Friday, 25 January 2013

Blazingly Summer

I suspect that this cake stand may well be used for many more tea parties yet.
I am so glad that I came across it recently.
I'm not quite sure how old it is...the paint is quite chippy.
The plates are all matching & definitely vintage.
It's lovely on a dressing table in between recitals, although I think I might paint the leaves a better green, what do you think? They seem a bit dull & gray to me, presently.
I am trying really hard to enjoy every moment I can of our's a real one. A long, hot & sunny summer that makes you sweat...a lot, dries out all the land, ripens all the crops magnificently & makes you sleep with just a sheet on. It would be quite easy to complain that it was too hot, but then I stop & think of all the delightful moments that I am loving, like sharing these delicious drinking coconuts straight out of the fridge with Rob. We've never had them before in New Zealand..the water tastes so delicious & the flesh is so queer...kind of like lightly toasted coconut jelly (jello) & we love them!!
Pomegranates whisper of far off hot & steamy lands & somehow a few of these amazing fruits have made their way to us for the summer. They utterly fascinate me..look at all those facets to every little seed. I have also been making the juice (bought separately) into jellies...little pretty bowls full, eaten with thick, creamy Greek yoghurt & so simple to make. 
All the vibrant colours are calling to me in the heat.
 I adore this little double calibrachoa... like a kind of miniature petunia.
It looks so lovely in a terracotta pot.
As it turns out, my passionfruit experiment was entirely successful.
Whole passionfruit thrown into the freezer, emerge months later, just fine & tasting like mini sorbets.
Sweetcorn is in full swing & ever so useful for summer meals.
It's most delicious just like it is really...don't you think?
These little peppers from the market are so colourful & very sweet.
Roasted with various coloured beetroots in a good dollop of coconut oil the flavours concentrate down & it all keeps so well in the fridge. I added corn cut off the cob, crumbled feta & basil & it was heavenly!
I just had to make some more the following week so that I could use some of the peppers to make these Book Shop Savoury Muffins. It was one of those recipes that was floating around the kitchen for months on a squitty bit of paper cut out of a newspaper. I am amazed it didn't get itself lost & so that it doesn't, I have posted the recipe here, so that it can be readily found again because they are so good.
There are so many birds in the garden through the summer & they all seem to adore fruit.
 Plums are a particular I don't leave any sitting on the back porch or peck, peck, peck!
The plums are closely rivaled by cat biscuits.
I came across this truly remarkable video this week.
It's very short & absolutely worth the watch.
A large group of starlings are called a "murmuration"....

These summer berries from the Famers' Market are so magnificent I wanted just to look at them for as long as currants & boysenberries,
worcester berries, black raspberries, blueberries & gooseberries.
These are black raspberries...quite a blackberry flavour to them & very yummy.
It's quite handy having an orchardy sort of person popping in from time to time.
This week he brought us some coconut ice white peaches.
 They're a bit different to regular peaches as you eat them while still crisp.
By the end of the week we had some glowingly beautiful yellow nectarines too.
The vintage basket I found at a market recently & I just love it to bits.
These dwarf zinnias have been fabulous in a large pot beside the pathway in the front garden.
And I am so enchanted by this most unusual hydrangea.
I think I'll have to pot up all the prunings later in the year & grow as many more as I can find spaces for.
I do hope that if you're from the chilly hemisphere you have been reinvigorated for a few moments while you visit.
 I am so glad that you came to see me, all of you!!
Thank you so much for your chats, emails & are truly wonderful!
 Have a lovely week!!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Miss Murtagh & the Tea Party

