Sunday, 25 February 2018

We are the World Blogfest ... # 11 - People and Nature work together to 'knit' life-connecting bridges ...

My late contribution to this month's #WAWTB gives us nature allowing the Khasi peoples to 'bridge the gap', ensuring villages remain connected when monsoon flooding comes to the Khasi Hills in Eastern India ... part of what we might recognise as Assam ...

Double-decker living root bridge
These bridges have been made and kept repaired for at least a recorded (in 1844) 180 years ... the living  (aerial) roots of the Rubber Fig Tree are guided across a river or stream allowing them to attach, sometimes self-grafting, and become secured on the other side - they strengthen over time. 

Apparently as long as the trees are healthy the living root bridge will last, naturally self-renewing. 

Working a bridge

Locals maintain the bridges ... passing on their knowledge down the generations ... keeping each structure a perpetual work in progress.

The red area shows vaguely where the
Khasi Hills are situated in India
Floods could cut villages off - as these hills are one of the wettest places on our planet receiving up to 20 feet of rain (6 metres) in a month ...

The Meghalayan (living in the clouds) peoples are the architects of living root bridges in the East Khasi Hills - and who need to get across the streams and rivers to stay in touch and to get to their fields give the characteristics of these structures as:

Living tree roots which become
embedded in rock on opposite sides of river beds
Total length can be over 50 metres
Load limit ... up to 500 people
Design life ... up to 500 years

Peoples working with nature ensure that this knowledge is passed to each successive generation ...

If you would like to take part in this blogfest ... please join us - details can be found here: via Simon Falk - who participates with us

We are the World - In Darkness Be Light

Here are more details on the Khasi peoples and their bridges ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Write ... Edit ... Publish ... Bloghop: In Too Deep ...

It is time once again for the Write ... Edit ... Publish - February Bloghop:  In too Deep ....

 They had talked about this hike for weeks ... now the day was here - was she ready?  She had no choice she'd committed herself.

The chitter-chatter with friends standing in the Wynberg, Cape Town drive-way making those early plans, she listened intently, worryingly at times, but asked one final question - after the others had left - that jump or dive into the canyon, as the river plunged down ... how far would that be?

She didn't much like swimming, even less jumping into water ... the answer didn't allay her worries ... 'about from the top of that tree - a huge ancient oak' - her heart sank ... that was some height - it can't be true can it ... now was the time to find out, the day had arrived.

Pick up at 6.00 am ... a light back-pack with lunch and drinks ready  ... and off they set.  There would be 25 or so ... a few cars all met up at the designated parking area in the Hottentot Hollands Mountains.

They drove up into Elgin, the apple centre of South Africa, a lush, verdant part of the Cape, surrounded by mountains. 

The beautiful sunny South African day ... clear sunshine, beautiful views, warm but not hot - ideal for walking - it augured well.  They all gathered, introduced themselves and set off ...

Across the low veld up into the higher reaches of the Nature Reserve ... she looked around her, at the new vistas and landscapes, the different grasses and bright wild-flowers ... just loving the feel of the area.

Out onto the plateau above ... where the babbling stream was gently easing its way across its rocky base ... peaceful quietude reigned, soaring birds of prey were pointed out ... the sun beat down, a cooling wind blew ... a lovely place for a picnic stop.

She could see just landscape with the gently sprawling river bed tingling its way along its own path ... nothing to interrupt the view.

 Lunch was over, back-packs on, to now potter down the stream-side ... the lower they went, the darker it was becoming ... suddenly the stream 'fell over' a small mossy, slimy waterfall ... about twelve feet - not far ... yet she realised there was no way back.

Onwards with more small gashes as the river had started to cut back ... the trees, that had only been apparent as a dark patch in the distance as she'd look out across the landscape, came ever closer.

 Down they clambered, chatting away ... she went along listening to the babble of water, as too the voices ... down and down into a cavern of trees - the river pushing forward, faster and faster as it tumbled along.

Suddenly all was distinctly darker ... the sun shone way above - it was colder ... there was an enormous black space ahead ... the trees continued on, yet the river disappeared ...

Everyone gathered, some just jumped, she watched as others chucked their back-packs over ... the group got smaller as people disappeared ... 

