Monthly Archives: May 2012

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.

OFF TO THE GOLDEN DOOR TOMORROW!!

So today I shall be busy with last minute chores so that I can leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  We have to be at the airport at 4am so we shall stay at a friend’s house overnight and then he will take us out to the airport.  What a good friend 🙂

Lotte is going to stay with him for the time I am away.  He is looking forward to that and she seems to settle in wherever I leave her.  She has her coat, her brush, her rug and a couple of toys so she will be fine.

Tai Chi

6am Tai Chi at The Golden Door

When I have been to the Golden Door before I haven’t had access to the internet.  Things may have changed but I suspect I shall not be writing blogs until I return.

And in case you think this is a holiday, here is a typical day at Queensland’s Golden Door:

  • 6.15am   Welcome a new day with Tai Chi Qi Gong at sunrise.
  • 6.45am   Enjoy a guided bush walk on our pink, blue or green courses; or Get wet and wild with deep water running in the bottom pool or challenge yourself with high intensity spinning class.
  • 8.00am  Buffet breakfast of seasonal fruit, Golden Door signature muesli and specialty breakfast cuisine.
  • 9.00am  Morning stretch class held in the gymnasium, a gentle and relaxing way to start your day.
  • 9.30am-11.00am  A health & wellbeing workshop aimed at providing you with the knowledge to make positive lifestyle changes.
  • 10.45am   A healthy and nutritious morning tea served in the dining room.
  • 11.00am – 1.00pm  Take part in the various daily exercise activities and spa treatments available. Try something new or take a challenge.
  • 1.00pm   A sumptuous buffet lunch served in the dining room.
  • 2.00pm-6.00pm    Choose from a variety of activities and seminars available to enjoy. Indulge at the spa where your relaxing massage, refreshing body treatment or luxurious beauty treatment awaits.
  • 3.45pm  A healthy and nutritious afternoon tea served in the dining room.
  • 6.30pm  Be rewarded after a busy day with a mouth watering buffet dinner created by our Executive Chef David Hunter and his team.

But it is enjoyable and I always come back renewed and filled with great plans for the future.  They usually last about two weeks, but hey it’s fun.


Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
World Health Organization, 1948

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Rigoleto Continued

As I said in yesterday’s post, Rigoletto was fantastic.  As part of the Opera Supper Club we were invited for drinks and nibbles prior to the show and then at the interval were plied with more wine, or in my case water as it was so very warm in the theatre.  This crazy weather we are experiencing makes it so difficult for organisers – it is autumn and it should be getting cold, instead of which we are having better weather than we had in the summer.  As my grandsons would say – go figure!

Anyway, the story of Rigoletto is no doubt known to you all.  The Duke Mantua and his jester, Rigoletto are cursed by the nobleman, Monterone  because the Duke has defiled Monterone’s daughter.  Meantime, Rigoletto is keeping secret the fact that he has a beautiful young daughter.  Of course, Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter falls into the clutches of the evil Duke, Rigoletto vows and plans revenge but in the end it is not the Duke but Gilda who is killed.

There you have it – Rigoletto in fewer than 70 words.  Do read the synopsis from the Met here.

After the performance we were once again treated to a look behind the scenes with the stage manager.  He explained how the props were moved up and down, how the revolving stage worked and also how all of this amazing scenery would be packed into containers on Saturday morning (“so if anybody is free on Saturday…”) and then shipped off to Auckland on Sunday.  Apparently it takes all day to dismantle and more than a day to install and to check that all is working as it should at the other end.

Much of the scenery had been hand painted including the marbled effect on the salon walls.  A magnificent chandelier had been purposely made for the production but had already been booked for hire by another organisation for use in its production.

And later in the year the whole set is to be shipped to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia for use by the Opera Queensland –  Lindy Hume, the Director of Rigoletto is usually based in/with  Opera Queensland.

And when the sets of the various operas are not being used, they are stored in containers in an open yard on the outskirts of Auckland.

Just a fascinating half hour and a perfect way to round off a perfect evening.

Earlier this week I asked what would your perfect day be like.  Now after this perfect evening I ask you what would your perfect evening look like.

Sunset

Ducks on the lake at sunset.

Rigoletto

Another really short post.  It’s 11.15pm and I have just returned from a performance of Rigoletto here in Wellington.

I am speechless and so following a tour backstage after the performance I offer you the most famous aria from Verdi’s masterpiece.  Here it is sung by The Three Tenors – Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.  Enjoy…

In the NZ Opera performance Rafael Rojas played the part of the Duke of Mantua.  More on this production tomorrow.

And  I am closing off now and having an early night with a new library book, cup of tea and my trusty companion Lotte, what more could a woman ask for?

Lotte in bed

It’s been such a long day and now it’s time for bed!

Miracles Do Happen

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

I just love that Einstein quote.  I don’t remember when I first heard it, but I have quoted it to my children and now my grandchildren for years.

If you have been reading my blogs for a few weeks/months you will know that I believe that anything can happen, and that we are all complicit in what does happen.  So I greet everyday as if it were a miracle as indeed it is.

Sunrise

The sunrise this morning was spectacular.  So my day started with a miracle.  Unfortunately, the photo I took seems to have been inadvertently deleted and so I am using an earlier one taken at the beach.

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado

I have just arrived home (10.45 pm) from my regular Wednesday afternoon/evening with my son and his family.  We were given a beautiful sunset so my day started with a miracle and ended with one too.

Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day. And whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow.
Judith Baxter

It’s so late that I will have to pay lip service only to A Post A Day for today and do better tomorrow.

More Opera

As I have said before, here in New Zealand we have a world class opera company.  We have world famous opera singers joining the company for specific performances – Rigoletto currently being performed in Wellington has three singers from around the world and an Australian Director.  These people are brought in to encourage and educate our resident singers.

Upcoming talent is nurtured by the Opera company and from time to time we are delighted to be invited to listen to some of this talent.  Last night was one such time.

It was a bitterly cold Wellington evening with a strong southerly wind blowing so we were very pleased to get inside the theatre.  The evening started with drinks and nibbles (always in new Zealand) and then we were entertained by 12 Emerging Artists.

Music covered arias from Handel, Rossini, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Guestavino, Massenet, Britten, Monteverdi, Offenbach and of course Verdi with Bella figlia dell’amore from Rigoletto.

We were told that this is the first time that a counter tenor had been included in the Emerging Artists programme.  Have you heard a contralto tenor sing?  This is the first time I had heard one and it was quite beautiful and if you excuse the expression, I was filled with awe that such a very small man – he was about 5ft 6″ tall – could produce such a wonderful sound.  It was amazing.  He sang Puebilito, my pueblo from Guastavino.  I can only repeat – amazing.  I couldn’t find a recording of a male alone singing this but here is a beautiful duet.

There was a little lighthearted injection when two of the male singers sang We’re public guardians from Offenbach’s Genevieve de Brabant.  This complete with all the appropriate actions was greeted with laughter and applause.  Please click here for a great version of this duet.  It was a fund raising evening and look like lots of fun.

A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing Manon in an Opera at the Met production and last night we heard one of these young singers performing as Manon. She sang Gavotte.  This is from the time when Manon is the toast of Paris and is flaunting herself around town.

So a most enjoyable evening once again.  And now I am looking forward to seeing Rigoletto on Thursday evening.  Please watch this space.

Bouquet of roses

For the organiser of such a lovely evening.

That Green Thing

I received this email from a young friend (well she is one of my surrogate daughters really) and although I have seen it before I thought I would share it with you.  So if you have seen it already, please bear with me.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman,
that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.  The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”  The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

  • Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
  • Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to personalize our books. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.
  • We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
  • Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
  • Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them)?,not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.  Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
  • We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
  • Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older folks
were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Use it up, wear it out, make it do,
or do without.
New England proverb

Sunny, Busy 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.

