My Days and Anniversaries

Hi, out there! I’ve been a tad busy and somehow the days just flew by and here we are, a month on from my last post. This after I promised myself to do better . . . oh, well . . .

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Sometimes the cat knows best . . .

By the way, if you are curious about where I am living, go here:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.8829593,-120.7609463,7.3z?hl=en

That link should show you the bottom west part of British Columbia, with Vancouver (BC) in the lower left-hand corner and Salmon Arm near the top and east of Kamloops. That will give you the general idea. If you zoom out you can see where we are in relation to the entire province.

And this link is a close-up of our area:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@50.6861583,-119.2831572,10z?hl=en

We live just west of the words ‘Grandview Bench’ and slightly east of the 97B Highway.

And for comparison, this shows the size of our province compared to the UK:

UK-BC Map 01

. . . and where I live should be somewhere along the French coast north-west of Paris and south of London. (now that I think about it, I should live there!)

I thought I’d throw those in here because I’ve had numerous remarks from people who don’t know my province. The towns where I live or have lived are generally quite small and not shown on average maps.

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Hoarfrost on the trees in the mornings was lovelier than this photo can show . . .

Back to what I was saying . . . The days have been cold here, as you can see from the photo, especially the last couple of weeks, but with some nice bits, too. I’ve begun attending a couple of handwork groups in Enderby, a smaller town than Salmon Arm (also fairly small, though) and about 15 minutes drive south and eastish (Is eastish a word? Guess it is now!) from here. And now you can see where those towns are ūüôā

My cousin’s wife S and I were out shopping for Christmas and stopped in a lovely wee coffee shop in Enderby. It’s called Country Coffee House and it’s too bad all you lovely people live so far away . . . I bet you’d like it as much as I do. Awesome home-made soups and equally delicious latt√©s, too. A super-friendly owner/operator and so is the group of crocheters; they call themselves the Happy Hookers and they are, too. I’ve been twice so far and there has been a small baby both times, not in the group, but the mums are friends with the group members, so I got to see them close up. Hard to look and not touch sometimes.

I finally began using one of the balls of yarn I bought on Leka Island in Norway (I was quite disappointed because it was spun in China, of all places, so not actually the Norwegian yarn I’d hoped for. But I never had the chance to shop at an actual Norwegian wool yarn shop, and at least this carries the memories of the little convenience store on Leka and of my time there. I have begun a free-form cushion cover (free-form because I am making it up as I go along; I’ve already had to frog it a couple of times when it wasn’t working out the way I wanted. Price you pay for not following directions . . .) The right photo shows just a bit of the latt√© I was drinking as I worked. I felt so reminded of Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton, where I met with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group at the beginning of November.

So . . . when S and I stopped in that day in December, I saw the sign about the Happy Hookers and realized they meet the same day as the Sit n Knit group meets at the library, which is a very short block up the street. Crochet in the morning and Knitting in the afternoon! How lucky is that? So three weeks ago cousin M drove me to Enderby in the morning. I had a great time with the group, then had soup and a bun, and left, second latt√© in hand, in time to join the knitters at the library. I was first there that day, so got to sit in a wing-back chair right next to the electric fireplace!¬† I’ll have to take a photo of the fireplace and the chairs to share next time I go.

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I love wing-back chairs!

Members of both groups were SO friendly and welcoming! And the groups are open as to what one brings to work on, so I saw both knitting and crochet there, and I think there was a piece of cross-stitching at the knitting group.

My cousin was great about coming to pick me up again when the group was over. Both groups meet for about two hours each, so it makes for a good day out. And the cousins get a day at home without me. We get along fine, but I’m still a visitor . . .

Two weeks later, I spent the day in Enderby again and I’ll go next Tuesday, as well, barring blizzards and/or freezing weather. We’ve not had a real blizzard, but I got up today to a gentle snow falling and I think it’s still coming down . . . still, this winter will be very short compared to winters in Edmonton, and it’s been surprisingly warm for the season, with not much snow until after Christmas. I don’t mind, really. We will need the moisture in the ground this summer when we are back on forest-fire alert. Not looking forward to that, I can tell you!

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This was taken shortly before Christmas! Not the usual here; last year we had about six feet of snow over the winter. This year it only started in January, really.

In other Crafty News lately:

The black and white Did I mention that I bought fabric at some point in January? And then some more . . . no idea what got into me ūüôā

The photo in the bottom right corner is what I bought when I was first back here. I’d borrowed a book about making “Inchies” and felt inspired. Inchies are tiny quilts an inch on each side (2.5 cm for you youngsters). Then my cousins gave me a gift certificate for Fabricland for Christmas. And by then I’d borrowed another book, this one on making cloth bags, “The Bag Making Bible”. I fell in love with the bag on the cover, decided to buy fabric to make it, then fell in love with more . . . and the post-Christmas sales were on, from 70% off to “buy one metre, get two free”. The poppies on a dark background really wanted to go home with me and then I saw the black and white with poppies, ladybugs and more . . .

The black and white fabrics are actually going to become bags, but the first fabric I chose pulled at me to make it into a summer dress, and when I couldn’t find more of it in our store here, Cousin M drove me all the way back to Vernon (a half hour or so each way), where I bought the first length, so I could buy more. And while in the store the second time . . . I saw the same pattern, Queen Anne’s Lace, on a blue background (the first, in the larger photo above, has a background of deep red)! And I saw another lovely floral, too, the one on the left of the top small picture. I’ve had my eye open for large florals for some time now, and this is the first I’ve seen of any. The fabrics in the bottom right photo are likely to end up in bags.

I have my patterns traced and ready to use now. And the fabrics have all been ironed (I really, really love ironing, especially fabrics!) But I hit a snag when I tried to decide what dress pattern I wanted to use. At first I was thinking of one of my patterns from Sense & Sensibility, especially the Romantic jumper (see the link) or the Edwardian dress, but somehow I don’t see those as suited to large florals. But I did like the idea of making a sort of sundress that I could wear over a long-sleeved white blouse, partly because I bought a cotton blouse that I really like in Oslo while shopping with my cousin Tove and it would be perfect under a jumper. (In Canada a jumper is a sleeveless dress worn over a blouse, not what we call a sweater, which is a jumper in other countries).

