A question

There is a perennial vegetable plant in my garden which has an unusual  flower; unusual to me, that is.
The first time I saw this flower was on this day in 2013.
I picked it and took a photo of it, as it reclined elegantly upon a favourite plate of mine.

First flowering 2013

Since 2013,  the plant has  continued to grow and flourish, and provide us with delicious nourishment. But not a single flower was produced until earlier this week, almost 5 years to the day  from the first flowering.  And this time, there was not one flower, but two.  I was surprised to see them.
I picked them, arranged them in a vase with some foliage,  and photographed them.

Flowering Again 2018

Now here is the question.  Do you know  to which plant these strange flowers belong?

Keen gardeners will know, I am sure, and they will also know the possible reasons for the plant’s  flowering  schedule.

But, if you are not a gardener, and/or are curious and eager to know the origin of these flowers, take a peek here .

Are you surprised by what you read in the linked post?

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Dinner with Nana

I have said this before and I am happy to say it again. I am in awe of people who can remember their past, particularly their childhood past,  in high-definition clarity.  I see and hear  my past through  flickering scenes of snowy noise, crackling static, fragmented pixels, and faulty signals. Occasionally, I am able to focus on what seems to be a clear, defined, image, yet when I try to hold it, to still it in a frame ,  this is what happens: a  split screen of alternative possibilities.

Frame One:  Dinner with Nana

peas boil, custard bakes,
leg of lamb on stove top rests,
roasted juices, pink.
“Bloody meat,” sighs Nana Maud.
we grin, dinner not done yet.

Frame Two: Dinner with Nana

The peas are boiling, the custard bakes,
gravy, silky and peppery, simmers and plops.
Nana, pinny-wrapped, and double-bent, is busy’
with sharp-pronged fork, testing the mid-day roast.

She pierces the bubbles of crisp skin
and pearlescent fat, to the bone inside,
and watches, as the juices spurt,
clear and sweet.

“It’s done, ” she declaims, satisfied.
“It’s well-cooked,” she adds, decisive,
“I don’t like bloody mutton.”
No part of sheep would defy that tone.

We grin, we tease, in mock horror.
“Nana! Bloody? Did you say bloody?”
Intent on serving dinner hot,
blind to childish nonsense, she huffs,
“No, no, of course, I didn’t, but
I don’t like bloody meat.”

We giggle quietly into plates, bountiful
with succulent tenderness.
We eat, pudding next,
replete, content,
knowing, even then, we would remember
the day we pretended Nana swore.

Which of these pictures , I wonder, is closest to the reality of that day? Sadly, I can no longer say for sure. The editorial hand of time has steadily and stealthily, spliced and resectioned memories which once seemed solid; immutable.

But this much I do know:

Both recollections are faithful to the essence of my grandmother, and the good food, love, and security which were produced in copious quantities in her little, sunny, kitchen.

She was  a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was  capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.

Her cooking was excellent.  Every kind of food she gave me, be it boiled chicken, bottled apricot, roast dinner, or pikelet , I remember with pleasure.

And, as for those roasts ~ Nana preferred mutton and hogget to lamb but, whatever cut it was, she didn’t like it rare, or to say it plainly, bloody.  On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.

 

(This post is in memory of  Nana Maud who died 42 years ago, today, the first day of spring.)

In Memory of Nana

“Fancy all that fuss for a toy!”

For a long time Honey Bun lived in dark space in the attic, and no one, least of all Honey Bun’s owner, thought very much about him, for all that she had supposedly loved Honey Bun for 59 years.

One evening, when the Woman was going to bed, her head full of  worrisome questions about wills and property ( her father’s and her own),  and what to do next,  she suddenly had a dreadful thought which made her sit bolt upright and demand of herself, ” What will happen to Honey Bun when I am gone?” This was followed by an even more dreadful thought, “But where is Honey Bun? Where have I kept my sweet  little rabbit?  ”

The next morning, a foray into the deepest recesses of the attic, revealed Honey Bun  tucked away safely in a box with other family toys. The  Woman sighed with relief and clutched Honey Bun tightly to her heart.  “Honey Bun, how I have missed you,” she whispered into his long, soft ears.  Honey Bun, with eyes as brown and kind as ever, looked at the Woman and said not a word. There was no need.

The Woman took Honey Bun downstairs to her bedroom, determined to devise a succession plan for her dear rabbit, now slightly shabby, with tail becoming unsewn, but still with the sweetest, pink-embroidered  nose, and still with arms outstretched,  as if forever poised for a hug.

Whilst the Woman paced the room and wondered  to whom she could entrust her special friend, Honey Bun stared at her, fixedly and gently, and remembered how the Woman was when they had first met, all honey-coloured curls, blue eyes, and soft pink skin. The Woman was older now, shabbier and flabbier, wrinkle-skinned, and grey haired but, in the silence of the attic, Honey Bun had recognized instantly the Woman’s footfall and her whispers. Her essence was as integral to Honey Bun’s being as his own stuffing. Then, as Honey Bun continued to stare,  the Woman suddenly stopped pacing. She turned and returned his stare. A small, rueful smile played upon the corners of her mouth, and inside herself she said,” Fancy all this fuss and worry over a toy.”  No sooner had the words  crossed her mind, than she sensed a  shimmer of gentle reproach alighting on her soul. Though feather-light at first, the reproach grew heavier as each hour passed.

