Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Where? Why?

Today the newspaper published some results from what must have been a questionaire to school pupils.  The question?  Where is your favourite capital city?  Five comments were published; two opted for Paris, one for Washington, one for Honolulu [though I was under the impression Honolulu was in Hawaii, and therefore part of the USA ... as is Washington], and one for Vienna.  All had differing reasons for their choice. Interesting results!

After reading the article I set myself the same question.  I am still thinking!  If I became suddenly rich and had a choice of what capital city to visit the time taken to resolve the question might be days, as at this particular moment I cannot decide.  Indeed, I am not certain I would even choose a city, though that would then void the question.

Perhaps London to see the Queen?  Ah, I have seen the Queen twice, and both times in New Zealand.  You see the Queen travels a lot, and no doubt has visited most capital cities in the world.

Vienna holds a certain charm.  Memories of the Vienna Boys' Choir singing or perhaps a freshly baked Vienna load of my childhood can evoke positive vibes. 

Washington?  Not particularly interested ... but if I could visit a place that was not a city, then Martha's Vineyard would figure highly.  Why?  I have read several books set on that island and each time have found it extremely easy to transport myself into the story.  Perhaps I lived there in another life?  Certainly tales of the eastern seaboard of the USA have that same evocative hold. 

Paris?  Mmmm, doesn't hold that much appeal.  Rome?  I think I would prefer Venice.

So you see that after careful consideration I cannot make up my mind.  Now perhaps that is because I am a woman, or perhaps it is because the choice is just too difficult.

Where would you choose?  And why?

P.S.  I actually prefer a deserted beach with the wind whistling across the sand and the waves crashing against the rocks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday is wash day

My Mum did the family wash on a Monday, and I followed in her footsteps.  Beds are stripped, sheets changed, and all manner of unlikely objects scooped up and deposited in the wash ... such as socks, socks and more socks.

In this part of Australia it is usual to hang out the washing in the morning and bring it in later in the day; dry and ready for ironing.

Not today.  The weather forecast was for showers late in the afternoon.  With that in mind I stripped the bed before having breakfast, set the machine on Go, and left it to do its duty.  Less than half an hour later, and before the load was washed, a 'mizzle' drifted across the land; not enough to be wetting, but wet enough to dampen.  A decision was made by Significant Other ... we would take the washed clothes into the laundromat to be dried. 

That is done; I have a bundle of folded clothes ready for ironing ... however, Tuesday is ironing day!!

As I sat in the laundromat talking to another lady drying her washing, the conversation turned round to habit.  She too washed on a Monday.  And my mind slipped back to wash day for my Mum.  The copper was filled, a fire lit underneath, and the water boiled.  I am not sure of the exact process as I was banned from the wash house.  But there was always a smell of steamy soapy water.  She used a washboard [the same appliance that was later utilised by skiffle groups!], tubs of rinsing water, and a blue bag, that doubled as an aid to ease the pain of a beesting. 

How times have changed!  Now we have water running into the washing machine which in turn slips into whatever mode we have set on the dials, lights flash, water spins out, the machine refills, rinses, spins etc, and at the end the machine [well mine anyway] plays a little tune and the lights fade into oblivion.

I wonder when the day will come that an 'automatic' iron is invented?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who are we?

I suppose that with the 'discovery' of the Higgs Boson particle there was some reason for a wandering mind.  I have little knowledge of this mysterious particle and listen, half in awe, and half in wonderment [how did they do this?] as we are assured 'we' can use this knowledge to advantage!!  Reminds me of the old saying, trust me, usually uttered by a politican offering platitudes.

My mind is sometimes perverse and travels it's own little route.  This time instead of casting forward into the far distant future, the past crept up on me ... no doubt helped by seeing, in a magazine, photos of long ago.

Most of us have a collection of photos.  I know I do, and many have been in the family for a few generations.  Some I have absolutely no idea who the models are.  I am loathe to turf them out as they might be important, a link to a past of which I am as yet unaware. 

But there is one photo that I do know about.  The elderly gentleman, with a long white beard, and piercing blue eyes, is my paternal g.g.grandfather, and thereby hangs a tale.

We were led to believe that this gentleman, who was one of the early whalers and sealers [an occupation considered a great No No today, but way back then whale oil kept the lights of the world glowing] on the South Island's southern coast of  New Zealand, came from a military family in Australia.  We even learned about him at school!!!  Now that was one moment I could proudly put up my hand and inform the class that he was my ancestor!

But the military family was but a cover ... his parents were convicts sent to Australia for petty theft.  Australia was a new colony of the British Empire and citizens were required to build infrastructure.  He had older siblings, but by the time he was born the 'powers that be' had allowed his parents to marry.  Being a convict had certain disadvantages, of which marriage was one.  The convict had to have served their time first!  Even history books on New Zealand schools were wrong.  

One day, a few years ago, another descendant of this gentleman was bitten by the ancestry bug.  The bite itched and itched, until she decided to look for a cure.  Documents were examined and facts were discovered.  He was not a 'son of the military', but a son of convicts.

Way back then shame blanketed such parentage, but today those of us who have such ancestry, can proudly claim our heritage.  Still, it is such a shame [in my today thinking] that the mammoth task performed by those convicts in building roads and bridges, towns and cities in a far off land so different from their home, and sure in the knowledge that they would have one change in a million of seeing their family again, has not gained acceptance until today.