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 🙂 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 “pulling the curtain down” 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!

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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 . . .

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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 . . . 😛 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!  🙂

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.

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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

 

 

 

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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 – makes 12 large muffins Double Recipe – makes 24 large muffins
Dry Mixture

¾ c white flour

¾ c whole wheat flour

½ c wheat germ

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ – ½ tsp salt

Dry Mixture

1 ½ c white flour

1 ½ c whole wheat flour

1 c wheat germ

3 tsp baking powder

3 tsp baking soda

½ – 1 tsp salt

Moist Mixture

1 c cornmeal

½ c powdered milk

1 ¼ c water

 

1/3 c vegetable oil

2 – 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 ½ 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 – 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!

 

 

 

Getting back on the horse . . .

Well, my friends, it’s time . . . to get back to regular posting, I mean, as I finally caught up with your kind and thoughtful comments!  I wonder if others find it hard to know where to begin, too? I’ve been thinking about what I want to share and so on, then decided I would simply upload images from my time in Tacoma (part One), then add notes and probably some of my thoughts along the way. I hope that works for all of us.

I took literally thousands of photos after I left Edmonton late last September, so there were plenty to choose from.  I think I will write above the photos (just so you know what I’m going on about . . .).

This is a long post, so don’t worry if you can’t get through it all, and don’t feel obliged to comment on all, or any, of it. I totally understand about that.

Here is a photo from my friends’ back porch in Langford, BC, where I stayed while waiting to get new ID suitable for entering the USA. That took longer than I’d imagined, partly due to the fact that I had only my birth certificates with me; all else is in storage ‘somewhere’. Anyway, the autumn colours were lovely and I especially liked this view through the latticing.

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We kept busy, ,y friends and I, as I waited. One trip we took was to a small country market and I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the pumpkin / squash display. I have a painting planned, based on this sumptuous collection of colours and shapes.IMG_5599

Once I arrived in the wee Varda (travel trailer; I like the original gypsy word, VArdo, but liked to think of Varda as a feminine form), I adjusted my diet to fit my food prep options. I have never cooked in a microwave, but really didn’t want to have the propane hooked up, so I quickly learned to make simple and delicious meals. More about that in a separate post, I think. Below is the glass dish I used for cooking everything from morning oatmeal to pasta and veggies.IMG_5710

It wasn’t long before I got back into crochet and knitting. More on that later, but I couldn’t resist sharing this cute photo. So true, isn’t it?

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I had fun taking photos in the Varda, too. Some of my oranges were especially interesting in shape and I liked the composition of this one sitting on my unmade bed one morning.

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My friends have a lovely upright piano that belonged to Mr. R’s mother. They loanded me a book for adult learners and I had a lot of fun any time they were both out, just noodling around and working my way almost to the middle of the book. I used to attend all my younger son;s lessons (violin, viola, piano, etc.) and had always wanted to play myself. Music is very healing, at least for me. There is a wonderful book called “Music as the Bridge” that gave me a different outlook on the place of music in the world and in my life.IMG_5834

AS I think I’ve mentioned, <rs. R was not well for most of the first month that I was there. Once she was feeling better, we had some fun making Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. Each received a fleece blanket, which was made by putting two pieces of fleece back to back, cutting slits along the sides (we used masking tape so that the slits would be even in length), then knotting eacch pair of ‘tabs’.IMG_5949

This is the back of the blanket pictured above.IMG_5950

THEN, we got more serious about creativity. Before I went south, my friend J (Mrs. R) had asked me to teach her to knit and crochet again (she’d learned as a child, then not done any for some years). You may be appalled to know that I pretty much threw her in at the deep end when it came to the knitting. we decided that she would make a scarf for her husband for Christmas and chose patterns that reflected their individual heritages.

The scarf is made of Classic Wool on two sets of circular needles, so the pattern is always facing the knitter (easier for the knitter and making any errors simple to spot and correct.

In the end, though, J found the loose ends of the unused circular needle were too distracting for her, so I knit the pattern bits. She did most of the plain knitting, though. Here is the first end once the patterns were completed. The row counter is there mostly to mark the beginning of the raven pattern segment.IMG_5960

At the bottom is a row of Fair Isle hearts; J’s grandmother was from Oban and apparently liked to tease her husband about his being only a Lowlander.IMG_5962

Mr. R’s grandparents, like my maternal ones, came from Norway,, so we chose to include two ravens, one on each end of the scarf. They were considered to be Odin’s birds, Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory), who flew all over the world each day, bringing back news to Odin. This pattern came from a book I had from the library a few years ago. The book is called Selbuvotter (Mittens/Gloves of Selbu); it has many lovely patterns for gloves and mitts traditional in Selbu, Norway.IMG_5963

The upper pattern band is also from the Fair Isle tradition. It has Os and Xs for Hugs and Kisses, with Crosses in between for blessings.IMG_5964

This is the ‘back’ side of the scarf.IMG_5965

J gave me two lovely rayon tops from Holy Clothing, a company selling ethically made clothing. This photo shows the embroidery around the neckline of my favourite piece.IMG_6089

In January, J drove up to victoria to visit her son and his family, so I went along and while I was in Langford again my friend L trimmed my hair. The longest parts were finally down to my waist, after many years of wanting it to all be that long, but it was looking quite ragged, so I bowed to necessity. I don’t care for it this short, but it looks neater, so that’s ok. Besides, it should grow in again. IMG_6102

WE left late in the afternoon, taking a ferry to Port Angeles, WA. These are poor photos of lovely views from the ferry; James Bay (Victoria) in the last light of the sun.IMG_6120

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reativity!  While in Tacoma, J and I began going to Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann stores; occasionally to Michaels as well. To start her off with crochet, we had purchased a small ball of variegated khaki Sugar n Cream cotton yarn.  With an eye to the future and savings (ha!), and knowing that J loves turquoise and teal, I talked her into buying these two cones of cotton (also Sugar n Cream).