By evening the Woman was weary and no closer to finding a new home for Honey Bun than she had been earlier in the day.  Weighted down by feelings of unease she went to her bed, where Honey Bun lay patiently  waiting the outcome of the Woman’s wonderings.  In steadfast faithfulness, Honey Bun had remained exactly where the Woman had left him.  He had not moved an inch, just as he had not moved an inch all those years of waiting in the attic.

The Woman smiled at the sight of her long-loved bunny and placed her head next to Honey Bun’s on the pillow. She gazed into Honey Bun’s large, shiny eyes and saw her reflection gazing back at her with intense devotion. Her uneasiness lifted. What had she been thinking? Honey Bun was no toy.  Honey Bun was a presence as real as all her years.  There was no need to part, to find him a new home.  Not yet. They had years ahead of them to share . The Woman carefully tucked Honey Bun under her chin and drifted softly into sleep. Honey Bun was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little, soft  heart that it almost burst. But, eventually, Honey Bun, too, fell asleep,  pink nose twitching, almost imperceptibly, in the sweetness of his dreams.

Sharing the love: Honey Bun (59yrs) and Stella the Schnauzer ( ‘hardly me’)

“It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

 

With sincere apologies to The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams! (Can you recognize any words I have transposed from The Velveteen Rabbit?) This post was inspired  by The Velveteen Rabbit and by my mother’s love for a newly acquired teddy bear.

Beloved Betty

The teddy bear is about the size of a new-born baby. The teddy bear is named Betty and  has a name tag to prove it.  Betty wears a dress.  But my mother habitually refers to Betty as ‘he’ and occasionally will look at Betty and remark, with surprise,”Oh, he’s wearing a dress.”   Which makes me think that when it comes to love and soft toys, its love, not gender, which prevails.  Although I have referred to Honey Bun as a male, in order to be avoid being  annoying (linguistically) , Honey Bun has never been exclusively male.

Take a look, it’s in a book……somewhere

This is a self-indulgent post in which  I record my reading list ( read, reading, and to be read);  consider how far I have travelled without leaving home; and  note very briefly what knowledge, useful or otherwise,   I have learned on my literary tour.

It is a post which is the equivalent of an entry I would have made in my version of a commonplace book, more than a decade ago, before the computer stole my soul.

READ (Where I have been; quite far it seems)

What I’ve learned:

Danger Music by Eddie Ayres

Music will out even in the most dreadful of circumstances, hence the establishment of the amazing Afghanistan National Institute of Music

 

 

The Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam

There is a rich tradition of poetry in Ethiopia, which is not well-known outside of Ethiopia. One particular  type of scholarly poetry is called q’ene and plays with the double meanings of words. It often introduces words from Ge’ez, the ancient Semitic language from which Amharic derives, now only used in the Ethiopian Orthodox church. So a q’ene will have a surface (wax) interpretation but also a deeper and richer (gold) meaning, giving it the title semenna worq (wax and gold).

 

Classical Music by Joy Cowley

Some books choose you. After all what are the chances of reading your life, as it is unfolding,  in the first sentence of the first chapter of a book which you selected randomly from a pile of donated books ~”My father is dead and it is raining.” Thus it was on both counts.

The Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg

Reading about recent earthquakes on my home turf still makes my heart race.

The Kettle on the Fuchsia by Barbara Harper

I am a  wimp. I would have been a useless pioneer. And it was interesting to realise that a  lack of aeroplanes and fossil fuels was  never a barrier to travel.

Island of Shattered Dreams by Chantal Spitz

This book is available to us thanks to translation by Jean Anderson, founder of the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation.  To understand each other we need to read each other.

A Notable Woman edited by Simon Garfield

Data collection is nothing new. We have just changed the way we collect it. Before Google and Facebook,  there was the Mass Observation project.  Mass Observation was founded 75 years ago in 1937 by the South African poet, communist and journalist Charles Madge and two English eccentrics: the filmmaker and polymath Humphrey Jennings and the anthropologist and self-publicist Tom Harrisson. Formed in the aftermath of the  abdication crisis, Mass Observation sought to bridge the gap between how the media represented public opinion and what ordinary people actually felt and thought. The Mass Observation Archives are at the University of Sussex.

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

Cows love to live in family groups and have a rich emotional life, not unlike humans.

Advice for Future Corpses by Sallie Tisdale

Was this the wisest choice of reading material for a Trans-Tasman flight? The book begins “Chapter 1 Dangerous Situation.  Right now: imagine dying.”   Turns out I can do that in mid-air though it did feel slightly uncomfortable.

Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller

I may never understand how  different people/groups/races  in a country can love their country more deeply and fiercely than they do their fellow man.  It’s a strange love that tears a country apart. And Scribbling the Cat is not a good thing to do.

READING (Where I am; in China and New Zealand)

Rewi Alley An Autobiography

Rewi Alley’s interest in China was piqued by his encounters with the Chinese Labour Corps  who worked tirelessly for the Allies during World War One.

To Read Maybe, One Day, Sometime…….. (Where I may go; New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the library)

Changing Lives  by Janice Marriott and Virginia Pawsey

The Curious Curiosity by Glenda Barnett who lives in North Devon and is better known to me as blogger Celia Ladygarden

Granite and Rainbow: Essays by Virginia Woolf

Wherein  I hope to read more excellent essays like ‘ Hours in a Library’  which is the source of this lovely quote about reading lists and notebooks.

 If we wish to refresh our memories, let us take down one of those old notebooks which we have all, at one time or another, had a passion for beginning. Most of the pages are blank, it is true; but at the beginning we shall find a certain number very beautifully covered with a strikingly legible handwriting. Here we have written down the names of great writers in their order of merit; here we have copied out fine passages from the classics; here are lists of books to be read; and here, most interesting of all, lists of books that have actually been read, as the reader testifies with some youthful vanity by a dash of red ink. We will quote a list of the books that someone read in a past January at the age of twenty, most of them probably for the first time. 

In conclusion: I want to  thank my sister-in-law and her sister who keep my bookshelves stocked with a wonderful, eclectic collection of excellent reading material. Without them I wouldn’t have read or travelled very far this year.

Feeling the Winter Blues

I am feeling the winter blues

but let me tell you

Story Time in the Kitchen with the resident Gossips

about  a couple of bright spots in these early days of winter.

First, a gift for me,  imagined and crafted by my daughter ~

Klimt inspired jewellery for me

Second, the arrival of a new battery for my old Panasonic Lumix camera.  Arrival? Yes, arrival!  One of the quirky aspects of living in a small country which is home to much other quirkiness; read, kiwifruit and kiwis and a pregnant Prime Minister

Kiwifruit harvest 2018; something to crow about.

is that replacement lithium batteries for older model cameras aren’t readily available. They must be ordered and then shipped to New Zealand.  My battery, assembled and packaged in Australia, took 8 weeks to reach me.  Delivery day to my doorstep was an event; a celebration; an arrival; an eagerly awaited occasion.

No longer am I reliant upon my little mobile phone camera to capture  my  moods with feeble clarity.

So blue over you ( taken with mobile phone)

Now, I  can focus on finding some light in the gloom.

 

Inner delights; feijoa medallions.

© silkannthreades

Ps Is anyone having trouble making the Cookie Policy banner on my site disappear after clicking close and accept?

 

O mein Papa, Happy Birthday

“Deep in my heart I miss him so today”  from the sentimental song ” O mein Papa” seems the perfect line to  hum on this 8th day of May; this day which would have been my father’s 98th birthday.

On May 8th someone in the family would have made him his favourite roast chicken dinner, just as he did for us  on so many special occasions. And we would have drunk to his health with cider and champagne.  My siblings and I may still do the latter, via Skype, but the family meal will have to wait until we gather again.

Dad preparing stuffing for a roast chicken dinner; in my kitchen about a decade ago. The cherries were for snacking not stuffing!

Although, today, my thoughts are  mainly focused on my father,  I am also thinking of other  important events  associated with 8 May, such as VE Day  and World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.

For my father’s birthday in 2014  I wrote about the Red Cross and its significance in our lives. Read on if you would like to know more of that story.

The Importance of May 8th

“Today, 8 May, is the birthday of  Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint  recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.

Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂

Although the idea for the Red Cross arose  in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1.  So the IFRC  was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.

In the  Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand.  In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives.  Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.

I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not  imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.

 

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb (Street Photography)

Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.

 

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross.

© silkannthreades "

Postscript

If you link to the original post you will find comments from two bloggers who have since passed away. I miss them, too: Christine

and Catherine from Seeking Susan.

And for those of you who are interested in the military connections in this post, you may like to visit our wonderful  New Zealand Online War Memorial  Cenotaph where I have been putting together my father’s online memorial.  My father served both in New Zealand and the Solomons.   He was with radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, on Malaita, one of the most isolated RNZAF detachments in the Pacific.

 

Have I read you dry? Join me in a toast to mein Papa. Cheers!

Happy Birthday to a Special Friend

I haven’t posted in a while.

And it will be a while yet until I make a full return to blogging.

But I am here today because my heart  wants to share an old post in honour of the 11th birthday of my best beloved, Jack.

Jack 2018

Jack 2018

 

 

 

From 2013…………..

Oh shame on me! My mother has just reminded me that it is my dog’s birthday today. I had forgotten. I blame the stress of having a flu jab 😉 Never my poor memory, of course! With sincere apologies and much love, I wish you, my dear friend, Jack, a very Happy 6th Birthday. You […]

via Happy Birthday to a Special Friend. — silkannthreades