Monthly Archives: August 2011

And Today’s Offers…

Yesterday I received an email from a very good friend that included some of the funniest aka craziest ads that ever were promulgated published.

Toothache drops

Why is everybody rushing to the shop?


Wouldn't this go down well today?

And do you want to lose some weight?  Try some of these – but remember the tape worms have been ‘sanitized’.

Weight loss posterVitamins

Or feeling a bit lethargic?  Try a few of these they will immediately buck you up.

Husband and wife

And do you have a new baby?  These will most certainly help

Baby and colaMother and baby

And when you visit the doctor with your baby remember

Doctors smoking

Wish listAnd gentlemen.  Do you have a problem on deciding on a gift for your wife, particularly at Christmas.  Worry no more.  The answer is here.

Vacuum cleaner


And if you don't have a wife, here's a sure fire way to attract that woman of your dreams

Kenwood chef

And gals - just in case you've ever wondered

And did we really believe these  ads?  Were we really so gullible? Certainly as a new young wife I thought the house had to be perfectly presented, the children had to be perfectly behaved but I never ever accepted a household appliance as a gift – Christmas or otherwise.  But these ads while giving us a chance to laugh show just how far we have come in 50 plus years.

Which is your favourite one. No prizes will be offered but I should just like to know.  My favourite is the tape worms.  I really wonder if people bought them sanitized or not.

Note – I have assumed that as these images have been circulating freely around the internet that they are outside copyright.  If this is not the case then I apologise wholeheartedly for any misuse.

Ode to a Sister

“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”
From My Way sung by Frank Sinatra.

I think as we look back on our lives there are always some regrets.  The road not taken; the decision not made; the opportunity missed.  For me one of my regrets is time not having been spent with family.  Because I moved to the other side of the world I know that I missed out on lots of celebrations but also missed out on shouldering some responsibilities.

Thinking about this today I came up with this “Ode to a Sister”

I am not there when you call out my name
I am not there when you need a sister’s help
I am not there when things go wrong
And you need a shoulder to cry on.
I am not there

I am not there to celebrate the births of grandchildren
Or the marriage of your daughter
I am not there to see your children thriving and
I am not there to see their children growing

I am not there when decisions on mother’s care must be made
I am not there to assure you that the decisions are right
I am not there when mother dies and you have to deal with it
Alone until we came from far away

I am not there to help you cope with father’s aging
I am not there to help make  decisions on his care
I am not there when he dies and again you deal with it
I am not there.

I am not there when more decisions must be made
Dealing with the trappings of our parents lives
Unknown things about them surface
And I am not there.

I am not there to celebrate 21st birthdays
Or special birthdays of your own
I am not there when a special friend dies
I am not there.

I am not there when riots flare around you
And scared you sit alone in your flat
I am not there to hug you and say you will be safe
I am not there.

But I am there always with you
In thoughts and memories that we share
I will always be your loving sister
I am there.

I wrote this as stream of consciousness and it is published just as I wrote it.  so it’s from the heart.

Sisters are very special  and I have said this so many times before.  But before I get mawkish about my sisters, one in London and one in Los Angeles, I shall end this post.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters – never had to have a chaperone, “No sir” – I’m here to keep my eye on her.”  Irving Berlin 1988-1989.
Composer and lyricist

And It’s Raining


My rainbow - looking forward to spring

Rainbows apologize for angry skies.
Sylvia Voirol

I don’t know who Sylvia Voirol is but I like the sentiment expressed.

I am finding it difficult to write this post as Lotte is sitting on my lap having inspected the desk and all that’s on it then deciding my lap was the better place to be.

Lotte on desk

Another helping hand

Today the awful weather has continued.  Snow only in the high country and in the South Island but rain, rain and more rain and now we have thunder.  No wonder Lotte is scared and needs to sit with me.  But there is nothing we can do about a rainy day.  My response has always been “Now I don’t have to water the garden” but after this spell of such bad weather even my “Pollyanna” like behaviour is waning.

Several things on my mind today that I should like to share.

