Category Archives: Reflections-Awards

1870. Quotations and Announcement

I said a day ago that this week I’d do a couple of self-indulgent postings. This is the second. It could be fun, since it will rightly never be done in real life, to pretend astonishing fame and glean quotations from various theatre plays I’ve written over the years and present them as if in a quotation anthology!

No sooner were these words out (and this is true!) then an email arrived saying that six of my poems had been selected by a publisher in Wisconsin for an international anthology! I had been invited last November to submit some poems. More about that at a later date. Thank goodness my portrait shown below had already been hung in the National Vallery otherwise I’d need to go for a more pretentious look. In fact I had a terrible time taking the selfie this morning while everyone was still asleep. I didn’t want anyone to see and think that vanity was a motivation. My right hand is on the computer mouse to press the button. What a relief I had a post-lockdown haircut yesterday. But enough about me – here’s more about me!

Famous Quotations by Cloven Ruminant
whose portrait hangs in the National Vallery

I don’t know fancy names for coffee. Just give me the stuff with the fluff on. – Café Play (1998)

It’s a great mystery – how we pass by. It’s sort of… meaningless. – River Songs (1994)

I just killed what would have become the ancestor of the first intelligent moth. – Here Legends Lie (1993)

There was no need for you to tell me that what I was doing was a waste of time. I have to do something. – Voyage in a Boat (1989)

A real man does shrimp cocktails and garlic bread. No, no. Not my Arnold. Over done. Over boiled. – Deep End (1992)

So you’ll be sitting on the veranda in the still of the evening will you, barely changed from your wedding gown, and be admiring each other’s brains? – Cloud Mother (1990)

There’s a great silence before a funeral. As if heaven waits to let them in. – Sheer Silence (1999)

Just because I say I want two budgerigars doesn’t mean to say I want two blue ones. – Café Play (1998)

It was a satire – like “King Lear”. – Zachustra (1993)

I’ll not be sitting here day after day taking all this muck from two tarts when you could be up in the rigging swinging with a sailor and doing whatever it is your profession demands. – Cloud Mother (1990)

It’s all very well for Thingy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to fall in love with Who-dacky by taking a bit of stuff but with… you think I’m wandering don’t you? – Um (1997)

There’s so little we know. About what goes on. It’s best to be guilty. – The Chimney (1996)

All straight lines in the universe are human lines – have you noticed? – and I can’t stay on a straight line. Straight lines are perfection, and I can’t be perfect. I can’t. – Secundus (1992)

I don’t want a happy marriage. I want a tragic marriage. It’s very fashionable. – Fishbone in the Blancmange (1997)

Although he was computer savvy, he died drunk, unhappy, friendless, twisted and embittered. – Weave a Web Blog (2020)not from a play but I thought I’d throw it in because it’s rather amazing to discover that it’s more than 20 years since I wrote a play. The “quotation” is not biographical!

Thanks for reading. There’s over 60 plays (I think) if anyone these days ever wants to do one!

1869. Water tank winter walk

A little while back (in fact last week!) I took the dog and headed for a winter walk to the water tank on the nearby highest hill. The water tank gravity feeds all the troughs on the farm. The farmer had told me that the best view around was from the water tank. He also said to take the tractor. But the dog needed a run so walking it was!

I set out from my house. In the photo you can hardly see the tank on top of the hill.

The path starts almost on the flat. We pass the old, disused woolshed, the corner of which you can see in the picture above. The farm used to be a sheep farm, but now it’s all cattle. Hence the disused shed for shearing sheep.

The last flat bit before the hill!

The upward track begins.

We pass a gladed valley!

There’s a herd of grazing cows, and a pile of baleage. For those who don’t know:
Hay = cut grass dried in the sun and baled.
Silage = cut grass compacted and stored in a silo (like a pit in the ground) without being dried.
Baleage = cut grass of a relatively high moisture content that is baled with a round baler and then sealed in plastic to keep oxygen out.

The native trees stay green all year; the introduced trees are bare – except for the pines.

There are a number of small dams. Someone likes them!

Suddenly a corner is turned and the volcano, Mount Taranaki, comes into full view. My photo simply doesn’t do the scene justice! Let’s hope it won’t erupt! Click on the photo for a full picture.

