Sunday, 23 January 2022

Sorting Music

 

I came to the conclusion today that I simply have too much music on my computer. 

Over the years I have copied over all my CD collection (quite extensive) and also my father’s record (vinyl) collection (also extensive).

My music must span a good 80-90 years!

So many folders and so many songs.  I have tried several times to sort it out and given up each time.


I like to use my own photos as album covers when I can


This afternoon I have been pulling out favourite songs that I adore, regardless of who sang them or what album they are in or where they came from.

So far, I have nearly 200 songs and have moved them into a special folder for further sorting.  It is making me feel much less cluttered and a lot happier with my collection.

Do you have problems like this?

May your day be filled with happy songs 😊

Margaret.


Thursday, 20 January 2022

Rabbits

 

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit may be a cute little bunny, but his family members can sure do a lot of damage around the place.




There have been rabbits in my life for as long as I can remember.  Nearly every evening we would see them as they emerged from their burrows, and they were so adorable running and jumping around as they frolicked together.

Most of them had brown fur, but I remember one black one that I thought was so special.

What I wasn’t aware of then, was that they could eat so much pasture grass and were thought of as a major pest in the farming community.  Rabbit Stew was often on our childhood menu!

Today they are considered one of the most serious agricultural and environmental pests in New Zealand, costing millions of dollars in lost production and more millions in trying to control them.

Their burrows can also cause extensive land damage, contributing to erosion problems and making a lot of farming land unproductive.




I refuse to believe that rabbits are all bad, though.  They were originally introduced to New Zealand for use as food as they were hardy and reproduced at a tremendous rate.

Early sailing ships would drop off rabbits and goats onto isolated islands in case some luckless sailors were shipwrecked there.  Their fur could also be used for clothing.

And they make really sweet pets 😊

 

I have a little rabbit,

Whose ears are soft as silk.

His eyes are round as saucers,

And his coat as white as milk.

My rabbit cannot talk to me,

But only twitch his nose.

I can tell when he is happy,

As twitchety-twitch he goes!

 

Margaret xx


Sunday, 16 January 2022

History Repeats

 

It seems there really is nothing new under the sun.  I have begun reading a very old book titled “Old St Paul’s,” a novel by William Harrison Ainsworth that was first published in 1841.

The story is set in the 1660s in London at the time of The Plague and the Great Fire.  Although a novel, the author based much of his information on written texts from the time and I found it quite astounding how many statements about the bubonic plague paralleled the Covid pandemic the world currently is facing.




I thought I would write some of them here, for those who wanted to read them. 

 

The “pestilence” had previously been present in Amsterdam and Hamburg, but efforts to contain it had failed and it arrived in England at the end of 1664.  The population responded with pure panic:

“Smothered for a short time, like a fire upon which coals had been heaped, it broke out with fresh fury in several places.  The consternation now began.  The whole city was panic-stricken; nothing was talked of but the plague – nothing planned but means of arresting its progress – one grim and ghastly idea possessed the minds of all.  Like a hideous phantom stalking the streets at noon-day, and scaring all in its path, Death took its course through London, and selected its prey at pleasure.”

 

Misinformation abounded:

“The alarm was further increased by the predictions confidently made as to the vast numbers who would be swept away by the visitation; by the prognostications of astrologers; by the prophesyings of enthusiasts; by the denunciations of preachers, and by the portents and prodigies reported to have occurred.  During the long and frosty winter preceding this fatal year, a comet appeared in the heavens, the sickly colour of which was supposed to forebode judgment about to follow.  Blazing stars and other meteors, of a lurid hue and strange preternatural shape, were likewise seen.  The sun was said to have set in streams of blood, and the moon to have shone without reflecting a shadow; grisly shapes appeared at night – strange clamours and groans were heard in the air – hearses, coffins, and heaps of unburied dead were discovered in the sky, and great cakes and clots of blood were found in the Tower moat; while a marvellous double tide occurred at London Bridge.  All these prodigies were currently reported, and in most cases believed.”

 

People took precautions, like wearing face coverings:

“Shrinking into a door-way, and holding a handkerchief to his face, to avoid breathing the pestilential effluvia, Leonard saw that there were other coffins in the cart, and that it was followed by two persons in long black cloaks.”

But some precautions we might consider a little extreme:

“Mr Bloundel would not touch the packet until he had guarded against the possibility of being infected by it.  Seizing it with a pair of tongs, he plunged it into a pan containing a strong solution of vinegar and sulphur, which he had always in readiness in the chamber, and when thoroughly saturated, laid it in the sun to dry.”

“… he now thought to expel the external air by setting fire to a ball, composed of quick brimstone, saltpetre, and yellow amber, which being placed on an iron plate, speedily filled the room with a thick vapour, and prevented the entrance of any obnoxious particles.”

 

Little was known about how to treat the disease:

“There are few known remedies against this frightful disease; and what few there are, must be adopted cautiously.  My own specific is sack (a type of wine).  ‘Sack!’ exclaimed Blaize in astonishment.  ‘Henceforth, I will drink nothing else.  I like the remedy amazingly.’”


Every case of the disease had to be reported to the appropriate authorities, in this case the Examiner of Health.  Once it was verified that disease was present in the house, the place was closed down for a month and a watchman set at the door so that none could leave or enter the premises – a bit like our lockdowns today.

One thing we don’t have though, is someone painting a foot-long red cross on our front doors with the words above it reading “Lord have mercy upon us.”

