Interesting Times . . .

Greetings, everyone!  I’ve been doing a lot of resting, napping and binge-watching series on netflix and I’m beginning to feel better and ready to begin focusing on plans for whatever is left of my life. Along with making plans and designing a daily routine that will take me beyond cocooning and into renewed creativity, I have spent time just thinking about world events and the like. Now that I’m in Tacoma for a while, the likely changes that will come to pass after 20 January have occupied my mind more than a little.

I remember as a child being told that an ancient Chinese Curse was: “May you live in interesting times”. As it turns out, this is an English saying and no-one has ever traced it back to China. But either way . . . I think we are now living in VERY interesting times. And, as usual, even if it’s too late to do much about what’s happening (and I’m not sure it is too late, at least for everythig), we always have the choice about how we respond to these times.

I’ve been catching up with various Villagers and was interested to see in a comment on one post that heroin sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania due to the lack of available work. So that’s one response, I guess. I also read that a city in Florida (Miami? I should have taken notes, eh?) is proposing to build up all of their roads so that the rising of the sea level over the next decades won’t affect them. Short-sighted, but maybe better than nothing. What do you think?

As I said, I have been thinking (one of my favourite things to do) about possible responses to current political situations and working out a strategy for dealing with the stress I feel about some of them. I’m focusing on creating a response that is healthy for me and for those around me, but that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues or just ignore them.

IMG_9337

So . . . what makes a tree grow and bloom? If we look at the naked stick that itis in mid-winter and decide to withhold sunshine, water and food until it gets it together and starts doing what it’s supposed to do, is it likely we will see leaves and blossoms and eventually fruit? Nope, not so much.

 

And when a baby begins learning to walk and falls down . . .first-steps

free image off the ‘net

. . . do we scold them? Tell them they are hopeless and don’t deserve to walk, let alone run? Do we ridicule, shame or punish them? Of course not. We know that nurture and love, along with some teaching, will work wonders as children grow and develop. The same is true for adults, too, isn’t it?

So I have decided that when a politician worries me or threatens to do dreadful things, the healthy response for me is to surround that person or persons with love and light; to bless them, even as I sign petitions, join boycotts, and so on. And that leaves me in a happier place. It will be interesting to see the results. One thing I know, this approach will leave me happier and healthier in the long run, for me at least.

Creativity

I have to confess that I haven’t done much creating for these past months. My considerable stashes of yarn, fabric, art paper, etc. are all in storage in Vernon, BC. I did bring my knitting needles, though, and some crochet hooks.I started teaching my friend J to knit. She had done some as a child, but needed a refresher course, so I threw her in at the deep end with a tubular scarf with a Scandinavian pattern created with two-stranded knitting. Most of it will be plain knitting, though, so that will be easier for her to manage. After all, it’s only two circular needles . . .

J has been ill for three weeks, but is now feeling better, so tomorrow we are going back toJo-Ann’s to purchase a crochet hook and some cotton yarn for her to use making dishcloths / bath scrubbies. We were there over three weeks ago and I found a lovely teal cotton remnant; tomorrow I’ll be looking for a complementary piece and some batting. Then I plan to get on with finally making a tea cosy using Kym’s directions: Tea cosy design. I’ve been talking about doing this for several years now, and it’s finally time to act!

I did bring my Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ with me, but haven’t gotten back to working on it, although while at my cousins’ in September and early October I did work on one sleeve so that they are now nearly at the same point in the design.

Christmas

The past few years I’ve done little to nothing for Christmas and this year will probably be similar. Christmas boxes are simply too expensive to ship anymore. More than fifteen years ago I sent a box to my older son’s family. It held a selection of home-made cookies (biscuits) that I used to make when the boys were young, plus a book for each grandchild and a small gift for each parent. The postage was over $50!  I felt they could have used the money more, so for a few Christmases I sent a money order. However, that never feels christmassy to me; I enjoy finding the perfect thing for each person, then wrapping each gift creatively and ecologically.

Some years I used brown paper for the gift wrap; some years it was white tissue paper. I used green and red yarn instead of ribbon and tucked in a small cluster of seasonal greens: cedar, holly, sometimes a cinnamon stick or two. Inexpensive and lovely, at least we thought so.

I was thinking the other day about the first Christmas I shared with my husband and two sons. We lived in a very old house in Victoria that hasd a bay window. We were able to find a tree that reached nearly to the ceiling, but the budget was tight. We could afford gifts for the boys or ornaments for the tree, but not both. Of course we opted for the gifts.

For ornaments, I got really creative. I ‘borrowed’ small squares of plywood that the boys used for building blocks, wrapped the in white tissue and tied them with red and green yarn to resemble tiny presents. I used some veriegated yarn; some red and white, some green and white, to crochet a couple of dozen wee stockings. Those were hung on the tree with co-ordinating loops of yarn. Tiny candy canes were shaped from red, green and white pipe cleaners and we found a few dozen of the real thing at a nbargain price; just two inches long, they fit in perfectly.

Inspired by my favourite childhood books, I popped bowls of popcorn and we began threading onto heavy cotton thread. I like to string three or five kernels, then one cranberry and repeat until I have a string about four feet long. We made so many of these that I lost count! Then I tied the ends together carefully as I hung them on the tree.

The only other bought ornaments were some strings of tiny white lights that were on sale shortly before Christmas Day and some tinfoil icicles, which I hung one by one from the popcorn strings, spacing them as carefully as I could. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a Christmas tree.

The angel I made myself and I still think she was beautiful.

We used those decorations every year from then on, adding a few each time and they are in my storage unit now. I hope they have survived their long hibernation; if not I will simply have to make more.

Often I would wrap cookies in cellophane and hang them, too. The popcorn strings were left on the tree after the other bits were packed away and the tree was set up outside as a feast for the birds. This was always after the first week in January.  That, I’ll explain about in another post . . .  🙂

For some excellent Christmas baking and other recipes, and for more ideas for yuletide decorations, including a knit pattern for a wine box cover, check out Selma’s blog here: Eclectic Home & Life She lives in England, but hails from Norway and I love her traditional recipes. You may remember y post about making her Mocha Roulade for my Mum and myself on Mother’s Day in 2015. Light and scrumptious, it was the perfect dessert!

I hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas, taking time to enjoy the music, colour, lights, etc. Do try not to stress. It’s a good time for gratitude and I have to say again that I am grateful for each one of you, my Virtual Village neighbours.

Here, to help keep you in the mood, is a set of Christmas songs by Sissel, one of Norway’s great singers: Christmas songs by Sissel

Some of you may be familiar with Newfoundland’s group Great Big Sea.Here are some of their Christmas songs: Great Big Sea Christmas songs

And what is a post from me without a song from Funrig?

Silent Night

These are by Bruce Guthro, lead singer for Runrig and a Canadian from Cape Breton Island:

Christmas songs by Bruce Guthro

And, again by Bruce, a video in the true spirit of Christmas, featuring footage from the Christmas Truce of 1914. Christmas at the Front, 1914

And finally, a mixed bag, beginning with one of my own favourites:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and more

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Interesting Times . . .

  1. What wonderful memories of Christmases past. I think many of us are spending less on gifts and definitely avoiding mailing gifts due to the costs. I do hope you had a lovely Christmas, I know this is late but I am just now getting caught up on my reading.

    I live in Pennsylvania and can tell you the heroin problem is huge. There’s more to it than just being out of work though. For many who have pain issues they have lost the ability to get those pan meds with oxy being pretty much banned now. They are addicted to the medications and heroin is the next closest substance to the drugs they used to get.

    • Hi, again, Lois 🙂 No worries; I will never say anything about others’ ‘lateness’ in responding to any of my posts – I have been terribly remiss for quite some time when it comes to responding to everyone’s kind comments.

      Christmas was very nice and quiet, which suited all of us. I hope yours was all you wished as well.

      Somehow, I always thought of you as living in the western States; Oregon, perhaps. Funny how the imagination works, isn’t it? I’ve only been to Washington, Oregon and California in the West; New Mexico once, Arizona once, Washington DC once and Virginia twice. I’ve read a bit about Pennsylvania, though, and always thought it sounded interesting. Partly because of the Quaker influence, I suspect.

      AS to the growing drug problem, we have it in Canada, too; everywhere in the world, probably. I don’t know what the answer is, really. There are so many problems that aree huge and/or spreading that sometimes I feel that all I can do is turn my hand to whatever is nearby, and sometimes that’s mostly a matter of minding my own attitudes and thoughts.

