Tag Archives: kindness

Amazing words

Earlier in the year I mentioned  in  this post that our health authorities were developing strategies to help us maintain  our well-being in the face of the stresses brought about by the earthquakes of 2010/11. Their latest initiative is the  December/Christmas   All Right? campaign  which highlights the importance of giving things that really matter – time and kindness. To this end, we get daily ‘happy’ messages  in our newspaper, like this one that I read  this morning.

You are Amazing

You are Amazing

Kind of nice, isn’t it? To be told you’re amazing by officialdom; to be given a pat on the back, instead of the usual stern, finger-wagging, ( but important ) public service messages of  ‘Don’t drink and drive”, “Pay your taxes”, “Pay your fines or else…”,  which all hold a note of threat, or impending doom, over our heads if we fail to  comply.

I particularly like the  “Let’s remember it’s often the simple things that bring the most joy” part of the messages…..because it fits so well with the theme of my blog ;), and my About  page which states that “Although the big things have changed and continue to change, the little things prevail and bring joy.”

Little, simple things, such as the Cherry Clafouti I made the other day, or

You're an amazing clafouti :)

You’re amazing Clafouti  🙂

little things, like the delight of discovering a very old, and very lovely, interpretation of one of the most loathed words in our city…LIQUEFACTION…..

Liquefaction, as we have come to know it, (much too well),  is the conversion of soil into a fluid like mass during an earthquake or other seismic event.

Take a peek at this video clip to see how parts of city nearly drowned in the stuff a few years ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6-knLM7MZA

And, then, consider the pleasure and sensuous beauty of this type of liquefaction that I found Upon Julia’s Clothes 

Whenas in silk my Julia goes,

Then, then methinks, how sweetly flows

That liquefaction of her clothes!………

O how that glittering taketh me.

by Sweet Robin/Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

‘Liquefaction of her clothes’; oh, how I love that image as it sashays and swirls through my mind and swishes over those other gray and grim memories. What was Julia wearing , I wonder. Was it Watered Silk?;

Portrait, Princess di Sant' Antimo (1840-1844)

Portrait, Princess di Sant’ Antimo [ in watered silk](1840-1844) by  Francesco Hayez

in the style of a princess?

And, isn’t amazing that with a well-chosen phrase, or a slight change of meaning to a word, we can give our world a whole new look?

So, even if you don’t live in Canterbury, make some appropriate changes to the following messages from the All Right? campaign and give someone a kind word and a little time during the holiday season. You may be truly amazed! You may find you’re truly amazing!

“You’re a wee Canterbury gem.”

‘You’re cooler than pirates and ninjas combined.’

‘You’re strong (even if you don’t always think so).’

‘Your smile is life changing.’

‘You’re lovelier than the summer sun in Hagley Park.’

© silkannthreades

ps The cherry clafouti seems to have a certain liquefacted appearance, don’t you think? It was oozing cherry juice 🙂

Thanksgiving from afar

I don’t normally take much notice of Thanksgiving celebrations in New Zealand because I know so few of the Americans who reside here.  However, yesterday, I happened to be having one of my rare TV watching moments and I saw an item on a Thanksgiving Dinner at the Downtown Community Ministry in Wellington.  The Dinner was sponsored by the US Embassy to New Zealand and 300 meals were served, with the help of Embassy staff and their families. The diners, most of them New Zealanders, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner…..and who wouldn’t enjoy turkey and cranberry sauce and pecan pie and all the trimmings?   I have very happy and delicious memories of Thanksgiving Dinners in New York and also with  American friends in Cairo and Zambia…. but back to the US Embassy to New Zealand, or more precisely the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa,  David Huebner. I was charmed by his Thanksgiving spirit and his modern approach to the age-old craft of diplomacy. ( He even has a  blog!  )

In fact, I was not only charmed but  I felt inspired to rearrange a ‘grumpy’ post that had been stewing  in my ‘brain pot’ for a few days. So here it is, transformed in to my Thankful List.

