A Sad Goodbye

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sue.jpg“I am a Yorkshire born painter and writer, living in the south of England. I paint the strange things that come as images in dreams and fantasies and write about life as it happens. 
I was raised in a spiritually eclectic family in a landscape where myths and legends were
woven into the stones, and have always had an intimate relationship
with the inner worlds and the understanding that all paths are but spokes on a wheel, 
leading ultimately to the same centre.
It is not the path that one walks that matters, but how one chooses to walk it.
                             Sue Vincent

I am very grateful that so many years ago I discovered WordPress and the joys of blogging.  Over time I have met many folk: some have become friends and two have become sisters of choice – Chris at Bridges Burning and Dor at Country Living. 

Many have come for a short while and then moved on but many more have stayed true and while I cannot name them all here, they know who they are.  Darlene is always there to comment and support as are Catterel, Nancy, Donna, SallyAnn  and Lois to name a few. Others we have bid goodbye either because their life has changed and they are following another path or in a few sad cases, life has ceased.

But one who has been there probably from almost the beginning is Sue Vincent.  Sue it is who writes daily on many and varied subjects, always with a purpose and always managing to bring to mind something on which to dwell for the rest of the day. She also kept us involved; she wrote poetry, had several books published, was an artist and so much more. So it was with much regret that after reading today’s post from the indomitable Sue, I had to reblog it.  Click here to read it.

Along with 19,500 (and counting) followers, I have to say “Goodbye and fly freely to your next stage, your next adventure wherever it may find you.  Know you will be greatly missed.”

The Last Post? – The Silent Eye

This may be the final post that I get chance to write for the Silent Eye… that decision has been taken out of my hands. I spent much of last week in hospital, having, as many of you know, been diagnosed with incurable small cell lung cancer last September. It has been an interesting and…
— Read on thesilenteye.co.uk/2021/02/28/the-last-post-2/

Synchronicity, Serendipity or Coincidence

In August 2017 I wrote a blog post with the same title. The post was about these  three words, used often in every day language, but sometimes misused and/or ill defined.

Serendipity is defined as –
the occurrence and developments of events by chance, in a happy or beneficial way.

In the earlier post I told how my good friend and sister of choice, Chris at BridgesBurning wrote about the serendipity of three people, all in different continents, two in the Northern Hemisphere and one far away in the Southern, connected over a comment on Skype. And into our friendship of two there came another one.

Synchronicity is defined as –
the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear signiicantly related
but have no discernible causal connection.
And according to Carl Jung  – synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.

These words, Synchronicity and Serendipity, are often confused and used in the wrong context.  They are quite different and should be used differently.  As I pointed out in the  earlier post- it would not have been correct for Chris to use synchronicity in her telling, but it is correct when we both write about the same thing in a blog post.  Or when I send an email saying we should Skype only to find that she has sent the exact email to me.

And we often find this synchronicity in our every day life.    I  recall a perfect example of this when training to be a Life Coach many years ago.  I had read  about Sedona in Arizona; the red rocks and the general feeling of spiritual well-being; and the artists and healers who flock there, and so determined that I would go there in the not too distant future.  The course was conducted on a phone link of 2 hours each Monday evening.  Once soon after I logged in,  I heard one of the other participants talking about a visit he had made to Sedona the previous year and how he was planning on returning the next year for the Sedona Film Festival.

My mind/imagination was captured by this place and then the next morning, in an email from my sister in Los Angeles, she said she thought the next time I visited we should go to Sedona as she had heard such great things about it.

Well didn’t that exactly meet the definition –  significantly related but have no discernible causal connection?

And serendipity at work again the shortly after the death of The Architect, I was thinking about him and about the firm he had established many years ago.  Later that day I was at the hospice where he had died,  and learned that it was his old firm that would be doing the architectural work for the new hospice building.

And coincidence? I often say that there is no such thing as coincidence, but do I really believe that?  There is definitely synchronicity, serendipity and probably there is room for coincidence too.

