WPC: Transition over Venice Lagoon

This week’s Photo Challenge brought back memories of watching the transition of a most amazing sunset whilst waiting on the dock of the San Clemente Palace Hotel for our water taxi which was to whisk us across the Venice Lagoon for an evening of sightseeing and delicious food.

I remember standing spellbound, just drinking in the beauty of the setting sun as its rays were reflected like molten gold in the calm waters of the lagoon,

until it looked as though the sky, the water and the motor launch on its way to fetch us, were all on fire.

As our boat drew away from the island and the sun sank below the horizon, the vision started to fade, just as a dream fades after waking.

Wishing you all a very happy week.

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My Sunday Photo: A new holiday maker

Just arrived for his winter vacation in the sun, is Mr. Wood Stork. He was stalking around on the other side of the lake, but I’m hoping he’ll venture over to my backyard so I can get a good closeup. Wood Storks stand about 3 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 5 feet, so he’s slightly smaller than the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret.

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The Wood Stork is the only stork found in North America, so American babies must be brought by these, and not the White Stork as is tradition. I couldn’t resist sharing this cute stork poem with you.

You know the stork brings babies,
But did you also know
He comes and gets the older folks
When it’s their time to go?

Zooms right down and scoops them up,
Then flaps back out the door
And flies them to the factory where
They all were made before.

And there their skin is tightened up,
Their muscles all are toned,
Their wrinkles all are ironed out,
They’re given brand-new bones.

Ol’ bent backs are straightened up,
New teeth are added too,
Tired hearts are all repaired
And made to work like new.

Their memories are all removed
And they’re shrunk down, and then
The stork flies them back down to earth
As newborn babes again. ~

Shel Silverstein

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Happy Sunday!!

 

Bench Series #47: Life is good

It’s almost the end of the month for Jude’s Bench Series ‘Benches with a message or autumnal theme’.

I know the message isn’t exactly on the benches, but hope these three count. This ‘Genuine Neighbourhood Shoppe’, selling all manner of merchandise, donates 10% of its profits to help children in need.   “Life is good,” is always a great message. As for the “Bob’s your uncle and Fannie’s your aunt,” I’ve often heard it said in England, and never thought too much about how this saying originated. I think it’s just a rather cute way of saying, “Everything will be just fine.”

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I hope that life is good for you all, even if like myself you don’t have an uncle Bob or an aunt Fannie. Happy weekend.

Travel Theme ‘Inspiration’

Just a quick Friday ‘Inspiration’ from me for Ailsa’s Travel Theme.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”  ~ John Lennon

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“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” ~ John Lennon

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“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ~ John Lennon

Wishing you all a very peaceful weekend.

Gratitude list and flailing feathers

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”William Arthur Ward

I was thinking this morning about all the things in my life that I’m so grateful for, and decided that there are far too many to list. Besides, a wonderful, loving husband, gorgeous family, loyal friends, a nice home, and money sufficient for all my needs, there are new daily blessings with every new day that dawns. Since we moved to Florida, I’ve had so much joy and fun from watching all the wonderful bird life right here in my backyard.

Yesterday, my good friend Mr. GBH came ambling by, just checking that everyone was behaving themselves along the water’s edge. Ms. Anhinga was keeping a low profile and thinking about lunch as he came past.

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Suddenly, “Whaaaa!!!” Mr GBH turned and gave her such a fright that she almost fell into the water, and all I could see were flailing feathers. She took the hint and flew away.

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What a bully he is, but he’s still my favourite. Just look at him as he stands victorious and cool as a cucumber, surveying his fishing territory. “Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth” as my granny used to say.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends here on WordPress. Here’s a Thanksgiving blessing I found which is the last verse of a poem entitled “Twas the night of Thanksgiving” by C. J. Beaman an artist, musician and gourmet chef

“May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes & gravy have nary a lump,
May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Hell Ships of World War ll

You may remember that on Remembrance Day, I shared photos of family members who had fought and died in the second world war. I decided to do some research and found out that my mom’s brother Fred went down on the ‘Lisbon Maru’, one of the Japanese ‘Hell Ships’ which transported prisoners of war to be used as slave labour.

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SS Lisbon Maru sank on 2nd October 1942 (Photo Wiki)

This ill-fated ship set sail from Hong Kong on 27th September 1942 and was headed for Shanghai. I sent a copy of my post to Ron Taylor, a co-ordinator for the ‘Far Eastern Prisoners of War Association’, formed to establish a Remembrance Day for all those who were held as Japanese Prisoners of War in the Far East during the second world war. Overnight I had a reply, with the link to a page on the Roll of Honour, dedicated to my Uncle Fred and using the  photos I’d put in my post. Click the link to see how beautiful it is.

http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/Hell_Ships/Lisbon_Maru/html/stu_database_87.htm

I’m so grateful that there are people such as Ron who have done so much to keep the memory of these brave men alive, so many years after the war ended. I just wish that my mom had lived to see her brother honoured thus.

