Saturday, March 31, 2007

Which Name to use?

The other day at work I asked one of my new regulars, her name. She told me her name and whilst rare, was not unusual. Having said that, it is probably the first time I have met someone with that name. As I was rolling it around in my brain, she then said that I am also called Candy. You can call me that if you like.

I quickly thought about it and decided to use her full name, much to her delight. As I thought on it later I realized that I had inadvertently done the right thing; for had she really wanted me to use the shortened form of her name, she would have given that to me first.

What about you? Are you happy with your name but allow others to shorten it if they can’t handle the full thing?

My name has quite a few variations. The only one I really don’t like is Wally, but even there, I will allow some, but not many, to get away with that. Mostly, I get Walter, Wal and a few Walts. But I always introduce myself as Walter.

I guess in the End It doesn’t really matter what they call me as long as, as the old Joke goes, they don’t call me late for dinner!

What about you? What is your preferred name? Mine is Walter, but I have been known to answer to, “Hey, Stupid!”

While on this subject of what name to use, I recently came to know a young African man with an unusual name, starting with a “J” which is pronounced as a “Y”. I only see him once a week or so and so by the next time I saw him, I had forgotten it, and so to hide my embarrassment I asked one of his many workmates his name and the answer I got was “JC”. It turns out that apart from the first person who introduced me to him originally, by his proper name, no one else used or even knew his proper name, as it was deemed too difficult to get their tongues around. It isn’t really, it is just unusual that’s all.

Anyway when I queried him later he said that’s why they all use his Initials as his name. When I asked him which he preferred, he said I could use whatever I liked. It seems people like putting me in this quandary doesn’t it? Any way I decided to hedge my bets and use both names.

When I am talking to someone about him, I use his Initials like everyone else. When I am talking to him direct, I use his proper name like his friends do.

So in closing, who are you to your workmates when it comes to using their names? Friend or workmate? Do you take the time to really get to know the feelings of those around you all the time? Or are they all “JC’s “to you, because it is easier that way? Walter

Friday, March 30, 2007

Not Really New.

In “How do you say sorry?” I mentioned that I had received a blurb for a new Book. My son later corrected me by saying that it was in fact an old book that has been around for a while, but obviously is having a return run.

This comment bought three thoughts to my mind.

  1. Many new things are not new, just presented as such.
  2. As the Bible states there truly is nothing new under the sun.
  3. If you don’t know it, all things are new to you, no matter how old it is to someone else.

So with these thoughts in mind let me ask you;

1. What old things are you presenting as new, whether knowingly or as in my case, unknowingly?

2. As there is nothing new under the sun, we really have no excuse for not checking up on these ideas that come before us to see how they were assessed before, before presenting them again.

And finally; 3. If we find that an old thing is reliable, then it is not only good but right that we take every opportunity to present it anew to those around us in need of this new/old information and help.

Conversely, if it is not good, then we should definitely not pass it on and perhaps even consider speaking against it, if deemed beneficial in protecting others from its errors. If not let it quietly drop by the wayside. What say you? Walter

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My latest conversation Starter.

As you know by now, during my last Holidays I stopped shaving and after 3 weeks had the makings of a reasonable beard and as I was in a position to keep my beard at Work I decided to grow it out for a bit longer. Although it was neither my first beard, nor my longest, it has produced much more conversations that any beard before.

Much to my surprise it has provoked conversations with people in the circles that I move in but have never spoken to before.

I guess it must have been the novelty of it as after nearly 3 months of beard, these conversations have now died off, except to the point of a select few who only want to know when I am going to get rid of it.

Which will be very soon and I guess for a week or two, my new clean shaven look will engender more conversation, but after that what?

What will be my new conversation starter be after then? Will I have to fall back on that old faithful? The weather!

What about you? Are you a conversation starter or do you leave it to others to start a conversation?

Despite being extremely shy around strangers, I often find myself having to start conversation with others, only to find that once started I can’t get another word in edgewise. They apparently are too shy themselves to make/take the first step, but once started there is no stopping them.

So, what if anything, is it about you that causes people to speak to you? Better, what is it in others, that causes you to speak to them?

Are you prepared to put yourself out to make the first introduction and see where it ends? Or will you forever leave it to others to speak first? Usually all that happens is a Mexican Standoff with each one waiting on the other to make the first step.

So, are you prepared to step up, speak up, and if necessary shut up as others dominate the conversation that you have initiated? Over to you again: Walter

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Still learning. Hence my latest Theory.

The Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper has a circulation of over a third of a million and a potential audience of up to 3.8 Million people in Melbourne alone. It actually boasts 1.5 million readers a day! Thus if you want a wide audience, it is the paper to go to.

As mentioned in an earlier article, after long thinking on it, I finally got around to writing to the letter’s page to express my opinion, to mixed success. So far, in getting my letters published, I have had one success to two failures.

After my first failure I analyzed what I had written and decided that it must have been too wordy and adjusted my second attempt accordingly, which was published. With my success, I decided to continue on those lines. Yet despite this I was disappointed to find my next effort didn’t get accepted, despite being a reasoned reply to an earlier letter.

Then, upon reflection I realized that my two reject letters were “Reply letters”, in that I was responding to what someone else had earlier written in the Letters Page, whereas my success was in response to an article in the paper itself, as apposed to in their letter column. So my new theory is that if I want something printed in the Sun, my best chance is to reply to something new and not something in the “Letters Column”.

However this new theory of mine then produces a tiny moral problem for me. What do I do? Write to be Published in the letters page? Or write to correct what I consider to be a one-sided or unfair view, whenever and wherever I see one?

Do you have a similar situation in life, where you have to choose between what you believe to be right and what people want from you? So how do you respond?

I can’t speak for you, only myself. Hence, I will continue to write in response to what I feel strongly about, irregardless of publication or not. However, having said that, I will also strive to present it in a way that will hopefully make it more printable, but without watering down my response. What say you? Walter

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How do you say sorry?

Recently I read a blurb for a new Book, THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES. The gist of the blurb is as follows: Real life involves real people who make real mistakes. Sometimes saying "I'm sorry" just isn't enough. The need for apologies impacts all human relationships.

