The Day That The Rains Came

Photo by Olivia Basile via unsplash

We have had no rain here in Wellington for the past couple of weeks we have been enjoying long hot summer days sitting outside with a glass of cold wine or a G&T well into the evening

But on Friday morning, Mother Nature decided to let us know who was in charge and the skies opened and the rain poured down.  And all that day and the next it continued. The gardens all appreciated the rain but not so those still on holiday. You may have seen on your local television the floods that have been hitting the upper North Island. Chris told me she saw it on her news.  So, what we’ve had in Wellington is the tail end of that storm.

Today has been mainly dry and hopefully, that will give those people who have been flooded out of their homes time to sort themselves out before the next onslaught which we are advised will happen in the next day or so.

But for me, this was a full-on weekend. On Friday evening with a friend, I went to see Ottolenghi the Israeli chef who has taken the world by storm.  Before the show, we had dinner at a newly opened restaurant.  This restaurant really lived up to all that was promised on its website.  The show itself was a little disappointing.  I’m not sure what I expected. Obviously, he couldn’t prepare and cook food on the stage in front of us. In fact, he did prepare one cold dish made-up of a variety of items that he had on hand and of course, we could all see this on the large screen that was up above the stage. 

Then Saturday dawned and it was still raining.  it was a friend’s birthday and so we had planned to all meet for lunch. We went to a favourite cafe set in the beautiful Botanic Gardens here in Wellington. It’s a very pleasant place to be particularly when the sun shines but yesterday everybody and everything was drenched, but the weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the “birthday girl” and her three close friends.

It was decided that it was such a terrible day that we would go to the movies in the evening.  The birthday girl’s husband would join us and once again he would be the only man with four women three of whom are widows.

We went to see the Lost King. This tells the story of Phillipa Langley and Michael Jones’ hunt for the resting place of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of Britain.    It certainly was a fascinating tale of this woman, Phillipa Langley, MBE, who got engrossed thinking about Richard III and from there she spent all her time searching until eventually, with the help of Michael Jones and others, and against the advice of most other people they discovered the resting place under a car park in Leicester. I n 2012 the body of Richard III was exhumed and laid to rest finally in Leicester Cathedral.  

And once again, it shows what a single person with a purpose can achieve.

Note – According to the BBC ” Richard III, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, was reburied at Leicester Cathedral. He was originally interred at the church of the Greyfriars, a 13th-Century monastic friary. The church appears to have been demolished during the reign of Henry VIII.

JB Wellington, NZ – January 29, 2023
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Socialising on Sunday

I have written before about some poems I have read that see that seemed to have been written just for me. This poem by James Rainsford is a particular one:

“Please put down that book you’re reading now
and gently close its pages.
So no harm shall come to damage its cold thoughts.
Look up.  Please, look up and see
what little there is left of me where you felt loved.

© James Rainsford – Author, poet, photographer.

I often think about that poem and hear my late husband’s voice each time.  How many times did I hear words like that in the 41 years we were together?  

Today, I had lunch with friends in their garden on a lovely summer Sunday.  I commented on how good the garden was looking. 18 months ago there was no garden when they moved into their new house, just hard-packed earth, mostly clay,  that had been compounded by the trucks during building, and delivery vans once they took possession.

These people have a good life and share many things but not a love of gardening and the comment was made by the wife that her husband spent much of the day engrossed in a book.  Her complaint was that while she was working in the garden (which she loved) she would often call him to come and look at a particular plant. 

He doesn’t always respond by putting down the book.

Many of my friends, all avid readers, have been guilty of ignoring calls to put down that book.  Think about it. I know there were many times when the call disturbed my concentration. I didn’t care about the rugby game playing out on the TV.  Now, I wish  had read the poem while my husband was still alive.  I hope I would have heeded the call. 

Thank you, James, for permitting me to reprint your poem on my blog Growing Younger Each Day 12 years ago. 

JB Wellington, NZ
January 22, 2023

A BOLT OUT OF THE BLUE

A lovely Summer’s s day here in NZ. A quiet cup of coffee in the sunshine was disturbed by Breaking News. Our Prime Minister is resigning.

