Ode to friendship

Wherever I look there are the tokens, and maybe calling them tokens is a misuse of the word.

On the bookcase is a round blue stone, and written on it are the words: ‘ In the bonds of love we meet,’ which are lines from the NZ national Anthem. It was a birthday present from Friend, which is what I Ching calls a person who is in a ‘familial or love relationship’.

In a fat white jug with all my pens is a sandalwood fan, sitting there at the ready to be used when needed… my Friend brought it to choir practice on a baking hot evening nearly twenty years ago – the sort of evening when we all melted in the airless church hall as we practised our Hallelujahs, or softer Bach anthems. On this day, she produced the fan to keep me cool.

By the bedside is a long thin delicate bamboo stick with a hand at the end with claws on it – a Chinese back scratcher – in constant use by my love. This is the relic of a Christmas lunch thirty years ago. A gang of us used to meet for Christmas lunch in the park, taking over the beautiful little band rotunda, and bringing lace table-cloths, silver candlesticks, champagne and the works.

We started a ritual of bringing presents for everyone, and they could cost no more than two dollars… a tiny amount even in NZ currency. All year we subconsciously looked for some delicious little token, and this was Friend’s gift one year, practical and treasured ever since.

In hospital, an hour and half drive from her home, she and her husband visited me, bringing gifts … a sheepskin to lie on and ease my discomfort, a bag full of miniature bottles of wine – a glass and half to each one – for me to sip with my fairly dreary suppers… an orchid so beautiful that everyone who came by, stopped to admire – it made me many friends… lanolin to rub on my face so my skin wouldn’t dry out in hospital warmth, fluffy red, possum-wool slippers with non-stick soles for my cold feet, vitamin C capsules to aid my healing, and most delicious of all… I had said I wished I had asked my love to try and find my magnifying mirror as I was beginning to look like Freida Kahlo, so a splendid magnifying mirror on a stand came with all the other goodies.

We have been together at births and funerals, personal growth courses, anniversaries and jolly parties. Best of all have been the long, happy lunches, and the times she and Friend Two have come to stay, armed with bottles of wine donated by helpful husbands. We’ve listened to the latest visiting guru, and then celebrated with riotous dinners, visited massage ladies and spiritual channellers, sat with an aura soma intuitive for a reading, and travelled long distances just to go and commune with a lady who told fortunes reading tea-leaves, or for lunch at a good winery.

During one famous lunch I happened to mention I’d seen some enormous candlesticks I’d love to get, but feared they might be a bit over the top. We had hardly downed our rose than we all set off to inspect the said candlesticks. The three of us emerged from the store with two pairs each… one to keep as gilt, the other to hand over to Friend Two, an artist, who was going to paint them to look aged and antique and precious. Friend moaned, “K – will kill me for bringing more candlesticks into the house”, but it did not deter her.

Friend has given me Reiki massages, and I have given her the same. After a severe operation I came to give her one, and after sitting with her for three hours while she slept deeply, I crept away. On Christmas morning we gathered for white-bait fritter brunch at her lovely house, and on birthdays, we three nearly always managed to meet.

Now, I sit on the sofa, and lean against a deep red taffeta cushion with a large rosette made of dozens of exquisite, hand-stitched, tiny rosettes, made for me by Friend Two. I look up at the beautiful picture she painted for me, and still revel in the painted candle sticks. We laugh because I haven’t bought a lipstick in years- instead she gives me all her mistakes, and they work for me. Guests for lunch exclaim over the beautiful French plates they’re eating from, a gift that both Friends had brought on one of their visits. The memories of their generosity, creativeness, fun and love are all around me.

I have other friends who are precious too… true friendship is never exclusive, but always inclusive.  Somewhere I have read, and forgive me, the lovely person who wrote this – I don’t know who you are… but they wrote: :’ A friend is what the heart needs all the time. True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.’

In a very difficult life I have had many friends. I also read once that most people only have five close friends… I have many more than that, and they are treasured and beloved. One friend has been my treasured and loyal, loving friend since our school days. Another, just as treasured, just as loyal and loving and supportive, has been there since we were young officers of twenty-one. (She sent me a precious seven-leaved clover she had found, for luck, when I was in hospital.) The roll call of a life-time’s well-loved names is one of my greatest treasures.

These are the people who have never judged me, but who have seen me and accepted me, in spite of what they saw !!!!. Aristotle said that friendship is a slow ripening fruit… for me friendship has been one of the most precious fruits of my life. And now blogging has added another dimension of friendship bringing fruits and gifts I couldn’t have imagined.

