February . . . thoughts of Light

January was busy and February promises more of the same. But it’s a good busy. I will be writing a proper post over the next few days, so this will be short. The course of last month has been completed but the work is ongoing, and quite a few of us are doing the workbook and exercises again. It’s good to have companions on this journey. I am taking part in a shorter, 21 day group, too, that is using a free Louise Hay workbook. Should be fun!

I expect you know that January had a Blue Moon (two full moons in the same month) and that March will have a Blue Moon, too. Which means that February will not have a full moon at all. I had never considered the possibility. Of course, there will be plenty of moonlight at both ends of this month. We had a lunar eclipse, too, but I didn’t realize it was early in the morning, so I missed it. But my son, on Vancouver Island, was  up and took this through their telescope:

Judah Lunar Eclipse am 31 Jan 2018

And for those of you interested in such things: apparently, due to a rare planetary line-up, there is reason to think that the Age of Aquarius began on 07 January 2018. Go here to learn more.

Which led me to think about a poster that I still have (in storage, of course) that has moved me deeply since the first time I saw it:

Desiderata  (Things to be Desired)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

And that reminded me of the most valuable Zen quote I know:

Chop-Wood-Carry-Water-01

So much wisdom is so few words . . . the changes we dream of in life sometimes manifest, not in different circumstances, but in a different awareness.

Nothing like a little nostalgia, is there? Not sure what brought that on, but I blame the Age of Aquarius music from the first video.

Let Us Dance in the Sun 01

Music for today:

Runrig’s first album: Play Gaelic I’ve shared this before, but it still moves me.

I think I’ve mentioned that I have somewhat eclectic musical taste. A few years ago, while I was in Edmonton, my friend Gen, whose wedding I’m going to in May, played this for me. I liked it so much her father gave me a CD of their songs. This group is from Somerset and the genre is often termed Scrumpy / Western. I can’t explain why I like them so much, but I do. This song was their first big hit, back in the 1970s, and you may recognize the tune as originally “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates”.

So here’s the Wurzels, singing I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester.

I recently lucked into this gem: Pete Seeger and Fred Hellerman of the Weavers singing The Frozen Logger, a song my Dad used to sing to us.  Note: a mackinaw is a plaid jacket that was often worn by loggers.  I am wearing one right now that my cousin loaned to me; it’s almost exactly like this, only mine is fleece.

mackinaw 01

Seems fitting for February, although ours has not been that cold (yet).

For those of you dreaming of gardening, John Denver and The Garden Song

. . . and for those of you who want to change the world in a meaningful way, Donovan with “If You Want Your Dream to Be” from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, which is a beautifully filmed movie about the life of St. Francis of Assissi and Clare.

Runrig and ‘Ic Iain ‘Ic Sheumais a folk song from the 1500s, which they altered slightly. This video is from the movie Air An Oir (On the Edge); I haven’t seen it yet.

Runrig again with Donnie Munro singing Precious Years, written by Rory and Calum MacDonald after their father died. The lyrics are below the video, just click on ‘More’

Another haunting melody by Runrig: Tuireachd Iain Ruaidh

(from their 1987 concert “Mod For Rockers” Other songs from the concert are on youtube)

I’ll see you soon. Until then, I wish you peace 01

and I am sending you love-and-light 01

Thinking about Christmas . . .

Christmas wish 02I am posting this a bit early so I can catch those of you who live west of the Date Line and are already in the midst of Christmas Day. I wish you all Joy, Peace, Love and Contentment this Christmas and more of the same in the year to come. May you have music, books and time to create whatever makes your heart sing.

Christmas Norway late 1800s 01

Norwegian Christmas card from the late 1800s; with Nisse!

It’s a mixed bag, Christmas, isn’t it? The ghosts of Christmases Past are more noticeable today, for one thing. I was, like many of you, I expect, remembering some of those days and the people who shared them with me. Family, friends, sometimes acquaintances. And you, here in the Virtual Village, are part of my Christmas now, too. I like that. You come from around the globe, both hemispheres.

 

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Lovely, delicate glass balls like the ones from my childhood

The ghost of Christmas Present is here, too, in the thoughts of all those whose lives have been made more challenging due to political decisions and the like. I’m not in a position to do much where I am, but earlier this year, after the Manchester bombing, I offered to donate a small sum to one of the funds. The person to whom I directed my wish told me there was plenty of help forthcoming and that perhaps I might want to do something more local. I thought that was very good advice and so I have donated twice to local organizations; one that helps our elders and also to the Salvation Army. My parents supported the Sally Ann, so that was partly to honour them.

