Sunday, 29 December 2013

One Word 365: Bloom

Coming to the end of a year is a little like turning the page of time..it's something that we need to do to mark out the passing of our lives. As more & more time goes by, this process seems to become increasingly important to many of us, especially now that my years are no longer measured by such things as a child weaning, losing baby teeth, starting school or leaving home. Do you do that: calculate the years by a childhood event or marker? I always remember how long ago we moved back here to Hawke's Bay by how old David is plus 6 months! It was a time of huge change for us as a family, a time of excitement, new opportunities & great uncertainty. Our intention was to build a new life closer to family; a life of love & blessing. Tragically, quite the opposite occurred, the years became harder & more grueling & as each year ended I would once again gather all my courage & faith & determine that surely next year would be a better one.
Unable to cope with the incessant round of family drama, breakdown, ugly politics & abandonment (on both sides), with a husband who was a nursing student & three small children to care for, my health soon collapsed & broke. Chaos prevailed through all those years, yet somehow, we held on to our love & our home & our lives. Every time we made a step forward, soon enough, something dreadful would happen & we would slide back down the snake to the bottom, bruised, crushed & wounded. (Even the Church we attended completely broke down & disintegrated!) It was out of this desperate, endless struggle that I was to become an ardent seeker of both truth & beauty.
People often thought me too intense or even self righteous but when you are living without hope you become dedicated to finding a way through the morass, whatever it takes, for fear of never seeing the light again. Over time I discovered that I have a sensitivity, insight & intuition that others don't understand, but is in fact, a truly precious gift.
When my friend Cheryl gave me a card year's end of 2009 "An angel in My Garden" a tiny fertile seed of hope was sown, that would in turn, lead me in to blogging & the community of caring, inspiring, friendly bloggers. It was at the moment that life began to finally change for me. Sunlight began to stream through my window from time to time. Two years ago, on the cusp of menopause, my health failed very badly once again, but this time the resources were there to be mined, discovered, revealed. Slowly, slowly beauty, truth & kindness, a very good homeopath, New Zealand Flower Essences, cultured & healing foods, a faithful husband willing to change & grow, have all carried us to a place, where we can truly say, that for the first time in 25 years we have had a good year!
A gentle miracle.
So here we are, once again, year ending.
We stand with grace & gratitude...& intention.
And, my intention: to bloom in 2014.

Bloom:
~ the flower of a plant.~flowers collectively: the bloom of the cherry tree.
~state of having the buds opened: The gardens are all in bloom.
~flourishing, healthy condition; the time or period of greatest beauty, artistry, etc.: the bloom of youth; the bloom of Romanticism.~glow or flush on the cheek indicative of youth and health: a serious illness that destroyed her bloom.


Synonyms: blossom, florescence, floruit, flower, flush, heyday, high noon, prime, salad days, springtime.
This concept of One Word has surfaced in various places, of recent times, but I really like Alece's invitation over at One Word 365. She says:
"Your word can be anything you want. All that matters is that it has personal meaning for you. It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, an action, a character trait. Your word will stand as a reminder, a nudge. Something you can reflect on, that will challenge you, inspire you. A touchstone you can return to time and time again to help you stay the course this year…"

You can pop in here to read more if you're interested.  You'll find a button to a list of inspiring words at the bottom of that page or you can go here to find a fabulous 365 list of words to use as journal prompts. They'll be just great for intentions too! 
If you're looking for me I'll be with the pond fairies just now..
For me to bloom through this coming year will be a challenge that I will face as every day unfolds; as I continue to live & sleep with depression. It is an enormous task to attempt to process & shed the grief & loss of nearly 50 years of breaking down...losing "family" (& family members) over & over again; the loss of wellbeing & belonging is a stinging & harsh grief that follows me wherever I go.
However, my intention, the word that will also be my companion through the days of 2014 is
BLOOM 
Thank you dears for being the ones that brought hope to my door.
Thank you for your visits & friendship, for being participators of grace & for endlessly inspiration & kindness.
I am so grateful!
I wish you all a wonderful, satisfying & adventurous New Year (almost there!)


♥♥♥♥♥

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Happy Christmas Be Yours, My Dears

Hello dear ones both near & far!!
I am so glad that you've come to visit, even briefly, at this busy old time of year.
Merry Christmas to you all, my friends!!

The new video for this season from the extraordinarily talented & enthusiastic cast at St Paul's in the City can be seen here below: (So clever!!)



I loved going to our local Farmer's market on Sunday & seeing all the dear familiar faces of our wonderful local growers. It is so good to chat with them all & thank them for their hard work & beautiful produce. I picked a few blackcurrants myself today & I was ever so mindful that such practises are very fiddly & time consuming, which made me glad & grateful all over again!
Wouldn't it be grand to be able to pop in to this delightful fairy market for sweet treats for our Christmas festivities!
I am quite sure the fairies would approve of the crimson jewels of the pomegranate, scattered amidst the dishes.
I would have thought an armful of holly might be a tad prickly, even for an angel.
I scrambled through a few brambles today myself, when I went hunting for some banana passionfruit as a Christmas gift for my dear friend Audrey; who lives just across the road. In her 80's now, she has told me of how her mother made great use of these strange fruit when they lived in Wanganui. They grow wild in our Havelock North hills, only I think I rather missed my timing as the fruit were only tiny & there were  mainly only flowers to be seen...but oh how beautiful they are! (I took Audrey a passion flower in a little vase & other fruit in lieu of the real thing).


I have just read, once more, the wonderful & heart-warming story of Two Babies in the Manger to my Phone News listeners. It is so worth taking the time to read.
It touches my heart deeply & always will.
 I intend to read it every year forever!

Two Babies in a Manger

"In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage. About one hundred boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994. Time for our orphans to hear for the first time, the traditional story of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude mangerEach child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following the instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady threw away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blankets. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their mangers as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his project.As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young child, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings very accurately, until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?'"And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.' So I got in the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me that I could stay with him—for always."As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him—FOR ALWAYS."
A Chicken Soup for the Soul story.


Very much love to you all.
Have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace & warmth, hugs & love..small or large.
 Let there be joy & good food, music & grateful hearts amongst us. 
Merry Christmas to you all!!
See you soon.

♥♥♥♥♥

Monday, 16 December 2013

On the Wings of an Angel

There's something that's been bothering me...
It's taken a while to come to the surface, but I think I have finally figured it out.
It bothers me...
 that the magic of Christmas seems to have become diluted,
watered down over time & slowly, disappointingly, run out the door like melted icecream.
Traditions have become dull or been left in cupboards.
So much of the season has been plastered over with a false smile & sweet pavlova insincerity.
What if...
just supposing, we could strip it all down & start afresh?
What would it all look like?
Hope,
 perhaps, that we're not on our own?
That life will be better: kinder, warmer, healthier, more loving?
A little goodwill?
What is goodwill, really & why would we need it?
Goodwill: friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude.
synonyms: benevolence, compassion, kind-heartedness, big-heartedness, goodness, kindness, kindliness, consideration, charity; cooperation, collaboration, friendliness, thoughtfulness, decency, amity, sympathy, understanding, amenability, neighbourliness, mutual support.
I have been looking across the road with a heavy heart many times, every day, these last few weeks, in the knowledge that my lovely gardening friend/neighbour may be coming home for Christmas (Wednesday week) for the very last time. And that, makes me so sad, but it also makes me wonder...
IF,
 this was the very last Christmas that I would ever see, what would I want it to be like?
What would really matter?
If we have gifts & mountains of food but no real connection...
 what do we really have?

I have heard so many people say, just lately that all that matters to them from here on, is doing what they want to, what makes them happy & bugger the rest!

Yet, when I heard a frantic knock at my door this afternoon & there stood the son of another neighbour (usually rather cranky & rude), huffing & puffing & so proud of himself for spotting the two young boys that had just nicked a bag of plums at my gate; here he was bothering, caring. I walked him out to the gate & gave him a bag of plums to take home, goodwill blossomed & instead of being cross he was chuffed & I was blessed.
I then walked briskly down the road & spotted the said thieves (running flat out) & a lagging friend. To the friend I said please tell the boys not to nick my fruit, just ask next time...I happily give fruit to kids, ok! Yes Miss, sorry Miss...I'll txt them now!
When my best friends mother wakes on Christmas morning, I wonder what she'll think of it this year, having gone (more or less) blind over the last few months?
I think that that is why I adore Lucy so much. She is so welcoming & friendly & if you turn your head just the right way you'll catch a waft of sweet nostalgia & whispering hope.

I was intrigued to come across this little video yesterday posted by St Paul's Church in Auckland.
Reflections of a few oldies, of just what Christmas means to them...
mostly, 
family
coming together
just being..
connected.


Please do come in & make yourself at home.
I'll pop in to the kitchen & make a pot of fresh tea..
won't be a minute.

It's sunny here
& very warm.

