Category Archives: Stars

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

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O bright day, marked with a still whiter stone!*

My daughter, who rivals Wikipedia in the breadth of her encyclopedic knowledge of random facts, tells me that ye olde Romans would mark fortunate days on a calendar with a white stone.  I like that.

Today, 4th September, is the anniversary of a fortunate day in my life. I have no white stones. I am not Roman ( in case you are wondering 😉 ). But I do have some lovely white markers to place on this day.

This is what is going on my calendar:

a marker to represent my land;

Up the Gorge

Up the Gorge

a marker for my neighbourhood;

In my street

In my street: a clematis paniculata; possibly a hybrid.

 

a marker to celebrate my garden;

Michelia in my garden

Michelia in my garden

and a marker to honour my home.

My home; the centre of my life.

My home; the centre of my life.

Can you guess why this date is a white-stone one for me? If not, tune in to my next post. 🙂

Whilst I am remembering a fortunate day, I must also pause and remember another  4th September, four years ago. It dawned an impossibly beautiful, blue-sky, spring day, but but it was black, black, black, and the Romans would, quite rightly, have suggested a black stone for the calendar.

Pebbles:

A big thank you to my brother for the first photo taken in the Rakaia Gorge.

An equally big thank you to my daughter for her translation of Catullus*

 

© silkannthreades

Precious Jewels….fake or fine?

Jewel

“late 13c., “article of value used for adornment,” from Anglo-French juel, Old French jouel “ornament, jewel” (12c.), perhaps from Medieval Latin jocale, from Latin jocus “pastime, sport,” in Vulgar Latin “that which causes joy” (see joke (n.)). Another theory traces it to Latin gaudium, also with a notion of “rejoice” (see joy).” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

Precious jewellery from my grandmother

Precious jewellery from my grandmother, perhaps inherited from her mother.

“Sense of “precious stone” developed early 14c. Meaning “beloved person, admired woman” is late 14c.” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

My mother's autograph book; her own entry for 24 July 1933

My mother’s autograph book; her own entry for 24 August 1933

Another beloved, admired jewel in ‘my book’, who brings joy and rejoicing, is dear, true friend  Lisa Brunetti . A few weeks ago, I asked if she would permit me to use one of her paintings to illustrate a poem  written by my daughter. Yes, of course, she said, and sent, not one, but eight, beautiful photos of her work. Such generosity of spirit and kindness warms my heart to its core.    And, for those of you who already know Lisa, sending so many samples via her ultra slow internet connection was not a simple matter. It took time and considerable effort. Thank you, Lisa, friend with a soul as beautiful as a rare Ecuadorean Emerald.

My daughter’s poem needs some final editing before it is ready for posting on my blog, but here are a few lines, to put a sparkle in your eye, until the final version is available.

Lark of lizards, plastic little gecko,
how I love the echo of your calls,..

…so often past the midnight have I seen
you, gaudious gelatinous-fingered gecko,
munching moth-mouthed on the meshing screens

Geckos and their lives were an integral, and much loved,  part of my childhood in Fiji. As they talked and stalked their way along ceilings and walls, or simply rested, stilled and waiting,  they kept us company. On long tropical nights, we watched each other, and together listened to the radio and each other’s words. My daughter, in Cairns, is learning to enjoy and understand  their companionship.

No geckos for me, on this cold, hail-ridden, third day of autumn, in Christchurch. Instead, this  bright jewel came to my window during a brief respite in the storm. I smiled at the way it looked at me, and  I said “Kia Ora, welcome to my window.”

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

But, then, I wondered if I had chosen the wrong greeting because, it seems to me, this little one may not be our native Orthodera novaezealandiae,

but its South African Springbok rival, Miomatis caffra,

that was accidentally brought to New Zealand in the 1970s.

The endemic New Zealand praying mantis …  is currently wide spread through out most of the country, but faces the threat of at least local extinction in many areas because of the competition from the Spring bok praying mantis. If nothing is done to protect our native praying mantis, within a few decades we may no longer be able to observe its intriguing way of life in our gardens. http://www.canterburynature.org/species/lincoln_essays/nzmantis.php

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me, someone,  if this gorgeous creature is jewel or thief? True friend or autumn leaf?

[I wonder if our rugby board knows that the rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand has taken a leap off-pitch, and New Zealand isn’t winning. The Spring Boks are taking out the All (Green) Blacks big time, and on our own home turf.]

One last diamond to add to my post:

Before this month ends,  I will receive a visitor from across the Tasman Sea. We haven’t seen each other for more than a decade. In fact, we have seen each other only once or twice in the last 45 years. But we are bonded by a shared childhood and our friendship has endured. I wonder if either of us understood the sturdy ring of truth in these words, when Jennifer penned them in my autograph book on 15 June 1967, in our island home, Lautoka, Fiji.

