Day 10: A Story for Saturday

This is the beginning of my introduction to TMMT, soon to be revealed.

Today I want to share one of my favourite stories with you all. You know, there have been times in my life when I was ‘out of sync’ and things didn’t flow easily; in fact, sometimes it seemed as though they had frozen right up. But I’ve had a few times when I was ‘in sync’, too and then life seemed easy, even magical.

I rarely had much money and so had not travelled other than a few short trips into Washington State or to visit friends in upper central BC. Once we even drove to Peace River to visit my husband’s sisters. But nothing further.

Then, one year, I was chosen as a delegate to an international conference in Virginia on the East Coast of the USA. I was given enough money to cover my air fare and a week in a hotel, plus some for incidentals. But I wanted to maximize the opportunity, so I booked my flight for a three week stay, not knowing how that might work out. I didn’t book a hotel room, either.  I did know that there was a campsite set not too far from where the conference was being held, so Plan Z was to stay there for the duration and take the trolley back and forth each day.

I did stay there the first night. I had arrived at 9 o’clock in the evening and it was already pitch dark outside. I’d forgotten that, the further south one goes, the earlier the sun sets in the summer. But no worries, eventually the trolley came and I took that to the campsite, where the overnight staff were rather astounded to see a single, 40-year old woman on a Friday night. Well, what did I know? I grew up when camping meant camping, not drinking and raising hell . . .

So the staff gave me a site near to their office and kept an eye on me all night. They were great! For the first half of the night there were loud sounds of people carrying on, drinking, singing, talking loudly; a while later there were  sounds of people being sick in the bushes. But eventually all was quiet and I did get some sleep.

I should tell you about my camping style here, too. I didn’t own a tent but I did have a sleeping bag. So I took five large black plastic bags and a piece of kitchen twine. I had a plan, you see. I made and lived in a tipi the  year myboys’ Dad and I worked on a small truck farm in the Okanagan and I had a book on tipis. so I knew how they were fastened down to keep themf rom blowingover in high winds. And I adapted the idea to make a sort of tent/shelter. I cut one bag open at the bottom to form a tube, then overlapped it with another bag. I put a pebble inside and pushed it up through the two layers, winding the string around a couple of times, then forming a half hitch to hold it in place. I didn’t cut the string. Another pebble about six inches away, more string wrapping, and so on until I had a long sausage shaped bag. I cut another plastic bag open down one side and hung it from a tree branch with more string until the corners touched the ground. I used small rocks to anchor the corners after I’d spread them out. The two remaining garbage bags I used to cover the backpack so it would stay dry. I got the sleeping bag into the ‘sausage’ bag and myself into that, with my head under the cone shaped bag hanging from the branch. I slept well and was dry as could be, although it did rain a bit during the night. The only thing I lacked for was food, because I wasn’t allowed to bring any on the flight. It’s amazing what one can do when motivated and informed, isn’t it?

I woke early, bought some snacks from a vending machine and sat on a picnic table eating my makeshift breakfast and revelling in the sound of the Atlantic ocean just over the dunes. Then I walked to the shore, took off my shoes and waded into the chilly water. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

By 9 am I was on the trolley and on my way to the conference to sign in. We stopped for a break at a small fruit stand and I had a treat that I’d dreamed about for years, but never expected to realize: I bought a real Georgia Peach and ate it right there, bent over to let the gushing juice fall onto the ground. It was amazing and all I had imagined it o=would be.

When I finally arrived at the conference , I did ask about places to stay and was given a list of people who always provided a room to attendees. but, of course, all were filled. Indeed, some people had booked their rooms the year before. Well, no worries. I went back to the nice lady at the desk and asked if she knew of anything else I might try. And she mentioned a young couple who were usually on the list but not that year. So I called them and it turned out they were artisans, one a potter and the other a silversmith, with thousands of dollars worth of tools and stock in their home. They were going to Washington, DC that week for a few days and hadn’t wanted to leave strangers in their home. But they said if I hadn’t found anything by 3 pm I should call them back. I explained that I didn’t need to be in their house; I just wanted a place to camp. I planned to wash up at the conference itself. I’ve lived outdoors several times in my life when younger and I do love it, so I was quite fine with the idea. And there was always the campsite.

By 2 I still hadn’t found anything else, so I called them back and was invited over. We hit it off immediately and an hour later they left for DC and, much to my surprise and delight,  I had been left in the house with keys and all. Best of all, when I walked out the back door, across the yard and then across a narrow lane, I had only to climb a small bank and I was at the conference! I was closer than anyone who had booked way in advance. The couple asked if I thought $10 a night would be ok, as I was going to buy all my own food. And of course it was! I stayed with them for two weeks (they returned a few days later, maybe 3 or 4) and I did what I have always done; I helped with the dishes, babysat their lovely 3 year old daughter, generally made myself useful when not at meetings. And when I left they would only take $5 per night. There ARE miracles in this world!

But I still had a week to go before my return flight. I had brought enough of my own money with me to cover a few extras and one of those was a massage at the massage school. The trainee who gave me the massage was a lovely young girl and we connected right away. She asked me questions about where I was from and where I was staying. And she said that if I needed a place to stay at any point to let her know and I could stay with her. At the end of the second week I had to leave the couple’s home; his older children were coming to stay for the summer. So I did contact the masseuse and ended up spending a delightful week with her. She was paying her way through the massage school by working part time in a fast food place that specialized in something called, I think, Cajun Boil. They had large pots of water with spices in and in those they cooked a wide variety of seafood, all sort thrown in together. Crab, lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, fish of several types, etc. And if a customer placed an order and didn’t pick it up, the staff was allowed to take it home. So I had all the fresh seafood I could eat for a week, every day.  I could never have afforded to eat like that back home. And she was great company, too. ONe night we went to see a movie and sat in the car outside with paper towelling tucked into our collars, feasting on fish and shellfish before going in to see :Raising Arizona”. I shall never forget that time.

