Catching up again . . . after months of radio silence . . .

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, so I don’t know if I will be shouting into a void landscape or not . . . and in case you’ve forgotten about me . . .
May be an image of text that says "How a normal person tells a story: START OF STORY END OF STORY How I tell a story: PRE PRE-STORY PROLOGUE FOR CONTEXT SEMI- RELATED SIDE STORY APOLOGIZE 100 MANY DETAILS START OF STORY WAIT, OKAY, BACK Το THE MAIN STORY END OF STORY REALIZE I'VE BEEN TALKING Too LONG WHAT WAS TALKING ABoυT: SOMETHING JUST NOW REMEMBERED LOSE TRAIN OF THOUGHT WRAP STORY UP AND FINALLY GET TO THE POINT"Not sure where I got that, but I love it because it’s SO me
. . . and now you have been warned . . .

And then I found this: a photo of the Chinese restaurant in Calgary, Alberta that bears my name. It’s in Calgary and back in the day, family who lived there gathered here to share special meals; visitors were almost always brought here, too. My last Auntie had one of the tea bowls and saved it for many years, saying it reminded her of me. A year or two before she died, she gave it to me so that it would remind me of her . . . and it does.

May be a black-and-white image of outdoors and text that says "LINDA MAES COFFEE SHOP"

With everything that’s been happening here and around the world, I’ve either not felt like writing or it’s seemed too complex to address. Oh, well, I’ve missed coming here and sharing. I’ve also missed wandering around what I still like to call our Virtual Village and dropping by when someone’s home . . .

I’ve been a little busy, so I’d like to talk about my projects first, then I’ll get on to the latest news in our area.

This is quite long, so if a section doesn’t interest you, just skip on ahead, ok?

Creative Stuff:

I did finish the blocks for the Summer Harmony and joined them, too. I do love Lucy’s Join-as-you-go method; otherwise I’d have piles of blocks hanging around forever, waiting . . . but I haven’t begun the border yet. I’ve chosen a different order of colours from the pattern and I plan to do a short section following the instructions, then another using the same stitches as the Original Harmony border. Then I’ll decide and get on with it. This is the Original border:

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May be an image of crochet

I crocheted a small troll head for Christmas, using the images from one of Selma’s Christmas posts. It sat on my bureau until last week and is now in the motorhome (MH).

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This photo is not my work, but that of my niece in law. My oldest sister gave our brother some of Mum’s yarn and the Niece is making a lovely pullover from it. Mum would be so happy to see this:

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I made one of Selma’s wire angels, too, and it’s been hanging around on the vine wreath I made back before 2006, when I was still living with my Mum in her house in Edmonton. It’s quite interesting to look at, as it’s not exactly circular. I’ll have to take a photo for you. I meant to make a string of those angels, but in spite of the supplies sitting beside me here for ages, somehow I never did that.

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A friend from the crochet group I used to attend gave me two cookbooks when she was downsizing for a move. I’ve always loved these two, but never owned a copy.

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May be an image of book

Another book that’s gone into the MH is this one. I read it many times in my teens and looked for it second hand for years. It was around, but at prices well over $100, so not in my budget. Then I found it, paperback and new, as they had re-printed it. So much joy to re-visit . . . and around $12, too!

May be an image of book and text that says "Honor Vinner Three Three-time Eloise Jarvis McGraw "One the ten best children's books " year IG Sawdust Shoes"

A friend sent me two books, too, which I also love:

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Firefly Lane was made into a series and is on Netflix, I think. but I loved The Four Winds because it’s set from just before the Dirty 30s and into the ’40s. In the south-western states, where it was worse than here, even.

Life Stuff:

I feel very fortunate to be so introverted and also to have so many diverse interests and hobbies. The whole Covid-19 lockdown was pretty much “life as usual” for us here (I’m still living with my cousins). The things above have gotten me through a lot and continue to do so (see the last section).

I read a fair bit. I even gave in and began reading on a tablet. Books are still my first love, but with the tablet, I haven’t had to go to the library for months. ‘had’ may be the wrong word here, as it sounds like a chore, doesn’t it? Oh, well, I’m sure you know what I mean. So I have almost finished re-reading everything by Guy Gavriel Kay, as his next book won’t be out until next spring at the earliest. Three years between books means he does his research but it’s a long time for a reader. Luckily, I have other favourite authors LOL.

I also try to do something creative every day, but some days it just doesn’t happen.

I also watched a fair bit of Netflix and Amazon Prime in the beginning; a bit less of that now. I like films and series from the UK, Europe, Australia & New Zealand and other places (Iceland, anyone?) I’m currently watching Season 6 of the 1990s Aussie hit, Blue Heelers, a cop show. I like the characters and I can usually crochet or knit while watching/listening. There are 13 seasons, but only 8 are on Prime so far. Fingers crossed . . .

I discovered DuoLingo some time ago and fell happily into that rabbithole, as I’ve always loved words and language and languages (although I’m only fluent in English). And then my youngest sister bought a membership in Rosetta Stone and gave me one, too. Well . . . I began with quite a few, because I don’t know when to leave well enough alone, apparently. Then came recent events (more on those later) and now it’s mostly Arabic on Duo and French on Rosetta. French because I’m Canadian and it is our other language. I changed schools every year until junior high, so when we moved to Salmon Arm (close to where I live now), I started grade eight quite happily. But everyone else had already taken a year of French . . . I remember the first day, because I was so excited at the thought of learning another language . . . the teacher came in and immediately began speaking French. She asked a question. Others replied, but I had no idea what to do or say. As an extremely shy (introverted) child, I hated looking foolish in public or even speaking out in front of others. So I suffered through that first year, the switched to Latin, which had to be taken by correspondence and so I was not required to learn to speak it. It’s been a huge blessing to me all my life, as it makes English and the other Romance languages so much more understandable. And for some reason I loved it . . . conjugating verbs and dissecting sentences came naturally to me and I was hooked forever. I’m reviewing Latin on Rosetta, but it’s not the same as they’ve modernized it. My course began with Caesar’s “Gaul is divided into three parts” and went from there. Rosetta is more like immersion learning. Fun, though.

When I lived in Edmonton, I began studying Egyptian Arabic, as I want to visit Egypt some day and I’d like to at least be able to be polite to people. I was using the Pimsleur courses then, borrowing them from the library. I like their format very much. But I found that Arabic is on DuoLingo now, so there we go . . . I doubt I’ll ever be fluent, but I am enjoying the study so much, it’s worth it. And I found a set of videos on YouTube that show how to write the letters and then words . . . (it’s here, if you’re interested: Arabic Alphabet – Part One  And why wouldn’t you be? hahaha)  I’ve been practising writing the letters using a Sharpie fine point pen, but I also bought a set of cheap chisel shaped brushes and once I get my paints out, I’ll be doing more with those. I like how the written words are a form of calligraphy . . .

