Salt of the Earth

Today is Thursday February 2nd, 2023. Kia ora!

Thankfully I slept very well last night, after a scary night on Tuesday.  I had one of those vivid dreams, where I woke up thinking I was somewhere else, wondering how I’d got there, and then realizing that the paintings and curtains in my room and clothes I hadn’t hung up were actually here in my bedroom, in the house where I live. Thankfully, I went straight back to sleep.  I awoke at around 7 am, which is ideal.

This morning I went to singing in Khandallah. It was lovely, of course, and great to see everyone there again.  Afterwards a friend gave me a lift home. We talked about former Prime Minister Ardern’s resignation, and, thankfully, Chippy a.k.a. Prime Minister Hipkins is striking all the right notes and doing rather well.

In Auckland, they’re not out of the woods yet. More bad weather is expected tonight, and in some high-rise flats, the lifts aren’t working.  They’re expecting a thunderstorm tonight.

When we were staying in Gawler (S.A.), there was a thunderstorm one night. It just seemed to come out of the blue. There was rain falling on the roof, some of it quite heavy showers. There were thunderclaps and there was lightning to follow, much of it quite dramatic. Then it was over, and the next day you wouldn’t have known it had happened. There was no sign of the rain!

Early this morning I listened to a We Have Ways podcast. They’re doing a series on the battle of Stalingrad, a pivotal time during World War 2. I listened to the third episode, but found it quite upsetting. The guys spoke very fast, like some Americans, and moralized, from time to time, as they are wont to do. I found this quite unfeeling:  the fighting over Stalingrad was a truly terrible time, with many lives lost, and the city devastated. Even for those who remained alive, their lives were totally disrupted.  It wasn’t like the Somme, or Ypres, or the trench battles of World War 1, but perhaps it was just as terrible. None of it should have happened.

In the afternoon I did some more shopping: I was able to get eggs, more lettuce and raspberries, chocolate biscuits, and honey-sweetened Greek yoghurt.

It’s now Saturday February 4th.

It continues to be very hot and extremely muggy here, and a bit drizzly at times.  We are getting more used to it now, but it’s tricky to be wiping not one’s face but also one’s neck from the perspiration. 

Yesterday we had lunch in town. I had opted for an early lunch, since we had quite a busy day, but Ombra, my preferred choice of restaurant, did not open until 12 noon. We walked up to the lovely art shop Minerva, and had a look there; then we looked at an art gallery that had an exhibition of photographs by Ans Westra. They were very nostalgic! On our way back down Cuba St, JD got into conversation with someone; I felt a bit threatened, especially by his language; I don’t wish to be unkind at all, but I didn’t feel we could do anything to help this person. We had somewhere to go, and we went there.

At Ombra I had my favorite starter, baccalà, while JD had bruschetta with stracciatella, cucumber and anchovy; unfortunately the cucumber didn’t overcome the tart taste of the anchovy. The baccalà was delicious, however.  We shared a potato-topped pizza, and I finished with a long black coffee while JD had affogato.  We had ordered a tiramisú to share, but it didn’t arrive. They were very busy, however, with two large parties as well as other smaller tables, so we paid up and left.

In the afternoon, I met an old friend and we had a lovely chat. I haven’t seen her for ages, so there was a lot of ground to cover.

In the evening we had dinner at one of my son’s houses. My other son who lives locally and his family came too. We were able to give the children and gifts we’d brought from Australia, as well as giving out three-year old granddaughter her birthday present (we’d missed her actual birthday while we were away). We had a beautiful dinner, with a delicious spicy satay sauce, culminating in a yummy fruit crumble with apples, rhubarb and plums, and ice cream.

Today we went to see the movie Tár, starring the luminous Cate Blanchett. I really wanted to see it, despite not knowing much about it, but Cate Blanchette is almost always a calling card for me. We didn’t leave home until 1:30 for a 2 pm screening; there was a 2:15 pm screening at Petone, but JD preferred to go to Brooklyn. We made really good time on our drive there, and found a car park, getting to the cinema just before 2 pm. Sadly, there was no one to serve us: eventually someone turned up, and we were able to see our way to our seats in the large theatre, where there were few other viewers.

The movie was strange, with pages of credits that couldn’t be read before the movie started. I was reminded of the intensity (and the politics) of the music world. While some beautiful music was played, Lydia Tár was quite a bully and seemed unable to separate her personal and professional lives.  At  the end, there were many more credits, and thankfully we were told all the music that was played during the film. It was very thought-provoking.

It’s now Sunday February 5th.

Last night we started watching The Town on Eden, but JD didn’t like it so we watched the first episode of War and Remembrance on Youtube. I had a bit of coughing and a bit more hay fever than usual, and worried that I might be getting Covid 19 again.

This morning  I took a RAT test for Covid 19, but my cold seemed better, and the test was negative, so I went to church. There weren’t many there, and because it was so hot, even in the church, we could wear summer dresses, of the kind I would usually only wear in Hawkes Bay!

