Category Archives: Music

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

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

 

 

 

Does your life have a soundtrack?

Most of my readers will know  about the earthquakes we experienced in Christchurch  in 2010 and 2011 as well as the continuing  aftershocks.  The aftershocks are now minor and infrequent, yet the enormous impact of the initial earthquakes lives with us still.  It is inescapable. It is omnipresent.  The mark of the earthquakes is as good as branded upon us, seared into our being and into our land; indelible, ingrained, forever.

Yet our branding mark is no longer as raw and painful as it once was.  There is healing.  Healing which comes through significant milestones, like the recent  opening of  Helmores Lane Bridge; the only surviving 19th century timber bridge in Christchurch.

After 5 months of  earthquake repairs, and restoration work, the bridge is once again open to pedestrians and cyclists, and sheep! http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/83922014/christchurchs-oldest-timber-bridge-reopens-after-1-million-restoration

I didn’t attend the official opening, but the following day I visited the bridge for the simple pleasure of crossing it, and then standing midway to take in one of my favourite views in Christchurch.

This is what I saw. It was not what I heard.

I added a soundtrack to the video to drown out the earthquake reconstruction din which permeates the air almost everywhere in Christchurch.

The true soundtrack of our lives is an impromptu, improvised, unfinished symphony which I call “Earthquaked.” You can hear a bit of it in this next video ( and, happily, some birdsong, too.)

Unfortunately in my attempt to keep my video as short as possible, I edited out most of the noisiest noise. Hopefully, there’s enough left  to give you an idea of “Earthquaked”, within the first 48 seconds; which is the average viewing time on my You Tube channel. 😉

p.s. Readers who are sharp-eyed grammarians will notice  I have not placed an apostrophe in Helmores Lane.  It is my natural inclination to do so, and the media articles, including one by the City Council, on the opening of the bridge certainly use an apostrophe.   BUT it is my understanding that city councils in New Zealand do not  usually use  the apostrophe in street signage, and the New Zealand Geographic Board does not usually do so in place names. There are exceptions, of course. As far as I know Helmores Lane is not one of them. I am happy to be corrected on this apostrophe.

 

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

Along Came Funny Bones

Most of us like to post our best possible work, but, sometimes, our best possible work is not all that flash.

Such is the case with my latest video. The camera work is poor, the editing is  poorer, the captions are poorly synchronized,  and so on and so forth…..

Should I subject you to it?  Probably not, but even the poorest of efforts has some merit. Surely?

You may watch (or not) and decide for yourselves.

For me, there is merit in the slow-ish progression of the video, which gives one time to move through weariness and respite to  jaunty, dog-eared joy. There is merit in learning new skills, such as caption writing. And there is merit in finding my public voice again.

But the greatest merit of all is the mirth that came to me from the video,

because it reminded me

of how slowly I talk ,

and of another slow-talking character called Jones,

Slow-walkin’ Jones, Slow-talkin’ Jones, immortalized/mythologized  in song http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_coasters/along_came_jones.html and in  Cary Cooper’s film,  Along Came Jones.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAweLY10lUo

I started out bone weary. I finished with seriously tickled funny bones. The best possible outcome, I reckon, from my less than perfect but best possible effort.

ps I am not tall and thin, nor lean and lanky; I am more teapot, short and stout.

pps The monarch butterflies and their offspring have joined the cicadas in the garden  since I made the video.

© silkannthreades

Differing Sensibilities

To state the obvious: when people of different cultures and differing sensibilities meet for the first time, there can be life-changing outcomes.

I am thinking here:

of the literary fame that followed  Flaubert’s romp through Egypt; of  Maxime du Camp’s ground breaking travel photography;

Stele at  Karnak, Egypt, Calotype taken by Maxime Du Camp, French writer and photographer (1822-1894)

Stele at Karnak, Egypt, Calotype taken by Maxime Du Camp, French writer and photographer (1822-1894)

of  Edward Lear’s beautiful sketches of the Nile;

Edward Lear, near Malatieh, 1867.

Edward Lear, near Malatieh, 1867.

and of the courage of New Zealander, Ettie Rout, who, though demonized in her own country, fought strenuously and eventually successfully for the issue of free prophylactic kits to our World War One troops.

On a quieter, more gentle scale, there is my own life-changing encounter. It goes like this: –  with music if you wish, by  Omar Khairat  https://youtu.be/re78QlR0rhI

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I once lived in an apartment complex in Cairo. At the front of the building there were two small, square gardens, separated by hedges, and a concrete slab path, leading to the five storey stairway, at the building’s entrance.  One of the gardens became MY garden. It actually belonged to all the apartment dwellers on our side of the building. No one seemed to mind that I supervised its care. The garden opposite ‘mine’ was claimed by the building’s caretaker and his family. It was their domain.

Our caretaker or Bowab, Ahmed*, was of a weather-worn, indeterminate age. Perhaps in his 60s,  perhaps not. He had lived in the city for many years, yet he remained a country man at heart.

"The Banks of the Nile" by Sayed Mahmoud http://www.wissa-wassef-arts.com/bm.html

“The Banks of the Nile” by Sayed Mahmoud http://www.wissa-wassef-arts.com/bm.html

He didn’t have much time for the refined and tidy rows of my city garden. Grudgingly, he would admire the salvia, the gazanias, or the begonias, or whatever was the flower of the season, but it was his own garden that held his heart.

He was very proud of his creation, and knew each plant within it. He delighted in introducing me to the new, and usually self-sown, arrivals in his garden. But Ahmed’s greatest pride was reserved for his small collection of ‘baladi’ roses.

