Category Archives: Art

Return of the prodigal blogger

Yes! the prodigal blogger has returned. Did you notice that I  had been away, flirting with Instagram and loafing about on tropical beaches? Probably not. In any case, no need to rush to greet me with the fatted calf et al.   What I would appreciate, dear readers, if you are willing to indulge me, is some ‘sartorial’  advice, on the ring and  robe side of things. Good Lord, how I need it.

Fashion Failure or Fashion Follower?  Foto failure for sure.

Though, lest I judge my fashion sense too harshly, in some elevated circles  my attire, in this pose, would easily qualify me as a  dedicated follower of fashion.

Yes, well, moving on from odd assortments and mix and unmatch couture….

Very soon, I  will be meeting a little someone’s new friend. It will be a special occasion and I would like to honour it by wearing some purple accessories. ( Purple is such a perfect colour for important occasions. 🙂 ) Please give me your opinions on  which jewellery I should wear for our meeting.

 

As a thank you for your indulgence today, and  your patience with my absence,  I  give you the first, small posy of  spring flowers from my garden.

The first floral offering from my spring garden 2019

If you are curious  to know who the little someone and her new friend are, stay tuned to my blog. In the meantime, here is a  BIG hint.

Meeting Myrtle 2017

 

TTFN.  Hopefully,  I will have a few holiday shots to show you soon, too.

Celebrating Courage, Creativity and Grit.

One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is accompanying (and hopefully supporting) fellow bloggers as they discover, pursue, and, eventually, achieve their dreams.

As writer, architect, traveller, and dreamer, Virginia Duran, explains in this video clip,  achieving dreams requires  persistence, strength, skill, creativity, and a great team of supporters. To her list I would add courage.

Virginia has courage as well as  all it takes to be an achiever of dreams.   I was thrilled to see her latest post announcing the publication of  her London  Architectour Guide , which has been  described as an “exquisite travel book for anyone passionate about architecture”.

Other blogging friends with oodles of courage and talent, namely Cynthia Reyes and Marisa Alvarsson, have delighted me and many others recently with their latest achievements.

Much admired and loved blogger, Cynthia, and her  lovely daughter, Lauren Reyes-Grange, have just  written and published the second book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series. As Cynthia recalls in this guest post  bringing Myrtle’s Game to us, the readers, was no easy task,  and getting it off the harvest table into our hands became a full-on family affair.  They had to adopt Myrtle-like persistence and determination to achieve their dreams. In ‘Myrtle’s Game’, ” Myrtle and her friends are turned away when they try to join in a game with others. The friends walk away, feeling hurt, but that’s just the start of the story.” With persistence, patience, and practice, Myrtle and her friends prove that even a  slow turtle can play the game as well as anyone else. And, more than that, Myrtle  shows us that the best team is the one which is inclusive and allows you to believe in yourself.  

Marisa, who has been a dear blogging friend almost from the beginning of my blogging days in 2012, began her social media life unwilling, like so many of us, to even mention her real name.  We knew her only  as Miss Marzipan, mother to a toddler, and confined to bed rest with a difficult pregnancy.   Today, thanks to Marisa’s creativity and courage, and  the support of her loving family, she has given herself permission to  embrace the dream of being the author of a fabulous cook book ‘Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats“. She is also a wonderful, kind (almost magical 🙂 ) presence on Instagram, with 146K followers.

Another achiever and  blogger, whom I have come to know in recent months is A Voice from Iran, Laleh Chini.  Like Cynthia she lives in Canada, and, like Cynthia, Laleh and  her daughter  Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi worked together as co-authors to produce ‘ Climbing over Grit’. “The story follows the journey of Najma as she is forced into a marriage at the age of eleven and faces the challenges of motherhood with an abusive husband, all while the eight-year war with Iraq is taking place.”  The story  is a tribute to Laleh’s mother.  And a tribute to Laleh’s determination to write stories important to her and her family, and which, she believes,  are important for the rest of the world to know.

Now, if, like me, you have places to go and things to do, and if, unlike me, you have your own dreams to pursue, you may not have time to buy or read the books I mention here, but I would urge you to take a closer look at, at least, one of these strong, creative women and their achievements.

I celebrate them all.  And I thank them  for letting me  be a small part  of their dream journeys.

Special note: the photos in this post are not mine. They belong to the authors and illustrators of the books featured.

ps  I may not be on WordPress very much for a few months, but I will do my best to check your posts whenever I can.

 

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~the silent guest

 

the unseen guest, the silent listener, be present at my table

Who is the unseen guest at your table, the silent listener to every conversation?  The traditional response is Christ; “Christ is the head of the home, the unseen guest of every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.”

My silent guest list changes for almost every meal. Sometimes the guest is an absent family member, or a far off  friend. At other times, I eat in the company of  loved ones who are no longer living.  Often, it seems to me, my little table is a host to a multitude of  absentees. They outnumber those who are physically present.  It would be crowded and noisy, if it weren’t for  the guests’ gentle, profound, and caring, silence.

 

This post is dedicated to Eileen at Laughter: Carbonated Grace , and to all those who will be missing a loved one at their table this Christmas.

