Tag Archives: ginger cats

The Night is Black

At this time of the year millions around the world are preparing for the triduum of  Allhallowtide, which encompasses All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. For many the preparations will include stocking up on candles for the rituals and  traditions that involve candlelight.

Millions more have begun another celebration, today, which also requires light; light to vanquish darkness and evil and despair. This celebration is the annual, five-day  festival of  lights, namely,  Diwali.

Having grown up in Fiji, where Diwali has long been an honoured occasion (and now a public holiday), I have a love for Diwali which outstrips any affection I have for Allhallowtide.   Seeing the houses decorated with beautiful Diwali lights was a yearly highlight of my childhood.

So, this week, in accordance with  my family’s customs,  I will light a Diwali candle (candles if I can find more than one).

Light a candle

Light a candle

I will listen again to the gentle singing words of Rabindranath Tagore’s Invocation to Diwali 

and consider the significance of Diwali, so eloquently expressed here:  “The night is black. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life and devotion.” (Rabindranath  Tagore)

Until night falls, however, I will keep watch with the dear, little lights that are ever present , and need no darkness to make them shine.

Little Charlie, a  new  (de) light  to brighten our lives

Little Charlie, a new (de) light to brighten our lives

 

Candelabra

Candelabra; shining light on the shadows

And, if I can organize myself sufficiently well, I may even make a special sweet treat for Diwali;  a rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden.

Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.

© 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

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

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

Why I like New Zealand…..

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8788982/Afghan-interpreter-families-officially-welcomed

The story and the accompanying photos in the above link made me very happy this morning.  It’s at times like this that I remember why I like New Zealand.

New Zealand’s first formal refugee resettlement programme was  in 1944 when 734 Polish orphans  and their helpers were brought to New Zealand for the duration of the war. http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-story-of-seven-hundred-polish-children-1966 

This link gives more information on refugees and their history in  New Zealand http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/refugees/page-1 Apparently the earliest refugees to find their way to New Zealand were Danes, Jews from Tsarist Russia and French Huguenots.

” More than 20,000 refugees have arrived since 1944, when refugees were first distinguished from other immigrants in official statistics. While the total number is low compared to the many millions of refugees and displaced people in the world, it is high in terms of the country’s population of 4 million.” ( The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

What made me very unhappy this morning is the discovery that the charger for my camera battery seems to have vanished off the face of the kitchen bench; its usual home.  I am suffering great perturbation. Perhaps if I reread the links I have given you, I will calm down and thank my lucky stars that my problems are so minor. But, but, but……I can’t help but be vexed.  Deep breath……relax…… Relax

 

 

The presents of this day

I don’t know the origin of this saying …… “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”, but it is one of my favourites.  It always brings a smile to my heart.  It was especially apt for today because, it seems to me, that this present day was full of gifts….. or is it, this gift of today was full of presents? Either way, I have had so many presents since I  began my day  that it almost feels as though it should be my birthday.

Here are some samples from the gift list.

First and foremost, my laptop has been successfully repaired and is now back in its rightful  place, on my bench, and working like a dream.  I want to sing and dance and give a medal to the patient technician who carefully and lovingly restored my old machine to its former pristine glory.

Next, because I have my own laptop at my fingertips again, I was able to access Facebook easily and, there, I found a wonderful quote waiting for me. I have read this one before but it was good to be reminded of it : ” Joy is what makes life worth living, but ,for many, joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.”
– Henri Nouwen    I am not sure that I agree totally with these words but I do like the idea that we may have the option to choose joy.

After Facebook, I checked in to my favourite National Gallery website to see the Painting of the Month http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/painting-of-the-month/. And here I discovered the amazing Rachel Ruysch, and her Flowers in a Vase , painted about 1685.  There is such exquisiteness in this featured still life that I could spend all  day looking at it.

However, if I did that, I wouldn’t have time to share my other delights of the day which, of course, relate to my monarch butterflies. When I woke this morning, I peeked out the bedroom window to check the weather and I saw four butterflies trying to warm up under overcast skies.  What a wonderful sight to see first thing in the morning. Good Morning Sunshine

And I also saw this chrysalis which maybe the mystery waiting for its tomorrow.Tomorrow's mystery

Another  present was the present of laughter, given to me by the cat; naturally. She is so resourceful and an expert in cuteness.  She slipped inside this afternoon when my son came by and, a while later, she was discovered in a state of extreme purrtentment, on my daughter’s bed.  My daughter left home a couple of years ago, so we think Zoe Cat  was saying,” Well, if my sister is not here, I am not going to let a good bed go to waste.”  I am only surprised she hasn’t thought of this before now.

Here is the warm orange fluffball on a cloud of blue bliss. Purrtentment

My unexpected bonus gift of the day was the discovery that my michelia tree  is covered with  beautiful russet coloured buds with the texture of the richest and most luxurious velvet. How about that; a gift wrapped in velvet 🙂Wrapped in velvet

Question; do you notice a certain, orange-y autumnal theme in this post? I think there is but it wasn’t intended. It happened of its own accord.

