Tag Archives: ageing

Unboxed

Spring opens like a long-lost jewellery box.
From its musty, darkened depths, spill
gems of every hue: sunshine topaz; dewy pearls;
sapphires, sunrise pink or celestial blue; amethyst
of heartsease.

In the lingering light, my smile returns,
my soul stretches from the shadows, warm
again.

I choose pearl strands.
Gentle blossoms to bejewel old bark.

 

© silkannthreades

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Finishing what I started

Practising growing younger, as per my previous  post , seems to have made me more forgetful, not less,

The forgetfulness of youth

The forgetfulness of youth; it exists; the evidence is in the lost property boxes at schools. :)******

for, until I read  Sheri’s latest post, I had  forgotten I had yet to complete my contribution to the Writing Travel Blog. Sheri invited me to participate way back in June!  I made a good  start. Now it is time to finish what I started.

There are four parts to the Writing Travel Blog:

1.What are you working on now?

The answer, as I gave before, is simple; I am only working on that which is before me; this post. However, for a bit of levity, I will add that I am also working on growing younger. The budding, exuberant growth in the garden provides inspiration for this task.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since my “work” is my blog, I have to say that it doesn’t differ much from other blogs.  Like many others, I have a mixture of text and photos, some humour and some more serious moments. Perhaps, one small idiosyncrasy is that I like to have layers (usually of meaning) in my posts. Layering challenges me as a writer but it also gives the reader many options and angles from which to choose when reading my words. For example, you may not be interested in my photographic take on the apple blossom, but you may be intrigued to know that the  blossom is on a columnar Ballerina apple tree  , which produces full-sized apples, and is the perfect fruit tree for a small, city garden.

Another angle on the apple blossom

Another angle on the apple blossom

3. Why do I write what I do?

Nowadays I write mostly for fun but the ‘why’ of the blog is still adequately expressed on my About page:

  • to communicate our daily life to our family all over the world;
  • to explore the theme of Joy & Woe as expressed by William Blake in Auguries of Innocence;
  • to counterbalance the woe caused by the four large earthquakes and the 12,500 after shocks (to date) our city has experienced since the first big shake on  September 4, 2010.

4. How does my writing process work?

Usually I read something, hear something, or see something, that prompts me to cogitate on a certain subject. Ideas and words form in my mind over a few hours or days, and when I have written my post, in my head, more or less how I want it to be, I come to the computer and write it down. Sometimes the transfer from head space to computer space goes smoothly; sometimes not. I don’t like to do drafts but I do spend  time making sure a post sounds right ( to me); so that means hours of fiddling and checking and checking and fiddling before I press Publish, and send  off my work into the plein air of the blogosphere, to ripen and flourish under the warmth of your readership.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Final part:

To link back to the blogger who sent you the invitation to participate; that’s the lovely  Sheri who is a writer and a passionate mental health advocate, as well as a generous reader and supporter of my blog and those of many other bloggers.

Strawberries growing together, in good company

Strawberries growing together, in good company

To invite other bloggers to join the Writing Travel Blog.

It’ s hard to choose but, today, my thoughts are with Stacey LePage at  In the Corner and  Cynthia Reyes. They are on difficult journeys. They are wonderful, spirited people. There is no pressure to accept my invitation to be part of the Writing Travel Blog but your stories are ones I am honoured to share.

******

Who has sharp eyes? Is there anything that bugs you about the first  photo of forget-me-nots? Apart from the lack of focus. 🙂

© silkannthreades

Inappropriate language

Mouse ears  Myosotis  Forget-me-not to listen to our every word.

Mouse ears/ Myosotis/ Forget-me-not to listen carefully  to my every word.

I am thinking about ageing; specifically, the inappropriate language we use to describe the ageing process. We speak about decline, deterioration, dementia,  diminishment and loss of dignity. Our words depict a downward spiral, and a negation of being.   We talk of growing old, yet that is only what happens in numerical terms. In reality we grow younger. We become part of a re-creation, a transformation, of our body and mind. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really not so curious at all.  Most of us will become infant-like towards the end of our earthly life.

My mother spends most of her time in a day chair. She is bone-weary. She finds it hard to accept her ‘re-creation”. She misses her walking and reading, and a clear mind.

In a quiet moment during my recent visit, she said,” Someone said to me,  I think it was Pop, ‘Don’t get old, K….., old age is a bugger’.”  We chuckled wryly about her father-in-law’s statement. In today’s terms, he was not old when he gave his words of wisdom. However, he followed his own advice and died in his early seventies. His stubborn daughter-in-law  took no heed but, now, at 92 is beginning to understand the aches and pains and ennui  that prompted those words.

