Monthly Archives: April 2013

What’s in a name?

Recently, rosemary, the herb, has played a starring role in my blog, and in my home life.¬† Almost every day, during the past fortnight, I have made an infusion of rosemary leaves and flowers, and the scent has permeated my workspace aka the kitchen ūüôā¬† The fragrance is swoon-worthy but ,of course, swooning in the kitchen would be dangerous, so I resist the temptation and sit sensibly at my bench top laptop instead.¬† Now, as you may or may not remember, rosemary is a symbol for remembrance. But, even more interestingly, the aroma of rosemary is believed to¬† enhance memory and brain function. It’s true; the Huffington Post says so¬† (¬† ) Perhaps, then, it was my daily inhalation of rosemary essences that made my brain suddenly take a little leap and twirl and prance off down memory lane, to the time where my life long love of rosemary began.¬† Strangely though, my love for rosemary began not with the herb but with the name, Rosemary.

Many decades ago, near the beginning of my life, I was given guardianship of a large baby doll which had belonged to my aunt, and, later, to my mother.¬† The doll came to me from my aunt’s home, complete with beautiful clothes, bed-clothes and a white pram large enough for a real baby. I can not remember if she came with a name (obviously insufficient rosemary chemicals in my blood stream) but I do remember my very solemn decision to christen this precious family treasure, Rosemary.¬† Why Rosemary? I have no idea; again my brain is insufficiently enhanced to recall!¬† But Rosemary she remained, all her life with me and then through my sister’s childhood too.

Eventually, after decades of a steamy life in the tropics, it was felt that Rosemary was in danger of ‘going troppo’, so she was returned to my aunt in New Zealand. Sadly, the pram had disintegrated under the stress of tropical living conditions but my aunt, and a doll doctor, were able to restore Rosemary to her original beauty.

Content that Rosemary was alive and well and in good hands, I didn’t think much more about her until, a few years back, when I visited my aunt in her new abode in a retirement home. There, on my aunt’s bed, was Rosemary. I exclaimed “Oh, you have¬† Rosemary here. How lovely!”¬† My aunt, who in no way at all needs artificial enhancement of her mental faculties, looked at me in great surprise and said,¬† ” Rosemary? That’s Sadie. She’s always been Sadie.” It was my turn to be surprised. Through all those years I had loved her, my Rosemary had been hiding a secret Sadie. ūüôā

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. My aunt will be 94 this year. I imagine Sadie/Rosemary is only a little younger.

© silkannthreades


A small Last Post

I didn’t feel that I had the emotional energy to write another post about Anzac Day, but my son took some photos of our dog, Jack, wearing a Red Poppy……

and the very sweetness of them has inspired me to write one small, last post. It is a tribute to the animals who were as much a part of the Gallipoli campaign, and the First World War, as any human being.  There are some wonderful Anzac stories about these animals. One particularly famous animal is a donkey, used for bearing the wounded from Gallipoli. The donkey was awarded a RSPCA Purple Cross for animal bravery in war.

However,  it is the inscriptions on the  Animals in War   Memorial situated on the eastern edge of Hyde Park, London, that best sums up my feelings about the contributions our animal friends  have made to our man-made wars

This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time” (First inscription)

They had no choice“(Second inscription)

Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.
Their contribution must never be forgotten.“(At the rear of the Memorial)

I have not seen this Memorial, unveiled in 2004, but I would certainly like to, one day. In the meantime, my little Jack, will honour his fallen comrades.

Lest we forget

P1020382Footnote: Jack is a diminutive form of the name John.  The soldiers at Gallipoli were referred to as Johnnies and Mehmets by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in his famous words written in 1934.  Anzac soldiers were also known to refer to their Turkish enemies, at the time, as Johnny Turk.

© silkannthreades

Peace and Reconciliation

Today, Anzac Day, we spent some quiet time at the Park of Remembrance.Peace and Reconciliation

It was a beautiful, sunny, autumn afternoon.Peace in the Autumn Sun

A few of the wreaths from the Dawn Service in nearby Cranmer Square had been placed at the base of the statue of Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C., M.M. ¬† Sergeant Nicholas was awarded the military’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross, for his bravery in action in Belgium in the First World War.

