Friday, September 12, 2014

Violet Jelly & the Journey of the Piano Keys

I am so grateful to be living in this amazing time in history.
To be able to learn & connect, to encourage & be encouraged, support & be supported; share inspiration & friendship across borders, barriers, nations & provinces. We are no longer confined to friendships & connections that we make in the villages, towns or cities in which we live. We can freely cross borders of time & space to live more openly, broadly, even deeply than ever connection; while still maintaining our own rhythms of daily life.
When I opened the unexpected parcel that I found in my letterbox last week, my heart melted & tears streamed down my face.    
 I had waited my whole life long for those of my past to "see" me, to tell me I was at least ok, but that time never came & never will. Yet here in my arms was a fresh proof; the gift that carried a thousand affirmations in one, from a dear heart to mine. I am seen. I will be ok. I am so grateful!
 Memories... new memories I have softly laid down in a bed of kindness & care.
 I am so glad that you have traveled with me, my friends, as I have journeyed through the hard things & the "Lucy" moments.
 The best & most beautiful things in the world are indeed felt with the heart. Thank you dearest Julie for your loving stitches of kindness. How glad I am to be able to visit Threadbear Cottage & your Threadbear Life at any time of the day or night to have a catch up, find endless inspiration & entertaining kitten antics. 
 The days have been endlessly dull for ages now, which is a little perturbing. 
 I think that that may be why, although we can see the signs of emerging Spring, it doesn't really feel like Spring; just yet. This is a lovely place to walk down by the Karamu Stream. Getting out & about in the country side always helps to lift your spirits when the times are a little odd.
There are moments of some sunshine.
Coriander does so love the cooler weather though.
 As does the floral marvel of radicchio. Such a beautiful could almost wear it.
A little muddly potager
 down in the back corner of the garden.
 Just over from the bluebells..
 and the brand new of the raspberry canes. Green arises from "dead" sticks.
 A new white dove descended in to the Fairy Garden last week.
 My most exciting triumph in ages....finally figuring out how to make a truly effective, non-toxic weed killer!! And so simple!! A tablespoon of nasty table salt, a big squirt of dish washing liquid & fill up the bottle with white vinegar. That's it. 
 And it really works.
 Cath Kidston has a theme of clocks going on at the moment. Aren't these little cruets cute.
 I just love my Trade Me "work"...sending things like violets, fabric & Cath Kidston wallpaper all over the countryside. We have so many lovely people living in our land. I like to wrap things nicely with ribbons & handwritten cards, but these old piano keys were a tad tricky on that count. They arrived with David a few years ago when he returned home from Greymouth. I listed them for a dollar as I couldn't bear to throw them away & a very interesting arty lady bought them locally. She very kindly deposited $ a "token of her delight". They have gone off to be shared with four other arty ladies & so their journey is complete. As it happens the piano itself was gifted to a kindergarten in Canterbury in the 1960's, later it was sold to a family, who eventually moved & couldn't take it with them...David fancied ownership & consequently hauled it over the Southern Alps where it resided with him for quite sometime. Heavy & cumbersome at the time of his leaving it then appears to have met it's demise, yet not quite fully caste off, the keys journeyed north with the intention of becoming an art installation...which, indeed, has now been fulfilled. 
How extravagant to pick a whole bowl of violets!!
 If you pour boiling water over them 
 & leave them to steep for an hour or two
 strain, add honey, lemon juice, gelatine & a tiny splash of rose water you end up with the most divine jelly. You can find the recipe here.
 We ate it for breakfast with rhubarb & kefir cream & a little fresh coconut grated over the top.
And so are these gorgeous grape hyacinths & bluebells.
I wish you all fragrance, good friendship, some jelly & a very happy week!
Much love
Catherine x0x0x

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stolen Gold, Oh Happy Day!

Oh there you are!
Thank you for coming by to see me...
and my Stolen Gold.
You know, I'm not sure that I have ever bought a bottle of rum before in my entire life but I decided this week that I really, really needed some; to make my own vanilla essence with. Do you have any idea how easy it is to make vanilla essence!? All you need is vanilla pods, alcohol (vodka or rum) & a jar. You can make a little or a lot..either way it tastes amazing & lasts forever.
 Simply soak your beans in liquor for a few months & viola: magic! I will retrieve my beans quite soon & cut them open & pop them back in again to steep some more. I use a lot of vanilla in things like our instant banana ice-cream & baking so it's really worth while making my own. The last few batches have been small & made with gifted vodka. I feel sure that this brew will taste like Stolen Gold...wonderful! 
 I am also brewing some violet kefir water. Kefir water is probiotic, delicious & so easy to make. My kefir grains decided to make their own "mother" which was good of them. I have added violet flowers & honey this week. It tastes like spring!
 I couldn't resist buying the other kind of dragon fruit just to see the inside mostly. Aren't they intriguing? Not sure I'll ever grow one in my garden, however, they are just a really big cactus kind of plant.
I loved the view out my sewing room window this week.
Occasionally we had a little sunshine.
 And then Happy Day, my Katie & Daisy calendar arrived from the Book Depository. They are wonderful The Book Depository, they'll send anywhere in the world for free.
 I love the words on each page...
 And it's true I have seen wonders...
The man who never reads, or only very slowly & sometimes, has turned in to a Book Thief!
There, he just said it again: "Let's go to bed & read eh?"
Have you read the Book Thief?
We thought we might watch the movie quite soon.

I often buy books because I like the title &/or the cover.
I bought this from Connections a few months ago "Good to a Fault". Such an intriguing & original story it stayed with me for a very long time after I finished it. Sorry, borrowed this bit from Good Reads:
 "Clara Purdy is at a crossroads. At forty-three, she is divorced, living in her late parents' house, and near-ing her twentieth year as a claims adjuster at a local insurance firm. Driving to the bank during her lunch hour, she crashes into a sharp left turn, taking the Gage family in the other car with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara decides to do the right thing. She moves Lorraine's three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house—and then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness: exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love. 
What, exactly, does it mean to be good? What do we owe each other in this life, and what do we deserve? Good to a Fault is an ultimately joyful book that digs deep, with leavening humor, into questions of morality, class, and social responsibility. Marina Endicott looks at life and death through the compassionate, humane lens of a born novelist: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance in between." 
 I also found this lovely book for a dollar. Actually, I just liked the feel of it; it's colours & beautiful texture, but I'm really enjoying it beyond first appearances. I will share with you a little of this soon. 

I have been meaning to tell you about Alice for a very long time. Alice Hertz-Sommer is the most powerfully inspiring woman I have ever "met". She only recently passed away aged 109. I read her biography "A Garden of Eden in Hell" quite a few years ago. I found it in the library. She & her son were Holocaust survivors. As a pianist she could play Chopin from memory & gave many glorious concerts in the camp; a rare & sustaining nourishment & escape for those who lived with her, entrapped. In later years her son went on to become a world renowned cellist. Music was to sustain & saturate & bless their lives & all those who heard them play, so profoundly through all the years.
Interestingly Alice was a twin. She & her sister Mariana were born in Prague in 1903. Polarised at birth, Alice was born an optimist & Mariana a pessimist. Alice has her arm around her sister. Mariana died at the age of 75, as I recall & Alice lived to 109 in full positive strength.
This is my favourite picture (it was in the back of the library book) of Alice with Raphael in the background.
 She, along with her son, survived the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt.

Alice's life long passion for learning was given to her by her mother:
"Alice’s mother had a love of learning and instilled in her children a desire to hungrily pursue knowledge, “to learn, to learn, to learn, to know, to know” Alice remembers. All through her life, it is the strength of Sommers’ mind that sustained her. She believes in putting something in your mind everyday that no one can take from you. Up to the age of 104, Alice would make the trek three times per week to a nearby university to study history, and philosophy. Even now, every Saturday, she keeps her intellectual brain limber by playing Scrabble with a friend."

"When asked the secret to her long life, Alice responds, “in a word: optimism. I look at the good. When you are relaxed, your body is always relaxed. When you are pessimistic, your body behaves in an unnatural way. It is up to us whether we look at the good or the bad. When you are nice to others, they are nice to you. When you give, you receive.”
This info found

Alice's story The Lady in Number 6 is now available. Here is the trailer if you're interested:  
The Lady in Number 6 is one of the most inspirational stories ever told. 109 year old, Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational video tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music.

 I do love the cover of this book The Language of Flowers.
 I wonder if any of you have read it?
I think that will be how I live my life...a life lived & expressed through the language of flowers. The optimism I am working on....a little every day; changing the energies & the legacy of defeat & struggle with all my strength & best grace. 

Happy Day to you, my friends.
Have a lovely week.
Thank you for your friendship & presence.
Much love Catherine x0x0x 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sunshine and Moonbeams

Hello dear friends, how are you all?
Thank you so much for all your encouraging & caring messages last week. I am sorry that I haven't corresponded with you as I wanted to. It seems that I manage to go along just fine for a bit at a time, then quite suddenly find myself plunging below the emotional surface of life's waters once again; good intentions drown in the swirl. All that I can do is hold steady & do the basics as best that I can until I finally surface. I plan on finding stability one day &... peace. 

