Friday, February 1, 2019


4.00x10-7m to

Waves in an ocean
     washing up on our shores

A spectrum of flickering
                       and transparency

   we swim in the tide
                   and not seeing
            the ocean we are lost in

Waves pass by
                          or reflected
    bringing colour to
                          our minds eye

It gives
      and takes from us
                        and  yet...

         brings us
                     so much more
                                       what we need
                         to survive.

vivien dwyer

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ultrasound with scalpel

Ultrasound with scalpel

A vision revealed
live on a screen
and quite murky

What is it saying?
What does it mean?
the black
the white
and the murky

The images move
mumbling across
first bloating out
before getting lost

the black
the white
and the murky

I'm ill with the black
They want it to go
"Fluid", they say.
"You should not behold"

"Never the black
Only the white
plus all of the murky
The murky is right"

The cure they apply
is waiting for me
on a bright plastic tray
which I clearly see...

The Spike!

vivien dwyer 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In the beginning...

Tuesday was an 'interesting' day

A letter arrived in the mail. A recall from the breast squish crowd. They think they have spotted a lump. I feel my stomach clenching up as I read further. They are now going to get me back to find out what sort of a lump it is. 


I am on time, even a little early, and rather nervous. Matt has come too. I leave him in the outer waiting room and change into a gown. I am ready but the machine isn't so I sit in the internal waiting room and do my patchwork whilst listening to technical types trying to get that machine to work.

Eventually, they come and say I should do the ultrasound first to speed up the process so I get taken to a room where they spread warm goo over the area in question and run the sensor over to see if they can spot the lump. They don't find anything and I begin to think it is a false alarm. So back I go to the waiting room. It is only a short time later that they get one of the machines going so I get to go on that. I spread myself on the plate and feel a little sorry for my poor flattened breast lying there all naked and exposed. Then I get a look at the results and there it is. A sparkling, tiny white lump in a swirl of blood vessels. Beautiful but deadly. The ultrasound was looking in the wrong place so back I go for more warm goo and this time the operator finds it.


Back to the waiting room and my patchwork. This time I get Matt from his waiting room where he was playing with his cell phone for the last three hours and we get given a small, private waiting room about the size of your average broom closet because men shouldn't be in the inner waiting room. I drank some water and Matt got himself a cup of tea. We needed that by now!

The next visitor was a very nice person who explained what was going to happen next. A biopsy was planned and was explained with care. It didn't sound very pleasant but I signed the form as they were keen to fit me in around lunchtime. They brought me a couple of painkillers with the sage words that they would help later on. Not very reassuring so back to the patchwork in an attempt to kill the waiting time.

I nearly finished my round of patchwork before being called again. This time, the room looked a bit more serious and the first nurse to come in gave my frontage a really good explore by hand. She said she could feel some thickening of the skin where the lump was but nothing in the lymph nodes in my armpit. After this I am spread out on a bed, padded up into position with pillows and the area concerned is painted pink. A local anasthetic follows – I am careful not to look. I think they could use some art work on the ceiling as looking at a water sprinkler nozzle gets boring fast.

The sample thing sounds a bit like a nail gun....

Four samples later it is done and they patch the hole. I get dressed and leave with a sheet of wound instructions and Matt, and a week to wait for results.

That seems like forever just now......

Friday, June 3, 2016


I thought I might put some of my writings for my Master of Visual Arts degree up here so there will be the odd piece of this and that to hopefully interest you :)

The mole

'Mum, why are there train tracks on the beach?'

A cool day with clouds scudding briskly across the sky. I am walking on the beach with sandals on my feet leaking the cold sand inside. Mum has warmly wrapped me against the cold of a Dunedin summer in my woolly coat and we hold hands against the gusting wind.

We go along the road and look at the mole as it forges its way out into the boisterous waves. I am aware of the smell of seaweed, the screaming gulls overhead and the stony sand beneath my feet laced with bits of broken shell.

'There was a little train that carried the rocks out to build the mole,' said Mum

We walk out onto the causeway and look at the sea and the lighthouse and the birds. The wind whips my hair across my face.

