Tag Archives: autumn

‘ A Wigwam for a Goose’s Bridle’

Some of you will have noticed that I have been peeking round the cyber curtain lately, much like the child who has been sent to bed on the night of the party, but can’t resist peering round the door to see what  the grown ups are doing.

And, like that child, I am enjoying my glimpses into the other room ( of  WordPress ). Am I ready to cast aside the curtain and boldly enter  into your presence?  Not quite.  Not yet. I am still busy gathering up the riches of a lovely warm autumn; storing them away for the winter ahead.

I have also been gathering memories, like this one. In April I spent time with my parents who live in Australia. My mother and I worked on a small art project which involved threads and beads and ribbons and decorative butterflies. When it was finished I held it up, and said to my mother, “It’s very pretty but I have no idea what we have made, or what it is for? What do you think it is for ?” She looked at it, uncertainly, and said, after a moment’s reflection, ” A wigwam for a goose’s bridle.

I laughed. A truer word was never spoken.  (Though I don’t think she meant the saying  in its “mind your own business” sense. It was more that she thought we had made something nonsensical!)

'A wigwam for a goose's bridle' April 2016

‘A wigwam for a goose’s bridle’ April 2016

And with that piece of nonsense, I am going to retire for the night. I love knowing you are just on the other side, with your songs and stories, your words and your wisdom, your photos and fine art, your feelings and foibles, your heart, your smiles.  In the hush of my room I  listen to  the hum of your cyber chatter.   Bliss…….

Goodnight.

 

 

“Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth….”

I have a lot on my plate; most of it is unpalatable and indigestible which means I have very little energy to write my blog posts. This is unfortunate because a couple of weeks ago, in a moment of hubris ( hubris in the sense of excessive self-confidence), I agreed to accept  Sheri de Grom’s nomination for the Travel Blog series.  And this means that, today, I should be  answering 4 questions about my writing process and passing on nominations to 3 other bloggers, as well as linking back to Sheri.

Now the latter instruction requires minimal effort and can be easily done. Many of my followers/readers will already know Sheri who writes from the literary and legislative trenches with passion and compassion for so many issues and so many people. And you will also know that her plate is almost always more than full. But, no matter how heavy, or over flowing, her dish is, Sheri always finds time to encourage and support other bloggers. Thank you Sheri .  I am also wishing you a good, steady (no speedy, please!) recovery from your latest setback aka as an unexpected tumble on to a concrete floor.

Lacking Sheri’s fortitude, ( but taking on board some of her relaxed attitude to blogging ‘rules’) , I am going to leave my travel blog commitment at this point. When I regain some verve, I will return to follow-up on my participation.

In the meantime, here is a photo taken on Saturday, when we took time-out to enjoy the tranquility of the Groynes.  We were in an area where visitors are asked to be quiet, so there is a wonderful aura of deep peace which blankets all who enter that space.

The Quiet Life

The Quiet Life

 

Deep Peace…..of the quiet earth to you.

© silkannthreades

 

Is it Mess?

Right about now, over at the home of  Muse-ings , vsperry will be orchestrating order in an area of her garden which she describes as “A Fine Mess”. I would simply leave out the word “Mess” and call it “Fine”, or, as in the case of my own garden, refer to the “Mess” as  ” Channelling one’s inner  “Piet Oudolf” (with apologies to Piet 😉 ).

For the greater part of the summer and fall, this wilderness of mostly self-sown plantings was the scene from my bedroom window.

Wilderness plantings

Wilderness plantings

It was a sight that gave me much pleasure, for all the weeds, entangled foliage and seeming disorder.

Unruly pleasure

Disorder?

The garden bed was not carefully planned like one of Piet Oudolf’s masterpieces (OBVIOUSLY), but I did have a plan of sorts, which was to let the garden follow its own course and,

Unruly or following its own rules?

Following their own rules?  Lightly organised chaos?

thus, provide a dense and closely woven safe haven for the monarch caterpillars, and a well-stocked larder for the bees and their larger selves,  the humblebees.

A haven for a caterpillar?

A haven for a caterpillar?

My plan was a success buzz vis-a-vis buzz the bees, but a failure as far as the monarchs were concerned.  Not one of the many caterpillars made it to butterfly status. That was a disappointment, after my successful monarch season last year, where I helped raise at least twenty monarch butterflies. I don’t know what went wrong this time; perhaps we had too much rain; too little sun? Or, as  Russel Ray pointed out to me, my wilderness garden may have provided a haven for the social wasp, arch-enemy of the monarch.