That trip was on my bucket list, although we didn’t use that term in those days. I learned a lot about stepping out on faith and having trust.

I have two other stories to share with you, but it’s too late tonight.

May the day be merry and bright and may you find time for creating something, baking, stitching, painting, writing, anything that makes your heart sing.

Dubliners Travelling People

Music for today:

An all time favourite of mine: The Travelling People, also known as The Moving On Song,  sung here by The Dubliners. My brother in law who died three years ago first introduced me to this recording and to The Dubliners. I particularly love the pictures used for this video; I had horses like that years ago and nearly ended up living in a gypsy wagon then, too. A long story . . . But I’ve learned that sometimes a simple life is a hard life; all the same, it usually gives us greater gifts than one might imagine.

And another song, Go, Move, Shift; this one by Ewan MacColl, is even more relevant in these days and for Christmas in the original story.

See you tomorrow.  ~ Linne

Day 2: Christmas Gifts

I do have to apologize for not having photos to include in most of these posts. My printed pictures are somewhere in the storage units and I have nothing of my own traditions on the laptop or iphone.  I do have some family photos and have found a few historic ones as well and that will have to do for now..

Old Traditions:

When I was young, we usually received one gift from our parents and one from Santa Claus. They were always wrapped in brightly coloured Christmas paper, with stick-on bows and sometimes ribbon, too. Our names and the name of the giver would be on a tag; Mum bought them in large packages. Two each doesn’t sound like much, but with nine children, there was a good-sized pile, even in the years when there were no parcels from Uncles and Aunts or from Mum’s Dad and his wife and second family of four boys. But some years there were those extra parcels and how exciting that was!

 

Some of the most memorable gifts were a pair of skis for my two oldest brothers; That was when we lived in Chase, in the old house that had been a hospital once (see Day 1 for the photo). that house was at the top of a hill that went down toward the Shuswap Lake and the road that passed by the front of oour house was perfect for ‘skiing’ down. Pretty much what happened was that we strapped the skis on over our winter boots, stood up and slid as far down the hill as possible without falling down. The ski poles helped, of course. Skiing was a family tradition for Mum, although I didn’t know, or else just didn’t appreciate, that at the time. But now I know that her Dad skied to school every day and pretty much everywhere he went in the long Norwegian winters. My Auntie told me recently that he brought his skis with him to the States when he emigrated at nineteen and still had them when she was growing up in south-western Saskatchewan on a wheat farm near the small town of Tompkins. All the kids learned to ski on those skis and they are now in a museum in another town near there. I have the name written down, but can’t find it at the moment.

Above is a picture of a Norwegian woman in a bunad (traditional clothing) on skis; to the right are two pictures of King Haakon and Queen Maud; the top taken in 1906, the bottom one, which includes Prince Olav,  in 1907. My grandfather would have been 16 and 17 when these were taken. I couldn’t find any photos of a young man on skis from that time.

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Above are my Mum’s parents; the picture was taken either for their engagement or wedding, most likely in 1911 or 1912. He would have been 21 or 22; she was 20 or 21. I love the hand-stitched clothes my Grandmother wore in those days. And my mother looked just like her; it’s one of my favourite photos.

Other gifts I remember: that Christmas in Chase I opened my gift from Santa and watched as the others opened their gifts. But there was nothing for me from my parents. In vain I looked under the tree, on the tree branches, behind the tree. Nothing. I feared that I had been forgotten (certainly possible when there are so many children, I thought). I didn’t want to call attention to the fact in case my parents really had forgotten me, as I knew it would upset them. Imagine my relief when I was told to go into the dining room and look on the shelf of thwe pass-through (the window through the built-in buffet where food was passed to the dining room). And there I found a wee terrapin in a glass bowl. How happy I was! We had taken a trip to the coast to see relatives the summer before and I had been quite enamoured of a terrapin I saw in a store window. Somehow my Mum and Dad had managed to buy it, smuggle it home in the trunk of the car and then care for it for the months until Christmas. He survived for several years and I enjoyed feeding him every day.

Another gift I remember, but with some shame, was a kit to make my own perfmes. There was an instruction book and several small vials of scent. I was to mix the various ingredients as instructed; one drop of A, three drops of B and so on. But this is where I first encountered the perils of ‘winging it’. I mixed several things together by ‘instinct’ and the result was awful. Not something I could undo, either. This gift was from my Mum’s next older sister, my cousin M;s mother. She loved me as much as Mum did and I have always felt badly that I didn’t properly appreciate the gift she had chosen with such care.

 

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself;

 

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Auntie A., cleaning the catch.

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself; we always cut a very large tree, then cut off the bottom foot or so, so that I could use the trimmings to decorate the mantel of the fireplace, tops of bookshelves, sometimes even making a wreath for the front door. I would add a sprig of holly when I could get it, and when we lived in the big log house north of Victoria, we had two large holly trees by the front gate that gave us not only leaves, but lovely berries, too.

