Speechless

DIGITAL PRINTS now available on Trademe

SHEET MUSIC: Diego Fernandez de Huete: Compendio numeroso — original music for harp from baroque Spain
TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MUSIC: Harp sheet music store * Travels in Middle Earth CD700 Years of Pop CD

Asni the Harper digital downloads: CD Baby ** Amazon MP3 * iTunes

NOW AVAILABLE: New Zealand Film Locations map: A3 poster * Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Easter greeting cards

In this newsletter:
*** Speechless
*** News & Current Projects
*** To My Samsung, with Love

Speechless

On the internet, a search for "Nazi rally" now returns hits featuring Charlotteville, not Nuremberg, on its entire first page. That's something to mark in the calendar. I don't know what to write any more. For those of us who have heard the noise of this train bearing down on us from 10 or 15 years away, the only thing that surprises us is everyone's disbelief.

We got an election coming up in Germany. A few weeks ago, I was sorting through my manila folders and found a mold-spotted piece of paper that contained my last address in Germany, and the period I was registered there. I tossed it into the fire, just because it was moldy, and I'm over clinging to a past life I will never go back to any more.

Last week, I called the German Embassy to find out what I needed to do to exercise my voting right. Downloaded a form, filled it in, it asks for my last address in Germany, and the period I was registered there. Well done me.

I called the council office in Schönsee, Oberpfalz, but couldn't get anyone on the phone even though it was right smack during their opening times. Ah yes. 15 August, Mariae Himmelfahrt. A public holiday, but only in the Catholic parts of Germany. Could have called the previous night. Two and a half weeks left to get it there, by snail mail, because this is Germany and if it isn't snail mail, it ain't real. Well done me.

Still, a call the next evening was remarkably un-Kafkaesque and unearthed the vital piece of information in less than five minutes, apparently by simply punching my birth date into their computer. The lady at the other end identified herself as "Knott". I was about to ask her if she was one of the Schwarzach Knotts, who had been our neighbours. But that might have been embarrassing. Half the people in half the villages down there are called Knott.

The application to be enrolled in the German voter's register, via a small community in a rural backwater where I have spent many a holiday, but only lived permanently for less than a year, is now winding its snail mail way to the Schönseer Rathaus. Let's see if the voting papers will wind their snail mail way back to Featherston in time for me to cast my vote and pop it in the post so it can wind its snail mail way back to Schönsee and be counted.

A German friend who used to live in the Netherlands warned me that snail mail had killed his democratic right to vote on more than one occasion. That sounds hopeful. Well – I tried.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, things have suddenly become interesting. We also have a general election coming up, and this is one I can and will definitely vote in.

Labour. I'd given up on you. At a time when people are finally getting real tired of their politicians posing with film stars, rather than addressing the ever more blatant poverty creep in this country, you seriously thought that you could present us with some assembly line middle class white guy called Whatshisname Little, who seemed to think it a good idea to pander to the same sentiments that National draws on but in a watered down format, as your best man for the upcoming election. He claimed, in the one election video I could be bothered to watch, that he "knew the public health system" because he is a cancer survivor. Good lord. Not ANOTHER term of National.

I have been a staunch Labour supporter mainly because I could never really get behind the New Zealand version of the Greens, seeing that some of their stances strike me as rather xenophobic. But, seriously, Whatshisname Little. Who was going to get tough on Immigration. I could'na hae voted for him.

Plus, the Greens were running Metiria Turei, who did a brave thing by publicly admitting to a bit of benefit fraud while she was a law student and single mother dependent on WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand). Apparently she had lied about the number of her flatmates. Apparently the amount she was overpaid comes to something like 7,000 $ NZ dollars.

The conversation she was trying to stimulate, and which is lightyears overdue, is about the abomination that is WINZ. How it is impossible to actually live and survive, let alone do something with your life that might get you out of poverty, if you are dependent on a benefit. Even if you are prepared, and mentally strong enough, to put up with the dehumanizing treatment which beneficiaries are routinely put through, and which many people have publicly testified to.

