Tag Archives: bloggers

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 On a dark rainy night passing through East St Louis last week, heart surgeon Bill Daily had a puncture. He was on his way to perform an urgent operation. At a gas station, with the tyre not holding air, he was trying to get a staff member to come and pick him up, when a black bystander overheard his distress, and drove him to the hospital. When he’d completed the operation, the surgeon faced the same problem in order to get back home.

Back at the gas station, the proprietor fetched a proper jack, and repaired the tyre for him, and then invited him in for food and drink. “God created the world and us to help one another”, he said. Neither good Samaritan would accept any payment from Dr Daily. Later Nasser, a Muslim immigrant from Palestine said: “We need to teach the younger generations how to learn from each other, love each other and respect each other.”

At a time when prominent people can label half the population “deplorables”, and in UK, other prominent people name a majority as not fit to vote for their future – too stupid, ignorant and prejudiced to take seriously – such kindness is worth more than gold. Those who voice these labels too often live in comfortable middle class or rich enclaves, blind to the poverty and misery, caused by the policies of those same so-called ‘elites.’

And so, in many places all over the world, our countries are divided. Yet the spontaneous kindness of a black American, and a Muslim immigrant, remind us all of what really matters in our societies – caring for each other.

I remembered Mildred Norman,(I’ve talked about her before ) the Peace Pilgrim, that amazing woman, who for twenty-eight years, walked the length and breadth of the States seven times with her message of peace. She carried nothing but a few items in the pockets of her jerkin, which was emblazoned with the words: Peace Pilgrim. From 1953 until her death in 1981, she walked to remind people of peace.

She walked through the Korean War, Vietnam War, and all the other conflicts, until the day she died. She had no means of sustenance, eating when she was given food, and sleeping wherever she was. Usually people recognised her goodness and gave her a bed…  ” walking until given shelter, fasting until given food”. When she reached 25,000 miles in 1964, she gave up counting.

Ironically, she was killed in a car crash while being taken to speak to a meeting. She was seventy-one, a gentle, silver-haired, blue-eyed woman with a tanned complexion. Wherever she went all over the States, she met with kindness.

Then there was Australian Don Ritchie, ‘The Angel of the Gap’. I can’t read about this beautiful man without tears blurring my eyes. He retired as a salesman, and bought a house with a marvellous view of the ocean just outside Sydney, which overlooked a dangerous drop, famous for the number of suicides there. He spent the rest of his life looking out of the window at that famous view. Not to enjoy the view, but – “for a far greater purpose,” as one obituary put it – to rescue those who came to end their lives.

As soon as he saw someone lingering there, he walked across to them smiling, with his hands out, palms up – what a beautiful, instinctive gesture of peace and non-violence. “Is there something I can do to help you?” he would ask. He talked to them until they were ready to pick up their shoes, and their wallet, and their note, and to come back to his house where his wife had a cup of tea waiting for them.

Sometimes he risked his life struggling with those who were determined to jump. The official count of the lives he saved is a hundred and sixty- four, but those who knew him believe the figure to be nearer five hundred. Bottles of champagne and cards arrived for him for years after from those whose lives he’d saved.

He used to say: “never under-estimate the power of a kind word and a smile”. He died a few years ago at eighty-six, proof that no-one needs special training to serve their world, that love makes a difference, that great goodness is to be found in ‘ordinary’ people ( if indeed they are ordinary) as well as in spiritual mentors…

This goodness is also what I’ve found in so many blogs I read. Some I never miss… not witty or intellectual or spiritual, but filled with a sweetness and a simple goodness that lights up my day… they make me think of that haunting little Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’… their goodness is a gift, a simple uncomplicated sort of goodness, spontaneous and undemanding. Reading these gentle blogs about ordinary events and everyday lives, filled with the enjoyment of weather and animals and growing things is like smelling a flower.

As the years have gone by, I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of the world of blogging. I’ve come to see that there are those who are sick, but never reveal it, who use blogging as their way of meeting and communicating with others. Some are coping with family illness, death, dementia, and other domestic challenges.

They receive kindness and understanding and a listening ear from the blogging world, and in our turn, our eyes are opened to the depths of life, and truths about the human condition. We gain from the perceptions and understandings and resolutions they reach. Some use blogging as a comfort and a support as they search for a job, or a purpose, or tackle a new challenge, and receive friendship and support for their journey – and some write for fun about their passions.

Blogging can be an education and can link us all as we learn about the lives and countries of other bloggers. More importantly, we share their feelings and gain greater understanding of our global village. My general knowledge has expanded as I’ve read farming blogs, scientific blogs, climate blogs, artistic blogs, literary blogs, mystical blogs – and above all – I’ve made beautiful friends I love and care about.

