F is for Flat Packs

Moving along the alphabet we arrive at F.
I remember a particularly hilarious scene, way back in December 2011
when it was necessary to erect a flat pack. Here is what I wrote about that:


Flat Packs

Posted on October 15, 2011 | 25 Comments | Edit

One of the bloggers that I follow is Hallysan at Photographic Memories.  In a recent blog acknowledging an award, she had to give us seven things about herself.  One was that she was good with her hands and that caused me to comment that I was not and flat packs send me into a spin.

I remember one particular time when a flat pack was in order.  I had arrived in London in time for Christmas and was staying with my sister.  A few days before Christmas Day a flat-pack arrived by courier.  My sister had ordered a toy kitchen for one of her grand-daughters.

We opened the package and saw how many pieces needed to be put together, so in the hope that her son would turn up in the next few days, we closed the box and put it aside.

The days passed and Christmas Eve arrived but her son didn’t, so we were faced with putting this toy together.  The first warning read “Not to be assembled by anyone under 10 years” (or words to that effect).  Then there were the usual warnings about small items and small children but hey – we were two adult, grown-up Grandmothers.  We could do this!

My sister is much better with her hands than am I – in fact both sisters are and it would be hard to find anyone who wasn’t.  So she would put the pieces together ie build the kitchen and I would read the instructions and pass the requisite screws, screwdriver, stickers, parts etc.  We were doing very well until I turned over two pages in the instruction book.  Yes, there was a book and it had been translated into English from Chinese, we think by Goofy and his pals.  It made hilarious reading.  I wish I had known the Good Greatsby then and his command of Chinglish it would have been very useful.

Imagine this.  Two adult women surrounded by pieces of a toy kitchen, screws, stickers etc and having no idea how to put it all together.  Hours passed in discussion on how to do this, interspersed with shrieks of laughter when first one thing and then another either didn’t fit or hallelujah it did fit!

Then telephone calls to nieces and nephews in London, to family and friends in New Zealand and to elder sister in Los Angeles.  They all shared in the hilarity and passed comment and advice while we tried to put this danged thing together.

My mobile phone bill reached an all-time high and we did too (without any alcoholic drinks help).  Eventually, a rather wobbly kitchen was put together but my nephew commented the next day that one of the panels was in upside down or round the wrong way, but the four-year-old for whom it was intended loved it anyway.

So no more flat packs for me.  I enjoyed the exercise of putting it together but oh dear me, at the end of it we were left with about thirty extra screws.  I wonder where they were meant to go?  And I never enquired as to how long the kitchen stayed upright.  I left shortly after Christmas and it never came up in conversation again.

As I have said before sisters are the best friends and they are also the best people with whom to share such an experience.

Flat pack car
Flat pack cat

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”
Author Unknown


E is for ESCAPE

The first Friday in the month and time for Five Word Friday. You know how it works – describe your life today in five words and then tell us about it.


We are moving along the alphabet, and today’s letter is E.
So here is this from June 2015.



Posted on June 9, 2015 


Softly, quietly,and quickly she opened the door onto the porch, to rain pouring down making puddles in the unpaved area around the house.

Quickly she donned her shoes that had been tightly held in her hands as she made her way through the dark house, and that done, she ran off down the road to freedom.

But where is freedom she asked herself when she had been trudging along the state highway for what seemed  ages, all the while hoping for a lift but nobody had stopped to help her.

She had dreamed of getting away from him for so long and now here she was on her way but to where.

Soon he would realise that she had gone and come looking for her; and if he caught up with her would she have the spunk to attempt to escape again?

This is in response to the prompt at Five Sentence Fiction –
the word is SPUNK

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Click on the badge to play along
and to see what others have written using
the prompt – SPUNK

JB Wellington, NZ
May 5, 2003


Looking back over the years of blogging, I see how many posts were set using a prompt, number of words or sentences.

Thinking about what to write for D, I remembered during lockdown in 2020 Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook set us a new challenge. Write a story in five sentences. Here is my attempt with Diversion.


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 –

May 4, 2023


If you have been following me for any time, you will know how I love words. I particularly like challenges where we are given a prompt a word, and a specific number of words to use. This post was originally published on May 30, 2015.

This post is in response to the 100 word writing challenge from
Velvet Verbosity where we are asked to write 100 words
inspired by a single word prompt. This week’s word is SMOOTH


Hot, so very hot; panting like a dog and oh the pain; if only someone would make it go away and then she could concentrate on why she was here and what she had to do.

But the pain was never-ending and the noise – could that be her voice she could hear yelling obscenities ?

Suddenly there were smooth, calming hands on her forehead and a gentle voice said ‘It’s OK Mrs Jones, only a few more pushes now.”