Our Governor General in his Anzac Address this morning mentioned that, on this day, one hundred years ago, people were experiencing their last year of peace for the next four years. The following year, 1914, the world was engaged in The Great War; the war that people thought, or were told, would end all wars.

Peace, as we know it today, is incredibly precious.  Sergeant Nicholas did not live to enjoy that Peace.  We must live and honour that Peace for him.

For more information on Sergeant Nicholas go to the following link (

© silkannthreades

Rosemary for Remembrance

In my previous post, I wrote about the Red Poppy which is an international symbol of remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war.  Another flower, which symbolises remembrance, is rosemary.

On our Anzac Day, we often combine poppies and rosemary in the wreaths, or floral tributes, we place on our war memorials or on headstones in cemeteries for service personnel. This is my table centrepiece with rosemary from my garden. I plan to add some poppies tomorrow on Anzac Day.Remembrance

According to Philippa Werry’s beautiful book on Anzac*, rosemary grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.¬† She writes that a wounded soldier brought home a rosemary cutting from Gallipoli, and a hedge from that cutting grows to this day in the Waite Arboretum near Adelaide, Australia. Also included in the book is a beautiful poem by New Zealand poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell called ‘Gallipoli Peninsula’. Some of you may be able to access it on¬† this link¬†¬† It begins “It was magical when flowers appeared on the upper reaches….. ”¬† This poem has also been set to music. This link will give you a brief sample of the music¬† being sung by the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Choir ( )

Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis, is member of the mint family.¬† Rosemary derives from the Latin for ‘dew’ (ros) and ‘sea’ (marinus) and can be translated as ‘dew of the sea’. (¬† I think “dew of the sea” is a perfect description for the gentle blues and greens and sea foamy hues of rosemary.

* Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry

© silkannthreades

The Pineapple Guava

At this time of the year, with autumn leaves in full fall, there is very little left to harvest from my garden, with the exception of pineapple guavas or, as we like to call them, Feijoas.  The Feijoa tree is a relative newcomer to my small plot but it is already a prolific fruiter. I think most Feijoa trees are.  It is also easy care and has beautiful flowers which appear around Christmas time.  And it is evergreen, so it provides visual delight all year long.Feijoa feast

Feijoas are one of my favourite fruits but I find they are a very polarizing fruit in New Zealand. People seem to either hate them or love them.¬† I love them. I love them raw¬† and I love them cooked….. with, what else, but GINGER.¬† I make a delicious Feijoa and ginger short-cake (not available today, sorry ūüė¶ ). Here’s a feast of photos instead.

If you would like to know more about Feijoas/pineapple guavas here is a Wiki link

One interesting fact about Feijoas is that the fruit is ready only when it falls on the ground. So we pick the fruit from the ground and not the tree, although I believe that, if you want to hasten the harvest, you can tickle the fruit and catch it as it falls.

© silkannthreades

Poppy Day

Yesterday, 19th April, was Poppy Day in New Zealand. The Red Poppy is ‘an international symbol for remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war’*.¬† We celebrate Poppy Day on the Friday before Anzac Day ( 25th April).Recipes to Remember

When I was at our local Mall yesterday afternoon,¬† I noticed that many people were wearing red Poppies.¬† The sight of the Poppies reminded me that I had yet to buy my Poppy, but I couldn’t find anyone in the area who was supplying them. I expect it was a bit late in the day for the volunteers to still be at their posts,¬† with their boxes of artificial poppies , patiently waiting for people to offer a donation in exchange for the honour of wearing a Poppy. The money raised is for the use and work of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association which was founded in 1916.

Although I didn’t find a Poppy, I did find a wonderful new book called Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry. (¬† It is written for young readers but it is a book that can be enjoyed by all age groups. Here is a quote from the book about the origins of Poppy Day in New Zealand.

” While the Anzacs were fighting at Gallipoli, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was caring for the wounded at Ypres (modern-day Ieper) in Belgium. One of his friends was killed in battle, and afterwards he scribbled down a poem on a bit of paper. Another officer found it and sent it to a magazine in England. The poem,‘ In Flanders Fields’ was published on 8 December 1915. It described how the red poppies quickly grew back between the rows of crosses marking the graves of dead soldiers.

