May the singing never be done

The sun came out,

the sky turned blue.

Blue

Blue

We fled the coop,

for warm, wide spaces

Warm wide space

Warm, wide space

where spring unfurled,

Spring unfurled

Spring unfurled

and our spirits

took flight.

Spitfire TE 288, Replica, Christchurch Airporthttp://jamesevansjenkins.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/the-christchurch-brevet-club/

Spitfire TE 288, Replica, , gift to the Brevet Club Memorial Avenue, Christchurch.

We felt good, like Lynley’s tui,

The tui sings for all to hear; with thanks to Lynley at ordinarygoodnesshttps://ordinarygood.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/tui-atop-a-pohutukawa-tree-today/ for permission to use her beautiful photo

The tui sings for all to hear; with thanks to Lynley at ordinarygoodness for permission to use her beautiful photo.

singing with all its heart, atop the pohutukawa tree.

Everyone Sang
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on; on; and out
of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away……O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the
singing will never be done.

Siegfried Sassoon  (from Palgrave’s Golden Treasury with Additional Poems, OUP, 1935)

This post is dedicated:

to gpcox, pacificparatrooper  who gathers in the stories of veterans and sends them out again, flying with spirit renewed, into the blogosphere;

and

to  Britt, life/history enthusiast, spreading her literary wings with her latest published book, NOLA FRAN EVIE,

BUT the dedication to Britt comes with a proviso…..that she locates the original  Totem Pole by Chief Lelooska in Portland. Here’s a clue, Britt. :)

Friendship Totem Pole,  Christchurch Airport

Friendship Totem Pole,
Christchurch Airport

© silkannthreades

Southern Delights

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare o Silkannthreades!  Welcome, welcome to the home of Silkannthreades, in the South Island of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand . ~

 

Southern Delight…NO!

 

Southern Delight ……YES!

 

The weather has been grim; southerly blasts sweeping up from Antarctica, trying their best to put us in a state of deep freeze. Fortunately, when one’s own south turns bleak, there is always another south to be found.

Case in point is this piece of the southern USA ~ the Chess Pie; not exactly found, but certainly a new discovery for me. I was alerted to its existence by Linda at  The Task at Hand when we were discussing different types of traditional pies.  And, oh my, is this pie good!  I loved making it. I loved eating it!

Here’s one way to make it.

I am fascinated by traditional recipes, so I don’t mind occasionally indulging in copious amounts of sugar and other naughties in the interest of research. However, if you feel a need to cleanse your palate after visually digesting my Chess Pie, I would suggest a visit to Miss Marzipan, who is embracing what may become a new tradition; that of sugar-free living.

I don’t know if Miss Marzipan lives in the south of her current land but she has connections to South Australia, so I am counting her in on my list of Southern Delights. Interestingly, the I Quit Sugar programme she is following is the brain child of Sarah Wilson , another Southerner, who lives in Sydney, Australia. Sarah’s  book I Quit Sugar won the  2014 Australian Book Industry Awards Illustrated Book of the Year which must, surely, qualify it as a Southern Delight, too.

What I also find delightful ( in a chuckling, ex-sugar-mill-town-kid, sort of way ) about Sarah’s success is that she lives in a big, sugar-producing country. Sugar is Australia’s second biggest export crop after wheat, and brings in a total annual revenue of $A 2 billion. I am trying to imagine what we, in New Zealand, would do if one of our number set about an “I Quit Dairy” movement. The scandal might be so great that the author would need to voluntarily deport his/her person to Australia. New Zealand, mainly through Fonterra,  supplies about 30% of the world’s milk exports, with revenue in the billions; closer to 20 than 2.

A delightful, fun fact to show how seriously we take our dairy industry: this little land in the south once had a Margarine Act, which meant no margarine was sold in public in New Zealand from 1908 to 1974. Butter ruled. Margarine  could only be obtained  on a doctor’s prescription, and only if the doctor considered it vital to the patient’s health and well-being.

Haere ra!  Goodbye from here. That’s enough sweet nothings about milk, clouds, and points south.

PS ( Post Sugar) :)  For those readers who are unable to eat sugar or don’t wish to, please enjoy the posts of my most southerly Southern Delight, Pauline, The Contented Crafter. She is loving her I Quit Sugar world.

© silkannthreades

Patience, patience….