But then, one evening as I was sitting with her while she worked on a square dishcloth in the khaki, I asked if she’d mind if I started a ‘small’ piece using these two colours. You see, I’d had an idea . . . what if one was to create a circle using both colours in concentric spirals?  Of course she said yes and so it began . . . You can see the beginning below. I never wrote down what I did, so if you feel inspired to make your own version of this, ou will have to do as I did, make it up as  you go along. IMG_6246

After a while, I switched to treble (US double) crochet, with a chain in between, which you can see in the first photo. Then, for a change, I began working in the back stitches, creating a lovely ripple as if there were waves washing up along coral and white outcrops. The piece grew like Topsy and I bought two more cones and two more cones and one final cone of the turquoise. so, seven cones in all. At one point, I found myself creating interesting ‘petals’ in the variegated yarn, but they vanished in the next row. I remembered them, however, and re-created them as I came to the ends of the piece. By that time, it measured around seven feet across, I think. The final photo here is of the centre. I do have photos of the completed piece, but I’ll have to look for them.  spread out over a recliner chair, it covered it and hung down the back!  I’m rather proud of this piece. I think it’s the larges I’ve ever made; certainly it’s the most creative in terms of stitches and overall design. Not many things make me as happy as pure creativity, making things up as I go along. (although it doesn’t always work out so well, I have to admit). I’ll post the photos of the finished piece next time, assuming I can find the photos.

In the meantime, I am thinking of each one of you out there in the Virtual Village; those for whom things are going well and those facing a challenge or ten. Take care of yourselves, will you? I’ll be dropping by to visit soon.

And here’s my newest favourite album; it was the first recorded by Runrig, back when there were only four members. It’s not so much rock and, while it’s in Scottish Gaelic, I find it hauntingly beautiful. I find myself hearing it in my dreams and often waking to it in the mornings. i hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do.

Love and Light to each of you.  ~ Linne

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

 

 

A short, mixed, update

My dear friends, I am grateful for your on-going support, prayers, etc. I’m not sure if I will have time to catch up with all the comments, but please know that I have read them all. In the meantime, the most important news is this:

My Mum had a good day on Wednesday, 13 April (which was the year anniversary of the day my Aunty and I moved into the new condo). She was in good spirits, laughing and joking with staff and teasing often; she was the self that I love so well. She had ice cream for lunch and dinner both, following her own advice:

‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first!’

She woke around 3 am and we talked a little, holding hands, then both went back to sleep. It was, therefore, with a certain amount of shock that I woke at 6 to find she had left us . . .

There were some interesting things about the date. As I said, the day before was a year since her older sister and I moved to the condo where the three of us planned to have some fun. But it was not to be.

The day after, 15 April, was both her own mother’s birthday and the day her older brother died (he was very close to their mother, who died far too young, leaving children from 2 to 20 years of age). Of the ten children, only one is left and she is 91 in a couple of weeks. I’m selfishly hoping she is around for a while.

In a way, her passing was not unexpected, but we had all hoped that when she chose to go it would be from her home, not the hospital. But, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans . . .”

It’s been just over two weeks now and a big adjustment for my RN sister and myself. I have begun sorting through my things and packing. So far there hasn’t been much to dispose of, as most of what I brought with me was supplies for working on here. I’ve been going through my Aunty’s things, too. Not easy, as most of you will know.

The one year anniversary of my Aunty’s death was on the 26th and that week was full of memories, joy and sadness. This week, I am moving toward a proper schedule so that I will be ready to leave by the end of June. I will stay with my friends the Crafties for some time so that I can deal with my things in the container and the storage unit here, then begin bringing my stored things from BC to go through. I can only hope they are in decent condition after all this time. I’m not planning beyond those things for now. I will be doing some knitting and crochet soon and that will help. Being creative is always soothing for me.

I’ll be writing a proper farewell to my Mum soon, too. There is a lot to say when someone has lived over 90 years.

In the meantime, those of you who fell in love with the Bavarian crochet might love the pictures that accompany this workshop ad:

http://www.craftsy.com/class/bavarian-twisted-stitches-projects-techniques/10171;jsessionid=F78E1ED80A2548075AA2251A686C39F5.cure000?ext=DonnaDruchunas_10171_H&utm_source=Donna%20Druchunas&utm_medium=Instructor&utm_campaign=General-Course%20Activity&initialPage=true

And, although these lyrics are meant to salute the veterans of WWII, I feel this song by Runrig is a suitable accompaniment for my feelings just now:

To me, that song is about the passing of an entire generation, to whom we owe so much. I am grateful for the years I had with my parents and especially the past 17 years with my Mum. I am sad beyond my expectations, but there is joy, too.

Much love and many blessings to each of you. I will be back to more regular posting soon and I’ll see you on the bright side!

