Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I am not given to daytime snoozing, but by Boxing Day I am usually well and truly ready for a moderate Nana-nap. I have just had an hour or two of "time out". Now I feel I must record some of the lovely spirit and joy of our Christmas Day before it all evaporates in the face of the challenges and fresh directions of the New Year.

We had an early start, though funnily enough it was a friend of DS4 who woke us at 5 a.m., wanting Ed to give him a lift home. I am not sure that Ed had been home very long himself, no doubt catching up with mates after a year away.

Ham and eggs were enjoyed on the patio, interrupted by a loud explosion, which turned out to be one of my bottles of ginger beer in the outside cupboard.

Gift opening took ages, with 14 people joning in. Emily (10) had a big job delivering them to all corners of the loungeroom!

During the morning, there were presents to enjoy, including a new Kareoke set.... and a pool!

The later part of the morning was spent preparing a very traditional Christmas lunch for 16. I must confess that as one tries to juggles all those different dishes in rather limited oven space, one is tempted by the idea of prawns and a barbie adopted by many nowadays. But I had Kim, Miriam and Tina all lending a hand, and it all turned out fine.
We tucked into pork, turkey, potatoes, kumera, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, stuffing and gravy, much of it homegrown. Then we had traditional Christmas pudding, and a delicious icecream Christmas cake made by Christene.
But we quite forgot the Christmas crackers, which will be put away for next year!

Rod, our Chaplain, and wife Christene joined us for lunch, and enjoyed the relaxed and happy family atmosphere. We took the opportunity of asking Rod to give thanks on behalf if all us for God;s wonderful gifts and blessings.

Brandt's 20 litres of home brew, which had only been "on tap" for a day or two, ran out during the afternoon. But in spite of all the eating and drinking, the younger ones still had the energy for games of cricket on the front lawn.

The rest of us watched and cheered from the "Members' Stands".

It was all too much for Digby, who decided to soak up the late afternoon sun.
I would have to say it was one of the loveliest Christmases ever! I hope yours was very special too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


"Devon" is overflowing with family, laughter and chatter, and preparations for tomorrow. Although I must say that I have come to realise that the preparations are just as important as the day itself, because it is all over so quickly. Some years ago I made up my mind to enjoy and treasure those times in the lead up to Christmas, and never to complain about being too busy or hassled. If it is not enjoyable, then it is not worth doing.
I pace myself at Christmastime, and as I buy and wrap gifts, or prepare food, or decorate the house, I find it is helpful and important to focus on why I am doing it, and who I am doing it for.
So far there are nine of us in the house so far. Miriam is home from NZ with friend Rob, and Emily(10). Sarah(12) will come in the new year. Tina and Brandt are here for an extended stay with young Teddy (3 1/2) and Sienna (15 mths).
Ed comes from Sydney today. I have not seen him for 12 months. The other boys are popping in all hours of the day and night, and Kim is enjoying all the family activity too. Next year, she and Charles will have their very own family, with their baby due in April.
We girls are going to decorate the Yule logs today. This is a CB family tradition. I will try to post some pictures later.
The best part of Christmas for me will be the Midnight Service tonight at the Chapel, and the few quiet hours before and after. That is when I sit back, usually in the candlelight, play special Christmas carols, sip on Chocolate peppermint tea, and count my blessings.
I have actually kept the decorations low key this year. But one new addition is this wall hanging that I worked on during the year. It is not my usual style, but I spent many relaxing hours working on the embroidery.
So enjoy your Christmas Eve. Focus on the good things. Enjoy the decorations, the food and the pressies, but remember that people are more important than material things.
And take time out to remember what it is all about........God reaches out to man, sending the Lord Jesus, so that we may know love, hope joy and peace....in abundance.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Charles shouted Kim and me to a Gingerbread Cottage workshop at the Community Church on Saturday afternoon.

There were lots of people there, including several young people accompanied by mothers, grandmothers and even one Dad! Everyone had great fun, whatever their age!

The basic building materials were supplied....pre-baked gingerbread walls and roof panels, a silver board base, a bag of royal icing, and a selection of lollies for decoration.

All we needed to do was actually construct the house and decorate it.

