Monthly Archives: April 2012

Manon at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House

Image via Wikipedia

This will have to be a short post because it is now 11.20pm and we have just returned from The Met.  Yes, the New York Metropolitan Opera House where we saw a performance of Manon with Anna Netrebko in the title role.  Again I have to admit that I didn’t fly over to New York for the performance but saw it as part of the Metropolitan Opera Series – The MetLive in HD – at our local bijoux cinema.

As I said in an earlier post it was almost as good as being there.  And we did get to see interviews with the stars and the stage being set during the intervals; so maybe it was even better than being there.

Fish risotto

Photo - Ian Wallace

Supper was served during the first interval.  My choice this time was a smoked fish risotto followed by coffee.  Because there is such a short interval supper is ordered before the performance and is served as one comes out.  Great service and good food.

So to the opera – do you know the story of Jules Massenet‘s  Manon?  It’s a simple tale of a country girl who has been sent to Paris to join a convent because her family think her too exuberant.  Her cousin is charged with meeting her and getting her to the convent.  However, while he is away with his friends, Manon meets Chevalier des Grieux and their attraction is immediate.

So they flee together and set up residence in a one room apartment.  But Manon is attracted to the good life and gives up her ‘true love’ to follow her dreams of riches and fun.

She becomes the toast of Paris and is kept by several wealthy men.  However, she learns that her ‘true love’ has never recovered from her betrayal and is going to take holy vows.  She tracks him down and entices him away from the religious life (after much fighting, soul searching and angst on his part) and they live the kind of life that Manon loves.

Click here for the synopsis that I just found on the web.

It was a very long night.  The performance started at 6.30pm, two short breaks of 20 minutes each and it finished at 11.05pm.  Good job I live 4 minutes away by car; luckily my friend brought her car.

Related articles

Just Another Day in Paradise
A Night At The Met

it’s That Day Again – Saturday

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

Grandson home again from hospital today

Hooray, Rob came home from hospital and the medical staff were delighted with the operation.  The leg is now encased in a removal brace and he is to keep weight off it for a few days.  There had been discussion about a bone graft but the surgeon told my son that it looked as if the bones could mend themselves considering that Rob is only 15 and the bones are still growing.  So he has three titanium screws in the knee, a beautiful orange leg and crutches.

We are all thankful that the spectre of the operation, and what they might find, is behind us.  The next hurdle is meeting with the surgeon next Friday.

My son and his family live some 50 kms north of here and so Lotte, Andy and I got into the car for the trip.

Lotte and Andy in the car

Can you move over please to make room for me.

I don’t know if Andy had ever been in the country before but he was very adventurous and interested in everything.

Andy at the fence

I wonder what's through here

Andy was introduced to Daisy Dog and was shown by Daisy how to really help when her owner is working.

Daisy at the computer

You don't need a seat when you're this big.

Lotte decided it was all too much excitement and so she made herself comfortable on the couch at the side of Rob’s bed.

Lotte resting

Too much excitement for a little dog

And Rob was delighted to see us (but he wouldn’t let me show his face or his leg encased in the brace)

Lotte and Rob

And so another busy, fun filled day comes to an end.  Andy has met another dog, a very large old cat, espied the sheep and watched the men repairing the road.  So after all that, he has settled down with Lotte to dream his own special dreams.

Lotte and Andy sleeping

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Over the years I have heard the saying that no good deed goes unpunished.  This is a sardonic commentary reflecting on good deeds that backfire on the donor. One such good deed made The Times in London when the journalist stated

“Seldom in the field of clerical administration has one woman given so much of herself to a car dealership.”

Our newspapers, television and radio are full of the story of the woman who gave a kidney to her immediate supervisor and then shortly afterwards was dismissed from her job.  This should be a lesson to all those selfless people out there who are considering offering a body part to an employer or supervisor.  Your generosity will not be appreciated and may even be thrown back in your face, as in this case where the recipient of the kidney said to the donor “Don’t expect to be treated special because of what you did for me”.

I shall be watching the outcome of the lawsuit filed against the employer.  If the plaintiff wins maybe there will be a swathe of people offering body parts and then suing the recipient.  Reasons quoted could include lack of suitable appreciation in the form of gifts; if it was an employer no extra or special favours at work eg extra vacation time or even paid vacations (3 weeks in Hawaii at their expense); no notice in the local paper as to who made this happen; no special party to celebrate coming back to full health with the donor as guest of honour.  The list could go on and on.

On this day in 1773 The British Parliament passed the Tea Act.  This Act forced Colonists to buy tea from the East India Company that controlled all tea imported into the colonies.  Direct action by a group calling itself the Sons of Liberty in Boston resulted in the tea contained in three trading ships being destroyed.  We are told by Wikipedia that “this was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution”.