The good news in that you can learn the art of apology. Through their research and interaction with hundreds of individuals, counsellor Dr. Jennifer Thomas and Dr Gary Chapman, author of the revolutionary THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, have discovered five fundamental aspects or 'languages' of apology:
* Expressing regret - "I'm sorry."
* Accepting responsibility - "I was wrong."
* Making restitution - "What can I do to make it right?"
* Genuinely repenting - "I will try not to do that again."
* Requesting forgiveness - "Will you please forgive me?"

In THE FIVE LANGUAGES OF APOLOGY, you will learn how to recognise your own primary apology language while speaking the languages of those you love. Understanding and applying the five languages of apology will greatly enhance all of your relationships.

Now I have not bought the book, and going on my past record, even if I did, I would struggle to find the time to read it. However I did find it interesting that many have in practise, as well as in this book, divided the full meaning of being sorry and diluted it down, so as to often only being partly sorry.

Sorry that they got caught rather than sorry that they did it.

Asking for forgiveness without wanting to make some sort of restitution.

Accepting full responsibility rather than trying to shift or share the blame.

What about you when you say sorry? Do you mean all the above mentioned aspects of truly being sorry? Or only what you feel you have too?

So, how sorry are you? Walter.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Self Image.

I read in the Age March 8/2007, the Thought of the Day, attributed to 20th Century British Composer William Watson, who said, “People who have a self-image of worth are going to see value in what they do.”

Although William Watson died 134 years before I read this reflection of his, I have to say that nothing has changed in the intervening years.

Some people have gone through most of their lives being so sublimely put down that they have long ceased to notice it. Don’t notice it, until they start to have a life of their own and start to see some value in what they are now achieving.

You know the story! You start to have some success and suddenly some around you start to find fault in everything you do. Nothing major mind you. Just constant nit picking in general and sometimes even in public. This is because the realize that they have lost their previous strong hold over you and your emotions.

What about you? Is this familiar to you? Or do you already see real value in all that you do? Have you so gone through most of your life being so sublimely put down that you no longer notice it? Don’t notice it, until you start to have some success and suddenly those around you start to find fault in everything you do.

Or are you one of those constantly putting others down because they are outgrowing you and your hold over them. Will you not let them see real value in what they are doing?

In closing what is your true self image and will you also allow others to display their own true self image? Truly over to you: Walter

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Quality or quantity? Which is best?

Recently I was thinking of plants that my father favoured. As a semi-professional veggie grower, many of these were vegetables. I have already told you of his daffodils and his Ruby Red Rhubarb. Another of his favourites, another vegetable, was the Windsor Long Pod Bean, which he grew for many years. Many of them long after the Windsor Long Pod Bean was no longer in favour commercially.

Dad had his own veggie round 3 days a week and so grew as many of his own veggies as possible for his own use. It was only with beans that he grew more than he could sell himself on the Veggie Round. This excess, he used to take to the Wholesale Market with him and sell through an Agent (Or send through his brother in law; and much later, through me,) He always planted, so as to have this excess quantity, either at the beginning or end of the local growing season, thus getting top dollar for his product.

This always happened as the Agent could always sell Dad’s beans for top Dollar, as they were always top quality, even when Windsor Long Pod was long out of favour with other growers.

Other beans, like the Stringless varieties, may have been more popular than other string beans, but not Dad’s. Dad’s were always picked young and sold fresh. Even in a time when both stringless fresh beans and the even cheaper Frozen beans, were all the go, Dad never had any trouble selling his beans. There was even one lady who never bought anything else from him, because her husband used to buy cheap fruit and veggies from a Melbourne market. However for many years this lady always checked with dad in the appropriate season, to see if he had “His” beans and always bought 2 Pounds weight, every week when he did. Dad’s beans were always desirable, because Dad took care with his beans and picked and sold them at their best, going for quality over quantity.

Just like in every thing he did, Dad always gave his best. Do you, do I, take that same care and concern with all what we do and produce? Over to you: Walter

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Seeing but not seeing. .

Recently I went shopping with my wife and daughter as usual. Rather I should say we went to the shopping centre together as usual, as we all have coffee together before I go off to do my own thing, while they go off to do the main grocery shopping.

As their part in helping the environment, they use recyclable Shopping bags. Somehow today I ended up walking around with one of those bags stuffed almost to overflowing with other empty ones. I went into one shop to purchase a few small things.

Plonking the bag of bags on the counter more for them to do a security check than for my own convenience, I was stunned to be asked if I wanted a plastic bag for my few things. Refusing the offer I went to another store. Again I took my purchase with me and plonked my empty bags on the counter where I was even more stunned to find the guy stuffing my purchases into a plastic bag for me. Again I refused the bag and taking my purchases left. Left wondering! Wondering how they could not help but see the empty bags and yet, they still proceeded with their normal procedures.

Yet I couldn’t help wondering how many times I have done something similar. Seen something, but not truly seen the proper implications of that cursory observation? How about you? Has your life become so boring or so routine that you do it without thinking or with out any real feeling or concern for yourself, or for what you are doing; or the people you are supposedly helping?

If so what do you think you can you do about righting the situation? Better still, what do you need to do, to have your eyes opened again so that you can see again and be more contributive to all around you?

Again, over to you: Walter

Friday, March 23, 2007

I Thought of it first, but …

I think I have already told you that I grow a lot of common plants in pots and just on Christmas decided I had too many and came up with the bright idea to take some up to Church on Christmas Day to both decorate the entrance and to give away as gifts.

As such it was meant to be a one-off event, but when the Pastor commented on how it added to the ambience of the place I found myself taking plants up there every week. After a while with a limited potential market and limited range, I had soon given away all that I was likely to without a new influx of congregants. This happened a little while back with a joint service with another small church.

With the expected influx of newcomers I took up around 20 pots of various size and varieties. After the service when I offered them to whoever wanted them, I had soon allocated all but 3 of them. Later, after morning tea when one of our regulars was leaving I lamented that I still had 3 left. As many had only put their plants behind there cars and not in them because it was a hot day, he suggested that I take the leftovers and place them with the others behind the cars.

Later talking with another regular, he suggested the same thing. A bit later I was surprised to see him actually doing that. Later, when all the visitors had gone, so had all the plants.

