Tag Archives: loving

My Father’s Hands

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 was a virtual jack of all trades.  He it was who reupholstered the couch when it needed to be done; he decorated the apartment and then our house, he fixed leaking pipes and he fixed his daughters’ lives when any of his girls were unhappy.

On my wedding day, those were the hands that held mine in the car on the way to the church and those were the hands that passed me over into the care of my DYS (dashing young Scotsman).

Those were the hands that lovingly cradled his first grandchild the day she was born.  Those hands went on to cradle each of the other grandchildren in turn.

Those were the hands that helped a small boy build with Meccano pieces and on a later visit showed that small boy how to use some of his tools.

Those were the hands that picked up small people when they had mishaps with their tricycles.

The nails were short and bluntly cut.  I remember when I was visiting him in London late in his life that I offered to do his nails for him.  He agreed and so the next day when I went to see him I took my manicure things with me.  Of course, I had no intention of giving him a manicure, it was just to get a laugh out of him.  He took one look at all the implements and said: “Just cut the nail straight across”.  However, he did enjoy my applying hand cream.

So my memories of my father’s hands are many.  He was a good man and his hands feature in many of my memories of him.

Sadly he is no longer with us and is sorely missed by his three daughters and their families.  At his funeral, they played “Unforgettable” and that certainly sums up my father.

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die.”
Judith Baxter, daughter, sister & friend.


Weekly Writing Challenge 29/01/13


Have you discovered the Weekly Writing Challenge yet?  For this week’s challenge we were given this picture and asked to write a blog around it.

Do you see the activity in the photo?  Several groups of people milling around the tram stop, some ascending the hill and some descending.  And the couple on the opposite side of the road, standing on the rain-swept steps saying hello or goodbye.

Well those of you who have read any of my posts in the past know that I am an incurable romantic.  So I see these two young lovers being forced to say goodbye.  Their liaison is not encouraged by either set of parents and in fact, we can see her parents waiting impatiently on the other side of the road for her to finish her goodbyes and to board the tram with them. And if she doesn’t hurry they will miss this tram and have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.  Why doesn’t she hurry when she knows that it will only make things worse if they miss the tram because of her?

But our two young lovers are in no hurry to part.  They know that once they do it may well be several years before they see each other again – if at all.  He is going off to America to school while she is forced to stay here in Turin to continue her studies and to help look after ailing grandparents.  The young couple has discovered that it is possible for her to go with him  to study in the US but it is also impossible.  Her duty to her family is so well inculcated in her being that she finds it almost unthinkable to walk away from her responsibilities.

But why should this be in one so young?  Why should these responsibilities fall on her young shoulders?  The elderly grandparents have each lived a long and probably useful and happy life; the parents too have lived and have no doubt enjoyed, many years of happiness together, so why therefore, should this young woman not be allowed the same chance of happiness.

For the past several weeks, the mother has been nagging her to stay.  Not to go to the US with the young man.  “Who will help with Nonni if you go? ”  ” I am getting older and I should have some time now to enjoy myself”  “Dont be so selfish.  Think of others” she says constantly.  “But I should also be allowed time to enjoy myself; time to find out who I am and where in this world I fit” responds the young woman.  Then the father chimes in with “Your Mamma and I have spent many years tending you and providing for your health and well-being.  Now it is time for you to consider us”.

The young woman is torn between longing to get away with her lover and her duty to her family.  So many questions plague her mind.  If she doesn’t go with him will he find somebody new in this new world into which he is going?  And will he soon forget her and the promises they have made to each other?  Or will he come back to her after his studies are finished as he has promised.

If she stays will she always regret not going with him and if she goes will she regret not being the obedient daughter she was trained to be.  How can she make a decision, one so important that it could well change the rest of her life.

But now we see from the picture that a decision has been made.  Because she is a dutiful  Italian daughter and has been brought up with the idea of family being the most important thing in the world, she will let him go to America without her.  She will stay to help look after the old grandparents and if necessary, her own parents who are also getting older.  She will keep her love alive by letters and emails and occasional telephone calls to and from her lover and trust that he will come back to her once his studies are over.

But we fear for her.  We think that once he is free from his family restrictions  and expectations (although as a son the expectations of his caring for family members is not so strong) he might find that the attractions of this new life quickly erase the memories of his old life.  And unfortunately this might include the girl.

