Monthly Archives: July 2013

Even a child knows……

The other day I found an idyllic picnic spot and a commemorative plaque to Dr Neil Cherry at Ouruhia Domain. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/one-sandwich-short-of-a-picnic/

Kaputone Water

Kaputone Water

Whilst contemplating my surroundings and my discoveries, I remembered some other tranquil, picnic places I have known; in particular, ones from my childhood. Almost always, we sat by the water, the wimpling water, because, there, one might find the teeniest respite from  the heat and humidity of the tropics.

By the wimpling water

By the wimpling water

Picnic by Sea Water

Picnic by Sea Water

My memories of that time are rich and full. I swam and played and read  to my heart’s content. On a macro-mini level, my childhood was idyllic; yes, it was – idyllic.

But, in my immediate environment, and in the larger world, there were tensions of which I was acutely aware, although I was so very young. For one, there was racism, (and social and economic inequality).  There were people who lived at the lines (at the bottom of the hill), and there were people who lived at the top of the hill. There were children who could go to my school and children who couldn’t. And some were allowed at the club and others weren’t. Colour and colonialism ruled how our society lived. I knew this, even as a child; and I knew it wasn’t right and it wasn’t just.

But, more sinister, and more unmanageable and unfathomable to a child, were the less than peaceful events happening in the Pacific. At the end of the Second World War, the administrators and colonial rulers of much of the Pacific; namely the US, Britain and France, turned regions of their territories  into what may have been  the largest nuclear testing laboratory in the world. For their former enemies, there were reconstruction and development initiatives; for their faithful friends and allies in the Pacific; for the communities who sacrificed their land and lives for the war effort, there were, yipdee doo, nuclear testing programmes.

I don’t know ,or understand, all the details of the nuclear testing, but there is a plethora of information on the internet; much of it confusing to a non-scientist like me. What I do know is that in November 1962, when I was six years old and a bit,  I saw the aurora created by this

Kingfish 1 November 1962 Johnston Atoll 410 kilotons Operation Fishbowl, high altitude nuclear explosion, 97 km altitude, Thor missile with W-50 warhead, dramatic aurora-like effects, extensive ionosphere disruption, radio communication over central Pacific disrupted for over three hours

It was extraordinary, eerie, fiery and awful, and, as I don’t think we really knew for sure what was causing the transformation of the sky, it created a feeling of apocalyptic doom. More especially because this probable nuclear explosion came so soon after the drama of the Cuban missile crisis, when we worried, for days, that nuclear war was about to engulf the world. Young as I was, I remember the fear of potential nuclear warfare. Young as I was, I knew that what I saw in November 1962 was as wrong as it was awful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Dominic

The American and British testing came to an end not long after, but that was not the end of the Pacific’s nuclear battering, for the  French then  took over the nuclear testing baton in the Pacific. Between 1966 and 1996, the French conducted 181 nuclear explosions, 45 of them in the atmosphere, the rest underground. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moruroa

In all these nuclear testing exercises and experiments, there were accidents and disasters and fallout on innocent, peaceful Pacific Peoples. There was long lasting harm done to previously pristine environments…and for what reason… hubris, power, to make a safer world, because they could, so they did? I didn’t understand why as a child. I was implacably angry about it as a teenager and young adult, and, now, I am simply sad. Particularly sad because the testing has created a hardness in my heart; a small stony part of me that  struggles  to forgive a lengthy, nuclear invasion/abuse of my backyard.

Dr Neil Cherry tried  to help veterans/victims of radioactive fallout receive compensation. The struggle for recompense and recognition continue, as does the  impact of that nuclear testing  on the lives of ordinary citizens.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/03/french-nuclear-tests-polynesia-declassified

It’s also more than a little ironic that this whole nuclear scenario in the Pacific was only  possible because  our  most  famous, New Zealand scientist, Lord Rutherford of Nelson, discovered how to split the atom. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8282000/8282223.stm

To finish on a positive note, here are a couple of photos of my happy days in the bosom of my precious nuclear family; NUCLEAR; what a word to use for a family. 🙂

© silkannthreades

One sandwich short of a picnic

In our rush to get out of the house today to enjoy the sunshine, I failed to throw even the most basic of picnic ingredients into the car. Which was a great shame because as we peregrinated (if one can in a car and in one’s own country), we came upon a beautiful picnic spot. Here it is; Ouruhia Domain, a few kilometres north of Christchurch, en route to Kaiapoi.

