Tag Archives: award

1889. Award 22: Mystery at Te Popo

How wonderful to be nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award by Dumbest Blog Ever. The Dumbest Blogger ain’t as dumb as he makes out so go have a peek. He’s also going through a bit of a no-job patch, so see if you can have a read. He’s a good friend too.

Te Popo (in the title of this posting) is the name of the area where I live. It means “The Black Night”.

The award was established by Okoto Engima. She (apparently) is your everyday writer who turned her boredom, love for fashion, and passion for writing into something productive. So, being a fashion icon in my own head, I’m delighted to provide a link.

I’m meant to answer the five questions asked, and then say THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. Of course the very things that some would want to know about me shall remain a secret. Oh! What the heck! Why not expose all? Read on!

Then I’ve got to nominate other bloggers, ask them a similar number of original things in the manner in which I was asked, and finally skedaddle off to bed.

Here are the five questions:

1. Where do UFOs come from?

Three weeks before my fourth birthday (i.e. 21 days before) my parents put a dozen eggs underneath a broody hen. I didn’t know, but they were due to hatch on my birthday. Then on my birthday eve my mother told me the hen was going to hatch out baby chickens tomorrow for my birthday. I went to the chicken coop and watched. Being on a farm I knew that babies came out of the mother’s bottom – like calves and lambs and things. I also knew that chickens came out of eggs. But how did the mother hen get her babies into the eggs after they had come out of her bottom?

I was going to solve this mystery once and for all. I watched all day, and not a thing happened. The next morning the hen had twelve chickens. I do not know how the hen puts the chickens into the eggs, and nor do I know where UFOs come from.

As an addendum to this, all twelve chicks grew into handsome over-sexed roosters, which might lead to the first of the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this post.

This is my faverolles rooster in my later years!

2. Do you like Mexican food?

We don’t have Taco Bell within a thousand miles of where I live, so all Mexican food has to be hand-crafted – a skill which I have developed to a high standard, especially when opening the can of kidney beans. So yes, I like Mexican food. Once, a couple of years back, the farming neighbours asked me to look after their farm for three weeks while they went away for a vacation. (They had never had such a capable neighbour before, and I said yes because they had lots of farm bikes and I was able to roar around all day on motor bikes here and there – it could have been interpreted as testosterone but it was simply post-adolescent inanity).

By way of thanks the neighbours invited me over for a meal, and we had Mexican. I was foolish enough to declare that one cannot claim to have eaten Mexican tacos properly unless one takes a freshly stuffed taco shell and eats it while jumping up and down in a white shirt on a trampoline. That’s what I had seen Mexican children do.

Some idiot actually photographed it

Who cares? The shirt was old anyway. Of course, those of you who want to see me with my shirt off will have to wait until the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF later. I don’t like to reveal everything all at once.

3. Do you believe in life after love?

I’d like to say yes to this question, but basically I’m a bad loser. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen in love, or even fallen in infatuation. But each time when the saga is over I turn into a complete wreck. I’m trying to select an example…

Once, when all possibility of romance dissipated, approximately around one in the morning, I screwed up an entire packet of cigarettes and threw them into the fire. The nearest in-the-middle-of-the-night cigarette selling place was about two hours walk away and I didn’t have a car. By the time I got home at five o’clock it was sunrise and I was in a ripe state.

No, there’s no life after love. Or, yes, perhaps there is, but it’s a different life – I have subsequently discovered.

I know it’s confusing but this is not me. These are actually models.

4. What’s your theme song?

I’m a bit “yesterday” when it comes to choosing a theme song. I guess it would have to be the song my father banned from us playing on the (back-then) gramophone. It was the flipside of Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren’s “Goodness Gracious Me”. The song was called “We’re removing Grandpa’s grave to build the sewer”. I absolutely loved it back then (and still do). I suppose part of the appeal was that Dad had banned it and it could only be played when he was out of the house. Apart from that as a ten year old I got given a collection of recordings of music by famous composers and I thrashed Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to death. Mum would say, “Turn that horrible music down” but I didn’t.

I still get immensely excited by every note of it, and sometimes take the score to bed with me to read like a novel. But for the time being, if you’re hoping to get an insight into my excitement you may have to wait until you hear about the THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF towards the end of this reflection.

Getting ready to take Stravinsky’s Rite to bed.

5. Would you rather eat rice or potatoes?

I had two great-great-great grandmothers die in the Irish Potato Famine, so it would be treachery to claim a preference for rice. Besides, I associate rice with China, and they’re not my favourites at present.

There’s so much more one can do with a potato. Rice one can boil or throw over the bride and groom at a wedding. What a waste! Imagine throwing boiled potatoes at a bride and groom. It could be the harbinger of awkward things to come, especially if the groom got bits of mashed potato on his black tuxedo.

THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

At last we have arrived at this most revealing section. Some of you have been faithful online friends for seven or eight years, and some just a few weeks. Some know things about me that others don’t. Anyway, here are bits of me in no particular order and for no particular reason:

1. I am gay. My partner is Eric. He is French. We get on well enough. He speaks nine languages and I speak English. He uses the eight other languages when he doesn’t want me to know what he’s saying. I never chose to be gay. My five siblings are now all GREAT grandparents. Such things would have its joys and non-joys (and expenses). I have a dog and a cat. I love them nonetheless. It’s not quite the same but it’ll have to do!

2. I was a catholic priest for nearly thirty years. Those years, plus the eight years of training, were an important part of who I am. Sometimes, when people hear of my past, they say “Good on you for leaving”. I always get a little hurt by that. It was almost forty years of my life! I don’t think there was much wrong with what I did!

3. I have had a chronic heart condition for 25 years or so. Apparently I need a heart transplant but I’m not going to be given one because there’s a paucity of hearts about and I haven’t made a big enough contribution to society to be very far up the list! I said to the heart specialist when he told me that, “as long as the heart I would’ve got goes to someone younger who has a life ahead then that is fine”, and he said that no one had said that before and he burst into tears. I thought that might’ve improved my chances but it made Sweet Fanny Adams of a difference!

Anyway, it’s just as well that this wonderful award asks for only three, otherwise I’d be talking about myself all day.

I now have to ask five questions and nominate others. Well, this is the sad bit. I should’ve said it at the beginning. I don’t nominate, but I mention the blog addresses of other bloggers I follow that I like and maybe you miss out on. If I don’t mention you, know that I don’t NOT mention you to make you feel bad.

a). Passing on the flame. This is an archive of poetry translations (Medieval/Baroque/Modern/etc) from the German, by Peter Lach-Newinsky. I like this site because it exposes something to me that I wouldn’t have a clue about otherwise.

b). Observation Blogger. Lifelong learner and blogging enthusiast. Matthew is an Australian who lives in Colombia with his family. I think he’s currently in permanent lockdown – the poor bugger. He posts interesting stuff about music and things. The bits I like most are his introductions to Latin American music, singers, and songs.

c). Lisa of arlingwords blogs about a number of things, but mainly about her communal garden in Washington DC where she creates produce for the poor and gets eaten out by wild and pernicious rabbits.

d). European Origins. As a (lily) white Caucasian I enjoy Marcel’s blog and dream about my European ancestral lineage! I hope I’m allowed to…

e). Sweet Life Kitchens. Noel presents country-style cooking and baking. I like it because it gives a few ideas and shows how to cook things without a million pop-ups and ads that have now taken over recipe sites. This is good stuff!

Now I have provided no questions because these are not nominations but recommendations. But if so desired then recommended bloggers can answer the same five questions no doubt more satisfyingly than my response!

Thanks again to The Dumbest Blogger for his kindness in nominating me.

Here’s a picture of my washing to let you know that despite all I’ve said, it’s a cow of a life.

Award 21/Story 1872: A Blugger Award

I love awards. It’s over a year since I got an award – 9th of April 2019 at 5.19 p.m. This time I have been nominated by the Dumbest Blog Ever blogger for the Outstanding Blogger Award. I enjoy the Dumbest Blog Ever blogger’s blog and I’m sure many of you would too if you don’t already know it – but be prepared at times for a touch of the bizarre that can have layers of meaning (or not). He’s also an expert at old Greek stuff and made me read the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was also brought up on a farm with cows. Thanks N. for thinking of me.

I was never really rebellious but I was never much good at rules either, so I’ll get the rules out of the way quickly. Here they are:

• Provide a link to the creator’s original award post. (Done!)
• Answer the questions provided.
• Create 7 unique questions.
• Nominate 10 bloggers.

Now to answer the 7 questions!

Question 1: What is the meaning of life?

I have no idea what the answer to this question would be! I took Philosophy for three years in earlier days. I slept through a number of the lectures. The climax came with the final assignment. I was given the topic, “Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge”.

Bertrand Russell – “The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part.”

I didn’t have a clue what his Theory of Knowledge was about and for the assignment I drew faces of little pigs to illustrate what I thought Bertrand Russell was saying. A message came from the Professor of Philosophy. He wanted to see me. I knocked guiltily on his office door. I was in a sweat. This would be it. He would announce a failure. He would say I should never have taken the philosophy course. My three years would be brushed aside and all because of rows of little pigs’ faces.

Oink! Oink! Oink!

“Yes,” said the professor, “where did you get this information from?”

“I read the book and that’s what I came up with,” I said.

“Well,” said the Professor, “I never understood Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge until I read your essay.”

I got an A+ pass for the course. But to this day I can’t say I understand Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, and nor do I know the meaning of life.

Question 2: How fast is too fast?

