Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to a Special Friend

I haven’t posted in a while.

And it will be a while yet until I make a full return to blogging.

But I am here today because my heart  wants to share an old post in honour of the 11th birthday of my best beloved, Jack.

Jack 2018

Jack 2018




From 2013…………..

Oh shame on me! My mother has just reminded me that it is my dog’s birthday today. I had forgotten. I blame the stress of having a flu jab 😉 Never my poor memory, of course! With sincere apologies and much love, I wish you, my dear friend, Jack, a very Happy 6th Birthday. You […]

via Happy Birthday to a Special Friend. — silkannthreades

Valuing the strands and threads

As if I needed any more challenges in life, but apparently I do;

because last month, I added  another task to my portfolio, by challenging myself to help an older family member declutter items which have been in the family for at least 60 years, and possibly longer.

As the expression goes, ‘What was I thinking?’  Some rather vainglorious and grandiose thoughts, I must confess, especially considering I haven’t even finished decluttering my home.  Be that as it may, part of the challenge, for me, is to learn how to sell online.

And I am  learning….. things like, it’s not easy to get your product noticed, and it’s not easy to make any money. ( I can hear some of the writers among you having a  knowing giggle!)  So far, I have had 5 sales out of the 6 items placed on the New Zealand  equivalent of eBay, known as Trade Me. I have made enough for two cups of coffee. 😀

Take a look at what I have done, and what I may do yet to add some cream to the coffee.


Sold! a beautiful, unfinished retro tray cloth

Sold! a beautiful, unfinished retro tray cloth


Sold! Vintage crochet thread remnants

Sold! Vintage crochet thread remnants

Yet to sell!

Yet to sell! Vintage embroidery cottons and nasturtium embroidery piece

Yet to sell! Vintage embroidery cottons and nasturtium embroidery piece

Unsold! Unwanted? Unloved? Uncool?

Unsold, potentially unwanted! Powder puff and crochet holder.

Unsold, potentially unwanted! Powder puff and crochet holder.

Yet to list!

Lister's knitting silk, reels and cotton

Lister’s knitting silk, reels and cotton; possibly antique

Looking at these photos, you might ask, wouldn’t it be easier and more efficient to help by dispatching everything to a thrift store or a skiff? Undoubtedly it would.


my heart says every item in my relative’s house arrived  there through love and/or hard work, and  often via much saving of pennies. Cottons and threads, for example, would have been gifted, or chosen with  care and extreme thrift. At one time, they meant a great deal to someone or other in my extended family. They gave pleasure, and comfort, and much-needed beauty, and, sometimes, a little extra cash.  So, the very least I can do is honour them and give them a gracious,  kindly send-off to a new home. 🙂

PS (post strands): Many of you will know that on  22nd February we, the people of Christchurch, will  commemorate  the 5th anniversary of the ruinous earthquake of 2011. Most of us were hoping for an easier and quieter  commemoration than in other years. We were beginning to feel well- adjusted to the ‘new normal’. Unfortunately, the peace in our minds was badly scrambled by a 5.7 earthquake last week. Old, unwelcome memories came racing back. And, as the ground has rumbled and rocked all week to varying degrees,  the old memories have taken a firm hold again.

Preparing  the old threads and cottons for sale, holding them, admiring them, wondering about them,  saying goodbye, reminds me that although we say, in times of natural disaster, that possessions are unimportant, that is not entirely true. Possessions have their own ‘life’, their own history, which is intimately connected to ours.  As I write I am remembering all  those people in Christchurch who lost homes and belongings 5 years ago, and who didn’t have the luxury of saying a proper goodbye to them and everything they represented; memories, love, beauty, place, friends, birthdays, hard work, extravagance, thrift, income, hope, laughter, grief……..

And on another strand; the small island nation of Fiji is  tonight meeting one of the greatest challenges in its history ~ Cyclone Winston  Please hold Fiji and its people tight in your thoughts over the next few days as they face the prospect of losing life and property.

© silkannthreades

Love Handles ~Love in ten lines

I am not one for blog challenges. I undertake very few ( too lazy, I am 😉 ). But what’s a girl to do when  the lovely blogger you persuaded to find a special totem pole in Oregon, nudges invites you to get busy on the ‘Love in Ten Lines ‘ challenge.  Well, not much you can do, except hop to, and fall in line.