Ouruhia Domain

Ouruhia Domain

The Domain has playing fields, club rooms, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic tables, old trees and superb macrocarpa shelter belts.  As well, there is  a serene area of native plantings. The native plants border the Kaputone Stream which is a tributary of the Styx River. I wrote about the Styx River here Source- to-sea.

Now, come wander the Domain with me; first across the bridge and in to the bush;

then back across the Kaputone stream to the fields and courts , so true to the style of the traditional country Domain.

As I was leaving the area of native plants, I noticed a plaque, nestled in the ground under a bush. It stopped me short. It was so unexpected. And it moved me to a small tear to see such a simple, modest tribute to one of New Zealand’s  world-renowned scientists. Here is the plaque. It honours Dr Neil Cherry.

Simple marker for a Scientist

Simple marker for a Scientist

A summary of his work and a little of his life story can be found on this website. 

In many ways, he was a traveller /pilgrim in his fields of interest and research; exploring new ideas and always working for a better world to the very end of his days. I particularly admire his work on behalf of veterans exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the Pacific.

More of his life story can be found at  http://www.nzine.co.nz/features/neilcherry_lifestory_part15.html

and the story of his work with Ouruhia is here.

I must say I was glad I only discovered the Ouruhia community’s concerns about electromagnetic radiation when I came home, or we might not have stopped at the picnic spot for so long.

Being without that picnic sandwich, or any sustenance at all, and beginning to feel hungry from our explorations in exciting, unfamiliar territory,  we left the pleasant fields of Ouruhia and continued on to Kaiapoi. There we stopped for a McDonald’s take away before heading homewards. I have a guilty feeling that the take away may have done us more damage than any passing exposure to residual electromagnetic radiation at Ouruhia. Oh well, we had lovely peregrinations. Did you?

© silkannthreades

“With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod

In my post yesterday I mentioned ‘With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod. This morning I read this wonderful review of the book by fellow New Zealand blogger Ordinary Good. Enjoy her good words and her blogs as well.

Koru knits and crafts

“With Bold needle and thread” by Rosemary McLeod.

I loved this large, beautiful book that I recently borrowed from the library.
DSCF5406
I will borrow it again so I can once again enjoy the gorgeous visual presentation but also the immense amount of information, history, and projects to dream about.
DSCF5407
While it is a book about stitching and creating clothes and useful household objects it is also a book about social history/herstory in New Zealand.
Rosemary McLeod is a collector of textiles and fabrics as well as owning a vast library of patterns, designs, and magazines relating to handcrafts of every kind. She also likes creating things from fabric and textiles without using a pattern.
There are plenty of projects and instructions to follow in this substantial book (495pp) dating back from the 1920’s to more recent times. Bags, aprons (I remember my Gran having an apron made from sacking but…

View original post 407 more words

Feasting

In recent weeks, when I was feeling ‘under the weather’, on account of my cold/cough, my desire to eat and cook was as lacking as my tastebuds. Now that I am all better, my appetite and interest in cooking have returned and, yesterday, my meal seemed like a feast; it tasted so good!

First up, we had brown lentils and mushrooms in pasta sauce. This is a dish I  created using a combination of different ideas and recipes. It is an authentic mish mash rather than anything elegant with a specific and identifiable origin. Here is a small sample of the finished product.

As usual, my recipe  for this dish is fairly carefree and easy but, for those of you who are interested, here is an outline of the ingredients and cooking method:  Roughly chop one onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 celery stick and 1 carrot and place in the blender and blitz. Place a little olive oil in a large pan and add blitzed mixture to the pan. Cover and let mixture sweat for about 10 minutes. Add a half teaspoon of dried oregano, and about a half teaspoon of salt and a cup of canned, chopped tomatoes in thick juice. Stir and cook covered for a couple of minutes. Add one tin/can of drained and rinsed brown lentils (about 400gm) and stir. Then add one bottle of thick pasta sauce. I use Bertolli Five Brothers Pasta Sauce, large size, in the summer tomato and basil flavour.  Stir again and cover and simmer gently for a few more minutes. Lastly add about 200 gm of quartered, button mushrooms and 3  Tablespoons of bulghur wheat.  Cover and cook on low heat for another 15 minutes, or until the bulghur wheat is tender. Before serving add freshly ground pepper and 2 or 3 Tablespoons of cream to the pan.

The textures of the ingredients and the smooth richness of the sauce are wonderfully hearty  on a winter’s night. I served the sauce on creamy mashed potatoes with steamed carrots and steamed broccoli stalks. And ,because the recipe makes a large amount, we will be having the sauce again tonight, but this time with polenta.

To follow the main meal, I made a scrumptious fruit crumble, using an absolutely excellent crumble recipe from blogger Valerie Davies; excellent because it is  both delicious and makes a large amount (which means at least enough for two fruit crumbles in my house). For the fruit component of the dish, I used freshly sliced cooking apples and a good handful of less than perfect grapes which I blanched and peeled and sprinkled with lemon juice.  The results were so good that I had to restrain myself from taking a third helping. Thanks Valerie 🙂

If you would like the recipe take a look Here.

While you are there, check out her other delicious recipe for Convent Eggs. http://valeriedavies.com/2013/07/13/the-real-dalai-lama/ 

I am sure it was the Convent Eggs that finally set my tastebuds on the road to recovery. Food has been tasting superb, since the day I made those delicious eggs.

Finally, what’s a feast without something for the eyes as well. I am so thrilled to have these three lovely books on my table today. The two Virago books arrived by post this morning, via Amazon.  The  third  book, With Bold Needle and Thread by Rosemary Mcleod  is on loan from the library. It is subtitled Adventures in Vintage Needlecraft, and so it is, so it is; a very lovely adventure.

Books of a Vintage

Books of a Vintage

A Visual Feast

A Visual Feast

© silkannthreades

Is it all clear, SOFIA?

This post is a little off topic from my previous post, but only a little. It still concerns the collection of data and the keeping of records.   These records are on an astronomical scale. And they are gathered and analysed by beautiful, sophisticated SOFIA and friends.

We went to visit SOFIA today because the sun was shining, and it was a perfect day for visiting and gallivanting. Here she is. Isn’t she stunning?

Sofia

Sofia

SOFIA is stationed at Christchurch International Airport for a couple of weeks. She  is on a surveillance exercise. Of the skies. This is an excerpt from Nasa’s website on SOFIA.

‘NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory will be based in New Zealand for the next two weeks, taking advantage of the Southern Hemisphere’s orientation to study celestial objects that are difficult or impossible to see in the northern sky.

SOFIA, formally known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, deployed to the United States Antarctic Program’s facilities at Christchurch International Airport last week and completed its first science flight at 4 a.m. local time July 18 (noon EDT July 17). A team of scientists, engineers, pilots and technicians from the United States and Germany are deployed with SOFIA to support as many as nine research flights through Aug. 1.

SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (250 centimeters). It provides astronomers access to the visible, infrared and submillimeter spectrum.’ You can access the full text Here

Now I can’t say I understand all that technical stuff , but I can say that I enjoyed admiring  SOFIA and imagining what it would be like to fly so high in the sky with a telescope.

If you want to have a small experience,  flying with SOFIA, check out the SOFIA movie gallery  Here.

Apparently, the people who know these things, say we have very clear skies in our part of the world. Which makes our skies an excellent research area for SOFIA. Our skies are so good  that we are home to one of the best dark sky reserves in the world.  It’s too far from Christchurch for me to take you there, today, so this link will have to do. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7074544/Southern-skies-get-starlight-reserve-status)

I can, however, show you the luminous, light blue sky over us, and SOFIA, this afternoon.

Clear and Blue

Clear and Blue

It surprises me that the sky does look so fresh and pure because the air pollution levels  have exceeded  health guidelines levels  at least 11 times  in Christchurch this winter. Perhaps the blue of the  sky today is an optical illusion.

Writing of smog and lenses and illusion reminds me that some wits in the media have been questioning the timing of the SOFIA project in Christchurch. It coincides very neatly with the Government’s attempts to expand the  Government Communications Security Bureau ‘s  legal powers to spy on us, its own New Zealand citizens. At the moment the GCSB  may spy on  non New Zealanders.  The amendment under debate will legalise the GCSB’s spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

I am 99% sure SOFIA is an innocent star-gazer but that is a mighty big telescope scoping our southern skies.  However, as long as she  is gazing upwards and outwards, little ol’ me  and the rest of my fellow Kiwis,  can rest easy, at least as far as SOFIA is concerned 🙂

© silkannthreades

Out ‘there’ forever

Whenever I prepare to write a post, a pint-sized, shadowy, but very vocal, bogey man appears over my right shoulder.  A bogey man; well, more a creature of unspecified gender who repeats ad nauseam and ‘whiningly’,”Remember,  remember, whatever you put out on the internet stays there forever; be careful, you may live to regret what you let loose in public….blah, blah, blah…out ‘there’ lives evil….”. And I cower and hesitate and write ever so cautiously, and recheck and rewrite, and waste a great deal of precious time pandering to this scaremongering spectre of  certain doom and ruin.