There is a reason why I only buy Allsorts at Christmas. Well, more than one reason, but the first is that I find them SO tempting. Second, we had these at Christmas when I was young/er. Third, my RN sister J loves them, too, and we have often given or sent them to each other as part of a Christmas gift. I finished off the first bag the other day (it was a rather small bag) and then found these two days ago in a different grocery store. They come from the Netherlands, which is generally a good recommendation. I usually don’t like buying things in bags I can’t see through, but these were the only Allsorts on offer, so oh, well . . . and I am happy to report that these were delicious and just the right chewy-soft texture. You will note that there is more variety in the mix, but still no blue beaded ‘pillows’ It’s not that they taste andy differently, it’s just that I expect them to be there. the plain black sticks are wonderful. I understand that some of you don’t like / eat licorice, so I have eaten your shares already. The rest of you, if you want any, had best get a move on. They are going rather quickly!

I have some good news, too: I finally finished the second tuque (and because ou asked: that’s called various names globally, such as watch cap, beanie, stocking cap and more)

IMG_5901tuque

tyo͞ok/

noun

CANADIAN

 In the picture you can see the tuques with the co-ordinated ends of the pocket scarf, which is still not finished.

I was thinking about the saying “Think Globally, Act Locally” and I think that often I get caught up in the emotional maelstrom that follows large events such as Manchester and I forget how much even a small donation can do at home. My “Act Locally” choices have tended to be rather small, but significant,I think. Re-cycling everything possible; re-using, mending, making do in so many ways. (my bookshelves were a mix of apple boxes stacked on their sides in a chequerboard fashion to allow more room between them, and boards laid across concrete blocks. I gave away the concrete blocks before I moved, but I still have the boards and old wooden locker doors. The apple boxes I haven’t seen for a couple of decades; they are in my storage and likely have dried out a bit and will need some gluing or nailing or both.)

I also ‘save’ things that are being thrown out, if they look at all usable or fixable. It’s not for nothing that I consider the ravens and magpies and their kin to be my close relatives!

Christmas glas baubles 03My parents had a few of these on our trees. They wee so delicate and beautiful! I do love the older ornaments so much. The ones below, too, were lovely.

Christmas glas baubles 01

Well, it’s Christmas Eve here and nothing done yet. So I have a few small things to wrap and a bag from the Cat to the Serfs to put together. Those of you who have cats will surely understand. Spooky rarely makes a sound, but he iwll go to the door to the back room where his food dish is, sit down and look at you. He knows that there is another door he could use that is always open, but no, this is a training session, apparently. And it works . . . he is so cute, still kittenish, but not so much trouble in the making as he was last year.

I’m off to help with supper prep, so once again I wish you all:

christmas wish 03

No time for music linkies now. Next time . . .

Have a wonderful day and I hope your feast is as good as ours.

Love and Light, Hugs and Blessings to you all.  ~ Linne

 

 

Day 20: Æthelflæd . . . was she ready?

Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey

Æthrlflæd

 

A thought crossed my mind today, as thoughts do; I was thinking about Christmas and the fact that I am not really ready. The name Æthelred the Unready was the first thought and then I wondered if there was a feminine version of the name, so I looked it up. Ms Google can be an obliging friend at times . . . But I have no idea if Ms Æthelflæd, who succeeded her husband, Æthelred the Unready, was also Unready. Perhaps she was not. She is a very interesting person, though, but I’ll leave it to you to look her up.

I also learned that, in fact, the epithet “Unready” actually meant ‘ill-advised’ and was a pun on his name, which means ‘well-advised’. I knew immediately that you would all be waiting with bated breath to learn these facts, so there they are . . .  Any idea why I am ‘unready’? And no pun intended or existent. Ah, well . . .

So I have spent much of today not preparing for the Day, but rather immersed in one of a series of mysteries, one with  descriptions so realistic that it is often depressing. But I have to know what happened next . . . I used to read non-stop, pretty much; more than a book a day for many years, and over the past months have read hardly anything. Until I discovered e-books, at which I once sneered, as I love the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands, the older the better; the smell, the look, the touch, it’s all part of reading for me. Sitting hunched over the laptop is not quite the same thing. Still, at least it’s reading. And I have also found out that Amazon has an amazing variety of free e-books for Kindle and an app that lets one read them on a smartphone or PC or laptop. When I found the Amazon books, I spent two days going through the first 400 pages (about a quarter of what’s available in only the section :Classics;) and downloading the books that I’d always meant to read, or re-read in many cases.

an-old-fashioned-girlEverything from ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ to Plato.  I  had forgotten what a natural appetite I have for reading and learning. But I haven’t touched any of those except ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’ by Louisa May Alcott. The rest are waiting until next year. I’ll be sharing my resolutions and plans in a week or two.

In the meantime: I did no baking today, and no preparation of the various cookie doughs that need refrigeration overnight, either. And tomorrow Cousin M and I are going to town to shop. I want to buy some things for their stockings, so will have to give him the slip for a while.

I still have an email to finish composing for my winners (see yesterday’s post) and, of course, music to locate. The music takes me the longest, as I always find myself lured down memory lanes, roads not taken and just plain jaunts cross-country, musically  speaking. A close second to reading, is music . . .

