Monday, 24 April 2017

Just run

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Not a gentle dripping, but a steady solid downpour. Sheets and sheet being wrung out of each cloud - God's sodden washing shedding its excess. And I thought, "Oh heck, now I'll have to stay in bed and read."

Sad, that. But now, as I gaze outside, it's fresh, and clear - the crisp kind of cleanness that only comes with cleansing rain. "Oh heck, now I'll have to get dressed and run."

But what's the problem with that? It's Monday, and we always (well, nearly always) start the week running. Don't we?

We do need a track though. a sound track, that is. And I have just the thing. It's P!nk.

"See, here's the bloody, bloody truth 
You will hurt and you will lose
I've got scars you won't believe
Wear them proudly on my sleeve
I hope you'll have the sense to know
That sadness comes and sadness goes
Love so hard and play life loud
It's the only thing to give a damn about"

You still here? Come on, let's go.

"But take the best of what I've got
And you know no matter what
Before you walk away, you know you can
Run, run, run, 
Back to my arms, back to my arms
Run, run, run, 
Back to my arms and they will hold you down"

Have an amazing Monday.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

When Morning Gilds the Skies

Good morning. Today, a picture is the inspiration for the music I'm going to share.

Although I love old hymns, I hardly go about singing them all day, and it is quite unlikely that a scene or a picture will remind me of the words or tunes of times gone by, but during the week I took a picture on a run.

Later during the day, when I looked at it, the phrase "When morning gilds the skies" came to mind, which I know is an old hymn.

The more I thought about it, the more beautiful I found those words. Here's the first verse.

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The poetry is courtesy of the translator, Edward Caswall (1814-1878). The hymn was translated from German (written in 1744) into English by a Roman Catholic priest from England. Caswell was the son of an Anglican clergyman, and was himself ordained as an Anglican. He converted to Catholicism in 1847, prior to translating this hymn in 1854. The original text in a German hymnary (author unknown) had “Beim frühen Morgenlicht” (With the early morning light) as the opening line. So glad the translator used some poetic ability there.

Apparently some versions have as many as 26 stanzas - which, would take a quarter of the average church service to sing!

Here are some of my favourite verses....narrowing it down to 9!

My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,  May Jesus Christ be praised!
This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this, May Jesus Christ be praised!

To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry, May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs: May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call, May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs, May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,  May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
Shall Jesus Christ be praised!

In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

And the music is also wonderful. I found this version - orchestral and choir, recorded earlier this year. Enjoy.

Happy Sunday.SaveSave

You may also enjoy O Store Gud.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Ten of the Best #89

Happy Weekend from the glorious South Coast in sunny SA.

The sun's up, the surf's good, so what am I doing inside on a Saturday morning? Well, I'm putting up the ten best feeds from my social media. For you. Of course. Because if I don't. ...Well, we'll never know, will we?

Seriously, I am in the sea or maybe on a park run, as you read this. I posted in advance...thinking ahead, you see.

But here's where we check up what we missed on social media. Coffee in hand, pillow at our backs, duvet pulled right up, and favourite furry beast at arm's length for cuddles or loves.

This was a week of note. We'll start in SA, for a change. There has been a spate of good articles - since the outing of Shelley Garland, whose blog went viral, for all the wrong reasons. And Huffington Post published it, for the same wrong reasons.

Tom Eaton called it, here, but he also wrote this about the nuclear deal, which is one I'm adding to my "remember when we told you this was the wrong thing, government?" pile. That pile is rather large now. Click the Zapiro cartoon for The filth behind the filthy lucre.

There have been so many "open letters". Is this one just too optimistic? 

And why Dlamini-Zuma is so wrong for us all. “She is quickly turning into the country’s principal purveyor of bullshit – Sean Spicer in a green, black and yellow doek”, and this nugget - If the ANC was so desperate for a female presidential frontrunner, Baleka Mbete is the most logical terrible choice. Read Richard Poplak's latest for all this and more.

The good news is it's not only here that is so fraught. Saturday Night Live aired a hilarious clip featuring Baldwin as Trump, Jimmy Fallon as Kushner. Only problem is you cannot watch it from SA. (The link is to the NYT article, which has the clip, but I couldn't watch it.)