 

PS This is my attempt at a flat lay photo. The two flower photos in the centre of the image are not mine. They were a gift from my photographer friend, David Dobbs.

Silence ~an Advent Quest ~merry and bright

Said one silly chook to the other,” Well, I did warn you that your bed of roses ideas would sink us.”

laughter in silence, silence in laughter

THEN
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
‘Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.’
Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,

Daddy Fell Into the Pond by Alfred Noyes

Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~ the gathering Tenebrae

Light departs, shadows, soapstone sisters

twilight on dining table, end of day

As light departs to let the earth be one with night,
Silence deepens in the mind, and thoughts grow slow;
The basket of twilight brims over with colors
Gathered from within the sacred meadows of the day
And offered like blessings to the gathering Tenebrae.

from Vespers, by John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Feeling the Winter Blues

I am feeling the winter blues

but let me tell you

Story Time in the Kitchen with the resident Gossips

about  a couple of bright spots in these early days of winter.

First, a gift for me,  imagined and crafted by my daughter ~

Klimt inspired jewellery for me

Second, the arrival of a new battery for my old Panasonic Lumix camera.  Arrival? Yes, arrival!  One of the quirky aspects of living in a small country which is home to much other quirkiness; read, kiwifruit and kiwis and a pregnant Prime Minister

Kiwifruit harvest 2018; something to crow about.

is that replacement lithium batteries for older model cameras aren’t readily available. They must be ordered and then shipped to New Zealand.  My battery, assembled and packaged in Australia, took 8 weeks to reach me.  Delivery day to my doorstep was an event; a celebration; an arrival; an eagerly awaited occasion.

No longer am I reliant upon my little mobile phone camera to capture  my  moods with feeble clarity.

So blue over you ( taken with mobile phone)

Now, I  can focus on finding some light in the gloom.

 

Inner delights; feijoa medallions.

© silkannthreades

Ps Is anyone having trouble making the Cookie Policy banner on my site disappear after clicking close and accept?

 

From my desk ~ Chelonian Tales with a Difference

This is a post about two chelonians ~ Torty and Myrtle.

Torty is brown; Myrtle is purple.

Torty is a real chelonian.  Myrtle is an imaginary one.

Though time and reality and colour separate Torty and Myrtle, both are bound by the restorative  powers of compassion, kindness, and caring friendship.

Torty is New Zealand’s oldest survivor of World War One.  The story goes that, in March 1916, she was wandering near a bombed hospital in Salonika, Greece, when she was run over by a French gun wagon. A young New Zealand soldier, a medic on the hospital ship Marama, saw the accident and dug out the tiny tortoise from the wheel ruts. Torty’s shell had been gouged by the iron wheels of the wagon, and she had lost some toes. Her rescuer, Stewart Little, took her back to the Marama,  dressed her wounds, and cared for her. When the hospital ship left Salonika for New Zealand, Torty went to.  She became a favourite with the wounded, bedridden soldiers. On arrival in New Zealand, Stewart Little smuggled her ashore and cared for her for the next 60 years, until his death. Torty eventually found herself living in a retirement home with Stewart’s daughter-n-law, Elspeth, where she brought joy to residents and visitors alike.  When Elspeth died in 2015, Torty was given a new home with Stewart’s grandsons.

The story of Torty is told in Jennifer Beck’s  engaging  “Torty and the Soldier”,

Torty and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck

the last part of which reads:

“Stewart Little’s military service did not distinguish him from thousands of other Kiwi soldiers who served in WW1 in different ways. However, his simple act of kindness in a foreign land has provided the last living link with those who lost their lives in that war a hundred years ago.”

Our other little chelonian,  Myrtle, is an unusual hue for a turtle. As I said at the beginning, she’s purple; a rich, deep, decidedly purple, purple.

She is a fictional character, first created by author, Cynthia Reyes, 27 years ago,  to help her little daughter manage bullying at school,  and her ‘burden’ of  difference. Thanks to encouragement from Cynthia’s family, Myrtle has come out from her private shell and into the public sphere. She’s now the  star of  her own book.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes

In “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”, we meet a joyful, happy young turtle who loves her ‘turtley’ life until one day she bumps into a rude, bully of a turtle, who questions her authenticity ~ She’s purple! Turtles aren’t  purple! How could Myrtle be a turtle? Upset, bewildered, and hurting, Myrtle tries to un -purple herself, by rubbing her shell in the green grass. In the process  of trying to change her true self, her world is literally turned upside down. Lying on her back, stranded, Myrtle is finally rescued by  her three friends, Hurtle, Snapper and Gertie. They stand beside her, turn her over, and gently restore Myrtle to her feet. And, with kind words and compassion, the three friends help Myrtle understand that  we are not all the same, and therein  lies the wonder of each of us.  “We are all different from each other!” (declares) Myrtle, happy once again.

