Saturday, 30 January 2021

In the end, we’ll all become stories ...

 Hi all, 

2021 might be a New Year but it has carried with it the problem of the global pandemic & of Covid-19. It has been more than a year now since it was officially identified in China, more than a year since it was suspected in countries as it crept across the world & invaded our world. 

This year started with a sense of foreboding & the past two weeks has been a crazy time. My sister was admitted to hospital in South Africa with severe Covid-19,  followed soon by my aged Father who lived with them. 

Unfortunately due to his age, he quickly developed respiratory problems & then Covid Pneumonia which sadly took his life. 

No one could pay last respects & because our family are spread out over a large country & abroad, we decided on a private cremation ahead of laying him to rest with my late Mother & brother when travel is eventually allowed.  Many of you know their long love story, together for almost 57 years, childhood sweethearts, separated only by death

I had collected stones on my last visit home which I took with to our family graves with Dad & we stopped with Dad on the way back & he collected some stones & shells & gave them to me for safe keeping for ‘when the grave is opened again’ (for him).  These have been with me & today I placed them beside his candle. 

With the restrictions, Ms M kindly suggested we should all observe our own quiet time in our homes across the world for Dad. We lit candles at the same time as his cremation & remembered him in our own ways. 

This is some of ours ... 

The daughters sent me some of my late Mom’s favourite flowers, Proteas with angel candle holders, a tree of life image on the vase & I placed the stones collected too (not seen in the image)

My sister & family lit candles & played some of Dad’s favourite music too ... 

Daughter & her grandfather had collected shells together, along with some crystals & she added these to her candle tribute ... 

The cousins, Dad’s nephews who had seen him very recently to hand over my parcel from England to him,  lit a candle too ... 

My sister in law in England knew my parents too so Monica, who had suggested the joining of candles, set up a beautiful candle scene ... 

In the evening, I lit candles in my church candle holder to light the evening gently. 

I have been very grateful to those who have kept my broken heart in their prayers & thoughts, for those who paused their own busy lives to send kind thoughts, messages or just a ’thinking of you’ text.  Many knew of the close relationship I had with my Father & their understanding has helped me come to terms with it from a distance.  

I don’t think you can truly understand the loss of both parents until it is your experience too. 

For those mourning,  life seems to pause,  time suspended to make sense of the enormity of never hearing that familiar voice or seeing that beautiful script on a letter again. My Father was my biggest champion, he liked details, he listened to remember,  we spoke daily from across the world, he was a very proud great grandfather & loved news of the daughters &  their family from England. 

Likewise, I would not tolerate any slight or criticism of my Father who was one of the most decent, fair & even tempered people I know. He was tolerant & tried to stay out of arguments & disagreements, always trying to see the best in people. However, if someone criticised him, that would raise my ire ... 

He was passionate about his family tree, he wanted to know where his extensive family came from; he asked to do his DNA in 2018 & I took out a kit for him; we had to draw up a spreadsheet with all our results so his analytical mind could take it all in. He loved his family’s part in history - it grounded him. 

It is those & many other things I miss so much ... 

In time, when this dreadful virus allows, we will travel again to South Africa to unite Dad with my Mother. They were married for almost 57 years & it is right that they will united again for eternity - something they both wished for ... 

Thank you for your time to stop by & read;  each & every visit & comment is much appreciated. Be blessed in 2021. Carry love & kindness with you & spread it around; in these trying times it is needed, especially by those who give it freely.  Most of all, be safe all please 💖
Dee ~💕~

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Create the life you want to live in 2021

 I am so grateful to each & everyone who stops by, reads, leaves a comment or just follows my blog. It is an important outlet for my creativity, thoughts & ideas; those who share this journey with me are special. 

As 2020 comes to a close, we can but say - we did not see the past year coming. We could not foresee how our lives would change but we had to change with it, adapt & adjust to the changes. 

It is important to realise that only YOU can create the life you want to live, people can support & help you but ultimately the choices are yours alone. You own your decisions & the mistakes. Your support chamber do not have to think or behave the same as you, because they are also walking their own path. We are all just walking each other home, but on our own path. 

Each path has its own challenges, & this year has made me realise how some invalidate others experiences. Some people listen to reply, not to understand what you are saying; those who carry their burden well, still find it heavy. Many do not speak to complain, rather than to give voice to their experiences so it no longer has hold over them. Someone in life will always be better or worse off than you, but that does not invalidate your experiences. Sometimes when someone speaks of things that burden them, a kind ear is better than an unsolicited opinion or worse still a comparison. 

Considering the challenges in 2020, the cancelled holidays (2 special trips booked, 1 planned) the sudden loss of income as a self employed tutor, the limited contact between daughters who live north & south of us, my increasing elderly Father on another continent that I cannot easily visit, we have still been fortunate to have come through it ok. 

I have steadied my concerns with the simple rituals to keep me going -  being in my garden; cooking interesting meals even when various things were unavailable; growing more plants & giving them away;  sewing & gifting some of it;  walking my local woods & lake for green bathing to steady the mind; communicating with friends & family far & near; lots of genealogical research to keep me distracted, reading some of the books I have stacked up, growing plants from seeds as they need time to be nurtured. 

While staying in my space, I have used a lot of time to fill in the many family tree gaps across my vast ancestry tree. Focusing on what you can control, helps to still the things you can’t. My Dad has been amazing in helping to fill in the gaps where he can, what he remembers of my Maternal family line that is diminishing fast. It really brings home that once a connection is gone, it is almost impossible to get those answers. 

Not everyone understands how having something to do, fills in the time & taxes the brain too ... 