On this day in 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened.  The American Society of Civil Engineers declared it one of the modern Wonders of the World and  Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.

On this day in 1989 Beijing students took over Tiananmen Square in China.  In case you are too young to know about this thousands of students and other citizens started gathering in groups large and small, protesting many issues, centered on a desire for freedom and democratic reform.  By mid May hundreds of thousands of people occupied the Square.  Chinese authorities responded with a declaration of martial law, and on June 3rd  tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into the square, killing and wounding many, mostly civilians – estimates vary widely, from several hundred to several thousand dead.

On this day in 2011 a lashing string of tornadoes tore through Alabama smashing buildings, snapping trees and ending at least 58 lives.

And now at 12.19 am I realise that I have missed the midnight deadline and so this post will be published on the 28th.

I’m late! I’m late!
For a very important date!
No time to say “Hello”, goodbye!
I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!

Another Busy Thursday

Today being Thursday we went to the Hospice to serve lunch.  By we I mean Lotte, Andy and me.

Lotte is always welcome there and the staff and some of the clients make a great fuss of her; they tolerate me because they need my help and they fell in love with Andy last week when I took him there for the first time.

Lotte and Andy in the car

It's a bit tough when a visitor takes your seat in the car

Andy in the car

OK that's better. An armadillo can see so much more from here

Andy arriving at the Hospice

Checking he is in the right place

Andy signing in

Every volunteer must sign in before starting

Andy in the locker

Don't shut the door please. I'll stay quietly in this locker.

Andy and Me

Andy likes to learn all he can

We left the Hospice and the next stop was the library where Andy helped me find the book for which I was looking.

And helping

A smart armadillo can find his way around computerised records

Andy at the library

Now that book should be just about here...

And after all that excitement a little armadillo knows that he should rest so that he can be ready for the next set of adventures.

Andy on the bed

This looks like a good place to rest

And just between you and me, Andy is not a young chap at all.  He was made in 1989 so that makes him 22 years young.

We are enjoying having Andy to visit with us.  I wonder where he is off to next.


“True friendship comes when silence between
two
people one animal and a pottery toy is comfortable.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger and friend

ANZAC Day 2012

“Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.”

A memorial containing those words was unveiled by the Australian Veteran Affairs Minister on 25 April 1985.  The cove has been named ANZAC Cove by the Turks.

I wrote about ANZAC Day last year in quite some detail. From being a day of remembrance for those who fought and lost their lives at Gallipoli, it has now moved into a day of  remembrance for all those who have lost their lives in war and honours those who served and returned.

The story starts in 1914 when cabled reports from Britain – the Homeland – reached Australia and New Zealand forecasting that Europe was teetering on the edge of war.

When Britons returned to work after the August Bank Holiday, war was declared on Germany and involved the whole British Empire.  All the colonies were quick to jump in and offer their young men in service to the Empire.

Australia was in the middle of an election campaign.  The leader of the opposition offered Britain  “Our last man and our last shilling” in any war against Germany, and the Prime Minister responded with “Our duty is quite clear – gird up our loins and remember that we are Britons”.  How the young men loved that.  And how they rushed join up.  Many of them falsified their age to be in the army.  And I wonder how many would do that today.

Excitement was in the air and all around and the young men seemed to think this was a great adventure.  Many were concerned that they would miss out on the fun because this war was  ‘going to be over by Christmas”.  Alas, as we know this was not true and so many of those young men lost their lives on battlefields far from home.

On April 25th 1915 the ANZACS  landed at a cove in Gallipoli (now named Anzac Cove) and the Turks were ready and waiting for them.  On the first day in excess of 2,000 of these young Australian and New Zealand men were killed.  They were forced to retreat.  A further advance against the Turks was made in August but with the same miserable result.  On December 20th the force was evacuated and this evacuation was the only successful operation conducted at Gallipoli.

Anzac flag

Now these young men and their bravery are commemorated on April 25th every year in both New Zealand and Australia.  It is a Public Holiday with shops being closed until 1pm in New Zealand.  And each year thousands of people attend the dawn service held at 5.45 am all around our country and in Australia.  Many of those attending wear the medals won by relatives in many wars.  Anzac Day is not just for the  failed Gallipoli campaign but to remember all those who fought for their country.

What a terrible waste of so many young lives.  But isn’t all war wherever and whenever it is fought.

The word ANZAC has become part of the culture of New Zealanders and Australians. There are ANZAC biscuits and rugby and rugby league teams from the two countries play an ANZAC Day test.  And people talk about the ‘spirit of ANZAC”.  The Spirit of ANZAC was suggested by official war historian C.E.W. Bean to have ‘stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.’ ”

Click here for scenes from the time and to hear The Pogues singing “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” the song that was played as the ANZACS sailed away on that October morning in 1914 on their way to ‘the war to end all wars’.

