Monthly Archives: October 2013

Bee Wilderness

I am bee-ing uncharacteristically envious. My blogging friend  Ruth,  who reflects on life in central Christchurch, is now a host parent  to 20,000 bees. She is part of a “buzzy movement” to bring  bees into the city’s  green spaces and gardens, as well as onto the city ‘s roof spaces. I am envious because I would love to host a hive but, sadly,  most of my neighbours wouldn’t love me if I were to become a host family.  ( I can hear the complaints about bee droppings on their washing  before I even finish this thought in my head 😦 )

Sigh! But, even though a hive would be a difficulty, I do have a flourishing bee population in my garden, anyway. This is mainly because, this year, I have left the plantings, in my raised garden beds, to run to wilderness.

The Wilderness

The Wilderness

I was about to replant the beds with orderly rows of vegetables when I realised that, by doing so, I would be removing a vital food supply, and haven, for the  bees and  little birds. I reasoned that it was easier for me to find an  alternative supply of vegetables than it was for the small ones to find sustenance elsewhere. So the wilderness of overgrown parsley,

Parsley Paradise

Parsley Paradise

leeks, sage and self-sown borage

Self-sown Borage

Self-sown Borage

and  cerinthe remained.

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

My reward….no honey… but the  bee chorus  is so humming that I can hear it from at least a metre’s distance.  The wild growth in  the planter boxes is supplemented, in the background, by the prolific flowering of my  ceanothus   blue sapphire . They are a-shimmer with bee activity, although you would hardly think so, since I have only managed to capture one of their number!

Ruth’s bees may travel up to five kilometres to gather food. I wonder if I am close enough for any of them to visit me. Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did?  Meanwhile Jack and I enjoy the bees that are already here.

Jack bee-listening

Jack bee-listening

© silkannthreades

Thank You! and Go Me!

Go Me! says I. Go where? says Me. Who knows, we smile, because who does? I may not know where I am taking myself, but I do know where I am (most of the time), and where I’ve been.

Where I am, is here, writing my 243rd post. This is where I was one year and one day ago, publishing my very first post about Gallivanting and Roses.

What lies ahead?

What lies ahead? Beverley Park 2012

I have been on a grand journey, and still am on it. Yesterday, 28 October, was my first blog birthday.  Will there be many more? Again, who knows?

But, again, what I do know is that  I am here, on the unbirthday of my blog birthday,  inviting you to share my enjoyment in this day, in this moment.

Draw near and enjoy my  easy-care flowers, for all seasons, in a copper vase which has great sentimental value for me. It is one of two that belonged to my paternal grandmother and dates, I think, from the 1920s.

Silk and Copper

Silk and Copper

If you look very closely, you may find that I have cared so easily for my flowers that spiders have settled in and spun their way through the arrangement  🙂

You may also see little ribbons and little pictures like this…….

They are not new-fangled floral ornaments but bookmarks that I make using photos from some   of my favourite   posts.

As most of you, my blog readers, are also avid readers of ‘real’ books, I would love to thank you for being  with me today by offering you the gift of one of my bookmarks. They are very simple and ordinary bookmarks, but if you would like to have this tangible memento of our journey together, you are welcome to email me, with your details, at Tell me which bookmark you would like and I will do my best to send it your way as soon as I can.

Go Me and THANK YOU ALL for helping me to get to my first blog birthday.

© silkannthreades

“Ring the Bells”

In a recent post, I featured  Leonard Cohen’s  Anthem. The opening lines of the song call on us to “Ring the bells that still can ring….”  I find these words exceedingly poignant because the only  “ringing” bells we have left to ring are at   St Paul’s ,in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui.

St Paul's Papanui

St Paul’s Papanui

Our city’s main peal of 13 bells used to be in our old Christ Church Cathedral.

Our once upon a time Cathedral

Our once upon a time Cathedral

In the earthquake of  22nd February 2011, the bells came tumbling down, along with much of the rest of the Cathedral. As far as I know, all 13 of the bells are currently  back, where they were cast, at the  John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough, Leicestershire, undergoing extensive and expensive repairs.