I know a WINZ benefit would not pay for *my* most basic expenses. And I own my house, and I produce some of my own food, and I live in a low income, low cost rural community, and I have no one dependent on me. That is the conversation we should have had. About honouring and upholding basic human rights. Personally, given the years of unpaid benefit WINZ owes me, I'd be more than happy to write a few months off to help finance Metiria Turei's law studies.

But no. The New Zealand media have eaten Metiria Turei. Pakeha middle class racism and purblind egotism came out in full force and ate her whole. She was forced to resign, a few weeks before the election, to protect her family because things were just getting so ugly. Just when I was beginning to think I should probably vote for her.

Predictably, New Zealand has acquired its own brand of technocratic, misogynic, internet and social media driven, left-right-can't.tell.the.difference populism in the form of The Opportunist Party (TOP), run by some fellow who is an investment banker and whose son founded Trademe. He is running a campaign that seems to be based on a Google Adwords algorithm: pick those topics that are likely to get the most hits – err, votes – with those people who are left at odd ends by Labour's weak leadership. What can I say, the man is an investment banker, with a son who got rich and famous on the internet.

Kim Dotcom – who, by the by, turns out to be best buddies with Julian Assange – tried this in our last elections and landed a proper old belly flop, but I was getting concerned that people were seriously underestimating this fellow. Whoever pulls the strings for these people – if there is indeed a single entity pulling the strings – has had a few more years to perfect their method, and it did work spectacularly in the US. I wouldn't wonder if this guy takes money from "Russia", or owns a copy of "Mein Kampf", or both. What I do know is that he has explicitly cited Donald Trump as his inspiration. Nuff said.

Then, some seven weeks out from the election – after the results of a devastating opinion poll that projected a crestfallen 24% of votes for Labour – Labour did the right thing. Risky, and possibly quite ill timed, but oh so right. Little stepped down, and in his place, Jacinda Ardern is now running. You got it. She's a girl. With an exotic sounding first name as an extra bonus – the kind of name that would normally compromise your chances to land a job interview in New Zealand. Maybe after all these months the message sent by the Women's Marchers has sunk in?

And suddenly this show is interesting. I'm sitting up straight in my seat. The very first thing that happened, a DAY after this change in party leadership and Prime Minister candidacy was announced, was this: one of those chauvinist d*ckheads who run our broadcasting media (those same people who ate Metiria Turei for being truthful about her past), asked Jacinda Ardern live on radio if she was planning to have a baby. He then proceeded to explain that it was after all an employer's right to know these things. I'm not sure where this guy has studied employment law. Our future Prime Minister told him off. In no uncertain terms. Live on the radio.

The outcry! One of the more left leaning media outlets posted a photo gallery of Mothers in Public Life, who were all giving the radio man the literal fuck finger. NOW we're talking politics! How nice to see that people in this country are finally finding their outrage.

Labour is way up in the polls. The Greens have taken a hit, but between them and Labour, it looks like there is an actual chance to outweight National. Meanwhile, Labour has stepped up their election campaign by 1,000%. You know, getting attention, and maybe votes. Donations have been flowing in. They've signed up a spate of new volunteers. I get an email from Jacinda Ardern every other day, to let me know how this is going. Let's do this.

Last but not least: I now have the option to vote for a woman as Head of State in both these national elections. Here's three cheers to progress. Perhaps we should pray a few "Ave Hillary"s, too.

Martinborough wineyards, Wairarapa Martinborough wineyards, Wairarapa Martinborough wineyards, Wairarapa Martinborough wineyards, Wairarapa

Martinborough wineyards, Wairarapa



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Tui — digital print WIP  by Astrid Nielsch Tui — digital print WIP  by Astrid Nielsch Tui — digital print WIP  by Astrid Nielsch Happy Place

New digital print: Tui WIP ::: Happy Place

News and Current Projects

The Big Wai Art Sale is coming up again! I am busy finishing another digital print or two for this show. Tui continues my series of New Zealand birds, and I will also be working up the Wairarapa landscape I posted here a little while ago. Maybe, if I get really busy, I might finish another I have in the works.

