Tag Archives: grandmother

Dinner with Nana

I have said this before and I am happy to say it again. I am in awe of people who can remember their past, particularly their childhood past,  in high-definition clarity.  I see and hear  my past through  flickering scenes of snowy noise, crackling static, fragmented pixels, and faulty signals. Occasionally, I am able to focus on what seems to be a clear, defined, image, yet when I try to hold it, to still it in a frame ,  this is what happens: a  split screen of alternative possibilities.

Frame One:  Dinner with Nana

peas boil, custard bakes,
leg of lamb on stove top rests,
roasted juices, pink.
“Bloody meat,” sighs Nana Maud.
we grin, dinner not done yet.

Frame Two: Dinner with Nana

The peas are boiling, the custard bakes,
gravy, silky and peppery, simmers and plops.
Nana, pinny-wrapped, and double-bent, is busy’
with sharp-pronged fork, testing the mid-day roast.

She pierces the bubbles of crisp skin
and pearlescent fat, to the bone inside,
and watches, as the juices spurt,
clear and sweet.

“It’s done, ” she declaims, satisfied.
“It’s well-cooked,” she adds, decisive,
“I don’t like bloody mutton.”
No part of sheep would defy that tone.

We grin, we tease, in mock horror.
“Nana! Bloody? Did you say bloody?”
Intent on serving dinner hot,
blind to childish nonsense, she huffs,
“No, no, of course, I didn’t, but
I don’t like bloody meat.”

We giggle quietly into plates, bountiful
with succulent tenderness.
We eat, pudding next,
replete, content,
knowing, even then, we would remember
the day we pretended Nana swore.

Which of these pictures , I wonder, is closest to the reality of that day? Sadly, I can no longer say for sure. The editorial hand of time has steadily and stealthily, spliced and resectioned memories which once seemed solid; immutable.

But this much I do know:

Both recollections are faithful to the essence of my grandmother, and the good food, love, and security which were produced in copious quantities in her little, sunny, kitchen.

She was  a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was  capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.

Her cooking was excellent.  Every kind of food she gave me, be it boiled chicken, bottled apricot, roast dinner, or pikelet , I remember with pleasure.

And, as for those roasts ~ Nana preferred mutton and hogget to lamb but, whatever cut it was, she didn’t like it rare, or to say it plainly, bloody.  On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.


(This post is in memory of  Nana Maud who died 42 years ago, today, the first day of spring.)

In Memory of Nana


Precious Jewels….fake or fine?


“late 13c., “article of value used for adornment,” from Anglo-French juel, Old French jouel “ornament, jewel” (12c.), perhaps from Medieval Latin jocale, from Latin jocus “pastime, sport,” in Vulgar Latin “that which causes joy” (see joke (n.)). Another theory traces it to Latin gaudium, also with a notion of “rejoice” (see joy).” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

Precious jewellery from my grandmother

Precious jewellery from my grandmother, perhaps inherited from her mother.

“Sense of “precious stone” developed early 14c. Meaning “beloved person, admired woman” is late 14c.” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jewel

My mother's autograph book; her own entry for 24 July 1933

My mother’s autograph book; her own entry for 24 August 1933

Another beloved, admired jewel in ‘my book’, who brings joy and rejoicing, is dear, true friend  Lisa Brunetti . A few weeks ago, I asked if she would permit me to use one of her paintings to illustrate a poem  written by my daughter. Yes, of course, she said, and sent, not one, but eight, beautiful photos of her work. Such generosity of spirit and kindness warms my heart to its core.    And, for those of you who already know Lisa, sending so many samples via her ultra slow internet connection was not a simple matter. It took time and considerable effort. Thank you, Lisa, friend with a soul as beautiful as a rare Ecuadorean Emerald.

My daughter’s poem needs some final editing before it is ready for posting on my blog, but here are a few lines, to put a sparkle in your eye, until the final version is available.

Lark of lizards, plastic little gecko,
how I love the echo of your calls,..

…so often past the midnight have I seen
you, gaudious gelatinous-fingered gecko,
munching moth-mouthed on the meshing screens

Geckos and their lives were an integral, and much loved,  part of my childhood in Fiji. As they talked and stalked their way along ceilings and walls, or simply rested, stilled and waiting,  they kept us company. On long tropical nights, we watched each other, and together listened to the radio and each other’s words. My daughter, in Cairns, is learning to enjoy and understand  their companionship.

No geckos for me, on this cold, hail-ridden, third day of autumn, in Christchurch. Instead, this  bright jewel came to my window during a brief respite in the storm. I smiled at the way it looked at me, and  I said “Kia Ora, welcome to my window.”

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

True Friend or Autumn Leaf?

But, then, I wondered if I had chosen the wrong greeting because, it seems to me, this little one may not be our native Orthodera novaezealandiae,

but its South African Springbok rival, Miomatis caffra,

that was accidentally brought to New Zealand in the 1970s.