Still in Crafty territory:

I don’t know if any of you will remember the Fair Isle style socks I started before I went away last spring. I was using the recommended size of needles and they were looking all right, with only a few errors in the patterns. (I started these before I had my cataracts fixed and actually thought that chocolate brown yarn was black!) Anyway . . . after reading what Dr. Snail recommended on her blog, The Snail of Happiness, where she said that using the smallest possible needles would result in a thicker, longer-wearing fabric, I decided to frog all five of my partly-completed socks. So far I have only found three of them and above you can see what they looked like and the beginning of wee balls of yarn after the frogging began . . .

I have begun another pair of socks, well, one sock so far, and am still working on the toe. This time I’m making another change: I’m using two strands even for the toe and heel, partly to keep the sock consistent in thickness but mostly to give me the extra cushioning. I love comfy socks, especially in the winter!

I’m so¬†glad I knitted some mitts for myself while I was in Yorkshire, too. I’ll share the story behind those in another post, though. They are wonderful to wear right now, but not quite as warm as I’d like, due to the fineness of the yarn. So I’m planning on making some larger ones to wear over them next year if we get another really cold spell . . .

The last photos today are of my trip up to Stirling, the campsite (with the blue tent I borrowed from my housemate of three days), my wee sheep companions¬† Flora and Anastasia seen here peeking out of my sandals, where they stowed away so they could see Runrig for themselves (another story that will have to wait) and a couple of shots from Friday and the first night’s concert. I have no photos of the Saturday at all. I’d misplaced my iphone (thought I’d lost it) and used only the camera. Those are among the photos I accidentally deleted in late September. I’ve been afraid to look at my iphone photos until today, worried I might not have any from the gig. So I’m quite happy to have these, at least.

Music is still a major part of my day, as you likely expect. Runrig are having the most fabulous “Poll of Polls” on Twitter right now. I missed the first couple of days, but have taken part every day since then. Each day they take the songs from one of their fourteen studio albums, divide them into three or four groups and have us vote for the one we like best in each group. The winners move up to Round Two and eventually we will know which song is the all-time favourite of Riggies around the world. It’s been lovely, revisiting the music itself and also remembering those two nights last August. It was exactly six months ago on the 17th and 18th of this month, only a couple of days ago. That was the first anniversary I had in mind when I began writing this post.

The others are what would have been my Mum’s 96th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday) and my Aunty’s 99th birthday on the following Sunday. It’s hard to believe they will have been gone three years and four years, respectively, this April. interesting that they were born four days apart and died two weeks apart. Bittersweet days, for sure, as I remember the companionship we shared for so long. I miss them both so much. April is also the first anniversary of my last Auntie’s death and she would have been 94 this coming May. I was lucky to have as much time with each of them as I did, though, and that is what I shall focus on this year.

Here’s a Canadian song for you, sung by Bruce Guthro of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, who was lead singer for Runrig for the past twenty years. He has a lovely voice and this is an old favourite song of mine in any case. Farewell to Nova Scotia

Another of my Canadian favourites: Lucille Starr (born in Manitoba, but grew up in BC. Quand le Soleil dit Bonjour aux Montagnes, also known as The French Song back then.

More Canadians:

Kate and Anna McGarrigle singing Dancer With Bruised Knees

One of Kashtin’s most beautiful songs, Ishkuess

And, of course, Buffy Sainte-Marie. This is No No Keshagesh  and

Darling, Don’t Cry

I’ll leave you with Judy Collins and Cook With Honey

And I’m off to listen to more Runrig and then vote . . .

All the best to each of you. See you soon!

Just jumping in again . . .

Hello, my friends. Did you think I’d gone into retirement? Nope, still getting adjusted to being home again and also working on plans for this coming year.

I hope you all had a good Christmas or Solstice or whatever you celebrate in December. And I wish you all the very best in this coming year.

I still have not faced up to downloading the photos that remain on the camera, although I did get all the pictures off my old iphone. My youngest sister was going to send me her ‘old’ phone, but there have been glitches. (trying to get a new sim to work in the old phone so I’d have something until the new one arrives. Oh, well . . .)¬† I love techy stuff when it works and the rest of the time . . .¬† ¬†I think now she is planning to send me something else.

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Above is a photo of the Yarndale bus that ran between the train station and the exhibition site. (This year Yarndale was on the 29th and 30th of September and I had a ticket for both days. The first day I walked up through the park – you can see some photos of that walk on Lucy’s Attic24 site. The second day I took this bus, as I was on my feet the entire day both times, except for one short sit-down in the afternoon on the Saturday. There was just SO MUCH to see!) I think the bus picked people up from other locations, too. I loved the bunting on the front and inside there were small mandalas as well, making it all very festive.

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You can’t tell from this selfie, but I wore my Runrig Tshirt and jacket to Yarndale. That’s a small crocheted butterfly pinned to the inside of the collar. They were this year’s donations, made by volunteers around the world, and were sold to raise money for this year’s charity, Pioneer Projects. They raised 2,339.94 from selling these! BTW, did you know that the collective noun for a butterflies is a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies? I love that! I chose a green one made in the same way my Mum used to make them (for fridge magnets, in her case) and partly because green was her favourite colour, as it is mine. If you’d like to see the amazing number and variety of butterflies, go to Lucy’s post about Celebrating Yarndale 2018¬†and scroll down.

I mentioned the Runrig jacket and Tshirt because at least four women stopped me to say they had been at Stirling on that historic weekend, too! It was wonderful to stop for a minute and reminisce with others who felt as I do about the band and their music.

Now I’m going to pick up where I left off in October, more or less . . .¬† I did make it to Skipton twice more to join in with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group. Such fun! Everyone was lovely to me and the staff at the cafe were, too. In the afternoon, both days, I wandered around Skipton, just drinking things in, then went back to Cooper’s Cafe for a snack and coffee or tea before heading for the train and Heaton. Yummy food they have!!

The first afternoon (02 November 2018) I wandered in and out of a variety of shops, mostly the charity shops, looking for souvenirs. I found Wooleys and had a great chat with the lady there, but they didn’t have what I was looking for; English wool! The wool was all spun in Italy, as I recall. But it was fun connecting.

Then further up the High Street, I found the ginnel (Yorkshire for a passageway with a roof) leading to the Purl & Jane shop! I can highly recommend P&J; Jane has created over 2,000 designs¬† in the past 20 years, by the way (read her About page for more information) and she carries a gorgeous selection of yarns. I was so happy to finally see some English wools!! (She is an official supporter of The Campaign for Wool) So I bought three balls of variegated green, needles and one of her patterns. And some buttons. The design only calls for one, but I could never have too many buttons!! I got to pet the dog, too¬† ūüôā This yarn is for a special project and I’ll post about that soon, with photos of the buttons. (Anticipation 101, remember . . .)