Some years I bought white tissue paper for the wrapping, but still tied with yarn and added the greenery and berries. That sort of simple wrapping, done at so little cost, gave me a deep joy. And the piles of gifts under the tree looked so lovely. I wrapped all the gifts we were giving in the  same way and those stayed under the tree until the recipients had come to visit or we had paid them a visit.

I never was a fan of plastic toys or ‘collectibles” with a tiny budget, I wanted to make every penny count. Toys that would be played with for a few hours and then discarded just didn’t fit the bill.

My choice for my sons and other children has always been books and something creative. Some years it was Tinker Toy and Meccano or Lincoln Logs; other years a kit to make something. Star Wars spaceships and other models. were popular. A silk screening kit one year, too. Books were given every year and I still have all of them. Once I start going through the things in my storage I may pass them on to my sons. Or I may keep them for the grandchildren to read when they visit. We’ll see. Some of the books I remember are the Dr. Seuss classics and Hope For the Flowers, Also Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon. I had read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the boys several times before they wee old enough to read for themselves. The first time I read those, the eldest boy was 4 and a half and the youngest yet to be born. I have several sets of those, so they will each receive copies one day.

AS to gifts I received, the two that stand out the most both came from my husband. ONe year it was a portable sewing machine that he traded for. It had belonged to my friend who now lives in Tacoma and it still works perfectly, although it must be going on 40 years old or more. The other was a silver flute in a case. I had mentioned casually one spring that I’d always wanted to play the flute and so he saved enough to buy me one and arranged with my RN sister to give me a set of lessons to get me started. I still have it (in the storage of course) and even though I never  progressed very far, I still enjoy playing it when possible. Anther thing on my long list of “things I will do once I am settled”  🙂

One of the funnier gifts I received from my older son was a whiteboard with a marker, meant to hang in the kitchen and hold notes about groceries to buy and the like. We always tried to guess what was in our parcels, so he took a very large bos, managed to stick pieces of string to the inside corners so that the whiteboard hung suspended in the centre, then wrapped the entire box beautifully. It was so light I simply could not guess the contents.

The best gifts I think I ever gave anyone? Well, I bought a silver serving spoon with a gold-plated bowl for my Mother one Christmas while I was working at the little antique store. I never dared tell her how much I paid for it, though.I bought it because she had the lovely china bowl that her mother had called her ‘berry bowl’ In it the spring strawberries would be  put, half of them mashed well with sugar to produce a syrup and then the rest added whole. They were often served over a slice of sponge cake with whipped cream from their own cows on top. But Mum never had a special spoon for that  bowl and I wanted her to have one. She gave the spoon back to me a couple of years ago, when we were no longer making desserts like that. (She gave all of us back the things we had given her over the years and we all treasure those items). My RN sister J has the bowl now and I plan to give her the spoon once it surfaces.The bowl had floral decals around the sides and te edges were trimmed with real gold. The spoon looks perfect with it.

The other gift I gave was something I made myself. It was a Cowichan style sweater for my husband. The best part was that I designed it myself, using symbols that had meaning for him. I wish I had a photo to show you. Mum gave me one that she had taken, but I don’t have it here with me. I worked hard on that, knitting during the day when he was at work and hiding it before he arrived home. Still he was able to guess that he was getting a sweater. My joy was in the fact that he had no idea that it would be designed especially for him. He still wears it, too. He and his wife live on a concrete sailboat and are spending the winter toward the north end of Vancouver Island, so I’m sure the sweater is put to good use.

Our family never had a lot of money, but we made up for it with thoughtfulness and creativity. If you have stories like that to tell, please feel free to do so in the comments. If you are posting about them yourself, do leave a link in the comments for others to see.

What was the best gift you ever received?

What was the best gift you ever gave?

I am writing this in the evening of the first of December. (Well, I see now that it’s actually past one am on the second). May you find peace, joy and inspiration today, wherever you are and no matter what your circumstances.

By the way, I didn’t add a music link yesterday, although I’d meant to. So I shall add two for today.

I watch this video whenever I’m feeling low or discouraged. Do let me know if you like it!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4CG18FPCj0

The next is a song written and sung by Bruce Guthro, who hails from cape Breton Island but now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been the lead singer for Runrig since 1998 and still pursues his solo career as a singer/songwriter at home in Canada.

And I found this again; a Christmas song by another great Canadian group, the Barra MacNeils. They are also from Cape Breton Island. So here’s a bonus song to get you in the spirit . . .

I’ve been a bit quiet . . .

. . . but up to quite a bit. I finally figured out how to upload the green scarf photos to Picasa, not to Google. I did it the first time with no trouble, then couldn’t remember exactly how. Oh, well, I got it figured out; only took about four or five hours . . .  So, when Pauline gets home, she can choose the one she wants before I put them in the store. I do love the greens; there are five dark green and three light . . . I dyed six dark, then accidently snipped three tiny holes in one while removing the threads for the final rinsing. But all is not lost . . . I’ve got an idea or two on what to do with that one. 🙂

Then I’ve been working on an interesting project for my friend Mrs. Crafty:

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Mrs. C found a few crochet patterns at the Re-Use-It Store recently and only after she had them at home did she realize they were all in Danish! So I have been typing the instructions into a Word document, complete with the special characters, and then using the Word Translator utility to turn them into U.S. English (no option for Canadian English, of course). The translations aren’t finished, though, because some of the words didn’t translate and some were translated into very odd wording. So now I must go over the originals, word by word, and figure out the missing bits. Lots of fun for me, the word/language geek (who is only fluent in English hahaha!); I do love an odd challenge! I have done two of the five so far; the lovely summer hat pattern pictured above and another for a baby set; jacket, bonnet and booties, all in Tunisian crochet.

