Monthly Archives: January 2022

Wondering on Wednesday

Today was another busy, social day and it is my tun to write a post for A World Apart. Chris, she of 43 degrees north and I take turns in writing posts. Once again today, I wondered how I ever found time to work, far less to write a post very day as I did for a couple of years. My life is busy these days; I am becoming a social butterfly.

So when I arrived home from an afternoon playing Upwords with a friend, I had an absolutely blank mind as I sat with my trusty laptop staring at a blank screen. Then I thought of looking back at some of the posts I had written in earlier Januarys and I chanced on a post written in January 2013 when amongst other things I thought back to growing up in the East End of London during the Second World War. So using this as a basis, I had a theme for today.

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I searched for and found a street map given to me by a friend many years ago who had recently returned from a visit to London.  Apparently, he saw this “A Street Map of Jewish East London” and thought of me.

If you have read any of my posts about growing up,e you will recall that I was born and brought up in the East End of London in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood.  With the exception of those of us living in our gentile apartment complex, everyone else was Jewish (or so it seemed).  They were mainly Hasidic Jews, and from Wikipedia, I learned that “the Hasidics is a sect of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith.”  These people did not relate/interact at all with us or it seemed, with anyone outside their own strict community.  They were/are easily identified as the men wore their side hair in curls that fell to the jaw and always wore a round fur hat, called a shtreimel.  I was always intrigued by these men (for it was mostly the men we saw walking in our neighbourhood) and wanted to learn more about their particular area of the Jewish religion.

As an aside, my parents’ house was purchased by the local government for street widening and in part payment, they were rehoused into an apartment complex.  The question is what great mind devised the plan to drop a handful of Christian families in the middle of this enclave of Judaism.  One will never know the answer to that riddle.

So back to my map.   I have always been fascinated by street maps.  Not for me the wide and wonderful world shown in an atlas but give me a map of the streets of any town anywhere in the world, and I can happily entertain myself for hours.

Of course, I immediately honed into the area in which I was born showing that less than 5% of the population in 1899 was Jewish.  So I then had to find out what happened between then and when I was born to change this area from being so sparsely populated with Jews at the end of the 19th Century into an enclave of Judaism.

Stamford Hill (where we lived) is now home to Europe’s largest Hasidic Jewish community  The small Hasidic  community was increased dramatically by the influx of pre-war refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. The population has grown with arrivals from Israel and America.  Now within an area of  little more than a square mile, there are no fewer than 74 synagogues, or shuls, 32 orthodox schools, kosher supermarkets, butchers, fishmongers and a multitude of other businesses.  Growing up I remember the bakers, butchers, fishmongers and while there were no supermarkets, I remember the general food store and the fabulous and tantalising smells that came forth from it.

When I was last in London and making a trip to childhood haunts, I was reminded of my childhood by the sight of groups of mothers uniformly dressed in the mandatory dark coats and long skirts.  They, of course, were wearing the wigs that are obligatory for married women, many were pushing prams with a handful of children in tow.  Family is of great importance to the Hasidic Jews and families are mostly large keeping the women busy all day.  There were also groups of men, but seldom would we see men and women together.

Modesty is paramount to the Hasidics, and the mingling of the sexes is strictly regulated.  Unmarried boys and girls will have little contact with the opposite sex outside their families.  At social gatherings such as concerts and wedding parties, men and women will always be separated.  An Hasidic man will avoid making eye-contact with any woman other than his wife, and would never shake hands.

In January 203 I wrote “While I could find nothing to support this, I think because of this segregation of the young, marriages are probably arranged by the family.  How are young men and women ever going to meet?  I wonder if there are still marriage brokers as Yente in The Fiddler on the Roof.”

And now nine years later I have proof that the marriages are arranged by the family.

In reading a piece from BBC News entitled Inside Europe’s Biggest Hasidic Communit I learned

“Most Hasidic people marry young. A normal age for boys and girls in this community – by that point becoming men and women – to get married is around 18 or 19 years old. 

Their parents normally hire a shadchan (matchmaker), as there is little chance of meeting a girl any other way. The two genders are kept apart at public events and, in orthodox Jewish law, men and women not related or married to each other are not even supposed to look one another in the eye.

