Saturday, 4 January 2014

Love, Faith & Compost

When all the world breathes more deeply, come year's end, when the timetables & routines loose their defining grip, there is sometimes a chance to take other paths & rest the soul. On Christmas day, Rob & I walked through this valley found at the top of Tauroa road. The tall trees are draped in fragrant garments of honeysuckle, ivy, blue morning glory & banana passionfruit vines.
There are hills to the east, a brook running through the centre of the gully & wild fruit trees dotted along the road back to the car.
Christmas red & bird friendly.
Dandy puffs along the mown burms...
morning glory as if lit from within.
At home we had cups of tea with our Lucy..
and listened to The Wireless Station the the Bush radio.
Rob kindly devised a new kind of quadpod so as to record the event.
A day or too later we had a delightful visit form my bestie & her mum....heading south to visit family.
In preparation for the ending of 2013 I swept out all the birch catkins that had weasled there way in every possible crack in Lucy & picked new flowers to grace the transition from one year in to another.
We celebrated together & reflected with gratitude all that we had been blessed with & got through over the past 12 months.  
I am so glad of the flowers, to have my own bit of earth & all the new changes that each season brings.
These hyacinth bean flowers are quite lovely. The pods will soon develop, flat & shiny deep purple.
And the begonias are happy here on the corner of the back porch. I don't recall planting the orange one but welcome anyway.
As I tidied up odd piles & discarded useless bits & bobs I came across a little folder with a theatre voucher still tucked in to it. Remembering that there was still some credit on the card (I was so kindly given) I looked to see what was on at The Globe Theatrette in Ahuriri. I was delighted to find that this interesting looking film/documentary was screening on Sunday afternoon. So I did something most unusual for me, I booked a seat & went to the movies on my own. 
Here is the lovely trailer:
Several days later I read this New Year's news item: "When Sister Loyola Galvin received a letter from the Government, she thought it must be a traffic fine. The 91-year-old nun examined her conscience, before discovering it was from the prime minister, to tell her she was becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. It is a recognition of her long career as a nurse, and latterly as a gardener at the Island Bay Home of Compassion on Wellington's south coast. "I think it's rather amusing and I'm very grateful somebody thought about it," she said. "If I'd known it meant all this publicity, I would have said no."She modestly describes herself as "a very uninteresting person".
I have known about Sister Loyola since 2008 when I first read about her in the New Zealand Gardener magazine.  I recall falling in love with her story & her garden & trying to figure out how I could make my way down to Wellington to visit her.
I found this reported on concerning Sister Loyola being awarded Gardener of the Year:
"She's been voted New Zealand's top gardener, but Sister Loyola Galvin, 86, admits to a little help - she prays for divine intervention to ensure her plants are the best they can be.

"We're dealing with God's creations and I often ask that our efforts be successful because we're dealing with such beautiful things."

Though slight of build and at risk of being blown over in a stiff northwesterly, Sister Loyola can be found seven days a week, rain or shine, tending her vegetables behind Island Bay's Home of Compassion.

"I love it, and anything you love grows. Children that I've loved grew and I've done that all my life.
"So now I'm doing it with plants."

