Monthly Archives: November 2011

New words

“I like good strong words that mean something.”
– Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

I love it when I find new words.  Today’s new word is ACROSTIC.  I had no idea what this meant when I read Vivinfrance’s blog today.  So to my trusty dictionary and there it was :

“Acrostic n.  A number of lines of writing, such as a poem, certain letters of which form a word, proverb etc.  A single acrostic is formed by the initial letter of the lines; a double acrostic by the initial letter and final letters and a triple acrostic by the initial, middle and final letters”  Collins 1998 edition

I guess it’s close relative is mnemonic – we all use this as a memory jogger.  But to write a poem in this style absolutely floors me.  I am amazed and delighted at the skills some of our fellow bloggers display.

And of course, this is one of the forms used by our old friend Edgar Allan Poe .  I found this one in a book today (more research after finding the word):

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

And the one mnemonic that we all learned in school to remember the colours of the rainbow:

Richard – red
Of – orange
York – yellow
Gave – green
Battle – blue
In – indigo
Vain – violet

And this segues beautifully into my rainbow.  So here it is once again.  Enjoy!

Rainbow

My rainbow

Oh and thanks to my blogging buddy Viv for this new word to add to my vocabulary – but that supposes I shall ever use the word in a sentence when speaking to my friends.  “Have you read any good acrostics recently?”  Well maybe not.

“You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words, and words are all
I have …”
From “Words” by the BeeGees

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Following the death of my husband in 1998, I spent several years travelling between the UK and NZ.  I spent quite a lot of that time in West Sussex in a small village some 6 miles outside Chichester.

Model of Palace

Model of the Palace as it would have been

One of my favourite places to visit was Fishbourne, the site of the famous Roman Palace that was discovered in 1961 by workmen laying a new water main.  It is most certainly very impressive

This is the largest building of Roman origin north of the Alps and research has shown that the first buildings on the site were erected in or about 43 AD and were granaries to supply the conquering army.  A few years late a house was built on the site but quite a modest one.  This was apparently demolished to make way for the palace.  The remains of the north wing with its remarkable collection of mosaic floors are displayed inside a building erected to protect the site.

Mosaic floor

The palace consisted of four large wings with collonaded fronts, forming a square around a formal garden. The garden has now been replanted to its original plan.

The north and east wings consisted of suites of rooms built around courtyards, with a monumental entrance in the middle of the east wing.  In the north-east corner was an aisled assembly hall. The west wing contained staterooms, a large ceremonial reception room, and a gallery. The south wing contained the owner’s private apartments. The palace also included as many as 50 mosaic floors, under-floor central heating and an integral bathhouse.

At the time of my last visit in 2006 part of the hot water reticulation system has been unearthed quite recently.

Over the next two hundred years Fishbourne Roman Palace was further renovated, and this was when the mosaic floors were introduced,.  Man of these can still be viewed including the famous Boy on a Dolphin that people come from all over the world to view.

Boy on a dol[hin

World famous Boy on a Dolphin

As an aside, my mouse pad has a copy of the mosaic on it.

The building covers approximately 5,000 square feet and is comparable in size to Buckingham Palace or Nero’s Golden House in Rome.

In the late third century, Fishbourne Roman Palace was struck by fire and there is no evidence that the site was re-built beyond that date. The remains lay lost and forgotten until their discovery in the 1960s.

Skeleton

This skeleton has lain here undisturbed for many years, having been discovered during the excavation of the site.

When I was there excavation was continuing with a positive army of volunteers and an equal number of people tending the garden and the grounds and acting as guides to the many visions.

If you find yourself in West Sussex one day, do make the effort to go to the palace.  You will be well rewarded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chasing Chickens and Cows

Man is rated the highest animal, at least among all animals who returned the questionnaire.  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

I was reminded yesterday of a very funny incident in my life.

Fast backwards to 1998 when I was staying with my son and his family following the untimely death of my ‘not so young’ dashing Scotsman.

Their children were 3 and about 18 months at the time.  Two delightful little boys who thought their Granma was close to perfect.  How times change.  I wonder if they think that still!

My son lives about 45 kms from town and has a house that sits on 6 acres of land.  It is quite rural and it was decided that all that was needed to make this idyllic place complete was a couple of calves and some chickens.  James at 3 adopted one of the calves and named her.  Robbie was too small to even begin to understand animals vs people.

Anyway, there was a big rugby game on in town and my son and daughter-in-law took themselves off to that leaving me in charge.

It was a beautiful spring day.   The calves were in a paddock close to the house and the chickens roamed freely around the property.   While the little boys slept  a friend arrived to see me.  A peaceful afternoon in the country.

But no – when said friend  went out to her car she saw that the calves were wandering around the driveway.  This caused some panic as State Highway One runs at the bottom of this driveway.

