Tag Archives: Cynthia Reyes

From my desk ~ Chelonian Tales with a Difference

This is a post about two chelonians ~ Torty and Myrtle.

Torty is brown; Myrtle is purple.

Torty is a real chelonian.  Myrtle is an imaginary one.

Though time and reality and colour separate Torty and Myrtle, both are bound by the restorative  powers of compassion, kindness, and caring friendship.

Torty is New Zealand’s oldest survivor of World War One.  The story goes that, in March 1916, she was wandering near a bombed hospital in Salonika, Greece, when she was run over by a French gun wagon. A young New Zealand soldier, a medic on the hospital ship Marama, saw the accident and dug out the tiny tortoise from the wheel ruts. Torty’s shell had been gouged by the iron wheels of the wagon, and she had lost some toes. Her rescuer, Stewart Little, took her back to the Marama,  dressed her wounds, and cared for her. When the hospital ship left Salonika for New Zealand, Torty went to.  She became a favourite with the wounded, bedridden soldiers. On arrival in New Zealand, Stewart Little smuggled her ashore and cared for her for the next 60 years, until his death. Torty eventually found herself living in a retirement home with Stewart’s daughter-n-law, Elspeth, where she brought joy to residents and visitors alike.  When Elspeth died in 2015, Torty was given a new home with Stewart’s grandsons.

The story of Torty is told in Jennifer Beck’s  engaging  “Torty and the Soldier”,

Torty and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck

the last part of which reads:

“Stewart Little’s military service did not distinguish him from thousands of other Kiwi soldiers who served in WW1 in different ways. However, his simple act of kindness in a foreign land has provided the last living link with those who lost their lives in that war a hundred years ago.”

Our other little chelonian,  Myrtle, is an unusual hue for a turtle. As I said at the beginning, she’s purple; a rich, deep, decidedly purple, purple.

She is a fictional character, first created by author, Cynthia Reyes, 27 years ago,  to help her little daughter manage bullying at school,  and her ‘burden’ of  difference. Thanks to encouragement from Cynthia’s family, Myrtle has come out from her private shell and into the public sphere. She’s now the  star of  her own book.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes

In “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”, we meet a joyful, happy young turtle who loves her ‘turtley’ life until one day she bumps into a rude, bully of a turtle, who questions her authenticity ~ She’s purple! Turtles aren’t  purple! How could Myrtle be a turtle? Upset, bewildered, and hurting, Myrtle tries to un -purple herself, by rubbing her shell in the green grass. In the process  of trying to change her true self, her world is literally turned upside down. Lying on her back, stranded, Myrtle is finally rescued by  her three friends, Hurtle, Snapper and Gertie. They stand beside her, turn her over, and gently restore Myrtle to her feet. And, with kind words and compassion, the three friends help Myrtle understand that  we are not all the same, and therein  lies the wonder of each of us.  “We are all different from each other!” (declares) Myrtle, happy once again.

“We are all  different from each other!” #loveyourshell ( Can you spot all the chelonians? )

In  turtle terms, Myrtle’s life is only just beginning. I hope her longevity will rival that of a real-life turtle. I hope, like Torty, she will bring pleasure and comfort to generations. Torty’s legacy is one of loving kindness, reaching above and beyond the horror of war. May Myrtle’s legacy be a firm, friendly, loving stand against the ugliness of bullying, as well as against the demeaning of difference.

Both Torty and Myrtle are beautifully illustrated: ” Torty and the Soldier” by Fifi Colston; “Myrtle the Purple Turtle” by Jo Robinson .

And just because I can: –

As a tail-piece to these Chelonian Tales, let me remind you of the original, purple Myrtle. She was not a turtle. In the 19th century she became so popular (supposedly) that many people gave her name to their daughters. She’s a true beauty and she was the very first  purple Myrtle I  ever met.

Here  is her portrait by Robert O’Brien http://www.treeguides.com/ who is the excellent illustrator of the Texas A & M Forest Service’s   Trees of Texas resource/identification guide http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55  ( Bob O’ Brien kindly gave me permission to use his illustration for this blog post. ) Myrtle’s  full name is Crape Myrtle, or Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica. She’s hardy and resilient and, although she is a native of China ( and Korea ), she is the Official State Shrub of Texas.

Crepe Myrtle by Robert O’Brien (with permission)http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55

 

One last note: if you ever see the stories of Torty and Myrtle side by side, look at the colour schemes in each book and consider what they might mean, and how they make you feel about each story. Colour matters. In its difference, and its harmonies, it adds beauty and meaning to our world.

 

© silkannthreades

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An Honest House: A Memoir by Cynthia Reyes

I don’t often reblog but Diane’s review expressed, so perfectly, my feelings about Cynthia’s latest memoir that I couldn’t resist. Thank you, Diane; thank you, Cynthia.