Jacinta Ardern, the Darling of the world press, and many of its leaders and politicians will resign “no later than February 7” The announcement was received by the general population here with shock and some might say, disbelief. There had been no indication to the Hoi Polloi of this before the announcement. She made the announcement today in Hawkes Bay and at the same time announced the date of the General Election as October 14th.

Now we have the usual jockeying for the position as Leader of the Labour Party following Ardern’s decision.

There’s nothing more for me to add. Just 

Image via Linkedin

JB Wellington, NZ, January 19, 2023

Sunny Sunday Sensing

“Lazy Sunday afternoon
I’ve got no mind to worry
I close my eyes and drift away-a”
Small Faces  1960s –  an English rock band from East London 

Sunday afternoon and it’s here before anywhere else in the world. Well, this Sunday was great.

The day started with a late rising, followed by a chat with my daughter and then another chat this time on Facetime with my alter ego/good friend Chris.  You know that we regularly chat and although we’ve never met in person, we are firm friends. Maybe if one of us wins the lottery we might get to meet. Waterloo, Ontario is far from Wellington, New Zealand. Aren’t we lucky we live in a time when the internet makes connecting with friends so easy?

After being picked up by another friend and lunch in the coffee shop at my favourite garden shop, we took a ‘short’ run to the supermarket for a very few things. As my daughter says “Why go to the supermarket on Sunday afternoon when you have all week?” No answer to that one.

Then it was time to unpack the groceries and take the opportunity to sit in the sunshine with another book from Tony Park, the author I recently discovered. Another book set in South Africa, about game viewing and poaching.  I am enjoying learning more about this fascinating country. Off now to continue reading. 

Then after lunch, a ‘short’ run to the supermarket for a very few things. As my daughter says “why go to the supermarket on Sunday afternoon when you have all week?” No answer to that one.

Back to reading my book.

JB January 15, 2023
Wellington, NZ

Friday the 13th

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th in New Zealand. It will shortly be at your place too. 

Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in the Western world.  Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t eat in restaurants and many would not consider setting this as a date for a wedding or other large celebration.

According to our good friend Wikipedia “The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen)”  So we have a name for this phobia. But from where did this superstition arise?  The number 13 has been considered unlucky for centuries. Some say the superstition began with 13 people who attended the Last Supper, but ancient Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi omits the number 13 in its list of laws, so the superstition dates back to at least 1700 BC.

It appears that Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  Apparently, it was a Friday when Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit.  We are told that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; and it was on a Friday that the Temple of Solomon was destroyed.  And Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified.  In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day and later Hangman’s Day in Britain

But the association of Friday with the number 13 didn’t arise until the 20th  century.  In 1907, Thomas Lawson a Boston stockbroker published a book called Friday the Thirteenth.  This told the story of one man’s attempt to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the month.  The book sold nearly 28,000 copies in the first week.

Wall Street’s superstitions about Friday the 13th continued and in 1925 the New York Times declared that people “would no more buy or sell a share of stock today than they would walk under a ladder or kick a black cat out of their path.”

Even today most tall buildings don’t have a thirteenth floor.

So are you superstitious about this day?  In 2023 Friday the 13th will occur twice – January and October – so if you are superstitious you will have to watch out on those two days.

“How many things served us yesterday for articles of faith,
which today are fables for us?” 
Michel de Montaigneone of the most significant philosophers of

the French Renaissance. 1513 – 1592

JB Wellington, NZ
Friday 13 January 2023

Summer in Wellington

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
Roger Miller, Singer, songwriter, & actor
1936-1992

Another Christmas has come and gone, another New Year’s Eve celebration followed it as always, and has also passed and now we are getting back to the everyday life that we know.

All the festivities and fun are great.  It’s always good to catch up with friends and family and what better time than at Christmas and New Year?  But don’t you feel rather flat when the day has passed, the friends have left for home and things are really no different than they were on December 24th?  If like me, you were lucky to receive some gifts and now you have a few more ‘things’ to find places for, you will be adding the fact that you have friends and family who care to your Gratitude List.

After a spell of summer weather, the worm has turned and as I said in my last post, for the past few days we have had really wet weather.  So what to do in the face of this awful weather?  Another new book to read or maybe just look at some of the posts written at this time over my blogging years, in my blog Growing Younger Each Day.

