Advent mysteries

As I make my way through Advent,

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

an unexpected, personal Advent calendar mysteriously opens up before me.

It is a calendar that comes in the form of box or drawer that daily reveals, from the depths of clutter, long forgotten wonders and joys,

like this poem I wrote, for our church magazine, not long after our arrival in New Zealand.

The Strangers’ Christmas

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to catch the warmth
of the midnight candles,
tightly held and sheltered,
in our tent of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to hold the guns
of strangers standing,
as black-robed angels,
cornered to our circled light.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to loose the star
of the warm, sweet babe,
delivered to Mary, carefully cradled,
in the stable of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to gather the ages
of then and now,
and the light that is the warmth,
within the lives of strangers.

The poem is a reflection on a Christmas Eve service in Maadi, Cairo,  in the late 1990s, during a time of terrorism and tension.  I am trying to capture the peculiarity of the lovely warmth of a service celebrating the “The Prince of Peace”, yet taking place under the protection of armed soldiers and police. Like Mary, we, too, were all strangers far from home, full of joy, but also anxious about the world to come.

The service, organised by the Maadi Community Church was held in a tent attached to the St John the Baptist church in Maadi.

Both churches continue to offer fellowship, a home away from home,  and solace to strangers, to this day, and seem to be thriving.  St John’s was established in 1931. Throughout the Second World War it served troops from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

These days St John’s (Anglican/Episcopal) serves a diverse English-speaking congregation from many different backgrounds, ( Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics ), and provides worship space to the Maadi Community Church, and Korean, Sudanese, West African, French Reformed, Scandinavian and Egyptian congregations.

In 2006, to commemorate its 75th anniversary, St John’s commissioned artist Debra Balchen to design/make nine stained glass windows focusing on the role of Egypt in the Bible.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John's Church, Maadi, Cairo.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John’s Church, Maadi, Cairo.

I would love to see these special windows in situ. Maybe that is an Advent-ure (thanks for the word, Linda ;) ) that awaits me.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

Results

Am I returning to my blog so soon?  Sigh!  No.

I am just temporarily turning a deaf ear to the clamour of clutter

Clutter in transition

Clutter in transition

to wish you a Happy St Andrew’s Day on this first Sunday in Advent,

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

and to bring you the results of my  T’is the Season Giveaway, which, as promised, I drew on Thanksgiving Day.

The winners are April at  Finding Beauty in Spite of Myself  and Iris at  Wandering Iris.

April wins  How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World by Sophia Stuart; a beautiful and most suitable book for a blogger who writes about finding beauty everyday. And, Iris, who loves to travel  will hopefully be inspired to visit Hollywood (if she hasn’t been there yet) when she reads her giveaway prize, It’s In His Kiss, by Vickie Lester.

Congratulations April and Iris and thank you for your readership of my blog. Would you please send your postal addresses to me at kaahend@gmail.com ?  As it is getting close to Christmas mail rush time, I can’t promise you will receive your books before the New Year, but I will do what I can to speed them on their way. In the meantime, enjoy some of the flowers that were in my house  on the day I closed my eyes and picked your names out of a bowl.

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Other results:

I plod on with my de-cluttering exercise. It is slow, tedious work but there are small signs of progress, like this tidy drawer,

Disorganised but definitely de-cluttered.

An odd assortment  but definitely de-cluttered.

and there is the occasional merry moment as when I uncovered a wee newspaper snippet sent by my mother, many years ago, about a Cat’s 12 Days of Christmas: ” On the 12th day of Christmas my human gave to me: 12 bags of catnip, 11 tarter pounce treats, 10 ornaments hanging, nine wads of Kleenex, eight peacock feathers, seven stolen Q-tips, six feathered balls, five milk jug rings, four munchy house plants, three running faucets, two fuzzy mousies and a hamste-e-er in a plastic ball.” Ah, mothers and cats, every bit as good as saints when it comes to encouraging us.

And, you, too, my readers are good, saintly friends and encouragers, (like St Andrew), for keeping me company on my clean-up and clean-out, and for being patient with my inability to read your blogs as much as I would like to.  Never fear; in the words of the sign in my grandparents’ incredibly cluttered wash house/outhouse,  ‘Don’t be sad, don’t be glum, better days are sure to come.”  (After all it is the Advent season. ;) ) See you soon- ish.

 

© silkannthreades

Searching

Timaru Lighthouse http://www.newzealandlighthouses.com/timaru_harbour.htmat Benvenue Cliffs

SEARCHING : Timaru Lighthouse http://www.newzealandlighthouses.com/timaru_harbour.htm  at Benvenue Cliffs

Dear Friends

I may be away for a while. I am on a mission; to declutter, and to regroup.

Yesterday, I realized, to my horror, that I had mislaid/lost some very important personal papers. The last time I clearly remember seeing them was before I left for Cairns in late September. Vigorous searching in the past 24 hours has failed to reveal their whereabouts. In the process of turning cupboards inside out and drawers upside down, I have been confronted by clutter anarchy on an unacceptable scale.

It is time for action! Concentrated action.

I find the work of clearing out and cleaning up very tiring ( which is why I procrastinate about it till it can be ignored no longer). So, at the end of each day, for however long my tidy-up takes , I am planning to recoup my energy by reading, (not blogging!). I want to finish Wolf Pear by blogger  Dianne Gray, and find time to read  Mary Mageau’s trilogy: The Trousseau, An Antique Brooch  and The Rose and the Thistle.

And whilst I read, and/or relax, I hope to listen to some of Mary’s beautiful compositions. How about Sleepy Koala to start with? :)

A friend of mine says that if we lose something we should ask St Anthony of Padua for help. I very rarely lose things, so I have only ever sent up a quick ‘St Anthony, could you help me out?’ type prayer. ( He did, eventually. ; ) )

Here is part of a more proper version of a prayer to St Anthony:

Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (mention your petition) which has been lost. As least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss.

Does it work? Thousands upon thousands believe so. I am going to give it another try, for, more than anything, I am searching for the recovery  of my peace of mind.

See you later!

ps. I will, of course, do a brief post later in the month with the results of my Thanksgiving giveaway. And I will answer all comments you may like to make on this post.

 

 

© silkannthreades

Tarawa: Lest We Forget

We have been honouring Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day, so it is timely to write my own ‘Lest We Forget’ post about a small place in the Pacific, to which we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.  That small  place is Tarawa Atoll.

This is what happened there from 20 -23 November 1943. ( Warning! This Academy Award Winning Documentary is VERY GRAPHIC. Please do not watch it if you find war scenes disturbing.)

The Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theatre of War was brutal. Within the space of 76 hours, the Americans suffered approximately 3166 casualties. Enemy casualties were also horrendous.  “Of the 3,636 Japanese in the garrison, only one officer and sixteen enlisted men surrendered. Of the 1,200 Korean laborers brought to Tarawa to construct the defenses, only 129 survived. All told, 4,690 of the island’s defenders were killed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tarawa

And let’s not forget that the Tarawa Atoll was inhabited by its own people . Their losses, material and psychological, were immense too, particularly for the inhabitants of Betio Island, the main site of the Battle of Tarawa. Pre-war the people of Betio had enjoyed a good subsistence lifestyle. http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/15557/OP36-109-112.pdf?sequence=1   Following World War Two, their fragile environment and livelihoods were left in ruins.

And, to a large extent, in ruins they remain to this day. Not just for Betio, but for the entire country which is today known as Kiribati. In addition to war, phosphate mining and nuclear testing have  taken their toll. Now Kiribati is engaged in a new battle. It is on the front-line of another great struggle; once again not of its own making. Slowly, but surely, Kiribati is drowning. Climate change and rising sea levels are torturing Kiribati to death.

And the big powers, some of whom were once prepared to fight over Tarawa Atoll to the last man, if necessary, because it was considered so important to their success, don’t seem to give a toss.

Which means that when we come to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa in 2043, or the centenary of the end of the Second World War, there may not be much left of Tarawa to see. Within the next 50 or 60 years, most of Kiribati will be uninhabitable because of climate change.

When the land sinks beneath the sea, the people of Kiribati will become citizens of nowhere.  What a tragedy. They will be as lost and broken as the 520, or more, Marines , and the thousands of Japanese, who lie, to this day, mangled and unidentified under the fragile surface of  Tarawa. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/magazine/the-search-for-the-lost-marines-of-tarawa.html?pagewanted=all

‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Bighorn, and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa.’