When they will be heard again, in Christchurch, is anybody’s guess, considering the length of time it takes to rebuild a city, but it is conceivable that I will not hear these bells again in my lifetime. Fortunately, there are sensible people who thought to record the Cathedral Bells when they were still ours to hear.     But, sadly,  even a recording is not quite the same as the real deal.

At St Paul’s there is a peal of 8 bells and there is a  history of bell ringing at this church that dates to 1880.  These bells, and the wooden structure of St Paul’s, came through the earthquakes relatively unscathed, but some earthquake repairs were required and the church was closed for a while as a result.

All the work has been completed now and St Paul’s is looking fresh  and  revitalised.

And the bells continue to ring out, strong and true, on Wednesdays and Sundays.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that this church building, that has been on this site since 1877, has life and strength in it to last for many years to come; thanks to careful workmanship and the beauty and resilience of the kauri wood from which it was built.

For some of our citizens, who were anti-campanology, in a NIMBY sort of way, the lack of bells in the city must be a blessed relief. But, for me, an erstwhile British subject and  child of the Colonies, reared on the sounds of London’s bells, as formulated in that old nursery rhyme, “Oranges and Lemons”, a city is incomplete without the ringing of bells.

Ring the Bells of London Town

Ring the Bells of London Town

Some of my readers may remember the silence of the bells in the United Kingdom for the duration of the Second World War; they may remember that such silence leaves a hollow, a void in our sensory space, that is, somehow, deafening.

So, here I sit, trying to ‘ring the bells that still can ring’

Here I sit

Here I sit..perhaps with” rings on my fingers and bells on my toes”

Featured Books:

Early Churches in and around Christchurch by Derek and Judith Hamilton

The Mother Goose Treasury  by Raymond Briggs

The Children’s Bells by Eleanor Farjeon

© silkannthreades

It’s strange what comes out…..

My first peony of the season is blooming. In a few days’ time I expect to have a minimum of   two peony blooms , as I did on November 1st, last year. Dear Peony Plant, always so reliable, at least as far as seasonal timekeeping is concerned.

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

My peony’s heritage can be traced back to my  great aunt’s   garden in Ashburton.  I was given the cutting/root from my great aunt’s peony  by her niece. I watched her take the cutting from  a plant that was covered in  beautiful white peonies. Yes, white!

I have had my “white” peony for nearly ten years now. It took a long time to establish itself but, in about its fifth year, it sent out its first tentative bloom. It was pale pink 🙂 And, each year since, the blooms have remained determinedly, and stubbornly, pink; indeed, each year, they seem to blush a slightly deeper shade of pink.

No matter the colour, pink or white, or any variation thereof, I love my peonies. Here is my collage that makes the most of today’s one precious bloom.

Making the most of one sweet peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

In 2011, ( the latest figures I could find ), New Zealand exported 800,000 peony flower stems. Most went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. 35% of the blooms went to the United States.  Peonies made up only 3% of New Zealand’s flower exports. Apparently,  orchids are our top floral export. These are heady figures.

Perhaps, there is a New Zealand peony near you, right now, in a bouquet or vase, or waiting for you to gently choose it from a display on a flower stall; to gently sense, within its silken honey-dewed petals,  the essence of our southern spring.  Will  you sense that our spring is strangely warm….28 degrees celsius today?

© silkannthreades

Light in the Dark

Seeing as it’s very close to that time of year when we celebrate the  ‘light in the dark’,

A friendly light

A friendly light

in festivals as diverse as Halloween and Diwali, the beautiful Beautycalypse   and I were discussing our favourite ‘light in the dark’ songs. I mentioned Neil Young’s Light a Candle

and, before she turned out her Northern Hemisphere light, and turned in to bed, she reminded me to listen to Leonard Cohen’s Anthem.