Farmyard animals

Picture this – two 60 year old women attempting to get the cows back into the paddock while the cows were determined to get onto the road.  Much shooing and pushing followed accompanied all the time by six chickens flying around and squawking madly.  The dog (a young, quite large mixed breed) was running around barking and causing more mayhem.  And my friend who thought the whole scene hilarious, was falling about laughing.  Then of course, amidst the noise and laughter both boys woke up and the baby started to cry.

Eventually the baby was quieted, the bigger boy was given afternoon tea, the cows were back where they belonged although the darned chickens still roamed freely and two exhausted women sat and had another cup of tea.

“Right said Fred, both of us together, one each end and steady as we go
Tried to shift it, couldn’t even lift it, we was getting nowhere
And so, we, had a cup of tea

Right said Fred, give a shout to Charlie, up comes Charlie from the floor below
After straining, heaving and complaining, we was getting nowhere
And so, we, had a cup of tea”

Read the rest of this ditty here

 

I am definitely a  ‘townie’ and this experience confirmed it and brought home to me how different life in town is to life in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Post A Day

“Losers make promises they often break.
Winners make commitments they always keep.”  
Dennis Waitley, motivational speaker and writer, 1933 –March calendar

Go back to March 1 2011.  What was I thinking when I made a commitment to myself to write a blog post each day for a year? That’s 365 posts.  Where did I think I was going to get enough ideas to write every day?

There are days when inspiration or just an idea for a post pops into my head – often when I am in the shower.  But other days…  And today is one of those other days.

MMP Voting paper

via Wikipedia

OK it’s the day after Election Day and the outcome was fairly much as the polls showed.  John Key and the National Party (right) gained 60 seats out of the 120 seats in the House.  This enough seats to govern on its own and with the help of a couple of small parties, to have a clear majority.  However, the pundits were very wrong in some of their other predictions.

Most guessed predicted that NZ First and its founder and mainstay Winston Peters would stay out in the cold where they had languished for the past three years.  But against all the odds, and all the polls, NZ First led by a jubilant Peters has stormed back and will have a say in parliament with 8 or 9 seats depending on the final count.

The Green Party gained 15 seats and will have a strong voice in the next parliament. This is the largest number of votes transcribing into seats they have ever gained.

Labour (the left) gained only 34 seats a sad outcome for this party that under the leadership of Helen Clark held office for three consecutive terms.  The party appears to be in disarray.  It is commonly supposed that the current leader of the party, Phil Goff, will resign following this major defeat. Several names have been  mentioned today as likely candidates for the job but with no obvious choice.

Under MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) we have parties represented with only one or two members in the house.  While this caused consternation and mayhem during the first term of this new (to us) electoral system in 1996, most New Zealanders appear to be happy with this form of electoral voting.

So while John Key and his party received an overwhelming a resounding vote to continue its policy making it must be noted that fewer than 60% of voters actually went to the polls to record their vote.  In Australia it is mandatory to vote but here in New Zealand it is mandatory only to register to vote.

I wonder if the number who voted actually reflects the fact that the pundits all had National way out ahead of Labour in all the opinion polls or are 40% plus, simply apathetic.

Anyway, congratulations to John Key and his team.

fireworks

Phew!~ Another post on the way to 365.  Number 266 only 99 to go!  Thanks for reading and taking this journey with me.

Election Day

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people.  Of course, that is not true.
Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.”
Walter H. Judd
, American Politician, 1898-1994,

The Beehive, NZ

The Beehive is the common name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings

Election Day 2011.  But where is all the usual hype that attends an election?  Perhaps New Zealanders have had all the excitement they can bear for a year with the Rugby World Cup.  Or are they apathetic and don’t care who runs the country?  We are told that the National Party (the right) has an unassailable lead against Labour (the left) and all the minnow small parties that want a seat and a say.

We have a system of MMP ie Mixed Member Proportional voting whereby each person has two votes.  One for the candidate of their choice in their electorate and one for the party of their choice.  The party vote determines the number of seats a party holds in addition to those won in electorates.  This means that we have a lively mix of parties in parliament; some having only one or two seats.  Very different from the days of first past the post when only two parties ruled.

In the run up to the election we have had the leaders’ debates between leaders of National and Labour; we have had leaders debates of all the smaller parties who are likely to gain a seat in the next parliament.  But these debates have all been lack lustre and no one party or politician has come up with any good responses to the major questions bothering New Zealanders ie

  • What is to be done about the horrific statistics relating to  child abuse in New Zealand.
  • What is to be done about literacy and the numbers of New Zealand teens leaving school barely able to read or write
  • What is to be done about finding employment for these young people leaving school and also for the numbers people of all ages who cannot find a job.
  • What is to be done about the surging cost of living that leaves the ‘the man in the street’ way behind.

