Tag Archives: palimpsest

Back to the box, for the record…

Back to the box;  not the tissue box, which is permanently attached to my nose at the moment,  but the one in the living room. Back to the box, to take a look at what other ‘treasures’ it has for me to record, to envisage as my own  personal palimpsest.  TreasuresToday, on top of the box, there is Royal Doulton ware that once belonged to my grandmother. I am the current custodian but I know little about the items other than they date from the 1920s.

The book is a recent purchase of mine from a second-hand store.CopybookIt is a copybook. I love that it is a copybook; that we are being invited to copy the illustrations. It makes me feel like a child again, industriously copying pictures or using tracing paper to copy pictures.  I want to take up my brush and copy this illustration from the book,Copycatsalthough the artist, Shutei ( whose name has the lovely meaning of ‘small teahouse in an autumn garden’), says that cats are a difficult subject to paint. She suggests we  begin with the much simpler white plum blossoms.

I wish Shutei were here to guide my hand, as she did with her own students, but, since she was born in 1894, I think I will have to manage with only her guiding spirit via the book.

Shutei’s book probably had a print run of thousands. Or maybe not. It is still available on Amazon but, then, what isn’t! I have a another type of copybook , that is one out of the box;  literally. I found this account book  in the box in my living room. It was used in my grandparents’ bakery and butchery. It is a record of accounts, paid and unpaid, in 1948 and 1949.

One summer, I think the summer of 1970/71, my sister, and others, used the book for writing and drawing and copying and rough drafts and games, and general amusement. Although it is not a treasure as valuable in monetary terms as the Royal Doulton, it is priceless, as a layered, multi-dimensional record of a short period in our family’s history. It’s also very funny and provides as much entertainment now as it did back in that summer of the seventies.An original, one of a kindTake a look, it’s all in the book…

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Our history, personal and otherwise, is recorded in many different formats. Each has its own value and worth.

This week in New Zealand, we are asked to record the birds in our garden, for the annual Garden Bird Survey.  Last year the top bird in New Zealand gardens was the commonplace sparrow. Other years, the brilliant little silver eye has taken top honours.  If you live in New Zealand, and are reading this post, take a little time  to participate in the  survey. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/birds/garden-bird-surveys/instructions.  And, then, let’s see which bird tops the charts in 2013. If you want to get more fun out of the survey, as well as recording your answers online, write them down on a piece of scrap paper or a docket and tuck it away somewhere, like a box; it will be a lovely find for you, or someone else, one day.

© silkannthreades

On top of the box….a palimpsest?

In my previous post I featured this photo:Tea TrayOn top of the box you can see a serving tray, a Susie Cooper tea set and a copper vase. These items used to belong to my paternal grandmother. They are the small remnants, little leftovers, of a long and busy life; of good food and warm kitchens, delicious pikelets, cream sponges, roast dinners and much else besides.   They  are the tangible reminders of times I experienced with my grandmother, as well as  reminders of times I only know through hearsay. One of the hearsay pieces is the serving/tea-tray.  Like my grandmother was, it is simple, sturdy, good quality and without frills ! I am told that the wooden tray came from the tea rooms that my grandparents owned for many years in a small, rural town. The tea rooms were one part of their business. In its entirety it included a butchery and a bakery. It was advertised (in 1948) as the town’s  Up-to-date Cash Meat and Bread Mart, where small goods were a specialty.

The business was sold long before I came in to existence but the building it was in (which included the family home) was a place of occasional family pilgrimage. It was not a beautiful building, in our family’s estimation, but it had enough status, having been part of the town’s life since 1910, to be registered as  a Category 2 historic place (#5193) on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Register. Category II status means a place is  of ‘historical or cultural heritage significance or value’. So, imagine our mixed emotions, our consternation, when we saw our place of family history like this, following the earthquake of September 2010.

Just a few weeks after the earthquake, it was already in the process of deconstruction for safety reasons. Sadly, since then, most of the building has been demolished and it has, naturally, been deregistered as an historic place.  However, a  modified, and safer, building, respectful of the old design, has arisen in its place.  And I believe it still remains a place of good food and hospitality.

When I look at the items on top of the box, and reach back in my mind to their underlying stories and foundations , I wonder if, what I see before me are truly remnants, or simple leftovers, or my own unique version of a palimpsest. ( I really would rather like one! But my grandmother would much prefer ‘leftovers’. We always had lovely ones for Sunday night tea 🙂 )

© silkannthreades