Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bowling Along and Making Memories

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.
So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.

Judith Baxter, mother, grandmother,
blogger and friend.

Long before I ever thought of writing a blog I devised and ran a course on writing and saving your memories for your grandchildren or those who come after you.

Many people would like to write their life story for their family but it is truly a mammoth task and beyond most of us.  But writing your memories – ah that is an altogether different thing.

The courses each ran for 6 weeks at the end of which time participants had 6 stories ready for their memory books. They were encouraged to keep up the writing, one memory a week so that at the end of a year they would have 52 stories ready to publish.  I have heard from some of those people who are keeping up the writing.

I have a tidy number of memories written and bound for my grandchildren but alas since I took up blogging, no more memories have been added.  But in fact, these post have taken the place of writing memories and will be a lasting keepsake for my grandsons.

And now did you see this post from Photographic Memories entitled Bowling Green?  This made me think of a memory that I wrote about and here it is.  Please note it was written for my grandsons.


Grampa’s best friend was the President of the local bowling club and he was very keen for Grampa to play bowls but Grampa thought it was an old man’s game.  However, he went along to the club with Fraser, his friend,  one Saturday afternoon and from then on he was hooked.

He started bowling when he was about 51 and he and his friend brought the average age of the membership down to about 60.  The rest of the members were old men. 

Once Grampa joined and while Fraser was the President of the club his wife Elizabeth (Libby) and I went along and provided afternoon tea for the players.  Just like a boys’ boarding school tea.  Lots of noise and scoffing of sandwiches, biscuits and buns and copious cups of tea.  Then back to the bowling greens and Libby and I were left to clean up after them.

Every Saturday and some Sundays, Grampa would don his whites and with his lunch packed and his bowling bag he would leave for the bowling club.  Competition was very fierce and Grampa was in his element.  He loved the game.  With three other men he formed a foursome and they travelled around competing against other teams.

When he was 55 Grampa decided to retire and this opened a whole new life of bowling for him. He could find somewhere to play almost every day of the week.  At this time I had started my own business and was busy every weekday.  So Grampa bowled while I worked.

He and his team mates were very successful.  They played in inter-club tournaments; they played in national tournaments and they won a lot of trophies.  Some of the trophies were only minor rewards, tea spoons mainly.  But occasionally they won major trophies, shields etc.

Grampa Goes Bowling

Grampa second from left

We made lots of friends through bowls.  I used to go with him when he was playing at other places.  And when he played in the national competition we went to other towns.  One time we went to Christchurch where they played for four days.

I went along with my puppy Ben (the spaniel) and we both made lots of new friends. Ben loved the car and looked forward to going anywhere.  However, he was not so keen on the ferry between the north and south islands.  Here he was left in the car on the vehicle deck for the three hours that the ferry takes to cross the Cook Strait.  And usually he couldn’t see anything.  He was always delighted to see us when we came back to the car to disembark.

Before he retired Grampa had been the General Manager of the Hotels Division of Lion Breweries.  Whenever we went away we stayed at one of those hotels.  Dogs, of course, are banned from hotels and motels in New Zealand but this obviously didn’t apply to the GM.  So Ben came with us.  One of his best friends in every hotel in which we stayed was the chef.  He was fed steak every time the chef or any of the kitchen hands saw him.  I had to take him for lots of walks to get his weight back to normal.  Each morning once Grampa had left for the day, and before we joined him at whichever club he was playing, Ben and I would explore the neighbourhood.  I admired the gardens in this very English city and Ben admired the smells.  Then we would go to Hagley Park where he could have a long run after which we would join the bowlers.

Bowlers are a happy bunch of people and always made me feel welcome at every club we visited.  Grampa’s club was right in the middle of the Capital City, Wellington and was well-known around the country.  Unfortunately the club property was sold and then converted into apartments just after Grampa died.

Often Grampa and his team would be playing at a little club with few members.  These were great places to visit.  We got to know some of the players quite well and saw them again and again over the years.