A Diamond Friendship

A Diamond Friendship

Mother's Autograph Book 1933

Mother’s Autograph Book 1933

May your friendships be blessed jewels in your life.

© silkannthreades

Haiku ~ Do you hear what I hear?

Towards the end of last month I wrote my first, ever, haiku and I posted it  here.  Lovely followers and supporters that you are, you welcomed my haiku with open hearts. A couple of  bloggers, who are themselves haiku experts,  gave me   kind encouragement and information on haiku writing and its history. One of these bloggers was   Sandra Simpson  who is an  award-winning haiku poet, living in New Zealand. Check out her latest winner here.

The other blogger to offer  words of wisdom was  AshiAkira. He brought to my attention the  impact of the sound of a haiku. AshiAkira is bilingual and he writes that, in Japanese, the 5-7-5 “rule produces a very peculiar rhythm to our ear, which we think is very beautiful.” He continues, ” For about four past years, I’ve been trying to express that haiku rhythm in English, but never succeeded. I suppose I have written well over 1,000 haiku poems in English, but none of them sounds like a haiku when it is read…….The haiku rhythm has such an effect that it would stick to your mind when you hear it and you cannot easily forget it. So a well written haiku stays in the hearts of so many people.”

With AshiAkira’s comments on my mind, I went looking for the sound, the rhythm, of haiku in Japanese. And I found this.  At 1.50 in the clip, you can hear Matsuo Basho’s haiku, in Japanese. It is exquisite; it goes straight from the ear to the center of the hEARt. Listen and hEAR.

Now, listen a moment to my second (ever) haiku. What do you hear?

Take a moment and read my words out loud, for yourself. What do you hear?

oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey for the ear

In my  world of eye to the words  on  the  computer screen, or  eye to  paper page in hand, I am so accustomed to hearing the silence of words in my head that I forget the great oral, (or is it aural 😉 ?) tradition of poetry ; I forget that the noise of poetry is as important as they way it looks, as the way it engages our minds and our feelings. I forget that poems are a multi-sensory experience.

Do you hear what I hear?

What do you hear?  What do you see?

oregano star

Oregano star

Oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey to the ear

How does that feel? Sweet?  Has my haiku found your heart?

And how would it sound in Japanese? 🙂

Postscript: This post would be incomplete without a hat tip to the wonderful  Ellen Grace Olinger , who has been a gentle guide through the art of haiku, from the day I first started to read her blog.

© silkannthreades

The journeys we take

For a number of reasons, my Christmas has been unfurling more slowly than ever this year. I am still writing Christmas cards both for myself and on behalf of my mother, who remains unwell.  Once upon a time this slowness would have stressed me greatly but, in recent years, I have acknowledged  that Christmas is as much about a journey/s as it is about an event or destination. That understanding of Christmas  means I feel  free to adopt a pace that is suitable for the purpose of the journeying.

And, in Christmas, there are several journeys. There is the obvious spiritual one which  takes a lifetime…I am guessing…and usually cannot be rushed. There is the journey  home, to the stable to be counted, to be accounted for and, sometimes, to account for. Then, there are the Magi travels of discovery and inquiry  and seeking  ( the perfect light 😉 ) and these can be life-long too.  Another  journey which,  perhaps, contains the essential truth of every voyage we undertake is ‘the flight into Egypt’; the journey where we leave behind the familiar and the known and step in to the new, the unknown, the unseen, where we may find safety and we may not.  Sometimes, we take this journey by choice, sometimes, it is by chance but, by chance or by choice, it is rarely a journey embarked upon lightly.

This Christmas, our home was blessed by the presence of voyagers; my brother and his wife and their two sons who came from Sydney to be with us. With both our families we counted for 7 at the s table. We rediscovered the pleasure of familial ties, and we parted, unsure of what the year ahead holds for each of us, yet certain that we have one another for the road as yet uncharted.

The Emigrant's DaughterGraham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant's daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

The Emigrant’s Daughter Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant’s daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

With my brother’s tribe came a foreign traveller, far, far from his birthplace; a small soapstone (  Kisii stone)  hippo; come from the fields of Kenya to settle with us on  the plains of Canterbury.

Welcome, little one, what a journey you and your makers are on. What a journey we are on.

© silkannthreades

Preserving the sweetness of things

Our previous minister,  Rev. John Hunt, (now retired), would sometimes  offer the congregation ‘a sweetie for the sermon’. His sermons didn’t ever need any sweetening but he said a ‘sweetie for the sermon’ was an ancient Scottish tradition, and we, believers all, were more than happy to help preserve the ways of the old Kirk.  So the baskets of sweeties were passed from one pew to another and we, smiling and laughing like young ones at a birthday party, selected our sweetie and, then, spent the rest of the sermon, trying to dislodge sticky toffee from our gums and teeth. ( Perhaps we were not as young as our hearts imagined 🙂 ) Gummed up or not, they were sweet moments, and, although, I remember not a word of the sermons, I do remember feeling content and treasured and loved. Sugar it seems is a powerful  preservative of well-being.

