Waters of Life and Death

Both lanes re-open on the Waitangi Bridge near Clive, on SH 51 between Napier and Hastings

Today is Monday March 6th, 2023. Kia ora!

It was great to learn during the weekend that the Waitangi Bridge on SH 51 between Napier and Hastings (and Clive) is usable again.  One hopes that things will return to some kind of normal, and that wsde decisions will be made about rebuilding, and where to rebuild.  Hawkes Bay is paradise, except when there’s severe drought, or flooding. That’s the way it is.

This morning I went to my exercise class in Ngaio. I was all set up to catch the train to Ngaio afterwards, but in the event JD gave me a lift. What a sad story when we got near, though: Kenya St was being resurfaced, and there were cones, queues, and stoppages. JD let me out of the car, but there’s no footpath on the left hand side of the road; I made my way, delicately, to Ngaio Union Church, noting that any passage in the area was very difficult, as one tried to avoid motorised traffic that was also trying to get somewhere.. There was a big turn out for exercises, although I hardly knew anyone there. Still, it was fine, and lovely. They have some attractive night-time activities there, but it’s not an easy place to get to. Afterwards, a kind person gave me a lift home.

In the afternoon the Covid 19 report came out. Later, I can’t find it! But the numbers aren’t going down as quickly as one would have hoped. Hold-outs are still getting Covid 19, and there was a spate of it in Hawkes Bay during the recent cyclonic disaster.

That night we watched the movie Best Sellers on Neon, I think. It was full of swear words, to my horror. It starred Michael Caine. I think he’s a Sir now, but I don’t like him. I saw him in Alfie years ago, and it put me off for good.

It’s now Tuesday March 7th, Census day. I remind JD of this.

This morning a friend’s husband picked me up and drove us to the Lighthouse Cinema at Petone, where we were to see What’s Love got to do with it?  It started out pretty cold in the morning (my phone said 7C, and there was some condensation on the windows), but it turned into a beautiful fine day, although it was cold in the cinema. We had plenty of time to have a cup of coffee and a muffin beforehand. The movie was very good, actually, with a star turn by Emma Thompson as Lily James’ mother.

Afterwards we visited a lovely china shop in Petone, before catching a bus back into Wellington.  I visited the Chemist Warehouse with her in Lambton Quay, and was amazed at the rows upon rows of goods. It was a bit of a maze – I ended up waiting for my friend outside. It’s one of those stores where you don’t really want to shop and queue up to pay; I guess they’ll soon have self-service kiosks like K Mart and some Warehouse stores. I would prefer not to buy there. I see my local pharmacies in Johnsonville and Churton Park attempting to diversify, and not quite hitting the mark – where do you buy things that you would traditionally have bought in a chemist? I prefer a nicer shopping environment. It’s upsetting to see Chemist Warehouse advertising, like Harvey Norman, ad nauseam. I hope that I never spend money in either pf them. Afterwards we caught a bus to the northern suburbs.

It’s now Wednesday March 8th.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. It was lovely, of course. We sang a psalm to what I think is Gregorian chant – quite different, but fun to do. Afterwards I had some surgery to remove a cyst on my back under local anaesthetic. I was very nervous, but it all went fine, although I had to go to Thorndon which posed some difficulties.  I wished I had taken my cell phone headphones, as it was disconcerting to hear the various noises while not feeling pain, and lying rather uncomfortably on my front. I tried to concentrate on deep breathing, relaxing my shoulders, and going over the hymns in my mind. Afterwards JD picked me up and we had lunch at La Cloche in Thorndon. Now I am trying not to watch medical dramas on television, or on my PC. They’re rather too close to home at the moment.

In the US there is great consternation about the release of testimony from Rupert Murdoch because of the legal case whereby Dominion is suing Fox News. Dominion supplied voting systems that were used during the presidential election in 2020. There is more information tumbling out conveying various Fox hosts’ upset at their calling Arizona for Joe Biden; and then such upset that Fox’s stock price was falling, viewers were going to other right-wing channels, and so the Fox anchors lied about the result, and perpetuated what came to be known as the “big lie”. People are shocked by the cynicism of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch: “You don’t want Trump as an enemy”. This has caused, and is still causing, no end of trouble.

It’s now Thursday March 9th.

It’s cloudy today, although it was quite warm last night.  Can I still wear sandals and summer clothes, I wonder? The days are definitely shorter now, and it seems darker.

Last night we re-watched three episodes of Smiley’s People on Youtube.  It is just so well acted and filmed.  All the actors are quite wonderful, and it’s always a joy to watch Alec Guinness.  Alan Rickman does a star turn as a hotel concierge!  I guess the actors have great scripts to work with, which must help. Of course, in reality Kim Philby was always there in the background, but John Le Carré’s Cold War novels are complex but well-written, and they have a sense of authenticity.

This morning I went to singing. It’s always a treat, and we had a good turn out today. I picked up some Te Reo Māori handouts from the office at Khandallah Town Hall, as I’d missed a class.