WPC Trio: A trio of trios

I have a rather eclectic trio of trios for this week’s Photo Challenge.

The first one is of three victorious fishermen in Durban South Africa; hubby, our son Jeff and his friend Josh. Don’t they looked pleased with themselves? The fish look none too happy though, but did you ever see a smiling fish, dead or alive?

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Here is a Bolivian mother accompanied by her two children as she ekes out a living, selling food and cool drinks on the street in La Paz, Bolivia.

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These three crosses form part of a shrine at the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

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To take part in the challenge, click the badge below.

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Confessions of a wedding organist

A few years ago on my old blog, I shared some anecdotes relating to my many years as a church organist in Johannesburg. Sometimes I really miss the adrenaline pumping experiences which punctuated my life during that period.

It all started when one of my best friends decided to confer on me the honour of playing the organ for her son’s wedding. I was more of a pianist than an organist, and the finger technique is quite different for the two instruments. It’s also far more tricky, as with an organ you’re supposed to have your feet pressing the pedals at the same time, and of course you can’t be watching your feet to see if they play the right ones, so it can be a bit hit and miss. I diligently practised playing all the pieces over and over, and had sleepless nights before this my wedding debut. Fortunately I got through the bridal march and hymns without any mistakes, but after playing the quite challenging Mendelssohn Recessional, I felt like a wrung out dishrag. To my surprise and horror, I soon started receiving regular requests to play for local weddings, and most Saturdays found me on the organ bench witnessing the ‘joining together in holy matrimony’ of dozens of starry eyed young couples embarking on life’s greatest adventure. It never ceased to amaze me that they entrusted me, a complete stranger, with the music for this most important of life’s ceremonies, and more often than not left the choice to me, as long as I could sing it down the phone to them. After a while, I discovered that it wasn’t all smooth sailing and there’s so much that can go wrong; like when the bride was just about to make her entrance to the strains of Wagner’s ‘Here Comes the Bride’, there was a crash of thunder and the power cable got struck by lightning. I had to rush across the church and continue playing the stately march on the ancient out-of-tune piano which was only there because nobody had thought to get rid of it. As you can imagine, it was quite embarrassing for me as well as a bit of a let-down for the wedding party, who luckily didn’t ask for a discount.

The very worst experience, and looking back on it, the funniest I ever had, was when I was playing quiet and relaxing music whilst the bridegroom and wedding guests were waiting for the bride to arrive. The organ was down a couple of steps in a sort of well at the front of the church. Out of the corner of my eye, I sensed that someone was approaching me down the side aisle, when suddenly a rather large lady in a big hat, fell down the steps which she hadn’t realised were there, right onto the organ, hitting all the stops and buttons with her outstretched hands and then landing heavily on the pedals. Well that certainly woke everyone up! What a cacophony of sound, as it brought in the trumpets, percussion and most everything else you can think of. People stopped chatting and glared at me in stunned amazement and indignation, and I nearly fell off my perch in fright. After I had helped her up, I found out that the rather shaken lady was the bride’s mother who had just come to bring me a small thank you gift and card. I don’t know which one of us was the more embarrassed, but it took us both some time to regain our equilibrium.

Then there was the time when I spied a HUGE ‘Parktown Prawn’, which is a South African King Cricket, scuttling around underneath the organ pedals. These insects are on my list of most horrific critters which are to be avoided at all costs.

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My first reaction was to jump up and run screaming down the aisle, but I had a duty to perform and as the saying goes, “the show must go on.” What an absolute nightmare and not one which I could share with my audience. The adrenaline was certainly pumping, but I had to refrain from screaming, as it’s not something wedding organists are expected to do. I never saw the creature again, but I was always on the look out for it and the rest of its family, when seated on that particular organ bench.

I usually played for about fifteen minutes before the bride arrived, but on one occasion it stretched to almost an hour and a half, as the bride’s uncle had taken the wrong road and was on his merry way to ‘Timbuktu’ instead of the church. A search party was dispatched, and eventually one of the groomsmen found the lost sheep and brought him back to the fold, but not before my poor fingers were almost falling off, and my sizable repertoire just about exhausted. I then still had to play all the wedding music and didn’t get paid for my extra time either. On another occasion, the bride forgot her bouquet at home, and someone had to rush off to get it whilst I of course was left to entertain the fidgety congregation.

I’ve seen several brides faint, a few rings misplaced, and also witnessed some very strange wedding attire, like the bride who got married in black whilst her groom was all in white. There was a six foot bridesmaid looking very Goth, in a black witch-like outfit complete with hat, black lipstick, and sporting ‘Doc Martins’ on her rather large feet. I’ve been playing my heart out with both bride and groom already present, as the absent minister was frantically phoned, only to find that he was at home mowing his lawn, having completely forgotten about the ceremony. He arrived very late, looking somewhat disheveled and decidedly hot under his clerical collar. Mind you, I have to confess my own guilt too, as I once went to the wrong church, and had to drive all the way home again in order to check my diary, as there was no-one at home to answer my distress call. After driving like a ‘bat out of hell’ and jumping a few red traffic lights on the way back, I arrived at the correct church just as the bridal car was about to turn in, and I’m ashamed to say, I rather rudely shot across in front of them at the stop street, in order to rush down the aisle and onto the organ seat just in the nick of time. The agitated minister and church warden were at the door looking out for me and their relief when I arrived was almost tangible.

