“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.
“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.
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.
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
“In the sense that there was nothing before it, all writing is writing against the void.” Mark Strand, 1934 – American poet, essayist, and translator.
Sitting in front of the blank computer screen on a particularly wet Sunday afternoon I could not think of anything to write about today. So I am writing into the void. No wonder the blank page or in my case, the empty computer screen, is so frightening. This void is not my usual habitat. I am a creature of city streets, beaches and bush. My inspiration is born in these things, and of course, family and grandchildren.
And as is always the case, I did think of something. Today I thought of a book I have entitled Lilian Too’s Book of Gold. It is subtitled “Wise Ways to Health, Wealth and Happiness” and contains 365 daily reflections. I haven’t even thought of this book for ages but looking for enlightenment I opened it and saw the reflection entitled “Life is a Sacred Dance”. And thinking about it I know that “when movements are coordinated and sure there is so much grace and when there is also music life becomes a celebration!”
Life is supposed to be a celebration but so often we get mired down in all the things, both small and large, that upset us and work together to spoil our days, so that we forget to be thankful and celebrate all the good things in our lives.
Most of us have so much for which to be grateful. Oh sure, there are those aches and pains that we have to deal with; those pesky neighbours or workmates; that rude clerk in the store or any one of a hundred things you can name. And certainly, there are those things that really drag us down. The death of a friend; a family member with a terminal illness; an unexpected bill to be paid; or the end of a relationship. And further afield war, earthquakes, devastation and riots. Many of the things about which we worry do not impact us personally, and in most instances, there is nothing we can do about them.
Death is something we have to face whether our own or a loved one’s. Relationships will end either by us or by the other person involved. Health whether ours or somebody else’s, will be compromised, and we have to find a way to deal with all of these things. But we also have to find time to celebrate our lives. To remember all the good things for which we have to be thankful. So today I am making a pact with myself to celebrate all those things for which I am grateful.
And to prove that Pollyanna is alive and well and living in Wellington, NZ here are some of the lyrics from a favourite song:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder You get your fill to eat But always keep that hunger May you never take one single breath for granted God forbid love ever leave you empty handed I hope you still feel small When you stand by the ocean Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance I hope you dance; I hope you dance.
JB November 27 2022 On a cold wet “Summer” day in Wellington, NZ
I have written before about this cookbook and how it makes fun of the pretentious while delivering some really good recipes. On looking through it today for some inspiration I came across this:
This picture accompanied the suggestion that we assemble a nightmare selection of guests for a party. Thinking about this, my suggestion is:
Film star or celebrity
Woman CEO of a major company
A rising young author- female to balance the gender
Backbencher (for those who don’t know this is a member of the parliament who doesn’t hold a Ministerial portfolio)
The actor, the writer and the star will no doubt have had to starve at times while making their fortune and the rep actor probably is still starving. So they will be reasonably easy to please. No doubt the career woman has” had to fight tooth and claw to establish herself in a man’s world and she’s nobody’s fool” and the accountant probably has an ulcer or is diabetic because of the stresses and strains of his chosen profession. And the Backbencher is used to being fawned over and eating at Bellamy’s (or the equivalent of the restaurant in the seat of government) so he is likely to be more demanding.
So what would you serve this nightmare group? Our author suggests two menus but for these disparate and perhaps difficult people I would serve:
Chilled cucumber soup because they would be so busy talking and trying to impress each other that a hot starter would soon get cold. Roast New Zealand lamb a la Jamie Oliver, French green beans and a large green salad For dessert, Pavlova (from the bakery of course) with fresh fruit and cream* Followed by brandy or a liquor of their choice, freshly brewed coffee, cheese selection and crackers.
Hopefully, this will impress the career woman, the accountant and the Backbencher and totally ‘blow the socks off ” the other three.
*Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fresh fruit and fresh cream. It is the subject of hot arguments between New Zealanders and Australians as to which of them first introduced this dessert. But we all agree that a well-made Pav takes a lot of beating- excuse the pun!
Then hopefully, they would all make their way home having been thoroughly entertained by the other guests and well fed by me. Leaving me to clear the table and do the dishes and all those other follow-up chores after a party.
And then hopefully, the next day they will tell their friends –
“I went to a marvellous party, I must say the fun was intense, We all had to do What the people we knew Would be doing a hundred years hence…” From I went to a Marvellous Party, Sir Noel Coward
It seems that a good part of each day now is spent reading. I always manage to slip some time in for this very pleasant task(?).. And a winter’s Sunday, with nothing planned, is the perfect time to devote a day to reading.
Today I read “The Mist” by Ragnar Jonasson, another writer new to me. I picked up the book on the way out of the library the other day and I am pleased that I did.
Jonasson is an Icelandic writer and from Mr Google, I learned “Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar has appeared on festival panels worldwide and lives in Reykjavik. Ragnar has a law degree and works as an investment banker in Reykjavik, in addition to teaching law at Reykjavik University.
“Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar has appeared on festival panels worldwide and lives in Reykjavik. Ragnar has a law degree and works as an investment banker in Reykjavik, in addition to teaching law at Reykjavik University.”
So to the book. A truly scary story, set in Iceland in the deep midwinter and the author has one (or at least me) panting for what could possibly come next.
If you are into horror and mystery stories, I recommend you get your hands on a copy of this book.
But having read the book I wanted to find out more about this far-off land.
Again, thanks to Google, I found that Iceland is “a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean and the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland’s capital and largest city is Reykjavík, which (along with its surrounding areas) is home to over 65% of the population.” And in 2020 its population was counted at 366,000 with 237,900 being residents in the capital..
I was particularly interested to note how alike this island is to the island on which I choose to live. For instance, it has a dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. Massive glaciers are protected in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks. We have what has been described as one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. We have mountains, fjords, glaciers, lakes, hot springs, geysers, mud pools national parks, and beaches.
The population of New Zealand in 2020 was 5.084 million and currently, in Wellington, our capital it is set at 419,000.
“What is it with you and that book?” Rafael laughed. “We have a personal relationship.” Benjamin Alire Sáenz, American poet, novelist, and writer of children’s books
Lunch today was cancelled because one friend had a horrible cold and didn’t want to go out nor did she want to give it to us.
So time for me. But where did the three hours I would have spent between leaving home and returning go?
The groceries were delivered bright and early (what a godsend that is to we oldies), and then the FaceTime chat with Chris. We talk twice each week, usually for an hour or so – 10.30 am my time so I have the rest of the day before me; while Chris, some 16 hours behind me, is looking forward to her evening activities.
I had promised myself that I would use this unexpected free day on myself. So I took out my book and continued reading with the sun pouring in the open doors, my Grandson’s cat, Flashcat at my feet and a steaming cup of tea at hand.
Have you discovered Caro Ramsay’s books? Caro is a Scottish mystery writer and we are told “Caro was born in Govan, on Glasgow’s south side. A graduate of the British School of Osteopathy, she runs a large osteopath centre in West Scotland, treating animals and humans, and writes in her spare time.”
So far “in her spare time” she has written 13 books in the Anderson and Costello series, two stand-alone novels and a cookbook. I wonder what I could have achieved in my spare time.
Caro is a member of the Murder Is Everywhere group of mystery writers and it is here that I first met her. Her Anderson and Costello novels are set in Glasgow and as I lived just 8 miles north of Glasgow in a little village called Kirkintilloch (I dare you to try and pronounce that if you are not Scottish) I know most of the places about which she writes. Anderson and Costello are a Detective Inspector and his Detective Sergeant. Caro is obviously on very good terms with her local police because these police procedural novels ring true.
I have started at the beginning of the series Absolution and am now on book three, so there’s a long way to go and many books for me to read. I will, of course, write reviews on my other site, for Goodreads and occasionally on this site.
So I am listening to what David Baldacci says as I sit reading. What a wise man he is!
So back to Anderson and Costello and until the next time.
You will have read Chris’s post How The Light Gets In. I too am a great fan of Louise Penny and her Ganache character and all the other people who live in that lovely little village – Three Pines.
I have read and listened to all her books and am eagerly awaiting the next one. But..
I have now discovered another author who is currently pushing Louise aside to become my favourite. Michael Robotham.
Quite by accident, I came across The Suspect. I was absolutely fascinated by the protagonist Clinical Psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin. In that book, he has just discovered that he has Parkinson’s and is trying to come to grips with it. while helping in a murder investigation he becomes the chief suspect. Fascinating reading. I am about to write a review on one of my other blogs in which I write book reviews. I later discovered this was book one in a nine-book series.
The next book I picked up was The Other Wife. That is reviewed on my other site. This was even more exciting than The Suspect. Totally unputdownable (that word again). That is book nine in the series.
Then on a visit to the library to return the books, I discovered Close Your Eyes. Book eight in the series. As soon as I finish this post I am going to make another cup of tea and sit and finish this book. It’s cold and wet outside today. What an excuse to do nothing.
I am totally in awe of Michael Robotham this Australian author. After many years during which he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America, he decided to quit and became a ghostwriter, collaborating with an extensive range of well-known and maybe not so-well-known “politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and show business personalities to write their autobiographies”.
There is another series which I haven’t looked into yet. The protagonist this time is Cyrus Haven. But that is for another post.
And at the end of his Meet Michael page we read –
Michael lives on Sydney’s northern beaches, where he thinks dark thoughts in his ‘cabana of cruelty – a name bestowed by his three children (now grown up), who happily poke fun at the man who has fed, clothed and catered to their every expensive whim. Where is the justice?
Back in a couple of days with more meandering through the neighbourhood of this ancient mind.
Come join us in this new challenge. You know what to do. Describe your life now in only Five words and then go on to tell us more. Remember to link back here when you are done. Alternatively, post your thoughts in comments.We would love to hear from you.
My Five Words?
CATE TESTED POSITIVE – SELF ISOLATING
I was at lunch with three friends in one of their houses. It is acceptable to meet in people’s houses during our current Covid rules.
We had just sat down for lunch when I received a text message from my daughter, Cate. Her text – “Don’t panic I just tested positive for COVID. You need to self-isolate for ten days…” So the planned mah jong game with three friends didn’t take place. Hurried lunch finished, I took off for home.
I had planned to go to the garden centre for more plants. Having been away recently for seven days, the indoor plants suffered from the heat and no watering, so that was my plan. Something to put on the back burner for now.
Then various telephone calls. Cancelling hair appointment, audiologist and telling various friends of the news. I also had to cancel an appointment on Monday afternoon with a subcommittee that I am part of. I had to advise the members of our Writing Group that I wouldn’t be there on Monday, and another friend who was to come here for lunch on Tuesday had to be advised. Oh and the library because several of the books I have on loan will reach their return date during the ten days.
I wonder what I will do with all this time I will now have.
“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” — “ Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson
But of course. Think of the hours now available to read those books in my TBR read and on my kindle.
As Bertrand Russel said –
“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it .”
And Mary Oliver says –
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
Just another day on the beautiful Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington.
I am dog sitting, as I told you, and once again the day has been hot, too hot to sit outside with my book and so hot that Daisy was interested in walking only in the shade. So we didn’t go to the beach, preferring the river today.
But after the pooch party on Friday where Daisy did far too much running and chasing, and playing fetch, she spent Friday afternoon and all of Saturday quietly resting. Even “get your collar” evinced no response. But today was different.
I was dictating into my phone a message to my sister in London. At one stage I said”comma” at which Daisy took off and brought her collar to me. I guess one hears what one wants to hear, dog or human, and so a walk was decided upon by my four-legged friend.
Then after the walk we returned for lunch. A quick bite and back to the book I found here and started reading this morning. It’s called the The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell. I have not heard of this author but the comment on the cover from Harlan Coben claims it “Her best thriller yet”. I note she has written 18 other thrillers, so plenty to read as the summer morphs into autumn/fall (as it will) and the days grow shorter, giving plenty of time for reading.