The climb goes higher. Another volcano, Mount Ruapehu, appears in the distance. (Difficult to see in the photo but the mountain seems much “closer” in real life!)

The climb continues. Almost there!

Arrival! But… I didn’t come to see the tank!

I came to see the view! My house is shown by the arrow! Click on the photo for a full picture without the arrow! Isn’t it amazing how the Vikings must have come here and buried so many of their ships? Hence all the hillocks!

It’s easier going down! (Note the Corona no-haircut lockdown look! The most difficult part of the walk wasn’t having to walk uphill – it was the difficulty of having to maintain social distancing in such a people-riddled environment.)

Thank you for walking with me and the dog. May your day erupt into joy!

(Note: During the coming week I’m going to post two or three “stories” that involve myself. It gives a bit of padding to the blog, and anyway, when you’ve got fame and fortune hanging out your ears, you can do what you like…!)

1824. Lockdown and the end of the golden weather

Miles ago, in fact last October 16, 2019, I posted a little piece about how I was digging up my front lawn for a garden. I promised progress reports, and one appeared on November 19 and another on February 12. With winter fast approaching in the southern hemisphere it’s time for a final report. So this report covers the lockdown and the end of the golden weather.

A Lombardy poplar tree blew over on the property in a summer storm, so I was able to use it to make little twig fences around the four garden patches. It looked semi-medieval (kind of rustic I thought). In fact it was to stop the dog from walking on the gardens and peeing on the peas. The dog was well trained and never once ventured across the twigs onto the gardens. High fences for climbing peas, beans, and blackberries were also constructed.

Before long there were poppies and petunias, dahlias and gladioli, cosmos and sweet peas. You’ll notice from the pictures that I have mainly white flowers and red flowers. This is a phase I’m passing through. Don’t worry, I’ve been passing through it for twenty years and will once day get over it. Anyway, red and white look very lovely, so for the time being I’m sticking with them. At least people know what colour flower seeds to get me for my birthday!

I wasn’t expecting much from the newly planted thornless blackberries, but we got several desserts from them including one big blackberry pie! Roll on next year!

There was a bumper crop of peas, beans, shallots, tomatoes, turnips, leeks, zucchinis, and capsicums (bell peppers). The photos show just a small portion – the freezer is full! It wasn’t a good year for potatoes and cucumbers. There’s never telling why. The silver beet (chard) kept going to seed.

The sunflowers provided cheer and enough seeds to hopefully feed the wild birds through winter. I’ve just got to make an artistic bird feeder.

I wasn’t greatly affected by the lockdown because there was so much to do and so much space. I am at that age where my nanny-state government wouldn’t let me go anywhere lest I die. What a consolation that they cared! Fortunately the landlord’s daughter-in-law was the pharmacist and sent prescribed life-prolonging pills via the landlord, and the farming neighbours on all sides plied the house with eggs and meat while we provided them with vegetables. You had to check the mailbox daily because you never knew if someone had stuffed a leg of lamb in there! All was a blessing because there was no money coming in for two months!

The dog walk was a regular fixture – demanded by the dog in sunshine or rain. He likes a daily swim in a nearby lake – he thinks it’s his duty to clear the lake of geese and ducks.

For 8 weeks on these walks we gathered enough wild mushrooms for a decent side dish each day. (Eight weeks is enough!) I also made pickles and chutneys and soups for canning and freezing with stuff out of the garden.

I’ve been going to a local farmer’s sheep-shearing shed with spade and buckets. By going underneath the slats in the shearing-shed floorboards, I can fill the buckets up for the garden with sheep manure that had dropped through the gaps in the floor over the years.

The landlord/farmer asked if we would like two dying trees (lawsoniana) for firewood. So a good deal of several weeks was spent cutting them down, chopping them up, and stacking them. Still haven’t quite finished.

The landlord also asked us if we would mind knocking down an old house on the property and smashing it to bits. It’s quite fun! I go there nearly every day to wreck away. The problem is the old house is plagued with fleas. So don’t come driving past while I’m standing in the open-doored garage throwing all my clothes in the washing machine before coming into the house! Your mind undoubtedly boggles!

These days the garden is looking tired.

