Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Bran Tub # 21: Jiminy Cricket, another oddball post …


As I do, wherever I am, I seem to muse about blog posts … yesterday I was happily sitting outside having lunch up at a local hotel – with a croquet lawn to admire, the English Channel waves undulating a few hundred feet away …

Outlook from hotel

...an idyllic sunny day to spend a bit of time with a friend … soon after we first met we were having lunch … as we were enjoying ourselves … a mighty seagull powered its way from the roof and whipped my friend's piece of salmon off her plate! Yikes and yugh!


Seagulls scavenging ... I must say that looks
quite a good tasty pasty - better than some

We haven't been eating outside since … but the manager informed us - they had seagull scarers now – so we risked it …



oh yes – we were safe! But no … a very pretty emerald golden spider was flitting around me … matching the thistles on my skirt … I managed to release him to the care of the earth …


He's quite pretty isn't he?
looks like he might have been a Cucumber Spider – they seem quite common, but I've never noticed one before, though they appear at this time of year …




but as I go to various group classes – history, memoir, life-science and music appreciation (today's class) and others … I ended up pondering humans … and how odd we all are … how our behaviours are all so varied … all good fillers for a blog post!


But I digress – I think! - and then remembered the Desert Rain Frog and my time in Namibia … that I'd intended to write about …


Desert Rain Frog


he's a plump species with bulging eyes, short snout, short limbs, spade-like feet, and webbed toes … charming little fella, n'est pas?



Added to which he has an unusually high-pitched cry similar to that of a squeaky toy.


Another view of a Desert Rain Frog

Also he's unique as he develops directly from the egg into an adult – so no tadpole stage. He pads happily about on the sand, not requiring water in his habitat for survival.



Their habitat is a very small strip of land in the Cape Province of South Africa, and the coastal strand in southern Namibia … where the Skeleton Coast Desert can be found – an area stretching from Angola in the north, into the Cape Province further south …


The marked edge of southern Africa -
where this little frog si found

The Desert is magical … fog provides most moisture in an otherwise arid and dry region and it's amazing how much can survive in the coastal dunes – about 24 miles wide, and 310 miles in length …



our little Desert Rain Frog is one of those incredible species … sadly its habitat is being lost to human 'needs' (mining and tourism) …


Namibian homelands 1978 - 
the Skeleton Coast is marked, as 
too the Desert


I'd like to think that we will realise what we have on this earth … and which we should be looking after for future generations …


My mother and I went there about 35 years ago … strange but true!


Thanks for visiting – another Bran Tub post … so many other subjects to get to: I'll get there …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Bran Tub # 20: Wry Amusement … Act for Ukraine – renaming street addresses …


Street names – to be amused by, at least in my book – yes … this gently tickled me … soft ironic diplomacy …


Ironic diplomacy can be found ... 

I came across this online campaign … to amend addresses wherever there is a Russian embassy, consulate, or similar … trade mission …




I found the article here … and I'm afraid, in the appalling times of war the Ukrainians are going through, I found it lightly uplifting …



Surprisingly the first country to give the Russian embassy a new address was Albania … the Ukraine Embassy, that of Serbia, also of Kosovo, and so the Russian Embassy all now reside on 'Free Ukraine Street' … in its capital Tirana.


Free Ukraine Street in Tirana, Albania



Next came Norway … it changed an intersection address to Ukraine Square … and other countries/cities have followed …



It seems the NYT gave rise to an article on Danish MP, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen's drive for these name changes … and who was quoted as saying 'No Action is too Small' …



a simple but significant act of symbolic support for the courageous Ukrainian people who defend the values of freedom and democracy from one of the strongest military powers in the world.


c/o Strange Maps


The campaign continues on … please see the link


A rabbit hole I (logically! tba) went down – Mayakovsky Street has been renamed Boris Johnson Street (suits me ... if he's tucked away!) … renamed by the small town, population was about 6,000, to the east along the coast from Odessa ...


Mayakovsky Street

I will explain Vladimir Mayakovsky's connection … but this poster he created about 100 years ago … Agitprop – Communist propaganda – occurring in their Revolution 1917 – 1932.



Soviet Propaganda poster from
the Russian Revolution era
1917 - 1932


He was a Soviet poet, playwright, artist and actor … born in the Caucasus in Georgia, but after his father died they moved to Moscow.






