Tag Archives: dogs

Different birthdays, different flowers and a gladsome mind

It was the last week of March;  it was the 27th;  the Archbishop of York was in town;

The Archbishop of York came

The Archbishop of York came

and I was at home, celebrating my birthday…  in the good company of  wine

Grapes to eat, wine to drink

Grapes to eat, wine to drink

and song

Jack singing Happy Birthday

Jack singing Happy Birthday

and old friends, bearing beautiful gifts of fine paper

Purple and pink for a present

Purple and pink for a present

 

 

Books for the Garden

Books for the Garden

 

 

 

and cloth

New robes

New robes

and flowers of all sorts, on stems

Birthday beauty

Birthday beauty

and on cards, each carrying  messages of loving kindness and good will.

It was the loveliest of  days to be honouring the process of growing  and ageing.  I hope the Archbishop thought so, too, even though he wasn’t at my party  at all, except in the very vaguest  way, via my life lived within the framework of  my historical and ancestral  relationship with the Church of England. (You see, I wouldn’t be here in this 21st Century New Zealand, if my church-going  forebears hadn’t decided to take assisted passages, in the 19th century, to a new life in the Church of England settlement of Christchurch.)

The Archbishop of York was here  to  help the Anglican Church prepare for a much more senior birthday than mine; the bicentennial of the beginnings of the Christian Gospel  in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

And he was here to address a symposium entitled, ‘Poverty, Global and Local’.

Which made me think that, no matter how  differently we celebrate a birthday, or, how disparate our ages, to grow up and grow old is a privilege; for state and church and person alike.

and for that privilege, and every strand of grey hair on my head,  I must remember to be truly grateful and of a gladsome mind, always.

Update:

This post comes with a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped celebrate my birthday. I am looking forward to kicking up my heels and having a grand time with you all again in 2015. Put the date in your diaries now. 🙂

Celebrating

Celebrating Spanish Style

Footnote : This is an excellent article on the art of Mabel Royds http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk/2013/11/29/mabel-royds-printmaker/

© silkannthreades

the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf

 

the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf
the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf
the Anglican Church prepares to celebrate the bi-centennial of the beginnings of the Christian gospel in Aotearoa, New Zealand. – See more at: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3053/visit-to-new-zealand-by-the-archbishop-of-york#sthash.A6MMaMGb.dpuf

 

Resting Places; Take Two

Resting Places; Take Two

At Tom’s,

Normans Road Post Centre

Normans Road Post Centre

I stop to browse the shelves; to see what’s new,

to post a letter,

and discuss the weather

The weather

The weather (remnants of Cyclone Lusi)

and the state of the nation,

and the state of the street, and the theme of the week.

Hairy Maclary and Friends http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_Maclary "hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops"

Hairy Maclary, from Donaldson’s Dairy, and  Friends “hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops”

And catch, if I can, the tales, that Mavis

must tell, of Mrs Carbuncle’s feet.

If I linger long, and lost, in Nancy’s  garden of notes,

I am bound to hear of Audrey’s Jim, who’s rowed ever so well  in the Maadi Cup,

and big brother Ben, who’s working in London and enjoying the slum of his OE* flat,

whilst Susan’s Prudence has had enough and is heading back home, come next June, to give little Johnny and Sam the chance of living close to Nan, and squelching their toes in the soil of the land.

And I will hear Tom say, with wisdom and care, ‘That’ll be twenty, today, Alastair, and Margaret’s magazine will be here next week. See you then. ”

A few blocks north and it’s time to sit,

The old barber's chair

The old barber’s chair

in an old barber’s chair, where a golden-haired maiden, elegant and thin,

washes and trims this gossip’s, (yours truly 🙂 ), grey mane ,

whilst we discuss the earthquakes, the state of repairs,

and her good young man who knows how to cook and take care of the kids.

And, as we engage in idle chatter, Hamish and Ryan wriggle and squirm on the bench by the door,

waiting their turn (no appointments necessary)  for a short back and sides, because Mum, flipping texts and pages, said that they must,

all oblivious to the fact that once, over there, Charlie stood,

and sold a half loaf of bread to Martha and Fred, and a scoop of sugar for Mother’s tea.

Only Mother said could they have it on tick, because baby Mabel is sick, and Pa’s got no work till next Tuesday week.