3 quotes in 3(?) days/periods of time/weeks/??? Post #2

I think I should warn you . . . a cuppa won’t last through this post; best make a big pot of tea, coffee, whatever suits you today . . .

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Above is a half-grown magpie rescued by the Crafties. I was there visiting and had the joy of feeding it and holding it for most of the time I was on the front porch.

The Three Quote Challenge . . .

Well, I did warn you that it might take a bit for me to finish this challenge . . . 🙂 (and to learn more about it, visit Pauline & the 3 Quote Challenge and you can follow back -or forward- to some of the many others who are taking part). Pauline threw the gates open to volunteers, so feel free to join in. Maybe let Pauline (and Apple Pie and Napalm) know you are coming to the party . . .

Back in 1970 I had a wonderful woman doctor who introduced me to alternative approaches to health and healing. A few years later she had her license taken away by the medical association, not for causing any harm, but for “unorthodox practises”. Being a woman doctor AND unorthodox . . . oh, my!

Among the sources and ideas she shared with me was a book about Edgar Cayce, now widely regarded as the father of holistic healing and medicine.

His work has helped me ever since then and I have always had positive results from applying his recommendations for  physical healing. But it was his suggestions for mental, emotional and spiritual growth that have helped me the most.

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Canada Day, 01 July

 

 

 

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The past weeks have been very challenging for me; I took my Mum to the ER on the 13th of July. As it turned out, she had a serious inflammation in her lower left leg and both lower legs had been swollen for some time, something she was able to hide for quite a while. Since at first we were told it might be staph, or strep or a super-bug, my RN sister, who had been here for a visit just days previously, flew back to help me thoroughly clean most of the condo. It was a massive job, especially for someone who has been extremely sedentary for the past three years (that would be me . . .)

Once done the cleaning, my sister and I were able to get some much-needed organizing done, along with some unpacking. The place looked SO much better by the time she had to leave.

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See . . . ? The front hall, formerly half-full of boxes.

Mum came home on the 22nd, my sister returned on the 23rd, along with our last living Auntie and the Celebration of Life for my Aunty who passed away in April was held on Saturday the 25th. People brought photo albums and it was good to see new photos of my older family. Here are a few: IMG_9905

My maternal grandparents, around the time of their engagement and marriage, probably 1910 or ’11. They met and married in North Dakota, had two children, then moved, along with her parents and several siblings, to Saskatchewan.

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My grandmother, standing, whom I never met, as she died in 1933. She loved her hats and I wish at least one and some of her lovely clothing, had survived the years. That’s one of her sisters sitting in the chair,


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My Aunty when she was young.

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My maternal grandparents and the first seven of eleven children. One died at birth and the girl with the black curly hair died at ten years. My Mum is the baby here, held by her mother. It was the day she and her next older sister (in the chair beside the eldest girl) were christened. The wee girl on the right, with her Dad’s arm around her, is my Aunty that I stayed with for so much of the past three years. Behind them is one of their early homes.

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This summer we have had very nice weather for the most part. Often coolish, rarely baking hot, just what I like. But not much rain and we could really use some. We had two thunderstorms this past week or so and I loved the light-show, but rain would have been most welcome . . . we seem tyo be teetering on the edge of a drought and that’s scary. The storm above was lovely to watch as it approached over the hill/berm to the west, but didn’t bring much moisture with it.

The Celebration went well and I met relatives I knew only by name and from hearing stories about them through the years. It was good to see others that I had not seen for more than six years, too. My cousin (the younger of my Aunty’s two sons, gave a beautiful eulogy, although he had a hard time getting through some parts.

By Tuesday, the relatives were all gone home again and life began to return to normal, or NiRmL, as I think of it these days.

Then I developed swelling in both my lower legs, a fair bit in the left leg. And then what looked like a pressure sore developed, then another, both just where my short socks’ elastic presses. Then the spots joined and began spreading around my ankle . . .

(hold on, there’s a reason I’m sharing all this)

But first, while looking for a quilting pattern, I stumbled upon this post, put up five years ago by Nan from Pots & Pins blog:  her recipe for Butter Cream Scones

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Of course, first thing I did was to mess around with it, sort of like the Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows, thinking to myself in a parody of said Rat, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about with recipes. Simply messing,” I went on dreamily: “messing—about—with—recipes; messing—”

And so I swapped out 1/4 cup of the flour for 1/4 cup of wheat germ, and swapped 1/4 of the baking powder for an equal amount (more or less) of baking soda, then at the last minute I added a few drops of lemon juice to the cream . . . like I said, simply—messing about . . . and the results were beyond scrumptious; my Mum, whose appetite has not been what it once was, loved these, warm and buttered and topped with jam. The first batch was gone the next day, so I made another . . . Two of those were given to a visiting relative and the rest somehow—just—vanished . . . Yesterday we finished off the third batch and I plan to make more tomorrow. Yes, they are that good!

