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Archive for the ‘Family Stories’ Category

My Mother

Mother and me with koala 1981

I am the child of a single parent who was the child of a single parent.  My father died when I was five.  My mother’s father died when she was two.  As a child I never met anyone else who didn’t have a father.  I never thought to question my mother as to how that had been for her, and while she sometimes talked about the things she and her mother had done together she never mentioned her lack of a father.

I’ve been listening to a radio programme where children of single parents talked about how the experience has shaped them.  Many became more resilient and independent.  Most talked about how hard their mothers worked to provide for them which was true for me too.  I think what I mostly learned from my mother was the importance of being good and kind.

I wonder how many other fatherless daughters are out there.  I’d love to hear from you.

“There was no-one else I knew
who didn’t have a father too.”

 

 

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The Women’s Centre has attractive new premises at 242 Ferry Road in Waltham.

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This organisation is dear to my heart.  We bought our Cottage from one of the founders, and were intrigued to learn that this home had previously been used as a women’s refuge and been the venue for meetings held to establish the Women against Violence Centre which later became the Women’s Centre.  In 1993 when I was studying Community Skills at Polytech I joined the Centre as a volunteer Support Worker.  Later I became their paid Finance worker and Fundraiser and was a collective member.  At this time they were in the old Atlantis Building in Cathedral Square.  The Centre later moved to Greenwich/witch House and another premises in Manchester Street. Many of the workers were close friends, and I have continued an association with the organisation.

Forced to leave Manchester Street after the earthquakes, they had two other homes before moving at the end of last year to these new premises, and yesterday was their official opening, as well as a belated 30th birthday celebration.  It was a pleasure to be there among so many friends.  Some were wearing pink pussyhats, as seen at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st.

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Mayor Lianne Dalziel (right) cut the birthday cake with Centre Manager Ardas Trebus.

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“The Women’s Centre is a place
where women have their special space.”

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We drove up the Horotane Valley (by the end of Port Hills Rd) to get these luscious tree-ripened apricots.  They were $5 a kilo, and far superior to those offered in the supermarket.  The apricot shop will be open until the end of January, and they also have tomatoes and cucumbers.

When I was a child there was an enormous apricot tree in our back garden and we feasted on these every January.  My mother gave away boxes of them, filled dozens of preserving jars, and made apricot jam.  One year, when my brother was doing his compulsory military training, learning to fly Tiger Moths at Taieri Aerodrome, my mother, not wanting him to miss the annual harvest, sent a crate of apricots down by rail.  My brother later told me that while they were appreciated they were completely unnecessary as he was enjoying five course dinners in the officers’ mess.

“These Horotane apricots
remind me of my childhood – lots.”

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District Doctor

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Does anyone remember Doctor Minty who lived in Manchester Street near Edgeware Road?  My family ran a convalescent home and Dr Minty treated our patients as well as our family.  The only memory I have of needing his care was when I contracted measles when I was seven.  Bed rest for two weeks was my prescription.  I wonder now whether that may have been partly to prevent my infecting others in the house.  My measles were not the common German rubella.  I had the more exclusive English measles morbilli.  I contracted them in December 1956, and remember having a large Christmas tree in my bedroom.  At New Year my mother left me in the care of my brother and a housekeeper while she went to the Theosophical Society Convention in Rotorua.  I was miffed that she had deserted my sickbed, but was consoled when she returned with the present of a Maori doll.

“Resenting summer days in bed
I probably just lay and read.”

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Perception through Parsley

When my brother reported slight deterioration in his eyesight my mother assured him she had the remedy.  “Eat a lot of parsley.  Grow it, wash it, chop it, and add to any food (raw).  I eat it a lot and my eyesight is fine – no glasses even for fine newsprint.”

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Aunty Google tells me ‘Parsley is great for your eyes and is used as a natural medicine to heal various conditions while improving your vision’, so Mother was right.  I even found a recipe for improving your vision (thanks to themindunleashed.com)

  1. Take a bunch of parsley, chop it up into smaller pieces and then mix it with your favorite yoghurt.
  2. Eat the mixture throughout the day.
  3. Do this once a day for a month.
  4. On day 30, make the same mixture but add in fresh tips of nettle.
  5. Continue this new mixture of parsley, nettle, and yoghurt for 30 more days.
  6. After two months, your vision will feel much more clear.  Some even report that their vision improved by two diopters.

Today would be my Mother’s 105th birthday, and she is in my thoughts.  Recently I’ve been reading (and discarding) some old letters, and enjoyed this snippet of Mother’s wisdom from 1988.

“My Mother was exceeding wise
raw parsley can improve your eyes.”

 

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Attending the Volunteering Canterbury A.G.M. I thought would be a chance to catch up with old friends and hear an interesting guest speaker.  It’s now four months since I left my role there and I expected there might be some mention of me as I’d been Manager during the year being reported on.

Receiving Life Membership

I was surprised and delighted to find that part of the business of the meeting was to award me honorary Life Membership of VolCan.  I would maintain a keen interest in the organisation anyway, but this ensures that I will remain connected in a very special way.  After all the wonderful speeches and gifts I was given when I left this is an overwhelming extra.  I’m now part of a distinguished group of Life Members.

“It means much more than I can say
to be connected in this way.”

 

 

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Beatrix Potter was born on 28 July 150 years ago.  There can be few people in the western world who haven’t been delighted by her charming characters, Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggywinkle, Squirrel Nutkin, etc.

"They made little rafts out of twigs and they paddled away over the water to Owl Island."

“They made little rafts out of twigs and they paddled away over the water to Owl Island.”

I don’t remember having her books, but I do remember my mother telling me bedtime stories about Peter Rabbit who might sneak into our garden and eat the lettuces.  Maybe she’d enjoyed the stories as a child?

My daughters had some of the books.  I especially remember “Ginger and Pickles” a cat and a dog who ran a general store.  Any hedghogs who visited our home were called Tiggywinkle, and there were frequent references to the efficacy of camomile tea.  My pleasure in meeting squirrels in England may well have been sparked by memories of Squirrel Nutkin.

As well as being a prolific author, Beatrix Potter was an astute merchandiser.  Most of us can remember crockery embellished with her characters.  Maybe there’s some lurking in one of your cupboards?  Ziggy has his biscuits in a bowl with rabbits.

Ziggy's bowl with rabbits

Ziggy’s bowl with rabbits

“Do rabbits, squirrels, hedgehogs too
bring back fond memories to you?”

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