Category Archives: Awards

Meads and Posies and Life

This post comes to you,

just because it’s spring,

A Spring 'Blue' : for outstanding performance to the sweet peas, hebes, phacelia, borage, forget-me-nots, alyssum, and clematis.

A Spring ‘Blue’ for outstanding performance, to the sweet peas, hebes, phacelia, borage, forget-me-nots, alyssum, campanula, and clematis.

and flowers demand attention, with winning ways,

Clover, sweet peas, and roses have winning ways.

Clover, sweet peas, and roses have seductively winning wiles.

and because I promised Tish Farrell , Writer on the Edge, I would  photograph my mini-meadows when they flowered.

'Oh may I squire you round the meads And pick you posies gay?' A E Housman

‘Oh may I squire you round the meads
And pick you posies gay?’ A E Housman

'Ah, life, what is it but a flower?' A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad

‘Ah, life, what is it but a flower?’ A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad

© silkannthreades

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Do you know what I know?

Do you know that :

~ instead of a bridal gown,  Marie Curie, “wore a dark blue outfit, which  for years after was a serviceable lab garment ” ?

"Marie Curie 1903" by Nobel foundation - http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1903/marie-curie-bio.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marie_Curie_1903.jpg#/media/File:Marie_Curie_1903.jpg

Marie Curie Nobel Prize Portrait 1903 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

~ 2015 marks the centenary of the execution of British nurse, Edith Cavell?

~ the  Cavell Nurses’ Trust is organizing a fund-raising ascent of Mount Edith Cavell  in Jasper National Park, Canada, 22nd – 29th August 2015?

Do you know that :

~ beginning in the 18th Century there was a craze for seashells called  Conchylomania ? As the name suggests, it was the shell equivalent of Tulipmania. Some shells were bought and sold for more than a Vermeer painting.

( This is not a Vermeer painting!  😀 In the 17th Century Balthasar van der Ast perfected the art of painting shells. )

"Fruit still life with shells" by Balthasar van der Ast (1593/1594–1657) - 1. www.ibiblio.org : Home : Info : Pic2. Unknown3. The Athenaeum: Home - info - pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fruit_still_life_with_shells.jpg#/media/File:Fruit_still_life_with_shells.jpg

“Fruit still life with shells” by Balthasar van der Ast (1593/1594–1657) –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balthasar_van_der_Ast

Do you know that:

~ Dr Maria Montessori, educator, physician, humanitarian, and founder of the Montessori method, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was an unwed mother?   Do you know she sought refuge in India during World War 2 but was later interned  there as an enemy alien?

How about this? Do you know that Florence Nightingale ‘owned’ about 60 cats during her long life?  Her favourite cat, a Persian, was called Mr Bismarck. She also had a pet owl named Athena.

AND

Do you know the Christchurch City  Council Library has excellent online resources, a great  Facebook page , and an informative and entertaining  blog  where, just occasionally, there are wonderful surprises, like the Kobo eReader competition, which I won  at Matariki ?

My Koboglo eReader prize, complete with sticky fingerprints.

My Koboglo eReader prize, complete with sticky digital prints (my own!).

Thank you Christchurch City  Council Library and library staff. 🙂

Do you know if your local library has a blog, or wonderful digital and  paper resources like ours?

Check out all the resources I found at our library!

Spirals in Time
The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells
Scales, Helen 2015
https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/881509037_spirals_in_time

An Illustrated Work for Amateur Collectors of New Zealand Marine Shells, With Directions for Collecting and Cleaning Them
Moss, E. G. B.
Book – 1908 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/161551037_beautiful_shells_of_new_zealand

 

Marie Curie And Her Discovery
Avery, Lara
Book – 2015 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/894783037_marie_curie_and_her_discovery

Florence Nightingale
Small, Hugh
Book – 2000 – Chinese https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/594982037_florence_nightingale

Rose of No Man’s Land
Perry, Anne ~
Pre-loaded Audiobook – 2013 https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/810767037_rose_of_no_mans_land

( Quick question. Do you know the history of Anne Perry? https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/heavenly-again/ )

Maria Montessori
Website or Online data https://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/578459037_maria_montessori#bib_info

 

© silkannthreades

The gifts of a lifetime

In my previous post I mentioned Barbara, giver of the Happiness Kit.

