Tag Archives: royalty

Creative Interlude or a City at Play

Now that I have my wheels, and passengers, ready for the road, it’s time to resume my gallivanting; first of all with a look in the rear view mirror, so you can see some of the jaunts I took during my 17 day blogcation.

Looking back…..

In the midst of my not very busy holiday schedule, on a not very nice weather day, my friends and I had a short interlude in the centre of Christchurch; short because interludes usually are, but, also, because it was a beastly cold day, not suited to our yet to adjust, lingering-in-summer, bodies.

Cold, as it was, and we were, we did see a little of the fun side of  the city. Here is my record of the day.

The Chalice, our millennium statue, sometimes referred to as the ice cream cone.

Art work wrapping around the ruins.

 

Portrait let out to play, from the Art Gallery.

Rita Angus's Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/bulletin/175/quiet-invasion/

Rita Angus’s Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett Quiet Invasion

Rise Ballerina

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Is She amused by events?

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

Pretty tiles replicated and replaced on New Regent Street.

Oh, it is a  lovely playground we have in our city.

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

This post was prompted by Sally at http://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/  who alerted me to a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/travel/after-earthquakes-a-creative-rebirth-in-christchurch.html  ,published on April 6th, about the creative rebirth of Christchurch, post earthquakes. It is an excellent article. Thank you Sally. I only wish you had been with me to focus your camera on the intriguing sights we saw, on our city excursion, at the beginning of April.

© silkannthreades

Praise Be

The  swan plant I ordered to replenish my monarch caterpillars’ food supply came yesterday, just in the nick of time. It has been planted,

Praise be for more food

Praise be for more food

and my remaining caterpillars are now busily chomping on their fresh greens. Hopefully, the caterpillars will  have enough food to take them through their fifth  instar and into their chrysalis stage.  Most of them look big enough to be close to their final and complete metamorphosis.

Is this the 5th instar?

Is this the 5th instar?

Whilst the caterpillars are nourishing their bodies in preparation for change, I thought we might do the same. Would you care to indulge?…..

in a taste of the last of summer in this delicious, spicy rhubarb cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

or, perhaps, in a little something that speaks of cooler mornings and the colder days to come; a gingerbread cake.

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

But, if you are wanting a lighter indulgence, may I suggest a serving of the apple, instead of the cake.  Again there are two choices; Cherry Gala apples lightly cooked with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of sugar and a handful of rose petals;

or Royal Gala and Eve  apples , sautéed gently in a sliver of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.

Mmmmm…How was that? Delectable? Are you feeling suitably indulged and ever so glad that we are not limited to one food type like the monarch caterpillar; that we are able to experience so many taste sensations; that we have such variety in our menus.

Praise be to the  butterflies  and bees that make that possible.

~

At 12.51pm today we marked the  third anniversary of the  February 22nd earthquake. At the memorial service in the Botanic Gardens, the Mayor said “Let us unite as we did after the earthquakes. For those of us who have been able to move on, let us reach out to those who are still struggling. .. For those who cannot move on, please do not be afraid to ask for our help… We can get through this together.”

In caterpillar terms, ( because I have this essential life form so much on my mind 😉 ) most of us have made it through the first instar; some of us are almost ready to be butterflies; indeed, may already be  flying freely. Some of us, such as myself, are still  ambling along in the third instar. But there’s no rush. With nourishment and nurture, we will, eventually, be transformed.

( I think I will make a good  butterfly, don’t you?  🙂   Better keep my feet clean, though. Butterflies taste through their ‘feet’! )

© silkannthreades

Survival of the fittest… ?

Since the beginning of the week I have been watching the monarch caterpillars, outside my bedroom window, slugging it out over the few remaining swan plant leaves. They have been pushing and shoving and head butting in their fight to secure their place at the food table.

Everyone temporarily in harmony.

Everyone temporarily minding their manners.

I tried to help by providing some delicate cucumber slices, as suggested by those in the know .

Tasty?

Tasty? Cucumber minus the sandwich.

Some of the larger caterpillars tested the new menu but were not enthusiastic. They preferred to continue in their old familiar ways and went back to munching every last shred of the swan plants; some of which must have been seasoned by the eggs of what was supposed to be the next generation.

Inevitably, as the food supply has dwindled, so, too, have the caterpillar numbers. One by one the caterpillars have disappeared. Some may have gone to pupate in the dense foliage of the adjacent oregano; others have simply gone.  Where, I don’t know.  Have they moved to new feeding grounds, strengthened only by their will to survive? Or have they gone off to die? The ground is not littered with caterpillar corpses. If they have disappeared to meet their death elsewhere, it is in a manner reminiscent of that noble adventurer Captain Oates; a story beautifully retold by Valerie Davies in her latest post Very gallant gentlemen.

If they have died, I am glad I have been spared the sight of their demise. Watching the caterpillars squabbling over food was hard enough, not to mention the feeling of helplessness over being unable to supply them with more swan plants. ( New plants on order but not available till tomorrow 😦 )

Last year the first of my monarch butterflies emerged on March 1st, the official first day of autumn. (What a lot of firsts 🙂 ) Maybe, come March, this year, I will be surprised and delighted all over again by the birth of  new Royal Beauties but, so far, I have not seen a single chrysalis.

To be continued……

© silkannthreades

“How do I love thee…apples….”

When the first blush of autumn tints the oak,

First tint of autumn

First tint of autumn

and one can feel that quintessential, autumnal air in the breeze,

the apple harvest comes to market.

It's a Breeze

It’s a Breeze

” Dull Russet, glossy  Quarrenden,

Green Wellington,  and scarlet-peeled  Pearmain

You apple-trees,  give up your sum-

Your time is come, your time is come.” (*Apple-time by Eleanor Farjeon)

I am Smitten

Smitten by apples

Smitten by apples

by apples. I adore them. Should I blame my love affair with the apple

I *heart* apples

I *heart* apples

on Eve,

Was it Adam or Eve?

Was it Adam or Eve?

or  Adam?

“Like Adam, I was born

To go  and seek the apple-trees…

the green, the yellow, and the red,

The streaky  pippin-stripe,

The windfall and the still unshed,

The ripe and the unripe-” (* The Favourite Fruit by Eleanor Farjeon)

Or, perhaps,  I should leave that scenario alone, clouded as it is with doubt, and attribute my love of apples to the irresistible  Beauty of  its feng shui,

A Beauty

A Beauty

which brings harmony and peace  to  hearth and home

and rosy good health, too; according to the ancient wisdom of Dae Jang Geum

The wisdom of Dae Jang Geumhttp://www.koreandrama.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/daejanggeum3.jpg

The wisdom of Dae Jang Geum

who, in  Episode 52    of  The Jewel in the Palace, insists that apples be placed next to the King, because the aroma of apples will improve his well-being.

And, though I am no King,  I can attest to the loveliness of falling asleep with the sweet scent of apples next to one’s pillow.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

So, when the hint of a flush colours the leaf,

Autumn in the air

Autumn in the air

feast on *”the ruddy apple of the sun” in all its variety, complexity

"Ruddy apple of the Sun" http://echodale.co.nz/apples

“Ruddy apple of the Sun”Suncrisp

and deliciousness.

Apple and raisin crepes with apricot fool, adapted from A Girl called Jackhttp://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/11/20/apple-sultana-pancakes-22p/

Apple and sultana crepes with apricot fool, adapted from  A Girl called Jack

© silkannthreades

Inspiring transformations

Ladysighs teaches herself to write Minute Poems  and  Lanterne poetry.   Mrs P  of Destination Unknown challenges herself to create Villanelles. Their willingness to play with form and words inspired me to attempt a haiku; my very first haiku, ever, emerging, as I near the completion of my fifties!

The monarchs return

when the plums ripen and fall

and  the winds blow home.

The monarchs return

The monarchs return

Plums ripen

when the plums ripen

Plum drop

and fall

There it is; short and sweet 😉

Will I write more haiku, or try my hand, and brain, at another form of poetry ? Maybe, but probably not yet. I would like to concentrate  my spare creative energy on my  chap books.  They need a massive transformation before they are ready to fly.

© silkannthreades

Exploring “Spirited Ageing”

Two weeks into the New Year and I have finished reading my first book for 2014, albeit one I started some time back, in 2013. The book, which I have been reading, at a very leisurely pace, is  Spirited Ageing ~cultivating the art of renewal   ~ by  Juliet Batten .

Juliet, in her book, tackles, with a delightful combination of grace and common sense, the subject of preparing for one’s old age. She invites the us “into the adventure of conscious ageing”  and  provides basic, easy-to-follow, strategies to help us discover our source of energy,  the “illumination” or “regenopause”, upon which  we can draw  to fuel  a ‘ vibrant’ and ‘expansive’ old age. She also invites us to, amongst other things,  care for the soul, do new things constantly, identify treasure and clutter, bring creativity into our lives, and to focus on increasing the  renewable *spirit* of our being, as our physical capacity diminishes.

Clap your hands and sing

Clap your hands and sing

With Juliet’s suggestions in mind, I have been enriching my spirit, in recent days,  by researching  a post I meant to write more than a week ago; a post to acknowledge the closure of one Christmas season on January 6th and   the beginning of  another; that of the Coptic Churches, on  January 7th. I would have gotten to this *work* sooner, if it weren’t for those mayhem-making Moments you may remember from my previous post 😉 . However, when the subject of the post is of a  millennial vintage, a delay of a moment or two, or three ,or four, is neither here nor there.

So, with research completed, here is that delayed post, which has two parts:

Part One;

a visit to  the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland  to gaze upon  the Museum’s collection of Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts and icons;

Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ

Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ : Early 15th Century, Tempera on Wood

The Walters Art Museum has “one of the largest collections of manuscripts, icons and processional crosses outside of Ethiopia. Historically, Ethiopia was a Christian kingdom with strong ties in both trade and religion to the cultures located around the Mediterranean. Ethiopia’s Christian tradition dates back to the 4th century, when the ruler of the Aksumite kingdom converted to Christianity; by the 15th century, this African nation had developed a tradition of icon painting that rivaled that of the Orthodox empires.http://art.thewalters.org/browse/category/ethiopia/

and Part Two;

an introduction to the three books I will be reading, now that I have finished “Spirited Ageing”. All three books are by  Elizabeth E Wein ~ The Winter PrinceA Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird. They are visually beautiful books and lovely to hold, as well. I am eager to stretch my imagination and  embark on the adventures they promise in ancient, mythical lands.

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But, in case, you should think, with this post, that I am already lost to  those most ancient of days, I am pleased to report  some relatively recent news, which is  that the city of Vancouver has banned doorknobs in all apartment buildings and   private homes to be built after March 2014. http://www.vancouversun.com/story.html?id=9173543  They will be required to have easier-to-use, universal design levers. That’s the spirit Vancouver City! May I come and spend my old age with you?  🙂

© silkannthreades

 

Light-hearted

My previous  post was, on the whole, written in a sombre tone. I don’t like to dwell too long in darker spaces so, today, I want to lighten the mood and switch, in a rather mercurial fashion, to a relatively light and fluffy topic….. Spanish Cream……a favourite dessert, from yester year, which is probably no more Spanish than Canadian War Cake is particularly Canadian. Or French fries, truly French.

This is Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

I am not sure how old-fashioned a dish is Spanish Cream ( Google and Wiki are unhelpful in this regard) but I first encountered the creamy, silky-smooth, mousse-y deliciousness of this jellied  custard when I was at boarding school; decades ago!  It was one of the few items on the boarding school menu to which I looked forward.

This is the recipe  I use. It is from my very old Edmonds recipe book.

Old recipe in an old book

Old recipe in an old book

As with most of my recipes, this one is very easy to make. How easy is illustrated by the young man in the embedded video. Although  his method is slightly more carefree than mine, I love his relaxed approach!

And, there, you have it. Ready to eat , either on its own, or with any fruit of your choice. I prefer slightly sharp-flavoured fruit, like rhubarb or berries, to complement the sweetness of  the Cream.

Sweet and simple

Sweet and simple

Now, although I adore Spanish Cream, made to the original recipe, I am sure it  would work extremely well, (and would be better for me and kinder to the world), if it were made  using a vegetarian setting agent and coconut milk/cream or almond milk .  I have yet to try making a vegetarian alternative but thinking about doing so makes me realise that, in our rush to industrialize/ rationalise/commercialize food production,  we have condensed the fascinating art of jelly making to a convenience food that comes in a small packet of garishly coloured crystals . For much of history,  a banquet (think Henry VIII) was no such thing unless it came with elaborate jellies, and, in Victorian times, every well-dressed table required a jelly, to be considered properly presented. And even the more humble home table, with Northern English or Scottish origins,  may, long ago, have enjoyed  a simple type of jelly or flummery called Sowens, which was  made from strained oatmeal.  For more on the history of Jellies and Creams, take a look at this fascinating site http://www.historicfood.com/Jellies.htm

Then, come back here and enjoy a few more moments of light-hearted fluff.

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© silkannthreades

Despond and a piece of humble pie

The other night, when I was putting the house to bed, (locking the doors, closing the windows, turning off lights, drawing the curtains), the curtain, plus rail, in the living room came galumphing down and nearly took out my shoulder. After a few  of these  #@!%@#*! , I galumphed in to a chair myself and thought, “Well, that just about sums up my week; broken and broke!”  And I went from being in a funk to floundering in the  Slough of Despond.

This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.’

Isn’t that such a great description of despondency?  It made me feel better just by reading it and wallowing, for a while, in its awful miry  scumminess.

Most of my funk came from the outcome of 4 month-long pension review/battle with  our government pension department. It’s too vexing and complicated to explain in this post but, basically, the outcome was not in our favour. As a result, our pension income is, now, several thousands of dollars  lower per annum than we expected it to be. The review results were delivered, this week, in a pleasant letter, and came with the offer of taking the matter through to further reviews and committees; and was signed, yours sincerely, ( by a sincere young man whom I have come to know well, mostly through an exchange of  very annoyed letters on my part 😦 )

Yes, well, harumph and grump; I am not entirely sure I can be bothered with continuing my pension crusade. Whilst all this was going on, Vickie Lester at  Beguiling Hollywood   posted this quote, from Franklin D Roosevelt, which entirely suited my mood

Let us not be afraid to help each other—let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen and Government officials but the voters of this country.

She was, of course, using the quote in relation to the shutdown of the US Government but, in my dealings with Government bureaucracies and officials and official forms, over the years, I have often felt that there is a complete lack of understanding by Government, (and its officials) , of its purpose and role; that is, it is OUR service and its workers are OUR servants whom we ask to use OUR money wisely and for OUR benefit. Democratic governments were never intended to be our rulers, our disempowerers,  forever telling us what to do, and not to do, and which part of form WXB para. 8 c, sub-clause 24  we forgot to complete or completed incorrectly, and, and, and………….oh, and, by the way, does anyone remember when they last received a letter from a Government official signed, ” Your most humble and obedient servant.” ?

Thought not! That practice went out the window a long time ago. The Queen is about the only one who still remembers to use those words 🙂

Well, rant, rant……enough of it. To cheer myself, I made, and ate, my humble pie, otherwise known as  Crostata. The recipe I use is based on thisone  by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

I am relatively new to the art of Crostata-making but I love its easy, rustic free-form style. And it is very forgiving of mistakes and carelessness. My Crostata, this week, had a filling of rhubarb and apple, spiced with orange peel and ginger.  I used up some pastry I had leftover from a potato pie I had made earlier in the week .  Until quite recently,  I was afraid of pastry making, worried that it was too complicated for my culinary  skill levels. But, in a moment of epiphany one fine day, it occurred to me that pies were once the most commonplace of foods and, therefore, should be as easy as pie to make. And so they are;  with the help of a kitchen whizz,  a good helping of nonchalance, and a light touch with the rolling-pin and a good hot oven.

Free-Form Pie

Free-Form Pie; rough as….

Perhaps it’s not the best looking pie you’ve ever seen but it tasted absolutely delicious.

And to cheer myself even more, I challenged myself to make a sound recording. It’s as rough and ready as my Crostata but, hey, I did it.  🙂 Perhaps there’s still a little filling left in the old girl yet!

© silkannthreades

Gathering stories at the modern hearth

In some traditions, winter is a time for families to gather round the hearth and sing and tell, and retell, their stories. It is winter here and, appropriately,  I am busy  recounting, recording and researching family history,  stories, myths and legends. It is fascinating ‘work’, but very exhausting for a scatterbrain, like myself, who has a disinclination for the orderliness and systemic approach needed for successful genealogical study. What that means is that I keep forgetting names and dates and things like which person is my great-aunt and which person is my great- aunt’s second husband’s brother.

Anyway, I do the best I can, and hope that great-aunt’s second husband’s brother, dead for ever so many years, will forgive me 🙂

As I find information, I tell it to my family. Some of my regular followers may remember that I am the only one of my family in Christchurch. The rest of my immediate family live across the ditch, better known as the Tasman Sea, in Australia. So, for story telling, we cannot gather round a true hearth. Instead, we gaze in to the glow of our individual computer screens, and the investigation and celebration of our common narrative begins. (We would do Skype video if our broadband were faster and cheaper! ) There is laughter and sadness  and a plethora of memories, and, sometimes, as we chat, we gain new insights and knowledge. Other times, we become confused and lost in trying to understand the whys and wherefores of  our family roots.

Here is a typical Skype conversation of an evening. This one concerns a death notice I found for our great great grandmother who was referred to as a relict.

“[31/07/2013 12:56:52 a.m.] Sister: i like in the papers past the death notice “a relict of”
 Me: yes
 Me: yes
 Sister: it sounds like a relic
Me: it is
Me: it means a left over
Me: a relic
Sister: like u r old and left over frm thr couple that was
Me: a remnanat

Sister: heheeheh

Me: remnant
Me: also widow, or dowager
Sister: omg it really truely means it
Sister: hilar
Me: Ye s\
Me: hilair

Sister: okgtb
[31/07/2013 12:58:29 a.m.] Sister : nite nite”

The conversation happens after midnight, my time, and has no regard for grammar, for punctuation or for spelling; it is free-form, as if we truly were side by side discussing our latest find in the family story.

Here is another story time from our modern-day hearth, the computer screen. This time, my mother and I are engaged in a tale of her meeting with royalty.

“[25/07/2013 9:41:54 p.m.]  My Mother:  you all know the story of how I was introduced to Lord  Louis ofcourse
Me: You can tell me again
Me: because I probably don’t remember it properly
My Mother: well Gwen was sick and Uncle Ernie decided to take me along to the Civic Reception for the Mountbattens ,I was introduced and Lord M gave my hand a shake   very Royal  it was all over very Quickly really I think they were on their way back to England
Me: What did you wear?
My Mother: probably my best dress it wasnt an evening affair
Me: what was your best dress? Do you remember? Did you need gloves and a hat?
Me: It must have been a quiet visit to Christchurch because nothing is coming up about it on the internet
My Mother: No Ithink it was rather informal really and very short Idont recall my dress  or having hat or gloves”

And thus the conversation went, and the strands of family history were considered and sorted and reworked, much as though we were by the fireside of old, working together on the spinning and weaving of sturdy, new cloth  to keep us warm in the days ahead . Through some further investigation on my part, I was able to tell my mother, later, that the Mountbattens made a fleeting  visit to Christchurch in 1946. And we, my mother and I, went on to recall the time she and my father  met Queen Elizabeth, on a walkabout,  in Christchurch in 2002.

Much of my mother’s Christchurch, the physical structure of it, was destroyed by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  The churches she knew, the schools she went to; all rubble.  However, I was very pleased to be able to tell her, from my recent family research,  that the home where she spent the first  years of her life is still standing. As is the adjacent building which was her father’s first shop in Christchurch. The building, which is currently home to a hairdressing business, is being repaired and strengthened to new earthquake standards. So not all is lost to time, and, just to be sure this piece of our history will be around for future story telling and reminiscing, I took some photos and uploaded them to the web, my flash drive and my external hard drive.

© silkannthreades

A birthday and a Coronation

This weekend is a long one. It is Queen’s Birthday weekend and on Monday, 3 June, we celebrate the Queen’s official birthday. The Queen, being Queen Elizabeth the Second , who is our Head of State.  Today,  2nd June, we also happen to be acknowledging  the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

As a child of the colonies, and, at one time, the holder of a colonial passport that designated me as a British subject,  I have a soft spot for the Queen.  She was Queen when I came in to the world, and I simply can not imagine what life would have been like without her. Always there, always serene, always beautiful, and always the Christmas message of calm and goodwill.

So here is my little photographic tribute to the Queen on her birthday and on her Coronation anniversary. CoronationI don’t know what the perfume bottle has to do with anything; it’s just conveniently there. The silver bangle was a 21st birthday present from my parents and has a special hallmark for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The charm on the necklace, I gave to myself as a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and it bears a special hallmark for that occasion.  The silver necklace dates back to my Africa days and is made from  Zambian silver. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Queen has some Zambian silver too ;),  as it is a country which also has ties  to the Monarchy.

The book in the photo is a charming story by one of my favourite authors, Paul Gallico. It was first published in 1962 but was reprinted last year for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is a small delight, and the adventures and emotions of the Clagg family as they attempt to participate in an event of historical importance are as timeless as they are endearing.

For a little more information on the Coronation, try this link which gives some fun accounts from people who were there on 2 June 1953. ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/queens-coronation-60-years-on-1924555 )   As an interesting side note, news of the successful summit of Mt Everest by some of Her Majesty’s subjects, reached the Queen in time for her Coronation. Quite a Coronation gift, it was.

© silkannthreades