Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Hello and greetings of the season to you and your family,

Wow, what a year 2010 has been – when I look back I just wonder, ‘how?’ When I started to think about writing this year, I really thought I hadn’t achieved a heck of a lot, but my photographs and blogging across the year show a different picture. This year I have finished no less than six quilts, read 53 books, had two flatmates, two jobs, said goodbye to three friends, shed loads of material girl stuff that I’ve been dragging around for too long, abandoned keeping the door to my heart shut, welcomed new friends into my life, taken up learning to draw and a drawing challenge, connected with loads of people on Facebook, and shared love and joy and some sorrow with so many.

My year began with a word of the year challenge from a friend. This concept is from Its’ about choosing a word to focus on for the year. I chose ‘Abandon’ and it has helped me shake up and change patterns and stuff. My friend chose Holiday – she set a goal of a holiday for every month of the year! And wow it worked – for both of us. There is a list of questions to work through to get you thinking.
I went back to full time work in September and now work for a food ingredients company. We do natural flavours, colours and enzymes. Most people I tell, say they have never heard of such a thing. We do not manufacture, but develop beverages and food products which we then sell to customers for manufacturer for example, flavoured teas, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, fruit bars. Enzymes are used in the process of brewing beer, making wines or removing bad smells from waste products – they speed the process up and improve profitability of a product.

My family have been through their ups and downs this year. My mum gave us a scare with a racing heart beat. She went up to 170 beats a minute, which, for an 82 year old at resting pace is way too high. After a couple of months her health has seemed to settle back to an easier pace. My niece in England has won a regional art competition, Joseph changed his job and has been upskilling in a larger company. Michael met a lovely Chinese girl and was off to meet her family, and do a tour of the Wall, Shanghai and Beijing – but at the last minute she has changed her mind.

I lost some wonderful friends this year – Brookby Star. She was such an enthusiastic supporter of my quilts, always settling herself right in the middle of any quilt I had laid up on the floor.

The next picture of a quilt in  is called Last Breath and is a tribute to the life of my friend Peter Crosbie who died in August as a result of lung cancer from asbestos. He was such a goer for life and lived every second to the max.

I began the year with drawing lessons – the lessons themselves weren’t great, but I continued to try. Because I know nothing at all about drawing I signed up for the Brooklyn Art Library (New York) Sketchbook project and have until 14 January 2011 to get my sketchbook back. It’s a world wide project and my mum and Megan (my niece also are doing a book). When all the books are received back, they go on tour in the States and then become part of the collection of the library. It’s been a challenge, but has helped me focus on learning more about drawing. The best book I read this year is about drawing. Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Soneheim.

In 2008 I started recording a list of books I read in the year, because I was living with a friend who read voraciously and I wanted to see how many I managed. In 2008 I read 28 books, 2009 – 41 and as at the beginning of December 2010 I’ve reached 59. Doing this simple exercise has completely been a revalation to me – especially when I look back over the lists and there are titles there that I remember absolutely nothing about. Of course its made easy by having interests such as quilting and drawing to read about.

The weather people tell us we are in for a long hot summer – As early as November we have had some days up at 30 degrees celcius – which I know isn’t hot for some, but for us it’s getting there. We already have water shortages in some areas, and properties with water tanks, are having to buy water already; where often they’d get through till mid-January.

You will have heard we have had our share of disasters in New Zealand this year – the big earthquake in Christchurch and the Pike River mining tragedy. I think the earthquake has helped us all realise that NZ learned some important lessons from our last big shake in 1931 in Napier. When I compare how we fared, and how we are recovering quickly and without subsequent outbreaks of disease, we have been really blessed. I periodically see news about Haati who had a similar size shake in May and they still have an aftermath to deal with. One of the biggest realisations here in NZ has been the aftershocks, which have been quite big earthquakes in their own right, which are still continuing. I guess that knowing our ‘Kiwi Ingenuity’ which we are famous for, there will be technological developments that will prepare us, and the rest of the world for events of a similar nature in the future. Certainly the disaster at Pike River Mine is requiring a ton of ingenuity to put out the underground fire, and it has brought to light that we have several mines here that have had fires going underground since the 1930’s! Like who ever heard of that before this happened.

I’m still living in Takapuna – only 10 minutes walk away from the one of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches which I continue to enjoy most days – although this second half of the year my energy levels have been down and I haven’t been half as good at walking everyday as I was in the first half of the year. Working full time and not finishing until 5pm has had an impact and I need to get a rhythm going for next year. I’ve set myself the travel aim of no less than a hike in the Grand Canyon and more time in Italy before I turn 60. I’ve been talking about doing the Grand Canyon for so long, its time to make it a reality. Just when it will be is yet to be worked out, but I guess spontaneity will grab hold of me and get me going when the moment is right – but one thing I do know is that I want to be fit before doing it, to get the most enjoyment possible.

I do hope that 2010 has treated you and your friends and family well and that we can expect an even more wonderful 2011, it is after all, the moments that take our breath away, the beauty of the world, and the joy that friends and loved ones share with us that enrich our lives. I wish you peace and joy for 2011.

Love always

Veronicah xxx

Monday, December 06, 2010

Earth From Above

If you are in Auckland, the Earth From Above photographic exhibition is on 24 hours a day in Aotea Square and it is a feast for quilters!  Lines, shapes, quilting designs, colour palettes for quilts.  This is an amazing miracle ... it's on til 19 December. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Wow its been a busy day.  I worked at the quilt shop today and had quite a busy day.  In between I was organising a Christmas decorating suprise in the classroom upstairs as we have a customer party at the shop next weekend.

After work I headed into the city to get some Christmas gifts - managed to get three in about two hours, its always good going when you know what you are after.

I couldn't resist this photo.  This santa was always a part of my childhood.  Before the days of shopping malls, everyone in Auckland used to go to Farmers at Christmas.  This store began trading in 1899 and as a place for rural New Zealanders to shop via a catalogue.  It grew into a nation wide chain store.  In 1934 it innovated a Christmas Santa Parade for the children of Auckland, which continues to this day.  It was another thing of my childhood, to every year go to this parade.  My father's office was on the route and we used to go and sit high up in the windows above the crowds and get a birds eye view, hanging out windows and waving our 'welcome santa flags'.

In 1960 the store innovated again and this gigantic three store santa which was made of concrete I think, was placed on the outside of the building.  I remember reindeers being added with beautiful sparkling tinsel linking them all as the sleigh reigns to santa.  A further innovation one year was that santa's eye winked and his crooked finger beckoned.

With the sale of the flagship store and the birth of malls santa went into storage for a few years, until he was brought by another major retailer Whitcoulls.  Now again, every Christmas he sits on his corner in Queen and Victoria Street, somewhat less majestically than I remember from the magic of my childhood.  But he is still an iconic Auckland Christmas symbol, loved by generations.

I took another photo which I've uploaded to the 365 days tab on this blog - this one has triggered and idea for a NZ Christmas Quilt ... as if I need any more ideas ....  You can get there by clicking on the tab at the top of this page.