Five Word Friday

May flew past and now we are in June and it’s the first Friday. My Five words –

Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Art

We are told “Founded in Paris in 1895, Le Cordon Bleu is considered today the largest network of culinary and hospitality schools in the world with more than 35 institutes in 20 countries and 20,000 students of over 100 nationalities are trained every year. Le Cordon Bleu combines innovation and creativity with tradition through its certificates, diplomas, bachelors and master degrees.

With a group from our Probus Club, I went on a tour of the Wellington Branch of this iconic cooking school. It was a reasonably large group of 20, but there was a long waiting list of members.

We were greeted by a young woman, Stella, and taken to a lecture room, where she and one of the staff, a chef, briefly explained how the School worked.

We went into the “Latte Lab” and were met by Paul who explained the training in the art of making coffee using an impressive range of high-tech machines, and also the thorough training given to students in the hospitality industry. The Technical Director of the Cordon Bleu School, Sebastien Lambert, interrupted the class he was giving, to greet us and explain more of the workings of the School.

The tour was short. We were quickly moved around the complex in an efficient way, hardly stopping to look through the large plate glass windows into the kitchens where students were hard at work. I would have liked to hear more about what they were doing.

The highlight of the visit was the High Tea served on the top floor.
Students were in charge. The preparation of the food, the table settings, and the serving of food and beverage was their role.. They are at different levels of their courses, and all were excellent and eager to help. The food, both the range and quality, and the presentation, was extraordinary.

Like many of the other participants, I have had morning tea around the world, but this sits highly atop the list.

It was a great way to spend a Friday morning – note here, the afternoon tea was served at lunchtime to fit in with our tour.

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Z is for – Zenith

And so we reach the end of the alphabet. Zenith is defined as the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body or the culminating point. And this then is the culminating point. I have enjoyed rereading earlier blog posts. Occasionally I have said to myself “That’s pretty good, clever, dreadful..” or whatever. But mostly I have been happy with my shared thoughts. and even my rants and raves.

So there you have it. And. let me share the poem The Journey by Mary Oliver. You may be aware that she is one of my favourite poets. Over the 12 years of my blogging journey, I have shared snippets of this poem with you. Today I am reproducing the complete work. Enjoy.

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting
their bad advice –though the whole house
began to tremble and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!” each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little, as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice which you slowly
recognized as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do —
determined to save the only life you could save.” 
― Mary Oliver
1935 – 2019

Y is for – Yesterday when I was Young

As a very new blogger in March 2011 I had plenty t say although I didn’t know whether the only one reading my blog was me. In that month wrote about the life I had lived up until that time. Oh and on reading the post again, I am pleased to note there were 19 comments.

YESERDAY WHEN I WAS YOUNG

Posted on March 30, 2011 | 19 Comments | Edit

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet like rain upon my tongue,
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way an evening breeze would tease a candle flame,
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned

I have just been listening to the local radio and they have played Charles Aznavour singing  “Yesterday when I was young”.  Charles Aznavour has always been a favourite and I am happy to listen to him at any time, so I started thinking about when I was young.

The words of this song don’t really apply to me; in fact, I think when he wrote this song he must have been feeling his age and counting all the things he had missed.  See what you think by listening here.

As I have said before, I don’t think I have missed out on anything in my long life, and I have plenty of happy, happy memories.  So I prefer to listen to Dean Martin who sung  Memories are made of this in 1945, and it just keeps keeping on.

But Aznavour plays a large part in my memories.  I remember seeing him first at The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1967.  This was a particular birthday treat for me.  Then in the 70s, we saw him in Paris.  Lovely memories of a fantastic singer.

So –  Yesterday When I Was Young I married my handsome young Scotsman, and after a few years had my first child, a daughter

Cate with Nana
Proud Nana with first grandchild

Two years later I had a son.  So now two children to love.

Big sister and her brother

The taste of life was sweet like rain upon my tongue –I was a very contented young mother, loving watching them grow and learn.

Children feed goat
Spain 1967

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned – we moved from Scotland to New Zealand and then to Montreal.  My dreams came true.  My children thrived wherever we dropped them (figuratively of course).

