Monday, July 16, 2018

Time warp!

    I didn't know the bar was there; down that side-alleyway, way too narrow for cars. Foot traffic ruled, or the occasional bicycle, ridden by an anxious cyclist looking for a short-cut. Even the cyclist would have missed the entrance, a door that had seen numerous coats of paint, covered in scratches, from God-knows-who.

    It was raining when I headed down the alleyway. I had left my umbrella in the car, along with my jacket ... and now I was regretting it. My shirt clung to my body, hardly a flattering look. To make me feel even more desperate, I was cold. it was a heavy bass sound that attracted my attention. Someone was either playing music very loudly, or I was close to a studio of some sort.

    The door opened and a blast of warm air enveloped me, along with the acrid smell of cigarette smoking. A dishevelled man, frantically trying to put up an even less fortunate umbrella, burst into the alleyway.
    "Bloody good jam goin' on there, mate,' he muttered, before disappearing towards the main street.
    "What the hell," I said to myself. Anything had to be better than continuing in the rain. My car was at least ten minutes away and I wanted warmth.

    The door slapped shut as I entered as if it was on a strong spring. The music ... Blues from a distant past, but still remembered from my many hours of listening to RNZ. There was a band playing: a drummer, bass player, piano ... a real one ... not an electronic keyboard in sight, and two vocalists; a guy and a woman ... both in their late twenties ... possibly.

    The lighting was subdued, made even less penetrable by the smoke from a crowd that clearly didn't give a hoot about the smoking laws. Every table in the bar was taken and patrons were hanging out at the bar, leaving little room for me as I approached. A drink wouldn't go amiss. I managed to squeeze through, totally ignored by the couple I had separated. I caught the eye of the barman.

    "A glass of Pinot Gris, please," I said.
    He looked at me ... or was it through me? "And what the ... we don't serve cocktails here, mate"
    "It's wine, you ..." I stopped. "OK ... how about a Reisling?"
    " There's bear, gin and yeah ... top-shelf....' His voice cut out as the band ramped up. The guy who had been singing, began a haunting melody on a harmonica while the woman took over the vocals. The crowd seemed to be drawn in by them. It was then I noticed their dress-code.

    Had I walked into a 'themed party? Art-Deco ruled. I recalled countless black and white movies: the hairstyles, cigarettes held by the female patrons with long elegant Bakelite cigarette holders. Jean Harlow would have fitted right in. Some party I thought.

    "Right ... I'll have a bear then ... tap will do," I said to the barman.
    " Comin; right up,' he replied. "Not sure where you got your duds ... hell ... this isn't costume night."
    "Could have fooled me," I retorted. "You lot are dressed up like Art Deco Week in Napier. That chick singing looks hot!"
    He looked at me, before glancing at the heavily muscled guy, standing by the low stage. The latter approached.
    "You got trouble, Trev?" he said while putting a thick fist on my shoulder.
    The Barman leaned over, his breath pungent with garlic. "This gentleman is leaving," he said. "Drain ya glass and leave quietly. Something tells me, you don't belong."
    "What the f---. What have I done? I only came in to escape the rain."
    The music stopped ... mostly. Eyes turned in our direction; a mixture of curiosity and something more sinister. The guy playing the harmonica played on. He moved off the stage, coming towards me. His face had a distant look, framed by the swirling smoke from the 'illegal' ciggies. He stopped.
    "I don't think you are from ... here," he said, his voice barely audible. He turned to the barman whilst gently removing the heavy guy's fist from my shoulder. "I'll take it from here, Trev."

    "Best you come with me, Alex."
    "What ... you know my name?" I shuddered. Then, I noticed a poster above the door by the toilet signs. Jean Harlow again. "OK ... I'm leaving. Guess I don't fit here, eh."
    "That's kind of what I was thinking. Best you go ... back to where ever you came from. I hope you enjoyed my harmonica," he added as we neared the door.
    I turned my head, looking at him closely. "You look like someone I know ... Yeah ... like Kurt Mueller."
    His face turned ashen. "My name is Mueller ... you're freaking me out."