And kind Charlie nodded, and sighed,  with wisdom and care, and allowed them to add broken biscuits for free, because he knew Billy and Annie would pay when they could. Then he secured the safe in the floor,

and went to his home, out the back door,

where his Kathleen played and the dog kept watch.  And Charlie was content that, at least, for this day, he had food in the larder, stock in his shop and a place to stop, with his lovely Louisa and  daughters, two.

The shop,  which is now Madisons for Haircuts,  was operated (owned?) by my grandfather for a few years, from 1921. It is one of the few physical reminders of our family history that survived the earthquakes.

[This will be my last post for a few weeks. I will be taking a rest from writing my blog as I will be busy with house guests until early April. I will try, as best as I can, to read your blogs and comments but I may not be as active as usual.]

*OE means Overseas Experience, a little like a Gap Year.

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

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)

Postprandial cogitations or what to do with the leftover trimmings

This post is an unabashed excuse to use the term ‘postprandial’. For, after my visual  feasting on so many lovely, virtual Thanksgiving dinners,  I am in a postprandial state of being; which means, in my case, replete, satisfied, satiated and inclined to tread the hours, softly, softly, ever so softly.

Yesterday was particularly postprandial , even though it was some 36 hours since I first sampled the smallest imaginary sliver of sliced turkey (one has to sample judiciously when such a huge repast is on offer via the interweb)……and I tried to move in a quiet and orderly fashion through the tasks of the day: a little internet banking, some bills to pay; some online shopping; a few cards to make; a birthday card to write; and, then, a tiny time of tidying and trimming and weeding in the garden…….which, although brief, suddenly seemed lack lustre, so I did this, in a moment of whimsy : I scooped up all the clippings and trimmings of Portuguese Laurel, heuchera, fern and borage and teucrium fruticans ,  as well as a few handfuls of sage and mint, and placed them in my precious Royal Doulton bowl.

Dressed Up Leftovers

Dressed Up Leftovers

And, I thought, “What fun!”,  and  proceeded to post this photo as my Facebook profile.

Whereupon, one of my astute and very practical-minded Facebook friends, who knows my garden well, immediately commented “Looks like a lovely bunch wild growth! ”  Oh, how I  laughed, for no matter how I might try to style my floral/foliage arrangement, its base material is just that: the wild (over) growth from the garden; the trimmings and leftovers that were originally destined for the compost heap, before my imagination grasped them and gave them another life.

However, laugh as I did over my friend’s reaction to my  act of whimsy ( or was it folly?),  I did think this: that we can’t always fill our vase of life  with beautiful, elegant, perfect roses; sometimes we simply have to do the best we can with the leftovers, the dregs, the crumbs from the table. And, why not, make the most of them; my dog thinks they’re delicious. He spends half his life begging for them 🙂

© silkannthreades

Minutiae

The days are busy; the evenings too. Not with big, important tasks;  just  the minutiae of daily life… . bread to bake, clothes to lavender, meals to prepare, groceries to buy, dishes to wash,  feet to scrub, vases to fill, socks to find,  hair to brush, a friend to visit, a neighbour to chat to, a letter to write, an email to send, a text to answer, and phone calls to make and  to receive….

My mother is improving and gaining strength. She will return home soon, we hope. Her  progress is good. I phone her once, sometimes twice, a day. A hospital is a busy place.  Our conversations are brief.

But I  grab a moment of the call, to talk to my brother or my sister; whoever happens to be with our mother when I phone. They are tired. I hear it in their voices. Whilst one sibling is at the hospital, the other cares for the house and my father. Care responsibilities are 24 hours.

Later, when it is 1 in the morning here, I may phone my sister again. It will be 10pm in Cairns. We discuss the day’s events. I am yawning and, suddenly, my sister switches from talking about hospital matters to something about ‘hammering nails’. I am silent for a while, wondering what this means. My sister is silent, too, for a moment. Then she laughs and asks, “What did I just say?” “Something about nails,” I reply. She laughs again; her great,big, only-my-sister-can-laugh-this-way, laugh. “I fell asleep. I was talking in my sleep,” she says.  A short while later, it happens again. We hang up before our words become any more incomprehensible 🙂

There are other calls to make at other times. To friends; to my aunt, in a rest home, to let her know that her sister is okay; to my uncle and my aunt who are moving to their retirement home. To others we Skype. My father likes to Skype chat. He types well and knows how to use those emoticons 😀

Thus are the smallnesses that occupy my days; that keep my fingers flying, my voice activated, and my brain engaged (mostly).

