Things I Don’t Understand

‘‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.’’
C. S. Lewis
( 1898 – 1963 )

I suppose this could be a very long list.

Where is The Wisdom that comes with Age?

To start with I’m not sure I really understand the C.S. Lewis quote above. Maybe I do and I don’t know it.

In childhood could not understand, You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I mean if you ate then you had it. Right? Okay not quite that dense but…

I don’t understand after all these years and generations we truly have not learned from the past, and we keep repeating history.

I must have read Hawking’s A Brief History of Time at least 5 times and do not understand it. I should say I tried to read it.

I don’t understand how my perfectly constructed budget on paper never quite matches the real end result.

And then there is this Cold Play song, about not understanding, that I am not sure I understand.

Things I Don’t Understand – YouTube

How tides control the sea, and what becomes of me
How little things can slip out of your hands
How often people change, no two remain the same
Why things don’t always turn out as you planThese are things that I don’t understand
Yeah, these are things that I don’t understandI can’t, and I can’t decide
Wrong, all my wrong from right
Day, all my day for night
Dark, all my dark for light
I live, but I love this lifeHow infinite is space, and who decides your fate
Why everything will dissolve into sand
How to avoid defeat, when truth and fiction meet
Why nothing even turns out how you plannedThese are things that I don’t understand
Yeah, these are things that I don’t understandI can’t, and I can’t decide
Wrong, all my wrong from right
Day, all my day for night
Or dark, all my dark for light
I live, but I love this life

Not sure if the video came through from YouTube okay but you can hear it over there.

This is AN ACTION day for me. Lots to do getting ready for Hogmanay (you know, all that clean house stuff). The perfect budget is complete (I am a star on paper!)

It’s December 30th, 2021 here at North of 43 and it is just after midnight on New Year’s Eve day for JB so she should be in dreamland for a few hours.

May 2022 see us all gain some sort of UNDERSTANDING

Chris G

Another Year On

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
whispering, it will be happier.”

Alfred ,Lord Tennyson. English Poet. 1809-1892

As another year draws to a close, it’s time to think about what went on in the past 363 days.

Of course, uppermost in everybody’s mind is the pandemic. And what a pandemic it turned out to be.  Each time we thought we were getting the better of it, a new strain showed itself, creating panic and distress in its wake.

Here in New Zealand, while we have been very lucky and have not had the numbers of cases of Covid as other countries, we have still been impacted. Plans have been changed, remade, and changed again. Families have been apart for months; weddings have been celebrated with far fewer people than originally expected; new babies have been born and until a few days ago, many had not been seen by doting grandparents and aunts and uncles; funerals and tangis have been conducted, again with a lesser number of attendees. Hospitals have been stretched, as have all health services. These front-line workers are now tired or ill themselves.

And now the newest strain has entered our country.  In spite of all the limitations put in place. it has made its way here.  So now we must expect case numbers to grow as has happened everywhere else in the world.

But amidst all this gloom and despondency, surely there must be some light of hope somewhere.  It might take more effort than usual, to look forward to a Happy New Year. But particularly as 2021 comes to a close, it is important for us all to hope that 2022 will bring an end to the raging pandemic; new ways to deal with this and new ways to ensure it doesn’t continue to spread in the way it is currently.

As each new year dawns, I choose a word for the year.  This year’s word was HOPE. Next year’s word will be OPTIMISM.  I know I am Pollyanna and am positive and optimistic always, but for 2022 I think this is the right word.

Do you have a word for the year?

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another voice.”  
T S Eliot. American poet, essayist and playwright

JB December 30, 2021

More Questions Please

A few years ago, somewhat disenchanted with perpetually unsuccessful New Year’s Resolutions I tried abandoning all attempts at this futile custom.

Then it occurred to me to set Goals instead of airy-fairy thoughts of ’Wannas’ that ended up in ’Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda’s’’, and invariably failed.

So JB and I started to formalize this process about three years ago. And the result has been rather amazing. Not in a world-shaking sort of way, but in a self-satisfaction-realization kind of way. We share our goals prior to Jan 1st, review and reassess in about June, and make a list of Accomplishments in December. I have achieved amazing things in the past three years – but that would be another blog, but things that were always Wannas and never once succeeded in the past.