Long before the Happiness Kit came into my household, Barbara (and her family ) gave us other gifts: the gift of thoughtful words, like these,

Barbara's Words, School Magazine 1944

Barbara’s  student words about our duty and responsibility to establish a saner world for our children: School Magazine 1944

and the gift of Angela, otherwise known as my sister-in-law. This coming week it will be Angela’s birthday. This post is my birthday  gift to Angela. ~

I write a lot about reading; reading books, in particular.

This is where my official reading life began;  Lautoka European School,

My brother; the advance party on the reading path.

My brother, first row, 4th from the left; the advance reading party; my mentor at L.E.S.

a small school, in a small colonial town, on a dot of an island, in the vast Pacific Ocean.  My reading ‘prowess’ was acquired, staid word upon staid word, with the assistance of the utterly dull, ‘what-have-these-people-got-to-do-with-my-life’  Janet and John readers, and a young teacher who, whilst relatively benign most of the time, once had the audacity to strap some of us on the back of our legs for failing to recognise the word of the day on the blackboard ~ “BARK”.  I was offended, and still am to this day! WOOF! 😀

Despite this unfortunate hiccup in my early reading days, my enthusiasm for reading did not falter. I attribute that enthusiasm to the pre-reading skills that were nurtured at home,

Playing with Mother aka reading readiness

Gallivanta playing with Mother aka reading readiness

and at  my mother’s kindergarten, through play and story-time. I don’t remember being read to, but I do remember the books that were read and that I later learned to read by myself. Many of those books remain on my bookshelves.  Here’s a sample:

As I was learning to understand, and love, the written word in Lautoka, about 200kms to  the East, another young girl was already well on the road to reading her way through the world of books.

In May, this year, that young girl, now all grown up as Angela Namoi, was awarded the  Pixie O’Harris Award for Distinguished and Dedicated Service to the Development and Reputation of Australian Children’s Books at the  Australian Book Industry Awards.  It was a fitting honour for Angela’s hard work and enormous contribution to children’s literature.  But more than that, it seems to me, the award acknowledges how from the smallest of beginnings, a few, simple written words, be they Janet and John or Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie, come riches far greater than any we can possibly  imagine when, in that magical nanosecond, we first decipher those squiggles on the page before us.

Angela puts it like this in these excerpts from her acceptance speech for the Pixie O’Harris award.

This is a huge honour and something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie by Pixie O’Harris was a favourite children’s book of mine – who’d have thought that I would one day win an award bearing her name.

There are people to thank!……….

My parents are Australian, but I was born and raised in Fiji. My father was a missionary so we had very little money. Although our clothes might have been sewn from old curtains, it’s thanks to my mother’s excellent sense of priorities that our house was always full of books.

Growing up on a small island meant we were exposed to influences from absolutely everywhere. We read books from all over the world and I was always fascinated by the variations in language, and how connected that was to geography.

This has fed my passion for diversity of voice, so I have greatly enjoyed working to ensure the Australian voice is heard LOUD AND CLEAR in the wider world!

My early experiences confirmed the importance of books in a child’s life. The stats are there for everyone to see – broadly, a child who has books in their home is a child who will do better in life. I believe this passionately.

 

To that I would add: Congratulations and Happy Birthday Angela. You are much-loved.

Related but separate: two examples of Australian Children’s Literature

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

and  The Arrival by Shaun Tan

There are many more. Next time you read a children’s book, take a quick look and check its country of origin. You may find you are in the good company of an Australian. 😉

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© silkannthreades

 

“Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth….”

