Tag Archives: birds

From my desk ~ Gandhi Jayanti

Today is a day for birthdays ~ my son’s; Anne-Christine’s; and Mahatma Gandhi’s. To celebrate, I am re-posting an article I wrote on this day four years ago. The original post and comments can be found here .  Enjoy.

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

Tuesday Travels

Ready to sit again?

This time, let’s rest awhile beside the sea,

Comfortable?

Comfortable?

breathe deeply, stretch that neck,

Stretch

Stretch

this way and that,

and remember,

Cave Rock and Scarborough Head seen from afar

Cave Rock and Scarborough Head  and Shag Rock seen from afar

we have travelled far, yet yearn to be where

“Cave Rock is made of toffee
And the sea of lemonade
And the little waitress wavelets
Are always on parade
When the cars roll down to Sumner
On a Sunday.
The ice-cream mountain on the blue
Is free for anyone,
And Scarborough Head looms solid
As a tearoom tuppeny bun….”

from For a Child by Denis Glover

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

© silkannthreades

“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

 

All the parts of the whole picture

About a year ago, I observed that, when I brought flowers in to the house, I often placed them against the backdrop of a favourite photo in a book

or against the landscape

of a print of a  loved painting.

Heuchera, Hebe  and Catmint

Heuchera, Hebe,  Catmint and  Yorkshire painting

Once I realised what I was doing,  I decided that the overall effect, of my relatively thoughtless juxtaposition of plant and paper, was pleasing. And I felt that  I could add another layer to my floral tableaux  by creating a digital image of them; one that made them seem as though  the real and the printed record were almost fully integrated.

So I began my   image making, recreating and rearranging the scenes before me. And, although the results are of variable quality, I have  great  fun messing about with flowers and photos and other people’s beautiful artwork.

An Impression of Clematis and Catnip

An Impression of Clematis and Catnip

Fragrant settings

Fragrant settings*

Today, I am finding this creative activity  beneficial as well as  fun. It is helping me to focus, to be mindful, to be at one with the  Serenity Prayer   ….. Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other….

or  to smile at its amusing Mother Goose version:-

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

The other day, I mentioned that my mother was unwell and needed a wheelchair. She is now in hospital, undergoing tests/scans, receiving physiotherapy treatment, and help with pain management. Yesterday, she was walking again with the aid of a walking frame and hospital staff. This is all happening thousands of kilometres from me but I know that  she is in good hands. When I spoke to her on the phone the other night, I could hear, in the background, laughter and kind voices encouraging her into wellness.

Everlasting Ivy

Everlasting Ivy*

Floral notes :

In Britain, the ivy is the last plant of the year to bloom and is in full bloom by early November. It is a welcome source of nectar as the colder days advance. It was once looked upon as a woman’s plant. In New Zealand ivy is  considered, by many, as a garden nuisance. Since I can’t seem to eradicate it, I have decided I may as well put it to use in my vases. And, if I ever take to drink, it will supposedly protect me from drunkenness.

Resources for this post:

The Floral Year by L J F Brimble, published by MacMillan& Co. Ltd 1949 and dedicated, amongst others, to Enid Blyton

The Garden Design Book by Anthony Paul and Yvonne Rees**

Tricia Guild’s Natural Flower Arranging by David Montgomery and Nonie Niesewand *

© silkannthreades

Bee Wilderness

I am bee-ing uncharacteristically envious. My blogging friend  Ruth,  who reflects on life in central Christchurch, is now a host parent  to 20,000 bees. She is part of a “buzzy movement” to bring  bees into the city’s  green spaces and gardens, as well as onto the city ‘s roof spaces. I am envious because I would love to host a hive but, sadly,  most of my neighbours wouldn’t love me if I were to become a host family.  ( I can hear the complaints about bee droppings on their washing  before I even finish this thought in my head 😦 )

Sigh! But, even though a hive would be a difficulty, I do have a flourishing bee population in my garden, anyway. This is mainly because, this year, I have left the plantings, in my raised garden beds, to run to wilderness.

The Wilderness

The Wilderness

I was about to replant the beds with orderly rows of vegetables when I realised that, by doing so, I would be removing a vital food supply, and haven, for the  bees and  little birds. I reasoned that it was easier for me to find an  alternative supply of vegetables than it was for the small ones to find sustenance elsewhere. So the wilderness of overgrown parsley,

Parsley Paradise

Parsley Paradise

leeks, sage and self-sown borage

Self-sown Borage

Self-sown Borage

and  cerinthe remained.

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

My reward….no honey… but the  bee chorus  is so humming that I can hear it from at least a metre’s distance.  The wild growth in  the planter boxes is supplemented, in the background, by the prolific flowering of my  ceanothus   blue sapphire . They are a-shimmer with bee activity, although you would hardly think so, since I have only managed to capture one of their number!