Some clarification here: JB is the Doer and I am the Thinker. While I think, she just goes ahead and does. And what happens most often at the end of the year she says, ’I can’t think of a single thing I have accomplished.’ And then, I, having thought so much, list for her things she has achieved (which is always considerable). I guess I am the list-keeper.

Goals are kept few in number which helps make them achievable. I figure it is better to succeed at one thing than to fail at many. A Plan of Action ensures achievability. The Wanna is no good if you don’t know how you are going to get there. I often make changes to the PoA once I see the effectiveness of it.

If the above seems a bit blurry it is because the path is not always clear.

More clarification: This is not a blurb about goals etc. There are lots of experts who will tell you far more and far better.

The thought that crossed my mind this morning was – When I shake my head in bafflement (frequently these days), is it because the world has become such a confusing place or is it because of my age?

My next thought was that the problem seems to be that everyone has found a voice, thanks to Social Media, and just never shut up. No one seems to listen. Everyone, it seems, just wants to expound on every one of the estimated 6,200 thoughts that apparently go through the human brain in a day. True number? Who knows. I just Googled it. Really how would one even figure that number out?

Anyway, the point is that I think there are too many opinions and not enough questions.

So in working out Goals for 2022, asking questions and seeking answers is going to be Number One. I am off to write my PoA.

It really is quite satisfying to embrace the above statement.

If you set one goal for the next year what would it be? You don’t have to share it but the result might be amazing.

Chris North of 43

December 28, 2021

Another View of Christmas

“Hope is being able to see that there is light
despite all of the darkness.”
Desmond Tutu – 1931 – 2021.

I first posted this in December 2012. I reblogged it in December 2017 bemoaning the fact that five years had passed and still nothing had changed. And so to December 2021. Nine years since that first post and yet nothing at all has changed. Wars are raged, people are injured or die, homes, sacred places, and relics are destroyed and for what I ask.

We all know Einstein’s quote – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

But as most of us don’t know or understand the reasons the wars are being waged in the first place therefore, we cannot know the result the perpetrators are expecting to gain. 

So once again, because i am a dreamer, I look back at that amazing song of John Lennon’s – Imagine and I hope that maybe, one day, it cold happen.


December 19, 2012

“An eye for an eye
will make us all blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

After all the cheerful Christmas posts I have been writing and reading, I remembered this video – Happy Christmas (War is Over) from John Lennon.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I cannot now insert that video. Here are the words, but if you would like to see the video go to Another View of Christmas. But here are the lyrics. They don’t move me as the video did.

So this is Christmas and what have you done?
Another year over, a new one just begun.
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun,
The near and the dear one The old and the young
A very merry Christmas And a happy new year,
Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear
And so this is Christmas For weak and for strong,
For the rich and the poor ones, The road is so long.
And so happy Christmas for black and for whites,
For the yellow and red ones, Let’s stop all the fight.
A very merry Christmas And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear

Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980 and so it is obviously many years since he sang this song but  what has changed?  War is still being raged around the world; people are dying; children are being maimed; people are starving; people are being punished for their beliefs; bombs are still being manufactured by countries who deny this; prisoners are being inhumanely treated….  Will we ever learn?

And compare those words with the words of Imagine

Wouldn’t that make for a Very Happy Christmas

And because I am a dreamer, I can hope that maybe, someday, those words may come true, and “we all can live as one”. And wars will be over, perhaps not. in my lifetime, but just perhaps…

JB December 28, 2021

Hogmanay – not canceled – well not the tradition anyway

In this time of the Big C many things are being canceled, including flights and street parties, group gatherings, but there are still traditions to be carried out.

You might remember my Mini-Me, daughter of my mother’s identical twin born with-in ninety-six hours of my birth, who lives in Edinburgh, the city of my heart. We chat every day face-to-face, and the conversation this time of year goes to Hogmanay. I told her I thought I would embrace those traditions more fully this year so researched a bit more of this uniquely Scots holiday. The facts below are from

Only one nation in the world can celebrate the New Year or Hogmanay with such revelry and passion – the Scots! But what are the actual origins of Hogmanay, and why should a tall dark-haired stranger be a welcome visitor after midnight?

It is believed that many of the traditional Hogmanay celebrations were originally brought to Scotland by the invading Vikings in the early 8th and 9th centuries. These Norsemen, or men from an even more northerly latitude than Scotland, paid particular attention to the arrival of the Winter Solstice or the shortest day, and fully intended to celebrate its passing with some serious partying.