We have had lots of rhetoric but no real answers and of course, who really can come up with policies that are going to make a real difference to those of us on middle and lower incomes, not to say the poor.

So tonight while we are attending election day parties with friends, those people brave enough, or foolish enough, to want to step into the political ring, will wait to see whether the next three years will see them involved in governing this country.

Bottle of Champagne

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan
, American drama critic 1882-1958

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas 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!”
I have talked/written before about growing up in London during and after the Second World War.
During those years, Christmas was a very special occasion.  Not for us the mad consumerism that is rampant now – there was very little to buy.  But what happy memories I have of those days.
In memory, it always seemed to snow on Christmas Day.   We would rise early to see what had been left in the stockings and pillowcases at the foot of our beds.  Our stockings always held an orange.  A rare treat in those days when one couldn’t buy fruit from around the world or fruit out of season.  I don’t know where these came from.  In the stocking would also be several small things.  Maybe a bar of chocolate or a packet of sweets, remembering that sweets were rationed during and after the war.
Ration books

via Wikipedia

Rationing was introduced in June 1940 and ended in July 1954 as was phased out gradually over five years beginning in 1948.   Sweet and sugar rationing continued until 1953.  For more on rationing click here

Our pillowcases were the next to be explored.  There would be a book, puzzle or game that we had commented on during the preceding weeks.  Perhaps a gift from a particular aunt or uncle would also be included but no bright wrapping paper.  Just the presents in the pillowcase.

Then when we would all have breakfast together.  I don’t think this was any special breakfast the way we have now.  Just the normal fare with perhaps eggs or bacon if the ration stretched that far.

The three of us girls would then go to church for the Christmas service.  I know that Mother didn’t come having been raised in the Jewish faith, but I don’t remember Father being there either.  However, once church was over Father would take us on the bus to visit his Father and family.  This was always a good time – but no presents were exchanged – just the fun of having so many cousins all together.

Cooked goose

Back then to our house for Christmas dinner.  This was always goose, never turkey.  I don’t know how they managed this with rationing, and perhaps my memory is playing tricks.  Perhaps it was only in later years that we had goose.  But I have never eaten goose anywhere but in my parents’ house and if I think hard, I can conjure up the smell of it cooking.  In fact, I can smell it now!

The afternoon was spent as a family, playing the games we had received as presents, or everybody reading their new book.  There would be imported dates and is this is the only time I can remember having dates as a child, dates always remind me of Christmas.

How simple and innocent were those Christmases so many years ago.  No mad rushing around the shops for all the presents; Father and Mother bought a gift for each of us only.  I don’t recall their ever having bought a gift for each other.  Perhaps their gift was seeing the happiness of their three small daughters.

We certainly wouldn’t want to return to those days of austerity, but often, in the midst of the hurry and scurry for Christmas, I think back to those more simple days and am glad that I experienced them.

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Charles Dickens.

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

Just Another Thursday

“Death crept quietly into the room
Where once there was laughter, talk and tears
Now it is no more
Silence reigns
Death has replaced life.”
Judith Baxter 1938 –

It was just another Thursday for me and for many others.  But for one family at least, it was not.  I arrived at the hospice to be told that a patient had died.

I had got to know this particular patient over three weeks that he had been in the Hospice.  A cheerful youngish man (difficult to say just how old he was – maybe 40) he was a joy to speak to and was always surrounded by his wife and family.  I do not know this man’s name.  Only first names are used at the hospice, but I was cheered by him on Thursdays when I saw him.

He had obviously come to terms with his life ending but I don’t think his wife and family will have yet.

So for his wife and family I offer this poem from David Harkins (replacing the pronoun she with he):

“You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all that she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared…………
…………Or you can do what she’d want:
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
David Harkins 1959 – Silloth, Cumbria, UK
Read the full poem here

Rainbow

My rainbow

And I will share my rainbow with them.

Oh For An Original Thought

“All intelligent thoughts have already been thought;
what is necessary is only to try to think them again”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist.  1749-1832

Sitting in front of a blank screen once again, I try to conjure up an original thought.  I read blogs from others and of course, get inspiration from them but an original thought of my own…..

I have read Val Erde’s post on what she plans to do with the rest of her life and that set me thinking.  In her poem The Summer Day Mary Oliver asks

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

Perhaps I could write a blog on that subject too.

Chris at Bridges Burning posted about the date November 22 and what it means to many of us.  She also introduced us to a book by Stephen King (one of my favourite authors) 22/11/63  11/22/63 (I have just had this error pointed out to me.  Thank you Sharon) and I have now reserved it from the library.  Reminded me of draft I started ages ago about where we I was on certain historic days during my long life.