So, with winter approaching and no longer any chance of monarchs, I embarked on a clean up of the little plot.  It now looks like this. Clean and tidy….and dull.  Not a “Mess” but also not “Fine”. Not yet, anyway. There’s good manure in the soil, and worms, and caterpillar plus bee frass,

so, in a few months, it may provide solace for my senses once again. And, later, much later, the monarchs may be tempted to return. I hope so. I know the bees will come.

Virginia, how is your clean up going? There is no danger that your garden will succumb to DULL. 🙂 It will be clean, tidy and finer than ever.

© silkannthreades

“It’s In His Kiss” in my kitchen

Life has been a bit complicated lately. Almost, but not quite, as complicated as life for my*namesake protagonist, Anne, of It’s In His Kiss by Vickie Lester.

It's In His Kiss  (copyrighted image)

It’s In His Kiss
(copyrighted image)

So, like Anne, unable to find  answers to many of my worries, puzzles and questions, I resorted to kitchen therapy….yesterday.

“Anne found her comfort zone in her pajamas, sitting in her **father’s
kitchen watching him make dinner, which on this evening was chopped
grapefruit and oranges and mango, pancakes, and sausage.”

Now, although my Dad is a great cook, being far distant from me, across the Tasman Sea, I, comfortable in my pajamas, had to make my own comfort food… banana, bran and chocolate chip muffins. Not that my Dad would have offered  muffins as comfort food. He would have made a substantial roast dinner. But, hey, we do what we can. And, then, I made a feijoa and  apple crumble.

The feijoas,

remember these,

Feijoas (Pineapple Guavas) 2014 Harvest

Feijoas (Pineapple Guavas) 2014 Harvest

gave a nice sharpness to the sweet apple, and the rich buttery crumble topping.

Comfort Crumble in the Kitchen

Comfort Crumble in the Kitchen

Baking done, I am back to reading  “It’s In His Kiss”; where Anne has been up the creek canyon ( i.e. Beachwood Canyon…it’s real, even if the plot is imaginary ) without a paddle, but with a very fine Ferrari instead. And she has just been given the keys to a very fine house (people in Hollywood are so randomly generous… or are they? The Ferrari already seems like a double edged sword. ) Will the keys open any useful doors?  Will they bring answers or more questions? As Ms Lester says in her book blurb……“Anne Brown must find where the truth lies. Truth. Lies.”  Where does the truth lie? Six feet under? Is there truth in the lies? Does the truth lie? Is there any truth at all?

If you can’t wait to find out,  It’s In His Kiss  is available now at an Amazon near you. Oh, and have a muffin….

Muffins for Sustenance

Muffins for Sustenance

.. for sustenance. It’s In His Kiss is a high energy murder mystery ( with food scenes that will make you hungry…for more ). 😉

* Anne is only my “namesake’ protagonist because I imagine it so. She’s a wonderful character but was not written for me, or about me, or because of me. Just wanted to make that CLEAR.

** Anne’s practical, “business-as-usual”, loving father is Bob; Manny’s  the uncle. So far, Manny seems a trust-worthy guy, except when he’s behind the wheel.

© silkannthreades

Preparations

In my previous  post, we took a brief look in the rear view mirror. This post goes further back, to the beginning of my blogcation, in late March.

Preparing for my weekend visitor, I fill the vases…..

for the table

Borage, Salvia and Sage

Borage, Salvia and Sage in Blue

Yellow Rocket and Mexican Orange Blossom Leaves

Yellow Rocket and Mexican Orange Blossom Leaves

and for the bedroom

Monet and Chilean Guava

Monet and Chilean Guava

Update:

Today, April 13 is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. One of my favourite websites for plant information is this one http://www.monticello.org/site/visit . I would like to visit the Monticello gardens, one day.  In the meantime, I looked up sage and borage to see if they featured at Monticello, and they do. I particularly liked this reference to  sage/salvia.

“This Mediterranean shrub has been grown in gardens since at least the thirteenth century. It was thought to prolong life, even “render men immortal.” Sage was a standard item in gardens from colonial times, and was included by Jefferson in a list of “Objects for the garden this year” in 1794. The term Salvia comes from the Latin salveo meaning “I am well,” a reference to its virtuous powers. In addition to being a useful culinary herb, Sage is an attractive ornamental dwarf shrub that attracts bees and butterflies, but is not favored by deer.”