For today, then:

A song that made me intensely homesick for BC all the years I was living in Edmonton: The Hills of Ardmorn by The Corries, whose music I loved long before I came across Runrig. Beautiful voices and harmonies.

kate and anna mcgarrigleCanadians Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright – son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More during the Transatlantic Sessions. (If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Sessions, do look them up.)

More of my favourite Christmas music: Pete Seeger’s Working Class Christmas Tunes. I like them all, but Ode to Joy on the 5-string banjo, with my favourite lyrics, is wonderful.

Off to write that email now. Much Love and Light to you all. ~ Linne

Day 14: Thankful on Thursday

It will be Thursday in less than an hour; I’m finally getting going a wee bit earlier! My actual goal is to get up early and get things done so that I can go to bed earlier. In practise, I’ve had some wakeful nights  lately and gone to bed quite late, so then mornings become problematical at best and nonexistent at worst. Maybe next year, eh?

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I have been inspired by Ms.Snail‘s Gratitude Posts for some time and occasionally am moved to write one of my own.

So . . . what am I thankful for today? I am thankful for all the things that give me deep joy, that make my heart sing, that keep me going through the tough times and make me want to go on/ There are many, of course, so I’ll pick three  four that I don’t think I’ve listed before:

First, I am grateful for Colour; it has always been important to me. I once painted a large room I was living in a colour I had specially mixed for me at the paint store. I would have to call it ‘neon salmon’ and when I was done painting that room, for one of the few times in my life I thought I might  have gone too far . . . The setting sun shone in through a large west-facing window and the room lit up like the inside of a fire-coal. But when I was done setting up a place to sleep, bringing in my plants and hanging my favourite paintings (especially a large oil pastel of a blue whale underwater, the main reason I’d wanted the bright colour on the wall in the first place; it set off the painting perfectly), the room was amazing. I love colour in flowers and trees, too and here are a few pictures of what I saw this summer, here at my cousins’ and elsewhere:

I love colour in fabrics and yarn, too:

I am grateful for Rocks; for  the shapes of them, the colours, the infinite patterns to be found on them. For some reason they give me a deep feeling of serenity, an awareness of the infinite stretching out of time . . . These are some of the rocks my cousins have collected over the years and placed around their yard:

A third thing I am grateful for is Patterns. I find patterns everywhere:

In the Echinacea flowers we grew this year,

In the rhythms of the handwork done by my Auntie years ago,

My eye was caught by the patterns (and the colours and shapes!) in a display of a variety of squash at a small country stand last autumn. I am so pleased with how this photograph turned out:

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My favourite day planner was chosen partly for its convenient size, but mostly for its colour and patterns:    The pink blanket behind it is on my bed here and has belonged to my cousin S since she was a girl. It makes me feel warm just to look at it.

 

Fourth, I am grateful for whimsy, too, as you can tell from this teapot, which I found by chance in a fancy shop and had thought was lost forever; I had not seen it since we moved out of Mum’s house back in 2006, but I found it again when packing to return to BC last September. One of my dreams is to have my grandchildren visit me for a week, one by one, and I would love to have tea with them, using this sweet Granny teapot:

Well, that’s four things I am grateful for today and now it is only one in the morning, so I have a good chance at getting up earlier tomorrow. I shall be grateful for that, too.

But first, I must find some music. That’s another thing I am grateful for, but you know that already, don’t you?

Two of my favourite Canadians, Kate and Anna McGarrigle; this is their debut CD which came out in 1976, by turns bouncy and danceable, pensive and insightful, sometimes funny, always beautiful with their lovely harmonies and melodies.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before or not, but it’s one of my favourites every Christmas. If we can have Peace for a few hours, surely we have it within us to create a lasting Peace . . .

Christmas 1914, song by Bruce Guthro. the Canadian lead singer of Runrig.

May you each find beauty, colour, patterns and harmony in these final days before Christmas or the Solstice or whatever you celebrate in mid-Winter. Peace ~ Linne

Day 8: Five by Five on Friday

Hello, again; it’s been so long since I wrote, hasn’t it? (at least 20 minutes!) But I was just informed that Cousin M and I are going to Vernon tomorrow to shop, so it means up a bit earlier than I’ve been managing lately and less time during the day to get things (like knitting) done. Of course I will take my scarf and try to finish it on the drive; it’s over a half hour each way, so that’s good. So no blog-hopping tonight, sorry. I may have time tomorrow evening. We’ll see.

And so I have been wracking my brains over what to write about for Friday. I think it’s going to be Five Lists  for Friday. Because I do love lists . . .

A) Female writers who changed my thinking and my life . . .

  1. Tasha Tudor, author and illustrator, who lived as though she’d been born in the 1830s, weaving the cloth for her dresses, making her own candles and soap, raising her own food and much more.
  2. Keri Hulme, of New Zealand, who wrote The Bone People. Not an easy read at times, but a beautiful use of language and story-telling. She addresses some difficult issues.
  3. Zenna Henderson, who wrote the few books about The People. They make me think about how we react to those who are different and to their gifts, too.
  4. Ursula K LeGuin, whose books also changed my thinking; more accurately, showed me different ways of thinking and also to question what I think of as ‘normal’. The Left Hand of Darkness in particular, for questioning gender and gender roles. She wrote the A Wizard of Earthsea books, too. Also thought-provoking.
  5. Vonda N. McIntyre, for Dreamsnake in particular and also for Of Mist, And Grass, And Sand.