I searched and searched online  - found the Sean Spicer played by Melissa bit - which is hilarious, but only badly edited versions of the other. Here's the  transcript, as a start.

And Melissa as Sean, the Easter Bunny

Trevor Noah however, we can watch. He summarised Easter at the White House. Featuring Looney Tunes with KellyAnne. Loved it.

This is a great read. Some thoughts on why we struggle with relationships these days. Some of these resonated. 

On a more positive note, exercising is good for you at any age, but especially when you’re over 63. WOW! 

The flight attendant who should be employed by Kulula.

Guess the book title from the obscure plot - I missed two...

And the ever famous - hilarious texts between parents and kids... Try not to snort that coffee, it's most unattractive.

We definitely need to play out with some uplifting music, don't you think? Yip.  I know it's contrived, and all, but I do love Claire Ryann. (Remember the little girl who sang You've got a friend in me with her Dad?) And her sweet brother, handsome father and beautiful mother. Here's Beauty and the Beast.

All together now...Aaaaaahhhhhh......

Hope you found something to make your weekend more interesting today.

See you all same time and place next week. Thanks for being here and sharing all this with me.

Last week's ten.

More tens.

Friday Books - The Last Anniversary

Happy Friday everyone! So glad you stopped by to check out what I'm reading. 

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Readerand The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are the hosting sites for the Friday link ups, where we discover more books, and make friends. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

What am I reading? Well, I'm so glad you asked. It's 

Don't you love that opener? A funnel-web is a spider, in case you were wondering. (And yes, I did have to Google it). I'm reading Liane Moriarty again, because after Big Little Lies in 2015, I tried to read everything I found by her. And now that the series has been on TV, I'm reminded how much I enjoyed her books, and I found this one in the local library. Mine is the cover on the left, which I'm partial to.

The dialogues are my favourite parts of this book. So funny. It's great when they're authentic, and the way they're communicated, together with the thoughts behind them, you just get a person.

One thing I do love about the Big Little Lies TV series is the music, though. It's wonderful. We need soundtracks with our books, don't you think?

What're you reading today? 

Thanks for visiting. Have a great weekend.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Sympathiser by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Told in the first person, this is the account of a nameless half-Vietnamese half- French fighter serving during the Vietnam War in 1975. 

”I am simply able to see any issue from both sides. I flatter myself that this is a talent..."  he wryly observes.

The author, in the afterword, has this to say.

"The tendency to separate war stories from immigrant stories means that most Americans don't understand how many of the immigrants and refugees in the United States have fled from wars - many of which this country has had a hand in.”

That may be true. And if so, this novel explores and opens up that world. Delving into the atrocities and horrors experienced in Vietnam, and the sometimes worse squalor and skanky environment that he returned to in the US, now haunted by his experiences, this is a novel of love and friendship set in a world of espionage, treachery and war.

I have to admit,  I did tire of the complexities and political intricacies that played out alongside the human drama, there was a point where I stopped caring. It was too intense.

The audible narration was excellent - authentic and just the right tone and pace for the book.

4 stars

ISBN: 9780802123459

You may also enjoy Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

1984 by George Orwell

I've wanted to read this book for a very long time. Somehow I missed having to read it at school, and it's always better when you don't have to read a book.

Written in 1949, about the year 1984, thus futuristic, that's all I knew about this book before I picked it up. The protagonist, Winston Smith lives in Airstrip One, a province of Oceania, in what was Great Britain before.

It's eerie, dark and chilling. Big Brother is Watching You. The Ministry of Truth and the Thought Police. Children spying on parents and reporting them. Newspeak and War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength. Of course, Winston is invited to be part of a kind of revolution and we all wonder whether he will break out and become a leader in a new society, truly free.

Yet the book is easy to read, the plot shoots through the dull concrete world of people living almost automated existences like an arrow, and you find yourself hoping against hope that Winston will win.

It's amazing to think that George Orwell dreamed up a telescreen that disseminated information and also spied on the general population. Also fascinating in 2017, when we think of Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" and allegations that microwave ovens can spy on us.

I'm glad I read it, and I am astounded at the ideas, and world that Orwell created from the environment he lived in 1949.

Onwards and upwards to The Handmaid's Tale, Animal Farm and A Brave New World.