Grampa was playing in a tournament on the West coast of the South Island when he first became ill.  But as soon as he was better, and once we had moved to Waikanae, he joined the Raumati Bowling club and made many new friends here.

He continued to bowl and go to the club until he was really too ill, but occasionally after that he would go to the club to watch his team mates play.  He really enjoyed his bowls and the friends he made through bowling.       end

So the memories keep coming and I shall keep recording them for my grandsons.  Apologies if some of the references are not known to you but I have tried to include links wherever possible.


Sunday …

It’s 11.15pm on Sunday night and I haven’t written today’s blog.  It has been a busy day but that’s usual so why isn’t the blog written?

I had a lazy start to the day.  The sun was shining brightly and I had been to the library yesterday so had a new clutch of books.  I decided that it would be good to sit in the sun for a short time and read The Sinner by Terri Geritsen.  This is a writer new to me and I found her book absorbing.  So much so that it was suddenly 10.30 am and I wasn’t dressed and had to be in town to help at an Open Home at 11.45am.  So rush rush.

It was such a lovely early summer day – the temperature at one stage reached 21*F such a difference from the past few grey days that I felt like singing.  Luckily common sense prevailed because I think I would have scared anybody within hearing distance.  I do like to sing but only if I am alone with only my small dog to hear me.

We had a short walk and then it was home to make dinner for friends who were prepared to chance my cooking.  Have I told you that I am no cook and in fact had to learn all over again once my husband died?

Well dinner was a success – or at least everybody was polite about it.  Stir fried chicken, mushrooms and vegetables on rice with asparagus and a side salad.  I really couldn’t go wrong.

But then, after they had gone and the kitchen was restored to order I was sitting enjoying a last cup of coffee with the one remaining friend when I remembered my blog.

So just to keep faith with myself and my commitment, this is a very short blog today.  I shall do better tomorrow when I shall tell you about the last movie I saw at the Italian Film Festival.

A man is generally better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table than when his wife talks Greek.
Samuel Johnson, English author, poet and essayist.
1709- 1784.

This Is My Life

“I don’t need you to worry for me cos I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone “

So sang Billy Joel in his song My Life many years ago and I immediately connected with it.  I thought he had penned it for me.  When I first heard it I was coming out of the chrysalis that many women were in being stay at home Mothers raising their children.  And it just seemed to fit. And it still does.

I have been thinking back to how often over the years has somebody determined they knew better than me how I should live my life.

Often as with parents and then my late husband, this was always done with my best interests to the fore but there were those other ‘friends’ and acquaintances, and those figures in positions of power, who thought they knew better.

  • The friend who told me I was making a mistake getting married so young.  As an aside most of our group was getting married around the same time; she was the odd one out.
  • The cousin who said I shouldn’t move away leaving family and friends behind when we moved to Scotland shortly after we were married.  I never asked him if he changed his mind after my many moves to new places.
  • The school teacher who said I should continue with my science and language studies, but without telling me what I could do with the results of those studies and really giving no guidance at all.
  • The doctor who told me that after several miscarriages I should give up and adopt.  I wouldn’t have my lovely son had I listened to him.
  • The nurse who scolded me and said my daughter (and later my son) would grow up deprived if I fed her formula.  By the time my son was born two years later, I stood my ground and fed him formula from day one.

And of course, over the years my late husband would advise me against doing something but hey It’s My Life and we eventually agreed that if I decided to do something that turned out wrong, the mistake was my own doing.  I can only now think of one really glaring mistake that falls into this category. And when I make a mistake you can bet your life it will be a biggy.

I decided to purchase a Mini Minor.  I had never owned one.  Each of the children had been given used Minis when they passed their driving tests, many of my friends either had one or had owned one earlier and so I wanted one.  But not for me the plain and simple Mini.  I purchased the top of the range GT version that was approximately twice the price of the regular model.

This was a very smart vehicle.  Bronze with gold highlighted stripes down the sides and alloy wheels.  I thought I had made exactly the right choice.

