Category Archives: Growing Younger

Wet Saturday in West Sussex

We have had constant rain here both on Saturday and Sunday and I was taken back to a time when I was living in West Sussex acting as companion to my elderly friend.  Each year in this small village they have a village fete.  And it is fun but as I reported to my family in New Zealand…

Country lane

It couldn’t happen anywhere else in the world.  Saturday was the day of the village fete. After several days of glorious sunshine, Friday afternoon brought the rain and Saturday brought torrential rain. Were we deterred? Not a bit of it. We donned our raincoats and while my very elderly companion sat in her wheelchair under an umbrella, I pushed her over a very bumpy, uneven field and got soaked.  Everyone else was just as wet.

The stalls set out around the field were selling everything imaginable.  Books by the hundreds, crockery and china, fruit and produce, home-made cakes and biscuits, jams and pickles were all available to buy.

Home made cakeThe cake stall very quickly sold out.  There are never enough home-made cakes for sale.

There were slides and greasy poles for the children and a merry-go-round had been set up for the children but although the children were keen to ride the parents were not so keen.

Merry go round

Through it all a jazz band valiantly played and the tea tent did a roaring trade.

We subsequently heard that some people were buying clothes from the clothes stall just to have something dry to wear.  I must say we wondered at the way some people were dressed.  Nothing matched.  Strange summery hats in the rain; long overcoats dragging on the ground; clothes either to large or a little too small.  But it added to the fun and jollity.

The local lads and their fathers joined in a tug of war.  It was hard to see which was the red team and which the blue.  They were all covered in mud.  But they seemed to enjoy themselves and the little children were in their element in the mud that was stirred up by the two teams.

The sea scouts gave a demonstration but to a very small audience.  They did some marching and then went to a tent to show off their skills with knots.

DonkeyThe donkeys looked thoroughly despondent.  They were wet through and there was no shelter for them anywhere.  Nobody wanted a ride.  Well maybe some of the children did but the parents weren’t too keen.  But donkeys are very surefooted little animals and I think the children would have been quite safe.

And the folly of all – there is a high church tower from which you can apparently see for miles. They open this to the public on the day of the fete and make a charge.  Do you believe some foolhardy folks were going up the very winding stone stairs that I am told are very dangerous when dry, risking life and limb? And when they got to the top, there would have been little to see – drowned fields and very little else.

The actress Virginia McKenna opened the proceedings.  She was unbelievably cheerful and good-natured in the face of such a downpour.  We waited beside the tea tent to be introduced to her.

My friend has a friend in common with Ms McKenna and we were told we must make contact.  Here I must say that as soon as we had spoken with her we hotfooted it (or should that be hot wheeled it) home. My elderly friend went to bed in her robe with the electric blanket on and a ‘nice cup of tea.’ while I stripped off everything and had a shower. I was absolutely wet through to the skin.
Well, it makes a good story and we were later told that they raised almost five thousand pounds – imagine how well they would have done in the sunshine.  Sunday of course, dawned brightly. I am told that it is the first time for 20 years that it has rained and everybody was so very cheerful.  Maybe the next year would revert to the usual sunshine for the day.

Oh dear – It could only happen in England.


If I could choose – who would I like to be?

“I started in London, as a kid. My mother knew I had sort of an inbred talent. She was an actress, so I inherited it from her. But I think I got a lot of it from my grandfather, who was a great politician.”
Angela Lansbury

Jessica Fletcher aka Angela Lansbury
Today’s post came about after I read my blogging friend Chris’ post today ‘Becoming Jessica Fletcher” – read it here.  I really felt honored that Chris should think of me as Jessica Fletcher, that very wise, older woman detective and it set me thinking about who I should like to be.
There is a whole host of feisty women detectives currently on TV and so I thought about them.
Helen MirrenI have to start with Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison in the British police drama produced by Granada.  The series is based on Lynda La Plante’s novel Prime Suspect and it ran for several years in the UK.
In it Helen Mirren plays a world-weary, alcoholic Scotland Yard detective.  I should like to be this resilient and self-reliant. Also I should like to look like her.
Hermione Norris as Carol JordanHermione Norris plays DCI Carol Jordan in an adaptation of Val McDermid’s “Wire in the Blood”.   Jordan heads up the Major Incident Team and relies on the help of a university clinical psychologist, Dr Anthony “Tony” Valentine Hill.

