Monthly Archives: September 2013

From Rhubarb to Roses

About a fortnight ago, I wrote of my excitement at harvesting my first few stalks from the  rhubarb   that grows, in the  big blue pot, at my back door.  I think my delight in its growth, went to the rhubarb’s head, for, today, it was producing flowers from its crown. Flowers on rhubarb are a no-no, if you want healthy, strong rhubarb stalks, so I whipped outside and chopped off their little heads. Ouch! I felt brutal and mean, especially when I observed them closely and  realised how pretty  they (the flowers) are, all  tight,  pale greenish-whitish buds, tinged with tips of  deep pink-pinkness.

To assuage my guilt, I brought them inside and placed them amongst my latest  Constance   Spry-esque  flower arrangement of catmint, complete with wildlife (aka aphids).

So, why the plate in the photo, if you please ? Mostly, because it happened to be on the dish rack when I was arranging the rhubarb flowers, and I  was taken by  the way the colours of the plate’s rose design complemented the colours of the rhubarb buds. Like this….

Perfectly Matched

But, it’s also on display because I had just finished reading an article by a Christchurch company, Underground Overground Archaeology ,  which is currently piecing together the pre-1900 history of our city, through all manner of artefacts, including broken pieces of china. The article prompted  me to  look with fresh eyes  at my every-day dessert plate . There it was, sitting casually, air drying by  the kitchen sink, as it, or one of its 5 companion pieces,  has often done for nigh on twenty years. Yet its humble positioning, and purpose as  a simple receptacle of a steady diet of sweet treats, belies the plethora of stories it contains within its brim.

Let’s take another look at my little plate

What  would my treasured possession reveal, if it were to be unearthed a hundred years or more, from now, by fine-toothcombing archaeologists. For sure, it would be obvious from its Franciscan markings that its pottery origins belong to the American company, Gladding, McBean & Co., which began production of Franciscan dinnerware in 1934, in Glendale, California. They would easily discover that its Desert Rose pattern, issued in 1941, was an overnight success and became the most popularchina pattern ever made in America. And they would know that my little piece tells the sad tale of the decline and sale of Gladding, McBean & Co, and the subsequent manufacturing of this famous American/Franciscan design in England. http://www.replacements.com/thismonth/archive/v1209j.htm

But will they guess at the trifles and cakes and custards it has held? Will they guess at the number of times it has been licked and scraped clean by eager tongues and fingers and spoons? Will they wonder how this small piece of England and America came to rest in a small suburb, in a small city, in the south of the Southern Hemisphere?  Would they see a young woman, ‘umming and aaahing’ at Abraham and Straus, White Plains, New York, trying to decide if she should buy 6 little  bowls that didn’t match any of her chinaware, but were the perfect shape and size for her desserts?  Would they realise that the young woman chose them mainly  on the basis of their form, the way they nestled comfortably in her hand ; that no one in the china department was at all helpful at explaining why there was Made in England china amongst the stands of Made in America; that no one told her that Franciscan dinnerware was favoured by Jacqueline Kennedy; that it was famous!

And would they believe that the treasured dishes travelled from New York to Cairo and back again and, then, across the seas to far New Zealand? Could they tell that my Desert Rose sat at table in a Cairo suburb, in the company of the most beautiful and most sweetly perfumed  of  ‘desert’ roses, the Baladi Rose ( rosa gallica var. aegyptiacus ) ?

Would they hear, rippling across its surface, the songs that it has heard over the years?  Elly Ameling sings Les Roses d’Ispahan

Perhaps, they will know and hear and see, if my blog survives as long as a fragment of china! But, isn’t it extraordinary, that a fashioned piece of clay, something intrinsically fragile, can carry the weight of history; the clues to our existence? Next time you plate up your ‘pud’ or your food, take a moment to consider what else is in your bowl. Hopefully, you won’t find the aphids off my catmint or a piece of poisonous rhubarb flower 🙂

Catmint, rhubarb and aphids

Catmint, rhubarb and aphids

Note: If you click on the word Constance, above, you will find lovely information, via the excellent blog of Teamgloria, on the remarkable Constance Spry.

© silkannthreades

We did it…. the Bull is here to stay :)

Towards the end of last month, I wrote a  post   on a fundraising effort called ‘Back the Bull’. It was organised by the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust with the aim of raising $NZ 200,000 towards the cost of purchasing this glorious creature, “Chapman’s Homer”, for our city.

Chapman's Homer

Chapman’s Homer

I was ever so pleased ( as in, dance-around-the-room-and-shout-with -glee-pleased )  to read in this morning’s newspaper that the ‘Back the Bull’ campaign achieved its target last night.

This means the Bull is here to stay!!

The Bull, Chapman’s Homer, was on display (on loan) during the fundraising but is now in storage. Eventually the 1.8 tonne sculpture will have a permanent home on the forecourt of the Christchurch Art Gallery. That will be in  2015 when the earthquake repair and strengthening work on the Gallery is completed and it is once again open to the public. In the meantime, the sculpture will be displayed from time to time at yet to be determined sites in Christchurch.

