Tag Archives: craft

Hands

Hands.

I love them,

Paul Engle "Paul Engle" by Source. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Paul Engle" href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Engle.jpg">Fair use via Wikipedia.

Paul Engle “Paul Engle” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

especially helping hands,

 

‘Don’t wait for the wind to blow you through the door,
If you need help, here is my hand, I said.’
( Moving In by Paul Engle, 1908-1991)

creating words to hold the soul.

‘..We live by no mind that is only reason,
For there are in us strengths older than thought –
Memory of moon-earthed seeds, the treason
Of spring in our hearts, old family-named corn lands –
Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought
Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.’

( Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle, 1908-1991)

Curve and shape of hand

Curve and shape of hand, hold the soul.

This post is dedicated to Linda at  The Task at Hand, and to all those bloggers who pursue the craft of the wordsmith.

'..........I  said your hand Was curved like wave-marks on the sand.' Lost Things by Paul Engle 1908-1991

‘……….I said your hand
Was curved like wave-marks on the sand.’ Lost Things by Paul Engle 1908-1991

 

© silkannthreades

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All at sea

This post is for my friend  Bailey Boat Cat http://baileyboatcat.com/ and his beloved Nocturne.

For the past few weeks I have been immersed in family history. Perhaps immersed is too mild a description; it’s more like drowning or struggling to keep my head above water, amidst a sea of facts and documents and wild guesses and endless possibilities…. so, that James was a cordwainer and that James was a postman and the other James was a dairy hand. Or were they? And what about that Robert; farm servant and agricultural labourer, or were they  two, different Roberts? And then, there are the Marys and the Elizabeths and the Marys and the Elizabeths and the Mary Elizabeths, who are sometimes occupied with nothing and sometimes with ‘domestic duties’. Domestic duties? What is meant by domestic duties? Is that short hand for the bearing and rearing of a dozen offspring, in as many years, all confusingly named James or Elizabeth or Mary or Elizabeth Mary and James and Robert or Robert James. After a couple of hours of research, I am begging my forebears to throw me the lifeline of a Hortense or a Hermione,  even a Phryne (Fisher, if possible ), but the best I get is an Isola, which isn’t a bad effort.

Isola? Isola! How did a little girl, born in New Zealand, to Scottish parents acquire the name Isola? Does it mean Island or Isle? I may find out one day but, in the meantime, my mind has sailed away to islands and how we, the families of now and before, travelled from one set of islands to another, on ships and boats with marvellous, exotic names.

In our family history, I find a list of boats, ships and sailing vessels that have held, for varying lengths of time, small portions of our life stories, as travellers and adventurers, workers and servicemen. Here is a small selection of  some of the names: Bolton, Caroline Agnes, Zambesi, Zealandia, Waikato, Mokoia, Neuralia, Ulimaroa, Warrimoo, Pinkney, Adi Rewa, Matua, Tofua, Oriana, Ratu Bulumakau and Seaspray . Each of these vessels has a fascinating story and a genealogy and lineage of  her own. Many of them were sent to watery graveyards or to the hell of a scrapyard. An ignoble end to the fine engineering and craftsmanship of the craft that made possible much of our family lore.

For those who are curious about maritime vessels, here are a few links.

http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?131733

http://digitalnzgeoparser.tripodtravel.co.nz/map/photograph-of-the-ship-mokoia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pinkney_%28APH-2%29

http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/matua.htm

This is a photo of myself (the little blonde curly-haired child) with my brother and mother, on board the Matua ( I think) circa 1957. Possibly en route from Fiji to Sydney or New Zealand or, maybe, both.

Matua? 1957?

Matua? 1957?

http://www.ssmaritime.com/Tofua.htm

(note the punkah louvre forced draught ventilation on the Tofua)

http://www.ssc.com.fj/seaspray.aspx

http://www.castawayfiji.com/

This photo was taken aboard the Seaspray (still alive and well, I think) on a trip to  Castaway Resort, circa 1967.