4 stars


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

An English nurse, Lib Wright, is brought to a small Irish village just after the Crimean war, where she served under the great Florence Nightingale. She doesn't know what her assignment is when she arrives. She is taken to the local pub/inn where she is informed that she is there to verify a story. Her patient, Anna, who is eleven, hasn't eaten for four months, asserting that she is sustained by 'manna from Heaven'. It seems that the community is inclined to believe her, and already the family are receiving visits from strangers to worship, admire and gawk at this miracle. Lib's partner in crime is a nun, not a nurse, and not trained in these things. They must observe 24/7.

From the very first page, I was steeped in the miry bog of Irish atmosphere, which is the perfect setting for this creepy tale of shadows, suspicion, subterfuge - or maybe miracles, awe and wonder? Which is it? The undertones of faith and religion, playing out in an impoverished superstitious village quickly develop into a story that is completely gripping and will absorb you with its intensity and drama. 

Not to mention the characters - Anna, just a little girl; Lib, who wants to do her job and the right thing, which seems agonising at times; the young priest, all the village elders and the family are embroiled. 

It only struck me afterwards, when I couldn't stop thinking about the themes, how difficult it is to navigate these complexities, and the extraordinary talent that Emma Donoghue has in steering us expertly through all the ditches and trenches we could so easily have fallen into.

I was thoroughly immersed and completely enraptured by this book. I loved every morsel.

5 stars


You may also enjoy Room by the same author, or Faithful by Alice Hoffman, or A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Ten of the Best #88

Welcome to my weekend.

Been here before? You can skip this bit. You know how it works. About two years ago, I decided that a good waste of my time at the end of the week would be to keep track of all the things I didn't have time to read/watch during the week, for binge watching. In my house, that works best early on a Saturday morning. Wifi speed is better before the teens wake up. And here's where I share it with you. The news, from your timelines on my social media feeds. Hope you find something you enjoy too.

In news earlier this week, United Airlines overbooked their flight. No, that's not news, that happens all the time. But in this case, that led to a passenger being unwilling to take the $800 on offer to vacate his seat, and being forcibly removed, shockingly. Here's Ellen's take on it. Click here for the United Airlines incident report.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Friday Books - Peacekeeping

Happy Good Friday everyone! Yay, it's the weekend. Time to read.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Readerand The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are the hosting sites for the Friday link ups, where we discover more books, and make friends. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

What am I reading? Well, I'm so glad you asked. It's 

My thoughts - I'm enjoying this. After abandoning Southern Ruby (sort of  -  I'm still listening to it occasionally), I needed something different. And this is. Set in Haiti, it's about the mishmash of people and politicians and peacekeepers there. It's good. And I'm nearly done.

Really don't know about this second cover. Cute, yes, but I feel like I'm reading a childhood Richard Scarry. What do you think? And the conversation gives you a taste of what the book is like. See - I told you it's good.

What're you reading today - tell me in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting. Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Our Fathers by Karin Brynard

Inspector Beeslaar, a detective who Karin Brynard's readers will know from previous novels, is in Stellenbosch - a wealthy town that had its origins in wine farming and is famous for the gabled Cape-Dutch houses and beautiful mountains surrounding it. His good friend has passed away. And then there is a murder - the beautiful wife of a millionaire is found in her home, brutally killed. The feisty and fiery Captain Vuyokazi Qhubeka wants him to stay and assist.

Beeslaar's partner, Sergeant Ghaap, is chasing car thieves and kidnappers far north in Soweto. He's not in his hometown either, and clearly out of his depth. A mother and son are kidnapped, and this may be his chance to shine, or continue failing dismally - no pressure. He also needs Beeslaar, now.

These two stories will come together, you can tell. It's initially a challenge to keep track of the different plots, but it does become easier, as the action builds. The characters are great, the plot is wonderful, the action is fast and furious, but there is just a little too much detail and drama, turning a pleasure into a bit of a plod, and slowing things down.

I did enjoy my first Karin Brynard novel, and I'm sure some readers will avow that they need the 500 or so pages, because they revel in every word. I could have done with fewer.