In another series “Spooks” for the BBC she plays MI5 counter terrorism section chief Ros Myers.  Another ‘take no prisoners’ type of female lead that I love.

Then across the Atlantic:

Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson  in “Law and Order SVU” (NBC)
In police sex crime divisions, officers last an average of two-three years before burnout.  I really wouldn’t like to encounter some of the things she does but perhaps working with Christopher Meloni will make up for some of those.

Holly Hunter as Grace Hanadarko – “Saving Grace” (TNT)
This chain-smoking,, booze-guzzling, hard-bodied hussy sleeps with her married partner (and anything else in jockey shorts), drives recklessly and keeps company with a disheveled, tobacco-chewing angel named Earl.  Might be fun for a short time.

Stana Katic is Detective Kate Beckett in Castle.   Castle, who becomes interested in Beckett as a potential character for a new book series, uses his connections at the mayor’s office and receives permission to continue accompanying Beckett while investigating cases.  Unlikely but amusing.

Then there is -

Poppy Montgomery as FBI agent Samantha Spade in ‘Without a Trace” that also includes Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Roselyn Sanchez.

Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush  in “Cold Case,”  In this series Rush was originally the only female homicide detective in Philadelphia.

And “Law and Order’s” S. Epatha Merkerson and the women of the CSI franchise, powerful, well-written female protagonists have set the lady detective prototype on its ear.

Cagney and Lacey

via Wikipedia

But I couldn’t do a post on female detectives without mentioning Cagney and Lacey. Walking the beat long before these other Jane-come-latelys, acclaimed 1982 procedural “Cagney & Lacey” is considered America’s first serious drama starring two female leads.

Way back then I wanted to be Christine Cagney played by Sharon Gless.  This series portrayed women in a totally different light and was so far away from the norm.  I just loved it.

And so to answer my own question “Who Would I Like To Be?”.  As Chris has already ‘bagged’ Jessica Fletcher I guess I should still quite like to be Cagney.  But In real life I am happy with who I am.

“I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
who knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
but knows she’s not scarce –
who knows she is plenty,
plenty to share. “
from I am Becoming the Woman I”ve Wanted by Jayne Relaford Brown. 


While Walking the Dog

It’s quite amazing the different things I see when walking around the suburb with Lotte, the Tibetan Spaniel.

Smiling boy

Photo - Pavel Lovesky

For instance today I saw a little boy, maybe 5 years old, giving his baby sister a lick of his ice-cream because she had dropped hers.

I didn’t hear any coaxing from the mother for him to do this but I heard her giving him lots of praise.  What a lovely thing for this child to do.

I walked further along and saw this elderly couple (older than me?) walking along holding hands.  I was somewhat envious that they are spending their final years together in harmony.  Well it looked like love and harmony to me.

Then I turned a corner and beheld an amazing sight.  Spray painted onto the pavement/sidewalk was the following:

“I could write you a letter or sing you a song or I could just tell you that I think of you all the time, you are the air that I breathe and I love you.  I would have said yes if you had asked me.”

I now wonder who wrote those words and what the outcome was.  Is there some desolate soul pining for his lost love, or is she pining for the lost opportunity.  I wonder whether we will see the next episode written on the pavement in the next week or so.  I do hope so and I hope it turns out well for them both whoever they are.

And this reminded me of something I saw a couple of days ago when walking on the beach – Will you marry me?

How very romantic and I do hope he or she said yes please and they went off together to celebrate.

Yes, I am a romantic at heart.

And what else did I see today?  Children playing on the swings and slides at the local park and lots of budding ballerinas coming from dancing class dressed in pink tutus.  They all looked frozen as their mothers hurried them off to the waiting cars.

Dancing class

Dancing class

And this reminded me of the card my elder sister sent me for my birthday.  She remembered us as ballerinas when we were very small.  She gave up quite early but I kept going until I was too tall to be a ballerina any more.

She thought that this card was very appropriate and I agree.  Well done elder sister for finding it.

I saw two dogs fighting and their owners/handlers trying really hard to get them apart.  It was a little frightening as one of the handlers was a youngish boy.  But they managed to separate them and each go on his way.

I saw a girl delivering flyers into letter boxes.  More junk mail.