Come join us at the Carterton Events Centre! The official opening will take place on Thursday 7 September from 5.30 pm, there will be a $10 fee to attend the opening night. Free entry on the other days: The Big Wai Art Sale runs from Friday 8 September to Sunday 10 September, opening times are 10 am to 4 pm. The show is getting bigger and better every year, and there will be real artists on display doing real work, live.

The indefatigable Jane Giles is the driving force behind our newest local art venue: Wai Art has recently acquired a building opposite the Carterton Events Centre, which is being fitted out as a communal gallery plus work space plus workshop venue for us local artists. I can hire a piece of wall to put my pictures on permanently for for as long as I wish, for a monthly fee even I can afford. In return, I've helped paint the floor, and am volunteering some of my time to help run the place. Which is a really pleasant way to spend half a morning and afternoon. People drift in and out a lot, and there are always some fellow artists around to chat to – and if there aren't, then there is space and quiet to do some work.

The art show at Pukaha Mt. Bruce has wrapped up for this year – my Kotuku print sold, which makes this the second copy I've sold in a gallery show this year. Even better, I will be having a couple of my prints on display and for sale year round now. What could be a better venue for art showcasing New Zealand birds, than a wildlife sanctuary which protects New Zealand birds!

As always, my art prints are available online. Check out my Trademe Store – you can order here even if you don't live in New Zealand, I accept Paypal payments.

Just a reminder that my Martin Haycock Gothic harp is still up for grabs. It's a 25 string late medieval/renaissance style harp built by one of the pioneers of the early harp revival, back in 1985 or thereabouts. The harp has bray pins except on the two top strings, and has a fine sound, though it is a bit more solid in build than some of the more recent copies of this style of harp.

You can hear the harp on a few tracks on my CDs: "Lament for Gandalf", on the Travels in Middle-earth CD  – Suite from "musicalische Rüstkammer" and "Amoroso", on the 700 Years of Pop CD – and the Faenza codex piece "Rosetta che non cançi mai colore", on the Rent a Nightingale CD.

Asking price is NZ$ 2000 or equivalent, or best offer, plus shipping. Please email me for more details – and please pass this on.

New art venue: No 23 in Carterton New art venue: No 23 in Carterton New art venue: No 23 in Carterton New art venue: No 23 in Carterton

New art venue: No 23 in Carterton. My personal panel - before and after.

Things have happened in the last couple of months. I had a talk with our police officer. It's ok, I haven't been arrested for shambolicism, it was me who asked to speak to him. As a result of this talk, I have now re-homed most of my animals – and I own a smartphone.

The guinea fowl went on a trip to Northland. The ducks and some of my surplus chickens have found new homes on a couple of local lifestyle properties. I've taken Zibaq back to her breeder. Yin went to the Wellington SPCA. She is still up for grabs at the time of this writing.

Of all the things they could have written about the situation – that I have advised them, and another rabbit rescue organization, months ago that I could no longer look appropriately after my rabbits after being forced to lock them up in cages – but was refused help. That I've been putting my own life on hold, spending hours every day just to provide basic food, cleanliness, and affection. That I was collapsing under the workload and financial burden to the point where our good police officer felt he had to step in. But no. They chose to write that "she was not looked after appropriately". I'd have more respect for this organization if they had half as much compassion for humans, as they profess to have for animals.

I almost sent Tiny Tim away with the SPCA as well, but am now doubly glad that I changed my mind at the last minute. Having him live on my front porch was no longer working. With the help of some good people in the community, most notably Kate Mead, formerly of Radio New Zealand, now of Loco Coffee, I have found him a paddock and a flock of sheep to call his family, just outside town. He no longer has to be tethered and wear a collar. And he no longer eats my trees and my roses, which is also nice.

I go check up on him most days. He comes running every time he sees me, and headbutts me and does a little happy dance. Then he goes back to grazing. He now unashamedly asks for ear scratches – in fact, being human scratched is his new thing. Sometimes he looks wistfully at the paddock gate, how about going for a walk? But he seems to understand that I can't open the gate for him. Maybe I need to devise a way to take him out sometimes, that would be nice. He follows me to the corner of the paddock when I leave, and stands there for a while looking after me. Then he bounces and runs back to his pals.

One night, he took me to introduce me to his new friends in the flock. Two of the ewes, one little yearling, and a bunch of this year's new lambs. Two of the adults moved off slightly when I came, but the rest calmly stayed were they were. He must have been saying good things about me. Maybe I'll end up being accepted as a honorary sheep.

Selma and Sophie the two geese are still with me, and a flock of chickens of a manageable size. And Zelda the cat. I also still have Luz the axolotl – Norte went to a new home some months ago and was re-christened Sakura, which suits her or him much better – and Paula and Piet the two goldfish. High time I fixed up my pond – and high time I went back to growing my garden, instead of having it eaten.

 

Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before

Tiny Tim at White Rock: To boldly go where no sheep went before



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Pauatahanui wetlands, Porirua Pauatahanui wetlands, Porirua Pauatahanui wetlands, Porirua Pauatahanui wetlands, Porirua

Pauatahanui wetlands, Porirua

To My Samsung, with Love

I have staunchly resisted the smartphone revolution for the longest time, but now that I have one, I'm in love. My Samsung! Such a small device, and all the things it can do. Phone, internet, email, text. Address book, calendar, clock, alarm. Notebook, audio and video recording device, photo camera, radio. Weather updates, transport schedules, undercover documentation, instant publishing outlet. Pocket artwork, if you wish. Can you remember how many different devices we used to need to do all of this? Now it all fits neatly into my palm. Not to mention my budget.

My "cheapest option" prepaid bundle comes with limited data and calls (not that I expect I will even use up my monthly contingent, I did not primarily buy this as a phone) – but it includes unlimited Spotify Premium. And so therefore, now I am listening to music again. Time to catch up with the charts – it's been a while. But seriously, are we STILL on hip hop? Except now all the hip hop seems to be in Spanish. Well, whatever. I don't even know who the bands and artists are, these days. Except maybe Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and uh, Justin Bieber. And Coldplay. I found a song by Coldplay that I liked, and have been listening to a lot of Coldplay ever since.

Except the other night, I was listening to Arvo Pärt. Passacaglia, which is the piece we performed with the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, back in 1990. Very shortly after the wall came down – the first wall-less Christmas and New Year, in fact. The rehearsal sessions were at Jagdschloss Glienicke in Berlin, which used to be caught in a nook of the Berlin Wall, just across from the Babelsberg park and film studios on the East German side – so we noticed.

The composer was present for our final rehearsal in Moscow. They gave us all a Gorbatchev button to wear because Gorbatchev was supposed to be present for the performance, but then he had to rush off because things were just falling apart in the Baltic. Kind of ironic, seeing that Arvo Pärt is from Estonia. 

I can't say that I remember the piece in much detail but listening back to it, it brought back memories – of the concert hall, of the awful smell in the hotel they put us up in, of getting insanely drunk on vodka after the concert because we were thirsty and there was no drinking water. The wonder of the painted interiors of the churches inside the Kremlin. Of playing truant for a bit with a fellow musician and going on a quick tour of Moscow in the snow, in search of what? Cheap CDs and sheet music to buy, I think. As you did whenever you went to the socialist countries because the stuff was dirt cheap being heavily subsidized, and there wasn't much else you could buy with your money. 

I still have a score or two – the Cyrillic letters give it away – and those CDs: The Swan Lake Suite, and a complete set of Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant Jesus. This last has been my secret weapon when my neighbours refused to turn their music down ..... my music will always be weirder than their's. 

What happened to all that hope people had at that time, though?

Arohanui, from Asni



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The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa

The birds: White Rock, Wairarapa