Dust if you must

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Dear-mother-nature-quote

If this is your copyright, I apologise for using it.  Please let me know.

I have no doubt you have heard of our earthquake.  7.7 on The Richter Scale – yes, it was a big one.  While we celebrate the fact that only one death was directly attributable to the earthquake, that of a man who was killed when a historic homestead collapsed and a woman who died of a heart attack; we mourn for the two lives lost. The man’s 100-year-old mother survived.

And those of us affected by minor damage in our houses try to get back some sense of normalcy into our lives.  Added to the damage caused to roads and buildings, has been the torrential rain that we have experienced since the quake.  Many buildings in Wellington’s Central Business District have been damaged, shops, offices and schools are closed while the result of damage to the properties is evaluated.

But down south at and near the epicentre things are so much worse.  Some places are cut off entirely as roads are impassable.

It is at times such as this when we thank the powers that be for our being unhurt by a disaster of this magnitude that we take stock of our lives once again.

Shirley Conran told us that Life is too Short to Stuff a Mushroom” but this poem by Rose Milligan says it for me:

“Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
to paint a picture ,or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear and books to read,
friends to cherish and life to lead?

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there,
with the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
this day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself will make more dust.”

Wikipedia tells me it was originally published in 1998 in “The Lady” Britain’s longest-running weekly women’s magazine. It has been in continuous publication since 1885 and is based in London.

So dust if you must, or stuff a mushroom but for me, this has been yet another wake-up call.  So I’m off to see what other adventures await me.

Godwits en route

 

You are my sunshine

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My sister in the US posted this to me today on Facebook with the question “Don’t you wish someone would make this for you?  My response “Yes please, if you have the time, I would really love one.”  

She reminded me that as very little girls we had visited the burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury where RAF patients were being treated.  I don’t know what we were doing there and why two little girls would be taken there but I do remember sitting on some of the pilots’ laps singing “You are my sunshine” and most of them joining in.  Some in tears and so two little girls were also in tears but really not understanding why these men were crying.  The staff also joined in the singing and some of the crying.

As Christine commented, “We were so young, we didn’t know to be frightened/horrified by those poor young men”.

Ever after that song was known in our family as The Misery Song.

I do hope I'm not impinging on anyone's copyright.

I do hope I’m not impinging on anyone’s copyright.

Isn’t it amazing how we remember some things and others are just dropped from our memories until a song or somebody else brings them to mind?

How could I forget such a visceral meeting?  These brave young men who gave so much to so many of us.  We need to remember that these boys, for many of them were only boys, lived the rest of their lives with scars from the burns.  But Stoke Mandeville was actively treating the burns and developing the skills needed for reformative surgery so that these men could go on to live as normally as possible.

Another reason I’m sorry that I never asked why we were there when there was still somebody alive who could have answered the question.

“Memories warm you up from the inside.
But they also tear you apart.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Independent motion – can you help?

This young  man has really been living in a nightmare. He’s doing all he can to live a normal life. He has to be congratulated on what he has achieved through determination and the will to live.

******

What would you give to make a dream come true if you woke to find yourself living a nightmare? What would you feel if you could never again walk on a beach? Or go out alone in the snow…feel t…

Source: Independent motion – can you help?

Walking, Wishing, Wondering on Wednesday

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You can have the other words
chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace.
I don’t know what it is exactly,

but I’ll take it. ”
― Mary Oliver

While walking through Ngaio today on a blustery Wellington Wednesday, I thought about Paris.

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It’s now more than 2 years since we were in Paris and promising that we would return and next time for at least three months.  Oh, the best-laid plans etc.

But notwithstanding all that has happened in the intervening 29 months, the memories are still live.  We had such a fantastic time; we did all the touristy things, Le Tour Eiffel, trips on the Seine, Place des Vosges and Victor Hugo’s house, the Pompidou Centre, La Defence, The Louvre, etc etc.

la-defence

I am sure that La Defense was the Architect’s favourite place to visit.  What a fantastic building The Grande Arche is.

We were told the Arche  is placed so that it forms a secondary axis with the two highest buildings in Paris, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district with 560 hectares (1,400 acres) area, 72 glass and steel buildings of which 16 are completed skyscrapers . Another very wet day but an interesting area to visit.