I do everything like a bull at a gate. Everyone says, “Don’t go at it like a bull at a gate,” but I can’t help it. It saves having to think and learn. For example, I sat through Algebra classes at school surreptitiously solving the theorems of Euclidean Geometry because they were more interesting. I spent Latin classes reading George Eliot novels under the desk. To this day I know few Latin words and nothing about Algebra.

If I had my life again I would take things slower. I would study Algebra step by step. “Make haste slowly” would be the motto. Or as they said in Ancient Rome: Festina lente.

Question 3: Do you believe in Karma?

Yes I believe in Karma but possibly not in the sense understood in Hinduism and Buddhism – they’re out of my cultural league so I don’t pretend to understand it. But in the sense of everyday usage – good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions – I’d go along with it. I dream of helping a little old lady across the road and being left a fortune in her will. That’s sort of what Howard Hughes did to this guy who stopped to help when Hughes got a puncture: left him millions. Whether the guy got the money in the end or not I’m not sure.

Howard Hughes – “The only time an aircraft has too much fuel on board is when it is on fire.”

The last job I had was as a country school librarian. It wasn’t a 40-hour week job because that would require full-time wages. It was for 37 hours so I could be paid the cheaper part-time wages. (Don’t ask me how that works). I taught music (without any resources) for 7 of those hours on librarian’s wages (which is less than 2 thirds of what a teacher gets). Suddenly a young teacher in a short skirt applied for the job of music teacher. But how to get rid of me first?

In the meantime, a mother of a student hanged herself from a tree in her garden. I was asked to play “sad mood music” at her funeral. Later to another teacher I expressed surprise that the Head Master hadn’t attended the funeral but chose to go to a rowing regatta instead. Before you knew it I was hauled into the Head Master’s office. Had I criticised the Head Master? I said I had expressed surprise. I was on my bike. That was that.

Two years later I read in the paper where the Head Master had been forced to resign; he’d been fiddling with music teachers in short skirts. Do I believe in Karma? Indeed! Have I forgiven the Head Master? Indeed I have – the wizened-up, over-sexed, inadequate, bat-festering, little twerp.

And I never found another paying job ‘cos I couldn’t get a reference from my “previous employer”.

Let’s play that again, Class.

Question 4: What’s your favorite type of jelly?

Oh my goodness! Here I am faced with a cultural dilemma. Not only am I forced to spell “favourite” without the U, I am confronted with the word “jelly”. Even though strictly speaking in New Zealand we could use the word “jelly” for a spread on toast if it’s set with pectin and strained (quince jelly for example) we usually use the word “jam” for both jam and jelly. Strictly and stickily speaking, jam has bits of pulverized fruit in it. Here, the word “Jelly” is usually reserved for what Americans call Jell-O.

I am therefore presuming that by “Jelly” in the question is meant the spread and not the dessert. Rhubarb Jelly is my favorite, for no other reason than I made a large pot of it, and dripped it through muslin cloth overnight. What a pretty sight it was in the jars catching the light! This wasn’t for eating as a spread as such. It was for painting on fruit in a dessert to make the fruit shine. It provided a wondrous glossy glow and the fruit looked even more delectable and the rhubarb jelly was without taste. If you want to be fussy, what I’ve described is not called Jelly either but Nappage. Thanks for the question, because I forgot I had made it and it’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard unused for about five years.

Question 5: What is the best mode of transportation?

A few years ago I thought I’d attend a friend’s father’s funeral and booked a flight to the city where it was. Not wanting to leave my car at the expensive, money-guzzling airport car park for several days, I asked a neighbour if he would take me to the airport in my car and then bring it back home.

”Sure,” he said. And we set out.

Towards the airport we had to pass through a busy barely two-lane really old tunnel. We were behind a slow driver. The tunnel was where the neighbour decided to pass the car in front. There was a bus and a row of cars headed straight for us. I wasn’t worried about my car. I was worried about my life.

I have never felt so safe getting onto a plane. That feeling has stayed with me. Hence the best mode of transport is out of a tunnel and into the air.

Question 6: How would you solve the world’s problems?

Don’t get me started! I probably would start with the fact that “people are not problems” they are “mysteries”. Problems get solved; mysteries get pondered. The modern world likes to turn everyone and everything into a problem; our differences are a problem, our forebears are a problem, etc. I could expand this for several pages, complete with little drawings of pigs’ faces but I shall save you the effort of having to read it.

Question 7: What’s your favorite meal?
Pancakes.
I would begin with a pancake stuffed with seafood, and then move on to lots more pancakes stuffed with various stuff.

For dessert it would be several pancakes stuffed with blueberries and lashings of whipped cream – that’s if I was dining at home. Otherwise dessert would be simply Jell-O if that’s what they serve in the coronary care unit in the hospital.

I don’t do nominations, but I do do recommendations. Here’s 10 blogs I follow, selected for no particular reason and in no particular order. Don’t feel bad if you’re left out. You’re still loved. I follow so many wonderful writers that I feel bad about selecting only ten. I reckon all these blogs are worth the time!

