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Flackings

What a great word, and what a great idea. From the French word flaque, meaning puddle, comes this term that describes a street artist filling in cracks and potholes with beautiful mosaics. Currently, such an artist in France is beautifying broken paths and pavements, and quietly bringing a smile to many faces. “The goal is…

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Humility and gentleness

C S Forester in his classic The General, offers an insightful analogy in his critique of the English High Command during the first world war. The commanding officers were committed to the old modes of military conflict: infantry advances with guns, calvary ready to follow with lances and swords, war by attrition, the winner declared…

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In the year that King Uzziah died

One of the great visions recorded in the Book is that of the prophet Isaiah. He sees the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of his robe – a symbol of sovereignty and strength – not merely draped over a single rafter, but filling the temple. And in surround-sound he…

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Axles and chariots

My poor lawn’s looking like it’s just been to a bad barber. An axle-clip, unbeknownst to me, had dislodged, significantly reducing the cutting height of the mower, and produced an unfortunate strip of ‘short back and sides’ before it was detected. Replacing it of course, was one of those ‘one minute jobs that costs four…

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The Compliant Parrot

In a novel about Russian master-musician Shostakovich, I came across a funny line about a funny exchange. Another Russian composer, Rimsky-Korsakov, was being ‘persuaded’ to go to Paris. Resigned to his fate, he sent a postcard to register his acceptance, which read: ‘If we’re going, then let’s go, as the parrot said to the cat…

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Dinosaurs and Tax-Collectors

I had no idea that there was a dinosaur in the Bible story of Zacchaeus. But there it was – a brontosaurus. I had the privilege of serving the kids at our recent church camp, and for the last session, was on playdough duty with the toddlers. And as they repeated the story they had…

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Third place in a beauty contest

Once upon a time, the Queen of Sheba came from afar to see something impressive. But now people are travelling from afar, to see the Queen of Sheba! Apparently orchid hunters of the world are streaming to the west to see a spectacular specimen of that name, that only blooms once every ten years. It…

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Confessions of an Eastcoaster

I recently acquired a 3D topographical map of Australia, and was surprised to see mountains where I did not expect them, and particularly, in the Northern Territory. I had imagined the interior to be all sand dunes and flat desert, punctuated by some big rocks like Uluru. But the map exposed my ignorance, and proved…

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Jack Frost

I thought I wasn’t going to see one this winter, but there it was – a massive frost covering a field in the mountains. At minus 3, the best viewing of a frost of course, is with a beanie pulled low and a warm cup of tea held tightly. It was a magnificent sight, and…

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Tribute to a humble fruit

Some months ago I bottled several kilos of olives, and now they are ready for consumption. And what can I say? What words are sufficient? ‘Delectable’ might not be the exact word to describe something bitter, but it would not be incorrect. ‘Sublime’ might be too extravagant to describe a humble fruit, but it would…

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