Changing street names has occurred over the years … as you'll see in the article … but in today's age – these things can happen very quickly …



How frustrating to work for a Russian organisation and find you have to walk down, or across a Ukrainian street to get to work …



I'm around, but have been involved doing rather a lot … I'll be back soon – so enjoy this bran tub alternative post with its links ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 29 April 2022

We are the World Blogfest - #WATWB Hmb#1 – Vitiligo …

 As I'm continuing on with interesting, positive ideas … I'd spotted this article, and having decided that it's my continuance #WATWB Hmb#1 post … I thought I'd better find out more … and am found lamentable.

Hmb #1

Martin Senkubuge, from Uganda, is a young very talented artist … particularly adept at painting skin tones … displays the beauty of every skin in his drawings, using art to fight the stigma that surrounds vitiligo ...


... he is a hyperrealism artist, some of his works are identical to the photography that inspires them.



An example of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a skin condition, caused by lack of melanin pigment, which leads to white patches on the skin or hair …




understandably it can cause considerable emotional distress, particularly if it develops during childhood.




Martin showing a sponsor his art piece of
Isaac Kyoyeta, an events manager, in Kampala
In Africa people with Vitiligo face the added burden of being seen as “cursed” or “bewitched” … rebuffed and with the likelihood of becoming isolated within their communities …



I was shocked to learn that Michael Jackson had Vitiligo … I'd no idea … but I don't spend my time reading about celebrities – I'll skip usually, occasionally scan, information if it catches my eye … I knew Jackson had skin problems – but had no idea why … shame on me …


Isaac Kyoyeta's 'portrait'


Senkubuge having realised (see story in article link), decided to find out more, and thus about Vitiligo …





This knowledge affected Senkubuge … he now researches more, before he makes a judgement about an aspect of life. (He was judged and found wanting, as I'd been ... on reading about the artist himself) …


Senkubuge's 'Barrister':
Charcoal, Acrylic, Fabric and
Sand on Canvas (2020)
This 73 year old barrister - too young
to retire! supports artists and fights
for the rights of the uneducated and 
less privileged in our societies.



In September 2019, he founded the Part of Us Initiative, a visual campaign of creating awareness about the Vitiligo skin condition and other humanitarian causes in Uganda, Africa and the rest of the world – it's on Facebook, which I don't do …





The main objective is to visually amplify and raise Vitiligo voices, fight against stereotypes and stigma, and embrace Vitiligo as a natural and normal skin condition … getting the word out will help.



Eve Atukunda, 31, who has had 
Vitiligo since a child, was drawn by
Martin Senkubuge for an exhibition
to tackle the stigma of the condition.



I'm sure we will all be more aware of that condition … and be more empathetic in our approach to life …







We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light


Peace and Compassion for Ukraine

and a happier world for us all in the years ahead



In this magazine article - you can read Martin Senkubuge's story ... and find the colourful side of Vitigilo - Monitor Magazine, Uganda.


Goethe-Zentrum - Centre for Art and Media


In 2019, his Vitiligo art project won a small grant worth $560 from Goethe-Zentrum Kampala after his concept was considered as unique and brilliant.


Since 2020, he has been running a campaign of inclusiveness for the pride of people living with Vitiligo in Uganda.



His inaugural Vitiligo Art Exhibition, Part of Us, was held last year at Goethe Zentrum Kampala's office – it was a showcase of his Vitiligo Art Project.


Daily Art Magazine on Martin Senkubuge ... 


PS - an interesting aside ... Blogger put a few of your comments into spam - yes!  Strange but true ... thank you - they're rescued ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop / IWSG hop: A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall …

 

Beautiful sunny day … it was May after all … yet that explosion a few days before, sounded horrific, even from our countryside retreat … we had no idea what had happened …


Petrichor Raindrop
 hitting the earth

then our world started to fall apart – but we did not know it – even that was kept secret …



planes flew across us in the azure sky … contrails appeared – all as usual … yet clouds suddenly appeared …


Heavy rain clouds

thick, heavy, thundrous-looking ones – where had they come from …? ... certainly not something our agricultural relatives expected …



Our sunny sky had disappeared, the heavens opened, buckets of black rain came torrenting down …