This week I took a couple more up (Not many spare ones left now,) afterwards I asked the second one, whose car he was going to put this lot behind. He laughed and the first person overheard this conversation and added, “I thought of it first, but I didn’t carry it through.”

Now although I was happy to get rid of the plants the week before, I really wasn’t happy about how it was done, but today I couldn’t help but reflect on the statement, “I thought of it first, but I didn’t carry it through.”

I don’t know about you but I guess there are dozens, if not hundreds, of times where I have thought of something first, but didn’t carry it through. There is an old saying that says the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What are some of your good intentions that you have not carried through? Is it too late to still carry them through now? If not, what is stopping you now? The ball is in your court: Walter

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What value is there in knowing and remembering a name?

In Retail work, you get to see a lot of people and particularly down at the Kiosk at the railway Station, often this meeting although regular, is very brief, and so one could be forgiven if one decided not to bother trying to get to know these fleeting customers, especially as many of them appear for a while and then simply disappear with out notice. Or so it often seems.

With approximately 200 customers everyday it is a battle to put the right name to the right face and I have 3 or 4 people I regularly give the wrong name too, no matter how hard I try to correct myself. The ones who come every day are not so bad but those who only come once or twice a week, often when there is a rush on present a little problem. But overall I do fairly well with most names here in Australia.

In South Africa, I often couldn’t even pronounce their names let alone remember them, but here it is much easier. I still make mistakes but not that many. However the response I get from various people when I remember their names quite stuns me sometimes. On two memorial occasions, I have had people exclaim, “You remembered my name” And my only response is to silently say well that was no hardship. I only asked you your name yesterday, so remembering shouldn’t really be a big thing. But obviously to them it is and it again highlights to me the importance people place on having their names spoken to them.

It helps too when it is a foreign or difficult name, if you can have a fair stab at pronouncing it somewhere half correctly.

In South Africa, most Xhosa’s had two Christian names, an English one and a Xhosa one. So some one might have Mcedisi and Patrik as their first names, and if like in this case, Mcedisi is extremely difficult to properly pronounce by non Africans. Europeans, like us Aussies, just use Patrik. But it meant a lot to him if one used his “proper” name. And in fact can often be a test of you and your acceptance of them. The first time I met this man was at a conference and I had to give a brief message from the Bible, so I had my Interpreter read it out of his Xhosa Bible while I spoke from my English bible. He said afterwards, “I knew that you would be alright when you read from our Bible. (Even though It was He who read it, it was important to him that it was read first in his language, even though I spoke in English. This must have also rubbed off on Mcedisi, as later when he spoke to me and I asked him his name he said Mcedisi. Of course I had to get him to spell it out while I wrote it down. Later the young man who invited me to the conference was talking about Patrik and I had no idea who he was talking about and he in turn was amazed that Patrick had given me his Xhosa name and not his English one which he normally used with other foreigners.

Now I know that that was there then, but it just may be today in Australia, you may come across some funny sounding names too. If so, I would encourage you to take the trouble to learn how to pronounce them because it will truly be appreciated. I guarantee it.

Though I must warn you, you may have a minor problem if you use people’s proper names, when others around you don’t. I know of at least two people recently whom I have gotten to know by there “real” name only to find that their workmates only know them by an Anglised version of their names, and thus haven’t a clue who I mean when I mention their true name.

This says more about their workmates than about them. What about you my friend? Will you take the trouble to know who your friends and workmates truly are?

So my friend what is your preferred name? Mine is Walter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Who is Watching You?

I don’t know if it is because my last born is studying Psychology and I am soaking it up by osmosis but I seem to be analyzing things a lot more these days. Especially my latest beard! This is not my first beard by any means, but it probably is the first I have grown while working in the public domain of Retail Sales. All my other beards have been grown during Labouring type jobs.

So this is the first I have also grown on the job and I guess I am just surprised by all the comments that I am getting.

I have been getting comments and advice from people I have barely said two words to before. For instance do you know that if you want to stop a beard from itching, wash it in Shampoo and use a conditioner! I got this second hand, but it supposedly came from a big tough Biker. I must be using cheap shampoo as it had never worked for me in the past. Or now!

I lightly trimmed it a few weeks back. So lightly that my own family couldn’t notice the difference when challenged; but one lady did. Or at least one lady did and remarked on it.

This got me to thinking about other things we may be doing, thinking that no one has noticed or that no-one is watching, but they are. We may never hear of it but people are watching us and often, these are people we are hardly aware exist, but like the man mentioned above knew me both before and after the beard, these people are aware of us. And often influenced by us and our actions, whether we are aware of it or not.

So my question today is twofold. What are you doing that people are observing that needs to be changed? And what are you currently doing that you can improve and enlarge on, to positively help and influence others. As I said in a previous article, “Can one person change anything? Can You?” we are all change Agents. Either for good or bad!

Which are you? Better, which am I? Walter

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tatt’s the Man.

At the Railway Station People pass by every morning, some even stooping to buying their daily paper from me. Many of them have long stopped being customers but friends instead. One of the most recent, is another of those people that I probably would not have originally put down as future or possible friends, if I had ever previously thought about it.

At first sight, he is on the wirery side, not that tall, blonde short hair, a tooth or two missing and the sort of guy that if he had a beer in his hand you would probably give a wide birth too anyway. The more so, when you see that, apart from the front of his face, all obvious flesh on show, including the back of his neck, is covered by Tattoos. Definitely not the sort of person that I would normally give cheek to, even in my “Joking way”.

However despite his looks, his manner encouraged me to give him some of my usual “Schlick” and surprise, surprise, he responded positively to my humorous approach. So much so that the other day I drummed up the confidence to ask him his name.

So now, Andrëa the Tattoo man is now my latest friend.

What about you? Are there people out there that you will not approach because of some, real or perceived, difference about them? Or are you prepared to put yourself out even just a little and even if in a safe environment like mine, to meet these people half way? Or do you really believe that if they want your friendship, they have to make the first and possible every step?

On the same thought line, how many good potential friends have you scared off by your intolerance of their differences?

Who will you lower your defenses, even if only temporarily, before today? Walter

Monday, March 19, 2007

What’s your Name?

At my work I get to meet many people very briefly every morning. One of the latest is a man who seemed to respond to my special sense of humour and so the other day I decided to ask him his name, seeing that we ”Chat” every morning. When he told me his name, I had trouble believing him, as I had a mental stereotype in my head of people called Andréa.

Firstly if not French, they would obviously be foreigners, and certainly tall and dark and if not handsome certainly Sauvé and sophisticated. Well my new friend is none of those things.

Anyway today when I spoke to him, I told that I had trouble believing that his name was Andréa and He stunned me when he said, “And I can’t believe my parents called me Andréa in the first place.”

This led me to thinking, not just about the names we give our children, but also of the other quirks and habits that we pass on to our children and others, either intentionally or unintentionally.

I am not talking about the good things that we wish to pass onto them and others but the not so good things that we say and do. Remembering that some of the things we do, like naming our children, last all their lives, how much care do we take with what we are passing on to others?

I am still thinking through this, so what’s your thoughts on the matter? Walter

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Treating Others with love and respect

In an earlier article, “I was miffed. I commented on how, after only 3 weeks of Holidays and not shaving I had, what I thought, was a fairly impressive makings of a beard, only to find others didn’t always agree and jokingly told me so. Much to my chagrin.

I also mentioned that after 7 weeks I was now getting much more positive comments; Which is always gratifying and far better than negative comments, even if you know they are joking! So now rather than being miffed I am quite chuffed but for how long? And for what purpose?

Do you understand the point that I am trying to get at here? Well the point I am trying to make here is that our words about others, have the power to encourage or discourage.

I know that I often say things in jokes that I wouldn’t dare say if I really thought they were true, but is that how others “Hear” them? Recently I received the following e-mail:

Treating others with love and respect may be the most intelligent action we can take. Not only does it contribute to world peace it is the route to inner peace. Disregarding, disrespecting, ‘dissing’ others in any way is just plain dumb. Not only do you alienate them and destroy the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship, you poison yourself and the world. No matter what they have done, your resentment hurts you more than them. How do you let go of the bitterness? It’s a choice. You can’t control their behaviour, you can control your response.

It’s the state of your heart that makes you smart.

I realize that this e-mail is talking about more than just joking, but as I hinted above, do the people hearing us realize the distinction? Do we need to exercise more care in our joking, so that we continue to be funny and to bring joy and not pain to our hearers? I say this as much to myself as anyone else as I can be quite challenging to some of my friends. How about you?

Is the state of your heart dumb or smart? Walter.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St Patrick Pop Quiz.

Well as today is St Patrick’s Day world wide, I thought I would see how much you know about St Patrick. So as not to make this too long all I am going to ask you is, Who was He and what was his most famous achievement and why should he be remembered?

1. So who was St Patrick?

If you said Ireland’s most famous son, sorry you are wrong! He was born in Scotland C.493/4 AD.

2. What was his most famous achievement?

If you said driving the Snakes out of Ireland, you are again wrong. Due to geographical separation from mainland Europe and the cold, there probably never were snakes in Ireland.

The 16 year old son of a Scottish noble was kidnapped by a raiding party and spent 6 years in Ireland where he learnt their language and customs including the secrets of the Drude religion. He also met God in prayer there and when he escaped went on a religious learning period and later returned to Ireland with the Popes blessing to evangelize Ireland. He was not the first to go there with that aim, but because of his background, over the next 33 years he converted the whole island to Christianity.

3. So why should he be remembered today?

To those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

At least that is what it was meant to be but sadly today, Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most of all, in drinking Green beer.

What about you? Perhaps like me, St Patrick’s day means nothing to you, but if it does, what does it mean to you?

An excuse to party and drink, beer; green or amber?

Or is it a time to remember those who have left their shores to take Christ’s message out to the unknown, both in the past and also today. Who should you be praying for today? Walter

Friday, March 16, 2007

For nice, as well as for practical.

Many years ago I read a small novel by James A Michener (called, “The Novel”, I think.) In it he spoke of a very practical American Farmer with a Dutch background who only ever did things that had a practical outcome for him. One time a Local Nurseryman tried to sell him 3 big trees that he needed to find homes for, and offered them to Herman at a price well below their real value, but Herman wasn’t buying. Literally! He said something along the lines of, “Why should I buy them?” His wife, not the Nurseryman said, “For nice Herman, for Nice.”

What about you my friend, do you ever do anything, just for nice? My father was a man of the land who took it over from his father and grew his vegetables for very practical reasons. His Sebago potatoes and Queensland Blue pumpkins, for their “keeping” qualities so that he had Pumpkins and potatoes for three quarters of the year, instead of just during the growing season. His Drumhead cabbage because of their tightness and thus good cutting qualities, making them ideal to cut into halves and quarters.

I could go on and on with other vegetables but I think I have made my point of the practicality of what he grew in the veggie garden.

When it came to the Mum’s flower garden, it is true to say that he would get stuck into the weeds and such at the end of winter and turn over beds for her when asked, but flowers were not really his thing.

Except for King Alfred Daffodils. For Dad, they were his, “For nice Plant”. I won’t mention them in more detail here as I have done so elsewhere all ready, but what about you? What, “For Nice” thing will you be remembered for?

Again I am not saying you should stop being practical, but that you find what your, “For nice” thing is, plant or any other object, and do something for others as well as yourself. Over to you: Walter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Not always on the same wavelength! Are You?

A bit of lighthearted nonsense for you today. The other day I visited a family I didn’t previously know and were introduced to 3 of their 4 children Tim, Mary and Peter. Later I found out that the forth was called Paul.

Now I don’t think it was a “Travers”-ty of Justice, nor did I realize I was “blowing in the Wind”, after all, the children all were of the age to have been born in the Folk heyday of the 1960’s & 70”s.

However their names were not a result of their parents being avid Peter, Paul & Mary devotees, but rather of their mother’s Catholic background.

They were born in the order of Paul, (The Apostle), Timothy (Paul’s offsider), Peter (the other major Apostle and Head of the Roman Church), and Mary (The Virgin Mary of Course).

Now coming from a nominal Christian, let alone non Catholic background, this line of thought, although very logical, once thought of by outsiders, was not my first thought.

