Category Archives: 365 Writing Prompts

Name that…you!

I do not think I have met anyone who is entirely happy with their given name. This is apparent in our common use of shortened versions or nicknames but few people actually go to the extent of changing their name by deed pole. Having said that I do know someone who has done this and although their new name was a subtle change to the given one and certainly not something linked to popular culture it was important enough to do.

I was named after my maternal grandmother. It is a name which cannot be shortened unless you take away a vowel. It does not lend itself to have a ‘y’ on the end and despite some people adding a ‘y’ within it, it is hard to misspell. So for these reasons it would seem like a good choice. To be honest I neither like nor dislike it. Yes, I would like to have a name which can be shortened and given a ‘y’ but not to the extent of changing it.

Naming a child is a huge responsibility for parents. A name which may seem cute for a baby may be a heavy burden as a school child and totally unsuitable for an adult. Where do you begin? Being named after a family member in accordance with family tradition or expectation may seem easier but some, let us call them fashionable names do have a link to time whereas some are the more common traditional names which are always popular so even there there is a minefield. Do you give them a ‘grown up’ name and then immediately use a shortened nickname or go straight for the nickname? Do you give your child several middle names so at some point they could be known by one of them if desired?

The Cat Says Meow

After a year in my own flat with a true bird’s eye view over the world below from my 9th floor window-sill, I find myself in a new place on a new window-sill and with two humans at my beck and call.

Life had been good. Yes, I could have done with some human contact: the odd pat here and clap there, especially on those hard to reach places like my back where my fur has become somewhat matted. I was happy with the services of the elderly human who did attend my basic needs every day providing nutrition and cleaning out my tray. I think I did have a permanent human at one point but she, for I think she was a female, is but a vague smell memory.

The trauma of how I got from there to here is also vague and I am still dealing with the impact. I remember my elderly male human lifting me into a small box – I trusted him. From there it is all a complex confusion of smells and noises ending up in this new place that I assume is to be my new residence. The humans have provided the basic necessities but as I said I am still reeling from the changes and stresses so have, as yet, been unable to acknowledge their attempts to provide for me other than in a formal manner. They both seem trainable and have some potential. They are not overly familiar with me and appear to have some previous cat experience from their respect of my need for time to adjust. Although they are around most of the day they do, either together or individually, leave the room and it is then that I have been taking the opportunity to further survey my new space. I do not want to over-indulge them too soon or show too much attention. However, I must commend them for their attempts to provide me with tasty morsels to tempt my appetite.

The window-sill where I have chosen to place myself for the time being is slightly narrow but does afford a new vision of the world outside. I have a new perspective on birds and have monitored their behaviour carefully along with that of other humans and other moving creatures of which I am unfamiliar.

One very positive change of which I am aware is that the neck band I have had on and been unable to remove for as long as I can remember had now gone. The bells that would jingle every time I moved are no longer ringing in my ears. So despite having lost the complete autonomy of living perhaps things are changing for the better.

Now that I am feeling more settled, I will slowly begin training the humans further to my ways and needs. This will have to be a gradual process to ensure my exacting standards are met. I did not really think that at my time of life I would have to be retraining new humans. I very much believe in a process of positive rewards in the form of allowing them to clap, stroke and groom me and in time I may sit on them as a mark of their hard work. Although that particular reward is still a long way off.


White Rabbits!

Why do some people say ‘White Rabbits’ on the first day of the month?

  • Do you say it just the once or repeat it twice or three times?
  • Is the phrase ‘White Rabbits’ or is it just the animal without it’s defining colour?
  • Must it be said first thing in the morning of the first of the month before any other words are uttered?
  • Is there a preferred place to say it – top of the stairs?
  • Do you say it every month or, as has been suggested, only on months with the letter ‘r’ in them?
  • What about February with two letter ‘r’s’…is it doubly lucky or do the two compensate for the lesser number of days?
  • Will saying it at the New Year cover you for the whole year? What if you forget – will saying “tibbar” (rabbit backwards) at bedtime rectify it?

A lot of variables to get just right to ensure good luck for the ensuing month.

So why rabbits…and why white rabbits? One explanation may be related to their ability to jump and metaphorically leap into the future and forward in life. Another may be something to do with their ability to multiply at frightening rates and would be seen as a positive link with fertility and abundance. The keeping of a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot’ is seen as a symbol of good luck and there is even talk of it allegedly warding off arthritis and rheumatism. As to the colour, white is a colour of purity which may link to the notion of luck which you will be if you do manage to see one as unless you are in a pet shop it is rare indeed.

Although it is not all good omens from rabbits. Like a black cat, it is said that a white rabbit running across your path will be followed by bad luck. If you see one running down the street then a fire will occur in a nearby house.

From the outsiders perspective saying ‘white rabbits’ must seem very strange indeed. Whether from folklore tradition or superstition they are deeply ingrained in our daily language and lives. This got me thinking about the differences between our sayings backgrounds – first stop a dictionary. My choice today is Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Superstition – a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or trust in magic or chance maintained despite evidence to the contrary

Tradition – the handing down of information, beliefs or customs from one generation to another

So is saying ‘white rabbits’ superstition or tradition? To me it is a harmless tradition soaked in superstition – harmless as long as you are not putting all your eggs in one basket and sitting back expecting life to treat you well.

You might not consider yourself superstitious but you might be surprised how many superstitions have seeped into your subconscious – think back to your day…did you say ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezed or use the phrase ‘fingers crossed’…?

A hairy kiwi

Today en route for Mount Monganui I saw a brown ‘tourist attraction’ sign for Kiwi 360 which did catch my attention as to what this could possibly be. Little did I know that I had driven into the kiwi growing capital of the world. A huge kiwi fruit sign along with the promise of a guided tour of kiwi vines did make me turn off Route 2. For $20 I would get a ride on a cart and get a tour of the kiwi growing areas and why they are so successful in this nook of New Zealand. After a chat with the ladies behind the counter in the gift shop who kindly offered to clean my silver ring which is still suffering the tarnishing power of the muds of Rotorua the tour began.

It is the unique combination of the deep ash soil, temperate climate and high number of sun hours which makes this part of the Bay of Plenty the perfect home for the thousands, perhaps millions, of kiwi vines. 80% of the country’s kiwis are grown in this region. The majority are for export to the world markets. Thousands of migrant workers come to pick the kiwi fruit once a year. The fruit are not yet ready but this ensures that they can remain in the cold stores to keep the international market supplied year round. Two kinds of fruit are grown in this area: the green kiwi which is the hairy one we are the most familiar with and the gold kiwi which has a smooth skin and not so readily available as has a shorter season and cold storage life. The gold and green kiwis have different flowering times so no issue with any cross pollination. Both types require bees to assist with the pollination process and thousands of hives are brought into the vine areas when the flowers begin to open. Both types have male and female plants at a ration of 1:4 with only the female plants producing fruit.

The crop of gold kiwis have already been picked although some have been left on the vine for people visiting. The green kiwis are nearing time for picking. Once picked the fruits are graded for size and weight. Those which do not pass the high standards required for international export are sold on the local market. The largest fruit are shipped to Japan. All the fruit are shipped in cold stores from the nearby port of Tauranga as and when the markets demand.

Quite amazing to think that the hairy kiwi I used to buy in Spinneys in Dubai came from these vines or vines nearby.