Torrential downpour

It was our family time … where had this downpour, that didn't stop, come from …



We were in the corner that is now north Ukraine, south-west Russia and eastern Belarus – today it is known as the 'fall-out area' …



Showing cloud movement beyond
Novozybkovsky, in the Fall-Out Area


Nearly 40 years later we found out … why our families had been moved out, why it rained and why we've never been allowed to go back to our ancestral lands …





TOP SECRET

A HARD RAIN'S GONNA FALL – 

no-one is to know …




Extra notes:


Info-pic on seed clouding
Recently the Institute of History of Ukraine archives, in Kyiv, have been accessible to academicians – exposing the disastrous, paranoic behaviour of the Kremlin, further up the food-chain than the KGB …


over the Chernobyl explosion in 1986. The winds in late April were south-westerlies blowing towards Sweden and northern Europe …



The Politburo required that on the change of wind direction towards Moscow's Military Victory Day Parade … the clouds be seeded …



Fall out area - as wind direction changed


The planes barrelled across the May skies, shooting projectiles, fitted with silver iodide into the highly radioactive clouds that were being 'driven' by the now south-east winds … which ultimately caused that deluge of biblical proportions falling on and contaminating the beautiful area known as ancient Russia …



That HARD RAIN is still affecting the fall-out area … which has now been churned up by the Soviet tanks … STUPIDITY still prevails with no concern for the common man …


The storyline idea came from a two-part tv programme on Chernobyl … and obviously events happening today …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Spring brings the Cuckoo ...

 

I couldn't resist this photo of an Emerald Cuckoo - and remember back to earlier days of wandering in the garden, watching the robin out and about - while listening with intent to the sound of the cuckoo - first heard by one of us ... mother, father, uncle in latter years ...


Emerald Cuckoo (Africa)

While you've have noticed (hopefully ... I don't disappear into the blogging ether, when I'm not around!) ... I'm taking life away from here in April - except for the next WEP (20th - 22nd April) ... 




The Cuckoo Song – this jolly 13th- century poem – a feel good hit for summer is a-comen in …


Sumer is icumen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
And springth the wode now.
Sing cuckou!


The Anthology link is here:

Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature ...


Or for grandchildren ... or perhaps those with a more modern take:  The Cuckoo nursery rhyme ...


The Cuckoo comes in April

She sings her song in May

She changes her tune in the month of June

And in July she flies away


I just loved their colourings ... and had no idea there were so many different types of them ... 


Emerald cuckoo - beautiful colourings


Our English (common) cuckoo isn't 'quite' as pretty as this one - and again I'd no idea the Emerald Cuckoo is native to Africa ... 




Here they herald Spring ... but are not so popular now we understand they are brood parasites ... relying on other species to raise their young - I see the list contains over 290 nest-hosts = incredible ... 



Well once again I learnt - the heralder of Spring reminds us of so many wonderful things ... so to keep this shortish I won't go into the roles they've played in human culture for thousands of years ... 


The male Emerald cuckoo,
with his beautiful sunny breast


Enjoy April with its April showers, stormy skies, snow appearing and the A-Z ... I'll be around ... then again in May ... 





Frederick Delius' composition first performed in Leipzig 1913 'On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring' - after 40 secs there's some stunning English countryside - it's been described as meditative and calming ... 

I will see you when the cuckoo sings her song in May!  Actually probably an #WATWB to start a new phase of this blog fest ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 



Thursday, 31 March 2022

Time Zones … Europe – Russia … but now 'manyana' has appeared in the mix …


This could almost be an April Fool's joke … except it's true … I wrote about Russia's eleven time zones – but then I came across Spain's MaƱana effect … 'tomorrow'


Russia - Nato borders in red

This took me by surprise as I knew the clocks changed appropriately for each country and would just accept and alter my watch to the time of the European country I'd travelled to – be it Poland in the east to Spain in the west …



European Union countries

I also realised that Spain kept 'funny hours' enjoying their siesta in the afternoon … never realising that this habit was a quirk of political fate … or wondering how, etc …




hence the Spanish way of life … a job in the morning, then a rest or siesta, with another job in the evening ...