On my way back to the ginnel, I noticed a small shop that looked interesting; it had some unique items of clothing hanging on a line along the wall. I was SO tempted, but I resisted and went on my way.

Next week, on Friday 09 November, I spent the afternoon a little differently. I made my way back to Purl & Jane to show Jane my progress on the green project. I was so thrilled with her design, I bought some lovely deep rose (close to magenta) in the same yarn. And more buttons! I had my project about half done by then and was very happy with it.

After another chat with Jane, I walked back toward the ginnel and this time I decided to go into the wee shop I’d resisted the week before . . . just to have a quick look, you understand. I have a card somewhere, but can’t locate it just now. I’ve looked up the address and it says now that the shop called “Sophie’s Handbags and Accessories” is permanently closed. However, I don’t know if that’s the shop I was in or an earlier one. I hope it’s an earlier one . . .

Another lovely lady to chat with, and some very unique clothes, handbags and other things, like jewellery . . .¬† I continued to resist, although I did¬†stop to admire two ivory lace dresses, each with a matching jacket and fully lined, to boot. Luckily, they were a Small and a Medium. I held the medium up and it appeared to be likely to fit, although I haven’t worn a medium for a few years now. It was midi length, too, which I prefer. Resolutely, I put it back . . . and left the store . . . and got through the ginnel . . . all the time thinking of how lovely it was and how much it was my dream dress (I’m not easy to please when it comes to clothing and my life is more suited to jeans and Tshirts in any case). And then I found myself thinking that I’d never have another chance to buy it and I did a quick U-turn and returned to the shop! I’m pretty sure none of you do such things, right? I held it up to myself again and it still seemed like a close enough fit. And it was only ¬£10, which is about $17 Canadian. And I succumbed to temptation then and there!

I noticed a stack of sheer scarves, too, and bought a couple of those as well. Oh, I was happy as I walked away! More on the dress in a bit . . .

I walked up the High Street further and stopped at the Holy Trinity Church of England. I happen to love historical buildings and churches and cathedrals in particular. I found some small items in the gift shop from another lovely woman and had time to light candles for several people, including all my blogging friends. This church was founded in the early 1100s and it was an amazing feeling just to sit in it. The stonework and stained glass were marvellous to view.

After my time in the church I found my way to Skipton Castle next door.

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The castle seen from the air. You can see the church just above it and off to the left a bit is the High Street with the Market set up.

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I had been told it was free to visit the castle, but it isn’t anymore. As I’d splurged on the dress, I didn’t want to buy a ticket. I was able to walk into the front bit (where you can see people in the shadows), almost up to the courtyard. And I did get to see some amazing details inside the small room where they sell the tickets, postcards and so on.

I really do have to get on with downloading the photos from my camera, don’t I? I’ll make that a priority this coming week.

In the meantime, once I arrived back at my room in Heaton, I took out the dress and tried it on . . . and it fit! I am still a bit in shock at that, really.

(I was walking so much and eating as well as I do here in BC, but not snacking and it made a big difference. I did put a few pounds back on over Christmas, as I do like the Christmas treats, but it’s coming off again now that life is back to normal and my cousin’s wife and I are walking four or five times a week at the local arena.)

I don’t have a photo of me where you can see the entire dress, but this selfie will give you the basic idea (please forgive the poor quality; it was night and the lighting was a bit dim. Also my hair, as it was the end of a day spent outdoors in the wind):

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This is the prettiest dress I have ever owned and I’m looking forward to wearing it this coming summer. And I found a website that carries the exact shoes I’ve been thinking would suit it, too: Pompadour French Court Shoes! The heel height and shape are what I like best in a heel and the lace seems like the perfect finishing touch. The shoes won’t be in the budget for a while, but one day . . .

Well, I’d best stop here and get this posted. I’ll see you again soon . . .

And here’s some music for you:

Mingulay Boat Song by The Corries, who were my favourite group up ’til I came across Runrig. Now first place is shared between them.

Somewhere, featuring Canadian Bruce Guthro (lead singer) and Scottish Julie Fowlis (special guest) on the vocals. The video is beautiful, and the words, too.

 

February . . . thoughts of Light

January was busy and February promises more of the same. But it’s a good busy. I will be writing a proper post over the next few days, so this will be short. The course of last month has been completed but the work is ongoing, and quite a few of us are doing the workbook and exercises again. It’s good to have companions on this journey. I am taking part in a shorter, 21 day group, too, that is using a free Louise Hay workbook. Should be fun!

I expect you know that January had a Blue Moon (two full moons in the same month) and that March will have a Blue Moon, too. Which means that February will not have a full moon at all. I had never considered the possibility. Of course, there will be plenty of moonlight at both ends of this month. We had a lunar eclipse, too, but I didn’t realize it was early in the morning, so I missed it. But my son, on Vancouver Island, was¬† up and took this through their telescope:

Judah Lunar Eclipse am 31 Jan 2018

And for those of you interested in such things: apparently, due to a rare planetary line-up, there is reason to think that the Age of Aquarius began on 07 January 2018. Go here to learn more.

Which led me to think about a poster that I still have (in storage, of course) that has moved me deeply since the first time I saw it:

Desiderata  (Things to be Desired)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

And that reminded me of the most valuable Zen quote I know:

Chop-Wood-Carry-Water-01

So much wisdom is so few words . . . the changes we dream of in life sometimes manifest, not in different circumstances, but in a different awareness.

Nothing like a little nostalgia, is there? Not sure what brought that on, but I blame the Age of Aquarius music from the first video.

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Music for today:

Runrig’s first album: Play Gaelic¬†I’ve shared this before, but it still moves me.

I think I’ve mentioned that I have somewhat eclectic musical taste. A few years ago, while I was in Edmonton, my friend Gen, whose wedding I’m going to in May, played this for me. I liked it so much her father gave me a CD of their songs. This group is from Somerset and the genre is often termed Scrumpy / Western. I can’t explain why I like them so much, but I do. This song was their first big hit, back in the 1970s, and you may recognize the tune as originally “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates”.

So here’s the Wurzels, singing I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester.

I recently lucked into this gem: Pete Seeger and Fred Hellerman of the Weavers singing The Frozen Logger, a song my Dad used to sing to us.¬† Note: a mackinaw is a plaid jacket that was often worn by loggers.¬† I am wearing one right now that my cousin loaned to me; it’s almost exactly like this, only mine is fleece.

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Seems fitting for February, although ours has not been that cold (yet).

