Archive for December 2009

I think of this as a ‘German’ colour – a shade of gold/orange that seems to be more popular in Germany than over here. Maybe that’s because something similar features on their flag, along with black and red.

But is it really orange? I sense you may be asking….perhaps it’s midway between gold and pale orange.

Looking up with a gentle expression, this flower speaks to me of patient trust.  The evenness of the petals also added to the appeal, that meant I took ‘yet another photo’ at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, Isle of Wight.  There is innocence, combined with gentleness and warmth, in the expression of this flower.  (Isn’t it wonderful that we can speak of a flower having an ‘expression’?)

Orange Riddle (1)

I occasionally take the place of toes.
Both thick-skinned and very thin-skinned,
I am bright and exotic.
A cousin of mine
has a chocolate counterpart
(‘as seen on TV’).
I go to pieces in your hands.
Guess me!

Orange Riddle (2)

Now that my strength has nearly gone,
I seem bigger.
I’m almost about to disappear –
but people talk about me more, now,
pointing to what I create.
I cause an explosion
of pink and red.

Note: The answer is an adjective and a noun.

[If you want confirmation your answers are right, or just want the answers, email me on: rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]



Well, already I’m up to the Second Rainbow [see ‘About’ page for an explanation], and I thought as a change from some rather word-heavy posts, this one would have riddles (of the home-made variety) as its theme.

The riddles would be even easier than they already are, if the photograph ‘went with’ the riddle every time – so there won’t necessarily be any hidden clues in the pictures!  On the other hand, there might be!

Isn’t it amazing what one amaryllis bulb can produce – this photo was taken recently in my living-room.  The bulb was truly enormous –  bigger than a large grapefruit!  Two stems grew, then four flowers from each stem, giving a total of eight enormous flowers at one point. 

Growing from one pot, there was more flower colour than some garden borders at the height of summer can boast.  The stamens looked very graceful, I thought, curling up slightly, in a way that reminds me of the curly plumage male ducks have in spring. 

Thanks, Caroline Bosanquet who gave me the bulb.

Red Riddle.

I’m something you are very thankful for,
but when you see me, tears may pour.
I’m always on the move, transporting things,
I’m a different colour, when I belong to kings.

[If you want confirmation your answer is right, or just want the answer, email me on: rschown@yahoo.co.uk.]

The photograph shows Nelson Street, Dundee, the street where I live.  The Tay River and Tay Road Bridge can be seen on the horizon.

By way of a change from my usual long posts, I thought this time I would post a poem instead.

                                                  Time with God     

                                     Stillness – a valley deep
                                     where cares and troubles sleep,
                                     and sad ones cease to weep.

                                     Silence is so sweet –
                                     where pain, and toil, retreat,
                                     and man and Maker meet.


‘Indigo and violet’ – these are the last two colours of the rainbow.  But I wonder how often we use these words for them in everyday life?  I don’t often hear ‘violet’ used to describe a colour – more often, it’s used to mean the spring wild flower – and most people refer to the colour indigo as ‘purple’.

The other day, I saw one of Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’ monologues on TV.   It was about a lonely spinster who writes letters of complaint to the local authorities.   She was offended at one point, by a policewoman calling her by her first name, even though she did not know her. 

Names are so important, and giving someone, or something, a name has special significance.   In the Old Testament Book of Ruth, the widow, Naomi, wants to change her name, as she is finding it too painful to be called ‘Naomi’ (meaning ‘pleasant’).  This happens on her return to Bethlehem, where she grew up.  Going back there makes her realise how painful the last decade or so has been. 

She says: ‘Call me “Mara”, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi?  The LORD has afflicted me.’  She had good reasons to feel aggrieved, having lost her husband and both her sons, and now she is moving country for a second time due to famine.

It can be quite nice I feel to keep some names, or ways of expressing things, for high days and holy days.  There’s an expression, ‘that is my Sunday name’.   Tied in with this is the idea of respect.  Alan Bennett’s middle-aged lady would have felt that being addressed as ‘Miss Ruddock’ was respecting her right to privacy – ie allowing her to keep back something more personal for her to share only with personal friends and acquaintances.

Perhaps God wanted to change the way Naomi related to names, and the process of giving names.  Her two sons both died young, and both had negative names – Mahlon means ‘sick’, Chilion ‘weakening’ or ‘pining’.   The father normally named a child, but I wonder if Naomi influenced his choice.

When Ruth had a baby, it was Naomi’s friends, rather than Boaz, Ruth, or Naomi herself, who gave him his name.  ‘And her [Naomi’s] neighbour women gave him a name, saying, A son is born to Naomi.  They named him Obed.’  (Obed means God’s servant). 