I am thankful  that the days are warm and I have a lovely garden to view whilst I wait for my broken  curtain rail to be fixed.

Room with views

Room with views

I am thankful my home is, once again,  unflooded and keeping us warm and dry , even if the repairs are not yet finished and

there remains a hole in our bedroom ceiling.

There's a hole in the Ceiling, dear G, dear G

There’s a hole in the Ceiling, dear G, dear G

I am thankful that we have a wonderful library system that tells me about excellent magazines, one of which is   Frankie ; which I like so much I have to buy a copy.   And to my  delight contains a pullout poster,  by the ever so  talented  Becca Stadtlander , which just happens to be the right size to cover the vexatious hole in the ceiling; and provides a  new interpretation of vision board.

Not that I want a desk/home office on my ceiling, but I do want my home to be orderly again, one day, with everything in its place and a place for everything 🙂

Like my rugs, which have been lying, unrolled, on my  living room floor waiting …waiting….for so long….that I don’t really remember  what we are waiting for….

Why are we waiting?

Why are we waiting?

I am grateful that the path outside my house is being cut and drawn, yet again, so that soon our neighbourhood will have access to ultra fast broadband that very few of us can afford 😦

But such major upgrades of our infrastructure  are enabling many workers to enjoy employment, none more so than the temporary workers from the Philippines, some of whom will be concerned about the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in their own country, as they toil to  rebuild our broken city. I am grateful for their willingness to be so far from their homes and  their families.

And, lastly, I am ever so grateful that my home no longer looks like this,

for there are many in this city  who still live in damaged, unrepaired homes.

Now, if someone would deliver a turkey dinner and some pumpkin pie, I would be very thankful for that too 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

© silkannthreades

Reflections on life gone awry……

Even the Apple is awry

Even the Apple is awry

Naomi of the beautiful  blog  Coulda Shoulda Woulda sometimes refers to the influence of the   Mercury Retrograde on her life. Although I try not to be too swayed by these  astrological ideas, I am beginning to understand just exactly what she means, for it seems that not only  is Mercury  retrograding, and rampaging, through my  life, but the planets, in their entirety, are at cross-purposes with me and my family.

The current Mercury Retrograde runs from October 21 to November 10, and I will be glad when it is over 🙂  However, even though Mercury is supposedly responsible for making plans go awry during this period, it is also meant to be an excellent time to reflect on the past, review projects, remain flexible and, I am guessing, generally ‘wait your patience.”

The world's awry; Jack tries to help us find out why.

The world’s awry; Jack tries to help us find out why.

So, here are a few reflections on what has gone awry and what has not and what it all might mean.

*Reflection One*

On Oct 26th, my sister-in-law ‘lost’ her 92 year old father to good, old age, and our entire extended family ‘lost’ a dear friend, and the world lost one of its best citizens. When you have known someone for a long time, through ups and downs and all the vagaries of life, it’s hard to find enough words to explain that relationship and what that person means to you. Invariably a long life becomes shortened and condensed in to a few small, but significant, words;  and ,for me, these words are goodness, generosity, service and laughter and compassion; and not in the  constrained and limited sense of their meaning but in a larger than life, boundless, all encompassing  sense. Take each word and stretch it as far as you can and you will have some idea of the wonderful, wondrous man we  affectionately called “Uncle”  Doug.  Farewell, dearest  Uncle Doug;  travel well through the heavens,  as you did here on earth.

*Reflection Two*

On November 4, my mother, who is 91, was unable to walk for the first time since she learned to do so, some 90 years ago.  Despite a good diet and daily, much-loved walks, my mother has, in recent years, been increasingly troubled by osteoporosis.  This week, osteoporosis won its wicked, hurtful battle and my mother has had to accept that life without a wheelchair may now be the norm. Whilst the current situation was inevitable, we all hoped against hope that it wouldn’t happen.  Not yet, not yet. Yet it has, and, somehow, we all have to find the strength to cope and make the most of *what is*.