For those of you dreaming of gardening, John Denver and The Garden Song

. . . and for those of you who want to change the world in a meaningful way, Donovan with “If You Want Your Dream to Be” from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, which is a beautifully filmed movie about the life of St. Francis of Assissi and Clare.

Runrig and¬†‘Ic Iain ‘Ic Sheumais¬†a folk song from the 1500s, which they altered slightly. This video is from the movie Air An Oir (On the Edge); I haven’t seen it yet.

Runrig again with Donnie Munro singing Precious Years, written by Rory and Calum MacDonald after their father died. The lyrics are below the video, just click on ‘More’

Another haunting melody by Runrig: Tuireachd Iain Ruaidh

(from their 1987 concert “Mod For Rockers” Other songs from the concert are on youtube)

I’ll see you soon. Until then, I wish you¬†peace 01

and I am sending you love-and-light 01

Ok, enough waffling around . . . here’s the Big Reveal!! My plans for 2018!

2018 GoalsWell, my friends, you are about to learn a wee bit more about me and I warn you now, you may end up thinking I’ve gone entirely barmy! Or was that way from the beginning . . . Fasten your seatbelts and hang on!

Note: This is the (slightly) shorter version of my story; I did write it out in long form, but will post that to Thought & Memory later on. If you are like me and want to know the background, you will be able to¬† go and have a long read. I’ll tell you when.

A lot has been happening in my life, but I didn’t want to post until I was really sure of most of it. But the time has come . . .

cat weddng invite 01Last spring, after I returned to stay with my cousins again, I received a wedding invitation for May of this year from a friend, Gen, who worked with me at Lewiscraft in Edmonton back around 2003 or 2004. This is not the actual invitation, but there is a cat theme!

dont wait 01Then I began thinking about really going and wondering what I might add onto the trip if I did, to make the cost and all worth it. And I found an excellent reason and here’s the story:

More on my friend: Gen, who has been my friend since we worked together at Lewiscraft in the early 2000s, wanted to do stand-up comedy (she had us in stitches on a regular basis and once on the bus a lady missed her stop because she was listening to us, mostly Gen, and laughing ’til the tears ran down her cheeks!) Anyway, the¬† Edmonton audiences weren’t the best for Gen; her family came from England and her humour is more their sort. So, not too long after Lewiscraft closed, Gen moved to London. That’s England, not Ontario!¬† And then she moved to Edinburgh, where she not only does some stand-up but also started her own business as a photographer. And met a really nice man who loves and appreciates her as she so deserves.

Still, you can see why I was waffling about going, can’t you? I haven’t won the lottery (yet). But I have enough Air Miles to get to Europe and back once. Not enough to get to Australia or New Zealand, sadly, although I should have had. I’ve been collecting for decades, dreaming of travel once I felt free to do so.

I began, as I said, looking at things I might do while overseas in order to take advantage of my One Big Chance. (well, that was my thinking at the time; more on the shift in my thinking in a while). I knew I would love to visit Shetland to see the mill where Jamieson’s of Shetland creates their fabulous yarns. And Fair Isle, where the wonderful patterns I love first were designed. And . . . so I started a sort of ‘bucket list’. Any idea what else went on that list?

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Runrig in Bremen

You bet . . . Runrig! Their music has helped me get through the past couple of decades in ways I find hard to explain. I do listen to a wide variety of genres, artists, groups, etc., and always have done. But when the going got tough, it was Runrig I turned to, every time. This song¬†(the first one, An Sabhal Aig Neill, or¬†Neill’s Barn) was my alarm tune those last five weeks when I was staying at the hospital with Mum. It’s still my alarm tune ūüôā It was good to wake up to something up-beat (pun intended) when I was up every two to three hours in the night. You wouldn’t think it, but I have only good feelings when I hear this; it was the soundtrack to all the nights of my last weeks with my mother. And other songs by Runrig make up the rest of that soundtrack. And their music was what kept me going since then. So, on 26 September I checked to see where they might¬† be playing in 2018; seeing them live has always been on my list, but I honestly never thought it would happen. Still, I’m a dreamer . . . and I’m sure you can imagine my feelings that day when I read this:

 

On the 26th of September 2017 Runrig announced that after 45 years they would be ‚Äúpulling the curtain down‚ÄĚ on their music careers.

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As Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way. I had “Jump . . . and the Net will appear . . .” on my business cards when I was doing contract work from home a few years ago.

Well, that did it! I sat up until 2 am in the morning of the 29th (which was 10 am in the UK), cursor poised over the button that said “tickets on sale soon”, eyes on the digital clock counting down to when the sale would begin. When the clock hit zero, I clicked the button! I didn’t wait for the text to change or anything. Then I ended up in a queue for over six minutes and finally I was in and purchasing my ticket!!! I found out later that 25,000 tickets sold out in under ten minutes.

So I don’t have a seat; I have what is called a ‘standing / camping’ ticket. Awesome, eh? A second concert was added, this on the Friday night, and those tickets sold out in under six hours. My concert is on the Saturday night. The gates open at 8 am on the 17th of August for those of us who are camping.

TLD poster 01Then there is a Ceilidh that evening. I’m sure there is going to be some awesome Scottish musicians there, too. (Runrig will be performing at the additional concert that night) So, I get to camp out that night (not sure how much sleep I’ll get, though lol), do as I wish the next day, and that evening I get to see Runrig! Live!!! And by the way, if you are a fan of amazing lead guitar work, listen to Skye¬†and imagine me getting to hear it live!

Stirling City Park 01

Stirling City Park – an earlier Runrig concert

So now I have well and truly jumped! I still can hardly believe that I actually got a ticket! What were the odds?

As well as Runrig to see, there is Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire at the end of September. After music, all things woolly make my heart sing! I don’t have a ticket to Yarndale yet, but soon . . .

Alba GLA 01

Glasgow!

Gratitude Attitude 05.jpgI do have my air fare to Glasgow on the 13th of May . . . the wedding is on the 18th. And I did that on my own, no help from Air Miles.¬† I was a bit grumpy about that at the time, too, but I’m working on having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ instead of being grumpy when things don’t go my way.

Canadian PassportsI haven’t booked a hostel yet, either. First things first. Like a passport. :-) I will be sending the papers in next week. It took a while to get things organized. We were in Vernon and I got the required photos and not too convict-looking, either.¬† :-)

Then I had to send the papers to Victoria to a friend to sign and all that. In spite of the Christmas mail rush, all was done in a most timely manner.