In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.

It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.

And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.

There are several traditions and superstitions that should be taken care of before midnight on the 31st December: these include cleaning the house and taking out the ashes from the fire, there is also the requirement to clear all your debts before “the bells” sound midnight, the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne”. Burns published his version of this popular little ditty in 1788, although the tune was in print over 80 years before this.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

An integral part of the Hogmanay party, which is continued with equal enthusiasm today, is to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality and of course lots of enforced kissing for all.

“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year.

The firework displays and torchlight processions now enjoyed throughout many cities in Scotland are reminders of the ancient pagan parties from those Viking days of long ago.

The traditional New Year ceremony would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village whilst being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires and tossing torches. Animal hide wrapped around sticks and ignited produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective in warding off evil spirits: this smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Many of these customs continue today, especially in the older communities of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. On the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, the young men and boys form themselves into opposing bands; the leader of each wears a sheep skin, while another member carries a sack. The bands move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. The boys are given bannocks (fruit buns) for their sack before moving on to the next house.

One of the most spectacular fire ceremonies takes place in Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen on the north east coast. Giant fireballs are swung around on long metal poles each requiring many men to carry them as they are paraded up and down the High Street. Again the origin is believed to be linked to the Winter Solstice with the swinging fireballs signifying the power of the sun, purifying the world by consuming evil spirits.

**At North of 43 am not sure of the dark-haired male or the debt clearing but by george there will be a dram or two!!

Boxing Day 2021 Chris G

Boxing Day

Christmas Day came and went in a flurry of excitement, many gifts, much good food and wine, and family get together Friends of various family members called in, sometimes individually, sometimes three or for at a time. So a busy, happy day for us all.

The rain managed to hold off until about 10.30 pm, and this meant most of the day was spent outside.

“Do not be angry with the rain
. It simply does not know how to fall upwards.”
Vladimir Nabokov.  
Russian-American novelist and poet, 1899 – 1977

And here I must make mention of Chris who is now bundled up in winter woollies. And because of our friend/enemy Covid, she will be having a solitary Christmas Day. I wish you were here Chris.

.and now it is Boxing Day.

Here in New Zealand, we have Boxing Day as a Statutory Holiday.  Boxing Day is the day following Christmas Day when traditionally, servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their employers.  This was known as a “Christmas box”.

Wikipedia tells us   “The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations from Britain in the 1830s, defining it as “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”.

Growing up in Britain in the 1940s and 50s I remember tradesmen such as the milkman, postman, and coalman knocking on the door to collect Christmas boxes, usually money, in the week before Christmas, or occasionally, the following week.  These were people we rarely saw but who obviously performed a service for us.

And again courtesy of Wikipedia we learn – “This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older British tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.”

When I first met my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) – oh he was very young and so dashing – he was used to celebrating only Hogmanay (New Yea’s Day) and only that day was a holiday. Everyone went back to work on January 2nd. Christmas Day did not become  a Public Holiday until 1958 in Scotland, and Boxing Day only in 1974

Because Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall during the weekend this year, the following two days are designated statutory holidays. And because New Year’s Day and the day after also fall on the weekend this year, there are two more statutory holidays.  Many people take the three days between the Christmas and New Year as part of their annual holiday entitlement; thereby getting 11 days break while using only three of their allowance.

So for us, the Christmas season continues for several more days. Children are on holiday from school and no doubt by now, are driving their parents to distraction.

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter,
and every window open to great possibility.”
Mary Anne Radmacher, writer and artist.

Yet another post full of absolutely useless information.  Except, that is, if you happen to play Trivial Pursuit over the holiday period, you might just find a use for some of this.

JB – December 26, 2021


Yesterday JB told us about Christmas in NZ and the beautiful Pohutukawa and Drinking White Wine in the Sun. Ah, southern climes and the opposite side of the world, a life so different from North of 43.

When we first talked about a joint blog I suggested it be created by her in NZ because it was such an exotic location. ’I don’t think it’s exotic,’ replied she of sun and sea. All about perspective isn’t it?