                      RUNNING, WALKING SHOPPING – IN ONE DAY
 
That looks good but I must hasten to say that I didn’t do the running.  After a trip to the garden centre (again) where we had lunch of tomato and basil soup,  we went for a drive around the Town Belt.  This is an area of some 3,000 acres set aside by the City Fathers in 1840 (or thereabouts) to keep as recreational areas for the people of Wellington.  Click here  to see and hear our local MP discussing plans for this area.
Lotte dressed

It was cold so Lotte had on her red jacket

 I have written before about the joys of walking in the bush that surrounds our city, and today was no exception.  We parked the car and went for a walk.  Imagine our surprise when we suddenly encountered a host of runners pounding down the path towards us.  We couldn’t find out who the competitors were or even what the race was, but we were told by an official that these runners had just completed 5 kms of a 10 kms race through the bush. 
 
The terrain there is anything but level and these runners were working hard going up and down the hills.  We left them to it and continued our walk in a leisurely fashion.
golf ball plant
 
So,  the shopping was at the Garden Centre where I bought two reasonable sized pittosporum each in the shape of a golf ball.  As part of my Christmas present, my daughter presented me with two garden pots and a gift card to purchase plants to put in them.  My excuse originally was that while I had on my Big Red Boot  I couldn’t go to the nursery but that excuse has been lost for several months now.  So today I decided this was the day.
 
Lotte really loves the garden centre and the people who work there love her.  She sat quietly while we had lunch and then wandered around with us taking it all in – well I guess she was really checking out which dogs had been there since her last visit.
 
The running was done by the harriers and other crazy fit and enthusiastic runners competing in this race.
 
And the walking was a leisurely stroll with my friend and my darling companion Lotte.  Another almost perfect day.  And as one of my favourite authors says:
 

Happiness is – That’s just it–
You can’t drive it, you can’t wear it, you can’t live in it,you can’t drink it,
smoke it, snort it, you can’t travel to it.
Happiness is the experience of the journey.
The experience of  happiness is the result of how you look at things.
When I look at something I say, can do,no problem;
that’s not going to make me unhappy.
Happiness is a choice!
Denis Waitley, motivational speaker and writer and author.
1933 –

A Perfect Day

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado,  author and writer and preacher at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. 1955

Sunrise

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

In today’s post Chris at Bridges Burning wrote about her perfect day and then posed the question – What would be your perfect day?

A perfect day for me could include embrace many things

  • A walk in the sunshine
  • A walk in the rain – I am English so I am used to the gentle rain but here it is not always gentle.  Gale force southerlies are forecast for tonight.  Oh well it has been a lovely day.
  • Meeting with friends for coffee, lunch, dinner or just a drink and a chat
  • Waking up to the sound of the rain on the roof and knowing that I don’t have to be at work by 9am.  I can stay where I am if I choose with my book, Lotte and my first cup of tea.  Well I choose how I will spend the rest of my life!
  • Having something to look forward to.  Meeting with friends as above, a movie, a Night at the Met etc etc
  • Spending time with my children and their children
  • Seeing the smiles on their faces when my grandchildren see me.  Even though they are all teenagers, they still love their Granma
  • Finding a new (easy) recipe to try
  • Discovering a new friend in the blogosphere
  • Choosing some new plants in the garden centre.

So taking the above items as a guide, today was pretty close to perfect for me

  • Lotte and I walked in the sunshine twice today.  Once just the two of us and then later, with a friend
  • I had uninterrupted time with my daughter over coffee this morning.  She is so busy I have to make an appointment, but it is a good time for a mother/daughter bonding.
  • I had lunch with a friend at a restaurant at the beach
  • I found some new plants at the garden centre for my many tubs that really do need attention
  • I found a recipe for Chicken with Mustard Creme Fraiche and I am about to make it for us for tonight.
Chicken with Mustard Crème Fraiche

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil or butter
  • 4 med. (150g) Chicken Breasts fillets
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced (1 1/2 cups sliced)
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g pottle creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 Tbsp French or Dijion mustard

Method

1. Heat half the oil or butter in a frying pan and when hot, place the Chicken Breasts fillets skin side down first. Cover with a lid and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes.

2. Turn over and cook a further 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Set aside on a plate and keep covered.

3. Add the remaining oil or butter to the pan and when hot, stir in the mushrooms and onion and cook over a moderate heat, stirring regularly until the vegetables are softened.

4. Stir in the mustard, creme fraiche and bring to a gentle simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and heat through for a further 1-2 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Serve with vegetables.

