It’s My Birthday and…

Well, how did I get to be this old?  I think somebody has deleted several decades of my life.  However…

The first email I opened this morning was from LondonWlogger who took me back a lifetime, to a time growing up in London when this area was the playground of three young girls.

map1

Clapton Pond

We passed this on our way to and from school each day.  Did we really understand or appreciate how magical it was to have such a beauty in the middle of a built up, town area?  I think not.

Lea Valley

The Lea Valley, once a transport river busy with horse-drawn barges and later motorised barges.  It was an industrial area and supplied water for London, sand and gravel.  Now its a lazy, gentle river offering leisure boating.

 

Springfield

Springfield Park where three little girls were taken by their mother most afternoons after school.  We lived in an apartment building with no green space to play on.  Many happy memories here.  I wonder if my sisters remember the cave where we played for many hours in the sunshine.

Thank you, Stu, at Wlogger for this post.

So now moving on some 60 plus years, I am sitting in Wellington New Zealand in the sunshine and losing myself in so many happy memories of a childhood spent surrounded by love and these beautiful bits of nature in a busy, busy, noisy city.

Off now, to get ready.  My son and daughter-in-law are coming to take me to lunch and then later, I shall have dinner with my daughter, her eldest son and his girlfriend.  How lucky am I?

NOTE:   All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017.  

 

A New Day Dawns

Today I waved goodbye to my youngest grandson.  He’s on the way to University in Christchurch in the South Island and on the way to the next stage of his life.  I can hardly believe that little boy who wasn’t even born when his grandfather died, is old enough to strike out on his own.

His mother and I shall miss him and his older brother will be lost without him, although sometimes one could imagine that they don’t even like each other.

So good luck Darling No. 4.  He is the last one to leave school and start at University. What a great time he is going to have and as Dr Seuss says:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting
So..get on your way!

Two years ago the 13th February was a Friday and I wrote about superstition and then went on to write about my day; a beautiful sunny day in Ohope on the east  coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  On days like that, this certainly is Godzone.  And what was I doing?  I was Watching.  Here’s part of that blog post:

Today I am watching

Judith & Alice

  • The way a newly born baby attracts people and noticing the joy of being allowed to hold her
  • The huge waves rolling onto the beach; they are quite magnificent in their power
  • Surfers battling these waves and some succeeding in standing up
  • Children paddling in the surf
  • Two older couples just enjoying the sunshine, sand, and the water’s edge
  • Puffs of smoke emanating from White Island – New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.  It’s very close only 48kms/30 miles from shore.  It’s puffing away merrily today.
  • And strangers interacting as they meet on the beach
  • A couple walking their dogs
  • A small child clambering onto a tyre strung up to make a swing
  • My partner stretched out on a lounger contentedly reading
  • Teachers from the local school rounding up the pupils
  • A group of teenagers enjoying their lunch on the beach
  • The same group chasing each other and generally having fun
  • The brilliant sun shining down onto our part of the world that we call Paradise.”
So different from today  Again, it raining and windy – oh where has summer gone?
 But some summers are brilliant.  And as a reminder, here’s a photo of the beach in front of our house in Ohope.
Ohope beach
“Abundant sunshine, warm waters and safe swimming make Ōhope Beach the perfect summer holiday destination. Maybe that’s why it was voted NZ’s Most Loved Beach—with 11 km of easily walkable white sand beach from the Ōhiwa Harbour entrance all the way to West End.”  Whakatane.com  Information.
And have you had a chance to look at my new blog, Books&morebooks where I review the books I have read.?  Maybe there’s a book that appeals to you.
 

You are my sunshine

My sister in the US posted this to me today on Facebook with the question “Don’t you wish someone would make this for you?  My response “Yes please, if you have the time, I would really love one.”  

She reminded me that as very little girls we had visited the burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury where RAF patients were being treated.  I don’t know what we were doing there and why two little girls would be taken there but I do remember sitting on some of the pilots’ laps singing “You are my sunshine” and most of them joining in.  Some in tears and so two little girls were also in tears but really not understanding why these men were crying.  The staff also joined in the singing and some of the crying.

As Christine commented, “We were so young, we didn’t know to be frightened/horrified by those poor young men”.

Ever after that song was known in our family as The Misery Song.

I do hope I'm not impinging on anyone's copyright.
I do hope I’m not impinging on anyone’s copyright.

Isn’t it amazing how we remember some things and others are just dropped from our memories until a song or somebody else brings them to mind?

How could I forget such a visceral meeting?  These brave young men who gave so much to so many of us.  We need to remember that these boys, for many of them were only boys, lived the rest of their lives with scars from the burns.  But Stoke Mandeville was actively treating the burns and developing the skills needed for reformative surgery so that these men could go on to live as normally as possible.

