My Favourite Window

August 29, 2012

Annual Report 2012

The Church of St Simon and St Jude
(AGM held at Ashley School on Tuesday 28 August)

Jeneane and the Ashley Community Church.  Northern Outlook photo by Geoff Mein.

If  2011 was a challenge to the Committee, 2012 has felt like treading water as long term post-earthquake effects come into play. The uncertainty over our insurance status has felt particularly debilitating and I must acknowledge Richard Heal’s tenacity, as he made sure that the Church Property Trustees kept The Ashley Community Church in their sights.

No 39 Canterbury St, Ashley.

Looking back however, I can see the joyful occasions that reaffirm the value of the Church in this community.  There was a supportive, well written article by Geoff Mein in the Northern Outlook, we hosted a Village Garage Sale in the Church grounds, 

Committee member David Ayers serves tea and cake.

and although I was overseas at Christmas time, I received many complimentary remarks from members of the public, about the annual Carol service, and particularly David and Marilyn Ayers’ role in it.  Two days later their granddaughter Imogen, was baptised in the Church by Reverend Crauford Murray. I have to say too, that although our working bee morning teas don’t attract the broader community, Joan Shivas’ baking and a sense of achievement always feel joyful to me.

A working bee morning tea.

General maintenance has included Graeme Harris’ work on the overflowing rainwater tank, and the generous donation including delivery, of a trailer load of soil by an Ashley resident. We are grateful to our neighbour for continuing to cut our common hawthorn hedge. Thanks to our small pool of mowers: which includes Richard Heal, the Witbrocks and Jeneane Hobby.

Installation of the returned windows is still a work in progress as Graham Stewart continues to recover and restore earthquake damaged glass around Canterbury.  The gaping walls in the back of the Church are a dilemma tangled around the September 2010 and continuing earthquakes: is it or isn’t it earthquake damage? Is it too late to claim on insurance if it is?

Insurance - the long unknown. In May of this year, The Church Property Trustees had finally been able to secure cover with Lloyds of London after Ansvar withdrew its cover following the February 2011 earthquake.  However, the premiums have increased to a point where many active churches with parish incomes are questioning how they can maintain their property. With our very limited income this is a question we must be prepared to address.

Father Jack and Julia Witbrock continue to use the Church for Eastern Orthodox worship and their annual contribution is our chief source of income.

Although David Ayers is still committed to Captaining the Waimakariri District Council through difficult times, he has recently been able to return to our committee table – making up for his earlier absence with large helpings of cake and biscuits – and at our last meeting had made important progress over the long-standing issue of dissolving the Trust. This, with the intention of transferring its duties to the Incorporated Society.

A typical committee meeting around Jeneane's kitchen table.

We are sorry that Richard Heal is standing down as our Secretary Treasurer. He came to the position without any background experience of the Church last year, and has worked hard to understand the Committee’s history as well as the Church’s. He has also willingly put in time on maintenance.

This also means that we need to find a new Secretary/treasurer.
Many things, particularly the insurance issue, are working against effective management. At this stage I personally feel that it may be time to question the function and viability of the Ashley Community Church. 


August 24, 2012

Big Brother

I clambered out of bed half an hour ago; rejoiced at the dazzling sunshine over thick white frost; heard the thump of chopper overhead - close enough to be resonating through all the quake stress in this creaky house; thought of icy roads and that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was out on a mission:

Thankfully not. But what? And why? Hover for long enough over the Skudder House, for me to fetch my camera and shoot half a dozen frames?

Is this Google Earth out mapping? 
Is it the EQC trying to speed up their process?
Or is it something more sinister? 

August 21, 2012

Two Years of Blogging

Sometime last week - was it the 17th August - Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden turned two. It must be time for a celebratory give-away, but first a bit of a review of the past couple of years.

It's heartening to read my first post and see that I did indeed replant those daffodil bulbs; they are budding now by my back step. A little plan for the future, long considered, and carried out successfully.  So many other plans for the future wiped out or placed in limbo by Death and Destruction

I originally began this blog with the intention of recording the making of a new garden and the restoration of the Skudder House. I had an idea that I might begin studying for a qualification in Museum and Heritage studies, and one requirement at the time was the documentation of a restoration project.  It is ironical that it is Mowbray - the house I live in - that has become an active refurbishment project (rather than restoration) thanks to the opportunities that have arisen from the Earthquakes. Since February 2011, The Skudder House has sat uncertainly at the edge of being. A fortnight ago the assessors arrived unexpectedly, told me that the Earthquake Commission would pay for chimney removal, and that the house passed muster. Wonderful news, but I'm running out of money for restoring it now.