Here are the rules for the challenge

  • Write about love using only 10 lines.
  • Use the word love in every line.
  • Each line can only be 4 words long.
  • Nominate others who are up for the challenge.
  • Let them know about the challenge.
  • Title the post:  Love in Ten Lines
  • Include a quote about love ( this can be your own)
  • You may write in any language

And here , Britt Skrabanek,  is Gallivanta’s response to your gauntlet. It’s a photo poem ( phoem?) , called Love Handles.

When you choose love

When you choose love

or love chooses you

or love chooses you,


Remember love has handles

Remember love has handles,


for love needs holding.

for love needs holding.

Love is not froth
on the chai. Love

is earthy, love is

is earthy, love is

the china cup, love
is the pot, love


pours the tea; love

pours the tea; love.


Yesterday, I spent some time at the Canterbury Province Field of Remembrance in Cranmer Square, where our Anzac Day will be commemorated on April 25th.  In the Field are 632 simple, white crosses, one for each man and woman from our region, who was a  casualty of war in 1914-1915.

Canterbury Province Field of Remembrance, Cranmer Square, 2015

Canterbury Province Field of Remembrance, Cranmer Square, 2015

As I walked around the rows, I thought of the unprecedented grief which sat at family tables that year. The cup not used, the plate not laid, the tea not poured, the meal not cooked, the empty chair, the hand not there to tousle a child’s hair….. there was grief; there was love with nowhere to go*.

Grief has softened with the years, and love has found a place again. Some of that love is in these crosses, all with handles;  most not known to us personally, but handles which we can whisper quietly, and hold faithfully  in our collective soul.

For those of you reading in New Zealand, you will know  there are many ways in which we are being encouraged to remember the centenary of the Gallipoli landings. One way which I have found meaningful is to place a virtual poppy on my relatives listed in the Auckland War Memorial  Cenotaph Online Database.  Perhaps that is something you would like to do for your family, if you have not already done so.

*  “grief is just love with nowhere to go” ; a saying I read this week in an interview with Cambridge author, Helen Macdonald. It is my love quote for Love in Ten Lines.

© silkannthreades


Thoughts on Palm Sunday , or how I didn’t become a chaplain.  The Pansy from J J Grandeville's The Flowers Personified 1847

The Pansy  from J J Grandville’s The Flowers Personified 1847

In my mid-forties, when I was brimming with confidence, and, yes, hubris, I contemplated a career as a chaplain; specifically a workplace/industrial chaplain. With this aim in my mind, I enrolled in a few courses to learn some basic counseling and communication skills.

The outcome of one such course, Basic Preaching Skills, was the opportunity to deliver a Reflection at our church at our first Palm Sunday service of the 21st Century.  I was very touched by the love and support of the congregation for my endeavours, but I am thankful that, later on,  the employers of chaplains were less supportive, and sensibly turned me away.

With Palm Sunday, tomorrow, I have been remembering my brief stand at the pulpit, so many years ago,  and thinking how my faith has changed. In my  own Palm Sunday terms, I suspect I have fallen off the untamed colt/donkey.

Here’s an extract from my Reflection, which, as some of you may surmise, is based on a poor understanding of theology and an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible.  The Reflection is titled Wild Rides.

“From babyhood in Bethlehem, onward to manhood in Jerusalem, God has given his people a leader, a healer, a companion in humanity, doubt and faith. This man has gathered, ON THE WAY, fame, friends and followers, and the requisite enemies, too. He is Jesus in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Elijah… he’s the Son of Man who could be King. But on Palm Sunday, there is a pause, a change of pace, between the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight and the whirlwind that follows the triumphal entry to Jerusalem; …….  Jesus, the man of humility, outspoken critic of pomp and ceremony, pauses, lifts his feet off the ground, and takes a ride. He IS the WAY.

In Mark’s description of Palm Sunday, we see a Jesus who momentarily stops directing and healing and preaching, who allows himself to be; to be adulated, to be carried forward, to be King. This creates a challenge….but the challenge is not so much to the owner of the colt, or to the Roman and religious authorities. It’s a challenge to us.

The challenge, I believe, is to be; to be like Jesus and accept God’s gracious offer of a ride into a faith that will move mountains. God loves us for the faith of our comfort zone, a faith that is scheduled and timetabled, that will take us through the week, through 40 days, or 40 years, if necessary; but on Palm Sunday we see God offering a deeper faith of infinite implications and dimensions, and unbounded journeys.