Some of these friends have not been around for a while, and I know are coping with illness, looking after sick mothers, or a handicapped child, or are just travelling or having fun;  but the knowledge of their friendship, the connection of spirit across the globe, the meetings of minds through our blogs and comments, from friends both absent and present, are treasured. Greetings to all these true friends.

PS This brief TV clip is about my son and his step-daughter. It’s about courage.

: http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/01/teen-left-tetraplegic-after-horse-accident-determined-to-walk-again.html

Food for threadbare gourmets

I un-freezed too many things, not thinking straight. And then I cooked a lovely risotto, forgetting I had the other food waiting to be cooked. The fish wouldn’t last, so I quickly fried it in butter and put it in the fridge. I wondered what to do with cold fish the next day…

So I cooked some tomatoes in butter, stripping off their skins when cooked, so they melded with the cream I poured over them, (Friend calls me the Queen of Cream) and let them blend together. Then added the cold fish, and gently reheated it, sprinkled lots of dill in … and it was delicious with new potatoes and green beans.

Food for thought

Be careful of reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 (born the year when Halley’s Comet neared earth, died the year it returned)


Filed under bloggers, cookery/recipes, great days, happiness, humour, life/style, love, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, uncategorised, Uncategorized

26 responses to “Ode to friendship

  1. Hah. Have been working today and was just about to switch this darn computer off and go talk to Mrs H. when this post rolled around on my WordPress Reader thingy.

    One of your best posts, Valerie. And yes- no, YES – to long, happy lunches in wineries (we try and do that once every ten days or so, with friends or without.)

    Friendship: we spent the two days after Xmas, as has become a custom, with two dear friends in Nelson. They’re the sort of people you have to watch when mealing (my new verb) with because they’ll always try and pay for the whole damned thing without you knowing – and the stated deal is supposed to be Dutch. And all the years we’ve known them they always beat us on personalised ‘tokens’, managing to buy birthday presents, etc, that are exquisitely individualised to us.

    This year we thought we’d finally got one over them. Their little Jack Russel had died over the year, and they were really gutted by it, so we had a portrait of her painted for them (with one of our Danes, because the two dogs got on so well). They were well chuffed and we thought finally we’d done it. Unfortunately, he was wearing this fantastic summer shirt which I happened to remark on because I’d not seen anything like it. No need to say what was waiting in the post by the time we got home.

    Right, a bottle of wine and off to Mrs H.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love your new word, mealing – can I use it, as in mighty mealing, magnificent mealing, too much mealing, masterly mealing, over-indulgent mealing… your friends sound as hopelessly generous as mine are… I know the feeling of never being able to truly return all that generosity… but like you, I try !!!
      Thank you for your generous comment, and loved your take on friendship…just off to the kitchen to drink the remains of a bottle of desert wine with some creamy blue cheese… the combination is delicious…even if eccentric as an aperitif !!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for these beautiful words and the reminder of the blessing of friends. I consulted Professor Google who led me here: https://www.bustle.com/articles/194643-friendship-quotes-for-thanksgiving-because-friends-are-family. There I found several quotes on friendship. It gives Henry Van Dyke the credit for “A friend is what the heart needs all the time.” and gives Baltasar Gracian the credit for the rest of your quote “True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” .

    Apropos of blue cheese – it’s especially good with asparagus, steamed til al dente then rolled in fresh bread; or in a roulade.


    • Ele, thank you for for all your generous comments, information and delicious sounding recipe.. lovely to hear from you… I am now bustling back to Google to explore your findings … so my memory scrambled that quote… I had it written down in a notebook with no attribution.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your ode to friendship is masterful. My friends are very precious to me as well. Small ‘alters’ of memorabilia dot my house too, and I say little prayers of gratitude for all they mean to me. Sending healing vibes to Sophia. Australia has just bestowed it’s top honour to Alan MacKay-Sim who has achieved great things in the field of stem cell research. Hoping it might be of some help to young Sophia—sooner would be nice. I could use a few more eyebrow hairs, maybe we can do a swap sometime 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Ardys.. yes, I read your blog about eyebrows… did I make a comment?… anyway, it made me giggle.. my eyebrows are not what they were, as a low thyroid, one of my attributes, shaves away the ends (according to a beauty therapist who usually tidies them up for me) which is what has happened to mine… and yes, friends are precious aren’t they? thank you for your comment…
      Knowing Sophia and James, they may well be up with the play on Alan Mackay-Sim, but I will pass on your intormation, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. And thank you too for the link to the story of courage.At the Catwalk Trust I found a story on a stem cell researcher who is to be Australian of the Year.