A certain Doctor of Divinity was very popular as a wedding minister, as he had a slot on one of our South African radio stations, and people thought that because of this he must be a celebrity. He charged accordingly, and was so busy going from one wedding to the next every weekend, that he never bothered to learn the names of the couples he was marrying. He just used to say, “Repeat after me, I full name take you full name to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).” Of course, it had to happen that one day, the nervous groom said exactly those words, instead of substituting  his and his bride-to-be’s names. This very flamboyant wedding preacher always ended the service with the same solemn and rather ambiguous command to the newlyweds, “Go forth and multiply in many different ways!”

Oh yes those were the days and I do miss them, well sort of. Now I can just sit and play to myself at home, but it’s not nearly as exciting……. or scary.

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Here’s a story I was inspired to write about an organist a bit like me, but of course it’s only fiction.

Miss Amelia Jenkins adjusted her neat little bottom on the hard organ bench. Almost thirty years of dedication, with never an absence from duty, not even for a holiday by the sea. She even insisted on cleaning the organ loft area herself; no-one else had been up there for many years. “What selfless devotion!” the parishioners often remarked to one another.

As she selected the music to practise for Sunday’s service, the middle-aged spinster thought back to a time when this organ loft had been her precious love nest, unbeknown to anyone but Jamie and herself. His good looks and charm had beguiled her, and he’d told her that looking up from the congregation, he’d thought her the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, with her hair like a golden halo lit up by sunlight streaming through the stained glass window. She’d had high hopes for their future together.

Then came the dreadful day when he’d confessed to her that their secret meetings must come to an end. He’d become engaged to Gloria, a local businessman’s daughter. She was a good catch for any man, he’d explained. Pretending not to care, Amelia had generously offered to play the organ for their wedding. They were to meet one last time in their special place in order to discuss the music for the auspicious day.

As she’d unlocked the gate for him, he’d seemed somewhat surprised to see the two wine glasses and a bottle of fine red Cabernet. “A toast to your marriage my darling!” she’d announced as he lifted the glass to his lips and drained it dry. “Ha…..Belladonna is now your bride. No marriage to pretty Gloria for you my sweet,” she’d declared, after heaving his lifeless body through the trap door beneath the organ bench.

Poor Gloria had been devastated to find that she’d been jilted. No-one could imagine where Jamie had disappeared to. “Cold feet,” they’d surmised. “ Definitely cold,” she’d silently agreed with a wry smile. She’d done her research well, and the quicklime worked a treat. The flesh had soon been eaten away, and Jamie now just a pile of bones, was no more than a disappointing and distant memory to Amelia.

Tapping the trap door impatiently with the sole of her shoe, she racked her brain for another place to hide his remains. “Thirty years without a holiday is a very long time. I’ll have to think of something,” she said out loud to herself as her fingers touched the organ keys and the church was filled with the plaintive strains of that well loved melody, “Abide with me.”

The music filtered through into the vestry where the monthly meeting of the church elders was taking place. “And now to the matter in hand,” announced Gordon Hislop the chairman. “I propose that we show our appreciation to dear Amelia for her long years of unstinting musical service to our church. She hasn’t taken a holiday in almost thirty years, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s high time she did so. We’ll send her on a fortnight’s package holiday to Greece, and whilst she’s away we’ll replace that old organ with one of those big, fancy electronic ones. Of course the floor boards will need to be replaced to take on the extra weight. Won’t she be delighted when we surprise her with the good news?” “Amen to that,” the committee concurred.

 

Orange and green courting couple

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is about the colours of orange and green. I wasn’t sure what to post for this, whether a carrot or a pumpkin, but when I went over to inspect hubby’s progress on our ‘abandoned house renovation‘, I saw the ideal subject.

Out in the back yard two of our neighbours were doing a bit of courting. There was Iggy, resplendent in his bright orange suit.

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When he spied pretty little Igua peeping out from the reeds, he decided to turn on the charm, by puffing up his dewlap and waving it around.

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She came for a closer inspection, to see whether or not she fancied him.

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Unfortunately for Iggy, she didn’t seem that impressed, and after only a few seconds of scrutinising his handsome face, she turned her back and moved on.

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Poor Iggy looked really miffed and called after her, “Hey, what’s up babe? Aren’t I good enough for you?” Then he muttered under his breath, ” Sheesh …… all that effort for nothing! Some women just don’t know when they’re lucky.”

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I wish you all a peaceful and relaxing weekend.

 

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