Musing and Meandering on Monday

April gave a party; The leaves by hundreds came–
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet and everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing, Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow, The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses MapleIn scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow now fallen from the sky.
George Cooper (1840-1927) was an American poet and composer.

Another beautiful autumn day had me scurrying out for my walk before lunch.

Today, I found yet another lovely pathway to walk along. I could hear the people on the dog park, exercising their dogs and chatting with each other; the dogs were barking; the children were laughing and the adults were chatting. Almost, but not quite, back to normal. But dogs don’t understand social distancing as we do.

And the walk –

 

Then back home in time for a video call with my grandson No 4. He is at university in Christchurch and today the university re-opened following the Easter break. All learning will be covered online. So he will be kept busy, if not amused, during the lockdown. How lucky am I to have these young men in my life and how grateful I am that they want to include me in theirs.

 

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And today there was no 1pm televised update with the Prime Minister and the Director-General of Health.  Instead, we were glued to the television at 4 pm to learn that we were to come out of Alert Level Four and move to Alert Level Three at 11.59 pm on Monday 27 April. This will have been good news for many businesses but for most of us, there will be little change. The main one that will affect me, is that I will be able to travel in my car the 8 kms to once again take my favourite walks along the beach.

And so another day in the life of an aged lady comes to an end.

and from Mary Oliver, of course:

“As long as you’re dancing you can break the rules.
Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules
Sometimes there are no rules.”

Note – apologies to Mr Cooper. April is autumn in our part of the world, not October

Tuesday’s Trundle

We are still enjoying lovely warm, late summer days here in Wellington; but we are reminded that it is autumn/fall because the leaves are turning colour all around us.

Taking advantage of this weather, I have been walking each day. Just around the neighbourhood and I am finding out that it’s a delightful area in which we live. Today I found a new park and walkway. I have often walked past the sign to Cummings Park next to the local library; today I decided to visit it.

The park forms part of the Northern Walkway, a walk of 16 km around our capital city. One can enter it at various points and one day I shall go further from this starting point. I have walked most of it in parts and at various times. This is a new find for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And then, because it is Autumn and the nights are drawing in, I hurried home as the sun and the temperature dropped.

“When I’m in turmoil, when I can’t think when I’m exhausted and afraid,
and feeling very, very alone, I go for walks.
It’s just one of those things I do.”

― Jim Butcher,  American author. 1971 –

 

Easter in Lockdown

“It is a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning, in this broken world.”
Mary Oliver

Along with the rest of the world, our plans for Easter this year have had to be abandoned.  This was to be a special Easter. My baby girl was having a special birthday on the 11th April, the Saturday of Easter. She was born four days before Good Friday and often since then, Easter has been around her birthday.

But now 60 years later (can I possibly be that old?) I had booked a cottage in one of the wine-growing regions for us.

My daughter, her two sons and girlfriends (if they wished) would all sally forth on Good Friday, spend three nights there and then head back home. We would spend our days wandering the vineyards and sampling the wines. We have a built-in driver as my daughter doesn’t drink. Does she know what she is missing?

The boys, now really young men, are both good cooks so those duties would be spread amongst us. I had told myself that for one breakfast I would make them Fairy Bread aka French Toast.  As little boys, they loved my “Fairy Bread” and nobody else was allowed to make it. But now instead of just lemon juice and sugar, I would serve it with stewed apples, banana, blueberries and maple syrup.  But this time, the only one who had that breakfast was me, eaten alone at the dining table at home.

I then got to thinking about other Easters in this long life.

When I was growing up in London all those years ago, Easter was an important time in our calendar.  We, three girls, went to church in our new clothes to celebrate Easter but of course, Mother, who was Jewish, didn’t accompany us.  And I am not sure why Father didn’t come, but he didn’t. Friday service was always very solemn and left us in a sombre mood for the rest of the day.

But we all looked forward to the Easter Parade on Easter Sunday.  On this day most Londoners congregated in Hyde Park to see ‘the toffs’ parading in their finery.  What excitement for three young girls.

Even as far back as the middle ages, many cultures would strut their new finery on their way to church or visiting friends on this Sunday.  A more spiritual slant is that this ritual represents the procession that followed Christ carrying the cross.

To read the rest of this post, click here

There was the awful Easter in 2014 when somebody set fire to the storage area containing my worldly goods.

 

An arsonist was caught on camera entering the facility and when charged, claimed innocence. Luckily the things  I lost were replaceable, although unfortunately/stupidly  I had forgotten to insure the stored-goods. You can read more of this here.

There was a  memorable Easter spent on the French Riviera in an unheated caravan. Great memories of fun and laughter; another Easter with my parents and our baby daughter and yet more when our family was increased by the birth of a son.

And so many other memories of Easters spent around the world; until 1998 with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) who by 1998 while still dashing, was no longer young and my children and then with their children. Then several years here in New Zealand without him but with family and friends, and a few short years with my Late Love, The Architect. Most  Easters has been memorable in one way or another and all sit safely in my Suitcase of Memories (thank you Patti,  of A New Day Dawns) to be taken out and enjoyed all over again.

But this Easter will surely go down in history as the strangest of all.