Anzac Poppy

ANZAC Poppy

Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’  – the fourth verse of which is so familiar to us today was quoted by Sir Winston Churchill,( 1874 – 1965), British statesman and politician, Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Trumpeter sounding the Last Post

Photo Mike Bowers, Sydney Morning Herald

R.I.P.

Alec Campbell
Last Gallipoli survivor from Australia
(died May 2002 aged 103)

Alfred Douglas Dibley
Last Gallipoli survivor from New Zealand
(died 18 December 1997 aged 101)

A Separation

Movie poster

“Flawless, elegant, mysterious..a world-class masterpiece”

According to the Wall Street Journal this describes the movie that I saw yesterday.  The film is set in Tehran and focuses on a middle class couple who separate.  The woman Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh.   She sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer-suffering father and determines to take her daughter and leave.

When the judge refuses to agree to the divorce Simin moves out of their house and into her parents house.  The ramifications of this move are what make the movie so compelling.

The two have been married for 14 years and have an 11-year-old daughter.  On their behalf Simin has acquired visas for them to leave Iran, a long drawn out process, but Nader will not leave.  His father, who lives with them suffers from Alzheimer’s and needs constant care.  In desperation Nader hires a woman to look after the house and the old man.  The woman is pregnant, has a daughter whom she brings to the apartment with her and an out of work husband who thinks the world is against him.

We see the difficulty that this devout Muslim woman has with caring to all the physical needs of this old man, and the toll that it takes on her own health.

We follow the story through the woman’s miscarriage, the hospital confrontations between Nader and her husband, the accusations made against Nader by the woman and her husband, the questions raised not only by Simin and their daughter, but also by a judge who must determine whether Nader is responsible for the woman’s miscarriage.

It is a beautifully plotted movie and one well worth seeing.  The dialogue was all Persian but I was not aware that I was reading the subtitles, so compelling was it.  And at the end when the daughter is asked to determine which of her parents she wishes to live with, we are left with no answer.  A cliff hanger indeed!

The critics are in accord with their praise for this movie:

‘Sophisticated, superbly acted and wholly gripping.  Keeps us hooked right until a supremely well-handled close”  Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Riveting.  Grips you like a great thriller”  Vogue (US)

“A superb work.  A triumph of the higher priorities of filmmaking”.  Boston Globe

“Calling it a masterpiece is too mild a compliment” Time Out New York.

So if you get the opportunity to view this movie, I recommend that you take it.

“What a pity human beings can’t exchange problems.  Everyone knows exactly how to solve the other fellow’s.” Olin Miller, 

Getting around town

Sitting in the traffic today and then driving around waiting for a park, I suddenly remembered this clip I had seen some where and wondered why we don’t use cycle skates any more.  Click here for the link

These were apparently all the rage in the 1920s and it was thought they would become the wave of the future.  These were the ancestors of inline roller skates and think how easy it would be to park them.  Just pick them up and go – no parking tickets, no limit on the time one can be away.  Sounds a little like heaven.

But I guess they have gone the way of the Penny farthing and the unicycle.

And still on the subject of parking.  A few weeks ago I met some friends for coffee and parked my car outside the restaurant.  I duly paid the parking fee and all was well.  It was only the other day when clearing papers out of my purse that I looked at the ticket –

Parking ticket

Look at the date.  Does this mean I have free parking in Oriental Parade until 1.14pm on March 30 2021?  I wonder how many others have this free parking.

Andy

And here is a shot from the other day – Andy waiting patiently in the car for Lotte and me to go for a walk.  It wouldn’t stop raining so the walk was off, but Andy seemed to enjoy just sitting in the car watching the world go by.

It’s Here Again

Saturday again.  Do you think they come around more frequently than they used to?  I certainly do.

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

OLD PASSPORT EXPIRED, NEED NEW ONE

I was talking to a friend about going to a health resort in Australia next month.  We have both been several times before and have decided that we need a treat.  A treat I say – well if being wakened at 5.30 am to do tai chi is your idea of a treat.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi at The Golden Door

One doesn’t have to participate but you have to acknowledge the knock on the door.  Who can go back to sleep after that.

Then various activities are offered through the day.  Following (or not) the Tai Chi one has to walk or run through the forest on a designated path.  these paths are of three levels of difficulty – and I always have the easiest although a couple of times I have done the walk twice at one time.

Then breakfast.  This is a joy to behold.  Tables groaning under the weight of bowls of fresh Queensland fruit, Golden Door Muesli, Smoothies and an occasional poached egg.

The regime is quite strict here.  No cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, cell phones or sweets.  The door closes behind you as you arrive and doesn’t open again for you until you are ready to leave.

Dinner and Lunch are mainly vegetables and perhaps some tofu.  Activities are available all through the day and one can choose to attend or not.  There is a series of wonderful treats available, massages, beauty treatments etc some of which are included in the fee and the rest are add ons.

There is plenty of incremental exercise – all activities are either up the hill or down the hill from your chalet.  Even going to the dining room means a hike up the hill.

The five days that I have spent there on three earlier occasions have passed very quickly and I have definitely felt so much better after leaving there.  Leaving there with great promises to myself to make better food choices, to exercise and to treat myself regularly.  How quickly those promises are forgotten.

Both passports

So having agreed to go to The Golden Door once again I looked at my passport and saw that it expired yesterday!  So first thing on Monday morning I am off to get photos taken and then to the Passport Office to renew it.  And then I looked at my British Passport; that too has expired so that will have to be attended to soon.

And from way back in my childhood I remembered this nursery rhyme.  Do you know it?

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
~Nursery rhyme

Special Privileges On Hold For You!

Readers Digest logoHave you ever fallen into the trap of buying something from Readers’ Digest?  I used to quite like this little magazine – perfect size for slipping into my purse to read when travelling to and from the office.  We also bought the condensed books from time to time.  And although I haven’t even seen a copy of the magazine or bought one of their books for many years  somehow I am on their prize-giving list.

As I haven’t bought anything from RD and certainly not online, I can only think that somebody from whom I have purchased an item has shared my information with them.  Is this legal?  I thought one had to opt in to receive emails, but here I can’t even opt out.    I have tried unsubscribing on several occasions without effect.  I can’t get off their list.

Every so often I hear that I am only one of twenty, thirty, fifty or whatever magic number, to be in with the chance to win BIG;  up to $500,000 is on offer.  And often a car – what colour would I like, which of the three cars on offer can I win, and if I just scratch the pad I will see which car I am likely to win..if only I purchase a series of CDs books or whatever.

Today’s email subject was the title of this blog and just enough to pique my interest.  Normally I just delete the email without even opening it but today I thought I would see just what was on hold for me.  When I opened it I found “You stand to forfeit a share of up to $215,000 if the entry claim number printed above is not activated and you fail to register your entry in time… the first draw for $15,000 closes on 30th June.”

Not only that but “Your chance to win comes along with an exclusive privilege to send for the most talked about television series of the moment, now an exclusive Collector’s DVD collection available ONLY from Reader’s Digest.”

And further “This is an exclusive BY INVITATION-ONLY offer. ”  How could I resist and miss the opportunity to purchase this DVD collection and miss out on my share of the prize?

My response is No Thanks and please stop bugging me.  If I am bugged on the phone in this way I can just simply put down the phone if they don’t get the message.  But what is it with Readers’ Digest that they don’t get the message.

Go Away sign

And another rant is ended with this apposite quote from Og Mandino, author of The Greatest Salesman in the World

My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end.  Nothing is easier than fault finding.  All it will do is discolor my personality so that none will want to associate with me.  That was my old life.  No more.

As we say here in NZ/Aotearoa “Yeah, right!”.

Who are your neighbours?

Andy on the desk

Do Armadillos like Jellybeans? Looks like Andy is willing to try one!

I was listening to a local radio show the other day when the presenter asked the question “Do you know your neighbours?”

A couple of weeks ago we had Neighbours Day here in Wellington and I took that opportunity to get to meet some of my neighbours.

Some of them of course, I had absolutely nothing in common with, some could become more than acquaintances but it seems very important that we at least are on nodding terms with each other.

As I grow older I feel that I might have to call on a neighbour for some assistance some time.  I have already when my neighbour took a friend to rescue my car after I had my fall before Christmas.  Another neighbour has come over to help move garden furniture.  In turn, I have fed a neighbour’s dog and another neighbour and her little girls have taken Lotte for a walk.

According to a recent study  in Britain, a quarter of the population don’t know the names of the people living around them and more than three quarters haven’t a clue as to what they do for a living.  And many have never even seen their nearest neighbour!

The reason appears to be that we move homes more frequently these days and the growth of social media has left us more likely to stay at home, rather than go out and socialise.  Certainly when I was growing up in London my parents knew their neighbours, not as friends but certainly as acquaintances.

So I am going to make an effort to get to know my neighbours, not necessarily as friends but certainly as someone to speak to, to pass the time of day and to offer and receive help as needed.

Do you know your neighbours?

“My neighbour asked if he could use my lawnmower
and I told him of course he could,
so long as he didn’t take it out of my garden.”
Eric Morecambe, 1926-1984, English comedian.

Now Lotte, Andy and I are off to the Hospice to serve lunch.  Wonder what Andy will make of the Hospice and what the people at the Hospice will make of Andy!  More on this tomorrow.