Thursday, 30 June 2011

Playing the Glad Game

I love that, when we were children almost everybody read the classics: Beatrix Potter, Heidi, Wind in the Willows, Little Woman, Pollyanna and I'm sure that you can name a dozen more. Do you remember reading Pollyanna? I adored this story. I was so enchanted by Pollyanna's prisms & her sunshiny nature & the Glad Game. It was a story of cheery hope. The naive little girl in me believed that if I just created a rainbow or two & played the glad game long enough, all would be well in my world.
From Eleanor Porter's delightful tale...
"Pollyanna had not hung up three of the pendants in the sunlit window before she saw a little of what was going to happen. She was so excited then she could scarcely control her shaking fingers enough to hang up the rest. But at last her task was finished, and she stepped back with a low cry of delight. It had become a fairyland--that sumptuous, but dreary bedroom. Everywhere were bits of dancing red and green, violet and orange, gold and blue. The wall, the floor, and the furniture, even to the bed itself, were aflame with shimmering bits of color. "Oh, oh, oh, how lovely!" breathed Pollyanna; then she laughed suddenly. "I just reckon the sun himself is trying to play the game now, don't you?"
she cried, forgetting for the moment that Mr. Pendleton could not know what she was talking about. "Oh, how I wish I had a lot of those things! How I would like to give them to Aunt Polly and Mrs. Snow and--lots of folks.
 I recko
n then they'd be glad all right! Why, I think even Aunt Polly'd get so glad she couldn't help banging doors if she lived in a rainbow like that. Don't you?"
 Mr. Pendleton laughed. "Well, from my remembrance of your aunt, Miss Pollyanna, I must say I think it would take something more than a few prisms in the sunlight to--to make her bang many doors--for gladness. But come, now, really, what do you mean?"
Pollyanna stared slightly; then she drew a long breath. "Oh, I forgot. You don't know about the game. I remember now."

Pollyanna & I have a lot in common, losing parents & being "taken in" by others, but also being rather frank & truthful. My very young parents were heading for disaster right from the start of their unsupported, early 60's marriage. The violent & shattering ending to this short-lived union, ruined my mothers well-being & instilled a life long shame of abandonment & unwantedness in me. I went from a happy little vintagey life with wee blue houndstooth school bag, containing delicious squishy cucumber & tomato sandwiches, to a life of cold mashed potato with hard uncooked lumps in it, no seasoning & no butter, not on your life! There were no hugs, kisses, explanations or kindness & I grew up with the words "if you can't say anything good DON'T say anything at all" ringing in my ears. The insistent voices of condemning censure have almost done my head in as I write this.."shut up!!", "surely you're over all that by now!!!"...on & on & on they deride me, hissing about family loyalty. Our carpets (as it turned out) were never anything but made of eggshells & peace never returned to our "family". The last time I saw my mother was in an ambulance on her way to hospital. I couldn't talk to her the next day, or the next week or the next year, in fact, I didn't see her again properly until I was nearly 30.
As a child I did not grieve & I cannot tell you why.
Now, 45 years later..
 I have been surrounded by grayness for days & days..I thought it would pass & life would resume but their is a certain shade of gloom surrounding me & there are monsters under my bed. 
Somewhere, there seems to have been another "earthquake" & the emotional liquefaction has forced it's way to the surface once more & covered my life with the gritty, acrid dietrius of grief.

I'm sure that most of you know how fairies came about-
but I wonder if you also know, that since time began, all mothers have come with an indelible, invisible stamp-
The hidden stamp can only be revealed when touched by the tears of a child or of angels.

If you happen to have got a dud (mother), please know, that this occurrence is actually quite rare. There is, however, little that can be done about it at this time...very sorry!
My brother has no recollection of these things as he was not much more than a baby at the time, but my saving grace (& I absolutely mean by the grace of God) was my unlikely meeting of Rob when I was 17.
I have since become an explorer of truth & beauty. People are quite happy with the last part I find, just not so comfy with the first bit. My dedication to truth has enabled me to navigate 30 years of marriage despite massive obstacles; my pursuit of beauty has given meaning to my life & healed a great many things.
Soon after we moved in to this house I was to find a string of prisms hanging in a secondhand shop in Titirangi in Auckland. Of course I absolutely HAD to bring them home-

I am sad to say that I rather gave up on the glad just wasn't working. Not pitted against the enormous mountain of widespread dysfunction & corrosive indifference that surrounded my life for decades (church included). It has now come time for me to play the game again. If your life is all good & wonderful, you most likely don't have much call for the game, but for those of us who struggle it is a very good game. Pollyanna explains it to her aunt's maid Nancy this way-
"Pollyanna laughed again, but she sighed, too; and in the gathering twilight her face looked thin and wistful.
"Why, we began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel.
"Yes. You see I'd wanted a doll, and father had written them so; but when the barrel came the lady wrote that there hadn't any dolls come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent 'em along as they might come in handy for some child, sometime. And that's when we began it."
"Well, I must say I can't see any game about that," declared Nancy, almost irritably.
"Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about--no matter what 'twas," rejoined Pollyanna, earnestly. "And we began right then--on the crutches."
"Well, goodness me! I can't see anythin' ter be glad about--gettin' a pair of crutches when you wanted a doll!"
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
"There is--there is," she crow
ed. "But I couldn't see it, either, Nancy, at first," she added, with quick honesty. "Father had to tell it to me."
"Well, the
n, suppose you tell me," almost snapped Nancy.
"Goosey! Why, just be glad because
you don't--need--'em!" exulted Pollyanna, triumphantly. "You see it's just as easy--when you know how!"
"Well, of all the queer doin's!" breathed Nancy, regarding Pollyanna with almost fearful eyes.
"Oh, but it isn't queer--it's lovely," maintained Pollyanna enthusiastically. "And we've played it ever since. And the harder 'tis, the more fun 'tis to get 'em out; only--only sometimes it's almost too hard--like when your father goes to Heaven, and there isn't anybody but a Ladies' Aid left." 

Last week Rob & I watched The New Pollyanna (2003). We utterly adored it!!
I must just say that the Glad Game is not precisely the same thing as doing gratitude lists & keeping thankfulness diaries. For instance I am very grateful for my husband & his faithfulness & friendship & that he has settled in to a new job, however, the new job came with the challenging implications that he has now worked through a whole year of almost all afternoon shifts. Which means he goes to work for 3pm & gets home around 11.45pm. Now, considering that I am still plagued by bouts of abandonment & loneliness this did not seem at all ideal BUT we decided to be glad because it meant that we got to see each other every morning, go for walks, have coffee together, Rob could help me sell the fruit while I got my gardening work done & I could spend time doing blogging & stuff in the evenings while he was gone. It is very strange cooking dinner for myself & sometimes it's hard, but it's working & I'm so glad.
Please do take this wee button if you'd like to join in the game & it appeals to you. Or perhaps if your are quite clever you could fix the white background bit..that would be better.
This post may well not have been at all what you expected. Thank you so much for being here (if you got this far) & wading through my ramblings.
As it turns out this is a Catholic prayer. I heard it for the first time this week. I think it is so beautiful.
 O Angel's of God from heaven so bright,
 watching beside my children to lead them aright;
 fold your wings around them & guard them with love;
 softly sing songs to them of heaven above.
May He guard you with His love this week & always.
Catherine X0X0

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Bertie and the Wheaties

Bertie's been part of the family for quite a wee while now. He arrived much like the tooth fairy, quite unannounced & right on time. Although...just this week Fynn's father was led to comment "that he hoped that, that bloody unreliable toothfairy turns up tonight as she forgot to come the last two nights & although my toothless wonder was understanding "as she must be a rather busy fairy", he went to bed hopeful this evening!" Bertie is a kind of "wheatie" himself; cuddly & comforting, but I don't think he'd like it in the microwave somehow!
 In recent times, he has found himself a new kindred spirit & is quite taken with the little pocket wheaties that I've been making.
When I was a child "hottie" like "gay" only had one meaning. We would fill our hot water bottles with near boiling water, screw the top on hard & snuggle into bed with them, bliss! Many were the unsuspecting souls, however, who later woke to (horror of horrors) a wet bed...a lot of water in one of those things! So...if you haven't heard of them wheaties are a nifty alternative to a hottie & are quick & easy to make. I made these little pocket jobs out of a pretty vintage sheet.
On a coat or jacket kind of chilly morning they can be popped in to pockets on the way out the door. These ones are 15cms x 25cms. Cut two the same. Wheaties are best lined.
  Fold the fabric like this, with right sides together & then the other over the top.
Sew right around all edges with very close stitches or else go around twice, leaving a 5 cm gap in the centre of one side so that you can put the wheat in. 
 Trim the corners.
 Turn inside out through the opening that you left & gently poke out the corners with closed scissors. Now fill the wheatie with whole hard wheat or rye that you can buy from a farm place that sells stock feed or an organics shop. If you like you can add a little dried lavender. Depends who the wheatie is for..boys don't always love the smell of lavender!
 Some people use rice but it doesn't seem to last as well. A funnel is useful to get it all in to the bag. Check as you go that you don't add husks & bits of stick.
When your wheatie is pleasingly plump simply hand sew the opening shut.
 This bigger one I have sewed through the centre to create two compartments. Fabric measured 22cms x 32cms, but you can make them any size or shape that you like. (Rob insisted I had to use Sanderson!) Now, to heat your wheatie: my little one went in to the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, so 3 minutes for two of them. The larger bag takes 4 mins in my microwave. Ok three things: 1) just use trial & testing till you find out how long yours take to heat. Never heat the wheatie longer than 4 mins..they can burn. 2) You can always pop a wheatie into a hot water bottle cover for a child & 3) Always put a cup with some water in it in to the microwave too when you are heating so that the bag doesn't become too dry. Just one other thing, make sure that you don't dump your bag in the microwave on to teenagers melted cheese or other nasties!  Apply to aching muscles or even warm a babies bed. They make a lovely little gift too.
Wheaties can also be stored or chilled in the freezer to be used like a gel pad for sore bits or general under the weatherness..headaches & the suchlike.