So I did; listen, and then I listened again, and again. And then some. I ADORE (IS THAT LOUD ENOUGH?) Leonard Cohen. My words can’t fully express how his music, his voice, his poetry, soothe my soul. Although I must confess that, half the time, I really don’t know what he is on about, but, still, I  feel  his songs wrapping around my heart like a cosy, comforting, well-worn shawl,  saying ‘It’s okay, it’s okay, life can be lived”. Or something, like that; the words are faint; the feeling, the embrace, is strong.

Listening to Anthem, took me back to one of my earlier posts, Ring in the Spring ,   where I wrote that “we know, deeply, that even a broken bell has its own essential resonance”

Considering my recent visit to the  Slough of Despond, I found Leonard Cohen’s reference, (and my own), to the hope/light/life in cracked bells very reassuring; if not sweetly, sublimely,  uplifting. So, thank you Beautcalypse for helping to let the shine through, all the way to my small, temporarily “broken” place at the bottom of the world.

And thank you, too, to all my readers and followers and commenters who have been little beacons of light

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gently guiding  me out of  my momentary Slough. If I could sing like Leonard or Neil, I would sing an anthem to you 🙂

Instead, I will share my Millennium Prayer Candle,  which has been by my side, and lit on every important occasion,  since its  first lighting  on New Year’s Day 2000.

These are the words of the Millennium Prayer Candle

The Millennium Prayer

Let there be
Respect for the Earth
Peace for its People
Love in our Lives
Delight in the Good
Forgiveness for Past Wrongs
And from now on
A New Start

© silkannthreades

And sincere apologies to anyone if they  can see that I have now somehow  ‘earned” a WordPress ad at the bottom of my post! Grrrrr!

Despond and a piece of humble pie

The other night, when I was putting the house to bed, (locking the doors, closing the windows, turning off lights, drawing the curtains), the curtain, plus rail, in the living room came galumphing down and nearly took out my shoulder. After a few  of these  #@!%@#*! , I galumphed in to a chair myself and thought, “Well, that just about sums up my week; broken and broke!”  And I went from being in a funk to floundering in the  Slough of Despond.

This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.’

Isn’t that such a great description of despondency?  It made me feel better just by reading it and wallowing, for a while, in its awful miry  scumminess.

Most of my funk came from the outcome of 4 month-long pension review/battle with  our government pension department. It’s too vexing and complicated to explain in this post but, basically, the outcome was not in our favour. As a result, our pension income is, now, several thousands of dollars  lower per annum than we expected it to be. The review results were delivered, this week, in a pleasant letter, and came with the offer of taking the matter through to further reviews and committees; and was signed, yours sincerely, ( by a sincere young man whom I have come to know well, mostly through an exchange of  very annoyed letters on my part 😦 )

Yes, well, harumph and grump; I am not entirely sure I can be bothered with continuing my pension crusade. Whilst all this was going on, Vickie Lester at  Beguiling Hollywood   posted this quote, from Franklin D Roosevelt, which entirely suited my mood

Let us not be afraid to help each other—let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen and Government officials but the voters of this country.

She was, of course, using the quote in relation to the shutdown of the US Government but, in my dealings with Government bureaucracies and officials and official forms, over the years, I have often felt that there is a complete lack of understanding by Government, (and its officials) , of its purpose and role; that is, it is OUR service and its workers are OUR servants whom we ask to use OUR money wisely and for OUR benefit. Democratic governments were never intended to be our rulers, our disempowerers,  forever telling us what to do, and not to do, and which part of form WXB para. 8 c, sub-clause 24  we forgot to complete or completed incorrectly, and, and, and………….oh, and, by the way, does anyone remember when they last received a letter from a Government official signed, ” Your most humble and obedient servant.” ?

Thought not! That practice went out the window a long time ago. The Queen is about the only one who still remembers to use those words 🙂

Well, rant, rant……enough of it. To cheer myself, I made, and ate, my humble pie, otherwise known as  Crostata. The recipe I use is based on thisone  by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

I am relatively new to the art of Crostata-making but I love its easy, rustic free-form style. And it is very forgiving of mistakes and carelessness. My Crostata, this week, had a filling of rhubarb and apple, spiced with orange peel and ginger.  I used up some pastry I had leftover from a potato pie I had made earlier in the week .  Until quite recently,  I was afraid of pastry making, worried that it was too complicated for my culinary  skill levels. But, in a moment of epiphany one fine day, it occurred to me that pies were once the most commonplace of foods and, therefore, should be as easy as pie to make. And so they are;  with the help of a kitchen whizz,  a good helping of nonchalance, and a light touch with the rolling-pin and a good hot oven.