I am very glad that the campaign was a success because it shows that, if we put our hearts into working together, we can do wonders for our broken city.  This was yet another positive action to counteract the negativity and arguing and crankiness that seems to jaywalk, unhelpfully, through the city’s new design and rebuild plans.

© silkannthreades

Hodgepodge

I am in a disorderly, unruly mood today, for no reason, except ‘just because’. And ‘just because’ that is so, I have decided my post is going to  be a hodgepodge; a veritable stew of unrelated subjects; a mingle-mangle, a gallimaufrey, an omnium-gatherum and a farrago, as well. It may even be a salmagundi too, although I don’t propose adding a recipe for that.  I will, however, tempt you, later, with another food item,  Boarders’ Favourite……..which I am planning to make for supper tonight. 🙂

So let’s begin with my menu of  hotchpotch, in no particular disorder.

From Felicia Dorothea Hemans,  she of ‘the boy stood on the burning deck fame

“For man can show thee nought so fair,
As Nature’s varied marvels there;
And if thy pure and artless breast
Can feel their grandeur, thou art blest!”

These words and photos are  in support of Silvana http://tinasca.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/nature-is-victim-again-yasuni-itt/ who, with friends, is trying to save the Yasuni in Ecuador. The photos, which I have chosen, ( two of which are Japanese  Mon), represent, for me, the unity of life on earth and how our ecosystems are intimately connected, no matter where we live on the planet.

The leaf Mon, also represents my first teeny-tiny attempt at using the paint tools on Gimp. And the amount of hand/eye coordination, and fine motor skill control, that programme required of me,  leaves me in awe of all my followers  who paint and sculpt and craft. You are amazing!

One such sculptor/blogger is Virginia at Muse-ings.     In her latest post she wrote of using the self-timer on her camera, and, immediately, a little light pinged in my head, and I remembered that I, too, have a timer on my camera.  And this is what happened, as a result; an old-fashioned, unruly ‘selfie’….

Unruly and Disorderly

Unruly and Disorderly

and, then, it was such fun using the timer, I tried it again and again. Later, encouraged by Heather in Arles, http://lostinarles.blogspot.co.nz/ I tried to photo edit one of the images, which created much bafflement for me, because, as my daughter says, Gimp requires ‘counter-intuitive’ thinking, of which, it seems,  I have very little. Hey ho….can anyone intuit what I did, or did not do, with my editing? As you can see, I am thinking upon it myself, hand to chin, lost in thought 🙂

Now, as a reward for sampling the hodgepodge menu, here’s some  chocolate deliciousness in

BOARDERS’ FAVOURITE!

Fair Trade Chocolate

Fair Trade Chocolate

and one of my favourite songs from New Zealand’s  own Bic Runga

© silkannthreades

Happy Birthday Sister Dear

My Cat Jethro

My Cat Jeoffrey Jethro

From “Jubilate Agno” by Christopher Smart 1722-1771

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry. Jethro
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry Jethro! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the musick
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

Happy Birthday, dear Sista “M”. Here’s a book I should have sent you for your birthday but only found online today. Love always, from your Sista “M”.

© silkannthreades

Seek and you may find………..

I went seeking the light today. Truly, literally! It was a grey, blank-canvas sky day; a neither here nor there day; not cold, not warm, not raining but not especially dry either. A nothing sort of day. So, I put on my cheerful face and went to look for the light; actually lights, in the city, which are to form part of a public art exhibition called ‘Solidarity Grid’ http://www.scapepublicart.org.nz/.  Now, search as I might, I couldn’t find them, for a very simple reason, which hit me like a blinding flash; the exhibition isn’t open until 27 September, 5 days hence! 🙂

Determined not to make my drive to the city a complete waste of time, I drove in to the Botanic Gardens car park for some visual refreshment. And there, right before my eyes, I  suddenly saw  the very thing I had been wanting to visit, to find out about,  for months.  Can you see it?

Can you see what I see?

Can you see what I see?

Take a closer look….

What is it? A bird cage? A Tardis?

What is it? A bird-cage? A Tardis?

Looks like a home for a  large bird, or, maybe, a sculptural rendition of a modern-day Tardis,  come to rest in the midst of the pines of Christchurch. Strange things happen here these days, but, perhaps not quite that strange. Let’s cross the river for a proper look.

River Crossing

River Crossing

On we go, past the kowhai and blossom, along the path,

until we have our destination in sight.

Destination in view

Destination in view

Nearly there; getting closer…

Closer.....

Closer…..

until here we are, the closest we can get to ……

THE WOLLEMI PINE.

Closest....

Closest….

The Wollemi Pine is New Zealand’s first dinosaur plant. It is a relic pine with a 200 million year old history and is one of the oldest and rarest trees in the world. It  was thought to be extinct until its discovery in the Blue Mountains of Australia in 1994. There are less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild. This little Wollemi pine was grown by tissue culture,

in Christchurch, and planted in our Botanic Gardens to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gardens’ establishment.  It is the  cornerstone of an area in the Gardens which will be known as the Gondwana Garden http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/avenues/features/8474759/The-botanic-gardens-guardian

“Wollemi” is an Aboriginal word meaning “Watch out and look around you”.  I am very glad I did today. I may have missed the lights I was originally  looking for, but I feel that I found another type of light or, perhaps, enlightenment, of equal brilliance. And, in a funny, odd way, strange as I thought it might be when I mentioned it earlier, I did find a Tardis; a Tardis in a tree.

The Wollemi Pine http://www.wollemipine.com/index.php project which is dedicated to the preservation of the Wollemi Pine has Wollemi Pines centres all over the world. There may be a Wollemi Pine near you. Check it out on their website 🙂

So, with a final look around me, I went down the path, across the bridge and home to tea.

© silkannthreades

Be still….and listen

My recent posts have been noisy and busy, by which I mean full of details and links and information. Today, I made a promise to myself to quiet my loud mind and try, try to be still with my thoughts and my post. (But it’s  hard to restrain myself; so hard…..)  Here goes; be still…….

I adore the work of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

I adore the work of nature along my garden path.

Blue pathway

Blue pathway

And did I mention that I adore the paintings of  Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres; the rich fabric, the colours, textures, details, the sweet plumpness of the curves….. every moment my eyes linger on this painting of Madame Moitessier, I discover new delights…

And did I mention that I adore Nature’s Canvas too, with its myriad textures,

Details

Details of Ajuga the Bugleweed

soft folds, jewel-like colours, tiny, ever-surprising details and

and silken opulence.

Be still…… and listen; do you hear Spring singing in the garden? Can you see the music playing?

Still

Still

“When the chamber of the scarlet-clothed Hours is opened
And the nectareous flowers usher in the fragrant spring,
Then are scattered, then, on the immortal ground
The lovely petals of violets; roses are wound in our hair;
Loudly echo the voices of songs to the flutes,
And choirs step in procession to dark-ribboned Semele.[69]”

Pindar

© silkannthreades

It’s been one hundred and twenty years ……

This coming Friday, 20th September, voting begins in our City Council elections. We will elect a Mayor and other local community representatives. A friend of mine** is standing for election to the Health Board. The fact that she can stand for election (and that I can vote for her) is due to a momentous event that took place on 19 September 1893. It was on this  date, one hundred and twenty years ago, that Lord Glasgow, Governor of New Zealand, signed a new Electoral Act in to law. The new  Act  gave all women in New Zealand the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

The suffragists were jubilant at their success, and this legislation made New Zealand the first self-governing country in the world to give women the freedom to vote. Congratulations came pouring in from around the globe. Our historic victory in tiny New Zealand gave courage and hope to those who still had a long fight ahead of them for women’s suffrage.

The campaign for women’s suffrage in New Zealand was long and hard.  The campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard, compiled a series of petitions, the final one of which was submitted to Parliament on 28 July 1893. It contained more than 25,000 signatures, was more than 270 metres long….and it was successful. The petition is of such significance that it is included in the UNESCO Memory of the World register of documentary heritage. suffrage-petittion_0 (‘Suffrage petition, 1893’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/suffrage-petition-1893, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012)

A mere 10 weeks after the new Electoral Act was signed, New Zealand went to the polls on 28 November 1893. In those ten weeks, “109,461 women – about 84% of the adult female population – enrolled to vote in the election. On polling day 90,290 of them cast their votes,” http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/page/women-vote-first-general-election

To understand the excitement and fervour of those first women voters, listen to this wonderful sound recording of three women recalling  their first experience of voting in 1893. Not only are their words wonderful but their New Zealand accents, so different from our accents today,  are too.  http://static.radionz.net.nz/assets/audio_item/0010/2521792/santk-20130909-0000-first_time_women_voters_1893.asx

Sadly, many voters no longer feel that same enthusiasm. In our last general elections in 2011, one million of our eligible voters didn’t use their right to vote. What a waste!

There are many excellent  links to the event we are commemorating today, http://cclblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/suffrage-city/ including my own post (not necessarily excellent 🙂 )

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/1802/

Kate Sheppard is worth more than Ten Dollars

Kate Sheppard is worth more than Ten Dollars

And, because of the international significance of the achievements of this day in 1893, I would like to recommend two blog posts about women and the recent elections in Australia and Norway. http://misslouella.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/sheilas-eh-who-needs-em/  and http://bentehaarstad.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/democracy-100-years/

Lastly, for the sake of those who fought so hard to give us the right to vote, and, for the sake of those women who cannot vote, or cannot do so easily and freely, when it is time  for any of us to vote, PLEASE VOTE. It matters.

** My friend’s Facebook page is  Vote Allison Franklin for Canterbury DHB

© silkannthreades