And the kindness of bloggers is the heart of it all. That’s why I think blogging has a part to play in raising the consciousness of the world. Even the self-imposed conventions of conduct that we observe – to never criticise, judge or write anything hurtful … to be supportive and respectful – are habits that can make the world a kinder place.

Kindness stimulates the flow of peace and goodwill which is what will, in the end, transform the world into a village, where we know and care about each other, and where, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words: ‘peace is every step.’  The heart of bloggers is a part of the beating pulse of the world…  so may their love and kindness prevail – so Namaste, my friends.

Google says, ‘Roughly translated, ‘namaste’ means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.’

(Doctor Daily’s story of what he called ‘grace’ can be found here)

PS ‘here’ looks perfectly normal on the formatting page… can’t understand the change in caps )

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

A few days ago, I felt that dreaded moment when something hard suddenly materialised as I chewed something soft. So, now waiting for an appointment with the dentist, I needed something that wouldn’t need much chewing. I de-frosted 500gm of minced chicken and sauted some chopped onion and some celery in a little oil and some butter.

When they were soft, I added a cup of grated carrot, my latest favourite – a grated courgette, several chopped garlic cloves, chopped thyme and a couple of bay-leaves, a squeeze of Worcestershire sauce (you can leave this out). Add the chicken to the pan to quickly brown, and then tip it all into a casserole with some chicken stock to cook slowly in the oven – less than 150 degrees.

Eaten with creamed potatoes, and pureed spinach this was just what was the dentist ordered!

Food for thought

Our spiritual path and spiritual destiny – to be in the right place at the right time.   Anonymous

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25 Comments

February 28, 2017 · 12:39 pm

Can bloggers change the world?

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I’ve been in a situation for the last few weeks where I haven’t seen or read a newspaper, watched TV or listened to the radio.  The only newspaper I’ve seen is the hundred year old front page of The Auckland Star, a now defunct newspaper, and this page was a facsimile, framed, and hanging in odd places in our various homes over the years.

 It was dated 11 February 1913. Two thirds of the page was filled with the main story which had shocked the Empire (there was only one empire back then, and it was British!). The rest of the space was taken up with smaller items, an African revolt in Mozambique, quelled by the Portuguese, the terrible fighting between Serbs and Turks with high casualties, another item in which the Turkish commander of Adrianople on hearing of the proposed neutralisation of the fortress promised ” to take care to put the 40,000 Bulgarians who live here out of the way. I shall confide the women and children to the foreign consuls, turn the guns on all the Bulgarians and then convert Adrianople to a giant rubbish heap”.

 Beneath this was a story about the Turkish Red Cross addressing European sovereigns asking them to recall the law of Christ to stop Christian forces committing the most ghastly outrages and assassinations on Turks witnessed in Europe in modern times. Under this item was the English response to the Australian Cricket Association’s investigation into the behaviour of the team in England, followed by a report from Melbourne on the arrest of two Chinese involved in an enterprise with Hong Kong Chinese to smuggle ‘Chinese persons’ into the Commonwealth.

 A political crisis in Japan had provoked rioting which was put down by the army, and the English House of Lords debated compulsory physical training and elementary military skills to: “lay a foundation … on which a scheme of national defence could be based if unforeseen dangers menaced the country”. At the bottom of the page, an unforeseen menace, the Kaiser, was reported as having unexpectedly addressed the university centenary celebration, and “delivered a fiery panegyric upon German military virtues”.

 And Suffragettes had a smashing time in London, where they broke the windows of the Reform, Carlton, Junior Carlton, Oxford and Cambridge Clubs, and Prince Christian’s house ( what had he done?). “The missiles were of “lead and fireclay balls”.

 The only other news of women was the report of the Kaiser’s daughter’s betrothal to Prince Ernst of Cumberland. Nothing very different there. Serbs killing, refugees being driven from their homes and ‘confided to the care of foreign consuls’, cricketing misdemeanours, African riots, Japanese politics, boat people trying to get into Australia, suffragettes protesting, reports on princelings, are still the stuff of the news today. Substitute Syrians for Serbs, feminists for suffragettes, and it could just as easily be the front page of any newspaper today.

 What made this day in history different was the story which filled the rest of the page and which has grabbed the imagination of the world ever since – the story of a man who failed. First, he failed to achieve his objective, and then he failed to get back safely.

 The main headline reads: “Scott Party Perish”, followed by the next headline: “Five Who Made The Final Dash”, and then another headline: “Lost In A Blizzard.” And then another headline (they made the most of headlines in 1913): “After Reaching The South Pole”. Below, yet another headline: ” A World Wide Sensation”, followed at last by the main story, two sentences, the first saying they’d reached the South Pole on January 18, and perished in a blizzard, the second, listing the five who perished.

 And this story is the only clue to how things really have changed in the last hundred years, even though they may seem to look much the same.  Scott and his men would not have died now – they would have had the latest dietary discoveries to sustain them, they could have gone on tractors or skis, or any of several different ways, and kept in touch with the media and their families with all the different forms of communication we now have at our disposal … they might even have been able to keep us up to date on Facebook, and Twittered their families regularly.