My thoughts moving forward 
Life is short 
Jobs are temporary
Health is wealth 
The rainy days all come together - save for them. 
Be thankful
Be kind 
Friends & family are precious 

Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated. Be blessed as you move in to 2021. Carry hope, love & kindness with you 💖
Dee ~💕~

Monday, 21 December 2020

Bring light in on the Winter Solstice ...

 In the bleak Midwinter, was a poem published in 1872 by the poet Christina Rossetti & in 1906, the composer Gustav Holst (of The Planets fame) set it to the music we know so well now. 

In the bleak midwinter 

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
The Winter Solstice marks our day with the shortest daylight & the longest night. Stonehenge was always our central observance place 

The shortest day lasts 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds in London 

The light will return again as the days lengthen & the light will return. This is some of the previous posts on the Solstice in 2018 

There are links to the previous Winter Solstice rituals at my home

I will bring in the light again with candles about the house,  the holly & ivy on the door wreath & garlands, a reminder of the times past when it was common to bring greenery inside. 

Have a blessed day as you observe the ritual of Winter & the darkness & light - the returning light is hope for brighter days, for the familiar seasons, for light ... 

Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~

The Advent Sundays & other rituals in trying times ...

 Hi everyone, 

This ongoing crisis has bubbled alongside us for a staggering 273 days with no end in sight. Each time there is a glimmer of hope, it is snatched away & the despair is becoming paletahle now. 

Our home decorations are unseen by friends who would usually join us for Xmas baking & suppers doing December. That cannot happen & it means the rituals we usually observe, have been set aside. 

Sometimes, rituals are the things that you observe because they are familiar & comfortable; they help in difficult times as they give structure to events. The festive season is challenging enough normally when people are hothoused together & often the tasks fall unevenly leaving people feeling overwhelmed. 

The familiar ones of listening to Carols, setting the table properly, of putting out crackers with dependable filings, the silliness of wearing the paper cracker hat, the reading of the silly jokes etc are things which set a rhythm to the day. 

My late Mom used to buy advent calendars for the daughters when it was not a mainstream event & they could only be bought from specialist shops in Johannesburg, a reminder of the German influence that existed there.  This was Mom’s joy to hand them over & I have continued it ever since, even buying fabric ones that could be filled with chocolates I knew the family would enjoy. 

When I was growing up in South Africa, presents were opened in the morning, then my late Mom & Grandmother did the lunch; the table was always beautifully set & the crackers were laid out.  Us children used to sneak in & peek through the crackers for the nicest games or toys & then move them around & so it would continue. When we eventually pulled them, it was often not the one we had carefully manoeuvred as someone else had done the same thing. Those little cracker toys were in demand then, in simpler times. 

After lunch, my Dad & Grandad would adjourn to the patio with the bowls of nuts in their shells & we would all eagerly select our favourites - the bitter almonds were seldom in demand, & then if we could not open them ourselves with the variety of nutcrackers, they would crack them for us so we would enjoy every single little bit of it. I still buy nuts as this is such a fond memory. 

There always has to be an iced Christmas cake on the cake stand for the afternoon with a hot drink before watching the Queens Speech in the UK. 

The afternoon is for games, songs, news - we used to play monopoly or cards at home. My Great aunt was a great card player & that was her influence. She had no children of her own & regarded her gaggle of nieces & nephews as fair game to impart her skills on. 

Simpler times, these rituals evolve & I wonder which ones my family will continue & which ones they will treasure - too often this is not clear. 

I have diligently lit my 4 Advent candles again, a nod to the Teutonic ancestry I have - the simple flame on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas just slows the pace & makes me reflect - mainly on those who are absent - my Mother was a Christmas baby & it is always a reflective time for me to ponder the opportunities missed, the times taken fore granted ....

I wish you a blessed time as you prepare for Christmas, however it will look this year. 

Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 29 November 2020

The first Sunday of Advent

 I observe the countdown to Advent & the 4 Sundays that lead up to Christmas. 

Last year Ms M & I were enjoying the delights of the Winter Christmas markets in Munich, Salzburg & Innsbruck - something we can only dream of this year. 

We loved seeing the beautiful Advent Candle Wreaths seen all about that region - it is traditional to mark it with 4 candles.  I have some of the beautiful ones on this post from last year .... 

My 4 candle stick holder has been dusted down & filled with candles & it is ready to be lit in the 4 weeks up to Christmas. I love these traditional images I used on a previous post. 

I decorated the tray under my Advent candle holder with holly & ivy, the traditional Christmas combination. 

Today I found some little easy peel oranges in the fridge that were less juicy than I like so I decided to turn them in to pomander / Christingles (meaning Christ light) 

When I taught in mainstream education, we used to make Christingles in class then walk our classes to the local church for the Christingle service. 

The tradition originated in Germany in 1747 when Bishop Johannes de Watteville used an orange with a candle attached to it to remind children of the light Jesus brought in to the world during Advent. 

The orange represents the world 

The candle is for Jesus as the light of the world

The red ribbon reminds us of the blood of Christ

The 4 cocktail sticks are for the 4 seasons or 4 corners of the world

The dried fruit represents the gifts from God

The candle in the centre is lit & children carry them in to the church at a special Christingle service. It has only been adopted in England since 1968. 

I adapted mine with cloves studded in & the red ribbon pinned to a candle placed between the oranges. 

I love making spicy pomanders for the house as they fill the air with a delicate fragrance. 

However you observe the run up to Christmas, it is a good time to just p a u s e and be thankful. I will light the first of my 4 Advent candles on Sunday then every night from 1-24th December, I light an Advent candle with numbers on (something my late Mother used to do) and I love watching the candle flicker each night while we eat - it is a reminder to just enjoy the time without being caught up in the commercialism that takes over ... 

Have a blessed Advent Sunday. Thank you for your company, each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~