John McCrae died of pneumonia in January 1918…….his poem lived on and was translated into many different languages. Today the red poppy is an international symbol of remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war*.”

Philippa Werry goes on to explain that the New Zealand RSA  placed an order  in 1921 for thousands of hand-made silk poppies from France to be sold on Armistice Day ( 11th November). The shipment arrived too late for Armistice Day so the Poppy Appeal Day was postponed until 24 April 1922, the day before Anzac Day. Since that time Poppy Day in New Zealand has always coincided with Anzac Day.

On Poppy Day, I happened to make Skype contact with my brother and sister-in-law at Heathrow Airport. They were waiting to board their flight to Istanbul. They are on their way to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli on Anzac Day. It is one of the most remarkable gatherings in modern history. Thousands of Australian and New Zealanders make the pilgrimage to the service each year.  Along with those who attend memorial services at home, they honour those who went to war and they dwell a while in the sadness and futility of war. In military terms, the Gallipoli campaign was a resounding defeat for the Allied Forces, yet, today, that defeat unites us in bonds stronger than anyone could possibly have imagined on the terrible day of the Gallipoli landings, on 25 April 1915.

ANZAC is an acronym introduced during the First World War. It stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  My grandfather and several of my great uncles were Anzacs. Two of my great uncles lost their lives at Gallipoli.

Here are some statistics:  2721 New Zealanders died during the Gallipoli campaign. 1669 have no known grave and 252 were buried at sea. One of those 252 was my great-uncle.   Australian deaths were 8587 and Turkey suffered 86,000 deaths.  French and British casualties were also in their thousands.

Fellow blogger, Rebecca, has some lovely blogs on the Red Poppy and its significance in Canada. (   If other bloggers would like to  comment on my blog  with Poppy photos/links I would be very grateful.

© silkannthreades

What the ‘good fairy’ brings…..

I have a ‘good fairy’ friend who flits by at least once a month. I never¬† know¬† exactly when she is coming, or what she will bring with her, or if I will see her, or just a little gift in my mail box as evidence of her fleeting presence. Sometimes her gifts are delicious edibles and, other times, she comes with her window washing wand¬† or her car washing wand.¬†¬† One of my favourites¬† is¬† her silver polishing wand. Last month, she came with the gift of the company of her daughter and her 5 month old grand-daughter. It was wonderful fun to have a baby in the house again; especially one that only required admiration and smiles from me.

Last week my ‘good fairy’ friend arrived on my doorstep with a wandful of magazines. In amongst the ‘usuals’, like North and South, was a magazine I had not encountered before called FamilyCARE.

It was a fascinating read BUT I was completely stunned to learn from its pages that there are 420,000 (plus) unpaid family carers in New Zealand and that 10% of New Zealand’s 15 to 24 year olds are unpaid¬† carers of family members.¬† That’s a very large unpaid work force for a small country like New Zealand.

That got me thinking, and googling, about family carers in other countries, and that is when my jaw really hit the floor.

In Australia, there are 2.6 million unpaid family carers; 300,000 of them are under the age of 24; 520,000 are over the age of 65. In 2010,  these carers provided an estimated 1.32 billion hours of care. The estimated replacement value of their caring roles was $A 40.9 billion in 2012.  Yes, we are talking in BILLIONS.

The situation is much the same in the UK where there are an estimated 6.4 million unpaid family carers providing services valued at  £119 billion  per year. Again, we are talking BILLIONS .

In the USA, there are 65.7 million family caregivers; or 29% of the adult population caring for one or more family members.

The numbers are staggering, and growing yearly, as populations age and social services grow leaner and meaner. In the UK , the lean meanness seems to extend to the introduction of a strange creature called the Bedroom Tax which, somehow, relates a person’s benefit to the number of¬† bedrooms the Government authorities believe an individual requires. Huh??? I hope the idea doesn’t catch on in New Zealand which is already far too keen to cut and paste (or is it slash and burn?) its social welfare programmes¬† in to a more eye-catching, voter friendly¬† system.