That’s five, but I can’t leave off Andre Norton, whose book Star Rangers I read at age ten. I have read nearly everything she wrote, but Star Rangers remains the most important to me, as it exposed me to thoughts about racism and racial harmony.

B) Male writers who changed my thinking and my life:

  1. Robert A. Heinlein, for his children’s books first and later his more adult novels. I don’t always agree with him, but I love that he is so thought-provoking.
  2. Ray Bradbury, for everything he ever wrote. Mostly for The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine.
  3. Guy Gavriel Kay, Canadian author. I love all his books, but most of all, The Lions of Al-Rassan. His characters and plots are subtle and complex and he never fails to surprise me by some twist of plot or change in character. And his use of language . . .
  4. Louis Bromfield, whose Malabar Farm introduced me to ecological ideas about farming and whose house-building inspired me. He (with an architect)  started with the original small farmhouse, then built on additions to look as though they had been added over many years.
  5. J R R Tolkien, whose The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be a part of me forever. I read these four books to my boys half a dozen times or more, the firs time when the older=st was four and a half and the younger one not yet born.

And I can’t forget Zane Grey and Albert Payson Terhune, the former for his stirring plots and colourful descriptions, the latter for his love of dogs. I first loved Collies because of his books.

C) Musicians who have changed my thinking and my life:

  1. Runrig, for their love of family, country and their own culture; for the beauty of their songs; for the way their words and melodies have touched me deeply.
  2. Phil Ochs,  for standing up for what he thought was right.
  3. Pete Seeger, for the same and also for his love of music and fun.
  4. Woody Guthrie, for more of the same . . . especially for The Hobo’s Lullaby
  5. Buffy Sainte-Marie, ditto

Looking at this list, I can see the sameness in my favourite singers, although I do like other genres, too.

D) Artists whose work I love

  1. Maxfield Parrish
  2. M C Escher
  3. Emily Carr
  4. A Y Jackson, The Group of Seven
  5. Jackson Pollock. I came to understand his work through Ed Harris’ wonderful depiction of him

E) Poets who have influenced me

  1. Gerard Manley Hopkins. I still have the book of his poetry that I bought when I was in uni and I still love his work. He introduced me to a different approach to words and rhythm in poetry.
  2. John Masefield
  3. Emily Dickinson
  4. Pauline Johnson
  5. Walt Whitman

I wanted to add photos and more details of why I chose these particular people, but I’m out of time now. If you have questions, do ask in the comments section and I;ll do my best to answer them.

Music for the day:

2 Cellos playing Benedictus live in Zagreb, a lovely piece.

I wish you all a day of Peace, Light and Harmony.  ~ Linne

p.s. In case you missed it, I’m having a Give-away! Check out Day 5 . . .

Day 2: Christmas Gifts

I do have to apologize for not having photos to include in most of these posts. My printed pictures are somewhere in the storage units and I have nothing of my own traditions on the laptop or iphone.  I do have some family photos and have found a few historic ones as well and that will have to do for now..

Old Traditions:

When I was young, we usually received one gift from our parents and one from Santa Claus. They were always wrapped in brightly coloured Christmas paper, with stick-on bows and sometimes ribbon, too. Our names and the name of the giver would be on a tag; Mum bought them in large packages. Two each doesn’t sound like much, but with nine children, there was a good-sized pile, even in the years when there were no parcels from Uncles and Aunts or from Mum’s Dad and his wife and second family of four boys. But some years there were those extra parcels and how exciting that was!

 

Some of the most memorable gifts were a pair of skis for my two oldest brothers; That was when we lived in Chase, in the old house that had been a hospital once (see Day 1 for the photo). that house was at the top of a hill that went down toward the Shuswap Lake and the road that passed by the front of oour house was perfect for ‘skiing’ down. Pretty much what happened was that we strapped the skis on over our winter boots, stood up and slid as far down the hill as possible without falling down. The ski poles helped, of course. Skiing was a family tradition for Mum, although I didn’t know, or else just didn’t appreciate, that at the time. But now I know that her Dad skied to school every day and pretty much everywhere he went in the long Norwegian winters. My Auntie told me recently that he brought his skis with him to the States when he emigrated at nineteen and still had them when she was growing up in south-western Saskatchewan on a wheat farm near the small town of Tompkins. All the kids learned to ski on those skis and they are now in a museum in another town near there. I have the name written down, but can’t find it at the moment.

Above is a picture of a Norwegian woman in a bunad (traditional clothing) on skis; to the right are two pictures of King Haakon and Queen Maud; the top taken in 1906, the bottom one, which includes Prince Olav,  in 1907. My grandfather would have been 16 and 17 when these were taken. I couldn’t find any photos of a young man on skis from that time.