Yet, despite the undeniable physical discomfort associated with increasing years, my mother’s perspective on age and that of my grandfather are part of a culture that sees age as a disability,  an indignity, a vexation and a condition that requires separation from mainstream society in nursing homes or gated retirement complexes*.

Is it possible to change our perceptions of ageing by changing our language? As does John O’Donohue…

For Old Age

May the light of your soul mind you.
May all your worry and anxiousness about your age
Be transfigured.
……
from John O’Donohue’s ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’.

Without devaluing a long life and the wisdom gained, could we not accept and cherish the re-creation/ transformation we undergo as the years add up?. Can we teach ourselves to look forward to a time when we are as helpless and loved as a new-born baby?  Can we  learn to say to ourselves, ” I am not growing older. I am growing younger by the minute. And I am fine with that.” A tall order!  But not impossible.

Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Although my mother follows the Christian faith, her confidante and special companion for many years has been  the Laughing Buddha. Some years ago she gave me a Laughing Buddha, too. He sits on my table and keeps me company. The Laughing Buddha speaks a universal language. It has no age. It is timeless. Can you hear it in his laughing smile?

 

* As I have said in previous posts, some retirement communities work well for people. They provide security and good living conditions.  However, I still find it odd that we consider it acceptable to ‘corral’ the older members of  our society. We would not, perhaps, accept these types of living situations so easily for other age groups, so why do we readily allow special areas for the elderly? Is it because of the profit that can be made from their perceived need?

© silkannthreades

Such a pretty me…. a true story

So, in her older and, most likely, dowdier years, my great great grandmother was gifted a ketch* . How, I wonder, did she feel about that? Did her spirits expand with the unfurling of the sails?  Did she feel elated, rejuvenated, loved, twirly, joyous,  prettyfull…..?

… And much the same as I did, when in my older and flabbier years, ( as in, right now 😉 ),  I received the gift of a sketch, straight from the kind heart of the lovely Lucy at Visual Fling. Not a randomly selected sketch, but one specifically of me, for me, and carrying my name. Here it is: Gallivanta’s Herb Garden.

Gallivanta's Herb Garden by LucyJartz  http://visualfling.com/2014/08/18/gallivantas-herb-garden/#comments

Gallivanta’s Herb Garden by  LucyJartz

How generous is that?  How beautiful is that?

It’s not often that those of us who belong to the ageing, greying, wrinkling Ordinaries of the world are honoured in graceful works of art, be it in the form of ketch or sketch. When it happens, it’s time to express delight and exuberance; time to celebrate our reimagined looks, like this ~

If, after listening to the gorgeous Julie Andrews, you would like to know about the pretty wonderful boy in my life, take a peek here.  Adorable, and ever so handsome, isn’t he? With eyes that reach  the truth of this story; which is the beauty of the soul.

Artistic Licence:

* Ketch is my linguistic paintbrush at work. Amelia Sims was a topsail schooner.

Although the sketch Gallivanta’s Herb Garden has been gifted to me, the copyright is owned by Lucy at Visual Fling. Please do not copy or reproduce this image without permission from Lucy at http://visualfling.com/about/

© silkannthreades

 

Imagine

In December, last year, Letizia of reading interrupted. wrote about A Novel Gift.

She told us this:

In 1956, Harper Lee received a unique Christmas gift. Her friends, Michael and Joy Brown, offered her one year’s salary on the condition that she quit her job and dedicate herself to her writing.

The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is a remarkable story of modern-day generosity; citizen to citizen. It is a remarkable story of faith in a friend’s  potential. It is a story of belief in an individual’s ability to make a difference to the outcome of another’s  creative dreams and aspirations; and, thereby, create a richer, better world for all of us.

Most of us are not in a position to be as generous as the Browns, but we all have immense power to  contribute a little to  artistic friends and communities.