Well, in the US the Fox revelations continue to be shocking: It’s been revealed that Tucker Carlson hated Trump “passionately”, thought he was a “demonic” force, and thought his presidency was a waste of time, saying (texting?) that he was a champion at breaking things. Or some such. One get the general drift.  Most people are shocked. Comedian Seth Myers had a segment showing Carlson going on Fox about people’s irrational hatred for Trump.  JVL at The Bulwark claims there will be no repercussions for Fox, despite some anchors despising their audience. Everyone else is waiting to see what Rupert Murdoch will do. Furthermore, Carlson aired a few minutes’ video from hundreds of hours of January 6 rioting footage, which he apparently demanded from US Congress chair Kevin McCarthy, and for the most part Republican politicians are claiming it was a peaceful tourist visit. Mitch McConnell and a few others claim otherwise.

Then there was Trump’s scary speech at CPAC. Many republicans did not go – Nikki Haley was jeered, but Trump claimed, among other things, “I am your retribution”. Well, the Good Book in Romans 12: 19-21 says “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord”. I somehow don’t think that Trump was quoting from the Bible.  It seems that Trump is still rating high in some polls, although Ron de Santis, governor or Florida, is rating pretty highly as well. Which of them is more scary?  I find them both to be pretty scary.  Meanwhile, there’s debate amongst the Democrats as to whether Joe Biden should aim for a second term as president. Well, he’s old, but he’s amazing, and I guess those around him have a pretty good idea of what he wants.

We finished watching Smiley’s People on television (on Youtube).  It’s an old series, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to say that Smiley gets his Russian counterpart in the end. Theis series is so well crafted, it’s been amazing to watch, even if Smiley is sad and depressed at the end. The state of his once-proud service would be enough to depress anybody. 

It’s now Friday March 10th.

At midday my usual lady came from Access to do some housework.  Apparently she finished early last week, and hence did not come. However Access did not ring me, or put anyone else in the schedule.  JD went off to our Art group – without me. He had fun there. I caught a bus into town: I had a Whitcoulls voucher expiring, and wanted to use it.  I bought a gift, and then checked out Farmers Red Dot sale. Fortunately there was nothing there to tempt me, in fact I thought all the clothes were rather dark, and not attractive colours.

That night we watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Bravo. It had quite a stellar line up, including Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as the leads, and Robin Wright and Christopher Plummer amongst others.  It is quite a violent movie, but it’s a joy to watch Daniel Craig.

It’s now Saturday March 11th.

It is sunny and warm today!

We went shopping at my favourite supermarket  – New World in Thorndon. It was busy but not crazy busy. I was able to get raspberries, lettuce, an avocado, tonic water, salad, potato-topped pie, quince paste – and –Black Doris plums! I have not been able to get them the last two summers. I am so glad to get some now!

In the evening we watched the new series (3 episodes!) on television one called Murder in Provence. It’s two hours long, and stars Roger Allam amongst others. It was quite good, but the advertisements are so annoying.  Patricia Hodge (affectionately called Portia by Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey) starts as Allam’s partner’s mother. It didn’t feature same-sex relationships, but did feature the menopause. I do find that quite annoying. It was in the category of things You Didn’t Speak About back in my day, now that it’s well behind me.

It’s now Sunday March 19th, another beautiful fine day.

I went to church this morning. It’s a fine day, and the organ was playing. Everyone was very friendly.   The sermon today was about the living water; the texts were from Exodus 17: 1 – 7, where God tells Moses to strike the rock to give the Israelites water to drink, and from John’s Gospel 4: 5 – 42, where the Samaritan women comes to the well, and encounters Jesus, the Messiah, there, who tells her about the living water.

There are all kinds of relevancies here: Moses striking the rock on Horeb, which is on Mt Sinai; the suggestion that water is essential to human life; and the well in the New Testament, which dates back to Jacob, one of the three patriarchs of Israel. Samaria is thought to be in Palestine, although Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. Anyway, Jesus tells the woman that if she drinks from the water He will give her, she’ll never thirst again. She recognises that He is the Christ.  Here is another instance of Jesus revealing himself to an outcast of society.  It’s very striking how often the events in the New Testament build on those of the Old Testament.  There is always a connection, with many Old Testament events prefiguring those that are yet to come.

But what a tangled web we weave, wondering about things nowadays!  In 1 John 4: 1, which says “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, if they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world”. I remember reading Tom Holland’s Dominion, and being amazed that there has always been controversy and disagreement over religious beliefs, even amongst Christians. I appreciate what we have at the church I go to regularly.

In prayers for others reference was made to Isaiah 41:10, Fear not, for I am with you; I also thought of Isaiah 43: 2, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

In Ukraine, bitter fighting continues in the city of Bahkmut.  It’s difficult to get accurate information about what’s happening there, as there are reports of the Wagner group lacking the equipment they need; Russian troops gaining some ground at huge expense; advice that the Ukrainians should stage a strategic withdrawal; and arguments that Ukrainian forces should continue to try to hold onto a potentially strategic route – but how strategic is it? Is it worth continuing for either side? Are the Ukrainians causing Russians to be distracted by this intense fight?  Is this a right, or wrong, decision on either side?  I’m sure this will be analysed intently in the future. But it’s still going on, right now.

That’s it for now.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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