Writing French is a challenge, too, with all the various accents, etc. But a challenge is what I was needing and it fits the bill perfectly. There is a keyboard option on Rosetta, so I can type and then click on the screen when I need to access some of the special characters.

I’ve dipped back into a few others, but we’ll leave those for now.

Current Affairs:

Some of you will have heard that lower BC, in particular, has been hard hit with wildfires this year, starting at least a month sooner than usual. A couple of days ago we had almost 300 fires burning and over 30 of them were what they call “fires of note”, meaning extremely dangerous. The small town of Lytton, (known as “BC’s Hot Spot”) burnt to the ground the day after temperatures here reached 44 C (111 F), In Lytton, it had been 49.6 C (over 121 F). The very small town of Monte Lake is also mostly gone. Many of the towns affected or threatened by this fire are places I knew as a girl and on into my young adult years. It’s hard to see this going on . . .

The scariest fire, though, is the White Rock Lake fire, burning to the South-West of where we live, but it’s 32,500 hectares in size (80,309 acres or 125 square miles).

Still, by contrast, the fire in California was 240,595 acres (97,365 ha) on 30 July, so way bigger. I’ve been following that fire and the ones in Greece, and others, as well as our own. I feel so badly for those who have lost their homes or even family and friends.

The smoke here has been horrendous and I understand it’s reached past Ontario now, possibly to the Atlantic provinces. I do have photos . . .

This is Mount Ida, seen from what used to be our driveway back in the early ’60s. I took this one in April, I think, this year.
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From the same place, taken last Friday:

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Driving along the highway toward where we used to live:

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Almost home again:

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Home and you can see the smoke drifting in the background . . . it was heavier later on.

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The MH, last December . . .

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This is a screenshot of the fire activity a couple of days ago. The evacuation order area is pink and the alert area is orange. You can see the upper right corner of the alert area is right below “Ranchero”. That’s the district we live in.

If you want to follow the progress of this fire, go to:
https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a1e7b1ecb1514974a9ca00bdbfffa3b1&center=-120.024417%2C50.304667&level=11&mobileBreakPoint=300&fbclid=IwAR1CZQLJC8VCeZj8ENG1Pl9fGphX4LrHI2vDYJpVuq36qncOdDsfg4tItaY and look for the “White Rock Lake” fire.

May be an image of map and text that says "ॐ COLUMBIA BC Wildfire Service Provincial Current Year Fires Sun Peaks Sorrento Blind Bay Chase i Pinantan Lake Sicamous RANGE HUNTERS Rubberhead Highlands Rivery Solutl mpson Adams Lake xMile Point Salmon Arm Ranchero RANGE HUNTERS Silver Creek Monte Lake 50.626-118.998Degrees 50.626- Degrees Kingfisher Falkland Enderby NRCan, Esri Canada, and Canadian Community Maps POWEREDBY esrı"

So for the past couple of weeks, my cousin has been making sure all three vehicles are ready to go, just in case, and we’ve been packing things we want to save into them. And food, bedding, etc. I’m lucky I still have the motorhome (MH). I was considering selling it, as it’s too cold to live in during the winter and now it’s too hot and besides, the smoke . . . however, for now I’ll hang on to it. I did get my provisional license a couple of weeks ago and will be writing my test as soon as it’s possible.

I do know that stuff is just stuff, but I have some things that are not replaceable. If my everyday clothes burnt up, no worries, I can buy more. But my treasures from my travels are another thing . . . and because my oldest sister came by last autumn and dropped off some of my things she’d kindly stored for me since 2016, I now have all my family photos (4 or 5 boxes worth), my guitar and more. If I can save them I will; if I ever have to walk away from them, I’ll do my best to do it with grace and courage. Still . . . I also have my creative supplies, which aren’t inventoried (who does that, anyway?) and would take ages to replace. Not to mention yarn that isn’t available anymore.

This knitting bag is one of my mementoes, purchased at Yarndale at the end of September, 2018 (If you don’t recognize the saying, it’s from the film “Babe” an unexpected favourite of mine). And so are the two cushions, created in the ’70s by another of my Aunties, my cousin’s mother. The colours turn out to be quite compatible with the Summer Harmony blanket . . .

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The mug goes, of course (lol) and the runner, which was stitched by my Norwegian second cousin’s mother, who was my own mother’s cousin.

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One of the things that is helping me get through all this and also stay positive most of the time, is my little Gratitude group; four of us formed it some time ago and every day we do our best to post ten or twelve things we are grateful for, and often some affirmations for ourselves, too. It helps to remember all the good things in our lives and to take a few minutes to be grateful for them.

Well, I’ll leave you with this photo, taken on the island of Leka in Norway (where my mother’s maternal grandfather was born). I was wearing my handmade socks and thinking of a song by Runrig, In Scandinavia . . .

(Here I stand, in Scandinavia . . .)

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I am keeping you all in my thoughts and sending warm, if virtual, hugs . . .

Stay safe and well, my friends . . .  ~ Linne

The Last Two Weeks (but who’s counting?)

That’s right, my friends; last week was pretty busy, so I scrapped the post I’d begun. And now in less than a week I shall be in the air. The changing time zones have me a bit confused at times (pun intended). I do know that when I land in Glasgow sometime close to 9 am on Monday the 14th of May, it will be close to 1 am here in BC.

I’m going to keep this short; I just want to touch base for a few minutes. There may not be any photos; for one thing, I left the battery charger for the camera I’m borrowing) at home, so it was out of energy before we arrived in Princeton and those photos are all of the landscapes on the way down. For another, the cell phone camera was also worn out. I charged it up, then left it in my sister’s car . . .

Catching up: I’ve begun packing up things that will go into my storage unit for six months, in between the various creative activities. Nearly two weeks ago, Cousin S and I went to Vernon and spent close to three hours shifting boxes and bits of furniture in the medium unit so that I could put most of the items from the small unit into it and free up a bit of money. I do wish I’d been able to do it a year ago, but the fire hazard kept us from wanting to breathe deeply or even be outdoors on the bad days. Still, it’s done now. I was quite pleased not to be sore except for the odd twinge here and there, after a couple of years of a very sedentary life.

The three of us went on Sun, Mon & Tues last week and got the job done; a few things had to come here for storage (lawnmower, garbage can, two large pieces of driftwood . . . all hard to pack in a smallish space). So much relief all around. There isn’t much room left in the medium unit, though, so some boxes may end up staying here. I’d hoped to avoid that.

We were in Princeton, BC, for most of three days for our Auntie’s service. It was good to see family again; some I hadn’t seen for over 50 years and some I had heard so many stories about I feel I know them, but we’d never actually met. I am lucky in that I like my out-laws as much as my in-laws! (and I like my in-laws) Most of us met up at the Brown Bridge Pub on the Friday night. I had a glass of dry white wine in honour of my Auntie and a very good bowl of Pad Thai. My Auntie would have loved that evening; she was so outgoing and family-oriented; I like to think she and maybe her siblings, too, were hovering around us that night.