But it was what my husband called a ‘Friday car’.  The men on the assembly line wanted to get home and so they rushed the final cars through.  The car leaked through the floor, the windscreen wipers had problems working correctly because the surround to the windscreen hadn’t been cut off.  Each time the wipers moved to the top of the arc they bounced off this small piece of uncut surround.  Suffice it to say that when I took the car in for its first check there were 37 defects noted by the mechanics.  They thought it was so very funny; my husband agreed; I did not.  I very quickly sold that car and I hope that the young man who bought it enjoyed it. We often talked of that debacle in the years that followed.

And now, of course, this really is my life.  My decisions without having to confer with anybody else.  My mistakes and my triumphs.

As we go through the various stages of our lives we note that some are better than others, but each has to be lived as it doesn’t come with a choice   So thanks to Billy Joel for penning and singing the song.  And I am enjoying my life as it now is.  The Busy Years are behind me and my time is my own.

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
Charles Kingsley, (1819 – 1875)  English priest university professor, historian and novelist.


















Lunch in the Garden

Monday was a holiday – Labour Day – so we took ourselves off for lunch with some friends.

It was a dull, overcast, windy day in Wellington when we set off, but when we arrived there some 1.5 hours later the sun was out and lunch was set outside.

lunch settingA really sunny spot in which to have lunch.

JasmineLots of paths to wander.  Jasmine with its strong and distinctive scent,
always reminds me of New Zealand whenever I am away.
This one was growing up a tree trunk

Blue potThis old blue pot was nestled snugly amongst the ferns

Seat and rhodosSeats are scattered around the garden where one can sit to take in the scene

bluebell pathA shady plot under the trees

StudyThe studio has its own outside seating in case one wants to sit in the sun

the garden pathWe can see where this path leads

a place to sitA shady place to rest on a hot day with a cool drink
after tending the garden

water featureAnother seat with another view

As you can see my friend is a keen gardener and has turned this 3/4 acre garden into a virtual haven.

It was a lovely afternoon; great food, good company, loads of laughter, fantastic scenes and fine wine to quaff as the day wore on.  What more could one ask for?

“After all, Eden was garden… the garden is a place to go for quiet contemplation, a source not only of food but also of spiritual renewal and intimate contact with life’s most basic processes. 
Ed Smith “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible”

Note – all photos taken with my trusty I-phone with the blessings of the gardener and her spouse.

Stonhenge Aotearoa

We have just had a holiday weekend here in New Zealand and instead of going away with the crowds, we decided to leave on Monday when most people were returning home and so have a peaceful time away from the city.

On one day we took ourselves off to Stonehenge Aotearoa.  Even though it shares its name this is not a copy of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK as the kindly lady on duty hastened to tell us.  Instead it is designed specifically for its location and as a centre for science education.  We are told that it is “a fully working star compass specifically designed for its geographic location”.

It was a very overcast, windy day up on the plain and my amateur photos cannot do justice to the place.StonehengeThis structure is a gigantic clock and calendar.  In addition to demonstrating the changing altitude of the midday sun over the year, it also identifies the current date, the times of the solstices and equinoxes and the precise time of local noon. It also reveals things that we cannot see – the ever-changing length of a day (due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit) and, where the sun would be seen if you could view it from space – the constellation it would appear to be moving through.  It also identifies the time of solar conjunctions with bright stars.
Source – Stonehenge Aotearoa website.

The Analemma records the movement of the sun and also demonstrates the signs of the Zodiac.  Unfortunately my I-pod camera could not record the whole length of the Analemma which has all twelve star signs along its length.We are told that many people who read their horoscopes in the popular media are following their wrong star sign.  At an earlier visit I was told that rather than being a Pisces I was in fact an Aries.

Bronze centrepiece

At the centre of the henge is a bronze compass rose marked with the cardinal points.

This was a particularly fascinating place to visit.  It’s located off the beaten track but well worth the effort of going there.The first time I went we joined a guided tour of the property and this is what I would suggest to anyone considering a visit.

As I can’t begin to do justice to this fascinating place, I direct you to this Youtube clip and of course,  the website.  I hope you enjoy your visit.