I have scattered thousands of poppy seeds along the sides of the road outside my gate. If luck would have it the roadside next spring will look like Flanders Field. I’ve also sown nitrogen-fixing lupins in the gardens. They look quite pretty so it seems a shame to cut them down and dig them in, but that is a job to be done this week.

Here’s a picture of the sad and lonely last dahlia of the season.

Thus ends the closing days of autumn; the end of the golden weather. This final photo is taken today through my office window! I’m feeling rather pleased!

1774. The Perfect Book Tag

Imagine my excitement in having just returned from taking the dog for an extended walk (and in the process collected a bucketful of wild mushrooms) to discover that someone has challenged me to complete The Perfect Book Tag (even though I’m a free spirit and not taggable). That someone blogs at Dumbest Blog Ever; a blog that is self-described as Stu(pidity) on Stareoids. The postings range from the erudite to the enjoyably stupid, from the sublime to the cor blimey. The blog is well worth the visit (I reckon).

This posting sees a departure from the daily story, and is a bit longer than usual. Of course nothing is perfect, not even myself when I was eleven, but these are some literary works I have enjoyed over the years.

Some snippets of these reflections you may have heard before. I’m not averse to repeating myself. I’m not averse to repeating myself. I hope the selection (which borders on the classic and boring) doesn’t show me up to being a tedious snob. I’m not averse to repeating myself.

The Pretty Good Genre
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

This is the title of O’Connor’s collection of short stories, and contains the best short story ever written – also entitled A Good Man is Hard to Find. Even though you know from the start what’s going to happen your hair stands on end as it happens. The writing is both funny and horrifying. I’ve always been a fan of Flannery O’Connor and a big fan of the short story genre.

“She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity.”

The Perfect Setting
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and the Yorkshire Moors are the perfect setting for this extraordinary novel – which surprisingly a lot of people haven’t read. The plot IS the setting. The setting IS the characters. The setting IS the theme. Everything in this novel is integrated into the one thing. Perfectly constructed. I guess I’ve read it maybe 50 times or so.

“I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk.”

The Pretty Good Main Character
The Book of Thel by William Blake

Thel is the character in this longish poem by Blake. She is too afraid to come into existence, because that begins the journey towards death. Thel is ephemeral.

Ah! Thel is like a watry bow, and like a parting cloud,
Like a reflection in a glass, like shadows in the water,
Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infant’s face,
Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air.

The Pretty Good Best Friend
A Certain Age by Cynthia Jobin

Many readers will be familiar with the poetry of the late Cynthia Jobin. She took a keen and positive interest in so many bloggers and posted her brilliant poetry on her blog. Her final poem Night Draws Near, Brother Ass is heart-rending. I was unaware she had died when I received in the mail from her a collection of poems by William Stafford called Even in Quiet Places.

Let me down easy
the way hints of winter
fall exquisitely today
scattering icy lacy flowers
from a cloud bouquet

The Pretty Good Love Interest
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

I’m not heavily into love stories, although I have read a great number of novels by Danielle Steel and enjoyed every bit of them. Shhh! But I chose Richardson’s Clarissa because it’s one of the earliest books written in English and I got through the hundreds of pages of love letters never once being able to work out if “they were doing it”. It was all insinuation. Clarissa Harlowe is abducted by Robert Lovelace. That was the gist of it, and I found it pretty riveting really. Besides, I had to read it for exams at university.

“Love gratified, is love satisfied — and love satisfied, is indifference begun.”

The Pretty Good Villain
Richard III by William Shakespeare

I know it’s predictable but it’s inevitable. Richard III is one of my favourite plays. That horrid movie with Ian McKellen missed the point because the film omitted Queen Margaret’s great cursing scene. Each curse comes true, bit by bit.

Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!
Thou rag of honour! thou detested—

The Pretty Good Family
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

My sisters adored this novel in my childhood. Once I grew up I was old enough to be seen reading it. When I studied in Boston, USA, I would go to Walden Pond in New Hampshire. The Alcotts, Hawthorne, and Thoreau lived within walking distance from one another. It must’ve been something in the water.“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”

The Pretty Good Animal
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

I loved this story as a kid – and still do. I think it was because Jemima wanted to hatch out baby ducklings and I kept ducks as a kid and was forever hatching out babies. I didn’t mind the fox in the story because in New Zealand we don’t have foxes. There is something quite magical about a bird’s egg!

