Tag Archives: Cats

Differing Sensibilities

To state the obvious: when people of different cultures and differing sensibilities meet for the first time, there can be life-changing outcomes.

I am thinking here:

of the literary fame that followed  Flaubert’s romp through Egypt; of  Maxime du Camp’s ground breaking travel photography;

Stele at  Karnak, Egypt, Calotype taken by Maxime Du Camp, French writer and photographer (1822-1894)

Stele at Karnak, Egypt, Calotype taken by Maxime Du Camp, French writer and photographer (1822-1894)

of  Edward Lear’s beautiful sketches of the Nile;

Edward Lear, near Malatieh, 1867.

Edward Lear, near Malatieh, 1867.

and of the courage of New Zealander, Ettie Rout, who, though demonized in her own country, fought strenuously and eventually successfully for the issue of free prophylactic kits to our World War One troops.

On a quieter, more gentle scale, there is my own life-changing encounter. It goes like this: –  with music if you wish, by  Omar Khairat  https://youtu.be/re78QlR0rhI

                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I once lived in an apartment complex in Cairo. At the front of the building there were two small, square gardens, separated by hedges, and a concrete slab path, leading to the five storey stairway, at the building’s entrance.  One of the gardens became MY garden. It actually belonged to all the apartment dwellers on our side of the building. No one seemed to mind that I supervised its care. The garden opposite ‘mine’ was claimed by the building’s caretaker and his family. It was their domain.

Our caretaker or Bowab, Ahmed*, was of a weather-worn, indeterminate age. Perhaps in his 60s,  perhaps not. He had lived in the city for many years, yet he remained a country man at heart.

"The Banks of the Nile" by Sayed Mahmoud http://www.wissa-wassef-arts.com/bm.html

“The Banks of the Nile” by Sayed Mahmoud http://www.wissa-wassef-arts.com/bm.html

He didn’t have much time for the refined and tidy rows of my city garden. Grudgingly, he would admire the salvia, the gazanias, or the begonias, or whatever was the flower of the season, but it was his own garden that held his heart.

He was very proud of his creation, and knew each plant within it. He delighted in introducing me to the new, and usually self-sown, arrivals in his garden. But Ahmed’s greatest pride was reserved for his small collection of ‘baladi’ roses.

He had a half-dozen of these ‘baladi’ rose bushes growing in the centre of his garden, under the partial shade of a small pine tree. I don’t know how to translate  ‘baladi’ precisely.  I like to think of it as meaning an ancient rose of Egypt, as opposed to the newer  varieties that grew in my garden.

Baladi kittens with a touch of Egyptian Mau http://www.emaurescue.org/index.php

Not Roses but Baladi kittens with a touch of Egyptian Mau ? http://www.emaurescue.org/

 

Ahmed was rightfully proud of his ‘baladi’ roses. They were exquisite in their shape and colour, and scent. And, almost every morning, after I had walked my children to school, Ahmed would be waiting in his garden to give me the first rosebud, or buds, of the day.

Over time, this early morning meeting developed into our own special ‘baladi’ rose admiration society. In honour of the rose, and in the best tradition of meetings, our proceedings followed a protocol. Each meeting began with the presentation of the rose. I, then, gave a vote of thanks, after which the floor was opened to discussion. The words were almost always the same, but, to the utmost limits of my limited Arabic, we extolled the virtues of the ‘baladi’ rose. We exclaimed over its merits, and we expressed sorrow for the poorer relative who inhabited my garden.  We shook our heads over my outwardly lovely roses because they could never know the true joy of being a ‘baladi’ rose. In quiet accord on the overwhelming superiority of the ‘baladi’ rose, the meeting would end with another vote of thanks from me, accompanied by  an appreciative inhalation (aka a jolly good sniff) of the rose’s perfect perfume.

We loved those roses, Ahmed and I. We were devastated when the ‘baladi’ roses, perhaps tired of city living, decided to curl up their roots, and die. We talked about buying replacements, but, though Ahmed seemed to search everywhere, no new ‘baladi’ roses came home.

Strangely, the loss of the ‘baladi’ roses did not herald the end of our admiration society. Each early morning, as I returned from the school trip, Ahmed would present me with a rose or two picked from my own garden. The thanks would be the same, but we would wrinkle our noses over the paucity of the rose’s aroma, and we would commiserate over its deficiencies; its lack of integrity and stature, when measured against the one true standard of roses; the ‘baladi’ rose.

That same year of the death of the ‘baladi’ roses, my family and I left Egypt. It was hard to go; to leave my on-loan garden, our street,

Trash collection, our street, Cairo

Trash collection, our street, Cairo

our friends.

Shopping on our street. What's on Gallivanta's list?

Shopping on our street. What’s on Gallivanta’s list?

It was hard for them to let us go, too. The night we departed for the airport, Ahmed was there, by the taxi, waiting to say goodbye.  He first shook hands with my husband, and then crushed him in a bear hug. As he released my husband, I saw Ahmed surreptitiously wipe tears from his face. I turned away. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t know how to say goodbye to the giver of roses. As a woman, I couldn’t offer him the bear hug hiding shyly within me.   That was out of the question. I had not, in all our day-to-day contacts, even dared to offer a hand in greeting.  Perhaps a smile and a thousand thanks would have to do. But, before I could prepare my face and words, Ahmed stood in front of me, hand outstretched. Briefly, but firmly, we shook hands.  I didn’t hear his words. I didn’t hear mine.  I was conscious only of tears and the rough, earthiness of his palm.  There were no ‘baladi’ roses to give, yet, in that short, final meeting, we exchanged a priceless rose in a class of its own.

*Ahmed (real name not used )

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Results

Am I returning to my blog so soon?  Sigh!  No.

I am just temporarily turning a deaf ear to the clamour of clutter

Clutter in transition

Clutter in transition

to wish you a Happy St Andrew’s Day on this first Sunday in Advent,

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

Flowers for St Andrew on the first Sunday of Advent

and to bring you the results of my  T’is the Season Giveaway, which, as promised, I drew on Thanksgiving Day.

The winners are April at  Finding Beauty in Spite of Myself  and Iris at  Wandering Iris.

April wins  How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World by Sophia Stuart; a beautiful and most suitable book for a blogger who writes about finding beauty everyday. And, Iris, who loves to travel  will hopefully be inspired to visit Hollywood (if she hasn’t been there yet) when she reads her giveaway prize, It’s In His Kiss, by Vickie Lester.

Congratulations April and Iris and thank you for your readership of my blog. Would you please send your postal addresses to me at kaahend@gmail.com ?  As it is getting close to Christmas mail rush time, I can’t promise you will receive your books before the New Year, but I will do what I can to speed them on their way. In the meantime, enjoy some of the flowers that were in my house  on the day I closed my eyes and picked your names out of a bowl.

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Flowers for Thanksgiving

Other results:

I plod on with my de-cluttering exercise. It is slow, tedious work but there are small signs of progress, like this tidy drawer,

Disorganised but definitely de-cluttered.

An odd assortment  but definitely de-cluttered.

and there is the occasional merry moment as when I uncovered a wee newspaper snippet sent by my mother, many years ago, about a Cat’s 12 Days of Christmas: ” On the 12th day of Christmas my human gave to me: 12 bags of catnip, 11 tarter pounce treats, 10 ornaments hanging, nine wads of Kleenex, eight peacock feathers, seven stolen Q-tips, six feathered balls, five milk jug rings, four munchy house plants, three running faucets, two fuzzy mousies and a hamste-e-er in a plastic ball.” Ah, mothers and cats, every bit as good as saints when it comes to encouraging us.

And, you, too, my readers are good, saintly friends and encouragers, (like St Andrew), for keeping me company on my clean-up and clean-out, and for being patient with my inability to read your blogs as much as I would like to.  Never fear; in the words of the sign in my grandparents’ incredibly cluttered wash house/outhouse,  ‘Don’t be sad, don’t be glum, better days are sure to come.”  (After all it is the Advent season. 😉 ) See you soon- ish.

 

© silkannthreades

A Toast with Thanks

Brace yourselves for some surprising news.

Gallivanta is about to attempt something very difficult …for her….which is to write a simple, straightforward post. Will she succeed? You can be the judge.

Here we go.

My plan is twofold: to give thanks to a kindred blogger; and to propose a toast in her honour.

I want to acknowledge and thank Pauline, The Contented Crafter,  for a beautiful giveaway. Pauline is a multi-media artist, and a devoted companion to the irrepressibly joyful Siddy, and to the stately and  dignified Orlando.  She is a compatriot of mine and she lives in the south of New Zealand. The giveaway was in celebration of a very important birthday for Pauline and the beginning of her official ‘retirvivement.

The giveaway  package arrived,

just before my sudden departure to Cairns at the end of September, which meant I didn’t get to appreciate it fully until my return home at the beginning of this month. And, my goodness, when I opened the parcel, what a spread there was to appreciate. I was overwhelmed by Pauline’s generosity. There were cards, postcards, a bookmark, all lovingly created by her own contented hands and heart,

Contentment

Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

and sweetest of all were the Bunnies; a pair of handcrafted Hugging Bunnies, which Pauline had knitted in response to my   Happiness in a Bag post.

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

After my harrowing goodbye to aged loved ones, can you imagine the comfort and delight I found in coming home to the fruits of Pauline’s gentle, joyous crafting?

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Now for a toast.

To Pauline; to her continued contentment, the best possible health, and a long and fruitful retirevivement. I raise my cup of chocolate, in my best Bunnykins mug. Please join me with your favourite beverage/tipple. 🙂   Let us be upstanding.  To Pauline!

A Toast to Pauline; chocolate in a Bunnykins mug :)

A Toast to Pauline; hot chocolate in a Bunnykins mug 🙂

With love from Gallivanta and Jack to Pauline, Orlando and Siddy.

Ps. How did I do?  Only two links. That’s pretty good for me, don’t you think? 😉 But perhaps still not that straightforward. Sigh!

 

© silkannthreades

It’s just one of those days……

It’s just one of those days of summer,

when blooms

Flowering leek

Flowering leek

and beings

Bee with leek

Bee with leek

and beasties

entwine with sun and  sky,

to weave a cloth

Finely clothed

Finely clothed

so light and fine

Light and fine

Light and fine

that you wish you could wear it forever,

close,

like the  sweet touch of earth to  skin.

Day of Summer

Day of Summer

 Close as Earth to Skin

Close as Earth to Skin

© silkannthreades

Epiphanies, real and imagined

Monday, 6th January,  was the celebration of  Epiphany   for those people, churches, cultures, countries that follow the Gregorian calendar for feast days.

The sky was heavenly blue

Heavenly blue sky for Epiphany

Heavenly blue sky for Epiphany

and, nearer to me, the flowers were blue-hued too.

And,  every which way  I turned,  I saw more manifestations  of blue,

until I felt as though I were swathed in  the most precious of  precious-blue fabrics, in much the same way as Mary, the Madonna, is often depicted, cloaked in a mantle of Mary-blue,

Federico Barocci, The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and the Infant Baptist ('La Madonna del Gatto'), probably about 1575 © The National Gallery, London

Federico Barocci, The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and the Infant Baptist (‘La Madonna del Gatto’), probably about 1575 © The National Gallery, London

or  ultramarine , as it is more properly called.

And it felt good; it felt blissful to be luxuriating in an aura of ‘divine’ blue-ness, as I went about my small tasks and errands, dressed, in reality, not like an artistically rendered Madonna but like this…

Glad Rags or Ordinaries

Glad Rags /Ordinaries

Epiphany Dressing

Epiphany Dressing

in very ordinary, cotton garments that are showing their age, and mine. Yet, oddly, they are garments that might be considered, by some, as slightly more glamorous than what Mary was actually wearing in Bethlehem, and thereafter 🙂 . I wonder about that. I wonder what Mary thought about her clothes;  or if she thought about them at all.  I wonder,  if on the day the Magi came with their gifts, Mary felt as if she were wearing the plainest robes, or as if she were wrapped in  the ‘richest’ cloth her world had to offer?  And I wonder if she would  be surprised at how we have dressed her through the centuries; would she say, ‘But you are dreaming..”, or would she say, ” Yes, it was so; exactly so.  I was beautiful.”

To be continued….possibly

© silkannthreades

In the aftermath of Christmas

In the aftermath of Christmas there is quiet.

The guests have gone,

The leavings

The leavings

leaving us in the company of good gifts

Good company

Good company

and the  familiarity of old, sweet  companions.

The security of familiarity

The security of familiarity

We have had a lovely few days of celebration and family but now it’s time to put away the carefully saved wrapping paper and ribbons, until next Christmas,

Packing up for next Christmas

Packing up for next Christmas

and time to resume normal household activities, like hanging the clothes out to dry,

Washing a waiting

Washing a waiting for the sun to shine

and conversing with  the  watchdog  watchcat who keeps the threshold of my home close to her heart,

Guarding the threshold

Keeping the threshold

and tells us how good it is that we don’t have to flee from Herod, but can rest secure in our own dwelling, in the aftermath of Christmas.

© silkannthreades

From Innocent’s Song:

“Watch where he comes walking

Out of the Christmas flame,

Dancing, double-talking:

Herod is his name.”  Charles Causley (1917-2003)

Convalescence

After several days of procrastination,  my ‘apology’ for a real Christmas cake is finally in the oven, baking gently and moderately. That done, I can now take time to celebrate my mother’s homecoming from hospital which happened this past Saturday morning. And what a cause for celebration that is. The past few weeks have been full of pain and struggle but, at last, thanks to the loving care of my sister and brother, she is home again; home to convalesce.

To convalesce ; to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness; to spend time healing; to grow strong….no busying and  bending to a hospital routine; no poking and prodding and monitoring and measuring; no scrutiny from doctors and students and x-ray machines; only rest, deep rest,

How to rest and recuperate

How to rest and recuperate

food that pleases, gentle movement, and time, to heal the pain and weariness ; that is ‘to convalesce’, from latin, valeo, be well.

Convalescence, a forgotten way of life, perhaps, in a world that constantly sells us the idea  of eternal wellness and vigour  and exhorts us to either be healthy or healthier; that urges us to grasp ease without acknowledging dis-ease; that disallows our physical and spiritual need for times of frailty, by plying us with pills and potions and remedies for a  rapid ‘cure’.

In older times, when illness, and home-based care of it, were more commonplace, recipe  and household books often had sections  with special dishes for invalids or occupants of the sick room. It’s hard to imagine someone like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay producing a  best seller containing  recipes for the ‘InValid’, but our best-selling New Zealand   Edmonds Cookery Book used to offer helpful hints like this…

Needing validation; here's a hint.

Needing validation; here’s a hint.

And our famous  Nurse Maude, founder of our community nursing service, suggested, in her book, oatmeal drinks and gruel for the patient’s sustenance.

I am not sure how well I would do on Nurse Maude’s diet but  I would love a tray, such as this one,  to arrive, in the early light,  at my place of convalescence. Fresh flowers from the morning garden, blackcurrants from the home bush, creamy yogurt and strawberries, to nourish the body, and  blessings and calm to nurture  the soul.

A tray for being well

A tray for being well

What more could a patient ask for..oh, just one thing….a moment of grace read to me from one of the most beautifully photographed books of my  childhood world,  A Child’s Grace by  Constance Bannister.

Grace of a Child

Grace of a Child

Amen. Amen.

© silkannthreades