Sister Loyola, a former nurse, was named New Zealand Gardener's 2008 Gardener of the Year yesterday. She took up gardening in her early 70s, tending the home's four-hectare grounds. At 81, she took a permaculture course, learning the finer points of holistic and sustainable gardeni
And then this article that I recall reading at the time. imagine being blown down the bank!
"At age 81, Sister Loyola Galvin was blown down a bank by a gust of wind while tending her vegetable gardens at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion in Wellington’s Island Bay. The sprightly sister wasn’t going to let a double pelvis fracture and ruptured right-arm tendon stand in the way of her ministry to the four-hectare grounds, however.
Now 88, the former nurse ignored the doctor’s warning to take it easy while recovering. “I may be over 80, but I’m pretty fit”, notes Loyola, a Sister of Compassion for over 60 years who calls everyone “dear”.
Forget walking, just get gardening, she told herself at the time of her injury, and promptly commandeered an old wheelchair and fitted it with a battery. At first she could only motor around on flat areas, but soon she was careening up hillocks in order to tend every corner of her domain. “It was a question of getting past the pain barrier,” she says matter-of-factly. In five months, Loyola was back to full mobility and full gardening duties.
Since “retiring” 15 years ago, Loyola has gradually transformed the home’s grounds into a green oasis. While her fellow sisters enjoy the sight and smells of their favourite blooms, Loyola’s speciality is vegies: broccoli, beans, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, celery, potatoes, lettuces. “Everything you can grow for a salad”, and most other vegetables you could think of, feed the 20-or-so nuns and their guests – such as midwives, who use the rooms for conferences.
Any extras go to the Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre’s soup kitchen. Run by the nuns in the city centre since 1907, it serves up a hot meal each evening to 60-100 people. Recently, when past-their-prime potatoes were donated to the soup kitchen, Loyola chopped up the tired vegetables for compost and replaced them with spuds fresh from the ground.
Once she’s finished her daily prayers, Loyola is usually out in the garden from first light until dusk, seven days a week. Gardening according to permaculture’s holistic, sustainable philosophy, Loyola never uses chemical pesticides or fertiliser, and recycles materials wherever possible to spare both the planet and her meagre budget. Stacked bottles and tyre “fences” are windbreaks; cardboard is a base for raised beds; and plastic milk bottles (with bottoms cut off) shield small seedlings. Five colossal compost bins are perpetually refilled with everything from seaweed gathered from the nearby beach to horse manure scooped up from neighbouring stables, then covered with an old carpet and left to “cook” for four to five months. “It’s layered like a club sandwich,” says a proud Loyola, who’s happy to pass on the recipe to anyone who asks.
What Loyola relishes about gardening is the creativity it unleashes – and the palpable sense of life’s endless cycle. It also helps keep her strong. “I’ve met a lot of people gardening in their 80s and they’re fit, healthy and enjoying life.”
Six years ago, at Loyola’s request, the Home of Compassion employed an intellectually and physically handicapped man in the garden full-time. “When you’re 40-something and you’ve always been considered unemployable, that’s tough,” she says. “I’ve always tried to encourage people to do what they can do, rather than worrying about what they can’t.”
The unassuming sister got a shock – and some welcome garden-store vouchers – when she won the 2008 NZ Gardener of the Year title from a pool of regional winners. The award recognised her efforts, including her encouragement of other green fingers in the community.
While taking a permaculture course in the early 1980s, for example, Loyola met a teenager who, like his friends, didn’t have a backyard, but wanted to grow vegetables. She subsequently ran an idea past her fellow sisters of the order: should they let the teenagers use a corner of the grounds? The response was yes.
Begun in 2005, before community gardens went from a rarity to a regular fixture in New Zealand, the Common Ground scheme still thrives today. Thirty land-hungry Wellingtonians tend small individual plots and a large communal space, working collectively according to a permaculture ethos. They now have their own toolshed, fruit trees, herb garden and composting system.
Paying her $10 membership levy along with everyone else, Loyola often climbs the hill to see how the other members are going, offering a quiet word of advice when needed.
“Sister Loyola is an inspiration, not just in gardening but in life,” says member Kate Smith, 47."

Credit for the above excerpt with many thanks: New Zealand Readers Digest: Sister Act 

About now seemed like a good time to find a suitable "Goodness Jar".
 I began on the 1/1 writing on little bits of paper: all the good things, the happy memories & moments, the funny things & stuff I am really grateful for. It'll be a wonderful cascade of goodness to tip out again just under a year from now as we complete 2014. 
Well goodness...I am SO grateful for you. I think that I'll pop that on my little scrap of paper & in to the jar it goes!
I've been thinking quite a bit these last few days about the metaphor of compost making & how it could be applied to life. I'll get back to you on that one!
I wish for us all an engaging, thrilling, creative, flowery, loving & satisfyingly memorable year.
I look forward to journeying with you my friends.
Every blessing  & much love Catherine


  1. And a most wondrous new year be yours, Sister Catherine xx How nice it must be to move into the new year in colourful summer. Do you have something else on the festivals front to move you all mid-winter, or is it simply less bleak than here?!

    1. Hello dear Mags..may the view out that window be dynamic & engaging all year through ...& your strawberries luscious. Yes, of course it's all we know this summer holiday New Year arrangement. Some people do the mid-winter Christmas thing with all your kinds of trimmings, otherwise we just have Easter in Autumn, really. Definitely less bleak for sure though! Much love Catherine x0x0x

  2. Catherine I love Sister Loyola's story - thank you so much for sharing it. So many parts made me smile & chuckle. She is so inspiring! There is hope for me to actually become a good gardener if she can start in her 70's! I love that she prays over her plants too - I do that as well. I have lots of plants gifted to me & I try to pray for the person who gave it to me when I'm taking care of the plant.

    I also love your New year's flowers - beautiful. And as always, I've come to love you as well Catherine. You send some much needed beauty into our cold winter days here.

    1. Dearest Jenny, I am becoming ever more grateful for kind, generous-hearted friends like you!! Thank you for you sweet comments they have done my soul the world of good...for days! I am so glad that you enjoyed reading about Sister Loyola..yes, I think that that may signify hope for all of us who long to garden better & well. (And forever as you say) Much love Catherine x0x0x

  3. I loved reading your post today, that dear nun. I hope I might find a way to watch the film in the UK. Oh and a goodness jar - I have noticed this idea sprouting around blogland and decided I will do one too! we forget the good things that happen so quickly, don't we - it will be fun to look back at the end of the year. Thankyou for sharing, Betty - p.s. I think you would love this book 'Take me with you' by Brad Newsham. Bettyx

    1. Hi Betty, thanks so much for taking the time to read my rambles. I'll keep an eye open here in case I see a presentation of the movie that you would be able to access. Now you'll have too goodness for the memories & one for the holiday. Sounds like an excellent plan to me! Thanks for the recommend on the book. I’ll check it out soon.
      Much love Catherine x0x0x

  4. your blog is heavenly a real treat .I WILL BE BACK TO READ MORE. HX

    1. Hello there,
      So glad that you popped in to visit. Love to see you again.
      Happy New Year!
      Much love Catherine x0x0x

  5. Sister Loyola Galvin is a most worthy recipient of an honour!
    A lovely post dear Catherine.
    Wishing all your dreams are fulfilled in 2014!

  6. You are so pretty, GK! Lucy is so welcoming. I'm so happy that you and Rob use her so much.

  7. Oh a lovely read with my coffee this morning Catherine. I laughed out loud when I saw Robs "contraption" ... just made my day :-)
    Your garden/flower photos are always such a delight to the visual senses ... you just seem to capture them so beautifully & make us all (your readers) appreciate them. I love the begonia pot tucked into the old suitcase ... I tried mine in hanging baskets this year but think they are better on the ground. I think a goodness jar is a wonderful idea & had been thinking about a gratitude jar for myself this year. I remember reading about Sister Loyola in the N.Z, Gardeners that Mum passes on to me & now after you reminding me, I am quite keen to see the film. Have a lovely week dear friend - I am off outside to garden, good drop of rain here yesterday x0x0x0

    1. Well may you laugh my friend...the early version of the said contraption was way too low & took photos from a very funny angle..we were in hysterics & then the tower just got higher & higher as we tried to get it just right!
      I decided to pop my pot in to the suitcase in the end instead of lining & planting in to it & it seemed to work out ok that way too. The begonias love that particular spot very much. Have you seen the new (ish) white begonia that is sort of fluttery like white butterflies (nice ones) all over the weeping plant? Oh that's what I meant to tell you...Sister Loyola (Jo) grew up in Hawera! And was initially turned down to enter nursing training by the Superintendent of the Hawera Hospital back in the day. You'd think the place was a huge metropolis the number of people that grew up or lived in the there! (Hawera that is)
      Phew rain sounds nice it's been steaming up to 30 degrees here the last fe days. Much love Catherine x0x0x

  8. Julie sent me over to your blog, what a treat! a lovely read. I love the idea of a 'Goodness' jar. I got a 'Aunt tili' jar from a dear friend for Xmas, I might just use that for the very thing. I also would love to see the film on Sister Loyola, what an inspiration.

    1. Hello Leeanne, I'm so glad that you popped in to visit. What a dear treasure Julie is, isn't she! I'm sold on the Goodness jar mainly because it so do-able & fun too. I've left it out in Lucy...she's such a happy place it should be even easier to be inspired. Hope you catch up with gardening with Soul's worth the watch if you can. Tell me about an Aunt Tili jar..sounds American?? Have a lovely week. Much love Catherine x0x0x


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