An Intriguing Movie

The Italian Film Festival is on in Wellington at present and once again we are spoiled for choice.  So many good movies to choose from. We chose Sea Purple.

Sea purple picture

source Brochure Italian Film Festival 2011

Imagine.  It is Sicily in the 19th century.  Women were controlled by their menfolk.  Girls were given in marriage to ‘suitable’ partners and had no say in the choice at all. Wives were at the beck and call of their husbands. A totally male dominated world.

Imagine still more – a house made of turf at the top of a cliff and a scandal hidden from the villagers but an open secret.

The main female protagonist is Angela who refuses to conform and even when her tyrannical father promises her to one of the boys in the village she really rebels and tells him that she will not marry the man.  She wants to marry Sara her soul mate and lover.  Can you imagine the tyrants response to that.  He throws her into a dungeon and leaves her there in the belief that she will change her mind.

I don’t want to give away the whole story but will tell you that she is eventually rescued by her down-trodden mother who convinces the parish priest to change her daughter’s name and gender in the parish register.  The story is that a mistake was made at the time of registering the birth.

So Angela becomes Angelo and takes over from his father as manager of the mines.  Unlikely in today’s world but it could possibly happen in the backward villages in Sicily in the 19th century (but I am happy to be put right by anybody who reads this).

sea purple

source Brochure Italian Film Festival 2011

The two lovers are married and set up home in the house made of turf at the top of the cliff. Disaster overtakes them when they decide they want a child.  No IVF then so this child had to be conceived in the time-honoured way.  The mother of the child eventually dies leaving the other with the baby and leaving us with unanswered questions such as

  • Did the men of the village really accept that Angelo was a man – there is a scene of somebody attempting to rape Angela/Angelo presumably because he didn’t believe that a mistake had been made at the time of registering the birth.
  • Why did Angelo revert to Angela and turn up to the christening in a dress?
  • Did the village accept this reversion?
  • Who now would run the mines seeing as Angelo has become Angela?
  • Did the wife of the father of the child know of his part in this further scandal?

This is an intense and scandalous love story, with great scenes of raw beauty of the village in Sicily.  I was left feeling that some people have to make their lives in the most inhospitable parts of this world.  And people survive amidst this landscape.  They also survive under tyrannical rulers as shown here.

Another movie well worth seeing if it comes your way.

Playing with words again

I have said before that I like playing with words.  I awoke early this morning, too early to get up and start the day, so I started to read a thriller I picked up at the library yesterday.  It is called  “Trigger City” by Sean Chercover and I came across this wonderful example of alliteration :

“Flower-boxes displayed dying dwarf dahlias in differing degrees of decay”

Isn’t that wonderful.  This was dropped into the middle of a paragraph describing the outward appearance of a property.  I am sure it wasn’t put there without a lot of thought but nowhere else in the book could I find any alliteration.

Alliteration is defined as “the repetition of the leading consonant sound in each word throughout a sentence or a phrase. Alliteration is commonly used in poetry and tongue twisters. It is also sometimes used in advertising taglines and business names to make them more memorable.” according to wiki-answers and “the use of the same consonant or vowel at the beginning of each word” according to my Collins Dictionary which goes on to give the example of “round the rocks the ragged rascal ran”  Alliteration in literature, prose or poetry is used mainly to introduce style and make the piece of writing more memorable.

So consider these examples :

  • I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
    When far away an interrupted cry
    Came over houses from another street

    Robert Frost – Acquainted with the Night
  • Once upon a midnight dreary, while
    I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

    Edgar Alan Poe – The Raven
  • “So we beat on, boats against the current,
    borne back ceaselessly into the past.

    F Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
  • For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
    Lay like a load on my weary eye,
    And the dead were at my feet.

