Apun my word . . .

An opun letter to all and pundry . . .

I have been increasingly concerned by our conservative government’s growing willingness to not only increase trade with the Chinese government, but to sell off bits of our country to them, with agreements heavily weighted in their favour.

I’m not so worried any more, now that I see how fragile China is, how much in need of protection, how vulnerable to those of us who revel in wordplay. I was not aware that the Chinese government is teetering on the brink of a linguistic cliff where any stray and subtle use of language may shove the whole artificial edifice over the brink.

Then I happunned upun Jon Stewart’s Daily show the other night . . .

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=MUeOIud0q-g

Learning that China is further into the ‘marijuana era’ than Colorado or Uruguay, I see there is hope for the future; a light at the end of the tunnel that is not a train headed our way . . . and I wonder what the punishment will be for those Bolshie enough to break the new law . . . forced to perform at an ‘opun mike night’? or will that be reserved for the elite among the pundits? Those jokers from Szechuan may be forced to eat only bland foods, with all the pungent spices banned from their kichens . . .

I wonder how businesses will deal with employees arriving at random times, now that punctiliousness is a thing of the past.

This law opuns many doors, doesn’t it?

So, as China enters the ‘Age of the Alpaca’, the rest of the world can relax and begin to plan more trips to the Far East. Me, Alpaca large book of puns . . .

Think I’m being self-indulgent and not that punny? Haven’t heard yet? . . . click here:

http://qz.com/304268/why-china-is-now-banning-puns/

or here (and choose from the links):

http://www.google.ca/search?q=puns+in+china&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

Perhaps, seeing smiles and hearing chuckles from around the world, the Chinese government will keep an opun mind and allow their entendres to continue to be double.

Well, that’s your homespun humour for the week . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feather Buns

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

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

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

Next, add:

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

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

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

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

Mix thoroughly, then add:

___________________________

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

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

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

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

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

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

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Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

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

The Little Red Hen

I’ve been a bit quiet . . .

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

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

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

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

I have just finished a most fascinating book, too:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling better . . . and now feeling sad

My infection is nearly healed and I’m thankful for all the kind messages. I’m sure the energy that came my way helped speed the healing. There is only a small hot patch left and I’m pretty sure it will be gone in the next couple of days.

  Musician Pete Seeger and wife Toshi Seeger attend the memorial celebration for Odetta at Riverside Church on February 24, 2009 in New York  Pete Seeger Royalty Free Stock Photo

If you are wondering why I’m feeling sad, it’s because I just heard the news that Pete Seeger died yesterday. I’m not sad for him, but for a world that will be dimmer with his passing. He has been a key figure in my universe since I can remember folk music; high school at least (we didn’t usually have a radio earlier than that). His ideas, his passion, his love . . . all made me think and helped form my own beliefs.

Singer, songwriter, activist for a multitude of causes; all that and so much more. He  built his own house and lived there with his wife, who raised their children while he was away standing up for all of us in so many ways. He was a true pioneer. He started the movement to clean up the Hudson River, took part in many protests (and was arrested a couple of times). There is a lot in anyone’s story when they have lived into their nineties. If you don’t already know, and want to know more, there’s a lot of information online. And some in the documentary I’ve linked to below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pete-seeger-dead-folk-singer-and-activist-dies-at-94-1.2513591

Pete’s wife, Toshi, died last July, only 9 days before their 70th wedding anniversary. She had a great influence on him, from what he said and what was written about them. Many said he couldn’t have done the work he did without her support and he acknowledged that.

Pete and Toshi are people I look up to for their willingness to stand up for their beliefs, to live what they preached, to find non-violent ways to effect change, in a way few manage to achieve.

Thanks to YouTube, I’ve been able to view many of his “Rainbow Quest” sessions, featuring a wide variety of musicians. Rainbow Quest was Pete’s folk music show and I would have loved it, but at the time I didn’t have electricity or a tv; besides, I doubt the shows aired in Canada.

Pete learned, played and wrote a book about the five-string banjo; the book is still available.

