him for a while longer, then decide to go for the macro.

 When I get back he's still there. Or maybe it's a she. Anyway. He's still chowing down on...something. I think he missed  me.

I explain to him the concept of macro. It's close up. Close. Up. He nods, understanding. He doesn't seem to mind my demands. 
 So down I squat, carefully. I'm sure he's still a little nervous about the whole "close up" thing. Set camera to manual focus. Stupid lens. Auto-focus is too slow. He's patient. Munching.

I sloooooowly move the camera lens closer to him. Snapping away. He's not completely co-operative. He's refusing to look me in the eye. Or the lens. But at least he's not running away, and I'm getting closer to him.

Munch munch munch.

Scrunch scrunch scrunch.

I feel we're ready to move our relationship to another level. Move in just a little closer. Just a few centimetres away, he's not concerned at all.
I don't know what he's eating but it must be delicious. He's oblivious and I'm pretty sure I saw him burp and smile. 

I'm pushing my luck, I know. No way he's going to let me get any closer. Not that I need to because I'm almost at the focal length of the lens, and I sense he's gonna make a run for it.

But no. He's not going to make a run for it. He's possibly as curious as I am. He doesn't run away from my lens, he jumps towards it. My camera is basically on the ground.

Now, while I'm not normally inclined to post blurry, out of focus photos (it's hard to even confess that I take blurry OOF photos!), but I thought I'd make an exception. Because this photo below is of my new little friend...SITTING INSIDE MY LENS HOOD!! (the brown blob bottom right-ish). Sorry it's not in focus, but I'm not sure any lens within my budget could take that photo in focus.

I'm not sure I'm ready to call myself a wild-life photographer, and I'm pretty sure National Geographic won't be calling me any time soon, but I had a fun 40 minutes or so with this little guy. I left him sitting in his cubby hole at the base of the oak tree, still happily munching away. When I left the park half an hour later he was nowhere to be seen. Felt a little sad about that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Observation of Observation

Someone once said We do not see what we see, we only see what we expect to see.

I like to think I'm the observant type. I look around me as I go. I look people in the eye (even those who are obviously trying not to reciprocate). And often I take an arguably juvenile pleasure in seeing those things that others (apparently) do not. I spend my days trying to find those little - or big - things we don't usually expect to see (some of which form the essence of a great photo).

So, when you're sitting at Burger King minding your own business, stuffing your face with hash bites, and you see a woman in the rain drop a ten dollar note in the Countdown parking lot, what do you do? 

Of course, you wonder how long it will be 'til someone spots it. And you get your camera out and wait.

Don't you?

Add caption
(I thought about trying to let her know she'd dropped it, but, well, I thought my idea would be much more fun - if it had been a bigger note, my attempt to let her know would have been proportional. Just sayin)

One guy stood ON the note!

Even this seagull didn't notice it

I understand that some (most) drivers wouldn't necessarily see it (Julie!), but I'm pretty sure I'd see it if I was driving over it in a car park.

These people walked past it THREE times!!

Forty minutes, probably fifty cars and about a hundred people drove/walked by, close enough to spot a ten dollar note laying on the ground. As my mother used to say if it was a dog it would have bitten them.

Finally, this guy's mate pointed it out to him and he grabbed it. And with a nice touch he gave his mate a fiver he had in his pocket so they shared the find. Ironically, the guy who picked this up didn't notice another bit of paper that fell out of his pocket as he pulled out the fiver to give to his friend. Luckily, it wasn't a fifty. LOL.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Earthquake Fatigue

There are probably many definitions of "earthquake fatigue". Every Cantabrian probably has their own interpretation of the term. Each is probably correct.

The original red zone, which, after Feb 22, 2011, was pretty much the massive area of city and land enclosed in the four avenues, has been shrinking daily as buildings have been demolished, spaces have been cleared, and regular human beings migrate back into the CBD and surrounding environs. Yesterday, the red zone became even small with the opening of a section of Cathedral Square. Pretty soon, the red zone will consist of a fence around the crumbling Christ Church Cathedral.

I am earthquake fatigued. It's not about the moving house; it's not about our driveway being dug up and having to park on the street for three weeks just as the frosts start; it's not about still having to add 20 minutes to any trip to any part of town. Those things and many more make every day a pain in the ass, but they are not the core of my earthquake fatigue.

Every now and then I decide to take a wander down town in the hopes of getting some photos, perchance even some photos of something interesting (to me). But I'm running out of subjects. There are only so many photos one can take of demolished buildings, and lord knows I've taken a few. I'm over demolished buildings. They used to be fascinating. Interesting. Topical. Now they're all just boring. Depressing. Old news.