I see that on January 2 in 2013, I was again bemoaning our awful summer weather.  But I also commented on a TV programme I had just watched. In this programme, Rhys-Jones introduced us to Kenneth Grahame, the retiring scholarly man who wrote this story for his somewhat troublesome only child Alistair.  At the time, Grahame was the Secretary of the Bank of England.  He had written some books about children for adults but this was the first (and only) book for children. Do you know this fabulous fable?

The story is set along a riverbank.  In fact, it is subtitled Tales of the Riverbank. We are introduced to the kindly, self-effacing, industrious Mole (Grahame himself perhaps?), Rat, Badger, Otter and of course the incredible, irascible, Mr Toad.  Who hasn’t met a Mr Toad in real life?

These woodland animals are given human characteristics and live an indolent life on the riverbank, often messing about in boats.

But Toad it is who fills the book with his antics and exploits.  He is very sure of himself and he is very conceited.  He sings about himself  “Ho, ho!  I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad”.  And he thinks that he alone knows anything.   Consider –

“The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad”

When Toad sees a shining red motor car he cannot resist it and drives it off eventually being caught and being sent to prison –

“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!”

The book was originally published in 1908 and  my copy of the book is 55 65 years old, well read, well-thumbed but still securely bound in spite of that.

Quite late in life, by then considered a confirmed bachelor,  Grahame married the shy and retiring, scatty and whimsical Elspeth Thomson.  They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”).  Unfortunately, he was born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.  It was for this child that the book was written.

So then I was glad for a cold, January evening that allowed me to find this programme on the TV.  I thank Rhys-Jones for taking us along the riverbank and telling us about Grahame and his strange little family.

And as an aside in 2010 a First Edition of the book was sold by Bonhams in London for 32,400 GBP

JB Wellington, NZ
January 8, 2023

FIVE WORD FRIDAY

FIVE WORD FRIDAY, ON SATURDAY

The celebrations, activities, and festivities continue here for a couple of weeks after Christmas Many people take their annual leave at this time, so offices have only a skeleton staff and some retailers change their opening hours.

The town is quiet and fairly free of the usual hum of cars, pedestrians, and shoppers.

So I find it difficult to keep track of the days. And that’s my excuse for writing this post a day late.

Now what else to write about. Our lovely summer has come to a grinding halt. We have had rain almost continuously for the past three days. Friends came for lunch on Thursday but we couldn’t eat outside as we had done on previous days. But because PollyAnna is alive and well in Wellington, the upside is our gardens all needed the rain and I haven’t had to go out and water mine.

And today because I was heartily sick of finding things to do while the rain poured down, I made a pot of coffee and sat in my very comfy armchair with a new book.

Via Wikipedia

Have you come across Tony Park? He is an Australian author who with his wife, spends his time between Sydney, Australia and a private nature reserve near the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Many of his novels are set in South Africa. The book I spent all day reading is entitled Blood Trail and it is his latest in a long list of published books.

Apart from getting more coffee and then a sandwich for lunch, I have sat all day reading. What better way to spend a wet Saturday afternoon!

JB, January 7, 2023
Wellington New Zealand, in the rain

Better To Write

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, 
than to write for the public and have no self.”  
Cyril Connolly 1903 – 1976
English literary critic and writer

It is still holiday time here in New Zealand and today, I had a couple of friends over for lunch. They came early for coffee then we played a couple of hands of mahjong, had lunch and two more rounds of mahjong, then they left. Having tidied up after this lunch I then had to think about my blog post for today. 

I thought back on some of the posts I had written early in my blogging career, and I came across one entitled Better to Write, written in January 2012. I particularly liked the quote and thought how much I agreed with it.  So I thought I would repost it here, with a few, minor alterations.

Just as some people, particularly children, like to sing I like to write.

I have many notebooks filled with my writing and often it is work that has never been seen by anybody else.  The joy in much of this writing was just to get it down on a page.

Of course, with the advent of at least one computer in every home, writing has become easier.  Well, the physical act of writing has.  No more putting pen to paper but instead sitting at a keyboard and letting the words pour forth.  On a good day that is.

But like all writers, whether well-known or like me, just writing for the pleasure of writing, we know what it is like to step up to the page aka computer screen to be faced with a blank sheet.  No thoughts on anything.  Blank screen and a blank mind.  But then something comes and the void is filled.

