Sunday, August 31, 2014

Three Little Kittens and My Lost Mittens

I had come to a bit of a standstill with my knitting as I had started a little jacket for one of my grandchildren with some lovely red mohair but I had but run out before I had finished. I couldn't find any in the shops to finish it so I had just stopped altogether.

Then I remembered that I had promised to make some mittens for Kate so quickly made one pair and posted them off.
After the weekend I had spoken to my daughter and she hadn't mentioned them. I thought that was a long time for them to get there and my impression of the New Zealand postal service lowered a bit. However Monday morning there in the letterbox was my parcel - returned!
Insufficient Postage thank you very much!

"Right", I thought, "I'll fix them!" I opened up the parcel, took some photos (as I had forgotten to for the first ones) and slipped the second pair I had made over the weekend in as well. I then "peeled off" the label, affixed the correct postage and sent them off again.

I was reminded of the nursery rhyme

"Three Little Kittens"

Three little kittens they lost their mittens, 
And they began to cry, 
Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear Our mittens we have lost. 
What! lost your mittens, you naughty kittens! 
Then you shall have no pie. 
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow. 
No, you shall have no pie. 

The three little kittens they found their mittens, 
And they began to cry, 
Oh, mother dear, see here, see here, Our mittens we have found! 
Put on your mittens, you silly kittens, 
And you shall have some pie. 
Purr-r, purr-r, purr-r, 
Oh, let us have some pie. 

The three little kittens put on their mittens, And soon ate up the pie; 
Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear Our mittens we have soiled. 
What! soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens! 
Then they began to sigh, 
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow. 
Then they began to sigh. 

The three little kittens they washed their mittens, And hung them out to dry; 
Oh! mother dear, do you not hear, Our mittens we have washed! 
What! washed your mittens, then you’re good kittens, 
But I smell a rat close by. 
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow. 
We smell a rat close by. 

Historical Background "Three Little Kittens" is an English language nursery rhyme, probably with roots in the British folk tradition. It dates to before 1858, when R. N. Ballantyne wrote an amplification of the poem under the championship The Three Little Kittens, published as region of the Good Little Pig's Library, book 1. An often late edition of the tale was published under the Little Golden Books impression in the United States. The rhyme as published today, however, is a sophisticated piece usually attributed to American poet Eliza Lee Cabot Follen (1787-1860). The poem was first published in Britain in 1833 as an anonymous addition to a volume of Follen's verse “Little Songs for Little Boys and Girls”. and in the United States in 1843. Follen may have developed and refined an existing, rude version of the poem, and, in the process, made it her own. With the passage of time, the poem " was hugely popular and quickly absorbed into the Mother Goose collection, “Only True Mother Goose Melodies” in 1843. Its tune is a variant of “The Seven Joys of Mary.” It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 16150

You can read more about its origins here.

“Three Little Kittens” tells a cautionary tale of three kittens, who first lose, then find and soil, their mittens. When all is finally set to rights, the kittens receive their mother's approval and some pie. The profound significance of these verses represents a typical situation involving the relationship between a mother and a child. The child, represented by kittens and the common occurrence of losing an article is subsequently punished. Then finding the lost item, the child is finally rewarded for the good deed.

The word "meeow" shows effective use of onomatopoeia where a word sounds like the action. The mother cat was correct in her view that she could "smell a rat!" It may have been that the kittens had indeed been playing with a rat. The fact that the kittens saw the reward in finding their mittens meant they could have pie, suggesting that good behaviour was rewarded; when their mittens were soiled and they were pronounced naughty, supposes that they washed them to be rewarded again. However “Mother” saw through them!

The poem is a sophisticated production considered a cornerstone in the shift from moral literature of 19th century children's literature, in favour of anthropomorphic fantasy, satirical nonsense, and word play. It is one of the first pieces of children's romantic literature produced for amusement and entertainment, and may be the source of the idiom "to smell a rat".

The poem can be learnt in a request and reaction choral manner featuring the sound of a storyteller and the voices of the kittens. Like most rhymes, this verse is unnamed.

So the mittens I made were in a pure wool. I didn't use a pattern as they are generally just a simple 'bag' with a curved top. I made one with a rib cuff feeding some hat elastic through for tightness and the second had a simple picot edge with a band that I was able to thread some thin elastic through. The second pair also had a little 'snowflake' pattern knitted on the back. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Wives of Henry Oades

Our latest book club read was The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran.

An interesting easy read, some of which is set in early settler Wellington in New Zealand and some in America.