He had a half-dozen of these ‘baladi’ rose bushes growing in the centre of his garden, under the partial shade of a small pine tree. I don’t know how to translate  ‘baladi’ precisely.  I like to think of it as meaning an ancient rose of Egypt, as opposed to the newer  varieties that grew in my garden.

Baladi kittens with a touch of Egyptian Mau http://www.emaurescue.org/index.php

Not Roses but Baladi kittens with a touch of Egyptian Mau ? http://www.emaurescue.org/

 

Ahmed was rightfully proud of his ‘baladi’ roses. They were exquisite in their shape and colour, and scent. And, almost every morning, after I had walked my children to school, Ahmed would be waiting in his garden to give me the first rosebud, or buds, of the day.

Over time, this early morning meeting developed into our own special ‘baladi’ rose admiration society. In honour of the rose, and in the best tradition of meetings, our proceedings followed a protocol. Each meeting began with the presentation of the rose. I, then, gave a vote of thanks, after which the floor was opened to discussion. The words were almost always the same, but, to the utmost limits of my limited Arabic, we extolled the virtues of the ‘baladi’ rose. We exclaimed over its merits, and we expressed sorrow for the poorer relative who inhabited my garden.  We shook our heads over my outwardly lovely roses because they could never know the true joy of being a ‘baladi’ rose. In quiet accord on the overwhelming superiority of the ‘baladi’ rose, the meeting would end with another vote of thanks from me, accompanied by  an appreciative inhalation (aka a jolly good sniff) of the rose’s perfect perfume.

We loved those roses, Ahmed and I. We were devastated when the ‘baladi’ roses, perhaps tired of city living, decided to curl up their roots, and die. We talked about buying replacements, but, though Ahmed seemed to search everywhere, no new ‘baladi’ roses came home.

Strangely, the loss of the ‘baladi’ roses did not herald the end of our admiration society. Each early morning, as I returned from the school trip, Ahmed would present me with a rose or two picked from my own garden. The thanks would be the same, but we would wrinkle our noses over the paucity of the rose’s aroma, and we would commiserate over its deficiencies; its lack of integrity and stature, when measured against the one true standard of roses; the ‘baladi’ rose.

That same year of the death of the ‘baladi’ roses, my family and I left Egypt. It was hard to go; to leave my on-loan garden, our street,

Trash collection, our street, Cairo

Trash collection, our street, Cairo

our friends.

Shopping on our street. What's on Gallivanta's list?

Shopping on our street. What’s on Gallivanta’s list?

It was hard for them to let us go, too. The night we departed for the airport, Ahmed was there, by the taxi, waiting to say goodbye.  He first shook hands with my husband, and then crushed him in a bear hug. As he released my husband, I saw Ahmed surreptitiously wipe tears from his face. I turned away. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t know how to say goodbye to the giver of roses. As a woman, I couldn’t offer him the bear hug hiding shyly within me.   That was out of the question. I had not, in all our day-to-day contacts, even dared to offer a hand in greeting.  Perhaps a smile and a thousand thanks would have to do. But, before I could prepare my face and words, Ahmed stood in front of me, hand outstretched. Briefly, but firmly, we shook hands.  I didn’t hear his words. I didn’t hear mine.  I was conscious only of tears and the rough, earthiness of his palm.  There were no ‘baladi’ roses to give, yet, in that short, final meeting, we exchanged a priceless rose in a class of its own.

*Ahmed (real name not used )

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

I get by with a little help …from friends, flowers and family

I have been in a rough place since my last post. Almost a month ago, I wrote that I wanted to feast on life, not fear.  And I really meant it. I really did. But Fear, with its fiendish companion Anxiety, decided it was time to make a meal out of me. They set their teeth into me, tore me apart in their jaws, and tried to devour me chunk by chunk. Most unpleasant. ( I hope they got indigestion.)

Friends and family rallied round and helped me prise loose those nasty jaws, and patched me up.  But the struggle has left me tired and short on creativity. Yesterday was the first time in nearly a month that I felt energetic enough to take some photos.

They are not particularly good photos but I am posting them as a way of saying thank you to friends everywhere, and to family, for keeping me steady and upright in recovery.

You are the flowers around me,

The flowers that surround me

The flowers that surround me

you are  perfect companions,

Buckwheat, a perfect companion

Buckwheat, a perfect companion

and help to keep my pathway blooming.

The pathway blooms

The pathway blooms

And, just for fun, let’s lighten the mood with my song of the day

Postscript

The reasons behind my rough patch are multiple; some are earthquake related stresses, and some are family-related. For privacy reasons I am not able to discuss all of the family-related issues.

© silkannthreades

Lilts

Star-God burns afar
sparkles rata into flame
cicadas chatter
calling time on berries ripe
O Te Waru Haere Mai

February 2nd ~ Groundhog Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, First Fruits, Lean Time, Te Waru, Lammas,  Lugnasad ~ by whatever name we know it, the underpinning story is the same. The earth is sifting seasons. Do you hear its trickled lilt?  What does it sing to you?

Chilean Guavas: New Zealand Cranberries

Calling time on berries ripe

This post was inspired by Juliet Batten’s book Celebrating the Southern Seasons ~ Rituals for Aotearoa,  and Earthbornliving’s blog, Nona Hora, the Ninth Hour.

The Star-God is Rehua (Antares). Te Waru is the eighth month of the Maori calendar.  For more information on our southern seasons, read Juliet’s beautiful post on Lugnasad here.

© silkannthreades