On This Day

On this day, 65 years ago I married my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman).

Sunday, November 17 was a cold, foggy day in 1957.  All those years ago and I was a naive young girl sitting painting my nails and talking to my family.  Excited, yes and somewhat scared at what I was getting myself into. what I was about to do.

Wedding photo
 Our wedding 1957

This was the day I was going to marry my Dashing Young Scotsman.  Oh so many years ago.

I clearly remember sitting in the car on the way to the church with my own, supportive Dad who asked me again was I sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the young man waiting at the church.  He told me that there was still time to change my mind.  Of course, I was sure and no I didn’t change my mind.

And the Dashing Young Scotsman became the son my Father didn’t have, his own son having died as a small baby many years before..  My parents loved him as did my sisters.

So on this day 65 years ago, I married my soulmate and for the next 41 years, we celebrated the fact that we had found each other.

What a long time ago, no doubt before many of you were born, but what a glorious day it was for me.  And how glad I am that I didn’t change my mind on the way to the church.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money,
and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother, Friend
1938-

.

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Old Dog, Old Woman, Old Friends

Once again, I am visiting my favourite dog. My son and his wife have left for 10 days to visit their youngest son who now lives in Brisbane in Queensland, Aus.

So now Daisydog and I have 10 days to relax close to the beach and beside the river. Neither of us walks very far or very fast these days and I think she quite likes it when I’m here because there’s no rough and tumble which always starts when my son and his son are here, independently, or together.

And now I have 10 days to myself. I visited each of my not-well friends last week, so nobody is expecting me this week. I do have one friend who’s coming to stay for a couple of days but she’s very easy to be around and she’s happy to do nothing as well

My plans for these 10 days are to read, rest and occasionally take a short walk with Daisydog. And of course, I might find a new series to binge-watch on TV. 

Now sitting in the sunshine with my book, the sounds of the birds as the backdrop, and Daisydog snoring peacefully, I am putting my plans into effect.

JB, Sunday, November 13,2022
Raumati, Kapiti Coast, NZ

Time Flies and Times Change

The bad news is time flies.
The good news is you’re the pilot.”
Michael Altshuler, American Author and Speaker 

October 31st and it seems like no time at all since we were celebrating the birth of 2022. Soon it will be 2023 and then later in that year, we will be making the same comments.

Today has been another day with no thought on what to write. Those days seems to be getting more and more often these days.

So I looked back on some of the posts I wrote in my early blogging career. And I found one that I particularly like.

As an introduction, I must say that we thought we had no relatives in New Zealand apart from the four of us, the children’s spouses and their children.

That changed in about 1985/86. Christmas morning. My DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) was preparing Christmas lunch/dinner for the family and friends who were on their own at this time of the year. Yes, he was the chef in our family and I was the backup person. He made and served the food, and I served the wine. It worked so well for us over all the years in which we were married.

Anyway, on this particular Christmas morning, I was in the shower, having dressed the tables, put the wine in to be chilled etc. There was a phone call. “Larry is on the phone for you” called my husband. “I don’t know any Larry” was my response. “He seems to think you do” I was told and so began a reignited friendship that began when we were both very young during our growing up times and until we each married and moved to other parts of the world.

We spoke on the phone regularly from then on, at least once a week. We put the world to right; we seemed to agree on most things. Later, Larry came to stay on a couple of occasions and my grandsons all thought he was fabulous. Unfortunately, this came to a sudden end. I got a phone call from one of his wife’s granddaughters. “Pop” had his dinner and then as was usual, went into the living room with his coffee to watch TV. When his wife came in after tidying away the dinner things, he had quietly drifted off.

So I would like to share some memories of my cousin with you. If you are interested here is the link to a post I wrote 9 years ago. When he died he was 88 years old, so go in peace dear cousin, fly high, breathe easy.

JB Wellington NZ
October 31, 2022

Walking Backwards: Looking Forward

“Nobody gets to live life backwards.
Look ahead that’s where your future lies.”
Ann Landers (pen name of Columnist Ruth Crowley)  1907-1955

I haven’t really thought about my Grandmother (I had only one) for several years. Very occasionally, she will come up in conversation when I remember something she said or did.  But today when climbing up the stairs, I thought of her. Currently, after being back-ended by the following vehicle, I am having a little difficulty in climbing the stairs and I remembered Grandma. I always thought of her as Alice Maude but no way all those years ago, would I have called her that.

I remember she always walked down the stairs backwards.  This seemed in no way unusual to us. We had only ever seen her descending in this way.  And even now, I have no idea why she did so.  Was she scared to look ahead and maybe lose her footing?

Over the past few weeks I have found myself looking back, sometimes more than looking forward.  There are many things in my life to look back on with pleasure, with gratitude and yes, also with longing.  So am I scared to look ahead in case I lose my footing?

