Unexpected places

I have been absent from my blog, as well as your blogs, for some time.

I am spring cleaning heart and home~

oh, and the computer files, too, where I found the first WordPress post I wrote, almost three years ago. I did not publish it at the time  but, considering the topic, now seems the right moment to  give it an airing.

2012

“This year, in August 2012, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  The weather was perfect and the magnolias were in full bloom. ”

Magnolia Time

Magnolia Time 2012

2015

Next week, we will mark our 33rd wedding anniversary. Hopefully the weather will be perfect again and the magnolias will be as beautiful as they were today.

Magnolia ` at home, August 2015

Magnolia, in soft focus, at home, August 2015

When I was a child I imagined  ( a little) what marriage might mean for me. However, even in my wildest, most outlandish imaginings, I did not foresee an hilariously unconventional wedding in Botswana,

Cutting the Cake, 1982

Cutting the Cake, 1982

and a future 33 years later in New Zealand.

Life and marriage take us to some odd and unexpected places, as some  millions of  users of Ashley Madison are suddenly figuring out. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ashley-madison-life-on-the-internet-after-the-adultery-website-hack-will-never-be-the-same-10464950.html  Whilst the number of people searching for affairs is disturbing in itself, also disturbing ( to my mind) is the small group of email addresses linked to New Zealand Government agencies responsible for confidential, private files. If the addresses prove genuine, then I will be worried about our Government’s ability to employ people who are a) honest and b) sensible enough to protect the  personal data we, the citizens, are  constantly obliged to offer the Government.  ( And, of course, in addition  to my  concerns, I am feeling sad for all the innocent people and families caught up in this debacle. )

Whether in a relationship or not, may your days be blessed.

 

© silkannthreades

Gently

Gently is all, gently……

Gently does it.

Gently does it.

I have been sick with a virus; probably a type of flu. I am recovering well.

Jack was the best possible nurse.

Jack ~ faithful friend

Jack ~ faithful friend

Many people have been sick, or are sick, with this virus.

I am looking forward to putting winter behind me. The first crocus will appear soon. And the  trees at the end of the street will blossom by the first week of August.

Signing off with the warmth of sunshine on my shoulders.

Gently is all, gently.

© silkannthreades

 

 

Do you know what I know?

Do you know that :

~ instead of a bridal gown,  Marie Curie, “wore a dark blue outfit, which  for years after was a serviceable lab garment ” ?

"Marie Curie 1903" by Nobel foundation - http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1903/marie-curie-bio.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marie_Curie_1903.jpg#/media/File:Marie_Curie_1903.jpg

Marie Curie Nobel Prize Portrait 1903 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

~ 2015 marks the centenary of the execution of British nurse, Edith Cavell?

~ the  Cavell Nurses’ Trust is organizing a fund-raising ascent of Mount Edith Cavell  in Jasper National Park, Canada, 22nd – 29th August 2015?

Do you know that :

~ beginning in the 18th Century there was a craze for seashells called  Conchylomania ? As the name suggests, it was the shell equivalent of Tulipmania. Some shells were bought and sold for more than a Vermeer painting.

( This is not a Vermeer painting!  :D In the 17th Century Balthasar van der Ast perfected the art of painting shells. )

"Fruit still life with shells" by Balthasar van der Ast (1593/1594–1657) - 1. www.ibiblio.org : Home : Info : Pic2. Unknown3. The Athenaeum: Home - info - pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fruit_still_life_with_shells.jpg#/media/File:Fruit_still_life_with_shells.jpg

“Fruit still life with shells” by Balthasar van der Ast (1593/1594–1657) –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balthasar_van_der_Ast

Do you know that:

~ Dr Maria Montessori, educator, physician, humanitarian, and founder of the Montessori method, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was an unwed mother?   Do you know she sought refuge in India during World War 2 but was later interned  there as an enemy alien?

How about this? Do you know that Florence Nightingale ‘owned’ about 60 cats during her long life?  Her favourite cat, a Persian, was called Mr Bismarck. She also had a pet owl named Athena.

AND

Do you know the Christchurch City  Council Library has excellent online resources, a great  Facebook page , and an informative and entertaining  blog  where, just occasionally, there are wonderful surprises, like the Kobo eReader competition, which I won  at Matariki ?

My Koboglo eReader prize, complete with sticky fingerprints.

My Koboglo eReader prize, complete with sticky digital prints (my own!).

Thank you Christchurch City  Council Library and library staff. :)

Do you know if your local library has a blog, or wonderful digital and  paper resources like ours?

Check out all the resources I found at our library!

Spirals in Time
The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells
Scales, Helen 2015
https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/881509037_spirals_in_time

An Illustrated Work for Amateur Collectors of New Zealand Marine Shells, With Directions for Collecting and Cleaning Them
Moss, E. G. B.
Book – 1908 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/161551037_beautiful_shells_of_new_zealand

 

Marie Curie And Her Discovery
Avery, Lara
Book – 2015 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/894783037_marie_curie_and_her_discovery

Florence Nightingale
Small, Hugh
Book – 2000 – Chinese https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/594982037_florence_nightingale

Rose of No Man’s Land
Perry, Anne ~
Pre-loaded Audiobook – 2013 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/810767037_rose_of_no_mans_land

( Quick question. Do you know the history of Anne Perry? https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/heavenly-again/ )

Maria Montessori
Website or Online data https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/578459037_maria_montessori#bib_info

 

© silkannthreades

Tired

 

I am tired.

Tired :(

Tired :(

Tired from a miserable cold,

but, most of all, tired of the lacklustre thinking which pervades  social policies, and by implication economic policies. I am tired of a welfare system which is itself tired and past its use by date, and is plain. just. not. working for the benefit of us all. I am tired of policies which divide us into deserving and undeserving,  and which are more concerned about balance sheets  than supporting real needs. I am tired of a system which has a built-in  unemployment rate, and  which then adversely judges the unfortunate unemployed or unemployable. In that number I count my daughter who is too unwell to work, and my sister who saves the State thousands and thousands of dollars a year by voluntarily caring for our elderly parents. [ Yet, social and economic policies deem them  both worthy of only a pittance for their living costs and well-being.]

In the US, we have just seen a landmark decision which confirms people are equal in love. Before I die ( let that be a long way off! ), I would LOVE to see that same unconditional, equal LOVE  extended to  decisions which confirm we are equal in our right to a basic guaranteed (living) income; which confirm we are equal in our right to be free of the gnawing  anxiety of how we will pay for the necessaries of  life. ( You may say I’m a dreamer… ;) )

How this can be achieved I am not sure,  but one way  which is currently being researched  is the Basic Income Guarantee. My nephew writes about this concept in his excellent, thought-provoking  post,  Money for Free, http://radicalblues.com/2015/06/27/money-for-free/

His post begins ” Check out this great new documentary on Basic Income (BI) from Dutch current affairs program Backlight. ….The documentary presents a series of vignettes on BI that provide a good sense of what’s been tried in the past, what’s being done today and what might be possible in the future.”

And if the idea of BI seems too radical or too preposterous,  here’s a little reminder that one of the most important books of  the 20th century, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, was made possible because the author  was given a year’s guaranteed income, so she could complete her novel.

Okay, time to stop sniffling about tiredness ; time to sit in the sun and have another cuppa, and re-energise. Oh, but one thing which makes me less tired is knowing  there are young people in the world who care about achieving justice in our societies.

© silkannthreades

Welcome, stars of the New Year

If you were to look at a New Zealand calendar, there’s a good chance you would see 18 June marked as Matariki ~ 18 June being the official start of Aotearoa’s New Year. I have written previously about Matariki, the traditional Maori New Year and its connection to the star cluster, Pleiades, as well as its connection to  my life.  You can find the post at this link.

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/matariki-and-my-mothers-birthday/

This New Year, instead of a re-hash of my own limited knowledge of Matariki,  I  invite you to join me over at Juliet Batten’s  blog, http://www.julietbatten.co.nz/musing-on-matariki/ , where you can see the wonder of one of New Zealand’s own seasonal events through a different pair of eyes.  Juliet is the author of  ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Rituals for Aotearoa’. In her book, she writes with wisdom and clarity about our inherited ( Pakeha )  festivals, and how we can attune them to the seasons of New Zealand, and the traditional observances of the Maori calendar.

Despite Juliet’s clear instructions  on locating Matariki in  our southern skies ( “start with Orion, move diagonally down to the left, past Taurus and look low” ), I have failed to do so: mostly because I am functionally illiterate when it comes to reading the stars, but also because, this year, the weather has, so far, been distinctly unhelpful. Like this, in fact, ~soggy ~

Soggy boggy rhubarb

Soggy boggy rhubarb

with both night and day cloaking themselves in the same dark, dense, water-logged fabric.

