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Dinner with Nana

I have said this before and I am happy to say it again. I am in awe of people who can remember their past, particularly their childhood past,  in high-definition clarity.  I see and hear  my past through  flickering scenes of snowy noise, crackling static, fragmented pixels, and faulty signals. Occasionally, I am able to focus on what seems to be a clear, defined, image, yet when I try to hold it, to still it in a frame ,  this is what happens: a  split screen of alternative possibilities.

Frame One:  Dinner with Nana

peas boil, custard bakes,
leg of lamb on stove top rests,
roasted juices, pink.
“Bloody meat,” sighs Nana Maud.
we grin, dinner not done yet.

Frame Two: Dinner with Nana

The peas are boiling, the custard bakes,
gravy, silky and peppery, simmers and plops.
Nana, pinny-wrapped, and double-bent, is busy’
with sharp-pronged fork, testing the mid-day roast.

She pierces the bubbles of crisp skin
and pearlescent fat, to the bone inside,
and watches, as the juices spurt,
clear and sweet.

“It’s done, ” she declaims, satisfied.
“It’s well-cooked,” she adds, decisive,
“I don’t like bloody mutton.”
No part of sheep would defy that tone.

We grin, we tease, in mock horror.
“Nana! Bloody? Did you say bloody?”
Intent on serving dinner hot,
blind to childish nonsense, she huffs,
“No, no, of course, I didn’t, but
I don’t like bloody meat.”

We giggle quietly into plates, bountiful
with succulent tenderness.
We eat, pudding next,
replete, content,
knowing, even then, we would remember
the day we pretended Nana swore.

Which of these pictures , I wonder, is closest to the reality of that day? Sadly, I can no longer say for sure. The editorial hand of time has steadily and stealthily, spliced and resectioned memories which once seemed solid; immutable.

But this much I do know:

Both recollections are faithful to the essence of my grandmother, and the good food, love, and security which were produced in copious quantities in her little, sunny, kitchen.

She was  a hard-working person; always busy around the home. She was independent, despite being almost blind in one eye. She was  capable, she was small, and she was strong. Chopping kindling wood for her fire and coal range were daily tasks she undertook into an advanced age.

Her cooking was excellent.  Every kind of food she gave me, be it boiled chicken, bottled apricot, roast dinner, or pikelet , I remember with pleasure.

And, as for those roasts ~ Nana preferred mutton and hogget to lamb but, whatever cut it was, she didn’t like it rare, or to say it plainly, bloody.  On that fact, my memory is 100% clear.

 

(This post is in memory of  Nana Maud who died 42 years ago, today, the first day of spring.)

In Memory of Nana

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“Fancy all that fuss for a toy!”

For a long time Honey Bun lived in dark space in the attic, and no one, least of all Honey Bun’s owner, thought very much about him, for all that she had supposedly loved Honey Bun for 59 years.

One evening, when the Woman was going to bed, her head full of  worrisome questions about wills and property ( her father’s and her own),  and what to do next,  she suddenly had a dreadful thought which made her sit bolt upright and demand of herself, ” What will happen to Honey Bun when I am gone?” This was followed by an even more dreadful thought, “But where is Honey Bun? Where have I kept my sweet  little rabbit?  ”

The next morning, a foray into the deepest recesses of the attic, revealed Honey Bun  tucked away safely in a box with other family toys. The  Woman sighed with relief and clutched Honey Bun tightly to her heart.  “Honey Bun, how I have missed you,” she whispered into his long, soft ears.  Honey Bun, with eyes as brown and kind as ever, looked at the Woman and said not a word. There was no need.

The Woman took Honey Bun downstairs to her bedroom, determined to devise a succession plan for her dear rabbit, now slightly shabby, with tail becoming unsewn, but still with the sweetest, pink-embroidered  nose, and still with arms outstretched,  as if forever poised for a hug.

Whilst the Woman paced the room and wondered  to whom she could entrust her special friend, Honey Bun stared at her, fixedly and gently, and remembered how the Woman was when they had first met, all honey-coloured curls, blue eyes, and soft pink skin. The Woman was older now, shabbier and flabbier, wrinkle-skinned, and grey haired but, in the silence of the attic, Honey Bun had recognized instantly the Woman’s footfall and her whispers. Her essence was as integral to Honey Bun’s being as his own stuffing. Then, as Honey Bun continued to stare,  the Woman suddenly stopped pacing. She turned and returned his stare. A small, rueful smile played upon the corners of her mouth, and inside herself she said,” Fancy all this fuss and worry over a toy.”  No sooner had the words  crossed her mind, than she sensed a  shimmer of gentle reproach alighting on her soul. Though feather-light at first, the reproach grew heavier as each hour passed.

By evening the Woman was weary and no closer to finding a new home for Honey Bun than she had been earlier in the day.  Weighted down by feelings of unease she went to her bed, where Honey Bun lay patiently  waiting the outcome of the Woman’s wonderings.  In steadfast faithfulness, Honey Bun had remained exactly where the Woman had left him.  He had not moved an inch, just as he had not moved an inch all those years of waiting in the attic.

The Woman smiled at the sight of her long-loved bunny and placed her head next to Honey Bun’s on the pillow. She gazed into Honey Bun’s large, shiny eyes and saw her reflection gazing back at her with intense devotion. Her uneasiness lifted. What had she been thinking? Honey Bun was no toy.  Honey Bun was a presence as real as all her years.  There was no need to part, to find him a new home.  Not yet. They had years ahead of them to share . The Woman carefully tucked Honey Bun under her chin and drifted softly into sleep. Honey Bun was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little, soft  heart that it almost burst. But, eventually, Honey Bun, too, fell asleep,  pink nose twitching, almost imperceptibly, in the sweetness of his dreams.

Sharing the love: Honey Bun (59yrs) and Stella the Schnauzer ( ‘hardly me’)

“It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

 

With sincere apologies to The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams! (Can you recognize any words I have transposed from The Velveteen Rabbit?) This post was inspired  by The Velveteen Rabbit and by my mother’s love for a newly acquired teddy bear.

Beloved Betty

The teddy bear is about the size of a new-born baby. The teddy bear is named Betty and  has a name tag to prove it.  Betty wears a dress.  But my mother habitually refers to Betty as ‘he’ and occasionally will look at Betty and remark, with surprise,”Oh, he’s wearing a dress.”   Which makes me think that when it comes to love and soft toys, its love, not gender, which prevails.  Although I have referred to Honey Bun as a male, in order to be avoid being  annoying (linguistically) , Honey Bun has never been exclusively male.

Feeling the Winter Blues

I am feeling the winter blues

but let me tell you

Story Time in the Kitchen with the resident Gossips

about  a couple of bright spots in these early days of winter.

First, a gift for me,  imagined and crafted by my daughter ~

Klimt inspired jewellery for me

Second, the arrival of a new battery for my old Panasonic Lumix camera.  Arrival? Yes, arrival!  One of the quirky aspects of living in a small country which is home to much other quirkiness; read, kiwifruit and kiwis and a pregnant Prime Minister

Kiwifruit harvest 2018; something to crow about.

is that replacement lithium batteries for older model cameras aren’t readily available. They must be ordered and then shipped to New Zealand.  My battery, assembled and packaged in Australia, took 8 weeks to reach me.  Delivery day to my doorstep was an event; a celebration; an arrival; an eagerly awaited occasion.

No longer am I reliant upon my little mobile phone camera to capture  my  moods with feeble clarity.

So blue over you ( taken with mobile phone)

Now, I  can focus on finding some light in the gloom.

 

Inner delights; feijoa medallions.

© silkannthreades

Ps Is anyone having trouble making the Cookie Policy banner on my site disappear after clicking close and accept?

 

O mein Papa, Happy Birthday

“Deep in my heart I miss him so today”  from the sentimental song ” O mein Papa” seems the perfect line to  hum on this 8th day of May; this day which would have been my father’s 98th birthday.

On May 8th someone in the family would have made him his favourite roast chicken dinner, just as he did for us  on so many special occasions. And we would have drunk to his health with cider and champagne.  My siblings and I may still do the latter, via Skype, but the family meal will have to wait until we gather again.

Dad preparing stuffing for a roast chicken dinner; in my kitchen about a decade ago. The cherries were for snacking not stuffing!

Although, today, my thoughts are  mainly focused on my father,  I am also thinking of other  important events  associated with 8 May, such as VE Day  and World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.

For my father’s birthday in 2014  I wrote about the Red Cross and its significance in our lives. Read on if you would like to know more of that story.

The Importance of May 8th

“Today, 8 May, is the birthday of  Henry Dunant , founder of the Red Cross and joint  recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Today, also, marks World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, which since 1948 has been celebrated internationally on Henry Dunant’s birthday.

Another celebration that takes place every year on 8 May is my father’s birthday. 🙂

Although the idea for the Red Cross arose  in 1859 and was formalised in 1863, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was only established in 1919, in the aftermath of World War 1.  So the IFRC  was almost as brand new as my father when he arrived into the world in 1920.

In the  Christchurch Press, for the day of my father’s birth, there is an item which mentions the Red Cross Society in the US, providing hostess houses for the 3709 war brides of the American Expeditionary Force. The newspaper also has articles about ongoing peace and treaty negotiations and on war graves decisions, as well as the influenza outbreaks which were, once again, causing concern in New Zealand.  In 1920 the world may have been nominally at peace but the First World War was still very much a presence in everyday lives.  Yet there would, undoubtedly, have been an expectation that babies born after ‘the war to end all wars’ would live their lives in peace.

I am sure, my grandmother, holding her new-born baby, that day in May, did not  imagine that a couple of decades hence her boy would be in uniform.

 

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb

In uniform; 1940s; my dad, closest to the kerb (Street Photography)

Nor would she imagine that, by the 1980s, her son would be working, in his post retirement years, for the Fiji Red Cross.

 

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

A favourite photo of my father at his Red Cross desk.

That’s the trouble with kids; you never know where they’ll end up or how they’ll turn out, but I think my grandmother would say she raised a good lad. 😉

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday Red Cross.

© silkannthreades "

Postscript

If you link to the original post you will find comments from two bloggers who have since passed away. I miss them, too: Christine

and Catherine from Seeking Susan.

And for those of you who are interested in the military connections in this post, you may like to visit our wonderful  New Zealand Online War Memorial  Cenotaph where I have been putting together my father’s online memorial.  My father served both in New Zealand and the Solomons.   He was with radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, on Malaita, one of the most isolated RNZAF detachments in the Pacific.

 

Have I read you dry? Join me in a toast to mein Papa. Cheers!

From my desks ~getting to know you (and me )

It’s a very modern saying
But a true and honest thought
That if you become a blogger
By your readers you’ll be taught

Jack and his peer group keep me company next to my blogging station..

As a blogger I’ve been learning
You’ll forgive me if I boast
And I’ve now become an expert
On the subject I like most

Getting to know you   ( from my every day work-horse desk)

Jack’s bestie, Diesil, staying close to my work-horse desk

Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me  ( when I sit at my best desk )

My best desk, a gift from my parents

Getting to know you
Putting it my way (at my quiet space desk)

My quiet space desk

But nicely
You are precisely
My cup of tea

My tea cup of plums, my books to read, my chocolate, and Jack’s schnauzer toy, Stella.

 

Singing and Signing off from my desk,

 

Signing off from  my desk

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein and The King and I

 

 

Book List

The Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg

Classical Music by Joy Cowley

The Kettle on the Fuchsia by Barbara Harper

Touching Snow A Taranaki Memoir by Juliet Batten

The Faber Book of Christmas ed Simon Rae

 

© silkannthreades

Year out, year in; begin again?

Have you ever tried to sum up your blogging year

in a photo?

Like this ~

2017 ~ Flowers and Friends, Wabi Sabi, and slightly out of focus!

Or in  a poem?

Like this ~where I play upon the titles from this year’s blog posts, plus the title from my first blog post in 2012.

 

T.i.c.k. t.o.c.k.

at my desk ~  on the road,

delving
into past and present:
Gandhi Jayanti;
chelonian tales with a difference;
t.i.c.k. t.o.c.k.

floral interlude

t.o.c.k.t.i.c.k.t.i.c.k.t.o.c.k.

from my desk
the great debate,
year out, year in,
begin again?

gallivanting and roses,

on the road, at my desk,

t.i.c.k.t.o.c.k.t.o.c.k.t.i.c.k

t.o.c.k….

 

Do any of the titles stand out for you? Or prompt you to remember a post of mine which you particularly enjoyed?

And, without researching, can you guess which title/words belong to 2012?

Would you like to have a go at a blog title poem?  Feel free to add it in the comments. I would love to read it.

As this year ends, and as I prepare for the next, I want to thank you for your wonderful  readership, support, and comments (and emails and visit ) in 2017.   As usual, and as is the case for most of us, this year has had its share of the good and not so good times; you’ve been with me every step of the way, and I love you for it.  Blessings and bon courage for whatever 2018 holds for you.

Aroha nui

Amanda Anne aka Gallivanta.

#loveyourshell

© silkannthreades

From my desk ~ Chelonian Tales with a Difference

This is a post about two chelonians ~ Torty and Myrtle.

Torty is brown; Myrtle is purple.

Torty is a real chelonian.  Myrtle is an imaginary one.

Though time and reality and colour separate Torty and Myrtle, both are bound by the restorative  powers of compassion, kindness, and caring friendship.

Torty is New Zealand’s oldest survivor of World War One.  The story goes that, in March 1916, she was wandering near a bombed hospital in Salonika, Greece, when she was run over by a French gun wagon. A young New Zealand soldier, a medic on the hospital ship Marama, saw the accident and dug out the tiny tortoise from the wheel ruts. Torty’s shell had been gouged by the iron wheels of the wagon, and she had lost some toes. Her rescuer, Stewart Little, took her back to the Marama,  dressed her wounds, and cared for her. When the hospital ship left Salonika for New Zealand, Torty went to.  She became a favourite with the wounded, bedridden soldiers. On arrival in New Zealand, Stewart Little smuggled her ashore and cared for her for the next 60 years, until his death. Torty eventually found herself living in a retirement home with Stewart’s daughter-n-law, Elspeth, where she brought joy to residents and visitors alike.  When Elspeth died in 2015, Torty was given a new home with Stewart’s grandsons.

The story of Torty is told in Jennifer Beck’s  engaging  “Torty and the Soldier”,

Torty and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck

the last part of which reads:

“Stewart Little’s military service did not distinguish him from thousands of other Kiwi soldiers who served in WW1 in different ways. However, his simple act of kindness in a foreign land has provided the last living link with those who lost their lives in that war a hundred years ago.”

Our other little chelonian,  Myrtle, is an unusual hue for a turtle. As I said at the beginning, she’s purple; a rich, deep, decidedly purple, purple.

She is a fictional character, first created by author, Cynthia Reyes, 27 years ago,  to help her little daughter manage bullying at school,  and her ‘burden’ of  difference. Thanks to encouragement from Cynthia’s family, Myrtle has come out from her private shell and into the public sphere. She’s now the  star of  her own book.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes

In “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”, we meet a joyful, happy young turtle who loves her ‘turtley’ life until one day she bumps into a rude, bully of a turtle, who questions her authenticity ~ She’s purple! Turtles aren’t  purple! How could Myrtle be a turtle? Upset, bewildered, and hurting, Myrtle tries to un -purple herself, by rubbing her shell in the green grass. In the process  of trying to change her true self, her world is literally turned upside down. Lying on her back, stranded, Myrtle is finally rescued by  her three friends, Hurtle, Snapper and Gertie. They stand beside her, turn her over, and gently restore Myrtle to her feet. And, with kind words and compassion, the three friends help Myrtle understand that  we are not all the same, and therein  lies the wonder of each of us.  “We are all different from each other!” (declares) Myrtle, happy once again.

“We are all  different from each other!” #loveyourshell ( Can you spot all the chelonians? )

In  turtle terms, Myrtle’s life is only just beginning. I hope her longevity will rival that of a real-life turtle. I hope, like Torty, she will bring pleasure and comfort to generations. Torty’s legacy is one of loving kindness, reaching above and beyond the horror of war. May Myrtle’s legacy be a firm, friendly, loving stand against the ugliness of bullying, as well as against the demeaning of difference.

Both Torty and Myrtle are beautifully illustrated: ” Torty and the Soldier” by Fifi Colston; “Myrtle the Purple Turtle” by Jo Robinson .

And just because I can: –

As a tail-piece to these Chelonian Tales, let me remind you of the original, purple Myrtle. She was not a turtle. In the 19th century she became so popular (supposedly) that many people gave her name to their daughters. She’s a true beauty and she was the very first  purple Myrtle I  ever met.

Here  is her portrait by Robert O’Brien http://www.treeguides.com/ who is the excellent illustrator of the Texas A & M Forest Service’s   Trees of Texas resource/identification guide http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55  ( Bob O’ Brien kindly gave me permission to use his illustration for this blog post. ) Myrtle’s  full name is Crape Myrtle, or Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica. She’s hardy and resilient and, although she is a native of China ( and Korea ), she is the Official State Shrub of Texas.

Crepe Myrtle by Robert O’Brien (with permission)http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=55

 

One last note: if you ever see the stories of Torty and Myrtle side by side, look at the colour schemes in each book and consider what they might mean, and how they make you feel about each story. Colour matters. In its difference, and its harmonies, it adds beauty and meaning to our world.

 

© silkannthreades