I posted this way back January 16th of 2012 when our friendship was fairly new: I heard on the radio yesterday that a survey was done to determine the friendliest country in the world and New Zealand was the winner. This does not surprise me in the least – right Judith and Cecilia? – and I was pretty happy for my friends.
I do have an issue with surveys and wonder about the second third and fourth runner ups. (Canada was third, the USA fourth and I think South Africa was second).
I know how friendly Scotland and The Netherlands is, so I would like to know exactly how the survey was compiled. Was every country rated? I’ll bet lots of you know countries that could or should have been top rated.

Then, as now, two of my all-time favourite people, Judith Baxter and Cecilia Mary Gunther are of course of New Zealand. JB imported, and Celi exported. For me it is a land of wonder. I have watched hours of documentaries on flora and fauna, how the islands formed.


Guess which scene is me? Not too far from where I live actually. There is snow on the ground right now but rains are expected and a balmy 5C – currently -1C so we are looking at a green Christmas. At least here in South Western Ontario. Canada is a huge country so north-south-east-west the temperatures and weather varies quite drastically.

JB says their traditional Christmas fare is barbecue and I believe that turkey doesn’t make it to the top of the culinary list. Because of the time difference (next day) this is actually Christmas Day down under. **Say, if they are traditionally referred to as ‘down under’ how are we referred to by them? ’Up above’??

Anyway dearest Judith Baxter MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS from you northern global opposite! Chris

December 24th, 2021 North of 43

Thoughts for Christmas

A World Apart

Here in New Zealand, the Pohutukawa is our Christmas tree.Maori Lore has it that if it blooms early then we will have a good, long, hot summer. Well, suddenly the weather has changed in Wellington and it looks as if the Maori were right.

Then I thought of other things to wite about today. The song that has been my favourite Christmas song, for some years -Drinking White Wine in theSunby Tim Minchin.Do you know this song?

And then I thought about the Christmas story, of the boy child being born in a manger, and of the three kings who visited bringing gifts. That then brought me to Norma Faber and her poem The Queens Came Late

The Queens came late, but the Queens were there
With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,

View original post 365 more words

Thoughts for Christmas

Here in New Zealand, the Pohutukawa is our Christmas tree.  Maori Lore has it that if it blooms early then we will have a good, long, hot summer. Well, suddenly the weather has changed in Wellington and it looks as if the Maori were right.

Then I thought of other things to wite about today. The song that has been my favourite Christmas song, for some years – Drinking White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin.  Do you know this song?

And then I thought about the Christmas story, of the boy child being born in a manger, and of the three kings who visited bringing gifts. That then brought me to Norma Faber and her poem The Queens Came Late

The Queens came late, but the Queens were there 
With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair. 
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far, 
Following, yes, that guiding star….

And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her 
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup–with noodles, too-
And a lingering, lasting, cradlesong.

For the rest of the poem, click the link.

And then I thought of the Twelve Days of Christmas, sung each year and sometimes, I at least, have got fed up hearing it played on the radio. But there are a couple of funny versions – John Denver and the Muppets and Frank Kelly’s Christmas Countdown. For more click here.

What about a New Zealand version?

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree 
On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree 
On the third day of Christmas

And on and on until –

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis

Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five – big – fat – pigs!
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumara
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!


Pukeko – NZ Native bird
Ponga tree – Fern tree that grows here
Kumara – yellow sweet potato
Piuspius – a skirt made of strips of flax
Haka – war chant
Pipis – small shellfish
Puha – type of sow thistle
Pois – Maori word for ball
Huhu – small edible grub found in New Zealand.

And now on Chistmas Eve, it just leaves me to wish you all a very happy Christmas, Hannukah, Eid or however you celebrate this time. May 2022 be a better year for all.
And thank you for following Chris and me on our journey, our adventures..

Even the trains are bedecked for Christmas

“Let us have music for Christmas…
Sound the trumpet of joy and rebirth;
Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts,
To bring peace to men on earth.”

Mildred L Jarrell,

JB – December 24. 2021

Tuesday’s Thoughts — originally from reblogged from bridgesburning and now here. I had some thoughts but when I read this knew I wanted to share with you!

Of course it s Wednesday now here at Northof43. Thank you for your Nuggets of Gold! Chris

This may be the best version I ever heard of Jingle Bells, so I thought I would share it. Enjoy! And I hope you enjoy the quotes as well!  1. 2. 3. 4… Tuesday’s Thoughts Joyroses13 at Nuggets of Gold has such a shareable Christmas post so I could not resist reblogging. Enjoy everyone!

Tuesday’s Thoughts — bridgesburning