 Now she was worried - this was really the situation she'd been dreading ... she edged closer - but no ways was she going to jump - yet what choice did she have ...

She did see people swimming away along the long length of the canyon ... others treading water below, having made the jump - a few like her, were standing very dubiously on the edge - plucking up courage.

One after the other they leapt off ... she watched them, and saw them come up ... yet she had to jump - or be pushed ... could she summon up courage ... because that's what it would take.

Not to be recommended ... ours was straight down:
this pool, I gather c/o Philalephia Magazine,
is exceedingly dangerous and they were recording
serious incidents in the area known as Devil's Pool
c/o Philadelphia Magazine
Horrors of jumping ... and it was 'miles down' ... she was really worried - fear abounded, her heart pumped ...

People were patient - eventually, eventually after talking and worrying, she did go or that push would have happened ...

She'd been told to keep her legs together, she plunged ... splodge, splish, splash, the chilly water encased her ... down and down she went - her lungs weren't used to this ... she was still with it - she remembered they'd said she'd come up ... but this was too much ... down and down ... chest pains ... down and down ...hurting, bursting ... in too deep ...?

For other entries see below ... and please join us!

WEP entry via Denise Covey and co-hosts: Yolanda, Nila and Olga ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Robin who hedges her choices ...


Susanna Hill's Valentiny contest is on:
214 words - sweet, funny, surprising and full of hope ... this tale is 213 words long
I'm not meant to be putting in pictures ... but I feel I need to ... little Robins desire to shine their lights out into the world ... be it snow time in the UK, or chestnut orange here heralding Spring on continental America ...

European Robin
My name is Robin and I am a little song bird ... but am I Robin red-breast who lives in the old country of England?

... or am I a chestnut-orange red-breasted Robin, who inhabits that huge land called America?

American Robin

Oh! and I love worms to eat ... I bet many of you go looking for worms ... do you let them wriggle and squiggle a bit ... before you eat them?

Many, many moons ago ... my present garden owner made manure pies (yugh!!) with worms ... which she really really truly wanted her brothers to eat ... but her Mummy and Daddy thought that was not a good idea ... huh?! what do you think? 

Worms for supper?
Those humans laughed and giggled at the thought ... 

... but my red red Robin friends ... be they red, or chestnut-orange ... keep bobbing along snaffling at the ground for a wriggly squiggle or two ...

Chocolate Heart
When I grow up ...I will give my love my throbbing heart, which hides under my chestnut-orange-red breast ... perhaps you will do that ... 

... or will you search for some heart-shaped chocolates for Valentine's Day ... 

Disney's Christopher Robin ...
he looks sad, perhaps he needs to
see his Robin bird ...
Then there's the wonderful stories of Christopher Robin ... now those are stories for another day ... 

Gardener's friend with dinner!

... bye bye from the Robin bird.

Links for the contest can be found here - I came in via Robyn Campbell,

but Susanna Hill runs the story entries:

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 2 February 2018

Two films featuring an Austrian exotic beauty and the second a Canadian folk artist ...

I saw these films recently ... one at the local theatre/library centre, while the other was put on by one of the local organisations ... 

"Hedy Lamarr" and "Maudie" Lewis are the 'stars' of these two films ... one an obvious exotic beauty with brains, and one with a crippling autoimmune disease whose imagination paints pictures ...

The Lamarr film (2017) has just been released and will be available elsewhere soon ... it tells the life story of Lamarr, who was stunningly beautiful, yet had a brain with a flair for invention, becoming a pioneer in the field of wireless communications.

Hedy Lamarr 1944

It was booked out, so I sat in row A in the middle ... my head was bent back onto my spine ... but I am looking forward to seeing the film again - as it was quite difficult to read the captions or see the collages - part of the way the film is made ... and also to take cognizance of all the details ... 

In fact her inventions ... not recognised nor acknowledged in WW2 saved many lives, yet today using "spread spectrum" technology underpins our wireless communications: cell phones, blue tooth, GPS  et al ... now worth billions.

