31. Triggered by time

Are we triggered by time?  Or is time triggered by the sun, the moon and every other planet orbiting above us?

At last, after a timely train ride we had arrived in Prague. It quickly became clear that we were on a trip back through time. From the church steeples to the clock towers,  this beautiful city seemed steeped in history. The most famous clocktower of them all must surely be the Prague astronomical clock, the “Orloj”.

Prague Astronomical Clock

However and most unfortunately, our timing was slightly off – by at least a month.

The Orloj was taken down for reconstruction and replaced by a LED screen in early 2018, with the restoration works scheduled to last for the whole summer tourist season of 2018. As we were there in August 2018 all we saw was a screen printing of the famous timepiece.  It got me pondering about why it was such a drawcard for the tourist throngs. So I googled – as you do!

According to Wikipedia, the Prague astronomical clock – the Orloj –  was first made in 1410. A long long time ago!

The astronomical dial has a background that represents the standing Earth and sky, and surrounding it operate four main moving components: the zodiacal ring, an outer rotating ring, an icon representing the Sun, and an icon representing the Moon.

The clock mechanism has three main components — the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and  Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, an hourly show of moving Apostle figures and other sculptures, notably a figure of a skeleton that represents Death, striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. 

According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year’s night.Another legend, recounted by Alois Jirásek, has it that the clockmaker Hanuš was blinded on the order of the Prague Councillors so that he could not repeat his work; in turn, he disabled the clock, and no one was able to repair it for the next hundred years.

Inside the large black outer circle lies another movable circle marked with the signs of the zodiac  which indicates the location of the Sun on the ecliptic. The signs are shown in anticlockwise order. 

The displacement of the zodiac circle results from the use of a stereographic projection of the ecliptic plane using the North pole as the basis of the projection. This is commonly seen in astronomical clocks of the period.The movement of the Moon on the ecliptic is shown similarly to that of the Sun, although the speed is much faster, due to the Moon’s orbit around the Earth.  The half-silvered, half-black sphere of the moon also shows the Lunar phase. 

But wait – there is more…..

The four figures flanking the clock are set in motion on the hour, and represent four things that were despised at the time of the clock’s making. From left to right in the photographs, the first is Vanity, represented by a figure admiring himself in a mirror. Next, the miser holding a bag of gold represents greed or usury. Across the clock stands Death, a skeleton that strikes the time upon the hour. Finally, there is a Turkish figure representing lust  and earthly pleasures. On the hour, the skeleton rings the bell and immediately all other figures shake their heads side to side, signifying their unreadiness “to go.

Every hour of the day, twelve statues of Apostles with its attributes appear at the doorways above the clock.

Apostles

Now this miracle of 15th century engineering and seeing what makes it tick would have been well worth seeing.  It certainly would have ticked my bucket list.

That was a time-consuming and fascinating rabbit hole I went down in my quest for knowledge. So I guess it is true that everything is triggered by time.  

It is all about the timing, isn’t it?

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 30. Sounds of the alphabet

I just love language and all its eccentricities.

I have sung the alphabet songs, pondered over pronunciation and succeeded with spelling.

I have played around with alliteration – because it trips off the tongue so well. 

I have recited the rhymes inside my head – to speak them out loud would make me sound quite crazy.

I have taunted myself with tongue twisters – because why wouldn’t I?

I have learned four languages and some random words of others. I have even practiced speaking them in foreign countries – much to the amusement of the locals.

And yet….   Still the English language confounds me.  The English has fifteen vowel sounds represented by the letters ae, i, o, and u

But wait – there’s more – what about the consonants?  Let’s not go there!

In the Maori language (Te Reo Maori) – one of the three official languages of New Zealand – the vowels are pronounced the same regardless of the word it appears in. And the sounds of the alphabet roll beautifully off the tongue.

A  - as in Are
E -  as in There
I  - as in Three
O  - as in Or
U  - as in Two

Knowing the alphabet sounds is to begin to know the language and the culture.
This whakatauki (Maori proverb) sums up some of my thoughts about language.

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria

My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul

And to quote the label on the inside of my tunic ……  

“We all smile in the same language”

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 28. The way things used to be

Previously, her dancing had been energetic and full of many twists and turns. What seemed right before now felt so wrong as she moved from a different angle. 

How did it come to this?  Why can’t things be just the way they used to be before? Her body kept reminding her of the aches and pains of ageing. And yet……. that music seemed so familiar. 

She thought she had forgotten how to walz. So it was such a pleasure when the music triggered her muscle memory. She walzed again.  

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 27. The Chardonnay of truth


It was the sweetness of the green grapes that had convinced her that it was time for the fermentation to begin.

She carefully clipped each bunch off the vines and added them to the vat. Climbing the ladder, she trod gently on the juicy grapes. The juices squelched and the skins were slippery. Fermentation was now in progress but how long would the ageing process take was the question she pondered.  