My friend in Tacoma gave me a suitcase when I left there, as I had somehow accumulated more yarn and fabric over the winter months. Not sure how that happened . . . ūüėõ The suitcase has already been to England and I feel it wants to go back for another visit. I’ll take a photo of it and share in another post.

jump 02There’s more to this epic pilgrimage, though. After Mum died, I was in an odd state of being; not crying or anything, just sort of disconnected in a strange way. I’ve done some serious thinking about what to do with whatever time remains to me and after a while of simply resting and recuperating (and binge-watching Netflix), I realized that there is time remaining, no matter how short or long and that my parents wouldn’t thank me to stay mired in that sad fugue state. No, I had to find a way to move forward. But sometimes, a way forward doesn’t appear immediately.

I’ve been here before, though, so I sort of knew what I needed to do. Sort of. I began in my own way. I had been knitting and crocheting since early in the year, which helped more than I’d expected. I really need to create! Through the summer I played with my mini-gardens and got back to basics by helping with the preserving and all. And I started blogging again, slowly at first, then picking up the pace in December.

Now, I’m sure many of you have heard of a book and movie called “The Secret”. I’ve had some interesting experiences using some of the concepts. I’ve shared a couple of those stories, but not all of them. I began reading an e-book called “Playing the Matrix” by Mike Dooley, who sends out inspirational messages called ‘Notes from the Universe’. Playing the Matrix has helped me get back on my figurative horse and start moving forward again. So when I heard of Mike’s new course, called “Love Your Life in 30 days”, I signed up for that, too. In two weeks, I’ve gone from feeling very ‘stuck’ to suddenly having many ideas about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. And I don’t mean Scotland and WestJet!¬† ūüôā

Alba WJ 01

The only downside to this course is that facebook, in it’s ‘wisdom’ has insisted on sending me notifications whenever anyone in the group posts. It took me a while to learn the solution. So if you have emailed me this month and not had a response, I do apologize, I shall continue to delete the unwanted mail as often as time permits.¬† [Update: I finally got those turned off, but still have plenty of deleting ahead of me]

But, now that I’m on this roll, I’m actually rather busy. Today I made eggnog muffins, also scones, in addition to emptying the closet and the suitcase and organizing the first and sorting through the contents of the other.

fearless dreamer fabric

Fearless Dreamer!

Last spring I also joined a group called “Stitch Upon a Time” it’s a stitching group that mainly uses patterns from the SUAT website. These are designed for cotton fabrics with at least 5% lycra (spandex). People are making their own underwear, as well as dresses and more. Some great kid’s patterns, too. Before I knew I was going away, I bought several patterns from them, as cousin S has a sewing machine and a serger and I will be able to use them. I have fabric, too. Including some stretch fabric with a Disney design on it: Fearless Dreamer! Just what I needed. I have some jade co-ordinating fabric for the exterior of the top, too. If any of you sew and are looking for a great supplier of this sort of fabric, I can highly recommend Purple Seamstress Fabrics.¬† Great service and prices. Mel is awesome!


gold 500For now, I have knitting to finish as well as the ornaments to make for my lovely winners. I have decided what to send to some of you and I have most of the bits assembled. I’m giving myself a month to get those done.

Well,it’s late (again!) and I shall save some of what’s going on for me for another day,. Wherever you are, I wish you a wonderful day. If you are facing challenges, know that you are not alone; this Village is always there for you.

Passing on the Light 01

Spreading Love and Light . . . that’s what we do!

As for music . . .

If you have housework to do and want some upbeat sounds, here’s 40 minutes of highlights from Runrig’s Party on the Moor.

. . . or how about my favourite Great Big Sea & The Chieftains¬† video? Love this and it makes me laugh every time.¬† Lukey’s Boat makes you want to dance!

A great mix of some of The Corries‘ best work.

Figgy Duff singing Henry Martin, another old favourite of mine.

and Pentangle performing Willy o Winsbury¬†with Jacqui Mcshee’s lovely voice.

My favourite of Stan Rogers’ work: Northwest Passage

From Runrig’s 30th Anniversary Concert: An Faileas Air An Airigh

Another upbeat song: Celtic Thunder’s “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir

I hope your week is going well. See you here soon! Love and Light to you all.  ~ Linne

 

 

 

Cornmeal Muffins . . . and Music :-)

For this week’s suppers, the cousins made a fantastic stew with umpteen vegetables and we are adding fresh steamed veggies as well on the side.¬† Not to mention thins like green onions and small home-made dill pickles. Mmmm . . . . . . . could there be anything more appetising? Apparently, the answer to that is ‘yes’.

Muffins!

The first night (Tuesday), they mentioned cornmeal muffins simultaneously. I had made some a month or so ago to accompany the chili that was on that week’s menu). Turned out, there had been a sighting of said muffins in the freezer; it only took a few minutes and the microwave and we were all enjoying one with our meal.

There were only six in the freezer, but there are plenty of bags of home-frozen corn kernels and it didn’t take me long to volunteer! I planned to have them come out of the oven just in time for the meal, but my timing was off. I had not allowed for the fact that I might not be able to find all the other ingredients quickly. Around here, things are kept in identical containers (several types, though) with labels on. I am primarily visual and although in my own kitchen I prefer to use containers, they often have an identifying quality and are always kept in the same location. Around here, things ‘migrate’ from time to time to allow room for new supplies, etc.¬† so, after opening a multitude of containers and not finding all my ingredients, I sought help.

ASK for help 01

Problem solved! I used cousin S’s wonderful Muffin cookbook, but, of course, I tweaked the heck out of the recipe! I like to maximize nutrition and my thinking is that if people enjoy their food, then they will eat it, so the nutrition goes where it’s meant to go. In case you might like to try this,here it is:

Linne’s Cornmeal Muffins

Single Recipe ‚Äď makes 12 large muffins Double Recipe ‚Äď makes 24 large muffins
Dry Mixture

¬ĺ c white flour

¬ĺ c whole wheat flour

¬Ĺ c wheat germ

1 ¬Ĺ tsp baking powder

1 ¬Ĺ tsp baking soda

¬ľ – ¬Ĺ tsp salt

Dry Mixture

1 ¬Ĺ c white flour

1 ¬Ĺ c whole wheat flour

1 c wheat germ

3 tsp baking powder

3 tsp baking soda

¬Ĺ – 1 tsp salt

Moist Mixture

1 c cornmeal

¬Ĺ c powdered milk

1 ¬ľ c water

 

1/3 c vegetable oil

2 ‚Äď 3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 large egg

 

1 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Moist Mixture

2 c cornmeal

1 c powdered milk

2 ¬Ĺ c water

 

2/3 c vegetable oil

4 – 6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 large eggs

 

2 c corn kernels, fresh, thawed or canned

Method

Assemble ingredients. Prepare the muffin tins (I grease lightly with non-hydrogenated margarine).