      I hope your spring was good and your summer even better. Mostly I hope you will be back, of course,but I will understand if you are not. Love and Light to you, either way. And warm hugs from BC. ~ Linne

      • I’m glad you had a nice Christmas, Linne.

        I love the west coast but it’s here in PA that I feel at home most. There is very little Quaker influence left here but the Amish and Mennonites are spread throughout the state.

        I agree, there are too many problems for us to address them all. I do what I can and have to ignore the rest as best as I can.

  2. Hi there. Just popping over here to reply to your comment about SFT’s blog. I’m afraid I don’t have access to it either. I never saw a blogspot telling people that it was going private or inviting people to sign up – it is possible that she simply took it offline. I do hope it comes back sometime. As far as I know she hadn’t posted for a very long time because of various private/family issues going on. I still do keep up with my sealed pot but I have to admit I haven’t blogged about it for the last couple of years.
    I’m not sure if Sue from the blog http://ournewlifeinthecountry.blogspot.com might be able to help? That’s where I first heard about SFT I think, perhaps they have or had contact outside the blogosphere. Sue doesn’t post anymore but is still active and would undoubtedly reply to a comment.
    In the meantime, would love to hear your story of why the decorations stay up in January. I do something similar and am always interested to hear of other people’s reasons. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for taking time to reply to my comment. Sorry it’s been so long before my reply to you. I’ll check with Sue, just in case. I can understand anyone stopping blogging for a while or forever due to family issues. It’s been a bit like that for me, although ot so serious. I hope she comes back, too, as I really enjoyed all her tips.I’m planning to start on a sealed pot again soon. It worked well for me, even though I used much of what I saved for helping with my moving around this past year. Next I want to save for a trip
      next year.

      AS to January, many years ago my youngest son had a massive meltdown on Christmas afternoon, mostly we decided, as a result of the big buildup leading up to Christmas. So beginning the next year, we held back one gift for each of us, then invited their Dad and his family as well as friends and family who hadn’t been able to come by for Christmas Day to attend a ‘Little Christmas’ celebration on the sixth of January. This worked out so well, we did it every year until the boys had left home and I was on my own. My oldest son and his family still carry on the tradition. It originally was traditional for some Christians to celebrate that day as the day when the Magi brought their gifts and that’s why we chose that day, although we are not dogmatic or denominational in our beliefs.

      We found that extending the celebration and feasting (the only time of year I baked more than bread and the occasional treats, I started in early November and we feasted to our hearts’ content . . . ), along with enjoying a second complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings, left everyone feeling that they had truly ‘had Christmas’. And, as the boys’ Dad and his wife both had divorced parents who didn’t speak to each other, it made the visiting schedule much easier to handle. They brought gifts for us and we had theirs under the tree, along with gifts for anyone else expected to be sharing the day. It was always a magical time, full of love and cheer. The other thing we did was to set up the tree only a few days before Christmas Eve so that the needles wouldn’t drop off until after Little Christmas; a bald tree isn’t nearly so appetizing . . . So that’s our story.

      Another of my traditions was to make a HUGE amount of Christmas fruitcake somewhere in early November, pierce each one (I made lots of loaves of different sizes so that we could share them) and pour in brandy, then wrapped each in several layers of cheesecloth, then aluminium foil and stored them until the following year. By then, there was no alcohol, the cakes were properly moist and the flavours had melded wonderfully. It was my own recipe, which, along with most everything else, resides ‘somewhere’ in my storage units. I plan to share it once it comes to light. Along with my own eggnog recipe. 🙂

      Hope you are having a good year. Hugs from Beautiful BC. ~ Linne

  3. You have wonderful memories, a good reason for much gratitude, and clearly lots else to be grateful for, too. Gratitude for many things, some of which I had taken for granted previously, is what is keeping me going at the moment. It’s been a very tough year, so I’m having to work it a bit! 🙂
    I hope you enjoy whatever it is you decide to do for your Christmas. xx

    • Dear Jill; I’ve read quite a few of your posts over the winter and I have to say that I have no easy answer for overcoming depression. I’ve had my struggles with it, too, off and on over the years, and somehow have made it to the other side each time. Sometimes it was short and just getting outside in the sun or (my favourite fall-back) being creative in some way has helped; other times I’ve had trouble just motivating myself to do anything.