 The marvels of modern communication are what really are changing the world … so that maybe – just maybe – that page of news items may seem very dated in another hundred years.  But the other thing which has changed since that day in 1913 is what we’ve done to our planet in the last hundred years, destruction on a scale that actually threatens the survival of the human race, and prompts some to wonder if it has a future.

 Maybe the biggest change since that day of news in 1913 is the change in our mind-set… we have a United Nations now, which is supposed to help bring peace to troubled hot-spots… at least the intention is there. We have governments who talk about the happiness levels of their people, and maybe best of all, we have the internet to unite us to change things.

 We all know that riots, revolutions and parties can be created with a few text messages, but there’s something deeper and more important happening in the world that we bloggers inhabit. That is the growth of groups and individuals who use this medium to change things for the better.

 The biggest and most successful so far is the group known as Avaaz, which now has millions of members world-wide who create and follow up petitions to governments to rescue women about to be stoned for having been raped, petitions to stop destruction of ancient tribal lands and forests, to tackle Monsanto and their environmental damage, to lobby European countries to stop using pesticides to save our bees.

Their range of concerns cover all the issues of our small world and the more of us who can support them the more likely we are to change this precious world for the better. So far they’ve achieved their aims on many issues both great and small, and saved a few women. And yes – that’s a commercial … and Avaaz is the name!

 

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

 At last we have some rain, and the autumn mist now hanging over us makes me hope that perhaps we will get some mushrooms springing up in the grass outside our house… some years we do, some we don’t, and I never know why. If we do, and we only have a few, they will go with bacon for my husband. But if we have plenty I’ll cook them in butter with some chopped garlic, add chopped parsley and then some thick cream to bubble up. Poured over toasted sour dough bread, they are tasty and delicious.

Food for thought

When we do dote upon the perfections and beauties of some one creature, we do not love that too much, but all other things too little. Never was anything in this world loved too much, but many things have been loved in a false way; and all in too short a measure.

Thomas Traherne 1636 -1674  English metaphysical poet who remained unpublished for two hundred years.

 

 

 

 

 

23 Comments

Filed under cookery/recipes, great days, history, life and death, peace, philosophy, politics, sustainability, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

Time for a tea-break

100_0266I have kept my blogging vows: to write regularly, for better or worse – (you be the judge),   for richer for poorer – (mostly poorer), in sickness – (sometimes) and in health, till circumstances do us part.

But recently I’ve let the other half of my blogging commitment slip – the agreement to read and follow and like and comment. Circumstances have been squeezing me, so that I’ve been lagging guiltily behind on this part of the blogging commitment.

So, it feels like time for a tea-break. Thanks to Clanmother recommending the fascinating book: ‘For all the Tea in China’, after reading my blog on tea – I now know I couldn’t make a healthier choice. Apparently wherever tea drinking caught on, those societies became healthier- they were boiling their water for the tea, and didn’t have to slake their thirst with polluted water, beer or wine.

So they remained sober, and sustained by calories in the cheap sugar from the Colonies, and protein in the milk for their tea! It’s even suggested that tea-drinking societies like the British were fifty years ahead in the Industrial Revolution because the workers were kept alert over their machines, having tea-breaks instead of becoming drowsy or sozzled with another sip of wine or beer. (Over dinner last night, a friend described Italian workers falling off the scaffolding after another sip of wine in the blazing heat as they toiled over Brunelleschi’s Dome – he had wine diluted with water brought up to them to save them the long journey up and down !)

So  here’s to: ‘ the cup that cheers but doth not in-ebriate!’  Lapsang Souchong of course !

The circle of friendship in our blogging world never fails to amaze me and move me, and though technology is what has brought us together, in the end, it’s the written word that’s made it possible. As a writer, I treasure the words of Carl Sagan who said that: ”Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, bringing together people who never knew each other, citizens of different epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

For me, it seems that blogging has become the book of life for many of us, the magic of the written word bringing us together in time and space, and showing us how connected we all are. These connections are ties that won’t be broken, even when circumstances, in my case, have dictated a tea-break.

So though this is a break, it is not an ending, and I send to all my dear friends and fellow bloggers, the (Good) witches blessing:

Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again!

Food for Thought

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.                             Virginia Woolf 1882 -1941  Great English novelist

 

89 Comments

Filed under bloggers, great days, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

Peace and the heart of blogging

100_0395Part of this has been re-blogged.  Life’s rich pageant, as a comedian used to say, has run me over this week, so I’ve returned to the thoughts in this blog.