“In my mother and father’s generation, they wouldn’t even meet for an hour [before agreeing to marriage],” says Avi Bresler, a 41-year-old father of five, who has been living in the community since he moved from Israel as a teenager.

“They met for maybe one or two minutes, say hello to each other and say yes or no. Now some Hasidim are meeting for an hour or maybe two and then getting engaged.”

I am fascinated by this group. My Grandfather’s family were Ashkenazi Jews and I know very little about the sect. So as you can see there is still much research for me to do in this area.  That will wait for another day.


The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside,
but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Say, the weather outside is frightful…

There’s a kind of hush all over the world. It’s funny how what’s happening right now, right around you, feels like it’s all over the world. Because …

Say, the weather outside is frightful…

Musing on Monday

“Good night – may you fall asleep in the arms of a dream,
so beautiful, you’ll cry when you awake.” 
Michael Faudet
, Author of “Dirty Pretty Things.

First Sleep

Do you sometimes fall into a deep sleep and several hours later, wake again? Maybe it’s your bladder calling, or a glass of water or a sound, but sometimes, it’s none of these. That happened to me last night from a deep sleep, I was suddenly awake. And being wide awake, I began to think about Roger Ekrich, a historian who had long been fascinated by this phenomenon.

He had been researching for a book about night- time, when one day in the early 1900s he walked into the Public Record Office in London where he found a deposition by the daughter of a woman brutally murdered in 1699.

As Ekrich read the daughter’s testimony he was struck by a few words – she and her mother had arisen from their first sleep of the evening. There was no further explanation- the interrupted sleep was stated matter of factly, as if it were entirely unremarkable. “She referred to it as though it was utterly normal.” says Ekrich.

As he read this he pondered: a first sleep implies a second sleep. Was this normal at that time?

Over the coming months, Ekirch scoured the archives and found many more references to this mysterious phenomenon of double sleeping, or “biphasic sleep” as he later called it.

Most were fairly banal, but others such as that of Luke Atkinson of the East Riding of Yorkshire. were anything but banal. According to his wife “He managed to squeeze in an early morning murder between his sleeps one night, and often used the time to frequent other people’s houses for sinister deeds

 Ekirch found casual references to the system of twice-sleeping in every conceivable form, with hundreds in letters, diaries, medical textbooks, philosophical writings, newspaper articles and plays.

And he also found this biphasic sleep was not to unique to England. “it was widely practised throughout the preindustrial world. In France, the initial sleep was the “premier somme“; in Italy, it was “primo sonno. In fact, Eckirch found evidence of the habit in locations as distant as Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East.

As Ekirch explains in his book, At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime, people would often just stay in bed and chat. And during those strange twilight hours, bedfellows could share a level of informality and casual conversation that was hard to achieve during the day.

So next time it happens to you, think you are not alone. No doubt it’s happening to others close to you and perhaps at the same time.

Source – BBC Future – The Forgotten Way Medieval People Slept.

For more on this fascinating subject

Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day.
And whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow”.
Judith Baxter
, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother and Friend

And now it’s time to –

So until the next time –

JB January 17, 2022

Penny Walking

I’ve mentioned before that my relationship with G1 & G2 is particularly precious, but I don’t think I have told you about the books I wrote for them.…

Penny Walking

Not one of THOSE DAYS BUT ONE OF THOSE DAYS

bridgesburning

A day of miracles my friends

Not one of THOSE days but… Have you ever opened your eyes and known this was going to be an outstanding day! One of excellence and good fortune? A …

Not one of THOSE DAYS BUT ONE OF THOSE DAYS

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Fossicking on Friday

Friday Fossicking

I have a wall filled with blue plates.  i have been collecting them for many years snd they have travelled with me to whichever house I am living in.  But earlier this week, one plate fell down and smashed.  So now I had to find a replacement.

Friday was a good day to start looking.  I had only a booster covid shot in the morning so off I trotted.

i thought that an op shop (opportunity shop) would be the most likely place to find one.  There are many op shops in town so i started my journey.  i didn’t find my replacement plate but what I did find were clues to others’ lives.  

Looking around, I thought of my quote:”To live in lives we leave behind, is not to die”. I wondered if the same could be said of things we leave behind. Many, if not most, items have been donated by family members following the death of loved ones.

