Monthly Archives: December 2017

Intent

100-word-challengeI have enjoyed following Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook for several years.
She is a writer of fiction, an artist, photographer and so much more.
She is an inspiration.  And I particularly like her 100 Word Challenge.

 

This week’s challenge is Intent. ” Using “intent” for inspiration, write 100 Words – 100 exactly – no more, no less. You can either use the word – or any form of the word – as one of your 100, or it can be implied.”  Click on the link to play along.

 

Here’s my offering:

Her intentions were good, always.  But somehow, what she planned didn’t always work out as she had intended.
Why was it when she bought that large box of special chocolates for her mother, she had forgotten she was diabetic?
How had she forgotten that her best friend had a broken ankle when she suggested a walk along the beach?
And taking that rescue puppy to her sister’s when she had forgotten the kids were scared of animals?
And now it was almost New Year,  This year, her Resolution would be to look at the outcome of her actions before acting.

 

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Christmas Boxes

“Do not be angry with the rain;
it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American Novelist

1899-1977

Today, Boxing Day, it rained and while I know that farmers and gardeners have been hoping for rain, those on their annual holidays will have been disappointed.

Here in New Zealand, we have Boxing Day as a National Holiday.  Boxing Day is the day following Christmas Day when traditionally, servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their employers.  This was known as a “Christmas box”.

Wikipedia tells us   “The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations from Britain in the 1830s, defining it as “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”.

Growing up in Britain in the 1940s and 50s I remember tradesmen such as the milkman, postman, and coalman knocking on the door to collect Christmas boxes, usually money, in the week before Christmas. or the following week.  These were people we rarely saw but who obviously performed a service for us.

And again courtesy of Wikipedia we learn – “This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older British tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.”

Jump in puddles

 

But those of you who know me know that I am a Pluviophile – definition A lover of rain: someone who finds joy and peace f mind on rainy days.

Again, growing up in Britain, I was used to the rain and today’s rain was not heavy, just a gentle fall which would have been very good for the garden which has received no water since Friday.

And now some people return to work for the next three days before being off again for January 1 and 2.  Most offices are closed until January 8 but obviously, those in service industries, hospitals, hotels etc don’t close.  Somebody has to work through the holidays.

So another post full of absolutely useless information.  Except if you happen to play Trivial Pursuit over the holiday period, you might just find a use for some of this.

The End of the World

Do you remember December 21, 2012, the day, according to the Mayans when the world was going oi end, Just had to reblog this one.

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

end of the world

So today according to the Mayans the world is going to end.  I’ve given this some thought and decided to

  • Spend all the money in the bank account
  • Buy everything I ever wanted and max out the credit cards
  • Complete everything on my Bucket List that one can do in a day
  • Mortgage the house so that I can do all of the above and more

But then I had the thought – what if the world doesn’t end today?  Oh then I shall be in a whole lot of trouble.  Dug in so deep I may never see daylight.

So back to my normal if humdrum life.  What do I want to talk about today.

Well – there is only 3 days 11 hours and 24 minutes (who cares about the seconds when we are so close) until Christmas.  How about you – click here to see.

And I…

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What a Difference

 

Pohutakawa tree

Our own New Zealand Christmas tree. Image via Wikipedia

What a difference a Day Year makes.

In December 2015 I was bemoaning the fact that my Late Love, the Architect had died and so 2015 was not a great year.  But I was especially grateful for all the outpouring of love and friendship that followed this.  I was looking forward to seeing the end of 2015 and a better 2016.

On this day last year, I was bemoaning the fact that I had a fractured shoulder having injured it on the same date as five years earlier I had fractured my ankle.

Earlier in the year, I had my misadventure, falling over my feet and fracturing my skull.  A visit to hospital and rehab and after several months I was back home and learning to do things for myself once again.

So in all, 2016 was not a great year but I was also very grateful for the fact that my health is good and my body is strong and my mental attitude is in the right place, so that I survived the hiccups during the year. And once again I was moved by  and grateful for  the love and support from my friends both in real life and in the blogosphere  

So on this day, I was looking forward to seeing the end of 2016 and a  better 2017.

And 2017  has been a very good year.  Totally recovered and back to normal, well normal for me.  The family members are thriving, all boys growing into fine young men.  So, as Sinatra sings :

“But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year .”

And here’s to 2018.  May you all have a great year, free of mishaps, sickness, and worries.  That will be my Resolution for 2018 when January 1 comes around.

And do you need a rainbow in your life?  Here’s mine to share.