Back in the winter, when the nice lady Kay came & spent some time with us & the "fruit lady"story was published in our local paper, way across town in Taradale, Pat read the article & something about it seemed just a little familiar. "Was that the old house in Nelson Street?" & off to the phone book she went, sure enough... it was! "Well that's the end of that idea," she sighed to her family.."they said that they would be staying in the house until they were old, so I guess there's no chance of an Open Home & a little look around then."
In early November, a thoughtful niece came knocking on our door wondering if she could take some photos of the house as a gift to Pat for her 80th birthday. Of course that was fine by us & before Diane had left we had come up with a perfect little plan
...a tea party in the garden.
last Tuesday, the girls arranged to take Miss Murtagh out for afternoon tea as a nice little birthday treat.
"Oh look there's my grandparents old place," she cried as they nearly drove passed. And indeed they pulled to a stop, all hopped out & proceeded to come up the driveway!
And here we were waiting.
Pat's grandparents owned "our" house for over 40 years & after losing her mum at quite a young age, Pat spent a year living here with them & would return often to visit through the years beyond.
It was a perfect day in the garden, neither swelteringly hot nor raining (as it did the following day).

It was quite a peculiar thing to have a whole group of women wander around our home who'd been here before & who wanted to examine every nook & cranny. 
I found this cake stand very was just perfect!

Rob holding court with all the girls while I made the tea!
Weren't these just the prettiest cupcakes? I found them in the supermarket..imagine that!
Diane got up early Tuesday morning inspired to make "Grandma Murtagh's apple pasty".
The apple tree holds legendary status in the family memory bank..sadly now long gone from the garden.
Cucumber sandwiches are always the bees knees don't you reckon?

These two and...
this lovely lady have been friends forever & all went to school together.
It was she who spied the basket inside.."Oh look! she cried, "You've even got all the old books to go with the house, Wind in the Willows".
There was a bit of tittering & wiggling inside the basket as the three Willows realised they'd been spotted in their hiding place..watching all the comings & goings & visitors.
They were delighted to meet the lady in blue because she was so kind & interested in their journey.
Here's the old girl.
Not sure when this was taken...need to ask.
Apparently the boys used to sleep on the porch in the summer.
You could see right across to Cornwall Park & there were paddocks all around, horses & other stock grazing there.

Old Mr Murtagh set out two great strips of vegetable garden round the back & the fruit trees were planted beyond that right at the end of the section.
I don't think there was much call for flowers in those days.
These are the same windows in our bedroom, just as Pat remembers.
She even asked Rob if we'd bought the wardrobe with the house because she was quite sure it as the same as her grandmothers.

I am so pleased that we collected this Old English Rose china especially to have for tea parties..everyone had memories of it being used by the older family members, although some were quite sure the roses were bigger. Funny how memories go isn't it.
It's the simple things that remain in the end: rose china, apple shortcake & old wardrobes in the corner of a bedroom that can weave a family together, binding hearts & generations.
What a lovely visit!
What old family memories do you have? I'd love to know.
Much love dear ones.
Thank you for checking in on me.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Lost & Found