Easier said than done.

The gingerbread was a little soft, and apt to break unless handled very carefully. The humidity didn't help!

However, I forged ahead with my little model, and all was going well, until it started to wobble. I "shored up" the walls on the inside with some musticks, but to no avail. The roof, perhaps somewhat top-heavy with icing and M&M's, started to cave in.

My board was a mess of dried scraps of icing, as was the floor around me! It was really quite funny. Eventually I just gave up, and gathered up the rest of my lollies and put them inside the collapsing walls.

Most people managed to complete their cottages, which were then tastefully wrapped in cellophane for transport and gifting. I was a little too embarrassed to take mine up for wrapping, but Kim did that for me...after all, it was the only way I could get it home without dropping it everywhere.

Once we were home, I got some pictures first, then broke my cottage into biscuit size pieces,mingled with the lollies, in a jar. The family is already enjoying picking at it as they pass the pantry!

It really was great fun...and I may try it at home some time. Or perhaps I will stick to sewing!

Kim's artistic construction is shown at the top...I know that our visiting children are really going to enjoy it!

But mine will still taste as good!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One of the traditional crafts that has been handed down on Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands is the art of plaiting. Both plaiting and weaving, using traditional and local materials, are skills that have provided the peoples of Polynesia and Melanesia with the means to create both useful and decorative items such as baskets, mats and hats.

Norfolk Island is no exception, and the skills of plaiting have been handed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, the most common items produced are hats, but other articles are made too. Materials most commonly used here include moo-oo (flax), ra-hoo-loo(banana bark) and corn husk.

Dianne Buffett learned plaiting skills from an older relative, Mrs Mary Joe Nobbs, as a young girl, and has gone on to produce many beautiful items. Now she has decided to record some of the history and techniques in a beautiful book called "Plaiting in Paradise." It is a book that truly conveys Dianne's passion for this part of Norfolk's culture.

On Sunday afternoon, a large crowd of Norfolkers gathered on Dianne's lawn for the launching of her book. It was a glorious afternoon, and the afternoon tea was elegantly served in the marquee, and was much enjoyed as everyone chatted and enjoyed the lovely setting.

Dianne's younger daughter Levina took charge of the proceedings, which was fitting, because she was responsible for the beautiful artwork and graphic design in producing the publication. Di's brother David performed the task of actually launching the book, cutting the pink "ribbon" around the special copy.

There were long queues to purchase copies of the book, and to have Di sign them. Each book came with a very special plaited bookmark. I believe there will be copies in many a Christmas stocking this Christmas!

The book not only covers the different types of plait, including the one known as the "Norfolk plait", but describes the gathering and the preparation of the materials, and the steps involved in sewing the plait into a hat or some other item.

Interestingly, this traditional women's skill has been taken up by today by a generation of younger men. They have taken the craft in new directions, exploring different media, forms and embellishments. They are true artisans, and I know the older women are delighted to see their skills and craft being kept alive in this way. It is hoped that Dianne's book, with its clear diagrams, will inspire many other young people to take up and develop these important cultural traditions.

I cannot resist showing a few pictures of Norfolkers enjoying the ambience of the occasion.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The other day, I went in search of a little pig.
Not the real, live variety...we actually have a few of those around.
No, we needed just a little china pig to add to the Nativity crib.
Our crib has been growing over at least three decades.
When we first started it, you could buy beautiful pieces of Lladro porcelain here for as little as $5-$15, and some of the basic figures were bought at this time.
Over the years we have added to the Nativity scene. Some of the pieces we have inherited, one or two probably came from jumble sales, and a couple were received as gifts. Every now and then, there is a new animal that we really feel should be there, and that is why we acquired the Chihuahua and the Dalmatian (both of which we number among the family pets.)
I had set up the Crib on the mantlepiece for this year's Christmas season, and as we sat with a quiet drink admiring it, Bernie asked "Do you think we need another animal?"
We both agreed that it would be lovely to have a little pig there to greet the Christchild.
The next morning, I went looking for a pig. I eventually found a lovely Beswick Tamworth sow. She was magnificent..and so was the price. Perhaps she was a litle too grand and showy, anyway, and would put all the other more subdued creatures in the shade. So I kept looking, but nothing seemed quite the right style or size.
I was about to return to the original store and splurge on this lovely sow, but decided to return home and consult with Bernie first. As it turned out, he had been to the shop just before me, and had bought this dear little piglet. He has such a cheeky and playful expression on his face, and I am certain the Baby Jesus would have been delighted to watch his antics! So I have placed him right in the centre at the front.