I saw a neighbor with her two young children bringing them home from kindergarten.  I always have to stop and speak to the elder of the two girls (she is almost 3) because as she told her mother and father today ‘We are friends”.  She often waves to me from behind the blind in her bedroom when she is put down for a nap or to go to sleep at night.

I saw my next door neighbor walking his dog.  A very young, strong Labrador who needs a lot of walking.

I saw a group of pensioners from a rest home going to the movies.  The van was parked at the door and they all disembarked laughing and thoroughly enjoying the outing.

I really love this suburb in which I now live.  It is like a village but only 10 minutes by car or bus to the center of town.

Wellington city bus

As a senior I can travel on the bus for free during the off-peak hours and so I take advantage of this and leave my car at home when I go to town.

So this is one perk for being older.

And today’s quote is on age or as Shirley MacLaine has it “Sage-ing While Age-ing”

The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life.  “Why,” I answered without a thought, “now.”  ~David Grayson, 1870 – 1946  American journalist and author.


Learning something new….

You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers.  You waste a lot of time going down blind alleys if you have no one to lead you. W Somerset Maugham 1874-1965, English playwright, novelist and short story writer.


Laptop

I had such a teacher today.  For several years I have been running courses on Stress Management using flip boards, overhead projectors and hand outs.  Today I decided to move into the 21st Century and move to Power Point.  Yes I know that you all learned Power Point at school and my grandchildren have been using it for years – but we didn’t even have computers in the dark ages when I went to school.  So I think for such an elderly lady I am doing quite well.

Fiona and me

Fiona is one of my young friends as you can see from the photo.  But she is always willing to help and as she is a computer whiz and can teach Power Point with her eyes closed, she was the one to whom I went today.

I had the words I wanted to use on the various slides but with a few magic strokes Fiona transformed a very ordinary presentation into a masterpiece.  So thanks Fiona.  I certainly owe you one.

I am now going to put all the other courses that I run onto Power Point.  What’s that you say “It’s gone to her head”? I am sure you are right.  But over the years I have found that when I learn something new, and something that I like, I keep using it again and again.  And in using Power Point often I may get close to being as good as Fiona.  Whoa – a big pink pig just flew over.

 flying pig

And from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

‘But then, shall I never get any older than I am now? That’ll be a comfort, one way — never to be an old woman — but then — always to have lessons to learn!” Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll 1832 – 1898. English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer.

Title page Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Title page of the original edition (1865) wikipedia


They’re only words

Funny Bunny

You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say.
It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away….from Words by the Bee Gees

I started blogging on March 1 and am now totally committed to writing a blog a day.  For committed read obsessed and/or addicted.

I hear a song on the radio and immediately I turn it into a blog.  Something comes on the TV and I think blog.  Words have always been very important to me and I have written all my life; from a diary at school, to articles for magazines, a book and now of course, the next natural home for me is the blog-a-sphere.

I look at a printed word and ask – what does it say, what does it mean and how is it being used?  The next question is in what context would I use that word.

notebook and penThe word ‘revenge’ has just been said in a TV program.  What would I write about revenge?  Nothing has happened in my life for which I need revenge.  So I would use that word in a story, or use it to illustrate an item.

Other words that I have heard today:

  • Adventure – well there’s plenty I could write on this subject.  The adventure of moving around the world (twice) to make homes on the other side of the world.  Adventure in meeting new friends and sometimes coming across old friends in unexpected places then
  • Friends – I wrote a blog on friends and friendship a couple of days ago.
  • Weddings – the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is all over the news at present.  I wrote a blog on weddings earlier this month.
  • London – of course has been in the news because of the Royal Wedding.  I was born and brought up in this most magical of cities.  I have written on growing up there in an earlier blog.
  • Family – I could write screeds (and already have) on family, my children, their children, my sisters and their children and families.  There will be more on this subject in future blogs.
  • Sisters – I have two sisters who feature in my blogs and for whom I am truly grateful.  They also are on my gratitude list.
  • Parents – mine unfortunately, are now both dead but they were great influences on me; each in a different but important way.
  • Kidnap – we have just had a news report about a young child who has been kidnapped.  The reasons why and the eventual outcome could perhaps be the subject of a later blog.
  • Love – I was lucky to meet my soul mate very early in my life and spent 41 years happily (for the most part) married to him.
  • Genealogy – Who Do You think You Are was on TV earlier.  In it ‘celebrities’ trace their heritage.  What would take days or months in real time they accomplish in an hour.  My young sister is deeply into our roots and can trace the family back many generations and many years.