Although I do not have to worry about deer ( snails are bad enough! ) eating my plants, I love that I have a plant in my garden that  relates to health and well-being and healing. How lovely to look back and realise that I greeted my special guest with a vase of ‘well being”.

© silkannthreades

 

Creative Interlude or a City at Play

Now that I have my wheels, and passengers, ready for the road, it’s time to resume my gallivanting; first of all with a look in the rear view mirror, so you can see some of the jaunts I took during my 17 day blogcation.

Looking back…..

In the midst of my not very busy holiday schedule, on a not very nice weather day, my friends and I had a short interlude in the centre of Christchurch; short because interludes usually are, but, also, because it was a beastly cold day, not suited to our yet to adjust, lingering-in-summer, bodies.

Cold, as it was, and we were, we did see a little of the fun side of  the city. Here is my record of the day.

The Chalice, our millennium statue, sometimes referred to as the ice cream cone.

Art work wrapping around the ruins.

 

Portrait let out to play, from the Art Gallery.

Rita Angus's Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/bulletin/175/quiet-invasion/

Rita Angus’s Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett Quiet Invasion

Rise Ballerina

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is She amused by events?

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

Pretty tiles replicated and replaced on New Regent Street.

Oh, it is a  lovely playground we have in our city.

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

This post was prompted by Sally at http://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/  who alerted me to a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/travel/after-earthquakes-a-creative-rebirth-in-christchurch.html  ,published on April 6th, about the creative rebirth of Christchurch, post earthquakes. It is an excellent article. Thank you Sally. I only wish you had been with me to focus your camera on the intriguing sights we saw, on our city excursion, at the beginning of April.

© silkannthreades

Resting Places; Take Two

Resting Places; Take Two

At Tom’s,

Normans Road Post Centre

Normans Road Post Centre

I stop to browse the shelves; to see what’s new,

to post a letter,

and discuss the weather

The weather

The weather (remnants of Cyclone Lusi)

and the state of the nation,

and the state of the street, and the theme of the week.

Hairy Maclary and Friends http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_Maclary "hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops"

Hairy Maclary, from Donaldson’s Dairy, and  Friends “hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops”

And catch, if I can, the tales, that Mavis

must tell, of Mrs Carbuncle’s feet.

If I linger long, and lost, in Nancy’s  garden of notes,

I am bound to hear of Audrey’s Jim, who’s rowed ever so well  in the Maadi Cup,

and big brother Ben, who’s working in London and enjoying the slum of his OE* flat,

whilst Susan’s Prudence has had enough and is heading back home, come next June, to give little Johnny and Sam the chance of living close to Nan, and squelching their toes in the soil of the land.

And I will hear Tom say, with wisdom and care, ‘That’ll be twenty, today, Alastair, and Margaret’s magazine will be here next week. See you then. ”

A few blocks north and it’s time to sit,

The old barber's chair

The old barber’s chair

in an old barber’s chair, where a golden-haired maiden, elegant and thin,

washes and trims this gossip’s, (yours truly 🙂 ), grey mane ,

whilst we discuss the earthquakes, the state of repairs,

and her good young man who knows how to cook and take care of the kids.

And, as we engage in idle chatter, Hamish and Ryan wriggle and squirm on the bench by the door,

waiting their turn (no appointments necessary)  for a short back and sides, because Mum, flipping texts and pages, said that they must,

all oblivious to the fact that once, over there, Charlie stood,

and sold a half loaf of bread to Martha and Fred, and a scoop of sugar for Mother’s tea.

Only Mother said could they have it on tick, because baby Mabel is sick, and Pa’s got no work till next Tuesday week.

And kind Charlie nodded, and sighed,  with wisdom and care, and allowed them to add broken biscuits for free, because he knew Billy and Annie would pay when they could. Then he secured the safe in the floor,

and went to his home, out the back door,

where his Kathleen played and the dog kept watch.  And Charlie was content that, at least, for this day, he had food in the larder, stock in his shop and a place to stop, with his lovely Louisa and  daughters, two.

The shop,  which is now Madisons for Haircuts,  was operated (owned?) by my grandfather for a few years, from 1921. It is one of the few physical reminders of our family history that survived the earthquakes.

[This will be my last post for a few weeks. I will be taking a rest from writing my blog as I will be busy with house guests until early April. I will try, as best as I can, to read your blogs and comments but I may not be as active as usual.]

*OE means Overseas Experience, a little like a Gap Year.

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 😉 )

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

Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

© 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