Tag Archives: perspectives

Turning Back the Clocks

In the still of Sunday,
I hear the tick of clocks,
Reminding me that time has been reset,
Back to the older hour.
Daylight saving is no more.
I am released to spend my thrift with time.

Like so, with flowers and verse…..

 

Roads  (an excerpt)

by New Zealand poet,  Ruth Dallas (1919-2008)

Once it was difficult to keep to roads,
Ditches harboured nameless flowers, and sometimes
There were frogs and tadpoles in cold ponds.

Nowhere. The roads led nowhere then, and time
Was safely shut inside the clock at home.

Now to put time back inside the clock,
Now to be able to forget the signposts,
To rediscover pond and nameless flower.

 

from An Anthology of New Zealand Verse, Selected by Robert Chapman and Jonathan Bennett,  published by Oxford University Press, 1956, purchased from St Christopher’s  new Dove Bookshop near St Paul’s on Harewood Road.

© silkannthreades

She’s taking the world by storm…..

The wind changed; the storm roared in, from the deep, antarctic South and, undeterred, like Mary Poppins, she, the Grand Emissary of Sophia Stuart, came; sans umbrella, but rosy-cheeked and just what we were expecting

Only she didn’t land quite as tidily as Mary Poppins, because you can’t without an umbrella, and if you are being delivered by a postman, into a bucket that is posing as a mailbox.

Will this start a new trend?

Will this start a new trend?

Very undignified, especially when the bucket, inverted or not, is being true to form, by behaving as all buckets should during a once in a century  deluge.

Luckily my neighbour saw Sophia’s Emissary floundering; her brown coat, courtesy of Mr Amazon, slowly dragging her down as it soaked up the icy water collected in the depths of the bucket, and he brought her to my door.  She was a pitiful sight; utterly bedraggled. But I helped her out of her coat, gave her a warm hug, a fluffy towel, a cup of tea, and a change of clothes, (and pearls), and she soon revived. Emissaries and world travellers have to be resilient, like that 🙂

A quick chat, and a note dashed off to  teamgloria (*tg*) to let her know that the Envoy of Who-She-is-In-Real-Life had reached her destination, and it was time for the voyager to take to her bed, to recover from jet lag and the general ordeal of arriving on the crest of a storm.

"It's time to rest"

“It’s time to rest” How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World”

Isn’t she lovely?  Nestled next to my welcome sprig of  bay leaves, for sweet dreams and good health.

Sweet dreams and good health

Sweet dreams and good health and victory in all things

Ssshh; softly, softly, we won’t disturb her now, but, maybe, I will come back later when she is fully recovered and we can discuss the dispatches, the  laureate letters, she has brought to me, from Sophia.

What’s that? Someone is not being quiet. You heard a stifled giggle.  Oh dear; it can’t be helped.  It’s *tg*’s fault; for reminding me that being dunked in a bucket has boarding school overtones. We know a lot about boarding school, *tg* and Sophia and I. Sophia has even written a book about it, called  Emerald.  There was no Emerald at my school, (or was there?), but I seem to recall buckets, full of muck, that were used to terrorize the naughty third formers on initiation day, at the end of year. ( Yes, at end of the year, came the dreaded day of Rangi Tangi! ) We all got horribly wet, bucket-dunked or otherwise, and, after the seniors had done their worst, ( which sometimes wasn’t very bad), they got to feast and we got naught. It sounds more ghastly than it was..but I am still very glad we have all grown up to offer the world a kinder experience of life.

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World

© silkannthreades

Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

© silkannthreades

For the love which from our birth….

I am thinking about love…..and our expression of it.  I am thinking about Bishop Valentine before he became Saint; about Saint Valentine before he became Valentine. I am thinking about who he was,  or  who they were , and what they may  have become….the dream sales team for the business of Valentine’s Day?  🙂  But, mostly, I am thinking of love.

Not romantic love so much as the love which is extolled in  the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth;

The love which from our birth over and around us lies“….the “human love of brother, sister, parent, child”….the love from “friends on earth and friends, above“, the love that comes from “gentle thoughts and mild”.

And I am thinking of how that love finds its form in the most unexpected places,

Unexpected loving thoughts

Unexpected loving thoughts

where, for the most part, it sits in quiet, patient, unobtrusive abundance,

waiting to support us, when called upon,

and ever willing to send us gentle, trans-formative love letters ~

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” Thomas Merton

love letters that help us to see that the loving heart, contained within,

can be released and applied, like nature’s salve, to heal the  woe of the broken landscape.

Bindweed holding it all together

Bindweed holding it all together; making the most of the possibilities

© silkannthreades

Dear Friends

In my previous post, on Joy and Woe,  your loving, supportive, compassionate comments brought me tears, laughter and a huge amount of joy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This post is my Valentine’s love letter to you all.

The Blessings of Saint Valentine (whoever he may be!), chocolate, flowers , gentle thoughts and mild, and love, be with you all.

Gallivanta.

Joy and Woe are woven fine

Man was made for Joy & Woe,

And when this we rightly know,

Thro’ the world we safely go.

Joy and Woe are woven fine,

A clothing for the Soul divine;

Under every grief and pine

Runs a joy with silken twine.

I don’t like to dwell in Woe. I prefer to seek the  silken run  in the cloth; the run of Joy . But, sometimes, the woe is like a shroud over one’s face and it’s hard  to see through it; hard not to feel overwhelmed.

Our cheer-leading public service campaign, All Right?, says that, as we approach the third anniversary of the  earthquake of 2011, it’s all right to feel overwhelmed some days.

It's all right to be overwhelmed some days

It’s all right to be overwhelmed some days

So I was, yesterday. Very. I am not alone in my whelmedness.

The experts are worried by our numbers: ‘The initial trauma may be over but experts say earthquake-weary Christchurch residents will endure at least six years of “man-made” stressors as the region battles bureaucracy.’ (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11197956 ) The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority  has even produced a draft document on its psychosocial plan for the city. It “says anxiety and stress will continue to dog the population due to ongoing battles with insurance, land issues, changes to schooling and problems rebuilding homes and businesses.” 

So, three years on……my house is repaired, but my insurance claim for the external areas of  my  property has yet to be settled. I contacted my insurance company, AGAIN, 10 days ago, and, although they have not once forgotten, in the past 3 years, to send out an invoice for my steadily increasing insurance premiums, they admitted that they had forgotten about my outstanding claim. I was assured that the matter would be  resolved, speedily.

Ho-hum, twiddle my thumbs, nothing has happened yet. What’s another 10 days added to 3 years, especially when my claim is  minor compared to those of some other claimants. And getting the financial settlement is but the first step in the process.  Finding someone to do the repair work will be  extraordinarily difficult. I could be waiting another 3 or 4 years for that to be done.

Is it important? Does it matter? Not really, in the overall scheme of life, but it’s all so unavoidably in your face; an ever-present reminder of altered states; altered dreams.

I  live in one of Christchurch’s  least badly damaged suburbs, yet these photos are all  taken within a two-minute walking distance of my home.  They represent only a sample of what I see on a daily basis in my immediate neighbourhood.

Take a look….

Homes, untouched,  untended, and unoccupied, since February 2011 and being slowly overwhelmed by nature.

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

Homes erased,

Erased

Erased

and properties exposed to man-made post earthquake stress disorder.

There are some small signs of progress, of normalcy.

Homes are being repaired,

Signs of Progress

Signs of Progress

and some have been repaired.

Recovered

Recovered

But there remain many abnormalities, some of which are intriguing and require us to restructure our thought processes to new levels,

Raised to new  heights

Raised to another level

and give us something upon which to ponder  (with a giggle and a smile ),

Another level

Another level

as well as a precious  moment, to be still, to refocus on holding fast to the silken twine of joy,

Entwined hydrangeas

Entwined hydrangeas

the Heaven in a Wild Flower.

Heaven in a Flower

Heaven in a Flower

Hold fast…that’s as much as I can do for now.  None of this excitement business…All Right? Maybe :)

Not yet 🙂

© silkannthreades

Haiku ~ Do you hear what I hear?

Towards the end of last month I wrote my first, ever, haiku and I posted it  here.  Lovely followers and supporters that you are, you welcomed my haiku with open hearts. A couple of  bloggers, who are themselves haiku experts,  gave me   kind encouragement and information on haiku writing and its history. One of these bloggers was   Sandra Simpson  who is an  award-winning haiku poet, living in New Zealand. Check out her latest winner here.

The other blogger to offer  words of wisdom was  AshiAkira. He brought to my attention the  impact of the sound of a haiku. AshiAkira is bilingual and he writes that, in Japanese, the 5-7-5 “rule produces a very peculiar rhythm to our ear, which we think is very beautiful.” He continues, ” For about four past years, I’ve been trying to express that haiku rhythm in English, but never succeeded. I suppose I have written well over 1,000 haiku poems in English, but none of them sounds like a haiku when it is read…….The haiku rhythm has such an effect that it would stick to your mind when you hear it and you cannot easily forget it. So a well written haiku stays in the hearts of so many people.”

With AshiAkira’s comments on my mind, I went looking for the sound, the rhythm, of haiku in Japanese. And I found this.  At 1.50 in the clip, you can hear Matsuo Basho’s haiku, in Japanese. It is exquisite; it goes straight from the ear to the center of the hEARt. Listen and hEAR.

Now, listen a moment to my second (ever) haiku. What do you hear?

Take a moment and read my words out loud, for yourself. What do you hear?

oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey for the ear

In my  world of eye to the words  on  the  computer screen, or  eye to  paper page in hand, I am so accustomed to hearing the silence of words in my head that I forget the great oral, (or is it aural 😉 ?) tradition of poetry ; I forget that the noise of poetry is as important as they way it looks, as the way it engages our minds and our feelings. I forget that poems are a multi-sensory experience.

Do you hear what I hear?

What do you hear?  What do you see?

oregano star

Oregano star

Oregano star

choral bees sing harmony

honey to the ear

How does that feel? Sweet?  Has my haiku found your heart?

And how would it sound in Japanese? 🙂

Postscript: This post would be incomplete without a hat tip to the wonderful  Ellen Grace Olinger , who has been a gentle guide through the art of haiku, from the day I first started to read her blog.

© silkannthreades

Life is full of surprises

I wasn’t intending to write another post so soon but life is full of surprises, and what could be more surprising than stepping out your front door on a sleepy Sunday morning and finding that your letterbox has suffered a great indignity. Like so…..

Smithereens

Smithereens

Oh, what rage and/or drunkenness, or druggedness, was a-foot in our mild-mannered neighbourhood, last night? For it was not only MY letterbox that was abused. Several neighbours found a similar scene of destruction,

Toppled

Toppled

but our letterbox seemed to be the most severely damaged. To smash our brick letterbox to smithereens would have required significant force……and I expect, by the time the persons had done their *work*, they were out of energy to do much else.

Now, our letterbox was not in the best of condition prior to this assault. It was damaged in the severe earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, but it was still standing, and it was still usable, until some time in the dark of last night. Imagine! …that letterbox stood up to more than 12,500 earthquakes, yet, came to an inglorious end by the hands of stupid mankind. Oh, the irony 😦

My good neighbour, who shares the mailbox with us, cleaned up the mess and, don’t tell this to the vandals, but I rather liked the way the litter   letter free area temporarily opened up, to give our property more ‘street appeal’.

 New Street Appeal

New Street Appeal

And, also in their favour, the vandals,  unwittingly, worked faster than the insurance  company on my earthquake insurance  rebuild for external property damage….and  have, thereby,  saved us a few hundred dollars on demolition costs. Oh, the irony! I am sure that would surprise them; vandals and the insurance company, I mean.

The postie is going to be surprised tomorrow, when he tries to deliver mail on our street. He will  be most surprised of all when he finds the trendy, new letterbox that my helpful neighbour has cobbled together.

Will this start a new trend?

Will this start a new trend?

Isn’t life witty, and surprising, and ever so slightly crazy?

© silkannthreades

Epiphanies, real and imagined

Monday, 6th January,  was the celebration of  Epiphany   for those people, churches, cultures, countries that follow the Gregorian calendar for feast days.

The sky was heavenly blue

Heavenly blue sky for Epiphany

Heavenly blue sky for Epiphany

and, nearer to me, the flowers were blue-hued too.

And,  every which way  I turned,  I saw more manifestations  of blue,

until I felt as though I were swathed in  the most precious of  precious-blue fabrics, in much the same way as Mary, the Madonna, is often depicted, cloaked in a mantle of Mary-blue,

Federico Barocci, The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and the Infant Baptist ('La Madonna del Gatto'), probably about 1575 © The National Gallery, London

Federico Barocci, The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and the Infant Baptist (‘La Madonna del Gatto’), probably about 1575 © The National Gallery, London

or  ultramarine , as it is more properly called.

And it felt good; it felt blissful to be luxuriating in an aura of ‘divine’ blue-ness, as I went about my small tasks and errands, dressed, in reality, not like an artistically rendered Madonna but like this…

Glad Rags or Ordinaries

Glad Rags /Ordinaries

Epiphany Dressing

Epiphany Dressing

in very ordinary, cotton garments that are showing their age, and mine. Yet, oddly, they are garments that might be considered, by some, as slightly more glamorous than what Mary was actually wearing in Bethlehem, and thereafter 🙂 . I wonder about that. I wonder what Mary thought about her clothes;  or if she thought about them at all.  I wonder,  if on the day the Magi came with their gifts, Mary felt as if she were wearing the plainest robes, or as if she were wrapped in  the ‘richest’ cloth her world had to offer?  And I wonder if she would  be surprised at how we have dressed her through the centuries; would she say, ‘But you are dreaming..”, or would she say, ” Yes, it was so; exactly so.  I was beautiful.”

To be continued….possibly

© silkannthreades

The journeys we take

For a number of reasons, my Christmas has been unfurling more slowly than ever this year. I am still writing Christmas cards both for myself and on behalf of my mother, who remains unwell.  Once upon a time this slowness would have stressed me greatly but, in recent years, I have acknowledged  that Christmas is as much about a journey/s as it is about an event or destination. That understanding of Christmas  means I feel  free to adopt a pace that is suitable for the purpose of the journeying.

And, in Christmas, there are several journeys. There is the obvious spiritual one which  takes a lifetime…I am guessing…and usually cannot be rushed. There is the journey  home, to the stable to be counted, to be accounted for and, sometimes, to account for. Then, there are the Magi travels of discovery and inquiry  and seeking  ( the perfect light 😉 ) and these can be life-long too.  Another  journey which,  perhaps, contains the essential truth of every voyage we undertake is ‘the flight into Egypt’; the journey where we leave behind the familiar and the known and step in to the new, the unknown, the unseen, where we may find safety and we may not.  Sometimes, we take this journey by choice, sometimes, it is by chance but, by chance or by choice, it is rarely a journey embarked upon lightly.

This Christmas, our home was blessed by the presence of voyagers; my brother and his wife and their two sons who came from Sydney to be with us. With both our families we counted for 7 at the s table. We rediscovered the pleasure of familial ties, and we parted, unsure of what the year ahead holds for each of us, yet certain that we have one another for the road as yet uncharted.

The Emigrant's DaughterGraham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant's daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

The Emigrant’s Daughter Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906. Graham, Thomas Alexander Ferguson, 1840-1906 :The emigrant’s daughter. 1861. Ref: MNZ-0084-1/4. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22843811

With my brother’s tribe came a foreign traveller, far, far from his birthplace; a small soapstone (  Kisii stone)  hippo; come from the fields of Kenya to settle with us on  the plains of Canterbury.

Welcome, little one, what a journey you and your makers are on. What a journey we are on.

© 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)