I came across this quote by William Martin during the week & I loved it.
"Help your children find the wonder & the marvel of an ordinary life..."
The art of enlivening the ordinary.
 How precious!

I quite often find myself reflecting upon the observation that when a child grows up immersed in the robust & expansive language of love & kindness & the wonder of the ordinary, that they then easily assimilate the rhythms of such a happy, self-accepting life; deeply & indelibly enfolding these things in to their own souls. The values & feelings are never lost, nor do they slip far from reach throughout a lifetime. Conversely, if we grow up without such healthy imprints or with patterns of negativity & destruction, we are equally permanently affected (some more than others) & only later do we perhaps find that we have the choice to reprogram the heart response & function; to learn the language & expressions of love & kindness that were never shown or given to us sufficiently in those early foundational years. It is in those years that we come to understand that others believe us to have value...or that we are, in fact, disposable & value-less.
To seek the wonder & the marvel of an ordinary life well lived can bring healing & richness as we learn the infinite pleasure to be found in the simple touch of a hand, the hug of a friend, the soft, furry devotion of a pet or the scent of the first violets. When value & purpose have been negated we either fade or flounder & fail to fully live or, it becomes a life's mission to restore worth by grace & determination & struggle....& raw belief that we do indeed have the right to a place in this world of ours.   
I have been studying the fascinating subject of the Chinese Five Element Theory these passed few months & have settled on the notion that I am very much a Water personality balanced almost equally with Fire. This knowledge has helped me immensely to understand myself so much better & my reactions to the unhelpful people & events that have so strongly shaped my life. I read somewhere this week that Water is the most vulnerable of the personalities to narcissistic abuse. So now I understand why I have struggled so hugely & my brothers not so much (or barely at all).
Likewise, for some of you this is way too much information, but for others, I know that you so need to hear that you are not alone in your own challenging & oftentimes scary journey.

We marvelled at the insides of this dragon fruit when we sliced it open with a big long knife one recent sunny morning. The startling scarlet colour, studded with black seeds; unexpected, the taste really quite plain.
The fresh lychees were found in the same spot in the supermarket. A precious winter treat.
Elephantine wrinkled skins, yet delicate, smooth & fragrant inside.
The dragon fruit although unremarkable in flavour had a strange effect in the mix. We found that after an hour or two that all the fruit juice at the bottom of the bowl had become a well set, ruby red jelly.

I had been wondering what to do with this chippy old, crazed jug when I suddenly had an idea...
I got Rob to drill a hole in the bottom & planted a sweet little pansy.
Thank goodness for the bright citrus colours of winter fruits.
And for the inexpensive "potted colour" that we can buy at the garden centre. They're pretty good value really as they last for at least 6-8 weeks. Way longer than cut flowers.
I love the sunshine shouty-ness of those early spring blooms. Whenever I see daffodils & forget-me-nots in my garden I declare it must be spring.
These little tete-a-tete are peering through the fence to see the passers-by. They're a little shy.
This boy is in his natural the beach with his dad making a "card" for his mum's birthday.
A sweet gift from a tender-hearted & kind son; written in maori.
It was Anna's birthday on the 10th, our eldest daughter. It was also the time of the perigee or super moon. Apparently we won't see another quite like it until 2034. Rob & I decided to head down to the stop bank near the river & watch the full moon rise. It's easy to recognise the influence & power of the sun, not so much the moon. Funny thing though...Rob was on night shift over this time & it was on that evening that three of the elderly residents decided to depart this world (unprecedented apparently).  
It was fascinating to watch as the sun left, sinking behind the ranges in one direction....
& we waited just a little while, phone in hand to check the direction we should be looking,
when suddenly in the nearly opposite direction the moon arose. Surprise!

Almost...moon on a wire.
The next evening Kaitiaki & Anna came for dinner & as they left they looked up & saw a rainbow around the moon. Extraordinary indeed! The phenomena is known as a moonbow :)
On the really chilly or wet days I have been busy packing up my Trade Me sales & sifting through the  piles of things that inevitably need to be parred down & reassessed in any home. Guess what I was assessing when I found this inspirational picture?
Yes British Country Living, of course.
What a lovely idea. 
A cake stand nature table:

And then came a little sun. Wonderful!
As for the moon...he can be just a little too impertinent for some.
Sleep well my little dears.
May you find even a little wonder in the ordinary this week.
Much love & friendship to you all.
Catherine x0x0x

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