Monthly Archives: February 2013

Royal Process

There was much excitement ( for me!) in the royal nursery, yesterday. The first caterpillar successfully negotiated its way to adolescence. I noticed in the morning that one of the caterpillars looked as though it was ready to make a cocoon. I checked again about 2 in the afternoon but nothing had changed. I checked again about 3 hours later and the job was done. I am slightly miffed that I missed the chrysalis process. I need to watch more diligently when I see the next caterpillar preparing for its metamorphosis.Chrysalis

© silkannthreades

Where did my brother go?

My little cat, Zoe, is an outdoors cat. She doesn’t usually like to come inside unless it suits her to do so. Yesterday morning, when I opened the front door just an inch or two to collect the newspaper,  she zipped inside and raced upstairs.

About an hour later I went upstairs for something and expected to see the cat in her usual corner on the stairs, but she was in a new position; on the window sill of my daughter’s bedroom.On the look out

She was watching the driveway very intently.An eye on the comings and goings

Then satisfied she had seen enough, she jumped down and explored the bedroom, corner by corner by cupboard.    That done, she moved in to my son’s bedroom and gave that a thorough investigation. Once she had found out all she needed to know she skitty skatted downstairs and meowed to be let out the door.

Now, that may seem like fairly routine cat behaviour but what intrigued me is that this upstairs, nosey behaviour is rare for my little cat.  I am convinced she suspected that there had been a change in the household.  And she wanted to confirm her suspicions. My son left home on Monday, to go flatting ( share an apartment with friends), for the first time. He hasn’t completely deserted us but the cat , I am sure, was aware of the change in her human brother’s routines and wanted to know what was going on.

Ah, sweet little Zoe; she doesn’t miss a thing. She knows every inch of her territory and who comes and who goes and when they come and go as well.

Here she is all ears All ears

in one of her favourite waiting and watching placesCan you see me watching you?

The sheepskin she is lying on has been in our home since the day my son was born. It is very, very worn but I couldn’t bear to part with it, so, this week,  I gave it  another a few months of life as a comforter for Zoe’s old bones.

“And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Kahlil Gibran

© silkannthreades

Milk pudding; the mighty comfort food

Milk puddings. You either love them or hate them. My offspring hate them.Baked Rice Pudding

I LOVE them.  I love milk puddings for  themselves.  I love them for their association with grandparents and great aunts and happy memories of long gone kitchens, full of jellies and jams, bottled fruit, and pikelets, sponge cakes, roast dinners, cream, new peas, strawberries, boxes of apricots, flummeries, sponge kisses, sausages  homemade tomato sauce, porridge with cream on top and…….. milk puddings!

Tonight I made a baked rice milk pudding, or a baked rice custard, one of my favourite milk puddings.

Ingredients: I cup of cooked rice; 2 eggs; pinch of salt, 4 tablespoons of sugar; 2 cups of whole milk; a few drops of vanilla essence and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Method: Preheat the oven to 325F (not fanbake) or 140C ( fanbake). Grease a rectangular pie dish. Mine is 21cm by 15cm.   Place the cooked rice in the dish.  Lightly whisk the eggs with the salt and add the sugar and milk and whisk a little more till the ingredients are combined. Don’t over whisk. Add the essence and then pour the mixture over the rice. Grate a little nutmeg over the top of the ingredients.  Place the dish in a dish of water and bake in the oven until the custard is firm and set and golden.  Takes about 45 minutes to an hour in my oven. I like to eat my pudding with stewed fruit and cream.

Milk puddings are extremely good for older people so that means I can eat lots of them 🙂

© silkannthreades

From Source to Sea

In my post River Dreaming,  I wrote about my dream to walk and/or explore all the rivers in Christchurch, from source to sea. For me, that is a big dream but I have made a start and some progress.

The river which I have explored the most extensively, so far, is the Styx River. The river is on the northern edge of Christchurch and is 24.8 kilometres long. Over the years, I have walked a great many of the pathways that follow the Styx, and I am longing for other areas to be opened to the public so I can connect the dots on my river walking project.

On Sunday we visited the Janet Stewart Reserve which is part of the Styx River system. After our time there, we followed the river to its outlet at Brooklands Lagoon.  We went by car. It was not my first time to drive beside this lower portion of the river but it was my first visit since the major earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. I couldn’t tell if, or how much,  the river had changed, but the road was certainly uneven and many houses and properties in the area seemed derelict or abandoned. I also noticed that there are lots of areas of the river which I would like to explore on foot or, perhaps, by canoe, if someone will provide one and help me paddle!

Here are some photos of the beautiful Styx River as it heads to the sea. The red machine you can see on the river looks as though it is used for clearing weeds.Up the Styx

There were lots of ducks on the river but  most of them managed to escape my camera. At the bend in the river I could see cows resting in a paddock. It was a pretty sight.Down the Styx

Last of the pics of the Styx.Beside the Styx

If you would like to read more about the Styx River, click on the following link   Our city has a wonderful vision for the river and its catchment area.

© silkannthreades

Creative Genius

Yesterday was the sort of sublimely beautiful, fair-weather day that makes me want to drop everything, hop in the car and  drive forever. Maybe not quite forever, but at least for as long as it takes me to explore my country from end to end and side to side.  But, being the annoyingly responsible person that I am, all we managed to do was a couple of hours of wonderful exploring of the Styx River, and, then, we dutifully came home, in time to bring in the laundry, make the dinner, feed the animals, wash the dishes, dry the dishes and turn the dishes over….actually, we have a dishwasher but that doesn’t make the domestic routines any less domestic or routine.