Another reason I’m sorry that I never asked why we were there when there was still somebody alive who could have answered the question.

“Memories warm you up from the inside.
But they also tear you apart.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Walking, Wishing, Wondering on Wednesday

You can have the other words
chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace.
I don’t know what it is exactly,

but I’ll take it. ”
― Mary Oliver

While walking through Ngaio today on a blustery Wellington Wednesday, I thought about Paris.

L1140374

It’s now more than 2 years since we were in Paris and promising that we would return and next time for at least three months.  Oh, the best-laid plans etc.

But notwithstanding all that has happened in the intervening 29 months, the memories are still live.  We had such a fantastic time; we did all the touristy things, Le Tour Eiffel, trips on the Seine, Place des Vosges and Victor Hugo’s house, the Pompidou Centre, La Defence, The Louvre, etc etc.

la-defence

I am sure that La Defense was the Architect’s favourite place to visit.  What a fantastic building The Grande Arche is.

We were told the Arche  is placed so that it forms a secondary axis with the two highest buildings in Paris, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district with 560 hectares (1,400 acres) area, 72 glass and steel buildings of which 16 are completed skyscrapers . Another very wet day but an interesting area to visit.

 

pompidou-centre

 

Of course, he was totally impressed with the Pompidou Centre and the work of the British Architect Richard Rogers and the Italian Architect Renzo Piano.  We had dinner there and I had a hard time getting him out of the museum when it closed for the night.  “Next time” we promised “we’ll come earlier and stay all day”

It rained a lot while we were there, but we managed to see quite a lot of Paris in our 7 days.

 

L1140196

We became adept at travelling on the Metro.

L1140123

Because he was an Architect we spent time under the Tour D’Eiffel while he looked in total wonderment  at the complicated engineering arrangement that made this wonder.

And in case you’re wondering, no we didn’t go to either Galerie Lafayettes or Printemps.  We were there to enjoy Paris.  Shopping could wait until next time.

So now I have all these lovely memories, backed up by the thousands of photographs the Architect took during our 13  weeks in Europe, many of which are in Paris.

And as Humphrey Bogart said to Ingrid Bergman in the film Casablanca

“We’ll always have Paris”

And Walking, Wishing, and Wondering ?:-

  • Walking is self-evident
  • Wishing we were together again in Paris
  • Wondering if I shall ever go back.

 

 

The Pianist

 

That morning she had been to the library to pick up a book she really wanted to read, so now with the book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, she opened the patio door intending to spend a quiet afternoon reading in the summer sun. As she opened the door she heard, through an open window on the other side of the courtyard, someone playing the piano and instantly she was transported back to that weekend.

The weekend when her love was home from the hospital.  During the time he was home he spoke hardly at all, mostly he was just sitting and savouring the peace and tranquillity after spending several weeks in a busy regional hospital.

He sat enjoying the beauty of the house he had created and outside the house, the wonder that nature had created.

On the Sunday the house had been filled with family members but during the time they were there he said nothing although from time to time he would smile and  if somebody spoke directly to him he would nod his head.  Later, when most of the guests had gone and they were left with just his son’s family, the son hugged his father and asked when he had last played the piano.

Saying nothing, he got up and went to his beloved piano where his fingers found the keys and with his special smile, he started to play.  It was music that neither she nor his son recognised, but it was music nevertheless. After a while, he stopped playing, closed the lid and returned to his seat and his contemplation of the beauty and wonder that surrounded him.

And that was the last time he played the piano as the next morning he went back to the hospital never to return home.

The memory of that afternoon, the piano and his playing it with the joy on his face and the look in his eyes wold remain with her forever.

And as she settled down with her book and her wine, she contemplated how a small thing like the sound of a piano being played could evoke such a memory

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die”
Judith Baxter, blogger, friend, mother, grandmother and sister

Creative writing kit

 

Note – this was prompted by Judy Reeves in her “A Creative Writer’s Kit”.
Her prompt was “Someone’s playing the piano”

Some fact, some fiction – isn’t that what all good stories are made of?

Erratum

It’s 3am on Sunday 11 September 2016.  Waking in the night is not something I do with any regularity and today I awoke realising that I had made a mistake in yesterday’s post – Another Year On

Originally I wrote –

“On the eve of 9/11 many of us here in New Zealand are thinking of that tragic day in 2001 when so many lives were lost, so many lives were changed and the world as we knew it changed suddenly and forever.”

Then I chaged it to

“Of course yesterday it was 9/11 here in New Zealand, and  many of us were  thinking of that tragic day in 2001 when so many lives were lost, so many lives were changed and the world as we knew it changed suddenly and forever.”

Confusion because here in New Zealand we say 11/9 and those of you in North America say 9/11.  In any event everything else in yesterday’s post still stands and today we will remember those who lost their lives, those who helped rescue some and the people whose lives were changed forever.