Miniature Roses for my Mother

Miniature Roses for my Mother

*Reflection Three*

November 5 was  Guy Fawkes Night . It would also have been my maternal grandfather’s 119th birthday.  Each year, when the fireworks start skyrocketing all over the neighbourhood, we joke that our grandfather’s birthday party has begun. When my grandfather was little he probably did think the fireworks were for him, but, later in life, when he grew to hate loud noises, and anything associated with violence, he, like us, no doubt wondered why we continue to celebrate an occasion with origins so far removed from our shores; one that honours ‘gun powder, treason and plot’ and  vengeance. Ghastly!  My grandfather, like Uncle Doug, was one of the world’s good people; he was a gentle man; a man of loving kindness and peace.

*Reflection Four*

And speaking of peace, at the end of this year’s Mercury Retrograde we will come to November 11th,  Armistice (Remembrance) Day, where at the 11th hour we will remember a day and a time, when  planets, politicians and people aligned together, once more,  and the awry became the all right again.

Rose Day

Remembering Rose Day

“Army regulations allow the wearing of a small rose on uniform on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday, in a similar manner to which poppies are worn on Anzac Day.”  Both my grandfather and Uncle Doug were soldiers.

© silkannthreades

From Oostburg to Christchurch, we are connected.

Yesterday, Ellen Grace at http://ellenolinger.wordpress.com/  prompted me to look more closely at the clip art she uses in her beautiful, gentle posts. I visited her link to Dover Publications and signed up for their free Sampler email. On signing up, I received access to a selection of clip art. The one that caught my eye immediately was this one, which is by Pugin.


Pugin, my mind thought. Pugin? Why does that name sound familiar? With a little more thought, I remembered that I “met” Pugin for the first time in December last year. I mentioned that meeting in this post


Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin  (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852) “was an English architect, designer, artist and critic, chiefly remembered for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival style; his work culminated in the interior design of the Palace of Westminster.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_Pugin

His influence extended to New Zealand and Australia, as did that of his son Edward Welby Pugin. If anyone is interested in Gothic Revival architecture here is a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_Revival_architecture  What I like most about the  Wiki article are the photos which show how we are linked all over the world by Gothic Revival ideas and buildings. Just goes to show how ideas and fashions criss-crossed the world, long before the internet, Google and Wiki.

Thanks, Ellen Grace, for helping me make all these connections 🙂

Such is life; shadows and sunbeams

I have been very weary and a little down-hearted these past few weeks; mainly on account of my lingering cold/cough, the cold grip of winter weather and a general lack of sunshine. And let’s not forget the ever lasting wait for builders to appear. But just when I  feel that the daily shadows are becoming far too long for comfort, life suddenly throws  out a wondrous ray of sunshine that makes me beam with joy. Such was life today.

I was looking for some photos to illustrate a post I had in mind when I came upon this  gentle gem from my distant, distant past.This is my brother caring for me when I was about four and a half weeks old.   He has been doing it ever since; and he hasn’t dropped me yet :).

And the caring love begins

And the caring love begins

I also happened upon these sweet photos. I have certainly seen them before but, until today, I hadn’t truly noticed them, or absorbed the information they contain. They are photos taken on my christening day, which, I learn from the writing on the reverse of the pictures, was on 11 July. Which means that last Thursday was the anniversary of my christening.  They also show me that my maternal grandparents were present at my christening. I am surprised to learn this. It is not  unusual for grandparents to be at a christening but these grandparents had to travel by ship from Christchurch, New Zealand to Lautoka, Fiji for my christening. Quite a journey, in those days.  I also see that Janie, my dear Janie, was with me from the very start of my life. Even though I remember her well, I didn’t realise that she was with me from the beginning. No wonder, I was deeply sad when she left us to marry. I couldn’t understand why being married should require her to leave me. I don’t think she did either but it seems her husband  insisted. How I missed her warmth and her cuddles and her gentleness. They are with me still.

The one photo that holds few surprises is that of the christening cake. It is set on a table in our garden because my christening took place in our  home garden; there being no Presbyterian church in our town; and only the occasional visit from  an itinerant Presbyterian minister.  I think the cake  was iced by my father, who had considerable skill in the art of cake decorating. ( He always made us the most wonderful birthday cakes.)  I expect the cake itself was made by my parents. The only real surprise is the travel rug under the cake? Was that a christening gift? It doesn’t seem a very elegant table covering for a christening. And the cake looks as though it is close to falling off the edge of the table! Was the cake tipsy? Surely not at a Presbyterian christening.

Those were my smiles for today; my little taste of sunshine. Dear parents, I enjoyed being at my christening; thank you!

© silkannthreades

The Glory of a Box continues

The story begins here in my previous post (https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/2340/)

Part Two

The Glory of A Box continues….

Glory Box

Glory Box

Then there’s the clock. It used to be on the mantelpiece in Nana’s bedroom. Dad and my uncle both remember it. They played with it as children. It didn’t go then. It doesn’t go now. Why is it in Mum’s glory box? No one is sure. But it’s there, brown and slightly irregular in shape,



along with a wooden tray, and Stanley Smith’s barometer



and the book of invoices from our Pop’s Mart. The book records the tastes and payment habits of most of the rural community of Methven (circa 1938), as well as my sister’s doodles and passion for Ray Columbus and the art of running away (circa 1971).



Mum’s scrapbook is in the box too. It’s a work of art from her student days at kindergarten training college.

And I find the gloves. Still sunshine-yellow, mixed up with a touch of custard. They still fit me. But the moths have had their fill and the gloves tear as I try them on. Perhaps they can be salvaged. I put them in the maybe pile.

We decide the box can be saved. It’s a very plain box; a plywood box. It wasn’t expensive at the time of purchase.  It’s not worth much now. But Mr Frizzell at the corner furniture store says it’s rimu plywood and it can be made to look nice again. He can restore Dad’s picture too. Dad says, “Can he be rejuvenated too?”

Mr Mallard, across town, cleans the barometer and fixes the clock. The barometer, once on a wall in Methven, once on a wall at Sumner, now hangs on my wall. The clock sits on the chest of drawers beside my bed. It ticks busily. It reminds me of Nana, small and busy and slightly bent, and I wonder when she last heard its busy little tick, and why she kept a clock that didn’t tick.

The box is placed at the foot of my bed. It’s not warm like honey anymore. It is oiled and has a rich, earthy sheen that matches my writing desk. The top is still a little warped but it is a glory box again. Inside there are clothes and lavender and unlabeled photos. Fanny and Rajar are there, but Teddy is not. He has gone to Sydney to be with my brother,  current custodian of Ted’s silver pocket watch. Lily, who may be Sissy or Mary, is there. And the gloves.

Back in the Box

Back in the Box

Box notes for 2013:

The box no longer lives in my bedroom. It enjoys a better life in the living room. The clock is temporarily secure in a bedroom drawer. The barometer remains on the wall where it  miraculously remained secure despite the huge earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

For information on Ray Columbus, the New Zealand pop idol of my sister’s very young years, go to http://www.raycolumbus.com/

And, in recognition of the never-ending inspiration that comes from the Glory Box, please, please do visit my find of the day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6fpN2g3pwY  This is a wonderful programme and interview with Paul Engle, the founder of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Until my research today, I had no idea of the connection between the theme of my mother’s scrapbook and this great American poet and his philosophy of helping hands.  Listen and enjoy, as he reads some of his poems.