I had read a novel by a distinguished prizewinning writer, polished it off in a few hours, turned over and went to sleep. And in the morning I awoke thinking how depressing it was… not one man or woman who was inspirational, kind, or good – everyone ambivalent and self-absorbed. Then I remembered one peripheral historical character, whose real life contribution to the care of the wounded in World War One is one of the more fascinating true stories of that time. He was a man of integrity, compassion and genuine goodness. And as I thought about him, I felt my whole body relaxing, and a smile on my face. I thought to myself how much I love reading about goodness.

I thought about Mildred Norman, the Peace Pilgrim, that amazing woman who for twenty-eight years walked the length and breadth of the States seven times. She carried nothing but a few items in the pockets of her jerkin which was emblazoned with the words: Peace Pilgrim. From 1953 until her death in 1981, she walked to remind people of peace.

She walked through the Korean War, all through the Vietnam War, and on through all the other conflicts, until the day she died. She had no means of sustenance, she ate when she was given food, and slept wherever she was, and usually people recognised her goodness and gave her a bed…” walking until given shelter, fasting until given food”. When she reached 25,000 miles in 1964, she gave up counting.

Wherever she went she talked of peace, saying: “We who work for peace must not falter. We must continue to pray for peace and to act for peace in whatever way we can, we must continue to speak for peace and to live the way of peace; to inspire others, we must continue to think of peace and to know that peace is possible.”

Ironically she was killed in a car crash while being taken to speak to a meeting. But her disciples carry on her message. She was seventy -one, a gentle, silver- haired blue-eyed woman with a tanned complexion.

Then there was Don Ritchie, ‘The Angel of the Gap’. I can’t read about this beautiful man without tears blurring my eyes. He retired as a salesman, and bought a house with a marvellous view of the ocean just outside Sydney, which also overlooked a famous suicide spot. He spent the rest of his life looking out of the window at that famous view. Not to enjoy the view, but – “for a far greater purpose,” as one obituary put it – to rescue those who came to end their lives.

As soon as he saw someone lingering there, he walked across to them smiling, with his hands out, palms up (what a beautiful, instinctive gesture of peace and non-violence). “Is there something I can do to help you?” he asked.  He talked to them until they were ready to pick up their shoes and their wallet and their note, and to come back to his house where his wife had a cup of tea waiting for them.

Sometimes he risked his life struggling with those who were determined to jump. The official count of the lives he saved is a hundred and sixty – four, but those who knew him believe the figure to be nearer five hundred. Bottles of champagne and cards arrived for him for years after from those whose lives he’d saved.

He used to say: “never under-estimate the power of a kind word and a smile”. He died last year at eighty-six, proof that no-one needs special training to serve their world, that love makes a difference, that great goodness is to be found in ‘ordinary’ people ( if indeed they are ordinary) as well as in spiritual mentors…

This goodness is what I’ve found in so many blogs I read. Some I never miss… not witty or intellectual or spiritual, but filled with a sweetness and a simple goodness that lights up my day… they make me think of that haunting little Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’… because their goodness is a gift, and it’s a simple uncomplicated sort of goodness, spontaneous and undemanding. Reading these gentle blogs about ordinary events and everyday lives filled with weather and animals and growing things is like smelling a flower.

In the last few months I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of the world of blogging. I’ve come to see that for many people it is their life-line. There are those who are sick, but never reveal it, who use blogging as their way of meeting and communicating with others. There are those coping with family illness, death and other domestic challenges, who receive kindness and understanding and a listening ear from the blogging world, and who in their turn open our eyes to the depths of life, and teach us truths about the human condition. As they share their ordeal, their pain and questionings, we bloggers also gain from the perceptions and understandings and resolutions they reach. And there are some who use blogging as a comfort and a support as they search for a job, or a purpose, or tackle a new challenge.

And blogging is an education. As it links us all from around the globe, we learn about the lives and countries of other bloggers. More importantly we share their feelings and gain greater understanding of our global village. And in the year or so that I’ve been blogging, my general knowledge has expanded as I’ve read scientific blogs, climate blogs, artistic blogs, literary blogs, mystical blogs…

But the kindness of bloggers is the heart of it all. That’s why I think blogging has a part to play in raising the consciousness of the world. Even the self-imposed conventions of conduct that we observe, never criticise, judge or write anything hurtful … to be supportive and respectful, are habits that can make the world a kinder place. Kindness stimulates the flow of peace and goodwill which is what will in the end, transform the world into a village, where we know and care about each other, and where, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words: ‘peace is every step.’ The heart of bloggers is becoming a part of the beating pulse of the world… Namaste, my friends.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Felled by a gruesome couple of visits to the dentist, I needed something to eat that didn’t need chewing. So I de-frosted 500gm of minced chicken and sauted some chopped onion and some celery in a little oil and some butter. When they were soft, I added a cup of grated carrot, some chopped garlic cloves, chopped thyme and a couple of bay-leaves, a squeeze of Worcestershire sauce (you can leave this out). Add the chicken to the pan to quickly brown, and then tip it all into a casserole with some chicken stock to cook slowly in the oven – less than 150 degrees.

