Sunday, 14 December 2008

Diary of a Rent-a-Mob Junkie

It's a ridiculous time of the year, by any standards, but I've outdone even myself this year. Not only has the amount of Poetry Society work expanded beyond anything I dreamed it would be when I accepted the job, but the time that goes into 'networking' is insane. It was dear Vivienne Plumb who finally got it into my thick head that it's who you know that counts in The Arts, so I allowed myself to join the rent-a-mob crowd. Who knew it was virtually a full-time job on its own? As an audiologist, all I had to do was turn up 2 and a half days a week, see the patients, write the reports and go home again.

Now and again there'd be a social club do at Puketiro Centre, the Capital Coast Health facility at which Wally and I worked, plus a local Christmas get-together, and maybe a festive lunch for all the Wellington Audiologists. Quite manageable, really. And still time for a personal social life, such as it was (I've never been particularly good at friendships.) One thing about the public health service - we never had to tout for work. There's always more where the last patient came from. And in between there was the garden to tend to, in my own good time.

However, since the beginning of November, I've attended: our own anthology launch; the Katherine Mansfield award presentation (Jenny Patrick - great choice); a funding forum with Creative New Zealand (invaluable - I actually met an Arts Advisor, and had a subsequent meeting with her about our funding situation); an extra NZPS poetry reading to christen our new home, the Thistle Inn; the Bruce Mason award (scriptwriter Paul Rothwell won it); the Wellington Sonnet Competition award (Michelle Amas, with a brilliant poem); lunch with the family of Christchurch poet Charlotte Trevella, who looks certain to go on winning poetry competitions well into the forseeable future; the Christmas meeting of the Wellington Arts Partnership group; drinks and nibbles for NZ Books and Peppercorn Press; and the Christmas party of the the Wellington branch of the NZSA. I've hosted an NZPS committee meeting and a meeting of the Friends of the Lauris Edmond Award for Significant Contribution to Poetry, and next week I'll be at the Christmas event of the Writers' Guild (as the guest of a member).

In between, I've squeezed in the ballet (Don Quixote, undeservedly under-subscribed), 2 pub quizzes, Stagecraft (Cold Comfort Farm - very entertaining), 2 Academy meetings (my poetry group, now gone public), BATS (Lynda Chanwai-Earle's Heat - fantastic), Christmas dinner with Age Concern (courtesy of my Dad), a rather ghastly film called The Tao of the Traveller, which set the cause of Taoism back a couple of hundred years, a 21st birthday party, a reunion of the young people from Onslow College (including my Sylvia) who went to Greece and Italy in April, and several Mensa events involving food.

I was without my car for two and half weeks of that time, so was forced to walk and use public transport, which I enjoyed, but I'm over it now. My Snapper card failed and had to be replaced and I had to pay cash (ie full price) on the bus while I waited for the new one.

Oh, and I bought an apartment, and my duck died. (I took her to the vet - and back again after the sad deed was done - by bus.)

I have just slept for 2 days.

This week I need to do something about enrolling at Vic for the Iowa Summer Poetry Course. I would have done it ages ago, but I haven't yet found my student ID card from the last time (2002), and haven't got around to having a new passport photo taken. It's Dad's 85th birthday on Wednesday, so there's lunch with him and my sister in Paraparaumu with another organisation for the elderly and then a family afternoon tea at his place on Sunday.

I've done some Christmas shopping, mostly by accident. The Personal Banker who was supposed to be at the bank on Saturday so Wally and I could both sign the loan papers forgot he was working, and we had to wait for him to come in. The Johnsonville Parade was on so the mall was empty and we went shopping to fill in the time. It also meant that the traffic was diverted, which didn't help our Personal Banker get there any faster.

The apartment was fully furnished, down to the last teaspoon, so I spent Friday afternoon packing everything I could into boxes for removal, so that Ursula and Nelly could move in over the weekend. We removed everything we could on Friday night, and on Saturday Wally borrowed a trailer and moved all the big stuff - beds out, beds in! By the time they were done I was asleep, so I haven't seen the jumble they're living in yet.

And here's a funny story. I had an email to say that a trader I was watching on Trade Me had a new listing. It turned out to be fertile Khaki Campbell duck eggs - the breed of my late lamented Clayton. Our chook, Tui, is broody so the timing was perfect. I hit Buy Now and went and took Tui off the washing line, where she was hanging in a pillowcase to cool her off. Then I realised I had committed myself to 12 fertile duck eggs! Tui is in for a very big surprise. She's completely blobbed out on the nest, and I'll just put the eggs under her when they come, and see what happens. Would I have done such a thing if I hadn't been so exhausted? Probably not. We had already agreed we wouldn't go looking for a duck, but we have a way of attracting lost and abandoned animals so one would have turned up eventually anyway.

Anyone want a duckling? They're excellent layers, and their eggs make the best cakes.