Tomorrow, I shall spend time with my Grandsons so am writing tomorrow’s blog tonight, Wednesday here and set it to publish tomorrow.

And now I have all these words running around my head as I am preparing to wind down for the day and get ready for bed.  Of course, now I am off on a tangent thinking of future blogs.


“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” ~Vita Sackville-West, 1892 – 1962, author, poet and gardener

Butterfly

Photo – Ed Dear



There must be a reason

Juvenile Red billed gull, Petone, Wellington, ...

Image via Wikipedia

There must be a reason for rivers to flow.
For beautiful trees and flowers to grow.
And why have the birds wings to fly?
There must be a reason why.

The changes from season to season,
The dawning that brings the new day.
These wonders must all have a reason,
It was intended that way.

So sang Frankie Lane eons ago.  If you are not old enough to remember the singer or this song click here.  Oh sure it’s a love song, but I wanted to write today about not only the changes from season to season but the changes from day to day.

If you read yesterday’s blog (what there was of it) you will know I was close to retreating into my cave.  Now today I am my usual self and ready to take on the challenges of being over 70 in today’s fast-moving world.

Petone beach

Yesterday the sun shone and it was a good day to take my small dog for a walk along the beach.  I was in Petone having lunch with a friend and a walk along that deserted beach was a great idea.  Where else in the world would you find a beach this deserted on a public holiday?

Lotte (the Tibetan Spaniel) enjoyed the change of scene and it certainly lifted my spirits.

Petone Settlers MuseumPetone is a thriving suburb of Lower Hutt City, Wellington’s nearest neighbor.  On the shore is a memorial built to commemorate the arrival of the first New Zealand Company Settlers on Pito-one’s shores on 22nd January 1840. Serving also as a bathing pavilion, the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial became the heart of Petone’s thriving beach scene.

Petone beach wasn’t thriving yesterday though.  But it was just great for a solitary walk accompanied only by my best friend.

Lotte

And then the camera batteries died and as it was Good Friday, none of the shops were open.  We have strange laws about Easter here.  Coffee shops and restaurants can be open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as can gas stations but not Supermarkets, electrical/hardware shops or Garden Centers.  Go figure!

Bathing women

Photo: Charles Adshead. Collection of Petone Settlers Museum

So now to today. And here is the rainbow I’ve been looking for

Rainbow

The rain has gone

Easter Saturday.  All shops are open now that I don’t need them.  Batteries are recharged so the camera can operate once again.

The day dawned as overcast and threatening to rain.  So once again no gardening.  How sad!  If I was a real gardener I would go out for a couple of hours.  But the weeds will still be there tomorrow or the next day.

Anyway,  a friend and her son and his family came to visit.  Her son lives way down in the south island and so we don’t get to see them often.  But he and his sister grew up with my family and his sister is one of my surrogate daughters.

Now they have left. So what next?   Once again I am spoiled with choice of what to do (having decided what not to do).

Bowl of soup

via Wikipedia

The chicken is in the pot making stock for soup.  And now I ask myself what soup to make.  But I know I shall make Mulligatawny soup.

The books are in a pile just waiting for me to get at them.Pile of books

Lotte escaped this morning and is now looking for me to take her for her walk. But I think she will have to take her ‘escapologist adventure ‘ as her walk for today.

Fire alight

The fire is alight and looking so inviting – perhaps I shall just read a book while I wait for the stock to be ready.  In fact, I know that is what I have decided to do.

And here is a particular favorite quote.  Enjoy.

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.” — Max Lucado, 1955 – best-selling author and writer and preacher

Sunrise


Rainy days, gardening, cooking and other foolish things

Leaves wet with rain

“I’m old fashioned, I love the moonlight
I love the old fashioned things
The sound of rain upon a window pane
The starry song that April sings
This years fancies are passing fancies
But sighing sighs, holding hands
These my heart understands”  Lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1909 – 1976, American lyricist, songwriter and singer.

