Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ambling Ramblings #2 Extended: More things that I have learned about Canada and Canadians

I am continually learning and observing new and interesting things about this country to add to my list. Here is a continuation of the list from my previous post:
#7. In Alberta, Petrol is 102.9 cents per litre (which equates to almost the same thing in Australian dollars-Queenslanders, uproot and move to Alberta for cheaper fuel!!)
#8. Houses are very close together (I think it makes them feel warmer in the cold winters!)
#9. Because you can never have enough snow, they make fake snow for the ski and snowboarding runs
#10. At Christmas time, it is more common to attend a Christmas Eve service than a Christmas Day service.
#11. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful....at the moment they are snow-capped and absolutely stunning as they 'glow' in the sun
#12. Traffic lights are horizontal instead of vertical and the turning arrows flash
#13. Pedestrian crossings have a button that you push and a yellow light flashes signalling that you can cross (I was so confused to know when to cross the first time!)
#14. Tax is added onto purchases at the point of sale and not included in the price (and my poor brain cannot cope with all of the mental calculations!!)
#15. Ice and snow make the roads slippery which means that when you approach a 'stop' sign and brake, the car keeps moving forwards as it slides on the ice
#15. The food never ends at Christmas time-it just keeps coming! Starting with fruit bread for breakfast with cinnamon rolls, then on to mince tarts (fruit mince, so the fact that I have eaten one doesn't nullify my vegetarianism!), shortbread, nanaimo bars (a very Canadian slice), brownies, cookies and all manner of other goodies, moving directly into lunch, then back to the Christmas goodies, and then on to supper (dinner) consisting of turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, turnips, carrots, gravy, salad, corn and more (I think the table was groaning!) and then we return to the Christmas baked goodies with only enough time between meals to wash the dishes and boil the kettle for tea!.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Ambling Ramblings #2: Things I have learned about Canada and Canadians

I have been in Canada for a week now and feel that I am now able to comment on this great Commonwealth nation in the Northern Hemisphere. I have learned many things about this country and its people in the time I have been here, and so I will educate those of you who have not yet ventured into this land.

1. Their cheese is orange (like the colour of carrots)
2. Their eggs are yellow (like the colour of lemons, bright yellow)
3. Snow, the white stuff found on everything outdoors, is cold!
4. Wind makes it even colder!
5. Hockey and other sports involving ice are the chief interests of many citizens
6. 'Coles' to Canadians is a bookstore, not a grocery store (supermarket) as it is in Australia
and I'm sure there are many more, but not that come to mind at the moment.

I'm very much enjoying my time in Canada, he weather has not been too cold (although to someone from 'down under' it's still freezing!) I've enjoyed getting in on some Canadian Christmas traditions, doing some baking, going on adventures and having a lovely time :) Yesterday I went ice skating at Olympic Oval (which some of you may recognize from scenes in 'Cool Runnings') which was quite the experience! After quite a few laps I finally started to venture away from the edge with the barricades that I could hold on to or crash into, whichever the situation required, however I was still being lapped by very small children who must have been skating since they could walk!! I've also tagged along for some Christmas shopping, learned some new games and all in all, had a lovely time.

Have a happy and blessed Christmas at whatever time Christmas comes for you in your part of the world.

Stay tuned for more adventures to come!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ambling Ramblings #1

Today is the day that it all begins. "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go....'cause I'm leaving on a jet plane" However, contrary to the lyrics of this song, I do know when I'll be back again! Phase one is ready to be put into action. First, a breakfast of pancakes and waffles with my family (our Saturday morning tradition), a few last minute things and frantically checking that I haven't forgotten anything (yes, I do have a toothbrush and I have remembered socks!) and then it's off to the airport for flight #1. First stop Auckland (for 2 hours) and then a rather long hop across the Pacific into the Northern Hemisphere. 30 hours after departing here, I will finally reach my first destination, snowy Canada. I'm sure the posts following this one will be much more interesting to read as there will be more to tell, however I had to start somewhere! So for now, it's 'au reviour' 'auf wiedersehen' 'adios' 'luikim yu bihain' and 'farewell' to this side of the world. I'll be back next year!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas Begins with Trees and Culinary Misadventures

Due to the fact that I will be overseas enjoying a white Christmas, I have started the Christmas traditions here so that I can have the best of both hemispheres!
My sister and I set up the Christmas tree yesterday while listening to Christmas Carols (Celtic Woman 'A Christmas Celebration' is my all time favourite Christmas CD), and over today and yesterday, I have had my first attempt at a gingerbread house with many mishaps along the way! It's safe to say that you should be glad I am not looking for a career in engineering, architecture, building or design as my house is rather disproportional, crooked and the walls required a great deal of icing to adhere them together! It was a lot of fun though and hopefully next year's one will be more successful!
It was certainly a culinary adventure with many hours of frustration, a sticky mess (the icing is like cement!), vain attempts to keep my brother away from the kitchen bench and a whole lot of silliness, laughter and Christmas carols in the background!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Traveller's Trepidation