Yesterday the moon was blue and every crazy day brought something new to do. We decided to move back to New Zealand to live life on the beach but it didn’t last for long as we moved south to Wellington.

every crazy day brought something new to do – new city, new home, new friends. Everybody settled in and we loved our life here.

Then children moved on.  They left home and made their own way in the world. They both married and subsequently had their own children.

Grandsons 2005

Family dynamics changed.  And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.  Mother died followed shortly thereafter by my dashing (now not-so) young Scotsman and life moved on.

Mother and me 1995
With Mother shortly before she died

And then some years later my darling, energetic, supportive 95-year-old father died.  Didn’t see him often as we lived a world apart, but he was always there for his daughters.

Much younger Dad circa 1945

Yesterday the moon was blue – and I have so many lovely memories of family and friends around the world.  There are only a couple of changes I might make, but one cannot bring back those who have passed on.  So The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned – are being replaced by new dreams and plans as I now move into a new phase of my life alone but never lonely.


X is for – X-rays

I could find no published post for X and so I’m writing a new one.

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind.
Be led by the dreams in your heart.” 
― 
Roy T. Bennett, Author of Light in the Heart

Way back in 2016 after I had my misadventure, it seemed that I spent a lot of time at the regional hospital having x-rays MRIs, CTs, and other scans.

Of course, my daughter attended all these appointments with me. We were taken by ambulance from the rehabilitation centre at the beginning but after a couple of weeks, we went in my daughter‘s car.

On every occasion, and we saw different technicians each and every time, we were treated with the utmost respect and concern for my well-being.

Of course, initially, I was concerned because I had never had my brain x-rayed, or at least not while I was conscious. Obviously, they x-rayed it when I was first admitted to the hospital so that they could determine exactly what I had done, but at that time I wasn’t aware of what was going on. So I was a little nervous on the first visit, but my concerns were quickly allayed by the technicians and supporting staff. 

Much has been said about our health system and its faults, but during the time that I was incapacitated, I have to say that I gained only the greatest respect for all the people involved in my recovery.

As I have said we have the ACC here – the Accident Compensation Corporation and all accidents wherever they happen are covered by this. So we don’t need insurance to cover accidents.

And everything involved in my recovery was covered.

The therapists at the rehabilitation centre were great. The physio and occupational therapists seemed to be there during a normal working week. The physiotherapist was a delightful young woman who worked on me and while I was there, I saw her almost daily and when eventually I was able to walk to the gym unaided, she and the rest of the staff celebrated my achievement with me.

I saw the occupational therapist several times during my stay. These were interesting appointments during which she had me remember a list of words, look around the room and remember what I could see, tell her what I had seen on a recent walk round the grounds, and just generally make my mind work as it did before the accident. There was a speech therapist, but I didn’t see him until the day I was leaving. A young Malaysian who spoke with an American accent said he hadn’t seen me because I had been able to speak without any help. 

The two therapists continued to visit for a few weeks after I was allowed home.  The result of all this attention was great, but really,  I wouldn’t advise anyone else to check it out for themselves.          

W is for – What a Difference a Day/Year Makes

So many posts have the title What a Difference,
sometimes followed by “a day makes” and sometimes it is a year,
but always making a difference.
Many years ago I wrote this post and yes, truly what a difference once the tree was cut back.

******

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES


Posted on May 14, 2011 | 11 Comments | Edit

Record disc

“What A Difference A day makes
24 Little hours
From the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain.”

Well, what a difference.  Yesterday the large tree that overlooked the back courtyard and bugged me with falling leaves, stood keeping light and what sunshine there is at this time of the year, away from the back of the house.

I saw a man working on a tree across the road and asked him to look at chopping my tree.  Incidentally, he told me it was a sycamore tree, not a plane tree as I have been calling it.

He took one look and said he could chop it right back but would leave some of it there as in all probability it was holding up the bank.  He gave me a very reasonable quote to chop it back, remove all the debris and also remove much of the German ivy that was trailing across the bank killing other things that had been planted there by an earlier inhabitant of this house.  And he could do it right away.