Now, whilst I may be failing at star-craft and Pleiades-tracking, I have  spotted the return of another visitor, this Matariki. It’s none other than SOFIA, the ultra sophisticated and ultra modern star-gazer, from afar.

Sofia, a stratospheric observatory, is a joint venture  between Nasa and the German Aerospace Centre and will be based in Christchurch until July 24th. There will be 18 missions during the six-week deployment, each lasting ten hours. Although the main focus this year is Pluto, I am sure the crew on Sofia will get some fine glimpses of the Pleiades.

This is a photo I took of Sofia during her visit in July 2013. My old post on Sofia can be found on this link. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/2408/#comments

Sofia

Sofia

If it weren’t for the dripping state of the landscape,

Dripping Nandina

Dripping Nandina

I would have been out getting you a new photo of Sofia. But, as it is, I  prefer being indoors,    salivating over   gazing at the stars of my kitchen laboratory:

Tarte Tatin ( the first I have made );

Golden Tarte Tatin

Golden Tarte Tatin

Apricot and Feijoa Cobbler;

Sundrop Cobbler

Sundrop Cobbler

Poached Quinces;

Celestial festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Celestially arranged festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Piping hot pumpkin soup;

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup.

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup. (Do you see the pink monster at the window waiting for her turn at the soup bowl?)

Hmmm……looking at my kitchen creations, does anyone else get the impression that I am hungry for the sun? Thank goodness, the solstice and the rebirth of the sun are nigh. :)

Happy New Year. :D

© silkannthreades

 

You can’t keep a good peony down

Kerry’s beautiful  peony retrospective the other day, and her query about peonies in New Zealand, sent me scurrying into my own peony archives .

This is what I found: 6 posts with photos and/or references to peonies. My peonies were one of the first subjects to feature on my blog when I began Silkannthreades in 2012.

Back then I was looking for a way to see this ~

Paeony at the Back Door

in the midst of a physical and mental environment like this ~

Bedraggled as a winter- worn peony

Winter- worn peony plant

 

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/be-it-ever-so-humble/#comments

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/for-you-dear-mother/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/moments-of-whimsy/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/3238/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/3472/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/3971/

In my archives, I re-discovered that one of the first people to help me  start my journey of  blogging transformation  was   Cindy Knoke.

Unfolding opulence

Unfolding opulence

Another paeony at the back door.

 

 

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

 

Since those early days in 2012, Cindy has liked and/or commented on almost every one of my  approximately 360 published posts. Many of you are friends with Cindy, too, so you will know  I am not the only one she supports and encourages and enjoys spending time with on WordPress. She is a phenomenal blogger and friend.

So this post I dedicate:  to  Cindy, for being a stalwart  from the beginning; and to Kerry , for inspiring me to dig deep into memory roots, and reflect on her words:  “nothing keeps the peonies from blooming again.”  (You just can’t keep a good peony down. :D)

Some readers will know from Kerry’s latest post that her neighbourhood is feeling the anxiety and stress of having two escaped convicts in the area. Please keep Kerry and her community in your thoughts.

 

 

 

If it’s dreich, try pot to plate

Dreich  ~ yes,  dreich, that’s the right word to describe today.  Dismal, dreary, bleak, a winter’s day at the end of May.  Outdoors, the colours are first dulled by the grey wash of sky, then smeared by the gloom of the atmosphere. Dreich, it is; maist dreich.

What’s a body to do but wrap up warmly and take a solid meal of soup, served without fuss or finery, straight from pot

Pot of barley vegetable soup

Pot of barley vegetable soup

to plate. Slop and dollop.

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

A dear friend showed me how to make this soup-stew. There isn’t a defined recipe. What goes in, aside from the barley and broth, depends on what is in the cupboard. In this case I have potato, pumpkin, two kinds of sweet potato, peas, broccoli stalks,  parsnip, carrot, onion,  celery, and bacon. The flavourings are salt, bay leaves and tarragon, and lots of black pepper.  The soup takes time to cook but time = very satisfying fodder. Even more satisfying, as an accompaniment, would have been a wee dram of that other time-dense barley concoction,  whisky.   Alas, there was none of that in the cupboard. ;)

© silkannthreades