Tag Archives: Allen and Unwin

More flowers, more guests, a birthday, and beguiling mysteries

Continuing the story of my blogcation….( Will it ever end? Yes, but not quite yet.)

 

More flowers

New Zealand Cranberries in pink glass

New Zealand Cranberries in pink glass

for more guests

More guests :)

More guests ūüôā

and for a birthday….mine!

Birthday Flowers

Birthday Flowers

Update:

The sun was shining when I took these photos almost a month ago but, today, our city’s land and rivers are trying (and failing) to cope with 70mm of rain (in the past 24 hours), with more to come. My garden is a mud puddle which makes me feel that it’s an appropriate time to confess that I am a little bit of a¬† stick-in-the-mud type, when it comes to my literary tastes.¬† I like my¬† “Diary of a Provincial Lady” or my¬†Rumer Godden, and many things quiet and genteel, and gently humorous. Adventure is not my middle name (it’s Amanda, actually ūüėČ ) when it comes to books. But, every now and then, someone, like my good, well-read, sister-in-law, gives me a nudge and sends me¬† books like¬† Two for Sorrow ,¬† The Sunbird or¬† The Distant Hours or¬†The Luminaries;¬† and I have a blast shaking loose from my usual reading habits.

The other day, I was given a similar, small nudge from blogger Vickie Lester at¬†Beguiling Hollywood.¬†¬† She entrusted me with her precious manuscript for her soon to be self-published novel,¬† IT’S IN HIS KISS,¬† with the idea that I might blog about it. I wasn’t sure, at first, but, once I started reading, I was hooked. Once again, with just a teeny step out of my comfort zone,¬† I am having a blast. How could I not? The main character is witty,¬† believable, and has my last name, Anne.

So, now, you ask, what is my first name?¬† I’ll leave you to guess. And I may not tell you even if you guess right because, like Ms Lester, I enjoy keeping a few secrets and a little mystery about myself.¬† Life is more beguiling that way ūüôā .

© silkannthreades

Rubens and the Quince..a Retrospective

There are some images which, once imaged on one’s inner eyeball, are almost impossible to erase.¬† Rather like the earworm, but with eyes.

Take this, for example, which I stumbled upon whilst looking for ways to prepare quince.

“I love the quince’s shape, its generous curves and bulges. It is a voluptuous, even magnificent fruit to look at, like a Rubens bottom.”(Nigel Slater)

Why, yes, Nigel Slater, why yes, I now see that it does, but, sadly, this revelation means  I will never be able to look at a quince in the face again, and certainly not with a straight face, on my own visage. If you would like to see the connection between quinces and Rubens, gaze on these beauties that my forager friend brought me, a few weeks back,

Quinces, faire  and fulsome

Quinces, faire and fulsome, with bay and pear and lemon

Quince, faire and rubenesque

Quince, faire and rubenesque

and, then, check out  the works of Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

Not withstanding the mirthful imagery, Mr Slater did provide an excellent recipe for cooking quinces, first by poaching, then by baking them to persimmon-toned, bejewelled  tenderness. The fresh, delicate, faintly rose like perfume of the quinces filled the kitchen during the slow cooking process. And it made me think how this aroma, so rare for me, and many other modern house-persons,  was, once, long ago, a  more common scent in New Zealand homes.

Poached and baked quinces in Haddon Hall bowl

Poached and baked quinces in  Haddon Hall bowl

¬†For, even as early as 1820,¬† the plans for the Kerikeri mission station garden in the North Island of New Zealand contained quince trees.¬†¬† I wonder if the rubenesque appearance of the fruit crossed the mission’s collective eye . Perhaps they were more interested, as most early settlers were, in the basic food value, rather than the aesthetics, of their garden produce.