Normally, or nine times out of ten, I can find a way to be unbothered by the mundanities of housekeeping but, after our gallivanting, I found myself in an unusual, one time out of ten state of grumpiness. My grumps were brought on, not so much by the curtailment of my freedom-travelling aspirations but by reading about a prolific, long dead male composer. (The reading done, between potato boiling and fritter frying, and on top of  a week of reading about  famous, male writers). And I thought,” Yes,Mr Composer, your music is awesome. You are a creative genius BUT your creativity flourished because someone fed you and cared for you and allowed you to be what you needed to be. Someone like me, Mr Composer. So what if you wrote 50 symphonies and 10 operas, or whatever. Given the right conditions, I might have done the same (that’s seriously, seriously, flawed thinking), but, instead, my oeuvre, my mistresswork is some 30,000 meals, 21,000 loads of washing, hundreds of cakes, dozens of biscuits, thousands of shopping lists and exquisitely made beds, multitudes of beautifully pressed shirts…… score that Mr Genius Composer, if you can! It will take you thirty years or more, especially if you have one hand stirring the porridge and one eye in the back of your head watching the children. Then, just when you think you are done, you’ll find you have an unfinished symphony because Mother has fallen and needs hours of gentle nursing, AND you still haven’t taken out the rubbish for the umpteenth time. Put that in your fiddle and play it, Mr Composer, you!”

So, having traversed that hump in my grump, I sat down and listened to the sublime music of Mr Composer (truly, truly, I can never equal your genius)  and started to research where our little gallivant had taken us.  Our first stop was  the Janet Stewart Reserve on the Styx River; a destination I chose on the spur of the moment, as we were leaving our driveway. This was our first visit to this Reserve.Janet Stewart ReserveIt was created as part of the Styx River Project which has, amongst its aims, the creation of a source to sea experience and the establishment of a viable spring fed river ecosystem.The Janet Stewart Reserve, covers land which runs parallel with the  Lower Styx Road for approximately a kilometre. It also borders part of a very busy main road; Marshlands Road.

The Reserve is home to a specially designed and planted harakeke garden. Harakeke is a type of flax which is used for Maori weaving. The garden is considered a taonga, or treasure, for the Christchurch weaving community.The Harakeke Garden

At the entrance to the garden there is a fascinating woven sculpture.Woven Sculpture

When you approach the sculpture you realise that the story of harakeke is crafted into the structure.  Welcome

As you read, you can hear traffic in the distance but the dominant background music comes from the birds, hidden in the bushes and the thick vegetation on the banks of the river. Birds, where are you?Wetland

The Janet Stewart Reserve is a place of creativity, conservation, calm, beauty, nourishment, renewal and responsible stewardship. Who then is Janet Stewart whose name honours this place. A politician, a composer, a musician, an opera diva, a writer? Nope, not all. Janet Stewart was that greatest of all creative geniuses; a Mother.Nothing more, nothing less.

When Edmond Stewart died in 1993, he bequeathed his land to the City Council for the purposes of creating a reserve to be named after his hardworking, resourceful mother, Janet Stewart.   The Janet Stewart Reserve is a son’s loving tribute to his Mother.  A living symphony of sound and light and wonder, and music to my ears. Next time, I have the grumps I will remember Janet Stewart and her Reserve and all will be well.

Healing St Giles

When I last visited St Giles Presbyterian Church in early December, 2012,  the site of the former Church building looked like this; messy!Church without WallsTwo months later, with the help of Superseeders and a good dose of Presbyterian pragmatism the site looks like this; the scarred earth is nicely covered with soft, young grass and there is a border of cheerful sunflowers.New Growth

I don’t know who devised this remedy for an ugly, bare patch but it  works beautifully. The church buildings and land are next to an extremely busy road and near some equally busy work sites and shops and eateries. The church complex is, therefore, surrounded by noise and activity and movement. When you drive, or walk, by the church corner, the plain white, wooden cross, against the green corrugated wall ( and green lawn ) engages your attention with its simplicity and  its openness.Welcome with open arms The cross seems to welcome with open arms and say,” Come rest awhile in my company. Enjoy the stillness and the calm of the garden. Let me soothe your eyes and be a balm for your soul.”Rest in my companyBut, the practical pathway, thoughtfully Presbyterian, also says that ,if you only want to pass by, that’s okay too. It says,”We are happy to walk with you in your comings and goings and, maybe, in the walking, you will feel the light touch of blessedness beside you.” PathwaysMore pathwaysI think it’s wonderful what a difference a touch of green and white, a few flowers, some simple planks and building material and a plain, gravel path, can make to our broken cityscape. And, even more interestingly, how such simplicity can create closer and more vibrant connections between the Church and the wider community. I am sure our Church has had more newcomers cross its threshold in the last few months than it has in the last few years.

© silkannthreades

The appearance of pears

I came home this afternoon to find a bag of pears had appeared on my doorstep, courtesy of my good neighbours who have a pear tree, but don’t much care for pears. Not in their uncooked state, anyway. These are the first pears of the new season.First appearance of the Season

They look ,and are, slightly scruffy and diseased but their less than perfect appearance belies their delicious flavour, once they have been allowed to ripen and sweeten in storage.

Last year, my neighbours kept me well supplied with pears and I kept them busy tasting all my pear inspired baking and jam making. I think, maybe, just maybe, I managed to persuade them to grow a little fonder of pears.

Here’s a photo of my Upside Down Pear Cake from last season’s pears, alongside my neighbours’ first offering of this season’s pears.  Cake appears from Pears

© silkannthreades