—Robert Sherrod, Time Magazine War Correspondent, 6 December 1943

 

This post is for climate warrior/peacemaker Matisse whose recent post on Kiribati and climate change reminded me how often we forget what is on our doorstep  http://matissewb.com/2014/11/12/the-arctic-is-melting-islands-are-disappearing-the-president-of-kiribati-sails-to-the-top-of-the-world-to-visit-the-ice-that-will-soon-swallow-his-nation/#respond   Please read her post. It is important.

Lest We Forget …battles old and new, and an island people whose sacrifices, present and past, allow us to live as we do.

© silkannthreades

 

 

T’is the season

T’is the season for giving thanks and, it seems, for giveaways. Wendy at Quarter Acre Lifestyle and Boomdeeadda had sweetly sneaky ones the other day. Despite the quiet surprise element, their giveaways were a  vocal and  gracious thank-you to their followers.  Now, Heather at Lost in Arles is organising a giveaway. It is her first one. It is her way of thanking her supporters, as well as celebrating four wonderful years of blogging. The giveaway is a beautiful book by Ann Mah, Mastering the Art of French Eating.

As a dedicated follower of Wendy, Boomdeeadda and Heather, guess what I am about to do? Yes, you guessed it. I, too, am going to offer a giveaway. What’s my “excuse”?  ( apart from my wish to try out what  inspiring bloggers do? ;) )

My excuse is twofold:

a) It’s Thanksgiving season. I want to give thanks to my blogging community;

b) It’s spring cleaning season.  I want to declutter….thoughtfully; as in  by sharing the good fortune of my excess goodies.

You may remember that, owing to the shenanigans of the postal services and various book delivery systems, I ended up with two copies of It’s in His Kiss   by Vickie Lester of Beguiling Hollywood.

One for each handhttp://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/its-in-his-kiss/ It's In His Kiss by Vickie Lester

One for each hand, It’s in His Kiss  by Vickie Lester

A similar situation arose with Sophia Stuart’s (Teamgloria) , How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World.

Both books are splendid additions to my bookshelf but it’s time for the extra copies to be dispatched for the enjoyment of others. Would you like to be that ‘other’?

If so, leave a like or a comment and I will draw out a winner on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday  27th November ( New Zealand time). There will be two giveaways; one for Sophia’s book and one for Vickie’s.

Sophia’s book is a beautiful, restful way to treat yourself, or someone who is in need of calm and healing. It is a pleasure to read, and a pleasure to hold and behold. ( Little secret….I sometimes pick up my copy and simply hold it, and stroke the cover, because it’s feels so exactly right to my hand and to my eye; in other words, it’s aesthetically pleasing. ;) )

Vickie’s book comes with a warning!  Beware where this Beguiling Hollywood mystery may take you. I hadn’t read anything Hollywood, or mysterious, for years. I wasn’t sure if I liked mystery and/or murder tales anymore……..hmmmm…..

W.E.L.L  …….apparently I do. I devoured It’s in His Kiss; next stop was  Nola Fran Evie  by Britt Skrabenak,  followed by Let Sleeping Gods Lie by  Australian author/blogger  Dianne Gray.   Did my murder/mystery ‘kick’ end there? No, indeed, not.  I am now reading Wolf Pear by Dianne Gray. Ms Lester, look how far you have led me astray from my old, fusty reading paths.  Those darn Hollywood Kisses! They sweep you off your feet.

Sophia, whose Teamgloria posts I miss most dreadfully, has also led me off the beaten track into new and interesting territory. First it was via the process of publishing her book, and now she is introducing me to the world of the mobile episodic drama. Yes, the mobile episodic drama! What next, you may ask!  This is a style of writing that is completely new to me, but probably old hat to a digital pioneer, like Sophia. Her drama launches this week via Pocket Gems’ Episode Platform and is called Mayfair Brooks. Here’s the story.   I am going to pretend I am 17 again and check it out. Join me, if you dare.

In the meantime, please have fun with my giveaway. I may be decluttering but I am truly thankful for all the support and joy you bring to me with your comments and readership. It’s time to return some of the goodness. T’is the season for giving.

“We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.” from The Thanksgivings by  Harriet Maxwell Converse.

Jennie Augusta Brownscombehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennie_Augusta_Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Jenni Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts

ps If you read my blog by email only, you are welcome to send me an email and ask to be included in the giveaway.

© silkannthreades

Good citizens, past, present, and future.

For Halloween I treated myself to a simple beaker of flowers.