The definition of Coincidence is – a striking occurrence of two or more events
at one time 
apparently by mere chance:

Several years ago I was in London for the weekend.  The elderly woman for whom I was playing companion went off to a wedding which left me free.  It just so happened that friends were visiting London from NZ and we decided to meet up.  The first evening we went around the corner from their apartment looking for some place to have a drink and decide where to eat.  Imagine my surprise when, on turning the corner, I saw three other friends, a couple from Auckland, NZ and one from Sydney, Australia.  I hadn’t seen any of these people for several years, so their being in London at just that particular weekend, and at that time, in that bar was certainly a coincidence. And –

“If there were no such thing as coincidence,
there would be no such word”
Heron Carvic (born Geoffrey Rupert William Harris)
English actor writer. 
  1913 –  1980 

And why am I revisiting  this earlier post? On Monday, January 4, I posted about my word for the coming year. That word is Hope and with it comes all the great things we can hope for in this coming year.  Today I met a friend for lunch at a garden centre.  The choice of venue was hers and the reason for the location was so that she could buy me my Christmas present.  I chose a rose.  She had arrived earlier than me and on looking around the centre her eyes had alighted on a particular rose.  And its name is HOPE.  Without  a doubt, this is Synchronicity at work again. And by the way, this friend is not a follower of my blog.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it,
but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you,
you can make things happen, almost like magic.” 
Laini Taylor, American Young Adult Fantasy Author
1971 – 

Je ne regrette rien

1948: French singer Edith Piaf (1915 – 1963), affectionately known as the ‘Sparrow of Paris’; ‘Piaf’ translates as ‘sparrow’. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

I have long been enamoured of Edith Piaf, her life story and of course, her singing. I don’t remember how old I was when I first became aware of this wonderful, pitiful, strong, brave woman, the Little Sparrow starting life singing in the streets and living in a brothel. Not a great start in life for anyone and particularly a woman in Paris in 1915. War was raging; her father was fighting at the front and her mother had neither the money nor the inclination to look after a baby.

We are told that Edith was born under a street lamp in a doorway at 72 rue de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement on the 19th of December 1915. Above the worn out marble doorstep is a plaque that reads, dont la voix, plus tard, devait bouleverser le monde” translated as ‘whose voice later was to upset the world’. Edith did not just go on to move the world with her voice, but brought inspiration to many and continues to do so even today.

Her mother, known as Line Marsa, chose to call her baby daughter Edith after Edith Cavell, the celebrated British nurse who was celebrated for saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers from both sides. Cavell was later arrested by the Germans and shot by a firing squad just days before Piaf’s birth.

Shortly after the birth, Edith was packed off to live with her maternal grandmother. A bad decision that was overturned by her father on his return from the front. He sent his mother and aunt to bring her back. The aunt owned a thriving brothel in Paris and so Edith’s early days were spent surrounded by prostitutes and the men of class who came to visit them.

When I think of Piaf I think about her passion, her determination, the carefree spirit of her younger days and the spirit of constantly seeking greatness.

But why am I writing about Piaf on the 5th day of this New Year? Some years ago shortly after my husband died, I was playing companion to an elderly English woman. She was that particular type of woman, from her class. Peremptory, imperious, and brusque, so used to giving orders and being obeyed. But we got on very well and over the months and several returns to Chichester by me, we became friends. I remember her saying often, regret nothing; apologise for nothing. So no New Year resolutions for me – instead I am working on regretting nothing that I have done. Oh yes, some foolish decisions that would have been best left unmade but on the whole, I have enjoyed all the years of my life even when in amongst the good, the fantastic and the truly memorable, there have been a couple of hiccups when loved ones departed this world.

So onward into this New Year, with no regrets for what is past; it cannot be changed, but hopefully I can learn from it.

And now from my very favourite poet, from whom we haven’t heard for a while –

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

HOPE!

 

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson

At the beginning of each year, I choose one word on which to concentrate. My word for this year is Hope.

What a fantastic word that is. The Oxford English definition is – A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

So my hopes for the coming year are :

  • That the pandemic is finally halted
  • That the vaccine is available to all
  • That people are allowed to visit family and friends again
  • That life returns to normal, or as near as possible to normal
  • That people stop circulating fake and bogus information about Covid, and
  • That peace talks continue to bring an end to the violence being perpetrated around our troubled world
  • That health and happiness are available to all my family and friends, both physical friends and those in the blogosphere
  • That Mother Earth stops shaking her skirts and forgives us for the damage we have done, and are still doing to our planet.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” 

― John Lennon

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places;
but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands
love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Year Best Forgotten

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” 
― Alfred Lord Tennyson

Christmas came and went amid the usual flurry of last minute preparations, enjoyment and laughter. For us here in Aotearoa/New Zealand, there was nothing to stop our usual celebrating with family and friends. Not so for the rest of the world, where the deadly virus continues to expand and multiply. I wonder just how long we can stay immune.