My aunt went on, “I don’t know what will become of Sadie. Will you take her home with you and look after her?” “One day, I will,” I replied.  But, for now, she can remain in quiet retirement. She has earned her rest.

Do you remember Sadie Rosemary? The family doll of long years and multiple identities?

Sadie Rosemary

Sadie Rosemary

About six weeks ago, I visited my aunt at her retirement home. She said it was time for me to take care of Sadie; to bring her home with me. The “one day” we spoke of, on previous occasions, had arrived. It was now. No excuses!

So, I swaddled Sadie in her orange shawl, gathered her close, like a newborn babe, and presented her to my aunt for a farewell kiss and, then, with tear-salted smiles, we were off. Off, by car, across the Plains, to begin another chapter in the Life of Sadie Rosemary. It will, most likely, be a staid chapter but Sadie won’t mind. She’s a patient, placid sort, used to sitting about, and letting what will be, be. And, in the process of sitting and being, she’s experienced an enormous amount of life; much more than you would believe by simply looking at her baby-sized self.

Sadie came to life in Japan in the 1920s. Still brand new, she was shipped out  to New Zealand (much like any other settler of the early days), where she found a home in Papanui with two young girls, only a little older than herself.  They all wore matching knitted dresses, home-made in New Zealand. :)

Pretending to ride a horse

Pretending to ride a horse

Later, when the little girls grew up, one of them, the one with curly-whirly hair,  went to Fiji, and Sadie eventually joined her, to be cared for by two more little girls; my sister and I.   Sadie, being a  celluloid doll, was not supposed to do well in the heat and moisture but, somehow, she survived more than twenty years in the tropics without exploding or disintegrating. Which meant that, one day, she was able to fly ( in a jet plane, no less! ) all the way back to New Zealand, where, after a certain amount of reverse culture shock, she settled down to a time of quiet contemplation, in the home of her very first companion, my aunt, ( the one with tidy hair and beautiful big bow). In a small, country town they grew old souls, together,

My aunt and Sadie; growing together

My aunt and Sadie; growing together

until that moment, last month, when my aunt said “Now, Sadie, NOW is the time for your next home”.

And, so, here she is, safely home, yet again. To a place where she is snug and content,

Sadie Rosemary, safely home, yet again

Sadie Rosemary, safely home, yet again

and as deeply loved as ever she was.

But quietly, quietly,  I ask, ” Sadie, Rosemary, Sadie, who will take care of you next? ” And from the pale blue eyes there comes a whisper, “Patience, patience; the time is not yet.”  Such wisdom from a doll of long years. :)

© silkannthreades

The gifts of a lifetime

In my previous post I mentioned Barbara, giver of the Happiness Kit.

Long before the Happiness Kit came into my household, Barbara (and her family ) gave us other gifts: the gift of thoughtful words, like these,

Barbara's Words, School Magazine 1944

Barbara’s  student words about our duty and responsibility to establish a saner world for our children: School Magazine 1944

and the gift of Angela, otherwise known as my sister-in-law. This coming week it will be Angela’s birthday. This post is my birthday  gift to Angela. ~

I write a lot about reading; reading books, in particular.

This is where my official reading life began;  Lautoka European School,

My brother; the advance party on the reading path.

My brother, first row, 4th from the left; the advance reading party; my mentor at L.E.S.

a small school, in a small colonial town, on a dot of an island, in the vast Pacific Ocean.  My reading ‘prowess’ was acquired, staid word upon staid word, with the assistance of the utterly dull, ‘what-have-these-people-got-to-do-with-my-life’  Janet and John readers, and a young teacher who, whilst relatively benign most of the time, once had the audacity to strap some of us on the back of our legs for failing to recognise the word of the day on the blackboard ~ “BARK”.  I was offended, and still am to this day! WOOF! :D

Despite this unfortunate hiccup in my early reading days, my enthusiasm for reading did not falter. I attribute that enthusiasm to the pre-reading skills that were nurtured at home,

Playing with Mother aka reading readiness

Gallivanta playing with Mother aka reading readiness

and at  my mother’s kindergarten, through play and story-time. I don’t remember being read to, but I do remember the books that were read and that I later learned to read by myself. Many of those books remain on my bookshelves.  Here’s a sample:

As I was learning to understand, and love, the written word in Lautoka, about 200kms to  the East, another young girl was already well on the road to reading her way through the world of books.

