Just down the road from our beach there's a storm water pond that attracts a lot of bird life: ducks and pukekos, and a pair of swans who have produced several generations of babies, happily raising them in the relative safety of the pond.
Every now and then Mom and Dad take the kids for a ramble. When the offspring are old enough and big enough to go the distance, they parade in an ordered row down to the beach for a swim in the salty sea. They were at the beach one afternoon last week so I stopped by to say hello as they fed on some fresh grass.
Sometimes I've looked up from my computer here at home and seen them paddling across the bay, quite far out, in all weathers, the windier and wavier the better it seems as they forge along, undaunted.
After I took this photo, the troupe wandered back down the beach and into the water to begin their trek homewards to the pond. They paddled parallel to the beach and waited in the wavelets until a little dog had passed by and it was safe to come out.
Our local swans need a change of scene every now and then and so do we, especially these days after we've been cooped up by COVID for ages. Mom and Dad swan bring their offspring to the beach to experience something new, see a different scene, eat some better-tasting fresh grass, feel salt water on their feathers. As writers, we need to do all of these things too.
Take yourself off to a new place, or revisit a favourite hang-out. Taste some new foods or drink a familiar ale and enjoy it fully. See some new sights, open up your nostrils to the scents of the world, spread your wings and feel the gentle spatter of rain on your feathers.
Replenish the well that COVID has drained. Restore that creative spirit. It doesn't take a lot of money, or any at all if you like. It's a worthy investment in your imagination, your writing, your soul, and that's always worth its weight on gold.
Getting back into gear
Well done all of us. We deserve a good cheer!
We have made it to Level 1 with 0 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand (as of yesterday anyway - and hopefully today, tomorrow, and on and on ...).
What an achievement, and with such good news comes some optimism, although we do have a ways to go to get the country back on its feet.
Most everyone I speak to says they had some pretty grey days during the lock-down period, especially early on when we were restricted to home, going to the grocery store was more stressful than usual, and we could not meet with friends and family outside of our own bubbles.
But there was plenty of writing going on. I recently shared one of my Isolation Journal posts with friend and fellow writer Deborah Shepard on her wonderful site where she has published writings from the lock-down written by a number of authors. Have a look. It's a great collection and so reflective of the myriad of feelings, experiences, ups and downs that were so much a part of this very strange period in our history.
So far, our autumn and early winter weather has been less grisly than usual: fewer rainy, bleak days, far more sun and clear blue sky. It's chilly, but the brightness of sunshine really does make one feel better about it all. My lock-down walking buddy Pam and I still take our daily perambulations around the bay, sometimes dodging a few squally showers, but we're always out there, doing our thing.
The daily walks and chats, and the good weather, are helping me get back into gear, revving up the writing engine. I have projects on the go, chipping away at the memoir about my Mom. My daily journaling helped to keep some of the more dismal thoughts at bay during the worst of our COVID-19 days, as it always does, and I can see threads of optimism weaving their way into my words.
My new computer and I are getting along much better. We have settled into a relationship that is working for us and that is so important as for several days, I could not bear to even look at it, and so very little writing was done. A writer's tools must be right for the job at hand and this new member of the household gave me so much grief as we were transferring files over from the old machine, it took me days to settle down.
So this morning it is bright and clear out there and as I have visitors this weekend, I'll get out into the garden soon to tidy up the front path, then I'll pick up all of Betsy's blankets from her many night-time sleeping places and give the whole place a good sweep up.
The thought of all of this is so exciting (my new found optimism showing its colours), I'll probably write about it later, as even house cleaning can be a source of creative inspiration.
Replacing the computer
Pretty early on I started training myself to do my writing on the computer.
My first computer was a Compaq which I just didn't know how to use at all. I'd never been taught during my schooldays and the whole thing was a complete mystery that ended fortuitously when I moved house and the person carrying the computer managed to drop a bunch of dirt into it. I wasn't upset because all I ever did was look at it, sitting there with its massive boxy monitor, displaying itself with confidence and arrogance.
So I went out and bought another Compaq. I was able to master it by then as we were using computers all the time at work. Word became second nature, email was the way to go, and this whole new world of writing stuff and submitting it electronically was opening wide. I loved it all.
There may have been another one or two and then came the HP Touchsmart with the big 28 inch screen that was fabulous to work on. You can see it sitting up there on the left in the photo. By now I was editing websites, designing newsletters, and many other things to earn a living and having the big screen was a cannot-go-back-from and so last Friday I decided to retire the old HP and get a new one: once again an HP with a big screen, much faster and whizzier than the old one because, as we all know, time is of the essence and the old girl was taking far too long to boot up each morning (I don't mean me). You can see the new one on the right, and on its screen is this very Blog that I am writing.
A friend came by to help transfer all the files and get me set up. I am able to do some of this work myself but other parts of the process defeat me in a way that is terrible to witness apparently: plenty of hair pulling and screaming with rage and frustration, whisky bottles flying hither and thither ... my friend is still my friend, so that is good.
Anyway we got into our work and the amount of security that had to be sorted before one could even get to first base with this sleek new number was truly astounding and even my tech-savvy friend who is known for calm composure in the heat of battle was showing visible cracks in the facade. My response, as usual, was to attempt to throw the offensive machine out the window where it would slide down over the roof and thunder into the street below with a spectacular finale. My friend reminded me that I had paid a 'pretty penny' for the thing and throwing it away would be counterproductive in so many ways.
Fortunately, my old computer is still working, so we Googled and gobbled potato chips and gulped whisky and found the solution and the e-doors of the new machine banged open with frightening speed and efficiency.
I have not bonded with the new machine as yet. It is too soon. It appears to me to be clever and silently ferocious, devastating in efficiency and somewhat unforgiving when I make a mistake but clever enough to sigh, shrug its shoulders and say, 'just give me a minute, you silly sausage, and I will fix myself.'
So right now, new stands beside old in my office. It looks impressive, like the workspace belongs to a demon writer who churns out books with the speed of light. I am keeping old with new in case new kicks up rough again and decides it's had enough of dealing with my incompetence.
Then I can just wheel my chair a little to the left and take up with my old HP Touchsmart mate again. As my friend said, 'Well, at least you can keep working. If you didn't have a computer, you couldn't work.'