If this should be so, will she become embittered and blame her parents for her unhappiness.  Or alternatively, with her young lover in America for several years will she be the one who doesn’t keep her promises.?  Will she find another boy to love?  And this one may well be more suited to her and her life; staying in the area and thereby allowing her to fulfil her obligations to her family without surrendering her life to them.

Perhaps we can revisit this young couple and their family at some later stage to check on them and how their lives are working out. I think I should like to do that.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.
Anthony Brandt
, author

You Bought Me What

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Has your nearest and dearest (who should know better) ever bought you really awful gifts for Christmas?

Twice it happened to me – and I guess that’s not bad in 41 Christmases. It was our first Christmas; very newly wed having been married in November.  Christmas 1957 in London  – Christmas Day dawned and we went to my parents’ house to celebrate with the rest of the family.  Everybody passed presents and I was presented with a large, beautifully wrapped box by my new husband.

I couldn’t wait to open it…It contained a Sunbeam Mixmaster.

sunbeam mixmaster

A household appliance as a present did not feature high on my list of gifts I would like to receive.  My DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) really couldn’t understand my disappointment.  My mother and sisters thought I was so lucky.  But that was the first and last time a household appliance featured on any gift list.  Mind you the gift worked hard and well for many years.

Fast forward 1972 to Wellington, New Zealand.  The children were still at home and as was our tradition we all sat around on Christmas morning with coffee and croissants and opened our gifts.  One of our traditions was that the children took it in turns to give out the gifts.  My daughter presented me with (again) a beautifully wrapped gift and when I opened it there was a silver goblet nestled in amongst tissue paper.  One of my pet hates was and still is silver goblets.  I have always hated drinking from them.

silvergobletHaving matured some since 1957, I smiled as graciously as I could as I accepted the gift.  My DYS was sitting, face wreathed in smiles as he watched me open it.

Another round of gifts and I was presented with another box, slightly different in shape but still beautifully wrapped.  I opened it.  Oh no – a matching silver goblet sitting in a bed of tissue.  My face must have told everything on my mind, because my small son couldn’t help himself and told me to be careful with the tissue.  And then, nestled in the tissue was a beautiful gold necklace.  Maybe the goblets came as a free gift with the necklace but …..  We have all laughed about that gift and it has become one of the tales that gets trotted out each Christmas.

Have you ever been given a gift that you wished you hadn’t received?  Let me know.






















And here’s a song that many of you (read most of you) will not have heard. 

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.  Author Unknown

Christmas bells

The White Dress

White Dress

Occasionally one comes across a picture/photo that speaks volumes and at the same time raises questions.  This picture was included in an invitation to the opening of the summer season for one of our well-known dress designers, Trelise Cooper  Included in the opening will be a showing of photographs by Melanie Mason several of which have been printed onto parchment and will be offered for sale.  This is one of Melanie’s photographs.

The photo speaks to me of some of the villages I saw in Tuscany, set on hillsides with steep roads leading up to the houses.  The houses have deep, sloping roofs and as in this case, many have windows opening over the street and some have very small balconies projecting above the street.

So this photo immediately posed the question of why was the white dress hanging outside the window?  Was it there to dry having been washed, to air before being put away after having been worn, or was it there as a sign?

Perhaps here lives a damsel in distress who needs rescuing by her knight in shining armour.  Her much older husband is very rich but uncaring of her.  He spends his nights carousing with his friends and with harlots and she feels neglected.  And so this married woman has sought love and understanding in the arms of a younger man.  It may be that her husband is away for the night and therefore, this dress which in this case becomes a nightdress, gives the information to her swain that the coast will be clear this evening.

And what will be his response?  Will he arrive after dark so that nobody sees his arrival?  Will he boldly walk through the front door of what I think is a palazzo owned by the husband’s family and therefore, manned by his trusty retainers?  If this is the case, the lovers will have to be particularly careful not to raise any suspicion.  How will they do this?  And would it not be easier to arrange to meet at an hotel or another place away from prying eyes?  But wait, maybe that is what the white dress is saying – “Meet me at the hotel on White’s Road”.  No doubt there will be less likelihood of the tryst being reported back to the husband.

So I vote for the message being to meet at the hotel.

But perhaps after all the more mundane answer to my question is the right one.  No lovers’ message here.  Simply it tells us that the lady of the house wore the dress last night and it is now being hung out to air or dry before being put away to wear again.  Maybe she is greatly loved by her older or even young husband and has no need for trysts with knights in shining armour.