Looking back doesn’t really solve any problems for any of us.  We only have today.  And we have all heard the quote – “Yesterday is the past; tomorrow is the future; today is the present.  So use it as a gift.”  I don’t know when or where I first heard that but it is so very true.  And I wonder who penned it originally.

And we know that today really is the first day of the rest of our life.  And we do not know how many more days we have left to live. So I am making the most of the time I have left in this wonderful world. And, oh yes, Pollyanna is alive and well and living in Wellington, New Zealand.

“Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them and they flew. “

Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet, playwright,
short story writer, novelist, and art critic 
1880 – 1918

JB October 10, 2022
Wellington, New Zealand

Five Word Friday, on Saturday

The first Friday in the month and time for Five Word Friday. You know what this is about. Describe your life today in five words only and then go on to tell us about it. But as Chris reminded me in our chat this morning, I had missed the first Friday.

So my five words are –A Grandson to the Rescue

I had been thinking for several months about getting a raised herb bed. Anno Domini and all that makes bending down to get herbs a trial. I saw just what I wanted in a local hardware store but they couldn’t;t deliver it. The kindly assistant suggested that I order it online and therefore it could be delivered. Not so!

My daughter was away for about ten days in Sydney and Grandson No 4 was tasked with checking up on Granma while his mother was away. We arranged to have lunch last weekend and after lunch, we went to the store and picked up the raised bed, the herbs and the herb planting mix. Great to have a 22-year-old at my beck and call (well at least for those few days).

In no time, the legs were on the bed and the herb mix in as it should be, but we had miscounted the amount of the mix required for the bed. However, not a problem. Grandson No 4 would pick up another two large bags later in the week.

So now herbs planted. and within easy reach when I am sitting in the sunshine, thinking about dinner while reading.

And apologies for missing yesterday.

JB October 8, 2022
From Springtime in
Wellington, NZ

My Father’s Hands

Firstly a big thank you to all those who read, liked or commented on my Fathers’ Day post. Yes, a special man to be celebrated every day even though he is no longer here in body he is always in my mind.

So another tale of this man. Way back in 2013 I wrote about his hands. I would like to share that post here today.

 “I have said before that I read and use Judy Reeves’s “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.” April 08, 2013

And Daddy – “Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” Edna St Vincent Millay.  American lyrical poet and playwright. 1892 – 1950.

JB September 6, 2022
Wellington, New Zealand

Father’s Day 2022

Alfred Robert Rita
1911-2007
RIP

The first Sunday in September is Father’s Day here in New Zealand. I don’t need a particular day to remember my Father.

What does Fathers’ Day mean to you and your family?  Do you celebrate with gift- giving and special dinners or is it just another day to you?  Growing up in England we didn’t celebrate Fathers’ Day – I don’t remember when people started celebrating Fathers on a particular day.  We were very lucky in that our Father was worth celebrating each day.

My memories of this man are many and special.  It was he who taught his three girls the appreciation of the English language and shared with us his love of words.  He taught us to be tolerant and to accept people as they are and he showered us with love.  He it was who told us that more could be accomplished with a smile than with harsh words. He taught us the power of positive thinking and told his daughters they could have and be anything they wanted.  He made us feel special.

Early memories of my Father are sketchy as he went to war shortly after I was born, but there are some lovely photos of him with each of his daughters.

A very distinct memory was one Saturday way back in 1945 – I think. Anyway, Mother and her three girls had been to the market for the weekly shopping and when we returned home there was this man sitting in a chair in the living room.  Daddy had come home from the war! My parents were not terribly demonstrative and I remember the greeting just as if they had seen each other that morning.  Oh, how glad I was to have my Daddy back safe and sound.

Another memory is the day I was getting married.  Everyone had left for the church and he had to make sure that I was very sure that I wanted to marry and spend my life with my  Dashing Young Scotsman.  He assured me that it wasn’t too late to change my mind and then sat in the bridal car holding my hand all the way to the church.

When my daughter was born (his first grandchild) he was as excited as a first time father.  And when we gave her Mother’s name as her second name he was ready to burst with love and pride.

When his first grandchild was born he was over the moon; when his great-grandson was born his response to being asked ‘How do you feel about being a great grandfather?’ was “I’ve always been a Great Grandfather”.

And years later when he was going blind he taught himself to do the crossword with my younger sister reading the clues to him while he supplied the answers.

Memories, memories so many happy memories.  Lazy winter nights at home while he read to us or we all listened to something special on the radio.  And later all watching television together and debating the merits of a particular play or actor.