Perhaps you'd like to sit outside in the sunshine,
or pick yourself a little "Heart-breaker" tomato.
Aren't they cute?!
After the roses fell off the back wall & I did some redesigning, I decided to shuffle this old water tank over here in a sunny spot. It's the first year I have been able to grow courgettes really well. Well, so far so good!
So exciting!
Which is also how I felt when I saw these boxes of fresh Thai tamarind in the supermarket last week.
the pods are quite unusual looking & easily broken open...
to reveal a tangy date like beany thing, cossetting clattery shiny seeds within the soft flesh.
They are quite delicious & usually only found as a block or paste in Asian shops.
We discovered a berry farm by accident, a month or two ago & returned there last weekend to gather up an arm load of juicy, fresh picked berries. Ranui berries are now very much my favourite. They had tayberries, loganberries, boysenberries, raspberries & cherries too & a whole kilo of spray free blueberries for $12.50. This was the most delicious fruit salad imaginable. Best to eat them now in their prime & not worry about the rush & pushing & bother for Christmas day.
I am always ecstatic when I find another beautiful picture by Margaret Tarrant.
This lovely illustration is based on an old German legend called The First Christmas Rose.

The Christmas Rose by Sepp Bauer
This story was originally published circa 1920 as a sort of advent calendar. It got lost over time, but was rediscovered in an antiquarian bookshop in Switzerland in 2006, along with the original illustrations by Germany's famous Else Wenz-Vietor. Based on German Christmas traditions, it's a very sweet tale about two woodman's children who want nothing for Christmas but for their ailing father to be well again. Saint Nicholas (who visits homes Dec. 6 in Germany) tells them that the scent of the White Winter Rose has the ability to cure all illness, but to get it they must go on a long, dangerous and difficult journey the Winter Land as The Winter King is the only one that grows it. Along the way the they learn that they must get the blessing of the Christ child, a Christmas angel, in order for the rose to bloom and cure their father. Helped by many woodland and fantastical creatures, the children have an amazing adventure and learn the true meaning of love and Christmas spirit.

Yes, we all need connection.
A place to call home.
And perhaps...an encounter with the wings of an angel every now & then.
I hope that you are blessed with peace & goodwill in this coming week & that you find your own happy, creative meaning in this festive, yet challenging season. 


Much
♥♥♥♥♥

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Jolly & Joy

Hello my friends, how are you doing at this busy time of the year?
Everyone seems to get a little frayed around the edges about now, don't you find.
I always know that we're reaching year's end when I see the signs for the annual Taikura (Rudolph Steiner) School Fete. The school lives in our street & the fete is unique, colourful & lots of fun.
I love the way the children are always important;
 honoured guests.
This table is ready & waiting...
at the Children's Cafe.
Anyone can pay a few dollars & sit down to make for themselves a garland of fresh flowers.
I am always utterly enchanted by Sabine's work..
Her workmanship is exquisite,
her imagination, rich & child-like.
I think perhaps the Pohutukawa children are my favourite, but then again...
the tenderness in this little scene just melts my heart.
Wouldn't the world be a different place if we all learnt to honour children, value their imagination & protect their innocence.

The fairy in the woods had no shortage of admirers.
& the House of Potions held a certain intrigue..
Help! Hold on to your pants!

A classic coconut shy.
I bought this dear little mushroom pixie home with me
And recently found this bluebird vase in an op shop called "Once upon a time".
I thought it might be a bit of a funny shape but it's perfect for tiny arrangements.
I managed to complete my Julie inspired peg & button garland.
I remembered that I had bought a large box of old, unused cream buttons from Trade Me last year & they were perfect to use in between all the sections.
The red spotty tin was very inexpensive at Spotlight...most of all I loved the label on it Jolly & Joy.
I was trimming bushes last week & couldn't bear to throw it all away so I gathered my white op shopped vases & a wee vintage Maori doll & made a small Christmas scene for Lucy.
Isn't that adorable, someone taking the time to crochet the dolls outfit..headband & all.
I find myself warming more & more to our carefree Kiwi Christmas style; still festive, charming & jolly yet unencumbered by the fanciful notions & mixed messages of Santa Claus & flying reindeer (or add them in if you like!).
As I was fiddling around with my simple display a beloved New Zealand song came to mind.
We used to sing it at school.
‘Te harinui’ was written by Willow Macky about the first New Zealand Christmas service, held by Samuel Marsden in 1814. The chorus refers to Marsden’s service, which included a verse from the bible referring to ‘great joy’ (te harinui).
Interestingly the same word with the slightest variation Te haranui means big mistake!


Here it is if you'd like to listen to it.

We had such a lovely time on Friday celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary.
Some of us even played hopscotch!
It was all quite hot & a little chaotic, but who cares.
I made apricot & cranberry balls & some really yummy stollen.
You can find the recipe here.
I do hope you have a fun week in festive preparation.
I plan on not taking it all too seriously & enjoying the bits I love.
Thank you for coming by to see me.

MUCH
♥♥♥♥♥

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