And then she was back in this stark hospital room with doctors and midwives encouraging her as her son’s head appeared.

Note – Shortly after this post was published Velvet Verbosity’s site was unavailable/missing but it recently has re-emerged. The last post was in June 2022. The site has changed course; my suspicion is that it’s another author.

MAY 3, 2023


As you may know/recall, Chris from Bridges Burning and I have a joint site which we started at the end of 2021.  Originally, we attempted to write posts on alternate days, but then as we say, life got in the way.  We continue to write on our own blogs and in turn, we reblog them onto the joint site – Aworldapartintwo.wordpress.com   Today’s post was originally written for the joint blog on January 5. 2022..

“Listen – are you breathing just a little, 
and calling it a life?
Mary Oliver

Today it is my turn to write a post here and have no idea what to write. Having been sitting here for an hour or so, with coffee and trusty notebook at hand, I was no further forward in determining what to write about – Head weak; brain dumb; inspiration won’t come…

So once again I decided to look back on some of the posts from when I started blogging. On November 15, 2012,  I wrote about Africa. I have always been fascinated by this continent.. 

I have written about Kuki Gallman, her fascination with the country, moving there with her new husband, his death and subsequently the death of her beloved son in A Life Being Well Lived And then, this conservationist was in turn shot by cattle raiders on her land. Kuki Gallmann survived and still lives in Kenya. A movie was made of her life starring Kim Bassinger titled I Dreamed of Africa

I also read the book and loved the movie of Karen Blixen’s life in Africa – Out of Africa.

And now my fascination with and attraction to this continent is fuelled by Michael Stanley a duo of writers whom I follow in Murder is Everywhere.

But back to the blog post I wrote in November 2012 – I Know This Place

In that post, I talked about how words, well written, can transport one to another place. Perhaps a place never visited but somehow you feel that you know it. 

On that day I had discovered Eliza at VisionandVerbs. Unfortunately that Blog no longer exists and so I can’t transport you to a place where she lives and calls home. She has a small house with three stoeps from which she has a variety of views. She talked about the village some short distance away in which the coloured community live – shacks, old abandoned cars and children running wildly about. She compared this to the other nearby village. Here there were mainly white people, well-maintained houses and gardens, and cars neatly parked away in garages.

Such a different life to mine-yours?

As her Blog can no longer be found, although I was. able to log onto it earlier today, I can’t follow this accomplished writer now.

May 2, 2023

An Alphabet in May

I have followed with interest and amazement Cindy Rickers and her alphabet during April. So much so, that I am going to try for May. But I thought I would do this with a twist. Using the alphabet, I will repost earlier blogs. So to start –

All I Need To Know

Posted on January 15, 2012

Noah's ark

Many years ago my sister gave me a book entitled “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

This little book contained all kinds of advice that we can heed.  But for me all I need to know I learned from the story of Noah’s Ark.

  • I learned to listen to the voice within regardless of what others think.
  • I learned to follow my intuition
  • I learned to make preparations well in advance
  • I learned to build my house and my life with strong materials and on a firm footing able to withstand whatever comes along
  • I learned to rescue those people and things that were important to me and to keep them safe
  • I learned to choose my companions and fellow travellers well
  • I learned to love my fellow travellers
  • I learned when it was time to let these travellers (aka my children) go to do so with grace knowing that in setting them free they would return
  • I learned to listen to others opinions but to make my own decisions
  • I learned that there is safety in numbers and that none of us can live entirely alone
  • I learned that time for solitary, quiet reflection is also necessary
  • I learned to go with the flow and embrace each new experience wherever I happened to land
  • I learned to give thanks for rain knowing that water is one of our great life sources
  • I learned to give thanks for the sunshine and the drying wind that came after the rain
  • I learned to give of my time to others – Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers
  • I learned to accept the assistance offered by others
  • I learned that life will not be all sunshine and light and that there will be times of rain and hardship
  • I learned that a sense of humour will take me through the hard times
  • I learned that wo/man is not the only living creature and is not of paramount importance.  Who gave us dominion over the rest of the creatures inhabiting our planet?
  • I learned to nurture an attitude of gratitude for all that I have and the life that I have
  • I learned that one man/woman with a strong belief can overcome and succeed in spite of the odds
  • I learned that fish is good for you!

Where did you learn the things you need to know to live life?  And are you living your life true to yourself or are you living somebody else’s dreams and decisions?

Want to tag along. I would be happy to have your company.

Wellington, NZ
May 1, 2023

A forgotten man.