So what was I listening to while doing this typing? Yep, Runrig, in Gaelic, of course! I’m not sure why it doesn’t distract me from what I’m doing, but it doesn’t. Interesting.

I have just finished a most fascinating book, too:

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This is the true story of a boy diagnosed as autistic at two and a half. His parents, after a fascinating series of events, including a treatment by some shamans (Bushmen of the Kalahari people, whom the dad was helping in their fight for autonomy and to not be evicted from their ancestral homelands) took him to Mongolia to meet with a group of shamans and then a single shaman of the Reindeer People. I won’t tell you the whole thing, but if you haven’t read this yet, you may want to add it to your winter reading list. If you know anyone who has a family member with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, I highly recommend reading this. I learned so much from it and found I couldn’t put it down! What the dad has to say about the boy’s special relationship with animals of all sorts and especially with horses is also fascinating. After they returned from Mongolia, they set up a riding school for both neuro-typical kids and kids with autism, Asperger’s, etc. In addition, the mum is a psychologist teaching at the uni in Austin, Texas. She is a Buddhist and has been developing a study on self-compassion, which she says is much better and more helpful than raising self-esteem. After reading some of her writings,, I have to agree. She has done some TED talks, too, apparently. Her name is Kristin Neff, if you want to google her and learn more.

This is a perfect example of why I’m not in favour of e-books replacing ‘real’ books; As you can see by the sticker on the cover, it was a ‘Staff Pick’, so I happened to spy it sitting on a shelf and immediately knew I had to read it! If I’d had to know the title and then look for it in the ether somewhere, I never would have discovered it. It’s given me so much to think about; I can’t begin to address all that here, at least not just now.

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Oh, yes . . . you know what this is, don’t you? That’s right, a new project! And yes, there are four circular needles in play; I couldn’t find the right size of double-pointed needles for this project and I need to get it done soon, so I’m improvising, as usual . . .

I really needed another project, as you all know . . . I can’t tell you what it is exactly, but all will be revealed one day soon. I can say that (generally speaking) it’s going to be sent to the Snail of Happiness once completed . . .IMG_5744[1]

This is a framed photograph taken by my Dad when he and Mum were on a trip through part of the Yukon. That’s Atlin Lake in the background and my Mum is just visible, coming back from the water with a couple of bucketsful for their camp. The picture is in our living room / lounge and I love to look at it, so thought I’d share it with you.

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In case Christi is reading this, here’s a picture of Dorcas, who has been settling in nicely (it takes a while) and is now producing delicious Kefir for me. Her grains are so BIG!

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While eating supper, I’ve been watching several movies. These pictures are from Les Miserables, the version with Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. I read the book in school and later, but hadn’t seen any of the movies. This one was good. I especially love the robe the young Cosette is wearing in the second picture. The first picture is her playing with her doll after Valjean pays the horrible greedy caretaker so the girl can have some time to play. This little girl is quite adorable.

Well, I’ll be back soon (not too soon; don’t want to stuff up your Readers 😉  ). Have a wonderful week, all of you.

Oops, nearly forgot: here’s some music for you . . .

Malvina Reynolds, an original Bolshie Little Black Duck, if you don’t mind my saying so, Narfie! Malvina began her songwriting creer in her late 40s. You’ll know her “Little Boxes” and “What Have They Done to the Rain?”

and Tracy Chapman . . . I haven’t heard anything about her for a while, but a friend loved her work and we used to listen to this a lot.

Moving and other things . . .

Well, it’s been a week since I posted, which is new for me. But I’ve missed being here a lot. I don’t have time to reply to comments just now, but will catch up at some point, likely in a couple of weeks.
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We’ve had some amazing storms and stormy skies over the past while; I love them and won’t post all the photos, I promise 😉
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Same clouds a few minutes later . . .

I’ve been alternately overwhelmed and lying on the couch reading with a small bowl of cashews and raisins for ‘needed strength’ or else I’ve been packing, putting the boxes in large clear blue plastic bags, tying them tightly and putting them out on the balcony. That’s right . . . OUT ON THE BALCONY!! Well, they have to be staged somewhere in readiness for moving day . . .

Mum has decided to put a lot of her things into the storage for a month or two as well. Besides the dreaded balcony inspectors, we also expect a team to refinish nearly all the ceilings in the apartment. This is because of big stains left from the days when the roof leaked a LOT! We don’t care and asked if it could be left until we leave, but the condo board is so inflexible they make rigid look like overcooked spaghetti . . .

Mum is also leaving on Wednesday with my sister from here and our two great-nieces. They will be gone for two weeks for various adventures, including visiting my RN sister in Chilliwack, BC. It will be a good break for Mum. I wasn’t able to book a moving truck for today as planned, but have one for the 7th through the 9th of August and the landlady informed me today that the inspection of balconies won’t happen until after the 10th!! So a certain amount of the weight is off my shoulders and I’m feeling marginally less overwhelmed. It also helped to have a mini-breakdown several times in the past few days as things continued to pile up in ways I could not have foreseen, but which had to be dealt with. Too much to even contemplate writing about just now; I’m just glad that better times appear to be on their way, after the move, of course.
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An amazing sunset happened while I was at my Aunty’s last week. It was while the full moon was happening and to top it off, we could just see the fireworks from the Klondike Days fair (now re-branded to “K-days” after a couple of years of being “Capital Ex”, which no-one liked and many quit going to). It was stunning! This picture was taken facing due East, actually. Still amazing, no?
Tomorrow, my friend C will come in the late morning and we will load up as many boxes as her car can fit, then go to the storage facility where two new units await us. Sounded to me as though they’ve been opened up into one unit, but I won’t know ’til we get there. Thanks to my sister, we have a unit large enough for both Mum’s and my things, at a price we can afford.