I stayed with my RN sister in her hotel room, so we sat up until 3.30 the first night catching up and talking about a million subjects. That was great!

There was something else great, too: I finally got to meet one of our second cousins from Norway (that means our parents were cousins; in this case, her Dad and my Mum). We hit it off right away; she is so bubbly and energetic and I am quiet and intense most of the time. If I can get to Norway this summer I will definitely be adding a visit with Tove to my list. Even better, I was telling her about the upcoming Great Adventure and when I mentioned a concert in August, she asked about the band. I was SO surprised (and excited) to learn she knows Runrig and one of her close friends from Germany will be at the same concert! Runrig is huge in Germany and Denmark and their concerts sell out quickly in both countries. Anyway Tove is putting me in touch with her friend and perhaps we will be able to meet up.

The service was held in a very small church and it was nearly full, mostly with family, who came from the coast, from Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with Tove from Norway. A few of Auntie’s friends came, too, including the ladies who ate with her at the assisted living place that was her last home. Lunch was provided by the Church Ladies in the traditional fashion; a great variety of sandwiches followed by a marvellous selection of baked goodies. I do love the old ways!

Later we went up to our cousin L’s place to hang out in the house and backyard and later to enjoy a barbeque. More visiting, of course.

The next morning, we were invited back to cousin L’s place for brunch. There was not only plenty of food left from the barbecue, there was an entire Seven-Layer Salad that had been forgotten in one of the grandson’s travel trailer! I’d forgotten how delicious those are.

We left Princeton and Tove came with us as far as Kelowna, where we found a hotel for her not too far from the airport, as she was flying home Sunday morning. the long ride gave us time for more visiting and sharing of stories. Her grandfather Paul was our grandfather’s brother. He and his family also came to Canada, but stayed only a few years; his wife was very homesick and they went back to Norway.

Crafty activities: I’ve been working on the Clover socks every spare chance I’ve had, mostly in the car en route to Vernon or Salmon Arm for shopping. Pictures coming soon (or after I get to Scotland lol). I’m not a fast knitter and now I’m on the ribbing, so that’s even slower. But I’m pretty pleased with them!

Since arriving home on Saturday I have completed the two ends for my moss green Meg shawl, found a pattern for a rectangular panel, made that and joined the three parts. Today I will work on the border for a bit.

There has been much other craftiness going on here, too, but I’ll leave that for another post.

I was very excited to stop in Armstrong on one of our trips to Vernon and pick up some Great Britain Pounds Sterling; I haven’t even taken time to admire them; just packed them up right away. A first for me . . .

I am nearly finished Jon Sayer‘s Batdig and still enjoying it thoroughly. I’ve rationed myself quite strictly, but do want to finish it before I leave. I really need to know how it all turns out! I’ve enjoyed finding an in-joke or two along the way, but I’m not telling you where; you’ll have to read it for yourself. The second book, Kirkenes Blue, will be waiting for me when I return. A side note: my cousin Tove happened to mention Kirkenes during one of our conversations, so I showed her the books.

Well, the last time I began a post and waited to add photos and music, it ended up retiring to my drafts folder, so I am simply going to publish this as is.

I hope to post again before I leave; if not, I shall have time in the evenings, I expect, once I am in Glasgow. All of you are in my thoughts, whether I post or not.

Edit: I just remembered the music I had planned to share once this Auntie was gone. So here it is, as I remember my own Mum, Dad, Aunties and Uncles: Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin singing (in the film A Prairie Home Companion, which I love) Goodbye to my Mama

Have a wonderful May; for many reasons, it’s always been an inspiring month for me.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was one of my earliest favourite poets and I still have the book of his poetry which I bought while I was at Uni back in the mid-60s; it was the first book of poetry I bought for myself. When I think of May, I think of this poem:

Spring

The Dancing Goes On . . .

You’ll need a large cup of tea or whatever you fancy, and possibly something edible, too. This is rather long, even for me . . . my excuse is that I’m making up for the long gap between posts. But even if I posted regularly, I’m not sure I’d be much better at brevity.

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There was a lovely parcel in the mail for me on the 2nd of March and the photo above shows what was in it (along with a lovely note). Back before Christmas, Ms. Snail of The Snail of Happiness blog had a give-away to celebrate her 1000th post. I was one of the winners and this package contains my prize. And what a prize it is!

Of course, it arrived the day after my eye surgery, so it was a while before I could properly appreciate the contents. But I have had a quick browse through the cookbook “Free Food for Rats” (although I still haven’t found an explanation for the title, which I find both endearing and intriguing) and it is SO my sort of thing. Ms. Snail had no way of knowing that I have a small collection of cookbooks of very eclectic sorts and that this will be very treasured and used for the rest of my days. My cookbooks, of course (and 99.9% of my other books), are still in the storage units and likely to remain there for another year, but I am enjoying browsing through this one and planning future feasts. The author is a friend of the Snails and that adds to its appeal for me.

This is my first cookbook with seven recipes whose names begin with ‘X’; there are many Asian (from China, Malaysia & Indonesia) recipes here. Also some family recipes from Germany; along with recipes from France & Spain, Holland and Wales.

I love the anecdotes that accompany the recipes, sharing where the dish was first eaten, who made it for her, or other details that I yearn for, being a person who loves plenty of ‘background’ to anything and everything.

But when I read the recipe for ‘Kota Bharu Special’ and saw that the ingredients included “a large knob of butter,  2 handfuls of dessicated coconut and 1 handful of caster sugar”, I knew this would become one of my favourite cookbooks. This is cooking as my foremothers knew it, more art and less science lab and all the better for it in my opinion.

The other two books are equally special to me; for one thing, they are Mr. Snail’s first two novels, for another, the covers captivated me even before I opened them. On the back of the first book, “Batdig” (whose meaning and origins I have yet to discover) are these words:

Twelve People
Eleven yellow packages
One destination

AT 9.25, EVERYTHING CHANGES

The first twelve chapters introduce us to twelve characters, and each (I’m assuming, as I’m only up to person 3 so far) is given a mysterious package wrapped in yellow plastic and told to deliver it to a destination near St. Paul’s Cathedral at 9.25 am.  I like the cover design very much, as it resembles the yellow packages and includes silhouettes of the Cathedral.

By the time I’d read the first three pages, I was captivated. I’m not the easiest audience to captivate, either, as I’ve read thousands of books in my life and many of those were mysteries or mystery/thrillers. I wish I could read more quickly, but my near vision is not up to the task and I still haven’t located my glasses (well, to be honest, I haven’t put much time into searching; I’ve been busy with other things, as you will see shortly). I am reading two or three pages most days, though, and I have to say that I love Mr. Snail’s style very much. The characters I’ve met are quite real to me already and I’m very eager to discover what happens to them all once I’ve met the rest of the cast.

