366 days of gratitude

December 11, 2016

Just two visitors came to Janet Frame’s childhood home in Oamaru when I was on duty today.

They were from the Isle of Aaron, hadn’t read any of Frame’s work but had come across her name while doing the poets’ walk in Dunedin.

They stayed in the house for about an hour, reading about the author, her writing  and life, listening to a recording of her reading from her autobiography and generally soaking up the atmosphere.

Today I’m grateful for their lesson in looking, listening and learning.


Word of the day

December 11, 2016

Loganamnosis –  mania, or obsession, for trying to recall forgotten words or a specific word.


Proper Steps

December 11, 2016

proper steps StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

I only do this until I get dizzy & then I lay down on my back & watch the clouds, she said. It sounds simple but you won’t believe how many people forget the second part. Proper Steps  ©2016 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

You can buy books, posters, cards, ornaments and more and sign up for a daily dose of whimsy like this by email at Story People.


When no-one was watching

December 11, 2016

Some of the reaction to John Key’s resignation has been gracious.

Some, from people who don’t know the person but don’t like his politics, has not.

This tribute is one of the gracious ones. It’s from Jake Millar who found a good man who changed his life when no-one else was watching:

It was C.S. Lewis who once said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

This is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learnt from our outgoing Prime Minister John Key, a man who changed my life by doing just that.

When I was 15 years old, on Saturday September 4, 2010, my father, Rod Miller, died in a skydiving plane crash in Fox Glacier, which killed nine people.

It was the worst plane crash New Zealand had experienced in 17 years, and it tore many people apart.

It was a rough time for New Zealand. The very same day Christchurch experienced its first major earthquake, destroying the city. And just over one month later, the West Coast was hit with another tragedy, after 29 men died in the Pike River mine disaster.

It was how Key reacted to these terrible tragedies, particularly the one closest to my heart, where I first began to truly respect him, and appreciate him as a remarkable leader.

Following the plane crash, Key took the four-hour return drive from Hokitika to Fox Glacier to visit the crash site, and pay his respects to the victims.

Key’s humanness and kindness inspired me during this difficult time, so I wrote to him as a 15-year-old, thanking him for caring, while asking him for some advice in regards to my own future.

I was amazed to receive a very personal letter back directly from the prime minister.

Not only did he address all of my points issue by issue in an extremely kind and personal way, but he also enclosed a card, saying he wanted to meet me. 

Several months later, Key, while visiting the West Coast to see the victims’ families of the Pike River mine disaster, came to our family home in Greymouth for whitebait sandwiches, a cup of tea and a chat about my future.

He didn’t publicise the visit for political profit. No media were invited. He did it out of the goodness of his heart, because he wanted to help, and because he cared.

It was the goodness of Key’s heart that inspired me to try my hardest in life, and strive to be the best version of me that I could be.

I vividly remember being inspired by the fact that Key had lost his father as a young kid, before achieving his childhood dream. I remember thinking, ‘if he could, why couldn’t I?’ . . .

The point to all of this is not that I’m something great, but that it’s all been inspired by that early spark of inspiration: when Key wrote to me.

I remember running into Key at a National Party function years after our first meeting, and he asked how my mum’s art business was going. He had only met her once, years earlier. This showed how much he truly cared.

Whether you loved or hated his politics, as prime minister, Key was a good man. He had integrity. He cared about the people he represented. He did the right thing, even when no one was watching. . . 

The longer I observe and participate in politics the more I see good people doing their best to do good for the country and their people.

The outgoing PM was one of these, his presumptive successor, Bill English is the same, whether or not anyone is watching.

P.S. – you can read more about Jake Millar here.


Sunday soapbox

December 11, 2016

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing. - Elbert Hubbard

Positive anything is better than negative nothing. – Elbert Hubbard


December 11 in history

December 11, 2016

361 – Julian the Apostate entered Constantinople as sole Emperor of the Roman Empire.

630 – Muhammad led an army of 10,000 to conquer Mecca.

969 – Byzatine Emperor Nikephoros II was assassinated by his wife Theofano and her lover, the later Emperor John I Tzimiskes.

1282 Llywelyn the Last, the last native Prince of Wales, was killed at Cilmeri.

1789 The University of North Carolina was chartered.

1792 – French Revolution: King Louis XVI of France was put on trial for treason by the National Convention.

1890  Carlos Gardel, tango singer was born  (d. 1935).

1904  Marge, American cartoonist, was born (d. 1993).

1907 Fire swept through Parliament Buildings destroying Bellamy’s restaurant but missing the library.

Parliament's library escapes great fire

1917 Lithuania declared its independence from Russia.

1918  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and Soviet dissident, Nobel laureate, was born (d 2008).

1931 The Statute of Westminster was passed granting complete autonomy to Britain’s six Dominions. It established legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Irish Free State, Dominion of Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa.

Statute of Westminster passed

1936  Edward VIII’s abdication as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India became effective.

1940 David Gates, American musician (Bread), was born.

1941 Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, following the Americans’ declaration of war on Japan in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbour. The United States, in turn, declared war on Germany and Italy.

1942 – Donna Mills, American actress, was born.

1943  John Kerry, American politician, was born.

1944 Brenda Lee, American singer, was born.

1946 The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established.

1954  Jermaine Jackson, American singer (Jackson 5), was born.

1958  French Upper Volta gained self-government from France, and became the Republic of Upper Volta.

1972  Apollo 17 became the sixth Apollo mission to land on the Moon.

1997  The Kyoto Protocol opened for signature.

2005 Cronulla riots: Thousands of White Australians demonstrated against ethnic violence resulting in a riot against anyone thought to be Lebanesen (and many who were not) in Cronulla Sydney.

2008 Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

2012 – At least 125 people were killed and up to 200 injured in bombings in the Alawite village of Aqrab, Syria.

2014 – The city of Detroit, Michigan emerges from the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history.[1]

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


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