Diane Taylor

An Honest House is a rich memoir that moves through a ten-year period of Cynthia Reyes’s life. In the midst of a successful career, family life with children blooming, she and her husband move to an old farmhouse surrounded by gardens they love. It’s just north of Toronto. Against this idyllic backdrop, PTSD strikes.

An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes

A car accident leaves Reyes with debilitating pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its attendant depression, inability to concentrate, inability to sleep, nightmares, regimens of pain killers, difficulty walking and years of physio. The dream house becomes a prison.

In case you are thinking this is a hard luck story, it’s not. Good memoirs bring light into the world, and An Honest House beams light from every page. Bit by bit, from deepest despair to light-hearted jocularity, we accompany Cynthia Reyes as she “grows up”, to use…

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Finishing what I started

Practising growing younger, as per my previous  post , seems to have made me more forgetful, not less,

The forgetfulness of youth

The forgetfulness of youth; it exists; the evidence is in the lost property boxes at schools. :)******

for, until I read  Sheri’s latest post, I had  forgotten I had yet to complete my contribution to the Writing Travel Blog. Sheri invited me to participate way back in June!  I made a good  start. Now it is time to finish what I started.

There are four parts to the Writing Travel Blog:

1.What are you working on now?

The answer, as I gave before, is simple; I am only working on that which is before me; this post. However, for a bit of levity, I will add that I am also working on growing younger. The budding, exuberant growth in the garden provides inspiration for this task.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since my “work” is my blog, I have to say that it doesn’t differ much from other blogs.  Like many others, I have a mixture of text and photos, some humour and some more serious moments. Perhaps, one small idiosyncrasy is that I like to have layers (usually of meaning) in my posts. Layering challenges me as a writer but it also gives the reader many options and angles from which to choose when reading my words. For example, you may not be interested in my photographic take on the apple blossom, but you may be intrigued to know that the  blossom is on a columnar Ballerina apple tree  , which produces full-sized apples, and is the perfect fruit tree for a small, city garden.

Another angle on the apple blossom

Another angle on the apple blossom

3. Why do I write what I do?

Nowadays I write mostly for fun but the ‘why’ of the blog is still adequately expressed on my About page:

  • to communicate our daily life to our family all over the world;
  • to explore the theme of Joy & Woe as expressed by William Blake in Auguries of Innocence;
  • to counterbalance the woe caused by the four large earthquakes and the 12,500 after shocks (to date) our city has experienced since the first big shake on  September 4, 2010.

4. How does my writing process work?

Usually I read something, hear something, or see something, that prompts me to cogitate on a certain subject. Ideas and words form in my mind over a few hours or days, and when I have written my post, in my head, more or less how I want it to be, I come to the computer and write it down. Sometimes the transfer from head space to computer space goes smoothly; sometimes not. I don’t like to do drafts but I do spend  time making sure a post sounds right ( to me); so that means hours of fiddling and checking and checking and fiddling before I press Publish, and send  off my work into the plein air of the blogosphere, to ripen and flourish under the warmth of your readership.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Apricot ripening in the warmth of its small world.

Final part:

To link back to the blogger who sent you the invitation to participate; that’s the lovely  Sheri who is a writer and a passionate mental health advocate, as well as a generous reader and supporter of my blog and those of many other bloggers.

Strawberries growing together, in good company

Strawberries growing together, in good company

To invite other bloggers to join the Writing Travel Blog.

It’ s hard to choose but, today, my thoughts are with Stacey LePage at  In the Corner and  Cynthia Reyes. They are on difficult journeys. They are wonderful, spirited people. There is no pressure to accept my invitation to be part of the Writing Travel Blog but your stories are ones I am honoured to share.

******

Who has sharp eyes? Is there anything that bugs you about the first  photo of forget-me-nots? Apart from the lack of focus. 🙂

© silkannthreades

A salad mix from Gallivanta’s Herb Garden

Parsley,

Parsley

Parsley

sage,

Sage

Sage

rosemary,

Rosemary

Rosemary

and thyme,

Thyme

Thyme (which the cat uses for her day bed. 🙂

and, because she asked for it, rocket,

for Cynthia.

Rocket

Rocket

This rampant rocket planted, perchance, by the light of the moon and a solar-powered torch, some seasons ago has taken off, all over my garden.

It’s my most successful crop ever. Grows better than any of my weeds.