Where this creature comes from, I am not sure, but, yesterday, I determined to give it a little tap on the shoulder; tip it off-balance a bit, and maybe, if I am lucky,  see it tumble to my feet with profuse apologies for being such a wretched nuisance.

So, here I go with my attempt to dislodge the harbinger of the awful doom awaiting  me (and you) on the big world-wide web.

NEWSFLASH! bogey creature……. on the day we are  born, our lives enter the public sphere, and there is no going back. We become a matter of public record from our first breath. And, as any genealogist, archaeologist, historian, or little Rumpelstiltskin, will tell you, we are, from that beginning moment, out ‘there’ forever, our lives always trackable and traceable and scrutinisible.  Perhaps, not in every fine detail, but certainly enough detail to be able to  leave our mark on history somewhere, somehow. Thus it has ever been, and ever will be, internet or no internet.

Case in point. Here is a photo which I found the other day. I hesitated, thanks to bogey creature, about showing it to you. Then, in an epiphanous moment, I realised, that it is an official photo which has probably been readily available in  public archives  for about 36 years.

For all to see

For all to see

What am I doing? Well, I am not sleeping! I am listening  intently to a debate. I will leave you to ponder, until my next post, where and why, and the story behind this photo. In the meantime, I am travelling back in time to listen to the ancient prophets/creatures of doom as they watch our cave dwelling forbear raise his/her hand to paint that very first stroke on the cave wall. I hear the critters say, in tones of eerie menace, “Be Ware, Be Very Ware…..once you mark that wall, your life will be out ‘there’ forever, for all to know where you have been and what you have been doing; you are open season; prey to all….muahahahaha”  And the cave person turns to face the menace, and paints the wall anyway. Thank goodness he/she did.

Note to self: the creature hasn’t tumbled yet but it is looking disconcerted 🙂

© silkannthreades

 

Such is life; shadows and sunbeams

I have been very weary and a little down-hearted these past few weeks; mainly on account of my lingering cold/cough, the cold grip of winter weather and a general lack of sunshine. And let’s not forget the ever lasting wait for builders to appear. But just when I  feel that the daily shadows are becoming far too long for comfort, life suddenly throws  out a wondrous ray of sunshine that makes me beam with joy. Such was life today.

I was looking for some photos to illustrate a post I had in mind when I came upon this  gentle gem from my distant, distant past.This is my brother caring for me when I was about four and a half weeks old.   He has been doing it ever since; and he hasn’t dropped me yet :).

And the caring love begins

And the caring love begins

I also happened upon these sweet photos. I have certainly seen them before but, until today, I hadn’t truly noticed them, or absorbed the information they contain. They are photos taken on my christening day, which, I learn from the writing on the reverse of the pictures, was on 11 July. Which means that last Thursday was the anniversary of my christening.  They also show me that my maternal grandparents were present at my christening. I am surprised to learn this. It is not  unusual for grandparents to be at a christening but these grandparents had to travel by ship from Christchurch, New Zealand to Lautoka, Fiji for my christening. Quite a journey, in those days.  I also see that Janie, my dear Janie, was with me from the very start of my life. Even though I remember her well, I didn’t realise that she was with me from the beginning. No wonder, I was deeply sad when she left us to marry. I couldn’t understand why being married should require her to leave me. I don’t think she did either but it seems her husband  insisted. How I missed her warmth and her cuddles and her gentleness. They are with me still.

The one photo that holds few surprises is that of the christening cake. It is set on a table in our garden because my christening took place in our  home garden; there being no Presbyterian church in our town; and only the occasional visit from  an itinerant Presbyterian minister.  I think the cake  was iced by my father, who had considerable skill in the art of cake decorating. ( He always made us the most wonderful birthday cakes.)  I expect the cake itself was made by my parents. The only real surprise is the travel rug under the cake? Was that a christening gift? It doesn’t seem a very elegant table covering for a christening. And the cake looks as though it is close to falling off the edge of the table! Was the cake tipsy? Surely not at a Presbyterian christening.

Those were my smiles for today; my little taste of sunshine. Dear parents, I enjoyed being at my christening; thank you!

© silkannthreades

Backyard learnings

When I was very young, I went to kindergarten (pre-school) in my own back yard; my  very own backyard on the tropical island of Fiji. The kindergarten was owned by my mother who was also the sole teacher. It was a wonderful little school and the best part of it was that I didn’t have to leave it to go home. It was home, and I could play there all day and every day for as long as I wanted. It was a very pleasant introduction to education.