 

As happens today, some rebelled against official restrictions:

“The rigorous measures adopted by the authorities (whether salutary or not has been questioned), in shutting up houses and confining the sick and sound within them for forty days, were found so intolerable, that most persons were disposed to run any risk rather than be subjected to such a grievance, and every artifice was resorted to for concealing a case when it occurred.”




None of these measures helped stop the plague following due process, and many restrictions were waived as more and more got sick and died.  There simply were not enough people left who could fill all the jobs as watchmen, doctors etc.

The only ones who profited were those who operated the Death Carts driving around the city collecting corpses – many times there was no one to pay them, so they simply helped themselves.

 

The thought of living in those times fills me with horror, and I can imagine the fear that many folk had.  The plague never really ended until the Great Fire killed off the rodents and fleas that were the unsuspected carriers of the disease.

One thought does comfort me though.  However awful the situation is that mankind faces, there is always hope that the world will carry on.  Bad times pass and turn into history. 

We just happen to be living in a moment of history as it takes place!

Hugz to everyone,

Margaret 😊

 

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Cleaning The Log Burner

 

Recently, I spent an afternoon visiting a friend and opposite me sat a shiny log burner with a clean glass in the door and a pretty arrangement inside the firebox (remember, it is summer here).

I came home and sat in front of a dull log burner with very dirty glass, and felt like I was missing the mark somewhere.

Mr Google to the rescue!  Lots of information on the best way to clean that dirty door.




Brush off any loose ash, then dip a paper kitchen towel in some water and squeeze out before dipping it into some of the fine ash in the firebox (you don’t want cinders as they may scratch the glass).

Now wipe off all that gunk from the glass – it is really that easy!

Use a clean damp paper towel to rinse off, and then another one dipped in 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water to remove the last smears.

Dry off with a clean dry paper towel.




The exterior was given a good wipe down with a damp cloth, but I haven’t managed any arrangement in the firebox.  That is possibly just a bit too fancy for this household!

You learn something new every day 😊

Margaret.


Monday, 10 January 2022

Book List 2022

 

The other day, Sue from the blog “My Quiet Life in Suffolk” (attheendofasuffolklane.blogspot.com) wrote that she had managed to read 92 books during 2021.

Wow, I thought, how could someone read so many?

In my mind, I only read about 10 during a year – but then I stopped and thought a bit.  I have already read one book this year and am into my second.

So, how many do I really read during a year?  I thought maybe it would be a good idea to keep a Book List this year and see how much I do read.

My first book was “Your body’s many cries for water” by Dr F. Batmanghelidj.  A fascinating read, and putting many of our daily health woes down to a dehydrated body.

I have increased the amount of water I am drinking!

The book I have started now is one that has sat on my bookshelf for many a year but never been read.  It was published in 1901 and given to my grandmother in 1934 by her father.




It is a book for young children and covers all the traditional Bible stories, broken up into different tales to be read each Sabbath over the period of one year.

I love the illustrations scattered throughout the book.  Many are pen drawings, but there are also coloured plates like this one of baby Moses being found in the rushes.




Our weather continues to be typical of summer, although our temperatures have dropped down into the high 20s (Celsius) so things are more tolerable than they were.

I have spoken to three people over the last few days who are suffering major sunburn from being outside too long.  Our sun here (like Australia) can be very harsh, and it is easy to end up looking a bit like a cooked lobster!

Remember to drink lots of pure water 😊

Margaret.


Friday, 7 January 2022

Michelangelo Exhibition

 

In the early 1500s, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome.

With very little chance of seeing the art works in person, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to go to an exhibition in Auckland, showcasing the paintings.




Not the real paintings of course, but accurate full-scale print reproductions of his work. 

There were wall panels around the outside of the room.




The “ceiling” was all laid out on the floor instead of the ceiling!  Instead of craning upwards, we stood on a platform and gazed downwards.

I found it amazing to see the detail in the different paintings – it must have been extremely difficult for Michelangelo to do when lying on his back high up in the roof on scaffolding that may not have been that safe.




After the exhibition we were going to visit friends on the North Shore, but were too early so we spent some time wandering around Devonport instead.  

It is nearly fifty years since I was last there so I didn’t remember much of it.  This time I found a lovely village atmosphere and a very attractive wharf area (the ferry from downtown Auckland crosses the harbour and berths here).

I especially loved the old buildings, and this hotel near the wharf was one of my favourites.




We had nearly three hours visiting with our (fully vaccinated!) friends.  So good to be able to catch up, and I was very grateful I didn’t have to drive home again.

Today I have been “recovering” – strange, I must be getting older!!  Once upon a time, a full day out was more exhilarating than exhausting 😊 

Have a happy day,

Margaret.

 

Monday, 3 January 2022

The Royal Variety Show

 

Last night I settled down in a comfy chair and watched The Royal Variety Show on TV. 




There is always royalty present at this Show, and this time it was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in attendance.




There were stand-up comics a-plenty (I’m not usually that keen on them, but some were funny enough to make me laugh), as well as music and other different acts.








The show ended with Ed Sheeran singing a Christmas song that he had jointly composed with his friend Sir Elton John.




It was a relaxing way to end a hot day.  Officially our temperature reached 29 degrees Celsius, but our gauge registered a high of 31 (that is about 88 Fahrenheit).

It may not sound too hot for those who live in warmer climes, but it is much hotter than we are used to and I simply melt in the heat.

The next few days are forecast to be even hotter, so I am figuring it is a good time to say I am on holiday and not attempt to do too much!!

Be happy 😊

Margaret.