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 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.

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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

Day 21: a very short post

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

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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

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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.

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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:

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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.

Living in the Moebius Loop . . .

. . . I wonder if that’s possible . . . some times in life sure feel like it. Maybe that’s what happens when you knit a Moebius scarf? I did, once, and loved it! No photo for you, sorry; it’s in a box ‘somewhere’ . . .

Aunty and I returned from the hospital on the 11th of February. On the 12th I developed a mild but persistent bronchitis, my old response to being stressed and overextended. I’m happy to say it’s only an occasional cough now. The yo-yo weather hasn’t helped, either. Yesterday, we were up to +15C; today, when I had to go out, it was +1C. No such thing as climate change, luckily . . .

20150315-111354.jpg Keira (whom I named); one of the Crafties’ two Teacup Pomeranians.

My next oldest sister came for a short visit, which was very nice, even though we didn’t have much time to visit. She’s an RN, so I was glad to have her here for advice on supporting my Aunty and Mum more effectively. I wish she could have stayed longer, partly because the following week our Mum turned 92 and four days later Aunty turned 95. Their longevity secrets? So far as I can tell, those consist of living a plain life, eating moderate simple meals and being fairly active well into their 80s.

20150315-111817.jpg With Mum’s birthday dinner my youngest sister and I shared these (on my part mostly in honour of my friends from Tassie, Narfie7 and Stevie-boy. The bottlecap collection is small, but growing . . . and I now have collected all but one component for my contribution to their Sanctuary. Quite different from all the lovely buntings that have already arrived, but I hope mine will find a place somewhere, too. Mr. Crafty has volunteered to help me with one bit or it would be a two-year project, for sure . . . remember, my friends, Anticipation 101 😉 😉 😉 . . .

We are still not moved into the condo, due to a combination of Unfortunate Events (I was wondering the other day if my life story was written by Mr. Lemony Snicket; that would explain a lot . . . but in the end things turn out all right.

20150315-114228.jpg Since Mum doesn’t want more ‘stuff’, I usually give her a couple of lotto tickets. This year I was lucky to find a cute card to go with them. Inside, it said:

20150315-114450.jpg Cute, eh?

Anyway, I’ve been going between my Aunty’s and my friends the Crafties. Since I plan ahead and take on small, simple projects (my nose is now longer than Pinocchio’s), I have been working on the CAL (Crochet-A-Long) project with Selma (Eclectic Home & Life) and her group. But, optimist that I am (on alternate Thursdays) I am making THREE blankets! That group is done (but my blankets are not) and now we are on to making a ripple stitch project; mine will be a pillow. But I digress . . . the blankets are the main reason for most of this pile:

20150315-160908.jpg What I take with me: 3 bags of yarn + projects, clothes and laundry (I don’t have a card for the machines here anymore), any food my Aunty won’t eat while I’m gone. The crafting stuff is the biggest deal, though.

20150315-161541.jpg A book belonging to Mr. Crafty that is now on my Want List; very well written.

20150315-161856.jpg Guess who?

20150315-162009.jpg Meet Herbert, snuggling in Mrs. Crafty’s hands. You can’t tell yet, but he’s a Ringnecked Dove. There are two cages of doves in the basement; I loved waking to their soft cooing as they were fed early each morning. Good memories; my sons’ Dad raises a variety of pigeons and doves which end up all over the world.
So . . . about that crafting stuff . . .

20150315-163635.jpg here are the three blankets side by side on the couch, which is over six feet long.
I haven’t begun the ripple pillow yet, but . . .

20150315-163844.jpg Ms. Selma can be most seductive. The pattern is here (scroll down; it’s below one of the bunny photos) and excellent instructions for the Magic Ring are here. These bunnies take only a few minutes to make and are SO cute! This one will adorn the most recent project of all . . . (I can hear you, you know!)

