Tag Archives: winter

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?

 

Gently

Gently is all, gently……

Gently does it.

Gently does it.

I have been sick with a virus; probably a type of flu. I am recovering well.

Jack was the best possible nurse.

Jack ~ faithful friend

Jack ~ faithful friend

Many people have been sick, or are sick, with this virus.

I am looking forward to putting winter behind me. The first crocus will appear soon. And the  trees at the end of the street will blossom by the first week of August.

Signing off with the warmth of sunshine on my shoulders.

Gently is all, gently.

© silkannthreades

 

 

You can’t keep a good peony down

Kerry’s beautiful  peony retrospective the other day, and her query about peonies in New Zealand, sent me scurrying into my own peony archives .

This is what I found: 6 posts with photos and/or references to peonies. My peonies were one of the first subjects to feature on my blog when I began Silkannthreades in 2012.

Back then I was looking for a way to see this ~

Paeony at the Back Door

in the midst of a physical and mental environment like this ~

Bedraggled as a winter- worn peony

Winter- worn peony plant

 

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/be-it-ever-so-humble/#comments

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/for-you-dear-mother/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/moments-of-whimsy/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/3238/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/3472/

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/3971/

In my archives, I re-discovered that one of the first people to help me  start my journey of  blogging transformation  was   Cindy Knoke.

Unfolding opulence

Unfolding opulence

Another paeony at the back door.

 

 

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

 

Since those early days in 2012, Cindy has liked and/or commented on almost every one of my  approximately 360 published posts. Many of you are friends with Cindy, too, so you will know  I am not the only one she supports and encourages and enjoys spending time with on WordPress. She is a phenomenal blogger and friend.

So this post I dedicate:  to  Cindy, for being a stalwart  from the beginning; and to Kerry , for inspiring me to dig deep into memory roots, and reflect on her words:  “nothing keeps the peonies from blooming again.”  (You just can’t keep a good peony down. :D)

Some readers will know from Kerry’s latest post that her neighbourhood is feeling the anxiety and stress of having two escaped convicts in the area. Please keep Kerry and her community in your thoughts.

 

 

 

If it’s dreich, try pot to plate

Dreich  ~ yes,  dreich, that’s the right word to describe today.  Dismal, dreary, bleak, a winter’s day at the end of May.  Outdoors, the colours are first dulled by the grey wash of sky, then smeared by the gloom of the atmosphere. Dreich, it is; maist dreich.

What’s a body to do but wrap up warmly and take a solid meal of soup, served without fuss or finery, straight from pot

Pot of barley vegetable soup

Pot of barley vegetable soup

to plate. Slop and dollop.

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

A dear friend showed me how to make this soup-stew. There isn’t a defined recipe. What goes in, aside from the barley and broth, depends on what is in the cupboard. In this case I have potato, pumpkin, two kinds of sweet potato, peas, broccoli stalks,  parsnip, carrot, onion,  celery, and bacon. The flavourings are salt, bay leaves and tarragon, and lots of black pepper.  The soup takes time to cook but time = very satisfying fodder. Even more satisfying, as an accompaniment, would have been a wee dram of that other time-dense barley concoction,  whisky.   Alas, there was none of that in the cupboard. 😉

© silkannthreades

Living on the ‘plains’.

Occasionally, I revel in the ‘plains’ of life.

Plain cake

Plain Cake

Plain Cake

plain yogurt in a plain pot

plain words

Canterbury

On this great plain the eye
Sees less of land than sky,
And men seem to inhabit here
As much the cloud-crossed hemisphere
As the flat earth.  ……..

Basil Dowling

‘plains’ that sustain us;

Canterbury Plains

Canterbury Plains

that form the staff of life.

Plain yogurt bread

Plain yogurt bread

How good are the ‘plains’.  🙂

Plain song
<

 

© silkannthreades

Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© silkannthreades

 

Hear our voices

Bethan at  the House of Bethan is moving house, in a virtual sense, and talks of closing doors and saying farewell to important rooms in our lives.