Jesus is the Way. Through him, through Palm Sunday, we know we can accept God’s offer of a faith that moves mountains. God doesn’t offer crowd control, or silent, unchurned stomachs, or freedom from screaming. But, if we accept what, undoubtedly, will be the wildest ride of our lives, God’s underpinning hand of steadfast love will not let us fall. …….”

Hmmm….well, as I said, I do seem to have come unseated from my ride in recent years  but I haven’t been trampled, yet. Which means that, despite my doubts,  I still find great comfort in prayers offered by friends, by our Minister, and members of our church. And, in various past crises related to hospitalization, I have valued, beyond measure, the support and calm guidance/prayer of hospital chaplains.

And I  value beyond measure all the loving thoughts and good wishes that have come my way in response to my previous post.  I am happy to report I am starting to feel almost as perky as these beautiful pansies, given to me on my birthday. 🙂 ( I am also happy my path led to blogging not chaplaincy, even though I have the utmost admiration for chaplains and the wonderful work they do . 😉 )

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

© silkannthreades

“With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod

In my post yesterday I mentioned ‘With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod. This morning I read this wonderful review of the book by fellow New Zealand blogger Ordinary Good. Enjoy her good words and her blogs as well.

Koru knits and crafts

“With Bold needle and thread” by Rosemary McLeod.

I loved this large, beautiful book that I recently borrowed from the library.
I will borrow it again so I can once again enjoy the gorgeous visual presentation but also the immense amount of information, history, and projects to dream about.
While it is a book about stitching and creating clothes and useful household objects it is also a book about social history/herstory in New Zealand.
Rosemary McLeod is a collector of textiles and fabrics as well as owning a vast library of patterns, designs, and magazines relating to handcrafts of every kind. She also likes creating things from fabric and textiles without using a pattern.
There are plenty of projects and instructions to follow in this substantial book (495pp) dating back from the 1920’s to more recent times. Bags, aprons (I remember my Gran having an apron made from sacking but…

View original post 407 more words

Alone of a Kind

In our gallivanting the other day, we came upon a striking eucalyptus tree, standing immensely tall and alone  in Ray Blank park. When I say alone, I mean alone of its kind. There were other trees around and even another type of eucalyptus but I couldn’t see, during our brief stop, another one like this one.Alone of its Kind

I am not enamoured of gum trees. In fact, I have been wary ,and deeply suspicious, of them ever since a big gum, suddenly and, seemingly inexplicably, came crashing down on to the back yard of my childhood home.  But, I thought this tree, with its silky smooth, pearly gray bark was worthy of a second glance.  It was a big, superbly healthy and beautifully shaped specimenSilky smooth and shapely

but it seemed so lonesome, so solitary; so needy of second glances.

Do trees get lonely? Animals and humans need, and thrive on, companionship. Is it the same with trees? Possibly, for we are all Beings. We, The Beings, may be educated, cultivated, integrated, adapted, adjusted, transported, transposed, uprooted, replanted, codified, modified, mollified, nourished, cherished and made better off, sub divided and classified, but our fundamental desire is to be; to be alongside; to be with and to be held within our own group, gatherings, kind, family or tribe. We want to be where we belong; where we are not alone of a kind.

In its natural habitat, the gum tree grows among many. Undoubtedly, this fine, isolated specimen at Ray Blank park is currently in a much happier place than its relatives across the ditch (The Tasman Sea) who are experiencing the horrors of fire and brimstone. But does it miss, deep in its core, the feathery touch of leaf against leaf, branch on bark, the familiar perfume of fellow beings on the breeze? Who knows but the tree? It  may be superlatively pleased with its solitary existence; ruler of all it surveys. Pleased to be without irritating neighbours and nibbling, scratching wildlife.

But, inspired by the spirit of creaturely communion,  I offered my companionship. I stood close by, lightly caressed the smooth bark and let our breaths mingle. For me, it felt like a  moment of togtherness. Eucalyptus smells good.Be still and know I hope I didn’t smell too weirdly and off-puttingly human! On reflection, we share the same water source so our essential odours are, perhaps, not too dissimilar.


As I stepped away from the tree, I looked down at my feet and saw  markings like this one on the exposed root systems.Imprinting

They reminded me of images of Australia. They seemed to confirm  how deeply imprinted are our roots. ( Sorry; it can’t be helped. Incorrigibility runs in the family.)

