Heat Wave

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: Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Easter greeting cards

In this newsletter:
*** The Universe Reads My Blog
*** News & Current Projects
*** Wairarapa Garden Tour

The Universe Reads my Blog

And so they tumble. A year after the once most powerful nation on the planet has elected a self confessed pussy grabber for their president, his ilk are toppling like dominoes. Movie moguls. Politicians. Media personalities. Musicians. Academics. Actors. Journalists. Sportspeople. Sober respectable types like James Levine. Dustin Hoffman. Men in the public eye, whom we admire – or used to. Who have in the vanity of their positions of power and public acclaim, thought they could get away with treating those they deemed of less or no account, like toy things they could have their way with at will. Who have damaged or destroyed more promising budding careers of talented young people than we will ever know. Who have driven countless women into dysfunction, poverty, depression, and sometimes suicide. And now we come for you. What a spectacle to behold.

Harvey Weinstein was not even the start. Before him there was Roger Ailes, and before him, in my particular niche, there was Phil Pickett – and his case only wound up being investigated and eventually judged, 30 years after the fact, because before him there was Jimmy Savile. Whom at the time, the media portrayed as an outlier. Crazy. A monster. A freak. We know better now.

I wrote about the Phil Pickett case a few years ago, and about my own experience of what amounts to institutionalized sexual harassment in the arts, in academia, in the media, and as we now know, a whole range of other professional fields. Or for that matter, other less publicly exposed fields of employment. Hospitals. Hotels. Schools. Hospitality. And let's not even go into what women in severely male dominated fields are made to endure: female engineers, electricians, truck drivers, IT people. Strawberry pickers in California – if it is bad for famous female movie stars, how horrid must it be for them? And how much less recourse do they have to step up and accuse the perpetrators.

Work to do Work to do Work to do Work to do Work to do Work to do

Work to do

Anger has been swirling in the blogosphere for a good little while – and I take pride in being one of the voices in obscure corners of the internet who created a groundswell until the #MeToo hashtag exploded that rotting can of worms so that now no one can ignore it any longer. TIME magazine has declared the women whom they dub the Silence Breakers as their collective Person of the Year. There is now a survey about sexual harassment in Academia. If you have experienced it first hand, I encourage you to contribute.

I was there when the Berlin Wall came down – because at one moment in time thousands of people collectively decided that they'd had enough of if. What am I witnessing now? I can't wait to see what happens next.

In latest news, the so called President of the United States stands formally accused of sexual misconduct. Of all the ways I can think of to terminate that unfortunate fart of history, there isn't one that would seem more appropriate, or that would give me more personal satisfaction.

Almost as good as making love with a man who actually cares for me. At least so I imagine, for this is a thing I have yet to experience. I'm just putting this out there, Universe. You've been awesome lately, and thanks so much for reading my blog.

The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair, The view from my garden chair,

The view from my garden chair



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Still life with digitalis and toy horse by Astrid Nielsch Still life with digitalis and toy horse by Astrid Nielsch Still life with digitalis and toy horse by Astrid Nielsch Still life with digitalis and toy horse by Astrid Nielsch

New watercolour still life: Once Upon a Time

News and Current Projects

One of my geese nibbled the majestic digitalis flower that was growing in my blueberry bed. So as not to waste it, I turned it into yet another watercolour still life. I'm trying to teach my geese not to eat my flowers – they have a particular predilection for roses and have managed to nib every single bud off my Gruss an Aachen earlier this year. But in this case, I suppose I should thank them for the inspiration.

The Wairarapa Art Scene is going from strength to strength. Art containers are the new thing, and Masterton is proving it can be fully as metropolitan as Wellington when it comes to gaily painted shipping containers housing creative efforts. ConArt is a compact little gallery and studio space in a formerly empty lot next to Aratoi, and is shaping up awesome. The opening was last week. I have some of my digital prints on display, and unframed prints and cards for sale in the retail space. Hopefully at some point I will be able to rent one of the studios for a few weeks and organize that long overdue solo exhibition!

Carterton based Wai Art has had a bit of a re-shuffle, and I have put my hand up to be the new newsletter editor – pointing to my long years of experience writing this here newsletter, as well as the fact that this job will allow me to contribute to the group without the need to be places on time. I can tackle deadlines as long as I can do it in my pyjamas at 2 am! Anne-Marie Kingsley, who has stepped down from being the editor along with the other million things she was doing single-handedly, in order to focus on some new responsibilities, has assured me that she trusts me completely to be able to handle this job well, and that I am a professional and not a child. Which is an opinion of me that I wish more people would share.

According to one of my fellow artists, this new responsibility, combined with the impressive number of sales at the recent Wai Art Sale which have noticeably raised my profile in the local art world (and I sold another poster at the ConArt opening, to boot), now make me a Very.Important.Person. I am intrigued. I'm glad I've already managed to obtain special police protection to tackle the hazards of such an exalted position. If someone finally started paying me money for all of this, it would be even better. Baby steps.

In order to not spread myself too thin, I have regretfully pulled out of the new Carterton gallery No 23. In all honesty, the ConArt venture seems like a better frame for the type of work I do. There are now a few people coming up who do fantasy/surreal themed work, a generational change away from the photorealistic landscape and nature paintings that the majority of local artists focus on. DeviantArt has arrived in Wairarapa!

If you can't make your way to Masterton, you can find my prints online. Check out my Trademe Store – you can order here even if you don't live in New Zealand, I accept Paypal payments.

ConArt Opening, Masterton, Wairarapa ConArt Opening, Masterton, Wairarapa ConArt Opening, Masterton, Wairarapa

ConArt Opening, Masterton, Wairarapa

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$ 2,000 or equivalent, or best offer, plus shipping. Please email me for more details – and please pass this on.

Fresh greens from the garden Fresh greens from the garden Fresh greens from the garden Fresh greens from the garden

Fresh greens from the garden

The weather has been unusually hot these last few weeks. Temperatures in the 30° Celsius and no rain for a couple of weeks have turned the landscape a scorched golden that is usually associated with February and March. We've had water restrictions in place, already before Christmas. A few days ago the clouds broke in a much needed downpour. Today is once again too hot to move, but if the weather report is to be believed, we are heading into a cooler and somewhat overcast week. I hope so, because I am planning to sneak in a few days of beach time just before the Christmas season breaks loose, and I need to be able to leave the garden alone for a few days.

The fruit trees have blossomed profusely this year, and while I seem to have no luck with the cherries this time round, we are clearly heading into a Year of the Plum. For the first time, the other one of my two German prune plum trees has set some fruit, and my old established Asian plum tree has suddenly kicked back into production. Just when I was thinking about cutting it down!

The pile of trash that has been gracing my backyard these last few months in expectation of that work bee that was not to be, has now disappeared, thanks to the energetic hands-on efforts of our good police constable (and his trailer). So has the other pile of invasive weeds and greenery. My property looks a deal more respectable for it, and I have carried on the momentum and started a round of tidying and weeding, as well as putting in some new vegetable beds.

The chicken mess in my shed has been turned into productive manure: I've been eating homegrown radishes, lettuce, spinach, turnips, broad beans, and red beets these last couple of months, and am finally getting the hang of keeping on top of the weeding, and growing vegetables of some acceptable size, rather than just starved miniature versions. Who knows one day I may even figure out how to keep a lawn that doesn't get the police worried. I suppose I owe it to them.

Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries Plums, pears, and elderberries

Plums, pears, and elderberries



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Wairarapa Garden Tour: rhododendrons at Braemore Farm Garden, Eketahuna Wairarapa Garden Tour: rhododendrons at Braemore Farm Garden, Eketahuna Wairarapa Garden Tour: rhododendrons at Braemore Farm Garden, Eketahuna

Rhododendrons at Braemore Farm Garden, Eketahuna

Wairarapa Garden Tour

Last month, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Wairarapa Garden Tour and earn myself a ticket. I have been looking longingly at this event for the past several years, but it has always been beyond the means of my pocket. I spent a Saturday afternoon checking tickets at Chester Road Cottage in Clareville: a combination of old-fashioned roses, peonies, vegetable beds, chickens, and a dovecote, which I'd put firmly among my three favourite gardens on the tour.

In return, I was able to spend the rest of Saturday, and all of Sunday (after getting out of bed, that is) hunting the other properties on the trail, of which there were slightly more than I could manage in the given timeframe.

It was an interesting and very varied mix: rural lifestyle blocks, suburban properties, a plant nursery, a farm. Some following organic principles, some relying heavily on Roundup. The pretentious and the tasteful, the formal and the slightly disorganized, the nerdy, the ambitious and the plain boring. Some properties took me five minutes to get the hang of them, on others I might have lingered for hours.

Apart from the garden I volunteered in, the standouts for me were Tarata, a lifestyle block outside Masterton, which impressed me with its baroquely formal vegetable beds (I might just steal this idea), and Braemore Farm Garden in Eketahuna, whose owners had cleverly transformed a challenging terrain with a steep gully running right through the property, into a Himalayan inspired showpiece involving a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas.

The single most gorgeous garden, however, was a fairly small one: Kinder Garden, just a regular section on the outskirts of Masterton. It was advertised as a "flower lover's paradise", and this was no exaggeration. I figure whoever has planted and maintains this garden, must have discovered the 48 hour day: it was pristine, with not a dead head, not a weed in sight. Or else they must have hired an army of gardeners the day before the tour. And that's not even talking about how long it must have taken to find and plant and establish all this! The photos I have taken do it scant justice. I wonder if they're looking for a gardener to hire?

Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton Wairarapa Garden Tour: colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden, outside Masterton

Colour coded flower displays at Kinder Garden outside Masterton

As to my own gardening efforts, they're falling way short of this high standard. Since I've now reached the ripe age of 50, I've decided that I'm old enough to grow roses. I ordered a whole stack as a birthday present, planted them this winter, and most of them have by now come into gorgeous bloom. In my backyard, Madam President and Kate Sheppard have joined my Lemon 'n Lime, and are vying for the best pink. The David Austin roses I planted two or three years ago are going from strength to strength, and Claude Monet looks splendidly artistic by my pond.

They have now been joined by some old-fashioned shrub roses: Rosa Alba Maxima is screening the compost pile, Apothecary's rose marks Te Po the unfortunate rabbit's grave, and Archduke Joseph is growing into the task of providing wind shelter for my poor old sheep-munched orange tree (there's one rose I didn't buy for the name). I plan to put a Tipsy Imperial Concubine next to it next year, just because I can.

In front of the house, I now have Astrid Gräfin von Hardenberg, which is a really beautiful red rose that has been putting out clusters of beautifully scented, large old-fashioned flowers steadily since mid November: ok, I don't *only* buy them for the name, they do have to pass a beauty test as well. Next to it is Scott Base, a brand new patio rose that I couldn't even find images of on the net, but who can resist a rose named after a research station in Antarctica. I haven't regretted the decision: it burst into the most gorgeous flush of glacial white flowers early in the rose season, and I hope there will be more of that to come. It looks gorgeous next to the Gräfin's smouldering red.

But my favourite rose is the climber in front of the verandah. It is a seed grown rose I found in one of my flowerpots one day when I was still living on Pembroke Road in Wellington. I think it is a type of Himalayan musk – and I couldn't have picked a prettier one if I'd had the choice of all the roses in the world. It only flowers once a year for two or three weeks, but when it does, it is spectacular – and it smells gorgeous, too. My very own rose variety.

Arohanui, from Asni

Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden Roses in Asni's garden

Roses in Asni's garden



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