This, eaten with creamed potatoes, and pureed peas was just what was needed, and also passed muster with the other hungry threadbare gourmet in the house. And there was enough for another meal.

Food for Thought

Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows.

If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil, you yourself will become ugly.

Look only for the good in everything, that you absorb the quality of Beauty.

Paramahansa Yogananda 1893 – 1952  Indian guru and author of ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’

 

62 Comments

Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, great days, life and death, love, peace, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

The Tragic and Hilarious Life of a Blogger !

 

100_0299Laughter and tears are not very far apart was the subject of an essay I once had to write at school. This is somewhat how I feel as I go once more into Spam, to clean out yet another of the daily two or three hundred messages which continue to accumulate ever since I wrote a blog with the headline ‘Ladies and Gentlemen: The Queen’. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I feel like crying with boredom as I work my way through hundreds of ‘delete permanently’!

When I first discovered over seven hundred in there, I was puzzled – why this sudden influx? Worse – they were all about Viagra, penis enlargement, electronic cigarettes and teenage sex, but overwhelmingly the first two. I looked to see what stories could have triggered this avalanche of information overload, and each one was hooked to the ‘Ladies and Gentleman…’ story.

Since there were no ads about gay sex, I assumed that it wasn’t the word ‘queen’ in the title which had provoked all the cyber-babble, so it had to be the words ‘ladies and gentlemen’ which  activated dormant computers all over the world and continue to do so.

What a sad reflection of where our language and our thoughts have gone… the original meaning of lady being a derivation of loaf-kneader – a definition I love; and where has Chaucer’s ‘verray parfit gentil knight gone?’ The goodness and nobility which was implied by the word gentleman seem to have dissolved along with evolution of a gentleman into someone only interested in his penis, in company with dissolute ‘ladies’ who will cavort alongside these enlarged penises.

The refinement implied by the words ‘ladies and gentlemen’, now seems a very old fashioned concept. If I had written: ‘Women and Men: the Queen’, would it have jerked into action all these persistent purveyors of Viagra, or is it only ladies and gentlemen who are interested in sex?

So thanks to spam, my view of life on earth has been expanded, and I now have an insight into a somewhat raunchy world which I didn’t even know existed, in which I was offered photos of surgery as well as enlargement pills which claim to do the same thing as the knife. I’ve pondered this problem of my bulging spam box, and have decided that the best way to stop the deluge, is to go back to the blog, and change the head-line to: “The Queen”. So if you get a post from me, so entitled, just delete it unread… it’ll be my attempt to restore some sort of normality to the spam box. If there was a competition for the most spam – I’d win easily.

That’s the low of blogging – whether it’s hilarious or tragic is hard to say… the high is The Conversation and connection. At the end of my tenth month of blogging, I’ve decided that that’s the indispensable ingredient of blogging. As time goes by, each blogger seems to attract like minds, so that we are lots of little shoals of fish swimming and connecting in the great internet ocean.

We know that there are some whales around with thousands and even millions of followers, but for the most part we are happy to swim around our own little back water, enjoying the company of all the other multi-coloured little fish around us. Sometimes one of the little fish becomes a big fish over-night when they receive the accolade of being Word-Pressed. Then there are lots of excited eddies around the favoured one, and then life goes back to normal and the ripples fade away.

As the months have gone by some treasured friends have disappeared, and one usually gets a sense of the unspoken why … ill health, family problems, finding blogging too onerous, feeling disappointed at not attracting a readership… there have been blogs that I’ve conscientiously liked and commented on, seeing that the writer may be feeling a bit lonely, but one person cannot make a blog popular… so I’ve seen some of these blogs quietly disappear, and I’ve felt sad.

At the same time, wonderful, new, brightly coloured bloggers swim into sight, and suddenly the pool feels livelier for their presence. And the fish we’ve been swimming with for a while… we come to know them. They may not say they’re going through divorce or grave illness or financial ruin – and sometimes they do – but they share their grief and broken-heartedness, and somehow we are richer for being in contact with each other as life swirls and swoops and takes a dive or hits a high. Sometimes they swim off and disappear while they rest or heal, but when they return, they get a great welcome. Cyber friendships make a golden spider’s web of light and connection around the globe.

When I see those amazing pictures of the planet from space, with all the lights on around the landmasses, I now also see that invisible web of golden threads linking hearts and minds across the world – the bloggers of the world – united by friendship, fun and common interests.

The common interest of most bloggers seems to be the well being of our world. Most bloggers care a lot about the planet. They are aware that unless we do something fast, our children and our grandchildren will not inherit the easy unthinking lives of abundance of water, food, forests, fish and all the other things we take for granted.