      I wish I could offer something, but nothing comes to mind. But at least you know you are not alone in this, if that helps.

      I agree that gratitude helps; at my lowest this pst couple of years I tried to make it a daily thing to find at least three things to be grateful for; usually I found many more than that. What I am doing now is this: I have decided that for the rest of my life I don’t want to waste any more time and I have resolved to make each day as good as I can, be grateful for what I have and to be as creatively occupied as possible. So far, it is helping.

      As my friend in Tacoma was quite ill for most of my first month there, we kept Christmas pretty quiet. We didn’t do gifts, but did do stockings, wrapping the small things we gathered so that the unwrapping prolonged the enjoyment. It was a good day. And I was included in her husband’s family dinner (at a restaurant a few days before Christmas), so that was good, too. We had a proper turkey dinner and that added to my contentment.

      I hope things are going well for you now and that you have had sufficient rain; it’s scary to live through times of drought, isn’t it?

      One of the items on my list of things to give thanks for is my’virtual village’ of fellow bloggers; you are all in my thoughts and prayers often. I hope that helps, even in a small way. Blessings and warm hugs ~ Linne

      • Linne, you are so kind to take the time to write this, thank you. Depression is currently under control, just a few other things turning out to be very challenging – not so much singly, but as a cluster, it’s just too much sometimes. But we all have problems to face, and you are very right when you say it helps to know one is not alone. I am extremely blessed to have supportive friends, two of whom have been with me since I was a teenager!!!
        I also write down three things I am grateful for every evening, and often the list stretches to more than 3 – so I consider that a win.
        I have made some friends via blogging who have been AMAZING – writing that first blog post was one of the best things I ever did 🙂
        I love your daily resolution (about not wasting any more time / creativity) and may even write it on a piece of paper and stick it to the wall above my desk. Just for the those days when my memory fails me completely, you know!… xxx

      • Jill, it’s always so nice to find kindred spirits; writing my first post was the best thing, ever, for me, too, and I also have made friends around the world. I am a bit of an oddball and have always been tall, gangly, and a bit awkward, especially socially. Although I do connect quite easily with people one-on-one. Mostly, though, blogging has allowed me to connect with people who shared my many and varied interests. The world is so much less lonely since I began posting and following others.

        When I was in Tacoma over the winter, I was not very creative for the first months. When I finally began again, I really noticed the difference in how I felt and in a general cheering-up inwardly.

        That resolution was made when I realized that I was seeing nothing in the future to move toward. My family on my mother’s side are very long-lived and I can reasonably expect to live another 20 or 25 years or possibly more. When thinking what I would do with that time (I prefer to plan for the best and then adapt to whatever comes) I knew one thing for sure; I was not willing to waste any more of it in despair, fear/anxiety or negativity, as much as possibly, anyway. besides, my parents would not be happy with me if I were to let my sadness at their absence in my life cause me to not make the most of whatever is left to me. I’m glad you like the resolution and that you may find it useful for yourself.

        i have three or four good friends back on the west coast and another four or five in Edmonton. We moved so often when I was young that I never made any lasting friendships; mostly I was to be found off by myself, nose deep in a book. You are fortunate to have friends that have known you for so long I think.

        I wish you all the best, Jill. I read your post about your home invasion (what we call it here) and on Mr. 23Thorns’ blog his story of a similar, but even more terrifying event. He lives in South Africa, too. When I was growing up, we never locked the doors to the house unless we were going away for a few days. Car keys were left in the ignition when Mum and Dad went downtown shopping (we lived near quite small towns in those years). I hate that these days we have to live in fear, locking doors, etc. I do it, but I don’t like it.

        It may help to see your home surrounded and filled with light, if that works for you. If I were in your shoes, I’d likely do something symbolic to help me let go of those negative energies, too. But that sort of thing is very personal; you’ll find what works for you.

        On a brighter note; I love your bedcovers and other things that you make. I’ve done sreen printing in the past, including wallpaper for a bookstore in Victoria with my sons’ father. I still have a small kit I bought for one of the boys, who wasn’t at all interested. Once I have a space in which to work, and find my inks, etc., I would like to try printing some bits of fabric to use for pockets and the like. But that’s likely a ways off . . . I especially like that you often use images from nature in your area, too.