I have a lot on my plate; most of it is unpalatable and indigestible which means I have very little energy to write my blog posts. This is unfortunate because a couple of weeks ago, in a moment of hubris ( hubris in the sense of excessive self-confidence), I agreed to accept  Sheri de Grom’s nomination for the Travel Blog series.  And this means that, today, I should be  answering 4 questions about my writing process and passing on nominations to 3 other bloggers, as well as linking back to Sheri.

Now the latter instruction requires minimal effort and can be easily done. Many of my followers/readers will already know Sheri who writes from the literary and legislative trenches with passion and compassion for so many issues and so many people. And you will also know that her plate is almost always more than full. But, no matter how heavy, or over flowing, her dish is, Sheri always finds time to encourage and support other bloggers. Thank you Sheri .  I am also wishing you a good, steady (no speedy, please!) recovery from your latest setback aka as an unexpected tumble on to a concrete floor.

Lacking Sheri’s fortitude, ( but taking on board some of her relaxed attitude to blogging ‘rules’) , I am going to leave my travel blog commitment at this point. When I regain some verve, I will return to follow-up on my participation.

In the meantime, here is a photo taken on Saturday, when we took time-out to enjoy the tranquility of the Groynes.  We were in an area where visitors are asked to be quiet, so there is a wonderful aura of deep peace which blankets all who enter that space.

The Quiet Life

The Quiet Life

 

Deep Peace…..of the quiet earth to you.

© silkannthreades

 

The importance of May 8th

Today, 8 May, is the birthday of  Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint  recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.

Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂

Although the idea for the Red Cross arose  in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1.  So the IFRC  was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.

In the  Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand.  In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives.  Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.

I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not  imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.

 

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb (Street Photography)

Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.

 

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross. You’ve both reached a grand age and I’m glad you have.

Postscript of fun facts: The Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times ( four, if you include Dunant’s Peace Prize http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/libaek/index.html ).

© silkannthreades

 

Resting Places; a Trio

Resting Places; a Trio, in which I continue the theme of   resting  places.

This Friday, April 25th, we will be commemorating  Anzac Day , which, in many respects, may be more widely and generously honoured in New Zealand than our national day,  Waitangi Day.

Looking back through my blog posts, I see that I have made Anzac or Gallipoli references in at least 8  of my posts and zero references to Waitangi Day, which, although a tad shameful on my part, would be  representative  of how large the events of Anzac Day loom in the general psyche of our nation.

Be that as it may, here is my small tribute to Anzac Day; a trio of resting places.

1. For the Sons of Gallipoli

2.For Captain Charles Hazlitt  Upham, probably New Zealand’s most famous soldier, who was “Modest and selfless,…  and…. keenly aware of the sacrifices his generation had made to ensure that New Zealanders could live, as he put it, ‘in peace and plenty’.” http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5u2/upham-charles-hazlitt

If you could spare one minute and 56 secs, I would highly recommend a listen to the wonderful message by Charles Upham, following the award of  his Victoria Cross in 1941. His selflessness and concern for others are evident. I especially like the way he ends his speech with a very New Zealand,  Kia Ora. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/speech/54/charles-upham-discussing-his-1941-victoria-cross-award

Resting Place https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/3252/of Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham V.C. and Bar

Resting Place   of Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham V.C. and Bar

3. For many nations at the Commonwealth War Cemetery ,El Alamein, Egypt. ( My son inspects “the guard of honour”.)

Commonwealth War Cemetery, El Alamein, mid 1990s

Commonwealth War Cemetery, El Alamein, mid 1990s

A final note  on a great project:

“An ambitious project will be launched on Anzac Day to photograph all surviving World War II veterans.

The Veteran Portrait Project is being run by the Institute of Professional Photographers in conjunction with the RSA.

There are about three thousand WWII veterans still alive, all now in their late 80’s, 90’s and a few over a hundred.The aim is to photograph as many as possible on Anzac Day, wearing their medals down at their local RSA.”

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

© silkannthreades