  5. How great that Australia recognises that sort of research, and honours those working in that field..


  6. A lovely post on friendship. I wish your step-granddaughter the best. She is spunky and if anyone could make it happen, she could.


  7. I read this post with tears in my eyes. I thank you, Valerie! Love you!



  8. Valerie, I am so very sorry about Sophia’s accident. What a beautiful girl with a beautiful spirit. I will be praying for her and sending her and the family virtual hugs. Your post about friendship is so lovely. xo


    • Thank you so much Luanne..really lovely to have your understanding.. As you can imagine it has turned my son’s life upside down too.. having to sell his house and find one Sophia can cope with.. re-plan his whole life etc etc.
      My daughter took her to a grand race meeting last night where she got to meet all the swells, like the minister for racing and so on…everyone spoiled her… so everyone is doing their best….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Valerie,

    I’m impressed with Sophia’s attitude of ‘rolling with it.’ She’s a beautiful girl. My prayers go out to your son and wife as well. They are courageous.

    As for friends, I’ve been so blessed in this area. I definitely have more than five close ones. There are a few I’ve known since early childhood, that I’ve reconnected with through the magic of the internet. Not to mention the ones I’ve met as a result of blogging, particularly in Friday Fictioneers.

    Lovely article. Thank you for sharing the video.




    • Dear Rochelle,
      Thank you for your lovely comment and please forgive me for being so tardy in my reply… life takes over, and blogs join the queue of priorities !!
      Yes, friends are special and very necessary aren’t they?
      Sophia is beautiful, isn’t she… such courage .. they are all rising to the occasion with such grit… they awe me…
      Must catch up with you on FF and see what you’ve been up to !!!
      Love, Valerie


  10. What an amazing young woman Sophia is, Valerie. I’m holding her in Love and Light on her journey to walking. 😉 xoxoM


  11. It’s no secret why you have so many close friends, Valarie. You are creative, warm and caring, bright and inquisitive, fabulous cook, and an excellent writer. It’s no wonder people are drawn to you.


  12. Thank you for the loveliest bouquet, Ronnie…I hardly know what to say…

    except that to appreciate and recognise the qualities in others means you must also possess those things… no wonder we are drawn to each other across the infinite miles of the internet !


  13. My dear friend – for that is what you have become. By my calculation, we have known each other for over 5 years now. Hard to believe that we have the ability to become “virtual friends” – that technology has given us power to communicate within seconds across thousands of miles. It is as if you are at my side, sipping hot and delicious coffee with me. In the end, all that we will recall is the love that we have given and have received in turn. In a world that is becoming more complex, more noisy, the ability to call on a friend gives life and resilience to the spirit. My thoughts are with Sophia. Her journey is not for the faint of heart; and yet, I know that she will seek alternatives that will help many others. She is an explorer, venturing into unknown territory, opening a path and shining a light, a beacon into darkness. Many hugs and lots of love coming your way.


    • Dearest Rebecca,
      Your message gave me such joy… that is how I feel, that for so long we have been friends across the miles… you have always been so supportive and perceptive and above all, uplifting.. I would simply love to be sitting with you nattering over a good cup of coffee…and your words about friendship were so true and beautiful.
      I don’t have your e-mail after the Great Computer Meltdown, and have spent hours trying to find a blog that you’re using at the moment in order to contact you… can you write to me with the details at my internet merlincourtpress@gmail.com.
      Your words about Sophia were so beautiful. I shall send them on to my son so that he can pass them on to Sophia to uplift her….
      So good to know that we have other years in front of us with the joy of our friendship,
      Much love

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi, Valerie. I’ve been catching up with my blog reading and so enjoyed your lovely ode to friendship. As I was reading, my mind would drift to my own friends and how much they mean to me – your post reminded me to let them know how much I treasure them. I also read about your brother and his step daughter, and am heartbroken for her and her family. She is quite an inspiring figure, and I will keep her in my prayers.
    Take care,

    P.s. Loved your quotes!


  15. What a lovely post – celebrating friendships. I quite enjoyed the read.

    “a Chinese back scratcher” – I bought one 36 years ago and still use it. And lunches in wineries – yes – nothing beats those occasions.



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