Category Archives: Books

Adventures

Like many bloggers this year, I am looking at Christmas through the lens of Advent.  For me,  it  is a way to salvage some of the sweetness of the holy season, as well as a way to ease the despair which often engulfs me at this time of year.

For daily Advent reading, I am following  Kerry’s Advent My Way https://lovethosehandsathome.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/advent-my-way-10/.  My own Advent story happens each Sunday. It involves fresh flowers and a reading.

Here’s how it looks so far.

For the first Sunday in Advent, the reading was a quote from

“Into the Darkest Hour,” by Madeleine L’Engle

‘It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss —
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.’

First Sunday in Advent

First Sunday in Advent

The second Sunday in Advent went like this

“After Annunciation”

‘This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.’
—Madeleine L’Engle

Second Sunday in Advent

Second Sunday in Advent

For this third Sunday in Advent  I chose an excerpt from “Christmas Bells”, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the American Civil War.

‘  And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” ‘http://www.potw.org/archive/potw118.html

 

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent

After the second Sunday in Advent, I felt spirited enough to set up a nativity scene, and make a Christmas tree with favourite books and ornaments. I had fun.

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

© silkannthreades

 

 

An Honest House: A Memoir by Cynthia Reyes

I don’t often reblog but Diane’s review expressed, so perfectly, my feelings about Cynthia’s latest memoir that I couldn’t resist. Thank you, Diane; thank you, Cynthia.

Diane Taylor

An Honest House is a rich memoir that moves through a ten-year period of Cynthia Reyes’s life. In the midst of a successful career, family life with children blooming, she and her husband move to an old farmhouse surrounded by gardens they love. It’s just north of Toronto. Against this idyllic backdrop, PTSD strikes.

An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes

A car accident leaves Reyes with debilitating pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its attendant depression, inability to concentrate, inability to sleep, nightmares, regimens of pain killers, difficulty walking and years of physio. The dream house becomes a prison.

In case you are thinking this is a hard luck story, it’s not. Good memoirs bring light into the world, and An Honest House beams light from every page. Bit by bit, from deepest despair to light-hearted jocularity, we accompany Cynthia Reyes as she “grows up”, to use…

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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

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

Welcome, stars of the New Year

If you were to look at a New Zealand calendar, there’s a good chance you would see 18 June marked as Matariki ~ 18 June being the official start of Aotearoa’s New Year. I have written previously about Matariki, the traditional Maori New Year and its connection to the star cluster, Pleiades, as well as its connection to  my life.  You can find the post at this link.

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/matariki-and-my-mothers-birthday/

This New Year, instead of a re-hash of my own limited knowledge of Matariki,  I  invite you to join me over at Juliet Batten’s  blog, http://www.julietbatten.co.nz/musing-on-matariki/ , where you can see the wonder of one of New Zealand’s own seasonal events through a different pair of eyes.  Juliet is the author of  ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Rituals for Aotearoa’. In her book, she writes with wisdom and clarity about our inherited ( Pakeha )  festivals, and how we can attune them to the seasons of New Zealand, and the traditional observances of the Maori calendar.

Despite Juliet’s clear instructions  on locating Matariki in  our southern skies ( “start with Orion, move diagonally down to the left, past Taurus and look low” ), I have failed to do so: mostly because I am functionally illiterate when it comes to reading the stars, but also because, this year, the weather has, so far, been distinctly unhelpful. Like this, in fact, ~soggy ~

Soggy boggy rhubarb

Soggy boggy rhubarb

with both night and day cloaking themselves in the same dark, dense, water-logged fabric.

Now, whilst I may be failing at star-craft and Pleiades-tracking, I have  spotted the return of another visitor, this Matariki. It’s none other than SOFIA, the ultra sophisticated and ultra modern star-gazer, from afar.

Sofia, a stratospheric observatory, is a joint venture  between Nasa and the German Aerospace Centre and will be based in Christchurch until July 24th. There will be 18 missions during the six-week deployment, each lasting ten hours. Although the main focus this year is Pluto, I am sure the crew on Sofia will get some fine glimpses of the Pleiades.

This is a photo I took of Sofia during her visit in July 2013. My old post on Sofia can be found on this link. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/2408/#comments

Sofia

Sofia

If it weren’t for the dripping state of the landscape,

Dripping Nandina

Dripping Nandina

I would have been out getting you a new photo of Sofia. But, as it is, I  prefer being indoors,    salivating over   gazing at the stars of my kitchen laboratory:

Tarte Tatin ( the first I have made );

Golden Tarte Tatin

Golden Tarte Tatin

Apricot and Feijoa Cobbler;

Sundrop Cobbler

Sundrop Cobbler

Poached Quinces;

Celestial festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Celestially arranged festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Piping hot pumpkin soup;

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup.

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup. (Do you see the pink monster at the window waiting for her turn at the soup bowl?)

Hmmm……looking at my kitchen creations, does anyone else get the impression that I am hungry for the sun? Thank goodness, the solstice and the rebirth of the sun are nigh. 🙂

Happy New Year. 😀

© silkannthreades

 

Family matters

I have been busy, offline:

learning about a network of family in New Zealand, Canada, and Scotland that was previously unknown to me; reveling in the new-found solidarity of knowing where I come from; knowing where I stand in the world.

David Millar, my great, great-uncle, born in Scotland, settled in Mangawhai.

David Millar, my great, great-uncle, born in Scotland, settled in Mangawhai.

I have been busy, offline:

celebrating the birthday of one our longest lived family members, my father; he turned 95 in early May.

I have been busy, in real life:

helping my sister put together a creative activity programme for our 92-year-old mother; it is already producing wonderful results,

Painted Lady inspired by Pauline King's art, painted by Mother

Painted  Collage Lady, inspired by Pauline King’s art,  by Mother

including an increase in my own desire to explore painting,

Playing with Paint by Gallivanta, inspired by Pauline King

Playing with Paint by Gallivanta, inspired by Pauline King

and to play.

In moments of down time, I have played with Facebook and WordPress,  and the camera on my mobile phone.  Using the WordPress app was interesting, but not particularly satisfying. I am happy to be back on my laptop, where reading, commenting, and writing are all so much easier. I am happy to have access to my usual camera again.

These recent days, offline, have been enriching. But were mostly made so because of  the wonderful inspiration I gain from my WordPress family. In particular I would like to thank Ellen Grace Olinger for encouraging my interest in colouring and colouring pages, and Pauline King,  The Contented Crafter , for her artistic support and guidance.

Family matters, in real life, in digital life, in history, and in the here and now. Bless you all.

ps: Having written this post, I went to read the newspaper and found this in my horoscope ~”Family matters are favoured today.”  Indeed! For once the horoscope and I are in agreement. 🙂

© silkannthreades