 

pompidou-centre

 

Of course, he was totally impressed with the Pompidou Centre and the work of the British Architect Richard Rogers and the Italian Architect Renzo Piano.  We had dinner there and I had a hard time getting him out of the museum when it closed for the night.  “Next time” we promised “we’ll come earlier and stay all day”

It rained a lot while we were there, but we managed to see quite a lot of Paris in our 7 days.

 

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We became adept at travelling on the Metro.

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Because he was an Architect we spent time under the Tour D’Eiffel while he looked in total wonderment  at the complicated engineering arrangement that made this wonder.

And in case you’re wondering, no we didn’t go to either Galerie Lafayettes or Printemps.  We were there to enjoy Paris.  Shopping could wait until next time.

So now I have all these lovely memories, backed up by the thousands of photographs the Architect took during our 13  weeks in Europe, many of which are in Paris.

And as Humphrey Bogart said to Ingrid Bergman in the film Casablanca

“We’ll always have Paris”

And Walking, Wishing, and Wondering ?:-

  • Walking is self-evident
  • Wishing we were together again in Paris
  • Wondering if I shall ever go back.

 

 

Movie going

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“Fiction writers, magicians, politicians and priests
are the only people rewarded for entertaining us with their lies”
― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

I was at a total loss what to write about today.  Then I opened Judy Reeves Prompts and Practices and what jumped out at me? “You’re in a movie theatre”

Well quite coincidentally, I was in a movie theatre on Friday with a friend.  I haven’t been to a movie for months, in fact, since before my latest adventure.  I have read the Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, the UK edition.  My friend hadn’t read the book and so we decided to go to the movies.

We are so lucky here in Wellington.  We have 4 Bijoux movie cinemas, three of which belong to a chain and one that is independent of the others.  We chose to go to our favourite, one of the chain.

We arrived in time to sit and have a cup of tea and a bit of a chat; then we were called into the theatre, the movie was about to start.  These are small theatres seating 100 people at the most. If you have a glass of wine (or in our case tea)or food before the movie starts, you are permitted to take these in with you.  Certainly not something that the big National chains would ever allow.

So we went into the theatre.  The lights were still up as we made our way to our seats.  There were probably only half a dozen others in the theatre and so everybody had room to stretch out.

I enjoyed the movie after I got over the fact that the story was now set in the US and not in and around London as in the book I had read.  It took some time for me to get over the difference in the houses displayed to the houses imagined by me.

Emily Blunt as Rachel was all and more of what I imagined her to be.  She’s an unemployed, alcoholic, divorcee.  Well,that’s enough to make one turn to drink anyway.  She doesn’t tell her flatmate that she has lost her job because of the alcoholism.  Her ex-husband also blames her for his losing his job even though he now seems to have got over it or at least, has found another job.

From the train window,  Rachel watches the inhabitants of the houses in the street where she used to live. One day she sees something that sets her on a trip to places that she doesn’t want to go, or perhaps she does.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so and also encourage you to see the movie.

And in my least pleasant personna – I’m totally envious of
Paula Hawkins and her abilities.
How I wish I could write such a book.

And now as the south wind is blowing very strongly, I think the rest of the day will be spent inside.

I have been honoured by being sent the manuscript of a new Fitzjohn mystery from Jill Paterson.  Poisoned Palette is the title and if her other books are anything to go by, this will be another good read.  By the way, Jill is a friend and it is as a friend that I am reading and commenting on the manuscript.

I found this on Pinterest. I hope I'm not impinging on anyone copyright.

I found this on Pinterest. I hope I’m not impinging on anyone copyright.

Almost Perfect

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100-word-challenge

This week’s 100-word Challenge from Tara at Thin Spiral notebook
calls upon us to use the word WINE in a story of 100 words.
And as she says “No more, no less”.

It was very important to impress this man who was coming to dinner.  Her husband’s future and therefore, hers, was dependent on him.

She’d spent all day cleaning and tidying the house and preparing the special recipe Cindy had given her.

The dining table was set with flowers, their wedding crockery and silverware and the perfectly ironed napkins the colour of the flowers; it looked lovely.

Now, all that remained was for her to shower, dress and present herself as the perfect corporate wife.