The second novel I haven’t begun, as I prefer to read an author’s works in the order they are published, as a rule, anyway. It is titled “Kirkenes Blue” and again I have no idea why (yet!). On the back it says:

In the polar night:
A Librarian afraid of the dark
A Policeman afraid of the light
A Hacker who collects kicksleds

Together, they can destroy the Web

Now I don’t know about you, but for me those are nearly irresistible words. Especially ‘kicksleds’ (I haven’t googled that yet). However I am resisting them until I am finished exploring “Batdig”.  I’ll let you know what I learn (well, some, anyway; I don’t like to spoil a good book for a potential reader) at some time in the future. Stay tuned . . .

i have continued to make progress with the first of the red pair of wool socks; it is now above the ankle and I have suspended work while I decide whether or not to add a design next and, if so, what exactly. I have some ideas, though. I am still not too happy with the shape of the toe, but that’s ok; I’ve only recently begun knitting socks again, after a hiatus of some decades. The other thing I’m not happy about are the stitches at the sides of the heel, where I was to pick up both a wrap and the stitch the wrap encircles at the same time. If you have never knitted socks with this technique, just ignore this paragraph. I’m not competent to explain the procedure adequately. I shall likely shape the second sock in the same way, just to keep them similar, and in any case, my feet will be warm and the offending bits should be safely out of sight in my shoes. 🙂

The shawl I plan to wear to the wedding on 18 May is coming right along and I am more than happy with it. But, as usual for me, I am not following the pattern to the letter. I decided that the shawl, for whatever reason, is a bit shorter than I’d thought it would be. So I have taken the second skein of wool and wound it into a ball and have been busy crocheting a second triangle, which will form the other half of the shawl once they are joined together. This way I can continue to increase until I gauge I have enough left to complete the border and the dangly bits. And I am toying with the idea of ordering a third skein, just in case I decide to make it longer than the yarn allows. I could use the leftover yarn to make a pair of fingerless gloves or a small hat or . . .

Our meals here continue to be simple and yet amazingly delicious. These photos are of the pizza we had for dinner several nights a couple of weeks ago. Cousin M and I helped with the veggie chopping and Cousin S put it all together after she made the crust. She is very precise in her work, as you can tell. And the results are lovely as well as tasty.

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We went to Vernon just over a week ago and I loved the sight of these frozen ‘waterfalls’ along the highway. We went again a few days ago and most of them are melted and gone.

These will likely be the last pictures of huge piles of snow, as temperatures have been above freezing in the daytimes and even here in our narrow valley, or whatever it should be called, it’s beginning to feel as though Spring is really on its way. I love the smell of the damp earth as it’s revealed to us again. And in spite of the amount of snow remaining (and it’s entirely possible we shall have more before it’s gone forever), I found myself itching to get out and plant things . . .

The willows are beginning to colour up and we have spotted pussywillows and catkins here and there, too. Spring, indeed! But not yet . . . You can see the puddles in the road just south of our place, and that’s not entirely a good sign. We had minimal flooding here last year, but the year before the car had to be parked out on the road and Cousin S couldn’t get to it for work until she had a new pair of wellies brought to her. a few days later, the water was so deep it was higher than the boots. The water came up to the top of the bottom step of the porch that year, partly thanks to a neighbour a few houses away. A renter, he had filled in the ditch outside his place a year or so earlier (flooding doesn’t happen every year and it never occurred to him that it might happen one day).

All the other residents along this part of the road put in larger culverts under their driveways, but this one owner refused, so when there is a lot of snow, the water backs up and floods properties ‘upstream’ from there. When it floods the road, the highway maintenance people come out and deal with it, but otherwise, it’s every person for themselves, apparently. We are hoping for a gradual melt this year, but are prepared to face whatever comes.

The bottom photo is of Mount Ida, taken on a sunny day from outside our grocery store at the Uptown location.

Cousin M got up on the roof and pushed most of the snow off. When I looked out mu window later, I thought the lumps resembled giant sugarcubes and took these photos to remind me later. They are about a foot and a half on each side.

Baked potato, salad and steak cubes one night, Quinoa, salad and the rest of the steak another night. I’m the only one who eats quinoa here, but I’m using up my supplies of ‘odd foods’ before I go away. Quinoa, brown basmati rice, oat flour (although I use that in my scones now and they are quite delicious, if I do say so myself). I think there is still soem buckwheat and the like to use up, too.

As I was wiping my runners off one day I noticed these lovely astilbe plants in the snow right beside the front porch and took a couple of photos. The silhouettes are so delicate against the snow, aren’t they?

On the second trip to Vernon the cousins were going to shop for a new computer and dropped me off at Fabricland to browse for a bit. I hadn’t been aware there was a rack of remnants quite near to the door, but this time it caught my eye. The pictures at the bottom right are of the first fabric that caught my eye; then I chose several others that co-ordinate quite nicely. And then I saw the black strip with the floral design . . . I have been thinking of what to do with it. I’m reluctant to cut it up and I’m thinking it may make an interesting scarf. I tied it around my neck to see if that might work. Of course, it wouldn’t be worn over the red and black lumberjack shirt . . . 🙂  Serger thread was on sale, so I purchased four spools of that, too. And then I spotted the knitting needles. Double-pointed sock needles in sets of five, my preference. And for only $4.00 CAD with 40% off at the till because I have a membership. Very nice and most irresistible . . . They are already in sue, too, as you will see shortly.

The larger picture above is of an old farmhouse that I love looking at when we go by. Just what I’d love to have (well, one of the types I’d love to have; I have rather eclectic tastes in houses, too). The smaller pictures are of the barn and the farmhouse that are now owned and lived in (the house, not the barn lol) by another cousin, the daughter of my Dad’s oldest brother. We lived across the road in a motel when I was seven and we had just moved up here from the coast. It belonged to another family then. Later, my uncle and aunt bought it and raised their daughter there. I worked for them one summer picking strawberries in the front field. The house has had a couple of rooms and a large porch added across the front, so it took me a while to recognize it when I first returned here. It just didn’t match my memories. In those days it was simple brown shingles outside, similar to the house in the larger picture.

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I have been doing a bunch of small tasks as I prepare for my trip; here you can see the rosemary and lavender that I grew in a large planter last summer. I had sage, too, but we needed sage for the Christmas turkey stuffing, so I offered it up . . . most years Cousin M simply digs some out from under the snow, but this year we’ve had more than usual of the white stuff. Back in late summer, I chopped a good handful of these three and infused them in a mixture of oils to create my own hair oil. I’ve used it on my hair a few times and am more than pleased with the results.