    He pushed the door open and before I had a chance to reply, it shut hard. I looked along the alleyway, trying to get my bearings. When I looked back at the door ... it was gone. A shop window, displaying old books was where it had been, just a few seconds ago. No sounds of music or the smell of cigarettes ... just the rhythmic pattering rain. I headed back to the main street. I remembered where I had left my car, back in the underground carpark.

    As I descended to the lower levels I saw a poster, advertising 'An evening with Kurt Meuller and his beloved harmonica.' The face in the poster was disturbingly similar to the harmonica player in the bar, yet an older version. I almost stumbled to my car, opening the door and slumping into the seat.

    My cell phone rang.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

My first ever 'presentation to the local Community Board. An exercise in democracy.

I have never participated in a Local Body Council Meeting. Today I presented an issue at the Community Board for Thames. I was made welcome and I felt that I was listened to. As to whether my proposal goes forward successfully ... time will tell.

Here is my 'presentation.'


Currently there is no off leash fenced dog park in Thames. Those areas off-leash (for certain times of the year) are near bird colonies and roads.
Sure, that is fine for many dogs, but even with strict oversite from responsible owners, many dogs tend to take off, venturing onto neighbouring properties and roads, endangering themselves and drivers who try to avoid them.
We need a safe area where dogs can ‘stretch their legs,’ and run safely. Examples of this exist in Te Kauwhata and Cambridge.
Two areas come to mind. The area that is already off-leash, just behind Seagull’s or part of Kurannui Bay. It would be relatively easy to fence off a section, with double gates to ensure safe and easy access. Doggie dumping facilities with bags already exist at the entry to both areas.
There seemed to be good support on the Facebook post I put up recently. I suggest that community contribution re ‘keeping a watch’ and reporting any issues, would be strong. Fund raising could also be undertaken, which would help to give ‘ownership and maintenance’ of the area.

With thanks

Neil Coleman

This is a very provocative, rude and opinionated post ... I DARE YOU..... CLICK AND FOLLOW!


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sometimes we get to do 'homework in our Writers' Group.' Here's mine.

I watched you … every day!   
So, I’ve been up here for months now. No one has painted over me and there are only a few scribblings on my periphery, that sully my visage. Sure … a few kids have tried to whack up some inferior ‘bombs,’ but for the most part, I have been left here, undisturbed.
    Sure, the sun, rain and rubbish have all blasted my shiny surface, but I’m made of quality paints, born out of the passion of an enthusiastic and talented ‘artist.’ She comes by from time to time, reminding me of the hours we spent in my berthing; laughing and even the odd tear or two. I met some of her friends … and family, not always sure of the distinction between the two. It didn’t matter.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the day you finished me … leaving me alone. Would I feel lost? I started noticing people; the ones who passed at the same time every day, on their way to work. Then … there were those who came to the park most weekends. I surmised that they lived nearby and did not have gardens or backyards. Two have earned a place in my heart. I even know their names.
    James, a willowy twenty-something, ‘alternatively-dressed’ guy, with long blond hair, tied up in a 70’s style pony-tail, always stopped and watched the progress of my ‘birthing.’ He never said anything. He just stopped and observed. If someone else came and started a conversation, he quickly moved off, after muttering a brief reply, that did little to encourage more meaningful conversation.
    Then, one day, a slightly younger guy, different in so many ways, came past. He wore torn or was it ripped jeans. I wondered if he had paid an exorbitant price for them, or was he just …poor?  He always seemed to have the same T-shirt. That led me to think he either had many of the same types or he washed them every night because believe me … I tried the ‘smell-test’ on him when he approached to touch my surface, stopping only when the artist glared at him. He smelled fine ... fresh and clean. His name was Jessy. The T-shirt was tight, showing off his muscular chest and well-defined arms.
    That day, James took longer to move on. I noticed him glancing at Jessy and moving off … reluctantly. As he left the park, he looked back. Jessy returned the look. I felt an ‘energy,’ a connection, but neither said anything.
    Two days passed, Jessy coming on the first day, staying a little longer than he did on his first appearance. The next day he didn’t come, but James did. That’s how it was for the next week … Jessy one day, James the next … until James started coming again … every day. He even came when it rained and my ‘creator’ didn’t come.
    Finally, I was finished. I stretched over a wall, a myriad of colours. Jessy and James both came. There was quite a crowd … at least a hundred people, and a TV news crew. Yes, I was on TV that night. Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking me for a ‘Banksie creation!’
    James kept looking towards Jessy. Jessy pretended not to notice … for a while. It was Jessy who moved closer until he was right next to James. Their shoulders almost touched. They were silent. People began to move away, the TV crew packed up after interviewing the artists and gathering a few reactions from the people.
    I ignored the ‘ceremony of my ‘coming out.’ I was way more interested in the two guys. When the last of the crowd had left, Jessy and James remained, still silent. It was James who spoke first.
    “I guess if I said, ‘Do you come here often, you’d throw up.’
    Jessy laughed. ‘I’ve heard that corny pick-up line a few too many times, but I guess it’ll do.’