Do you see a message here too?  I would like to hear it if so.

BREAKING NEWS – I have just returned from the showing.  Fabulous clothes but more importantly I met Melanie.  What a truly delightful person she is and I hope to see more of her in the future.  I also bought a copy of her book, Goodbye, which contains a collection of photos with accompanying prose.  I was wrong – the photo was not taken in Tuscany but rather in St Remy de Provence, France.  the accompanying prose is by Colette.  As the book is “for times of sadness and loss” the prose deals with loss.

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ”






















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

For several years I acted as the Wedding Coordinator at an historic church here in Wellington.  New Zealand is a very young country, so historic in this instance is only some 140 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 there were plenty of people for me to interact with.

For whatever reason, today I found myself looking through some of the poems that had been read at the ceremonies.  Of course, there were those that were used again and again, eg  from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

“….Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two…”

and the Apache Blessing

“Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be a companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you….”

and of course 1 Corinthians 13

“… Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…”

And many others.

During my tenure I made many friends.  I have heard from some of the brides and grooms on where/how they spent their honeymoon, when their first child was born, how they celebrated anniversaries and generally they have kept me in the loop.  I received several invitations to the reception that of course I always refused and have many thank you letters filed away.   I feel very honoured to be treated this way.  After all, for most of them, I was only in their lives for a very short time at a very busy period in their lives.

And many have given me approval to use their photos in my blogs so here are a few:

BrideBride2Bride and groom

Eleven Hints for Life

Having just returned from my son’s house after my Wednesday visit, I was sitting here wondering what I could post about today.  I turned to the notebooks that I have been keeping for so many years and a page almost jumped out at me.

I don’t know when I wrote this down, or where it came from, but it seems to make a lot of sense.  So here are somebody’s Eleven Hints:

1. It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return.  But what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let that person know how you feel.

2. A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was never meant to be and you just have to let go.

3. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.

4. It’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.

5. It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone – but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

6. Don’t go for looks, they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth, even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright.

7. Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

8. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts that person too.

9. A careless word may kindle strife. A cruel word may wreck a life. A timely word may level stress. But a loving word may heal and bless.

10. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything they just make the best of everything that comes along their way.

11. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.


“In the end, it’s not going to matter how
many breaths you took, but how many
moments took your breath away.”
shing xiong.



A Separation

Movie poster

“Flawless, elegant, mysterious..a world-class masterpiece”

According to the Wall Street Journal this describes the movie that I saw yesterday.  The film is set in Tehran and focuses on a middle class couple who separate.  The woman Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh.   She sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer-suffering father and determines to take her daughter and leave.

When the judge refuses to agree to the divorce Simin moves out of their house and into her parents house.  The ramifications of this move are what make the movie so compelling.

The two have been married for 14 years and have an 11-year-old daughter.  On their behalf Simin has acquired visas for them to leave Iran, a long drawn out process, but Nader will not leave.  His father, who lives with them suffers from Alzheimer’s and needs constant care.  In desperation Nader hires a woman to look after the house and the old man.  The woman is pregnant, has a daughter whom she brings to the apartment with her and an out of work husband who thinks the world is against him.

We see the difficulty that this devout Muslim woman has with caring to all the physical needs of this old man, and the toll that it takes on her own health.

We follow the story through the woman’s miscarriage, the hospital confrontations between Nader and her husband, the accusations made against Nader by the woman and her husband, the questions raised not only by Simin and their daughter, but also by a judge who must determine whether Nader is responsible for the woman’s miscarriage.

It is a beautifully plotted movie and one well worth seeing.  The dialogue was all Persian but I was not aware that I was reading the subtitles, so compelling was it.  And at the end when the daughter is asked to determine which of her parents she wishes to live with, we are left with no answer.  A cliff hanger indeed!

The critics are in accord with their praise for this movie:

‘Sophisticated, superbly acted and wholly gripping.  Keeps us hooked right until a supremely well-handled close”  Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Riveting.  Grips you like a great thriller”  Vogue (US)

“A superb work.  A triumph of the higher priorities of filmmaking”.  Boston Globe

“Calling it a masterpiece is too mild a compliment” Time Out New York.

So if you get the opportunity to view this movie, I recommend that you take it.

“What a pity human beings can’t exchange problems.  Everyone knows exactly how to solve the other fellow’s.” Olin Miller, 

It’s That Day…Again?