I apply a few teaspoons of the oil to my hair, then sit in a very hot tub for about an hour, after which I wash the oil out using the “No ‘Poo” method, which involves washing the hair with warm water and some baking soda, then rinsing with warm water and a bit of vinegar. This gives hair a lovely soft finish and a bit of shine, too. The oil is meant to give a bit of natural colour, but I haven’t used it enough to say if that works or not. I’m considering making a hair rinse with vinegar and water and some of the above herbs chopped finely into it. If I do, I’ll let you know how it works.

Progress on plans for the trip has been quite satisfying, too. I have now booked two nights in the Tartan Lodge Hostel in Glasgow for my first two nights in Scotland. This will give me a day in between to walk about and see the sights. One thing I really want to see, whether I can see inside it or not, is the Barrowland Ballroom. Some memorable concerts have taken place there, including a few with Runrig, and it’s possible that Cousin M’s Dad might have gone there while he was stationed in Scotland during the war. For the first part of his service he was in a forestry outfit and stationed on a great estate. I don’t remember the name just now, but will find out before I leave.

GLA Tartan Lodge Hostel 01

http://www.tartanlodge.co.uk/pictures.html

That’s the Tartan Lodge Hostel above and the Barrowland Ballroom below.

GLA Barrowland Ballroom 01

I’m including a video from December, 1989, when Runrig played here. At about 2 minutes in, you can see some historic footage of the original Barrowland Ballroom, full of people dancing. (there are some nice shots of the MacDonald brothers, too, runnning in one segment and further on working on a sheep farm along with a lovely Border Collie). There are some interviews with fans, too, including one girl from Germany who says she saw them 27 times, in four countries, that year.

I shall check out early on the 16th of May and catch a train to Edinburgh, about an hour and a half away. If the trains have been held up due to rain, which apparently happens at times, I will have to take a bus. The train would be more comfortable, I think, especially since I will have both a large suitcase and a backpack.

There is a lunch planned for the 16th for all the wedding guests who are coming from overseas and I’m looking forward to that, too. I know the bride’s parents and sister, as well as some of her friends, from when she and I worked together at Lewiscraft in Edmonton.

I shall be staying at the High Street Hostel in Edinburgh for six nights in all, so I shall have time to see a few sights. Apparently the hostel is walking distance from Edinburgh Castle, with Arthur’s Seat next to it, and a few other places of interest, including the statue of Greyfriars Bobby; I read about this faithful dog as a child and since, too, and it will be thrilling to see the statue for myself.

EDI High Street Hostel 01

http://www.highstreethostel.com/

The Royal wedding is on the day after my friends’ wedding, so I will not be in London for that, unfortunately. Still, I have been told that many of the pubs will show it on their tv sets and that there are likely to be street parties that evening. I shall see how rowdy it is, but I may venture out for a bit just to be part of the fun.

Remember I said I’d bought two more sets of sock needles? In size ‘0’, by the way, which is 2mm in size. I read in a post by Ms. Snail that if socks are knitted on smaller needles and also more tightly, they wear better and so won’t need darning as quickly. So here is what those two sets are doing now:

This is the latest in my sock creations and so far the ones I am happiest with. The yarn is Kroy sock yarn, so washable, and the colour is a variegate called “Clover Colours”. I fell in love with the colours back when I ordered the moss green wool for the shawl for the wedding.

The balls are very dis-similar in colour (as you may be able to see from the first photo), so it’s not possible to make a pair of matched socks, well, not exactly, anyway.  I found a way around that, though. What I have done is to pull the yarn from inside to begin one sock and use the yarn from the outside for the second. It’s working out even better than I’d hoped. I found a different pattern to work from, too, so I’m more pleased with the toes. In future, I shall begin with more stitches so as to have a more usual rounded toe instead of the point. I’d forgotten how addictive sock knitting can be; now I see that one day not far off I shall have my own ‘sock drawer’, full of handmade knitted socks.

I’ve saved the best news for last: I now have a ‘home base’ from which to make as many smaller journeys as I can manage. I will be staying with a friend of my friends in Tacoma. He owns property in Surrey, south of London. So I shall likely see more of the ‘Big Smoke’ than I expected, an added bonus.

I will be returning to Canada in late October or early November, not staying for a year or more as I had hoped. One of my incomes would be stopped if I were away over six months and I can’t manage at present without it, so I shall simply have to pack everything in that I possibly can before I have to come back. I find it rather ironic that I must live here even when there is currently a near-zero vacancy rate and what little is offered to rent now has sky-high prices. But that’s how it is, for now. So the long-term plans continue to morph and that’s fine with me.

There is more news about one planned trip, but I shall save that for another post. It’s getting late here and I have to be up early, as I’m having my right eye measured in the morning in preparation for the second surgery. I’m feeling quite positive about this one, as the one week exam showed that I have regained 90% of my sight in the left eye and in early May I shall have laser treatment to remove the remaining cloudiness. So in the end, I shall probably have sight better than I’ve had most of my life.

Now, let’s have a little music, shall we?

Faileas Air An Airigh sung by Rory MacDonald (and the rest of Runrig) with the Glasgow Islay Gaelic Choir. The title translates as “Shadow on the Sheiling”. A Sheiling is a rough hut or shelter used by those herding cattle or sheep in more remote pastures.
The lyrics translated into English:

There’s a shadow on the sheiling
A shadow on the sheiling
The ship is waiting at the head of the bay
Early on a May morning

The sun of our memory is rising
The sun of our memory is rising
Walking the streets of foreign countries
And the cities of another era

The evening is calm and the skies are warm
The sun is in the west, a great ball of gold
The ocean is like a mirror, blue without blemish
And great is my desire to be in Uist with you

We will lift up our voices
We will lift up our voices
Although I am now so far from you
We will never sever

And here are Runrig singing An Ubhal As Airde with the Bethany Choir in Harlem, NY, USA. The title means “The Highest Apple”. Runrig were in New York as part of a charitable concert after 9/11.

The Highest Apple
The garden is well stocked
With mighty trees
With fruit growing for the whole world
Ripe, sweet
And bitter apples
And the one apple
That is beyond reach

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Who amongst us
Can exist a single day
Beyond our own time and our own limits
Countless and futile
Are times I’ve climbed
To reach and taste
The forbidden fruit

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Last, something different.
One of my favourite violin pieces is this: Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins
featuring Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzach Perlman, conducted by Daniel Barenboim
My youngest son played this with his closest friend and it brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Enjoy the good in the world and know that the rest will pass . . . I think of you all as I knit and first thing in the morning most days, too.

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!

 

 

 

Happy New Year, my friends!

For some of you I know the first day has come and gone and it’s business as usual again. but I am still up and it’s not yet midnight on the first, so I’m sort of still on time.

I hope you all had a good Christmas; it’s different for everyone and it’s different every year, but still . . .