Wand still looking around, who, I wondered had owned that very large portrait of a young girl? Who, the dining table and eight chairs displayed in the window of one shop?  And the many full crockery and cutlery sets. So many of these in each shop waiting for a new owner.  There were plenty of toys, dolls, and teddy bears, even a very large bear sitting in his own chair.  I wondered for which child this toy had been bought originally, and how many more had owned and loved this bear since.

Leaving the op shops I ventured into an antique shop and wondered how far and how often these suitcases had travelled.

And in another, who had been the owner of this statue and where would you put it if you had it? 

So after a busy pleasant morning of browsing, I came home empty handied but determined to visist more of the fabulous antique shops  our city.

And now, I am off to sit in the sunshine with a cup of tea and a good book.

And According to Dr Seuss The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Until next time, take care, keep safe.

JB January 15, 2022

Wednesday Wonder

The beginning of knowledge is the discovery
of something we do not understand.”

Frank Herbert   American science fiction author best known for the 1965 novel
Dune and its five sequels. 1920-1986

I am part of a group of four women collectively known as MAS (the Mutual Admiration Society0.  We four women share several interests although of course we each have our own particular interests.  One is into antiques collecting and discussing them; one is a fabulous cook, spending her time checking and devising recipes; one is a keen golfer and bridge player, while as you know, I dabble at witing, and devising and running courses.  And so where did the idea for MAS come from?  

Well of course it is not original to us. In 1912 a group of friends at Somerville College, Oxford set up a literary society of women and called it MAS. Its members included Dorothy L. SayersMuriel St Clare ByrneCharis Frankenburg, Dorothy Rowe, and Amphilis Throckmorton Middlemore, among others

While the members of our MAS meet regularly, at least once a month we have a special meeting, outing or reason to get together.  January’s choice was “The Secret Paintings of Hilma af Klint” And we went to see he exhibition yesterday, Wednesday. We are told “The Secret Paintings is one of the most important exhibitions ever staged in New Zealand. It is presented with the cooperation of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm, and in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.” Do you know this artist? Neither did I.  

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She was a Swedish artist (1862-1944) described as  “a pioneer of abstract art, but for many years her paintings were kept hidden from the public” In fact it was her wish that her paintings should remain hidden and secret for at least 20 years after her death. 

She had her own MAS.  In 1895 she joined with four female friends to form a spiritual group they called The Five. “They met regularly to commune with spiritual beings through prayer and meditation.”

Klint assumed that there was a spiritual dimension to life and aimed at visualizing contexts beyond what the eye can see. When painting, she believed that she was in contact with a higher consciousness that spoke and conveyed messages through her. Like many of her contemporaries, she was influenced by spiritual movements, especially spiritualism, theosophy and later anthroposophy. Through her paintings, she sought to understand and communicate the various dimensions of human existence.

In 1906 she began a decade long project The Paintings for the Temple with Primordial Chaos.  These ten are huge paintings meant to fill a room.

This is my favourite of the ten, but I’m not convinced that even if I had the room, I would hang it in my house.

So a morning well spent.  However, I was left feeling rather confused.  This artist moved from abstract paintings, the like of which we may have said “my grandchild could do that” through birds and animals to finally arrive at Primordial Chaos. I am not sure that I will go back for a second look.

JB January 13, 2022xhibition,

Making Sense Where There is None to be Had

Last night I was watching The Agenda with Steve Paiken, broadcaster with TVO public broadcasting. *A very good program if you are into discussion of …

Making Sense Where There is None to be Had

Traipsing Around on Tuesday

“What day is it? asked Winnie the Pooh. It’s today, squeaked Piglet.
My favourite day, said Pooh”

Yesterday was a blah day on which I did nothing. The family rallied round this ancient soul and generally took over.

But today – all is well, and I am back to normal (or as normal as I will ever be).

The sun was shining brightly so after washing the towels which my grandson hung out for me, I sallied forth with my list of things to do.

But…Not everyone is back at work and so many shops have not yet opened again.  

My first stop was to the other side of town to have a lamp repaired.  The other night when lounging in bed watching television, I turned suddenly, and a pillow knocked the lamp onto the floor.  The lamp is unbroken, but the wiring is adrift. Electrical repairers – well repairers of any sort – are few and far between nowadays.  Do you remember the little man in the village who could repair anything?  Those days and those men are long gone. There was no sign on the door to indicate when the shop would reopen.

