Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Story of a New Zealand Garden

This is my summer garden imagining itself to be Mrs Brayton’s garden in ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. My garden has a vivid imagination. In reality, it is nothing like Mrs Brayton’s, except in that there is “always something more to know”.

Star Jasmine
Hydrangea
Heuchera
My trees and street trees make for a mini forest
Under the Michaelia
Back Path
Under the cherry tree
View from the bedroom window
Star Jasmine Pergola
Feverfew

“Some gardens, like great masses of complex machinery, arrest and fascinate the intellect, and satisfy one’s sense of arrangement, of clockwork management. They have no mysteries, however, no nesting places, no dream-compelling nooks. But inside that phalanx of pines above the river there grew a wonderful garden with all these things; a garden of dreams, a garden riotous with life; a garden of brilliant sunlights and deep shades; a garden of trees that hid the stars and of shy flowers peeping from the ground; a whispering garden full of secrets and suggestion; a garden where there was always something more to know.” Chapter 3, ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ by Jane Mander. Published 1920.  New York : John Lane company; London, John Lane.

‘The Story of a New Zealand River’ is regarded as a New Zealand classic~ “… this is the first New Zealand novel to confront convincingly many of the twentieth century’s major political, religious, moral and social issues – most significantly women’s rights. Daring for its time in its exploration of sexual, emotional and intellectual freedom, the New Zealand Herald found the ending ‘too early for good public morality’. It is believed by many to be the inspiration of Jane Campion’s film The Piano.” (https://www.penguin.co.nz/books/the-story-of-a-new-zealand-river-9781775531326)

My garden and I wish you dreams, mysteries, life and shade, and always more things to know, in 2022.

ps This post comes with special thanks to Liz Gaffreau https://lizgauffreau.com/ who encouraged me to start reading ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’.

pps For those interested in literary connections, in Chapter 2 of ‘The Story of a New Zealand River’, Mrs Brayton mentions ‘The Story of an African Farm’ by Olive Schreiner. The Story of an African Farm was an immediate success when it was first published in 1883 and is considered one of the earliest feminist novels. It dealt, amongst other issues, with individualism, the professional aspirations of women, and the elemental nature of life on the colonial frontier.

My “Leaves of Grass”

Opus Magnum in progress
Opus Magnum, first draft

Sometimes I tease myself that my bowls and jars of pot pourri are destined to be my Opus Magnum. I toy with titles for this great work of mine and wonder if I dare to call it, “My Leaves of Grass, with apologies to Walt Whitman.” That’s long winded but my creation is long in the making and, like the wind, changes its form frequently.

For 2 years and a bit I have been pressing and curating petals, flowers, pods, and seeds for my ever growing pot pourri collection.

Peony
Poppy

Most of these pieces I look upon as lines for my version of a “Song of Myself”. Carefully chosen petals, flowers, feathers, bark, and pods represent seasons and moments in my garden, and in my life. They represent my abiding love of nature, my love of family, and my love of friends. In my bowls, there are representative remnants of grief and sorrow. And as much as there is sorrow, there is also deep joy and sweet memories of places and special connections.

My pot pourri, it seems to me, holds the story of my life. Occasionally, when the bowls start to overflow, I scoop up a few lines ( aka a handful ) of my story to give to a friend, especially a friend who may need some comfort or solace. The act of taking a handful is a comfort to me, too. It puts me in touch again with the feelings and emotions that came at the time of the picking and the pressing of the leaf or the flower.

‘Petals in Time’, lovingly pressed between the leaves of an old calendar

Sometimes I tease myself about my Opus Magnum. And it makes me smile.

“Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, ” ( Song of Myself 1892 version )

Ps: Did you know that Walt Whitman’s title, Leaves of Grass, is a pun? Leaves are, of course, another name for pages. Grass is another word for works of minor value. I think my Opus Magnum project and this post qualify as “grass”.

pps Apologies for the quality of the photos. I am experimenting with posting from my mobile phone and my mobile phone photo gallery. Like the Opus, it’s a work in progress.

Ramble

Rural residence
Reserve
River
Roadway

Ramble: walk leisurely in the countryside.

This week’s ramble was at Stewarts Gully on the banks of the Waimakariri River, a short drive north of my home in Christchurch. There was some rain in the air, hence the overcast sky.

When Friends Meet

When friends meet to discuss The Brothers Karamazov Readalong , the conversation goes like this: https://teatoasttrivia.com/2021/12/06/season-3-episode-49-liz-humphreys-elisabeth-van-der-meer-and-mandy-henderson-on-farewell-to-the-karamazovreadalong-and-welcome-warandpeace2022/

This was my debut as a podcast participant. It was a wonderful experience thanks to the gentle guidance of podcaster/host, Rebecca, and her chief engineer/techie, Don. Liz and Elisabeth were excellent conversationalists. I am looking forward to joining in the next ReadAlong adventure, #WarAndPeace2022.

Please enjoy our podcast conversation. And to quote Rebecca, “Until next time, dear friends, keep safe, keep reading, and be well.”

May 2022 be good to you.

ps This is also my debut on the new WP editor. I may be making a hash of things! I am wishing myself luck as I press Publish.

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!

Sold! a beautiful, unfinished retro tray cloth

Sold! a beautiful, unfinished retro tray cloth

Sold!

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.

BUT

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 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/02/19/catastrophic-cyclone-winston-bears-down-on-fijis-main-island-in-worst-case-scenario/  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.

http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-les-fleurs-animes  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.
DSCF5406
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.
DSCF5407
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.

Footnote:

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