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

I love to tell a story….honouring a long tradition of story telling through the ages

‘I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.’  ~  ( Katherine Hankey, 1866 )

Dawdling at the kitchen window this morning,

Kitchen reflections

Kitchen reflections

I reflected on the tradition of Sunday story telling that was part of my younger years.  When I was little, the early hours of Sunday morning were filled by listening to Story Time/Children’s Hour on the radio. The same stories were repeated endlessly.  Yet I was not bothered by the repetition. It was good to hear old favourites over and over. Once Story Time and breakfast time were finished, we were shepherded off to Sunday School where, once again, we listened to stories; stories that had been told, and retold, for thousands of years.

We listened to those stories, we acted them out, we coloured them in, and we sang them, too. Remember this one?  Tell me the old, old story.

Thinking about Sundays and stories reminded me that I have a story to tell. It’s not new. You have heard most of it before; it’s tall but true, as well as sweet and ‘pleasant to repeat’.

It goes like this.

In the beginning there was  Britt , of the beautiful smile and the blue beret.

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Then there was the Book that Britt wrote,

and the Kindle that Gallivanta bought to read the book that Britt wrote,

The challenge of a new style of reading

The challenge of a new style of reading

which turned out to be a game changer in Gallivanta’s life, and prompted her to be a little sassy and issue a playful challenge to Britt, of the beautiful smile and the blue beret. The challenge:  to locate a totem pole by Chief Lelooska somewhere in Portland, the  replica of which  stood 7,000 miles away, here, at Christchurch Airport, in New Zealand.

 

And Britt, being much like one of the determined women in her Book, took up Gallivanta’s challenge and, with a few choice words like “Gallivanta, you stinker”,  went on a Totem Pole Quest in Portland, Oregon.

Was she successful? You bet. For two months Britt quested and queried and questioned and, finally, she  found Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, recently restored and reinstalled, at Oregon Zoo. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Chief Lelooska's Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

The End, but not quite…..if you would like to read more about Britt’s Totem Pole quest and the story of the Totem Pole itself, click here and follow the links.

Story telling over, it’s back to more dawdling for me,

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

and wondering why the little yellow flower of the sharp tasting rocket is so sweetly scented. Must be a story in that. :)

By the way, for the child in all of us, don’t forget that Story Time is still  a regular feature on Radio New Zealand.  Have a listen.

Endnote:

The photos of Britt at the Zoo and of Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole at the Oregon Zoo are used with kind permission from Britt. Please do not copy  or use them without her consent.

© silkannthreades

The Night is Black

At this time of the year millions around the world are preparing for the triduum of  Allhallowtide, which encompasses All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. For many the preparations will include stocking up on candles for the rituals and  traditions that involve candlelight.

Millions more have begun another celebration, today, which also requires light; light to vanquish darkness and evil and despair. This celebration is the annual, five-day  festival of  lights, namely,  Diwali.

Having grown up in Fiji, where Diwali has long been an honoured occasion (and now a public holiday), I have a love for Diwali which outstrips any affection I have for Allhallowtide.   Seeing the houses decorated with beautiful Diwali lights was a yearly highlight of my childhood.

So, this week, in accordance with  my family’s customs,  I will light a Diwali candle (candles if I can find more than one).

Light a candle

Light a candle

I will listen again to the gentle singing words of Rabindranath Tagore’s Invocation to Diwali 

and consider the significance of Diwali, so eloquently expressed here:  “The night is black. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life and devotion.” (Rabindranath  Tagore)

Until night falls, however, I will keep watch with the dear, little lights that are ever present , and need no darkness to make them shine.

Little Charlie, a  new  (de) light  to brighten our lives

Little Charlie, a new (de) light to brighten our lives

 

Candelabra

Candelabra; shining light on the shadows

And, if I can organize myself sufficiently well, I may even make a special sweet treat for Diwali;  a rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden.

Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.

© silkannthreades

Featured Image -- 5611

The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Gallivanta

Gallivanta:

You may remember that a while back I dedicated my post ‘May the Singing Never Be Done’  to  Britt, life/history enthusiast, blogger, and author of Nola Fran Evie.

BUT the dedication to Britt came with a proviso…..that she locate the Totem Pole by Chief Lelooska in Portland, the replica of which stands near Christchurch Airport.

Britt took up the challenge with her usual gusto, and is about to reveal all in a forthcoming post on her blog, A Physical Perspective. I can scarcely wait to hear what she discovered, and how. Whilst she was off searching for the Totem Pole, Britt decided to issue her own challenge to me  (tit for tat ;) ).  My challenge? To write a guest post for her regular series the Life Enthusiast Chronicles.

Gulp! I thought. But I gave it a go. Here is the result, my first guest blog. After my initial ‘gulp’, I thoroughly enjoyed writing for Britt’s Chronicles. Have fun with me and the sheep, and please remember to bookmark Britt’s blog if you want to find out more about the Totem Pole challenge.

Originally posted on a physical perspective:

Last month Andrea Stephenson of Harvesting Hecate revealed how crucial it is to remain curious in life, to explore every piece of the world, inside and out. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, beautiful beings from all over the world explain why life is so awesome to them.

This month I’m overjoyed to bring you guys Gallivanta from Silkannthreades all the way from New Zealand. Gallivanta’s blog is always playful, positive, intelligent, and inspiring. Even simple photos from her garden seem to awaken something special in all of her readers, including yours truly. Her youthful zeal shines through her words and I always leave her blog smiling big. 