The packing has begun, planning is underway and anxiety levels are increasing. Firstly, I can't find the things I need to pack-I was sure I had put them in a safe place until I started packing! Turns out the safe place is just a little bit too safe-I've hidden it from myself! (Also, my bag isn't fully packed yet and it's looking like it won't all fit in!) Secondly, I'm feeling a little bit underprepared and only just realising that 85 days is actually quite a long time to be away for. And thirdly, there's a lot I haven't planned, purchased or even considered yet and time is running short! Once I get on that first plane, it's too late to consider all of these things, so I suppose it's worth worrying over them now.
If anyone has any helpful hints or tips for me, feel free to leave them as a comment.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Humanity’s Book

Read people like you would a page
Not as a character or empty thing,
But as an author themselves
Of an entire library

Find the story beneath, the twist in the plot
But never skim through the soul
It is there that beauty is found

Read cover to cover, crease the spine
See each human with words
And give language to they that have none
Turn up the volume, give them a voice

Speak against another fiction
And live to create truth and wisdom
Search the world until you have an answer

Voice the questions and demand righteousness
Never bend backwards, only forwards with fight
Emptiness comes from science,
Fullness comes from true discovery

There is no mystery
Where you dare to show your heart
Like a beautiful whisper in a strange and vivid dream

Explore, wander and travel through time
To discover what lies between poetry and prose
Fight the old emptiness, escape from the drama
Discover good and then begin again.

~N. Mollenhauer

In exaclty one month from today....

In one month from today, this blog will transform from rhyme and rheme into a travel blog as I commence my wintry wander around the northern hemisphere (with a bit of rhyme and poetry thrown in of course!!).
Keep updated with my adventures (and misadventures!) by following my blog (or at least checking it every so often!). Anecdotes, photos, quotes (and misquotes), tales of high adventure and ramblings of the mind, plus gems of wisdom and knowledge learned in a foreign land all still to come so watch this space!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Wandering Hearts

Poetry would turn
Old questions into a story

Like a favourite book
Discover the answer

Use the magic of life
To imagine and amuse

Whisper why
Create love

No empty romance
Or longing soul

Travel happy
You are almost here

~N. Mollenhauer

Fight for Truth

Some people live
A difficult mystery
With no full voice
To give answers

When you explore the fiction
To find true wisdom,
Write a new page
To tell another story

When you delve beneath the drama
And search against time
Every step will ask
An old question about this world

And fulfil a new dream
To create beauty and hope
For each human life
By fighting for the truth

~N. Mollenhauer

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Create volume
Between hearts
Amuse a wandering character

Live a long
Beautiful life to
Discover more questions

Crack open to enter
A favourite romance
With no empty plot

Love some soul
Never turn back
And the story will be good

~Naomi Mollenhauer

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Strange Library of Wisdom

Desire the world
Give sad descriptions

Never use 'good'
After poetry
But show mystery instead

Begin to imagine
Write a first book

But escape under
These dog-like
Epic dreamings

Through every story
Never say "Why me?"

But rather live
And give wisdom
Through poetry

~Naomi Mollenhauer

How People Come To Know

With wisdom
Time and truth

Escape beneath mystery
To plot vivid dramas

Fight description
And inspire character

Explore human difficulty
and laugh another day

Find a dream
The hero is there

Desire language
And search for a voice

Always speak about
A beautiful world

~Naomi Mollenhauer

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Joy of Reading

~Escape Description~

Enter through dreams
The vivid world
Of a timely book
Create, but explore
Imagine, laugh, search and wander
in magic truth

Travel to another wisdom
Where whispering is how voices speak.
A beautiful soul will inspire
So discover mystery, romance and drama.

This language fight
Is to be loved.

The Science of Travel

Wander the world at will
Find stranger and more vivid truths
See first, and then
Follow another magic-filled dream

Amuse me
Search no soul too long
Through a voice, find an adventure
Or speak poetry to inspire

Escape and discover
Turn above the volume
Take an almost-day
And make it a full-day

Step out to explore
Question a heart
Be difficult

~Naomi Mollenhauer

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Little Rhyme

Once upon a time
I wrote a little rhyme.
What else was I to do
As I sat and waited for you?
          (N. Mollenhauer)

Poem: Children

There are children who are crying
And there are children who are dying
There are children who are laughing
And there are children who are playing.

No matter who or where they are,
Children everywhere are saying:
Hold my hand, hug me tight
Let me be a child at heart
See me, smile at me,
Never let me leave your sight

There are children who are silenced
And there are children who are scared
There are children who are clothed
And there are children who are fed.