So, who knows what this blog will report over the next year. I can see looking back over the last year, that there has not been much garden lore, that Lady Mondegreen no longer whispers encouragement from the dappled shadows, that I have not had time to blog regularly...

In spite of that, my readership has increased; the search engines find me for people I appreciate being found by. My Stats page reveals that  I show up in home decorating searches, named plant searches, garden design searches, Canterbury history and event searches, china, fabric, and vintage car searches - oh, and Morris dancing searches. This is all very gratifying because I do aim to add something to the universal knowledge base.  I am often frustrated when searching myself, that links lead to shallow observation. or simplistic references. I guess I'm a geek really, I want to know everything about everything without selling my soul... I really like to think that some of my blog posts add new information to the pool and are actually useful to people who find them through search engines. It's interesting to note that information seekers don't usually comment, partly I suspect because of the signing-in process: those who leave comments are more part of a complementary social network. Thanks by the way, to all of my readers whether you are regular Followers or chance passers-by. 

I might be a geek, but I also thrive on human interaction. I do enjoy
my blog pals' company, which offers surprisingly tangible experience. I have bought art in Paris from photographer Owen of The Magic Lantern Show, I have won a sweet little love spoon and entered a Welsh flower show both courtesy of John Going Gently Gray. I smile when I see Cro Magnon of Magnon's Meanderings brushing shoulders with his sister on my comment forum. Cro lives in France while Susan Heather from Kamo Lady lives in New Zealand.  Much closer to home, Craig at Craig's Principal Page writes thought provoking posts that reach beyond the classroom and mark him as a great mentor. 

That's quite a lot of writing from me and if you have got this far, then you deserve a go at my anniversary competition. Last year,  Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, The Sagittarian from More Canterbury Tales won with her favourite Mondegreen. But you don't have to live in NZ to enter. This year, in the interest of self-promotion I want entrants to tell me in 25 words (or more) what you have enjoyed about Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden over the last year. Easy. You could win a copy of the August edition of Canterbury showcase magazine Latitude. And yes, I am prepared to post it anywhere in the World. Email me your entry by Tuesday 4 September, using the instructions at the top of the page, and may the best Blogger win.

August 17, 2012

The Return of Handy Andy

Handy Andy came back last week.
After guttering had dislodged following last Christmas' round of earthquakes, and with more rain forecast, this repair was a priority job.

Pruning the wind-blown weeping willow wasn't on my 'to do' list...

but clearing dead wood during a dry spell provided us with much needed firewood.

Luckily, I have a plentiful supply of nuts for a visiting squirrel to snack on.

Andy spent quite a lot of time up ladders. The roof leaks in known places, but new leaks revealed themselves in the heavy rain, partly I suspect from the constant structural shifting that this house has endured over the past two years.  But putting things into perspective, all of these leaks can be dealt with for the time being, with buckets and well-placed patches, unlike many severely quake damaged houses.

The main reason for having Andy back, was to work around the edges of the EQC refurbishments.

After Andy had revealed the under-layers of paint on the big window frame in my bedroom last year, I wanted the distressed effect to follow through in other painted detail. 

I don't have any experience with this kind of decorating and the balancing act between domestic living arrangements and the abrupt timing of EQC work means that some of that detailing is new paint over undercoat. Not much depth of colour there! So Andy experimented with the leftover Ash accent colour, brushing it over sanded-back Hippy Blue, then rubbing it off with a cloth. He also painted the French window's cream surround with Ash first before painting it blue, and then scraping and sanding back. The effect is close to, though brighter than the aged softness of the inspirational window frame.

Andy's final, fabulous touch to the room was to come up with a  treatment for the inner door. The original solid blue was just a bit overwhelming for the newly dainty room. 

So he sanded and scraped and trimmed the door panels with Ash grey, replaced a single coat hook (three were just an invitation to clutter), moved my bed back in, and began preparing the lounge for the next stage of EQC work.

After all that (not to mention cleaning the chimney, repairing roof capping, tending to flat tyres on my garden fleet and any number of menial household jobs),

It was time for some relaxation... 

Before heading back to Wellington.