Saturday, 20 April 2013

Freisian Horses

Friesian Horses
These horses were originally bred as "war horses" in the days of knights and armour.  As armour got heavier, bigger horses were needed and the Friesian almost became extinct. They are back and are one of the prettiest horses in stature as well as gait. What gorgeous animals!
Just watching them becomes an emotional experience.
Can you imagine what it would be like to ride one?
Their manes and tails are probably the longest of all horses.  When performing on grass, their hoofs do not kick up a divot (they land flat footed).  Watch their feet during the movie.
Creatures such as these are what makes this world so special. These horses are native to the Netherlands.  Be sure and turn your audio on.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Americans are inherently violent.

The report  (below) is from the New York Times.
It recounts that the Senate (Republicans and Democrats alike) would not agree to a reasonable proposal to expand background checks on would be gun purchasers.
I am not surprised.  These United States (of which I am proud to be a citizen) are rooted in violence

1. Against the peoples who lived here before Europeans arrived.  Our Declaration of Independence describes them as "savages",
2. Against the Spanish speaking residents in  the South West ( Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California etc ) which  we stole from Mexico  (by foul means).
3. Against the Negroes we  imported from Africa to become our slaves.
4. Against the peoples of the Philippines and of Puerto Rico.
5. Against those who sought for freedom in Central America,
6. Against the justice seekers in American Civil Rights struggle
7 and the list goes on.......

In  view of our violent history here is what our Solons decided today.  - via the New York Times.  

April 17, 2013 NT Times report.

WASHINGTON — A wrenching national search for solutions to the violence that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Conn., in December all but ended Wednesday after the Senate defeated several gun-related measures.
In rapid succession, a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for would-be gun purchasers, a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity gun magazines all failed to get the 60 votes needed under an agreement both parties had reached to consider the amendments.
Senators also turned back Republican proposals to promote concealed weapons permits nationally and focus law enforcement on prosecuting gun crimes.
Among those looking on from the gallery, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Tucson, shouted, “Shame on you.” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who presided over the votes, then asked for decorum.
“They need to be ashamed of themselves,” Ms. Maisch said as she was being escorted from the Capitol. “They have no souls. They have no compassion.”
Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in the Tucson shooting, wrote in a Twitter message: “Senate ignored will of the people & rejected background checks. Im not giving up. Constituents will know they obeyed gun lobby and not them.”
The Senate’s opponents of gun control, from both parties, said that they cast their votes based on logic and that passion had no place in the making of momentous policy.
“Criminals do not submit to background checks now. They will not submit to expanded background checks,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. A provision to expand background checks was widely seen as the substantive measure with the greatest chance of passing.
Its failure was a striking defeat for one of President Obama’s highest domestic priorities, on an issue that has consumed the country since Adam Lanza opened fire with an assault weapon in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
At the White House, flanked by Ms. Giffords and family members of the Newtown victims, President Obama delivered a strong rebuttal to the opponents who brought down the measure and called Wednesday “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama, visibly angry, charged that the “gun lobby and its allies willfully lied” about the compromise background check bill worked out by a Democratic senator and a Republican counterpart.
Mr. Obama said that Republicans — and some Democrats — “caved to the pressure” from what he called a vocal minority of people who support gun rights. He said that “there were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics.”
The president said the administration would do “everything it can” without Congress to protect Americans. But he criticized opponents of gun control legislation who had said the lobbying from the Newtown families was inappropriate.
“Are they serious?” he said. “Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence do not have a right to weigh in?”
The president concluded his statement by promising to continue the fight for gun control measures.
“I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words,” he said. “I believe we are going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right.”
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader and a longtime gun rights advocate who had thrown himself behind the gun control measures, planned to pull the overall gun bill from the Senate floor and move on.
Faced with the difficult decision of either gutting the bill of any real gun controls or letting it fall to a filibuster next week, Senate leaders opted to put it into a deep freeze. Democratic leadership aides promised that the effort could be revived if a public groundswell demanded it.
“The world is watching the United States Senate, and we will be held accountable,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who helped lead the gun control effort.
But with the families of Sandy Hook students in the Senate gallery and a flurry of gun rights phone calls flooding Senate offices, it was hard to imagine how much more emotion could be brought to bear. Aides said only outside circumstances like another mass shooting could force those who voted no to reconsider their positions.
“It’s almost like you can see the finish line, but you just can’t get there,” said Andrew Goddard, whose son, Colin, was shot but survived the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. “It’s more annoying to be able to see it and not get to it.”

Americans worship violence: It's in our DNA

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sweet News for a change - a 70 years marriage reported in my home City.

I'd planned to post this lovely story yesterday but the Boston news pre-empted it..   So here it is today to warms your hearts.

'I'll be home in 3 days, let's get married' – the wartime telegram that led to 70 years of happy marriage for Bristol couple Arthur and Audrey Brassington

WHEN Arthur Brassington sent his sweetheart a telegram from aboard the boat he served on in the North Atlantic Convoy during the Second World War he hoped it would reach her.

He had met Audrey at an army training camp in St Agnes, Cornwall, where she would serve him food and drink but they had never been on a date. He had already sent her engagement ring by post a few weeks before while he was stationed in South Africa, and his telegram simply read: "Back in three days, let's get married."Audrey rushed back from her new job at an aircraft factory in Melksham to her parents' home in Bristol.
She paid £5 for a special licence so that the pair could get married with such short notice.