We do this by buying bloggers’/friends’ books,

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Spirited Ageing by Juliet Batten https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/3902/  Spirited Ageing

Spirited Ageing by  Juliet Batten

Sweet dreams and good health https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/4346/

Sweet dreams and good health; a book of hours  by Sophia Stuart

 

Nose in a Good Book

Nose in a Good Book

Wow, Bumble, what a story http://tinylessonsblog.com/2014/06/23/a-decorated-rescue-dog-stitches-galore/#comments

Wow, Bumble, what a story by Bumble and Tiny

by reviewing them,

by giving a friendly shout-out;

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzahhttps://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/in-other-news-of-caterpillars-and-kindnesses/

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

and some of us organise  writing contests, cater for a friend’s concert, donate to crowd-sourcing; and even provide the most basic of support, in the form of very  welcome meals to ‘starving’ artists. And, in return, our lives are enriched by wonderful music and writing and art. Not every artistic endeavour will reach the dizzying heights of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that does not  mean those works we do support, and encourage, are any the less valuable to the general enrichment of humanity. Imagine, if you will, a world of people, well sponsored/cared for by each other, and, thus, all so busy with creative activities that there is neither the time nor the energy to pick up guns and warmonger; to de-create. Imagine! Imagine that with just a ‘little’ it may be  in our power to create that world.

Mmmm….not sure what would happen to the laundry and the dusting and the weeding and the planting in such a  creative scenario but, I  guess, they could be squeezed in somewhere.

Postscript

As I was completing this post, the news came through of the death of Michael Brown. Here is a  link  to the New York Times article.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of May 8th

Today, 8 May, is the birthday of  Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint  recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.

Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂

Although the idea for the Red Cross arose  in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1.  So the IFRC  was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.

In the  Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand.  In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives.  Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.

I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not  imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.

 

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb (Street Photography)

Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.

 

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross. You’ve both reached a grand age and I’m glad you have.

Postscript of fun facts: The Red Cross has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times ( four, if you include Dunant’s Peace Prize http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/libaek/index.html ).

© silkannthreades

 

Exploring “Spirited Ageing”

Two weeks into the New Year and I have finished reading my first book for 2014, albeit one I started some time back, in 2013. The book, which I have been reading, at a very leisurely pace, is  Spirited Ageing ~cultivating the art of renewal   ~ by  Juliet Batten .

Juliet, in her book, tackles, with a delightful combination of grace and common sense, the subject of preparing for one’s old age. She invites the us “into the adventure of conscious ageing”  and  provides basic, easy-to-follow, strategies to help us discover our source of energy,  the “illumination” or “regenopause”, upon which  we can draw  to fuel  a ‘ vibrant’ and ‘expansive’ old age. She also invites us to, amongst other things,  care for the soul, do new things constantly, identify treasure and clutter, bring creativity into our lives, and to focus on increasing the  renewable *spirit* of our being, as our physical capacity diminishes.

Clap your hands and sing

Clap your hands and sing

With Juliet’s suggestions in mind, I have been enriching my spirit, in recent days,  by researching  a post I meant to write more than a week ago; a post to acknowledge the closure of one Christmas season on January 6th and   the beginning of  another; that of the Coptic Churches, on  January 7th. I would have gotten to this *work* sooner, if it weren’t for those mayhem-making Moments you may remember from my previous post 😉 . However, when the subject of the post is of a  millennial vintage, a delay of a moment or two, or three ,or four, is neither here nor there.

So, with research completed, here is that delayed post, which has two parts:

Part One;

a visit to  the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland  to gaze upon  the Museum’s collection of Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts and icons;

Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ

Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ : Early 15th Century, Tempera on Wood

The Walters Art Museum has “one of the largest collections of manuscripts, icons and processional crosses outside of Ethiopia. Historically, Ethiopia was a Christian kingdom with strong ties in both trade and religion to the cultures located around the Mediterranean. Ethiopia’s Christian tradition dates back to the 4th century, when the ruler of the Aksumite kingdom converted to Christianity; by the 15th century, this African nation had developed a tradition of icon painting that rivaled that of the Orthodox empires.http://art.thewalters.org/browse/category/ethiopia/

and Part Two;

an introduction to the three books I will be reading, now that I have finished “Spirited Ageing”. All three books are by  Elizabeth E Wein ~ The Winter PrinceA Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird. They are visually beautiful books and lovely to hold, as well. I am eager to stretch my imagination and  embark on the adventures they promise in ancient, mythical lands.

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But, in case, you should think, with this post, that I am already lost to  those most ancient of days, I am pleased to report  some relatively recent news, which is  that the city of Vancouver has banned doorknobs in all apartment buildings and   private homes to be built after March 2014. http://www.vancouversun.com/story.html?id=9173543  They will be required to have easier-to-use, universal design levers. That’s the spirit Vancouver City! May I come and spend my old age with you?  🙂

© silkannthreades