But there are other smallnesses that rest my body and mind; that communicate by ancient paths and provide calm and continuity,

and call forth joy every morning.

© silkannthreades

Postal notes

In Christchurch, letter boxes are being ‘harvested’. Our Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has given permission for a community group, the  Avon-Otakaro Network,  to gather  letter boxes from red-zoned residential properties where the houses have been demolished. The letter boxes, and the homes to which they belonged, had to be abandoned following the devastation of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The Avon-Otakaro Network, which has so far collected 200 letter boxes, plans to use them to create 10 sculptures to be placed by the lower Avon River. They will be reminders of  loved homes and communities that are no more. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9305950/Harvesting-red-zone-letterboxes-for-art

Just as letter boxes are changing their form, so, too, is our Postal Service. Yesterday came the not unexpected announcement that New Zealand Post  will reduce “its work force by up to 2000 staff as part of a strategy to reshape the business over the next five years.” (http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/business/9352413/NZ-Post-job-losses-restructure-revealed )  Part of that strategic plan includes a move to a 3 day postal delivery service, beginning in mid 2015.  Like any good organisation, it must continually renegotiate its terms of existence in order to survive and thrive. New Zealand Post has been doing its vital work, in one form or another, for at least  170 years and  I expect it can continue to serve for another century, if appropriate innovative strategies are implemented.

In the meantime, whilst the Postal Service and the letter boxes are  being sorted out and re-arranged, some of us are doing our best to help keep the current postal structures in good heart.

Here are my  bookmark  gifts ready to fly away, par avion, to distant shores.

Fly away my pretty ones

Fly away my pretty ones

Can you guess which one is coming to a post box near you? One will find a home, in the US, and will soon be covered in  dog hair ; one will settle comfortably in London,  next to Danny, the teddy bear, and a cat called Thomas ; and the third will go to a dedicated reader of books, and my blog, and long time friend, who lives in  Auckland, New Zealand.

But real mail doesn’t only leave my home. It arrives as well. In my broken-down-earthquake-damaged-letter box, which no one would want to harvest, I found this…..midday yesterday…..

All pink and white and pretty

All pink and white and pretty

This pink and white parcel delight contains my first purchase from  Koru Knits’ Felt shop. (Felt is our New Zealand answer to Etsy)

I always love a parcel and the treats within. Here is my treat; beautiful ‘sapphire blue’ handwarmers, lovingly handmade by fellow blogger, Lynley.

Handmade by Lynley

Handmade by Lynley

Sapphire Blue Handwarmers

Sapphire Blue Handwarmers

Of course, they won’t be needed right now, as we head in to summer, but I like to be prepared!

Included in my parcel was a lovely, and generous, bonus (because I was Lynley’s first Felt customer) ; a pink, white and blue striped apron, ( you can see a little of it underneath the handwarmers), which is perfectly perfect for me, in both colour and size.  How did she guess?

What Lynley didn’t guess is that I would put ‘pinny’ and handwarmers on, straight away, and prance around the kitchen taking photos of myself!

And, if it had been morning time, I would have pranced right out the door and taken my new garments for a walk to my letter box, just for the sheer fun of it. And, perhaps, even given a friendly wave to the postie, if he or she had been cycling by at that very moment.

© silkannthreades

What you need to get your church moving….

We have been for a Sunday Drive and seen many sights: daffodils; cherry blossom; dogs; a river; blue sky and “A What you need to get your church moving”. Which is this; a TITAN

A Titan for the Task

A Titan for the Task

which is yellow and sturdy and very tall…..

In January this year, I wrote a post about a little chapel called St Saviour’s. You can see the post Here. I told some of the history of the chapel and explained that  the chapel would soon be returned to its original home town, Lyttelton. Turns out that the ‘soon’ is now.

Although the Titan  was having a Sunday rest, it has obviously been busy. Here is how the Chapel looked when I saw it earlier in the year. It was boarded up and ready to go.

St Saviour's

St Saviour’s

Here is how it looked today

St Saviour's is Going

St Saviour’s is Going

Although St Saviour’s is obviously on the move, I can’t find any information on whether it is being moved via a land route or by barge. I did discover an article on some of the costs involved in the Chapel’s relocation and restoration http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/hills-and-harbour/8963217/Historic-St-Saviours-chapel-granted-143k  However it is travelling, I hope it will soon be  put together again because, right now, it looks very uncomfortable and undignified, and dishevelled. Not unlike we get when we are on a difficult and long journey, especially if we are no longer as young and spritely as we once were 🙂

© silkannthreades

In my night kitchen

I am causing mayhem in the kitchen again.