We will take loads when she is free (my friend C, I mean) just to get some space opened up here for me to pack into. Then we will pick up the UHaul truck (a small one, only 10′ long in the back) on Wednesday the 7th and begin loading into it. We are no longer allowed to back up the hill to the back door, as that lawn is the roof of the underground parking (glad I never thought of that the last time I took a big truck up there!!) and we aren’t allowed to back up to the front steps, either, so the move will entail taking a dolly of boxes and whatever else we can fit into the elevator in one go and then carrying them down one step into the vestibule, across the upper landing outside, down more steps, across another, smaller landing and down the last steps to the ground, then over to the truck. This is assuming that we can find a place to park the truck in front . . . if we can’t, we will park in the back and then take the elevator to the basement, down a hall, through a door to the carpark, across that, then up a steep ramp to the street level. Fun, eh?? Can you tell I’m just a wee bit grumpy at the thought? Oh, well . . . as they used to say, “needs must when the devil drives!” 🙂 IMG_3607[1]
For some reason, WordPress is doing odd things; when I add a photo, it is placing it at the beginning of the post and I am having to move it down in stages to the bottom. Grrrrrrrr…………. This one is the full moon the night before the stormy sunset.

Right now, you can be glad that the smell of my hands is not attaching to this post . . . the last time I was going to use the dolly, one of its tires was flat, so I purchased a can of “Fix-a-Flat” and this evening I went out on the balcony and shook the can vigorously, as instructed. I then attached the end of the clear flexible hose to the valve of the tire (after removing the cap, of course). Then I held the button on top of the cap until I judged the gloop had stopped flowing. (I may not have held it long enough; I was afraid of the tire blowing up in my face). When I unscrewed the connector, some of the gloop oozed out (not sure if ‘ooze’ is the right word; it was a bit more energetic than that) and onto my fingers. I wiped them on the peeling paint of the balcony floor and did the other wheel, just to be sure. Same procedure and even more gloop on my hands. Wiped that off, too. Then I re-capped the can and rolled the dolly back and forth for a while. The instructions said to drive (it was assuming I would be re-inflating a car tire, of course) for 6 – 8 km, but there was no way I was going to roll the dolly that far, so what I’ve done will have to do . . .
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Here’s my latest batch of kefir ‘cream’ cheese, courtesy of the delectable Delicious Delilah.
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This is how I make it: I hold a #4 coffee filter (a white one; I tried a ‘natural, unbleached’ brown one and the kefir immediately made a hole in the bottom and I had to start over); I fold it a little bit over the edge of the container, hold it with one hand and with the other, pour in as much kefir as fits. Then I screw the lid on, which anchors the filter. A day or three later I pour out the whey that has collected in the bottom, put the ‘cream cheese’ in another container and add more kefir. Today I used the whey in the breadmaker as I was making some “white with a bit of whole wheat and a bit more than that of wheat germ” bread. Yum!!

I have found a ‘work-around’ for uploading the photos at the end of what I’m writing: I am selecting the entire post, ‘cutting’ it, uploading the photo, moving the cursor above the link info and then pasting the post back in place. Then I select the entire post, cut, insert photo . . . ’til my patience runs out, I guess . . .
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Here is my supper the other night: some of my yummy bread with mayo and avocado. I LOVE avocado . . . especially with onion thinly sliced along with it. Not sure if I had any on that sandwich, though.
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. . . and this is the gift I found inside my avocado . . . see the lovely little radicle? I had an avocado tree I grew from one like this (quite a few years ago now); it was over six feet wide and a bit taller than that, too. I forgot to water it on one too many occasions and now all I have is its dried up root ball. (don’t ask!) 😉 So I was overjoyed to find this; a high point in my week, for sure.

I have a lovely series of storm photos I wanted to upload for you, but it’s late, I’m tired and besides, I’m out of time on the computer. One last thing for you, though:

http://acerecipe.com/recipes_food/all_network/13407/Bottomless-Brandied-Fruit-Crock.html

My RN sister used to keep a batch of this in her pantry and was it ever good spooned over icecream, puddings, or just straight from the crock to the mouth . . . don’t know if it’s to anyone’s taste these days, but I always wanted to make it and then use it a year or two later in fruitcake. (quit making that face! I can see you!!) I love fruitcake and created my own recipe that is the best I ever tasted (and I’m not bragging, either! honest!!) But I think this fruit would improve it even more.

Well, I’m off to dreamland soon. Have a great week. Not sure if I’ll be able to post next Monday or not; that will be moving week. If not, I’ll be back after the Long Haul is over. Have a great week out there, all you who are harvesting and putting by and also those who are planning the plantings . . . ~ Linne

. . . so, it isn’t the end . . . and other things . . .

Well, I’ve a fair bit to share today, so no Wednesday Word again. Maybe next week . . .