.Mix cornmeal and powdered milk together well in a smaller / medium mixing bowl.

Add water and mix well. Leave cornmeal to soak.

Combine the Dry Ingredients in a medium / large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre.

Set the oven to 4000 F. (This gives you time to make the batter without having it stand too long. And it saves power, as the oven won’t be on for too long while empty)

Beat the egg/s in a 1 c measuring cup. Add the lemon juice and beat again.

Add the egg & lemon mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir well.

Measure the oil in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Measure the sugar in the same cup. Add to the cornmeal mixture and mix well.

Pour the Moist Mixture into the well in the Dry Mixture and stir in gently.

Note: Do not over-mix!

Add the corn kernels (if using) and fold in gently.

Use a large serving spoon to fill the muffin pan/s, dividing the batter evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes and test with a toothpick or knife blade. If it comes out dry, they are done. If not, bake for another 5 ‚Äď 7 minutes. Test again. The muffins should be light golden and the tops springy to the touch.

Options:

When I make this sort of savoury muffin for my family or just for myself, I also like to add from one to three tablespoons of nutritional yeast, Engevita, for example. Women in my family tend to be Vitamin B deficient, but not me . . .

You can cut the sugar further; I will use only two tablespoons in the larger recipe next time. I cut the amount almost in half from the original, but it’s still too much.

If you have honey, that would work instead of the sugar. I’d make sure it was quite runny by heating it and then add it to the wet mixture.

You can substitute liquid milk for the powdered milk and water; I find the powdered is often cheaper and it’s easy to have on hand.

Yoghurt makes a good substitute, too, for the powdered milk and water, but you may need to add some water if your batter is too dry.

Instead of corn kernels, grate some cheese and add to the dry mixture. I like to add a bit at a time, sprinkling it as I stir, thus making sure the cheese doesn’t clump together. These are wonderful for breakfast with a bit of jam or for lunch with a salad. I made some once with a good cheddar cheese and we ate it with jalapeno jelly, which was an amazing combination.

Instead of corn kernels, add a cup of dark raisins. I like to soak them for a few minutes in very hot water, dry them on a towel, then add them to the dry mixture.

With either the cheese or corn kernel options, you can add finely chopped sausage or ham or bacon. Veggie versions of these work just as well.

I had an extra one before retiring to my room this evening, and I had it with the special cherry jam I made just for Christmas. And then we forgot to open it that day.

I forgot to take photos of the  muffins, except for the final treat, so these pictures will have to do. Trust me, this recipe turns out wonderfully delicious!

By the way, the Christmas Cherry Jam was not made with our own cherries, but with Lapins that I bought at the local organic market in early July. They were the closest I could find  to the Bings of my childhood, which I love dearly. My Auntie M used to make her cherry jam from Bings and I wanted to make some for her that was as close as possible to her own recipe. She told me her secret ingredient was lemon juice, but nowadays the recipes all seem to call for that, so I guess the secret is out!

I took her a small jar marked for Christmas back in July and reminded her to open it in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. She loved it!

 

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A bit of inspiration for you!

And, in case you are feeling musically deprived, LOL,

Life Is . . . by Runrig (of course) from a concert in Bonn in 1999, shortly after their lead singer left to enter politics and was replaced by a Canadian!!! Bruce Guthro, from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This is an emotional song, so, as an antidote . . .

Maymorning, also by Runrig. This is from their 40th anniversary concert in August 2013, Party on the Moor, held at Muir of Ord near Inverness in Scotland. There’s a cute surprise at 6.30, too. And I there isn’t praise high enough for Malcolm Jones’ lead guitar, in my not-so-humble-opinion.

and I don’t think I’ve shared this before: The Ghost of Tom Joad, sung by Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons. Although I like Mumford & Sons a lot, it’s still the only song I’ve heard by Elvis Costello. {the notes say:¬†Bruce Springsteen titled the song after the main character from John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. He hoped the song would personify or represent the voices of the hopeless, disenfranchised, and invisible as the book was said to do in the 1930s.}

I guess I’d best share something happier, too, eh? How about this?

That Old Time Religion by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody Guthrie). This is not what you probably expect (unless you are familiar with Pete’s music).

and this caught my ear, too . . . Precious Friend, also by Pete Seeger.

I have found, in my few years in this Virtual Village, that you are all Precious Friends to one another. It gives me hope . . .

Dream another Dream

And here is Pete Seeger again, singing another favourite,¬†The Garden Song, and ‘garden’, in this case, is a metaphor for many things. So I add it for all of you, who, in your own ways, work ‘inch by inch’ to effect change in this world that needs it so much. Gardening, knitting, yarnbombing, cooking & baking, writing, painting, singing, dreaming, protesting, thinking, sharing your thoughts, your actions and your words in so many ways that words fail me . . .

Pete Seeger banjo 01If you don’t listen to the whole thing, at least listen to Pete’s introduction. So true . . . I also love that his banjo had on it these words:

Much Love and even more Light to each of you. Stay warm, eh?

Unless, of course, you live on the downside . . . can I send anyone a bit of this?

Hugs to you all.  ~ Linne

p.s. While getting this ready to publish, the music was still playing and this came on: This is for all of you, as you do what you can to make this a better world:

Garbage by Pete Seeger. Here’s to a better world in 2018!

 

 

 

Notes on my day and some good music

I didn’t write anything last night and found I missed it. I do know most of you are busy getting ready for Christmas, so it’s fine if you don’t see this until after the holidays.

IMG_5844The allsorts are pretty good, but the package contents have certainly changed; only one triple-decker (the white piece; technically, I suppose it has five layers, but I was counting the non-licorice parts), only one other piece that was not pink and/or black (the yellow one). Where are the round pillow shapes with blue beads? Lots of pink ones, but still . . .IMG_5881

We have had more snow and the trees looked particularly lovely today as we drove to town.

 

I took the Hvite Pepperkaker dough out of the fridge tonight.

It was denser than I expected, so instead of trying to roll it out and cut shapes from it, I simply sliced it thinly and baked. The results were similar to shortbread, which I had not expected.

