Tag Archives: blessings

Perfectly Lovely and Blessings Two

I have had a fragmented sort of day. I don’t know why; a case of general Monday-itis, or, perhaps, a failure to concentrate on the task at hand; or, more disturbingly,  not  being quite sure what the task at hand should be. Whatever the case, I feel that, if I had been sensible enough to write a to-do list, I would have completed precisely minus one on the list.

Mmmm, that’s a bit harsh…..I did fill the flower vases, afresh,  which is a fine occupation for a Monday morning. I was particularly pleased that, today, there was enough in the garden  to bless two vases with their first flowers in my home. Both vases have had former lives  and came  to me when flowers were not so plentiful. This day  was their day to experience their true calling 🙂

First Blessing : this  striped vase was found by a friend in a half price sale at a St Vincent de Paul thrift store. She thought it would be a cheerful addition to my house and so it is.

Roses and Ivy, Heucher and Parsley

Roses and Ivy, Heuchera and Parsley

Second blessing: this  vase is the large Royal Doulton bowl, which I featured in an earlier  post . It was given to me by my uncle and used to belong to my grandmother.

Peruvian Lily and Portuguese Laurel

Peruvian Lily and Portuguese Laurel

I filled the bowl with Portuguese Laurel and Peruvian Lilies. Portuguese Laurel is properly known as  Prunus Lusitanica

Peruvian Lily is the common name for Alstroemeria

Quite fun to realise that I had, unintentionally, combined flowers with the same first letters. Perfectly lovely…….even if the bugs have been finding the Alstroemeria perfectly lovely too 🙂

© silkannthreades

“Ring the Bells”

In a recent post, I featured  Leonard Cohen’s  Anthem. The opening lines of the song call on us to “Ring the bells that still can ring….”  I find these words exceedingly poignant because the only  “ringing” bells we have left to ring are at   St Paul’s ,in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui.

St Paul's Papanui

St Paul’s Papanui

Our city’s main peal of 13 bells used to be in our old Christ Church Cathedral.

Our once upon a time Cathedral

Our once upon a time Cathedral

In the earthquake of  22nd February 2011, the bells came tumbling down, along with much of the rest of the Cathedral. As far as I know, all 13 of the bells are currently  back, where they were cast, at the  John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough, Leicestershire, undergoing extensive and expensive repairs.

When they will be heard again, in Christchurch, is anybody’s guess, considering the length of time it takes to rebuild a city, but it is conceivable that I will not hear these bells again in my lifetime. Fortunately, there are sensible people who thought to record the Cathedral Bells when they were still ours to hear.     But, sadly,  even a recording is not quite the same as the real deal.

At St Paul’s there is a peal of 8 bells and there is a  history of bell ringing at this church that dates to 1880.  These bells, and the wooden structure of St Paul’s, came through the earthquakes relatively unscathed, but some earthquake repairs were required and the church was closed for a while as a result.

All the work has been completed now and St Paul’s is looking fresh  and  revitalised.

And the bells continue to ring out, strong and true, on Wednesdays and Sundays.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that this church building, that has been on this site since 1877, has life and strength in it to last for many years to come; thanks to careful workmanship and the beauty and resilience of the kauri wood from which it was built.

For some of our citizens, who were anti-campanology, in a NIMBY sort of way, the lack of bells in the city must be a blessed relief. But, for me, an erstwhile British subject and  child of the Colonies, reared on the sounds of London’s bells, as formulated in that old nursery rhyme, “Oranges and Lemons”, a city is incomplete without the ringing of bells.

Ring the Bells of London Town

Ring the Bells of London Town

Some of my readers may remember the silence of the bells in the United Kingdom for the duration of the Second World War; they may remember that such silence leaves a hollow, a void in our sensory space, that is, somehow, deafening.

So, here I sit, trying to ‘ring the bells that still can ring’

Here I sit

Here I sit..perhaps with” rings on my fingers and bells on my toes”

Featured Books:

Early Churches in and around Christchurch by Derek and Judith Hamilton http://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/book/early-churches-in-and-around-christchurch/2741647/

The Mother Goose Treasury  by Raymond Briggs http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Goose-Treasury-Raymond-Briggs/dp/0241908000

The Children’s Bells by Eleanor Farjeon http://www.amazon.com/The-Childrens-Bells-Selection-Eleanor/dp/B000I0PP70

© 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

Atishoo….bless me….

Atishoo and bless me, and my little cotton socks*…….I have a cold. A drippy nosed, vexatious, miserable cold. I haven’t had a cold for years, so I am feeling very sorry for myself and in need of lots of blessings. (Yes, all blessings gratefully received.)  And, yes, you could bring me some soothing hot, lemon and honey tea, too. Thank you 🙂  That’s delicious.

One blessing that came my way this morning was a lovely photo (via Facebook) from fellow blogger Mike Howe.  Followed, shortly thereafter, by another one of his soothing musical posts  http://mikehowe.com/2013/06/30/music-for-one-of-the-greatest-nature-writers/.

Another blessing will arrive about 2 hours from now, in the form of Giles, the Dogfather. Giles, and his super, doggy assistant Diesil, take my very own little blessing, Jack, for regular, joyful exercise, training, and  canine and human socialization.  Jack is a much happier and calmer dog now that I am giving proper attention to his needs.  Here is Jack on one of his outings; he was having fun, truly!  His coat keeps him warm and dry and snug. ( He won’t need a coat today. The sun is shining beautifully.)In the Rain; it really is fun!

This photo is from Giles’ Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thedogfathernz?fref=ts  He has some fun photos of wonder dog Diesil and the other dogs he trains. Take a look, if you would like a ‘cheer me up’ blessing for your day.

Well, that’s about all my brain can cope with today. *Oh, but one more something that made me smile through the sniffles, snuffles and sneezles…. I wondered, when I was blessing my cotton socks, how this strange little blessing came about. Here is what I found; it is smile worthy:   ‘George Edward Lynch Cotton, English clergyman and educator, assistant master at Rugby 1837-1852, the ‘young master’ in Thomas Hughes’s “Tom Brown’s School Days”. Bishop of Calcutta, 1858 where he did missionary work and established schools for Eurasian children. In requests to England he asked for donations of clothing, often emphasizing “warm socks” for the children. In fact he seems to have held the simplistic view that if the children had warm socks many of their problems, mal-nutrition, disease, racial prejudice etc. could be easily solved. Little old maiden ladies all over England spent their time knitting socks for Bishop Cotton and sending them off to India. He blessed all items used in his schools, and many shipments would arrive labeled ” Socks for Cotton’s blessing” and reportedly even “Cotton’s socks for blessing”. Cotton’s socks easily became corrupted to cotton socks,

© silkannthreades

Mothers, near and far…

To Mothers, near and far,
May you be loved and blessed, remembered and embraced,
And comforted, always.Mother's Day OfferingIn my posy ring, for you, I have placed lavender, heuchera, Mexican orange blossom and feijoa leaves, all freshly picked from my garden on this chilly autumn morning. The fruit baskets contain Taylor’s Gold Pears and Satsuma Mandarins ( not from my garden 🙂 )Posy Ring

Healing St Giles

When I last visited St Giles Presbyterian Church in early December, 2012,  the site of the former Church building looked like this; messy!Church without WallsTwo months later, with the help of Superseeders and a good dose of Presbyterian pragmatism the site looks like this; the scarred earth is nicely covered with soft, young grass and there is a border of cheerful sunflowers.New Growth

I don’t know who devised this remedy for an ugly, bare patch but it  works beautifully. The church buildings and land are next to an extremely busy road and near some equally busy work sites and shops and eateries. The church complex is, therefore, surrounded by noise and activity and movement. When you drive, or walk, by the church corner, the plain white, wooden cross, against the green corrugated wall ( and green lawn ) engages your attention with its simplicity and  its openness.Welcome with open arms The cross seems to welcome with open arms and say,” Come rest awhile in my company. Enjoy the stillness and the calm of the garden. Let me soothe your eyes and be a balm for your soul.”Rest in my companyBut, the practical pathway, thoughtfully Presbyterian, also says that ,if you only want to pass by, that’s okay too. It says,”We are happy to walk with you in your comings and goings and, maybe, in the walking, you will feel the light touch of blessedness beside you.” PathwaysMore pathwaysI think it’s wonderful what a difference a touch of green and white, a few flowers, some simple planks and building material and a plain, gravel path, can make to our broken cityscape. And, even more interestingly, how such simplicity can create closer and more vibrant connections between the Church and the wider community. I am sure our Church has had more newcomers cross its threshold in the last few months than it has in the last few years.

© silkannthreades

Plum delicious

With surplus plums in the pantry, (well, they would be in the pantry, if I had one), it was time to get creative. So I was. I made my favourite plum coffee cake.Plum coffee cake

The recipe is from the Joy of Baking website  http://www.joyofbaking.com/PlumCoffeeCake.html which is an excellent place to find cake recipes. I follow the recipe to the letter, but not the pan, because I don’t have a suitable round cake tin.

With the most important cooking task completed, I decided to add a few more flavours to our evening meal. Enter my spinach and rice cake which is another favourite recipe.Spinach and Rice Cake This one comes from Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook by Alison and Simon Holst. Again, I follow the recipe exactly, even to the baking dish,  because  the Holsts excel at producing precision recipes. Here is a link to their website, although I don’t think this recipe is on it, http://www.holst.co.nz/Home.aspx  The main ingredients, apart from the obvious spinach and rice and tomatoes, are cottage cheese and eggs and parmesan type cheese, onion and herbs.

Baking over, let us come to the table and feel blessed that our food is plentiful.Blessed

© silkannthreades

Random meetings?

Yesterday, through various connections, I was introduced to three remarkable people. How I missed meeting these people until now is a mystery to me, although I suspect the clues lie somewhere in the ‘wooded’ land between the laundry line and the kitchen sink.

In no particular order of remarkability, the three new folk in my life are: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin; Janet Bowie;  and John O’Donohue.

I don’t know why our meetings happened within the space of one day. Were they entirely random? At first I couldn’t see any linkages but, on reflection, I have decided that the inter- twining threads are prolific creativity, hard work and Godliness or spirituality; theirs not mine, of course 🙂

I find each person fascinating. But, the person I most want to know better is  John O’Donohue, because I fell in love with this quote found on Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O%27Donohue)

  • “When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.” p.17Anam Cara (1997)

One day, I hope I will read John O’Donoghue’s Beneditcus: A Book of Blessings or To Bless The Space Between Us.

In the meantime, I am sharing part of a challenge sent to us with our Communion invitations, entitled Some questions you might like to ask at the end of the day – with thanks to John O’Donohue’s Benedictus

What dreams did I create last night?

Where did my eyes linger today?

Where was I blind?

What did I learn from today?

What did I read?

What new thoughts visited me?

What did I avoid today?

From all this, how will I approach tomorrow?

If you want to know what I avoided today; it was sorting out the basket where I keep all my receipts and bills and other paper that accumulates in a our supposedly paperless, computerised world.

As for Janet Bowie…. according to the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin, she made 736 pairs of socks for New Zealand soldiers during the Great War and, for her efforts, she was awarded the world’s first and only MBE for knitting. What a knitter. And if anyone doubts the importance of warm, knitted socks in war time, google trench foot.