I think all the radical, bolshie hippies and their ilk will be forever grateful.Here’s a link to 10 quotes (I’m sure there are hundreds!

Here’s links to a few of my favourite songs:

Bring ‘Em Home

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

(written about the Vietnam War, but applies to most of our current political situations)

What Did You Learn in School Today?

Solidarity Forever

Here’s a collection of his songs.

The Power of Song – documentary from the PBS American Masters series

One of his grandsons is quoted as saying that Pete was out chopping wood just 10 days before he died. Way to go, Pete!

As Woody Guthrie would have said, “So long, it’s been good to know ya” . . .

A Toast to 2014, inspired by Narf7 . . .

A Little Black Bolshie Duckie Toast . . . to 2014
Here’s to the hippies, the old and the new;
The outcasts, the beatniks, the whole motley crew.                 
And here’s to the bolshie babes, and to their men
Who plant, weed and harvest again and again.
 The hugelkind kulturers, keepers of bees,
The rockers of children, the kissers of knees.
The goatherds, the shepherds, the makers of soap
The cheesemakers, quilters, creators of hope.
 
Let’s drink to the builders who shelter and mend
The world’s broken places, ‘til on past the bend
of the long weary journey they pause and look back
to see that the rifts are now barely a crack.
 
Here’s to the village, the virtual realm
The world’s a wee boat now, with you at the helm.
So healing’s begun, creativity’s rife,
Let’s all raise our glass to a good country life
 
In the city or country, a cottage can be
The source of our sustenance, where we can see
That no matter how humble, the place we love best
Is a home the heart yearns for, where each may find rest
  
Where frugal’s the watchword, where kindness abounds,
So that all ‘round the globe are heard wondrous sounds
Of planting and healing, of making and more
Of building a world that is good to the core.
 
Here’s to our friends, our relations, our foes
(without them we wouldn’t have kept on our toes),
We might not have grown so much, opened our minds
Not to mention our hearts, to the knowledge each finds
 
In the virtual village, where dwell kindred souls
Who walk their own paths to the same central goals
While improving the world in the east and the west,
The north and the south, in each place we love best. 
 
And here’s to the poets (not me) and the wise
The artists who open our magical eyes.
The writers, the marchers, the builders of cairns
Let’s all raise a glass to our friends and the bairns
 
Who, nurtured with kindness, will learn what they see
And one day will carry the torch we set free.
We’ll go to our rest, the young will go on . . .
And the world will awake to a lovely new dawn.
 
Let’s raise a glass of beer or wine, of kombucha or tea;
Let’s raise a glass to what has been and what is yet to be
Let’s drink a toast to those we’ve known, to those who’ve gone before,
To those we’ll meet in days to come, beside an open door.
 
I drink to the world that is soon to be born, to its faeries, its imps and its elves,
to all of the midwives that welcome it home and to every last one of your selves.
 
I have loved sharing the journey with each one of you, my readers; I look forward to more of the same in the coming year. Stay strong, keep the faith, look up and ahead . . .  With much love and appreciation, I wish you each joy, strength, hope, inspiration, love, creativity, healing, and so much more. 
 
A Most Happy New Year to you all!  ~ Linne

Footnote: this was inspired by Narf7 of The Road to Serendipity (Christmas Day post).

I hope those of you who prefer modern verse will forgive my indulgence in some pretty basic rhythm and rhyme; I honestly don’t  have time to do more. Warm hugs to everyone and I’m back to the kitchen . . .  (why didn’t you tell me Christmas was coming? I would have been ready . . .)     ~ L.

So you thought we were ‘nice’ in Canada . . .

I just found this and thought all of you small homesteaders should know, even though the articles are over a year old. I am horrified that this would happen anywhere, but also ashamed that it happened here. I thought we were ‘nice’, too . . .

http://shropshiresheep.org/media/

“Farmed and Dangerous”, indeed . . . If this can happen in one country, it can happen in any country. Be prepared!

A Light in the Window

Just after I replied to Pauline’s comment referencing Mandela and Gandhi, I went to draw the blinds in front of the sliding glass doors so the plants would have light and later, sun.

Here is the Universe’s response . . .

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I’m in the middle of things just now, but will post more fully (quit groaning, you FeedReaders!) when I have time.

Have a great day, my friends!

20131209-130313.jpg (just to make you smile!)
That’s my indoor hibiscus, BTW, who has NEVER bloomed in winter . . .

standing still . . .

boxes
. . . instead of moving boxes. 😦 I have a lot more than this lady and she’s cuter than I am, too.

Because my friend who was to drive the truck was called in to work this morning, she didn’t come to pick me up ’til after noon. We were both hungry, so we stopped for a quick lunch. When we got to the truck rental place, I was told that the truck I had reserved had been given to someone else because I was not there at 10 am. I had explained that I might have to come later if my friend had to work, but I guess no notes were put on the reservation. I was not allowed to rent a cargo van, either. I don’t use credit cards, but had bought one for $200 so that I could reserve the truck in the first place. But their reasoning is that I might remove the decals and steal the cargo van (but a moving truck is apparently harder to steal. Apparently having a ‘real’ credit card will be a good deterrent. Ha! I was thinking decidedly bolshie thoughts of renting the largest truck, loading up everything and driving home to BC; parking it in the woods somewhere and living in the back of the truck . . . but my sense of responsibility prevailed; I want to be here for my Mum and Aunty, so thoughts of childish runnings away cannot be entertained.)
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So, a few tears of frustration (lucky my friend works in the social work field and is very good at listening and then letting stuff go), then home to get centred again and call to book another truck, which I haven’t done yet. Mum’s landlady just came to give me papers to fill out. We have to turn in our keys for the outside door in exchange for ‘fobs’ (whatever those are; I think of watchfobs when I hear that). But the exchange is scheduled for the 14th and Mum and my sister will not be home until that evening. Both have outdoor keys, of course, and my sister has the garage door opener for the overhead door in the parkade. There is only the one chance, however, so my sister will now have to drive to St. Albert to do the exchange for herself and Mum. St. Albert is a neighbouring townlet where the condo management office is located.
cartoonCry
More tears of frustration. Apparently the condo board gets to lay down the law and command obedience at its own convenience, while tenants sometimes have to wait months (as in my case) for repairs necessary to allow residing in the unit after a major flood – this was in my old suite, which I gave up when I was let go from my last job. From flood to finished repairs it was eight months plus.
nonconformDuck A little yellow Bolshie . . .
I know my situation is not so bad in the grand scheme of things and certainly many of you are going through much worse challenges today. But I’m tired and now I have boxes in plastic bags piled everywhere; not a place to sit or to sleep . . . so more moving of stuff has to occur before supper tonight. But first I have to call the moving truck place . . . OK, that’s done. They won’t have a truck at the close location; now I have to wait to hear where one will be and arrange when to pick it up. No stopping for lunch this time!
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Since I can’t pick it up ’til Friday afternoon, I have all tomorrow in which to finish packing (ha!!); I think I’ll make some supper and clear off the couch enough to lie down.
couch potato
I was talking with one of you this last week and we agreed that we prefer full-on emergencies that require us to stay cool, calm and collected (at least until it’s over) 😉 What I’m particularly poor at handling is this slow escalating of stressors, none of them major, but taken together they wear me down.
nibbled to death  by ducks 01 “Life is like being nibbled to death by ducks”
And worst of all, for me, is this constant nit-picking to do with rules, conformity and appearance. I’ve never thought of myself as Bolshie, but a few conversations with Narfie7 and I’m beginning to think I have an alter ego that very much wants to see the light of day . . . well, that’s not entirely true, either . . . to be a bit more honest, I’ve never seen the value of pretending to be just like whatever the current fad is; I prefer people as they are and it would be nice to see more of that in the world. Oh, well . . . I may be back tomorrow on a break, but can’t promise anything; so I’ll ‘see you when I see you’ as we used to say.
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