Monthly Archives: August 2013

Ring in the spring

The daffodils in this post are for Lizzie Rose Jewellery and Teamgloria , and my mother, because they all love daffodils but daffodils don’t, and won’t, grow in their delightfully warm garden spaces.

The words in this post are especially for Lost in Arles, Heather ,as a way of thanking her for the link to Jean Vanier’s beautiful words in Wisdom of Tenderness  http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234    Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche.http://www.larche.ca/en/jean_vanier/

“The curve of the earth lies fissured, its mantle cracked like a poorly cast  bell, yet with the warmth of spring’s caress, a vibration shimmers, swells, seeps, riverine, through the hollows and cracks of the slumped soil.

Fissure

Fissure

In the movement of the spring,  the bulbs, buried fast,  sense the tender loosening, the sweet lightening of their winter bedding. They awaken.   Stretch upward. Outward. Yawn, and smile a happy-sunshine smile.

And , then, precisely then,  we know, deeply, that even a broken bell has its own essential resonance; its own beautiful chime to ring. Listen.”

Essential Resonance

Essential Resonance

Chime of its own

Chime of its own

For those of you who like to know about location and history; we spotted the daffodils on a sun-drenched river bank on the Avon Loop. We were near the place on the river side which was once, very long ago, home to  the Canterbury Rowing Club. The Loop is a heritage area of Christchurch which was badly damaged in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Most of the land on that small bend in the Avon River is no longer suitable for housing, so the broken homes currently there will be removed/demolished. Eventually, the land will form part of a natural recreational park system along the river. It promises to be lovely and, strangely, in its new life it will almost be a reincarnation of its old life, which, beginning in the 1860s, was a wonderful, open space where thousands of Cantabrians enjoyed picnics and the sport of rowing. http://lostchristchurch.org.nz/opening-of-the-boating-season-avon-river

© silkannthreades

Spring things

My dwarf nectarine tree is loving the arrival of spring. It is about five years old and usually produces good fruit. However, this is the first year it has been so smothered in blossom. It looks so beautiful.  It even attracted the attention of a duck; briefly 🙂

Bountiful Blossom

Bountiful Blossom

With so much blossom this year, I decided I could bring some inside.  Such a sweet fragrant vision.

Sweet fragrant nectarine

Sweet fragrant nectarine

© silkannthreades

No Bull ….in my city, yet!

It’s the truth; there’s no Bull in my city.  Not at the moment. There was one. In fact, we had two Bulls.  That was a little over a year ago.

This was one of the Bulls, called A Peak in Darien.

One Bull

One Bull

Here’s the other Bull,  known as Chapman’s Homer.

Another Bull

Another Bull

These Bulls, by Michael Parekowhai (http://www.thearts.co.nz/artist_page.php&aid=70&type=bio ) had been to Venice http://www.thearts.co.nz/artist_page.php&aid=70&type=video&video_id=92 and Paris and then, as promised they came to us, last June, for one month. When they were first promised to us we hadn’t had any earthquakes but, despite the mess our city was in by 2012,  everyone was brave and decided the Bulls should come anyway. And we loved them.  They looked magnificent, indomitable, indestructible in the midst of the messy, broken landscape.

And now we want to have one of them back, as a forever friend.  We want Chapman’s Homer. (Well, we can’t have A Peak in Darien because he’s already been taken. ) The public is being asked to pledge donations to the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust. The target is $NZ 200,000. Many people think that purchasing Chapman’s Homer is a waste of money, but, for me, this Bull, this mighty sculpture is welcome in my city. I don’t  truly understand what he has to do with Homer, Chapman or Keats but he will be a wonderful addition to our cityscape. Much better to have an expensive, bullish  sculpture that thousands will see and visit and admire every year, free of charge. Rather this, than a new multi million dollar stadium that will be used occasionally, and only by those who have the money to buy the tickets.

So, now I am off to contribute to the Bull. Our country prospers on agriculture, so why not have a Bull in the city!

On First Looking in to Chapman's Homer

On First Looking in to Chapman’s Homer

https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/1276  Back the Bull Pledge (The Bull  is currently on loan and on display at the Arts Centre.)

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173746  Keats  “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

http://realruth.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/hitchin-heritage/  a little more about  George Chapman

© silkannthreades

Heavenly Again

We visited the University of Canterbury Staff Club and University Gardens this afternoon. The Staff Club, Ilam Homestead, was damaged in our recent earthquakes but, happily,  it is now  repaired and in use again. We have lost so many  heritage buildings in our city that it is heavenly to see this one, once more complete and seemingly unchanged, in its beautiful garden setting.

Fine and upstanding

Fine and upstanding

The gardens are at their finest in late October, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. But, today, we were scouting for daffodils…and found a few…

and also wanting to see the Staff Club, free of the containers and scaffolding that have supported it during months of repairs.

Revived and unencumbered

Revived and unencumbered

And, besides, it was our 31st wedding anniversary and our 35th year of friendship, and, being in these lovely University surroundings, was a reminder of another special and cherished time and place; Oxford University.

That is where we met. When we had free time we strolled in the beautiful University Parks which were walking distance from our base at Queen Elizabeth House. http://www.parks.ox.ac.uk/gallery/index.htm

The University Parks are young by Oxford standards. Interestingly, their development began at much the same time as that of Ilam Homestead, that is, in the early 1850s.  The University of Canterbury bought Ilam Homestead in 1950 after it had been owned for many years by Edgar Stead. It was Edgar Stead who established the beautiful, surrounding gardens and filled them with his world famous rhododendron and  azalea collection.

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

Stead was also a renowned ornithologist  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4s41/stead-edgar-fraser  When the University of Canterbury bought the Homestead, it agreed to maintain the Gardens in perpetuity, and its commitment to that agreement means joy and delight for thousands of visitors and passing students each year. And, of course, it is a delight to birds, too, Today, I am sure I heard and saw several of our large, native wood pigeons (kereru). I was hoping to also see ducklings, but I was disappointed in that regard.

Now, as every connoisseur of Oxford knows, a good University must have intrigue and mystery as well as perfect scenery and splendid buildings. Remember Lewis here and Inspector Morse, here ? Our small University, and our University Staff Club (Ilam Homestead) do not disappoint.

For Ilam Homestead was, in one of its lifetimes, home to the Rector of the University, or Canterbury College as it was once known. In 1954 the Rector was Dr Hulme, and his daughter was young Juliet.  At the age of 15,  Juliet was best friends with young Pauline , and, together, they conspired and carried out the murder of Pauline’s mother at a place in Christchurch called Victoria Park. Their reasons were…complicated, perhaps, incomprehensible ; their trial, sensational or should that be scandalous?  Whatever, it was or wasn’t, the infamous Parker-Hulme case became a film, in 1994, called ‘Heavenly Creatures’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavenly_Creatures much of which was filmed at the Homestead and in the gardens. And, from that film and that place and  those times, 1954 and 1994,  we now have some  rich, new traditions and stories; for those events became building blocks and landmarks for Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Kate Winslet and Melanie  Lynskey and Anne Perry;  most particularly Anne Perry, Anne Perry the writer

And, thus are our lives (and marriages/partnerships), like buildings and fine gardens,  constructed, and deconstructed and restructured, and, occasionally, in the process, that which is heavenly appears and sits with us for a time.

A few more photos:

That which is constructed and restructured and gives us foundations and rooms and cornerstones and secret spaces for our memories;

That which is heavenly, if but briefly.

For more history http://www.staffclub.canterbury.ac.nz/history.shtml

http://www.ilamhomestead.co.nz/heavenly-creatures.htm

© silkannthreades

I’m not the only bird

Recently, a few people have asked me if I collect anything, and I have answered, ” Not really.”  Which is true. I don’t have collections in a proper, formal sense, as, say, a stamp collector would. However, after my chocolate exorcism en plein air, Spring Equilibrium I came home with a mind full of fresh air, and  fresh thoughts, and realised that I am not the only “bird” in my home. I live with a flock of them. For, unwittingly, I have been collecting birds for years; birds in all forms, except live. In fact, if my birds were living ones, I would be obliged to apply for a licence to operate an aviary.  That’s how many I own.

Take a peek at some of many feathered friends.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

I don’t know when I started collecting birds but one of my first bird purchases was a book, Birds of Fiji in Colour by W.J. Belcher. It was published in 1972, but the bird studies were painted between 1924 and 1935.( And, yes, our amazing  friends at Amazon still have the book http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Fiji-Colour-W-J-Belcher/dp/B000RH91NS)

Birds by Belcher

Birds by Belcher

William Belcher was born in England in 1883. He came to New Zealand at the age of three and spent the earlier part of his life here before moving to Fiji. He was mostly a self-taught artist  and he painted orchids as well as birds. And, he was not only a painter but a hotel licensee, money-lender, shooting gallery owner and a mechanic, as well. He died, and was buried, in Suva, Fiji in 1949. His collected works are owned by the Fiji Museum.

Birds of Fiji features 25 of Belcher’s paintings. I have selected two for my collage because they represent  very precious memories I have from  my amateurish, youthful bird watching. The illustrations are of the White Collared Kingfisher, Halcyon chloris, and the Blue Reef Heron , Demigretta sacra, or in Fijian, Belo. The White Collared Kingfisher was painted in 1931.There is no date for the Reef Heron.

Kingfisher and Heron

Kingfisher and Heron

I will finish with an observation attributed to William Belcher which is recorded in the Introduction to  Birds of Fiji ” He believed that most people saw only what they wanted to avoid bumping into, whereas only the odd person discovered form and shape.”  Rather apt considering how long it has taken me to realise that I collect birds 🙂 and not just ‘things’ to dust.

My special Penguin

My special Penguin

© silkannthreades

Spring equilibrium

So, what does one do on the day after a night of reckless over indulgence on cake and cookies and chocolate,  in my night kitchen?

Why , one ventures outdoors, of course, because Mother (Nature, that is) knows best how to return equilibrium to body and soul. So, that is what we did on this beautiful spring day. We sat by the water side, at Northwood, and watched the world and its wonders. We were in good company.

There were ducks, both on and off the water.

Come on in; the water's cool.

Come on in; the water’s cool.

And there was a family of ducks, with Mother and Father Duck being kept very busy with the activity of their one, little, early bird duckling.

Up on the rise, a pair of ducks was resting and, perhaps, contemplating, as they watched the dizzy whizzing of the ducks below, if they were ready for parenthood.

Contemplating duckling antics

Contemplating duckling antics

By the water’s edge, we saw two, sweetly serene seagulls, blissfully unaware of the raucous behaviour coming from the other seagulls perched on nearby rooftops.

And, then ,there was the lone Pukeko who came close enough to greet us but  decided that searching for food was a much more profitable way to spend the day. And, would we mind our own business, please!

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Lastly, before leaving for home, we communed with  pretty things, particularly pretty, spring things.

© silkannthreades

In my night kitchen

I am causing mayhem in the kitchen again.

There’s mess and chaos, just as before, https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/kitchen-chaos/

but this time, I am cooking by the light of the moon…not really…..but there is a big, bold moon in the sky which I can see from my well-lit kitchen.

Here is what is happening:

There are cookies and crumbs

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

from  the excellent The Sensitive Gourmet, Antoinette Savill, http://www.amazon.com/The-Sensitive-Gourmet-Imaginative-Cooking/dp/0722537131

And there is divine chocolate cake, and more crumbs,

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

from the Healthy Food Guide http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/recipes/2007/may/gluten-free-chocolate-cake

And, to the cake, I added healthy, blueberry sauce and a helping of not so healthy ice cream.

But ice cream decadence is permissible when the moon is full and round and one is cooking in the night kitchen. Even snakes and dogs are permissible; as long as they are still.

That’s enough nonsense from my night kitchen, except my silliness has reminded me of a wonderful rhyme we loved when we were children :

I went to the animal fair, the birds and the beasts were there. By the light of the moon the giddy baboon was combing his auburn hair. The monkey he gave a jump, and sat on the elephant’s trunk. The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees and what became of the monkey, monkey, monk….

All my recipes tonight are gluten-free and dairy free but definitely not chocolate free.

© silkannthreades