George Butler Earp, who wrote¬† Hand-book for Intending Emigrants to the Southern Settlements of New Zealand, (1851) 3rd ed, W S Orr, London, said of New Zealand gardens¬† (in 1852) that ” no English garden, however expensively kept up, can for a moment vie with the beauty of a cottagers’ garden in New Zealand in the beauty of its shrubs, to say nothing of the vines, melons, Cape gooseberries, peaches, all English and many tropical fruits, which will grow anywhere in the greatest luxuriance.” (Source: Cottage Gardening in New Zealand by Christine Dann)

I think that Mr Earp’s enthusiastic¬† ‘anywhere’ may be an overstatement, but, in the beginning¬† years, settlers had little choice but to make their gardens grow, wherever they found themselves. It was a matter of survival. However, once the¬† northern hemisphere newcomers had worked hard, and worked out the upside-down growing seasons in¬† New Zealand, and understood¬† what grew well, and what didn’t, on their patch of soil, they would have had sufficient fruit to make the jellies and jams and pastes¬† that they remembered from the old country. (Imagine the excitement of writing home to Mother that you had made your first batch of quince jelly with fruit from your own garden ūüėČ )

And, if harvests were good, there may have been enough surplus fruit to make  taffety tarts, quince pyes, or apple and quince shortcake.  Or other such scrumptious treats, filled with memories of absent mothers and grandmothers and lands left behind.

Apple shortcake, minus the quince, was a favourite of my young days. For me, it holds the essence of good meals, in the kitchen, and a long tradition of excellence in family baking. ¬† I don’t know if my/our recipe dates back to earlier generations but both my grandmother and great-grandmother were skilled producers of food for the table and pantry. They may well have made shortcake.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the farm.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the Harewood farm. I don’t know if she cooked or grew rubenesque quinces but she made a fine parsnip wine, or so I am told.

And, finally, a little more nonsense about the quince…..to counter balance the visual earworm of a Rubens’¬† posterior, however beautiful it may be.

© silkannthreades

It’s all turned to custard….. remix

From Time by Ursula Bethell

“……….

Those that come after me will gather these roses,
And watch, as I do now, the white wistaria
Burst, in the sunshine, from its pale green sheath.

Planned. Planted. Established. Then neglected,
Till at last the loiterer by the gate will wonder
At the old, old cottage, the old wooden cottage,
And say ‚ÄėOne might build here, the view is glorious;
This must have been a pretty garden once.”

[Warning! Post 301: some maudlin thoughts involved.]

Some months back, Seth of¬† Sethsnap asked this question, What ‚Äúsound‚ÄĚ(i.e. legacy) do you hope to leave?

It’s an intriguing question but certainly not new, for it belongs to the ages.¬† It is also not an easy one to answer. One of the hardest, I am guessing. Yet, assuredly, it will call to each of us, at some stage, in our life’s journey.¬† Will you be ready to reply? I have only the merest tinkle of a response running through my mind.

Here is  what I am hearing ~

For some, like Seth, their legacy may be in their¬† photography. For others, like¬†¬† Sophia (teamgloria) or¬†Juliet or¬† Vickie or¬† Helen (Tiny), their legacy may reside in their books; in their written/spoken words. Yet others, like Lynley and Kerry, may leave us, and their families, the richness of heirloom garments and quilting. Still others, like¬†Lisa, may bequeath us their creative art and special ‘thank you’ smiles. Legacies exist in a myriad different forms.

Just as each of us has our own instantly recognisable swish of sound ( the one the dog hears, the cat knows and your loved ones sense  as you try to creep upstairs in the dark of night), so, too, do we each have a legacy that is only ours to give. It may be intended and specifically chosen, or it may be accidental and unplanned, but we all have our unique envoys/legacies that will carry us forward into the millennia in some form or other.

Since I am unlikely to leave a legacy of beautiful poems, as did¬† Ursula Bethell, or a treasured¬† Writer’s Residency¬† in my name,¬† I may have to settle for something more modest¬† ( though, potentially,¬† equally valid ); something like Everyday Kindness; the kind espoused by¬† Stephanie Dowrick , in her book of that name.Everyday Giving

Wouldn’t that be a lovely legacy? ” Here lies Gallivanta~ known for her everyday kindness, (especially to caterpillars ūüėČ ). “¬† Mmmmmm…. though carved in stone,¬† a little ephemeral, perhaps? But I like it.

I also like the slightly more tangible legacy opportunities given to us by archives. In November 2013 Ruth mentioned, in this  post ,  her Deed of Gift to the Canterbury CEISMIC  project.   I thought this was a wonderful idea and, after making some enquiries, discovered that some of my blog posts were suitable for gifting too.  Just prior to Christmas, and after much hard work by CEISMIC staff, my work was uploaded to the digital archives. And I received this letter

Legacy in a letter

Legacy in a letter

from the University of Canterbury CEISMIC Co-ordinator.

To say that I was thrilled barely scratches the surface of my feelings. I was moved to tears, and beyond tears, that my experiences, my life mattered; that someday it might, just possibly might, matter to someone else. And not because I did anything great and famous, but simply because I existed, and I let my existence be heard.

Now, although, I was lachrymose in the extreme, on account of¬† this one small legacy of mine, I did have to laugh, once I had wiped away my tears.¬† Because one unintentional legacy from my digital whisper, (not footprint, please, my imprint is¬† more delicate than that ), is that if,¬† in years to come, someone looks more closely in to my archives they will find that, of all my posts , the one which receives the most views, on a regular basis, is this one, “It’s all turned to custard”.

I find that very funny. And, as a legacy, even funnier; ” Here lies Gallivanta whose life all turned to custard.”¬† Considering how much I love custard that could be a good thing. Or not. But to return to¬† Seth’s question, “What sound (i.e. legacy ) do you hope to leave?”. Perhaps part of the answer, in my case, will have to be¬† ‘Custard’.[ Just for fun…google “It’s all turned to custard” and see what you find…..bet I am near the top of the page! ]

By the way, what sound does custard make? ;).

creamy

Favourite creamy custard

Envoy
Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam 

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,  
    Love and desire and hate:  
I think they have no portion in us after  
    We pass the gate.  

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:  
    Out of a misty dream  
Our path emerges for a while, then closes  
    Within a dream.  

[The title translates, from the Latin, as  
'The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long' 
and is from a work by Horace] 
Ernest Dowson 1867 -1900 http://worlds-poetry.com/ernest_dowson/vitae_summa_brevis_spem_nos_vetat_in
```````

© silkannthreades

Confession!

Confession! In common with many of us, these days, I am activity rich and resource poor~ which is simply a fun way to say that I have too much  to do, and/or want to do, and not enough time to do it all. Sound familiar ? And this imbalance is beginning to make  me feel a teeny, little bit crazeeeee!

So, I was very  pleased, this week, to receive a notification from Amazon about a book I pre-ordered last August. The notice said:

“The items listed below will actually be dispatched sooner than we had originally expected based on the new release date:

Stuart, Sophia “How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World: A Modern Book of Hours to Soothe the Soul””

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World ~Sophia Stuart

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World ~Sophia Stuart

Aaahh, a message that is music to my ears. How soothing ;). I adore a Book of Hours.
I have made three of them, myself…….

and, thanks to a helpful tip from dadirridreaming , and production help from  Blurb , a fourth book is on its way to me right now

Silkannthreades~ A Book of Days and Hours

Silkannthreades~ A Book of Days and Hours

But these are just little books, like¬† chapbooks , not real books, with a real International Standard Book Number ISBN, like the one¬†Sophia/teamgloria has…sigh!

Some of you may have noticed that I have mentioned Sophia and teamgloria more than once on my blog, as in¬† here and¬† here , and that’s because I think she is glorious, and because I share her love of¬†blue-blue sky and Rumer Godden and labyrinths and, most of all, John O’Donohue;

Which is why I have reserved a special place for Sophia’s book when it arrives next month. It will sit, book cover to book cover, with John O’ Donohue, on the small tower of quiet, gentle reading, which I keep close at hand, on my (blue ūüôā ) bedside chair.¬† How lovely; how very lovely that will be.

Books by my Side

Books by my Side

And now, here’s something for a giggle… can anyone see, in this photo, how, in my subconscious arrangement of these books for their photo shoot, I made a statement about the imbalance of¬† my life, at the moment? And, for more smiles, check out the video clip in my sidebar, featuring the book promo for How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World.

© silkannthreades