        Well, this is becoming a book; I’ll leave some for another day, shall I? Take care of yourself, Jill, and know you are remembered from half-way around the world.

        Blessings to you ~ Linne

  4. The holiday season is a tough time for many and for many reasons. I agree with you that these are “interesting” times. A little scary too but you have the right attitude. Where your focus goes, energy flows so keeping your eyes on only that which brings you joy, will only bring you more joy. Where are your grown children these days? Mine just flew in to spend Christmas with me. He usually does if at all possible. No grandchildren but I have grand nieces that I can spoil. They are growing up too. Life goes on and for me, Christmas is different every year. I’m still unpacking stuff and waiting to get stuff out of storage too. i hope you find your little spot to call home soon. I finally have. Nothing fancy but it’s comfortable. Merry, Happy Christmas, Linne. And may your New Year be bright. Hugs.

    • Marlene, as you know, this year was my first without my mother in many years, so it was made easier simply by the fact that I was in another place altogether. And with friends instead of family. Expecting things doesn’t always make them easier; ask anyone about to give birth . . . 🙂

      It took me a long time to learn that trick of focusing energy; I don’t have it mastered yet, but I sure see it working whenever I succeed in using it. There have always been challenging or dangerous times; we have no right to expect those things to skip past us, really. But that’s not always so easy to hang onto, is it?

      My older son and his family are still on Salt Spring Island, between Vancouver Island and the mainland, closer to the big island. Only five of the kidlets at home now, as the older girl is 16 and living independently. She was always independent, so no surprise there. She’s doing very well, too. My younger son is living with a new partner in Duncan, partway up Vancouver Island; she has two girls, about 7 or 8 and 14-ish. Both lovely girls and a delight to have finally met last autumn.

      Nice your son made it home for Christmas and how good that you have nieces to spoil. I’d love to be sending boxes to my grandkids (now 8 of them), but postage is so prohibitive here. It doesn’t help that I prefer to send home baking, books and project kits . . .

      You are right; Christmas IS different each year. I hope once I have a place of my own agaain to return to at least most of my favourite customs. We used to have Christmas dinner for immediate family and then I would make it all again for ‘Little Christmas’ and we would have friends, the boys’ dad and his second family and anyone else who couldn’t come on the original day. After the younger boy had a major meltdown one Christmas, caused by all the hype leading up to the day and then it being over so quickly, we began the custom of celebrating ‘Little Christmas’. In some places, it is celebrated as the the day the three wise men arrived with their gifts and we liked that. We saved one gift for each of us to open on that day and by the time the guests had come and gone and we’d enjoyed the second dinner, everyone was happy with the holidays and ready to begin looking toward spring. I love cooking for feast days, so it was never any trouble that way, either. And of course extra leftovers were wonderful! One of my favourite things is stuffing sandwiches (bread on bread, I always say); I never get enough of that. And I’d begin baking in late October, putting cookies, etc., away for the season. The Christams fruitcake (another favourite) I always made in NOvember, pierced and doused in brandy, then wrapped in cheesecloth and tinfoil and after that packed away until the following year; with over a year to age, there was no liquor left and everyone could enjoy it. I made a huge amount in a jam kettle and baked it in all sorts of sizes of tins, timing their removal from the oven based on size. That way I had small ones to give away, too.

      I’m glad you have found a home; no matter how humble, it’s a good thing to have a place of one’s own where we have at least some control. (and, for me, a place to plant and create without bothering anyone). There will be a place for me when the time is right and in the meantime, I can be of help here. I have a couple of small raised beds for my own use and have already purchased three varieties of kale and a package of Mesclun Salad Mix seeds. It’s very cold this week, though, so they are waiting for a few days until it’s warm enough for me to get their new beds ready. I also am going to do my best to salvage a front flower bed; it has moss growing in it and flowers have not been doing well, so I think it’s just a matter of acid/alkaline balance and plan to add some lime to sweeten things up a bit. It’s a start, I feel, and once we set foot on a road, the Universe has a way of sending more good stuff our way. It’s all practise, in the end, and that’s what I not only am working on, but it’s also something I seriously need to be doing. Hugs back to you, ,Marlene. Talk with you soon.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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