But then a frantic call was made to her best friend, Cindy.  She’d forgotten the wine.

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Freedom

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“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful
and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
~ Mary Oliver

In October three years ago I was in Florence, knowing nobody and not speaking the language.  But what an adventure that was.

Have you ever thought of doing something like that?  To know nobody; to walk through the streets and not see a familiar face; to hear people speaking without understanding a single word they are saying and to not know where you are or where you are going; no familiar sights to guide you.  It’s total freedom.

For once, you can just be you.  There’s nobody who knows you and can comment on your behaviour.  We all like to think that we are independent and not moved by others’ comments on our actions, but here I was, totally alone like a ship that had been untied and left to float.

Oh, how i loved Florence and the feeling of just being me for the time I was there. Never before have I been in such circumstances and I suppose I never will be again.

When I returned to NZ many people commented on how brave I was to do that on my own.  But it didn’t seem like bravery to me.  At the time it was something I wanted to do and so I did it.  I wonder if I would have done that had I been younger or was it just the right time for me to stretch my wings and fly?

I’m very pleased that I had that adventure.  That I made the decision to go on my own and see that part of the world through different eyes.  I had not spent time in Florence before and like a child in a candy store, I delighted in all that I saw.  And I delighted in the people I met in the suburb where my apartment was.  Nobody spoke English and my Italian is almost non-existent but we managed to communicate and enjoy each others company.  And when I returned a couple  of years later with my late partner, those neighbours remembered me and were happy to see me.

So much has happened in the three years since that adventure.  Life has changed as it will and must.  Plans made that cannot be carried through; promises made that cannot be kept; other and different adventures to enjoy or just get through.  But that’s what this life of ours is all about.

So as Mary Oliver asks:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver

Celebrating

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

We all love celebrating our friends and acquaintances achievements.

Some of you may know that I designed/wrote and ran a course on saving your memories.   It was not like writing your life story .  Rather  this was a course over 6 weeks that encouraged the participants to write one memory each week, to be read out to the others the following week if one wanted to.

These were always very personal memories being shared amongst us, but right at the start the number one rule was

“We will cultivate a safe environment in which to share our stories. We will be nonjudgmental and attentive to the needs of others in the group.

Sometimes memories will cause tears to be shed.  If the environment is safe and nonjudgmental the tears will be accepted without embarrassment.

Accept also that there will be lots of laughter.”

And there was much laughter, a few tears and some memories that were being expressed to others for the first time.

From time to time I have received communication from some of the participants but not for several years.  Imagine my delight on opening my emails today to find one that read:

“Hi Judith.  It all started with you, your lounge in 2009.
I’ve finished my book started with a story prepared under your guidance
Will you be coming to the launch party?”

What excitement! I immediately replied when and where is the launch to be held?  I’ll be there.

As I understand it this is a book based on Brian’s experiences having been born in London in 1938 (exactly like me).  His was a very different story to mine and he introduces the book thus:

“As long as I ever knew my mother, she was either amused or angry
with the voices which plagued her, an experience which provided the
spur for an extraordinary lifetime adventure.”

So I’m sharing y excitement with all and sundry.  I know that many who are battling with their own book will want to join me in celebrating Brian’s achievement .  And me?  I’m looking forward to December 8 when I can reconnect with this strong man and get to know him through his bookClapping hands

And my next reason for cheers is that my list of followers has now passed 900.  Way back in 2011 when I started this adventure in the blogosphere I wondered if anyone would read my posts.  Well, now I know that they do.

Thank you to all of you who have faithfully followed me for a while and thanks to the new followers. If I haven’t already sent you a comment of thanks, I shall do so very shortly.

Applause

Promises Made

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But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, ”
From Stopping by the Woods on a
Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

 

Do you find that occasionally (I do hope it’s occasionally) that you make promises then some time later remember that you haven’t made good on the promise?

 Looking through Prompts and Practices in Judy Reeves’ A Creative Writer’s Kit I came across the prompt “Write about Promises made”

 Well, the promises I have made to my friends in the blogosphere that certain of the fiction stories I had written, would be continued.  Woe is me!  Life got in the way, more particularly my latest adventure, that these promises were never fulfilled. 