I have finally picked up all the stitches from when I frogged the smaller tuque back to just above the pattern, unpicked one more row to make sure the stitches are facing the same direction and have begun (again!) to knit the crown. I do hope that this time it lies flat, well, rounded, but not ruffly as it did the first time:

IMG_5450

Have a lovely day, my friends; I’ll be back soon. ~ Linne

Right . . . music! What was I thinking?

The Peace Poem and Last Night I had the Strangest Dream – with John Denver. Thanks to my RN sister and her husband, we were fortunate enough to see him in concert twice. I still miss his work.

Peace Train by Yusuf Islam (stage name = Cat Stevens)

From the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music“, comes an incredible rendition of the legendary Bob Marley song “One Love” with Keb’ Mo’ and Manu Chao. This is the third video from the documentary and a follow up to the classic “Stand By Me” and the incredible “Don’t Worry.”¬† (notes from youtube)

 

 

Day 21: a very short post

Hi, my friends. Here is what I woke up to this morning:

IMG_5764

Cousin M and I went in to Salmon Arm, where I was able to do all my christmas shopping in a couple of hours. This is what we saw on the way there and back”

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When we got home, Cousin S had left me this before going off to work:

A lovely herbal tea with licorice and slippery elm bark, among other things. And some of the shortbreads I made yesterday. It made for a welcome break.

It’s been a very busy¬† day and is now almost midnight, so this will be short.

I did make the Hvite Pepperkake¬†dough and it’s in the fridge for overnight.

IMG_5831I translated the British weights to Canadian measures and am not convinced I got it right. I had to leave out two cups of flour. But it seems like the right texture and I guess I’ll find out tomorrow when I bake it.

While I was out, I bought myself a wee Christmas treat. The cousins don’t eat candy and I rarely do anymore, but at Christmas I always have some of this:

I had to eat some so the rest would fit into the container . . .

This is the last of my daily posts. I’m going to aim for weekly for a while, but we’ll ssee. I may post in between when there is something special to share.

A very happy Solstice to those of you who celebrate the return of the Light.  I shall be thinking of you  tomorrow. (today already, for some of you, anyway)

Thanks for hanging in with me during these three weeks. It’s been fun.

Now for some music:

Tshinanu by Kashtin. They are Canadian and I have loved their work for years. Don’t think they perform currently.

Merry Christmas, Everyone, Great Big Sea & Friends, Gift Of Giving Show¬† I love the message at the beginning of this and couldn’t have said it better.¬†

Another of my favourite Canadian groups,The Rankin Family singing We Rise Again. Too bad the audience noise is so loud; still, Raylene’s voice is amazing. And here is a different recording of that song, this time more clearly.

Peace and Harmony to you all . . .  ~ Linne

stonehengewinter

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge 

 

 

Day 20: √Üthelfl√¶d . . . was she ready?

Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey

Æthrlflæd

 

A thought crossed my mind today, as thoughts do; I was thinking about Christmas and the fact that I am not really ready. The name √Üthelred the Unready was the first thought and then I wondered if there was a feminine version of the name, so I looked it up. Ms Google can be an obliging friend at times . . . But I have no idea if Ms¬†√Üthelfl√¶d, who succeeded her husband, √Üthelred the Unready, was also Unready. Perhaps she was not. She is a very interesting person, though, but I’ll leave it to you to look her up.

I also learned that, in fact, the epithet “Unready” actually meant ‘ill-advised’ and was a pun on his name, which means ‘well-advised’. I knew immediately that you would all be waiting with bated breath to learn these facts, so there they are . . .¬† Any idea why I am ‘unready’? And no pun intended or existent. Ah, well . . .

So I have spent much of today not preparing for the Day, but rather immersed in one of a series of mysteries, one with¬† descriptions so realistic that it is often depressing. But I have to know what happened next . . . I used to read non-stop, pretty much; more than a book a day for many years, and over the past months have read hardly anything. Until I discovered e-books, at which I once sneered, as I love the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands, the older the better; the smell, the look, the touch, it’s all part of reading for me. Sitting hunched over the laptop is not quite the same thing. Still, at least it’s reading. And I have also found out that Amazon has an amazing variety of free e-books for Kindle¬†and an app that lets one read them on a smartphone or PC or laptop. When I found the Amazon books, I spent two days going through the first 400 pages (about a quarter of what’s available in only the section :Classics;) and downloading the books that I’d always meant to read, or re-read in many cases.

an-old-fashioned-girlEverything from ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ to Plato.¬† I¬† had forgotten what a natural appetite I have for reading and learning. But I haven’t touched any of those except ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’ by Louisa May Alcott. The rest are waiting until next year. I’ll be sharing my resolutions and plans in a week or two.

In the meantime: I did no baking today, and no preparation of the various cookie doughs that need refrigeration overnight, either. And tomorrow Cousin M and I are going to town to shop. I want to buy some things for their stockings, so will have to give him the slip for a while.

I still have an email to finish composing for my winners (see yesterday’s post) and, of course, music to locate. The music takes me the longest, as I always find myself lured down memory lanes, roads not taken and just plain jaunts cross-country, musically¬† speaking. A close second to reading, is music . . .

For today, then:

A song that made me intensely homesick for BC all the years I was living in Edmonton: The Hills of Ardmorn by The Corries, whose music I loved long before I came across Runrig. Beautiful voices and harmonies.

kate and anna mcgarrigleCanadians Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright – son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More during the Transatlantic Sessions. (If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Sessions, do look them up.)

More of my favourite Christmas music: Pete Seeger’s Working Class Christmas Tunes. I like them all, but Ode to Joy on the 5-string banjo, with my favourite lyrics, is wonderful.

Off to write that email now. Much Love and Light to you all. ~ Linne

Day 13: An easy special treat for Christmas Eve breakfast: Skaters

It’s very early on the 13th and I’ve been visiting blogs instead of writing a post. Then I spent some time deciding what to write about. Posting every day is a bit of a challenge, but fun, too. But today I have solved the photo-inserting mystery, so there will be pictures!

IMG_5573    IMG_5585

The cottage pie, before and after it was cut open.

Today I went into town with cousin M to have a notary public sign a single page document. I’ve never had to make an appointment for that before, so hadn’t called ahead. Anyway, we are going back on Friday to have that done. We stopped to order the Christmas turkey from a small shop where we purchased the Thanksgiving turkey; they are raised naturally and so delicious they are worth the price. Then we went to a small speciality yarn shop that is mostly too expensive for me at present. I wanted to buy one more skein of yarn for the scarf, as I’m afraid that my leftovers from the tuques aren’t going to be enough for a decent length. This took a bit longer than I’d hoped, as they no longer carry that brand (why it was on sale in the first place), but I was able to find some pure wool that is very lovely and ought to work colour-wise. And if I don’t need it, I may have to knit or crochet something else. This is what I get for wanting to use up my leftovers . . . I don’t really like to knit with wool for others, as nowadays people often don’t want to take the time to hand-wash items. But my sister will, I know. he values hand-made, too.