  • Obviously my post about homelessness struck a chord with many of you.  Thanks for taking the time to comment.  I am aware of course that this is a problem world-wide and one to which there seems to be no immediate solution.  But one wonders if some of the money being spent on the military were to be redirected here, could it make a difference?

Goods for Mary Potter

  • I had thought that when I moved house last year I had downsized to the extent that I now had nothing superfluous in my life.  What a surprise when I decided to get rid of two bookcases and their books.  This of course, led to more searching and the result of that was this pile of things to be picked up tomorrow for sale in the Mary Potter Hospice shop.  Why do we clutter our lives up in this way?
  • And talking about Mary Potter Hospice I received this blogpost today from an acquaintance, Blair Styrer.  Blair channels Tabaash and whether or not you believe in channeling I encourage you to read Blair’s post.
Bird painting

This one is mine.

  • Still on the Hospice – a couple of weeks ago I had Jae my youngest grandson helping while I served lunches there.  He had a broken ankle and was on holiday from school but his brother was not, so he  decided to spend the day with Granma. What a joy and delight that small (12-year-old) boy is.  He charmed everybody with whom he came into contact.  In particular one lady who was going home that day and gave him one of her paintings.  He was thrilled and she also gave him one for his Granma.  After leaving the hospice we hot footed it to a local store (Briscoe’s) to buy a frame for his painting.  He proudly presented it to his mother to hang in her office.  Again, I am amazed at the generosity of people in the last stages of their lives.

Lotte has been looking longingly outside as she has not had a walk for two days.  Every time I have opened the door she has taken one look outside and turned around back into the house.  On Monday, the day of the heavy snow, I bought her a waterproof, lined jacket to keep her warm and dry on her walks.  On the way home from the shop I stopped the car intending to take her for a short, quick walk.  She had other ideas.  I got her out of the car and she planted her four little feet firmly on the ground and refused to move.  Then she turned around and leapt back into the car.  Who’s in charge here I hear you asking.


Please may I go out?

Lotte at window

Or maybe out here?

So as soon as the rain lets up a bit we shall venture forth into the weather.  This of course is one of the joys of being owned by a Tibetan Spaniel.  We dance to her beat and her program.

If you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.
From “I Hope You Dance” as sung by
Leanne Womack.

Sleet, Sunshine, Snow and Soup

Thank you

Firstly, I should like to thank all those who read my blog and those in particular who either took the time to comment or else clicked the like button.  Yesterday’s blog has received the most comments since I started in March.  Thank you, thank you.

Today we have had rain, sleet, sunshine and snow.  As I said yesterday, we are so unused to this weather and we do not have the infrastructure  services to cope.  Yesterday we had thunder and lightning and so some areas lost power and some are still without power.  And of course, some of those affected by the earthquakes in Canterbury are still without warm and waterproof houses.  Our thoughts must go to them

So here in Wellington, today is not a normal day:

  • One of the things I notice is the lack of birds.  While I live in the central city I usually hear birds calling first thing in the morning and there are none at the bird feeder today.  Have they all flown off to warmer places?
  • And there are no sounds of happy children going to and from school.  there are several children who live in this street and Lotte usually watches for them in the morning and again in the afternoon.  But many schools have been closed today so maybe they are all at home.
  • No postman has gone up this street for a couple of days, ergo no bills being delivered.
  • No rubbish truck either so the rubbish sits forlornly in its bags at every driveway.  Hope that changes tomorrow.
  • No dogs barking.  We have several in this street who set each other off.  I guess without the postman and the rubbish collectors there is no need for barking,  Fortunately for me Lotte neither yaps nor barks but is disturbed when the others set up.
  • No neighbours stopping for a chat going up or down the street.  Many neighbours take the bus to work and I see them strolling home and taking the opportunity to speak to anybody they meet on the way up the hill.  Not today.  Everybody is in their warm house and those out on the street are hurrying home.
Wellington City Mission

One of several organisations helping the homeless.

And now I have to give a thought to the homeless and those who are forced to live on the streets.

We have many very active, non governmental organisations/agencies here to help.  They provide some food through the day but mainly deal with finding these people a meal and a bed for the night.  But of course, there are never enough beds in the shelter and I don’t know how the people who run/manage these shelters deal with the overflow.  I am sure that they don’t just turn them away. But what do they do?