“Quack?“ said Jemima Puddle-Duck, with her head and her bonnet
on one side.

The Pretty Good Plot Twist
The Leader by Eugene Ionesco

This short ten minute play by Ionesco is one of my favourites. Mind you, all of Ionesco plays are my favourites! The leader off stage is watched by fans on stage. They go ape-shit over him/her. They go goo-gar. “He’s patting a pet hedgehog! He spits a tremendous distance.” (Incidentally, the actor who said those lines in a production I once directed became the Prime Minister of New Zealand in reality!) When the leader does appear at the end he/she is headless. “Who needs a head when you’ve got charisma?” Ionesco used to write to me but his letters stopped once he died. Strange.

“Shut up! Shut up! You’re ruining everything”

The Pretty Good Trope
Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame

Janet Frame was a New Zealand novelist and this was her first novel. It tells the story of a women with mental problems, who gets shut away in a mental hospital and watches the mountains through the keyhole in her cell. (The story is a lot better than that). Throughout the novel, Frame creates associations with images, so at the end of the novel she only has to mention all these jolly images and you burst into tears! (At least I did).

“She grew more and more silent about what really mattered. She curled inside herself like one of those … little shellfish you see on the beach, and you touch them, and they go inside and don’t come out.”

The Pretty Good Cover
A Guide to Folk Tales in the English Language by D.L. Ashliman

I bought this book for about $250 around 25 years ago. It has a summary of 2,335 folk tales. Back then I earned a living writing for children to perform on stage so such a book came in handy! I don’t care too much about covers, although for a novel I don’t appreciate an artist showing me what a character should look like. That’s the writer’s task. It’s why I’ve never seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies – they ruin the imagination. I like this cover. It’s plain, and in another life I learnt the skills of a book binder and could create plain covers like this!

The Pretty Good Ending
The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge

I think this is my favourite all-time play (at least for today). At the end Pegeen Mike whispers: “Oh my grief, I’ve lost him surely. I’ve lost the only Playboy of the Western World.”

“… it’s great luck and company I’ve won me in the end of time – two fine women fighting for the likes of me – till I’m thinking this night wasn’t I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by.”

Thanks for reading!

1730. The plot continues

Sometime ago I didn’t exactly promise but said I possibly might give a running report on my garden. So here it is with pictures. For those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in my electrifying private life, there will be the usual story tomorrow – far more coldly objective but just as true.

Thus far, our summer has been fairly cold and cloudy and windy.

You might remember, last September/October I started digging up bits of the lawn for gardens.

We made tall fences for climbing beans, thornless blackberries, and sweet peas. The blackberries will take three years to mature, but already they are laden with hundreds of yet-to-ripen (yet-to-be-stolen-by-birds) berries.

We made little fences out of poplar twigs around each garden. People say “It looks very French!” but basically we did it because the dog knows it is not allowed to step over these fences!

The cold, wet weather meant the bush beans got some sort of fungus and I pulled them out. I planted some more bush bean seeds, but the wild rabbits came in and dug most of them up! However, it has been a fantastic year for peas and capsicums (bell peppers). I have frozen a good dozen batches of peas, and lots and lots of my second favourite soup which is Peapod Soup made out of… (you guessed it) peapods!

With the colder summer weather the mâche (corn salad/lamb’s lettuce) lasted longer than usual. We now have lettuces and cucumbers coming out our ears so there’s salads salads salads. The zucchinis (courgettes) are being harvested. Swedes (rutabagas) and silver beet (Swiss chard) have been producing. The globe artichoke season is over – we devoured over 60; the Jerusalem artichokes and Chinese artichokes are coming along! (None of these three types of artichoke are related – same word, different plant). Broad beans (fava beans) are finished and frozen. Corn is in flower, as are the sunflowers, dahlias, petunias, cosmos, and sweet peas.

Incidentally our Number 1 favourite soup is Jerusalem artichoke soup! Potatoes were pathetic this year, as are beetroot (beets). Borsch is a nice winter dish so I might have to buy some beetroot. Here’s my freezer – it’s already full!

The cabbages have gone berserk and I’ve been making piles of cabbage stews for winter. Cauliflowers are coming along. Celery and celeriac are producing. We’re letting the leeks go to seed to collect. And besides, the leek flowers look very pretty in the garden! The flowers are slightly bigger than a tennis ball.