    My heart missed a beat or two. They left together. I have never seen them again. I often wonder if they are still together. I wonder if I will fade. Love is a bit like a mural … in some ways!

My clients at BLENNZ Homai got up to some mischief ... probably a daily event! Love them.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Don't go to the shop ... open the cupboard and cook up a healthy and cheaper treat.

I am a 'treat-lover.' I like to go to my 'cookie-jar' when I have a cup of tea or a coffee. There is something comforting about being able to do so. Howwwwever, I know that the 'store-bought' ones are not the best option. Now ... I am the first to admit, that one needs a bit of time to make the choices that I do ... but then again, the following recipe or variations on it, are not exactly time-consuming.

I had to really think before I wrote this little number up because it is so random. I never make it the same way, and results most certainly vary according to how you apply it. It IS QUITE HARD TO STUFF IT UP if you stick reasonably close to my 'suggestions.' Let's call it THE WHATEVER IN THE CUPBOARD MUFFIN/COOKIE. Yes, ... is it a cookie or a muffin ... or is it a bun? I guess the answer to that is how long you cook it and at what temperature and the moisture level.

1) Go and turn the oven to bake at 160C.
2) Get a big bowl.
3) Have a few trays of large (or smaller) muffin trays. Non-stick is best.
4) Chuck two cups of rolled oats into your bowl.
5) Biff some butter (Maybe two tablespoons.You can use a light oil if you wish)
USE A PLASTIC BOWL< because, at this stage, I microwaved the mixture on high for about 40 seconds, then mixed it all up.
6) Slide a cup of desiccated coconut in.
7) Use half a cup of sugar and/or some molasses (half a cup)
8) Throw in about 2/3 cup of ANY mixed dried fruit ... I used the cheapest, which even had peel in it.
Mix in a generous amount of powdered ginger/cinnamon or mixed spice ... whatever is in the cupboard.
9) chuck in one or two eggs.

NOW---get ya hands in or if you are a wimp ... use a spoon to mix it up. For a 'wetter' mixture, add a little milk When it all feels and looks mixed, spoon it into the muffin pans, press it down evenly. If there is heaps over, just freeze it in plastic bags until the next batch, or use it as a topping for an apple/feijoa/ rhubarb crumble.

Bake it in the preheated oven for about 25-40 minutes, but keep a watch. Don't burn it.
When ready, leave to cool, then gently loosen them from the pan and leave to cool, unless you really can't wait to try one.

I love them as an anytime snack-food.

I'm still not sure what to call them, but  I guess, Harry will do!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sitting on the 'SEAT' in the Bay, just tumbling my thoughts away:

From time to time, I like to sit and contemplate the last two years.
Two years since I left the city over the GULF.
Sometimes I can almost see it,
over the water as an imagined glow at night.
I know it's there, hiding behind one of the many islands.
It casts its influence wide and far,
sending its children, scattering them in new directions.
Some come here, to my new 'hometown,'
seeking solace, relief from pain, debt and NOISE.
They find the time that's kind, a pace that is more gentle,
a time that was.
They reach out, meet people, connect and live.
As I sit on the green seat at TararuBbay, I look in a different direction,
Towards the old town, the 'City of Gold,'
or is it?
You can still find treasures, but they are defined anew:
Peace, tranquillity and a life that makes sense.
That is what I see, what I feel, as I contemplate my two years.