With her words on my mind, I decided to close the door on my birthday season with a photo of the birthday card that  Megan chose for me. It’s delightful and reminds me of the happiness that Megan is experiencing now she can be outdoors enjoying the beauty of Bloomington. Her winter room time is over.

Blossoms from Bloomington

Blossoms from Bloomington

And, in a really large segue, Megan’s card leads me into my next section, which is a celebration of New Zealand Music Month .  How, you may ask, shaking your heads in bewilderment? Well, Bloomington, home of Megan, has some lovely connections with New Zealanders and their love of music.

For instance; there’s New Zealand born Matthew Leese, baritone and conductor, who earned his  Master of Music degree in Early Music from  Indiana University in Bloomington.

And, then, there is New Zealander Michael Duff who works in Bloomington  and is ‘saving’ the world of music and the Music Tree  (the pernambuco), one Berg Bow at a time.

And, then, comes the annual  Lotus World Music and Arts Festival which is held in downtown Bloomington and, last year, featured the  Pacific Curls  ;  ‘ the high energy trio of Kim Halliday, Ora Barlow, and Jessie Hindin ( who deliver) an eclectic and progressive mix of world roots music with Māori, Pacific and Celtic influences.’

Closer to home, as in closer to my home in Christchurch, there is performer and teacher Valerie Wycoff who has a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Indiana University , and who has been educating our young ones at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) for over 10 years.

And I am sure there are many more of us in New Zealand who have associations with, or have benefited from, the music, theatre and performance that are nurtured in Bloomington, Indiana.

Perhaps, one day, Bloomington will host some of the fine  singers who participated last year at the  New Zealand Secondary Schools’  The Big Sing.

I love this piece by Dilworth’s Fortissimo at The Big Sing. It thrills my heart.

I don’t have a translation for the song but I don’t think that  matters. The language of song and music seems to be universal, with very few barriers; it opens more doors than it closes.

So welcome, come on in and listen:

listen to this non-New Zealand choir, at Slovakia Cantat 2012, singing the beautiful Maori song,  Nga Iwi E, by  Hirini Melbourne. This song  begins All you people! All you people! Be united as one, like the Pacific Ocean

(Nga Iwi E was apparently adopted by Greenpeace and sung on board the Rainbow Warrior during its protest against French Nuclear Testing at Mururoa Atoll.  Maybe we can sing it next for the pernambuco 🙂 )

 

 

 

 

 

© silkannthreades

Mortals who ring bells…….

From our daily newspaper, The Press, 1st January 2014, Thought for Today

Time has no divisions to mark its passage,  there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols. ~  Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

Being mortal as I am, I spent this morning replacing my old calendars with the lovely new ones I have received. And because our former minister always said it is good to have occasions to look forward to from the beginning of each year, I have started to mark all the birthdays and special days that will come in 2014. (There’s a surprising large number of them 🙂 ) Knowing, and seeing, that there will be good times ahead helps us to handle the not so good times whenever they appear.

So it was ‘goodbye’ 2013

and ‘hello 2014’:

first of all from a calendar made by  The Rudolf Steiner School, in Sydney, where my brother teaches;

A wonderful day for chooks and me

A wonderful day for the chooks  et al

next from a calendar of  New Zealand,  beautifully photographed by friend, David Dobbs ( with apologies for my poor rendition of his superb portrayal of Moeraki Boulders ) ;

Beautiful New Zealand by David Dobbs

Beautiful New Zealand by David Dobbs

and, lastly, a ‘ hello 2014’ from  Sethsnap in Ohio, with his special blogger-chosen calendar, which will remind me of the seasons and holidays  of the US,  where most of my viewers live.

Elsewhere in 2014

Elsewhere in 2014

In other times....

In other times….

Do  you see my first calendar entries for 2014? Yes, there they are…P1030885One birthday and one reminder;  my  nephew’s birthday… and a ‘don’t forget’ to take your Vitamin D.