The CBD is depressing. Certain factions would have us believe it is coming alive. I'm not convinced. There's nothing pretty in the CBD. ReStart mall is a smaller version of the shopping that was in the CBD before - boutique, expensive, niche. The Gap Filler installations are unique and inspiring, but they seem to be temporary, or poorly attended. There are splashes of colour...overshadowed but a dark depressing destruction.

So I walked the circle of the new cordon, looking for those things that jump up and scream to be photographed. Sadly, they are almost non-existent.

Most places are unrecognisable. I stood on street corners and couldn't for the life of me remember what used to be in that space. Or that space. Or that one.

One place I did recognise. We had dinner here, and watched a show. I have no idea what this place was called.

Now it's a shell. One of many shells. Empty. Meaningless, except for a tinge of sadness.

I seem to remember some controversy with this building, may have been another one. There is so much controversy over so many buildings I don't care any more about insurance and heritage quibbles.

Regent Street. What were they thinking? Great fanfare about its reopening, as if shopping had returned to the stricken CBD. Yeah right. Most of the shops are still empty. Some are still run down and damaged. It's still a construction site. At either end of this "picturesque" street are demolition sites. It's dusty. If you leave your latte uncovered for any amount of time you have to scoop off a layer of debris before you can take another mouthful. 

What were they thinking????

The nicest part of being in Regent Street was meeting up with an old friend who is working on a new exciting project and wants me on board.

If this is how the CBD will be returned to us - one stagnant street at a time - I'll stick to the comfortable, stress-free malls.

And don't get me started about this place. It hasn't changed (it seems) in two and a half years. Politics, religion, money. It's a joke. Both sides are a joke. Everybody's talking, nobody's listening. And every time the place hits the news we have to put up with the droning monotone of the Mostly Reverend Matthews. He really needs to get some elocution lessons. And a personality.

The stroll was boring. The only people on the streets were disaster tourists and the six people who still work in the CBD. The empty spaces all blend together into one sink-hole of nothingness. I don't know the actual numbers but it seems there is more not there than there. That's disconcerting. I can't imagine how much more disconcerting it might be for someone who grew up in those streets.

I'm tired of living in a city that in parts looks like Beirut. I'm tired of waiting in traffic. I'm tired of walking and driving on bumpy cracked stony roads and paths. I'm tired of hearing about EQC dramas on Campbell Live. I'm tired of our garage flooding every time it rains (that's not necessarily because of the earthquakes, I just thought I'd say it). I'm tired of hearing trucks and jackhammers and diggers everywhere I go. I'm tired. I am suffering from earthquake fatigue.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Christchurch Earthquake Memorial 2013

   Tears flowed freely at the Earthquake memorial on Friday (22 Feb 2013), and only the bleakest of souls would have refused to shed their own at some point during the day. I shed a little tear when I wrote a short message to a long lost friend earlier that morning. And while I had a lump in my throat when the representatives of the first responders got spontaneous applause as they laid their wreath, I didn't really shed a tear until this guy (right) laid his wreath.

He was the first of the "public" attending to put flowers on the memorial. Then, all of a sudden, the reason we were there was real. 

   He was anonymous. I don't know his name. He wasn't wearing a suit. He hadn't addressed the crowd. He didn't say a word. He simply laid his flowers, blew a kiss, bowed his head, and left.

   And I thought that is what the day is about.

   There were touching moments during the ceremony on Friday. Sadly, the bulk of it was dull, uninspiring, and insulting. 

   You know, I have a religious history, and while I don't buy into a lot of it now, I understand that it is a comfort for some. But reading 1 Corinthians 13, in its entirety? Rote prayers from sullen, sanctimonious people who are 60% politician and 40% puppet?

   Does this woman ever smile? I know she's under a lot of pressure but it wouldn't hurt her cause to smile once in a while. She epitomises the surly religious tyrant, angry at the world because we're all going to hell but if only we would listen to her her job would be a lot easier. Maybe then she would smile? She certainly doesn't exude the "joy of Christ" I thought all Christians aspired to. I don't remember a single word she said at the podium. 

   Who knew this guy existed? Apparently he's the Christchurch Catholic equivalent. With all due respect (and I'm not sure why he automatically deserves any respect) I don't know his name, I don't know his role, and I didn't understand a single word he mumbled to the crowd.

   If these two people represent the spiritual heart of this city, then...well, one only has to look at the physical city to get a feeling for how its spiritual heart beats.

   Can someone tell me what David Shearer was doing there? Apart from a short stint at UCan, what connection does he have to Christchruch? I assume there's some political obligation for the Leader of the Opposition to be there, but isn't that the point? It's political. Who was he representing that Megan Woods or Clayton Cosgrove couldn't? I hate to think that his presence was solely about being seen. 

And even John Key, for that matter? At least he has deeper roots in Christchurch, but I suspect his presence was more about being seen, too. I didn't come to the memorial to hear politicking. I hoped, in vain, that there may have been some inspiration, some real words of comfort, some genuine insight into the future (did he write his speech on the plane trip down here?). Alas, none of that was to be heard.