I have been thinking of other variations that are possible, too, but so far we are so happy with this one it’s all we want. But if the sugar was cut way back and grated cheese added to the dry mix, along with some chopped savoury herbs or maybe some jalapeno peppers chopped very fine . . . now that would be a perfect accompaniment to a winter soup or stew. Savoury cheese scones are wonderful served with butter and jalapeno jelly, too . . . Or the dough could be dropped into a pot of simmering chicken soup by the tablespoonful to make most excellent dumplings . . . or . . . Well, anyway, one must leave something for the cold winter months, mustn’t one? Besides, what I did instead deserves its own post, but won;t get one . . . it will simply have to be content with a mention here:

I sliced some fresh strawberries and cooked then with a little water and berry sugar, let it cool, then added more sliced berries and mashed them a wee bit with a strong fork. Ileft the pot on the stove to stay warm, but with the heat turned off. I heated the scones in the microwave, split them, spooned the berry mixture and syrup over  both halves, then topped with whipped Natrel lactose-free cream. A slice of berry as garnish, plus an attempt at artful garnishing with a spoonful or so of extra syrup, and we had a dessert fit for queens and empresses . . .

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So;,if you have the care of someone whose appetite needs tempting, I highly recommend these; we love them (if that wasn’t obvious already . . .)

Back to the Three Quote Challenge . . . sort of . . .

As some of you know, I’m not one for conventional medicine unless maybe if I were to break a bone or the like, or if I simply couldn’t figure out a problem . . . so I did some online research, seeing as how my reference books are all living in the Land of Somewhere still . . . and from those results and from my memory of treatments that have served me well over the years, I came up with a plan: I have begun walking daily, usually with my good friend C, who drives over most mornings to join me. This gives us both a chance to debrief about various events in our lives, which is so helpful.

I’ve returned to a veggie-rich alkalizing diet along with a few other tried and true alkalizers. No need to wait until I have an actual infection, I say . . .

In addition to walking, I am using castor oil on both legs, along with gentle massage. Yesterday I used wet packs of epsom salts and sea salt, dissolved in hot water. And today, when C dropped by with four mojitos for us (for today and tomorrow), she did some energy work on my foot, and there was much less swelling for the rest of the day and through the night.

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fresh Lime and Mint Mojito from The Tea Place

The Tea Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is the most fantastic food place I’ve eaten at in decades; My friend C took me there the first time and we’ve been there as often as possible since. The bubble teas are exceptional.

Last time C drove me around for several hours doing errands while we visited, we went to The Tea Place for lunch. There were salmon avocado wraps on the menu, but not the paninis I loved last summer. When I mentioned this to the owner, who was waiting on us, he immediately said that he could make that for us, and he did. Salmon, avocado and just enough wasabi to make its presence known. (this mix would be wonderful added to a green salad, making it into a full meal)The panini, along with a small bowl of Thai curry chicken soup, was as wonderful as ever. With it we had a fresh Lime & Mint Mojito, with slices of lime and sprigs of mint in each drink. Non-alcoholic, it was the most refreshing beverage I’d had in ages. I kept my mint to start my own plants (which is why C showed up yesterday with four more!) and by luck(is there such a thing?), I’d just purchased a bag of organic limes at the grocery store. I plan to try hot Mojitos this winter, too . . .

We finished up with a shared piece of Red Velvet cake and left happy!

If you are ever in Edmonton, I highly recommend at least one visit to The Tea Place (and no, they don’t even know I’m mentioning them; I just like to promote small businesses that are exceptional in nature and performance.)

NOTE: I started writing this on Tuesday, 11 August, but now it’s Wednesday 🙂

I got up this morning and there was almost NO swelling in either foot or leg! I was able to walk faster, so we went nearly a quarter block further in our 15 minutes, then turned around to come back. There is a wee bit of swelling in the left foot now, as I’e been at the computer for a while and the position I work in is not optimal. But I;ll put it up for a bit after we eat.

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This is the Mountain Ash tree that I can now walk past in our 15 minutes; it’s gorgeous, but I’m wondering (based on the number of berries) if we are in for a hard winter . . .

We also pass by the most beautiful, inspiring flower garden on our walk and one day we stopped and crossed the street to photograph it. It wasn’t until C commented that I saw the fenced veggie patch in the middle and towards the back.

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What a wonderful way to use a front yard instead of planting a hay crop, then working to keep it three inches tall . . . I know the photos don’t do it justice; use your imagination . . .

All right, I hear you! on to the Quotes . . .

Edgar-Cayce

There are many quotes from Edgar Cayce that have meant much to me over the years, but I’ll only share two today:

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it doesn’t behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.

It’s so easy to point fingers and criticize; so much better to hold out a helping hand or at least put that hand to better use.

I first came across this in reading a book about his work, but I don’t think it originated with him. Worth thinking about, in any case.

The other quote has been my favourite for over forty years:

Be content, but not satisfied.

To me, this means finding a way to be happy where you are, whatever the situation, while at the same time doing what you can to improve things, make progress, however you want to put it. I had sort of forgotten about the ‘be content’ bit and so began my slide into a too-long stay in the unhappy land of Overwhelm.

Another lesson learned, and about time, too. Pauline, the Contented Crafter, has taught me quite a bit about contentment on a daily basis, whatever your situation, and I think sets a great example in her practise of not getting up in the morning until she has found something to be grateful for. I need to do this myself, I think.

Well, there’s another post coming with more quotes. In the meantime, how about some music?

A beautiful acoustic love song: The Beat of You with Iain Bayne of Runrig, Paul Eastham of Coast and Douglas Chisholm of Wolfstone.

A bit more rockin; is Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford and Sons, from their latest album, Wilder Minds. Cute banjo segment, I thought. Wilder Minds, indeed . . .

Delta Blues, a couple of hours of old style classics.