I don't remember the rest of that walk. I was 18 months old, on holiday with my parents at Aramoana, and interested in absolutely everything.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Art work

Well I got to the end of the first semester in one piece and passed the assessments with not very flying colours although they did say I had potential so I suppose that is something.  So I thought I should post a few images and possibly the writing for your perusal.  I will say that the pieces looked really good hung up :)

Essay and illustrations

Ended up just posting the whole link.  There are photos of my pieces in here too.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Squiggly rug

Late last year I bought some patterns from Sarah London.  They are yummy!  I got keen enough to start the squiggles rug one and got about three lines of the grid finished before it hit me that somewhere in my collection of things not quite right was a blanket with a tree on it that I made about 20 years back. It was not useful because the grid was too open and the babies caught their fingers in it and it was a little large in to the bargain.

So, to cut a long story short, I dug it out (from the last possible place to look of course) and decided that with a bit of alteration, I could make the squiggles pattern work.  I used all recycled wool and any weight that fitted (doubled if necessary) and this is what resulted.

I have since given it to my friend (she wasn't expecting it :) because she has always done me favours and because every time I took it to knitting group, she just had to touch it.  So I know it will be loved.

The photos are taken on our bed which is a double. I think I used every bit of green I had and some besides on the tree!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

school/build update

I'm hard at it back at art school with things to think about, things to make and things to write.  It's all great - should have come back here several years ago :)

Apart from that things are distinctly not good round here.  The council is in the process of condemning all of our new build.  None of it conforms to code so it will all have to go.  That's about 35,000 dollars gone down the drain and I don't see much chance of getting it back although we intend to try. The best we can hope for is to get the builder removed from the registry (we did check that he was registered and talked to his last job too).  How do people like this live with themselves!

I have to say that the council have been very good so far.  So has the new architect and the new builder but we are limited in what we can do because there is no more money.  Matt reckons it will take at least 2 years to fix things - I think it looks more like 10. 

The worst of it is having no kitchen.  The fridge and oven and freezer are in the back hall.  The two cupboards and sideboard are in the living room with the table - that is to say, I don't have a living room and my work table is squashed into the corner.  You have to go outside to the laundry for water (luckily there is a proper sink in there) and the bathroom is also outside although it is usable and there is a veranda roof over the deck (not enough to keep you dry when the rain blows from that direction unfortunately).

We still have a nice finished bedroom but that won't last as the foundations all along that side have to be removed and replaced properly.  I'm hoping to hold off until after winter at least for that job.

The plan is to put in the big glass door and the carport/deck first as this will improve the temperature inside and it is all on the old consent (and we have the door and have the builder paid for this) so just has to be drawn up properly. We will hopefully be able to do a lot of the work ourselves which should make it possible. The rest will have to have a new consent probably as the architect thinks it better to demolish the present laundry bathroom as its fabric is pretty unsound even apart from the badly installed floor.  So we might as well get designs for a whole new lean-to whilst we are about it.

Who knows when that will happen! (a thing with lots of legs just alighted on my curtain.....indoor/outdoor living has the odd drawback!).

In some ways it's better because we now know the worst of it but touch me and I'll bleed.....

(what on earth does a creature that size do with all that leg! Apart from wave them at me that is :)


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Several minutes of fame!

I have now appeared on German tv.

wow :)

Cleaning a window!

Near the end of this link for those that want a look and I have no idea what the translation says.

Hope this works as I've not done this before.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had a very nice day for Christmas. Possibly a bit warm for a roast with plum pudding but very enjoyable anyway.

Amongst the absolutely mad presents (all under $10 ) was a set of parcels from my brother in law.  This is the result!
I am calling this gnome, stripey, thing one, aristocat and the gangster.  Otherwise known as Matt, me, James, William and my brother Phill.

Enjoy :)


Friday, October 31, 2014

Danseys Pass

It's been a very trying few months culminating in our discovery that most of what the builder has done is illegal or wrong or both. And he has run through pretty much all our money too so there is a mountain to climb to get this place liveable again. I might add that the builder in question is registered and came with references from previous jobs that we spoke to personally.  So much for that!!!! So I have no kitchen (what there is resides in the back hall and the laundry provides water) and no bathroom.

Fortunately the toilet and handbasin work and my brother lives next door so we have the use of his shower.  Only one room is finished and that is our bedroom.  Matt is working his way through the other bedrooms but what we will do about the missing cladding on the back wall I don't know.  We have insulated and put on the building wrap so it isn't as frigid as it was in the main house but the laundry and what there is of the bathroom are right out there with no door, windows or walls where the cladding was removed for the new concrete pad.

We will be able to finish the bathroom but the kitchen is doomed.