Susan at Coming East wrote about what triggers memories.  I read this a couple of days ago and just this morning when opening a fresh container of milk I remember how my sister used to open the top for my father who was blind.  That took me back to the last time I saw him.  About 92, legally blind and living in his own apartment on his own.  What a great mentor and father he had been to me and my sisters throughout his life.

So..today…  Do you know Mary Oliver’s poetry?  One of my favourites is The Journey :

“One day you finally knew what you had to do,
and began, though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice–“

Read the rest of this poem here and the poem “The Summer Day” here.

So still without an original thought, or even an independent thought, I am bowing out of today’s post.

Waterfall

Dreamstime.com Free images

And now
As the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in it’s rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop

Another Post on Writing

“Do you prefer to write notes on paper or on an electronic device?”

That was the suggestion for a new post from WordPress.  By the way – who the devil is WordPress?

Manual typewriter

I have written on the difference between writing when I first started and now.

I may have already told you that I am in the throes of a love affair with my new i-phone.  I have had this for only a couple of months and just love it.  I use it all the time on my walks as a camera and recently have started making notes on it when I am out.  This will take a little getting used to because I ALWAYS have a notebook and pen with me wherever I go.  Oh no, perhaps not when I go to the theatre or a movie but certainly when I go to friends houses or go out to dinner.  Oh and not in the shower.  Pen and wet paper are not a good fit!

My friends are very long suffering about my note taking, only requesting that their names be changed to maintain their privacy.  People I know make jokes about the note taking – “Hey Judith write that one down” and “Don’t want to miss that” and “Did you see that?”  So they definitely encourage me.

So do I prefer to write notes on paper or on an electronic device?  I have to say that my notebook and pen win out.  I have a number of these lined up in a drawer in my study (just a fancy name for the spare bedroom) and often go back to look for something.  My family tells me it is easier to find things stored on a computer, i-pad or other electronic device  but it’s just not the same.

notebook and penI like to fossick through these notebooks looking for something that I know is there.  And the excitement and joy when I find it.  And I can spend hours reading the notes I have made and sometimes, when there is no mention of when and where, I wrack my brain trying to remember.

Now can anybody help with –

  • Tony,
  • Graham,
  • chocolate and
  • France?

This note written like this several centuries ago, well at least 15 years.  So….

Excess Baggage

When I lived in Scotland I would occasionally take the children home to my parents for a few days when my husband was going to be away on business.  We often took the late flight because it was so much cheaper.  The airlines would move planes around at night to reposition them for the next morning and so there were always planes going from Glasgow to London and we took advantage of the cheap flights.

Baggage labelOnce when my son was only a few months old the airline employee weighed him in his carry-cot and  put an excess baggage label on the carry cot.  I can’t remember all these years later whether they charged me for him.  I suspect they didn’t because they were repositioning the plane anyway.  This has been a joke in our family for many years.  My baby ‘excess baggage’.

So when I saw the title of a blog from K8edid entitled “Excess Baggage – a Tale of Two Sisters” I thought this was going to be a story in much the same vein.  Alas, it was not so.  In reading this post I wept at the cruelty dished out to these two little girls and wonder how anybody could treat children in this manner.

However, I am not so naive as to believe this doesn’t happen.  Here in New Zealand we have one of the worst  records of child abuse in the western world.  Daily we hear of children being abused and even murdered by the very people they should expect to care for them.

We have a truly sorry record :

  • Mikara Reti: 5-month-old boy suffered severe blunt-force blow and died on January 11. Trent Hapuku, 22, due to be tried for manslaughter.
  • Serenity Scott: 5-month-old girl died on April 28 of severe, non-accidental brain injuries. No one charged.
  • Baby Afoa: 1-week-old, Otahuhu. Found in makeshift grave in Otahuhu on June 2. Mother Kulukora Akau’ola, 22, charged with murder. Christian Afoa, 29, of Mangere, admitted disposing of body.
  • Baby boy: 1-year-old, suffered serious head injuries and died on November  5. Police are investigating.
  • Sahara Baker-Koro 5 years old raped and murdered by her mother’s ex-partner,
  • A 9 year old girl found by Police hiding in a cupboard starving, dehydrated and covered in injuries. The father has been charged and pleaded guilty “to representative charges of neglect of and cruelty to a child, and a representative charge of assault on a child.”  The mother has pleaded guilty to 25 charges of abuse.

And so it goes on.  What do we have to do to stop this?

I do hope that K8edid did not mind my bringing her story to light again.  I really feel for her and her sister and abhor and condemn the perpetrator of the abuse doled out to these little girls.   Growing up in a safe and sheltered environment I was unaware that others did not have this safety in their homes.  I heard from a close friend today about the beatings her father used to give her for relatively minor transgressions.  Her mother stood by and said nothing.

As a mother it is inconceivable that I would stand by and do nothing; but it’s easy to judge when one is not involved.

So this is my rant for another day.