So another (almost) perfect day comes to a close in Brooklyn, Wellington.  I hope your day was as good as mine.  What would make a day perfect for you?

Sunset on beach

“Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day. And whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow.”
Judith Baxter, blogger, friend, mother, grandmother 1938 –

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Cinema should make you forget you are sitting
in a theater.
Roman Polanski

Have you seen the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen?  This British 2011 film has just arrived on our shores.  A local Rotary Club had it as a fund raiser and we went along to see it tonight.

Poster

Poster via Wikipedia

Britain’s leading fisheries expert, Dr Alfred (Fred) Jones, is approached by a consultant representing a wealthy Yemeni sheik  to help fulfill his vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing for salmon to the desert.   Needless to say, he thinks the project is absurd and unachievable – salmon are cold water fish and they need water.  The desert is hot and dry.  Obviously unachievable.  He declines to help.

But the Prime Minister’s press secretary is looking for a ‘good news’ story and when she hears of this project decides that it is just what the people of the UK need to take their minds away from the grim news coming out of Afghanistan.

She pressures  Fred into working with Harriet, the consultant and the sheik to implement the project. Over time, he gradually comes to believe in the sheik’s quest and of course, fall in love with the lovely Harriet.

Things become complicated when immediately after he declares his love, Harriet’s boyfriend arrives in Yemen (courteousy of the British Government via the PM’s press secretary).  He had been missing in action in Afghanistan and presumed dead.

For the ending of this delightful tale you will have to see the movie yourself.  Suffice to say there is no violence, some lovemaking, a smidgen of coarse language (from the press secretary), some skullduggery but in all it deserves its “M” rating.

Click here for the movie trailer on Youtube.

The main characters are played by:

I whole-heartedly recommend this movie as a welcome break from all the sex and violence being portrayed in most of the other movies currently on offer.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

Writing a Novel

“There are three rules for writing a novel.
Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
 W. Somerset Maugham

Like many others I have always wanted to write a novel.  I have written and had published several short fiction pieces but not a novel.

I used to say that when the time was right; when I no longer went to the office every day; when I had the perfect place blah blah blah.  Well I did have all these things together at one time.

When he was about 56 my late husband decided to retire.  We bought a fabulous property in a small bay in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island here in New Zealand.  The Sounds are rather like fjords; they are  network of sea-drowned valleys (or rias) created by a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels.

Willow Bay

Willow Bay

So, we bought our little bit of paradise and settled in.  Paradise was short-lived though as my husband became very ill and spent a long time in the local hospital.  Local being used here in a general manner – it was 60 kms away from us much of it on an unsealed road.  You can read more of this if you are interested in an earlier post – Paradise, Phones and Phrustration.

Anyway, once he came out of hospital (and even before then) the time was right;I no longer worked; I had the perfect spot (the study looked out down the Sound) so all was in place.  But where was my muse?  I had always had several plots running around my brain but now there were none.  How could that be one might ask.  Well my answer is that I think I was too busy just rejoicing in the fact that he had recovered, relaxing and thinking there was always another day, another time to write the novel.  Saying today we will just explore our new surroundings, take out the boat or go for a drive.  And of course, after Robert was so very ill, doing things together became more important and the Great New Zealand Novel never got written (not by me at any rate).

New Novelist cover

This was the first version. Version 3 is now available

After he died, once again I thought about my novel.  I went as far as to buy software to help me to write it.  Its preamble stated “Let’s face it – writing a book takes time. LOTS of it. Until now, aspiring writers and novelists faced – and let’s be honest – a gut-wrenching, slow and grueling writing process.” and it claimed to break ” down the process of writing into manageable chunks, to help experienced and novice writers complete a novel.”  All well and good.  But in all honesty, this only confused me more.  I went back to the old way,  notebooks, cards and the computer while the  software in its box languishes on the shelf.   But still the novel eludes me.  I think that I shall have to be content with writing my blogs and the occasional piece for a magazine.

But watch this space – I may surprise us all yet.

“Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.”
Olin Miller

It’s a good job I am not reliant on writing my novel.  If I were I would probably starve.