Glenn Gould’s Bach – The Goldberg Variations

John Prine in 1980 singing about the horrors of strip mining: Paradise. This one’s more like a home video, but cool to see him as a young man. Here’s another of my favourites by him: Hello In There. So true . . . old age and loneliness . . .

An old favourite is Al Stewart singing Roads to Moscow

A bit of fun is called for after that . . .

Hush Little Baby

  • cello:Yo-Yo Ma
  • vocal:Bobby McFerrin
  • violin:Mark o’Connor
  • contra bass:Edgar Meye

and although I’ve posted this before, here it is again:

Ave Maria – Bobby McFerrin teaching a Master Class

bet you won’t be expecting this one . . . Come Together

but you will be expecting at least one song by Runrig, right?

A fun start to this, an impromptu blues jam, with great guitar by Malcolm Jones, during the sound check, segueing into The Cutter

You won’t be surprised to learn that attending a Runrig concert is high on my bucket list, may they play so long . . .

Well, that’s it for now, my friends . . .

Voyage Through the Virtual Village (AKA “Blog Hop Around the World”) :-)


OK, friends, here it is! So fill up those buckets of tea, gather some food and prepare yourselves for a somewhat lengthy stay . . . and big hugs to anyone who makes it through to the end . . . I’ve not written for a while and this is what happens when all that energy is kept pent up . . . some of you may need to come back and read this in sections . . . consider yourselves duly warned . . .

I’m sure you all know by now that everyone in this Village holds their own special place in my heart, each for their own unique self, and it’s been a great privilege to share vicariously in the lives of so many diverse people: gardeners, crafters, artists, writers, parents, travellers, designers, and so on and on . . . we may never meet in person, but in some ways we meet so authentically here in the Village that it makes no never mind to me, as some would say. You are each a treasured part of my HeartFamily and no matter what the future might hold for any of us, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers, in my heart, my mind, my memories . . .  but put that aside for now . . .

Today I want to take you on a trip, a Voyage . . . here we go, off to meet a few of the others in my Village. I hope some  of them come to dwell in your Villages, too . . .

I’ve been following posts by several friends as they participated in this Blog Hop Around the World and now I’ve been invited to join in . . .by Jess, the Rabid Little Hippy. In the beginning of my blogging days, I saw a comment by Jess somewhere and was enchanted by her blogname, being a Rabid Larger (and Older) Hippie myself. Since then, she has become a great friend, supportive and encouraging, not to mention inspiring. In many ways she is the daughter of my heart, just the sort of daughter I might have wished for . . . and maybe more like me than a daughter of the blood would have been . . .

I love everything Jess and her family get up to, although some days I feel I need to lie down and rest after reading about all she accomplishes in a day or a week . . .  😉

. . . and then there all my other new friends that she has led me to . . . this Virtual Village is just what any extreme introvert needs . . .

a new waterlily bloom about to flower more water primrose and I still have my water hawthorn flowering too. I definitely need more plats in there to prevent evaporation and to cover the water surface more though.  Orik's personal race track. He loves doing laps around the garden bed! The area where the bench now sits has had its tyres ripped out, the soil moved into the garden bed and tiles are down now. Todays work with Jas and Eggra as assistants.

 The removed bed is now in the corner here. Once the chooks have done their work the wire will be removed and reo mesh upcycled into trellis for the grapes I'm planting here. They will in turn shade the rest of the bed from the early afternoon sun onwards, providing a micro-climate. Well, that's the plan.  Above are three photos of the Rabid Little Hippy’s backyard garden, where chooks, goats and other lifeforms also reside. Also out there you will often find Martin, her husband, as well as three of the cutest Pint Sized Permies, whose activities are occasionally posted in their own blog. Jess introduced me to hugelkultur and rocket stoves, not to mention a wagonload of information about various ecological issues and more. The Rabid Little Hippy and her entourage dwell in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.

And me attempting to do the same

Here is Jess sporting her Katniss braid . . .

creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t it?

From comments on Rabid’s posts, I found myself often on The Road to Serendipity with Narfie and Stevie-boy and the two pups . . . and that led me to so many others that I can’t name them all.

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DSCF7039Above are two photos of the Sanctuary, a HUGE veggie garden completely encased and roofed with fishnetting to keep out various predators. The netting was completely installed  by Narf7 and Steve last year. The bottom photo was taken on a walk with the two ‘pups’, looking across part of the river Tamar to The Road to Serendipity (somewhere in the middle of all that lovely green). Serendipity Farm is in Tasmania, south of Australia. Go visit the Farm and you will learn, love and laugh ’til you fall off your chair . . .

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Creativity takes many forms at Serendipity Farm; music, cooking, renovating, etc. Still, I feel the most creative thing of all  is found in Narf7 and Stevie-boy’s approach to life, love, learning and all that good stuff . . .

