Tag Archives: earthquake

The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Gallivanta

You may remember that a while back I dedicated my post ‘May the Singing Never Be Done’  to  Britt, life/history enthusiast, blogger, and author of Nola Fran Evie.

BUT the dedication to Britt came with a proviso…..that she locate the Totem Pole by Chief Lelooska in Portland, the replica of which stands near Christchurch Airport.

Britt took up the challenge with her usual gusto, and is about to reveal all in a forthcoming post on her blog, A Physical Perspective. I can scarcely wait to hear what she discovered, and how. Whilst she was off searching for the Totem Pole, Britt decided to issue her own challenge to me  (tit for tat 😉 ).  My challenge? To write a guest post for her regular series the Life Enthusiast Chronicles.

Gulp! I thought. But I gave it a go. Here is the result, my first guest blog. After my initial ‘gulp’, I thoroughly enjoyed writing for Britt’s Chronicles. Have fun with me and the sheep, and please remember to bookmark Britt’s blog if you want to find out more about the Totem Pole challenge.

Britt Skrabanek

Last month Andrea Stephenson of Harvesting Hecate revealed how crucial it is to remain curious in life, to explore every piece of the world, inside and out. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, beautiful beings from all over the world explain why life is so awesome to them.

This month I’m overjoyed to bring you guys Gallivanta from Silkannthreades all the way from New Zealand. Gallivanta’s blog is always playful, positive, intelligent, and inspiring. Even simple photos from her garden seem to awaken something special in all of her readers, including yours truly. Her youthful zeal shines through her words and I always leave her blog smiling big. 

To show you all one example of what a lively woman she is, back at the end of July Gallivanta sent me on a totem pole quest in Portland. Yep, a totem pole quest. I’ll write about my discovery…

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Tuesday Travels

Ready to sit again?

This time, let’s rest awhile beside the sea,

Comfortable?

Comfortable?

breathe deeply, stretch that neck,

Stretch

Stretch

this way and that,

and remember,

Cave Rock and Scarborough Head seen from afar

Cave Rock and Scarborough Head  and Shag Rock seen from afar

we have travelled far, yet yearn to be where

“Cave Rock is made of toffee
And the sea of lemonade
And the little waitress wavelets
Are always on parade
When the cars roll down to Sumner
On a Sunday.
The ice-cream mountain on the blue
Is free for anyone,
And Scarborough Head looms solid
As a tearoom tuppeny bun….”

from For a Child by Denis Glover

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

© silkannthreades

Speechless, almost

This morning there were two emails in my Inbox which left me speechless, (almost).  The first one left me speechless with sorrow at the darkness in people’s lives;  the second left me speechless with joy (and  tears). It reaffirmed my faith in the goodness that resides in our hearts. It reminded me that we do not need to be overcome by evil;  there is goodness  aplenty in this world, and there is more than enough for all of us, if we dare to share it around.

So, come share some of the goodness of this day, with me.

First the email, bringing good news from dear Lucy at Visual Fling

I have been working on another picture, just for you. This painting, “Memories of Before her Time”, is a commemorative based on your posts about the earthquake on September 4th.
 
I meant for this painting to recall your ‘white stones’ clematis pictures, and the white flowers in your hair, but also the little girl symbolizes new life after the loss and teaching the young to honor the past.
I hope you like it.
Blessings,
Lucy

 

The painting; the gift of healing goodness.

Little one with Clematis; a gift of goodness from Lucy at Visual Fling http://visualfling.com/2014/09/04/memories-from-before-her-time/#comments

Little one with Clematis; a gift of goodness from Lucy at Visual Fling http://visualfling.com/2014/09/04/memories-from-before-her-time/#comments

 The Clematis, the powerful goodness of a flower that inspired us.

Clematis inspiration

Clematis inspiration

I am blessed.

Thank you, Lucy, from the bottom of the heart of one who is now,

Power of the flower

Power of the flower

and will always be that little girl with a flower in her hair, and a belief that goodness is nine-tenths of the world.

Looking forward; Gallivanta circa 1958-59

Looking forward; Gallivanta circa 1958-59

The copyright of the painting belongs to LucyJartz.  Please  help me thank Lucy for her  kindness and generosity by visiting her blog  Visual Fling for a clearer view of the commemorative painting.

© silkannthreades

O bright day, marked with a still whiter stone!*

My daughter, who rivals Wikipedia in the breadth of her encyclopedic knowledge of random facts, tells me that ye olde Romans would mark fortunate days on a calendar with a white stone.  I like that.

Today, 4th September, is the anniversary of a fortunate day in my life. I have no white stones. I am not Roman ( in case you are wondering 😉 ). But I do have some lovely white markers to place on this day.

This is what is going on my calendar:

a marker to represent my land;

Up the Gorge

Up the Gorge

a marker for my neighbourhood;

In my street

In my street: a clematis paniculata; possibly a hybrid.

 

a marker to celebrate my garden;

Michelia in my garden

Michelia in my garden

and a marker to honour my home.

My home; the centre of my life.

My home; the centre of my life.

Can you guess why this date is a white-stone one for me? If not, tune in to my next post. 🙂

Whilst I am remembering a fortunate day, I must also pause and remember another  4th September, four years ago. It dawned an impossibly beautiful, blue-sky, spring day, but but it was black, black, black, and the Romans would, quite rightly, have suggested a black stone for the calendar.

Pebbles:

A big thank you to my brother for the first photo taken in the Rakaia Gorge.

An equally big thank you to my daughter for her translation of Catullus*

 

© silkannthreades

Indigestion

What to write for this post has been bothering me as much as that vexing, never-ending question of ‘what to have for dinner tonight’. I have all the ingredients, collected during my last excursion into town, but I don’t know what to make of them. I have sorted through several ideas but none of them seems quite right.

I have my lone young magpie,  usually a strange sight in the central city, who makes

me think of ‘country come to town’, or ‘nature reclaiming the spaces we usurped’, though the magpie, like us, is an introduced species. Which all makes me recall the haunting poem by our own Denis Glover,

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.
……..
Elizabeth is dead now (it’s years ago;
Old Tom went light in the head:
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
Couldn’t give it away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

 

Then I have The Bull, Chapman’s Homer. Remember  him?  He’s back. He’s been in seclusion for a while but he’s been let out for some fresh air, and to watch over the renovations on his soon-to-be new home; the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Chapman's Homer outside the City Council building

Chapman’s Homer outside the City Council building

Looking towards the Bull's new home

Looking towards the Bull’s future home, the Christchurch Art Gallery

These items present me with ideas of ‘civilization in nature’; and ‘civilization’ itself; ‘what it is and is not’, and ‘the thinness of its veneer’.

And the entirety has me wondering about ‘cultural collaboration and collision’ and ‘what is left standing When a City Falls’ , and, if what is left, provides a big enough foundation to support a new city. The remains look so terribly small in the face of the vastness of the concrete rebuild jungle.

Confused? So am I. But, perhaps, that is just how it is in our city, where we still seem to be searching for the right recipe to put us back together again.

So what is for dinner tonight?

Brace yourselves. It’s not four and twenty magpies baked in a pie, boeuf bourguignon or smoked eel. No,  I have decided on leftover fish and chips, that traditional New Zealand take away, supplemented with homemade buttermilk corn bread,  which mish-mash is bound to bring on culturally confused indigestion ….but, right now, it’s the best I can come up with.

© silkannthreades

In the lay of the land

Serious questions ~

Who was the bright spark in ancient geekdom who decided that family history should be defined by lines and begats?

Who were the brighter sparks who devised the rigid wheels and stylised trees to chart and constrain the abundant, multi-dimensional landscape of ancestry?

For a landscape it is, our ancestry; a landscape of wide open spaces,

Wide open spaces

Wide open spaces

crisscrossed with highways and byways, one way roads and slender bridges, little lanes, and streets that go nowhere, signposted for all directions.

A landscape of well-defined boundaries, as well as soft, slippery edges, fluidity and possibility.

A landscape that reveals both the neat and the orderly, the tidy rows of heritage,

Orderly family trees

Orderly family trees

and the more common, impenetrable thickets of entwined limbs and leaves.

Impenetrable thickets

Impenetrable thickets

 

A landscape replete with the swathes and layerings of old growth and new.

Old and New in Kaiapoi Domain

Old and New in Kaiapoi Domain

And let’s not forget the twists and turns which lead to small surprises and unexpected delights.

 

Yes, family history is embedded in the lay of the land,

The landscape of ancestry

The landscape of ancestry

entrenched, without doubt, in terra firma;

or so it seems, until the land falls away, alters and shifts and, suddenly, one is all at sea.

Amelia Sims, the scow built and named for my great great grandmother, formerly of the Isle of Wight

Amelia Sims, the scow built and named for my great great grandmother, Amelia Sims, housekeeper Kaiapoi, formerly of the Isle of Wight

Topsail schooner, “Amelia Sims,” (120 ft., 98 tons) at old wharf, Motueka, about 1903. Built in Australia it reached the home port—Kaiapoi—in 1901 and though having an auxiliary screw for berthing purposes sail was its chief means of propulsion. In moderate weather “Amelia Sims” would carry ten or twelve sails and be a worthy sight in deep water.
—Photo by courtesy of Miss Nina Moffatt, Motueka.http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-NHSJ02_06-t1-body1-d4.html

Gallivanting Note

This post came about following a little jaunt in the countryside at the weekend. I traced some family history, found more questions than answers, and discovered, to my great surprise, that my great great grandmother’s second husband built her a ship, the Amelia Sims which was one of the fleet of sturdy  scows which played an important role in New Zealand’s early transport industry.