God saw Naomi’s pain, when she said ‘Why call me Naomi?’ (‘pleasant’).  Maybe rather than being displeased with Naomi for speaking negatively and bitterly, God simply wanted to restore her joy.   Naomi had declared something negative about herself, to a group of people who seem to have meant everything to her (the people of Bethlehem, her birthplace).   The story ends with the same group of people, or some of them anyway, declaring positive things about her. 

In the Alan Bennett monologue, Irene Ruddock serves a Community Service Order for harassing her neighbours (which was actually done with good intentions).  It turns out to be the making of her!  She takes on new activities, and makes lots of interesting friends.  Like Naomi, disaster overtook her, but things worked out happily in the end.  I’m sure she would have found more people she was happy to be called ‘Irene’ by!

As for Naomi – I wonder whether anyone in Bethlehem ever did use ‘Mara’ instead of ‘Naomi’ as per her request, or if they ignored it, thinking ‘it’s just a phase’.

As you can see, I’ve combined indigo and violet into one post, and I’ll stick to this pattern – however to maintain the ‘seven colours’ pattern, I’ll write alternately about pink and white for the seventh post, each time.

Even though pink isn’t an official rainbow colour, I’m sure I’ve spotted a rosy pink blush at the inside part of the rainbow.  And as for white, the colours of the rainbow combine to form white – perhaps you’ve seen one of those children’s rainbow spinning tops, where it turns white when the top is spun fast enough?

I am hoping that, just looking at this photo, you’ll be able to imagine what these flowers smelt like.  Yes, these hyacinths smelt beautiful, though I didn’t get the full benefit (I would have had to have been lying on the ground for that!  Indoor hyacinths are so much more accessible…)

Row upon row of them, half of them blue and the other half white, were exhaling their strong perfume in a garden enclosed by yew hedges.  Apparently this garden-within-a-garden is always entirely devoted to hyacinths in spring, with dahlias taking over in the autumn.

The regimental way these bulbs had been planted was the one disappointment.  To me, hyacinths have a fragrance that is heady and pungent, but also ‘young’ and fresh like a wild flower, so to plant them in such rigorous straight lines seemed to me to contradict their nature.

Fragrance gives us a way of changing our identity, without even having to change our appearance.  And it’s such a powerful thing.  Memories of smells embed themselves deep into our subconscious, hence the power of particular smells to stir up the past.

Scent doesn’t feature so much in men’s lives – at least in our British culture.  Though it could be more worthwhile for a man to wear aftershave, since women generally respond to smells even more intensely than men do!

I love wandering around the perfume department of any store, marvelling at the different names for perfume.  There’s the romantic ones, such as – obviously! – ‘Romance’ by Ralph Lauren, the slightly risqué ones, such as ‘Organza Indecence’ by Givenchy, and the poetic ones, such as ‘Light Blue’ by Dolce and Gabbana.  (This smelt just like I would expect, when I sampled the tester recently – cool and fresh!)

I love thinking up new names for scent.  What about a perfume called ‘Whatever!’?  I sometimes think women prone to stress would benefit from a body-spray of that name.  Perhaps made with extracts of the pheromones that male bodies release.  (Though just for their benefit, not for others’!) Especially in the run-up to Christmas.

I don’t think I realized what perfume was all about until I started writing this post!  I now think we do it to alter the mood of anyone who comes near us, and the atmosphere around us. 

The Bible says we are the fragrance of Christ.  The ‘spraying’ stage is when we spend time with him.  Learning what pleases him, and what shapes and orders our characters so they become more in harmony with him. 

It can sound a bit dangerously ‘New Agey’ to talk about mood-altering fragrances, but underneath the feelings of ‘I feel good around this person’, or ‘I love the ambience of this room’, there’s something very real.  (And Scripture warns that some people will hate our spiritual ‘scent’, because it will remind them they are dying inside.)  Someone once said she pictured a person’s spirit as extending a little bit beyond their body outline – I believe that accords with our experience.  Sometimes, you can feel the emotion dominating a person, even before they enter a room, while they are still just the other side of the door.

I’ve heard it said that perfumes react differently to different people’s bodies.  Something that smells good on me might not work so well on you.  Everyone is called to be the fragrance of Christ but the particular ‘scent’ you wear (subconsciously, most of the time) is unique to you.  As with everything, our detail-loving God delights to do things differently, each time.  When God makes a Christian, he breaks the mould.  Those crowded perfume counters don’t have anything on God!


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  • Carole: Beautiful!
  • Amy: Sounds like a beautiful color and dress. And I would love to see a picture of that tree! I do love trees of all kinds, and you make some great points
  • Amy: What a beautiful poem or song to God, love it! We're exciting to see spring here up in the northeast after a long, cold, snowy winter! Blessings, A