Tag Archives: urban renewal

Indigestion

What to write for this post has been bothering me as much as that vexing, never-ending question of ‘what to have for dinner tonight’. I have all the ingredients, collected during my last excursion into town, but I don’t know what to make of them. I have sorted through several ideas but none of them seems quite right.

I have my lone young magpie,  usually a strange sight in the central city, who makes

me think of ‘country come to town’, or ‘nature reclaiming the spaces we usurped’, though the magpie, like us, is an introduced species. Which all makes me recall the haunting poem by our own Denis Glover,

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.
……..
Elizabeth is dead now (it’s years ago;
Old Tom went light in the head:
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
Couldn’t give it away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

 

Then I have The Bull, Chapman’s Homer. Remember  him?  He’s back. He’s been in seclusion for a while but he’s been let out for some fresh air, and to watch over the renovations on his soon-to-be new home; the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Chapman's Homer outside the City Council building

Chapman’s Homer outside the City Council building

Looking towards the Bull's new home

Looking towards the Bull’s future home, the Christchurch Art Gallery

These items present me with ideas of ‘civilization in nature’; and ‘civilization’ itself; ‘what it is and is not’, and ‘the thinness of its veneer’.

And the entirety has me wondering about ‘cultural collaboration and collision’ and ‘what is left standing When a City Falls’ , and, if what is left, provides a big enough foundation to support a new city. The remains look so terribly small in the face of the vastness of the concrete rebuild jungle.

Confused? So am I. But, perhaps, that is just how it is in our city, where we still seem to be searching for the right recipe to put us back together again.

So what is for dinner tonight?

Brace yourselves. It’s not four and twenty magpies baked in a pie, boeuf bourguignon or smoked eel. No,  I have decided on leftover fish and chips, that traditional New Zealand take away, supplemented with homemade buttermilk corn bread,  which mish-mash is bound to bring on culturally confused indigestion ….but, right now, it’s the best I can come up with.

© silkannthreades

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

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

Thanksgiving from afar

I don’t normally take much notice of Thanksgiving celebrations in New Zealand because I know so few of the Americans who reside here.  However, yesterday, I happened to be having one of my rare TV watching moments and I saw an item on a Thanksgiving Dinner at the Downtown Community Ministry in Wellington.  The Dinner was sponsored by the US Embassy to New Zealand and 300 meals were served, with the help of Embassy staff and their families. The diners, most of them New Zealanders, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner…..and who wouldn’t enjoy turkey and cranberry sauce and pecan pie and all the trimmings?   I have very happy and delicious memories of Thanksgiving Dinners in New York and also with  American friends in Cairo and Zambia…. but back to the US Embassy to New Zealand, or more precisely the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa,  David Huebner. I was charmed by his Thanksgiving spirit and his modern approach to the age-old craft of diplomacy. ( He even has a  blog!  )

In fact, I was not only charmed but  I felt inspired to rearrange a ‘grumpy’ post that had been stewing  in my ‘brain pot’ for a few days. So here it is, transformed in to my Thankful List.

I am thankful  that the days are warm and I have a lovely garden to view whilst I wait for my broken  curtain rail to be fixed.

Room with views

Room with views

I am thankful my home is, once again,  unflooded and keeping us warm and dry , even if the repairs are not yet finished and

there remains a hole in our bedroom ceiling.

There's a hole in the Ceiling, dear G, dear G

There’s a hole in the Ceiling, dear G, dear G

I am thankful that we have a wonderful library system that tells me about excellent magazines, one of which is   Frankie ; which I like so much I have to buy a copy.   And to my  delight contains a pullout poster,  by the ever so  talented  Becca Stadtlander , which just happens to be the right size to cover the vexatious hole in the ceiling; and provides a  new interpretation of vision board.

Not that I want a desk/home office on my ceiling, but I do want my home to be orderly again, one day, with everything in its place and a place for everything 🙂

Like my rugs, which have been lying, unrolled, on my  living room floor waiting …waiting….for so long….that I don’t really remember  what we are waiting for….

Why are we waiting?

Why are we waiting?

I am grateful that the path outside my house is being cut and drawn, yet again, so that soon our neighbourhood will have access to ultra fast broadband that very few of us can afford 😦

But such major upgrades of our infrastructure  are enabling many workers to enjoy employment, none more so than the temporary workers from the Philippines, some of whom will be concerned about the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in their own country, as they toil to  rebuild our broken city. I am grateful for their willingness to be so far from their homes and  their families.

And, lastly, I am ever so grateful that my home no longer looks like this,

for there are many in this city  who still live in damaged, unrepaired homes.

Now, if someone would deliver a turkey dinner and some pumpkin pie, I would be very thankful for that too 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

© silkannthreades

Postal notes

In Christchurch, letter boxes are being ‘harvested’. Our Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has given permission for a community group, the  Avon-Otakaro Network,  to gather  letter boxes from red-zoned residential properties where the houses have been demolished. The letter boxes, and the homes to which they belonged, had to be abandoned following the devastation of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The Avon-Otakaro Network, which has so far collected 200 letter boxes, plans to use them to create 10 sculptures to be placed by the lower Avon River. They will be reminders of  loved homes and communities that are no more. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/9305950/Harvesting-red-zone-letterboxes-for-art

Just as letter boxes are changing their form, so, too, is our Postal Service. Yesterday came the not unexpected announcement that New Zealand Post  will reduce “its work force by up to 2000 staff as part of a strategy to reshape the business over the next five years.” (http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/business/9352413/NZ-Post-job-losses-restructure-revealed )  Part of that strategic plan includes a move to a 3 day postal delivery service, beginning in mid 2015.  Like any good organisation, it must continually renegotiate its terms of existence in order to survive and thrive. New Zealand Post has been doing its vital work, in one form or another, for at least  170 years and  I expect it can continue to serve for another century, if appropriate innovative strategies are implemented.

