Showing posts from January, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It is 65 years since 27 January 1945, the day the Soviet army liberated the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau.  

As a teenager I first learned about that place and others like it after reading the Diary of Ann Frank. Later I learned much more.

The horror really came home to me in 2006 when I went to Poland and visited the museum site of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It wasn't the railway track, the huts, the vast area covered by these 2 camps, or being led with other tourists into a gas chamber, that got me. It was a small glass museum case containing beautiful hand-stitched baby garments. Some mother or grandmother had lovingly prepared these for a child who never lived to grow out of them and who probably never wore them. So much hope for the baby's future must have gone into those stitches. For  what? So a mother and grandmother like me can weep over them decades later? And remember that genocide around the world did not end in …

10 things you never knew about haggis

Today is the birthday in 1759 of Robert Burns. To celebrate Robert Burns' birthday I shall follow a tradition said to have begun a few year after his death. We shall eat a haggis tonight or some time this week. That's if I can find one.

You may believe that a haggis is just a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's offal and oatmeal. Others may think differently as evidenced by this photo created by Wikimedia Commons User Starablazkova showing a wild haggis, apparently roaming near Loch Lomond.

There's not much time left to bag your haggis. The haggis hunting season ends today at 15.00 hours Greenwich Mean Time. Or so it does if you believe the Scotsman newspaper that promotes its annual haggis hunt and also debunks several widely believed myths about the haggis including the story that it is a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's offal and oatmeal.

I like haggis. It tastes much better than it looks. So, while I am out haggis hunting, you might like to ponder (th…

When words fail

Should I blog about Haiti and the earthquake? I've held back for 2 reasons.

Firstly the event is so horrific I've been stunned into silence. 

Secondly there is a temptation for Christian ministers to feel an obligation to say something deep and meaningful at times of tragedy. Sometimes silence is better.

I look at the images, like this one by Carl Juste (Miami Herald) of Haitians scrambling for aid. I try to imagine the situation. I ask, 'why' and don't have a satisfactory answer, because every answer leads to another question.

On the BBC website today, David Bain, from Glasgow University Philosophy Department examines answers that people of faith have given to the question, 'why does God allow natural disasters?' He ends by repeating the question. The article is worth reading, as are the comments. The end of the last comment I read (from Paul, Birmingham) makes a lot of sense,
"The importance of what needs to be done now far outweighs the philosophy of why…

Vanity and Webcam Images

I enjoy the internet for its windows on the world, all from the privacy of my study. Now I have a dilemma. Do I want to make video calls from here or not? My husband recently installed a webcam and Skype on his computer in his study. From there I've enjoyed sharing his free video calls to family and friends. It's fun both seeing and talking with the grandchildren.

I've been persuaded to think about downloading Skype . As it's free it seemed a good idea, but video calls need a webcam which are not free. I went out and bought a webcam. I mounted it on my VDU and installed the software. I tested it by taking a photo. It works! It works too well! It shows an accurate high-resolution image of me complete with wrinkles, reading glasses, unbrushed hair wearing slobbing-around-gear and no makeup. Perhaps if I placed it further away?...On the shelf to my left? On the right?....

Meanwhile I delay signing up to Skype, whose offer of free video calls was the only reason for buying t…

Wise men and a 'cold coming'

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. I've put away the Christmas decorations, made Christmas gift labels for next year from this year's Christmas cards and walked round the village in unusually deep snow.

Now, watching the snow falling again, I think of those mysterious wise men, 'magi' from the east who opened their treasure chests to give the infant Jesus the toddler-unfriendly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Today's cold reminds me of the poem by T.S. Eliot about the visit of the magi in which one of the wise men reflects on the long hard journey he made with the others many years before and what exactly it was that they found - birth of death?

Here it is:

Journey of the Magi'A cold coming we had of it,just the worst time of the year for a journey,and such a long journey:The ways deep and the weather sharp,the very dead of winter.And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,lying down in the melting snow.There were times we regrettedthe summer palaces o…

Diaries, Blogs and a New Year

On 1 January 2010 my thoughts turn to new years and new diaries.

As I use a church diary  that starts in Advent (that is before Christmas) my diary already has several weeks use, so I'm not starting a new one, only a new year and decade!

My greatest excitement over a new diary was the day I began to write in a 5-year page-a-day lockable diary given to me for my 14th birthday. It was the most treasured gift of my teenage years. I wrote in it at the end of the day (usually in bed) most days of the following 5 years, recording my thoughts and feelings about what had happened and what I hoped for or dreaded. It was a record meant for my eyes alone. Did my parents or siblings ever find the key I wonder? I hope not!

Several decades later I remember only a little of what I wrote - I destroyed the diary sometime during my twenties - an action I now regret. It might have made useful reading for me when my children were teenagers. Since then I have kept an occasional journal or 'day book&#…