I don't mind religion and politics that are heartfelt and genuine. But politics has long forsaken both of those things, and I suspect most of religion has excommunicated such sentiments as well. I don't want to hear Victoria Matthews' strange gruff accent; I don't want to hear John Key's semi-whiny, read-from-a-page stilting speech impediment. And to be honest, the way representatives of other religions and groups read short passages - "we remember them" - in unison was just silly. Cringe-worthy. Some of this footage will have been beamed around the world. At the same time I was proud and embarrassed to be a Cantabrian.

Next year can we hear from real Cantabrians? Instead of religious and political "dignitaries" can we hear from the families who lost loved ones? Can we hear from the first responders? Can we hear from some children? Can we not sing boring dirges that depress? Can we give interested parties real air time? Can we employ someone to give a really inspiring, uplifting positive forward-looking speech? But one, too that honours the real reason the memorial exists? The people who died (last year they read the names - I'd like to see that done every year. It's 5 minutes well spent, I think); those injured; and those of us who, to varying degree, all live with the daily aftermath of those devastating (and ongoing) earthquakes.

I know it's impossible to satisfy everyone, but I find it hard to imagine anyone would have been truly inspired or comforted by that stiff, rote presentation on Friday. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"I Don't Get People"

"I don't get people."

Who's not said something like that? In these instances, "people" usually means someone specific who either for an isolated moment in time, or long-term represents a subset of the population in general.

A lot of people don't "get people." I suppose it's just a reflection of how different we each can be; how vague the rules can be that govern human interactions and relationships. I also find it fascinating how those interactions are now being translated from the IRL world to the online world of social media. It's seems there are similarities between the "people" I don't "get" online and IRL (maybe another blog subject).

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Mother's Journey

There's a photo I've been wanting to get for ages. A cursory glance through Google images and Flickr shows that nobody else has got it either. At least the exact shot I have in mind. It's probably out there somewhere, but I haven't seen it.

So, today I saw a mummy duck with a bunch of ducklings.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Well. What a week. Month. Year!

The planning for the next Addington Cup Day starts pretty much the day after the current one finishes. There are a million people (slightly exaggerated) involved but my point of contact has been the beautiful Charlotte Mooney of Addington Events Centre. We had a bit of a debrief the other day and I got a little insight into just what she has to deal with in the organisation and execution of your average run of the mill Cup Day. Except, this year was not your average run of the mill Cup Day. It was bigger and better and more specifically focussed.

Well done Charlotte!

Photographically, Cup Day must be one of the funnest days of the year. Rarely do you get such a concentration of gorgeous, snazzily dressed people. It never ceases to astound me how many gorgeous people there are in our city! I know such things are very subjective, but for me, with so many gorgeous people on display, whether in the competitions or in the public areas, it might be prejudicial at best to single anyone out. But I will anyway.

If I could be caught swooning it was mostly over this daring little number (the dress, I mean, though the model is gorgeous too!). I never thought it had a chance (as one dear, elderly patron told me, anything off the shoulder is totally inappropriate for the races!), but I loved it nonetheless. And it did make it to the final.

I'm no fashionista, but I know what I like. I loved this ensemble. But it's impossible to choose among so many beautiful outfits. Have a look at the rest of the line-up here.

The winner of Best Dressed Lady (right). I actually really liked it too!

With so many beautiful people on stage it's still impossible to ignore the other 22000 beautiful people not competing in the fashion stakes. 

And lest the impression be left that it's all about the ladies (even though it really is!) the guys are definitely not backward in coming forward to give the girls a run for their money.

I had a very special assignment for the afternoon. I got to hang out with The Ridges. Of course, not that much hanging out took place. They were swamped with adoring fans and full on the whole afternoon. But we managed to get a few snaps.

Colin Mathura-Jeffree is a regular attraction at Cup Day, and I've never been ashamed of the little man-crush I have on him. And I have to say that the Ridges were thoroughly charming and engaging, and so accommodating with the crowds who demanded their attention and a photo-opp. There will be more photos of The Ridges on the Addington page any day now.

THEN! Yesterday was another racing day at Addington. It was Lindauer Race Day, a more family oriented low key affair. But just as much fun! Jordan Luck entertained between races and rocked the crowd. What a showman.

And wouldn't you know it - it's Race Day, and MORE beautiful people!!!!

The collective sigh of relief was palpable Wednesday morning. Another Cup Day done and dusted and, from the fringe outside, it appeared to go swimmingly. More credit to Charlotte and the team! Do check out the photos on the Addington Facebook page. We'll be adding more over the next few days and weeks. Bernard and Gudrun did a fantastic job and took thousands of awesome photos!! Thanks guys...pleasure working with you :)