I am wondering...did you ever lose your faith in life?
Did you ever just stop trusting?
I've never been much good at that is, never quite got the hang of it.
I lost my trust in the journey somewhere along the windy path, it just slipped away & then it was gone.
I didn't even know where to begin to look for it.
I don't think I've ever really had any be or do anything.
That happens, when you feel as if you just don't belong,
How can you fit in if you don't belong...
When I was young I had know idea what my passions might be.
I didn't feel safe anywhere & didn't feel liked by anyone.
When I was just 17 I was accepted to go to the School for Dental Nurses in Wellington.
I fell in love with the markets & the whole foods shops, the vegetarian cafes & the Botanical Gardens & old buildings.
But I was still lost & unhappy.
By the end of that year, by the strangest chain of events, my father organised to send me with the "Youth for Christ" team to Apia in Western Samoa.
I wasn't really sure what that was all about & I had to save the fare all by myself, out of my tiny student allowance.
Everyone else had volunteered for themselves & I first met them when the "team" came from all around the country to assemble in Wellington. I took a bus right across the city, walked in the door of the Miramar Baptist Church, looked across the room & saw Rob, for the very first time.
Our paths collided.
He lived in Auckland, I lived in Wellington..650 kilometres in between.
After Samoa the team went their separate ways & we were in trouble with everyone because we'd fallen in love.
We wrote letters (they're awful now!) & we traveled to be together at every possible opportunity through the next year & a half.
Born in Kenya, to British parents & living in West Auckland Rob was also dispossessed & alienated, but didn't know it. I began to read him Wilbur Smith novels aloud & that was the first step in his journey back to his roots...a long journey that would take him many years.
Rob despised his father, but thought his mother wonderful & trusted her implicitly, so it was, several months after our meeting that I caught the Southern Star one Friday evening, arriving in Auckland 13 hours, later to meet his family for the first time. I had worked at the Dental Clinic all week, traveled all night long & spent a few precious hours with my love, when after dinner, somehow it was arranged that we should all go out to the movies together. I wasn't asked if I'd like to go & the family had never been to the movies together before, but on this occasion they announced that we would all be going to a double science fiction billing. What 17 year old girl likes sci-fi anyway!!? Completely taken a back by these turn of events & thinking quickly, I politely suggested that they could go & I would stay in the house on my own. It was insisted that I had to go with them or they would all miss out & I would disappoint everyone... & so I went. It was the most appalling experience, actually one was an alien movie where revolting things burst out of peoples bellies & take over their minds etc. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards. Being a double billing we got home well after midnight, when I woke up in the morning I discovered I had been bitten by a mosquito & my whole eye had swollen hideous & embarrassing. I then faced another 13 hour journey back to Wellington, got off the train at 7 am & had to go straight to work for another week.
Meantime, my father & step-mother were none too pleased that I was no longer coming home as often to see the family & thought I was throwing away my life & my money, yet, when I did head home for a weekend a short while later, I hopped off the bus late on a Friday evening, only to watch everyone else disperse one by one & to find myself alone in the city, in the dark & no one to meet me. After several hours & not knowing what had happened to them I called our one & only neighbour from the bus depot, as they were closing, & so dear Bryce came & got me. As we came down the drive, so did my parents. Dad was furious that I had bothered the neighbour, gave no explanation as to why they hadn't been there & said that I should have got a taxi (miles away, no money, house locked). I was shocked & devastated & my step-mother didn't support me in any way. Yet again, I had to travel a long distance to return to my training, all at my own expense.
I am telling this story because I simply have get well.
These scenarios have haunted the last 35 years of my life & caused a deep wound that simply has not healed. My "parents" marriage was soon to violently disintegrate & I could never speak to them about anything anyway.
And Rob's mother..well, I became her nemesis. The family eventually entirely self-distructed & when I did try to speak to her about what she'd done, then & through the years, she insisted that she had always warmly welcomed me to the family & had no idea what I was talking about.
We no longer have any contact.
I gave it long enough.
So...when the X girlfriend scenario arrived on our doorstop last week..something really remarkable happened. I don't very often ask for help, but as your caring advice & support came quietly on in to our living room, a cloak of peace & safety came & wrapped itself around my shoulders (phew & it's 35 degrees here again today!) The same thing happened for Rob..the fire went out of it all & we talked & worked it all through. We understood things more plainly than we ever have before & yes dear Julie we have been able to close up that suitcase & pop it back out the door.
Thank you for enabling me to trust women again you have all been so amazing!!
Thank you for your caring hearts.
Thank you for giving of yourselves & your own precious time & your most excellent advice!

My question was also answered..
where was my intentional grace?
Well, there was a grand design of intention...a rescue plan of fierce grace that would take decades to execute but would prevail in the long run.
I am grateful.
We are so grateful.
I don't believe we'll need to come this way again.
It's finished.
We chose this year the intention of grace for each other.
I'm not writing this stuff to hurt anyone else, I'm writing it & saying it out loud so that I can finally stop hurting, have a chance to really heal & to find wholeness just like anyone else.
And you know, for the very first time in my life I do believe that,
 it just might be possible.

Now it's back to beauty & picnics..coming?

A facebook friend posted this during the week & I almost didn't watch it but it's so worth it.
It'll warm your heart.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Intentional Grace, Calling all Agony Aunts

Dear fearless girls, wise woman and beloved sisters...
welcome to the year of intentional grace.
 (no idea what the book's actually like...I just loved the cover!)