No onions. There are two things we have never been any good at growing: onions and spinach. We have no idea why. No matter where we’ve lived it’s always the same – onions and spinach don’t like us. But the garlic and shallots have been harvested and are drying in the sun (since removed to the wheelbarrow to facilitate quick removal when it rains!)

Having got a new lawn mower for my 70th birthday (the birthday I share with Saint Nicholas’ Feast Day) and a long garden hose for Christmas, life is much easier. The house water is rain water, but the garden water we share with the farm animals which is pumped to troughs and our garden tap (faucet) from a creek. So we don’t have to go easy on watering the garden. Here’s a trough just out the kitchen window!

And tomatoes! I almost forgot! Lots and lots of tomatoes! And I’ve taken to making wine, but so far haven’t used anything home-grown in the process.

Here endeth the report. Oh! And lots of rhubarb!

Also been making pickles, chutneys, jams, and stuff.

Incidentally, the best book is one I found in a second-hand shop in Asheville, North Carolina. It cost a dollar. It’s got everything you need to know about growing, canning, pickling, drying, and freezing. It’s called When the Good Cook Gardens. It was published by Ortho Books in 1974. I believe it’s available on Amazon.

1671. Garden Progress Report

I had written earlier that I might perhaps post the occasional progress report on the state of the garden. So here are a few pictures.

Here is a fabulous Globe Artichoke – one of 32 artichokes grown from seed on the window ledge. The cat kept sitting on them, but they survived. The dog is on patrol. Apart from the artichoke at the back there is Silver Beet (Swiss chard) to the dog’s right and some leeks. Beyond the dog’s tail is rhubarb.

Here is a close up of the same artichoke. Multiply all those flower heads by 32!

We (nearly) always eat artichokes as nibbles. We boil the artichoke head (like a cabbage) and make a sauce (any sauce or mayonnaise). Then we sit around talking about the weather while we nonchalantly break off a petal, dip it in the sauce, and suck out the inside of the petal. When all petals are done we argue about who’s getting how much of the artichoke heart. These days many people throw away the petals because they consider an artichoke is just for the heart. But I think the petals are the best bit!

Here is a picture of the four gardens I dug on the front lawn. Everything is starting to grow beautifully. Apart from sweet peas, dahlias, petunias, and moonflowers, and various herbs, there are turnips, beetroot (I think some countries just call them beets??), celeriac, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, capsicums (bell peppers), leeks, cucumbers, peas, and loads of beans (both climbing and bush). We also have a number of thornless blackberry bushes. Things are bigger than the photo looks! Everything’s just starting to grow and the snails and slugs are loving it!

The grass is growing like billy-O and I spend every second day (when it’s not raining) trying to keep it under control. Here is my lawn!!!!

It would be ok if I had a ride-on but all I’ve got is a crummy old push mower that’s lost one of its wheels, and those back hills can get a bit much (ha ha!!) I have to push the mower while holding it on an even keel. Nonetheless, the lawns get mowed in a cloud of Nitrolingual Spray.

All the stories and music and stuff gets written in the room which is the second window looking to the left of the open garage door! So here is my office and the view out the window.

There’s more to the garden “out the back” but that’s probably enough for one day! We’ll finish with a photo of the dog.

Thanks for reading. You’re all most welcome to pop over for an artichoke nibble or two – and a wine of course!

A whinge, a whine, a whimper, and a wine

“Whinge” is such a good word that I thought I’d use it. This posting is a slight departure from the norm; hence, I haven’t given it a sequential number as per usual.

Whinge: Am I the only one on Word Press who has to log in MANY A TIME in order to give a like or a comment? It’s driving me crazy – and in fact stops me from liking and commenting. It’s not everyone’s site that does it, just some. What an annoying thing! What is its meaning? It’s only fairly recently begun to do this. I’ve cut down on the number of blogs I read, like, and comment on daily to save time and frustration.

