Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everything's okay.

I can't work out how life can be so strange and yet so normal all at once. My sister -- my baby sister -- is getting married next year. This is crazy. Bizarre. Absurd. Beyond comprehension.

And yet it's also not any of those things. Because... it didn't come about with a clap of thunder and a puff of smoke. It came slowly (okay, sort of slowly) and by the time it was all happening, it seemed the most usual thing in the world. Life's like that.

Being the eldest of five kids and the only remaining single girl is another of those things that should be strange, but isn't. People keep saying, quietly, gently, "And how is Danielle doing?" Mostly I hear about it afterwards, as if the subject is too delicate to broach in front of me. But several of my precious friends have asked, "And -- are you okay?"

I feel so loved when they ask it, but I've begun to shy away from the question. There is no real way to answer it properly. To do it justice. Even saying "I really am okay" sounds slightly defensive.

But this is the marvellous thing: I mean it. I am okay with this. I am okay with not being married yet. I am okay with my little sisters being wives and mamas before me. I am so okay.

I also know that I know that I know that I'm still fighting keen to end up with the man God has in mind for me. I am not oblivious to that subtle ticking of the thing they call a biological clock. Sometimes I ache with loneliness, but don't we all -- married or no?

In the meantime, however, I am content. And, while this contentment might last for just a season, I'm going to enjoy the strange normality of it. It looks a lot like grace, to me. God is good.

PS. And I meant to say: THANK YOU all times a billion for sharing my writerly excitement. You're all awesome.

PPS. How did it get to be the end of October? I heard carols playing on the radio today. I kid you not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Zealand :: living things

Here they are -- the last of the New Zealand pictures. I've saved my favourites for last; not, as you might misinterpret, because flowers are more important to me than the precious people I spent time with in New Zealand. No, it's simply because leaves and trees and fruit and blossoms are there, complete on their own, and somehow pictures capture that. There are no words necessary. A flower is its own story.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A short story about dolly steps:

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Danielle who liked to daydream. In her happiest daydreams, Danielle imagined herself being a Real Writer and publishing Real Books written for Real Children to read.

She had published some grown-up stuff in grown-up magazines, but that was mostly to do with building things or making things or being things. What she really dreamed of was invented stories.

Early in 2009, with a knot in her stomach the size of a large meat pie, she sent one of her made-up stories to a Real Magazine for Real Children. It was more just for Real Experience, a sort of adventure along the pathway to being a Real Writer. But her heart nearly stopped beating when the very Real Editor of the Real Magazine for Real Children bought the story and paid Real Money for it.

Danielle wanted to frame the cheque, but commonsense prevailed and she banked it, where it was soon swallowed up by the necessities of life. The delight of that moment had become a distant shining light -- in fact, she had forgotten even to expect the Real Magazine's arrival -- when, suddenly, quite out of the blue, it came.

In awe and amaze, Danielle flicked through the Real Magazine -- called Orbit -- and saw her little story there on page 8. And on page 9 was a Real Painting by a Real Artist called Matt Ottley -- an Artist so Real that he had illustrated books by Real Authors that Danielle had grown up reading. Danielle may or may not have jumped up and down. If she didn't Really, well then, she was on the inside. And she definitely squealed and took the stairs two at a time to show her family.

It was a Really exciting day -- enormous, giant, bounding... dolly steps on the pathway to becoming a Real Writer.

The end (or not).

PS. Danielle hopes she is Really not breaching copyright by posting these ecstatic pictures from the Real Magazine.

New Zealand :: sustenance

New Zealand is good at many things, not the least of which is its food. Exhibit one: enormous double-scoop icecreams for UNDER TWO BUCKS.

Exhibit two: iced coffees which never fail to be served with a whopping long bar of New Zealand's own Whitaker's chocolate.

Exhibit three: an affogato, the sheer caffeinated strength of which almost burnt a whole in my mouth.

Exhibit four: amazingly delicious (oh, and guilt-free, for once) organic apple and blackcurrant juice. Mmm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Awesome thing of the day #2

Bubble Rip (Storm Wave), originally uploaded by richard.heeks.

Sometimes you get a glimpse of something that just takes your breath away. I thought I'd share this one with you all. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Zealand :: landscapes

The incredibly breathtaking Mt. Taranaki, which watches over the city in majestic incongruity.

One of the Sugar Loaf islands
(near the lookout where Lauren and James got engaged)

The foreshore at New Plymouth.

Doesn't the water even look Southern?

The lake at Pukekura Park, where the water reflects the overhanging blossoms and ducks hover hungrily in hope of crumbs.
Mt. Taranaki, shrouded in snow and cloud.

Downtown New Plymouth.

And this little footbridge, nestled away among the ferns,
is one I feel sure would inspire Monet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Zealand :: precious people

I got to meet in real life one of my loved-but-previously-unmet friends, Holly, her husband Bryan, and their cute babies. That was an extra treat.
I took walks with my family along an amazing grey-and-green windswept coastline.

My little brother showed he hasn't lost his sense of cool (bike helmet for the win!).

We squished...

And ate good things.

We squished some more...

And enjoyed the togetherness.

We looked at excellent stuff (toy museum!)...

And met new friends.

Finally we had to say goodbye --
but we said it with smiles.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Down under down under

I've just spent twelve days on the north island of glorious New Zealand, where...

I hung out with these people a lot:
I was awed and amazed by this incredible mountain:
And these people got engaged:
It doesn't get much cooler than that.
[I took lots more pictures -- coming soon!]
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