There was a wedding close by over the weekend.
Matt was back, best friend & best man & traveling in sweet company (friends)
Old suitcases were borrowed for photo props, including this little darling for little Ezra to carry.
Then, late in a perfect summer's day everyone assembled out at Duart House in Havelock North to celebrate a happy union.
Rob & I had a picnic in the very same place, in late November..we were celebrating the day that so profoundly changed our lives...the day we meet 34 years ago.

Rose: Jubilee celebration. 
And so it is, that I have been pondering these words over the last few weeks..intention & grace
and what they might mean when you bring them together to create life purpose.
I have found them quite elusive really.
 I have just waited with them loosely in my hand turning them this way & that to see what might come to me. 
What arrived, gently knocking on my front door, early last Friday morning, I certainly did not expect.
Here we were, drinking tea & chatting & still in bed, as we generally are since Rob works until nearly midnight most nights, so I slipped on my dressing gown, thinking it was most likely a courier, when instead I opened the door to...."Donna", X girlfriend of Rob's.
"Nice" kicked in & we were hospitable & friendly...
But I never imagined that I would get up one morning & have my heart ripped open before the day had even begun.
Intention? Grace? History!
So, beloved sisters I need your trusted wisdom, because I am pretty much a mess.
Do you mind if I explain just a little?

The young man met his Susan through a church youth group & was committed & besotted through the several years that their relationship lasted. He thought it would be forever. Susan had lost her mum to cancer & was pretty mixed up. One day she simply announced it was all over, no explanation & off she went..her best friend "Donna" was waiting in the wings to move in & comfort the heart broken chap. Meantime, the mother had given her heart to Susan & felt sure that she'd found the daughter she'd never had & always wanted & with her best christian counseling & tender care she was certain that she could nurse Susan into radiant wholeness, given time. The young man was devastated & confused & unwittingly entered a relationship with the highly attentive best friend, while also signing up to do some missions work in Samoa...& it was while there, in Samoa that he & I met, & in that month fell in love.
We eventually married, had three children & did our best to build a life together.
The mother, however, went on seeing Susan & helping her & some years later attended her wedding as the special guest of honour (not telling her son). She soon became jealous of her son's love for another woman (all the while feigning sweet christian acceptance) & began to whisper & lie about his wife to other family members causing division & endless hurt. 
Just before our 20th wedding anniversary, the now not so young man, received a "wild card" phone call from his long lost Susan wanting to make amends for the hurt she'd caused. Guard down & naively delighted to hear from her, he was drawn in to the pretext...for ruse it was. She then set about organising a youth group reunion so that she could see him & her true intentions soon became quite obvious, she was wanting to reconnect & wished she had never let him go (I had twigged to her instantly so..of course we didn't go but some egg sent of photos of her!).
Devastation for often feeling second best, I was shattered. Her own marriage broke a year or two down the track & another friend's as well, before she'd finished.
SO...Friday morning "Donna" knocks on the door, after 18 years with no contact (second husband waiting in the car) just in town..of course!
My last memory of her...squealing in pure delight at seeing my husband & hugging him repeatedly while barely acknowledging my presence...she insists that that is her normal bubbly personality & behaviour!
Yes, I have contacted her & we have had some discussion (via email). She now insists that she cannot remember the relationship at all or much about that time in her life & there was nothing in it, ahem..
Well I's indelibly imprinted on my soul!
Please tell me how to keep moving through this.
Help me to find the intentional grace in my pain.
I woke up at 3am this morning with nightmares.
I have sobbed & sobbed & sobbed.
I'm a sensitive soul but I don't have to apologize for that, do I?
It's the photos that have been the hardest through all the years..I talk in images, it's my best language, but you knew that.
Yes they're all gone now.
It takes a lot of guts & hard work to keep a marriage together sometimes..maybe my story just might make someone else think twice before gatecrashing someone else's life/marriage.
Sometimes we do ok in the processing, sometimes we don't.
Why the heck didn't she at least give us a call first???

My make my way back to here. I just need a little time & help.

With much love to you all!

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