© silkannthreades

The real world of the bedtime story

When I see our little cat cuddled up and snuggled up in her warm place like this,Snuggled

I always think “Snugglepot “or “Cuddlepie”.  Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are the main characters in a classic book from my childhood. They are not cats but fictitious Gumnut  babies. The book is The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, written and illustrated by May Gibbs. A Classic

So, why does a sleeping cat make me think of  Gumnuts?  I am not entirely sure. My mind works in strange ways, but there are three possibilities.  The first is the cuteness factor. Here are Snugglepot and Cuddlepie sleeping in their” second-hand houses”.Snuggled and Cuddled

And, here, they are overlooking a busy highroad. Snugglepot is helping himself to a grassroot bun. Secure

How cute are those illustrations!

The second possibility is to do with comfort, or a type of security blanket factor.

My siblings and I were lucky to grow up with  the comfort and security of bedtime stories. I don’t remember Snugglepot and Cuddlepie  being read to me but I do remember being cuddled up next to my sister, at bedtime, and reading it to her.   I associate Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with sweet and gentle times and the notion “That all will be well”.  Just as the sight of a peacefully resting cat reassures me that there must be a rightfulness to life, even if I can’t always see it.

The third possibility is the joy factor.  Both cat and book make me smile for the sheer joy of their existence. How can one frown at the sight of a sleeping cat? How can one not be amused and entertained by the humour and sensibility  in May Gibbs’ text. Here is an example of her writing; ” Gumnut Editors generally write backwards, because they say it takes longer to read that way, and the people think they are getting more news.” (Even back then the Press was trying to pull the wool over our eyes!)

And here is a piece from Snugglepot’s story. “Down, down, down he tumbled, right through the window into an Ant’s house. A tired night-nurse saw him coming, but before she could do anything he had crashed in and killed several babies. This was a blessing for Snugglepot, but it was sadly hard on the baby ants. “I’m so sorry,” said Snugglepot. “It can’t be helped,” said the Nurse. “What will their mother say?”, asked Snugglepot, brushing tears from his eyes. ” She won’t know,” said the Nurse, ‘ we have three hundred babies in the house.”

And I love the request from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at the beginning of the book which reads ” Humans, Please be kind to all Bush Creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots.”

May Gibbs( 1877-1969)( http://www.nutcote.org/) was Australia’s first full-time, professionally trained children’s book illustrator. She developed a uniquely Australian fantasy world . The first book about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published in 1918. May Gibbs not only brought great stories to children but, in her will, she remembered them by bequeathing the copyright from the designs of her bush characters and her stories to Northcott Disability Services and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of New South Wales, Australia. The rest of her estate was left to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

Scenes from a summer’s morn

There’s nothing like a beautiful summer’s morning to enjoy the green grass of home.Relaxing with my bro' on guardSome prefer the sun,Sun seeker

whilst some prefer the shade.When are you going to turn the water on?

Besides, the shade is closer to the fence and the fence is closer to mysteries which need a good barking to.  Shall I bark?

More sensible creatures know that the mysteries of life are best dealt with by a relaxed attitude (with paws at the ready, just in case!)Relax, my bro', take it easy© silkannthreades

Where did my brother go?

My little cat, Zoe, is an outdoors cat. She doesn’t usually like to come inside unless it suits her to do so. Yesterday morning, when I opened the front door just an inch or two to collect the newspaper,  she zipped inside and raced upstairs.

About an hour later I went upstairs for something and expected to see the cat in her usual corner on the stairs, but she was in a new position; on the window sill of my daughter’s bedroom.On the look out

She was watching the driveway very intently.An eye on the comings and goings

Then satisfied she had seen enough, she jumped down and explored the bedroom, corner by corner by cupboard.    That done, she moved in to my son’s bedroom and gave that a thorough investigation. Once she had found out all she needed to know she skitty skatted downstairs and meowed to be let out the door.

Now, that may seem like fairly routine cat behaviour but what intrigued me is that this upstairs, nosey behaviour is rare for my little cat.  I am convinced she suspected that there had been a change in the household.  And she wanted to confirm her suspicions. My son left home on Monday, to go flatting ( share an apartment with friends), for the first time. He hasn’t completely deserted us but the cat , I am sure, was aware of the change in her human brother’s routines and wanted to know what was going on.

Ah, sweet little Zoe; she doesn’t miss a thing. She knows every inch of her territory and who comes and who goes and when they come and go as well.

Here she is all ears All ears

in one of her favourite waiting and watching placesCan you see me watching you?

The sheepskin she is lying on has been in our home since the day my son was born. It is very, very worn but I couldn’t bear to part with it, so, this week,  I gave it  another a few months of life as a comforter for Zoe’s old bones.

“And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Kahlil Gibran

© silkannthreades