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge – the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Perhaps to-morrow you will see her sail.
    She sails at sunrise:
    John Masefield – The Wanderer
  • Silence surged softly backwards and
    forests ferny floor
    The Listeners – Walter De La Mare

And of course there are many instances of alliteration used in advertising:

  • Jaguar – Don’t dream it; drive it
  • Greyhound Going Great
  • Landrover – The best four by four by far

And Brand Names:

  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Pay Pal
  • Best Buy
  • Borders Books
  • Corporate Caterers
  • Perfect Party Planners
  • Absolute Accountants
  • Coca Cola

And people’s names

  • Ronald Regan
  • Jesse James
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Michael Moore
  • William Wordsworth
  • Mickey Mouse &
  • Donald Duck

The other form of alliteration is sound, where the words have the same sounding beginnings but are not spelled in the same way

  • Funny phone
  • Quality kebabs – sorry can’t think of any others.  Can you?

And from the Wizard of Oz:

“Step forward, Tin Man. You dare to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk…And you, Scarecrow, have the effrontery to ask for a brain! You billowing bale of bovine fodder!”

On the way to Oz

This game could go on and on ad infinitum.  Until I fall fast asleep on my feet.

A Holiday Weekend

“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”
Mario Puzo, The Family

Here in New Zealand the 4th Monday in October is Labour Day.  So most people have a long weekend.

Many years ago just before the holiday my husband asked me “Would you like to go to Taupo for the weekend?”   I jumped at the idea.  It seemed to have been a long time between Public holidays.  The one before this had been Queen’s Birthday in June.

Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in New Zealand and is renowned for its boating activities, fishing etc.  Taupo, the town, sits on the edge of the lake and is roughly half way between Auckland and Wellington.  As a fisherman my husband knew all the best spots in which of the rivers around Taupo.  We kept a launch at the lake and so we were all looking forward to the holiday weekend.

The instructions were for me to rent a car on Friday afternoon, pick up my son from school and drive to the hotel.  The rationale being that we didn’t need two cars in Taupo.  Oh, and would I mind coming by his office to pick up a couple of things?  He would follow us after work bringing my daughter with him.  I should point out that he was employed as National Marketing Manager for a hotel-owning company.

We duly did as we were bidden.  When I arrived at his office I was greeted by one of his assistants who had several large advertising placards, and a couple of boxes all to be delivered to the hotel.

I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t all travel together.  But I found out when I arrived at the hotel.  A new restaurant was to open that night and much of the material, advertising and otherwise, was snugly sitting in my rental car.

I was surrounded by activity and at one stage was asked if I could hang some cafe curtains – this, of course, was many years ago when these were the in things.  They then found all sorts of things for ‘the boss’s wife and son’ to do.   Having never been involved in an opening before I was amazed at how much still had to be completed before they opened for business at 7.30pm.

My husband and daughter duly arrived and he took off to see what was happening.  When he came back he had a comment and another request to make.  They were short staffed and could I help?  The two other company executives were also staying in the Taupo for the weekend and they needed extra waiting staff.  So my daughter (I think she was probably 13) and the other two wives became waitresses for the night.  I thanked my husband politely for the offer with some comment like “I’m not wearing that uniform” and so he/they decided that I could be maitre’d for the evening.

A whole new experience.  Long before the advertised opening time, a queue had formed outside the entrance to the restaurant and then the doors were opened.  It was like a feeding frenzy of the sharks as people pushed and jostled to be shown to a table.  All was going well.  The customers seemed to be happy but where was my husband – oh right, he was in the kitchen giving a hand.  My daughter was playing waitress very happily and horror of horrors I spied my son who was all of 11 years old, speeding across the restaurant with a Cona coffee jug full of hot coffee, in each hand.  He was thoroughly enjoying himself, doing whatever anyone asked of him.

We had a couple of complaints from customers and each time I simply ‘comped’ their meals.  I didn’t have the authority but those in authority were busy playing sous chefs, busboys or wine stewards.  So I made the decisions for myself.

Eventually, at around 2 am the restaurant was empty.  We all helped to straighten things up and then sat with feet up with a well-deserved coffee or was that a gin in my hand?  My children were dead on their feet but they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

And we had the next three days of the holiday weekend to enjoy the pleasures of Lake Taupo.  But after that, I was always a little wary of the question “Would you like to go away for the weekend?”