 There are several that I could continue and I need to decide on which one

 “The effrontery of the man quite took away Maisie’s breath.  How was she going to deal with him and the fall out if his claims became known in Society?  She would need some time to think and plan; perhaps consult Reggie; certainly consult Sir Charles (Juliet’s brother) and his friend Sir Hector Ryder, Head of the Metropolitan Police and maybe even  the ailing Earl.

But time was certainly needed.  She would put this scoundrel off for a couple of days to give Sir Charles and Sir Hector time to delve more deeply into this man’s past, although the thought of bringing the fellow’s claims to their attention horrified her.

“Well obviously I shall need some time to consider what you have told me this afternoon,” she said. “And equally obviously I shall need to see the so-called proof of the relationship between you and my husband.  So I suggest that you leave now and come back again in two days time, with some proof of your claim at which time I shall have an answer for you.”

With that, the swarthy gentleman picked up his Panama hat, gave each of the ladies a broad smile, thanked the Countess and took his leave.

A shocked silence remained in the drawing room after his departure.”

  • Then there was Sarah of Here and Now. You may recall that she met a man in a bar with whom she had drinks and then suddenly found herself a prisoner in a dark room. 

When we left her, she had been to the police station and made her report:

The policewoman then excused herself from the room returning shortly with an older man whom she introduced as Detective Brian McLeod. The Detective asked Sarah to repeat her story and at the end of it sat for a few minutes looking very thoughtful.

 He then said, “As the Sergeant has already told you, it is most unusual for a victim not to want to lay a complaint. But if you’re determined then so be it. But I must ask you to give the Sergeant the names of the three people involved.

 “We will have to interview them, probably at their house rather than at the police station, but if you are sure that you don’t want them charged we will issue them with a warning. Are you OK with that?”

 Sarah was relieved that the Websters would not be charged and so she gave their names to the Sergeant who promised to keep in touch to let Sarah know when they had been interviewed.

 So feeling much better Sarah and her friends left the police station and found their way to a local bar where they all had a well-deserved drink

  •  And what of Sandy and the woman claiming to be her daughter?.When we left her both women were pleased with the way the meeting had gone. 

“Barbara because she had now eased her conscience somewhat.  She knew she had to thank Sandy for her kindness and understanding and decided she would take a bunch of flowers with her the next time they met.  A small gesture but it all helped with her conscience.

And Sandy?  She was pleased because she had found that this was a decent young woman who had made a ghastly error of judgment and while Barbara would have to live with the outcome of that, Sandy decided that she could forgive her.  And besides, she had learned much about her daughter that afternoon.

As soon as she arrived home she called both Greg and Cathy and invited them to come round.  Of course, they were both eager to hear how the meeting had gone.  So, tea served Sandy told them about the meeting.  How they had discussed her daughter and how she was convinced that Barbara was a young, somewhat confused young woman who had acted first and thought about the consequences later.  She told them that she planned to see Barbara again and that even if though they would never be friends, she would like to get to know her more.

“Oh I’m so glad that it worked out well, and so happy you found out some things about your daughter,” said Cathy.  “Yes, it’s a good idea to keep in touch with her.”

               ******************* 

So which one shall I continue with?.  All three have been buzzing around in my mind over the past months.  Some notes have been made and I think it’s now time to move on with them.  There are also several one-off posts that I should like to pursue.

Decision time.

g-t-and-dog

No G & T but another cup of tea and decision is made.  Paris from Harney &Sons is this afternoon’s choice. If you’re a tea drinker and you haven’t already, I suggest you try it.

So I think it will be Maisie and her cohorts.  So please watch this space.

 

“Just living is not enough,
One must have sunshine,  freedom,
and a little flower”
Hans Christian Anderson 

 

Another Day in the Life of…

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Adventure

It’s now midnight as I finish this post.  I determined to post each day from today when writing my Morning  Pages (a la Julia Cameron) this morning.

So having no idea what to write about, I looked at some of the earlier posts – some 758 published since March 1, 2011 and came across this one from January 16, 2013 – A Day in the Life of..

Well, that brought up some good memories and so I thought I’d do the same today. So Another Day…..