In the meantime, whilst the Postal Service and the letter boxes are  being sorted out and re-arranged, some of us are doing our best to help keep the current postal structures in good heart.

Here are my  bookmark  gifts ready to fly away, par avion, to distant shores.

Fly away my pretty ones

Fly away my pretty ones

Can you guess which one is coming to a post box near you? One will find a home, in the US, and will soon be covered in  dog hair ; one will settle comfortably in London,  next to Danny, the teddy bear, and a cat called Thomas ; and the third will go to a dedicated reader of books, and my blog, and long time friend, who lives in  Auckland, New Zealand.

But real mail doesn’t only leave my home. It arrives as well. In my broken-down-earthquake-damaged-letter box, which no one would want to harvest, I found this…..midday yesterday…..

All pink and white and pretty

All pink and white and pretty

This pink and white parcel delight contains my first purchase from  Koru Knits’ Felt shop. (Felt is our New Zealand answer to Etsy)

I always love a parcel and the treats within. Here is my treat; beautiful ‘sapphire blue’ handwarmers, lovingly handmade by fellow blogger, Lynley.

Handmade by Lynley

Handmade by Lynley

Sapphire Blue Handwarmers

Sapphire Blue Handwarmers

Of course, they won’t be needed right now, as we head in to summer, but I like to be prepared!

Included in my parcel was a lovely, and generous, bonus (because I was Lynley’s first Felt customer) ; a pink, white and blue striped apron, ( you can see a little of it underneath the handwarmers), which is perfectly perfect for me, in both colour and size.  How did she guess?

What Lynley didn’t guess is that I would put ‘pinny’ and handwarmers on, straight away, and prance around the kitchen taking photos of myself!

And, if it had been morning time, I would have pranced right out the door and taken my new garments for a walk to my letter box, just for the sheer fun of it. And, perhaps, even given a friendly wave to the postie, if he or she had been cycling by at that very moment.

© silkannthreades

“Ring the Bells”

In a recent post, I featured  Leonard Cohen’s  Anthem. The opening lines of the song call on us to “Ring the bells that still can ring….”  I find these words exceedingly poignant because the only  “ringing” bells we have left to ring are at   St Paul’s ,in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui.

St Paul's Papanui

St Paul’s Papanui

Our city’s main peal of 13 bells used to be in our old Christ Church Cathedral.

Our once upon a time Cathedral

Our once upon a time Cathedral

In the earthquake of  22nd February 2011, the bells came tumbling down, along with much of the rest of the Cathedral. As far as I know, all 13 of the bells are currently  back, where they were cast, at the  John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough, Leicestershire, undergoing extensive and expensive repairs.

When they will be heard again, in Christchurch, is anybody’s guess, considering the length of time it takes to rebuild a city, but it is conceivable that I will not hear these bells again in my lifetime. Fortunately, there are sensible people who thought to record the Cathedral Bells when they were still ours to hear.     But, sadly,  even a recording is not quite the same as the real deal.

At St Paul’s there is a peal of 8 bells and there is a  history of bell ringing at this church that dates to 1880.  These bells, and the wooden structure of St Paul’s, came through the earthquakes relatively unscathed, but some earthquake repairs were required and the church was closed for a while as a result.

All the work has been completed now and St Paul’s is looking fresh  and  revitalised.

And the bells continue to ring out, strong and true, on Wednesdays and Sundays.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that this church building, that has been on this site since 1877, has life and strength in it to last for many years to come; thanks to careful workmanship and the beauty and resilience of the kauri wood from which it was built.

For some of our citizens, who were anti-campanology, in a NIMBY sort of way, the lack of bells in the city must be a blessed relief. But, for me, an erstwhile British subject and  child of the Colonies, reared on the sounds of London’s bells, as formulated in that old nursery rhyme, “Oranges and Lemons”, a city is incomplete without the ringing of bells.

Ring the Bells of London Town

Ring the Bells of London Town

Some of my readers may remember the silence of the bells in the United Kingdom for the duration of the Second World War; they may remember that such silence leaves a hollow, a void in our sensory space, that is, somehow, deafening.

So, here I sit, trying to ‘ring the bells that still can ring’

Here I sit

Here I sit..perhaps with” rings on my fingers and bells on my toes”

Featured Books:

Early Churches in and around Christchurch by Derek and Judith Hamilton http://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/book/early-churches-in-and-around-christchurch/2741647/

The Mother Goose Treasury  by Raymond Briggs http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Goose-Treasury-Raymond-Briggs/dp/0241908000

The Children’s Bells by Eleanor Farjeon http://www.amazon.com/The-Childrens-Bells-Selection-Eleanor/dp/B000I0PP70

© silkannthreades