Well, all things considered, it was an offer to good to pass up.  So he set to work.  He told me that by chopping it back the tree wouldn’t be killed but would grow again.  He said in 20 years that it would probably be as big again.  Of course, I then told him that was OK as I wouldn’t be around then.

Before the rain set in he had the ivy removed and the tree partly chopped back.  When the rain stopped he cleared all the mess he had made and transported it off in his trailer.

What a lucky thing that I was home in the morning to see him working across the street.

This morning there was no rain and the sun shone giving extra light into my kitchen.  And there are very few leaves in the courtyard today.

So tomorrow I have only to tidy the courtyard, replace the dead plants in the planter boxes and wait for ‘the man’ to come back and finish the tree lopping.

“A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning
of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows

full well he will never sit. ”
D. Elton Trueblood, 1900 – 1994, 

American Quaker author and theologian.

V is for – (The) Visitor

I have written about this unwelcome visitor several times since starting this blogging journey in March 2011.
And still, she bugs me. But after so many years of her staying uninvited in my place,
I guess I shall have to accept (graciously or not) to her presence and perhaps learn to ignore her!

THE VISITOR

Posted on May 14, 2012 | 33 Comments | Edit


We all grow up with the weight of history on us.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden
in every cell of our bodies.
Shirley Abbott, magazine editor and writer
1934 –

I have written before about this old lady who seems to inhabit my house alongside Lotte and me.  I haven’t invited her in, but wherever I go she is there before me.  When I go into the bathroom she is looking at me where the mirror is supposed to be.  I pass along the hall and there she is again.  She’s in the bedroom, the living room and at the front door.  I don’t know who she is or why she is living in my house.

Cross Old Woman

She doesn’t even appear to be happy that she is getting free board and lodging without having been invited.  And she has never heard the expression that guests are like fish – great on the first day, getting a little stale on the second and definitely off by the third.

So why is she here?  And today I even saw her at a friend’s house.  Is she stalking me? She was in the car on the way home getting a free ride.  But the most worrying thing is that I am the only one who ever sees her.  When I ask a family member they tell me that they can only see me.  So what’s going on here?

Seriously though, I remember somebody saying to my late husband when we decided to get married “Look at her mother.  That’s how she will look when she is older.”  And goodness me, that is coming true.  I always thought that I looked like my father but not any more.

And I hear myself saying some of the things she used to say and even doing things her way.  So is it genetics or learned behaviour?  I haven’t lived in the same house as Mother for 55 years and  she has been dead for 16 of those years.  Added to that I haven’t even lived in the same country for most of my adult life, so where does this come from? (Yes I know, grammatically incorrect but it reads better this way).

And then looking at the next generation.  I see my own daughter saying and doing things in the same way that my Mother used to and that I now do.  So like the family face some other things are passed down through the generations.

And the family face – here’s the first verse of the poem by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928):

I am the family face; 
Flesh perishes, I live on, 
Projecting trait and trace 
Through time to times anon, 
And leaping from place to place 
Over oblivion.

So where is this rambling post taking me?  I don’t know but know it must end here.

“And now
as the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in its rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother and Friend 1938 –

U is for -Update to Yesterday’s Post

I think WordPress is playing games with me today. Nowhere and Nohow could I find the post that I was updating –
and of course, there were no other posts starting with the letter U.
I do know that it was about a blogger I had discovered 10 years before.

After reading Eliza’s post, I wrote a post in 2012 titled I know this place
But shortly after I published the missing post in January 2022,

the blogger decided to no longer write in English, her second language.

******

UPDATE TO YESTERDAY’S POST

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

C S Lewis

Firstly, apologies – I didn’t give you the link to the earlier post on Africa. If you read it through you will see what I missed. – Related articles – Musings from Africa.

While I was able to open the post in the morning, I sent a comment to the blogger –
Many years later looking back on some of my earlier posts , I came across yours. In rereading, it is more attractive to me, but I think you have to be born there to appreciate its beauty, both in the people and the beauty that surrounds everyone. Are you still blogging? I can’t find anything from you for the last few years. I hope if you are no longer blogging it is because you found something else to do. With best wishes from far away New Zealand

Imagine my delight to receive a response this morning –
Dear Judith, thanks for your kind words. I have indeed stopped blogging in English as it is my second language.
I have continued, with some periods of inactivity, to blog in Afrikaans (my first love). If you still read Afrikaans, even after years in NZ (as are some of my closest friends), my Afrikaans musings (and fiction) can be found at https://wordpress.com/posts/julioagrella.wordpress.com

I have yet to respond and tell her that I don’t speak Afrikaans.