The next stop was the drycleaners and yes, they are closed until January 17, so the clothes, together with the broken lamp came home with me.

Then a trip to pick up an ordered top – unfortunately they had ordered the wrong size; another wasted trip.  They did say that when the correct size is available, it will be delivered to me.  That is great customer service.

So to the supermarket. And wouldn’t you know it, several of the things I wanted were out of stock, so I had to go to another one.

So, my list of things to do is still long.  I am putting it away until next week.

But the sun continues to shine so all is well. I sat outside. in the sun for a while finishing my book. Have you read State of Terror by Hilary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny? Fascinating and well worth reading. And that grandson brought in the towels for his Granma. Lucky me 

We are told by NIWA (National Institute of Water and Air) that last year was the hottest on record for New Zealand –  An average of 1.09 degrees warmer overall. And if you are still with me, and not dozing off during the weather report we are also told  “”Of the six main centres in 2021, Auckland was the warmest, Dunedin was the coolest, Wellington was the wettest, Dunedin was the driest, Tauranga was the sunniest and Hamilton was the least sunny.”  

And now as my day is coming to a close, may I add this.  This was a particular favourite of my sister. She died in California last year and today would have been her birthday:

“If I should die, think only this of me:
 That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. 
There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England’s, breathing English air, 
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home
.”
Rupert Brooke, English Poet. 1867 – 1915

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Sauntering on Sunday

Sauntering on Sunday

Chris has been busily writing thought provoking posts, while I have been just writing.

So to Sunday; a day for sauntering around.  Saunter – don’t you like that word? 

“I have met with but one or persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking,
that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering,
which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country,
in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land,
till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander
David Henry Thoreau. American naturalist, essayist, and philosopher. 1817-1862 

I like Thoreau’s definition of saunter but sadly, all dictionaries and linguists are united in rejecting this notion, but it’s an appealing idea.

So today’s saunter.

I have just returned from brunch with my daughter and her two big, strapping, delightful sons.  They have both been in Wellington this past week as their other grandmother sadly died on the December 30.  After falling, a few days in hospital and a few days at home, she went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. A shock to her two sons and grandchildren, but what a way to go! 

Of course, the brunch was a happy, cheerful hour or so in the company of three of my favourite people.  One grandson Drew the eldest, is constantly making fun of his Granma in the nicest possible way. We all laugh at his nonsense. He left us for a long walk back over the hills to our home.

Then Jae, the other son, accompanied me to a used bookshop where I purchased a copy of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.  This was not what I was looking for in the shop.  However, there was no copy of Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room and the store owner suggested I might like this instead.  The Women’s Room had a major impact on/in my life so many years ago and I really wanted to reread it to discover why.  Instead and in keeping with my determination to support local businesses, in particular book shops, I purchased and will read the Doris Lessing book and continue in my hunt for the other.

Then home again and the first post I read was from Debbie at Domermom.com.  A lovely post about a happy dog.  Of course, this led me directly to thoughts about Lotte my sadly missed, little Tibetan Spaniel.  She was my friend and companion for a short but happy time some years ago.

Then looking back to January 8, 2012 I note that I posted Dancing with Skeletons.  Here I mused about a Creative Writing Course (one of many) that I had attended many years before

One task we were given early in the course was to “Write about your Skeletons”.  We were told we all had them and if we could put them onto paper it would be a good place to start.  We were required to write them down, not type them into the computer.  The tutor reiterated the “known fact”  (well accepted fact) that transferring the words from your mind, through your hand to the page gave them power.

Note – Research has shown that hand-writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—the physical act of writing brings it to the forefront.

This was proven to me in the years that followed, particularly when wearing my Life Coach hat and when running my courses, always encouraging people to do Morning Pages.

Do  you know about Morning Pages? This is the act of writing first thing in the morning. Strictly consciousness writing any and all thoughts that come to mind. I discovered this in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s a very powerful tool to help you sort out what you want to do and then, how to do it.

And so now, after that long and rambling saunter, there is little else to say – although that’s not true.  I have much more to say, but for another day.

And yet another thought for today

If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” 
― Wes Nisker author, radio commentator, comedian,
and Buddhist meditation instructor.
1942 –

Waiting for the sun to drop so that the dry garden beds may be watered.

JB January 9, 2022