One garden, two houses, some lessons from the past and hope for the future. A look at life in New Zealand, a bit of history and a Morris jig or two.
Do leave a comment even if the post you find yourself reading is an old one. Alternatively you can use my email address: scroll down the right hand side of the page (or to the bottom on mobile layout) to "About Me" and click on "View My Complete Profile"
My Favourite Window
November 12, 2011
It's raining in the Secret Garden - filling the ephemeral stream, making the grass grow... I am only just recovering from editing my last post. Of course it was an emotionally draining exercise. I think everyone who has read it would appreciate that (many thanks for all the lovely comments and emails over the course of this week); but the business of sourcing material and making it sit on the page is both exhilerating and tedious.
So, as I slowly brought photos and text together, I was ready for this family gathering; this memorial picnic on Elwin's mortal anniversary. Here we are enjoying being together on that sunny Sunday afternoon last week - Elwin's curiously blended New Zealand family: both of his wives, his four daughters and his four grandchildren.
I am acutely aware that the grandchildren did not make it into my micro-biography of Elwin. I am also aware that one of the drawbacks of second-time-round fathering for him, was not being a truly active grandfather to Paul, Kelly, James and Nathan. However they all seem to delight in deferring to their young aunties - Bryony and Kitty - and have shown both of us love and support always.
One of the many memorable things that happened in Elwin's last living week, was Kelly's 21st birthday, celebrated on 1st November with a family dinner and just a few milestone photos taken, including this one of Kelly with her maternal grandparents. Looking at this photo of Elwin now, I see that his tiredness and poor circulation is due, not so much to a good night out, but to a very worn out heart.
One of the last photos of Elwin then. What a trip down memory lane it was for me searching through albums,
and family records as well as computer files.
Often I knew exactly which photo I wanted, but there were surprises too that made it hard to choose.
For long-time followers of Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden, you will know that I have used old photographs to tell stories before now. Handling them is a treat in itself, while reading the hand written notes on the back (not enough of those), and wondering about the context of that moment-in-time is tantalising. On the back of the leading baby photo of Elwin is a written indication, maybe, that he had not yet been named after a favourite brother: the caption reads simply Harold's boy. And although I was familiar with little Elwin and his push-along elephant, it wasn't till I set it alongside text referring to Bridge St, Buckingham, that I realised that the eponymous bridge is there in the background, and that Elwin is playing outside his grandparents' front door.
How to get old photographs into my computer? I realise that I should use my scanner, but the scanner so far has only given me black and white images looking exactly like early photo-copied photographs.
So I photograph the prints (and for Elwin's and Barbara's wedding shot, a slide projected onto a screen) with my digital camera for transfer to my computer. For best results I need to capture them with diffuse daylight, and take a number of shots to be sure of a sharp image since my eyesight can't tell on the camera's screen.
Someone like Owen of The Magic Lantern Show who sometimes posts print-photographs from his film camera days, will readily spot the cast of light and shadow, and ripple of paper in my photographed photos. This process takes time, as I then edit the photos for use in my blog, but I enjoy doing it - working with the prints, handling with care, observing the way the light falls...
I do not enjoy placing photos and text on my blog.*@&!
I am not a computer programmer: I cannot "use HTML if you like."
I am a woman who grew up with pride in her copybook,
where I wrote and arranged illustrations with an eye to pleasing balance, placing elements of a story just as I wanted them - with pen and paper, and sometimes with the use of scissors and a pot of paste.
For the layout of In Memoriam I had intended to follow the form of my Blog anniversary post, where the photos sat more or less where I wanted them when I put the cursor at the point in the line where I wanted to insert the photo. How is it that this no longer works? The photos resolutely jump to the top of the page or some nearby gap. Aaargh. Is it silly to think that Blogger is neglecting me because they are developing their Dynamic Views format, and no longer maintain old-style formatting?
Having managed to insert photos between lines, I could not then backspace the text that had moved itself down the depth of the photo without losing the photo. I spent quite a lot of time stabbing in the dark over this, and for any eagle-eyed, repeat visitors to the post you may have noticed that some photos have indeed disappeared. It was just too chancy to try replacing them and losing others after I had added the early wedding photo retrospectively. I am not happy with the final look of Elwin's memorial post, and there are still a couple of photos that I want to add. I would like to even out the text too. Does it matter? Probably not to my readers, but I would like to feel the satisfaction that I usually get after working on one of my complex posts - especially for the perfectionist in my life.
But since today is the anniversary of Elwin's holiday funeral I will close this post with another photograph of a photograph - from Elwin's sister Lizzie in England - of the coffin lid; a work in progress.
And for a reminder of a day that felt more like an intimate folk-festival than a funeral you can visit The Not-So-Secret- Garden