Until tomorrow.



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T is for – Taken on Trust

Over the years we have read of kidnapping, the kidnappers,
those who were kidnapped and the reasons for the kidnaps.
We have read and I have written about the Boko Harum
kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Nigeria,
and we all know about the earlier kidnapping of
Charles Lindbergh’s infant son.
Now I offer the story of Terry Waite,
the Special Envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

******

TAKEN ON TRUST

Posted on March 16, 2012 | 15 Comments | Edit

Book cover

I have this old, dog-eared copy of Terry Waite’s book, that I have read several times in the 20 years or so since his release.

I bought a copy when it was released and enjoyed it so much that I gave copies to various friends as Christmas presents.  I was reminded again of this man when reading about a recent failed attempt to free hostages in Nigeria.

In 1987 Terry Waite, as the special envoy for the archbishop of Canterbury (though not a clergyman himself), went to Beirut  to negotiate the release of several hostages, including John McCarthyTerry Anderson and Brian Keenan. He had already successfully negotiated the release of hostages in Iran and Libya, but when he arrived in Lebanon to meet with Islamic Jihadists, he too was taken captive.

As he said on his release, he foolishly believed the words of an intermediary that he would not be taken.  As he says  “I went without guards, arms or a locator device”.   So far from being a hostage negotiator he found himself a hostage.  He was taken to various houses to shake off any followers and then eventually to a prison cell in Beirut.

Besides being chained to a radiator, he was regularly blindfolded, beaten on the soles of his feet, subjected to mock executions, and moved from place to place in a large refrigerator.  But he maintains that the mental torture of being in solitary confinement for so long, far outweighed any physical torture.

We have heard tales of prisoners retaining their sanity by practising their golf shots, running marathons or as in Waite’s case, writing their autobiography in their heads.  Waite spent 1,760 days in solitary confinement, his only contact with the outside world being through wall tapping to his fellow hostages.  Apparently, these hostages had a radio and could listen to the BBC World News.

In his book he reveals the inner strength that helped him endure the savage treatment he received, his constant struggle to maintain his faith, and his resolve to have no regrets, no false sentimentality, no self-pity. of photos.

Waite was released in November 1991 some 20 plus years ago.

After his release and giving one interview to the media, he realised he needed time to readjust to life and so with his wife Frances and their four children he stayed away from the spotlight for a year to recover and convalesce.  During this year he put the harrowing account of his ordeal down on paper and then published it in his book, Taken on Trust .

Then,  rather than dwell on his own suffering, he turned his energies to helping others in desperate situations. He campaigned for the welfare of prisoners, and gave support to families of hostages through Hostage UK; he even offered to negotiate on behalf of military personnel held captive in Iran in 2007.

Terry Waite

This is a difficult book to read, but one that is also difficult to put down.  We are told that  “Waite no longer works for the Church of England, but retains the faith that kept him going through nearly five years of captivity. His experience as a prisoner, he says, also helped him to see the shallowness of modern materialism. In 2009, angered by the MPs’ expenses scandal, he considered running for office as in independent candidate, but now believes he can do more good as an active humanitarian rather than as a politician. And despite his religious affiliation, he is sympathetic to the Occupy London protesters who have set up camp at St Paul’s Cathedral. “Our society is going to fragment unless we are very, very careful,” he said in an interview with the Guardian last week. “ We have a responsibility for the elderly, for the sick, for children and for those who are casualties of society.” Source The Irish Times, November 26, 2011.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it.  Autograph your work with excellence.
Anonymous

Other books to read by fellow hostages: 
Some Other Rainbow by John McCarthy and Jill Morell
An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan

S is for – Stalking Charlie Fox

One of my favourite authors, Zoe Sharp and her protagonist Charlie Fox,
can have me sitting and reading for hours.
I have read all the books in the series.
And I am not the only follower of this author and her characters.
Lee Child said, “If Jack Reacher were a woman, he’d be Charlie Fox.
High praise indeed.
Now you can read what I was doing in 2012.

******

STALKING CHARLIE FOX

Posted on July 19, 2012 | 11 Comments | Edit

“If you stay involved with Sean Meyer you will end up killing again,”
my father said. “and next time, Charlotte, you might not get away with it.”
Charlie Fox’s father in Road Kill.

Yes, I am still reading and following the adventures of my favourite heroine Charlie Fox.  I have somehow got them out of order, but as I have already said, each novel stands alone and one doesn’t have to have read any of the others in the series.

In Road Kill we find Charlie involved with a group of bikers who are really so innocent that they get themselves involved with an unscrupulous gang of thieves.

Charlie is taking time out to sort out her life and her feelings for her boss, Sean Meyer..  She is refurbishing her parents’ cottage and instead of overseeing the refurbishment is doing much of the hard work herself.    Into this scene comes a friend to advise that a really close friend has been seriously injured in a motor cycle accident and a second person has died.

Leaving the demolition  work unfinished she rushes  to Clare her friend’s side and is relieved to find that the dead man is not Clare’s partner  but some other  man.  Jacob, Clare’s partner is away in Ireland on a buying tour for his business.  Stories about the accident flow around; there is bad feeling towards Charlie from the biking group and when Charlie is brutally attacked  by Jacob’s ex-wife and her strongman thug things begin to get out of hand.

Clare is very vague and secretive about what she was doing with this other man and how she came to be riding with him on his motorbike instead of riding her own beloved bike.   Gossip has Jacob’s son involved with Clare (surprising  to Charlie given how close Clare and Jacob are) and Charlie decides to investigate further.  She learns that there is to be a trip to Ireland for the motorcycle group and is determined to become part of the trip, partly because Clare and Jacob have asked her to look after Jacob’s son, but also because nobody will or can give them a straight answer as to why the trip has to go ahead even after the tragedy.   After proving herself capable of riding and keeping up with them, she is allowed to join them.  Sean is also allowed to go along after he proves to the group that he would be a good person to have along.

I won’t go into more detail as it would spoil the story for any one else but it is well written (of course) and has a good plot, with our heroine (is there a better word for this) coming up trumps once again.

Needless to say, this novel is full of motorcycles (both Zoe and Charlie’s favoured form of transport), guns, shooting, good guys and plenty of bad guys; innocents abroad who really should not be allowed out on their own, murder, mayhem and some good love scenes between Charlie and Sean.  I wonder where this relationship is going.

So as you can see a jolly good read and again, one that I recommend.

And I still have the next two books in the series sitting patiently waiting for me to get to them.  So look out for more on this feisty woman, her lover and her exploits.

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience:
this is the ideal life.
Mark Twain

Relat

R is for – Retail Therapy

Way back in 2016 following my near-fatal accident,
I noted and celebrated each small step towards recovery.
Earlier this month I wrote about going for a walk and now
I should like to share this with you.
As Zig Ziglar, a favourite motivational speaker said –
“You can eat an elephant a bite at a time.”

******

RETAIL THERAPY

Posted on July 15, 2016 | 27 Comments | Edit

“Sometimes I need
only to stand wherever I am
to be blessed.”

― Mary OliverEvidence: Poems

I went into town today to meet a friend for coffee.  Unfortunately for me but fortunately for her, she had promised to take her grandson to the movies, so it was a very short meeting.  After she left, I had another coffee and thought about what I would do until my driver picked me up one hour later.

So here I was out on my own for the first time in 12 weeks.  It seemed like some retail therapy was called for.  I made it to only one department store almost opposite where we had coffee, but I felt pleased with myself for trying this.

I bought some tights, some makeup and a new perfume.  So al in all a good use of an unexpected free hour.  And to finish off,  while I waited for the driver, I bought some handmade chocolates from the chocolate shop.

Then home again with my caring and careful driver.  I’m so lucky that I have access to these women in Driving Miss Daisy.  They are all in their 50s and 60s and really look after me.

A quick lunch and then onto the bed for a nanny nap.

Another milestone reached and overcome.