1. Red’s Kingdom. Phil’s blog involves photography, painting, music… anything that’s creative. And he seems to be a nice guy as well!
2. Iseult Murphy. Iseult is a horror, fantasy and science fiction author. She must be the most prolific reader on the Net and her reviews are worth the read in themselves. I believe she expressed a keenness to get murdered in one of my stories. I’m still choosing the weapon Iseult because I want it to be as exciting as your book!
3. Wandering Ambivert. Hannes lives in South Africa (I think) and his passion is photography, film, travel, nature, books… I have an expensive camera (it was a gift) and very little brain-power to use it properly. I relish the Wandering Ambivert’s postings in explaining what all the buttons are for.
4. (CALIATH). João-Maria writes in both English and Portuguese – the latter being his first tongue but you wouldn’t know it wasn’t English! I enjoy his writing because I find it challenges me not to be such a stick in the mud. I think he manipulates English in an original and creative way. It discomforts me in my prison walls!
5. Author Sarah Angleton. I’ve followed Sarah’s blog since way-back. She is a novelist and historian. On her blog Sarah usually once a week selects a tiny snippet of history, researches it, and presents it in a delightful way. You learn about interesting things you never dreamed you ever wanted to know about!
6. PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture. Max gives a daily menu of stuff you heard on the radio for years and forgotten you had. But it’s with fresh eyes and fresh insight. You’ll learn things you never knew about a song – such as the one today as I write, the whispered overdub on Riders on the Storm; the overdub being the last thing Jim Morrison did before his death.
7. shakemyheadhollow. Daedalus Lex aka Gary deals with conceptual spaces: politics, philosophy, art, literature, religion, cultural history. I don’t agree with everything he thinks about, but it certainly makes you think! I find it interesting.
8. araneus1. Terry is the second oldest blogger that I follow. I don’t mean he’s old; I mean I’ve hung around his blog for a long time like a bad smell. He’s Australian and his yarns are bloody good. Of all the story-tellers around, he is the one I always say “Oh good!” when I perceive a new posting.
9. Letters from Greece. M.L. Kappa lives in Greece, when she’s home because she takes you through Greece and to art exhibitions all over the place. On top of that she’s a fabulous artist herself. Her observations on history and art are rewarding and interesting. Her blog is a delight to visit, and you get a good overview of what’s happening these days in Greece as well.
10. Harvesting Hecate. I shouldn’t say this, but Andrea is my favourite all-time blogger. Not only does she encourage others, but she can turn the simplest walk into the most beautifully crafted odyssey. The writing castes a spell; in fact, it harvests Hecate. Andrea is also the blogger I’ve followed for the longest time – so in real life she’s probably lovely too! I can’t recommend her magic enough!

Thanks once again Dumbest Blog Ever.  I owe you a whiskey, or at least a beer; and failing that a drink of good Wisconsin milk.

(Tomorrow it’s back to the regular daily story!)

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.

1163. Shakespeare, Milton, Keats are dead

Mae-Helene wrote poems every day. She wrote down the first thing that came into her head. She was a natural-born poet. She was also very modern. Free verse was not called free verse for nothing. Mae-Helene was a product and a rising star of the contemporary world.

Every day, and often several times a day, Mae-Helene would post her latest poems on her blog. She had countless followers. And then one day a fellow blogger gave her the “You-are-the-Sunshine-of-My-Life Award”. Mae-Helene was over the moon, and rightly so.

Once she had reached 100 poems on her blog, her uncle, Ned, who was both proud of her and rich, offered to pay to have her poems published in a book. It would be sold on Amazon, provided of course the cover didn’t show too much cleavage. Mae-Helene’s best friend from school-days designed the cover. It was a privilege.

At last, Mae-Helene had made it into the big time. There she was! The blurb said it all: Mae-Helene – award-winning, published author.

Award 17: The Best Award-Free Blog

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It’s quite some time since I received an award for my blog, so I was delighted to see I had awarded myself the Self-Gifted Accolade for the Best Award-Free Blog. To make things doubly pleasurable, my blog is not actually an award-free blog. I accept awards with a passion. Strictly speaking this blog is not able to receive the Self-Gifted Accolade for the Best Award-Free Blog. But I accept it humbly nonetheless, and without a murmur, in a matter similar to an American citizen receiving an honorary knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England. Congratulations to me!

There are a number of requirements that must be done in order to receive this award:

a). Wish everyone a nice day.

b). Answer a series of questions (I have omitted a good number of the questions because of their overly intimate nature).

c). Give a link to your novel if you have one and if it’s online. (If you haven’t written one then conceivably it will not be online.)

Requirement a):

Have a nice day! Everyone!