Then New Year. Again, we celebrated as usual. However, this year there was limit on the numbers of folk who could gather in one place. Again, of course, there are those who spoil things for the majority by not heeding the rules. We can only hope that there will be no dreadful outcome from this.

And so I thought back on the year Best Forgotten.

2020 started with the usual bang. Huge fireworks displays the world over. As a grump, I wondered if some if not all of the money squandered in this way, would be better directed to assisting the homeless.

Here in Aotearoa we first became involved in March when the elderly (that’s me) were advised to stay home and stay away; then the rest of the country was also in lockdown. Our Government acted strongly, decisively and quickly. Borders were closed, incoming passenger flights stopped and generally, the populace accepted the order to sty home. We of course, do know just how fortunate we are. We share no borders with other countries, we are an island nation, there are only five million of us, and our Prime Minister was willing to act on advice received.

So over the next few months, we worked down from Alert level 4, through 3 and 2, to now be at Level 1, And most of us do realise just how very lucky we are.

Now that year has passed and we can only look forward to a better future.

When reading emails today, I came across this, from Jeff at Murder is Everywhere. Jeff is an American author, who chooses to live most of the year in Mykonos in Greece.

And from Jeff’s blogpost I copied for your amusement/entertainment, the following thoughts about that year –

1.     The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.

2.     I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone.  He asked me what I was wearing.

3.     2019:  Stay away from negative people.  2020:  Stay away from positive people.

4.     The world has turned upside down.  Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors!

5.     This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog.  It was obvious she thought her dog understood her.  I came into my house and told my cat.  We laughed a lot.

6.     Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit.  Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

7.     Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?

8.    This virus has done what no woman has been able to do.  Cancel sports, shut down all bars and keep men at home!

9.     I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole”, would become a national policy, but here we are!

10.   I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.

11.   I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the backyard.  I’m getting tired of the living room.

12.   Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and ask for money.

And now I leave you with this quote from T S Elliot. Did he foresee 2020 all those years ago. His quote is most appropriate.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 
And next year’s words await another voice.” 

A Palindrome for the New Year

Happy Palindrome day – January 2nd here – so 1221. And if you are feeling that you have eaten too much over the holidays – remember Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.

OK that’s enough cleverness for today.

From several friends today I have received this video.

In this time of Covid, it is important to share funny things. And I just love this. I hope you do too.

On this day in 2013, I bemoaned the fact that Summer decided not to grace us with her presence – click here to read that post from so many years ago. Well guess what? Once again we are having an odd sunny and warm day, Christmas Day was one as was New Year’s Day, but in between we have had a really mixed bag. Although I have to say that I am not jealous of those friends who have sent me photos of winter wonderlands. Been there; done that and have no desire to do so again.

Summer 2014 was great. My sister came to visit in February and while we (my Late Love and I) showed her around our beautiful country, Mother Nature behaved and showed off with long lovely days of summer.

As we went into 2015 we were all reeling from the terrorist activities around the world, and particularly in our beloved Paris. Here’s what I was thinking/talking/writing about then.

So to January 2016. Here I talked about the plans the Architect and I had for the year, and our future, only to have him diagnosed with a brain tumour in June. Here’s the link to that miserable time in my life.

In January 2017 I talked about a new chapter opening in my life.

In January 2018 I talked about the terrorist attacks again, about wishes, resolutions and hopes for the future . My hopes were –

  • Peace being declared among the fighting factions.
  • Safe housing for the homeless
  • Sufficient food for everyone and a
  • Happy and joyous year to you all.

    Well in 2021, we are still waiting for most of those wishes to be granted.

January 2019 saw me invite you to my Ramblings of an Octogenarian and in 2020 I mused on palindromes.

Do you know AIBOHPHOBIA? It is a fear of palindromes. Yes, really!