Church was lovely, of course.  We had the organ playing, always a plus for me, with a magnificent piece played after the service.  The sermon was about salt – “Ye are the salt of the earth”, says Matthew in his gospel chapter 5, verses 13 – 20. The children brought up the baskets of donated food, and, guess what, they all contained salt. Salt was (and still is) used to preserve food, too. My mother believed everything she cooked benefited from adding a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. This was before huge amounts of both were added automatically for many products, such as baked beans! We all need a little salt, although adding salt  is looked down on these days, and one often has to ask for some salt if one wants to add it to one’s food. Salt brings out the flavor, and it’s needed, even in baking, where, in my view, one should add a little salt to the flour, and use salted butter.  When Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, died, she said that the salt had gone out of her life.

In this morning’s newspaper there is a full page advertisement for two concerts by the NZSO, at reasonable prices, in various locations. One is called Brandenburg, presumably featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the other Mozart and Salieri. But it doesn’t say what music will be played! That’s really important to me, and really frustrating, too. I’ve delved further, and evidently the first concert will feature Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 5, and two works by Telemann; the second W.A. Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, and some other works.  So now I know. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing a recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Adagietto from Mahler’s 5th Symphony: this was discussed at length in the movie Tár; it was also played at Robert Kennedy’s funeral.

It’s now Wednesday February 8th.

Monday was Waitangi Day.  I think I didn’t have a great day; I woke up with a sore wrist, with some swelling and redness.  I didn’t hurt it, or have a fall, so that is a bit of a mystery.

On Tuesday morning I didn’t feel great, and, again, woke up with a sore wrist, but I went to a Bible Study.  It’s nice to have it so warm, but the humidity is very trying!  Everyone I’ve spoken to is finding it so.  After this, I didn’t go to morning tea, as I would have liked to, but did some shopping. I failed to get an avocado, though!  JD picked me up; I had an appointment in town in the afternoon.  He left me there, and I caught bus(es) home, but realised I didn’t have my phone with me!  Panic stations! Perhaps I’d left it at home. Meanwhile, I couldn’t ring JD to check. I did, however, have the latest copy of the Listener to distract me.

I caught a bus to Johnsonville, and then waited for a #19. Eventually I got home. Sadly, the phone wasn’t there. I rang JD on the landline (thankfully it was working), and asked him to check in the car for my phone. A few minutes later he rang back to say, yes it was, What a relief!  I’m a bit lost without it.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. There was a queue of cars in Middleton Road, almost right back to Halswater Drive. We drove up Churton Drive, and rejoined the traffic at the roundabout. I was a bit late, of course, but it was good to be there, and to sing the national anthem in Māori.

Afterwards I tried to get the #24 bus to Johnsonville. There was great confusion at the bus stop, with a double-decker bus that wasn’t going anywhere, a #22 due, which came, but had no signage, and a third bus that turned up – the #25 to Highbury. Amidst it all, one driver wanted to talk to me and say how frustrating it is for drivers! I totally sympathize, but I needed to let JD know what I was doing as well.  Then I saw a #24 turn up, which I wanted to catch, but there was nowhere for him to stop. I waited in front of the other buses, and waved him down. Thankfully he stopped, and I got on and came to Johnsonville via Broadmeadows, and then caught a #19 home. I sat outside in the sun to have my coffee: very pleasant, although the heat of the sun was quite intense and I figured that half an hour was quite enough.  Then I came inside and had a good chat to a friend of mine.

The Covid 19 report was delivered on Tuesday, seeing that Monday was Waitangi Day. It is as follows:  there have been 8882 community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand over the past week, and 26 further deaths. The numbers, released by the Ministry of Health, showed Covid-19 infections in the country were continuing to drop.

Of the deaths reported today, three were from Northland, three were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, four were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, three were from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury and two were from Southern. One was in their 50s, six were in their 60s, two were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and nine were aged over 90. Of these people, eight were women and 18 were men.

There were also 161 people with Covid-19 in hospital as of midnight Sunday, including seven in ICU.

The seven-day rolling average of cases is now 1263, down from last week’s figure of 1508. So that’s good, the Covid 19 numbers are finally getting less.

In Turkey and northern Syria, there have been two terrible earthquakes, a big shake followed by an equally big aftershock. Thousands have died – the death toll has now passed 7,800, and hundreds of thousands are seeking shelter, reports the UK’s Guardian.

In the Ukraine, fierce fighting continues in the East; are Russian forces gaining any ground? On the face of it, it would seem so, but at great cost. Tanks are arriving from the US, Germany and other European countries;  it is almost one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, and there is no end in sight.  I think people should realize that the brave Ukrainians are fighting on our behalf, for the right to live in a democratic nation, warts and all; once they cease fighting for their lives, they can go back to worrying about gay people, abortion, and being “woke”, whatever that means. We should all be thankful that they’re having this fight on our behalf.

That’s it for now.  I am getting almost used to this heat – wearing clothes I would normally reserve for Napier, and not needing a jacket or even a cardigan. But it is very hard to make any effort, in this heat.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.nui.

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