I found this pattern in the Salies this week. It appears to come with free icecream. I thought someone might just be inspired by the hairdo ; )
 Next page, this chap was modeling a Peter Pan pattern!
I just love this sign!

I was delighted to find this wonderfully shaped mirror at the Salies on Tuesday, complete with interesting stickers.

 The one beside the flowers.
 Down in the garden, I unearthed the poor old bike that I was given 20 years ago & bought it out from the under growth. I got to here & then decided that it would make an excellent winter bird feeder.
The birds are in little bird heaven feasting on over ripe apples, pears & persimmons. They take it turns, after the sparrows came the wax eyes & then the black birds.
 When I went to visit the worm farm yesterday, I found this dear little chirpy, fluttery fantail. They are the only bird that allows you to come very close but they are so busy & flitty they are very hard to

 Today I picked my first daphne (heavenly scent) & some white lilies.

This rose has made a gentle home in a flowering cherry & is still flowering even though it is now quite surely winter.
On the shortest day I picked roses & camelias, how wonderful is that!
Last thing, dear ones, I stumbled upon this remarkable video this week. Please consider watching it full screen if you have time & it appeals. All done with one cello & one musician..fantastic & sooo much fun!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

This Little Light of Mine

Yesterday morning I woke up to National radio & a man saying that he felt many people harbour pessimistic views & a negative approach to life. He regarded himself as a rational optimist. It was a fascinating interview. When I pondered what he had to say, I began to think of the beleaguered population of Christchurch & what it must feel like to face repetitive loss & trauma. The poor old city is facing a fresh rash of significant earthquakes & aftershocks that have caused more severe damage. Life for Christchurch & her people will never be the same again. As I watch the news broadcasts & the responses of the various interviewed victims, I can hear something different in their voices this time around. Gone is the adrenaline-fuelled strength, determination & bravado. Weary resignation, tearfulness & bewilderment have taken their place..lives derailed, what now? When will it stop? How do we go on? Many things in life we get to choose, some things just happen to us. People used to say to me when I was little" just relax Catherine, don't be so up tight!" but that was like saying to Christchurch "for goodness sake what's your problem?". Thing is, one trauma & challenge after another has beset me through the years, leaving me pessimistic &, I realize, with just cause. The most wonderful thing is, that I came to see on Saturday morning that I was, in fact, NOT born a pessimist by nature & that I have indeed "become" (think The Velveteen Rabbit). I have become an optimistic realist & I am having fun! There is even sunshine in my winter...
We dragged some old (unsalvagable) bed ends out of the shed last week. Rob chopped off some legs & made a raspberry support in the garden for me.
What a sweet surprise to receive a message from Katie just the other day with a link to a great gardening blog & these fun pictures of garden "beds". 

We were fiddling with some old Sanderson, looking at making some cushions for the front room, when we came across this bedspread in the Sanderson cupboard. Rob decided that it should have a turn on our bed this week along with the pretty velvet eiderdown we found on our wedding anniversary.
 I love these two doilies I came across a while ago. I thinking that they might be quite good for a Magpie Chic sort of bag.
 It's a funny old thing this vintage gathering. There can come a time where quite suddenly you have enough of a particular collection to do what you've always planned. Time for some renewal in the front room, so we made a mirror wall..back a week or so ago when it rained & we were stuck inside & Rob was on holiday.

 This sweetie is quite a recent edition. Bought really cheaply on Trade Me. We didn't mind the crack in the glass..adds to the history.
 On another wall we did mainly pictures..all the ones we really liked, then got rid of lots & lots to the auction & the op shops.
 A few years ago we brought this Moroccan makes a fascinating light pattern in this corner. I am really liking just the cream swans & things on this sideboard.
 This week I spied this Sanderson tray for $2 at Connections, the Hospice support shop.
While dropping bags off to the Restore shop I found these enormous late quinces. they are a different variety to the generally grown quince & have the most exquisite fragrance.
 Tamarillos fruit here in the middle of winter. I love the colour of these golden ones.
 At my vege shop on the Havelock road they have been giving away red pumpkins if you spend $20 or more. I rather fancied them in the garden to brighten things up for a bit.
I was so excited to see these white sapote at Cornucopia when I picked up the milk on Monday. They are utterly divine!! They taste like sweet pears, with a touch of lime & the texture of avocado. They are also known as the icecream fruit.
 Interesting stones in the middle.
There is a tree that I spotted, a year or two ago, just down the road near the High school. They grow very large after a time which makes access to the fruit rather difficult.
 It is hard to believe that our David was 22 on Friday & that the shortest day is only a few days away.
 Winter certainly has it's own beauty..this is just around the corner in our Cornwall Park yesterday afternoon, just after rain.
 The early Stallata magnolias are beginning to emerge.
 Crabapples still in full regalier.
Next project: blanket sorting.
 Given some a way, taken some to op shops, kept some for projects & admiring others for a bit.
I'm also on the job making some vintage sheet hand warming wheaties. The "how to" is almost done so I'll pop them in my pocket, no...I meant my next post.
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