In May, this year, that young girl, now all grown up as Angela Namoi, was awarded the  Pixie O’Harris Award for Distinguished and Dedicated Service to the Development and Reputation of Australian Children’s Books at the  Australian Book Industry Awards.  It was a fitting honour for Angela’s hard work and enormous contribution to children’s literature.  But more than that, it seems to me, the award acknowledges how from the smallest of beginnings, a few, simple written words, be they Janet and John or Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie, come riches far greater than any we can possibly  imagine when, in that magical nanosecond, we first decipher those squiggles on the page before us.

Angela puts it like this in these excerpts from her acceptance speech for the Pixie O’Harris award.

This is a huge honour and something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie by Pixie O’Harris was a favourite children’s book of mine – who’d have thought that I would one day win an award bearing her name.

There are people to thank!……….

My parents are Australian, but I was born and raised in Fiji. My father was a missionary so we had very little money. Although our clothes might have been sewn from old curtains, it’s thanks to my mother’s excellent sense of priorities that our house was always full of books.

Growing up on a small island meant we were exposed to influences from absolutely everywhere. We read books from all over the world and I was always fascinated by the variations in language, and how connected that was to geography.

This has fed my passion for diversity of voice, so I have greatly enjoyed working to ensure the Australian voice is heard LOUD AND CLEAR in the wider world!

My early experiences confirmed the importance of books in a child’s life. The stats are there for everyone to see – broadly, a child who has books in their home is a child who will do better in life. I believe this passionately.

 

To that I would add: Congratulations and Happy Birthday Angela. You are much-loved.

Related but separate: two examples of Australian Children’s Literature

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

and  The Arrival by Shaun Tan

There are many more. Next time you read a children’s book, take a quick look and check its country of origin. You may find you are in the good company of an Australian. ;)

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Happiness in a Bag

By my bed, I keep a little bag of happiness, tied up with a faded, frayed ribbon of palest blue.

Happiness in a Bag

Happiness in a Bag

It was given to me, many years back, by a special member of our extended family. Her name was Barbara. I am not sure if she made it or if she bought it, in aid of one of the many good causes she supported. It matters not; it is a lovely hand-made gift of home-spun wisdom, which always makes me smile and remember the giver.

So of what does Happiness consist?

Happiness Kit

Happiness Kit

Very little, it seems; an eraser, some cents, a marble, a rubber band, a piece of string,

Makers of Happiness

Makers of Happiness

 

and a kiss,

A Happiness Kiss

A Happiness Kiss

to remind us that someone always cares about us.

The kiss in the kit bag was originally a Hershey’s Kiss but it disintegrated long ago. ( I didn’t eat it, truly I didn’t.)  The little kissing rabbits belonged to my mother, and, before that, to her three maiden great-aunts. They have been loved for generations but not yet  been loved quite as much as  the Velveteen Rabbit, it would seem.

And that is all there is to it; my little bag of happiness. Simple, isn’t it?

© silkannthreades

The land that claims us

I’ve been gallivanting; travelling across the Plains, from north to south and back again. I went to Timaru, a port city about 162km from Christchurch. I haven’t been that way in more than 3 years. It’s not very far, in terms of time or distance, but the earthquakes and their aftermath had somehow imprisoned me within the confines of my own city.

Last Thursday I broke free, and, in my trusty little Toyota Echo, I traced the old, familiar route across the wide open spaces; the fields to left and right, the snow topped mountains ever westward, the endless blue of sky above; the rivers big and little and, all along the wayside, the litany of names, the signs of our settlement, our marks upon the land….Templeton, Rolleston, Burnham, Northwood, Bankside, Rakaia, Chertsey, Ashburton, Tinwald, Hinds, Rangitata, Orari, Temuka and so many more…until I met the rolling hills that end the Plains, and the city that sits upon their folds; my destination,  Timaru.

View from Timaru

View from Timaru

Timaru is one of my homes away from home,

Home away from Home

Home away from Home; a place of shelter

mainly because my uncle and his family have lived there for  many years and are always ready to offer generous hospitality to me and my loved ones. Recently I  discovered another reason to feel bonded to Timaru. It was the initial place of residence for the Scottish side of my family when they came to New Zealand in the mid 1870s. It was also the site of our first birthing in New Zealand; from the paternal side  of the family tree, that is. A momentous occasion, perhaps, that first birthing, or, more realistically, just another fact of life for a busy settler-wife to contend with.  Whatever the case, young James arrived in the land of his parents’ choice, on 26 June 1877, followed, not long after, by his twin brother, Joseph.