As writers we are vulnerable.  We write about what matters to us and expose ourselves and unveil our deepest feelings.  Our words reveal much about us and our truths.  And sometimes, because of this, writing feels dangerous.  But this is what keeps us (well me at any rate) coming back to the screen/notebook/page.  The need to share my feelings on the page with others (hopefully) or just with myself when necessary.  It is scary and often I am looking for excuses – the dishes must be done, the washing hung out etc etc, but I keep coming back to the page.

At times we feel the need to judge, to edit our writing.  We strive for perfection but we know, unless we are one of the great writers, that perfection is out of reach.  Lord Marks of Marks & Spencer fame said “The price of perfection is too great.  Close enough is good enough.”

Photo Dreamstime

“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 1938 –
Writer, Blogger, Friend

JB Wellington, NZ
January 5, 2023

Welcome Another Year

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” 
― Alfred Lord Tennyson

January 1, 2023, and another beautiful summer day here in New Zealand/Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud.  

Much of yesterday was spent sorting and tidying cupboards and drawers. I think those years spent in Scotland had a bigger impact on me than I realised. It is a tradition in Scotland for houses to be cleaned, polished, and tidied before the New Year comes in, and so this is what was occupying my time yesterday. 

Then today, my daughter decided that we would tidy the cupboard in our shared laundry.  This, of course, set off another round of attacking those cupboards and drawers that hadn’t been attacked yesterday.

After this flurry of work, I decided that I would have a cup of coffee sitting in this sunshine and enjoying this place I choose to call home. The only company I had, for the time being, was a lazy cat enjoying himself in the sun, and the Tuis and other birds calling loudly in the trees.  And for a couple of hours this afternoon, this became my Shangri-La.

And then I thought of the passage from Lost Horizon by James Hilton.  If you haven’t read the book it is about a group of four people who are attempting to escape a civil war.  After their plane crashes, they are found by a mysterious Chinese man who leads them to a monastery hidden in “the valley of the blue moon”. Here, in a land of beauty and mystery, life is lived far beyond and out of the reach of the world that is heading into another World War.  It is here, in Shangri-La, that the destinies of these four travellers are unveiled against a backdrop of peace and tranquillity..

And now the name Shangri-La has become synonymous with a  place of peace and harmony far from the modern world.

Well back to the passage that came to mind while sitting:

“He was discovering happiness in the present.
When he sat reading in the library or 

playing Mozart in the music room, 
he often felt the invasion of a deep spiritual emotion.”

And this is how I felt this afternoon.  A feeling of being in the right place at the right time, doing what I was meant to do.  And I think that I was meant to take time out of a normally busy life and just think about the beauty around me, the sun and the birds and yes, Flashcat.  Perhaps this was my Shangri-La for a couple of hours this afternoon.

And another Mary Oliver quote:

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

Happy New Year. And as they say in Ireland “May the Good Lord take a liking to you, but not too soon.”

JB Wellington, New Zealand
January 1, 2023
Jaar

Me – pedantic?

Pedantic n: excessively concerned with minor details
or rules;overscrupulous.

I have realised that as I’m ageing I am becoming pedantic.  I find myself correcting the newscasters. They say who instead of whom; less instead of fewer, have two choices instead of a choice, split infinitives, etc etc.

While at the hospital recently I saw a message on the wall that said if you are a woman and between the ages of 17 to 65 – or some such ages. Later I drew my daughter’s attention to the mistaken use of to instead of and.  She responded with the question, did I understand what was being transmitted.  Of course, I answered yes, but it still worried me. And her further response was – Well that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Then later in the week, when just thinking about nothing in particular, it came to me that I was becoming pedantic.  The English language and the way it is used, was very important in our lives when we were growing up.  Both parents, but my Father, in particular, were very aware of the way we used English and because of this, I guess I have continued to be very aware of language.

So now I am making a definite move to change.  I know it won’t be easy but ….

Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future
John F Kennedy

And for no other reason than because I love it. –

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world“.
Marilyn Monroe

Red Shoes

If only I were able to wear those heels!

Time now to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

JB, Wellington, NZ
December 29, 2022