No matter who or where they are,
Children everywhere are saying:
Hold my hand, hug me tight
Let me be a child at heart,
See me, smile at me,
Never let me leave your sight.
          (N. Mollenhauer).

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Two Poems: Part 1-A Brand New Day

From behind the distant mountains,
a glorious sight appears,
First faintly, and then brighter as light spills forth.
The sky fills with colour, the world is full of light.
A fresh new morning, in a sparkling fresh world.
Birds sing joyfully, trees sway gently in the breeze,
flowers nod cheerfully as each welcomes a brand new day.
Trees wave gracefully and the grass rustles softly,
Dew sparkles like the riches jewels, the world is filled with colour.
The air is fresh, and whole new day awaits you,
filled with surprises and new adventures.
To think, the Almighty Creator made this day 
Now what will you fill it with?

Two Poems: Part 2-Sunset

The sun is setting, far beyond the trees,
The light is dimming,
There blows a gentle breeze,
The colours fade, the day is gone,
Sunflowers nod their heads in farewell,
Trees whisper softly, "All is well."
Birds sing sweetly, cicadas hum and crickets chirp,
Time is short, as the day draws to a close,
Night is here, and today is gone forever,
But tomorrow holds all the hope for the future.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Pieces of my Heart are Scattered all Abroad

If I come across distant, or seem just a little odd
Its 'cause the pieces of my heart are scattered all abroad.

Please give me time before you judge
And realize that I'm not myself;
Not wholly present, or fully here
But deficient in emotional wealth.

Each country that I visit, each name I memorize
Each place I dare to call my home, each face I recognize
Has taken a part, large or small, which I never can reclaim
Not that different from any of you, just not the same.

Each piece was freely given,
whether consciously or not,
To request them back would be far worse
Than to abide with them apart.

The strain its left on me is hardest to explain...
It kinda hurts, I'm a little sore, not worthy to complain
Cautious to become attached with my heart in short supply
Not my will or fault when you become more attached than I.

Not torn or broken or shattered
Just spread-out and dull and scattered
Dear God, I give you what's left to own,
For You and Your Glory alone.

Please allow me Your strength to love, oh God,
for the pieces of my heart are scattered all abroad.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

For lovers of the English language #2

Here's one to read aloud-no wonder learning English is so difficult!! (Again, I did not write this, but it's definitely worth sharing!)

Hints on Pronunciation for Foreigners

I take it you already know
of tough and bough and cough and dough.
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead-it's said like bed, not bead.
For goodness sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat.
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for pear and bear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose
Just look them up--and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward.
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come I've hardly made a start.

A dreadful language? Man alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five!

For lovers of the English language

With all its quirks and complexities, English is a language with only one hard and fast rule...that to every rule there is an exception.

Here is an interesting commentaries on some of the fascinating (and sometimes ridiculous) inconsistencies of the English language that I stumbled across. (Although I did not write this, it does make me smile and reminds me of why I love the English language enough to want to teach it!)

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Colours of Music: A Short Story