Eye candy for humans, real candy for bees:  borage and phacelia

Borage and phacelia, good citizens of the garden, giving treats to all.

But I also received another, unexpected, sweet treat for Halloween; a lesson in good citizenship.

Friday morning a stranger knocked on my door; a smiling, cheerful, young woman. She told me that she lived down the lane opposite me. She said she wanted to take her two children  trick or treating. Would it be okay  if she brought them to my door around 5pm? ( Bear in mind that Halloween is not widely celebrated in New Zealand).  She said she was consulting a half-dozen neighbours and that would be more than enough households for her children to visit, and to give them a taste of Halloween fun.  They are only little, she said, just 4 and 6, and they are very excited about their Halloween costumes. Of course I said, yes, that would be fine, but I would have to go and buy some sweets because I had nothing suitable in the house.  “Oh, please don’t worry about that,” the young mother replied, ” I have prepared sweets for you to give them if you would like to join in.” Whereupon she produced a small ziplock packet of mixed sweeties/candy.

At 5pm exactly, Mum and the littlies came down my driveway, full of chatter and high pitched glee. They knocked on the door and squealed delightedly when I opened it ( I guess I have authentic witchy-white hair!) . “Trick or treat, ” they said in giggly unison. Their mother introduced them to me. Pleasantries exchanged, I produced the sweet assortment, and their little eyes grew round and big with amazement.  Hands dipped in to the bag until it was emptied. Then, with a polite thank you or two, the pink-slippered, silver-hatted witch and her Dracula-draped brother skipped off to another happy reception at my neighbour’s.

It was a lovely moment. Possibly one of the best Halloweens I have had; a thoughtful mother, teaching her children that their community  is a good place, and that they can be  part of the good citizenry that makes it so.

I hope she will, one day, also introduce them to what comes after Halloween; All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days (also not widely celebrated in New Zealand, as far as I know).

Tonight and tomorrow I will light candles and remember  the good citizens of my small world who have died during the past year. Some were old and ready to leave us,  whilst others seemed far too young. In particular I want to remember two of our blogging community,  Catherine Crout-Habel  of Seeking Susan and Christine of  Dadirridreaming .  Many of you will know other bloggers who have died in the past 12 months. Please feel free to remember them in the comments, if you would like to.  They were good citizens enriching, and lighting up, our lives.

Summer lights

Summer lights brightening the days.

© silkannthreades

A Toast with Thanks

Brace yourselves for some surprising news.

Gallivanta is about to attempt something very difficult …for her….which is to write a simple, straightforward post. Will she succeed? You can be the judge.

Here we go.

My plan is twofold: to give thanks to a kindred blogger; and to propose a toast in her honour.

I want to acknowledge and thank Pauline, The Contented Crafter,  for a beautiful giveaway. Pauline is a multi-media artist, and a devoted companion to the irrepressibly joyful Siddy, and to the stately and  dignified Orlando.  She is a compatriot of mine and she lives in the south of New Zealand. The giveaway was in celebration of a very important birthday for Pauline and the beginning of her official ‘retirvivement.

The giveaway  package arrived,

just before my sudden departure to Cairns at the end of September, which meant I didn’t get to appreciate it fully until my return home at the beginning of this month. And, my goodness, when I opened the parcel, what a spread there was to appreciate. I was overwhelmed by Pauline’s generosity. There were cards, postcards, a bookmark, all lovingly created by her own contented hands and heart,

Contentment

Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

and sweetest of all were the Bunnies; a pair of handcrafted Hugging Bunnies, which Pauline had knitted in response to my   Happiness in a Bag post.

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

After my harrowing goodbye to aged loved ones, can you imagine the comfort and delight I found in coming home to the fruits of Pauline’s gentle, joyous crafting?

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Now for a toast.

To Pauline; to her continued contentment, the best possible health, and a long and fruitful retirevivement. I raise my cup of chocolate, in my best Bunnykins mug. Please join me with your favourite beverage/tipple. :)   Let us be upstanding.  To Pauline!

A Toast to Pauline; chocolate in a Bunnykins mug :)

A Toast to Pauline; hot chocolate in a Bunnykins mug :)

With love from Gallivanta and Jack to Pauline, Orlando and Siddy.

Ps. How did I do?  Only two links. That’s pretty good for me, don’t you think? ;) But perhaps still not that straightforward. Sigh!

 

© silkannthreades