Whine: I’ve almost finished my aim for 2019: to compose 153 pieces for the piano. I chose 153 because that’s the number of piano pieces in Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos. Of course, they’re not exactly up to Bartok’s standard, but I still dunnit. Despite some helpful and kind suggestions from a couple of readers, I still don’t know what to do with them. I hate to foist 153 piano pieces on my unsuspecting half dozen or so faithful followers. Even if a piano piece was surreptitiously snuck into a posting once a week it would take 3 years, by which time I’ll possibly be in a hole in Kopuatama. (Kopuatama, for those not well-read, is the name of the local cemetery). So I’m going to post the music in blocks of fifteen now and again, provided no one feels compelled to listen to them out of a sense of friendship and loyalty. Relatively low self-esteem was always one of my finer hallmarks – which probably accounts for the fact that I’ve only once sent my brilliant post-modern novel manuscript to a publisher. (I think the publisher has since died, and can only hope that my MS was the cause of it).

One of these is Bartók

Whimper: Last Spring (it’s a cold Autumn here in New Zealand now) I was unable to find any globe artichoke plants in any plant shop. Being particularly partial to artichokes, and given the exorbitant expense of buying canned artichoke hearts, I planted a packet of artichoke seeds. Artichokes require a coldish winter. I had 32 seeds germinate, and planted then around the garden. They are a lovely structural plant anyway with gorgeous thistle-like edible purple flowers. The artichokes have flourished. Each single plant takes up several square yards. I’ve never had them so big. Imagine 32 gigantic plants. There’s no room even for a humble carrot, and I haven’t the heart to pull any out! Roll on Spring with its promised feast! I’ll just nip out now and get you a photo!

Here is one of 32!

Wine: My car died just on 12 months ago. Death came suddenly and in the middle of a busy highway. I phoned the Automobile Association and in an effort to ascertain where exactly I was I opened the car door and the dog leaped out onto the road. Picture, if you will, me on the phone (the only time I’ve ever used my mobile) dashing between roaring articulated trucks and trailers in an effort to catch the dog. We are both lucky to be alive. The whinge part however, is that I haven’t yet been able to replace the car! I was to be paid for months of work this past week, but the money has not yet arrived. Getting a car is top of my list, as I’ve been borrowing an old truck every time I run out of wine groceries. Contemporary used cars seem to come in 50 shades of grey – I will certainly be looking for something more titivating than 50 shades of grey (colour being the only thing I know about automobiles).

My dead car being taken away

That concludes this collection of whinges, whines, whimpers, and wine. Thank you for reading, and please feel welcome to leave comments – whether sharp or blunt.

Award 20: The Terrible Poetry Contest

This is not an award as such but the writer of this blog has won the Terrible Poetry Contest three times. My special thanks to Chelsea who initiated and manages such a fabulous event.

Each time the poems seems to get badder and worser. Such inspiring brilliance emanating from my writing device perhaps stems from an anonymous poem which was my favourite in my teens (and possibly still is):

What a wonderful bird the frog are
When he walk he fly almost
When he sing he cry almost
He ain’t got no tail hardly either.
He sit on what he ain’t got almost.

Being thrice the winner of such a notable thing as the Terrible Poetry Contest has prompted me to reflect upon other highly successful moments in my life of seventy years. There have been so many fabulous successes that I barely know where to start.

1. Rugby coach. Many years ago, when I coached rugby, the team had won every game in the rugby-playing season. There was only one game left to play to make it an “unbeaten season”. We arrived at the playing field to compete against Newlands College. My team came to me and protested: “They’ve stacked their team with better players who are not in their usual team.”

“Don’t worry,” says I. “Just beat them. Victory will be so much sweeter.”

After a very long game no points had been scored. And then in the last minute, Newlands College scored some points. Have you ever driven a bus home with 20 or so eighteen year old men bawling their eyes out? “Don’t be silly,” says I, “it’s just a game.” But on arrival home I shut the door and had a good cry myself.

2. Just recently my local village ran a competition. The village is called “Stratford” so every street is named after something from Shakespeare: Prospero Place, Romeo Road, Ariel Street, and so on. Four new streets were waiting to be named. There was a monetary reward for the person who came up with the best suggestion. Not only, the blurb said, should the name be connected with Shakespeare, but it should also if possible have something to do with the history of the village.

I came up with the perfect suggestion! In fact, it was so perfect that I spent the reward money on firewood ahead of the winning announcement.