© silkannthreades

The land that claims us

I’ve been gallivanting; travelling across the Plains, from north to south and back again. I went to Timaru, a port city about 162km from Christchurch. I haven’t been that way in more than 3 years. It’s not very far, in terms of time or distance, but the earthquakes and their aftermath had somehow imprisoned me within the confines of my own city.

Last Thursday I broke free, and, in my trusty little Toyota Echo, I traced the old, familiar route across the wide open spaces; the fields to left and right, the snow topped mountains ever westward, the endless blue of sky above; the rivers big and little and, all along the wayside, the litany of names, the signs of our settlement, our marks upon the land….Templeton, Rolleston, Burnham, Northwood, Bankside, Rakaia, Chertsey, Ashburton, Tinwald, Hinds, Rangitata, Orari, Temuka and so many more…until I met the rolling hills that end the Plains, and the city that sits upon their folds; my destination,  Timaru.

View from Timaru

View from Timaru

Timaru is one of my homes away from home,

Home away from Home

Home away from Home; a place of shelter

mainly because my uncle and his family have lived there for  many years and are always ready to offer generous hospitality to me and my loved ones. Recently I  discovered another reason to feel bonded to Timaru. It was the initial place of residence for the Scottish side of my family when they came to New Zealand in the mid 1870s. It was also the site of our first birthing in New Zealand; from the paternal side  of the family tree, that is. A momentous occasion, perhaps, that first birthing, or, more realistically, just another fact of life for a busy settler-wife to contend with.  Whatever the case, young James arrived in the land of his parents’ choice, on 26 June 1877, followed, not long after, by his twin brother, Joseph.

Years later, a cemetery entry, which is probably that of my great-uncle, records James as a native of Scotland, despite being born and having spent most of his  life in New Zealand.

And, therein, lies the rub; which land claims us? The one we are born to, the one we live in, the one we die in, the one we feel is home, that we feel in our heart, the one we left behind, the one we long for, the one we choose, or don’t choose, the one that loves and protects us, or the one that legally bind us? Or the one that refuses to let us go?

My son, through circumstances entirely outside his control, was born in the US. His birthplace was happenstance; his first landfall, like that of his great great uncle, was an accident of birth. For the greater part of his life he has lived in New Zealand; considers himself a New Zealander and holds, and chooses to hold, New Zealand citizenship. Yet, like a dog unwilling to relinquish its bone, America, the land of his birth, holds on to him, and millions of others like him, whose only wish is to live freely, quietly and privately in the country of their own choice. America  does this via the appalling effrontery of  FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which compels governments worldwide to hand over, to the IRS, the personal financial information of anyone (or institution) with  Born in America  next to their name. Supposedly this measure is aimed at  preventing losses to the US economy  through tax evasion.  Perhaps it will,  but does catching the tax cheats really require the Government of America to force minion foreign Governments  to trawl the electronic trail of the US diaspora for wicked tax evaders and, in the  dragnet-process,  mangle  the innocents abroad and the accidental Americans?

My ancestors  traversed thousands of miles of unruly ocean to reach New Zealand. They wanted to escape the restrictions of old societies and economies. They came looking for newer, better ways to live. Most people who settled in the US travelled long, arduous routes to get there, too.  They wanted to be free of old ways, old tyrannies, old politics.  When I look at power-mongering acts like FATCA, I wonder if any of us have travelled very far at all.

Which land claims you?

Which land claims you?

© silkannthreades

 

 

Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades


On a cake and a prayer

In the small hours of Tuesday morning, I settled into bed and into my 15 minutes of  dedicated, purposeful reading with my current book   Heaven on Earth by Stephanie Dowrick. My bookmark was placed, from the night before, at page 118, and, when I pressed open the pages, this is the prayer that greeted me:

Watch, dear Lord, with those
who wake or weep tonight.
Let your angels guard those who sleep.
Tend the sick.
Refresh the weary.
Comfort those who are dying.
Soothe the suffering.
Have mercy on those who are distressed.
We ask this for your love’s sake.