So now having come full circle in my blogging life – I started on March 1, 2011, so there was no January musings in that year- all that is left is for me to wish you a very peaceful and joyous New Year. Hoping of course that this pandemic raging in our already troubled world, will be stopped in its tracks. There is hope for that in the vaccines being developed and used around the world. Lets also hope there is sufficient for the Third World countries. They are always at the bottom of the list.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

It’s. the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Wellington – Courtesy of Simon Woolf

https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/christmas

Yes, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand there are only two more sleeps until Santa arrives. The excitement in many houses is reaching fever pitch. The neighbours grandchildren are so excited – they are all under ten.

Of course, we recognise how lucky we are – no lockdown and free to go anywhere in the country but not to visit other friends and family around the world. So for many, Christmas will perhaps be not quite as usual.

And because here we celebrate with barbecues, swimming in pools and lazing on beaches, we are keen for the weather to be good on the day. We are told it looks good so far!

And then, because we live so far away from most of you and many will not know that our Indigenous people are Maori who have their own language, I thought I would share this with you –

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

Pukeko
Pukeko

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas
….
and so on, until…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five – big – fat – pigs!
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming

pois dancing
Traditional pois dancing

Definitions

Pukeko = type of bird found in NZ
Ponga Tree = a fern tree that grows in NZ
Kumera = a yellow sweet potato with a purple inside core
Piuspius = a skirt made from strips of flax. They look like hula skirts. They’re worn by the Maori (indigenous people of NZ) during certain dances and special celebrations.
Haka = war chant/dance
Pipis = small shellfish
Puha = a type of sow thistle that is eaten as a vegetable in NZ
Pois = Maori word for ball – they’re two balls on the end of two ropes and they’re twirled around making patterns during some Maori dances
Huhu = a small edible grub or beetle found in NZ.

And a memory from long ago that springs. to mind each year at this time.

Cooked goose

“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!”
Nursery rhyme and Christmas carol (frequently sung as a round)

When I was growing up in London following the end of WW2 we always had goose for Christmas dinner.  Not for us a turkey.  In fact, I don’t ever remember having turkey at home until long after I was married.  Quite late on Christma Eve father would go to the market and buy a goose.  They, of course, were reduced at this time so that’s when he went.

Later, after moving to New Zealand with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman), I remember a particular Christmas at home in London with my family.   By this time, the late 60s, goose had been superseded by turkey and Father in company of his son-in-law, took off as usual to purchase the bird.  Well, these two men purchased the bird and then in a festive mood did a round of various pubs on the way home.

When they did eventually arrive home, much later than expected by Mother for dinner, they were without the bird.  It had been left in one of the hostelries they had visited.  Mother was less than pleased, she didn’t drink and didn’t think it was at all funny.  I had to decide whose side I was on and while secretly siding with Father and DYS I nodded assent and support to Mother.

Some time later, and rather more merrier I might say, they arrived home complete with bird.  Mother was placated, a late dinner was served and much laughter followed. The turkey was served the next day and all was forgiven. And the story of the bird was told on many Christmases that followed.

https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/christmas

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/12/new-zealand-weather-christmas-day-to-be-showery-in-some-parts-as-others-get-sun-heat.html

And in this time of commercialism having taken over Christmas here and around the world, here are a couple of quotes from long ago, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow a long time favourite of mine

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

and another

“And in despair, I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pohutakawa tree
Our NZ Christmas Tree
Image via Wikipedia

And now all that is left is for me to wish you all a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah or however you celebrate this time of the year, wherever you may be. And we can all look forward to a less stressful New Year.

Winsome Weekend

This has been a busy, exciting weekend.

On Friday I had been asked to attend the opening of the Art exhibition at the Karori Arts and Crafts Centre to write an article for the local suburban newspaper. I have had some things published in newspapers in the various places I have lived, but have never been asked to provide an article. So that was a first.

The evening started when I arrived at the Centre to be surrounded by 116 artworks, hanging on all the walls.   What an amazing sight. The works were to be judged in three categories, Traditional, Contemporary and Drawing.  In addition to the major awards, one further piece was given a merit award in each category.  I am pleased I didn’t have to judge.  The judge was a well known and much admired Wellington artist who had a long involvement with Karori Arts and Crafts. 

A fun couple of hours spent mingling with the winners and also many other artists.

Saturday dawned and as my No 3 grandson was home for the weekend, we had brunch at one of my favourite restaurants. Drew, his mother Cate, his girlfriend Alyse and me.  I love spending time with my grandsons and listening to their take on life.