My suggestion was “Arden Street”. Not only was Mary Arden William Shakespeare’s mother’s name, but “As You Like it” was set in the Forest of Arden, and a hitherto unknown-authored play – “Arden of Faversham” – had just been declared as “now known with certitude to have been written by the Bard”. On the local front, an early settler in the village here was Joseph Arden whose landscape paintings hang in galleries up and down the country.

I had certainly thought up a winner. Anyway the local town council chose Midsummer Street. Thank goodness I’m not a bad loser. They can shove their stupid midsummer pile of crap up their noses for all I care, the bat-poo infested, snot-ridden creeps.

3. Around about 1957 the local rural schools of the area held a combined festival. There were all sorts of categories that the primary school students could be involved in. I chose the event “Design a carpet pattern”. I drew on paper around several things from my school bag and coloured them in. And there! On exhibition day! The twenty or so entered carpet designs were pinned on a large display board. There was 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place – with two “Highly Commended” designs. Mine was highly commended!! I never saw that they made a carpet out of it but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Years later, when I lived in St-Victor, Quebec, a number of my friends worked as fabric designers for curtains, bedspreads, and so on. I never told them they were talking to an award-winning carpet designer. They would’ve been so jealous.

That about takes care of all my successes in life. Thanks again to Chelsea for initiating and keeping the Terrible Poetry Contest. Do visit.

And as an Addendum: If you have sort of enjoyed reading this, don’t hesitate to nominate me for any Blogging Award that comes your way, deserved or not. Despite the naming of Midsummer Street, it seems to be raining here a good deal of the time and I’m stuck inside with little to do other than create terrible poems and compose award acceptance blogs such as this.

I hope your days are as filled with stunning accomplishments as mine.

Award 19: Liebster Award right Herr

The Liebster Award seems to be one of the most enduring blog awards. I was delighted to receive it from Chelsea Ann Owens. Chelsea’s blog covers many aspects. My favourite bit of her blog however is the weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The “terrible” applies to the poetry and not to the award! It’s great fun to enter and to read some purposely intended bad poetry. Some people don’t have to try very hard.

There are five questions to answer when accepting this award. So without further ado I shall oblige.

1. Would you rather sleep in on Sunday, and would a cat sitting on your face change that answer?

That’s two questions! Quite frankly, I hate sleeping in on any day. I get out of bed every morning between 3 and 4 o’clock, so come breakfast time (around 8) there’s already 4 to 5 hours of “work” under my belt. It’s as if those morning hours are free – others sleep while I forge ahead. Early rising stems from a lifetime of having to get up to “milk the cows”. There’s no cows to milk now, but the habit of a lifetime remains. The cows however still hover near my fence.

Regarding the cat… the cat is 13 years old and for thirteen years has slept on my head. In fact, 13 years ago, when just a kitten, she would creep over from the neighbours at night and snuggle up in my bed. I was drastically poor at the time and rented as cheap a house as I could find. The house had no insulation and no source of heating. I’m sure I would have perished from cold if the cat hadn’t nightly snuggled up. When I left that wretched house the cat came too. Together, since then, we have moved 8 times. She goes for a walk with the dog every day, and complains loudly all the way.

One thing we don’t need to use in New Zealand are cat harnesses. There are no wolves, coyotes, snakes, mountain lions, or any form of cat-eater. So my cat goes in and out the cat door at whim. She covers a territory of several square miles. AND she has the wonderfully creative name of… Pussy Cat.

2. Given an infinite number of monkeys and typewriters, how soon before they realise typewriters are outdated and they’ll need to learn sign language?

Living in Djibouti we had a monkey, called Arthur. He was orphaned when his mother was run over by an army truck. He would sleep in a baby’s bassinet (I think some countries call it a cradle?) under the blankets with his little head poking out – just like a human.

Not Arthur

He was a quick learner. Noticing that we took our shoes off before entering the house and carrying them inside to place in a closet, he soon helped by taking the shoes at the door and putting them away. Whenever visitors came to leave they would discover their shoes were missing. Aha! They were always arranged in neat little rows in the closet!

When Arthur came with us to town he would ride on the back of the dog, like a noble horseman. He loved being the centre of the much attention he caused.

Sadly, Arthur couldn’t use a typewriter so the question remains unanswered.