Ruth’s bees may travel up to five kilometres to gather food. I wonder if I am close enough for any of them to visit me. Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did?  Meanwhile Jack and I enjoy the bees that are already here.

Jack bee-listening

Jack bee-listening

© silkannthreades

Gandhi Jayanti

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

Hodgepodge

I am in a disorderly, unruly mood today, for no reason, except ‘just because’. And ‘just because’ that is so, I have decided my post is going to  be a hodgepodge; a veritable stew of unrelated subjects; a mingle-mangle, a gallimaufrey, an omnium-gatherum and a farrago, as well. It may even be a salmagundi too, although I don’t propose adding a recipe for that.  I will, however, tempt you, later, with another food item,  Boarders’ Favourite……..which I am planning to make for supper tonight. 🙂

So let’s begin with my menu of  hotchpotch, in no particular disorder.

From Felicia Dorothea Hemans,  she of ‘the boy stood on the burning deck fame

“For man can show thee nought so fair,
As Nature’s varied marvels there;
And if thy pure and artless breast
Can feel their grandeur, thou art blest!”

These words and photos are  in support of Silvana http://tinasca.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/nature-is-victim-again-yasuni-itt/ who, with friends, is trying to save the Yasuni in Ecuador. The photos, which I have chosen, ( two of which are Japanese  Mon), represent, for me, the unity of life on earth and how our ecosystems are intimately connected, no matter where we live on the planet.

The leaf Mon, also represents my first teeny-tiny attempt at using the paint tools on Gimp. And the amount of hand/eye coordination, and fine motor skill control, that programme required of me,  leaves me in awe of all my followers  who paint and sculpt and craft. You are amazing!

One such sculptor/blogger is Virginia at Muse-ings.     In her latest post she wrote of using the self-timer on her camera, and, immediately, a little light pinged in my head, and I remembered that I, too, have a timer on my camera.  And this is what happened, as a result; an old-fashioned, unruly ‘selfie’….

Unruly and Disorderly

Unruly and Disorderly

and, then, it was such fun using the timer, I tried it again and again. Later, encouraged by Heather in Arles, http://lostinarles.blogspot.co.nz/ I tried to photo edit one of the images, which created much bafflement for me, because, as my daughter says, Gimp requires ‘counter-intuitive’ thinking, of which, it seems,  I have very little. Hey ho….can anyone intuit what I did, or did not do, with my editing? As you can see, I am thinking upon it myself, hand to chin, lost in thought 🙂

Now, as a reward for sampling the hodgepodge menu, here’s some  chocolate deliciousness in

BOARDERS’ FAVOURITE!

Fair Trade Chocolate

Fair Trade Chocolate

and one of my favourite songs from New Zealand’s  own Bic Runga

© silkannthreades

Watermark Moments

A few days ago, I showed you a photo of the earthquake damaged land beside  the Avon River. That was in my post ‘Ring in the Spring” which you may view here

Fissure

Fissure

In that post, I mentioned the city plan to restore the Avon river and its banks and to create an extensive recreational and nature area along its course through the city.

A brief video of  that plan can be seen here. http://ccdu.govt.nz/video-gallery.  It is the third video called Design Concept which is the most relevant to this post. It won’t embed in my post but it is well worth a look.

The first section of the restoration project, the Watermark project, was completed and officially opened at the end of August; just in time to greet the first day of Spring.  Last Sunday, on our  Drive, we stopped to explore our new-look river precinct.  The last time,  we visited this section of the river, down near the Antigua Boat sheds, ( built in 1882 and still going strong) http://www.boatsheds.co.nz/history_pid_7.html was on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s been a long while between visits, but lovely as the area was then,

and here are the THEN photos:

I think it is looking lovelier now. Here is the NOW photo:

Walking the Avon towards Montreal Street

Walking the Avon towards Montreal Street

Although you wouldn’t know it from my photos,  lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and the new aspect to our much-loved Otakaro/Avon River.

Here are some more NOW photos:

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Canadian Followers! Did you see a reference to Montreal, as in Montreal Street?  According to this website, http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/PlaceNames/ChristchurchStreetNames-M.pdf     Montreal Street was named in 1850 after a colonial bishopric in Montreal, Canada. Montreal Street was first mentioned in the media in 1852.

© silkannthreades

Excuse me, what time do you have?

In years gone by, many people, in my part of the world, didn’t have access to a portable timepiece. This meant that, from time to time, one passer-by would ask another, most politely, “Excuse me, what time do you have?” ( As if time were like a bird in a cage that you could hold and tame :).) Usually, the response was polite, too, but, occasionally, it would be a gruff, “Get your own watch!” or “Can’t you read the clock over there in the park?” Which was very rude because, perhaps, the person couldn’t read or tell the time.