Now, to add to the mix, I have something that Cynthia didn’t ask for, but she is getting anyway; a review of her book, A Good Home, which I have just finished reading.  Here it is. ( You may also be able to see the review on Amazon)

‘Love, laughter, tears, grief, family and community form the cornerstone of any good home, and this holds true for Cynthia Reyes’ heart-warming “A Good Home.’ From the moment Cynthia opened the door to her little pink house in Jamaica until the last pages in the old farmhouse in Canada, I felt like an honored family member in every one of her good homes ( and gardens). I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced, I mourned and marveled with Cynthia and her family. And, when Cynthia’s life shattered into sharp and dreadful pieces, I sat with her in her silence and cheered her own; willed her to allow the wisdom of the old house to begin the healing of her wounds. To my great relief, the healing began. Without it I would not have had the privilege of reading Cynthia’s tribute to the power of a good and loving home. Read and enjoy, and I guarantee that, by the time you reach the last page, you will, like me, be asking the author for a sequel. If you want to know more about Cynthia and her lovely, good home of today, I urge you to visit her blog http://cynthiasreyes.com/

In my  haste to share my enjoyment of this book, I forgot to mention, in my review, another lovely aspect of Cynthia’s story; her frank account of  her ‘doubting Thomas’ struggle with her faith. It cheered me  greatly because it echoes my own faith experiences, which, dare I say it,  are somewhat akin to the salad mix in my garden. Sometimes they are over abundant, sometimes they turn up in unlikely places; sometimes they are tattered at the edges or bug-eaten, or don’t grow well at all. But the amazing thing is that there always seems to be enough faith around to nourish me when I most need it.

On Amazon you can read an excerpt from Cynthia’s book, so whilst you all rush off and leaf through that, I’ll prepare us a delicious green salad with herb dressing that we can share when you’re ready. Deal? 🙂

From Gallivanta’s Herb Garden, with love.

With love

With love

© silkannthreades

It’s a fortunate day when you come to a good home

 

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare o Silkannthreades! 

Welcome, welcome to the home of Silkannthreades, in the South Island of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand . ~

When the early pioneers arrived in my part of the South Island*, they saw a landscape similar to this,

Norman, Edmund 1820-1875 :Canterbury Plains,- New Zealand. / Drawn by E. Norman. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor, Lith, London. Lyttelton, Published by Martin G. Heywood, [ca 1855]. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=8818

Norman, Edmund 1820-1875 :Canterbury Plains,- New Zealand. / Drawn by E. Norman. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor, Lith, London. Lyttelton, Published by Martin G. Heywood, [ca 1855]. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=8818

 which had been surveyed, and made user-friendly for colonial settlement, by criss-crossing it with names like Canterbury, Christchurch, Avon, Armagh, Lincoln…..

 Lincoln, NZ, named for  the Earl of Lincoln, UK.

Lincoln, NZ, named for the Earl of Lincoln, UK.

….. whether any of the sites thus labelled bore any resemblance to their namesakes in the old world, I do not know.

The Liffey at Lincoln

The Liffey at Lincoln.  The Liffey?!!!  perhaps it looked like this somewhere  in Ireland in the 1850s.

I suspect not. Most likely, the nomenclature came about via  some wishful thinking, some lazy thinking, and some self-important thinking, coupled with a desire to impose current theories of civilization on the perceived wilderness.  And whether these familiar names plonked upon the unfamiliar lands helped the settlers adjust to their colonial lives more quickly, or merely made them homesick for the real thing, I also do not know. I imagine it could have been almost as disorientating as our current practice of giving names like Pitcairn ( the Island) to a street  in the middle of an inland suburb in Christchurch!

So, as much I do not know, this I do know:

that, 4th September is a fortunate, white-stone day

because, on that date, fifteen years ago, my family and I stepped off the plane,

and began our life in Aotearoa New Zealand; a country which, to me, needs no reference points other than its own.

We had been globe-trotting for 18 years and it was time to settle down. Not in a place masquerading as a new, improved version of another land, or a place oddly correlated to  memories of distant countries, but in a place uniquely and unmistakably itself. A place we could simply know as home; and a good one, at that.

Rakaia Gorge

Rakaia Gorge (with thanks to my brother for his photo)

Home Thoughts
…..
But if I sing of anything
I much prefer to sing of where
The tram-cars clang across the square,
Or where above the little bay
John Robert Godley passed his day,
Or where the brooding hills reveal
The sunset as a living weal.

I think, too, of the bridle track
Where first they saw the plains curve back
To Alps, of how that little band
Of pilgrims viewed their Promised Land.
…..

I do not dream of Sussex downs
Or quaint old England’s quaint old towns:
I think of what will yet be seen
In Johnsonville and Geraldine.

Denis Glover (1936)

To mark, yet again, the fortunate, fourth day of September, I substituted the traditional white stone with the white pages of a book; the book being  A Good Home . It is written by the witty and wonderful blogger,  Cynthia Reyes, who knows a great deal about good homes (and good gardens).  She would be the first to agree that it is, indeed, a fortunate day when we come to a good home.

Map Legend:

* The South Island of New Zealand was  known as  New Munster from 1840 to 1853. Wikipedia   says that Governor William Hobson named it so, in honour of his birthplace in Ireland. Happily, the South Island now (since 2013!) has official recognition for its original name Te Waipounamu (Greenstone waters).

© silkannthreades