George Antheil

She has recently been acknowledged, along with co-inventor George Antheil, the avant-garde composer, who have through their inventions made the world a better place, by being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

"Maudie" (2016) ties in to one I saw with our film society in Eastbourne that also brilliantly portrays a struggling artist: "Seraphine" (2008).  

Sally Hawkins superbly portrays Maud, who has led a troubled life, while Ethan Hawke, a surly fish peddler, is her employer until they sort of decide to marry - the story line as they move through life, she as his housekeeper of a one bedroom shack ... makes for some interesting personality skirmishes ... 

We find out a lot about Maud's background and the mal-treatment that she has endured ... 

Nova Scotia

She starts to paint in the house ... slowly, then adds more ... which is not appreciated by her employer/husband ... she then starts painting small cards on rough paper or boards found around the place ... which are bought and supplement their impoverished lives ... 

Maud Lewis at her home

After a while her art gets recognised just as her disease takes a real hold - Hawkins' portrayal of the rheumatoid arthritic Maud is amazing ... and at the end of the film we are given a quick glimpse of the real life Maud and her husband ... 

When I read a review of Maudie in the Guardian ... the Seraphine film is mentioned - and they do tie in together ... I'd recommend both.  

Maudie is set in the 1920s era, while Seraphine with its French and German links falls into the WW1 time frame ... Maudie finds a can of paint for her floral folk art, Seraphine uses nature's offerings ... soil, bark, blood of a dead animal ... 

c/o Art Pondering -
Seraphine's art work

They are both intriguing films showing ways of life we will not have known - our parents and grandparents might have told us ... 

So the three films - Hedy Lamarr with her passion for various hobbies and inventions after her film work finished for the day ... the two films about women who had remarkable talent for painting ... eventually after struggles becoming recognised in the art world.

We go from Austria and war, to America with Hedy; we see the poverty ridden area of a near closed society in beautiful Nova Scotia with Maudie, while Seraphine takes us back to France and WW1 with its devastating ups and downs for the population of Europe at that time.  

Maud Lewis (1903 - 1970)
All three films noting the challenges that women have faced to be accepted for their achievements ... 

I do hope you'll be able to get to see all three of these films ... 

Another link - America's Inventors ... which details the devices enabled by Hedy and George's inventions ... and perhaps a better overview of her life ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 26 January 2018

We are the World Blogfest ... # 10 - You. I. Us. ...

I couldn't help but think of Annalisa Crawford's book titled: You.   I.   Us. 

Annalisa's book - link at end

- a compilation of compelling short stories ... with a comment at the end ... "What If We Didn't"?

In other words my brain is not in gear for the #WAWTB posting due this month.  

So I got to thinking about our own personal social responsibilities to our world ... the people around us, our families, our friends, and our communities ... 

How we can make life (the air and earth) easier and better for today, as well as for all future generations ... 

... being sensible with rubbish, don't waste, not dumping stuff, and then especially if we can buy stuff that we really need, preferably without packaging ... don't just buy for the sake of it: give it a go ... 

Then of course we can thank people for things, smile more, offer to help others, think before we speak ... and all those free things that will give everyone (most!) a happier day ... and something to remember.

You. I. Us.  Be positive in all things ... there's always another side to things, we can opt for the plus side ... share with others - don't be exclusive ... giving (and sharing) is better than taking ... 

That's Me, or You, or Us for this posting in the We Are The World Blogfest for January ... 

We Are The World - In Darkness, Be Light ...
be there for others and our future generations ... 

This is the link for Annalisa's book:    "You.  I.  Us."
(NB its the American .com Amazon site)

If you would like to take part in this blogfest via Damyanti's blog, sign up in the link here and please help spread the word on social media via the hashtag #WATWB.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The title - forgot again that I need to set the post up - what shall we say: Birthday gone!

Birthday has gone ... I don't feel too much different!  Weather much the same ... grey, as in England - my birthdays in South Africa made a change - summer days ... but at least I'm this time of year (not before Christmas) ... and Spring is making its way forth.

with mirrored selfie!
Beautiful flowers from friends at home ... have been cheering me up all the time.

We've been to a few restaurants - this one three times (I think!) ... stunning waterfront, which I eventually got to see, the other times it's been dark and I've had my back to it.  Another member of the family has her birthday on the 31st ... so Capricorns we are ... 

Surf N Surf

They've a really good range of choices ... which suited us all - at times ... 3 to 89 years old!  Boar burgers, to seafood - lots of ... I had Surf N Surf: sauteed mussels and Pacific tiger prawns, roasted garlic white wine cream sauce - delicious!!

Looking up the Island

This week for lunch (more than I normally eat) I had the seared scallops on braised pork belly, with a smoked caciocavallo cream, topped with arugula.    Together with a roasted garlic Caesar salad ... I skipped the pond on my own ... so the garlic should be ok!!

Caciocavallo cheese - it is a
stretched-curd cheese

I continue on ... things are moving along - but it is challenging!  The little Smart car is available, now the snow has gone ... and I'm tootling around in that - freedom to see different places and get to museums etc.

Back entrance without the snow and Smart car

The Smart car is interesting ... it lurches you forward as you change gear, or you can whack the lever and it goes up or down, and there's some paddle things on the steering wheel - that I haven't explored yet.  So three ways of driving around ... at the moment I'm fairly lazy just letting it do its lurching thing!!

I think I'll get into the art of blogging again fairly soon ... for today - this is it ... bur more on the way ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 12 January 2018

Seventy - I might be ... but I still need to title the post!

The year end approaches ... the end of 9 years of blogging and as my father's brother would say you're into your 8th decade ... each zero type birthday - this was somewhat galling!  Sadly always true ... well not eighth, but 5th, 6th - he unfortunately didn't make my 7th decade era ... 

Note screw-top on the Prosecco:
ease of opening for me - I don't like bangs
and pops of balloons or champagne corks! 

As Teresa mentioned in her comment on my previous post ... as a child did you ever think you'd see 2000 AD (must remember the AD bit!) ... that almost seems BC to me: Before Child ... it was so long ago.

I do remember thinking forward about 37 years ... taking me to 50 + 2 to get to the year 2000 ... and that was a million years ahead - how quickly they go ... and now I'm 18 years beyond and turning a mere 70.

Main route in - goes down to
Trans Canada Highway before Christmas

Enough of that ... you'll have surmised that life here is not quite the way I hoped it would be ... I'm working on it - and won't go into the details ... for now I'm here and looking to be for up to two years - then back to Little Britain.  

Surmise is a better descriptive word ... leaves the reasons for uncertainty be - rather than describe them ... and you might want to hear, but for now you won't.

2018 after a very dead tree was felled before it
completely blocked the back driveway in ... we used the
field in the snow to go in and out ... 

I've been reading the book "Vancouver" - which is a fascinating tome ... tome it is - being all of 800 pages ... but talk about a history lesson ... it encompasses life from the last survivor of a Siberian peoples, Beringia (Bering Land Bridge: connecting Russia and the Americas) and human population as it moved and subsequently settled here.  

It's making me think ... and also giving me food for thought - I know so little about this part of the world ... so my education is being expanded ...

The cards are appropriate ... Remember Age is All in the Mind (one brother)... 70 years Young ... why my other brother decided to send me a mouse one I've no idea - as that is one of my banes here ... rather too many of them, along with rats, raccoons and squirrels - all in and around the house ... we are slowly discouraging them from being around ... !!  

Zebra stripes in
the African Savannah
The Exceat barns are in a picturesque part of the Sussex coast between Eastbourne and Seaford - near where friends and my brother lives.  Lovely Jewel Flowers - my ideal colours ... from great South African-English friends.

Savanna Cider from Africa given as a Christmas present ... and I'm happily enjoying Prosecco when the opportunity arises ... in Canada ... 

That's it ... life at 70 - not quite what I expected when I came over here - farm life yes, the rest no ... still ne-er mind ... life will improve ...

Whether it's my birthday anywhere yet - yes probably Aussie land where I've been 70 for over eight hours now! as I type, then the 13th will wend its way around this beautiful earth ... remember also it is St Hilary's Day ... 

So here's to me tomorrow ... being 70, tenth blogversary ... and generally celebrating life ahead ... I'm good (all being well) for another decade or two ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories