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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gernany

Runrig in Bremen

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

 

On the 26th of September 2017 Runrig announced that after 45 years they would be “pulling the curtain down” on their music careers.

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

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

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

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

Stirling City Park 01

Stirling City Park – an earlier Runrig concert

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

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

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Glasgow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fearless dreamer fabric

Fearless Dreamer!

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


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

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

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

As for music . . .

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

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

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

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

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

My favourite of Stan Rogers’ work: Northwest Passage

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Voyage through the Virtual Village continues (part 1)

I’m back up at my Mum’s tonight and doing a bit of catchup; how delightful to see this post by one of my many favourite villagers, Mr. 23 Thorns! Three more to come . . .

If you haven’t read his post yet, you’re in for a treat . . .

The weather has warmed up and is now just right for the packing I have planned for tomorrow and Friday. I’m planning to be done by Sunday at the latest, so we can get this over with and then I can start moving things back indoors before the real snow arrives . . .

I’m apologizing now for the lack of photos this week; I just haven’t taken many and some I took with the iPod, so they have to be transferred to the hard drive. No time yet.

I found seeds in a couple of Mandarin oranges a while back and now they have sprouted and been planted in with one of the houseplants. I know, we need more plants, especially trees . . .

I’ve been busy and not upstairs for long this past week, but I’ve been working on the Violets in the Snow Bavarian Afghan and here’s where it’s up to today:

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This couch is six feet between the arms; the afghan is now nearly six feet side to side. It’s a bit heavy and surprisingly warm. I had no idea they could grow so large . . . 😉

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As you can see, there are now seven rows of white motifs bordering the purple row. And it doesn’t show here, but I’ve made a good start on the eighth row; I’m planning on eleven rows of white motifs, then finishing up with a final row of the purple.

But, there may be a slight detour, as I’m about to begin a pair of slippers for my Aunty, whose old ones finally wore out. As well, a friend of mine from Victoria has requested six pairs for her and her room-mate. So I’ll get right on that, once the packing is finished. I’m going to use chunky yarn or else a combination of yarns, so they should go quite quickly. I found one pattern a few minutes ago, so  even if my book of patterns is packed,, I’ll manage. Of course, there are always patterns on Ravelry, too. I  know I bought at least one and it’s on the computer, so I can just print it out. Pictures will be posted, but not for a bit . . .

Your music for the week is the entire hourlong ‘unplugged‘ concert by Eric Clapton. If he’s not your thing, no worries . . .

I’m waiting now for the results from tomorrow’s vote on Independence for Scotland. I have mixed feelings about it, as it’s not a change I really want to see, but either way, I hope people find a way to make things work and for them to be content, if not satisfied, with the results. I’d hate to see Canada broken up, too, but I know there are a few who want it, including some idiot who wanted Vancouver Island to secede from the rest of the country. Not sure what he thought we’d do for an economy, but I think his eye was only on being the biggest frog in a shrinking pond. Other than that, on the one hand, I think smaller countries might work better, but only if no large ones are allowed to exist; otherwise, the small ones will continue to be at the mercy of the larger and, historically, that hasn’t worked out so well most times. Even now, when I heard that the EU is demanding that much of Ireland’s forests be cut, it makes me heartsick and worried. But changes come and go and we must just get stuck in, as my friends say, and make our bit of the earth a cheerful and loving place. No-one can take that from us. We shall ‘over-grow’ the powers that think they be . . . and I’m content with that . . .

Now, thanks for listening to me rant; go read Mr. 23 Thorns’ post and get your smile for the week . . .

p.s.  the Happy Hibiscus has one more bud burgeoning happily by the window, but I didn’t get a photo yet; this may be the last of the year and I can’t believe how many there have been, close to two dozen, I think. That plant brings me joy every day!

 

Happy New Year to all in 2014

This is likely my longest post ever, so I won’t mind if you don’t read it all (or if you don’t listen to all the music) Music is such an individual thing and not many share my tastes, so no worries . . . it’s a great joy to me and I’ve been playing my old favourintes while I’ve been typing this, so I thought I’d share a bit of my soundtrack. However, that said, you may want to listen to the first one, as it’s really a New Year’s Eve song:

One of my brothers-in-law sent me this link and I thought some of you would enjoy the song, the photos and the wishes, which I echo for you. The singer is Sissel Kyrkjebø, the well-known Norwegian soprano:

I’ve noticed how many of you have summed up your past year and shared some of your plans, wishes and hopes for the coming year; reading your posts has caused me to think about my own past year and the year to come.