 

 

Six Word Saturday Again!

Wow it’s Saturday again.  Time for Six Word Saturday

Six word Saturday button

You know what to do if you want to get involved.  Click on the above or on the link.  Now you’re all set to join in.

IS LIFE BETTER WITH A G&T?

 

Amongst the things they tell you to avoid following brain injury, is alcohol.

It’s an accepted fact that I’m not a great drinker – my late husband used to say I was the cheapest drunk in Wellington – 2 drinks and I was ready to leave the party.  But just occasionally, on a lovely Saturday afternoon like today’s I would really love a cold G&T.  That would make my day complete I’m sure.

 

L1170268

 

Sitting with laptop on lap (where else) and another cup of tea beside me, I know what is missing is the G&T.

Nobody gives any indication on when alcohol may once again be consumed and so I am   not going there, as they say (who says?).  So until “they” say I can have the odd drink  – is Gin & Tonic odd? – I’ll sip my tea and give thanks that I am able to do so.  After such an accident I could well have been left unable to enjoy tea in the sun.

And of course, as I have said before I’m English So I Drink Tea

cropped-adventure.png

 

You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it. ”
Mary Oliver

What a Difference a Day Makes

Sunrise

Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way.
Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers,
“Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado, author and writer and preacher
at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. 1955-

Well having got over the blues from yesterday I awoke to anther sunny day.  Hasn’t anyone remembered that August is the middle of winter here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand?

And doesn’t the sunshine make everything so much better?  The family all left early as is their wont – work, school and university beckoned and I was alone in the house.  I remember during the busy years thinking how great it would be to have a day to myself and to decide exactly how I would spend it.  Well now I have many such days.  And with nothing much to do this started me thinking about some of the posts I have published in the past.  One such sprang immediately to mind – My Lot is Cast.  I wrote this in February 2012 and now rereading it reminds me of how lucky I am.

My sister in Los Angeles, a prolific reader had introduced me to Josephine Tey and the book To Love and Be Wise and quoted a poem from that book :

“My lot is cast in inland places,
Far from sounding beach
and crying gull,
And I
who knew the sea’s voice from my babyhood
Must listen to a river purling
Through green fields
And small birds gossiping
Among the leaves”.

At the time,  I was playing, trying my hand at writing poetry and came up with my own poem about my Lot.

My lot is cast
In different places
Not beside the river or the ocean
But in the city with its life and vitality.
Not in the distant years of my youth
Nor the busy years of family life
But the peaceful years of time for me
To enjoy friends and family.
Time to investigate new things
New activities and new friends
Time to be me.

And this is still my Lot.  Even after the awful things that have happened in 12 months, I’m happy with my Lot and have plenty for which to be grateful.

And then after reading and a little writing and lunch I spent several hours with a friend.  A short walk, cup of coffee at a new (for me) coffee shop and back to her house for a few rounds of UpWord.

All in all a day well spent.  So another day comes to an end.

“Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day. And whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow.”
Judith Baxter, blogger, friend, mother, grandmother 1938 –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah That’s Better

I think WordPress is playing tricks again.  I posted this earlier today and several people commented on it but it has disappeared into the ether.  All that’s left is the beginning of the post on Facebook.  Don’t you hate it when that happens? And I just can’t remember all I had written.

Anyway I’ll try again.

After writing my earlier post I looked back and thought about my day:

  • I woke up to a warm,sun filled house
  • I woke up knowing that my friends and family are all on my side
  • I had a walk in the bush with my lovely Physiotherapist
  • We ended up at a local coffee shop where we encountered a friend
  • I have so much for which to be grateful not the least for being alive as i know where my accident could have left me.
  • And I know The Architect would not want me to be miserable today or any day.

Waterfall

And as the water continues in its downhill rush over rocks
and the thoughts continue to tumble around in my brain
with no defined pattern or path,
they eventually find and settle into a safe place
and the void is suddenly filled
and my mind is active once again.

Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother and friend

 

And from Mary Oliver

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

 

 

Back home with my family and friends

After a nasty accident that caused severe brain injury I spent seven weeks in hospital and at ABI rehabilitation.  Now thanks to the teams at both places I’m well on the way to recovery. Back home again and ready to post on my blog.

One of the most annoying aspects is that with brain injury driving licences are suspended for six months, until a doctor certifies you can drive. So currently I’m very dependent on family, friends and Driving Miss Daisy to take me around.

The entry to the exhibition
The entry to the exhibition

 

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.

IMG_0700

Larger than life sized models
Larger than life sized models

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.

IMG_0699
Quins Post

 

A Nurse gets news of the death of a loved one

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

Anzac Poppy
ANZAC Poppy