Short Stories?

I enjoy reading a full length novel.  Short stories have never particularly appealed.  I appreciate one or two in a magazine, but a full book of them rarely works for me.  They need to be savoured individually, rather than read one after the other.

I was tempted by Anne Enright’s “Taking Pictures” and read the first nine of the nineteen stories.  They are well-written and absorbing, but I found I was craving something that engaged me more fully, and turned to the next novel on my pile.  Anne Enright’s been returned to the book fridge where I hope she finds a more sympathetic reader.

At our writing class we are sometimes asked to complete a short story, which can be a challenge for me.  I’ve never had the inclination to try and write a book.  Short blog posts and poems are the creative writing that suits me best.

“Short stories simply are not me
blog format suits me beautifully.”


Floral Friday

This group of smiling pansies greets me as I come in the back gate.  This year they are more prolific than ever.

The pansy is the symbol of free thought, because of both its name and appearance.  The name comes from the French word pensée, which means “thought”.  The flower resembles a human face, and it nods forward as if deep in thought.  The French believed that pansies could make your lover think of you.

In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the juice of a pansy flower (“before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, and maidens call it, Love-in-idleness”) is a love potion: “the juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid will make or man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.” (Act II, Scene I).

“Each pansy has a smiling face
they make our world a happy place.’



Puzzling Pleasure

Occasionally I enjoy completing a jigsaw puzzle.  It gives me something to do while I’m listening to ‘The Panel’ or ‘Checkpoint’.  Recently I completed an easy one with a picture called ‘Victorian Rose General Store’.

I bought this puzzle at a church fair, and was pleasantly surprised to find the border pieces were all in a separate bag.  500 pieces is about right for me, and will take several hours over several days.  Sometimes I tackle a 1,000 piece.  Most local libraries, including Peterborough and South, operate jigsaw swaps.  You simply take one in and take another one home.  The librarian told me I was welcome to take two if I wished.  It seems they are overstocked, and they have mainly 1,000 piece puzzles.   Have you tried a jigsaw puzzle recently?

“A puzzle can be fun to do
as you work all the pieces through.”




Buyer Beware

A friend has a device she wears on her wrist that measures steps taken, heart rate, etc, and I thought that was a grand idea.  I used to wear a pedometer, but it had to be attached to a waistband, and a wrist-worn device would suit me much better.  When I saw a health bracelet advertised on Grab One for $31 I thought that would be ideal.  It took a week longer than specified to arrive, but I was pleased to receive it.

However, when I unpacked the bracelet I found that it requires a smart phone to make it work, and my 2G cellphone is far from smart!  I charged the device, and tried downloading the programme to my tablet, but sadly that wouldn’t do.  The bracelet works, but I have no way of setting it to my requirements, or even putting the step counter back to zero.

So, I’ve listed it on TradeMe, hoping to recover a little of my outlay, and in future I will investigate items more fully before I buy them.

“I should have thought before I bought
a lesson that has now been taught.”


Modified Mistake

Thank goodness someone realised there was a problem with this sign on a site in Bealey Avenue.

“Sometimes to spell a word is hard
we all need to be on our guard.

What a wonderful writer Ngaio Marsh is!  She’s clear, engaging, literate, and thoroughly enjoyable.  I haven’t read her books for years, and was pleased to find this one sitting in the Book Fridge.  This is a very civilised murder story, set in a London Theatre.  It features Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn and was first published in 1951.  The murder doesn’t happen until over halfway through the book, by which time I was well involved with the characters.

Christchurch people can be proud to know that Ngaio Marsh was one of us.  Last year I was privileged to visit her home in Cashmere, which re-awakened my interest in her writing.  I look forward to re-reading others of her excellent murder mysteries.  “Opening Night” was one of four Marsh novels adapted for television in 1977 and was the first New Zealand television drama ever shown in the United States.

“Ngaio Marsh is queen of crime
enthralling readers every time.”

Promoting Peace

The most satisfying spiritual expression I have these days is regularly taking part in the Dances of Universal Peace.  I’m part of a group which meets fortnightly to sing and dance together.  We do simple circle dances, where we sing phrases from many different spiritual traditions, including Buddhist, Maori, Christian, Hindu, Islam, and Sufi.  Last week we were joined by two women from America.

Elizabeth from Guatemala led us in a Mayan dance.  The Mayan people, who are the majority ethnic group in Guatemala, lost the words of their sacred songs after the Spanish conquest.  The music was preserved, but the words werer replaced by Christian ones.  Elizabeth is part of a movement to unite words from ancient Mayan texts with the old tunes.

Karima from California led us in a zikr prayer with movements, which comes from the Sufi women of Afghanistan.  Because these women fear they may soon be forbidden to pray in this way, they have sent their prayer out into the world and asked others to share it widely so it will continue.

Both these women said how lovely it was to come to a far away place and find a circle which starts and ends in the same manner as their home circles.  We were pleased to meet and share with them.

Samual Lewis, the founder of the Dances of Universal Peace, believed that if people dance, sing and eat together there can be world peace.  We can surely hope that this is so.

“Together we can sing and dance
and this way we give peace a chance.”