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Above are my Mum’s parents; the picture was taken either for their engagement or wedding, most likely in 1911 or 1912. He would have been 21 or 22; she was 20 or 21. I love the hand-stitched clothes my Grandmother wore in those days. And my mother looked just like her; it’s one of my favourite photos.

Other gifts I remember: that Christmas in Chase I opened my gift from Santa and watched as the others opened their gifts. But there was nothing for me from my parents. In vain I looked under the tree, on the tree branches, behind the tree. Nothing. I feared that I had been forgotten (certainly possible when there are so many children, I thought). I didn’t want to call attention to the fact in case my parents really had forgotten me, as I knew it would upset them. Imagine my relief when I was told to go into the dining room and look on the shelf of thwe pass-through (the window through the built-in buffet where food was passed to the dining room). And there I found a wee terrapin in a glass bowl. How happy I was! We had taken a trip to the coast to see relatives the summer before and I had been quite enamoured of a terrapin I saw in a store window. Somehow my Mum and Dad had managed to buy it, smuggle it home in the trunk of the car and then care for it for the months until Christmas. He survived for several years and I enjoyed feeding him every day.

Another gift I remember, but with some shame, was a kit to make my own perfmes. There was an instruction book and several small vials of scent. I was to mix the various ingredients as instructed; one drop of A, three drops of B and so on. But this is where I first encountered the perils of ‘winging it’. I mixed several things together by ‘instinct’ and the result was awful. Not something I could undo, either. This gift was from my Mum’s next older sister, my cousin M;s mother. She loved me as much as Mum did and I have always felt badly that I didn’t properly appreciate the gift she had chosen with such care.

 

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself;

 

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Auntie A., cleaning the catch.

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself; we always cut a very large tree, then cut off the bottom foot or so, so that I could use the trimmings to decorate the mantel of the fireplace, tops of bookshelves, sometimes even making a wreath for the front door. I would add a sprig of holly when I could get it, and when we lived in the big log house north of Victoria, we had two large holly trees by the front gate that gave us not only leaves, but lovely berries, too.

Some years I bought white tissue paper for the wrapping, but still tied with yarn and added the greenery and berries. That sort of simple wrapping, done at so little cost, gave me a deep joy. And the piles of gifts under the tree looked so lovely. I wrapped all the gifts we were giving in the  same way and those stayed under the tree until the recipients had come to visit or we had paid them a visit.

I never was a fan of plastic toys or ‘collectibles” with a tiny budget, I wanted to make every penny count. Toys that would be played with for a few hours and then discarded just didn’t fit the bill.

My choice for my sons and other children has always been books and something creative. Some years it was Tinker Toy and Meccano or Lincoln Logs; other years a kit to make something. Star Wars spaceships and other models. were popular. A silk screening kit one year, too. Books were given every year and I still have all of them. Once I start going through the things in my storage I may pass them on to my sons. Or I may keep them for the grandchildren to read when they visit. We’ll see. Some of the books I remember are the Dr. Seuss classics and Hope For the Flowers, Also Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon. I had read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the boys several times before they wee old enough to read for themselves. The first time I read those, the eldest boy was 4 and a half and the youngest yet to be born. I have several sets of those, so they will each receive copies one day.

AS to gifts I received, the two that stand out the most both came from my husband. ONe year it was a portable sewing machine that he traded for. It had belonged to my friend who now lives in Tacoma and it still works perfectly, although it must be going on 40 years old or more. The other was a silver flute in a case. I had mentioned casually one spring that I’d always wanted to play the flute and so he saved enough to buy me one and arranged with my RN sister to give me a set of lessons to get me started. I still have it (in the storage of course) and even though I never  progressed very far, I still enjoy playing it when possible. Anther thing on my long list of “things I will do once I am settled”  🙂

One of the funnier gifts I received from my older son was a whiteboard with a marker, meant to hang in the kitchen and hold notes about groceries to buy and the like. We always tried to guess what was in our parcels, so he took a very large bos, managed to stick pieces of string to the inside corners so that the whiteboard hung suspended in the centre, then wrapped the entire box beautifully. It was so light I simply could not guess the contents.

The best gifts I think I ever gave anyone? Well, I bought a silver serving spoon with a gold-plated bowl for my Mother one Christmas while I was working at the little antique store. I never dared tell her how much I paid for it, though.I bought it because she had the lovely china bowl that her mother had called her ‘berry bowl’ In it the spring strawberries would be  put, half of them mashed well with sugar to produce a syrup and then the rest added whole. They were often served over a slice of sponge cake with whipped cream from their own cows on top. But Mum never had a special spoon for that  bowl and I wanted her to have one. She gave the spoon back to me a couple of years ago, when we were no longer making desserts like that. (She gave all of us back the things we had given her over the years and we all treasure those items). My RN sister J has the bowl now and I plan to give her the spoon once it surfaces.The bowl had floral decals around the sides and te edges were trimmed with real gold. The spoon looks perfect with it.

