Tag Archives: miniature schnauzer

Imagine

In December, last year, Letizia of reading interrupted. wrote about A Novel Gift.

She told us this:

In 1956, Harper Lee received a unique Christmas gift. Her friends, Michael and Joy Brown, offered her one year’s salary on the condition that she quit her job and dedicate herself to her writing.

The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is a remarkable story of modern-day generosity; citizen to citizen. It is a remarkable story of faith in a friend’s  potential. It is a story of belief in an individual’s ability to make a difference to the outcome of another’s  creative dreams and aspirations; and, thereby, create a richer, better world for all of us.

Most of us are not in a position to be as generous as the Browns, but we all have immense power to  contribute a little to  artistic friends and communities.

We do this by buying bloggers’/friends’ books,

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Spirited Ageing by Juliet Batten https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/3902/  Spirited Ageing

Spirited Ageing by  Juliet Batten

Sweet dreams and good health https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/4346/

Sweet dreams and good health; a book of hours  by Sophia Stuart

 

Nose in a Good Book

Nose in a Good Book

Wow, Bumble, what a story http://tinylessonsblog.com/2014/06/23/a-decorated-rescue-dog-stitches-galore/#comments

Wow, Bumble, what a story by Bumble and Tiny

by reviewing them,

by giving a friendly shout-out;

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzahhttps://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/in-other-news-of-caterpillars-and-kindnesses/

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

and some of us organise  writing contests, cater for a friend’s concert, donate to crowd-sourcing; and even provide the most basic of support, in the form of very  welcome meals to ‘starving’ artists. And, in return, our lives are enriched by wonderful music and writing and art. Not every artistic endeavour will reach the dizzying heights of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that does not  mean those works we do support, and encourage, are any the less valuable to the general enrichment of humanity. Imagine, if you will, a world of people, well sponsored/cared for by each other, and, thus, all so busy with creative activities that there is neither the time nor the energy to pick up guns and warmonger; to de-create. Imagine! Imagine that with just a ‘little’ it may be  in our power to create that world.

Mmmm….not sure what would happen to the laundry and the dusting and the weeding and the planting in such a  creative scenario but, I  guess, they could be squeezed in somewhere.

Postscript

As I was completing this post, the news came through of the death of Michael Brown. Here is a  link  to the New York Times article.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

The case of the missing socks

Remember  this post  , back in February, when my son, the one and only,  best beloved , left home to go flatting ?…..w.e.e.e.l.l…….I would not need to hire dear Monsieur  Poirot*  (* possible, but unlikely, spoiler alert)  to tell me that said son has returned to the fold. The evidence is clear.

And, if those signs were not compelling enough to indicate a son-in-residence, this one is indisputable.

Where's the Pair?

Where’s the Pair?

How is this possible? Where does the other half go? Perhaps I do need Monsieur Poirot, after all, to help solve this mystery that is as old as the sock itself?  Even if he were not  able to find the missing items, he would surely throw some psychological light on the subject  of sons and socks and mothers who treat their own socks like this ….which is very just so..

But more mysterious than the missing socks,

(and here I might require some fanciful intervention from Mr Kipling because I fear I am now  seeking answers in a realm beyond Monsieur Poirot’s logical mind )

is that mismatched socks may appear in the laundry, but I do not know when my son ever wears socks, in pairs or otherwise. Every time we meet in the house, or in the garden, he is barefooted.

Be that as it may, it is good to hear the noise and the quiet of him again.  And little Jack is thrilled to be able to race upstairs, once more, and find a  ready place to snuggle down with his best buddy.

Number one son, best beloved, may not be home for long. This is just an interlude between the end of the academic year and whatever he plans to do next. Should I suggest a job involving socks…selling, finding, darning, washing, knitting….thereof???

(Isn’t it fun that there’s always a good yarn to be had from a sock 😀 😀 :D?  Yes, you may groan! )

© 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

Bee Wilderness

I am bee-ing uncharacteristically envious. My blogging friend  Ruth,  who reflects on life in central Christchurch, is now a host parent  to 20,000 bees. She is part of a “buzzy movement” to bring  bees into the city’s  green spaces and gardens, as well as onto the city ‘s roof spaces. I am envious because I would love to host a hive but, sadly,  most of my neighbours wouldn’t love me if I were to become a host family.  ( I can hear the complaints about bee droppings on their washing  before I even finish this thought in my head 😦 )

Sigh! But, even though a hive would be a difficulty, I do have a flourishing bee population in my garden, anyway. This is mainly because, this year, I have left the plantings, in my raised garden beds, to run to wilderness.

The Wilderness

The Wilderness

I was about to replant the beds with orderly rows of vegetables when I realised that, by doing so, I would be removing a vital food supply, and haven, for the  bees and  little birds. I reasoned that it was easier for me to find an  alternative supply of vegetables than it was for the small ones to find sustenance elsewhere. So the wilderness of overgrown parsley,

Parsley Paradise

Parsley Paradise

leeks, sage and self-sown borage

Self-sown Borage

Self-sown Borage

and  cerinthe remained.

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

My reward….no honey… but the  bee chorus  is so humming that I can hear it from at least a metre’s distance.  The wild growth in  the planter boxes is supplemented, in the background, by the prolific flowering of my  ceanothus   blue sapphire . They are a-shimmer with bee activity, although you would hardly think so, since I have only managed to capture one of their number!

Ruth’s bees may travel up to five kilometres to gather food. I wonder if I am close enough for any of them to visit me. Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did?  Meanwhile Jack and I enjoy the bees that are already here.

Jack bee-listening

Jack bee-listening

© 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