Free-Form Pie

Free-Form Pie; rough as….

Perhaps it’s not the best looking pie you’ve ever seen but it tasted absolutely delicious.

And to cheer myself even more, I challenged myself to make a sound recording. It’s as rough and ready as my Crostata but, hey, I did it.  🙂 Perhaps there’s still a little filling left in the old girl yet!

© silkannthreades

The sweetness of lines that endure and endear

My newspaper tells me that, today, 15 October, is Virgil’s birthday. He was born in 70 BC. To quote from Publius Vergilius Maro was a classical Roman poet, best known for three major works—the Bucolics (or Eclogues), the Georgics, and the Aeneid—although several minor poems are also attributed to him. The son of a farmer in northern Italy, Virgil came to be regarded as one of Rome’s greatest poets; his Aeneid as Rome’s national epic.”

My  poetry book “Poem for the Day”, edited by Nicholas Albery,  tells me that, today, 15 October, is the day that English poet Robert Herrick died in 1674.  Robert Herrick was well-versed ( yes well-versed !) in the ancient authors, and like Virgil, many of his poems are pastoral or bucolic.  He also believed that he would  “triumph over “Times trans-shifting” and live beyond death through his verses”

One of Herrick’s poems which lives on is Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn* about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
(* a lawn is a light scarf)
I think this poem is delightful. It reminds me, for the lace and the
petticoats, rather than any disorder, of my favourite portrait paintings by Ingres.

It  also takes me to the abundant and gorgeous

disarray of my garden.
This morning, I found the lily of the valley, like ‘erring lace’, here
and there, threaded through the flowers and greenery along the garden
Lily of the Valley is another of my favourite plants.
It was my maternal grandmother’s favourite flower, and the Lily of the
Valley in my garden was given to me by her eldest daughter, my aunt.
Like erring lace

Like erring lace

I look forward to its appearance, every year, in early October, and ,more often than not, it arrives in time to help me  celebrate the October birthdays of my aunt and my grandmother 🙂  Clever little plants!

Another poet, sometimes pastoral,  is Eleanor Farjeon, most widely known for her poem/hymn, A Morning Song, Morning Has Broken.

In 1965, the year of  Eleanor Farjeon’s  death, a friend of my paternal grandmother gave me  Farjeon’s “The Children’s Bells”, ( first  published in 1957 ). It is a book of verse for children but contains this small poem, titled Sweet Robin Herrick (born 20 August 1591).  Although some of Herrick’s poems have a wantonness that  might be considered inappropriate for a child, Eleanor Farjeon obviously thought  him too important a poet to leave out from a child’s literary education!

This day Robin Herrick

Was born in Cheapside,

His father he laughed

And his mother she cried,

So to sweet Robin Herrick

‘Twas given to spy The tear in the marigold’s Laughing eye.”

I have no marigolds at this time of year, so the best I can do, to  perpetuate  this  enduring and wonderful  poetic lineage, is  to show some photos of  the wayward, wanton disorderly  poesie of my garden

Floral Notes: Lily of the Valley symbolises the return of happiness. It is the national flower of Finland and the flower of May in the Northern Hemisphere. And its delicate scent makes it a lovely addition to a small floral bouquet on my kitchen window sill. (It was also in Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet 🙂 )

© silkannthreades

A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: – See more at:
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at:
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at:
A sweet disorder in the dresse Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse: A Lawne about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction: An erring Lace, which here and there Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher: A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby Ribbands to flow confusedly: A winning wave (deserving Note) In the tempestuous petticote: A careless shooe-string, in whose tye I see a wilde civility: Doe more bewitch me, then when Art Is too precise in every part. – See more at: