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I want to do a little plug for a beautiful New Zealand magazine, extra curricular (for creative folk).

It is all about our country’s artists and makers and illustrators and creative-types, but in an accessible way. It is a very welcoming magazine. They are all people making art in their spare time. It is absolutely sweet and lovely in terms of the design, the photography and the content. After reading it, I wanted to drop everything in my daily life and get making things.

Please do support it if you are interesting in NZ art/craft/illustration/handmade…recently another NZ magazine World Sweet World announced it was to stop after just a handful of issues. This is only issue two of extra curricular, but I wish for it many more issues. I can see it becoming NZ’s version of the equally lovely Frankie.

You can buy it here. It has a blog here, and a facebook page here.

Evelyn Annie

by helen lehndorf

Poor Evelyn Annie with her addled brain.
But how you loved her anyway.

Lying in the sunroom, her house with that smell
of gas and lavender. Who towards the end,
took a 10am sherry. “A little of what you fancy,
does you good.”

When your small teeth proved too feeble,
for the gingernuts
she dipped them in her tea,
fed you like a baby bird.

And the ninety chocolate buttons
on her ninetieth birthday cake-
she fought you for every last one.
“Get off! They’re mine. I’ve earned them.”

Evelyn Annie who earned money
by wet-nursing. Who saved her
premature twin boys from dying with
breast milk and whiskey, dripped into them
off a spoon. Who never swore, but said “Archbishop!”

The only toy she had for you,
were three brass monkeys:
Hear, see, speak no evil. And
a knitted tea-cosy in the shape of a house.
Evelyn Annie who never owned her own house.

Last pat of the hand, she didn’t recognise you, but took
your gift of a handkerchief dabbed with lavender oil.

Sniffed it and smiled.
Evelyn Annie who hated waste. Newspaper
became toilet paper. Butter paper lined baking tins.
And when she had her tonsils out, asked to take them home.
Fed them to her cat.

*****

HH and I are excited to take part in Mary McCallum’s new initiative: The Tuesday Poem Writers from all over New Zealand post a poem by themselves, or someone else. I’m all for more poetry in pixel-land. Thank you, Mary for a great idea!

I’ve gone in for a bit of vanity with our first poem – I wrote it. It received a ‘highly commended’ in the 2008 Bravado Poetry competition.

Evelyn Annie was my maternal great grandmother. Enjoy!

Late last year Helen Show Your Workings did some hand printing of cloth and she sent me a wonderful sampler of what she’d been up to. I’ve used every last scrap in different projects – brooches, bunny ears, but here is one that I wear most days – a brown floral tunic I sewed recently – Helen’s contribution to this collaboration in cloth is the wonderful right hand pocket.

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There is more than one way for long-distance artist friends to work together.

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I’ve kept journals faithfully since I was about 20. When I finish one, I toss it into a huge box ‘with the others’.

Recently, I decided to embark on what I call ‘The Journal Project’. I’m working on a poetry book and wanted to generate a whole lot of new material, so that only my very best stuff will end up in the book. I see a lot of poetry books published with what I call ‘filler’ poems – the poems that are ‘meh’, that are ‘ok’, that have one or two nice lines but aren’t that great as a whole. Because I’m a virgo, a control freak, a perfectionist…I want to produce a book full of the very best poems I am capable of writing. I have plenty of ‘filler’ poems – but I don’t want to use them in the manuscript.

I know – pretty high standards for myself…and it means a couple of things – firstly, I can keep stringing out this book writing thing because ‘it’s not there yet, not yet’ and secondly, probably my very best writing is some amazingly talented poet’s ‘filler’.

Anyway, I thought a good way to generate some new material might be to read through my old journals – see if there are the seeds of poems there, or if just revisiting my younger selves triggers memories etc. So I got the journals out (there are 32) put them in chronological order and started at the beginning – the university years.

It’s kinda painful really. Not dark painful, but squirmy and embarrased painful. There is all that insecure, angsty stuff of one’s early 20s. But it’s good, illuminating – and it is resulting in new poems and other writings, not to mention a whole lot of reflection on my life – which can’t be a bad thing, right?

I’ve gotten as far as my OE to England. I’m looking forward to getting into my child-having years, because then I might actually recognize the person writing as myself. At the moment the breathless young thing scrawling excitedly about music and boys and feminism seems like someone I vaguely knew once, very long ago.

One things for sure – I’ve come a long way, baby. And I can say with some certainty that apart from perhaps my flawless, unwrinkly skin and thinner butt, I would not go back to those early 20-something years for anything.

I like the ‘me’ of today much more.

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I said: “Let me eat cake!”

and Billie said “You shall eat cake!”

So we did…

(and in the wee pocket, are tiny photographs of all the cake Helen ate in whilst in Melbourne, plus what looks like are some notes she scrawled about her cakes, and cake-places reccommended)

“Sunbeam Cakes – 10.33 am, Mentone. Sunbeam House Cake – an apple custard tart with almonds.

Krustie Doughnut with apricot filling – excellent cake woman-ship! Light handed pastry, not overly sweet, pleasant service, good old-fashioned quality cake shop. Four stars.

Queen Victoria Market – Coffee Merchant – Yoghurt Cake with fruit. Three stars.

Nice and light but nothing amazing. Nicer to eat still warm.

Castagnaccio – chestnut, pine nut & rosemary. Five stars.

Excellent Castagnaccio – moist, but not too sweet. True Italian sweet.

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Another Helen Squared collaboration.

Handpainted calico by Helen Heath, turned into geeky matching rosette brooches by Helen Lehndorf.