Birthdays are good for you

It doesn’t seem a year since I blogged on my birthday, but friends, it is.  Another year older but any the wiser?

Another year of enjoying where I am in life; enjoying my family and friends and if I have lost a couple of friends through death over the year, I have made a couple of new ones.  The friends who die still remain friends although they are not physically here any more.

So what to write about on this momentous day.  War is still waged in the same countries as this time last year, children are still suffering, the homeless are still homeless and those living in poverty are still poor.  So what you might ask is there to celebrate?

We, the lucky ones who live in our war-free lands, with food and water readily available to us,  can celebrate so many things in our lives.  I celebrate and am grateful for:

  • My family, son and daughter and their families
  • My sisters both on the other side of the world
  • My good and supportive friends
  • My ongoing good health
  • My active mind
  • My special friend – Lotte
  • My comfortable and warm home
  • The fact that the sun rises and then sets each day
  • The friends I have made in the blogosphere
  • The money in my purse and in the bank
  • The food in the larder and the refrigerator.

And for all the other things on My Gratitude List.  I really do know just how lucky I am and have been in my life.

So I will celebrate this birthday; hoping that perhaps I have learned something in the preceding 12 months and look forward with joy and anticipation to the next 12.

“A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip.”  Anon

Wrung Out

“When it’s too hard to look behind at the past
and it’s too difficult to look forward to the future
look to the side and you will see a friend.”
Judith Baxter, blogger and friend 1938 –

It is the end of a long, hard day here and wrung out describes exactly how I feel.

I have a couple of friends with major problems in their lives at present and usually I feel honoured that they can confide in me, knowing that even if I can’t help I will listen.

Well today started off well – a lazy Sunday morning, a cup of tea in bed, conversation and breakfast with a friend and then a telephone call that set the pace and the terms for the rest of the day.

My friend is hurt and angry at the way her children are behaving and unfortunately, there is nothing I can do or say to help her.  I just have to be there for her.

So having arrived home I am going to curl up with a good book and after reading  Jackie Cangro’s  Friday Five Post in which she told us

This is my all-time favorite comfort meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes oh-so-good. And I always feel happy when I eat it. Sometimes I doctor the soup and add herbs or veggies, as I did here, but I also love plain Jane tomato soup. Some purists insist on only cheddar cheese in the sandwich, but I like to get fancy. Fontina, gouda, mozzarella? Bring it on.  soup and a cheese sandwich for dinner and tomorrow my world will be back on an even keel again.”

I am going to open a can of chicken soup (sorry Jackie no tomato soup on hand and too bushed to get in the car and drive to the supermarket).   With the soup I shall have a toasted cheese sandwich.  Maybe not what the nutritionists would approve but for this ‘wrung out’ elderly lady it is exactly what is needed.  So thank you Jackie.

And tomorrow as Jackie says, my world too will be back on an even keel and I shall be ready to lend a helping/listening ear to my very good friend.

2 old ladies

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu

A Family is a River

Some years ago, during the bleak months/years following the death of my dashing (now not so) young Scotsman, my daughter on behalf of her baby son, gave me a little book entitled 365 Reflections on Grandmothers.  This was meant to and succeeded in cheering me.

Today, when flicking through the book I came upon this quote:

“A family is a river;
some of it has passed on and
more is to come and nothing is still,
because we all move along day by day
toward our destination”.  Dolores Garcia

I don’t know who Dolores Garcia is – I Googled her name and came up with several – but whoever she is she has succinctly put the family into words. It is the kind of poetry that I would like to write.  In fact, I wish I had written it.

We know that family members move on – Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, children all come into our family and make themselves part of it and are sorely missed when they move on.

In their place come more people to swell the numbers of the family.  Children marry and produce children of their own, who in turn marry and also produce children.

More people become part of our now extended family.  Through marriages, we acquire other relations, children, their siblings and families.

So nothing stays the same – nothing is still. Nor should we expect it to stay the same.  Change is inevitable as we move through our allotted time on earth.

If like me, you have these strong family ties they will keep you tethered and sane when all seems to be out of control.  Whether you see them on a regular basis, or only infrequently, you know that you can count on family members for support and succour comfort when needed.





Here is my attempt :

“Life like a river flows around us
and changes occur in the family formation;
Those we love move on and
in doing so leave huge gaps in the familiar structure.
Soon though, others come into the tight family unit;
Not to replace those who have moved on
but to bolster and fill the gaps and then
to take their own place in this entity we call family.”