3 stars

ISBN: 9781415206928

You may also enjoy Deon Meyer's Icarus, or what about Love and Wine by Paula Marais? Also try Dead in the Water by Irna van Zyl.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Trust Factor by Paul Zak

The Trust Factor explores why some workplaces struggle with toxic cultures, by opening the door to the factors that enhance and build the most important contributor to a corporate environment - Trust

"When someone shows you trust, a feel-good jolt of oxytocin surges through your brain and triggers you to reciprocate. This simple mechanism creates a perpetual trust-building cycle—the key to changing stubborn workplace patterns."

Looking at the effects of making inexpensive changes - grouped under the acronym OXYTOCIN - Paul and his team present loads of examples and case studies on how things can change at work when the right behaviours are encouraged.

It all seems too simple, really. At 256 pages, quite a lot of this book is the footnotes and papers that are quoted. It's worth a quick read. You probably know most of these things instinctively, but you'll ask yourself why, if this is so simple and so worthwhile, more corporates don't operate like this?

An inspiring book.


You may also enjoy The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis or Green Giants by E Freya Williams

Monday, 10 April 2017

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

From Goodreads:
"Every story has two sides.
Every relationship has two perspectives.
And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but behind closed doors things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed."

I found this a little confusing at first, and it took some time to get into. Once in, I was gripped. Part one is from gorgeous Lotto's perspective and part 2 from beautiful Mathilde's. As suggested in the blurb, absurdly different. I preferred reading Part 2. Secrets from the past kept emerging, and the plot moved forward, shockingly at times. 

I enjoyed this book, but felt that it was way above my level of reading genius. I think I missed most of the  links to the clever plays Lotto wrote, the references to the mythology. A bit too highfalutin for my liking, but pleasurable, nevertheless.

4 stars


You may also enjoy Commonwealth by Ann Patchett or Faithful by Alice Hoffman.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

O Store Gud, the story

In 1886, Carl Boberg, a Swedish pastor, was on his way home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck where he had held an afternoon service and got caught in a thunderstorm.When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush…the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song -  'O Store Gud' (A Mighty God). It had nine verses.

A paraphrase of Psalm 8, the hymn  was used in the 'underground church' in Sweden in the late 1800s when the Baptists and Mission Friends were persecuted." 
An early English version of this is as follows:
O mighty God, when I behold the wonder
Of nature’s beauty, wrought by words of thine,
And how thou leadest all from realms up yonder,
Sustaining earthly life with love benign,

With rapture filled, my soul thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God! (repeat)

When I behold the heavens in their vastness,
Where golden ships in azure issue forth,
Where sun and moon keep watch upon the fastness
Of changing seasons and of time on earth.

When crushed by guilt of sin before thee kneeling,
I plead for mercy and for grace and peace,
I feel thy balm and, all my bruises healing,
My soul is filled, my heart is set at ease.

And when at last the mists of time have vanished
And I in truth my faith confirmed shall see,
Upon the shores where earthly ills are banished
I’ll enter Lord, to dwell in peace with thee.

Later, missionary to the Ukraine, Stuart K Hine, adapted a translation into the four verses we know today (the last verse being added in 1939, after WWII, when he was inspired by the exiled Polish community in England, and displaced Russians - i.e. refugees, one of whom thought he may never be reunited with his wife again. This "How Great Thou Art" became far more popular, the words and tune making it the second most famous hymn of all time - after Amazing Grace.

Here's a Carrie Underwood version, which is very popular.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

A more traditional version, beautifully arranged, and with lovely harmonies and key changes - from the Mormon Tabernacle choir. It also features some gorgeous scenery.

Two verses we don't often see - 
O when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God's gifts so good and great;
In foolish pride, God's holy Name reviling,
And yet, in grace, His wrath and judgment wait.

When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,
Bowed down with grief, to Him I lift my face;
And then in love He brings me sweet assurance:
'My child! for thee sufficient is my grace'.
And here is our own South African Loyiso Bala, who recorded this version with Don Moen last year.
For those of you who are hard core like me - here's a Swedish version. It's beautiful. This clip features two hymns - skip to about the middle, if you like.

And in case you think I've belaboured all the versions, I've spared you Sandi Patty, Elvis, and countless instrumentals, including The Piano Guys

Happy Sunday everyone.