Minestrone Soup

Picture from Two Peas & Their Pod

As I sit in my warm house, with the fire alight, a bowl of minestrone soup and fresh bread on the table I think of them.  I will also think of them when I go to my warm and comfy bed later this evening.  And I shall think of them later this week when I go to the supermarket and will buy some extra cans of food for their collection bin.

And this is yet another reason to be grateful. My attitude of gratitude has slipped a little recently and this cold spell and the plight of many of our fellow citizens have given me a jolt and a reminder to count my blessings.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton













Snow in Brooklyn

Snowing in Brookly

Snow fell here in Wellington both yesterday and again today.  We are so unused to this that the neighbours were out with cameras this morning shooting the strange white stuff falling in our streets.

Snow on plants

I thought then to try my hand at an Etheree * but then just started to write and what I ended up with was my own form of writing.

One word on the first line, two on the second, three on the third until the tenth line has ten words. Have I discovered a new form of poetry or is this just something from my head?  In any event I enjoyed this challenge.  So,

gently falling
from leaden sky
and finding places where
no snow has been before.
Now all is covered in white and
looks new and quite strange and different
And while it lasts it brings strange shapes
to this familiar world now changed for a while
Until it melts and all returns to normal once again.

Actually, I like the shape of this and whether it is a recognised form  or not, I think I shall continue to use it.

Postscript – after publishing the post I found this site that talks about ten lines of poetry.

*The basic etheree form has ten lines, the first consisting of exactly one syllable, the second line of two syllables, and so on until the last line’s ten syllables. An etheree can also be reversed, starting with ten syllables and ending with one.

Human Rights, Prayers et al

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”  ~Gandhi

I read this post from Fribnit’s World the other day and lo and behold the next day in our local newspaper was an item whose headline read “Prayer row heads to tribunal”

Map of New Zealand


This is all about a row that has erupted in Wanganui  in the Manawatu region of New Zealand.  Wanganui is approximately 122 miles north of Wellington on the map. Apparently in April, the Mayor suggested that reference to God should be removed from the prayer that opens each meeting as a way of respecting all the faiths in the community.

We are told “The informal remark sparked a furore about whether praying was an appropriate item of business on the council agenda”*  And now a complaint has been made to the Human Rights Commission** which stepped in to mediate.  One Councillor has admitted that he laid the complaint and that he has now asked the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (an independent director attached to the Commission) to consider taking his case to the Tribunal as no solution was found during mediation.

We are also told that most councils open their meetings with a prayer and this is just a continuance of the way things have always been done.  What do you think about this?

  • Should this practice of opening with a prayer continue
  • If it continues should the reference to God be removed to take into account the various faiths represented in the community
  • Should this matter go as far as the Human Rights Tribunal **
  • Does there need to be more open discussion on this matter

Each sitting of the country’s parliament is opened with a prayer.  If this case does go to the Tribunal the reverberations could reach parliament and then what will the decision be?

On August 5 2011 the National Secular Society in the United Kingdom reported on a decision handed down recently in the United States.  “A federal appellate court has struck down a North Carolina county’s policy of opening board meetings with sectarian prayers. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled 2:1 that the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ preference for Christian prayers violates the constitutional separation of church and state.”

I am quite sure that we haven’t heard the last of this and that the discussions on the matter will go on for many months.

Notes – *   Reported in the Dompost August 13 2011
** “The Human Rights Act sets out the primary functions of the
Human  Rights Commission. These are to advocate and promote respect for and appreciation of human rights in New Zealand society; and to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and the diverse groups in New Zealand society.”

And Yet Another Movie

Coolest little capitalWellington is a lively place with activities to suit everyone.  It proudly proclaims itself “Absolutely Positively Wellington” and is known as the cultural centre of New Zealand.  Although this  latter is often loudly disputed among other cities in the country.  It has been named “The Coolest Little Capital In the World” by Lonely Planet.

We are currently in the final weekend of the International Film Festival and according to their website “This year’s haul of films direct from Cannes is the Festival’s best and biggest ever. New Zealand audiences will be the first outside Europe to see an overwhelming number of the films that saw this year’s Cannes Festival widely regarded as one of the most dynamic and exciting in years.”

And indeed we have been spoiled for choice over the past few weeks.  I have seen several of the movies and have posted on “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams” a truly amazing and wondrous experience to be allowed to see inside the caves that are not open to the public.

And the third movie I saw this week was entitled”Incendies”. The film opens in Montreal where, following their mother’s death, the twins are set the quest of finding both their father and a brother whom they didn’t even know existed.

The twins

At the reading of the will

The daughter embraces the quest and sets out to find her father.  The brother is dismissive of the whole thing and only gets involved when he thinks his sister is in danger.  So this film concentrates on the perspective of Jeanne and Simon, the twins, their place in history and their mother’s story.

The mother also has a quest: to find the son that was taken from her at birth.

To follow out her mother’s dying wish, Jeanne has to retrace her footsteps from a small village in a land that closely resembles Lebanon, to Montreal.  We see this in a series of flashbacks to the mother’s life during the nation’s long and gruesome civil war, then returning to the daughter who  travels in a relatively peaceful and functional 21st-century.  We are shown scenes that shift from hillside villages to cities and refugee camps, from the verdant north of the country to its dusty south.  Those of us who haven’t been in that part of the world know the scenes well from TV Newscasts and movies.

The traumas of the mother’s life are unimaginable to this young woman brought up in the safety of present day Montreal and to some may appear overwhelming.  Indeed, I wondered how this woman could make a new life for herself and her children in Montreal after all that she had suffered.

Burning bus

Saved by the Christian faith that she had repudiated

The daughter has only an old passport, a photo and a cross of her mother’s and these are the things she uses to trace her mother’s journey.  She discovers that as a young woman, Nawal (her mother) provoked the violent disapproval of her family after falling in love with a Muslim.  After giving birth to a son,  she fled the village of her birth for the capital. There as a student she becomes an activist, a militant and eventually a political prisoner.

Jeanne in the desert

Jeanne after learning some hard truths

It is a fascinating, and at times, harrowing story but one that is well worth telling even if it is not entirely factual or entirely fictional.  If it comes to a cinema near you I urge you to see it.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” Vernon Howard, American spiritual teacher, author, and philosopher.  1918 – 1992

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Drawings on cave wall

A frieze of horses and rhinos near the Chauvet cave’s Megaloceros Gallery, where artists may have gathered to make charcoal for drawing. Chauvet contains the earliest known paintings, from at least thirty-two thousand years ago.

I have become quite addicted to movie going of recent times.  Just this last week I have seen Oranges and Sunshine, Incendies a French film about twins searching for their father and brother (more on this movie in a later blog) and yesterday I saw The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.  Click here to see the trailer.

The International Film Festival is on at present and we are spoiled for choice.

But back to yesterday’s movie.  It is a documentary about the finding of the cave in 1994 by three spelunkers and it takes us into the cave to see the fantastic drawings made by primitive man; but drawings that are not at all primitive.

Directed and fronted by Werner Herzog. the acclaimed German film director and producer,  it is a powerful insight into a life so far removed from ours in time and distance.  On the subject of the art Herzog says “Art … as it bursts on the scene 32,000 years ago, is fully accomplished. It doesn’t start with ‘primitive scribblings’ and first attempts like children would make drawings,” Herzog says. “It’s absolutely and fully accomplished.”

Herzog was first alerted to these cave drawings by Judith Thurman who wrote about them in her Letter from Southern France in the New Yorker in June 2008.

The cave has been named the Chauvet after one of the three men who discovered it, and it  is in the Ardèche valley in Southern France.  We are told it is about 400 metres long with many huge  chambers. The floor of the cave is littered with archaeological and palaeontological remains, including the skulls and bones of cave bears, which hibernated there, along with the skulls of an ibex and two wolves. The cave bears also left innumerable scratches on the walls and footprints on the ground.