© silkannthreades

Mothers, near and far…

To Mothers, near and far,
May you be loved and blessed, remembered and embraced,
And comforted, always.Mother's Day OfferingIn my posy ring, for you, I have placed lavender, heuchera, Mexican orange blossom and feijoa leaves, all freshly picked from my garden on this chilly autumn morning. The fruit baskets contain Taylor’s Gold Pears and Satsuma Mandarins ( not from my garden 🙂 )Posy Ring

I worship in cardboard

I went to Church on Sunday. It’s the first time I have been to Church in at least a year. It was a great service; standing room only. The congregation was a communion of strangers, tourists and photographers, and this is what we witnessed.

First the approach to the Church, known as the Cardboard Cathedral,( under construction). It is   on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, next to Latimer Square. It was formerly home to St John’s ( Church) which was demolished as a result of the damage it sustained during the February 22nd earthquake in 2011. Please, lift up your eyes to the dry, brown Port Hills in the distance.They are awesome in their stark, summer colour.Approaching

The Entrance; showing the remains of the old stone wall and wrought iron fencing of St John’s. St John's Remains

The gate was locked so I went round the corner, onto Madras Street, where the old wall ends. Here, there is a good view of the Eastern Elevation/ wall of the new Cathedral.  Note my valiantly artistic attempt to align the steeple of the old stone wall with the apex of the new wall 🙂Risen in the East Although it is called the Cardboard Cathedral, there is no cardboard in place yet. An adventurous young man, photographing from on top of a higher section of the old wall, kindly agreed to take a photo for me.  Here is the helpful stranger’s photo. I am pleased he has captured a small portion of a sample of cardboard tubing.Viewing from Fence Top

Then, a little further along the way, I took this photo which is my favourite of the day; mostly because of the stormy clouds in the background. But, also, it reminds me of a Cathedral spire reaching for the heavens.Reaching for the Sky

Next I tried a photograph from the erected wall towards Latimer Square, but all I could get was a tilted pyramid. Tilt, tilt, tilt, no matter where I stood. Westward leading

The view to the Port Hills was more straightforward.  If you click on the photo, you may be able to see The Sugar Loaf communications tower which seems, to me, to line up beautifully with the top of the Cathedral’s wall; is this a new, technologically advanced scheme to signal our prayers and wishes  more quickly to the appropriate destination?Out in the East

The white chairs in the distance are a beautiful tribute to the people who died in the earthquakes.

There was no ministering official at  the service. Only a sign to tell us the story.The Story

I had a lovely time at Church. It made me feel  uplifted, enlightened and spiritually revitalised. I love the site for the new Cardboard Cathedral. It is sacred both from its long history of prayer and worship and from its proximity to the traumas of the February 2011 earthquake. I love its openness; the way it is accessible from all directions; the way it opens out to a view of the Port Hills in one direction and the greenery of  Latimer Square in the other. Here is the view towards Latimer Square; imagine how lovely it will be for people to gather on the green after a church service or a community event; lovely, providing it’s a fair weather day, of course.Latimer Square I think I will love the Cardboard Cathedral when it is completed. I already love the fact that the triangular shape connects me to the  transitional V-huts made in Hagley Park by the early settlers. And, I know that I absolutely love Shigeru Ban’s sustainable, recyclable, inspiring designs. And I love that this soon to be Cathedral is super, super unlikely to ever hurt me in the event of another earthquake. It will be one building in the city in which I will feel completely safe and secure.

My visit to Church was very short and sweet, but the highlight of my spiritually invigorating morning came when I  returned to my car. I had parked nearby and left the motor running so that the air conditioning would keep my  ever patient husband cool  ( N.B. animals, husbands and small children should not be left for any length of time in a hot car). I noticed, vaguely, that a person (beer can at his side) was deeply asleep under a tree close by. Not too worried, I whizzed off, camera in hand. On my return, the person had arisen and was approaching, and gesticulating wildly at, the car.  It turned out that a) he was annoyed that the noise of the car had disturbed his peaceful, hung over Sunday snooze, but b) and, more importantly as far as he was concerned, we were ruining the environment by leaving on the car engine. Oh, my MORTIFICATION and GUILT were instantaneous. No church service is complete without Confession, it would seem. So, I promptly confessed my sins and offered profound and humble apologies. Guilty and double guilty, as charged. My only small and pitiful excuse for such aberrant, and ecologically unsound, behaviour was the heat. The heat; it had to be the Heat.