When we were growing up he was strict but he was fair.  If he decreed something was so and we could counter with an acceptable argument he was likely to change the decree.  But he was a stickler for being on time, coming home when one was told to and he insisted that we behave as ladies at all times.  I must say that the final requirement in that sentence was not always adhered to.

Unfortunately, my children didn’t really know this very special man as we lived on the other side of the world, only getting back to see him and Mother every two years.  But they do know how special he was from the tales I have told them over the years.

That was my Dad.  A very special Father who sadly is no longer with us. He was not religious and at his funeral, they played Frank Sinatra singing “Unforgettable”.  That sums up my Dad.  I miss him as I know my remaining sister does, and I am grateful that we were blessed with such a great father.

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



JB September 4, 2022
Wellington, New Zealand

Aren’t Grandsons Wonderful

“I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?”
Piglet

9.00 pm and I realise it’s my turn to write a post. My son has just left after dinner. I love my daughter-in-law from heaven but how I love it when there are just the two of us.

We talked about the four grandsons, all growing into fine young men (no bias here, you understand) and some of my special times spent with them, without parents. I could go on about them but I really don’t want to bore you.

But I thought of one day 10 years ago when I had the strangest text conversation with Grandson No 3. I wrote a blog about it and will reproduce it here –

“Monday afternoon. 
Ping – a text arrived from my No 3 Grandson – “Do you by any chance have a set of poker chips.” Excuse me.  This from a 15-year-old to his then 74-year-old Grandmother.
I remember I did have something that might or might not be poker chips.  So after some consideration and much digging and hunting, I found what I was looking for.
Me – “I don’t know if they are poker chips but I have some things that could be”
Grandson – “Are there many and could I possibly have them for the weekend”.
Me – “Yes darling.  I don’t know what they are.  There are red ones, blue and green and white.  There are 16 of each colour.  If they are of any use you may keep them.  How shall I get them to you?”.
Gr – “Sweet I may ask mum to pop by on the way home”
Me -“Good.  See you soon”
Gr – “Sweet”
2 hours later.
Me – “What sort of time will you be here?”
Gr – “I don’t know maybe not today”
Me – “OK  I’ll drop them into Mum’s office tomorrow or bring them when I meet her for coffee later this week.”
Gr – “Thanks”
3 days later. 
Gr – “Is it today you said you would drop off the poker chips?”
Me – “Yes.  I’ll give them to Mum when I see her this afternoon”
Gr – “Thanks”
6 hours later
Me – “Mum has the chips”
Gr – “Thank you so much.”

I wonder why my 15-year-old grandson would think that his grandmother had poker chips?  He didn’t discuss this with his mother, he just decided that I was the best bet (ooh an unintentional pun).  He is going away for the weekend with the rowing team and so I imagine that poker will be one way they will amuse themselves during their long waiting time.  I wonder where and when he learned to play.”

At that time I said ” I don’t send many text messages.  I would much rather pick up the phone and speak to somebody, but we know that all the young of our species are glued to their smartphones sending and receiving many, many texts daily.  I was pleased to see that Grandson No 3 was not using ‘text speech’ obviously either realised that I wouldn’t be impressed or else he thought that I wouldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.  Over the past few years texts seem to be the only way that my grandsons communicate with me when we are apart,  So I am learning the art of “texting” although I am firmly convinced that text is not a verb, but in today’s changing world, I shall probably be proven wrong in this.”

I just thought I would like to share this with you and see your reactions.

And for no other reason except I love it and over the years the boys have often had to come to Granma’s aid, I share this –

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the
most room in your heart.”
Winnie the Pooh

JB July13, 2022

A Day with the boys

Reading Chris’ post entitled In my park 11 years ago I started thinking back to a similar day with three of my grandsons. July 2022 and a really Happy Granma’s Day.