To show you all one example of what a lively woman she is, back at the end of July Gallivanta sent me on a totem pole quest in Portland. Yep, a totem pole quest. I’ll write about my discovery…

View original 592 more words

Finishing what I started

Practising growing younger, as per my previous  post , seems to have made me more forgetful, not less,

The forgetfulness of youth

The forgetfulness of youth; it exists; the evidence is in the lost property boxes at schools. :)******

for, until I read  Sheri’s latest post, I had  forgotten I had yet to complete my contribution to the Writing Travel Blog. Sheri invited me to participate way back in June!  I made a good  start. Now it is time to finish what I started.

There are four parts to the Writing Travel Blog:

1.What are you working on now?

The answer, as I gave before, is simple; I am only working on that which is before me; this post. However, for a bit of levity, I will add that I am also working on growing younger. The budding, exuberant growth in the garden provides inspiration for this task.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since my “work” is my blog, I have to say that it doesn’t differ much from other blogs.  Like many others, I have a mixture of text and photos, some humour and some more serious moments. Perhaps, one small idiosyncrasy is that I like to have layers (usually of meaning) in my posts. Layering challenges me as a writer but it also gives the reader many options and angles from which to choose when reading my words. For example, you may not be interested in my photographic take on the apple blossom, but you may be intrigued to know that the  blossom is on a columnar Ballerina apple tree  , which produces full-sized apples, and is the perfect fruit tree for a small, city garden.

Another angle on the apple blossom

Another angle on the apple blossom

3. Why do I write what I do?

Nowadays I write mostly for fun but the ‘why’ of the blog is still adequately expressed on my About page:

  • to communicate our daily life to our family all over the world;
  • to explore the theme of Joy & Woe as expressed by William Blake in Auguries of Innocence;
  • to counterbalance the woe caused by the four large earthquakes and the 12,500 after shocks (to date) our city has experienced since the first big shake on  September 4, 2010.

4. How does my writing process work?

Usually I read something, hear something, or see something, that prompts me to cogitate on a certain subject. Ideas and words form in my mind over a few hours or days, and when I have written my post, in my head, more or less how I want it to be, I come to the computer and write it down. Sometimes the transfer from head space to computer space goes smoothly; sometimes not. I don’t like to do drafts but I do spend  time making sure a post sounds right ( to me); so that means hours of fiddling and checking and checking and fiddling before I press Publish, and send  off my work into the plein air of the blogosphere, to ripen and flourish under the warmth of your readership.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Final part:

To link back to the blogger who sent you the invitation to participate; that’s the lovely  Sheri who is a writer and a passionate mental health advocate, as well as a generous reader and supporter of my blog and those of many other bloggers.

Strawberries growing together, in good company

Strawberries growing together, in good company

To invite other bloggers to join the Writing Travel Blog.

It’ s hard to choose but, today, my thoughts are with Stacey LePage at  In the Corner and  Cynthia Reyes. They are on difficult journeys. They are wonderful, spirited people. There is no pressure to accept my invitation to be part of the Writing Travel Blog but your stories are ones I am honoured to share.

******

Who has sharp eyes? Is there anything that bugs you about the first  photo of forget-me-nots? Apart from the lack of focus. :)

© silkannthreades

Inappropriate language

Mouse ears  Myosotis  Forget-me-not to listen to our every word.

Mouse ears/ Myosotis/ Forget-me-not to listen carefully  to my every word.

I am thinking about ageing; specifically, the inappropriate language we use to describe the ageing process. We speak about decline, deterioration, dementia,  diminishment and loss of dignity. Our words depict a downward spiral, and a negation of being.   We talk of growing old, yet that is only what happens in numerical terms. In reality we grow younger. We become part of a re-creation, a transformation, of our body and mind. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really not so curious at all.  Most of us will become infant-like towards the end of our earthly life.

My mother spends most of her time in a day chair. She is bone-weary. She finds it hard to accept her ‘re-creation”. She misses her walking and reading, and a clear mind.

In a quiet moment during my recent visit, she said,” Someone said to me,  I think it was Pop, ‘Don’t get old, K….., old age is a bugger’.”  We chuckled wryly about her father-in-law’s statement. In today’s terms, he was not old when he gave his words of wisdom. However, he followed his own advice and died in his early seventies. His stubborn daughter-in-law  took no heed but, now, at 92 is beginning to understand the aches and pains and ennui  that prompted those words.

Yet, despite the undeniable physical discomfort associated with increasing years, my mother’s perspective on age and that of my grandfather are part of a culture that sees age as a disability,  an indignity, a vexation and a condition that requires separation from mainstream society in nursing homes or gated retirement complexes*.

Is it possible to change our perceptions of ageing by changing our language? As does John O’Donohue…

For Old Age

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age
Be transfigured.
……
from John O’Donohue’s ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

Without devaluing a long life and the wisdom gained, could we not accept and cherish the re-creation/ transformation we undergo as the years add up?. Can we teach ourselves to look forward to a time when we are as helpless and loved as a new-born baby?  Can we  learn to say to ourselves, ” I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” A tall order!  But not impossible.

Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Although my mother follows the Christian faith, her confidante and special companion for many years has been  the Laughing Buddha. Some years ago she gave me a Laughing Buddha, too. He sits on my table and keeps me company. The Laughing Buddha speaks a universal language. It has no age. It is timeless. Can you hear it in his laughing smile?

 

* As I have said in previous posts, some retirement communities work well for people. They provide security and good living conditions.  However, I still find it odd that we consider it acceptable to ‘corral’ the older members of  our society. We would not, perhaps, accept these types of living situations so easily for other age groups, so why do we readily allow special areas for the elderly? Is it because of the profit that can be made from their perceived need?

© silkannthreades