Heidi stood by the open piano. From the staffroom next door the voice of the Fuhrer cackled with an announcement for the people of the Third Reich. Her fingers reached for the keys. She pushed one down; the note echoed in the hollow room. The black and white keys blurred in front of her as a tear wormed its way down her ceramic check. Leaf-like she drifted down to the piano stool and positioned her fingers on the keys. Softly, she began to play. The familiar notes floated out from under her fingers and proceeded out the door. She was unable to hold onto the music as it turned to ash in the smoky grey sky.
            One year ago this music had been hers. The notes had resounded in the church building as she walked down the aisle. The day had been hers; hers and Franz’s. Now, her white dress hung in the back of her wardrobe.  The flowers had long since faded. She bowed her head, her fair hair slipping out of the hairpins.
On the 24th of May 1939 she had stood at the front of the church, surrounded by her family, friends and well-wishers with Franz by her side. One year later, even the music had changed.
            Just before Hitler invaded Austria, Heidi’s family had left for Switzerland, but she had stayed to be with Franz. She would be safe. She had married a good German man, someone who would be useful to the Reich. That was how it was. If you were not useful, you were an enemy. Heidi’s father had helped an American in the Great War years before. He was no friend of the Fuhrer. They had escaped and found safety, leaving Heidi.  And now Franz too had left her behind. 
            While Franz had been there, she had been so happy. Germany was thriving and Hitler’s charisma had renewed their hope and pride. She had felt so secure. It had seemed impossible that the war would come to their village.
It was strange how much a simple brown shirt and a small, white piece of paper could create such upheaval. Five months after the wedding, Franz had come home in uniform. He had been requested to join the air force. Even as he had held her in his arms and her tears left dark splotches on his new brown shirt she had known that he had no choice but to go.
And now she stayed to wait. There was nothing else that she could do. Hot tears burned her eyes once again as she struck her fist on the keys.       
It was ironic, her job was to teach the beautiful music of her country, the music of Beethoven and Mozart, yet her country was overwhelmed by destruction and devastation.  They came in many shapes and forms. For her, they came in the form of a telegram. All colour had faded as she stared at the black letters.
‘Franz Hoffner: Missing in Action.’
Days had gone by, turning into weeks. Days of rhythmically teaching music lessons. Whilst her fingers were dancing minuets over the keys, her heart pounded a dirge. Life, like the keys on her keyboard, had been reduced to black and white. It had been four months and she had heard nothing more. Still, she waited.
“Frau Hoffner? Are you ready for my music lesson now?”
Heidi looked up at the yellow-haired child in front of her and forced a smile.
“Yes, you’re right on time. Did you practise lots this week?”
It had become monotonous, lesson after lesson, the metronome ticking mercilessly, bombarding her with the beats. Children constantly demanded her attention; but they were not her children, she had none of her own.
“Let’s begin with your scales today. Start with F Major.”
The child’s fingers faltered up the keyboard and back down again. Then it was on to another exercise, another piece. Heidi had heard it all before. Crescendo, decrescendo, it became like breathing; in, and out.  Rapido and largo; fast and slow.  People became grey shadows moving through her life.  The music had been reduced to black and white. The keys on the piano, the notes on the page, and now the music too had lost its colour.
Today should have been a day of colour, of music and flowers, a candlelit dinner and Franz’s arms around her. There was music, but there was always music for Heidi. The difference was that she no longer wanted it to make her feel.  Black and white were safe, music that made her feel was colourful and piercing. And so, her heart was not stirred by the melodies and the notes passed her by.  
“Frau Hoffner, guess what? I can play the national anthem!”
“Oh really! Would you like to play it for me?”
“Yep!” The little girl’s head bobbed in excitement. “My mum taught me how to play it and I kept practising it all day long until now I can play it really really good!”
The child tentatively played the first few notes of the Horst Wessel Lied and after a nod of encouragement from Heidi, continued on. Just after their engagement, she and Franz had sung this at the rally in Nuremburg. Proudly they had saluted the red flag with the black and white spider on it. Heidi remembered the sound of Franz’s deep bass harmonizing with her melody. There was no one to sing with now.
“Very good! I’m sure even the Fuhrer would be proud to hear you play for him!”
The child collected her books and bounced out the door leaving Heidi alone once again. It was finally time to go home.
With her books strapped into the basket on the front of her bicycle, Heidi gathered up her skirt and draped it neatly over the crossbar as she mounted.  Freedom. The trees along the familiar laneway protectively stretched out their leafy green branches. On the ground there was a carpet of red, yellow and blue. Vibrant colour was everywhere. There would be flowers today after all. And today, of all days, she noticed them; a gift from Mother Nature. She reached down, gathered a handful of the wildflowers and placed them on top of her books. Slowly she continued homeward.
Home. For another silent night. Blackout curtains drawn and floorboards creaking. More hours of waiting. Hoping. Praying. Heidi parked her bike around the side of the house, gathered up her books and the flowers and walked up the steps to the front door. The hinges squeaked as the door opened.
            After putting her books away and arranging her flowers in a vase, Heidi sat down at the piano. Her hands fell listlessly to the piano keys and she ran her fingers over the worn ivories without letting them make a sound. Resolutely she began to play. There would be music at home tonight. First was Franz’s favourite, and then her mother’s. A Landler she had danced to as a child, her wedding march and then the anthem that the child had played earlier that afternoon. She knew it well; the brass band had played it the day she said goodbye to Franz.
            Amidst the chaos and noise of the aerodrome she had stood with Franz, his arm securely around her waist. Gently he had tilted her head up, compelling her eyes to meet his. She had been so proud of his courage; ashamed of her weakness and tears. The recruits had been called to board as he kissed her for the last time, holding her tightly to him. She had shivered as the aircraft vanished behind the thick white clouds, bound for the battlefront in France. 
There was a sharp rap on the front door. Sheets of music scattered to the floor as she turned around. She got up and meticulously counted the steps to the door; five, six, seven, eight. Finally she reached the door and warily checked through the peephole. A telegram delivery boy stood on the step. She unbolted the door and turned the handle slowly.
“Telegram for Frau Hoffner.” The brown shirt creased as the boy reached into his satchel and pulled out a small, white square of paper.
“Vielen Dank. Thank you.” Heidi closed and carefully latched the door as she returned to the piano stool. She forced herself to unfold it and to see the black words staring up at her.
Shrapnel wounds STOP Right arm amputated STOP On my way home STOP Franz.’