Rainbow

My rainbow

 

Another view of Christmas

My sister in Los Angeles is as intrigued with new words as am I.  She asked if I knew this word – Conciliabule.  No, I didn’t, do you?    It is a clandestine meeting of conspirators.  So how can I use it in a sentence?  “Obviously, the group of women in the coffee shop was a conciliabule.  What were they planning, and against whom?” Is that OK although it isn’t one sentence but two?

And today into my inbox popped this from Qantas.  That is the Australian National Airline.  As an aside, years ago when we were in New York I had to meet my husband at the Qantas office.  When I told the cab driver where I wanted to go, he asked if that were one of the newly emerging African airlines.  Our friends at Qantas were not amused.

Anyway, back to the inbox

On the twelfth day of Christmas Qantas offered me

Flights to New York from $599 economy one way and

Twelve Big Apples
Eleven junk boats sailing
Ten lions roaring
Nine hibiscuses blooming
Eight roos a jumping
Seven lucky dragons
Six Asian elephants
Five Big Bens chiming
Four koi swimming
Three empanadas
Two merlions
And a koala in a gum tree.

Notes –
1.   The Merlion (Malay: Singa-Laut) is a well-known marketing icon of Singapore depicted as a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish
2.   An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of The Americas and in Spain

A Koala in a Gum Tree

Have fun whatever you are doing today.  I am and enjoying the sunshine here in this most beautiful city.

Courtesy Simon Woolf

Christmas Is Coming

 

holly

“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!”
Nursery rhyme and Christmas carol (frequently sung as a round)

When I was growing up in London following the end of WW2 we always had goose for Christmas dinner.  Not for us a turkey.  In fact, I don’t ever remember having turkey at home until long after I was married.  Quite late on Christma Eve father would go to the market and buy a goose.  They, of course, were reduced at this time so that’s when he went.

Later, after moving to New Zealand with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman), I remember a particular Christmas at home with my family.   By this time, the late 60s, goose had been superseded by turkey and father in company of his son-in-law, took off as usual to purchase the bird.  Well, these two men purchased the bird and then in a festive mood did a round of various pubs on the way home.

When they did eventually arrive home, much later than expected by mother for dinner, they were without the bird.  It had been left in one of the hostelries they had visited.  Mother was less than pleased, she didn’t drink and didn’t think it was at all funny.  I had to decide whose side I was on and while secretly siding with father and DYS I nodded assent and support to mother.

Some time later, and rather more merrier I might say, they arrived home complete with bird.  Mother was placated, a late dinner was served and much laughter followed  And the story of the bird was told on many Christmases that followed.

What happy memories.

And now, did you know?

  • Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the catalyst for the reinvention of St Nicholas into the jolly, fat image of Santa we now know?
  • Also invented by Moore, Santa’s travels are invariably connected to reindeer.  In the poem, they are pictured charging through a winter sky complete with strong, elaborate horns.  But in winter reindeer lose their horns so are Santa’s reindeer all female or are they castrated males?
  • Moore omitted to tell us that St Nicholas was Turkish.  He was real and was born in Patara, Turkey.  He was an early Christian and in the 4th Century, he became bishop of the district of Demre where some of his bones can still be visited.  Little fact is known of him, only oral legends relating to his goodness and kindness to children.
  • Another poem, this one by Frank Baum (who wrote The Wizard of Oz) told that Santa lived in a valley called Ho Ho Ho.  American marketers quickly picked up on the poem and Ho Ho Ho became Santa brand’s catch cry.
  • The song Jingle Bells never mentions Christmas and has no connection to Christmas.  It was originally composed for America’s Thanksgiving festival in 1857.
  • Nobody knows when Jesus was born or died. For many centuries people in the northern hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day and the turning point in the long, often hard, cold winter.  Some 300 years after Jesus’ (guessed at) death date, Pope Julius I announced that 25th December would be the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As Christianity spread around the world, this date took over the existing festivities and became “Christmas”.  The word Christmas didn’t come into being until 1032 AD.
  • The bible doesn’t say that three kings visited the baby Jesus but refers to “Wise men from the east”.  They may well have been astronomers (they did follow a star) or Zoroastrian priests and the fact that the three gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned is the possible basis for assuming there were three visitors.
  • And the gifts they brought.  Gold and Frankincense would be acceptable but in ancient times Myrrh was very expensive and used in embalming dead bodies and was burned at funerals to disguise the smell of bodies that hadn’t been embalmed.  Why would it be brought to a newborn child?
  • And everybody’s favourite – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.  There have been 14 versions of this story.
  • Four Calling Birds in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Originally it was four colly birds, colly being the ancient word for black (as in collier and coal) so colly birds were blackbirds.  As time went by colly fell out of use and didn’t make sense so people started saying four calling birds.  This doesn’t make sense either.
  • Decorated evergreen trees have been part of December celebrations in Europe for many centuries reminding everyone that spring is just around the corner.  The decorated Christmas tree became accepted in the UK when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the children were depicted in the “Illustrated London News” standing around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
  • The use of X as in Xmas is not at all invalid or disrespectful.  The word Christ was never part of Jesus’ name, it is a title assigned by later worshippers in Greek meaning ‘the anointed one’.  In ancient Greece, the letter chi was written with a symbol very like an X and the title assigned to Jesus was Xristos and was frequently abbreviated to just X.  So writing Christmas as Xmas has been considered acceptable for some 1000 years.  Note early publications were charged by the number of letters so using X in Xmas was encouraged.
  • The wassail ritual was an ancient pre-Christian custom of drinking a toast to the sun after the northern mid-winter approximately 25 December and hopes for a bountiful harvest in the coming warmer months. Hence the song ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ was a gathering of friends drinking a toast.  “Waes Hael” in ancient English means “Be healthy” and the usual drink was a mixture of spices, apple juice and eggs.  (Give me a G&T any time).
  • Christmas was cancelled in England in the 1640s when Puritan law forbade churches to open on Christmas Day and banned home decorations, celebrations, carol singing and the creating of Nativity scenes.  December 25 was declared a day of everyday work and fasting.  The outraged populace made Christmas observances in secret until the Monarchy was restored in 1660 and King Charles II restored Christmas.
  • And finally, a horse named Santa Claus won the Epsom Derby in 1964.