The real bonus was finding bamboo double pointed needles in size 0 (that’s a zero) and size 1. You may remember that I have my great-grandmother’s dpns, but one is size 2 and the other three are smaller.¬† So now I can make socks using her needles, the ones that she taught her children on and also my mother and her siblings. I can hardly wait!

Johan Jorgine Carlson Stromme 01

I’ve had another message from the Norwegian professor and he sent me a photo of my great-grandfather¬† with three other people. In return I sent him this photo; This is my Mum’s beloved Grandfather Johan and Grandmother J√łrgine (Georgina in English and it is J√łrgine’s steel knitting needles that are now mine to love and cherish. Behind them is their farmhouse, where Mum and most of her siblings often spent a week or two in the summer and where the family gathered for Sunday dinner on many a weekend. The children were aged 3 to 20 when their mother died and their grandparents stepped in to help whenever possible. I don’t know if I met them when I was taken to Saskatchewan for my first birthday; I hope so.

But you must be wondering about the easy treat, right? It’s very simple and you may use whatever bread recipe you prefer for making buns or rolls. Depending on how many people will be at the breakfast table, you may wish to make only enough for one loaf of bread. I always used a standard recipe for two loaves, as my two boys loved these. You can also make the dough, freeze half and use the other half for one batch. If you prefer a sweet dough, go ahead and use that. I like whole wheat nearly all the time, so that’s what I made, but half whole wheat and half white work well, too. You can add a little wheat germ for extra flavour and nutrition if you wish. I always do.

Now I don’t have photos of these, but if I get to make some during the holidays I’ll come back and update this post. (I’ve searched the internet and am surprised that there are no photos of them anywhere that I looked.)

You can make the dough in a bread machine, too, if that gives you a bit more time.

Once the dough is ready to form into buns for baking, here’s what you do”

Divide the dough into about 12 Р24 pieces. Take one piece and roll it into a cylinder. Form the top into a cone-shaped cap. Twist a bit to form a neck, not too  narrow, though.

With a sharp knife, make a slit from the bottom about 1/3 of the way up the cylinder. This forms the legs. Then form the arms by making two slits from about a half-inch to an inch below the shoulders down past where the waist would be.

Now separate the legs a bit and twist the last inch or so to make feet that stick out to the sides, like feet with skates on. I like to make the tips curve up, like the old-fashioned skates from Victorian days.

Twist the arms a bit, too, pulling them away from the body. You can pose the arms and legs differently to make them more interesting. If you want to be even fancier, pinch off a piece of dough and form a scarf, then wrap it around the neck with the ends blowing in the wind a bit. Don’t make the scarf too thin or long. You want these to bake evenly.

Arrange the skaters on a greased baking sheet as you make them. We used to use two raisins to form eyes and three more to make buttons where the jacket would be. Poke raisins well into the dough so they don’t get shoved out when the dough rises.

You can let these rise now, then bake at 350 F until browned like any dinner bun, or you can put the tray of skaters into the fridge (assuming you have room) and let them rise in¬† a warm oven in the morning while the stockings are being unpacked (that’s what I did). We always had them with butter and home-made jam., as well as our scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. It was the only time of year that we had bacon, so that in itself was pretty festive.

If you are fairly new to bread baking, I recommend a trial run ahead of the big day so you have an idea of how long it all will take. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask me in the comments below. but I think this is one of my easier Christmas recipes.

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The last of the Honeycrisp apples, the pie we made from them (and a few more) and, on the right, the mincemeat turnovers waiting to be baked.

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The ends for the Dancing Granny scarf as it was yesterday. Today they are a bit longer.

Have a lovely and stress-free day today.

Here’s some music that I like for this season:

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

Imagine by John Lennon

 

Day 11: Two weeks to go . . .

Well, like many of you, I suppose, I wish I could say that I’d spent the last two days finishing Christmas gifts. Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, I’ve been busy with paperwork (and poring over very teeny print is not my favourite thing, really) and helping with some of the usual weekend tasks around here. My cousin’s wife, S, retires on the 22nd, so I expect things will change a bit in the New Year. For now, though, they generally shop on Saturday for the food items that will be needed for Sunday. And on Sunday, we prepare those things for whatever dish will be the mainstay of our suppers for the next five days. Weekends are a mix of leftovers and whatever we feel like making on Saturday.

Today we made a large crock pot of spaghetti sauce and¬† when that was c cooked, the cooked fusilli was added to it. Last week we made Cottage Pie, which we often call Shepherd’s Pie, although there is no lamb in it. But that’s our childhood name for the dish.¬† Cousin M steams a large pot of veggies every¬† night as well and some weeks there is a baked potato to go with it all. A couple of nights ago we were eating the Pie and commenting on how healthy and delicious our meals are here. I began to count the number of vegetables on our plates and it seemed that we had between 12 and 14 varieties. Not bad, really. If you are curious, here’s a list: Cottage Pie: corn, peas, green beans, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, green bell peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, celery. I think that’s all. Steamed side dish: bok choy, pac choy, carrots,

[I did have photos for you today, but for some reason they won’t upload. I don’t have time to tinker just now, although I did for a while. I’ll share another time]

Anyway, once the spaghetti sauce was cooking, Cousin S and I made a large apple pie and then she made some mincemeat turnovers from the leftover pie crust. That apple pie used the last of the Honey Crisp apples, which I can highly recommend for apple pie. I did save two for eating, but that’s it otherwise. We still have a panful of the smaller Macintosh apples, but will be lucky to get a pie out of them. We are going to have to start using up the frozen fruits soon. Cherry pie soon . . .

I did find time to knit today and the scarf is growing more quickly, now that it’s simple knit and purl and only 22 stitches across. I shall have to try and buy another skein, though; so much for using up leftover yarn.

It’s 3 am so I will stop here. Have a great week, everyone!

Music for today:

Another favourite of mine: Hobo’s Lullaby by Woody Guthrie, sung by his son Arlo.

This time of year I think of the challenges faced by homeless people all over the world and this song says it all. The cello part is rather haunting in this version.

And here is my wish for you all: Forever Young by Pete Seeger’ the words at the end by one of the children are worth hearing.

See you next time!  ~ Linne