My blog-following is most eclectic, like me, and so I decided to invite an eclectic batch of friends and see what happened. I can now tell you that I’m quite over the Super-Moon (which was happening as I typed the draft for this post):

But first . . . My answers to the questions:

  • Why do I create what I do? Wish I knew! I just can’t help it; it’s like reading . . . if I were locked up with only a cereal carton, I’d read every word on it (several times), then I’d write on it (in blood if necessary), then I’d see what I could fashion from it . . .  Honestly, I think creativity is a vital part of each of us, although in some people it’s farther down the list of strengths than it is for others. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t create and the very act of creating has healed me, entertained me, amused me, given me hope and strength, distracted me when I most needed it, oh, and so much more . . . kept people warm and fed, made a home of wherever I happened to be living at the time, filled a gap when the budget didn’t stretch to something I wanted or needed. I learned to be creative with sewing because I am tall, with long arms and legs, and women’s clothing rarely fits me. Many tops have sleeves a couple of inches too short; pants stop above my socks, and so on. In my slightly younger days, I hand-stitched long skirts and dresses and even a couple of pairs of pants. I still have most of them, but they are not available for a photo session. I fell in love with Folkwear Patterns and hand-stitched the Kinsale Cloak from a heathery green fabric of unknown components. I never finished the hood, but I loved that cloak a lot. Fully lined, with topstitching and it was so cosy! Somewhere along the way, it seems to have disappeared, but I still have the pattern and would like to make it again one day; this time from a woollen fabric. More recently I discovered the Sense & Sensibility patterns for days gone by . . . I own most of the Edwardian patterns and some of the crochet and Romantic Era patterns as well. And that’s only the sewing of clothes bit of my creative endeavours . . .

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Some dyeing I did for the Etsy store (closed for a while now)

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My favourite drawing, which is the cartoon for a couple of watercolour paintings.

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A casual drawing of a ‘hobbit home’, done while drawing with children.

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A ‘plain’ shawl that I somehow managed to complexify and bits for two of several knitted bears, something I love to work on when possible.

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A round shawl I made up as I went along . . .

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My favourite shawl; mossy green and also invented as I worked. It has a macramé fringe and a pattern of ‘holes’ worked in just for interest.

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Two of the double-sided crochet bits I’ve made. This is from an easy pattern shared by a bus driving friend and posted here a while back.

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The most creative time of all . . . loving someone small . . .

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A crochet doily with white and ecru-leaved violets; I made this several years ago, when I was still living on the west coast of BC.

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Hexagon flowers for an eventual ‘Bestemor’s Flower Garden’ piece. Bestemor means Grandmother in Norwegian and it is what my grandkidlets call me, in homage to my Mum’s mother, who died years before I was born. I wish I had known her . . .

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Three of the hand-sewn dolls for my grandkidlets . . . from a rough pattern.

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Above, one of my Dad’s stained glass lampshades and on the back of the couch, a quilt made by my Mum, with her quilted pillow in the centre front. They both did so much more . . . I love that creativity has been passed down in my family for many generations.

My parents, with me and the first two of my brothers, back when we lived in a small one-room shack with no power, no indoor plumbing and a wood cookstove that also kept us warm. My creativity began even before that, though . . .

  • How does my creative process work? Well it’s different when you’re not so skilled and also very eclectic. (Do you think there’s a relationship between those two?) If I stuck to one or two creative endeavours, I might have mastered them by now and life would no doubt be quite different. But no such luck. I am inspired by an idea, a photo, a pattern, whatever; I gather materials and I start a project . . . then, “oh, look, a blade of grass!” (that phrase is a family joke among my sisters, often used when we are talking about something and then digress and then digress again [but we always come back to the original topic] ) and I am off learning about something else. Or maybe I had to move and my projects are in storage and I can’t stand the emptiness that comes when I have nothing on the go . . . so I read a bit (if you think I’m being honest with ‘a bit’, think again! LOL) but it’s never enough; I have to make something . . . so off I go on another project and then, there it is, that ‘blade of grass’ and away I go again . . .  In a perfect life, I like to have several things on the go at once, set up and waiting for me. Then I can ‘feel’ what I want to do for the day and pick up where I left off. In reality, I do have several things on the go at once, but practical considerations often determine what I work on at any given time. So, when at my Aunty’s, I need a project that doesn’t require me to read a pattern so that I can pay attention to our chats. One of the major reasons I fell in love with Dani’s Bavarian crochet afghan. I have finished two, have a large one well under way and am in the middle of one I haven’t really mentioned yet. Photos at the bottom of this post, but no peeking!

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The large Bavarian afghan above; two for the grandkids below.

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  • And I have enough yarn now . . . sigh . . . the first Bavarian was meant to use up two oversized balls of acrylic; then I had to buy more so there would be enough afghans for each of the soon-to-be-six grandkidlets to have one of their own and the parents to have one large enough to cuddle under . . . and then there is my other son and his former girlfriend. Like Scarlett, I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . A major part of my creative process is that simple projects somehow become complex and, like objects in the mirror, much larger and nearer than they seem) One reason they become complex is that I am creative with practically everything, and in a rather slap-dash, ‘what-the-hey’ manner. “oh, well” is a mantra heard often in the inner regions . . . but I LOVE it so much!! Why? I ask you . . . I makes me happy and frustrated, often in equal parts, to be creative; to learn and do; to master; to design (a life-long love of mine, designing); to teach . . .

When I can, I love to make things that are more challenging; last year I started my first Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’; some of you will remember it; not perfect, but it will be warm and cosy, and the lovely hot magenta background is very cheerful. Only the sleeves and buttonbands to go now (and maybe a hood), but it’s on hold at my friends’ place at present. I used traditional Fair Isle motifs, but the cardi itself and the arrangement of the motifs are all my own doing; the shape of the cardi evolved during the knitting . . .. as did the collar . . .

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A favourite quote . . . from Stephen Hunt.

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My Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ . . . and that’s my lovely, 94.5 year old, under-five foot Aunty helping out as my photographer’s model . . .