The wedding took place 70 years ago on April 13, 1943, at St Mary's Church in Fishponds.

Shopkeepers from Stapleton Road, where Audrey's parents lived, each donated an item of food, which was laid out as a last-minute buffet for guests.

The pair spent just one month together in Bristol before Arthur got sent back to the army and then they didn't see each other again – for the next four years.

Arthur had been sent to New York to work on courier planes for the Navy and did not have the money or time to come back to Britain during his leave.

Coincidentally one of the men sharing his lodgings was Perry Como, who went on to be a famous American singer and television personality.

Four years later the sweethearts were reunited – but only for one week, before Arthur was again sent away – this time to Germany.

Meanwhile Audrey worked for the Mendip Engineering company where she would repair shattered guns.

When the war ended she worked as a house keeper in Wiltshire, before the lovebirds came back to Bristol to live with her parents.

Audrey became pregnant with first daughter Lindi in 1950 but the couple could not stay with her parents as her sister had tuberculosis.

They moved into a house in Ilchester Crescent, Bedminster Down, where they have lived ever since.

They had second daughter Jan in 1952 and began a happy family life together.

Arthur joined the railway police, while Audrey worked as an auxiliary nurses at Winford Hospital in North Somerset.

Jan, now 61, has fond memories of growing up. "We had an idyllic Fifties childhood," she said. "Mum would let us put on shows in the living room and make all the kids costumes and would cook chips and sell them for a penny at the door.

"Dad used to let us turn the shed into a den and played with us in the garden. They also helped me look after my own children and have been there every step of the way."

Mr and Mrs Brassington, 94 and 93 respectively, now have two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, who they enjoy spending time with.

They celebrated their Platinum wedding anniversary with neighbours, family and friends on Saturday.

Mrs Brassington told The Post: "When we got married I said to him that we should always have meals at the table, and we should never row in front of the children.

"We've never had a blazing row and our life has always been about our children."

This link may well take you to a photo of the Brassingtons.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Life and death in Boston, MA

The Boston Marathon is the oldest modern marathon in the world.  This year marked the 116th race.

It is always run on the third Monday in April – (a public holiday in Massachusetts and Maine known as “Patriots Day”).

I have always been impressed with the organisers of this race who, when the media tycoons asked them to run the Marathon on a Sunday in order to get better T.V. coverage, said “No, our race has always been on a Monday”. 

(Sportsmanship trumped ratings).

Today the whole world knows about the Boston Marathon and has become aware of the horrendous explosions at the end of today’s race.

The figures keep changing, but it seems that more than 100 spectators were injured (some of them extremely seriously), and that two people were killed (one of them an 8 year old boy).

I grieve for that boy, even as I grieve for the eight year old children who are killed by missiles fired from American drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Yemen.

c/f   a poem by John Donne
No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
John Donne

“I am involved in mankind”.   This gets personal.

1. Yes indeed, and even more poignantly because I am so familiar with the site of the Boston bombings. I have been there so many times at the nearby  Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square.

2. Yes indeed because very many of my Cambridge/Boston friends were there to view the 2013 marathon, and they each have reported that they are safe.

3. Most poignantly
From “the atlantic wire”

Adding further heartbreak to utter tragedy, the last mile of Monday's Boston Marathon, which was rocked by at least two explosions resulting in an unknown number of injuries and casualties Monday afternoon, was dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting massacre. 
Boston Athletic Association president Joanne Flaminio said before the race that it had a "special significance" because it was 26.2 miles long and there was 26 victims in the Newtown attack. There was also a group of Newtown parents running as part of a group called Team Newtown Strong who were raising money for local charities. 
"In the first twenty miles we're honoring the twenty Sandy Hook first graders," Laura Nowacki, a spokesperson for Newtown Strong, explained to WBUR Boston. "When we crest Heartbreak Hill, and we're coming back towards Boston, we run the final six for our six fallen educators, including their lives, to protect our children." 
There was a 26-second moment of silence for the victims before the race started. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013


Critters 1.

I  heard the patter of tiny feet in the attic.

Indeed, this morning, when I shut my bedroom door very firmly I heard what seemed to be a semi-platoon of critters.

I have also heard  critter noises from other parts of the attic, and from crawl spaces at the front of my home, and next door.

I reported this to the Condominium Association, and my neighbours Edythe Thomas, and Dawn Chimes (yes that is her name).

The three of us "happened" upon each other this afternoon. Turns out that Edythe and Dawn have also heard the patter.  (We are in a pod of three single story units, and the chances were fairly strong that if I had unwelcome guests, the same would be true for Edythe and Dawn.

So (thank goodness) it will be the responsibility of the Condo. Association to deal with this problem.

The critters could be bats. Other condo pods had a "bat problem" last year. (Yet I have not seen bats flying around this area at dusk and in the early morning this year).

Might they be rats?  If that is the case I am a bit surprised that my cats have not shown any excitement. (But if there are rats, they can be dealt with [humanely] in a reasonably  short time).

My worst case scenario is that they are squirrels (Good Lord, they are hard to trap and remove!).

Pods:  l- r  (1) jmp (2) Edythe (3) Dawn

Crawl spaces at the front of my Villa from which I have heard critter patters.


Critters (2)

My dog Penne's harness broke:-  not bad after five years of service.

I bought her a new one.  

It has been admired by other dog walkers.

And I believe that harnesses like this are the kindest and most gentle for our canine pals.

In this pic Penne is waiting by my front door (her tail all a-wagging) as she waits for her walk.