Thanks to another blogger Ana-Ela at www.spiritualanalog.com  I watched the wonderful video below. In it Edgar Mitchell says: “The root of the environmental and social crises facing humanity is the misperception that we are separate – from each other, the planet, and the cosmos as a whole”. And this is one of the blessings of blogging… it is showing us that we are not separate, but rather, how connected we all are. And that’s the real high.

http://www.planetarycollective.com/overview/

 

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

I love leftovers. We had some turkey left over from our little dinner with friends, so the next day I did what some would call fricassee of turkey. (I learned the other day that fricassee of chicken was Abraham Lincoln’s favourite dish) I put on some long grain rice to cook, and in another saucepan some wild rice, so that the black grassy spikes would make the white rice look and taste more interesting. (It takes longer to cook than ordinary rice, so needs to be cooked separately)

I made a white sauce, and popped the chopped up turkey into it, plus the remains of the mushroom garlic and cream sauce, and the dregs of the gravy from the night before. Then while the rice was finishing, I fried some chopped onion and celery, added some frozen peas to melt, and when the rice was drained, forked in the fried mixture. It was truly tasty with the turkey on top, and some fresh green beans given to us by another neighbour.

 

Food for Thought

The Two Bridges

I came to the void that encircles heaven, and found two bridges there.

And while I worried over which to attempt, a voice leapt the dark:

One is for open minds and one for open hearts. Either will get you across.

From Journeys on the Razor-edged Path by Simons Roof

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, humour, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

Awards Are Awesome…And…

I have mixed feelings about all awards, not just bloggers awards.,

We’ve just had the New Year Queen’s Honours list announced in this country, and as usual the people who’ve had successful careers – many of them having made pots of money – have had the top honours and titles. At the bottom of the list were the people who deserved the top awards – people who’d loved and fostered 150 children, someone who’d worked teaching oldies how to keep fit for 57 years, a solitary SPCA worker, who’d rescued countless animals…

When it comes to bloggers awards my feelings are mixed too… not, I hasten to say, because the wrong people get them! But when I was ten my father sent me to a convent school. The nuns were mostly French and Belgian, but the bane of my life was not a nun, but a bigoted Irish maths teacher – the only person there who was not a nun.

She made up for it by being far more religious than the rest of them put together, so that even in the middle of long division she’d stop us all to stand up and recite the Angelus. Everyone loved it, because we stopped doing maths for about five minutes!

I had three strikes against me as far as she was concerned. I was hopeless at maths. I wasn’t a Catholic  – and secretly refused to pray as she instructed,  for my non-Catholic parents – I just didn’t believe they were going to end up in hell and pits of flame.

The third strike and final nail in my coffin came in the middle of a maths lesson when I became so angry at hearing history being twisted, and how beastly we Protestants had been to the “puir” Catholics like Guy Fawkes who’d tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and other famous plotters, that I rebelled.

I stood up to answer back with Bloody Mary’s burnings, the Borgia Pope’s poisonings and the Spanish Inquisition’s torturing and burning. (Thanks to my grandmother’s book shelves I had all the information at my finger-tips.)

I got no further than the Inquisition, because she clapped her hands against her ears and cried out in her thick Irish brogue to the rest of the class: “Oh what a pack of Protestant lies!”

No-one spoke to me for a long time after that. The worst thing was the regular and ritual public humiliation of being picked for teams of rounders and netball. The nuns would choose two girls to pick their teams. One by one the team leaders pointed to their best friends, their next best friends, the people who weren’t any good at games, and finally I was left – to tag onto one or other team. Always last to be chosen – if you could call it that – the most unpopular girl in the class.

This preamble is actually about Awards!

I was bowled over by the generosity of Stephanie at http://kokopellibeefreeblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/acknowledging-the-acknowledgement/ and oawritingspoemspaintings   who each gave me an award on my first day back at the office – I mean blogging! I love reading about people’s awards, and learning things about them, and reading the blogs that they nominate.

I totally get what a great idea it is, what a gift it feels to those who receive the awards, and what a gift too to the blogging world, as we are given the opportunity to explore new blogs we otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

Like everyone else, I’m always tickled pink when someone thinks of me too, and it’s always rather moving to read what others have to say about one’s blogs. The generous recognition from fellow writers, and from what feels like family is very precious.

But when it comes to dealing with awards, my heart sinks, and I feel overwhelmed. I’m so kack-handed that my computer skills are zilch, and I simply can’t work out how to deal with the technical side of it all.

But the real nub of the matter, is that I flinch from trying to pick just a handful of deserving blogs from all the lovely blogs I read. I hate to think of people feeling they’ve been left out of the netball team, or left at the end of the queue… whenever I give a child a birthday present I give all the other children a present too.