Years later, a cemetery entry, which is probably that of my great-uncle, records James as a native of Scotland, despite being born and having spent most of his  life in New Zealand.

And, therein, lies the rub; which land claims us? The one we are born to, the one we live in, the one we die in, the one we feel is home, that we feel in our heart, the one we left behind, the one we long for, the one we choose, or don’t choose, the one that loves and protects us, or the one that legally bind us? Or the one that refuses to let us go?

My son, through circumstances entirely outside his control, was born in the US. His birthplace was happenstance; his first landfall, like that of his great great uncle, was an accident of birth. For the greater part of his life he has lived in New Zealand; considers himself a New Zealander and holds, and chooses to hold, New Zealand citizenship. Yet, like a dog unwilling to relinquish its bone, America, the land of his birth, holds on to him, and millions of others like him, whose only wish is to live freely, quietly and privately in the country of their own choice. America  does this via the appalling effrontery of  FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which compels governments worldwide to hand over, to the IRS, the personal financial information of anyone (or institution) with  Born in America  next to their name. Supposedly this measure is aimed at  preventing losses to the US economy  through tax evasion.  Perhaps it will,  but does catching the tax cheats really require the Government of America to force minion foreign Governments  to trawl the electronic trail of the US diaspora for wicked tax evaders and, in the  dragnet-process,  mangle  the innocents abroad and the accidental Americans?

My ancestors  traversed thousands of miles of unruly ocean to reach New Zealand. They wanted to escape the restrictions of old societies and economies. They came looking for newer, better ways to live. Most people who settled in the US travelled long, arduous routes to get there, too.  They wanted to be free of old ways, old tyrannies, old politics.  When I look at power-mongering acts like FATCA, I wonder if any of us have travelled very far at all.

Which land claims you?

Which land claims you?

© silkannthreades

 

 

Imagine

In December, last year, Letizia of reading interrupted. wrote about A Novel Gift.

She told us this:

In 1956, Harper Lee received a unique Christmas gift. Her friends, Michael and Joy Brown, offered her one year’s salary on the condition that she quit her job and dedicate herself to her writing.

The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is a remarkable story of modern-day generosity; citizen to citizen. It is a remarkable story of faith in a friend’s  potential. It is a story of belief in an individual’s ability to make a difference to the outcome of another’s  creative dreams and aspirations; and, thereby, create a richer, better world for all of us.

Most of us are not in a position to be as generous as the Browns, but we all have immense power to  contribute a little to  artistic friends and communities.

We do this by buying bloggers’/friends’ books,

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Spirited Ageing by Juliet Batten http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/3902/  Spirited Ageing

Spirited Ageing by  Juliet Batten

Sweet dreams and good health http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/4346/

Sweet dreams and good health; a book of hours  by Sophia Stuart

 

Nose in a Good Book

Nose in a Good Book

Wow, Bumble, what a story http://tinylessonsblog.com/2014/06/23/a-decorated-rescue-dog-stitches-galore/#comments

Wow, Bumble, what a story by Bumble and Tiny

by reviewing them,

by giving a friendly shout-out;

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzahhttp://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/in-other-news-of-caterpillars-and-kindnesses/

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

and some of us organise  writing contests, cater for a friend’s concert, donate to crowd-sourcing; and even provide the most basic of support, in the form of very  welcome meals to ‘starving’ artists. And, in return, our lives are enriched by wonderful music and writing and art. Not every artistic endeavour will reach the dizzying heights of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that does not  mean those works we do support, and encourage, are any the less valuable to the general enrichment of humanity. Imagine, if you will, a world of people, well sponsored/cared for by each other, and, thus, all so busy with creative activities that there is neither the time nor the energy to pick up guns and warmonger; to de-create. Imagine! Imagine that with just a ‘little’ it may be  in our power to create that world.

Mmmm….not sure what would happen to the laundry and the dusting and the weeding and the planting in such a  creative scenario but, I  guess, they could be squeezed in somewhere.

Postscript

As I was completing this post, the news came through of the death of Michael Brown. Here is a  link  to the New York Times article.

© silkannthreades