In 1890, Henry Oades accepts an accountancy post in New Zealand and undertakes the arduous sea voyage from England to New Zealand in order to further his family's fortunes. When Henry, his wife, Margaret, and their children follow him to exotic Wellington they desire to live further out from the city. But while Henry is an adventurer, Margaret is not. Here they settled on the lush but wild coast where their new home is rougher and more rustic than they expected. It wasn't long before disaster struck in the most unexpected of ways. One night of tragedy shatters the family when a local native Maori tribe stage an uprising, incensed at their treatment at the hands of the settlers. They kidnap Mrs Oades, her four children and a young boy who was visiting with his mother at the time, and vanished into the rugged hills surrounding the town while Henry is away.

For months Henry, at first refusing to believe his wife could be dead, scours the surrounding wilderness, until all hope is lost and his wife and children are presumed dead. Having searched ceaselessly for his family, two grief-stricken years later he is forced to conclude that they must be dead. Henry books a passage to California and in his despair he ships out to San Francisco to start over. There he marries Nancy Foreland, a young widow who's husband died while trying to save their fortune of savings in a jar from their burning house. Nancy was pregnant with their first baby, and when she has given birth Henry takes pity on her and marries her, even though he had declined a previous proposal from a housekeeper who lived in the home of his benefactor. It seems they’ve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning—until in 1899, Henry’s first wife and children show up, alive and having finally escaped captivity.

Unbeknown to Henry all but one of his family have survived the abduction and Margaret Oades and her children were leading a miserable existence, enslaved to the local tribe. Margaret also cared for a family friend's son who had also been caught up in the abduction. His mother's remains were finally announced to be the charred body that was buried by the burnt out home of the Oades when their home was first discovered in ruins. When they contracted smallpox after five years of captivity they were cast out and are finally let free. Ill and footsore, they make their way back to town, years after they were presumed dead. Discovering that Henry was now half a world away, they were determined to rejoin him. Leaving the boy she had cared for with his father in New Zealand they sail as workers on a boat to pay for their passage and months later they arrived on Henry's doorstep in America and Henry Oades discovered that he had two wives and many dilemmas.

Margaret is quite determined to some how have her husband reunited with her and the children but although Henry says he has loved her he shows no passion and is devoted to his new wife. So as not to abandon any of them they proceed to live in the same homestead on the ranch he inherited from the owner he had worked for after arriving in America.

Narrated primarily by the two wives, and based on a real-life legal case, The Wives of Henry Oades is the riveting story of what happens when Henry, Margaret, and Nancy face persecution for bigamy. Exploring the intricacies of marriage, the construction of family, the changing world of the late 1800s, and the strength of two remarkable women, Johanna Moran turns this unusual family’s story into an unforgettable page-turning drama.

This is a darkly comic but moving historical fiction debut about love and family, based on a controversial court case from the early 1900s.

I found Henry quite annoying in the end.
I felt he should have left the second wife and renewed his marriage with his first wife Margaret and the children. Margaret had done so much with and for him and the children over the years. Even though he had moved on from the grief of believing in the end that she was dead, her escaping and following him to America showed her love for him. She longed for him to embrace her and comfort her at times. He seemed obsessed with Nancy the new wife and it would appear from the story that her youth and beauty caused him to lust for her. She in turn seemed quite naive and silly at times. It was mentioned once that her mother was the same age as Margaret. The disarray of these relationships caused his son to fall by the way and behave in ways he may not have, had he had a good solid example to follow in his parents.

Johanna believes the story is based on a true article her mother had been given by her father but an article in the Herald on Sunday questions this.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Special Seat Passenger

When I flew to Wellington for the second time to visit Theresa I prebooked my seat and number so I could get a window with a view and no obstruction from the wing.

I was running a bit late and when I asked the gentleman who was in the aisle seat next to mine, before I got there if he could possibly move, (so I could get my big body past him) he said "Certainly" (not the big body bit - that was all in my head!) I thought 'I recognize that voice.'

I sat down arranging my bag and he offered to put my coat in the over hanger locker and I thought I do know him ... well he didn't know me of course, but when you have seen someone on TV often enough you sure know them by sight and by voice.

I said "Hello.. are you Aaron?",
"Yes" he replied and that set me off.

Aaron Brunet was the winner of Masterchief NZ 2013 .

Poor guy we chattered all the way to Wellington about this and that. Too bad if he was hoping for a bit of a rest, but they say if you are famous you have to expect it!!!

He lives in Raglan with his lovely wife and daughter.

Life after winning has been busy and he has just launched his new book "Cook With Me".
He was flying to Wellington and the Wairarapa doing a couple of fun events: Yarns in Barns on the Tuesday evening with Jo Crabb, at Opaki School, Waipipi. Then on Wednesday morning at Moore Wilson demonstrating some recipes from his book.

I asked him some things about the programme that we don't see on TV and we shared stories about our children.

Although he really appreciated what Masterchief had done for him he was keen to get back to his love of making sour dough bread.