This and that once in a blue moon

Michael Williams.

The phrase “once in a blue moon” is well-known which has become tainted by domestic sparring.

She complains: “He only gives me flowers once in a blue moon”. He moans to his rugby mates: “She only allows me once in a blue moon to join you guys at the pub”.

In reality “once in a blue moon” is a special occasion.

It has nothing to do with the colour of the moon but describes the situation when a full moon occurs twice in a calendar month as happened in January. And what made our second full moon on Wednesday January 31 at 1.32pm (South African time), unusual was that it turned out to be a “super blood blue moon”.

Such a rarity was last seen in North America back in 1866, but in Europe, Africa and Western Asia on December 30, 1982.
So if you missed the recent one you will have to wait until December 31, 2028 or January 31, 2037.

Our neighbour, who at 8.45pm captured on his cellphone the first of a series of photos of the rising moon, said the reason the moon looked so big was because it was very close to the earth in its orbit around the earth (perigee) and this coincided with our “blue” moon.

In places like North America, the Middle East, Russia, India and Australia, stargazers had the benefit of the sun, earth and moon lining up perfectly for a lunar eclipse when the moon was closest to the earth.

“The ‘blood’ in the name comes from the reddish brown or coppery hue the moon takes on during such a lunar eclipse,” my neighbour explained. “That’s when the earth’s shadow cuts off the sun’s light rays which normally brighten the moon’s surface.”

This extraordinary celestial show of a “super blood blue moon” which you can see on the internet, is not without its superstitions. Although there is no scientific basis for beliefs that a total lunar eclipse upsets the digestion, in some homes there is a “no eat policy” and utensils are covered with leaves and grass to ward off the bad effects of an eclipse.

A great thing about a lunar eclipse is that you don’t need special equipment to see it. Anyone can step outside and look upwards.

Not a drop for seedlings

The water shortage has changed my attitude to gardening.

I’m no longer prepared to fuss over, or waste, well-point water on annuals that don’t want to grow and I welcome any flower that pops up unasked and thrives.

For years I’ve ruthlessly pulled out self-sown Ageratum seedlings which came up in all the wrong places, smothering bought seedlings nearby.

I first saw these pretty blue, low-growing plants in a handsome floral display of the national flag in the Company’s Gardens in Cape Town. I bought a punnet and lived to regret it.

They grew tall, blousy and indestructible.

However, for the past two years not one has dared to show its head.

I felt victorious… until last week when I spotted two growing among some weary-looking daisies and was happy they were there. At least I will have something blue in the garden along with my reliable forget-me-nots.

CEO bids farewell

Sadly Michael Williams, managing director of Cape Town Opera, is leaving the company after 28 years but in his prestigious new position as CEO at the Buxton International Festival, he will still be living in beautiful surroundings.

The Buxton Festival from July 6 till 22, is a summer celebration of the very best opera, music and literature, held in the heart of England’s Peak District, famous for its national park offering “breath-taking views and fantastic opportunities for cycling, walking and wildlife watching”.

The festival should be right up Michael’s sleeve as it specialises in staging rarely-performed operas by major composers alongside a number of guest productions, all staged in the handsome Buxton Opera House designed by the famous theatrical architect and designer Frank Matcham (1854-1920).

During his 40-year career, he designed and constructed over 90 theatres and redesigned another 90. So he was a very busy man.

Unlike Cape Town audiences, usually reluctant to see anything unfamiliar, ticket sales for Buxton’s packed two-week programme tops 40 000!

Well, it’s a bonus

I’m pleased to find I’m not the only person with a well-point getting irritated by people who keep sending emails about the “dire consequences” of abusing underground water.

Having access to this water is a real boon, but some credit should be given to the integrity of each individual as well as consideration of how much council water we have saved over the years.

Our well-point water not only goes on the garden but is used for the washing machine, swimming pool, toilets and outside shower and we intend to have it tested to use for drinking.

Snobbish much?

I was paying for parking at Cavendish when I spotted a friend’s daughter who is an experienced teacher at one of our top private schools. Walking to our respective cars, she greeted one of her young pupils and her mother but only the little girl replied.

“Didn’t the mother hear you?” I asked. “She chose not to hear me,” was the reply. As there was no issue of colour involved, I asked why would any mother snub her daughter’s teacher? “She is one of those women who think that teachers are socially beneath them …… It has the negative effect of making their children disrespectful of their educators.”Wow! That shocked me rigid.

Fighting tooth and nail

Alas when our dentist married his mother’s manicurist it didn’t work. They fought tooth and nail.