3 out of 4 ain’t bad

Eleven years ago yesterday I had a day with three of my four grandsons and what a great day it was.
Then, they ranged in age from 12 to 16 and the difference in ages was not very pronounced. They got on so well together. The 16-year-old was particularly careful to include the youngest one in everything, although he is well able to look after himself.
Having picked one up from his mother’s office and the other two from the train station we set off for the garden centre to collect the final two bags of stones for the patio.  I was planning to use some of their time with me (and their energy) to get this job finished eventually.  It’s never too early to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Well, Granma was so busy talking that she got onto the motorway by mistake and had to drive miles out of her way before arriving at the garden centre.
Here we were greeted like long-lost friends.  Lotte ( my small Tibetan Spaniel) and I have been regular visitors to the centre since the patio was first thought about.  And they recognized Jae (the youngest) from our last visit.  So, purchases made the boys loaded the bags into the back of my car and we set off for home.
They came in for a drink and biscuits before starting – don’t all workmen?  They certainly do here in New Zealand.  And for the next half hour, the street rang with their laughter as they spread the stones, filling in the blanks that Jae and I had missed last week.
Soon it was finished and everybody had a great time.  Isn’t it so true that many hands make light work?  And what joy to be surrounded by happy, laughing young folk. Then lunch.  Easy to feed growing boys.  Plenty of sausages, buns, mayo and tomato sauce and the boys made their own hotdogs.  I demurred.  Hotdogs are not among my favourite things
Now what to do for the afternoon?  They couldn’t make up their minds.  Of course, they were slightly constrained by the fact that Jae still had his leg in a cast.  So I made the decision.  Sir Peter Jackson and Weta, the animation and special effects company – Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, King Kong, Xena Warrior Princess among others – are based in Wellington and they have the ‘Weta Cave” a museum open to the public.  Strangely none of us had been there before and so we took ourselves off. This was very interesting as it had models from all the films Weta and Sir Peter have been involved in and of course, they had many collectables for sale.
Then on to the Roxy Cinema another of Weta’s projects. The old cinema had been abandoned years ago.  It was derelict and had been so for some years, following a brief period as a shopping centre.  The shops were very sad and there was no good reason ever to go there. And then the building was purchased and brought back to its glory days.
The Roxy has a rather pleasant cafe on the ground floor.  So after touring around the cinema we sat for a breather – tea for Granma (well, I am English after all), coke for one boy, hot chocolate for another and for the third, and eldest and so sophisticated, iced coffee.
And there our adventures ended.  A trip home where they watched a DVD.  My son and his wife joined us for dinner and then later my daughter and her eldest son came in for a short time.  Drew had been competing in a water polo tournament in Auckland and Cate had picked him up at the airport and thought she would call in not only to pick up her younger son but also to catch up with her brother, his wife and their boys.
It was lovely to have both my children and all their children together.  A rare happening and a fitting ending to my lovely Granma’s Day.

“To be a really brilliant grandmother
remember what it was about your own that you loved most,
then imitate her.”
Judith Baxter – 1938 –

JB July 9, 2022

Time Flies – So we must be having fun.

Tomorrow is June 11, fifty-five years since my children and I first set foot in New Zealand. Their father had come on ahead, so it was just the three of us arriving.

My children were 7 and 4. Oh how very long ago that was! We knew nothing of this country. The Embassy in London was obviously staffed by English people who knew just about as much as me. “Wouldn’t you love to be able to dry your washing on an outside line every day?” I was asked. Yes, but not in Auckland where it rains most days. And in response as to whether I should bring my about to be delivered new car I was told that wasn’t necessary as new cars were readily available to buy in NZ. Wrong again. When we arrived we discovered new cars could be purchased only with overseas funds. At the time NZ was controlled by import licences on everything from rice and aluminium foil to new cars, and everything in between.

The day we arrived and for the following six or seven days, it rained. Auckland in the winter is dull and drizzly and had little to commend it. We quickly learned that shops closed at 5.30 pm except on Friday when they closed at 10 pm and didn’t reopen until Monday. And pubs and bars closed at 6pm This was referred to as the 6 o’clock swill. Men rushed from their offices to get a drink before the bars closed. This law had been introduced in 2017 and 50 years later it was revoked. But more on that some other time.

We felt that we had moved back 50 years in time.

We were to be here for only 2 years and so set about finding a place to rent. We looked at the house the person before my husband rented, but I took one look and decided I couldn’t/wouldn’t live there. We found a lovely property on the North Shore with a path down to a separate beach. Perfect. Among the many rules and regulations at the time, you were only allowed to take $11 a day out of the country. So as we had overseas funds we paid the house owners in British pounds for a year in advance so both sides were happy. Oh, and we inherited their dog a large rambunctious mutt who immediately decided that he was David’s dog – when they sat beside each other the dog was the taller. Our own dog was on the way from Scotland and so suddenly we had two dogs.

The inherited dog was naughty and got into much mischief, but that’s for another time.

We enjoyed living on the beach in this lovely property. Unfortunately, the mother of the owner’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and so their trip to the UK was cut short. Of course, we agreed to terminate the lease and found somewhere else to rent. Another tale for another time.

At the end of two years, we were off to Montreal – another tale. And after two years there we decided we wanted to bring up our children on the beach at Takapuna. But that’s yet another tale for another time.

By the time we left for Canada, New Zealand was catching up with the rest of the world, and in some instances was in advance – eg Women’s suffrage in 1893. And two years later when we returned, it was hardly recognisable as the colonial outlook it had been in 1967.

So now 55 years later we choose to live here in this far-flung land and are all New Zealanders. Each of my children married New Zealanders. Of course, we retained our British passports as here one can have dual nationality.

End of today’s walk down memory lane.

JB June 10, 2022