The endemic New Zealand praying mantis …  is currently wide spread through out most of the country, but faces the threat of at least local extinction in many areas because of the competition from the Spring bok praying mantis. If nothing is done to protect our native praying mantis, within a few decades we may no longer be able to observe its intriguing way of life in our gardens. http://www.canterburynature.org/species/lincoln_essays/nzmantis.php

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me are you jewel or thief?

Pray tell me, someone,  if this gorgeous creature is jewel or thief? True friend or autumn leaf?

[I wonder if our rugby board knows that the rivalry between South Africa and New Zealand has taken a leap off-pitch, and New Zealand isn’t winning. The Spring Boks are taking out the All (Green) Blacks big time, and on our own home turf.]

One last diamond to add to my post:

Before this month ends,  I will receive a visitor from across the Tasman Sea. We haven’t seen each other for more than a decade. In fact, we have seen each other only once or twice in the last 45 years. But we are bonded by a shared childhood and our friendship has endured. I wonder if either of us understood the sturdy ring of truth in these words, when Jennifer penned them in my autograph book on 15 June 1967, in our island home, Lautoka, Fiji.

A Diamond Friendship

A Diamond Friendship

Mother's Autograph Book 1933

Mother’s Autograph Book 1933

May your friendships be blessed jewels in your life.

© silkannthreades

Floral Prints

This day began with visions…of loveliness. The first vision came from the words of  William Wordsworth in his sonnet “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”.  Whilst London is far, far from me, the lines

“This city now doth, like a garment, wear the

The beauty of the morning;  “

were a perfect description of the loveliness of my garden, bathed in morning light. Not my entire garden, really, but the focus of my second vision, the Michelia tree.http://www.wairere.co.nz/Trees_Evergreen/Michelia  Yesterday, I didn’t believe the tree could look and smell any more beautiful than it did, but I was wrong. For, today, it is  beyond sublime and I can scarcely take my gaze from it.

Michelia, wearing the Morning Light

Michelia, wearing the Morning Light

My photos don’t do the vision justice but, perhaps, they will give you the smallest glimpse of what is before my eyes…. (the captions are taken from Composed Upon Westminster Bridge)

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Now, as I looked at the Michelia, all arrayed in white blossom, I began to think of a conversation I had with Annie at http://forestsogreen.wordpress.com/.   She commented about the floral print dress, worn by Grandmother, in my previous post here:  ” My grandmother also wore those dresses made of fabric with flowers :) ” said Annie. To which I replied, “Yes, Annie! Looking at the photo, I remembered so clearly those flower print dresses. My grandmother also had her flower print dress for morning when she did most of her household work and cooking and, then, in the afternoon, she wore a nicer, better flower print dress. She didn’t flop around in her pyjamas like her lazy grandaughter!!!!”  And, then, from my thoughts came laughter and love because, suddenly, my beautiful Michelia became a living, visionary version of my Nana’s  floral print morning dress. And, of the days, when we took our garden bouquets and imprinted them on the fabric of our daily lives; our house dresses and our aprons and our dresses for “best” .

Enough of the fanciful. Let me return to the  practical. My good  blogger friend at http://ordinarygood.wordpress.com/  told me that the soft fuzzy bud cover on magnolia and Michelia blooms is known as a perule. Such a pretty and perfect word for them. These last two photos are for her.

© silkannthreades

Come in to my garden, Maud, it’s the first day of Spring

The first of September; the first day of spring.

Spring, for me, is about colour and light; riotous colour and brilliant, intense, shimmering, shiny light against thin-blue, water-colour skies.

Good morning and welcome, precious Spring 🙂

First Look at the First Day of Spring

First Look at the First Day of Spring

It’s your official birthday.  I heard the birds herald it at dawn. My table has been strewn, in your honour, with the profusion of abundant colours you bring to your season each year. Happy Birthday, dear Spring.

The first day of September is also the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Her name was Maud. She loved her spring garden, especially the freesias. And, in my memories, she always had cut flowers, from her garden, arranged in a beautiful vase, on the dining table.

I am very glad she died on the first day of spring because it means that, each year, we  have a lovely day on which to remember her.

Me and my Nana

Me and my Nana

She was a busy person and much better at attending to her garden than I am with mine. It was a simple garden, typical of that time and I can still hear her say “I must  get in to the garden.”  And off she would go, to the garden.

Garden, La Glaciere, Concarneau

Garden, La Glaciere, Concarneau

The Garden is a painting by New Zealand artist, Sydney Lough Thompson. It is a favourite of mine. You will find a proper view of the painting here http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/87-23/  In her young days, my grandmother worked, for a while, as a maid ( I think) at a hotel in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia. The maid in the Garden of the painting sometimes makes me think of my grandmother.

© silkannthreades