The other gift I gave was something I made myself. It was a Cowichan style sweater for my husband. The best part was that I designed it myself, using symbols that had meaning for him. I wish I had a photo to show you. Mum gave me one that she had taken, but I don’t have it here with me. I worked hard on that, knitting during the day when he was at work and hiding it before he arrived home. Still he was able to guess that he was getting a sweater. My joy was in the fact that he had no idea that it would be designed especially for him. He still wears it, too. He and his wife live on a concrete sailboat and are spending the winter toward the north end of Vancouver Island, so I’m sure the sweater is put to good use.

Our family never had a lot of money, but we made up for it with thoughtfulness and creativity. If you have stories like that to tell, please feel free to do so in the comments. If you are posting about them yourself, do leave a link in the comments for others to see.

What was the best gift you ever received?

What was the best gift you ever gave?

I am writing this in the evening of the first of December. (Well, I see now that it’s actually past one am on the second). May you find peace, joy and inspiration today, wherever you are and no matter what your circumstances.

By the way, I didn’t add a music link yesterday, although I’d meant to. So I shall add two for today.

I watch this video whenever I’m feeling low or discouraged. Do let me know if you like it!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4CG18FPCj0

The next is a song written and sung by Bruce Guthro, who hails from cape Breton Island but now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been the lead singer for Runrig since 1998 and still pursues his solo career as a singer/songwriter at home in Canada.

And I found this again; a Christmas song by another great Canadian group, the Barra MacNeils. They are also from Cape Breton Island. So here’s a bonus song to get you in the spirit . . .

Update on the Poppies

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

11 poppies lg

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

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

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

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

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

White Peace Poppy

I felt it needed something, so I tried this:

Peace Poppy 01

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poppy Project/s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Interesting Times . . .

Greetings, everyone!  I’ve been doing a lot of resting, napping and binge-watching series on netflix and I’m beginning to feel better and ready to begin focusing on plans for whatever is left of my life. Along with making plans and designing a daily routine that will take me beyond cocooning and into renewed creativity, I have spent time just thinking about world events and the like. Now that I’m in Tacoma for a while, the likely changes that will come to pass after 20 January have occupied my mind more than a little.

I remember as a child being told that an ancient Chinese Curse was: “May you live in interesting times”. As it turns out, this is an English saying and no-one has ever traced it back to China. But either way . . . I think we are now living in VERY interesting times. And, as usual, even if it’s too late to do much about what’s happening (and I’m not sure it is too late, at least for everythig), we always have the choice about how we respond to these times.

I’ve been catching up with various Villagers and was interested to see in a comment on one post that heroin sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania due to the lack of available work. So that’s one response, I guess. I also read that a city in Florida (Miami? I should have taken notes, eh?) is proposing to build up all of their roads so that the rising of the sea level over the next decades won’t affect them. Short-sighted, but maybe better than nothing. What do you think?

As I said, I have been thinking (one of my favourite things to do) about possible responses to current political situations and working out a strategy for dealing with the stress I feel about some of them. I’m focusing on creating a response that is healthy for me and for those around me, but that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues or just ignore them.

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So . . . what makes a tree grow and bloom? If we look at the naked stick that itis in mid-winter and decide to withhold sunshine, water and food until it gets it together and starts doing what it’s supposed to do, is it likely we will see leaves and blossoms and eventually fruit? Nope, not so much.

 

And when a baby begins learning to walk and falls down . . .first-steps

free image off the ‘net

. . . do we scold them? Tell them they are hopeless and don’t deserve to walk, let alone run? Do we ridicule, shame or punish them? Of course not. We know that nurture and love, along with some teaching, will work wonders as children grow and develop. The same is true for adults, too, isn’t it?

So I have decided that when a politician worries me or threatens to do dreadful things, the healthy response for me is to surround that person or persons with love and light; to bless them, even as I sign petitions, join boycotts, and so on. And that leaves me in a happier place. It will be interesting to see the results. One thing I know, this approach will leave me happier and healthier in the long run, for me at least.

Creativity

I have to confess that I haven’t done much creating for these past months. My considerable stashes of yarn, fabric, art paper, etc. are all in storage in Vernon, BC. I did bring my knitting needles, though, and some crochet hooks.I started teaching my friend J to knit. She had done some as a child, but needed a refresher course, so I threw her in at the deep end with a tubular scarf with a Scandinavian pattern created with two-stranded knitting. Most of it will be plain knitting, though, so that will be easier for her to manage. After all, it’s only two circular needles . . .

J has been ill for three weeks, but is now feeling better, so tomorrow we are going back toJo-Ann’s to purchase a crochet hook and some cotton yarn for her to use making dishcloths / bath scrubbies. We were there over three weeks ago and I found a lovely teal cotton remnant; tomorrow I’ll be looking for a complementary piece and some batting. Then I plan to get on with finally making a tea cosy using Kym’s directions: Tea cosy design. I’ve been talking about doing this for several years now, and it’s finally time to act!

I did bring my Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ with me, but haven’t gotten back to working on it, although while at my cousins’ in September and early October I did work on one sleeve so that they are now nearly at the same point in the design.

Christmas

The past few years I’ve done little to nothing for Christmas and this year will probably be similar. Christmas boxes are simply too expensive to ship anymore. More than fifteen years ago I sent a box to my older son’s family. It held a selection of home-made cookies (biscuits) that I used to make when the boys were young, plus a book for each grandchild and a small gift for each parent. The postage was over $50!  I felt they could have used the money more, so for a few Christmases I sent a money order. However, that never feels christmassy to me; I enjoy finding the perfect thing for each person, then wrapping each gift creatively and ecologically.

Some years I used brown paper for the gift wrap; some years it was white tissue paper. I used green and red yarn instead of ribbon and tucked in a small cluster of seasonal greens: cedar, holly, sometimes a cinnamon stick or two. Inexpensive and lovely, at least we thought so.

I was thinking the other day about the first Christmas I shared with my husband and two sons. We lived in a very old house in Victoria that hasd a bay window. We were able to find a tree that reached nearly to the ceiling, but the budget was tight. We could afford gifts for the boys or ornaments for the tree, but not both. Of course we opted for the gifts.

For ornaments, I got really creative. I ‘borrowed’ small squares of plywood that the boys used for building blocks, wrapped the in white tissue and tied them with red and green yarn to resemble tiny presents. I used some veriegated yarn; some red and white, some green and white, to crochet a couple of dozen wee stockings. Those were hung on the tree with co-ordinating loops of yarn. Tiny candy canes were shaped from red, green and white pipe cleaners and we found a few dozen of the real thing at a nbargain price; just two inches long, they fit in perfectly.

Inspired by my favourite childhood books, I popped bowls of popcorn and we began threading onto heavy cotton thread. I like to string three or five kernels, then one cranberry and repeat until I have a string about four feet long. We made so many of these that I lost count! Then I tied the ends together carefully as I hung them on the tree.

The only other bought ornaments were some strings of tiny white lights that were on sale shortly before Christmas Day and some tinfoil icicles, which I hung one by one from the popcorn strings, spacing them as carefully as I could. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a Christmas tree.

The angel I made myself and I still think she was beautiful.

We used those decorations every year from then on, adding a few each time and they are in my storage unit now. I hope they have survived their long hibernation; if not I will simply have to make more.

Often I would wrap cookies in cellophane and hang them, too. The popcorn strings were left on the tree after the other bits were packed away and the tree was set up outside as a feast for the birds. This was always after the first week in January.  That, I’ll explain about in another post . . .  🙂

For some excellent Christmas baking and other recipes, and for more ideas for yuletide decorations, including a knit pattern for a wine box cover, check out Selma’s blog here: Eclectic Home & Life She lives in England, but hails from Norway and I love her traditional recipes. You may remember y post about making her Mocha Roulade for my Mum and myself on Mother’s Day in 2015. Light and scrumptious, it was the perfect dessert!

I hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas, taking time to enjoy the music, colour, lights, etc. Do try not to stress. It’s a good time for gratitude and I have to say again that I am grateful for each one of you, my Virtual Village neighbours.

Here, to help keep you in the mood, is a set of Christmas songs by Sissel, one of Norway’s great singers: Christmas songs by Sissel

Some of you may be familiar with Newfoundland’s group Great Big Sea.Here are some of their Christmas songs: Great Big Sea Christmas songs

And what is a post from me without a song from Funrig?

Silent Night

These are by Bruce Guthro, lead singer for Runrig and a Canadian from Cape Breton Island:

Christmas songs by Bruce Guthro

And, again by Bruce, a video in the true spirit of Christmas, featuring footage from the Christmas Truce of 1914. Christmas at the Front, 1914

And finally, a mixed bag, beginning with one of my own favourites:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and more

 

 

A quick catch-up and some thoughts on Hjemthra

Greetings to all my fellow Virtual Villagers. I began a post to let you all know what was happening with me, but that is on my phone and I can’t find it now. Who knows? Anyway, my apologies for being absent for so long.

Our Mum has been in hospital (except for 8 days in early September) since late August. My RN sister flew up the day after Mum came home after those 8 days and has remained here with us. We are all so lucky to have her here with her tireless diligence. Without her knowledge, care and optimistic approach, Mum would not likely be doing so well as she is. It’s been a long journey and most of it is not mine to tell, but where it impacts my own journey I think it’s ok to share a bit. After some bumps along the Healing Way, Mum has been slowly improving and there is a good chance she will be discharged before Christmas, although whether to a rehab facility or directly back to her condo is still unknown. My sister and I have shared Mum’s care around the clock since early September, with the bulk of the care being given by my sister. I will never be able to properly thank her for all that she continues to do.

In the meantime, there has not been much time on the computer and I have not known what to post, so have let posting lapse for a time. I will be back, though.

I have done almost no crafting of any sort since my Aunty passed away, although the hot pink ‘barn cardi’ is now back from its stay with my friends the Crafties, and is in the living room where I see it daily. Somehow, I have not picked it up to complete the sleeves and the button bands. I will, though.

A few weeks ago my last remaining uncle passed away and now, of the 10 siblings, only my Mum and one younger sister, now 90, remain. It’s been hard to face the passing of that generation. I don’t have a problem with birth, or death. Both are part of life to me. But I have been undergoing, and for some time  now, recurring bouts of ‘Hjemthra’, the Norwegian word for a particular sort of homesickness. Not just the longing to be back in one’s house, but a more generalized longing for a particular time, place and situation. I expect most people experience this, especially as we move on past the mid-century point and see the path ahead shortening as the part we have traversed becomes the major part of our journey. This time of year can trigger it, too, I suppose, although for me, it’s more about associations. Scents, sounds, textures, a bit of music or glimpse of a painting . . . sometimes just a child’s chuckle or a horse whickering somewhere. Bird’s wings overhead at twilight . . .

Anyway, as George Harrison said, “All things must pass” and so they shall. But I am in no rush to leave behind that which I treasure, nor to move toward the door that I know will open on the next stage of my existence.

I have been catching up with a few of you via your blogs but I have much reading ahead of me still. I know you will be patient with me as I wander through the village with my phone in hand showing me your cottage or mansion and giving me a glimpse into your life here.

I stopped by Serendipity Farm and a photo of pyrethrum daisies triggered the memory of  when I was nearly seven; with three brothers and my RN sister on her way. That summer we lived in a small ‘shack’ as we called it. About 10 feet by 15 feet, with a wood stove for heat and cooking/baking, kerosene lamps for light, a tin tub and washboard for doing laundry and an outhouse our only ‘facility’. I remember much about that time, but today I remembered sitting in the grass of the meadow that lay between our shack and the one where my Dad’s father lived. My Dad’s next older brother (married to my Mum’s next older sister) lived with their only child, a son, in a third shack a bit further up the dirt road. Anyway, the boys were playing nearby and I was sitting with my mother as she taught me to make a daisy chain from the field daisies and then join the ends to make myself a daisy crown. The colours and the scent of the daisy stems is as clear as day, even now.

I stopped by The Contented Crafter’s place, too, to finally leave a comment about her kindness and creativity  in spreading love and light to so many, in such varied locations. I was fortunate enough to have checked in with Pauline in time to vote in her Give-Away and was delighted, but not surprised, to see that she ended up sending simpler light-catching danglers to each of the nominees. And another to a randomly-chosen commenter, too. She is a Light-catcher herself and I can tell you that she has brought light into some dark days for me, even without knowing she did so. Her example inspires me so much.

On to Quarter Acre Lifestyle, with Wendy’s news that she has left her former employment and will be making soap for a living. Along with many other wonderful things. I have used some of her soap (although most of it is still ‘someplace’ as we never did get fully unpacked after the move and my things reside in four different locations now) and it is wonderful. I know she will do amazingly well in her new life.

Next a quick stop at the Farmlet and while I was reading a new post appeared, bringing tears and another bout of Hjemthra. It is so interesting, isn’t it, that even as we acknowledge that all changes, we somehow are surprised by, and resistant to, the experience of changes that touch our lives. I’m glad there are other ways to stay in touch with my virtual friends. I embarrassed myself on the Farmlet, too, by typing in the name of Wendy’s husband when I knew perfectly well what Christi’s husband’s name actually is. I’m lucky that Christi has a sense of humour and a lot of patience.

I checked in with my virtual hippy daughter, too, the Rabid Little Hippy, but there was no new post to read today.

There are so many of you still to touch base with; I’ll be by, but I can’t promise when or how often yet. But I haven’t forgotten any of you and you are all included in my prayers as well as so often in my thoughts.

I have no photos, as I haven’t yet taken time to download them from my camera. I’m hoping to be back on track by the New Year, but time will tell.

The news has been full of fear-enhancing images and words, but the Village is full of those who turn their backs on darkness and their faces to the Light and then find ways to multiply that light in their own lives and in the lives of others.

I shall be back, and, in the meantime, stay well, all of you; find time to be creative, even if only in some small way; forget about the seeming darkness; every age has had its dark time, but it’s from those times that amazing Light has sprung. Discard your ragged cloak of fears; let it compost under some wee bush or lofty tree. Put on a new garment of light and rainbows, find a small way to increase the Light in the world every day. And when Hjemthra knocks at the door of your consciousness, invite it in; sit by the fire with a cup of tea and a few treats and listen to its stories of much-loved times gone by. Then, with that to inspire you, move back into the world and do what you can to make today a time that will someday bring feelings of Hjemthra to someone else. Hjemthra isn’t only sad, I find, it’s inspiring and motivating, too.

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