Anyhow the teens spent a week with Grandma in Arrowtown as usual so we decided to spend a couple of days on the road to bring them back - sort of a mini break.  We went slow and stopped quite a bit both coming and going and might have bought the odd ice cream or so :)

On the way back, we stopped at St Bathans for lunch and then decided to get back via Danseys Pass which is a challenging road that hasn't much changed since horse and cart days (well it has but not so you'd notice).  It was spectacular, stormy and we collected the odd rock or so for the garden. I'm going to add a photo or so but there is also a video from the car camera which I will link to later.

We had a good time doing that :)

the bridge at Ophir
 The view from Grandma's
 Our yearly photo op (Have one here every time we pass from when James was just a baby) I think I shrunk in the wash :)
 St Bathans cliff with a weird thing that looks alien but is probably wind eroded rabbit holes

 A farm mail box which is also a children's bus shelter on the back road to Danseys Pass
 The road going up

 Looking down the other side to the sea waaay in the distance

 Like I thought - took us ages to actually get there.


William went out to a party :) His Aunt said she was pleased I had boys who wouldn't raid her magnificent shoe collection.........wrong!!!

However he is still growing (just) so there is hope yet :)

And yes, he walks fine on those platforms!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Renovations continued

 The mattress was in the living room while we did our bedroom

The living room then had to hold the stuff from the kitchen and laundry including the linen.

The bedroom had the base and that was all.  It is now painted and carpeted and stacked with stuff from other parts of the house.

The kitchen was intact at this point although half the bedroom ended up in there along with all the laundry.

The overflow from the storage shelves in the laundry ended up in William's present room.

The hall got a fair amount of stuff too.  Some of this will go in the new living room.

James had all the spare bedding in his room.  Then all of this had to go elsewhere as his room is next on the list.

Windows for installation packed on the front veranda.

The side wall where all the foundations had to be replaced as it was starting to look rather more like a banana than a wall. Can you tell we don't have a garage!
Renovations are going on apace - I now have no kitchen and the bathroom is rather limited as it needs its floor polished yet (had to wait for the concrete to cure). I was intending to do the cooking in the toast oven for the meantime but the thermostat seems to have gone cuckoo.  So now the idea is to get the suspended bed in as fast as possible so that William can move in and we can set up the kitchen in what was his bedroom and is going to be the living room.  At least that means I can cook properly again. It's a bit like a bad camping holiday round here :)

 Matt is replacing the bathroom window at this very moment with the double glazed one that should be good for mid winter heating problems.  There are two more windows to go - one over the bathroom sink and one for the laundry.  Both are double glazed but one has broken glass because the gale force wind from last week broke it loose and it fell on a tree stump.

James is living in the caravan I borrowed from my sister - it is a tiny retro one called Henrietta.  Hopefully his sleep out will arrive in the next week or so.

And that's progress for this week!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The whistlers

This is the small band my son William and two of his friends started at school.  They have now won their first competition - The Robbie Rocks Dunedin junior section.  They had to arrange and sing their choice of three Robbie Burns poems.  Not bad for 15 year olds.

William is the singer and whistler, Oscar on keyboard and Alex on guitar.
This performance is the one they did for the fancy dinner with the Mayor etc as winners.


Monday, May 26, 2014


This is just to say I am still alive here but we are in the middle of some major renovations and it is now snowing/hailing/raining and very cold.

The side foundations were rotted out and the poor old house was starting to develop a lean so we have had to remove some outer cladding and rotten floor boards in order to dig out new footings.  The concrete was due on Friday but the concrete truck driver got cold feet and cancelled (it is Baldwin Street I suppose - world's steepest and all that).  So now it is supposed to happen tomorrow with wheelbarrows and a few good men:)  Then we can at last strip off all the old weatherboard and insulate, wrap and reclad the whole thing. A warm bedroom will be wonderful - I might even lose an eiderdown or two.

Have you ever tried to get half your house contents to fit in the other half?  (we don't have a handy garage here) Including the linen and all the tools and the kitchen?  It's amazing what you can get under a table too and then, of course, you can't find anything useful ever again!

At least it isn't permanent and the far end should be wonderful!!!!

The pic is one of James' early efforts in life drawing - art school next year I think!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christmas and beyond

 William went on holiday to the Kapiti coast and got this really good pic.
 I finally finished making this rug out of all the interesting squares I made some time back.  One ufo out of the way :)
 Matt harvested his garlic - impressive!!!
 Sprocket got a new and much bigger basket (supposed to be dog sized!) I hope he has stopped growing now as he is already rather large.
And another view of my rug with the hexagon quilt I did last year showing at the top.