I began this blog in November of 2012 and originally it was meant to complement my Etsy store (still not open). I’m planning to start another blog for publicizing the store. Like many of you, I rarely look at my stats, as I don’t have a goal of acquiring followers or whatever. My main interest, stat-wise, has been seeing where people come from.
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The view early this afternoon facing West from Mum’s place. We’ve had frequent snow over the past few days, but now too deep at any one time.

As I said, I have an Etsy store, which I began working on before I was laid off in May of 2012. But I chose to focus on family this past summer, so didn’t make any progress toward creating actual stock. That’s still on the cards, though. Seeing Pauline open her store has inspired me to get focused again, as for now I’m not staying with my Aunty (her son is home for an indefinite period). I’ve run through a lot of ideas, but it hasn’t been easy to decide on what I might create and sell successfully. Hence the name of the store and this blog. 🙂

Divine Intervention?
During the run-up to Christmas, the only Christmassy thing I did was some baking and cooking. I have to share what happened, it’s so typical of me and my ‘random’ approach to nearly everything: After I’d made the shortbread, I made two pound cakes, one with halved green and red cherries, the other with sultanas and coconut. In both cases, the fruit sank to the bottom, which isn’t quite what I’m used to. Nothing deterred, though, I pushed onward . . . to the Apricot Slice that was posted by Wendy of All the fruit chopped and ready, I opened the can of condensed milk that I found in the cupboard a while ago. The lid was half off when I realized it was not white, but brown! What I had was the new flavour, “Dulce et Leche” . . . oh, well, that’ll teach me to read before opening (you’d think . . .), so, since it wasn’t going to be a white slice, I put in half white chocolate chips and half semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate. That part worked fine. I think I have a photo of the results here:
IMG_4607[1] There was more, but I sent some with Mum for the Christmas dinner and of course I had to test a few pieces to make sure it really was ok . . .

So the slice done (sort of), I moved on to Stacy Allbritton’s Christmas Divinity I had all the ingredients in my big old pot that I used to use to make popcorn, soup, stews and more for my family. I love that pot. Not as much as I love Mr. 23Thorns and his wife Tracy 😉 but quite a lot. See?
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Then I took the bowl with the egg whites and got ready to beat them . . . I found the beaters, but no power handle. I guess it’s been MIA since we packed everything up for the bug spraying a couple of years back. We have no idea which box it’s in, either. Oh, well . . . I got out the stick blender, the old one that’s quieter. It did its best, but no go. I tried the new, and noisy, one. Same result. I tried the various whisks we have, but they aren’t very big and didn’t do it, either. So I gave up . . . I planned to get a new handheld beater at the mall the next day. But I had a lot to do that day, didn’t write it on my list, got home and oh, no! I didn’t have it. That was Christmas Eve and everything was closed. So I packed up what I did have for the dinner and let it all go, sort of. On that Friday (the 27th) when I was downtown, I checked the dollar store and they didn’t have an electric beater, but they did have a decent sized whisk, which I promptly acquired. The next day, I added a couple more egg whites to the bowl, to make up for any evaporation, also a pinch of cream of tartar and a squirt of lemon juice, both of which help egg whites turn into lovely stiff peaks. Then I proceeded to whip . . . and just over ten minutes later, voila!
IMG_4623[1] See that lovely peak? Yes!!
Back to my favourite cauldron pot:
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For a while, all went well; the pot bubbled in a most satisfactory way and I stirred without stopping. Then it was time to add the syrup to the egg whites. Well, my ancient electric mixer is languishing in the storage units in Vernon (BC), but the new whisk would do nicely. I placed the bowl on a folded tea towel so it wouldn’t skitter off the counter while I was whipping the mix into some sort of submission. But I’d misjudged one thing: the bowl wasn’t quite large enough. The bigger bowls were in the fridge already, so I figured if I held my mouth just so and hoped . . . but no, not quite. A wee bit of egg white made its escape to the counter, the rest simply rose over an inch above the edge of the bowl and threatened to follow suit. I hastily dumped the remaining syrup in, put down the pot and commenced to stir as best I could. Note I said ‘stir’, not ‘whip’. It does make a difference and I do know that, since I made candy similar to this aeons ago for our family Christmas feasts.
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But I couldn’t whip; so I did the best I could, then managed to transfer the mixture into the greased baking pan I had waiting. As I still had plans for giving it away the next day, and it was pretty hot, I popped the lid on the dish and put it out on the balcony in the snow:
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Later I brought it in, to find that the mix had separated and the bottom layer was still very syrupy. Oh, well . . . I got out the old, smaller, wire whisk and mixed it up well; back outside, but this time onto the table right next to the doors. Next morning, I went to bring it in, hoping the dish held something approaching edible (I’d given up on divine Divinity by then); oh, no! the doors are frozen shut . . . so the divinity or whatever approximates it is still outside enjoying an Edmonton winter . . .

Some days I think my whole life can be summed up thus: “It seemed like a good idea at the time . . .” And sometimes you just have to laugh and move on . . .

So, my apologies to Wendy and Stacy. I’d hoped to include those treats as a way of including some of my followers in my Christmas, but it didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped . . . maybe next year. I do have ingredients to make one more Apricot Slice and this time I have the proper version of condensed milk. I’ll let you know how that works out . . .

I hadn’t mentioned, and might as well, that in that week before Christmas I set up the bread machine that my crafty friend gave me last summer. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone then, either (this was before the candy catastrophes) . . . I forget now exactly what I changed, but it was more than one ingredient (my recipes aren’t up to my hand-made bread healthy standards, so I tend to ‘doctor’ them up a bit . . . worst of all, I didn’t measure properly. I know I’m supposed to be exact and all that, but I sort of fly by the seat of my pants when doing most things . . . you may have noticed 😉 Having gotten the machine started, off I went to Mum’s room to check my FeedReader, emails and probably post something or other. Not to mention play a couple of games of Blitz on FB, for the soothing results it produces. A couple of hours later, I went to the kitchen for water and noticed that white smoke was curling up from the vents of the bread machine. Oh, no! I flung open the lid and guess what? The dough was lovely and very, very lush . . . so lush, it had expanded upwards and outwards and then, slowly, downwards . . . onto the heating element (I knew there was a reason I preferred wood stoves), where it stuck and began to do a credible imitation of charcoal. Oh well . . . I turned it off, got the basket out and dumped the dough into a large bowl (the one that would have been perfect for the divinity later, only by then it was in the fridge holding jellied salad or something. I set the pan to soak in the sink, scooped as much of the dough as possible off the walls of the machine, added flour (quite a lot, as it turned out) and began kneading.
IMG_4526[1] The inside of the machine after I scraped it down . . .

I had the electric stove oven heating by then and a couple of bread pans greased and waiting. When the dough felt right (just like a baby’s bottom, as my Mum taught me when I first learned to make bread; I was 12 or 13 then) I divided it in two and set it in the pans to rise. A while later, I popped them in the oven and this was the result:
IMG_4542[1] YUMMY!! Lucky me!

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Last Friday (the 27th), looking from the bus stop across the street south toward downtown. Enough snow so the skyline has disappeared . . . but at the time, it was only -6C, so I was a happy camper. I had a nice afternoon; posted a Little Christmas box to my older son, his partner and their five kids (and it didn’t break the bank, either; last time I sent a box, it was much larger and had not only books, but cookies and other baking and it cost over $50 in postage. Since then, I’ve just sent cash when I could, but it isn’t the same . . . This year I stuck to books.) The bad news, though, was that even if I had paid extra, there was no guarantee that it would arrive by the 6th, so I sent it regular post and we’ll see . . . I was told maybe it wouldn’t arrive ’til the 17th or 18th . . . oh, well . . . if I’d known Christmas was coming, I would have been ready 😉

For those of you who love Scots Gaelic, here’s two links to what I’m listening to right now:
This one is “An Sabhal aig Neill (Over by Neill’s Barn)”, if you are interested.
A toe-tapping tune . . .

and this is “An Abhal ad Airde (The Highest Apple)”, live at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow.

This one is on my playlist for my funeral one day (not too soon, I hope). I really love it! My heartfelt apologies to Mr. 23Thorns, whose great post on the word ‘Love.’ (and Bacon.) is here:
http://23thorns.com/2012/08/31/love-and-bacon/ I have to say, I love his blog, too . . .

After I posted the box, I went to the library, returned three quarters of a rolly cart’s worth of books plus a few DVDs, then promptly filled up again. I’d ordered everything they have by Lian Hearn, whose work I’ve been in love with for a couple of years now. Plus a couple of Fair Isle knitting books. Plus some DVDs. So Mum’s card is full (40 limit per card) and the rest are on mine. I had planned to meet a friend, but the roads were so icy, she decided not to come out (good idea, too; I saw a police car going through the main intersection downtown and skidding quite a lot; and those guys can drive!); so I decided to treat myself and took myself off to the Second Cup coffee shop that’s attached to the downtown library for a Mocha Mint Icepresso (yep, a blended iced coffee!) and a yummy Nanaimo bar (huge, I have to say!). I sat there reading the first of the Tales of the Otori, “Heaven’s Net is Wide” and falling in love all over again. Lian Hearn is from New Zealand (think I mentioned her in a recent post, didn’t I?)
IMG_4619[1] I took this after I left the coffee shop three hours later. You can just see it on the corner towards me. By this time the temperature was nearly -30C with the windchill and the snow was blowing and biting. It was still worth it, though, just sitting, reading, thining and looking out through the big window as the snow came heavier and heavier . . . if there had been a hammock handy, I’d be there yet . . . So that was my 27th of December and a good day it was . . .

Here’s another Gaelic song, “Tillidh Mi (I will Return)” with photos that will touch your heart, all those of you who are working to create this sort of life for yourselves:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDc1vit8roI&list=PL4150FCD007BB03D3 Makes me homesick . . . and happy.

There was a lot of good for me this year, including knitting over two thirds of a Fair Isle style cardi that is likely to be wearable once done. I’m finishing up the bottom now (sorry, no photos yet), then it’s on to the sleeves and the button bands (and maybe a hood). I did a bunch of other knitting, too, and earlier in the year quite a bit of hand-sewing. No further progress on those projects, yet.

I made new online friends, too; it’s such a delight for me to find so many kindred souls and see my ‘virtual village’ come to life. The best of the ‘net . . . I hope to go on reading about your lives, learning from you, sharing some of my own stories and much more . . . We are a diverse bunch who share similar hearts and spirits; checking your blogs is a highlight for me every day.

And for you greenies, here is “Our Earth Was Once Green”:

This song “South Australia” makes me think not only of my Aussie friends, but also the kiwis and others from the bright side of the earth . . .

And last, but certainly not least (in case anyone is still with me . . . ) my favourite Canadian group, no longer together, but I did see them in person once and it only increased my already deep regard for them: Kashtin:

Have a wonderful year, everyone! We are building the world we want to live in and that’s the best thing ever.

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Hand-bound books and much more . . .

I found this today while researching ‘but and ben’ croft architecture. (don’t ask)

http://www.felicitybristow.com/

Her posts are very interesting and her work is lovely. I’ve long had an interest in hand-made books and have some ideas for making a couple for myself. Felicity surpasses all I have dreamed of.

Hope you all enjoy this one.  ~ Linne

The Word for (Wednesday) the Week is …

. . . Princess!

Now, this is a word that I’m not fond of, and many have heard me use it in a very disparaging fashion; largely because of what it has come to connote in our culture. Pretty much, it’s the Disney definition, which I’ve never liked.

If you think that to be princessy means to be vain, shallow, self-centred, not too bright, and so on, don’t bother to read the rest of this post. There are a number of little girls in our family at present and when I saw the movie “Brave”, I wanted to cheer! But I won’t waste your time with my ranting opinions; if this interests you, and if you don’t think that ‘Barbie’ is the best role model for girls, go ahead and read the rest. There may never be another petition featured on this blog, either; it’s not my goal here. However, if you think I should occasionally post about this sort of thing, do let me know. Together, we change the world, one signature, one garden, one action at a time. Also, if you like to help bring change through petitions, go to www.change.org or www.avaaz.org. You will find plenty there!

~ Linne

Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!   

By A Mighty Girl

Merida was the princess that countless girls and their parents were waiting for — a strong, confident, self-rescuing princess ready to set off on her next adventure with her bow at the ready. She was a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the ‘imperfections’ that all people have.

The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.

In an interview with Pixar Portal, “Brave” writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, “Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn’t be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they’d be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”

This new Merida is a paler reflection of her former self without the spark and the ‘you go girl’ quality that her creator intended.

We write to you on behalf of all the young girls who embraced Merida as a role model, who learned from her that they too could go off on an adventure and save the day; that it’s not how you look that matters but who you are. For them and for all the children — both girls and boys — who benefit from seeing depictions of strong, courageous, and independent-minded girls and women that are so scarce in animated movies, we ask you to return to the original Merida that we all know and love. We ask you to keep Merida Brave!

Sign the Petition