“We are all  different from each other!” #loveyourshell ( Can you spot all the chelonians? )

In  turtle terms, Myrtle’s life is only just beginning. I hope her longevity will rival that of a real-life turtle. I hope, like Torty, she will bring pleasure and comfort to generations. Torty’s legacy is one of loving kindness, reaching above and beyond the horror of war. May Myrtle’s legacy be a firm, friendly, loving stand against the ugliness of bullying, as well as against the demeaning of difference.

Both Torty and Myrtle are beautifully illustrated: ” Torty and the Soldier” by Fifi Colston; “Myrtle the Purple Turtle” by Jo Robinson .

And just because I can: –

As a tail-piece to these Chelonian Tales, let me remind you of the original, purple Myrtle. She was not a turtle. In the 19th century she became so popular (supposedly) that many people gave her name to their daughters. She’s a true beauty and she was the very first  purple Myrtle I  ever met.

Here  is her portrait by Robert O’Brien http://www.treeguides.com/ who is the excellent illustrator of the Texas A & M Forest Service’s   Trees of Texas resource/identification guide http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55  ( Bob O’ Brien kindly gave me permission to use his illustration for this blog post. ) Myrtle’s  full name is Crape Myrtle, or Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica. She’s hardy and resilient and, although she is a native of China ( and Korea ), she is the Official State Shrub of Texas.

Crepe Myrtle by Robert O’Brien (with permission)http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55

 

One last note: if you ever see the stories of Torty and Myrtle side by side, look at the colour schemes in each book and consider what they might mean, and how they make you feel about each story. Colour matters. In its difference, and its harmonies, it adds beauty and meaning to our world.

 

© silkannthreades

From my desk ~ Gandhi Jayanti

Today is a day for birthdays ~ my son’s; Anne-Christine’s; and Mahatma Gandhi’s. To celebrate, I am re-posting an article I wrote on this day four years ago. The original post and comments can be found here .  Enjoy.

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

From my desk ~the great debate

Here it is ~ the great debate which is swirling round my head as I sit at my desk ~

‘A Stitch in Time saves Nine’ or ‘Mending be Darned’.

What say you?

Behind me, I have a pile of darning, occupying an armchair. The pile is many inches high. It stares at me accusingly no matter  where I place it. I try to avoid its gaze but, like Mona Lisa’s eyes, it follows me everywhere. It’s been like this for months. I hear it mocking me, in multiples of 9; “Not stitched in time, 9×9; not stitched in time, 9×10…”

Not stitched in time; more than 9 stitches required

I am not a natural mender. Darning doesn’t come easy, although it should, because I come from a line of excellent darners.  My mother was a diligent darner, and could always be relied upon to mend anything. My aunt was a skilled darner. It was a pleasure to watch her work. Her needle and thread wove magical, near invisible, lines  through the runs in my school stockings. ( Yes, stockings, with a suspender belt…..I am of the pre-pantyhose generation)

My mother’s well-worn darning mushroom, and my aunt’s darning which is barely visible from a distance.

Did they enjoy darning? Well, there is a certain satisfaction  in making something whole and complete again, but I suspect it was necessity and frugality, not pleasure, which drove their darning needles.

Frugality and necessity should drive me, too, but, in front of me, there’s a computer which begs me to use my fingers and my mind outside the domestic realm. It makes me want to say, “Mending be Darned” and “Go create something new”.

So I do, make something new; a  phone photo, for my friends, for myself, of the clematis growing vigorously near the garden gate.

New Zealand clematis by my garden gate

That makes me happy.

But, truthfully, so would a stack of neatly mended clothing. If only I could bring myself to do it.

(Oh, shush, you there behind me. I can hear your sotto voce recitations, “Stitch! stitch! stitch!….  A stitch in time saves 9, a stitch in time saves 9…”,

and don’t you dare start on the 9 times table again. Remember, I know where the nearest recycle bin is! It’s temptingly close by.)

Sigh, the debate is not over yet.

From my desk ~ on the road again

I am on the road again.

On the road ~ inland from Mt Hutt, Canterbury, New Zealand, (photo credit to my brother)

Not in a literal sense but in an imaginative one.

I am exploring new territory in my creative journey by attempting poetry and prose readings.

Would you like to listen in? My first two readings have a New Zealand theme.

 

Reading out loud to myself or to an audience is something I haven’t done in a long while. It brings back warm memories of bed time stories, evenings by the radio, school plays, Bible readings, and some not so pleasant memories of  terrifying speech giving.

I would like to thank Clanmother  

and Wendy L. Macdonald

and my daughter for the inspiration which they have given me to pursue the spoken word again.

Now, on any journey, it’s handy to travel as lightly as possible. So, this week, I have not only been shedding the weight of my voice from its inner sanctum, but I have also been setting free some of my precious history.

I like to farewell treasures with love and appreciation, when I list them for sale. I do this by recording them in little tableaux. Here are two of my favourites. Together they speak to me of long journeys, strength,  and the courage to adventure, in the company of family and friends, and even strangers.

Commemorating the Centenary of Canterbury in Irish Linen

Time repeats its path…..in 2018 this 1979 calendar will be up to date again.

ps I would be grateful for feedback on my voice recordings. Is my voice clear to you?  Do I speak too quickly? Is it easy to understand the meaning of the poems and the prose?