On the Seaspray to Qalito Island

On the Seaspray to Qalito Island

Anchor note: I didn’t  know this when I started my research but I have since discovered that August is New Zealand Family History Month; happy coincidence.

http://www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/EN/Events/Events/Pages/familyhistorymonth2013.aspx

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

  • Pt. III, The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth, sec. IV

Stitching Memories

In my much younger days, I was very interested in sewing and needlework. My mother, who believed she was not skilled with needle and thread, arranged for me to have sewing lessons with some of her more skilled friends. As a result, by the age of about ten or eleven, I became quite the little seamstress, cheerily making clothes for myself, my little sister and my mother.  My enthusiasm for sewing was at its peak in those years and, although I continued to sew in to adulthood, it was never with the same exuberance and excitement. Finally, at the ripe old age of 26, I stopped sewing.

I may have stopped sewing, ( anything more than a button on a shirt, that is ), but I remained in love with the idea of sewing; the wondrous process of turning one form of cloth into another shape and size ; the different stitches and seams, the cuts and darts and frills and facings. Not to mention the lovely ribbons and laces and trimmings, and the beautiful hand-made button holes with equally beautiful buttons, usually recycled from that ultimate household treasure trove; the button jar.

When we lived in New Delhi, I was privileged to be part of a group of women who employed a tailor, named Mr Singh. Not just any tailor. As far as I was concerned, he was the most skilled tailor ….EVER. As per our group agreement, each of us booked Mr Singh’s sewing service for a couple of weeks at a time, and, at the appointed hour, he would arrive on his bicycle, with lunch container secure on the handle bar, and his hand-operated sewing machine carefully strapped to the carrier. Then, quietly and efficiently, he would settle in his chosen corner…..and sew and sew;  everything and anything  I asked for. Everything and AnythingFor me it was magic; for him, I suppose, it was merely another day at the office.

Here is a little piece I wrote about Mr Singh in February 2003.

“Mr Singh. Bearded, turbaned, thin as a pin. There he sits, cross-legged, at his sewing machine, in the dim, back room. A silent figure, stitching his magic; making my dreams. I can see him still in the dim back room of my mind.

Why do I see him now? Because today, his stitches, and my dreams, are displayed brightly on the washing line. The duvet cover we created together, from dress scraps and my grandmother’s sheets, is blowing in the Christchurch breeze; glistening white in the glare of  a Christchurch sun. I look at the vibrant colours on white Colour on Whiteand remember the muted tones of Mr Singh; blue and grey,  grey on white, grey on grey, almost a shadow in the shaded back room. Muted Ah, yes, quiet, gentle Mr Singh; a master of many stitches.  I miss his serenity, his dignity, his creativity.”

The photos in this post are all of the duvet cover. I took them this morning in our bright autumnal sunshine. The colours are no longer bright; they have softened with age. Twenty three years have gone by since Mr Singh pieced all the different fabrics together.Marking Time

Sheet notes: the white cotton sheets used for the duvet are at least 50 years old now, and the coloured scraps range in age from  25 to 35 years old. The buttons on the cover would be close to  30 years old . I think they  were salvaged from a dress of mine, made in Zimbabwe!  The duvet cover spends most of its present life in the linen cupboard, snuggled in lavender, in refined retirement. It is no longer subjected to harsh wear and tear and the rigours of washing machine and sunlight.

© silkannthreades

Favourite things still come in brown paper packages

My mail box doesn’t see a lot of activity these days, which, considering its earthquake battered state, isn’t such a bad thing.  It really wouldn’t take the strain of too much mail. However, I do receive enough real mail to make a daily check of the mail box worthwhile, even if, sometimes, the only occupants I  find are snails, attempting to establish a new residence. Yesterday was more worthwhile than usual, for what did I see but this…….a little package with a green customs sticker and….. no snails!…..and…….What's this?

exciting, exotic Singaporean stamps.Stamps of Singapore

I was pleased and surprised and amazed besides, because this could only be my order from Lizzie Rose Jewellery, posted a mere three days ago from far off Singapore. Postal services may be in decline worldwide but the Singapore postal service obviously hasn’t been told that. Such speed. It takes longer than 3 days for a letter to travel a few hundred kilometres within my own country.  But, back to the package, which I opened a little clumsily in my haste to see the contents. The haste was to no avail, as I discovered the contents were not meant to be revealed in a hurry.  This parcel was going to need  unwrapping with the same  consideration and care  with which it was put together. With hasty fingers subdued, I found, under a layer of thin cardboard, a small, impeccably neat, brown paper package, tied up with string, complete with bowBrown paper package

and a sweet, rosy label.Sweet  rosy label

String untied with ease, I delved, more gently this time, in to the brown paper package and discovered more delightful bows and ribbons. I began to feel as if I were playing that old-fashioned party pleaser/teaser, ‘Pass the Parcel’, but with more enjoyment than in my younger years because there was only one possible winner in this game; me!More pretty bows

