Just under 12 months ago, I announced here We’re 250!!
Now we're 300!
What I wrote then is still relevant, so look down this column for the rest. Or find it under Archives May 2019.
Please go to the FlaxFlower page to see review #300
We’re in social lockdown. Forced into isolation. Confined to our bubbles. Just about everything is closed.
A good number of them I don’t miss. In fact, when I think about it, I’d say I’d be happy to forget most of them – at least for a few months. Until I really need them, that is.
Not cafes and coffee bars, though. It’s not as though I frequent them often enough to really use the verb frequent, but when I do drop in to one – usually taking the opportunity while I’m out for another purpose – I enjoy my break, and my long black. Or sometimes my soy cappuccino.
And now, being confined in my bubble, and with not a cafe door in the country being open, I’m missing that treat.
But, they say there’s an upside to everything and one of the bonuses of cafes being closed is that do-gooders, well-meaning though I’m sure they are, have shifted their focus to the cause. Which means they’re not constantly picking on the price of a cup of coffee to make a point.
You know what I mean. “This costs less than a cup of coffee per week”; “If you stop going to coffee bars, over a year you’ll save $XX” etc.
What I want to know is, why does everyone always pick on coffee?
Why not Brussels sprouts?
The local supermarket has Brussels sprouts priced at $5.29 for 350 grams – I just checked online. Telling people to give up half a kilo of those a week would return much greater savings than a cup of coffee.
And I wouldn’t mind in the slightest giving up those.
That’s it in the picture, being released into the wide world with the words “have a happy life”.
It’s one of more than one hundred Monarch butterflies that I’ve tended and released this season, breaking a resolution I made a couple of years ago.
At New Year 2018 I wrote on my blog (check it via the side-bar archive if you wish) –
For years I’ve spent far too many hours each spring to autumn growing swan plants…nursing caterpillars, and tending butterflies. Each year I wonder if I should let nature take its course – allowing predators to get their share instead of bringing caterpillars inside where they’re safe, leaving those that fall, and letting them expire when they strip the plants of food.
Resolution 3 – save the time for other pursuits. I’m 99% sure this one will be broken.
Yes, well I knew then that I wouldn’t keep to that one, and perhaps that’s something to do with the fact that I didn’t make any resolutions for 2020.
This year I’ve produced more Monarchs than any year before. With environmental factors threatening them, it’s a small contribution to their continued existence.
As they live for weeks or months, I rarely go into my garden on warmer days without seeing one or more fluttering around. That’s my reward for the time I spend on them.
😃 I'm delighted to share that 😃
These Islands Here – Short Stories of the South Pacific
has been made a
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree 😃
That is, the FlaxFlower review page has just published its 250th review.
The process usually begins when I receive a request from an author to have her or his book featured on the FlaxFlower page. I respond to the author, sending the FlaxFlower rules and asking for the needed information. Then I try to match the book with the reading likes of one of my much valued team of reviewers, offer it to them and, when I’m successful, arrange for the book to be sent to me. I send it on to the reviewer.
Yes, this double-handling takes more of my time, but an important FlaxFlower rule is that the author and the reviewer do not know each other. The author doesn’t learn the reviewer’s identity till the review is published - to ensure a robust and impartial review.
When the review arrives I submit it to the author, or their publicity agent, for approval – a matter of yes go ahead and publish it, or no don’t publish. I give that choice because my intention with FlaxFlower is to support my fellow NZ authors – I don’t wish to work against anyone. Some writers take up the option not to publish, so the number of reviews I have handled is higher than 250.
Then it’s a matter of posting the review on my site, letting all on my posting list know it’s there, putting notification on the Flaxroots Facebook page, and tweeting about it to bring the review to more readers’ notice.
From start to finish, each one takes many hours of my time, and sometimes I wonder why I keep on doing it. Most authors are grateful, and that’s what keeps me going. That and the increasing number requesting reviews. There are now too many to take them all on, so some books don’t get accepted.
But I'm not the only one who works to make this successful. The wonderful FlaxFlower reviewers put in their time and their expertise – continuing thanks to you all!
And everyone who takes the time to read these reviews, buys a book or requests it from a library – you all do your part.
New Zealand authors work hard to produce a large number of excellent books – they deserve support.
Please go to the FlaxFlower page to see review #250
Don’t you love this graphic/meme/picture/whatever you want to call it!
As soon as I saw it, it made me smile.
So I thought I’d share it here.
It came from the organization indieBRAG, Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) that "recognizes and promotes quality self-published books".
You can learn more about them at:
With thanks, and in response to, so many people from so many countries
who have sent messages of regret and goodwill.
Nine days ago our country was rocked by an event that few here expected would ever happen in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Even though we’re not so naïve to believe it’s perfect, we Kiwis often refer to this place as ‘God’s Own’ or ‘Godzone’.
As the perpetrator of this horrendous event apparently made clear before he carried it out, he chose New Zealand as the place for his hate-inspired action for the very reason that most here would think it would be the very last part of the world it could occur. In that belief alone, he was right, which made us wrong. Hence the shockwave that resounded through the country, and will continue to do so.
When, on that first dreadful day, I heard of his statement that his purpose was to send a warning to the Muslim world that if this could happen to their people here they were not safe anywhere, I knew he had failed to understand the mind of New Zealanders.
He was too young to know that we are the people who, in 1981, stopped a rugby tour in order to demonstrate to South Africa we did not agree with its policy of apartheid.
And he was too young to know that this is not the first time Aotearoa-New Zealand has experienced international terrorism on our shores. Thirty-four years ago the French government sent a team of secret agents to bomb the Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbour in order to stop it leading a flotilla in protest at nuclear testing at Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia. That time too the planners underestimated the reaction of our citizens.
On that occasion, so incensed were we that our land had been made the scene of such an abhorrent deed, and so indignant that our sovereignty had been breached, that the population rose as one against the act. Within days some of the agents were arrested to be put on trial.
Even more spectacular was the way the population rallied in support of the planned protest. People who had barely thought of the issues before, flocked to donate money, goods, ships to make the voyage, so it could go ahead. This little-nation-that-could stood against larger powers, in solidarity with its smaller South Pacific island nations, and passed nuclear-free legislation, a stance that is still supported fiercely.
It was not the place of this recent terrorist to try to overthrow our policy to allow immigrants to become citizens of this country. By doing so, he flouted the hospitality he himself had been shown as a visitor here.
If he knew us, he would have known how New Zealanders of every faith and none, would strip gardens and florists bare of flowers to place in front of mosques and Islamic centres around the country, how we would stand outside those places to ensure that those inside could pray in safety. He could have foreseen that Kiwi women, heads scarf-covered, would stand alongside their Muslim ‘sisters’.
He might have known that at so many of those gatherings a haka, either rehearsed or spontaneous, would demonstrate the fervour of our intent. Anyone visiting these shores should never, ever, underestimate the power and the warning of the haka.
From his cell in solitary confinement this murderer won’t know of the events of the days that followed – how people would embrace Muslims in the street, invite their neighbours into their homes. He will be ignorant of the rallies as people massed to state their opposition to his hate. He would not know that those martyred were buried at the state’s expense, and of the multi-million dollars collected to help their families. On the following Friday as the nation stopped to remember, he didn’t hear the Islamic call to prayer broadcast on National Radio, but by default he joined in the two-minute silence observed across Aotearoa.
If this murderer had thought of the reactions around this country he might have thought again about coming here on his mission of hate. As it is, he has made us more united.
In my previous blog (see below) I mentioned International Women’s Day.
On the afternoon of the day, while I did some tidying in the garden, I listened to National Radio here in New Zealand.
The announcer gave the day good coverage and asked people to send in nominations for the woman they felt deserved more recognition than she received – presumably in her lifetime or since.
Names were forthcoming and, while busy with trowel and rake, I heard of women who invented things, who worked for reform in a specific area, or otherwise made some contribution to the world. That’s great, they should all be remembered for what they achieved – often against the odds because of societal pressure.
At the same time, I felt a growing sadness that maybe we were partly missing the point. The women nominated are remembered. Knowledge of them lives on in records. We know their names. Most likely, they could act as they did because they were privileged women – educated, in a situation where they could make some mark and be acknowledged for it.
I found myself thinking of the millions of unnamed women we will never know anything about – women who toiled all their lives just to survive, and probably to ensure that others did also.
Perhaps I’d nominate the pioneer woman who accompanied her husband to an unknown land away from all she knew and bore the brunt of the hardship. A woman who had 15 children, one a year, without any relief from pain or release from the day’s work, who watched the majority of them die of various illnesses, and who herself died, worn out, in childbirth.
Who was she? I don’t know. That’s the point. There will be not one but many whose life followed a similar pattern.
And across the globe, over centuries past, millions of non-privileged, ordinary, women lived lives marked by other circumstances we might now consider extraordinary. We don’t know the names, but they too deserve more recognition than they have received.
So, here’s to the unnamed woman who…
I see there are two notable specially designated days this week – World Book Day, and International Women’s Day – both marking concepts very dear to my heart.
Today, on World Book Day, relevant participating organizations aim to give every child and young person a book of their own.
I contributed by posting a bag of children’s books I’d bought a while ago for gifts, to a whanau group hoping to mark the day in that way. Very nice books they were – they’ll be lucky children who get them. And I like to think they, their children, the country, will benefit in the future if the recipients learn to love and appreciate reading. Win-win-win!
Everyone can help today, or any day, by reading a story to a child.
Tomorrow, March 8, it’s International Women’s Day.
This year’s theme for the day is #BalanceforBetter – building a gender-balanced world. I’ve been working for that aim all my life. Over the decades I’ve seen improvements, so I’ll spend the day reflecting on and celebrating that.
This is a principle that can’t be left to one day in a year. For the next 356 I’ll be doing my bit, however I can, to make sure I can celebrate it even more confidently next year.
In 1893 one of my women ancestors signed the Women’s Suffrage petition that made New Zealand the first country to grant women the vote, and bring in universal suffrage. It’s a legacy I, my sisters, our children and grandchildren are very proud of, and we’re not letting her down.
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