Have you heard of Matthew Hewson? I just learned of him and his many expeditions as he accompanied the well-known explorer, Robert Peary. In 1866, Hewson was born to a family of sharecroppers, He worked odd jobs before he joined the crew of a merchant ship and sailed to distant continents. His first mentor,  Captain Childs, trained Henson for a life at sea and even taught him to read. In 1883, Childs died and in 1887 he met Robert Peary while working in a haberdashery store in Washington DC. Commander Peary, an engineer with the US Navy, was impressed with the young stock boy and he invited Henson to serve as his assistant on a survey mission to Nicaragua later that year.

(Image credit: Nelly George/Alamy)

Then he accompanied Peary to the Arctic Circle in search of the North Pole. Peary had long cherished the desire to be the first to reach the Pole and from 1891 to 1909, Henson was Peary’s closest collaborator. The two men nearly froze or starved on several occasions. They refined their process again and again, until their final expedition in 1909.

In the BBC article, we are told “According to a Smithsonian article, several days later on 6 April 1909, after an arduous trek through the tundra, Henson allegedly told Peary that he had a “feeling” they were now at the Pole. Henson said that Peary then dug into his coat, pulled out a folded American flag sewn by his wife and fastened it to a staff that he stuck atop an igloo. The following day, Henson said Peary determined their location with a sextant, placed a note and the US flag in an empty tin and buried it in the ice. The men then turned back toward the ship to head home.”

Again from the same article we are told he “eventually received honours from presidents Harry S Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower, but only towards the end of his life. Henson was ultimately interred at Arlington National Cemetery, where a special monument now stands, but it wasn’t erected until 1988 – 33 years after his death. Today, a handful of landmarks are named after him: Matthew Henson State Park, several Maryland public schools and the USNS Henson, a 3,000-ton research vessel that conducts oceanographic surveying.

A very interesting unforgotten man. From sharecropper’s son to Arctic explorer. I wonder how many such men, African American or not, reside in these untold stories.

Rediscovering America is a BBC Travel series that tells the inspiring stories of forgotten, overlooked or misunderstood aspects of the US, flipping the script on familiar history, cultures and communities.

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Listen to this to really understand the results of the war, then during the Second World War and all the years since.

Take out the tissues – you will need them.

Anzac Poppy



Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’  – the fourth verse of which is so familar 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.”

I have written a post about ANZAC DAY each year since I started blogging in 2011.

This is a solemn day for those of us in New Zealand and Australia.  Anzac Day occurs on 25 April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles. Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians. To this day, Australia also marks the events of 25 April. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a fifth of those who served on Gallipoli.

At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders. A waste of so many young lives.

In 2016 following an accident that caused TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), I wasn’t posting blogs and so that year my ANZAC Day remembrance wasn’t posted until June.

As I said then,

“On Tuesday this week, my No 3 grandson Drew took me to our National Museum, Te Papa (Our Place in Maori) to see the Gallipoli Exhibition  This tells the story of the landings on April 25. 1915

On that day, thousands of young men, far from their homes, stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey.

For eight long months, New Zealand troops, alongside those from Australia, Great Britain and Ireland, France, India, and Newfoundland battled harsh conditions and Ottoman forces desperately fighting to protect their homeland.

By the time the campaign ended, more than 130,000 men had died: at least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including more than 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a sixth of all those who had landed on the peninsula.

New Zealand sent more men to fight in the First World War per head of population than any other nation. Of those killed, almost a third were buried half a world away in unmarked graves.

This exhibition tells the story from the standpoint of those young men.  It is incredibly detailed and we are shown where they stood their ground against an incredible army of Turks.  We see how they lived and we hear readings of letters home.

One of the standout officers was Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone (1859-1915) , a Stratford farmer and lawyer, who commanded the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli. The Wellington Battalion landed at Anzac Cove on 25-26 April 1915. Malone soon began to impose order, transforming weak defensive positions along the Anzac perimeter into strong garrisons. Between June and August, he helped consolidate critical positions at Courtney’s Post and Quin’s Post.  Just one of many no doubt.

And each year on April 25 Australians and New Zealanders commemorate this battle with a Public Holiday. ANZAC DAY”

Click here to read the full post.

And now we are told that the exhibition will not be closed until after April 25, 2025. That’s Good News for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Anzac Poppy

And today I learned why we use the Poppy to signal ANZAC DAY and remembrance here in NZ here. “The RSA (Returned Services Association) placed an order for 350,000 small and 16,000 large silk poppies with Madame Guérin’s French Children’s League.

The RSA planned to hold its first Poppy Day appeal just before Armistice Day 1921, as other countries were doing. When the ship bringing the poppies from France arrived too late for the scheme to be properly publicised, the association decided to wait until Anzac Day 1922.