All she wanted was a relatively dry, medium-bodied wine. Chardonnay is traditionally supposed to be this way but she wanted to make it unique with less acidity and with a much more fruity flavour.

 So much rubbish is talked about wine and its ’nose’.  She had heard about wine having strong hints of this or a subtle note of that. She had researched the vintners methods and spurned the additives they used. “Now, if you were to add some oak to the aging process, the above flavors shift dramatically giving off strong hints of butter, vanilla, English pudding and pineapple.”

The problem she had was just how did you spread the butter, make the English pudding fit into the stainless steel vat, and just where was she going to find fresh pineapple at this time of the year? And as for fitting an oak tree into the vat – seriously! How and why would she do that.

She had just wanted to make an honest vintage. She dreamed it would be the best vintage of the year.  It would be a great and industry-changing vintage. She waited and waited till the temperature was just perfect then she climbed the ladder to the top of the tall brewing tank and dipped her glass into the wine. Mmmm – it tasted pure, dry and delicious. 

She drank some more.  ‘Oh yes,’ she thought, ‘it is true’. This chardonnay tasted just like green grapes. Her vision for her Chardonnay of truth became clearer as her wineglass emptied. This was the vintage that would beat them all. 

It was a pity she slipped off the ladder and plunged to her death before she could bottle this honest wine.

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 26. He was hungry for her

Such a sacrifice he had made for her as he attempted to demolish both delicious ice-cream sundaes to save her from the guilt of the scales. 

He thought it was such a pity that those bathroom scales should still be under such scrutiny from her. 

He  was just accepting of who she is not what she looked like. It  could be said that he was hungry for her   

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 25. A bottle of bamboozled

“They have re-launched ‘Cold Duck”, said my friendly neighbour. “The old drinking gang should get back together – it will be a blast,” she continued.  “Bring a bottle and we will celebrate its resurgence. Let’s re-live those good old days of the 1980’s”

A trip down memory lane it was supposed to be. Housewives of the 1980s loved this red sparkling wine even though it was known to be made by mixing all the dregs of unfinished wine bottles with a sweet sparkling wine.

What I remembered about  those days were the long hours coping with three young kids all day at home whilst the menfolk worked all day, stopping off for a pint or two on their way home. I also remembered that when wine became available at the supermarket it could be purchased along with the groceries. That was a trap for us bored housewives.  No wonder we resorted to drinking Cold Duck in the late afternoon.

It was decided. The date was set. Simple rules established. Each couple was to bring a bottle of the relaunched 1990s vintage.  We would play 80’s music, eat 80-style fondues and pineapples on sticks – and wear our afro wigs and flares.

The weekend arrived, as did the drinking gang of old. We lined up the bottles of Cold Duck – yes even the men thought they could join in and didn’t bring any beer.

The first bottle was opened. The old familiar aroma fizzed out of the bottle. “OMG”, said I.  They do say that smells  evoke memories.  Unfortunately the memories were not so great.  Chills shuddered down my back.  My stomach roiled at the memories of those hangovers from long ago. 

The advertising blurb should have been a warning to us – “Quackers is Back”   

Cold Duck – such a delightful way to be bamboozled – NOT.

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 24. Bread and butter never tasted so good

“Eat your crusts or your hair won’t curl”, my mother used to say.  

Mum brushed my long blond hair into ringlets every Sunday night. It was her gentle way of brushing those knots out without causing me to squeal in pain however it was only a temporary relief.  That curly hair kept on tangling, sticking out at right angles to my head, coiling in masses of knots and frizziness.

 I determined never to eat bread crusts again. Why would I want curly hair? For many years I stuck to my self imposed regime. No more bread for me.  

I would look longingly at my school friends as they munched through thick soft bread sandwiches each lunchtime as I crunched through carrots and apples instead.

But then I discovered hair straighteners. Suddenly it didn’t matter that eating those bread crusts could make my hair a tangled mess.  At last, I had found the solution to my thick unruly curls.

 I grabbed a slice of bread and delighted in spreading a thick smear of yellowy butter.  I popped the first bite into my mouth and closed my eyes in sheer bliss.  Bread and butter had never tasted so good.

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 23. Mind in the making

Alone my mind wanders
And questions arise
Why are my feelings and thoughts disconnected?

Does my brain need to rest so I can remember and regain
The things I have learned deep within my brain.

I must feel these emotions yet apply reason too.
And free my mind so those thoughts can come through
Keep lifelong learning in the synapses of my mind
That way I will never be lagging behind.
“It is through feelings as well as through reason that we find our real creative power. It is through both that we connect with each other and create the complex, shifting worlds of human culture.”  
Sir Ken Robinson -  'Out of our Minds' 

This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/

Day 21. Someday I’ll get there

I woke to the light of the moon shining across the sea and into my window.

 Its reflection was so mesmerising I felt I could just step up to the ocean and walk across – to the moon and beyond. 

Someday I’ll get there.

This is is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, July Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’
https://puttingmyfeetinthedirt.com/2020/07/01/july-writing-prompts-2/