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.

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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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a quick note and then the recipe for Feather Buns MMmmmmm . . .

Hello, my friends in  this Virtual Village . . . if you have emailed me and not seen a reply, don’t worry; I’ll be getting to them by later next week at the latest . . .

In the meantime: by popular request, here is the recipe for Feather Buns (and/or bread, of course). There’s nothing much more frugal and deliciously so, than baking your own bread. This is good enough to make me want an outdoor oven so I can enjoy it in summer, too . . . And if you have kids, let them help with the punching down (helps to oil the hands first, then make a fist and punch right in the middle. Great fun!). They can be given a bun-sized piece of dough to form, making a roll for themselves to enjoy later on. They might even want to shape one for Dad (or Mum) to have with their supper or tea. That’s how I learned . . . by the time I was making bread alone (about age 12), I’d been changing diapers for a couple of years, so I knew exactly what a baby’s bottom felt like. LOL That’s the best guide to achieving perfect texture and resiliency in bread dough. 😉

Our wee tins are a great size for a child to make a loaf of their own, too.

My older son was at a YMCA summer camp one year when he was about 10 years old and came back all enthused about having made bannock (a quickbread dough wrapped around green willow sticks and then baked over the coals from a campfire). So I asked if he’d like to learn to make bread. A hearty ‘yes!’, so I taught him, just as I was taught, and he made all our bread for a couple of years, ’til we moved back to the city.

I have this recipe courtesy of my friend Debbie (AKA Mrs. Crafty) and she got it from her mother, Shirley H., who passed away last year. (in case, like me, you put notes about provenance on your recipe cards for later when your memory is a bit sketchy) 🙂

I’ll put the ingredients at the end without the notes to make it easier to read. The notes on ingredients and procedure are mine, of course.

Feather Buns

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In a large heavy bowl (like our bread bowls, if possible, but use what you have) put

2 c. lukewarm water (I like to fill the bowl with hot water beforehand for a couple of minutes; it seems to help the yeast grow a bit quicker; especially if your room is a little cool.

add 4 tsp. sugar and mix,
then sprinkle 4 Tblsp. Yeast over it and let stand for 10 minutes.

Next, add:

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cup melted margarine (or use butter or your preferred oil)
3 eggs, beaten well

Mix thoroughly (I used our heavy wooden spoon for this).

Start adding 8 cups of flour (this recipe calls for white; I used about 4 cups whole wheat and the rest white, mostly ’cause I ran out of WW; if I’d had any wheat germ, I’d have thrown some of that in, too; ditto nutritional yeast. LOL);

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Then: fold in flour until the dough isn’t sticky. If you’re a Mum, it should feel like a baby’s bottom. If you’re not, use your best judgement and imagination . . . 🙂  )

Cover (I used a teatowel wetted thoroughly with hot water, then wrung out. The extra warmth is good, and the steam keeps the top of the dough from getting ‘crusty’.

Let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Make sure your bowl is a large one, or else halve the recipe. Seriously . . .

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Punch the dough down and make loaves or buns (or both). Grease your pans before putting the dough in. I used margarine (cheaper than butter), but you can use oil or whatever works for you.

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When I made this, I had a dozen good-sized buns, three large loaves and two tiny ones which could have made an extra large loaf. I was guided by how many bread pans we have and also what would fit in the oven in two loads.

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Let rise in pans ’til double and then bake at 375° F (about 190.5° C) ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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As mine wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, I turned the oven on low just before I punched down the dough in the bowl. I put the buns (in our large rectangular casserole dish) and the two tiny loaves into the warmed oven to rise as above (I’d turned off the oven, of course, once it was warm, but not hot). I left the three large loaves on the counter where it was cooler and covered them with the teatowel, this time wetted with cold water and wrung out. This was to slow the rising of the second lot.

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Once the first batch were done, they were left on a rack to rest for a minute and the second lot were popped in to bake. Then I greased the tops of the first set with Mum’s pastry brush and margarine (again, use what you like or even leave plain for a crustier finish), then turned them out to cool.

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When the second lot were baked, same thing: let rest a few minutes, then butter (or oil) and turn out of the pan to cool. If you leave them in the pans, they tend to ‘sweat’ a bit and this can lead to them moulding earlier than usual. Not nice . . .