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A Fair Isle style bag I invented, also with traditional motifs.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, my friends, if I had a genre, maybe I’d have an answer for you . . . The best I can say is that I am wildly eclectic, with a wide range of creative loves that encompasses language and languages, music, folk art, fine art, design, almost all the arts known to woman including fibre arts of all sorts, traditional skills and current ways, and more. Perhaps what is different at times is that I am a philosophical thinker by nature (my top strength), so things I make often have meaning for me that they don’t have for others. I like to make things by hand. I’ve done a little spinning, some weaving, some dyeing, and so on. I’d hoped to do stamping and free-hand painting on some of the silk scarves, but those plans are on the shelf for now. I designed a Cowichan sweater for my husband a few decades ago, with symbols that are meaningful to him and knitted from unspun yarn in cream with light and dark brown motifs. So far as I know, he still has it. I have a couple of photos of it and will post them here if and when I locate them . . .

I like to combine media, too. I’ve done a little printmaking and the idea of combining that with watercolour and then collaging on top of it all is very exciting to me. I have created a few masks and art dolls. One piece I especially like is a four-foot circle of thin plywood covered in canvas. I fastened three masks of my own face on the front, then painted the entire thing white; it looks like faces emerging from the background.

  • What am I presently working on? Well, the Bavarian crochet afghans, of course, and here is a series of photos of pieces of the latest one, which is my way of being creative with a lovely pattern:

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Does that seem confusing? The large piece is the centre; there will be twelve smaller pieces (below is the photo showing the centre and three of the smaller bits) surrounding it, then there will be several rows all around and all in white. I may throw a row of purple in there somewhere, too; that depends on having enough left to complete the work. I have only one ball of the purple, but have three balls of the white and a good chance of getting more if needed. No chance of more purple; the yarn is different from the same brand now; softer and finer spun. But I do want a purple edge, as it will show wear a bit less.

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Here you can see the centre piece. Each side of it will have two of the purple hearted squares and the four corners will be the white hearted squares. Hope that’s more clear.

Here are the latest photos of this piece, which is turning out even better than I dreamed:

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As you can see, this new piece is now wider than a single bed . . . and still growing . . .  I call it “Violets in the Snow” and it’s my favourite of the Bavarians I’ve made so far.        I think I’ll be keeping this one . . ..

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A detail of the corner as it is today . . .

OK, that’s enough about me . . . 🙂 Four people have been kind enough to allow me to twist their arms ever so gently and have agreed to take part in this Blog Hop Around the World, or, as I like to think of it, this Voyage through the Virtual Village:

(Please note: all photos from participant bloggers are used with permission)

First up is Sarah from the Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm
(pronounced: fruu-lings-cab-ee-na)

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Sarah and her lovely family live in an old California gold rush town. 20130228-195603.jpg

Backyard chickens and so much more . . . but I’ll let Sarah tell you about that . . .

Her creativity is evident not only in her approach to sustainable living, but also in her artwork:

2 Nordic Animal Prints of Hand Drawn Illustration Designs with Rune Poems - Goat, Chicken, Horse, Sheep, Duck

One of Sarah’s Celtic mandala drawings, perfect for using as is or for colouring in.

On the blog are a page for Printables, with excellent resources for small-holding farmers, as well as another page with a variety of DIY projects. Check them out!

Sarah has an Etsy store, the Little Farm Shop, and it was there that I purchased my lovely raven amulet necklace:

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. . . as well as her beautiful ‘Backyard Farm Coloring Book’ for my grandkidlets and for a friend’s children, too. These are a perfect gift, as you can email them to whomever and they can print out as many copies as they like. Children can colour the pictures, then send them to Grandma or . . . all while learning a bit about backyard farming.


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The Official Tea Towel of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Next up is . . . Mr. 23 Thorns! I first discovered him via The Road to Serendipity, and he makes me laugh and sometimes cry, often at the same time . . . Writing is one of my favourite forms of creativity, or I should say, reading other people’s writings.

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Mr. and Mrs. 23 Thorns (she has her own blogs: Tracy  Loves History and The Rubbish Collection Day Collection. This woman has the most inspired approach to taking out the trash that I’ve ever heard of; she, too, makes me laugh and sometimes cry. They deserve each other (and I mean that in the nicest of all possible ways)!

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Mrs and Miss 23 Thorns

As you can see, the 23 Thorns children are as creative as their parents . . .

Here are links to a couple of my favourite 23 Thorns posts . . .

  • Jesus died. But now he lives. In Detroit, sort of. This post introduced me to the work of Jesus Rodriguez, a man whose music and approach to life continues to inspire me. If you are intrigued, check it out . . .
  • Parenting for Dummies.  As my parents, and later myself, had quite ‘relaxed’ approaches to parenting, at least when it came to letting kids roam free, climb trees, take risks, etc., I found this post both refreshing and amusing. Don’t let the first line fool you; Mr. 23 Thorns loves his kids as much as any of us; he just doesn’t subscribe to the “wrap ’em in cotton wool ’til they grow up” philosophy.

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As you may have guessed from the photo on the left above, the 23 Thorns do not live in Canada . . . nope, they live in South Africa . . . I hope, if I ever get there, to camp somewhere nearby . . . I dream of hearing the birds, maybe even elephants, at night.

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Fierce Protector of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Mr. 23 Thorns also writes Why Books. That is a link to a wonderful post about WWI.