In both Australia and the UK, there appears to be some provision for a small allowance for family carers but that is not, currently, the case in New Zealand. Most family carers, wherever they are, undertake their caring duties willingly, and with great devotion, and little complaint. Never the less, surveys show that there are often huge physical, mental and financial costs incurred by family carers which, eventually, will need to be borne by yet more family members or Government support agencies.  Where does it end? What is to be done?

Carers’ organisations are working hard to support family caregivers. Are Governments listening? It’s hard to believe so, when we see the screws being tightened on social policies worldwide, whilst the purses open for banks and motorways and big business, and¬† goodness knows what else that is supposed to enrich our lives.¬† Wouldn’t it be amazing, bordering on miraculous, if a Government were to come forward and say to its family carers, “Why, thank you, good people, for giving millions of dollars worth of service to your country, without which our economy and health services would crumble.” Whilst millions wait, with little hope, for an official¬† vote of thanks, we can take matters into our own hands and thank and bless all those who take care of another. In that category, I will put my ‘good fairy’ friend. She has done her share of caring over the years.

© silkannthreades

Posy poses with fruit loaf

I am playing with media settings in my post today. Thanks to a few tips from  fellow blogger Maureen at , I finally found the confidence to look at the photo settings for my blog. It was hard to decide which settings to use but I eventually selected  the circles  because I thought they suited the floral nature of the photos.

If you would like to try your hand at making the delicious fruit loaf in the photos , the recipe can be found here¬† (¬† Personally, I think my photo looks more appealing than the Healtheries’ one but…….it’s not the look that matters but the taste. And this loaf tastes wonderful.¬† It’s full of dates and apricots, sultanas, linseed and wheat germ and, because I couldn’t help myself, I added ginger, which is not in the recipe, but should be; in my opinion.

© silkannthreades

Lines and Runkles

Curves and LinesEarlier this century ………yes, yes, yes, …..I have been¬† longing to write that……., (does a little fist pump and delighted in herself twirl…….somewhat like twirly scarf and flowers……..below….),Twirlsso much so that I am going to write it again….

Earlier this century, I was employed part-time as an amanuensis at a tertiary education facility in our city.¬† Only, sadly, that is not entirely true; my job title, was not amanuensis ( slave at hand/writing), but note-taker.¬† Such a dull word, note-taker, but it was far from dull work.¬† The learning environment was stimulating and I received a wide-ranging education for free.¬† I think I covered close to 15 different courses, ranging from microbiology to electrotechnology to tourism legislation and everything in between. I also had a wonderful opportunity to broaden my experience of¬† humanity through an inspiring group of students and their teachers. And ,then, there was the little bonus of being able to write and write to my heart’s content with pen and ink; line after lovely line, pen, ink, paper, word, over and over, flowing along happily in amanuensis servitude.lines of the amanuensisIn some classes, I would¬† occasionally have a brief respite, perhaps during¬† group discussions, and I would keep myself busy with idle thoughts :).¬† During one such time, I tried to do one of the mind map exercises that the class had been working on earlier in the day. I found the exercise frustrating and instead created a poem incorporating mind map ideas. Minding Time

My poem is a strange little beast but I present it here because it is the month for poems. I called this poem ‘Finding a Way’. When I look at it, in typewritten form, I am struck by its linear form. In my original handwritten version, the way or the ‘direct’ path for which I am searching is balanced against¬† the¬† swirls and curves of my natural script. The script, it seems to me, represents the wrinkles and runkles of my inner mind map; my inner searching. It astounds me to see how much meaning is lost from the poem an when the handwriting is lost. I realise now, more than ever, how difficult academic life was for my former students who were no longer able to hand write their own notes. Sometimes a student was able to explain to me how they would like their notes written; but mostly I was left to guess and improvise because the student had no experience, or remembered experience, of that vital route of communication and expression that exists between pen and brain.

                                                           © silkannthreades


It’s poetry month and I have been listening to an interview with Mary Ruefle on National Radio.¬† And I have been learning about Mary Ruefle’s life and work and her Erasure Poetry .¬†¬† (

Here is my version of Erasure Poetry, using the text from my previous post (


Shame on me!  I had forgotten.

Sincere apologies, my dear friend,

joy of being.

We agreed to love  and care throughout  life.

Pity  human

dear ‚ô™

joy of being