© silkannthreades

Playtime at the Park

Our gallivanting today included a visit to Avonhead Park.  I am fascinated by this park because it incorporates  huge power pylons. Usually I consider  pylons of this size an eyesore but, in this case, I think they are successfully integrated in to the landscape, especially the central group which is softened by native plantings. Marching westwardsThe park is often used by sports teams, so, sometimes, I think of the pylons as a team of giants or, sometimes, as giant spectators.  And other times, I can imagine a pylon as a man-made tree,There are trees and then there are trees.throwing its very own tree shadow. 'Tree' shadow

And, if my imagination really runs out to play, I can turn the pylon into a stairway to a star .Reach for the StarOr, with my mind never far from prosaic domesticity, this pylon could be my washing line, on steroids. Nice day to get the washing dry.  Hanging out the washingOkay, that is enough playing around in the park.  Time to head home where, thanks to these pylons, I will have plenty of hot water to do the washing.

Old School, New Times

When I was visiting St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru the other day, I decided to take a look at the rest of the school grounds. Rangi Ruru Girls’ School is, I believe, out for the summer holidays, so there was no one about to object to my nosey presence. The last time I was in the area was before the earthquakes began in September 2010. In the intervening months I have read about the damage to the school buildings as well as progress with renovations and new building plans . I thought I was prepared for anything I might see when I drove to what I remembered  as the front entrance to the school.  BUT I WAS NOT PREPARED; NOT PREPARED AT ALL.

I was stunned. Many of the buildings I had known in my school days, and since, were gone. It was as if the frame that contained a significant portion of my  life’s tapestry had turned to dust and left my fabric floundering in thin air.  A weird sensation. And to make the scene even stranger, there was the old boarding house,  known as Te Koraha, fully exposed to the street.  I spent five years of my youth in Te Koraha and this was a  view of the building that I had never seen before. It was almost scandalous; as though I had chanced upon an elegant, elderly lady displaying her best lingerie, and way too much flesh, in public. In her own way, she looked beautiful but completely out of character.  I wanted to shout, ” Cover  up. This is unseemly.  Someone might see you.”

Then I had a chuckle at my reaction and remembered a time, from long ago, when, for reasons  I now forget, we boarders decided to put coloured light bulbs in the entrance way to the boarding house.  I think we were trying to add a little warmth and vibrancy to our lives. But, not long after the lights were turned on, the Matron came down on us like a ton of bricks, (or in modern parlance, like a Te Koraha chimney in an  earthquake!). Someone, possibly even the police, had complained that it was completely inappropriate for a girls’ boarding school to have a red light at its front door. What were we thinking, encouraging every Tom, Dick and Harry to come and knock at our door. Help! Such disgraceful conduct!  The offending lights were promptly removed. I doubt if  even a quarter of us  knew the significance of a red light at that time!

And, no one explained how we had, in the space of a few minutes, moved from a right-living suburb to  a neighbourhood of debauched and misguided manhood; nor, how any of these dubious creatures would have made it to the front door.  We lived in a school community enclosed by gates and fences. To leave the school gates without permission was almost a criminal offence. An offender, if caught, was usually gated, and, for the serial offender, there was always the  threat of expulsion. Note that, though there were strict rules, many were unafraid to break them 🙂

Sounds a dire existence,doesn’t it? But I  was, for the most part, happy enough during the years I boarded and studied at Rangi. I only mention the memories of the gated lifestyle as a way to explain the incongruence of the reality  that confronted me.

After my shock at the view subsided, I felt glad, enormously glad, that the old House was still standing, beautifully restored and, once again, taking its rightful place at the heart of the school. Only now it is the heart of a  school that  is open to the community, with only the lightest of boundaries; as all good schools should be.

Here is the view that so shocked me. It will probably seem perfectly ordinary to those meeting it for the first time.

Old House, New View

This is the entrance where we placed the offending light bulb. Please note the door is now painted red. Does this suggest that our colour choice for a welcoming entrance was way ahead of its time? The Entrance

Eating Rocks

This week I have been experimenting with rock cake recipes, in an attempt to recreate the rock cakes I remember from my childhood. So far, I haven’t made any replicas but I finally settled on the old Edmonds recipe for Rock Cakes, as a suitable compromise. The recipe is basic and easy and economical. Rock CakesWhen I was a child I puzzled about why these cakes were called rock cakes. I thought it had something to do with their texture because, after a couple of days , they were sometimes as hard as rocks. Usually, they were all eaten before that could happen. It was not until my more senior years that I finally ‘twigged’ that the rock in rock cakes refers to their shape.