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Ok, here’s the straight ingredient list, in order of adding:

2 cups lukewarm water
4 tsp. sugar
4 Tblsp. yeast
Let sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should be foamy)

________________

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cups melted margarine
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix thoroughly, then add:

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8 cups flour. Mix well, then
add more flour to make a non-sticky dough.
Cover and let rise to double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Grease pans.
Punch down dough.
Form rolls and/or loaves.
Let rise in pans.

Bake  ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

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Make your favourite hot drink. Tea is especially nice with this, though.

Ignore the old wives’ tales about not eating hot bread (designed to keep kids out of the fresh bread so there would be some for dinner 😉  ); punch a hole in the side of a bun or slice off a good bit of heel from one of the loaves. Slather with butter and then home-made jam (store-bought if you must . . .).

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Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

And here’s a great bolshie song by a wonderful bolshie song-writer and singer, Malvina Reynolds. Have a listen while you enjoy the fruits of your labours . . . I don’t think Malvina wrote this one, though. That’s Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger on Pete’s tv show, ‘Rainbow Quest’ singing and playing along with her . . .

The Little Red Hen

Not much new here… but after feeding you all that heavy stuff…

I thought it was time for something lighter and more nutritious . . .

Mum’s been reading in the kitchen all day, so I haven’t wanted to do the dyeing yet. I don’t know if the fumes are toxic or not, but would rather err on the side of caution. So I’ve been on the computer most of the afternoon instead of going out to the store. It’s supposed to warm up to -11C tomorrow, so I’ll go out then. We are nearly out of bread and I’m a bit anxious about using the bread machine after my last fiasco . . . I thought at first I’d make some biscuits, but when Mum didn’t want any, I made this instead and was quite impressed that it turned out . . . PERFECT!!  I love this brown rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati), but sometimes it’s had a bit too much water left at the end of the cooking; then I have to cook it some more and wait for it to dry off a bit; somehow it always seems a bit gummy after that (not like that stops me eating it!)  😉

By thee way, the Lundberg family pioneered growing organic rice in the States. They were far ahead of their times.

Four Lundberg Brothers

These are the four Lundberg brothers, Outstanding in Their Field!

But tonight it was everything I wanted; dry, fluffy, slightly chewy but not too much, and just that bit aromatic . . . so I had a bowl with butter, garlic powder and soya sauce while I waited  for the other dish to cook. You know, I think a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid is a great part of the secret . . . and using the correct burner on the stove (I think a couple are a bit old and not heating to the proper temperature when left on the ‘lowest’ setting.

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Now this is what I really started to tell you about (but the amazing rice distracted me):

What was it, you say? Well . . . I’m calling it ‘Mish-Mash’. When my kids were young and at home, I made soup from leftovers and whatever was in the cupboard on a regular basis. I called that soup ‘Cupboard Soup’. I thought this was going to be more like that, but it wasn’t. And it, too, is PERFECT! How unlike me . . .

I found ‘pork bones’ at the grocery the other day – a package for $1.22 and it looked like a fair bit of meat on them, too. Now, I didn’t eat much (or any, sometimes) meat for many years and the only pork I ate for longer than that was bacon as a treat at Christmas. But this was a frugal deal not to pass up.

I dredged the bones in flour with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic salt in a used bread bag, then  dropped them in my old heavy pot where waiting for them was bacon fat from my breakfast yesterday and as much olive oil, too. I browned them while I chopped half an onion fairly small along with the end of a stalk of celery plus some celery leaves from the new stalk. those were tipped in and stirred around, then I added enough cold water to come a third of the way up the pot, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for several hours. Then it was let to cool and popped into the fridge.

This afternoon I got it out, started it heating and sliced three carrots, unpeeled (I only peel stuff that has skin too hard to eat, like winter squash). After those were added, more water went in, then a cup of the green split peas left over from making the Risi e Bisi. Brought to a boil again, I tasted it, then added a dollop of soya sauce, turned the heat to half-way and left it to simmer away while the rice cooked. After I ate my bowl of rice, I chopped a quarter head of cabbage into squares about an inch or less on each side (no, I didn’t measure them! Really!! But I knew you’d ask . . .)

Since the rice was done, I used that pot’s lid to cover the big pot. Not a perfect fit, so of course some dripping onto the stove top ensued, but hey . . . at least I can improvise as needed. I have a lid somewhere for that pot (it was our soup and popcorn pot lo, these many aeons ago), but have no idea if it’s here in Edmonton at the apartment, in storage here or in storage in BC. Oh, the life of a Gypsy Collector . . .

Anyway, back to the FeedReader and commenting near and far . . . I had the timer going, luckily or I’m sure I’d have had burnt whatever for supper. 😉

What I DID have was this:

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A bit more butter (I filled up the round butter container and this time cut off the corners to make an octagonal shape that wouldn’t smear at the corners, then get on the lid; well, I had to do something with those bits, didn’t I? A shake of salt and pepper, more garlic salt and cayenne, a sprinkle of soya sauce and back to the computer, where the Mish-Mash distracted me mightily from the screen. I think this would be just as good without the meat, if one was vegetarian or vegan (you couldn’t add the butter, then, either). Maybe I’ll try that another time. For now, it was just right for this slightly cool evening (indoors, I mean).

Before I post, I wanted to say that I was sad to hear that Shirley Temple died yesterday evening (10 February) at her home. She was 85. It seemed so strange, hearing that on the news tonight when I was watching ‘Heidi’ only a few days ago with my crafty friend. It’s one of the few films I feel lives up to the original book. I haven’t seen her in ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ yet, but now I see that’s on YouTube, too. Also ‘The Little Princess’ . . . nice to have something to anticipate, right?  🙂

If you haven’t seen it, and like old films (this one’s from ’37), it’s on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPaNtPbeuWQ  This is the colourized version. It may be posted in the original, too; I didn’t look for it yet. What I love most, I think, is the Grandfather’s hut in the Alps. I’d give a lot for a home like that . . . goats and all.

ShirleyTemple 03 Grandfathers Hut

See what I mean? I want this near the sea, with an orchard and a garden like Narf7‘s.

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Not sure where this one is from, but I think it’s so cute . . .

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Heidi and The Grandfather

A different sort of Happy Mail . . . and what’s been up with me (sort of) ;-)

IMG_4995[1]There will be more about this quite soon! Nope, I haven’t opened it yet, either . . .

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We’ve had a lot of this again over the past few days . . . yesterday down to near -28C with the wind and today it was about -24C (with wind); it sure felt colder than that today, though. I was out today doing a library run (no coffee, though; I’ve decided to tighten my budget a bit and put the savings into my Sealed Pot (if you are interested, see my page with a link to the challenge) and then straight to the grocery store to stock up a bit. I must be feeling the cold a bit; I was easily tempted to buy green split peas and my favourite rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati) as well as a fairly large bag of navy beans. The split peas and rice will become a hearty and warming dish of Risi-e-Bisi, which I first learned to make from the original Laurel’s Kitchen; still one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks. Our whole family loved this one. The link takes you to a recipe for it that is online; it seems to be the one I’ve used for years. My Laurel’s Kitchen is here somewhere, but I don’t have time to search for it tonight. This dish, by the way, is just as good served cold, especially with soy or tamari sauce. Yum!

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I was not on the computer much today or yesterday and no, I did not do much of my longer than arm’s length list . . . I had fun, though! My crafty friend picked me up in the morning yesterday. We hit the grocery store for a couple of things for my Mum and also ingredients for supper at their place. Then a trip to the Re-Use-It Centre. I know, I know . . . I do have a few crafty items here and there . . . 😉  but how could I resist? I don’t have photos of my finds for you just now (I’m on a sort of mission); maybe in a couple of days. I found a not-special dictionary that I won’t mind cutting up so I can use the words on my Day Cards that I’m so sadly behind on. I revere books, if you hadn’t guessed by now, and I don’t write in them or cut them up . . . but this one is fairly new, so I think I can do it. 😉  I found other things there, too. But I was quite restrained (I thought) and did not go down any of the main aisles; a quick jaunt to the back where I found five pieces of cut cedar ready to paint; another detour into the books and ornaments (where I found two TWO!! glass chimneys for kerosene lamps – I like to have extras on hand; sometimes they get broken). A very fast scan through the fabrics, too, while my friend not only found things for her, but also two bags of stuffing for me. She also found a huge amount of basket making supplies, which I heroically refrained from drooling upon . . . my Mum and I both make baskets. But fair is fair . . .  I forgot to mention that I dropped off two bags of books before I went in, so I came out with three bags, leaving me having gained only one bag. I love creative math, don’t you too? This was followed by a trip to the Handy Bakery, a sweet little Portuguese bakery with special coffees and tables to sit and visit at. We didn’t, though. I bought some dessert for our supper and a couple of pieces of fresh pizza for my lunch, also a loaf of bread and some more desserts from the day-old section. More Yum!!  😉 Then it was home to my crafty friends’ place. The photo above is the path from their back alley to the patio and the back door. Nice heaps of white stuff, eh?

Inside, I found she had been very busy since I last saw her:

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I hope you can see the details of this table top: my friend painstakingly glued dozens of old keys in place, then poured several coats of rosin over the surface. It’s just lovely!

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Above are pictures of Jenny. Do you remember the pictures I shared of Jed, last autumn, I think? If not, no worries; I’ve included more photos of him below. Jenny is handmade down to her sweet little Mary Jane shoes and her hat with a couple of wild autumn weeds in the band. There are several Jennys and each is unique in expression and some of the detailing. Below is one of the Jeds:

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Aren’t those ears darling? And the freckles . . .

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My friend made Jed’s boots, too, including putting in the grommets for the laces.

Here’s a picture of one of the happy couples:

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The Gentleman Bunny is a work in progress. My friend was making the sage green velveteen vest while we visited. I’ll share more photos of him once he is complete.

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I love his big feet (they remind me of Hobbit feet) and, of course, his gorgeous ears . . .

While my friend stitched and I continued stitching along the front steek of my barn cardi, we watched three movies: the original ‘Heidi’, a life-long favourite, partly for the story and partly for the incredible log hut the Grandfather lives in, high on a Swiss mountainside.

This was followed by ‘Night of the Grizzly’, I think it was, a sort of western from ’66. then came ‘Severed’ . . . about which I won’t say much. Suffice to say it has loggers, hippie protesters and zombies . . .  😉

That’s all for now, folks . . . I have to open that box tomorrow quick smart and get going on the mystery project. Wish me luck, won’t you? If all goes well, there should be pictures and an explanation in a couple of days or so. I will leave you with two more photos: the first is a detail of a fern on our sliding glass doors to the balcony. The fern is courtesy of Jack Frost, whose work is amazing in its artistry and detail.

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This last photo is the walk at the front of my crafty friends’ house. Pretty, I think.

Have a great weekend, my friends and stay warm or cool as needed.  😉

If you want a cute craft to do over the holidays . . .

http://getting-stitched-on-the-farm.blogspot.ca/2013/12/holiday-birch-house-tutorial.html

These wee birchbark houses are sooooo cute! Sounds like some people are making them with their kids or grandkids. If you don’t have birch where you live, what about other types of bark or even leathery leaves? If you use lichen or moss, using a strong hairspray (like the old ‘helmet hold’ stuff) will help keep the house from dropping bits all over. I’m thinking these would be cute outdoors, too, maybe with some protection from the elements . . .

Off to get stuff done now. ~ Linne

Water Purification

Watching the news from the Phillipines these past few days caused mt to start thinking about water and how vital it is in challenging situations.

There is an interesting article here:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/diy-ceramic-water-filters-zwfz1207zmat.aspx#axzz2hSec8CSz

and there’s a YouTube video here:

I’m thinking this would be a good priority for anyone. Safe water can be very hard to come by in city or country after natural disasters of many sorts.

Potters Without Borders is a great site, too. Check them out here:

http://www.potterswithoutborders.com/2012/11/efficient-ceramic-water-filter/

My initial Google search (to save you time):

http://www.google.ca/search?q=making+a+ceramic+water+filter&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

Hope you find some of this helpful at some time. ~ Linne

Sorry, no photos; I’m using my phone for this one.

. . . 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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