And thus the counting down of 2014 has begun, with the marvellous and the mundane… and without pistols  🙂

© silkannthreades

Ring in the spring

The daffodils in this post are for Lizzie Rose Jewellery and Teamgloria , and my mother, because they all love daffodils but daffodils don’t, and won’t, grow in their delightfully warm garden spaces.

The words in this post are especially for Lost in Arles, Heather ,as a way of thanking her for the link to Jean Vanier’s beautiful words in Wisdom of Tenderness  http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234    Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche.http://www.larche.ca/en/jean_vanier/

“The curve of the earth lies fissured, its mantle cracked like a poorly cast  bell, yet with the warmth of spring’s caress, a vibration shimmers, swells, seeps, riverine, through the hollows and cracks of the slumped soil.

Fissure

Fissure

In the movement of the spring,  the bulbs, buried fast,  sense the tender loosening, the sweet lightening of their winter bedding. They awaken.   Stretch upward. Outward. Yawn, and smile a happy-sunshine smile.

And , then, precisely then,  we know, deeply, that even a broken bell has its own essential resonance; its own beautiful chime to ring. Listen.”

Essential Resonance

Essential Resonance

Chime of its own

Chime of its own

For those of you who like to know about location and history; we spotted the daffodils on a sun-drenched river bank on the Avon Loop. We were near the place on the river side which was once, very long ago, home to  the Canterbury Rowing Club. The Loop is a heritage area of Christchurch which was badly damaged in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Most of the land on that small bend in the Avon River is no longer suitable for housing, so the broken homes currently there will be removed/demolished. Eventually, the land will form part of a natural recreational park system along the river. It promises to be lovely and, strangely, in its new life it will almost be a reincarnation of its old life, which, beginning in the 1860s, was a wonderful, open space where thousands of Cantabrians enjoyed picnics and the sport of rowing. http://lostchristchurch.org.nz/opening-of-the-boating-season-avon-river

© silkannthreades

Canada Dreaming

Where do you sail?

Where do you sail?

Although I grew up  on a very little island, my life was far from little or insular. I am not sure how the term insular came in to being because most island life, it seems to me, is  exposed to the comings and goings of the wider world.  It is in the very nature of an island to be outward looking; with eyes always turned to the horizon at sea and minds dreaming of what lies beyond.

Some  of my childhood dreams revolved around a huge country, namely Canada.  My dreaming was  influenced by a book we had, at home, about a modern (1960s!) Canadian family exploring their own country. The book had a stunning photo of what I thought must be the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Louise. And I yearned to be like that travelling family, standing by that lake, breathing in the beauty of Canada.

My yearning and dreaming, and, most likely, some suggesting to my parents that we take our next holiday in Canada, came to nought. Nought, that is, unless I count my greatest (ever!) school project, entitled Canada. I completed this ‘master’work  during my last year at elementary school, when  I was about 11 years old.  I remember the hours I spent on it; the careful penmanship, the drawings, the maps, the frustration of the maple leaf  that refused to be drawn correctly; the beautifully straight, ruled lines I made across the pages. Ah, it was a labour of love; and  a labour of  heavily plagiarized content, as well. References, or sources, were not part of a school project in those far off days 🙂

Maybe the project lacked originality, but I adored it, and have kept it safe for more than forty years. Like me, it has travelled the world and rested in many homes. Unlike me, it has stayed in good physical shape and, apart from some discolouration and a few loose pages, it is much the same as on the day I finished it.

Here is a glimpse of the project. As you look at the slide show, imagine a young girl, in an old, wooden classroom, in a little sugar industry town, on a small island in the large Pacific Ocean, studiously and carefully  recreating  the story of Canada. And, for extra fun, imagine also that maybe, just maybe, that circa 1968, there was, in the middle of Canada, on a deeply snowy day, a young person dreaming and writing about small islands in the far Pacific, for I am sure there was one such child.

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Did you look carefully at the brochure   for the Canadian Pacific Railway trains? I put it  in my project because I thought those scenes  were the epitome of elegance and luxury.

Note: to  11 year  old self….how could you do this?????

Erratum required

Erratum required

© silkannthreades