Saturday was also General Election Day and what a landslide victory to the incumbent Prime Minister and her Labour Party.  If you have any interest in politics in this far-flung part of the world, you might remember that at the last election in 2017 they didn’t win, but with the assistance of a couple of the minor parties, they were able to form a Government.  And Jacinda Ardern has proved her worth through three major crises during her three-year term – the Christchurch earthquake, the Christchurch terrorist attacks and of course, Covid. So she and her crew deserve another term.  But already people are saying that the Labour-led government didn’t keep all the promises made in 2017, so what will they not do during this three-year term.

In addition to the General Election, we had two referenda on which to vote – he legalisation of cannabis and the End of life choice. We are told that the results will not be available for two or three weeks.   

So to Sunday.  After the excitement of the last two days, I was happy to stay home, reading and writing and returning a couple of things I purchased yesterday, one of which was a kitchen trolley. This was a flat pack and I know I cannot put things together, no matter how easy I am told they are.

Flat pack car
Flat pack cat

But all is not lost. The kindly gent in the store offered to replace my one in the box for one he had just made up for display. So another good thing to report for this weekend.

And now it’s time to write a memory for our Memory Writing group tomorrow.

For those of you just starting your day, I hope it’s a good one. Take care and remember to be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can. And as always, remember too –

Friday’s Fond Memories

I have often written. about my father in earlier posts. As I have said, he was a great and inspirational father who gave his three daughters much love and the confidence to do anything they wanted – with the proviso always, that it hurt nobody else.

But what of my mother? Little has been written about her.

She was the typical Jewish mother who grew up in the East End of London in the early part of the 20th century. She was the only daughter in the family and from what we could discern from the little she shared with us, the two boys were favoured while she took on many household tasks to help her mother,

Mother was of the generation of women that saw their men going off to the Second World War; some of whom probably could remember their fathers going off to the First World War.

These women then, left behind to take over all the responsibilities of family life. How brave: how stoic were these women!

And particularly in London and other major cities where Hitler and his cronies and his superior (at least in number) force, bombed the city day after day, night after night, in an attempt to bring Britain to its knees. I am pleased to confirm he/they were unsuccessful.

During this time, many women took jobs but not Mother. She concentrated on her three daughters, their health, safety and wellbeing. We learned that she was generally known as ‘the woman with the three girls’

May 1944 Christine next to Marianne, on Mother’s lap and me on the left.

Life was hard for these women. Everything was rationed and there was very little of anything. If Mother found somebody who would swap her sugar ration for butter she was onto it. And of course, many women hadn’t had to make decisions, this being well in the region of men’s tasks. So they were thrown into the deep end, making decisions on money, schooling and all manner of household things that always before, having been left to fathers, husbands or brothers. I know that apart from spending her weekly household allowance, she had never made any other decisions.

Mother was always busy. Even if she were sitting reading in the evening, she would be knitting.

She had. cast-iron rule. Housework was to be done in the morning. What wasn’t done by 1 o’clock wouldn’t be done that day. Then she would change and get ready to pick up her two eldest daughters from school and take her three girls to the park, always with a picnic packed. This habit continued well after the war and the only change was when her daughters became old enough to make their own way to and from school.

The war ended and the men returned. I have a clear memory, I would be six or seven, coming home with Mother after Saturday shopping to see this man sitting in our living room. He was a virtual stranger to us. But after a brief hug between them, life settled back into a routine. But how hard it must have been for those women to hand the reins back to their husbands.

Sadly, the deadly Alzheimer’s claimed this strong, vibrant woman and her last few years of life were spent in a care home, visited daily by her loving husband and the one daughter who still lived in London.

I wrote about visiting her a few years ago, but for a particular challenge –

“A moment of clarity in the land of the confused brought on a rush of memories both to her and to those of us visiting her.  This once vibrant, strong woman had been reduced to a pale shadow of herself under the strong grip of Alzheimer’s. Disease.  Suddenly she was once again our mother, even if only for a very short time, when she knew our names and recognised each of us. The joy and happiness was unbounded and in that short time many happy moments and happenings were remembered.  But all too soon, the veil of the Disease dropped down and once again she retreated to the confused old lady she had recently become.”

Mother and me 1995
With Mother shortly before she died

So I am left with a firm understanding of how much she loved us and how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. With Father, she provided a safe and loving home and a memorable childhood. I do know how very lucky I was/we were to have had this woman to call Mother.