But, back to the question; “What time do you have?” As I write it is 11.22am on Saturday, 14 September, 2013, here in Christchurch, New Zealand.  In Los Angeles, it is 4.22pm on Friday 13 September, 2013. In Addis Ababa, it is 2.22 am on 14 September, 2013 or, in local terms, it is 8.22 on the 4th day of the first month of 2006 . In Kathmandu, it is the 29th of Bhadra 2070.  In Israel, the New Year of 5774 has begun.  Come November, it will be 1435 AH in Egypt, yet the Coptic Church in Egypt celebrated their New Year on 11 September, 2013. Confused. We should be, because, in the time it has taken me to write that passage, the times have changed and changed again. It’s hard to keep up.

What time do you have?

What time do you have?

A few weeks back, I finished reading “A Fugue in Time” by Rumer Godden.  Check here  In the US, its title is Take Three Tenses, which it does.  It is the story of a house, a place, and the people who are gathered to the house over  generations. The past, the present and the future are tightly woven through the narrative, in much the same confusing way that we, in our daily lives, will, in one moment, be thinking of what we are eating and, in the next,  be remembering a special Christmas meal 50 years ago. And, at the same time, planning for tonight’s supper or this coming Christmas Day.  Rumer Godden plays with time; how it floats in and out and around us and constantly changes our reality.

One day, this past August, I was confined to my house and realised that, on my dressing table, I had inadvertently created a timepiece, unique to my place and my day.  In a small space, I had a brief hold on the present, the past and the future. And, with the help of my camera, I could rearrange and play with them to my heart’s content.

Spring or summer time?

Spring or summer time?

So, excuse me, what time do you have?

For me, it is lunch time 🙂

© silkannthreades

Heavenly Again

We visited the University of Canterbury Staff Club and University Gardens this afternoon. The Staff Club, Ilam Homestead, was damaged in our recent earthquakes but, happily,  it is now  repaired and in use again. We have lost so many  heritage buildings in our city that it is heavenly to see this one, once more complete and seemingly unchanged, in its beautiful garden setting.

Fine and upstanding

Fine and upstanding

The gardens are at their finest in late October, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. But, today, we were scouting for daffodils…and found a few…

and also wanting to see the Staff Club, free of the containers and scaffolding that have supported it during months of repairs.

Revived and unencumbered

Revived and unencumbered

And, besides, it was our 31st wedding anniversary and our 35th year of friendship, and, being in these lovely University surroundings, was a reminder of another special and cherished time and place; Oxford University.

That is where we met. When we had free time we strolled in the beautiful University Parks which were walking distance from our base at Queen Elizabeth House. http://www.parks.ox.ac.uk/gallery/index.htm

The University Parks are young by Oxford standards. Interestingly, their development began at much the same time as that of Ilam Homestead, that is, in the early 1850s.  The University of Canterbury bought Ilam Homestead in 1950 after it had been owned for many years by Edgar Stead. It was Edgar Stead who established the beautiful, surrounding gardens and filled them with his world famous rhododendron and  azalea collection.

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

Stead was also a renowned ornithologist  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4s41/stead-edgar-fraser  When the University of Canterbury bought the Homestead, it agreed to maintain the Gardens in perpetuity, and its commitment to that agreement means joy and delight for thousands of visitors and passing students each year. And, of course, it is a delight to birds, too, Today, I am sure I heard and saw several of our large, native wood pigeons (kereru). I was hoping to also see ducklings, but I was disappointed in that regard.

Now, as every connoisseur of Oxford knows, a good University must have intrigue and mystery as well as perfect scenery and splendid buildings. Remember Lewis here and Inspector Morse, here ? Our small University, and our University Staff Club (Ilam Homestead) do not disappoint.

For Ilam Homestead was, in one of its lifetimes, home to the Rector of the University, or Canterbury College as it was once known. In 1954 the Rector was Dr Hulme, and his daughter was young Juliet.  At the age of 15,  Juliet was best friends with young Pauline , and, together, they conspired and carried out the murder of Pauline’s mother at a place in Christchurch called Victoria Park. Their reasons were…complicated, perhaps, incomprehensible ; their trial, sensational or should that be scandalous?  Whatever, it was or wasn’t, the infamous Parker-Hulme case became a film, in 1994, called ‘Heavenly Creatures’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavenly_Creatures much of which was filmed at the Homestead and in the gardens. And, from that film and that place and  those times, 1954 and 1994,  we now have some  rich, new traditions and stories; for those events became building blocks and landmarks for Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Kate Winslet and Melanie  Lynskey and Anne Perry;  most particularly Anne Perry, Anne Perry the writer

And, thus are our lives (and marriages/partnerships), like buildings and fine gardens,  constructed, and deconstructed and restructured, and, occasionally, in the process, that which is heavenly appears and sits with us for a time.

A few more photos:

That which is constructed and restructured and gives us foundations and rooms and cornerstones and secret spaces for our memories;

That which is heavenly, if but briefly.

For more history http://www.staffclub.canterbury.ac.nz/history.shtml

http://www.ilamhomestead.co.nz/heavenly-creatures.htm

© silkannthreades