Tag Archives: blessings

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming

The geese are getting fat,

Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you have no penny, a ha’penny will do,

If you have no ha’penny,

then God bless you. *

 

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming

 

I am in the  ‘God bless you’ category.  How about you? 😉   But I am rich in blessings so the lack of pennies is really of no account ~ but, sigh, I would like that world trip.

The Christmas is Coming nursery rhyme/carol has several versions. * The one I give is my memory of the rhyme I sang as a child.  For more information, you may like to read one account of its origins here https://treasuryislands.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/origins-christmas-is-coming/

 

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

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Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades


Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© 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

In other news….of caterpillars and kindnesses

In other news …

of caterpillars….

this is my first ‘ever’ photo of a monarch caterpillar beginning to pupate, (taken on Tuesday 18 February) .

Preparing to Pupate

Preparing to Pupate

I was looking forward to taking another photo, the next day, of the chrysalis but there was a wild wind storm in the night and, when the next day came, I couldn’t see a chrysalis anywhere. 😦

In other news…

of kindnesses……

A while back, on a whim, I sent a ceramic cat to blogger  Megan , to add to her cat collection.  Megan, as some of you may know, blogs about her life with Chester Cat and K, and her personal journey  with OCD. As a thank you for my gift of a little kitty, Megan sent me  two of her special crochet  blooms from her new venture, the Etsy Store,  Peony Crochet.

Blooms from Bloomington

Rose Blooms from Bloomington

Megan is a staunch advocate for Mental Health wellness, and has recently had success in her efforts to bring more sense and kindness and understanding to the media’s portrayal of mental health. She called it   One Small Victory.

To celebrate, Megan’s victory, I thought I would put a rose in my hair,

Bloomin' Beautiful

Bloomin’ Beautiful  (Have you any idea how difficult it is to take a selfie of the back of your head ? !)

and a rose on my hat,

Rose in my hat and ready to pick up my skirt and dance

Rose in my hat and ready to pick up my skirt and dance

and, with a flick of my skirt, dance out the door…..to… ?

But not before acknowledging other kindnesses:

from the friend who gave me the skirt to swish through the swan song of summer;

and the friends who lent me books about travel and gardens,

Going Somewhere?

Going Somewhere?

and what to grow in them;

A Modern Herbal edited by Violet Stevenson

A Modern Herbal edited by Violet Stevenson

and from friend, Sharifah Hamzah, global citizen of  Building Bridges, who sent me a signed copy of her Kampung Memories, as a Book-Giveaway prize.

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

Sharifah’s story “takes you on a trail of getting to know the kampungs of Singapore; its history, and the people who grew up there and lived the life. She also includes her own memories and reflections of kampung life and how it has been a part of her foundation as she navigates her life in other parts of the world.”   I can’t wait to get started, especially after reading this appreciative  review.

In other news…

for all those ‘haters’ of blogs who claim that we obsessively record too much trivia…here’s news for you….

sometimes we don’t record EVERYTHING; sometimes, when kindness arrives on the doorstep, in the guise of a  friend with bowls of delicious, warm apple pie-cake, we are in such a hurry to gobble it down, we forget the photo opportunities, until the plate is empty.

Engagements for Valentine’s Day

Engagements for Valentine’s Day:

Touch base with morning and kiss of sun on skin.

Touch base with the morning

Touch base with the morning (diamond in the rough 😉 )

Listen to summer’s song.

Smell rose.

The Scent of a Rose

The Scent of a Rose ; enough to make you giddy with delight

Hold steady,

Inhale deeply.

Sweet Fragrance

Sweet Fragrance

Berry pick.

Berry picking

Berry picking

Snack Blyssfully and Berry-ily.

Engage feet on chair.

Heart rest.

Admire Valentine’s Day gift straight from  heart of Christchurch .

Open mail with my not so secret Valentine, Ralph.

Smile, laugh. 🙂

Read; love story, A leaf in Springtime

Family time.

Time Goes By

Time Goes By

Consider symbol of twin handled Loving Cup.

Welcome  light of evening,  close of day.

Reflect  on  One Word Wonder# Love

Feel Blessed.

Blessed by the soft touch of the Rose

Blessed

Sleep well.

ps Hug son; final exams completed .

© silkannthreades

The journeys we take

For a number of reasons, my Christmas has been unfurling more slowly than ever this year. I am still writing Christmas cards both for myself and on behalf of my mother, who remains unwell.  Once upon a time this slowness would have stressed me greatly but, in recent years, I have acknowledged  that Christmas is as much about a journey/s as it is about an event or destination. That understanding of Christmas  means I feel  free to adopt a pace that is suitable for the purpose of the journeying.

And, in Christmas, there are several journeys. There is the obvious spiritual one which  takes a lifetime…I am guessing…and usually cannot be rushed. There is the journey  home, to the stable to be counted, to be accounted for and, sometimes, to account for. Then, there are the Magi travels of discovery and inquiry  and seeking  ( the perfect light 😉 ) and these can be life-long too.  Another  journey which,  perhaps, contains the essential truth of every voyage we undertake is ‘the flight into Egypt’; the journey where we leave behind the familiar and the known and step in to the new, the unknown, the unseen, where we may find safety and we may not.  Sometimes, we take this journey by choice, sometimes, it is by chance but, by chance or by choice, it is rarely a journey embarked upon lightly.

This Christmas, our home was blessed by the presence of voyagers; my brother and his wife and their two sons who came from Sydney to be with us. With both our families we counted for 7 at the s table. We rediscovered the pleasure of familial ties, and we parted, unsure of what the year ahead holds for each of us, yet certain that we have one another for the road as yet uncharted.

The Emigrant's DaughterGraham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant's daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

The Emigrant’s Daughter Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant’s daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

With my brother’s tribe came a foreign traveller, far, far from his birthplace; a small soapstone (  Kisii stone)  hippo; come from the fields of Kenya to settle with us on  the plains of Canterbury.

Welcome, little one, what a journey you and your makers are on. What a journey we are on.

© silkannthreades