Silhouettes: young lancewood

These three images are selected from a number of shots I took in January 2008 but never bothered to do anything with. Now – eight years later – the neglect seems unwarranted.

The historic St John’s in the City (Presbyterian) stands on the intersection of Willis and Dixon Streets, Wellington. Registered by Heritage New Zealand as a Category I heritage building, it was designed by Thomas Turnbull, and opened on 11 December 1885 (go to Wikipedia link).

Lancewood, or horoeka, is a unique, small tree with lance-like foliage that changes dramatically as the tree matures. In fact, young trees are so different from adults that early botanists believed they were different species.

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Beneath the domestic surface

Zen garden (21 May 2016)

Zen garden (21 May 2016)

“Mementos that Bird has kept for years hold the past inside them, making it tangible and permanent: clippings of Mickey’s hair, peels of the first orange they shared, a bloody tissue. They stir nostalgia but reopen its wounds, like scabs asking to be tugged back so they can bleed.” (from Sarah Gerard’s NYT review of “Bird” by Noy Holland)

On page 59: a lovely sentence that seems like a found senryū …

A swell of things:
gathered, unsortable,
gone. 

“It is here, in Holland’s subtly radiant ­details … that “Bird” shines brightest, since they so aptly mirror what’s happening beneath the domestic surface.” (another snippet from Sarah Gerard’s review)

This novel sings like
poetry; I’m obliged to 

read between the lines.

(19 May 2016)

“The writing is hallucinatory, musical and intimate.” (Sarah Gerard)


Holland, Noy. 2015. Bird. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press.

The last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas Shop

I wanted to write a nostalgic piece about the last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas Shop … but these photos I snapped on Sunday afternoon took the words right out of my mouth.

In June of this year, it was announced that “Troubled Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains, affectionately known as Kirks, is poised to shut its doors next February.” Dating back to 1863, Kirks has been the capital city’s leading department store for generations, and is the oldest in the country still trading under its original name. The silver lining, according to Kirks chairman Falcon Clouston, is that the site would reopen as the first New Zealand store of Australian retailer David Jones, which aims to retain most of the 270 staff. (Adapted from a story by Catherine Harris, James Weir & Talia Shadwell (see Stuff link here))

Year by year, since I don’t remember when, I’ve been adding to my lovely collection of Christmas tree ornaments, and Kirkcaldie’s has been a major source. There’s also a lovely group of white plaster putti, and some elegant German glass (etched and cut), but that’s another story for another time.

It remains to be seen what David Jones will come up with next Christmas. In the meantime, the two red poinsettia flowers from the last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas shop look great on this year’s tree.

Railway romance

Wellington railway station (22 October 2015)

Wellington railway station (22 October 2015)

The interweb is richly endowed with photographic images of the Wellington railway station – and you’ll find there no dearth of relevant descriptive text. There is no need for me to add anything. My motivation in posting this image is simple: it is an attempt to signal an especially intense nostalgia, a romantic memory of childhood.

Returning to the capital after visiting to my father, I am conscious of my love and gratitude for having grown up here.