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Requirement b):

Question 1: Who invented the steam engine that operates on the principle of a pressure difference created by a vacuum on one side of the piston to push the steam piston down with the cylinder remaining hot at all times with valves permitting the steam to flow into a separate condenser and then condensate and get pumped along with any gases using the air pump?

Answer 1 (to be said aloud): What? (Get it?)

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Question 272: If you had all the money in the world, what coloured car would you drive around in?

Answer 272 (this may be said silently to save embarrassment): You couldn’t buy a car and have all the money in the world, silly. You wouldn’t have all the money in the world because the used car salesman would have some as well.

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Question 3082 (this is the final question thank goodness): Where are you going to hang this award?

Answer 3082: Hang on a minute.

Requirement c):

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My novel is called A Passing Shower. It is free to read. Two or three people have read it and said they liked it. (No doubt there are others who have read it and didn’t like it but they’re not saying). Ten years ago I sent it to a prestigious New York publisher who phoned me three times about it and said he had kept it on his desk for 8 weeks and constantly reread it, unsure what to do because he thought it “extraordinary” and that it should be published. In the end it was not published, but he said I wouldn’t have any trouble finding a willing publisher. I was so excited that I never sent it to anyone else.  I did try here in New Zealand to find a publisher to send it to, but they all asked the same question: who is your agent? When I tried to get an agent they all asked the same question: who is your publisher? One New Zealand agent did answer in an enthusiastic manner: “I suspect your novel would annoy the shit out of me”. Bewildered, I posted the novel online. It might be worth digging into to see if it “annoys the shit” out of you!

It’s rather frustrating because had the novel been published I would have written another! And another! And I would probably have the Nobel Prize for Literature by now, instead of this crumby Self-Gifted Accolade for the Best Award-Free Blog! A pox on this award which I accept from myself with a great deal of reluctance. The novel can be found HERE!

Award 14: Where the sun doth shine

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I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you P. J. Lazos of Central Pennsylvania who blogs at Green Life Blue Water.

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I am delighted to accept. At first I wasn’t sure what country P. J. Lazos came from, and then I spied the use of the word “gotten” and I thought s/he’s either Shakespeare or from the United States! Thank you!

The few rules are: 1. Say thanks. 2. Answer the 11 questions posed. 3. Choose 11 more bloggers and pose 11 questions.

Here are the 11 questions and answers. I ask the same questions of others who may wish to partake:

1. Why do you blog?

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In The Arabian Nights Scheherazade tells 1001 stories – one a night – else she would get her head hacked off. I sort of began this blog with the aim of writing a story a day for 1001 days. There are 148 story days to go. One stumble, one omission, one falter, and I lose my head; cut off, psychologically-speaking, by the Scimitar of Fate.

2. When did you start blogging?

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I started blogging on 9th May 2013. I stopped on 30th June 2014 because I reached story number 555, which was the number of keyboard sonatas written by Dominico Scarlatti. (At that stage Scheherazade’s 1001 Nights seemed too far off). Then towards the end of 2014, filled with regret and ennui, I began to post the stories again, but backdating them from 11th October 2013. Why that date? I have no idea.

3. Do you see yourself blogging in 10 years?

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On 7th July 2016, when 1001 stories are reached, I might continue for another hundred or so, because some of the stories should be scrapped. After that I might change the blog altogether. I thought of going for a walk each day with the camera and posting that. Some bloggers do so, and I find it often immensely interesting. As for ten years? Do the dead blog?

4. What’s the hardest thing about blogging?

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Blogging is a “community event”. Anyone can read, participate, rejoice, and sneer. I try to answer each comment positively, but sometimes things really REALLY get me down. I have a personality that sometimes lashes out before it has time to think! Once I’ve posted a response that might be taken as mildly offensive, you can’t withdraw it. For example, if I wrote: “You whiskey-fermented, love-sotted, spongeful of belfry bat milk. You amorphous hunk of incontinent stag plaque. Why don’t you get a life?” Suddenly I discover I’ve lost a follower. I find it overly stressful at times.

5. If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

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For today I would like to be Gilbert Blythe; a handsome, smart, witty and chivalrous classmate of Anne of Green Gables who has a crush on Anne the moment he sees her. Unaware of Anne’s near-pathological sensitivity about her red hair, he tries to get Anne’s attention by holding her braid and calling her “Carrots!” Anne’s explosively hostile reaction only causes Gilbert to be more smitten. He makes several attempts to apologize, the failure of all of which do not seem to mar his admiration. He attempts apology one last time when he saves Anne from drowning; Anne crassly rebuffs this attempt, only to regret it almost immediately. Years later, he gives up his job offer of teaching at Avonlea School so that Anne may live at Green Gables, upon which the two reconcile and become good friends. And then beyond the book they get married, and presumably have wild sex and lots of kids.

6. Favorite literary genre, and if possible, favorite book?

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My favorite literary genre is the Short Story. Possibly my two favorite Short Story writers are Guy de Maupassant and Katherine Mansfield. Maupassant’s The Diary of a Madman is a delight:

I saw, under a willow, a fisherman asleep. It was noon. A spade, as if expressly put there for me, was standing in a potato-field nearby. I took it. I returned; I raised it like a club, and with one blow cleft the fisherman’s head. Oh! he bled, this one – rose-colored blood. It flowed into the water quite gently…

Katherine Mansfield’s dying man in The Daughters of the Late Colonel is equally memorable:

He lay there, purple, a dark, angry purple in the face, and never even looked at them when they came in. Then, as they were standing there, wondering what to do, he had suddenly opened one eye. Oh, what a difference it would have made, what a difference to their memory of him, how much easier to tell people about it, if he had only opened both! But no – one eye only. It glared at them a moment and then… went out.

7. Do you belong to a writing group? If so, how often do you meet? Are there any rules?

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I have a fairly substantial inferiority complex, and have never called myself a writer, and think I am not worthy of joining a writers’ group. You have to be good at it! One day I was happily weeding my garden and Margaret Mahy suddenly appeared – she is now dead but world-famous for writing and selling millions of children’s books. The Writer’s Group was having a meeting. Could I come and chair the meeting? as all the writers felt “chairing a meeting” was beyond them! Besides, some of the authors were chatterboxes and they needed a chairperson who wouldn’t mind telling them to sit down and shut the heck up! So I did chair the meeting – even though I was not a member of the group. There were about a dozen famous authors there and me! You had to be a published author to belong to the group. I was invited to join the group but I said “Oh but I’m not published”. They said (see my answer to Number 9) “You’ve had more plays performed than anyone else.” But I never attended another meeting as shortly after I left the area.

8. What’s a typical day look like?

I rise at 5am and feed the cat and dog and turn on the coffee machine. I check the news online and download the emails (usually around 150 or so from the blog) while I get my coffee. I attend to the emails and read the blogs of others. At 7am I take my first pill. By 7.30am I have finished taking my pills, and then I have breakfast. (I’m not joking about the pills – my specialist says that people these days underestimate the value of modern medicine! I trust him! I’ve no option anyway!)

Around 8am I write a story or stories for my blog and attend to comments.

If it’s not raining I mow the lawn, or weed the garden, or just mess around. If it’s raining I mess around. Usually I practice the piano for an hour or so daily. This year I’m concentrating on Joseph Haydn’s keyboard works – it’s only February; the guy’s a genius but I’m tired of him already.

About 10 o’clock I start working, which is formatting in MSWord, Chemistry Safety Procedures that have to be translated into other languages. There can be up to 82 languages that a document might need translating into, and if the formatting is not exactly correct, when the translation is made there’s not a chance in hell of getting the formatting right. Try formatting a document in Malayalam if you can’t read Malay!

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I take the dog (and usually the cat comes too) for a walk around 3 o’clock.

I start drinking preparing the evening meal around 5/5.30pm and eating at 6/7pm. After that I mess around and go to bed about 9pm.

9. Have you ever been published and if so, indie or traditional and why?

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This is a hornets nest! The New Zealand National Library (that’s a Government Department – pictured) says that if a work “is available to others” then it is classified as “published”. Twenty years ago – or something – a New Zealand playwrights’ association advertised in their newsletter that if you wanted to perform any unpublished New Zealand play, here is a list of titles, playwrights, and how to contact them. The National Library jumped up and down and said there is no such thing as “an available unpublished work”. (You see, they have to get a free copy of everything published). So I guess I have got everything published, because all my writings are available for free. No, I am not Indie. No, I am not traditional. I am “Available”. And not a single copy resides in the National Library.

I used to tell teachers that if they had a copy of a children’s play they were welcome to photocopy it as many times as they wished. And they did! It meant in the long term that I have become “the most performed playwright in the history of the country” – and probably the poorest. And not a thing “published”!

10. What inspires your writing? Does your family support it?

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I don’t have any family – well, I have 5 siblings and not a single one is on Facebook – but I have a friend. I don’t think he has ever read my blog. He read my novel and rather disliked it I think. Then again, he might be fussy, as he’s read Wuthering Heights in 9 languages! He has translated for me to read lots of Victor Hugo and a pile of unpublished-in-English Jules Verne.

Nothing in particular inspires my writing. I usually get an idea while having breakfast, or in the shower. The period between sleep and wake is great for ideas, but almost impossible to remember. There’s a certain curve in the road here in Levin where I live. 90% of the time, when coming back home after getting the groceries, I get an idea with a jolt at that curve in the road. Funny, eh?

11. Tell me something unique about yourself.

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I can water divine. Not with a twitch of willow, but with a twisted wire that bends and warps towards water.

In my younger, and at times unscrupulous, days I divined the city water supply pipe running under the school property. We tapped it and had free water for several years, watering the cricket wickets (think baseball diamonds) during the long dry summers. They were beautifully green.

Nominees:

As you may know, I never nominate. But here are 11 blogs that I enjoy – amid dozens; you might like to look at all or some. They can take the award if they wish. I would take the nomination if so “nominated” – but then again, I’m an egotistical so-and-so!

I recommend these 11 for your possible enjoyment (please don’t be offended if not mentioned!) I’m just doing my best guys… bloomin’ heck!… I haven’t all the time in the world… And these are some I read almost daily…

The Kitchen Garden
Vultureşti
Mrs. Walker’s Art and Illustrations
The Wayward Warrior
Snips & Snaps
Pickin’ Petals Farm and Mud Room
Traveling Rockhopper
Almost Iowa
One Grain Amongst the Storm
A Narcissist Writes Letters, to Himself
Topshit Photography

Award 7: Liebster and other crustaceans

© Bruce Goodman 1 August 2015

I have been nominated for the Leibster Award, which I accept with delight and humble gratitude. The nominator was A Person a World. This is apparently someone fairly new to blogging and she/he is described as an Altruist, an Adventurer, a Tech Enthusiast, a Muser. It’s always a delight to support fresh-from-the-digs bloggers and I do so gladly!

Although a quick search reveals badges to go with the award, I notice that this particular nomination didn’t come with a badge as such, so I have made one up myself:

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I must nominate further bloggers, and ask them 10 questions – which are the same as the ones below. I’m not going to nominate or ask. If a blogger I FOLLOW wants the award, genuinely research it and accept it. Awards can become annoying things, but they’re also a way of attracting bees (and wasps) to the flower.

I have been asked 10 questions:

1. If you could choose to be any other creature, what would it be and why?
I would be a dog, as I wish to be pampered, patted, and petted. I would not, however, wish to be de-knackered. And I won’t bark needlessly, I promise.

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This is my dog, Rusty, when I lived in Quebec

2. Which natural phenomenon scares you the most?
New Zealand is known as “The Shakey Isles” and I hate earthquakes. The problem is you never know how long one will last, and if it is getting stronger or weaker. Is another one about to strike?

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This is the view from the house of one of my brothers of a mountain range slipped into the sea over millions of years!

3. Which natural phenomenon do you love to witness the most?
I love thunderstorms, especially during the day time. The crash of thunder and the lightning! Especially do I love the quality of light that seems to transform the sky between flashes.

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Ok – so it’s not lightning, but it’s my hen-house in an eerie light!

4. What has influenced you the most in your growing up years?
I had a mother and a father and have 2 sisters and 3 brothers. Family was the most formative thing – for better or worse. The fact too that we were reared on a farm is something perhaps to do with my retiring disposition.

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Me in front on right – 1954

5. Which was the first poem you liked as a child?
“The Ballad of Dick Turpin” by Alfred Noyes is very long, and we were made to learn it off by heart and recite it when I was 6. I can still recite it from beginning to end!

The daylight moon looked quietly down
Through the gathering dusk on London town…

There was also “The Kingfisher” by William Henry Davies:

It was the rainbow gave thee birth…

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From my back door when I lived in Palmerston North, New Zealand

6. Which author do you love to read?
I have a well-worn (extremely well-worn) copy of the Brothers Grimm. I prefer the Brothers Grimm greatly over Hans Christian Anderson. I’m addicted to all fairy stories, but the Brothers Grimm are aptly named.

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I reckoned I once saw a fairy here

7. Where is your favourite place in your home?
I love the shower! I stand in it on one leg and think! I tuck the concave sole of my right foot into the convex side of my left knee cap, and think! I can stand there one-footed for a long time – picture those African hunters in the National Geographic of the 1950s. It’s where most of my daily stories get invented.

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Not actually of me in the shower but the stance (and possibly physique) is not dissimilar

8. Have you had a hobby of making Pen friends /Epals?
WordPress is my sole tool for communicating with the ethereal (in-reality-non-existent) world. And even then I don’t know much about those I chat with – their families, jobs, their exact whereabouts… And, no, it is not a hobby, it is an obsession.

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No emails, no comments, no likes, no friends. Humph.

9. Do you plan to write a book in future?
I never plan! If fewer people wrote books and more practiced writing, the world would be better off. Apparently, last November, over half a million novels were written. I’ve never heard of anything so stupid in my whole life.

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Hopefully last November’s literary contribution to humankind

10. What made you want to write a blog?
I once offered to edit a friend’s business website. The site used WordPress. The best way to learn how to do something is to do it; that’s a bit like learning how to… how to… how to… do everything.

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Snap! It’s a selfie!

Award 4: How versatile is that!

© Bruce Goodman 29 June 2015

(First of all, I would like to apologise in advance. I post a story each day, a piece of music on Wednesdays, and a poem on the first of the month. This coming Wednesday all three happen on the same day. I’m sorry for blogging “too much of a good thing” on the one day. Please be tolerant. Hopefully, next Wednesday will pass quickly and without too much angst).