Of particular interest in the movie, is when Dominique Baffier, archaeologist and curator of Chauvet Cave, tours the drawings . Each one tells a story.  She points us to a hand print that clearly shows the owner has a bent little finger on his right hand.  Further into the cave she shows this same print at one of the drawings.

In another mystery, only one human form was drawn. On a rock pendant, the bottom half of a woman with Venus of Willendorf proportions appears. The team mounts its camera on a stick to reveal the upper half of the image for the first time. It is a bison head.

The cave is not open to view and Herzog considers himself particularly lucky to have been given this opportunity.

The 3-D camerawork brings viewers more deeply into the cave. Herzog’s offbeat narration and  metaphysical musings keep the film lively. A sacred feeling is evoked in kinship with the ancients.

Only a small camera and four small, portable panel lights were allowed. Filmed under strict limitations to protect the delicate ecology, the scenes inspire awe.

Pont d'arc Arch

Pont d'Arch Arch below the cav

I have spent all day so far, on the internet fining out more about this cave and the drawings and now I leave it to you to further research if you are interested.

More on the cave by Craig Packer and Jean Clottes – When Lions Ruled France. and here’s a link to the official Chauvet Cave site

Oranges and Sunshine

Movie poster

Image via wikipedia

This is the movie that I saw at the weekend.  It was such that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  Click here to see the trailer.

I had heard of the government programme called Home Children and in fact, met a man in Toronto who, when gathering information for his own book on evacuation during the Second World War, had come across several of these deportees.

Book cover

My very tattered copy.

Ben Wicks, the man I met on a sunny afternoon sail in Toronto wrote the book “No Time To Say Goodbye” and that is a sorry account of a plan made with the best intentions that went horribly wrong.

The movie shows another plan that went horribly wrong.  It concentrates on those deported to Australia and follows the trials and tribulations of Margaret Humphreys a social worker from Nottingham in England as she brought to the public attention the British government programme of Home Children. This involved forcibly relocating poor British children to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa and often without their parents’ knowledge. Children were often told their parents had died, and parents were told their children had been placed for adoption elsewhere in the UK.  Margaret Humphreys believes that up to 150,000 children were resettled under the scheme,some as young as three, about 7,000 of whom were sent to Australia.

The movie shows how Humphreys was approached by a woman from Australia who had been sent away at age 4 and who wanted to find her mother.  This set Margaret Humphreys on the quest that was to take over her life.

In one scene, while Humphreys is celebrating Christmas in Australia with her family and friends she had made during her investigations, presents are distributed.  One person asks Margaret’s young son “What are you giving us for Christmas?” to which he replied “I’ve given you my mother.”

This is a movie showing the hard lives many of these children lived under the harsh conditions imposed by the Brothers at the Fairbridge Farm School.  Many of these children now into middle age, have joined together in a class action.  We are told  that  “65 former students of the Fairbridge Farm School began unprecedented court action, suing the organisation and the Federal and State Governments claiming they turned a blind eye to years of abuse.”

Author David Hill “The Forgotten Children”  who was an inhabitant of Fairbridge although for a short time as his mother reclaimed him said “It wasn’t until 2006, after teaming up with an old classmate to produce a book and documentary on Fairbridge, I learned of the horrific abuses many of the children had endured and the magnitude of their betrayal by the authorities.”

This isn’t an easy movie to watch but I urge you to see it if/when it comes to a theatre near you.

More on the Riots

The rioting in London and other parts of the UK is still dominating my thoughts today.  I read this insightful blog and wish that more people and particularly those in power in the United  Kingdom would read it.

This woman, a deputy headmistress in a State school in London, is not afraid to say what the politicians fear to.  She is black and proudly proclaims the fact.  She comments on the fact that many of the rioters are young, uneducated black men.  And she decries the practice of making excuses for this behaviour.

There can be no excuse for this mindless vandalism.

I make no apology for a second blog on the subject and for sounding off about it.  I feel very strongly and grieve for my homeland as it goes through this terrible time.

“IF I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field 
That is for ever England.
There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed; 

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,        
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,   
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.   
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,   
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less      
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; 
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,     
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.”
Rupert Brooke 1887-1915.