So there you have my list – as my son always says I have a fund of useless information.  Enjoy it anyway.

 

 

Another View of Christmas

I just found this from 2012 and have to ask the same questions 5 years later. Nothing has changed

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

“An eye for an eye
will make us all blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

After all the cheerful Christmas posts I have been writing and reading, I remembered this video – Happy Christmas (War is Over) from John Lennon.

Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980 and so it is obviously many years since he sang this song but  what has changed?  War is still being raged around the world; people are dying; children are being maimed; people are starving; people are being punished for their beliefs; bombs are still being manufactured by countries who deny this; prisoners are being inhumanely treated….  Will we ever learn?

And compare that video with the words of Imagine

YES JUST IMAGINE
Wouldn’t that make for a Very Happy Christmas

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It Had to Happen

 

Sunshine

Photo credit Simon Woolf

After days of wonderful warm sunshine and almost no wind, we have been lulled into the belief that summer is really here this year in Wellington.  Unfortunately, I awoke this morning to heavy rain and strong wind.  The rain didn’t last but the wind has blown all day.

 

Wellington Weather

Photo credit Stuff

Well as the song goes, What a Difference a Day Makes!

But what to do in the face of the weather.  I have been re-reading an editing my book on Surviving Grief and Loss.  I have high hopes that it will be ready to be published by March.  Also, I have been acting as a Beta reader for a couple of blogging friends and finishing reading the latest book by Louise Penny, Glass Houses.  My review will be posted on this book in a day or so.

So a productive day including finishing off Christmas wrappings.  Which brings me beautifully to Christmas carols/songs and once again I want to share my favourite with you.

 

 

And the 12 Days of Christmas New Zealand style

 

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumara
And a Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
On the third day of Christmas
Three flax* kits
On the fourth day of Christmas
Four huhu* bugs (*a huhu bug is a large flying beetle)
On the fifth day of Christmas
Five –  big – fat – pigs!
On the sixth day of Christmas
Six pois* a twirling (*pois are the softballs on plaited cords used by Maori women when dancing)
On the seventh day of Christmas
Seven eels a swimming
On the eighth day of Christmas
Eight plants of puha* (*puha is dandelion leaves)
On the ninth day of Christmas
Nine sacks of pipis* (*pipis are small shellfish)
On the tenth day of Christmas
Ten juicy fish heads
On the eleventh day of Christmas
Eleven haka* lessons (*haka is a Maori ‘war’ dance)
On the twelfth day of Christmas
Twelve piupius* swinging (*piupius is a Maori flax skirt)

Original words by Kingi M. Ihaka

So that’s my day for Sunday 10 December 2017.  I’m looking forward to the sunny day promised for tomorrow.

 

Summer is Here

Sunshine

The pohutukawa is the New Zealand Christmas tree.  Maori lore has it if it blooms early in December there will be a good summer.

December 1 is the first day of Summer here in New Zealand and the sun is shining.  It has been the second dryest November on record here in Wellington and so different from last year when the rain fell and there was little or no sunshine.  The forecast is great for the rest of the summer.