In the spirit of ‘a sweetie for the sermon’, I  am spending time trying to capture and preserve  the sweetness of the current season. For there is much sweetness to savour.

There is the sweet fragrance and delicate tones of my dwarf sweet peas both outside

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

and indoors, mingled with scented rose.

Rose and Sweet Peas

Rose and Sweet Peas

Then there is the sweetness suspended in the flowers and leaves I  am drying for my home-made potpourri.

Summer Medley

Summer Medley with Tracy’s  butterflies

Potpourri translates as ‘rotten pot/stew’, which, hopefully, mine will not be, if I have dried everything sufficiently well.

Additional sweetness comes in a friend’s seasonal gift of  home-made  Christmas mince pies; so delicious they are impossible to preserve except on camera.

Stars of Wonder

Stars of Wonder

They are a scrumptious-sumptuous combination of melt-in-your-mouth sugary buttery pastry and ‘ barely there tartness’ of rich, fruity mince meat;   made, I am told, with the addition of apple and green tomato to the dried fruit.

So those are the sweeties. Now for the sermon. Sermon? What sermon?  My mouth is too full of goodness to speak.

© silkannthreades

Reflections on life gone awry……

Even the Apple is awry

Even the Apple is awry

Naomi of the beautiful  blog  Coulda Shoulda Woulda sometimes refers to the influence of the   Mercury Retrograde on her life. Although I try not to be too swayed by these  astrological ideas, I am beginning to understand just exactly what she means, for it seems that not only  is Mercury  retrograding, and rampaging, through my  life, but the planets, in their entirety, are at cross-purposes with me and my family.

The current Mercury Retrograde runs from October 21 to November 10, and I will be glad when it is over 🙂  However, even though Mercury is supposedly responsible for making plans go awry during this period, it is also meant to be an excellent time to reflect on the past, review projects, remain flexible and, I am guessing, generally ‘wait your patience.”

The world's awry; Jack tries to help us find out why.

The world’s awry; Jack tries to help us find out why.

So, here are a few reflections on what has gone awry and what has not and what it all might mean.

*Reflection One*

On Oct 26th, my sister-in-law ‘lost’ her 92 year old father to good, old age, and our entire extended family ‘lost’ a dear friend, and the world lost one of its best citizens. When you have known someone for a long time, through ups and downs and all the vagaries of life, it’s hard to find enough words to explain that relationship and what that person means to you. Invariably a long life becomes shortened and condensed in to a few small, but significant, words;  and ,for me, these words are goodness, generosity, service and laughter and compassion; and not in the  constrained and limited sense of their meaning but in a larger than life, boundless, all encompassing  sense. Take each word and stretch it as far as you can and you will have some idea of the wonderful, wondrous man we  affectionately called “Uncle”  Doug.  Farewell, dearest  Uncle Doug;  travel well through the heavens,  as you did here on earth.

*Reflection Two*

On November 4, my mother, who is 91, was unable to walk for the first time since she learned to do so, some 90 years ago.  Despite a good diet and daily, much-loved walks, my mother has, in recent years, been increasingly troubled by osteoporosis.  This week, osteoporosis won its wicked, hurtful battle and my mother has had to accept that life without a wheelchair may now be the norm. Whilst the current situation was inevitable, we all hoped against hope that it wouldn’t happen.  Not yet, not yet. Yet it has, and, somehow, we all have to find the strength to cope and make the most of *what is*.

Miniature Roses for my Mother

Miniature Roses for my Mother

*Reflection Three*

November 5 was  Guy Fawkes Night . It would also have been my maternal grandfather’s 119th birthday.  Each year, when the fireworks start skyrocketing all over the neighbourhood, we joke that our grandfather’s birthday party has begun. When my grandfather was little he probably did think the fireworks were for him, but, later in life, when he grew to hate loud noises, and anything associated with violence, he, like us, no doubt wondered why we continue to celebrate an occasion with origins so far removed from our shores; one that honours ‘gun powder, treason and plot’ and  vengeance. Ghastly!  My grandfather, like Uncle Doug, was one of the world’s good people; he was a gentle man; a man of loving kindness and peace.

*Reflection Four*

And speaking of peace, at the end of this year’s Mercury Retrograde we will come to November 11th,  Armistice (Remembrance) Day, where at the 11th hour we will remember a day and a time, when  planets, politicians and people aligned together, once more,  and the awry became the all right again.

Rose Day

Remembering Rose Day

“Army regulations allow the wearing of a small rose on uniform on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday, in a similar manner to which poppies are worn on Anzac Day.”  Both my grandfather and Uncle Doug were soldiers.

© silkannthreades