And why the poppy? The red or Flanders poppy has been linked with battlefield deaths since the Great War (1914–18). It was one of the first plants to grow and bloom on battlefields in the Belgian region of Flanders. The connection was made most famously by a Canadian medical officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, in his poem, ‘In Flanders fields’.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

From a subdued blogger in an almost frighteningly quiet early morning in Wellington New Zealand.


I have had several jobs since I gave my property management company to my daughter and decided to return stop but of course that was never going to happen and over the next few years I had several jobs including assisting an interior decorator, doing the backup Services for my real estate agent friend, Continuing volunteering for the local Hospice which has been an ongoing thing since the 80s but the best job I ever had was during the years I acted as the Wedding Coordinator at an historic church in Wellington

New Zealand is a very young country, so historic in this instance is only some 150 years.  However, I enjoyed my time there and loved being involved with so many brides and grooms.  Each year we had around 90 weddings, so I had plenty of people with whom to interact. 

I thought I would share some of my wedding memories with you.


I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.
~Author Unknown

This is my absolute favourite quote on weddings.  Over the four years that I acted as Wedding Coordinator at Old St Paul’s I heard many, many verses and sayings about weddings and ceremonies; this is the one that has stayed with me.

During that time I  attended and coordinated more than 340  weddings.  We had weddings conducted in English (of course) Maori, German, Russian, Dutch, French and Italian.  In each instance, part of the service had been in English and so has been relatively easy to follow.

On January 24, 2009, we had a beautiful Chinese wedding.

Chinese Wedding Program

The bride duly arrived to the peal of bells. A fitting start to this lovely ceremony. The bride was a perfect picture so tiny and delicate in her beautiful white wedding gown.  The bridesmaids complimented her so well in their deep pink gowns.  Bride and bridesmaids each carried a bouquet of summer flowers.  What a great picture.

The groom and his groomsmen were also a joy to behold.  All had on dark suits with white shirts and a pink flower in the lapel.  Very smart and didn’t they all look so good standing awaiting the arrival of the bride.

The Priest was resplendent in his white robes with a rich red sash.

At the wedding rehearsal there had been a lot of talk in Cantonese/Mandarin but never was there a suggestion the whole ceremony would be conducted in other than the English language.

The bride told me she was ready and so I had the bell-ringers stop playing and the organist begin playing the processional for the entry of the bridesmaids followed by the bride.

But before the bridesmaids entered, the MC said a ‘few’ words in Cantonese or Mandarin and then indicated to me to start the ceremony.

The bridesmaids entered on my cue and each walked slowly down the aisle to their designated place.  Then, when all three were in place, I brought in the bride.  She was radiant but a little tearful.

The bride and her father walked slowly down the 34-meter aisle – the train of her dress following behind and showing off its snowy white perfection against the deep ruby red of the carpet.

The father handed the bride to the groom, the chief bridesmaid fluffed the train, the father took his seat and the ceremony commenced.

I can only assume that the priest welcomed the couple and guests in a speech in Chinese.  Then the ceremony took its usual course.  But all in Chinese so that I didn’t understand one word of it.  The affirmation and vows; the introduction of the candle ceremony and its significance, the homily from the priest; two Anglican hymns were sung, and all in Chinese.  I joined in the hymns, singing in English of course.  The hymns were “Joyful, Joyful” and  “To God Be the Glory”. Beautiful music and great words.

The Director of Music was a bit confused as he had to play music for the candle ceremony and signing of the register and he can’t see around the organ up to the altar.  Usually, he gets his cue from the words of the priest or celebrant.  This time he had to rely on my signals from the back of the church.  A bit like the blind leading the blind.

Then just as I was getting ready to cue the organist, a man stood and proceeded to address the bride and groom and the assembled guests.  Obviously, once again, I had no idea what was being said.  Then he waved to me that the recessional could begin.

Then the service was over.  The bride and groom started to walk back down the aisle and stopped and hugged parents and friends on the way.  The bells started to ring as they left the church.

All in all a great ceremony and full of emotion and feeling, even though I didn’t understand a word.

Following the ceremony, the bride’s mother was in tears so I gave her a tissue from the box kept always at the back of the church.  That seemed to set off a chain reaction as so many of the other women then took a tissue.

Photographs were taken in the church grounds.  Congratulations from me to the happy couple and hugs from the happy couple to me.

A fabulous summer morning wedding.

Love is a symbol of eternity.  It wipes out all sense of time,
destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. 
Author Unknown

I hope you enjoyed this trip down my Memory Lane. I think this will be the first in a short series on weddings. There were of course too many to record, and so some, for whatever reason, have been forgotten by me but hopefully not by the Bride and Groom.