The family have been quick to remind me that Jesus was born into a Jewish family, and pork would have been a no-no! But pigs are among the most endearing of God's creatures.

Now that reminds me...there is no cat around the manger. Perhaps next year!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Norfolk Island has an extremely active (and busy) Community Arts Society. I think that is probably a feature of small communities, and the opportunities to see each others' work and bounce ideas off each other is far easier than in a larger community. There are probably more opportunities, too, for budding artists and creators to gain some exposure, and just show what they can do!
And there is no shortage of creative people on this island. No doubt our unique culture, history and environment provide plenty of inspiration, but I am always amazed at the rich variety of themes and media used to express people's view of the island.
There were well over 100 entries in this year's exhibition, covering an enormous array of media...painting, photography, prints, decoupage, weaving, carving, metalwork, patchwork, woodwork, pottery and porcelain and many others.
One of the most fascinating exhibits was Kathryn Parles "mobile" featuring 1000 paper cranes. Many of you will be familiar with the story from Japan and the paper cranes, and their link with peace and healing. Well, Kathryn's cranes were miniature...about 2 cm wide, and strung together with beads in a wonderfully mind-blowing arrangement. My pictures do not do it justice!

Now yours truly usually manages to put a few things in the exhibition each year, but it is a long time since they have had anything other than NFS (Not for sale) next to them in the catalogue. I don't know if it is because I am too attached to them, they are too personal, or if I simply lack the courage, and am not sure if people would actually be interested in owning them. One thing I do know is that I could never put on a price that truly reflected the input of time and materials alone, let alone the creative input. But that is OK....I will continue to enjoy producing my works, giving them away to special people, and leaving the others around the house hanging on door knobs, sitting on side tables etc. (And yes, quite a few stuck away in drawers.)

My entries this year included three cushions and a wallhanging.The hanging is called "Judith's Pool", an acknowledgement to Judith Baker Montano who provided the inspiration. The dragonfly cushion resulted from a Round Robin with some NZ ladies in the Southerncrosscrazies email group. The middle cushion is a lace collage, arranged around a woven silk picture of a fairy (from a Cash's card.) It is embellished with lots of beads, embroidery and more lace. The third cushion is called "Shades of Shabby Chic", and the colours remind me of my mother, who was really right into "Shabby Chic" even though she had never heard of it.

One thing I have found really interesting is that the most positive comments and feedback on my entries has actually come from men, who seem to have been captured by the intricacy and detail and the way the elements have been combined. Maybe that is something that we females take for granted!

One thing I am determined to do this year is to develop a means of presenting my work within a frame. Alison from the Community Arts Society is encouraging me to do this. As she says, a frame immediately enhances the value and appeal of the work. I feel it would also help me to focus a little more on composition and design, which are not my strongest points.

Who knows..next year my entries may even have a price next to them?

I will finish with a picture of Elaine Nobbs' "Meandering Book" which she started in a workshop with Mixed Media Artist Carolyn Stephens. It is just so precious and special, and I could spend hours with it just enjoying the detail!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I try not to grumble, because Blogger provides a wonderful service to all of us who like our five minutes of fame. Five years ago I just could not have imagined having the opportunity to record my thoughts and experiences in a form that can be, and is, accessed all over the world. I have not left this island for 2 1/2 years, but I have travelled all over the world through the Internet, and communicated with some wonderful and interesting people.
But Blogger definitely has the grumps just now, and I do not know if I can even publish this.
So come on Blogger.....fix the problem...I am getting withdrawal symptoms! And so are the people who are used to accessing my blogs every two or three days! I have to tell them I am having problems, and cannot upload my pictures...and what is a blog without something visual?
Oh well, I will try to be patient and hope the problem is fixed soon!
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