Stacy left me a comment that included this:

Did you ever see the Marigold Hotel movie? I love that movie – they say “All will be well in then end. If all is not well, then it’s not the end.” 🙂

I told her I was stealing part of it for my blogtitle. So now you know what that is all about . . . or you will further down . . .

Meantime, lots has been going on here; first, the weather continues unabated. Clear or nearly so skies in the early part of the day; mild clouding in the mid-afternoon; strong winds bringing hail, lightning and thunder, as well as deluges in the evening or the middle of the night. This is the hail from two or three days ago (the day I was caught in the first go-round; this was a second set a couple of hours later) Note that the railing in the picture is only the reflection; I loved how it came out all wavery and I think where the paint is peeling makes a very pretty pattern:

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We heard on the six o’clock news tonight that another bunch of thunderstorms was heading our way. I went out to look, but there was nothing in sight then. It’s now 9:30ish and the sun has a half hour or so to go yet. At 9:00 the sky  was looking like this (the photos range from slightly south-west to north-north-west, but are not in order):

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While I was typing, the storm arrived, with enough wind that I had to get up and close the windows and sliding doors. It sounded like hail or else very large and heavy rain. I got a couple more photos (sorry about the screening; I was looking through it and forgot the camera sees everything!):

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The lightning and thunder have been going on for a while now, but the rain has slackened. I can hear the tires shushing along the street that runs in front of the building. I just looked out the window again and there is another set on the way! So I suspect Mum and I will be sitting up for the third time, watching the lightshow from the living room.

The ‘plain’ garter stitch shawl continues to grow in size:

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I have been thinking about Christi and the BO’s slaughtered Cornish hens since I read her posts on Farmlet. Then I remembered an organic rancher whom I very much admire for his humane approach to raising animals for meat. His company is First Nature Farms and if you have time, it’s worth checking out his site. He and his wife, along with their two children, raise all sorts of stock, from bison to beef to turkeys (the wild variety, not the white ones), chickens, and more. They have large rolling meadows in which to graze their birds, so their solution won’t work for everyone. What he did, though, was to design huge cages on wheels, with netted tops to keep the hawks, etc., from an easy feast. Every day, he takes the tractor and moves the pens a length or so, which means the happy birds have fresh forage, grubs and all that yummy stuff to enjoy. I remember when he told me that he had wanted to reduce the levels of adrenalin and other toxins in the meat he raised; everything was fine on the ranch, but the ride in an unfamiliar vehicle to the slaughterhouse stressed the birds. So what Jerry did was to record the sounds the birds make when they are first moved to fresh pasture. “Happy Turkey Songs” I called them, as it was turkeys he was speaking of a the time. They had stripped an old school bus to use for transporting the birds. Jerry plays the “Happy Turkey Songs” all the way to the slaughterhouse. This keeps the birds happier and more relaxed, which results in healthier, tastier meat.

I don’t know if a movable pen would protect against weasels, anyway, now that I have given it further thought; no doubt they would just duck under the side netting. Of course if there were a way to have a second,  outer layer of mesh and then electrify it a bit . . .

A knitted doll my Mum made a few years ago:

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I’ve spent some time thinking about Kriscinda’s neighbours, and Narf7’s, and those of others who left comments. And now I have my own semi-equivalent! Today we had two pieces of paper thrust under the door; one was a notice that the water will be off tomorrow from 9:30 am to whenever some necessary repairs are done. The other was a thunderbolt that really threw me for a loop: An official notice from the condo board, whom seem more and more Nazi-like in their approach to dealing with tenants as we go along.

This is the same board that took from early January 2012 to late September the same year to finish the repairs to the suite I lived in until the flood (early January) from a suite several floors above me damaged at least 15 suites. I was staying at my Mum’s place when the flood happened (she was away on the coast), so continued to stay there (but was still paying rent, as my landlord-owner is a great guy). When I lost my job in mid-May, I moved the remaining items into a storage unit until I could find work and rent another suite. By then it was obvious that my Aunty needed some support, so that’s when I began the current regime of staying with her for 8 nights and at Mum’s for 6.

What this translates to, for two older women, both of whom have collections from well-lived lives and who both do nearly every craft known to woman (and have the supplies to prove it! This includes several floor looms that are in pieces, a small one that is set up, two warping mills, etc. we won’t mention the yarn and fabric stashes, nor the paints, dyes, fibres, stamps, and much, much more . . . ) is that we live in a two bedroom suite that is crammed with supplies and also with the things we love from our various lives. Mum has pottery she’s made, a few pieces of family china and more. I have a Hoosier cupboard that my Dad refinished and books in boxes.

The upshot is that a lot of what we have is wrapped in plastic and living on the balcony (we are on the ninth floor). We were bringing things indoors and going through them in an attempt to downsize without giving up all our joy in those things. Then we heard that after the building’s roof was repaired, all the ceilings which had water damage from leaking over the past few years would be scraped, re-textured and painted. And that the painters wanted the rooms empty or nearly so. This was a few months back. We’ve had two estimators come, but not heard anything more. But we stopped bringing things in and began planning to put more out.

You can imagine how we felt when we read the notice today, stating that from now on, balconies were to be considered ‘common property’ and all that would be allowed on them are bicycles, lawn furniture and barbecues. None of which we have or plan to have. The notice said that there is an inspector coming to check that the balconies are safe to use and the railings all secure. This is a real issue, as apparently a couple of units have railings that are no longer attached to the concrete and which could conceivably detach if anyone were to lean against them.