This year I hope to clear a few ufos and start a big project too.  That is still in the design stage because Dear Jane, which is nearly finished, has to come first or I'll never finish it.  So much for New Year's resolutions.

Hope the weather is good for you - its raining again here.....sigh


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Free Angel Pattern

This is the pattern I made for christmas some years back.  It is not commercial so some of the stitching is averaged out.

You will need-
Two colours of yarn (dress and arms)
A pair of appropriate sized needles for your yarn.
A foot of fancy thread for hanging and a small bell or bead.
A small wooden bead (preferably not varnished) for the head
Fluff for hair (I use unspun washed wool)


Cast on 4 stitches
Row 1- k1,yarn over, k2 tog, yarn over, k1
Row 2-knit
Row 3- sl1, k1, yarn over, k2 tog, k1
Row 4-knit
Row 5- sl1, k2, yarn over, k2 tog, k1
Row 6-knit

Row 7- sl1, k3, yarn over, k2 tog, k1
Row 8- cast off 4 st, k to end.

Repeat pattern 3 or 5 times (for a frillier look)

On last pattern row cast off all but one stitch, turn work sideways and cast on along the top edge for top of skirt. There will probably be random left over stitches at the end of these next rows - don't worry just knit and purl them :)

Row 1- (k3, k2 tog) till end
Row 2- purl
Row 3- (k2, k2 tog) to end
Row 4- purl
Row 5- (k1, k2 tog) to end

From here decrease every row by k2 tog until casting off the last stitch.

Sew up back seam.


Cast on 16 stitches in the other colour and cast off again leaving a longish end.
Join arms together using the long thread and threading the bell or bead in the middle.  Take the long thread through the arm to the halfway point and sew on the top of the skirt.  Finish off ends.

Attach the head by threading the needle with the fancy thread and then go down through the head, through the top of the arms and skirt and then back up through the head.  Equalize the two ends and lay the hair across between them before tying the thread (so the hair acts to hold the head in place.). I always finish by drawing a very simple face with a fine nib pen.

Hope you like this and I'm not even going to attempt to move the photos to anywhere appropriate - they are in order :)


Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Thanks for your comments on the last post.  Christmas will be very different this year indeed.

However, to get back to life etc. I have to report that youngest son Will has won several awards this year including a distinction for his all round work, a special award in stage craft and the junior Shakespeare award along with his group.  They did an awesome job of their piece and totally deserved it.  Will took top actor and the girl playing opposite him got second top as well.  I'll be interested to find out what they do next year as first year seniors. Grandma did know about the acting but not about the rest.  I think that is what is hardest - not being able to run next door and tell her stuff

I'm still trying to get things back to normal but just can't seem to concentrate at all on the quilt.  Might have to keep making socks for a bit.. Useful at least.


Saturday, November 30, 2013


18 May 1933 - 27 November 2013 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Falls Dam

James is doing his creative writing around one of my previous very funny but real events and that reminded me of the time we visited this nice little dam.

It was around 1975 when Dad decided to sell his first boat as it was a bit big for the dams and lakes in our area and was also a bit hard to handle for just one person and us elder kids were on the brink of going off to boarding school etc.

In place of this boat he decided to build a Sunburst dingy but in the meantime he acquired a kitset Optimist which he put together over the winter. He never put seats in or anything fancy but it was a nice (if tiny) one child boat into which some adults could squeeze themselves. It sailed like a landlubbers dream.

We had a lot of fun with this boat with some notable adventures but the best was the day he decided that we would go for a picnic with the boat club members to the Falls dam.  This was an irrigation dam built by the gold miners originally and used all summer by local farmers so it payed to get in early before the water level dropped too much.

We were up bright and early on the day and my brother (about 13 at the time) went off first with another member and a sunburst to get in an early sail before lunch.  We packed the car with picnic stuff and headed out to hopefully arrive for morning tea.

It was getting warm by the time we reached the turnoff and the dust was bad on the way in but there was a pleasantly overcast sky that kept the heat down and it never looked like rain.

The edge of the dam was stony so those going for a swim wore gymshoes into the water and some never took them off.  There was a place for the boats to launch and soon there were four small boats sailing about.

One of the first was the optimist because it was easy to handle and Dad took off in that for a quick sail before lunch.  It only took about 20 minutes to get from one end to the other so he did a couple of laps in a nice warm breeze and then headed back to the shore.  And looked at the rocks....