If you want to know more about the Cardboard Cathedral, Shigeru Ban or V-huts click on the following links which I found very interesting.





As a final note; when I refer to east and west in the post it is in relation to the  Eastern and Western Elevations which are referenced to elevations in  the old, earthquake damaged Cathedral in the Square. I am not sure of the exact orientation of the new Cathedral site but my inner compass tells me it is North/South-ish. I could be entirely wrong because trying to understand where one is, in much of the city these days, is like walking through a maze blindfolded.

© silkannthreades

The Secret of My Passive Gardening

I am a passive gardener. There, the secret of my gardening technique is out. “Passive gardener” is a polite way of saying that I garden with as little interference and as much laziness as possible. I plants the plants, water them and feed them, as best I can, and then let them get on with doing what they do best, which is being plants. They have been plants longer than we have been humans, thus I am reasonably confident that they know more about how to grow well than I will ever know.  ( Ah, such a great justification for laziness and slapdashery 🙂 )  So, considering the degree of benign neglect that my garden endures, I am always surprised by what it produces. Yesterday, I harvested the garlic and, in terms of bulb size and quality, it is the best garlic harvest I have had in the five years  that I have been trying to grow garlic. Was it the good garlic starter cloves from a friend or was it that I dared to plant them later than the garden books suggest?  Who knows, but here is the garlic. Taking the Air

It’s really big close up…Mighty Garlic

An afterthought: I may not work hard in my garden; I may not garden to the rules; but I DO ADMIRE IT constantly, I DO TALK TO IT and I SING IN IT  (which should rightly make it curl up and die!) and  I LOVE IT. Maybe that is the real secret of my passive gardening :).

The Lavender Lady

Near the airport, on the side of one of the busiest roads in Christchurch, is an oasis of calm and loveliness. It is the Avice Hill Reserve, so called because the area was bequeathed to the city by Avice Hill, the Lavender Lady. It is also  home to the Avice Hill Crafts Centre, the Canterbury Potters Association and the Canterbury Herb Society.  We visited today and had the entire Reserve to ourselves; except for the birds.

The birds, many and varied, were concentrated in the plum trees. One of trees was over laden with small, yellow, sweet and ultra delicious, plums. Some went in my mouth and some in to my pocket, and they were so good I need to collect some more.

Are they Mirabelle plums?Plums a plenty

Free fall plums and mind where you tread!Over flow

The herb garden was full and flourishingTo the Herb Garden

and here, for a moment, you could catch up with timeThe Herb Garden

for it was very still.On Time

Once rested, there were treasures to find like this pot in the herb garden (oh dear!),Pot amongst the Herbs

and trees to loveTrees of the Reserve


and benches to rest upon ( in comfort?)Bench

and then information to read. Notice, I am on a wayward path again because the information board is at the entrance to the Reserve and I am reading it on my way out!

This is Avice Hill. She was born in 1906 and died in 2001.

Avice Hill

Here is part of her story.The Story of Avice

She worked as an entomologist in the 1930s and 40s. She was one of only a few female science graduates at that time.

More of the story

She bequeathed the land to Christchurch City in 1989 to provide an art and crafts facility, a potters’ room and a herb garden and to protect the mature trees on the property.

Lavender was Avice Hill’s great love and the Lavandula angustifolia “Avice Hill” was named after her. It is, apparently, a very fine lavender. Strangely, there was very little lavender to be seen in the Reserve and none was labelled,as far as I could tell. Perhaps, one is just supposed to know one’s lavender.  Whatever is the case, I am thankful to Avice Hill for her gift to our city.Lavender for Avice

© silkannthreades