Category Archives: Memories

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

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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?

Let there be light ~Baquer Namazi

Last week, I told a friend I would add joy to my next Advent post because it has been noticeably absent from my journey towards Christmas. Well, I searched for joy ~ I really did ~ but the closest I could get to it, for this fourth Sunday in Advent, was:

‘ Let there be light, let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.

Open our lips, open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord opening into grace.’

Let there be light

Let there be light

The quote comes from a hymn for peace,  written and composed in 1968 by two Canadians, Frances Wheeler Davis and Robert Fleming https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-light  It is one of my favourite hymns to sing at any time of the year but it seems particularly appropriate for this Christmas season.

May you all be blessed with some measure of peace, hope, and joy, now and always.

And, in closing……

I would like to dedicate this  post to Baquer Namazi and his family. Baquer Namazi was my husband’s colleague for many years.  He was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran.  As he is 80 years old, and in poor health,  this sentence is tantamount to life imprisonment.  Bacquer’s former employer, UNICEF, has issued several statements about his plight, all of which I endorse.

Here is one of them.

UNICEF Statement on detention of Baquer Namazi

NEW YORK, 6 September 2016 – “It has now been over six months since Baquer Namazi, a respected former employee of UNICEF, was detained in Iran. His colleagues at UNICEF, and especially those who once worked with him, are deeply concerned about his health and well-being – as we stated on 3 March. Our concern has grown ever since.

“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement.

“UNICEF does not engage in politics. We hope that Mr. Namazi will be treated as the humanitarian that he is, and that a humane perspective can be brought to his plight.

“Our thoughts remain with him and all his many friends and loved ones.”

The US State Department has also issued statements, one of which can be read here. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263245.htm

And President-in-waiting, Donald Trump, has, of course, issued a tweet:  “Well, Iran has done it again. Taken two of our people and asking for a fortune for their release. This doesn’t happen if I’m president!” (Note: I don’t know what fortune, Donald Trump, is talking about.)

Our family’s  thoughts and love are with Baquer Namazi and his family. We hope that humanity and justice will prevail, and that a good man will be released.

“Let there be light, let there be understanding.”

© silkannthreades

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

 

 

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming

The geese are getting fat,

Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you have no penny, a ha’penny will do,

If you have no ha’penny,

then God bless you. *

 

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming

 

I am in the  ‘God bless you’ category.  How about you? 😉   But I am rich in blessings so the lack of pennies is really of no account ~ but, sigh, I would like that world trip.

The Christmas is Coming nursery rhyme/carol has several versions. * The one I give is my memory of the rhyme I sang as a child.  For more information, you may like to read one account of its origins here https://treasuryislands.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/origins-christmas-is-coming/

 

© silkannthreades