How about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you have (rightly) reacted according to your understanding, only to find yourself on the wrong side of the situation, because you not so much misunderstood, but rather misinterpreted what you heard?

How much time do we really take to try and get the full understanding of what has been said and whether we fully understand it from all sides, before we react?

Conversely, how careful are we in what we say, so that misunderstandings, although probably never totally possible to prevent, can be kept to a minimum.

Well this is turning out a little heavier than I expected, so I think I had better close here. Catch you later: Walter.

P.S. If you didn’t get the “Travers”-ty joke, I guess you didn’t know Mary’s (Of Peter, Paul & Mary) last name! Or that, “Blowing in the wind” was a No.2 hit for them?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How Will You Be Remembered?

Went to a funeral recently of a man I didn’t know, but after hearing a bit about him I almost wish I had known him. All spoke fondly of him and his good deeds, yet the thing most remembered of him was his love for practical jokes. Some under different circumstances could have landed him before the Courts for fraud if they had been taken half seriously. Yet he was a much loved and respected “gentleman” that every one remembered fondly.

What about you? Will you be remembered fondly? Or will you be remembered as a “Moaner & Groaner”.

Early in my working history I worked in a Hardware Store and there was a certain man I soon learned not to cheerily ask, “How are you today?” Because if you did, you then literally had to spend 15 to 20 minutes hearing how he was. Now I accept that with only one leg he had some legitimate complaints, but it did him and the hearers no good to air them all the time to all and sundry.

There was another man with serious health problems, who when asked how he was, would always reply, ‘Suffering in silence’. Thereby both telling the truth, but in a jovial way and moving the conversation on.

Now I like a joke as well as anyone but I am not into practical Jokes. I don’t know about you but I would rather be remembered as a Joker who was practical in his life, than as a practical joker. Again what say you? Walter

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ruby Red Rhubarb.

I have never been a real fan of Rhubarb, although my wife and oldest daughter quite like it as a dessert. I have grown it in various places we have lived in the past, but mainly because it was there before us. I do not currently have any growing here, but will soon change that. Come the Winter when the time to transplant it comes!

In another article called “Remember Me” I told of a living gift that I was given to remember my dad by. It was a gift gratefully received and even more greatly appreciated. However I didn’t really need a plant to remember my dad by as there are already quite a few that automatically remind me of dad.

I won’t list them here but will mention one. Rhubarb. More specifically, one type of Rhubarb.

Dad had a fruit and Veggie round from the back of his truck that he did three days of the week. As part of that project he also grew as many veggies as he could for his own business during the rest of the week.

He never sold a lot of Rhubarb but always sold a few bunches every week and so tried to grow it all year round. To do this successfully for his needs, he grew three different varieties. I don’t remember all their names or if he even knew them. There was one variety that produced almost all year round, but was of a poorer type. Then there was another variety that produced later again in the season, which was okay, but still not the best on the then market.

And then … And then, there was Ruby Red. A truly dormant variety, but when growing and eaten, a truly lovely Rhubarb. This was dad’s true favourite and even when he retired from the round and growing veggies commercially, he still kept the evergreen variety as well as his beloved Ruby Red.

Some 25 years after retirement and when he was no longer able to look after his by then small veggie garden (still larger than most back gardens,) some rhubarb, including Ruby red; was brought up to a plot near the house and planted by my last born and myself, under his watchful supervision, where it still grows today, some 4 years on.

Not much is used in the house theses days but much is given away as a practical reminder of dad and his desirable ruby red.

How about you? I am not asking here what you have to remember others by, but what I am asking is, “What do others have to remember you by?”

My father will be remembered, among other things, for his Daffodils, Rhubarb, and generosity with them. My Mother for her proverbial wisdom and strength, my wife for her kindness and her Needlecraft, me for my Wife, Kids, and plants!

Now what about you? What will others see that will automatically and spontaneously remind them of you? Some act of kindness or talent? Over to you again: Walter

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Present.

As you should know by now I have recently grown another beard after many years. This has brought many comments, some funny, most complimentary. Most, but not all, appreciate my new look.

The other day at work, a regular customer bought his newspaper and just before he left he said, “Here’s a present for you”, and plonked something down on the counter, acknowledging that I would probably need more.

I know it was meant as a joke and even if it wasn’t, I took it that way and found it highly amusing as many have made that offer, but he was the first to carry it through and actually rock up with a cheap throw away Razor.

On reflection I thought that it was a great practical present in one sense, but as he also acknowledged, one that would not by itself be able to finish the task on a beard like mine.

This made me reflect on many presents that I have both given and received in the past. Have they really been appropriate or adequate for the purpose intended? In other words, how much care do we really take in purchasing presents for others?

Do we consider the purpose it is intended for or do we simply go on convenience or price, when choosing? Do we give because we want to or because we have to? Are we joking or serious in our gift giving? What say you, because I don’t have the answer? Walter

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Remember me.

My father passed away last year and after the funeral a lovely friend from Church gave us a Rose Bush, called, “Remember Me” in a plastic pot. Later I transplanted it out into a large Terracotta pot and it has grown nicely and has blossomed repeatedly. It is also in a spot where we walk past it almost every day, so we have no trouble remembering. Remembering both Dad and the lovely lady who gave it to us.

Now many people have objects or belongings of loved ones to remember them by, but have you ever considered giving a living reminder to a friend to remind them of a loved one? A plant or tree is something out on show for everyone to see and remember the beloved one by. Not that we really need something to remind us of them but it is a visual reminder to others.

Actually I don’t need another plant to remind me of dad, as I already have a few and every time I see a Daffodil I am reminded of his love for them and especially for “King Alfreds”.

However I think a personal living Memorial is a lovely idea to remember one by; both the loved one, the receiver and also the giver. So no moral today, just the question,” who will you give a living memorial to when the opportunity arrises?”

Both to remember and to be remembered. Walter

Saturday, March 10, 2007

LONESTAR Philosophy.

LONESTAR are an American Country Group and their latest song “Mountains”, contains a line that goes, “Walking’s easy when the road is Flat. Them danged ol’ hills will get you every time. Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains. So we could learn how to climb.”

Now I don’t know what you think of that, but my experience has shown that troubles and hardships, although we don’t like them, do separate the wheat from the chaff. Or as Billy Ocean sang, “When the going gets tough the tough get going”.

Is that your experience too? Or are you a “Fair-weather Friend” only, and when the going gets tough, you get gone?

I am not saying that we need to go looking for mountains to climb, just to try ourselves out on or to impress others with our abilities. No What I am saying is if, perhaps better, when, these mountains do appear in our paths, we need to climb them. And we need to persevere. The going may be tough. Progress may be slow, but if we keep going on the highway of life, we will eventually reach our destination and be the stronger for the journey.

If you feel that you are not getting anywhere in your Life journey, it just may be because you are still parked on the roadside, because you pulled up when the going got tough, and have never continued forward. If that is so, Power-out back onto the road of life. No matter how tough or how long the journey may be, the destination is achievable.

So go on and go out and climb those mountains in your Life, but also remember, sometimes the journey will be easier if we have company. So who will you let journey with you? Walter

Friday, March 9, 2007

I Want To Be Truly FAT. Do You?

This is your challenge to be FAT. Now before you rush to your fridge to fulfil that challenge, have another Look at the Word FAT.

I was told by a friend of a Seminar that they had recently attended, where they were challenged to be "FAT". That is to be: Flexible, Adaptable and Teachable!

Do you like me wish to be FAT too? Really? Or like me, do you actually think you are fairly FAT already?

I have always considered myself not only Flexible, but considered that flexibility to be one of my (Few) strong points.

Now anyone who is flexible will tell you, that to be flexible, you have no other choice than to be adaptable.

So, so far so good, or as Meatloaf would sing, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” But Flexible and Adaptable, without Teachable, just leaves you as “FA” & not FAT as desired.

So let’s have another look at being teachable.

I can be a great student and get great results if I set my mind to it, but I don’t always see the need to do things the way others want me too. Maybe that is my flexibility exerting itself. Maybe too far at times?

Anyway what about you? Are you flexible and can bend where needed, without being so flexible that you sway with every breeze, no matter how slight? On the other hand, some can be so rigid as to be susceptible to rust, so to speak. Each is equally destructive and to be avoided.

Are you adaptable so that you can accept all the challenges and changes that life and your fellowman throw at you without loosing sight of your ultimate goal. Some can be so adaptable that they change with every movement and become something totally different to what was wanted. Some seem to never change and end up like the Dinosaurs, extinct. Again each extreme is wrong.

When it comes to teaching, we need to be open to new ways, and where practical, give them an airing or trail run, to see if they are truly better. Again we need to find the middle ground and avoid running after every new thought and idea floating around. We all need to learn from those who truly know (as opposed to those who only claim to know), or we become left behind.

So what are you now? FA? AT? Or FAT? If you are in the first two groups, what are you going to do about it? Work on you weak points or go on as you are?

If you already consider yourself FAT, what are you doing to maintain that fitness? Are you working on your weaker parts, while improving your strengths? What say you? After all, like real physical fitness, true gains only come with true application. Are you prepared to do the “Hard yards” to be come truly FAT?

Remember Meatloaf may have a point when he sings “Two out of three ain't bad”, but be that as it may, it “Ain’t good, either. Two out of three may not be bad but it ain't no-where as good as three out of three! Walter

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Are you an Alpaca?

When I was a little kid I had heard of the South American Llama, but the only time I ever saw them was at the Melbourne Zoo. Many years later I heard that there were some Alpacas that were going to be on show at the Royal Melbourne Horticultural Show for the first time. At that point in time I had never heard of them but was soon informed that they were a cousin of the more familiar Llama, but unlike Llamas who were used mainly as Pack Animals in the Mountains, the Alpaca was used for its fibre or wool.

So although not as familiar to me, and most Australians at that time as the more well known Llama, the Alpaca was in fact more practical and useful to farmers in Australia than its more famous cousin.

At that point they were very rare and thus rarely seen. These days they are much more common and can be seen here and there around the place, still usually in small numbers but occasionally in slightly larger numbers. As such, there are even Alpacas next door to my late father, Len’s property. At one stage they were even agisted there. Yes, Alpacas at L Parker’s!

Well the Alpacas have long since been moved back to their own nearby property and recently I went for a walk around the top of the Parker property and came back along the private Road to the house and saw about 2 Dozen Alpacas in 4 separate paddocks.

Before the Dogs and I actually got up close to the animals, I had head this weird noise, a bit like Terns or Plovers or even Sea Gulls, squealing. At first I actually thought it was Plovers but then I realized that it was the Alpacas making this weird squealing noise. The second thing I noticed was that it must have been a call for help, as every one of them, even though in different paddocks, came running up to the closest point to the supposed intruders. (The dogs and I!)

I think it great that they were prepared to protect themselves and each other by meeting the trouble head on and in the safety of numbers, as although bigger than sheep, they are not very big animals with any obvious means of self protection.

Alpacas are funny animals! Today looking at them I was reminded of the pictures we usually see of supposed half men, half horse Centaurs or whatever they are called. Looking at the Alpacas today I reckon that all you have to do with them is put a human head on them and they would make a better Centaur , than using a horse’s body and putting a man’s upper body and head on it’s neck.

Enough of Alpacas, what about you? Do people look upon you as if you are you an Alpaca? Are you too regarded as funny looking or strange by outsiders who don’t know who or what you are?

Are you regarded as strange because you are strange? Or are you simply strange to others because you are an unknown quantity to them?

If you are strange to them, then you will have to change your strange ways, or simply accept the situation as being one of your own choosing.

On the other hand, if you are strange to them, simply because you are new and unknown to them, then they need to be educated about you. The only way that will happen will be by exposure. Either to you or to your kind.

Often you will have no direct influence in how this happens, but you can choose how to react if it does happen.

As stated above, there are times when it is very advantageous to come together and meet intrusions full on. But there are other times when perceived danger can be diffused by a less aggressive and quieter approach.

The big issue is in deciding which approach to take each separate time and not take a “Rote” action every time.

You can choose to welcome these opportunities to be exposed to wider scrutiny, and thus hopefully break down any barriers between you when you show that you are little different to them.

r you can shut them out and continue to isolate yourself and your kind from outsiders. Like the Alpacas, at the first sight of intruders you can congregate in frightening numbers making scary sounds and aggressively approach these intruding intruders.

That is not to say that there are not times when we do need to be like the Alpacas, when genuine or potential trouble does approach.

Sometimes we just don’t do enough to protect those around us and instead of coming when they call, we turn and move the other way. So before you criticize others for rejecting you, analyse whether or not you are guilty of the same thing by retreating into your own kind.

Even if you are not an Alpaca yourself, there is no reason to reject someone just because they are unknown to you. Make the effort to find out about them. Like me, you may never get to own an Alpaca, but you can never tell when you might come across one. The big question then is how will you respond? Aggressively exclusive, or cautiously welcoming? Remember often you may have little choice; but more often than not, you will be able to choose one of the options, simply by how you outwardly react to strangers.

Over to you: Walter

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How real do you treat Danger? More Bull Story..

My wife’s brother has worked on Dairy farms for over 30 years now and so has some experience in working with cattle. However that experience did not prevent him recently from being head butted in the shoulder from behind by the herd bull, causing both a broken and dislocated shoulder and knocking him to the ground where it gored him briefly on the chest and legs, leaving bruising and discomfit to this day, before the Bull was driven off by the Boss. This happened nearly a month ago and he is still off work and will be for a little while yet.

This news was scary enough but the more so when the facts were made known. The employers bought the bull some 2 years ago when he was around six months old. Even then he was a little boisterous. But also in the meantime, before the latest episode, he had previously twice “bumped” either the boss or one of the other workers. So his reputation was one that meant he was to be watched at all times, yet somehow, my brother in law, with over 30 years of experience with dairy cattle, still managed to find himself in a situation while working with the cattle, which left him exposed blindly to danger. Even expected danger!

What about us? No matter how experienced we are, or how many times we have done a certain action before? How many times do we need to be told that something is dangerous before we get the message and treat the subject at hand as so, and avoid putting ourselves and others, into dangerous situations?

It is true that the Bull was sold to the Butchers the very next day, so that problem will not happen again, but would it not have been better if this had happened much earlier? If not after the first instance certainly after the second?

It is not my desire or intention to point the finger of blame at anyone in this present situation, but rather to ask you to re-evaluate the dangers in your life situations, and ask, how many warnings do you need to avoid the dangers of your life situation? Have you become tired, bore or worse, complacent? If so, wake up and learn from others who have gone before you and paid an unwanted and painful price. Over to you: Walter

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Real Bull Story.

We heard a week or so ago, via the family grapevine, that my wife’s oldest brother, who works on a dairy farm, had his shoulder broken from being kicked there by a Bull, a couple of weeks earlier. Our source had heard it from someone else and we in due course passed on what had been third-hand news by the time it got to us. As it was old news by the time it got to us we never checked up on it either, before passing it on. However this week we went up to Maffra to visit the Father in law and heard the story first hand.

It was something more scary than being kicked by a bull although the information about a broken and dislocated shoulder was true. However the bull never kicked him, but more dangerously, head butted him in the shoulder from behind, causing the shoulder damage and knocking him to the ground where it gored him briefly on the chest and legs, leaving bruising and discomfit, to this day, before the Bull was driven off by the Boss.

Nearly a month on the brother in law is recovering well and looking well for the month’s enforced rest. However, I was a little chastened when I heard the full storey and realized how lucky he had been, and also the fact that I/we had not taken the trouble to even ring him, not only to get the true facts, but to wish him a speedy recovery.

I also wonder how many times in the past I have pasted on incorrect or faulty information, simply because I didn’t think it necessary to even ring and offer condolences, let alone to find out if the story was 100% accurate before passing it on. In this case it was not serious or life threatening but what if it was, and I had passed on misleading information? What damage do we cause sometimes, by passing on unchecked news, as genuine fact?

What about you? Do you always check the facts before passing on the latest story? Do you even bother to ring to see if the other party is in fact okay, or do you rely on the news as passed on, often, like in our case, second or third hand.

What say you? Walter

Sunday, March 4, 2007

How Committed Are You?

In my article, “I was miffed. I commented on how, after only 3 weeks of Holidays and not having had shaved, I had, what I thought was a fairly impressive makings of a beard, but others didn’t. Then, in the follow up article, “Why are people Ignoring me now?” I mentioned how after a month back at work I had forgotten that I have only just regrown a beard and that most people I knew around here, but don’t see regularly, had never seen me with a beard before and so they simply didn’t recognise me until I spoke to them. I also mentioned that after 7 weeks I was now getting much more positive comments; So, now rather than being miffed I am quite chuffed and enjoying the compliments.

How about you? Do you enjoy compliments? If so, how hard are you prepared to work to get them? It is always nice to have your efforts appreciated, but often we are not prepared to do the hard yards to do so. In this Instant world we don’t like waiting minutes let alone weeks or months, yet, deep down, we know that most good things, if not all, take time to come to full fruition and maturity. Whether we like it or not, if we want something good, we simply have to put in all the effort and wait for it to come to fulfilment in its due time.

That is why we should always count the cost of everything we do, before we even make a start on something, to make sure the result is worth the effort.

Sometimes we do commit ourselves to some things, but with no real intent to see them through to the end. Like me with the beard! As I said, at the beginning I never really started out to grow one, but only decided to try it out when it seemed like it was becoming something reasonable, but now some 2 months plus later, I am beginning to wonder whether it was worth the effort and wonder aloud how much longer I will put up with it.

In my case my Beard was no real commitment nor no real cost or expense to me, but what about you? Is there some thing in your life that you would like to do?

Well count the cost before you start.

Is there something that you have started but are now starting to regret? Well count the cost of what it will cost you to either finish it or pull out completely.

There are some things in life that you can get away with without having counted the cost before hand, like my beard, but most things in life have a cost and we really should know them before we start, to avoid disappointment halfway through and having to quit and causing our cause more harm than if we had not started at all. This is also Biblical.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying. ”this fellow began to build and was not able to finish”. Luke 14: 28 – 30.