IMG_5930Our tree, an artificial one, which the cousins bought two years ago after Spooky had moved in. A real tree would prove too much temptation, was the idea. This year the tree was not on the dining table, but next to the tv. It went up on Christmas morning and was put away at the end of Boxing Day, after Spooky had managed to get up and knock off one of the ornaments and was looking seriously like he wanted to climb the tree.

Below is a very poor shot of the table decoration cousin M made by putting a string of faery lights inside a huge ;brandy snifter’ made of  strawberry glass. It’s so lovely, but the photo doesn’t do it justice., really.IMG_5924

Our Christmas was good; quiet, but the usual feast. I found stockings at a dollar store and used them as ‘carriers’ for a couple of small gifts for the cousins (and myself), including a chocolate ‘orange’ in the toe.

And the cat instructed me to wrap and deliver three packages of nuts to ‘the staff’ as he likes to think of us.

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The Lord and Master of the House

We also had more of this between Christmas and New Year’s Eve:

And I received this as a sort of joke gift, but I really like it:

It’s an alarm clock with two features I need: (a) the sound changes every few seconds, becoming more and more insistent and (b) if set correctly, it will roll off the table and ‘run away’ if you don’t shut it off promptly . . . and ‘hide’. Of course I don’t use the ‘run away and hide’ option! I shot a couple of short videos of it ‘running’ but can’t share them here. Too bad. 🙂

I don’t know if anyone will remember when I was on a basket-making binge early in the summer, but I finally dug out the largest one; it’s meant to be a workbasket so I can take my projects with me in the car and not have the needles poking through the plastic (and the annoying rustle of plastic bags). Besides, I’m working away from using plastic whenever possible. Anyway, the large photo is of the basket body and the other two are the straps, which will cross over the centre of the bottom and be held in place by a third piece (not shown ’cause I forgot to take a photo). They will let me carry the bag slung over one shoulder.

I haven’t finished stitching on the handles yet, but am telling you to increase the ‘guilt factor’ I’m SO good at beginning things, not so good at the final steps.

And in the meantime, I had another “great idea” I thought I’d make some popcorn and cranberry strings, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough time and there was nowhere to hang them. So the idea morphed into just feeding the birds . . . with bird balls.  So I popped a LOT of popcorn, added both bags of cranberries and melted a pound of lard and poured it over the lot. Mixed it will by hand, then realized it wasn’t going to form nice tidy balls, so I packed it firmly into my spare yoghurt containers, with the string in the middle (see the photo of the strings). WE shall put them in a box on the back porch tomorrow to freeze, then decant them one at a time into a mesh bag to be hung in one of the trees. I only hope the birds like them, as cousin M is not enthralled with the idea. He has read up on bird feeding and has his own ways. I, on the other hand, leapt before I looked, as they say. Oh, well, as I say . . .

They do look rather pretty, though, don’t they? We have been feasting, too, did I mention that? I was too slow to get a photo of the bird and the side dishes. But I did take pictures of the baking . . .

The first three pictures are the shortbread I made on the 31st. I had another bright idea, this one a success: I melted two squares of unsweetened dark baking chocolate and the same amount of semi-sweet; this in a mug. I had to add a bit of milk to make it soft enough to dip the shortbread into. In the end, cousin S simply used a table knife and frosted them while I phoned my Auntie. She made the cute face on a couple, too; only this one remained by the time I had the camera out. 🙂 The next picture and the last two are of the same ‘tart’ in the old-fashioned sense. In it are some of the last of the Macintosh apples from the tree here. There is one more tart in our future, I think and then we shall have to resort to frozen cherries, also from our tree. It’s a hard life we lead here, believe me. 🙂  The remaining two pictures are of some of the butter tarts I made from a recipe my sister J sent to us. I like it best of all I’ve ever eaten. These are the first I’ve made and it was surprisingly easy.  It’s a pity I’m giving up sugar on the 8th, isn’t it?  but I know I’ll be healthier and my food won;t ‘go to waist’ as much in future.

Cousin M loves old things as much as I do, although his are less of a sentimental nature and more of an investment. Still . . . I thought I’d share these photos of a lamp with cast iron work that dates to the 1880s. I’m sorry the pictures are poor; my camera phone is an old one and not the clearest or best for photography. Its reservoir is also strawberry glass, more lovely than you can tell here, even with the light behind it.

I have pretty much finished one side of the pocket scarf but can’t remember if I shared this photo or not. The other two pictures are of the knitted tea cosy, which I have been stitching up the sides. I won’t finish that, as I want it to fit the teapot my sister has; it used to belong to my Aunty in Edmonton and, since I have her wee coffee percolator, I wanted my sister to have the teapot. she prefers tea and I mostly drink coffee.  Or at least I used to. I don’t know if you can tell, but the cosy is of green cotton like the yarn used for dishcloths. I took a close-up to show you the stitching; it makes ridges down the sides.

We had to go to Vernon just after Christmas and the cousins needed to stop off in Armstrong on the way back. The landscape pictures show how misty it was that day.

They dropped me at my LYS and I was so careful watching my step as I entered that I missed the sign on the door saying they were closed for inventory until the New Year.  However, they recognized me and remembered that I was not local, so offered to let me buy the yarn I had on hold. I was waiting for an order to come from Scotland, but that may take more weeks, and, as I was in the neighbourhood . . . so now I have the dark chocolate brown I need to complete the pair of Fair Isle style socks, if you remember.

. . . and two balls of green, dark and light, which I had meant for a pair of rather special socks. I’m now deciding if I still want to do that or if I’d rather have a nice waistcoat to keep me warm.  I do like the paper bags they pack the yarn in, don’t you?

I’ll stop here. I’ll need more to write about in a few days. I haven’t finished the post I’d intended for today, nor the Big News post, so you shall just have to keep on Anticipating.

And for those of you on the other side of the equator, here’s what I woke up to this morning, on the first morning of a new year . . .

So lovely, but it can go away now, any time soon will do . . . I’m not quite ready for spring, but spring like weather would be rather nice. It went to -18 C last night, but warmed up a bit today.

This is the purple poinsettia we gave to our Auntie in Princeton. I sent my cousin there some money to pick up a blue one, but those had sold out, so she chose this instead.

Auntie M Poinsettia Christmas 2017

I wish you all the very best in the coming year; whatever that may be for you.

Much love from here and may this be a year when we share the Light between ourselves and with others.   ~ Linne

Passing on the Light 01

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 

 

 

Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

I have been sitting here and contemplating what to write about tonight. There are things in the works that I’m not ready to share yet and things I planned and haven’t been able to begin. Still, there is much to be grateful for.

One: I am grateful for the skills that my mother started me on when I was a wee child; hand-stitching from the age of two or so, for one. Knitting and crochet and embroidery for more. I feel so deeply happy when I knit and crochet; I feel connected to such a long line of women in my family who all did the same, either to keep their family warm and cosy or to be creative or, in most cases, both. Last winter i crocheted an enormous throw for my friends in Tacoma. Out of cotton yarn. It began as an idea for a light (ha!) summer wrap, something to keep  one’s back warm when sitting by an evening campfire. And it morphed into this:

crochet spread teal white mango 01

I used two yarns; one teal and the other a variegate with teal, mandarin orange and white. I started in the centre, crocheted once around, then joined the second yarn. I just kept alternating yarns in a lovely spiral. I changed the pattern a couple of times, too, but now I wish I’d written down what I did. I would like to try this again one day, but with three yarn colours. I did find at first that the variegate interfered with the clarity of the pattern. Next time I will choose solid colours only. AS you can see, it’s five feet across or more. I’m still amazed that I created this in about two months, in the midst of other handwork and with only two to four hours a day, some days not at all, too.

The second thing I’m grateful for is my renewed love of sock making.  When I was in my twenties, my lovely mother in law gave me a pair of work boots for Christmas. I was living with my oldest son and his dad on one of the Gulf Islands and we walked everywhere. They were wonderful boots that fit me exactly and I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness. But I needed some warm socks to go with them. I didn’t than have the patience for knitting with fin yarns and I had some pure wool rug yarn, so I took a men’s dress sock pattern and did the math. The resulting pattern was a perfect fit and I had those socks for many years.

A few weeks ago my cousin and I were driving to Vernon for some of the weekly sales shopping and he kindly took me to Armstrong along the way. Armstrong is a small town about twenty minutes from here, not far off the main highway. We went to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio and I bought some Jamieson & Smith pure wool two ply jumper yarn in five colours: black, burgundy, red, pink and a sort of sage green. I had not stopped to think what I might make, so gave the colour selection less thought than usual,; the selection was small for my taste and I simply picked colours that I thought I could use successfully in Fair Isle type stranded knitting. A few days later I decided I needed a pair of wool socks and the adventure began. The colours aren’t quite what I like, but I think they are working out fairly well. In any case, they will keep my feet toasty warm.

IMG_4694

AS you can see, I’ve successfully turned the heel and am about to begin knitting my way up the leg. The other sock is ready to have its heel created, too. There are a few errors in the knitting; While doing the hearts motif I was listening to Runrig on my headphones and lost track of the counting, so some of the hearts aren’t quite right. By the time I noticed it was too late for frogging. And while doing the heel, the pattern required using short rows with a wrapped stitch at the beginning and then picking up the wrap with the stitch and knitting or purling them together. Sounds easy, right? Well, try doing that with black yarn in the late evening and under rather dim lighting. Not to mention that my eyesight is not too good at present. However, I got through rather well, I think and the heel looks fine to me.

Today, with snow coming tonight for the firs time this autumn, we went to Vernon again so that I could buy a pair of thick work socks, some heavy work gloves for shovelling snow and the like and some more candied ginger. My cousin is a very kind man and made time to take me to the Twisted Purl again, where I put in an order for a few colours I feel I need before I begin the next pair of socks and another ball of the black for this pair. The Purl was out of the black but ready to make another order, so I asked for not only the black but also a medium green, a slightly golden yellow and I think another colour. And as long as I was in the store . . . I bought these:

IMG_4763

Two balls of dark green, one of a light blue, one of  a darker blue and one each of the three reds I’m already using in the current socks. We were in a bit of a rush to get all the shopping done and get home before dark, so I didn’t want to take time over the colours and order more. I think I can make these work, though. I have a happy pattern in mind for the legs of the next pair and I’ll share that with you all once I get to that. It’s all part of the plan for next year . . .

The third thing I’m grateful for today is my odd knack for baking ‘on the fly’; adapting recipes that I’ve never made before I make them and then having it all work out so well. Usually, anyway. Yesterday my cousin’s wife, Cousin S, gave me five bananas she had brought home from her work as a school custodian. They had black spots on the skins but were still firm. She mentioned that she had been thinking of banana bread and had Googled for a recipe, finding one for Chocolate Banana Bread. I offered to whip that up, as she rarely has time for baking and after lunch I set to. I added chopped walnuts, whole wheat flour and wheat germ to the original recipe (I like to maximize nutrition as much as possible). I doubled the recipe so that I could use all the bananas and when I found the batter a bit dry I added some yoghurt. In the end, we got twenty four muffins out of the recipe. I chose to do muffins instead of a loaf as it makes it easier to pack one for lunch and, wrapped individually, they keep very well in the fridge. They turned out scrumptious, especially hot from the oven with butter after I split them open. The chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either; they formed wee volcanoes of deliciousness that I’m sure you can imagine.

I will share the recipe here, likely tomorrow. It was very easy and well worth it.


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

INGREDIENTS for a single recipe: makes 12 muffins or one loaf.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1/2 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter). This will work with less sugar.

1 large egg at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take one out, so I used a cold egg. You could use 2 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour)

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

INGREDIENTS for a double recipe: makes 24 muffins or two loaves.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

1 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali. I used a couple of heaping tablespoons more; we like chocolate around here.

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

5 – 6 large brown bananas – 3 cups mashed. I confess I didn’t measure them. Hence the yoghurt added at the end.

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter) This will work with less sugar.

2 large eggs at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take them out, so I used cold eggs. You could use 3 – 4 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

1 to 2 cups raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour). I didn’t use raisins this time; cousin M has requested them for next timre, as he loves the large raisins we buy.

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

Variation: I think these would be wonderful made with chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger, too. But I love candied ginger! lol

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

Grease one or two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or one or two 12 hole muffin pans, I use a non-hydrogenated margarine made with olive oil. Safflower oil would likely work, too. I like the margarine because it isn’t absorbed so much by the muffins / loaves.

In a medium sized bowl mix the flours, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter.Add the butter and oil. Stir until well mixed.stir in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, folding in carefully. I usually add the dry mix in three portions; it makes the folding in easier. Don’t overmix.

IF the mixture seems too dry, add a few heaping tblsp of plain or vanilla yoghurt. Milk can also be used. Use your judgement; less is more sometimes.

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

Using a large serving spoon or a tablespoon (a small metal measuring cup would also work, I think), spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the loaf pans.

Optional: Spoon a little of the topping mix onto each muffin or top the loaves with it, if using. I didn’t and they were fine without it. It’s my idea, not from the original recipe; I just thought it would fancy them up for a special occasion.

If making a loaf, the original recipe calls for baking it for 50 – 65 minutes. I’d test them from about 30 minutes on, using a toothpick or table knife. When it comes out clean, remove from the oven, let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.

If making muffins, bake for about 15 – 20 minutes and then test to see if they need more time. Every oven is different. I had mine in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes and it was a wee bit too long; the chocolate didn’t burn, but it would have if I’d not checked them.

These muffins are fantastic eaten hot, split open and buttered. You may want to make tea, coffee or your favourite hot drink to enjoy along with them.


I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It’s well after midnight now and bed is calling me . . .

Correction:

I didn’t link to The Twisted Yarn’s Three Things on Thursday post. And a good thing, too! I was doing my best to get back to more timely posting and typed that from memory. Actually, the Thankful on Thursday posts belong to Mrs. Snail. My apologies to both ladies.

It’s too dark for me to type properly as it is. I’ll add that tomorrow, too. In the meantime, do share your Three Things / Thankful in the comments, if you feel inspired to do so. Love and warm hugs to each of you. I hope you are all doing well.

A final addition: This is what I woke up to today:

And, as to my Peace Poppies for Kendal; they arrived in time. In this photo you can see two of them quite clearly (the ones with the red bit around their black centre):

The second photo shows the WWI medical tent over which the poppies were draped after being fastened together by some wonderful volunteers.

Update on the Poppies

Good evening, my friends! Much has been going on here, what with Canadian Thanksgiving and all that. But I have managed to complete eleven poppies and will be airmailing them to Kendal tomorrow (see my last post for more details); fingers crossed that they arrive in time for the display! These are for the display planned by the group called Kendal Wool Gathering, to commemorate WWI anniversaries. They have a facebook page, if you are interested. It’s a bit late now to be making poppies for them (due date for arrival in Kendal is 30th of October) but you may wish to make a few poppies for your own community. Any poppies sent to Kendal with pins on the back are being sold as brooches to raise money for the Royal British Legion. I suggest we all think a bout making some for next year, when we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. I am hoping our Women’s Institute will have some events planned, but have not contacted them yet to find out.

11 poppies lg

I made eleven because, as I’m sure you know, the Armistice was signed at 11.00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

There is some symbolism in these for me personally, too, as there were my parents and nine children in our family; the three red poppies are for my Dad and his brother and one of Mum’s brothers, all of whom served in WWII. The group as a whole is to honour the man I worked for in the late 1980s, Mr. Brown; he served during WWI, but was stationed in the Caribbean Sea in case of attack. He saw no action, fortunately. However, his brother was one of the 3,598 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge between the ninth and the twelfth of April, 1917.

If I have time, I want to make a poppy scarf using mostly the white Peace Poppies and a few red traditional poppies. If not this year, then next year for sure, which will mark 100 years since the end of WWI.

I have permission to link to the pattern for these poppies. The designer is Emma Leith, of Emma Leith Atelier, who has been more than kind in taking time to respond to my emails. That link will take you to her site and to the poppy pattern that she designed and offers for free.

With her permission, I have adapted that pattern to make my own Peace Poppies. Remember that they are white with a black centre? I tried that, but it looked like this:

White Peace Poppy

I felt it needed something, so I tried this:

Peace Poppy 01

I like this one much better. I still used Emma’s pattern, but I used white for the last two rows, leaving the second row red. For me, this honours those who shed their blood, or at lest offered to do so, while still holding to the thought of Peace on this earth in our time. I haven’t written up my version for Ravelry yet, but I will do so. It will be linked to Emma’s pattern and will also be free.

Oh, one other change I made and it’s certainly optional for anyone else: I used Judy’s Magic Cast On. It gives the option of a tighter centre, but also means that the petals can become a bit more ruffled. In part, for me, that may be due to my using a rather ‘hard’ acrylic yarn. With a softer yarn, the result may be quite different.

Well, my friends, I’m going to keep this short. I’ve been up to rather a lot lately, which is why you haven;t heard from me as often as I’d hoped. Lots of creating going on here and more about to begin! Not to mention that, in honour of ‘Anticipation 301’ I’m giving advance notice of a HUGE PROJECT in the works for next year. Hints to come and then the Great Reveal!! I’m so excited! It’s lovely to be happy and excited again; it seems as though it’s been forever.

before I go, though, one last thing. I know that some of you have been facing great challenges in one form or another. You are all in my thoughts and prayers; in particular anyone near the horrific fires in California. I still haven’t unpacked my ‘go-bag’ from our fires here. I know how so many must be feeling, living with the uncertainty. I can only imagine how it is for those who have lost their homes or, worse, family members. I wish you strength and courage for the coming days and months.

I have been saddened by the Las Vegas shootings, too, and I hope none of you have been directly affected. One of my daughters-in-law had a business trip scheduled for Vegas two days after the shooting, but in the end was unable to go. In light of all the challenges out there, including the political facings-off, with Tom Petty’s death, I was reminded of one of my favourite songs that he did (the background to this song is on YouTube under the video and well worth reading):

Good night, dear friends. I shall attempt to respond to comments before too long. (But I do have a couple more posts to write, so those may come first). Warm hugs from rapidly-cooling BC.

Poppy Project/s

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam.

Hello, my friends! Now (as of today) it’s officially autumn. Attention is shifting from gardening, harvesting and ‘putting by’ to crafting.  At least mine is . . .

Yesterday I saw a post on fb about the Kendal Poppies project to honour those who served in WWI. Apparently similar projects are happening in other towns, too.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/KendalPoppies/

If you don;t do facebook, you can read about it here:

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/15530088.Poppy_pop_up_art_installation_to_be_created_for_Kendal_Wool_Gathering/

Sara Last, who is mentioned in the article, has created a group on fb for anyone interested in taking part.

I have made two poppies already today:my first two poppies

Luckily, I had bought some red and black yarn yesterday (inexpensive acrylic) for making some Christmas items I hope to sell. After reading about the meaning of the different coloured poppies, I went back today and picked up a skein of white, too. Inspired by Mother Teresa, I am no longer anti-war; I am pro-peace, so most of my poppies will be white. with a black centre; I plan to try out a black centre, narrow red band surrounding that, then white petals. To learn more about the various colours, go to

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-37798965/red-white-purple-black-choosing-a-remembrance-day-poppy

I am using a pattern that was posted to the group and have asked the designer for permission to post it here. I’m sure she won’t mind, but am waiting for confirmation.

If any of you knitters and crocheters out there would like to take part, your contributions will be most welcome. They are hoping to cover a WWI medical tent by spreading camouflage netting over it and attaching the poppies to that.  The initial display will be on 20 October, I think, so that gives us time, especially for those of us who don’t live in England. The poppies will be used for Remembrance Day, too, (and I think some may be sold), then donated to Wonderwool Wales for their curtain.

http://www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk/show-events/curtain-of-poppies.html

There are patterns for both knitted and crocheted poppies in the group, so likely online, too. If you don’t do either, but want to take part, they will accept other forms of crafted poppies. Felt, woven, stitched, etc.

Well, back to crochet for me! I’ll update this post later with my creations.

Oh, one more thing: I am contacting a local yarn shop or two and the local Women’s Institute (Mum was a member for years and I was, too, but not for as long) to see if anything is planned here that I might contribute to. You might want to do the same where you are. Love and Light to each of you. I wish you all Inner Peace. ~ Linne