Like every well-mannered party girl, I looked at the card and gift tag first (do you see the cute butterfly cut out that holds the ribbon?), so that I would know whom to thank at the end of the celebration.  And, as I looked at each detail before me, the ribbons, the string, the paper  and  the stickers wrapped and tied themselves around my store of wonderful memories of parcels past. In particular, I remember parcels from my grandfather and aunt, lovingly packaged in brown paper and tied with string and perfect, postal-approved knots.  Inside these parcels, there would be the excitement of kids’ magazines, jelly babies, and pretty stickers requiring stick, and, sometimes, real treasures such as exquisitely hand-made dolls clothes, or a hand-knitted hug me tight (shrug).  And these memories,in turn, fastened on to that tiny little prick of conscience I experienced earlier, when I tore into my mail, and reminded me of decades of diligently instilled old school traditions of thrift. So, when I returned to the present, I studied the pink tissue paper and delicate tape and shiny green ribbon and worked out how to open the pink tissue paper parcel without destroying the wrapping ……..Green and pink and gorgeousand, finally, there, before me, was my favourite thing;  jewellery, absolutely and perfectly made, just for me.Just for me

Thank you Cath of Lizzie Rose for adding colour and wonder to my day. It’s not my birthday till the end of the month but I feel like the party has already started :). Thanks, too, for making my shopping easy and stress free and for giving me confidence that real customer service truly does exist outside my memory bank.

Footnote: Here is the link to Cath’s lovely blog which I  enjoy for its creativity and its insight in to life in Singapore. It will also link you to her Etsy shop and her creative world.

http://lizzierosejewellery.com/

Anklenote: I also bought a beautiful anklet  from Lizzie Rose. I thought I was too old for such silliness but, I discover that one is never too old for some fun and frivolity. The anklet is light and comfortable and I am going to wear it till it’s time to put on my winter boots. Its tiny turquoise beads remind me of summer seas and skies.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/125679287/anklet-in-pale-turquoise-aqua-bronze

© silkannthreades

Creative Genius

Yesterday was the sort of sublimely beautiful, fair-weather day that makes me want to drop everything, hop in the car and  drive forever. Maybe not quite forever, but at least for as long as it takes me to explore my country from end to end and side to side.  But, being the annoyingly responsible person that I am, all we managed to do was a couple of hours of wonderful exploring of the Styx River, and, then, we dutifully came home, in time to bring in the laundry, make the dinner, feed the animals, wash the dishes, dry the dishes and turn the dishes over….actually, we have a dishwasher but that doesn’t make the domestic routines any less domestic or routine.

Normally, or nine times out of ten, I can find a way to be unbothered by the mundanities of housekeeping but, after our gallivanting, I found myself in an unusual, one time out of ten state of grumpiness. My grumps were brought on, not so much by the curtailment of my freedom-travelling aspirations but by reading about a prolific, long dead male composer. (The reading done, between potato boiling and fritter frying, and on top of  a week of reading about  famous, male writers). And I thought,” Yes,Mr Composer, your music is awesome. You are a creative genius BUT your creativity flourished because someone fed you and cared for you and allowed you to be what you needed to be. Someone like me, Mr Composer. So what if you wrote 50 symphonies and 10 operas, or whatever. Given the right conditions, I might have done the same (that’s seriously, seriously, flawed thinking), but, instead, my oeuvre, my mistresswork is some 30,000 meals, 21,000 loads of washing, hundreds of cakes, dozens of biscuits, thousands of shopping lists and exquisitely made beds, multitudes of beautifully pressed shirts……..so score that Mr Genius Composer, if you can! It will take you thirty years or more, especially if you have one hand stirring the porridge and one eye in the back of your head watching the children. Then, just when you think you are done, you’ll find you have an unfinished symphony because Mother has fallen and needs hours of gentle nursing, AND you still haven’t taken out the rubbish for the umpteenth time. Put that in your fiddle and play it, Mr Composer, you!”