But already on this first day of summer one man has drowned.  All New Zealanders love the water and water sports.  We all live within a short distance of the sea but some folks still don’t listen to the advice to wear life jackets at all times on the sea.

But let’s now think towards that special day that will be here in just 24 days.

Yesterday, when I went out to water the very dry garden I saw this lovely rose that my No4 Grandson, Jae bought me for Christmas last year.

Then I thought of the presents the boys have given me in years past when they were much younger.

This from Grandson No 1.  He was about 14 and told me that he had to buy it for me as I told them, the boys that many times.

These were made for me by Grandson No 2 in “tech-on-ology”.  He was in primary school so would have been about 9.

When the going get’s tough from Grandson No 4 when he was about 12.  He bought this without any help from his Mum.

And this little garden ornament from Grandson No 3 in such a dry part of the garden prior to the watering.

These are all special gifts that I am keeping forever along with many others.

And I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of the facts and fallacies surrounding Christmas as we now celebrate it.

And my son will tell you his mother is a fund of useless information and to confirm it…Did you know?

  • Decorated evergreen trees have been part of December celebrations in Europe for many centuries reminding everyone that spring is just around the corner.  The decorated Christmas tree became accepted in the UK when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the children were depicted in the “Illustrated London News” standing around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
  • Christmas was cancelled in England in the 1640s when Puritan law forbade churches to open on Christmas Day and banned home decorations, celebrations, carol singing and the creating of Nativity scenes.  December 25 was declared a day of everyday work and fasting.  The outraged populace made Christmas observances in secret until the Monarchy was restored in 1660 and King Charles II restored Christmas.
  • Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the catalyst for the reinvention of St Nicholas into the jolly, fat image of Santa we now know?
  • Also invented by Moore, Santa’s travels are invariably connected to reindeer.  In the poem they are pictured charging through a winter sky complete with strong, elaborate horns.  But in winter reindeer lose their horns so are Santa’s reindeer all female or are they castrated males?
  • Moore omitted to tell us that St Nicholas was Turkish.  He was real and was born in Patara, Turkey.  He was an early Christian and in the 4th Century he became bishop of the district of Demre where some of his bones can still be visited.  Little fact is known of him, only oral legends relating to his goodness and kindness to children.
  • Nobody knows when Jesus was born or died. For many centuries people in the northern hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day and the turning point in the long, often hard, cold winter.  Some 300 years after Jesus’ (guessed at) death date, Pope Julius I announced that 25th December would be the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As Christianity spread around the world, this date took over the existing festivities and became “Christmas”.  The word Christmas didn’t come into being until 1032 AD.
  • Another poem, this one by Frank Baum (who wrote The Wizard of Oz) told that Santa lived in a valley called Ho Ho Ho.  American marketers quickly picked up on the poem and Ho Ho Ho became Santa brand’s catch cry.
  • The song Jingle Bells never mentions Christmas and has no connection to Christmas.  It was originally composed for America’s Thanksgiving festival in 1857.
  • And everybody’s favourite – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.  There have been 14 versions of this story.
  • The bible doesn’t say that three kings visited the baby Jesus but refers to “Wise men from the east”.  They may well have been astronomers (they did follow a star) or Zoroastrian priests and the fact that the three gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned is the possible basis for assuming there were three visitors.
  • And the gifts they brought.  Gold and Frankincense would be acceptable but in ancient times Myrrh was very expensive and used in embalming dead bodies and was burned at funerals to disguise the smell of bodies that hadn’t been embalmed.  Why would it be brought to a newborn child?
  • The use of X as in Xmas is not at all invalid or disrespectful.  The word Christ was never part of Jesus’ name, it is a title assigned by later worshippers in Greek meaning ‘the anointed one’.  In ancient Greece the letter chi was written with a symbol very like an X and the title assigned to Jesus was Xristos and was frequently abbreviated to just X.  So writing Christmas as Xmas has been considered acceptable for some 1000 years.  Note early publications were charged by the number of letters so using X in Xmas was encouraged.
  • Four Calling Birds in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Originally it was four colly birds, colly being the ancient word for black (as in collier and coal) so colly birds were black birds.  As time went by colly fell out of use and didn’t make sense so people started saying four calling birds.  This doesn’t make sense either.
  • The wassail ritual was an ancient pre-Christian custom of drinking a toast to the sun after the northern mid-winter approximately 25 December and hopes for a bountiful harvest in the coming warmer months. Hence the song ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ was a gathering of friends drinking a toast.  “Waes hael” in ancient English means “Be healthy” and the usual drink was a mixture of spices, apple juice and eggs.  (Give me a G&T any time).

And from Mary Oliver

“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” 

.