3. What is the best paper aeroplane design?

Whenever I taught secondary school students I would hold an annual paper dart competition to see whose dart would fly the greatest distance. Of course I organised it because I knew I would always win! The secret of a good dart is not sleekness and speed; rather it’s being able to float quietly through the air without turning a corner. A gentle throw of the right design will go an enormous distance. It’s festina lente in another guise.

I’m more than aware that a wordy description of the design (without diagrams) is what is called for. It is almost an impossibility! That is why in the paper-dart teaching days, the students were challenged to write down their dart-making instructions WITHOUT pictures. Some did rather well. I’m not going to try.

Ok – specially made just for you

Years and years ago I wrote a pretty successful play called Balloons (it was so long ago that I had to look the title up just now). It involved sequences of Churchill’s and Hitler’s war time speeches while a HUGE number of paper darts were thrown in all directions. It always took a long time to clean up the mess.

4. Who would win in a duel: chocolate volcano cake or bananas foster?

I had to look up both chocolate volcano cake and bananas foster. That shows the sort of childhood I had. One would hope these days that in a duel they’d both knock each other out.

Only yesterday I got all experimental in the kitchen and said I was going to make a dessert I’d never tried before. There’s this huge tome of recipes The Australian Women’s Weekly Recipe Book. Every recipe in it seems excellent. So it was with a great deal of excitement that I ventured to create this tart. Well, what a disaster. I may as well have served up cardboard. Thank goodness for ice cream. It’s times like these one would wish for a chocolate volcano cake or a bananas foster.

5. If you could choose one magical power, what powers would everyone else have?

I must admit that I don’t really understand the question, so as a departure from my usual stance I shall briefly prattle on about nothing. There’s no such thing as Magic, of course. You oft hear it said that if you believe something it will happen. It’s to do with motivation. It’s to do with oomph. Well I’d just like to say that fat people are no good at the pole vault no matter how much they believe in themselves. Having said that, I’ve never made it past the first 20 pages of any Harry Potter book. I find it boring, wordy, and asphyxiating!

To sum up: a favourite quotation is from Napoleon Bonaparte: If you want to take Vienna, take Vienna.

Magic! 

Incidentally (and apparently it’s true) there was a time in France when it was illegal to hang a picture above the fireplace of Napoleon. Hence, to get around it, the shape of the mantle clock is the shape of Napoleon’s hat.

 

Now to nominate a couple of others. Here lies the crunch: I don’t nominate. But what I do is to point out some blogs I like so that those who haven’t discovered them already may wish to do so. Many blogs are award-free – hence I’m not nominating – just pointing out. I’m not going to mention “old” friends so don’t feel bad and left out…

1. Ryan Impink – Ryan labours away writing these stories for not a huge expanse of the world’s population. I find his stories riveting and excellent and generally short.

2. River Dixon – River knows how to write a good poem that cuts to the quick.

I’ve just realised how few friends I have! Oh well…

Thanks for taking the time to ruminate.

Award 18: Noble Pries for Littering

With the shocking dearth of awards going around on WordPress, that is, the shocking plenitude of awards NOT going around, I have decided to once again nominate myself for a worthy accolade. Congratulations to myself on receiving the Noble Pries for Littering. I am not worthy, surely.

I am indeed honoured and humbled by this award, which unfortunately carries no monetary value.

There are a number of very strict rules when accepting this award.
1. You must NOT nominate anyone else.
2. If you have recently moved house, you must post pictures of where you live for the gratification of those who have not the slightest interest in your living arrangements.
3. Feel free to blather on about nothing.

So here goes:
1. (Done!)

2. As can be seen from these photos, if I were to be reincarnated I would definitely come back as a solipsist. In fact I might even establish a Solipsist Society and invite like people to join.

Here is my view to the north:

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Here is my view to the south:

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Here is my view to the east:

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Here is my view to the west:

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Here is a photograph of my mail box:

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As you can see, tourists to the area who are looking for the nearest volcano are told to “Just keep driving once you pass Bruce Goodman’s red mail box.”

Here is a view of my house, lest you think I live in a tent:

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Whoops! Wrong one! Here is the right one. You may have deduced: I am not a town person.

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3. I have nothing to blather on about, more’s the pity. What an interesting phrase is “more’s the pity”! It’s worth a goggle gloggle giggle gliggle gloogle google. Have a lovely day!