20150315-165009.jpg When my RN sister was here, she brought some yarn for our Aunty to use to knit a tuque for my sister’s first grandson. Unfortunately, Aunty hasn’t been able to knit for the past couple of years, partly due to diminished eyesight, so I volunteered . . . since my pattern books are ‘somewhere’, I am inventing my own pattern. Surprised? Thought you would be . . . 😉
I am going to use the bunny because, to misquote Ol’ Blue Eyes, “you’re no bunny ’til some bunny loves you”.
BTW, if you have too much time on your hands (Narfie!), Selma’s got links to patterns for a variety of Easter bunnies, also knitted Easter baubles, and ALSO the recipes for the treats she makes each week for the CAL class. Sadly, no treats for me and no convivial times with fellow crafters/learners . . . but I’m still having fun!

You may hear from me again before Easter, but in case not, know that you are each in my thoughts and prayers and that I wish you and your families the loveliest of holidays.

Always remember, ‘some bunny’ loves you all and you are each ‘some bunny’ to me ❤

Thanks for all the comments and support. I'm still planning to reply.

Serpentine Sagas

Well, that’s how my life would look if I were to do a Celtic drawing of it . . .

I will save the Saga of the Move for when I’m back at my Aunty’s; possibly after we move into the condo . . .

In the meantime . . . here’s my current bed at night:

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. . . and in the daytime:

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After we finished getting things out of Mum’s suite late on the 31st of January, I was pretty tired and mostly rested on the Sunday. But my Aunty’s cough had worsened, so Monday morning I packed my little backpack and brought her to the ER (Emergency Room) at the closest hospital. I was right; she has pneumonia. So we have been here since.

She’s doing better now, after a rocky start, and tomorrow (Monday) we start planning for her discharge.

I spent much of Thurs and Fri (plus the night betwedn) at the Crafties’, where I had a lovely shower and even lovelier sleep. On Thurs they took me to a department store, so now I have new jeans, T-shirts and a flannel shirt (very cosy!), as my regular clothes are ‘somewhere’ . . .

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My sort-of-tartan shirt shows here a bit, behind the Ian Rankin book I’m re-reading, topped with my last piece of Walker’s Scottish Shortbread. I took this, then realised I’ve been having a bit of a Scottish day . . . minus my favourite music, sadly . . . 😉

My Mum took a mild turn for the worse, too, hers due to the stress of the past months mostly. But she’s doing better now and is staying with my sister until the condo is ready.

20150208-183048.jpg Two of the Craftys’ granddaughters, who also spent the night and were each working on a doll made from old socks. They were adding hair, a fairly tedious job, which fell to Mrs. Crafty to complete:

20150208-183427.jpg The girls’ work.

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20150208-191306.jpg . . . and after finishing touches by Nana.
The weather stayed quite balmy until 31st Jan, which helped make the move easier. After that, though, the temperature dropped back to seasonal ‘normal’ and then we got snow . . .

20150208-191832.jpg Second last day of the move . . .

20150208-192155.jpg the day after the move was ‘done’ . . .
And while I was at the Craftys’ . . .

20150208-192526.jpg and

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Some views inside the hospital:

20150208-193017.jpg the atrium on the main floor.

20150208-193938.jpg the atrium on the second floor.

20150208-194059.jpg looking down from the 5th floor to the main floor of the atrium. Near the centre you can see one of the pianos. People just sit down and play and the large space magnifies the music perfectly.

20150208-194414.jpg the view from my chair-bed to the hallway . . .

20150208-194534.jpg there is a wide variety of artworks here. This has long been one of my favourites.

20150208-194846.jpg . . . one of my favourite queens, Queen Alexandra. She was married to King Edward, who succeeded Queen Victoria and whose short reign was the Edwardian Era, also a favourite of mine. Downton Abbey fans will remember that the series began just after his time.

Among my great treasures are two copies of Queen Alexandra’s book of family photos, one in good shape and the other a bit threadbare, with a loose cover. In 1908 she had these books made up and sold to raise money for charity. The photos are reproductions of ones taken by her and are mounted on the pages with the triangular black photo mounts so familiar from my childhood.
You can see an image of the cover and some of the pages here: http://www.google.ca/images?q=queen+Alexandra%27s+photo+albums&client=safari&hl=en-gb&tbm=isch&ei=WCXYVPfqBMa2oQSn84KQBg&start=60&sa=N#

Originally from Denmark, she was a strong-minded woman who did her best to play a part in the politics of the day. I mention her here because we are in a hospital named after her, the Royal Alexandra Hospital. I admire her so much, I correct people who call this place “the Alex” and forget it is named for a queen . . .

20150208-201832.jpg A closeup of her portrait, whixh hangs in the main lobby. The hospital was founded in 1899, two years before Alexandra became Queen.

I forgot to mention that I went with the Crafties and their granddaughters to the new Re-Use-It Centre, now south of the river. I was very good and only chose a small paper bag of items, including a book of patterns for old-fashioned crocheted doilies and a video teaching Fair Isle knitting. More on my finds later . . .

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The Saga continues . . .

. . . but the full story will have to wait. For now, I just want to let you know that my adventures with U-Haul (rental moving truck company here and in the States) has continued to make me stronger (since it hasn’t killed me yet) 😉

But it’s all too complicated to explain in a post. It’s been suggested to me that I write it up as a short story and I’m seriously contemplating doing just that.

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My Aunty’s salt and pepper set; I just love these. Years ago, she had a very impressive collection of unusual salt and peppers. She had a wooden quarter-round stand with several shelves built especially to hold them all. When I was 16, my Mum and Dad took me and my two oldest brothers to Saskatchewan to visit Mum’s Dad and his second wife. We stopped off in Calgary to visit my Aunty and I have never forgotten her lovely collection. I wish she had it now and could tell me the stories behind each set . . .

No photos from my main moving day . . we were just too busy. The Crafties, their son (with a still-unhealed three year old collarbone shattered in a quad accident and requiring yet another surgery), plus one of the first friends I made here in Alberta, all came and made the move easier. So the original storage locker is now emptied and my things from there are in the new storage locker. Mum’s things are in the condo, but some may have to go to the storage for a while so she can sort through with more ease. That was Friday. This incarnation of the Saga began on Saturday the 17th and has continued since. I’m so lucky to have friends with a sense of humour who help me stay grounded and sane, even laughing . . .

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Can’t remember if I shared this already or not; if so, I hope you enjoy seeing it again. I bought this lovely basket of artificial sunflowers when I worked at the little antique store; they are not antiques, of course; we also sold interesting home décor items and this was put together by one of the staff, a young artist whose creations I often fell in love with. I bought this and another arrangement when the store closed.

Not sure now of dates, but on the 18th I found the new locker and put the first carload into it, thanks to my Family Support friend (I really have to find a better name for her, don’t I?). On the following Friday (the U-Haul day), we not only emptied the original locker, we took stuff to the storage from the current condo, then a load to the new condo, including Mum’s antique furniture. She plans to sell some of it, so I plan to take some photos before the pieces are gone . . . didn’t have time that day . . .

We took the truck back and then remembered that the Crafties’ car was filled with my clay pots that I’m giving to another friend, who now lives in the country . . . A couple of those pots went to Mrs. Crafty first, though. The rest are now in the storage unit.

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One of the Crafties’ Teacup Pomeranians, snuggled up with Mr. Crafty. The other one, April, is much smaller. This one is Kiera, whom I named when she was born. If I didn’t have to bend down to pet her, I’d be tempted to take her home with me . . . but then, I love the big collies and the Border collies so much, I don’t think I’d have space for even such a cute wee thing.

Yesterday I had ambitious plans, but a bad tummy upset (not illness, just a combination of not enough sleep and too much stress for too long) kept me flat on my back. I was beginning to worry a bit . . . but today felt fine.

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The snowy back path to the Crafties’ home, taken nearly three weeks ago when I went over for that lovely half-Ukrainian Christmas dinner . . . It doesn’t look like that now . . .

One of my sister’s friends came today and packed up a huge amount of Mum’s stuff; I can’t tell you what a relief that was! But maybe you can imagine . . .

While she did that, my FS friend taped up lots of boxes, helped me pack some of them, then we took a carload of fragile items to the new condo and another to the storage unit. Then she took me to get a few groceries to tide me over until I’m at my Aunty’s again (Wednesday) and milk for Mum. I offered to buy her supper, but she had plans and supper waiting at home, so I treated myself to a tray of sushi, such as it is in a grocery store. Not bad, but not like the real thing, either , , , the tuna is cooked, for one thing . . . I’ll be enjoying it and some tv as soon as I’m done here . . .

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This is one of a pair of pot holders my Mum bought in a hospital gift shop. They were said to be a German stitch, but I haven’t been able to find a pattern anywhere yet. I think when I have time, I will try and figure it out for myself. They are prettier than the picture shows . . .

Tomorrow I’m packing up what’s left because early on Tuesday the movers come to take the rest to the new place. If I have enough to make up a carload or two for storage tomorrow, the Crafties and my FS friend will come and help again. Tuesday afternoon my sister’s friend is coming again, along with my long time masseuse friend to help with the cleaning. I have a borrowed steam cleaner that’s a real marvel, so the walls and glass doors (and those horrid channels full of gunge) will be done quickly and easily. In a few days, my sister is having a professional company do the ancient carpets, so that’s one thing we don’t have to think about . . . and the lino floors in the bathrooms, hall and kitchen, too.

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During my last stay with my Aunty, she noticed some of my yarn was lying there in a heap. She took the time to help me by winding it into a couple of cute balls.

Tuesday after the cleaning, I’ll do my usual shop for food for me and my Aunty, sleep at Mum’s, then will stay with my Aunty for the following eight days as usual. I’ll have six days (maybe five) over at the new place, then be back with my Aunty for our last eight days in her place. The week after that, she is moving into a lodge and I will stay with her there until she is settled in and can find her way around (have to take the elevator to a different floor for meals and another for social activities, I hear). Slowly, we will find ourselves in a new routine.

It’s sad for me; I’ve liked the routine we created here, but life just keeps morphing along, doesn’t it?

On a brighter note, the three blankets I’ve been working on with Selma from Eclectic Home & Life are coming right along:

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Here are my three as they look tonight. The one at the bottom has three strips of granny stripes already; there will be twelve strips by next week! Until now, the colours changed every two rows; with the granny stripes, they change every row . . .

If you are on Facebook you can see Selma’s posts here: https://www.facebook.com/eclectichomelife?fref=ts

If you want to follow her on the blog, go here: http://eclectichomelife.blogspot.ca/2015/01/crochet-and-fruit-tarts.html

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A close-up of two of the blankets.

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. . . and a close-up of the third, with the granny stripes along the right side.

There have been several times these last weeks when I was tempted (well, nearly) to throw in the towel and give up. I don’t do so well when I feel overwhelmed and I really don’t care for leaving everything to the last minute. But it wasn’t my choice. Luckily, I had some good advice from two of my friends here and from several of you out there in the Virtual Village, so I got over the rough patches fairly quickly and with minimal (for me LOL) whinging . . . One thing I was reminded to do was to find something to be grateful for . . . and I did. First of all, for having several good friends who have done so much to help. With my knee acting up and the path to the new place being one of uneven, packed and very icy snow, I can’t imagine getting everything into the place without a major disaster. Because I have good friends, I was able to work inside, carting things from the doorway to the final destination.

The second thing I am EXTREMELY grateful for has been the weather; spring-like, mostly above freezing and fairly windy, which is good for drying up the snow. I have been able to work with only jeans, a T-shirt and a long-sleeve T over that. How unlike the day we moved my storage items up to the container . . . with the wind that day it was close to -30C. I had been anxious that this week would be more of the same, but apparently this unusual balmy spell is set to last right through the end of the month.

I’m grateful, too, for all your comments, emails and kind thoughts. You Villagers are the best!

JOY!

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This folk art plaque, part of Mrs. Crafty’s Christmas collection, says it all!

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Totally irrelevant to this post, but I have to share it anyway; this is off the tv; it’s the same sort of washtub my Mum did all our laundry in for my early years. It was also used as a bathtub weekly. I think when she was young, they had a clamp-on wringer like the one here, but I don’t remember us ever having one. I could have used one of these when my boys were young. With the first son, I boiled his diapers in an old cooking pot filled with melted snow water (or water from the creek before we got that four feet of snow) Our own laundry we carried to the nearby town in a backpack and it was done in the launderette. Easier than my Mum’s work, for sure. But I’d still love to have one of these. We magpies just never know when to quit, do we?

magpie 01

One of my favourite birds, next to the raven, of course . . .

Silent on Sunday . . .

Well, nearly silent . . . you know me . . .   🙂

First, I apologize for replying to so few comments. I began with 15 December, but am still not caught up. Partly because you all post such intriguing posts and I am trying to catch up on reading them, too. It won’t likely get better before February. Still, I value each of you so much and appreciate that you take time to read and comment. That said, here’s the (ha!) ‘silent’ Sunday post . . .

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All day yesterday . . . white stuff falling . . .

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. . . last week, when the local news weathergirl said she wanted people to tweet their snow photos and tell her how deep it was at their place, I tweeted the above to her, mentioning that at my Aunty’s place, we had four feet . . . she favourite it, which was generous, I think. Gave me a chuckle, so that was good . . .

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One last pair of slippers underway and then I will felt!

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This is a rather interesting mystery I’ve been reading. I’ve never read so little in my life. Less than a book in two weeks is what I’m averaging now. Used to be more than a book a day, but things change, eh?

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I especially like the cover illustration. But then, ravens and their associated relatives are my symbols or whatever you want to call them. I’m definitely somewhere between raven and magpie, don’t you think? In the book, though, it’s a thrush that is the symbolic ‘murder bird’. I suppose most readers wouldn’t recognize a thrush . . .

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Been busy today packing (also sorting and letting go). I’ve had a cough for over a week (just stress, nothing contagious, but it means lost sleep) and somehow pulled my inner left knee muscle again, so back to wearing the knee support and resting when possible. I bought this lovely arrangement when I worked at the wee antique shop. I’m giving it to the Crafties if they want it. They are coming tomorrow to take all my plants, too, and a few other things, like my dyeing kettles. The new place faces north and has odd long windows in a corner of each bedroom, but the only place for plants is in a corner of the living room where they will need a grow light. So, I’ve decided to give that space to Mum for her plants. She’ll be quite happy to have them accessible again, I’m sure.

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Started this yesterday. It will be for one of the three remaining wee relatives that I want to make something for and will use up at least some of the yarn I bought for the Bavarians. I’ve been in love with My Eclectic Home & Life’s blog for a while, as you may have noticed, and especially her Scandinavian CAL (crochet-a-long) blanket.

Selma got her idea from Lucy at Attic24, and if you are interested, the pattern is here. If you aren’t a blanket addict yet, you will be soon! I promise!! And if blankets seem too daunting, try out some of the smaller projects on both these blogs. Your life will change!

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Here’s a close-up of my fifth row being created. This will not be exactly like the Scandinavian blanket (i.e., a four-row repeat), but was inspired by this new blanket that Selma is using at a teaching class, where she has at least six people taking part.

Update: I just found out I’m to be included in the class!!! even though I will be somewhat delayed by packing and moving . . . no worries, though. I’m only using a 120 stitch chain, so it will be quicker than a single bed size would be.

Have a wonderful week, everyone. (I wasn’t really silent at all, was I? . . . sigh . . .)