The scary part: if there is anything not on the “allowed” list still out on the balcony when the inspector arrives, the condo board will have the items removed at the tenants’ expense . . . I  presume that means that our things would be thrown in the Dumpster.

I doodled this at Christmastime; my sweet little hobbity hole . . . wish I were there now!

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My first reaction was that I would simply move out and take my things with me, but in the end what I think I will end up doing is this: move almost all of my things into another storage unit, except for a few necessities like clothing LOL. Then we can bring Mum’s things into the suite. I can still stay with my Aunty during alternate weeks. In between, I could sleep at Mum’s as I do now, so as to be available to both of them when needed. My cousins have been paying me for the help I give their mother, so I should be able to manage this. But it’s a setback to my long-range plans. I currently have managed to get a month ahead on all my bills and have been saving to make a lump payment on my bank loan in December. (thanks to Mrs. Saving For Travel and her challenges). I’ve even been able to set a wee bit aside to help here and there, as when the Living Waters Quilt raffle was on.

It’s doable, for sure, just another huge inconvenience imposed with no thought for the happiness, comfort or needs of tenants who don’t fit into the tiny ‘approved’ box. It’s painful to be constantly reminded that there is one ‘right’ way to live and that is not our way. I believe in accepting people as they are and am always shocked at the rigidity in some others; I know it comes from fear, and I’ve certainly dealt with lots of that in my own life, so can empathise, but I don’t understand how that translates into trying to force others into one’s own mould.

I wonder what they would think if I had the power to make rules that required them to learn a variety of crafts and amass the tools and materials with which to practise those crafts? What if I demanded that they cook from scratch and quit watching TV? Read books! Go green and walk or bike; get rid of the extra car? Oh, and wear clothes that I approve of . . .  😉  . . . you get the idea . . .

The world could use a few more hippies, I think . . .

I’ll leave on a lighter note now . . . the first picture here is a scan of a photocopy of a drawing I did some years ago. I based the wings on a photo of an owl’s wings and the angel on a photo of a model holding a large ball. The second is a watercolour I began from that drawing back when I was in my own suite. I got to this point and liked it so much I was afraid to do more in case I botched it entirely. So I started another watercolour, which was also turning out well. Then came the flood, the packing and moving, so that one is not completed, either.

One day, though . . . . it’s nice to have things to look forward to, isn’t it?

Have a great week, all of you!

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Orienting towards Solutions . . .

Lately, I’ve posted links and re-blogged other people’s posts; I realize that staying informed can lead to an increase in fear, which in turn tends to lead us to ‘turn off’.

I feel there are other options, too. Creativity, especially practised daily, can be a powerful antidote to fear and pessimism. By creativity, I mean creating; writing, singing, making music, art, crafting something useful, decorative or both. I like to draw with coloured pencils, especially the aquarelles:

20130528-150647.jpg Nothing special, this, but making it lifted my spirits.

But I was also thinking of creativity in the sense of finding a creative solution to a problem. People all over the earth have been doing this for some time (well, forever, really, but here I’m thinking more of current challenges).

Often I’ve been guilty of saying something should be done about whatever it is that I’m paying attention to at that moment; but I’m only one person, with few resources, I say to myself. So I feel excused from action.

20130528-151648.jpg I like creating folk art designs, too.

Lately, as I think more about grass-roots activism, about positive and peaceful ways of overcoming great challenges, about moving from being problem-oriented to becoming solution-oriented, I am finding some unusual and inspiring stories crossing my path; like this one on “The Power of One”: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/indian-man-single-handedly-plants-a-1360-acre-forest
We aren’t all called to plant a forest; but now I’m inspired to think more about what I am called to do . . .
I plan to keep sharing links that inform and links that inspire. While I’m thinking about Creative Activism, I’ll continue my personal creative journey and share that, too.

Did I mention that I love making Art Dolls?

20130528-152724.jpg My favourite so far.

And here’s the “plain” garter stitch (well, mostly LOL) shawl as of yesterday afternoon:

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20130528-153006.jpg Looks good on my Aunty, doesn’t it? But I’m not done yet . . .

World Bank and things to think about . . .

You may already know of all this, but if not, it’s worth knowing; in order to be alert to our own security when it comes to water and other rights; things we may never have thought it possible to lose. I looked up this story in order to reference it to an online discussion group of which I’m a member and on this page found more information than I’ve ever had before.

http://www.gatheringspot.net/topic/political-activismcover-ups/how-bolivians-fought-private-corporation-their-water-rights-and-wo

It’s a good example of what happens when people stand together and don’t stand for what’s handed out to them. Share it if you think it useful to your readers.  ~ Linne

The Word for (Wednesday) the Week is …

. . . Princess!

Now, this is a word that I’m not fond of, and many have heard me use it in a very disparaging fashion; largely because of what it has come to connote in our culture. Pretty much, it’s the Disney definition, which I’ve never liked.

If you think that to be princessy means to be vain, shallow, self-centred, not too bright, and so on, don’t bother to read the rest of this post. There are a number of little girls in our family at present and when I saw the movie “Brave”, I wanted to cheer! But I won’t waste your time with my ranting opinions; if this interests you, and if you don’t think that ‘Barbie’ is the best role model for girls, go ahead and read the rest. There may never be another petition featured on this blog, either; it’s not my goal here. However, if you think I should occasionally post about this sort of thing, do let me know. Together, we change the world, one signature, one garden, one action at a time. Also, if you like to help bring change through petitions, go to www.change.org or www.avaaz.org. You will find plenty there!

~ Linne

Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!   

By A Mighty Girl

Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for — a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure with her bow at the ready. She was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the ‘imperfections’ that all people have.

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.

In an interview with Pixar Portal, “Brave” writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, “Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they’d be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”

This new Merida is a paler reflection of her former self without the spark and the ‘you go girl’ quality that her creator intended.

We write to you on behalf of all the young girls who embraced Merida as a role model, who learned from her that they too could go off on an adventure and save the day; that it’s not how you look that matters but who you are. For them and for all the children — both girls and boys — who benefit from seeing depictions of strong, courageous, and independent-minded girls and women that are so scarce in animated movies, we ask you to return to the original Merida that we all know and love. We ask you to keep Merida Brave!

Sign the Petition

Sampson’s Muffins . . . or the Further Adventures of Delilah

It’s early afternoon and I just looked in on Delilah . . .

20130510-141443.jpg . . . as you can see, she is most fecund; I only gave her a new ‘feed’ of 1% milk last night (right out if the fridge, too!) and she has already thickened it . . . what to do?? A most delicious dilemma . . .

I got out my ‘Joy of Cooking’ (’cause its standard, old-school recipes will suit both Mum and my Aunty, both in their 90s. I chose the “Sour Cream Muffins” recipe and halved it. This is supposed to make a dozen 2″ muffins, but mine will be a bit larger. If I have dough left over, I think it will become a yummy pancake . . .

I did use about 7/8 cup of white flour, then added wheat germ to make one cup. Then baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1tablespoon of white sugar. I also added a tablespoon of soy protein powder, but no telling, ok? Nutrition works best when it’s hiding in a yummy disguise. 😉

For flavour, I added cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. I chopped a small handful of sulternas 😉 ’cause my Aunty likes them chopped – they distribute better, she says.

By now, the dry mixture was in my favourite glass bowl (well, it’s Mum’s bowl, but my favourite, if you know what I mean . . . ) to free up the one cup glass measuring cup.

In that, I broke an extra-large egg and beat it up with a plastic fork. I added Delilah’s offspring from last night (lucky me, there was exactly a cup!) and beat it some more. It helps to remember that egg mixtures are a bit masochistic, I find. I was going to add a bit of vanilla, but I forgot . . . in the next adventure, ok, Delilah?

20130510-152629.jpg I added wet to dry in the time-honoured fashion and mixed roughly with Mum’s smallest wooden spoon (also a favourite of mine . . .) and . . . into the lightly greased muffin pan it went!

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20130510-153805.jpg . . . and . . . into the countertop oven they were popped (screaming their silent little screams, no doubt, but I wasn’t listening . . . I can be quite self-centred and ruthless at times . . . )

20130510-154047.jpg a little later I checked on them:

20130510-154123.jpg mmmm, good wee muffins, rising nicely . . . so, meanwhile (meanwhile WHEN? as a favourite author once said), I gently but firmly weaned Delilah’s second litter ??, put her back in the glass jar and made her happy again with a fresh drink of milk; she’s a good Mum when it comes to fecundity, but gets on with her life rather quickly once they leave the nest . . .

OK, the jar is no longer only a jar, it is now “Nido Caelestis” (Heavenly Nest)!

and, as I was saying, meanwhile . . .

20130510-155239.jpg Delilah’s offspring of the second (what?! I can’t say ‘littering’ and ‘pregnancy’ doesn’t quite fit . . . OK, got it: ‘Delilah’s second family’ is in the Magic Bullet’s largest ‘party’ container and that’s the frozen strawberries and a banana about to be added . . . then a teaspoon of powdered nutritional yeast (Engevita):

20130510-181100.jpg a scoop of soya protein powder (no way to tell if it’s GMO or not, thanks to our government’s refusal to insist on labelling, so I just don’t think about it . . . much . . . )

20130510-181254.jpg next, some vanilla (see the wee brown drizzle?):

20130510-181347.jpg . . . and a dollop of real Canadian maple syrup! I hope you lot down under know you can make maple syrup from other maples (or birch syrup from birch sap); I’ll have to post about our older son’s maple syrup adventure . . .

20130510-181725.jpg Like that lovely sweet brown syrup wending its way down through the kefir? MMMmmmmm…….
And here it is, whipped into a nutritious frenzy . . . but . . . where are the muffins?

20130510-182401.jpg Didn’t I hear the buzzer? Where are the potholders? Oh, here they are; take a moment to admire; these were knitted by my Aunty from Sugar N Cream cotton yarn about a decade ago and given to my Mum.

20130510-182700.jpg and . . . here they are; at last!!

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“What, you didn’t wait for me?”

20130510-184017.jpg “Nope! I had a new stand-alone mystery waiting . . . ”

20130510-184641.jpg “But . . . but . . . look at me! Is that a perfect crumb or what?”

20130510-184841.jpg A few minutes later . . .

20130510-184932.jpg “Oh, well, at least I have another for my bedtime snack . . .”
In between baking and blending, I managed a couple loads of laundry.

Thought you might like this T-shirt that one of my sisters bought for our Mum at the Vancouver (BC) Public Library . . .

20130510-185311.jpg My Mum, my sisters and I all say a loud “AMEN” to that thought . . .

Oh, and I worked more on the new shawl . . .

20130510-190848.jpg Bet you can’t guess where that goes . . .

I’ve done a lot more, too, but that’s another post . . . did I ever tell you I inherited the family ‘tease’ gene?? 😉