Augustine of Hippo

I know very little about Augustine of Hippo. I don’t know exactly when he wrote this prayer.  I don’t even know if I like him, or his ideas, or would have liked him way back when. But it moved me deeply  that someone, a hugely long time ago (somewhere, perhaps between 386 and 430 AD) wrote the words that I needed to hear, that I needed formulated for me, in 2014.  It moved me that, on the very day I needed them most, they appeared before me. But, in truth, it was more than being moved; it was more as if Augustine himself,  scroll in hand,  had reached through the ages and said, “Here, take this, I wrote it for you, right here, right now.” Was it a miracle ? (Unlikely)  Was it timely? (Certainly)  Did the prayer work? Possibly, but evidence suggests not for the bone-tired sister I had in mind. But, for me, it did bring some peace and rest and I have repeated this prayer every night since.

Last Sunday, the recent, particularly stressful weeks of  letting ‘nature’ take its heart-breaking course with my daughter’s mental health came to the inevitable conclusion; and she was hospitalized for the sake of her health and well-being. No fun for anyone: not for the daughter, crying uncontrollably; not for the mother listening, helplessly, on the other end of a phone thousands of kilometres away, across land and sea, and not for the on-the-spot aunt, trying to cope, in utter weariness, with the complex needs of elderly, frail parents and a troubled niece.

A few days on, a few prayers later, another phone call to my daughter and I hear words that cradle me: “Mum, they keep bringing us little cakes. They are so delicious. It’s so good to eat cake again. ”  Thank you, thank you, anyone who wants to be thanked. My daughter is delighting in cake once more.

This is only the beginning for my daughter’s recovery. It may even be a false start. Years of less than perfect mental hygiene do not vanish at the pop of a pill or two. Many of the bloggers I follow are affected by mental health issues; by health issues; many are weary; many are caring for family; many are grieving. There is nothing unusual about these situations. They are part of the human condition. As Stephanie Dowrick writes  on page 150 ” First Noble Truth: In life there is suffering.  We free ourselves whenever we ask:  “How can I help?”

And, I would add, by asking, “How can we help each other?”  By being “Angels” for each other? By prayer, by care?  By simply being there, and here, and taking time to listen, to read, to be compassionate and to lighten each other’s load? And by reminding ourselves, over and over, that in life we can also find joy and laughter and fun….and cake. 🙂

Helping  make the Christmas Cake; circa 1988, New York

Helping make the Christmas Cake; circa 1988, New York

© silkannthreades

 

Looking and seeing…it all stacks up.

This post was inspired by Clanmother’s On the Road Book Club and her 2014 Reading Programme …..

and by The World According to Dina on the subject of landscapes, and the difference between looking and seeing………

and by my miscalculated comment to Ms Vickie Lester of Beguiling Hollywood   that I would struggle to find time to review her book, It’s In His Kiss, because I only had about 15 minutes free, each day, in which to read.(  Yeah Right!  No wonder I wasn’t a maths scholar.)

SO, I thought I didn’t read much and that I didn’t have much time to read. But when I looked around me, this is what I saw.

Morning scene

starts with a read of  The Press and a page of poetry. The Press comes with breakfast coffee; the poetry comes as a prelude to bed-making, always read as I sit on the edge of my unmade bed, facing the morning light.

Somewhere, between doing the laundry and the breakfast dishes, I steal a moment with my current living room display book.

Portrait of a Garden

Portrait of a Garden

And, as the day progresses, I  flit from page to page of books and magazines that arrive in the post or are delivered by hand of friend

And when I need a change of pace, I read your blogs and write my own and catch up with reading that can only be done via my computer…Facebook, email, It’s In His Kiss, international news sites….

Evening falls,

new duties call and old ones unwind for the day,

and, eventually, some time closer to 2 a.m. than midnight, my head finds the pillow once more and I do my “15 minutes” of dedicated, purposeful, slow, daily reading.
Last month, I finished Common Ground and, this month, I began Heaven on Earth.

Thus the day passes, from word to word, from page to page, from book to book, without much rhyme or reason, but quite nicely all the same, thank you.

Clanmother says that “reading is the catalyst for transformation”. Despite the random  nature of my reading habits and choices, I find almost everything I read transforms me, in some way or another. I love the ideas and experiences that come to me through the written word.

I thought I read so little but, indeed, I read a lot

Little by Little it adds up to a Lot.

Little by Little it adds up to a Lot.

and that realisation transforms my view of myself in my home landscape.

My Reading Canvas

My Reading Canvas; much richer and more substantial and varied  than it first appears.

 

Thanks Clanmother, thanks Dina, Klausbernd, Selma and Siri,  thanks Ms Lester.

ps There are some days when I truly don’t get any reading done apart from my 15 minutes at bed-time and there are other days when I barely manage that.

pps To add to Mr Muldoon’s statement/question “Why Brownlee left”, it occurs to me that  Brownlee was needed to turn the earth in another corner of the world ie Christchurch. Who would have guessed?  😉

© silkannthreades