Backyard Kindy

Backyard Kindy

That’s me at the top of the slide! At least I think it is!

Sand and sun and stories

Sand and sun and stories

My father made most of the equipment including the much loved cars made from packing boxes.

As the only kindergarten in town, (and possibly the entire Colony of Fiji), there was always a waiting list for my mother’s school. She hated turning away children  but there was a limit to the number of little ones she could handle on her own. The fees charged were miniscule, token, in fact, because her training and background were in the old New Zealand  tradition of free education for kindergarten children. (Plus, I think the colonial authorities may have had some rules about  private enterprise on colonial property, which our house was! ) She took that tradition with her from New Zealand to Fiji, and stood by it, throughout her working life as a teacher/school owner/manager.

We had a great selection of books at my mother’s kindy. I still have many of them but here are two favourites of mine.

One of the Nine Stories has fallen out of favour but the remaining eight are still popular with today’s children, as far as I know.

So, in this simple setting, with these little books, and others like them, my interest in literature, in reading, took its first steps.

Today, I am reading on my laptop via  Project Gutenberg Australia “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M Delafield. I feel that this passage was written for me:

‘January 14th.–I have occasion to observe, not for the first time, how extraordinarily plain a cold can make one look, affecting hair, complexion, and features generally, besides nose and upper lip. Cook assures me that colds always run through the house and that she herself has been suffering from sore throat for weeks, but is never one to make a fuss. (Query: Is this meant to imply that similar fortitude should be, but is not, displayed by me?) Mademoiselle says she hopes children will not catch my cold, but that both sneezed this morning. I run short of handkerchiefs.

January 16th.–We all run short of handkerchiefs.’

By my bedside table, for evening reading, I have “Toujours Provence” by Peter Mayle.  For any time reading, I have “Poem for the Day’ edited by Nicholas Albery and “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. For idle moments, I have the newspaper where I read that the Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the launch of DogTV, a round the clock digital cable channel, specifically programmed for your dog.  I have not passed on this news to my little friend, Jack, but, then, he is  content to soothe his ears with the voices from  Radio New Zealand (http://www.radionz.co.nz/). I do hope, however,  he closed his ears when the announcer said that our Parliament has just passed  legislation to regulate the sale of legal highs, (party pills and synthetic cannabis).  Sadly, this legislation which  requires manufacturers to prove their products are safe for human use, before they can be sold in New Zealand,  will certainly  mean a continuation of unnecessary animal testing . I can’t help thinking that many of us  would do well to return to our kindergarten roots. We would do well to  remember how much pleasure and fun and wonderful highs we got from our very first books, featuring members of the animal kingdom.

Here is another of my favourite books that I first met in the kindergarten in my very own backyard.

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© silkannthreades

The Glory of a Box continues

The story begins here in my previous post (https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/2340/)

Part Two

The Glory of A Box continues….

Glory Box

Glory Box

Then there’s the clock. It used to be on the mantelpiece in Nana’s bedroom. Dad and my uncle both remember it. They played with it as children. It didn’t go then. It doesn’t go now. Why is it in Mum’s glory box? No one is sure. But it’s there, brown and slightly irregular in shape,

Irregular

Irregular

along with a wooden tray, and Stanley Smith’s barometer

Barometer

Barometer

and the book of invoices from our Pop’s Mart. The book records the tastes and payment habits of most of the rural community of Methven (circa 1938), as well as my sister’s doodles and passion for Ray Columbus and the art of running away (circa 1971).

Doodles

Doodles

Mum’s scrapbook is in the box too. It’s a work of art from her student days at kindergarten training college.

And I find the gloves. Still sunshine-yellow, mixed up with a touch of custard. They still fit me. But the moths have had their fill and the gloves tear as I try them on. Perhaps they can be salvaged. I put them in the maybe pile.

We decide the box can be saved. It’s a very plain box; a plywood box. It wasn’t expensive at the time of purchase.  It’s not worth much now. But Mr Frizzell at the corner furniture store says it’s rimu plywood and it can be made to look nice again. He can restore Dad’s picture too. Dad says, “Can he be rejuvenated too?”

Mr Mallard, across town, cleans the barometer and fixes the clock. The barometer, once on a wall in Methven, once on a wall at Sumner, now hangs on my wall. The clock sits on the chest of drawers beside my bed. It ticks busily. It reminds me of Nana, small and busy and slightly bent, and I wonder when she last heard its busy little tick, and why she kept a clock that didn’t tick.