I know we’re all adults, and presumably well-adjusted, integrated ones! But I simply don’t want to choose between blogs – some of which I read for their spiritual content and profundity, some for their humour and wit, some to live vicariously and savour life on the farm, or in the country, or exploring churches, or growing and cooking food, some for their glorious photography, or poetry, some for their quirkiness, intelligence or thoughtfulness, others for information I’d hate to miss, and others to share their insights, challenges and be awed by their courage.

Some I follow just because the personality of the writers is so gentle, good and sincere, that the world feels a better place for knowing that they exist. Each blog has its own perfume, and each one is so unique. In fact, I love you all!

So since I don’t want to fulfil the conditions of the awards, it’s not fair to accept them either.  So I must say thank you, but no thank you, for all the reasons above.

And as I step back from the awards, I want to thank the many generous and wonderful bloggers who have gifted me not just with awards, but with kindness and friendship and encouragement… if I start to name you, I will be doing what I dread, I might leave someone out! So congratulations to you all, my wonderful blogging family, and a happy new year of living, writing and blogging!

PS  There was a sequel to the story of the maths mistress. Thirteen years later, feeling like the cat’s whiskers in my expensive fitted green uniform, high heeled court shoes, and painted nails, fresh from London, I sashayed into the first school I’d been invited to speak at in my new job  on the Army Team of Lecturers. It was in remote country, and I was puzzled, because the children didn’t seem to be the right age group, and it was a shabby, run-down rather sad place. I wondered why I’d been invited.

The head mistress who greeted me and my film operator was a faded, vulnerable, and anxious middle-aged woman with an Irish brogue. I suddenly realised it was my old adversary, Miss Cummins. Intriguing as the coincidence seemed, I refrained from recognising her, and reminding her of her glory days in the upmarket school where we’d first met. The reversal in our fortunes seemed too painful to gloat over. I discovered that revenge was not sweet at all.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

I know it’s politically incorrect to dislike lettuce, but so it is for me. I don’t mind iceberg lettuce, love cos lettuce in Caesar salad, but arugula and all the fancy fashionable green leaves leave me cold. Unfortunately arugula has 70 per cent more calcium than iceberg, 50 per cent more magnesium, 40 percent more beta-carotene and sixty per cent more vitamin C. And since I have a generous neighbour who gives me the overflow of arugula from her garden, I feel I should accept fresh organic nutritious food, and behave myself!

I’ve now found a way of enjoying it. After reading that soup is the most efficient way of absorbing nutrients, I’ve created what I call green soup. Take one chopped onion sauted in butter, or leave it out and just use a leek, plus a stick of celery, some broccoli if you have it, and a potato for thickening purposes – all chopped.

Gently fry them in butter or oil. Then add some chicken stock and simmer until soft. Wash and tear the lettuce leaves, and put this with plenty of parsley and celery leaves into the blender with a cup of milk. Whizz till they’re blended, then pour this bright green mix into the soup, whizz the whole lot, and re-heat. (I don’t use parsley stalks as they can taste bitter.)

Season with salt and pepper. I usually add nutmeg, and sometimes a taste of sugar makes a difference, especially if there’s lots of lettuce. I add and leave out all sorts of different green vegetables, including asparagus. It always tastes fresh and delicious, served hot or cold. Sometimes there’s more celery in it, sometimes more leeks, sometimes plenty of broccoli – they all work. This is more than enough for two.

Food for Thought

The final piece of reaching for authentic power is releasing your own to a higher form of wisdom.                                                                                                                                 Gary Zukav,  born 1942.  Author of ‘Dancing Wu Li Masters’ and ‘The Seat of The Soul’. Popular and regular guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

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Bloggers Addictions

I’m going through what can only be called a life crisis. Looking at my stats this morning I saw in that funny place called search engines, two separate entries, one saying ‘Valerie Davies died abroad’, and the other ‘Valerie Davies dies abroad’.

I tried to click on it to find out more about my death, feeling somewhat as Mark Twain must have done when he said that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

But it won’t let me click, so perhaps – since I feel very much alive – I’m in that place called limbo, where I gather, we spend some time reviewing our lives and our mistakes and our decisions.

This feels quite a familiar place to me, having spent or wasted quite a chunk of my life reviewing my decisions, and regretting my mistakes, and now I’m doing it in Bloggerland.

It’s four months since in blissful ignorance, I posted the first blog. If I’d read any blogs first, I might have started differently, but since I knew no better, when my friendly printer said he’d got my blog ready, and now all I had to do was to write, I believed him. Four months later, having worked my way through the most obvious Blogger Complexes, I’m now swimming in deeper waters.

Yes, there is that Bloggers Delight, when a reader writes a comment that blows your socks off with its intelligence, perception, kindness or goodness. There is also the Bloggers Delight of discovering a blog that sings to you, so you click the follow button without more ado. This can happen with both photos and the written word.

Then there are the Bloggers Friendships, when a select group of like minds read your blogs regularly, and leave comments that range from encouraging to loving – a unique form of friendship, in which goodness and mercy float across the aether, blessing him that gives and him that takes.