So what do you need to count the cost off? Either to see it through and avoid ridicule (& hopefully pick up a few compliments). Or on the reverse side, what do you need to cut your losses on and move on to a better and more thought out project? Over to you: Walter

Saturday, March 3, 2007

What’s your view: Tourist or Resident?

Recently our son came home from Church and mentioned a conversation he had with a young Lass from his Church, who had just returned from a holiday in South Africa.

As he had spent much of his youth there he asked her if she visited certain places that he was familiar with. Some Like Port Elizabeth he knew quite well having spent 3 years studying Architecture at the Technikon there. Then talk turned to Umtata and nearby Coffee Bay, a Back-packer’s retreat where she spent 2 days, before returning to Umtata and on To Durban.

When my son mentioned that it was Umtata where he spent the rest of his 11 years in Transkei/South Africa, she replied along the lines, "Oh, so you grew up in the country! “

Which just about floored our boy!

He said to me later something along the lines off, I guess her view is expected from someone who grew up in Melbourne with its 3.8 Million spread widely around could call Umtata “Country”, but it just isn’t true of Umtata. It is true that Umtata has some lovely rural views and once you go ten or so Kilometres from the Town center it is like traveling back in time some 30 years to the Round mud huts and cooking on open fires and a rural subsistence farming life with a lot of the ploughing and such, done by Ox or Donkeys.

However although Umtata does look a little rural and have livestock grazing on vacant land within 3 kms of the GPO, it also has a population of close to 2 Million people living within a 15km radius of the GPO. The fact that a lot of this population is crammed into small areas, hidden over the other sides of the hills adds to the rural view I guess.

My son’s experience reminded me of a similar experience in our first year there. I was bringing a guy in from a Church Conference in a remote area, about 15 kms to the nearest Bus stop, for him to get a ride the next 40 kms back to Umtata. Driving through the rugged, rocky, mountainous countryside, I remarked on how beautiful it looked, and his reply also grounded me when he said, “Not if you are trying to make a living off it”.

I too was looking at it with a tourist’s eyes. He, like my son recently, was looking at it as a long time resident and seeing the reality of life there.

What about you? While sometimes it is beneficial to see some things with Rose Coloured glasses, we also need to see the reality of life around us and be aware of our true surroundings.

Do you really know what is going on around you or are you still looking at things with Tourists eyes despite being a long time resident? Over to you: Walter

Friday, March 2, 2007

Lentern Request.

I recently received a request to write briefly about Lent. Which is rather difficult for me, as although a Christian for the past 25 + Years, I come from a nominally Protestant background and have been a Baptist all my Christian walk, and thus Lent is a strange almost “Catholic “term to me. But for here, let us look at what Lent is supposed to be.

According to my Dictionary, Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday to Holy (Easter) Saturday, of which the 40 week days are devoted fasting and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness.”

Practically, Lent starts the day before on what is called Shrove Tuesday, when the house is Shriven or removed of all it’s supply of rich, Fatty foods. (See my “Shrove Tuesday” blog.)These foods were usually used up in the making of Pancakes hence Shrove Tuesday is often better know as “Pancake Tuesday”.

The next day, the first day of Lent is also known as Ash Wednesday from the custom of marking the foreheads of penitents with ashes on that day.

Now Penitence is a term rarely used these days but means, regretting and wishing to atone for one’s sins or omissions. As a noun it refers to a person doing penitence under the direction of a confessor.

Okay that is what Lent is supposed to mean; but what does it mean to you? Is Lent a time where you are truly sorry and regretting your past actions? Are you truly wishing to atone for your past sins and not repeat them, or do you just want the guilt removed but be allowed to continue in them?

Are you prepared to not only give up rich fatty foods but also these rich fatty sins (failings) of yours?

Now I don’t know that you need to go to a professional Confessor but if you are really serious about giving up something, then it will help if you have someone whom you trust, for you to be accountable to, and for them to help you with this task, through prayer and practical support, for you too.

Who will you let be your confessor? And what will you truly give up for lent? And I am not talking rich, fatty foods here! Over to you: Walter

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Offered Rewards vs. Real Rewards?

In my last blog, “Red Letter Day”, I told about how something as simple as writing a letter to the Paper’s letter column played havoc with my emotions. I also told you how my second attempt not only got published but was awarded a Pen as the prize for being the Letter of the Day.

Well yesterday the pen arrived in the post. A very nice Parker Sonnet fountain pen, in a very nice presentation box.

As I admired it, the penny started dropping. A very nice pen indeed but a fountain pen none the less. Now I don’t know about you, but it is difficult to remember the last time I seriously used a fountain pen. I did do a little Calligraphy one time during our time in South Africa, but I think the previous time before that would be over 40 years ago, whilst at primary school.

So here I am with a very nice, and a reasonably expensive pen that I will probably never use. Although I never really expected either of the girls to have a use for it either, I did offer it to them first, before offering it to my/our boy. He reluctantly accepted it saying that he might use it sometime.

So that was my dilemma. My prize was a very nice, even an expensive one, but one that was largely worthless and useless to me.

This led me to thinking about why I wrote the letter; what my real motivation was. I guess the main reason for writing, was to express my response to something I had an opinion on and as no one else was sharing it, I wanted to get the other side out there for people’s consideration and /or inspiration. The other reason for writing was to get it before a wider audience, hence the need/desire to have it published. The reward for the letter of the day was a very nice “Cherry on Top” but not the reason for writing. (And again, a totally unexpected one!)

What is your reason or motivation for doing what you do? Is it simply to win rewards, even if like my pen, they prove ultimately useless to you? Or is it to get a previously unheard or ignored message across for the consideration or inspiration of others?

What is your motivation? To get published? Or to be rewarded? A view shared, is far more rewarding than a temporary award or prize, irregardless of its temporary usefulness or not, to you.

My goal was to get the letter published and out there before the public irregardless of their response. Mind you, having said that, it was nice to find that I was not alone in my view! (Encouragement is always appreciated!) However whether it was accepted by the wider public or not, was neither here nor there in my reasoning. Just getting it out there for others to ponder was my motivation in doing this. Again what is your motivation for doing all that you do?

What say you, is your real reward? The prize, or the achievement? Walter