The box is placed at the foot of my bed. It’s not warm like honey anymore. It is oiled and has a rich, earthy sheen that matches my writing desk. The top is still a little warped but it is a glory box again. Inside there are clothes and lavender and unlabeled photos. Fanny and Rajar are there, but Teddy is not. He has gone to Sydney to be with my brother,  current custodian of Ted’s silver pocket watch. Lily, who may be Sissy or Mary, is there. And the gloves.

Back in the Box

Back in the Box

Box notes for 2013:

The box no longer lives in my bedroom. It enjoys a better life in the living room. The clock is temporarily secure in a bedroom drawer. The barometer remains on the wall where it  miraculously remained secure despite the huge earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

For information on Ray Columbus, the New Zealand pop idol of my sister’s very young years, go to http://www.raycolumbus.com/

And, in recognition of the never-ending inspiration that comes from the Glory Box, please, please do visit my find of the day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6fpN2g3pwY  This is a wonderful programme and interview with Paul Engle, the founder of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Until my research today, I had no idea of the connection between the theme of my mother’s scrapbook and this great American poet and his philosophy of helping hands.  Listen and enjoy, as he reads some of his poems.

© silkannthreades

The Glory of a Box

 This is a piece I wrote in  April 2004 to commemorate the restoration of my mother’s Glory Box. It is long, so I will post it  in two parts. My parents were married in 1948 so the Glory Box pre dates that year.

A hope chest, dowry chest, cedar chest, or glory box is a chest used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_chest)

The box has been in my uncle’s garage for 20 years, or maybe it’s 30. No one is sure. No one can remember exactly how it came to be there. I remember it in the hallway at Grandad’s house at New Brighton. It was warm and golden like honey, A touch of honey yetand inside there was a pair of hand-knitted gloves, all sunshine-yellow mixed up with a touch of custard. It was once Mum’s glory box. Mum says she is sure there’s no glory in it now. She can’t even remember what’s in the box. My uncle says ‘blankets and coins’. Dad says ‘rubbish’.

My uncle is cleaning out his garage, so we tackle the box. It’s hidden under  cartons and suitcases. The lock is broken. The top is bent. There’s a hole in the side from my cousin’s skateboarding-in-the-garage days. But it has survived the flooding.

Inside the box, there are blankets and coins. My uncle says the coins are not worth a penny. Are they Mum’s? No one is sure, but we keep them anyway. Most of the blankets are moth-eaten, fit only for rubbish. As are Nana’s two, tiny, moth-reduced cardigans. Was she really so small?  The mohair rug from her house at Sumner is musty but there’s not a moth bite in it. The back says,” This rug will be replaced if attacked by moth”. Did they really intend a more than 60 year guarantee?

Brown mohair ageing in place

Brown mohair ageing in place

We find towels and tarnished silver-plated forks. They’re probably Nana’s. Who put them in the box, and when? We find Pop’s starched white collars, size 17, at least a dozen. His cigarette holder with the little gold rim is in the box too. I remember the cigarettes, but not the holder.  We find their passports, but, hey, I say, why is Nana, ‘Maude’, with an e? She was always Maud without an e. I remember that. My uncle goes upstairs and checks her birth certificate. The passport is wrong.  How did that happen? No one knows.

The box is musty. I have to wear a mask to avoid the smell. The photos are particularly musty. There are dozens of them. Some are from Fiji days, others are older. Most of them are unlabeled. Dad says, this is such and such, and my uncle says, this is so and so.  Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don’t. Fanny, the Harewood grandmother, and her dog, Rajar, are easily identified. Harewood Grandmother 1935They are not so sure about their Dunedin grandmother. Is that really her? She looks too young to be the mother of grown-up daughters. They’re undecided.  Dad says this is a portrait of Aunty Lily, Frank’s Lily, from Canada. My uncle says not. He says it’s one of their father’s sisters; maybe Sissy, maybe Mary.  She looks like my sister, so maybe my uncle is right. But Dad is sure it is Lily; the one with tales of sledding across the snows of Canada.

Is this Lily?

Is this Lily?

The brothers agree that this one is Teddy.

Teddy, of the silver pocket watch, who died at Gallipoli. There’s no label on the photo, just an address, but they know it’s Teddy. Teddy, who died years before either of them was born.

There is a photo of Dad as a baby. It’s the only one of the photos still in a frame. It isn’t labeled but there’s no mistaking Dad.

A bonny babe

A bonny babe

To be continued………

© silkannthreades