A few days ago I wrote about a book I bought, The Artist’s Way for Retirement  by Julia Cameron.  So I’m now writing three pages each morning.  Just anything that comes to mind, first thing in the morning.  We are told to write these pages by hand not on the computer, and we are advised not to re-read our Morning Page.  And now the honesty bit comes out.  I haven’t managed every day since I started last week, but today is a whole new week and the beginning of the rest of my life.

Today I had an appointment with the Otolaryngologist more commonly known as an ENT Specialist and what a waste of time that was.  15 minutes in his office to be told exactly what I had been told on each of the three visits to the audiologist – the adventure I had earlier this year has affected my hearing.  I’m so very glad that I wasn’t paying for his time.  The Accident Compensation Corporation arranged this visit.  Oh, the ACC is the organisation that administers New Zealand’s compulsory accident compensation scheme for personal accident insurance cover.  So all costs associated with my accident are covered.  Obviously, our taxes pay for the service.

An unorganised Skype call to a friend in Ontario was not successful and so will try again in a day or so;  message with another friend in Sydney who is my buddy while we are doing The Artist’s Way, a walk, some reading and the day was over.

I did read and respond to blog posts from my blogging friends, then I looked back to October last year to see what words of wisdom I was spouting then.

I was still very raw following the death of the Architect.  Trying to find my way back to living without him.

Early in that month I reflected on a post from the year before and made some amendments.  The post was from Writing 101 – Personality on the Page.  The challenge was –
“We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of?
Address one of your worst fears.
Today’s twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

My response to this challenge was:

I have breezed through life with very few fears but

  • I have always been afraid that something bad could happen to one of my loved ones
  • I have been anxious about my aged parents on the other side of the world; both now dead
  • I was afraid of cats until I took a course of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping as it is sometimes known.  Now I am no longer afraid of cats and have even been known to stroke one, but
  • My worst fear was realised at 2.28am on April 22 1998.  My Dashing (not so) Young Scotsman died.

I wondered/ feared :

  • How would I live without him
  • How could I live without him
  • Where would I live without him
  • How could I go through each day knowing he wasn’t waiting for me at home
  • How could I smile and pretend that life was “normal”
  • What was normal anymore
  • When would the “time heals” kick in
  • When would I stop counting the hours, days since he died and move onto the months and years

And I found that while my worst fear had been realised on that ghastly day, I could:

  • Live my life without him though I missed him madly
  • Move house and so find where I could live without him
  • Go through each day with his memories to help me
  • What became normal was different to anything I had expected or experienced
  • Time didn’t heal although the hurt was lessened as time passed
  • Now I say he died 16 years ago.

And now after so long, my whole life has changed as I have a new partner and we are making a new life together.

Then last October I answered the same questions following the Architect’s death. 

And once again,  I found that 

  • I could live my life without him although I missed him madly
  • I moved house again and found somewhere I could live without him
  • I could get through each day without him but have the memories to help me
  • And normal changed yet again
  • And time doesn’t heal, the hurt lessens somewhat as time passes
  • And he has now been dead for 14 months.

Also that month I wrote about The Streets of London :

“So how can you tell me you’re lonely,
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind “

 This is the chorus from Ralph McTell’s song The Streets of London”.

This is one of those songs that remind me just how lucky I am.  We all have something about which to gripe and complain but unless one is battling a life threatening or terminating illness, they mostly are minor when put alongside those who are homeless , jobless and without any hope that things will improve.

If you have been following me for a while, you will know that for years I volunteered at a local hospice and saw first hand how those terminally ill folk dealt with the end of their lives.  And then later, I saw the hospice movement from the other side, when the Architect spent the last 10 days of his life there.

And recently I following my April adventure, I spent time in rehab where I saw how others were dealing with brain injury and once again I was so very grateful that what could have been an absolute disaster for me and my family turned into a lesser disaster. I saw others who were so much worse off than me; some of whom had done pretty well the same as I had but who had suffered much worse.

My Attitude of Gratitude is set on high  at present.

Last October I wrote about moving on and also about the way in which the Architect proposed that I live with him.

In all, a harrowing month but a year later, all is changed again and I am moving on.

The posts referred to are –

Writing 101: Personality on the Page
The Streets of London
Time to Move on Again
You are Beautiful

I don’t know if that is really a day in my life, but it’s what I’ve been thinking of today as I went about the daily chores, walking, writing and enjoying my life.