Why are kids so good at making new friends?

companionable3

Two boys met beside a lake. It took no more than a shared love of throwing stones and jumping of a wharf for them to become friends. Image: Su Leslie 2008

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | friendship

Three day quote challenge, day one

Detail, Future Islands, New Zealand’s exhibition at Venice Architecture Biennale, 2016. Seen as part of travelling exhibition at Tauranga Art Gallery, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

I have learned that to be with those I like is enough. — Walt Whitman

Ju-Lyn at Sunrise, Sunset has invited me to participate in the Three Day Quote Challenge. I’m very happy to be part of this; other people’s wisdom often finds a place in my blog and it’s always good to have an extra reason to share quotes that are meaningful to me.

The Rules of this Challenge:
1) Thank the person who nominated you
2) Post a quote for 3 consecutive days ( 1 post each day )
3) Nominate 3 bloggers each day

So first of all, thank you Ju-Lyn.

I have an on-going problem nominating people to take part in challenges.

On one hand, it’s an acknowledgement that I am interested in what you have to say, and on the other, I know that we’re all pretty busy and don’t necessarily welcome an extra “opportunity” to blog.

And then there is my concern that the people I don’t ask might feel slighted … and on top of that, when it comes right down to it, we actually occupy quite a close-knit blogging community and there’s a good chance that many of you reading this will already have been invited.

SO … if you haven’t already been shoulder-tapped and would like to join in — please do.

I for one am happy to read all the extra words of wisdom (or fun) that are sent my way.

DP Photo Challenge: friend, take 2

The Big T and I spent quite a lot of time this last summer at the Muriwai gannet colony.  Although these gannets don’t necessarily mate for life, breeding pairs do share incubation and chick-care duties.

Watching the interactions between these magnificent birds, it is hard not to project human friendship traits onto their behaviour.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | friend.

Friday flip through the archives: ain’t no use in tryin?

As our move from Auckland inches closer, I’m thinking more and more about the friendships that will change and be harder to maintain with distance. I’m guessing this one will survive.

The song seems even more appropriate now …

 

 

Zimmerbitch

This song was released in 1965, so I kinda missed it the first time around. In fact, the first time I remember actually listening to it was in 1985. It was a wet, cold Friday and I was visiting a friend and her young baby. She was the first of my friends to have a child – and for quite a long time – the only one.

I was in the middle of a post-grad course and totally at sea trying to put together a manageable thesis proposal. My life revolved around study and partying (probably not in that order), and I think I both pitied and slightly envied her “not having to work” but just being home with a baby – probably reading books and watching tv most of the time. It took another ten years and a child of my own to see how wrong I was about…

View original post 393 more words

When two heads are so much better than one

The boy-child's naming day, January 1999. All of these people made wishes for him then; now I'm going to ask them to do the same again. Photo: Gary Gray, 1999.

The boy-child’s naming day, January 1999. All of these people made wishes for him then; now I’m going to ask them to do the same again. Photo: Gary Gray, 1999.

The other day I was musing over the boy-child’s reluctance resistance refusal to allow me to organise a celebration for his up-coming 16th birthday (Three weeks out and I’ve organised nothing). Several members of my wise blogging whanau* commented on this, and Meghan at FireBonnet suggested that instead of trying to force the issue I could arrange for friends and family to participate in the birthday though a book of wishes or reminiscences. It was a brilliant suggestion; elegant, simple and achievable.

I did think of a refinement on it in the form of a video compilation, but soon realised that – as with many of my initial enthusiasms – it would just be a whole lot of work. Not to mention a bit like sending coals to Newcastle, since my video-editing skills are way, way less than the boy-child’s.

So a book it is. Thank you Meghan. Now I must start phoning, emailing, FB messaging friends and whanau for their contributions.

In the meantime, here are a few pics of the boy-child with some of the amazing people who have touched his life.

This post was written as part of my countdown to my son’s 16th birthday. Here’s what has gone before:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/family-photo-friday-kids-no-more/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/three-weeks-out-and-ive-organised-nothing/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/on-the-importance-of-grandparents/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/on-counting-and-gender-stereotypes/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/getting-over-the-grumps/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/six-word-saturday-on-being-allowed-a-weekend-sleep-in/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/on-raising-children-and-not-getting-enough-sleep/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/back-to-school-for-the-last-time/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

* whanau is a Maori word which describes extended family – though necessarily or exclusively in a biological sense. In everyday use it tends to be used to describe those to whom we feel a sense of community or kinship.

Remembering Emily Keeling: and working to end domestic violence

Laying flowers for Emily Keeling

Laying flowers for Emily Keeling

A few weeks ago my partner and I were walking in Symonds Street Cemetary in Auckland and chanced to find the grave of a young woman who had been fatally shot in 1886. Since this was Auckland in 1886, and New Zealand has generally been considered a fairly safe place, I was determined to find out the story behind the death of Emily Keeling.

Headstone for Emily Mary Keeling, died 2 April 1886.

Headstone for Emily Mary Keeling, died 2 April 1886.

I’ve written about it in my family history blog, Shaking the Tree, but essentially Emily Keeling was a 17 year old on her way to Bible Class when she was shot by a young man who claimed he loved her and could not live without her. He killed Emily and then himself.