There’s mess and chaos, just as before, https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/kitchen-chaos/

but this time, I am cooking by the light of the moon…not really…..but there is a big, bold moon in the sky which I can see from my well-lit kitchen.

Here is what is happening:

There are cookies and crumbs

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

from  the excellent The Sensitive Gourmet, Antoinette Savill, http://www.amazon.com/The-Sensitive-Gourmet-Imaginative-Cooking/dp/0722537131

And there is divine chocolate cake, and more crumbs,

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

from the Healthy Food Guide http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/recipes/2007/may/gluten-free-chocolate-cake

And, to the cake, I added healthy, blueberry sauce and a helping of not so healthy ice cream.

But ice cream decadence is permissible when the moon is full and round and one is cooking in the night kitchen. Even snakes and dogs are permissible; as long as they are still.

That’s enough nonsense from my night kitchen, except my silliness has reminded me of a wonderful rhyme we loved when we were children :

I went to the animal fair, the birds and the beasts were there. By the light of the moon the giddy baboon was combing his auburn hair. The monkey he gave a jump, and sat on the elephant’s trunk. The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees and what became of the monkey, monkey, monk….

All my recipes tonight are gluten-free and dairy free but definitely not chocolate free.

© silkannthreades

Backyard learnings

When I was very young, I went to kindergarten (pre-school) in my own back yard; my  very own backyard on the tropical island of Fiji. The kindergarten was owned by my mother who was also the sole teacher. It was a wonderful little school and the best part of it was that I didn’t have to leave it to go home. It was home, and I could play there all day and every day for as long as I wanted. It was a very pleasant introduction to education.

Backyard Kindy

Backyard Kindy

That’s me at the top of the slide! At least I think it is!

Sand and sun and stories

Sand and sun and stories

My father made most of the equipment including the much loved cars made from packing boxes.

As the only kindergarten in town, (and possibly the entire Colony of Fiji), there was always a waiting list for my mother’s school. She hated turning away children  but there was a limit to the number of little ones she could handle on her own. The fees charged were miniscule, token, in fact, because her training and background were in the old New Zealand  tradition of free education for kindergarten children. (Plus, I think the colonial authorities may have had some rules about  private enterprise on colonial property, which our house was! ) She took that tradition with her from New Zealand to Fiji, and stood by it, throughout her working life as a teacher/school owner/manager.

We had a great selection of books at my mother’s kindy. I still have many of them but here are two favourites of mine.

One of the Nine Stories has fallen out of favour but the remaining eight are still popular with today’s children, as far as I know.

So, in this simple setting, with these little books, and others like them, my interest in literature, in reading, took its first steps.

Today, I am reading on my laptop via  Project Gutenberg Australia “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M Delafield. I feel that this passage was written for me:

‘January 14th.–I have occasion to observe, not for the first time, how extraordinarily plain a cold can make one look, affecting hair, complexion, and features generally, besides nose and upper lip. Cook assures me that colds always run through the house and that she herself has been suffering from sore throat for weeks, but is never one to make a fuss. (Query: Is this meant to imply that similar fortitude should be, but is not, displayed by me?) Mademoiselle says she hopes children will not catch my cold, but that both sneezed this morning. I run short of handkerchiefs.

January 16th.–We all run short of handkerchiefs.’

By my bedside table, for evening reading, I have “Toujours Provence” by Peter Mayle.  For any time reading, I have “Poem for the Day’ edited by Nicholas Albery and “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. For idle moments, I have the newspaper where I read that the Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the launch of DogTV, a round the clock digital cable channel, specifically programmed for your dog.  I have not passed on this news to my little friend, Jack, but, then, he is  content to soothe his ears with the voices from  Radio New Zealand (http://www.radionz.co.nz/). I do hope, however,  he closed his ears when the announcer said that our Parliament has just passed  legislation to regulate the sale of legal highs, (party pills and synthetic cannabis).  Sadly, this legislation which  requires manufacturers to prove their products are safe for human use, before they can be sold in New Zealand,  will certainly  mean a continuation of unnecessary animal testing . I can’t help thinking that many of us  would do well to return to our kindergarten roots. We would do well to  remember how much pleasure and fun and wonderful highs we got from our very first books, featuring members of the animal kingdom.

Here is another of my favourite books that I first met in the kindergarten in my very own backyard.

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© silkannthreades