So, having traversed that hump in my grump, I sat down and listened to the sublime music of Mr Composer (truly, truly, I can never equal your genius)  and started to research where our little gallivant had taken us.  Our first stop was  the Janet Stewart Reserve on the Styx River; a destination I chose on the spur of the moment, as we were leaving our driveway. This was our first visit to this Reserve.Janet Stewart ReserveIt was created as part of the Styx River Project which has, amongst its aims, the creation of a source to sea experience and the establishment of a viable spring fed river ecosystem.The Janet Stewart Reserve, covers land which runs parallel with the  Lower Styx Road for approximately a kilometre. It also borders part of a very busy main road; Marshlands Road.

The Reserve is home to a specially designed and planted harakeke garden. Harakeke is a type of flax which is used for Maori weaving. The garden is considered a taonga, or treasure, for the Christchurch weaving community.The Harakeke Garden

At the entrance to the garden there is a fascinating woven sculpture.Woven Sculpture

When you approach the sculpture you realise that the story of harakeke is crafted into the structure.  Welcome

As you read, you can hear traffic in the distance but the dominant background music comes from the birds, hidden in the bushes and the thick vegetation on the banks of the river. Birds, where are you?Wetland

The Janet Stewart Reserve is a place of creativity, conservation, calm, beauty, nourishment, renewal and responsible stewardship. Who then is Janet Stewart whose name honours this place. A politician, a composer, a musician, an opera diva, a writer? Nope, not all. Janet Stewart was that greatest of all creative geniuses; a Mother.Nothing more, nothing less.

When Edmond Stewart died in 1993, he bequeathed his land to the City Council for the purposes of creating a reserve to be named after his hardworking, resourceful mother, Janet Stewart.   The Janet Stewart Reserve is a son’s loving tribute to his Mother.  A living symphony of sound and light and wonder, and music to my ears. Next time, I have the grumps I will remember Janet Stewart and her Reserve and all will be well.

The Lavender Lady

Near the airport, on the side of one of the busiest roads in Christchurch, is an oasis of calm and loveliness. It is the Avice Hill Reserve, so called because the area was bequeathed to the city by Avice Hill, the Lavender Lady. It is also  home to the Avice Hill Crafts Centre, the Canterbury Potters Association and the Canterbury Herb Society.  We visited today and had the entire Reserve to ourselves; except for the birds.

The birds, many and varied, were concentrated in the plum trees. One of trees was over laden with small, yellow, sweet and ultra delicious, plums. Some went in my mouth and some in to my pocket, and they were so good I need to collect some more.

Are they Mirabelle plums?Plums a plenty

Free fall plums and mind where you tread!Over flow

The herb garden was full and flourishingTo the Herb Garden

and here, for a moment, you could catch up with timeThe Herb Garden

for it was very still.On Time

Once rested, there were treasures to find like this pot in the herb garden (oh dear!),Pot amongst the Herbs

and trees to loveTrees of the Reserve

Willow

and benches to rest upon ( in comfort?)Bench

and then information to read. Notice, I am on a wayward path again because the information board is at the entrance to the Reserve and I am reading it on my way out!

This is Avice Hill. She was born in 1906 and died in 2001.

Avice Hill

Here is part of her story.The Story of Avice

She worked as an entomologist in the 1930s and 40s. She was one of only a few female science graduates at that time.

More of the story

She bequeathed the land to Christchurch City in 1989 to provide an art and crafts facility, a potters’ room and a herb garden and to protect the mature trees on the property.

Lavender was Avice Hill’s great love and the Lavandula angustifolia “Avice Hill” was named after her. It is, apparently, a very fine lavender. Strangely, there was very little lavender to be seen in the Reserve and none was labelled,as far as I could tell. Perhaps, one is just supposed to know one’s lavender.  Whatever is the case, I am thankful to Avice Hill for her gift to our city.Lavender for Avice

© silkannthreades

Christmas Blues

Every year, post-Christmas, I have the same, sad dilemma; what to do with all the beautiful Christmas cards I receive?  I hate to throw them away and, yet, there is a limit to how many I can keep, or usefully recycle,  year after year. I am not sure what I will eventually do with my cards but, until I decide, I have gathered them together in a photo collage. In this way, I have a lovely keepsake of Christmas 2012, even if the actual cards end up as bookmarks or shopping list material.

My Christmas Keepsake 2012

Christmas Keepsake 2012

© silkannthreades