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I love, love, love awards. I hate, hate, hate having to nominate other people. I despise nominating, not because I think others don’t deserve it, but because I’m terrified of rejection and offending and … blah blah blah. Anyway, I accept The Versatile Blogger Award with jubilation and thanks. Thank you Kritika Vashist of From the soul to the nib of a pen. I read Kritika’s blog daily with delight.

There appeared to be no icon/picture sent with the award, so I searched one online (there are dozens of variations – how versatile is that?) and found something old that I dollied up to make look like the Shroud of Turin or something.

I am meant to say 7 things about myself:

1. Back in the bad old days, I got the strap on the hand at primary school for not covering my mouth when I yawned.

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My first day at primary school – 1955

2. Back in the bad old days, I was the first in my year at high school to get caned (age: 13).

3. Back in the bad old days, I got caned 99 times in my first year at high school. We were having a race to get to 100.

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My first year at secondary school – 1963

4. Back in the bad old days, I got “disestablished” as a teacher by a high school board of a school I didn’t even teach at! The Education Ministry had told the school to cut the number of teachers so they “disestablished” me to make it look good. It was very surreal (and it made me pretty angry if you must know and became rather complicated).

5. Back in the bad old days, I taught music for 40 hours a week with no break. I did this for nine years. There were about 90 students in each class, with forms to sit on but no desks, no books, no blackboard/whiteboard, no musical instruments (not even a keyboard), and not even something to play records/tapes/CDs on. The “classroom” was a bare hall. All this was simply to fulfil the government requirement of a compulsory hour’s music a week. It was where I learned to tell “a story a day”! The students would race to my class to find out how the previous week’s story ended!

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The school where I taught – 1976-1984

6. Back in the bad old days, when I went for my driver’s licence (age: 15), just as I was driving out the gate, I ran over a wild rabbit that appeared from nowhere. I stopped the car. The examiner said, “You’re fine” and awarded me my licence without having to do any of the test!

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I got my driver’s licence in one of these – 1965

7. Back in the bad old days, I was fit as a fiddle and would go for long, long runs that could last for hours. Nowadays I can barely walk to the gate to see if the postman has been to the letterbox.

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I couldn’t find a photo of me going for a run, so I downloaded something that I thought might look vaguely similar… Yeah, right.

A lot of people don’t do awards, but check these sites/sights out nonetheless. I know also that some have already received such an award. My nominations (to which there is no obligation attached) are simply the five latest bloggers to follow my blog. Thank you to them:

Award 1: A ray of sunshine

© Bruce Goodman 26 May 2015

In a previous life’s blog I never accepted awards because I didn’t have the time. Now I find, in my case, that time and graciousness come with age. I accept them as unassumingly as possible, but with a great deal of delight.

Nomination 1. The Sunshine Award

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Derrick Knight nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Derrick’s blog is here. I very much enjoy his daily rambles, ambles, gambles, shambles, brambles, pre-and-post-prandials…

Some personal things are to be said about myself that possibly are of no interest to anyone other than me:

1. I was a catholic priest for over 30 years, being a member of the Marist Fathers, and spent much of my priesthood as a teacher of Music, English, Drama and Religious Studies in Catholic secondary schools.
2. I was brought up on sheep, cattle and dairy farms. Yes, I can milk a mean cow.
3. My Master’s thesis was on English Reformation Lute Music. This is a very handy subject to have when searching for a job.
4. I have a chronic heart condition, which is a pain in the bum.
5. I have a cat (called Pussycat), a dog (called Delia), a cow (called Blossom), and a goat (called Billy).
6. I like to garden and, having done that, I like to stand in the garden with a coffee and just look!
7. My latest “fad” is to go to the local library (libraries are no longer quiet places) that includes books, cafe, computers… There’s a piano there. I toddle along once a week and play the piano for 20 minutes or so. It means I have to learn a set of new piano pieces each week. Today I’m playing a selection of music by Joseph Haydn. The occasional person listens, and it does not greatly matter if a wrong note gets hit.

Now I must nominate some bloggers for this award. (I don’t like this bit). Some do not accept awards, and for very good reason. That doesn’t stop me nominating them. It’s simply a way of pointing out to readers some of the great blogs they may have missed.

1. If you’re into yodelling, and great (I mean great) poetry, and insightful comment, one cannot bypass the LittleOldLadyWho. A ray of sunshine!
2. If you’re into stories with grit, guts and verve, then head down to Brazil with By Ryan. (It’s in English). A ray of sunshine!
3. Read the delicious saga of Lady Smock and Harry Bittercress. Click your way to the delightful, witty, astute Wuthering Bites. A ray of sunshine!

There’s lots of other rays of sunshine that should be nominated, but I’ve possibly made enough enemies for the day.