Monthly Archives: May 2012

Kindergarten can teach us much

Recently I reread the original edition of Robert Fulghum’s book “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten”.

I first heard one of the stories from this book when it was read to me in an Accelerated Learning course. The story was called “Where do the mermaids stand?”

It was a story which spoke to me and it was one I often read to women in self awareness and self esteem courses I ran.

So what is it about Robert Fulghum’s writing that appeals to me, that speaks at times profoundly to me and which can cause me to nod slowly in agreement with him or to laugh out loud with him?

He is interested in quirky things; he comments on the ordinary things in life; he laughs at his own quirks, idiosyncrasies, habits, beliefs and behaviours and in some way makes allowances for the reader to have the same bumbling, complex humanness.

He finds value and enjoyment in the great diversity amongst us all. He reminds us that we are all simply trying to get on with life in the best way we know how; he is keen on opening and easing the mind and in so doing expands the heart.

He offers some very simple observations around what makes us extraordinary people and some really simple guidelines that help make life work.

I really like his style, approach and attitude and it is with interest that I learnt from his website that in 2003 the 15th anniversary edition of this book was released. Fulghum has revised and expanded the original essays. The preface is new and there are 25 new stories in it, all of which tell us that ordinary events can hold universal insights.

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Sunday reflection

When you hear the splash of the water drops that fall into the stone bowl,
you will feel that all the dust of your mind is washed away.
—Sen-No-Rikyu

I visited a nearby lagoon area today to capture a photo or two of this delightful water feature. It is easy to gaze on this and feel relaxed and refreshed. After a week of the common cold laying us all flat and some very wintery weather it was a tonic to be out in the clear, sunny conditions and to listen to this gentle water moving.

Better beets

Gardening is a mysterious occupation and the mystery often remains unsolved despite our best human efforts.

These baby beetroot are part of my third attempt at growing a small crop of beetroot.

The first crop was a dismal failure which I shrugged off as “one of those things that happen when gardening”. I had no prior experience with this particular plant so I figured I hadn’t got something right.

I optimistically planted a second crop and gave the plants a lot more attention. I made sure the plants were watered, had plenty of sunshine and fed but again I was very disappointed to find that the beets were very small at harvest.

Not to be beaten, although my spirits were low, I went on to the internet to see what I could find about growing beetroot. I was fully expecting to find that I had missed a critical factor or two. But information I found reassured me that I was doing everything right.

With this determined attitude I planted baby beets in mid March this year with intentions to harvest them in early May. Lo and behold I have a good sized crop of baby beetroot.

What made the difference? I would have to suspect it was the sudden and prolonged period of warm weather we experienced and then some wonderfully, soaking rain that saw the beets swell up in size within a day or two. But I can’t be sure.

I have been a gardener for long enough to know I can’t beat nature, but like many gardeners I return to planting in the hope that the crops will eventuate if I care for them appropriately. I also know that every so often I manage to catch perfect growing conditions and magic happens alongside the mystery of it all.

A nourishing broth

According to the weather forecasters we are about to be hit by a large wet, windy and cold weather system coming in off the Tasman Sea.

So far we are doing OK here but I’m sure with snow predicted in the lower parts of the South Island in the next couple of days we will feel the sting of winter cold here.

So the soup pot is called for and here is the recipe I will be using.

Leek and Lentil Soup – source unknown, but discovered many, many years ago by my Mum and shared with me. I make it frequently in the colder months.

A little olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
2-3 leeks
3-4 stalks of celery
2 rashers of bacon or some pieces of shaved ham
1 cup of red lentils
1 ¼ litres of water
2 chicken stock cubes or 2 heaped tablespoons of dry chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

Sauté bacon or ham and chopped garlic in a little oil in a large soup pot over a low heat.

Wash and chop leeks and celery. Add to the pot and sweat. Stir to prevent burning.

Add water, washed red lentils and stock, salt and pepper, parsley. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, covered for around 30 minutes.

Puree the soup once it is cool and reheat gently when required. Freezes well.

Lentils are grown in the largest quantities in Canada, India, Turkey and USA. They are an excellent source of protein and are easily digested.

I love this illustration of the lentil plant dating back to 1885.

Several people have regained their appetites on this soup after suffering flu or a period of poor health. Bon appetit !!!!!!!!

Yes, but what are the lyrics?

On two occasions this week I’ve learnt new lyrics in 2 different songs.

For years I’ve not known what the words were in one line of the first song and in the second song it would seem that I was taught the “wrong” words or maybe an alternative version.

The first mysterious line, that is now clear to me, is from the song “Down on the Corner” by Credence Clearwater Revival. This puzzle was solved when we were watching the current television programme “The Sing Off”. I love this programme that is made in America and features very talented groups singing Accapella in a competition setting.

One of the groups sang “Down on the Corner” with such technique and clarity that I heard the actual words “Bring a nickel, tap your feet” as the final line in the chorus.

Then, at my grandson’s Parent as First Teachers yesterday I read the words of the children’s song “Galoop, went the little green frog.” And I discovered that the line I had been taught was NOT “The all-night frogs go [Clap] La de da de da” but “We all know frogs go [clap] La de da de da.”

I had always imagined a funky group of frogs, who clapped and sang all night when I was singing this ditty.

I think I prefer the version I learnt but I did have to laugh over this confusion and if my grandchildren learn a version different to “my” one I’ll swap to that.

Do you have a funny story to share about song lyrics gone wrong or not understood?

Who would you miss?

Who would you miss if they left your life? I know you would miss your loved ones and friends.

But my question today relates to people who provide you with services that you value highly and which you might struggle to replace. In my case they would include my hairdresser, my dentist, and my mechanic.

These three people offer immeasurable value to me because I know and trust them and they know and understand my particular needs. They are totally reliable and are only too happy to go the extra mile to offer me brilliant service. In turn, I recommend them to others as a small way of acknowledging their businesses and services they provide.

Earlier this week I found another person who I have added to my list. She is a local dressmaker who has been able to alter some clothes to fit me and who will draft a pattern off some trousers that I have loved wearing but are no longer made. I can then chose fabric for new trousers and she will be able to make them for me and for a very reasonable price. It feels such a relief to have found someone who can help me feel comfortable in the clothes I wear or chose to buy.

Thank goodness for personal service given generously.