Bloggers Dilemma is the apparent randomness of whether a post is successful or not. The blogger writes a post, anticipating a nice spike in the stats, wall to wall ‘likes’ or a rash of interested comments, only to find a flat plateau, and few ‘likes’, and nothing much in comments. This leads to Bloggers Heart-searching: was it too long? Was it too short? Why didn’t they like it? Am I writing too often? Am I writing enough? Longer or shorter gaps? Should I take it off now, or leave it a little longer?

In its most extreme form, this Bloggers Angst is likely to deteriorate into Bloggers Breast-beating:  am I a bore? Do I kid myself in thinking that what I have to say is interesting? Am I old hat? Am I irrelevant? Was it a mistake? Should I stop blogging and get myself a life again?

Looking on the bright side of things is Bloggers Fancy, the logical conclusion of that wonderful hobby of Blog Hopping. Browsing through a blog and its comments, the wit, intelligence or humanity of a comment invites you to trace that blogger, and having found her and read her stuff, finding another like minded comment, jumping to that blog, scattering ‘likes’ and ‘follow’ with gay abandon. Which means that when one of these bloggees asks how you found him or her, you have no idea by what zig-zag path you got to them.

Bloggers Fancy can thus trigger a certain amount of over-indulgence, which begins to add up to Bloggers Burden. This is when the blogger opens her e-mails and finds dozens and dozens of tantalising titles, subjects and topics, all must- reads, all demanding her attention, and too little time on her hands.

Suddenly meals arrive late, ironing piles up, business gets pushed aside, weeding is forgotten, books are unread, nights get later. This is the stage when blogging slides from a Bloggers Hobby to a Bloggers Complex, before flowering into a full blown Bloggers Addiction.

And this is when we become defensive about the amount of time we spend on the computer. We hastily switch off when partners come into the room, pretending we’ve just been reading a book, or checking something. We find ourselves making meals a little more ordinary, no time to spend slaving over a hot stove any more, whipping up some fresh mayonnaise or concocting a tasty rice dish.

Pasta becomes popular, as it’s quicker to cook than potatoes when we’ve forgotten the time. Saucepans get burned as we slip away to the computer to catch up on just a few more blogs, while the eggs boil, or the soup heats up, or the potatoes cook. Sometime later the soup is stuck to the bottom of the pan, the boiled eggs are hard as cannonballs and about to explode in an empty smoking saucepan, and the potatoes are an un-mashable soggy disintegrating pulp.

This is the dark side of blogging! There are also Bloggers Challenges. I inadvertently stumbled into an impassioned defence of guns between a macho group of far right extremists, who all agreed that Jefferson had said they could all carry guns and defend themselves, rather than that he meant they could carry guns to defend their homeland. The Challenge was to move on before becoming either depressed or dismayed by an alien culture. There are, I discover, plenty of alien cultures in Bloggerland.

But the Challenge is a necessary stage of the Bloggers Rite of Passage, when we discover that though we all share the same planet, we actually live in different worlds. Bloggers Challenge then, is to find our own world. And the funny thing is, since birds of a feather actually do flock together, we do all find our own community of kindred souls. Not quite heaven on earth, but better than limbo. And it’s called Bloggers Blessing.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

While still plying my husband with steak and the like, I’ve given up eating meat myself in the hope of easing my arthritic hands, having tried everything else, like giving up sugar and giving up carbohydrates. Still eschewing the sugar, and hoping that the meatless regime will help. So this is one of the delicious non-meat dishes I’m enjoying.

It’s an Indonesian dish called Sambel Goreng Telor, which means eggs in coconut milk, and though it may not sound very promising, it’s actually delicious (and cheap).

This recipe is for four eggs. I use two, but still make the same amount of sauce. While the eggs are hard boiling,( and no clandestine checking of blogs) finely slice an onion, a large clove of garlic, a tomato and a red pepper. Fry the onion and when it’s beginning to soften, add the garlic, tomato, pepper, some salt and some sugar to taste, and continue to cook. Lastly add half a cup (I use a bit more) of coconut milk, and finish cooking. Slice the eggs in half and pour the sauce over. Serve with rice.

This recipe was adapted for westerners. I think that the original recipe would have used palm sugar rather than sugar – it also specified a tablespoon of sugar – this seemed a lot to me, and I used less.

Food for Thought

I love the juxtaposition of serious and ridiculous, so this parody of Kipling by Catholic priest and English writer Ronald Knox 1888 – 1957 just fits the bill:

The tumult and the shouting dies,

The captains and the kings depart,

And we are left with large supplies

Of cold blancmange and rhubarb tart

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Filed under addictions, bloggers, complexes, cookery/recipes, food, great days, humour, life and death, life/style, The Sound of Water, Uncategorized