I still have the Robert Carrier Cookery Course book that they gave me as a thank you.  Can’t imagine what they gave the children and what they did with it.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Mother, grandmother, blogger and friend.















Question time

White clock with words Time for Questions on its face

Many questions that arise these days were never even contemplated when my parents were alive.  And if they were still alive Mother would be 100 and Father 99.

A recent post from Winsomebella posed such a question.  What to wear to a family gathering when your ex husband’s new wife/partner/lover is also to be there.  Well of course, when my parents were young divorce was never spoken of.  In the years of my childhood we only knew one divorced woman and she eventually married an uncle much to the dismay of the rest of the family.  I am sure that my mother only welcomed them into our house to annoy the other family members.

And of course the other side to Winsombella’s question – what to wear if you are the new wife/partner/lover and about to meet your new love’s family at a family gathering, en masse  and maybe for  the first time.  I suggest that this person has the bigger problem.  I can imagine the hours of contemplation given to what to wear.  In all probability the family are on the side of the ex-wife and they may be critical of this person, maybe even blaming her for the break-up of the marriage.

And if she was indeed the reason for the marriage disintegrating well…Although I must say here, that this person could not have been the reason.  She may well have been the impetus or maybe even the catalyst, but any marriage that ends in divorce must surely have some problems prior to another party coming onto the scene.  As an aside – I am in no way an expert on the question of divorce.  I was one of the lucky ones.  My marriage lasted for 41 years until the death of my husband.  So these comments are my own and made from watching other marriages wither and die.

But back to the question, and it probably applies equally to men or women.  Our blogging friend Winsomebella has reached the stage in life where she knows and likes herself and we look forward to a post on the baptism complete with photographs of this lovely, serene grandmother.

I have yet another book to introduce to you.  It is “365 Reflections on Grandmothers”.   More on this book in another post but for now, to our blogging friend Winsomebella I give her this quote:

“Grandmothers don’t have to do anything,
except be there”.  Patsy Gray

Bouquet of roses

I Talk To People

“Nothing is a waste of time
if you use the experience wisely.”
Auguste Rodin

Among my favourite bloggers is Susan from Coming East.  I really believe that we live parallel lives.  Today she blogged about earworms.  I wrote a post on this subject several months ago when I was new to blogging.

A couple of days ago Susan wrote about her delight in talking to other people.

I too love talk to people.  I make instant friendships and am still in contact with people whom I met many years ago in places as diverse as planes, ferries, hotels, supermarket carparks and restaurants.  Not to mention those I met at school functions and other gatherings.  I have a lifelong friend that I met in the supermarket carpark, another than I met on the Inter-island ferry between the north and south islands in New Zealand and yet others with whom I keep in contact many years after we met on holiday in various parts of the world.  And now, of course, I have my blogging friends.

I seem to be the person that people talk to.  When we are out for dinner within a few minutes I have heard from the waitress where she comes from, what she is doing here in Wellington, who her parents are and where she will go from here once her visa expires.

Today I met a young man from India and again, within a few minutes I had his life story.

I do know that it is because I am interested in people and usually ask the first (maybe innocuous) question, that they unfold and tell me their life stories.  And I guess it is because of this that I took to being a life coach with such ease.  I am interested in people.  I love to hear about them; about their lives and about their dreams; about their wishes and hopes for their future.

I am fortunate in that I have always had the ability to make friends easily.  My mother used to say that I could/would be friends with the devil himself.  As I have aged I have grown more selective about the friends I have made, but the ability to talk and communicate with others has grown year by year.

When they were growing up, my children were sometimes embarrassed at their mother speaking and thereby interacting with strangers, but now they accept that this is who I am.

So I shall continue to talk to strangers.  I shall continue to learn about them and perhaps make friends with them.  Isn’t this part of what being human is all about?

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
 And why the sea is boiling hot–And whether pigs have wings.”
“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried, Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter. They thanked him much for that.”
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Best friends

Real friendshi