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am
to be blessed.”
Mary Oliver

And a final quote from Pope John Paul 11

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

― Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Sentence Fiction

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

We are now at week three in our new challenge.

The Challenge is to write a story in only five sentences.  Are you up for the challenge? it’s fun and something else to do in this lockdown time.

Last week’s challenge was PROMISES. Here’s my attempt:

School days were supposed to be the best days of our lives, but I didn’t believe that.  I had no friends, I didn’t fit in and I didn’t know how to mix with these girls; I missed Sally, my best friend. 

We had promised we would be best friends forever and would always keep in touch wherever in the world we went and now I found myself miles away from my old home and school. My father had a new job and so we had to sell our house and move to the other side of the world where we knew nobody.

How would I ever make friends here when everything was so different from anything I had ever known before.

But when my phone rang it was one of those girls asking me to go to the mall with her on Saturday, so maybe life could get better.

Now for this week’s word – WAITING. See what you can do with it. Remember only five sentences and it’s fiction.

I hope you play along. And please link back to this site so others may see what you write. Good luck. Have fun!

“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”
Doris May Lessing, British Novelist 1919 – 2013.

 

 

Bright Orange Balloons

“But there are other words for privacy and independence.
They are isolation and loneliness”.     
Megan Whalen Turner, American writer of
fantasy fiction for young adults.

 

OK, so we are now on Day 15 of our nationwide lockdown. And how are we surviving?

Oh, I miss coffee mornings with friends; I miss the camaraderie of the new friends I meet on the courses I run; lunch alone doesn’t have the same excitement or interest as lunch with friends; drinks on Facetime somehow don’t fill the need for interaction and on and on.

But these are not problems.  I can overcome each of them and all the others. But what of folks whose lives are set in and defined by schedules. Those who can’t understand why their world has to change in such a way. “Why can’t I go to school?” “Why can’t Jason come to play?” “Why aren’t we going to church?” they cry.

There are many in our midst who suffer this way, either for themselves or through their children. One such is Luke’s Mum. Luke’s Mum lives with this 15-year old’s autism, bravely and well, I might say. She is worthy of our support so please go over to her blog to see how well she is doing in Bright Orange Balloons. 

Found on Pinterest.A

And while I haven’t yet been bored; there’s plenty to keep this aged mind active, and involved,  I have no intention of falling into the trap of complaining about self-isolation.

My Father’s Hands

Day 6 of Daily Prompt is hands.

Immediately I thought of my Father’s hands and knew I had posted on that subject. So..

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

I have said before that I read and use Judy Reeves “A Creative Writer’s Kit”  As part of this kit there is a book called ‘Prompts and Practices”.  Each day of the year has a suggestion for what to write.  And today’s was “Write about your father’s hands”.

Well if you have been reading or following me for a while now you will know that I consider myself the luckiest person alive in that my father was a fabulous person.    I wrote about him in September last year – Memories of My Father. He was a special man.

But now his hands.  These were the strong hands of a working man.  He had been a cabinetmaker all his life and so his hands were rough to the touch and scarred from using and being nicked by his tools.  The hands were strong and capable.  Apart from being a master craftsman, he…

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Five Sentence Fiction

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.comT

 

As you know, I enjoy joining Tara at The Thin Spiral Notebook and her 100 words challenge. Would you like a new challenge?

This is the second week in this series. If you wish to play along with me, the aim is to take the word I give you each week and write a five-sentence fiction story.

The Challenge is to write a story in only five sentences.  Are you up for the challenge? it’s fun and something else to do in this lockdown time.

Last week’s word was DIVERSION and here’s my take on that: a story in only five sentences

She had 20 minutes to get there and the traffic was awful.

Everyone seemed to be going her way, moving at a snail’s pace, and here to top it all was a broken down vehicle with groups of people standing around gawking, though nobody seemed to be doing anything constructive to get it moving again.

She had promised herself that she would be on time, just this once and now she was going to be late unless she could find a useful diversion – a way to get around the traffic.

She had to get there for how else would she ever forgive herself for not being there when he died even though she had promised him again and again that she would be, and now she was going to be late for the funeral.

Suddenly, she remembered a short cut he had often used between her house and his and as it came up on her left she was able to turn and speed away; perhaps she might just make it in time.

Now for this week’s word – PROMISES. See what you can do with it. Remember only five sentences and it’s fiction.

I hope you play along. And please link back to this site so others may see what you write. Good luck. Have fun!

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor,
the enemy of the people.
It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”
Anne Lamott, American novelist 1954 –

NIGHTINGALE

I promised myself that I would not add to the plethora of blog posts being based/written around the pandemic. But because in some ways this is good news, I would like to share it with you.

Necessity is the mother of invention”
Attributed to Plato, Ancient Greek Philosopher.

Though we’ve been on the planet for a relatively short length of time (Earth is 4.5 billion years old), modern Homo Sapiens have dreamed up and created some amazing and  sometimes far-out, things

And now we find ourselves in a strange new world where requirements that we couldn’t have imagined even 6 months ago are out in the open and require clever thinking ( out of the box) to achieve the necessary results.  So inventions once more come to the fore.