Getting Stitched on the Farm

Third brave participant is Kristin Nicholas, of Getting Stitched on the Farm. Kristin has her own shop, where you can browse for patterns (I’ve bought a couple), books, kits and more, even wallpaper!

  

Kristin has books of knitting and embroidery patterns in her shop.

One of the wallpaper patterns she painted by hand and which can be purchased.

Color by Kristin is her own brand of yarn. Half wool, a quarter each alpaca and mohair.

You can find these in the Embroidery Supplies section.

Kristin began sewing at age nine and, like me, learned to knit, crochet and much more soon after that. She was lucky to have a German Gran who taught her embroidery.

She sells her own notecards and postcards, too, in sets of assorted or single image.

  

Kristin has written several books, too, including these. I bought the centre one and love it! I will take it along the next time I visit my grandkidlets. My eldest granddaughter taught herself to stitch by age 5 and is still interested at 15.

Kristin lives a couple  of hours from Boston, Massachusetts. If you are going to be in the neighbourhood, you may be able to take in a class or two. This one interests me . . .

See her post on Fabric Printing if it interests you, too . . .

As you can see, Kristin’s creativity has many outlets. I have found her blog more than inspiring. Now if I only had more time . . . note to self, plant thyme next spring . . .


City House Studio

Fourth and final participant will be Michelle of the City House Studio blog. I found her through a couple of sewing and quilting blogs that I follow and was instantly smitten with her work and with her fresh approach to quilt design.

One of Michelle’s gorgeous quilts.

. . . and this is her Farmer’s Wife Quilt, completed in 2011. 90 blocks, to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday! More than impressive, isn’t it? There is a great story behind this quilt; you can read it here. It covers from the 1890s to the 1930s. I love the tradition that is carried on through the stories and by people still making this quilt.

here she is with her Gran and the quilt.

And here’s the back of it . . . equally lovely.

I love her Scrappy Asterisk Block tutorial and it’s on my ever-lengthening list . . . this is the first of Michelle’s quilts that I read about and it caught both my eye and my imagination. I simply adore anything not ‘in-the-box’ when it comes to design.

Michelle has an Etsy store and it should be open again soon. I happen to know she’s extremely busy getting some quilts ready for several fall fairs. Which explains why Michelle’s Blog Hop post will see the light of day in September – watch for it!

You can buy patterns from Michelle’s Craftsy store, too.

See her “Read” Library Tote pattern here or her Bionic Gear Bag Notions tote here.

Now, if you’re into free motion quilting, be sure to visit Michelle’s FMQ Challenge blog. That’s one example in the photo above. And then there is this:

Don’t know if I’ll ever have time for trapunto quilting, but I hope so. At least one piece, maybe a pillow . . . Project lists certainly give us reasons to live, don’t they?

 

Two of Michelle’s ‘Sticks’ quilts. I. Want. More. Time. !!!  🙂

I’m not sure where this Blog Hop began, but I have traced it back a ways for you, in case you, too, are afflicted with terminal curiosity . . .

Rabid Little Hippy

The Road to Serendipity

The Contented Crafter

Boomdeeadda 

One Spoiled Cat

These Days of Mine

A New Day Dawns

Simply Trece

I’m assuming the Hop goes back much further, but have run out of time; if you are interested, I’m sure you can do what I’ve done so far; go to the last blog listed and go back through posts to around June (or earlier, as you go on), then look for the specific post. It’s been lots of fun, just seeing all the different types of blogs that are linked through this Hop. If you read the posts, you will see that there are branches to this hop; as many bloggers have twisted the arms of found three others to ‘volunteer’ to join in.

It wouldn’t be a “post accompli” without a bit of music, would it? Much of it is folky, so if that’s not your thing, no worries. None of us have enough thyme for everything, do we?

Heiland Harry by The Corries, in honour of all the young men who never returned from the various wars they were sent to fight.

Like Janis by Jesus Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz)

Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg (with Nelson Mandela!)

Hobo’s Lullaby by Arlo Guthrie (written by Woody Guthrie), in honour of all those out of work and homeless . . .

Two songs that link to my childhood now:

The Log Driver’s Waltz by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. My Dad used a peavey like these when managing logs in a boom im a holding pond. I don’t think he ever rode a log through whitewater, though.

The Frozen Logger by The Weavers. My Dad used to sing this all the time. I learned it as a young child and I still love it.

A half hour of Stompin’ Tom Connors, a Canadian icon. I don’t listen to a lot of country, but I still love Stompin’ Tom, who passed away not that long ago. A true, true Canadian!

His The Hockey Song will always be one of my favourites.

and, of course, Runrig, singing The Water is Wide and Steppin’ Down the Glory Road.

. . . performing An Sabhal Aig Neill, followed by the Drums . . . should make you dance!

Last, my favourite rendition of “We Will Rock You!” This one’s for the more rockin’ of my followers.If you want a lot more more rock and a lot less folk, here’s one of my favourites from Woodstock . . . Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this voyage . . . I sure did. Hope it was worth the wait.

Here we are, home again . . . someone has the kettle on and there are treats ready for our tea . . . too busy now? Come by another time; the door is always on the latch . . .

BTW, the Happy Hibiscus says ‘hello’ to all of you; this is the most recent of an amazing summer of flowering. I think it’s thirteen or fourteen so far and there are another two or three buds coming along. The most I ever had in one year, ever, was three and that was once. Most years there has only been one and occasionally there were none.

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