Yesterday was the 127th anniversary of Emily’s murder, and I went back to Symonds Street cemetery to lay flowers on her grave. With me were two wonderful women friends who also wanted to remember and honour Emily Keeling and all the other victims of domestic violence.

You can read Dee’s moving blog post about our trip here.

One of the reasons we have taken up Emily’s story is that we are all Trustees of the Friends of Women’s Refuges Trust (FoWRT).

This organisation was set up almost 20 years ago by a group of women on Auckland’s North Shore, to fundraise for Women’s Refuge. FoWRT has done this by organising what has become a major and important biennial sculpture exhibition – Sculpture on Shore.

In 2012, Sculpture on Shore exhibited work from over 100 New Zealand artists and artists’ collectives, attracting over 17,500 visitors. The range of work is diverse and extraordinary and in some cases, created specifically to reference the site, or the issue of domestic violence – as in the case of Bernie Harfleet’s 14 , and Turtle Donna Sarten’s Black and White and Red all over.

Since its inception, Sculpture on Shore has raised over NZ$1.2 million for Women’s Refuge. It’s a huge undertaking that relies very heavily on volunteers – over 200 volunteers in 2012. That’s two hundred plus amazing people who give up hours, days – and in the case of some, like my friend Alix, weeks – of their lives to make the exhibition work; to make it wonderful for the thousands who come to see it.

The first time I went to Sculpture on Shore was about 10 years ago. What I remember most about that occasion was my son – then aged about five – running from exhibit to exhibit shouting out the prices, and telling us we couldn’t afford them! By last year he’d managed to slow down enough to appreciate the art, and went home with a plan to submit a proposal to have a piece of his own accepted in 2014!

But that’s an aside. The real point about Sculpture on Shore is that at heart, it is an act of love and of compassion and of solidarity with the many victims of domestic violence in New Zealand. Artists, visitors, and all those who organise, staff and support the event do so not just for the love of art, but because we become part of a tangible, powerful force for change. In New Zealand, on average 14 women, six men and ten children are killed by a member of their family each year – a statistic poignantly highlighted in Bernie Harfleet’s 14.  NZ Police are called to domestic violence situations on average once every seven minutes.

Reading the newspaper reports that followed Emily Keeling’s death, it appears that her killer had not tried to harm her before the fatal shooting, which in some ways makes his actions even more shocking. We may never be able to prevent such men (or women) from harming those they claim to love, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless. When it is estimated that one in three New Zealand women will experience psychological or physical abuse from their partner at some time in their life, it is likely that we all know someone who is a victim. Women’s Refuge is one of the key organisations helping those who experience domestic violence, but we are all able – on a personal level – to show the same love and compassion and solidarity that underpins Sculpture on Shore.

Dee and Alix at Emily Keeling's graveside. April 2nd, the anniversary of her murder.

Dee and Alix at Emily Keeling’s graveside. April 2nd, the anniversary of her murder.

ain’t no use in tryin?

This song was released in 1965, so I kinda missed it the first time around. In fact, the first time I remember actually listening to it was in 1985. It was a wet, cold Friday and I was visiting a friend and her young baby. She was the first of my friends to have a child – and for quite a long time – the only one.

I was in the middle of a post-grad course and totally at sea trying to put together a manageable thesis proposal. My life revolved around study and partying (probably not in that order), and I think I both pitied and slightly envied her “not having to work” but just being home with a baby – probably reading books and watching tv most of the time. It took another ten years and a child of my own to see how wrong I was about that.

At the time I didn’t realise she had post-natal depression; I’m not even sure she knew it. To me she just seemed a bit dull and disinterested in things I wanted to talk about (like my totally fascinating and complicated love-life). So when I went to visit, I don’t quite know what I expected we’d do, go out for lunch or something I suppose.

But instead we listened to her old records and I appreciated her taste in music. It was probably a good thing we did, because – quite honestly – being the shallow, self-obsessed creature that I was in those days, without that reminder of her cool, I might have given up on the friendship.

I’m glad I didn’t. We’ve been friends for thirty five years now, and although we don’t see each other often, I value her presence in my life. She’s funny, wise, accepts me as I am – and she knows where all the bodies are buried!

coffeeIn many ways, we’ve continued to live divergent lives. Our socialising pretty much takes the form of meeting for morning coffee every few weeks. Our partners know each other, and we have “done dinner” in the past – but not recently.

We text often and both make an effort to find each other the funniest, most outrageous birthday and christmas cards. I’ve kept some of hers, including a couple that go back to my student days and which live on the pinboard above my desk. Ours in a friendship that has never really known conflict, or even drama. It wasn’t forged in adversity or pain. Somehow, as teenagers we recognised in each other some kindred spirit and that has been enough.

When I started writing this post, I realised that there are no photos of us together. None at all – in 35 years. And that makes this post important to me, because in the future, if my son ever looks through the photographic record of his mother, a piece will be missing.  A kind, funny, clever friend whom I care for deeply and who has shared my journey for well over half our lives. I guess I could take a photo of us next time I see her, but I probably won’t. Somehow that feels like it might upset the balance, and I like things the way there are.