One such example is the newly created NHS Nightingale Hospital in London’s Dockside area.

It became apparent that in the UK and in a short space of time, large numbers of ICU beds would be required as the pandemic progressed.

It was determined that such a facility could be acquired with clever multi-discipline thinking.

The London ExCel Centre,  a large exhibition and conference centre in London’s Docklands area. was chosen to be converted to a hospital hosting up to 4,000 patients. And within nine days, the conversion was complete.

We are told by the BBC News, that in nine days “the 87,328 square metres of double exhibition halls, have been fitted out with the framework for more than 80 wards, each with 42 beds. Some 500 fully-equipped beds, with oxygen and ventilators, are already in place and there is space for another 3,500.”

The centre was chosen for reasons other than its size. It is served by public transport links, necessary for the thousands of staff members required to operate a hospital of this size, and its proximity to the London City Airport which can be used to bring in supplies and equipment.

According to the Principal of the firm leading the project “The scale and timeframe for the construction were unlike previous healthcare projects and architects were coming up with designs almost as building needed to get underway.”

We  are also told that several more such facilities are planned for other parts of the United Kingdom.

And while we wish that this was not a necessity, we have to applaud Britain’s National Health Service for coming up with this clever solution.

To read the full report from the BBC click here.

And to end this rather dismal post with a laugh –

Thanks to Jo Marshall for sharing this on FaceBook.

 

 

Enormity

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“You can eat an elephant a bite at a time.”
Zig Ziiglar – Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar 1926 –2012.
American author, salesman and motivational speaker.

Enormity – definition Merriam Webster
Noun: a quality of momentous importance or impact
Pandemic – definition Merriam Webster
Nounoccurring over a wide geographic area and
affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population

We find ourselves overwhelmed by the enormity of the pandemic currently covering our wonderful world.  Life is very strange for all of us. We are in lockdown here in New Zealand as are  many others. We are learning to live and thrive in this strange new world. But –

But so much has been written about this that I should like to add a few bright thoughts that I have received since it all started.

I think this is my favourite

How about?

Hmhh!! Is that funny?

Or

And

And

Also

 

So there you have it. Not much from me, but plenty from clever friends around the world.

Take care: keep safe.

keep in touch 2

 

 

 

 

 

Filling Time

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I’ve walked, I’ve read, I’ve cooked and I’ve brought out the vacuum cleaner and rapidly replaced it.  Now, what to do?  My sister Christine has the word “noodling’ which she uses to describe moving around on the internet, just looking and maybe learning something new.

So noodling was what I have been doing this afternoon.  Merriam Webster is, of course, a favourite site as I am a Word Junkie (the description my DYS gave me so many years ago). Today I found this on the site.  Go and see what the staff are reading under the heading

M-W Picks: Books for When
You’re Hunkered Down
You too can read like a dictionary staffer.

There’s a good selection and I am sure you will find something to your liking. A new author or protagonist perhaps?

My first pick is from Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor. She chooses – Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
“This is a psychological thriller about a young woman from London who decides to trade apartments with a distant cousin in Boston. When she arrives at her cousin’s apartment building, she discovers his neighbor has been murdered. There are some huge and unexpected plot twists that kept me completely hooked until the end. Without giving away anything, I’ll just say this book is super murdery, and if that’s your thing, I can’t recommend it enough.”

I can’t get to a bookstore and deliveries of books are on hold, so I went to the local library online, and joy, it’s available in both hard copy and ebook. The library is, of course, closed so the ebook is now downloaded and on my TBR list.

She also recommends The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent and The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman. Both are added to my want to read list.

I am sure I will go back again during this locked-down time to refresh and just to see what others are reading.

Neil Serven, Associate Editor offers The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.
‘This novel was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018, and feels relevant at time when the specter of contagion casts a shadow over us and fear and uncertainty inflame our discourse. The disease in this book is AIDS, and the story concerns its impact on Chicago’s gay community in the 1980s, as well as its lasting impact on the survivors of that community thirty years later.
At the center of the story is Yale Tishman, a young gallery worker who is close to making a major advance in his career by acquiring a valuable collection of art from an elderly, eccentric prospective donor. Yale’s friend Nico has just died of AIDS-related illness, and other friends within their circle are becoming infected. Yale’s strongest support comes from Nico’s younger sister, Fiona; in an interwoven narrative, we follow Fiona thirty years later as she tracks down her estranged daughter in Paris.”

And On the Beach by Nevil Shute. Of this book, he says “When I read this book for the first time, I was a high schooler laid up with my own serious illness, so perhaps I have always associated it with infirmity. I decided to read it again last year, before the thought of being confined against a scourge became reality.
What is striking about this book is how the characters strive to live as though things are normal. Even as fate comes knocking, there are attempts to cultivate relationships, and efforts to live in the hopes of seeing lost loved ones who are almost certainly dead. The story reaches a mood of strange and patient optimism even in the face of annihilation.”

So when you find yourself with nothing left on your To-Do list, take a look at this site. I hope you find something to amuse you while we all stay home and safe

“I have to be alone very often.
I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning
alone in my apartment.
That’s how I refuel.”
Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, December 7, 1953.