After sailing up and down a couple of times, he decided that the best way in without damaging his new paintwork was to throw his bow line to us on the bank.  That was all very well but the rope was a bit short, his throwing skills were being interfered with by the sail and mast and stays etc  and he was having difficulty keeping the boat in one place.  The next happening was very fast!  He stood up sideways in the boat and, whilst holding on to the mast, threw the rope again, lost his balance and went over backwards, boat and all.

He came up spluttering, managed to catch the boat before it sailed off without him and dragged it to the bank.  Problem solved!

Having shed his wet clothes and been revived by a hot cup of tea, he was reduced to spending the rest of the day in his bathing suit while Mum made a sort of clothes line out of a spare rope to dry things off.

It was just after this that my brother came in with the friend and his boat needing a little attention from the medicine chest and the washing line.

They had been practising gibes down the far end of the dam and had got a little too enthusiastic.  (For those who don't sail - a gibe is where the sail and boom are forced suddenly to the other side by turning the rudder hard over.  You have to be quick in smaller boats to avoid capsizing.)  The gibe had been initiated and it was my brother's job to leap across the boat, avoid the boom en route, and then grab the rope holding the front sail and lean out as far as possible using said rope to stop falling out.

This time he missed!  And flew right out of the boat which promptly performed a sort of violent curved dance and was just saved from capsize by the friend letting go the sheet (the line that you hold the sail and boom with).  This dumped all the wind out of the sail but he neglected to duck fast enough and was caught by the boom as it came back across. It left a massive bruise on his face and a long scratch.

We patched them up and fed them lunch and more hot tea.

Lunchtime came for all and the various boats were moored for an hour.  

After lunch Dad went out in the optimist again and, still wary of those rocks, he got my brother to push him off and away.  What we didn't know was that about three yards off the bank there was an underwater cliff, so he took three big steps in just over ankle deep water and then disappeared.  He had already been reduced to a bathing suit so no damage was done but it certainly made for heaps of laughter.

After this, the rest of the afternoon went smoothly until it was my turn in the boat.  By this time, being in the boat meant sitting in about 6 inches of warm water because the wind had come up a little and wavelets were splashing water in and there was no seat (Dad did rectify this at home later and gave us a seat at least).  I had a good time trying out this and that but had great difficulty getting back to the bank. (I was a very new sailor at this time) Every time I turned to go in, the front of the boat tried to play submarine and another foot of water would come in for me to bale out.  I thought I might have to land on the far side at one point and then walk the boat home. 

I did finally figure it out and, somewhat gratefully made my way back to the landing place.  The bank inhabitants said I looked really funny going up and down because all they could see was the sail and my head, the rest being lost in the waves.

It was getting late by now and the chill was coming in so we packed up the boat, the bank inhabitants and the sailors (now dressed in slightly damp clothes) and headed home.  All in all, a very good day.

My dad circa 1975
Dad, cousin Andrew and brother Phil after an accident at Macandrew Bay in the new Sunburst

The boat club at the West Eweburn

The three photos don't directly link to the story but they do show some of us as we were at the time. The photo of the three drowned rats doesn't do justice to the amount of wet and mud they collected. Dad should have known better - my brother never could steer properly! The main difference between the Falls dam and this one is the trees.  There are none at the Falls so we mostly went here instead. The yacht with the cabin was our original boat built by Dad and a friend in an old shop.  The other two are Sunbursts, the one in front being the one from the Falls story.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Horse Trough

A local group of us might have added something this winter to a local landmark - we thought it looked a little cold :)

Unfortunately someone pinched this about three days later.  Shame after all that hard work.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Taiaroa Head

 This was a trip we did down to the albatross colony.  A friend runs a tourist boat and took us for a run round the rocks. He was able to get very close in because the water goes straight down here.  It was a bit unnerving to be within a few feet of the rocks but we got good views as a result despite the fog.
 This was heading out to the rocks.
 This is part of the shag colony.  There were also spoonbills and seals. one of which had fun porpoising on our bow for a bit but there isn't a good enough photo of that.
 Cliffs with birds.
More cliffs with bull kelp

 Lots of bull kelp!
 Weird rock forms (basalt mostly) worn by the sea.
 This is the upper part of their driveway - 4 wheel drive only and this is the good bit!  You can see Wellers Rock down below (and our car - safer to walk!) The jetty is just out of view.
This is the beginning of the driveway and yes, it really is that steep and you could lose a child in some of those potholes.

We had a wonderful time :)