Family meal in the Madrid area

a long lunch perhaps commencing at 3.00pm or a little later … then work until 8.00 pm … home at the end of the working day, before going off to wine and dine in the late evening … taking disgruntled half-awake children with them …



But the Spanish still work to Franco time … when General Franco, about to meet Hitler in March 1940, acquiesced to Hitler's request to align Spain's clocks with Germany's time – however after three years of Spanish War (1936 - 1939), Franco did not want his shattered nation caught up in another war …


Main Spanish railway lines -
the reason time zones were needed in all 
countries around the world


This means that for over 80 years … western Europe's time zones are out of kilter with Spain's.




As the economy struggled in the post-war era, the Spaniards adapted to longer days and more sunlight, which were the result of being an hour ahead of London time.


Alhambra Palace, Granada
(tourism, Spain)

It seems unlikely that Spain will amend 'Franco's time' … because if the country did change, it would mean Spain having fewer hours of sunlight – most Spaniards have lived like this all their lives, and it'd be very hard to make that change.



Red Squirrel in
Warsaw park, Poland

The Spanish have got used to the unusual schedule of late meals and sleep times … and we concur and enjoy when we visit …





Russia / Norway border ... and I hope you can 
read the sign
But each to his own … how long Franco's time will survive remains to be seen – but eighty years already is setting a standard that will be hard to break.




So April's Fool tomorrow …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 26 March 2022

We are the World Blogfest # 57 – Ukraine Surgical Training Courses for War Zones …

 

To preface my post … this is a tribute to Damyanti Biswas, Belinda Witzenhausen, Sylvia McGrath, Lynn Hallbrooks, Simon Falk – who all co-hosted and co-ordinated these positive posts over the last five years …. So like Belinda - I wish you all the very best ... sent with loads of hugs from Positive Letters blog ... 




As they and I say goodbye to the #WATWB monthly posts … I will probably continue in a simpler format – and hope anyone who uses FB will pick up and post across for me – FB and I are not very connected …  


Now my last 'official #WATWB post' … it's a little long, but pertinent to today and events in Ukraine …


Medical Guidance in war-torn Ukraine ... 


David Nott Foundation
(Henry Marsh on left, David looking on)


David Nott – a general and vascular surgeon works mainly in London hospitals, but also volunteers to work in disaster and war zones.



The David Nott Foundation came to my notice in the Syrian conflict … however David Nott has been working in war zones since 1993 … Sarajevo, and alphabetically: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chad, Darfur, Gaza, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, and opposition-held areas of Syria.



He had established front line “Hostile Environment Surgical Training” courses that last four days … focussing on a wide range of skills, including treatment of gun shot wounds and vascular surgery …


Henry Marsh visiting Ternopil
University in 2016

now the course needed to be condensed, and to ensure that Ukrainian healthcare professionals are best prepared for complex war injuries, the course included triage, damage control, burns, cardiothoracic, orthopaedic, paediatric, and plastic surgery sessions.



In response to this Ukrainian crisis David Nott, and former Consultant Surgeon at St George's Hospital, Henry Marsh, joined forces to deliver a 12-hour surgical training course to over 570 healthcare professionals in early March.



Neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh had established roots in Ukraine as far back as 1992, as a pioneer of neurosurgical advances in Ukraine …


Ternopil National Medical
University in west Ukraine
their logo

Henry Marsh comments: “I hope and pray that my Ukrainian friends and colleagues will not need to apply all that they learn from the David Nott Foundation webinar. 

But we must do what we can to prepare them for the possible horrors ahead as Russia continues with its evil and murderous invasion.”


Links:


David Nott – Wikipedia


David Nott Foundation – Ukraine …


Henry Marsh - Neurosurgeon – Wikipedia


Ternopil National Medical University, west Ukraine - their Wikipedia site ... 


Revolution of Dignity – also known as the Maidan Revolution … took place in Ukraine 2014 – ousting ex-president Yanukovych, after he failed to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union, instead choosing closer ties to Russia …

Blogfest Community in FB …

Belinda Witzenhuizen - A Hug and a Goodbye from the #WATWB community ... 



Thank you all participants - bloggers, commenters, readers ... of our #WATWB posts ... sad that 'time is called' ...  


We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

Peace and Compassion for Ukraine

and a happier world for us all in the years ahead




Hilary Melton-Butcher 

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories