Tag Archives: stars

Preserving the sweetness of things

Our previous minister,  Rev. John Hunt, (now retired), would sometimes  offer the congregation ‘a sweetie for the sermon’. His sermons didn’t ever need any sweetening but he said a ‘sweetie for the sermon’ was an ancient Scottish tradition, and we, believers all, were more than happy to help preserve the ways of the old Kirk.  So the baskets of sweeties were passed from one pew to another and we, smiling and laughing like young ones at a birthday party, selected our sweetie and, then, spent the rest of the sermon, trying to dislodge sticky toffee from our gums and teeth. ( Perhaps we were not as young as our hearts imagined 🙂 ) Gummed up or not, they were sweet moments, and, although, I remember not a word of the sermons, I do remember feeling content and treasured and loved. Sugar it seems is a powerful  preservative of well-being.

In the spirit of ‘a sweetie for the sermon’, I  am spending time trying to capture and preserve  the sweetness of the current season. For there is much sweetness to savour.

There is the sweet fragrance and delicate tones of my dwarf sweet peas both outside

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

Sweetly fragrant Sweet Pea

and indoors, mingled with scented rose.

Rose and Sweet Peas

Rose and Sweet Peas

Then there is the sweetness suspended in the flowers and leaves I  am drying for my home-made potpourri.

Summer Medley

Summer Medley with Tracy’s  butterflies

Potpourri translates as ‘rotten pot/stew’, which, hopefully, mine will not be, if I have dried everything sufficiently well.

Additional sweetness comes in a friend’s seasonal gift of  home-made  Christmas mince pies; so delicious they are impossible to preserve except on camera.

Stars of Wonder

Stars of Wonder

They are a scrumptious-sumptuous combination of melt-in-your-mouth sugary buttery pastry and ‘ barely there tartness’ of rich, fruity mince meat;   made, I am told, with the addition of apple and green tomato to the dried fruit.

So those are the sweeties. Now for the sermon. Sermon? What sermon?  My mouth is too full of goodness to speak.

© 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

Is it all clear, SOFIA?

This post is a little off topic from my previous post, but only a little. It still concerns the collection of data and the keeping of records.   These records are on an astronomical scale. And they are gathered and analysed by beautiful, sophisticated SOFIA and friends.

We went to visit SOFIA today because the sun was shining, and it was a perfect day for visiting and gallivanting. Here she is. Isn’t she stunning?

Sofia

Sofia

SOFIA is stationed at Christchurch International Airport for a couple of weeks. She  is on a surveillance exercise. Of the skies. This is an excerpt from Nasa’s website on SOFIA.

‘NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory will be based in New Zealand for the next two weeks, taking advantage of the Southern Hemisphere’s orientation to study celestial objects that are difficult or impossible to see in the northern sky.

SOFIA, formally known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, deployed to the United States Antarctic Program’s facilities at Christchurch International Airport last week and completed its first science flight at 4 a.m. local time July 18 (noon EDT July 17). A team of scientists, engineers, pilots and technicians from the United States and Germany are deployed with SOFIA to support as many as nine research flights through Aug. 1.

SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (250 centimeters). It provides astronomers access to the visible, infrared and submillimeter spectrum.’ You can access the full text Here

Now I can’t say I understand all that technical stuff , but I can say that I enjoyed admiring  SOFIA and imagining what it would be like to fly so high in the sky with a telescope.

If you want to have a small experience,  flying with SOFIA, check out the SOFIA movie gallery  Here.

Apparently, the people who know these things, say we have very clear skies in our part of the world. Which makes our skies an excellent research area for SOFIA. Our skies are so good  that we are home to one of the best dark sky reserves in the world.  It’s too far from Christchurch for me to take you there, today, so this link will have to do. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7074544/Southern-skies-get-starlight-reserve-status)

I can, however, show you the luminous, light blue sky over us, and SOFIA, this afternoon.

Clear and Blue

Clear and Blue

It surprises me that the sky does look so fresh and pure because the air pollution levels  have exceeded  health guidelines levels  at least 11 times  in Christchurch this winter. Perhaps the blue of the  sky today is an optical illusion.

Writing of smog and lenses and illusion reminds me that some wits in the media have been questioning the timing of the SOFIA project in Christchurch. It coincides very neatly with the Government’s attempts to expand the  Government Communications Security Bureau ‘s  legal powers to spy on us, its own New Zealand citizens. At the moment the GCSB  may spy on  non New Zealanders.  The amendment under debate will legalise the GCSB’s spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

I am 99% sure SOFIA is an innocent star-gazer but that is a mighty big telescope scoping our southern skies.  However, as long as she  is gazing upwards and outwards, little ol’ me  and the rest of my fellow Kiwis,  can rest easy, at least as far as SOFIA is concerned 🙂

© silkannthreades

Day is done

One of my most abiding memories comes from my young days as a Girl Guide. At the end of our gathering, sometimes close to sunset, we would sing Taps. As best as I can recall we only sang one verse ;” Day is done, gone the sun, from the sea, from the earth, from the sky, All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”  The original verse says lakes, rather than sea, but, on our small tropical island, lakes would have made little sense to most of us. Oceans and lagoons and sea water were our world. And, whether we  sang earth, rather than hills, I can’t say for sure, but it is earth that always come readily to my lips whenever Taps tripples through my mind.  I love Taps. I did  then and I  do now, perhaps even more now than then. In my childhood, Taps, for me, had no association with the sadness of funerals; it was a simple and gentle calling  to  end the day’s activities and rest, which is fairly true to its original purpose.  And, although, as an adult , I know slightly more about Taps and the context in which it is used, I continue to associate it with warmth and peacefulness, and sunsets.That is why I will more often sing Taps on a long summer evening than in the chill of winter. I was singing Taps as I took these photos, the other evening. It was my first attempt to use my camera outside at twilight. Watch my song as it descends in to the night  …………………………  Day is Done,Day is DoneGone the sun, from the sea, from the earth, from the sky …… and yet the sky, even after sunset, remains so blue ….Gone the SunAll is well ……do you see what I see in the photo below?….  the tiny star that gems the sky.All is WellSafely rest,Safely RestGod is nigh.

Nearby

© silkannthreades