This morning I awoke to rain.  Not the sound of rain but that soft misty rain that absolutely soaks everything and stops you seeing even the houses on the other side of the street. But as I have said before, I am English and we are used to this type of rain.  It is in the air and all around us.

So what to do today.  I shall certainly take my small dog for a walk.  She doesn’t much like being wet but I love the feel of this soft, caressing rain on my skin. It reminds me of walking home from school in the rain.

I don’t have cats but I love the picture of the cats sheltering from the rain in this blog.  I am a dog person and just know that my little dog would have an umbrella if possible too.

DandelionI wont be able to get into the garden to pull out the weeds that have invaded since last week.  How sad!  In case you don’t know weeding is not one of my favorite pastimes, although I have been known to lose myself in the task for several hours.  In fact last weekend I spent a couple of hours trying to decide which were flowers and which were flowers in the wrong place.  My spiritual  gardening friends tell me that weeds are only flowers in the wrong place.

That old garden bench in need of painting wont get done today. That was something I was looking forward to doing.  Oh well leave it for another day.  It has been waiting to be painted for so long that a few more days, weeks or even months wont really matter.  And I can still sit on it and read on good days.  And with a rug on it Lotte (my Tibetan Spaniel) doesn’t care if it is painted or not.

So now I can think of what I can do today because of the rain.

Yesterday in a cafe with a friend – those of you who have read my earlier blogs know that I frequent cafes a lot – we had mulligatawny soup.

Bowl of soup

via Wikipedia

Love the name.  It rolls off the tongue so easily so I looked up it’s origins.  According to Wikipedia (my go to place for anything I need to know)

“Mulligatawny is a  curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin. Translated literally from Tamil, “Mulligatawny” means “pepper water”(“Millagu” means pepper and “Thanni” means water).  There are many variations on the recipe for mulligatawny.  In the West, the soup typically has a turmeric-like yellow colour and chicken meat, beef, or lamb meat. Often it is thickened with rice.”

The soup was  so good that I thought I would make it sometime.  Looks like that sometime is today.  Click here for the recipe I found on another WordPress site.  My son will be very pleased if I do make it.  He will get some and he tells everybody how good his Mother’s soup is.

More on soups another time.

So what else can I do?  I went to the library yesterday and have a number of books I could start.  What a choice.  Time was limited at the library as I found a car park good for only 30 minutes.  Not nearly long enough to browse through the library.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  So I went straight to  C and found Robert Crais’  “The First Rule” then onto D for Jeffery Deaver and chose “Speaking in Tongues”  and then James Paterson “Postcard Killers” all three novelists well-known to me.  Then I came across three unknowns (at least to me)

  • Alan Dunn, English teacher and novelist.  His book is “Ice Cold”.  I am looking forward to reading that.
  • Judith Kelman is ‘an award winning master of psychological suspense”.  She lives in New York City. Her book is called “The First Stone”.So another new writer to read and
  • Domenica de Rosa’s ‘Summer School’.  A novel set in a 13th Century Italian Castle.  That will make good reading.

So as you can see I am spoiled for choice.

But first a cup of tea Toast and marmaladewith toast and marmalade for breakfast while I decide the order in which I am going to do things.

Such weighty decisions can’t be hurried.

Then check larder and refrigerator for ingredients for the soup.  I may have to make a trip to the store for some things.  That’s OK it can be merged with the walk for Lotte.  That is if she ever gets out of her bed today.  As I said, she doesn’t like the rain or water of any kind.  She is not a true spaniel as spaniels are water dogs and love the sea.  She hates it and wont go anywhere near it or a river.

Are you old enough to remember Johnny Ray singing “Just Walking in the Rain”? If so take a walk down memory lane here.  Even if you are not old enough you might still enjoy it.

And I really loved this post from Bob Shank.  His photography is fantastic and I am filled with awe.  Thank you Bob for sharing.

Now a question for you.  What do you do on rainy days when you have to spend time indoors?  I would really like to hear from you.

And today’s quote is from Terri Guillemets (1973-)  U.S. quotation anthologist
creator of The Quote Garden

Weather is a great metaphor for life – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella”.

If you haven’t discovered Terri and the Quote Garden you wont know of her ‘Daily Harvest”.  Here is today’s:

Daily Harvest for 4/16/2011:
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.  ~Elisabeth Foley
 smile