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.

IMG_9337

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.

IMG_9555

3 quotes in 3(?) days/periods of time/weeks/???

. . . but hopefully not 3 aeons . . .

I have been nominated by my loving friend, Pauline, The Contented Crafter, which is a good thing, as now I will post ‘something’ at least. I’ve been rather busy with one thing and another lately and most lax about posting and responding to comments. Again, my apologies. And to quote a poster my Mum had up for some time: “if it’s not one thing, it’s your Mother!” Anyway . . .

I don’t know how regular these will be; we have the Celebration of Life for my Aunty this coming Saturday and family members are coming from all over, which is nice, but means I likely won’t see the computer much for a wee bit. When the dust settles . . .

My first quote is from a woman who has inspired me for many years. In the spirit of Gandhi, she owned only  the clothes on her back, a notebook and pencil. No money. She walked across the USA  at least eight times and if you added the partial trips, some say up to thirty times or more. She was flown to Hawai’i and Alaska so she could walk there, too. In 1952 she changed her name to ‘Peace Pilgrim’ and began walking for Peace. She did this until she died nearly thirty years later. She vowed to walk until offered shelter and to fast until offered food and she kept those vows. Her words and writings are available free, thanks to a group of her friends/followers who keep them published. Donations are not necessary, but are accepted with thanks if anyone is moved to help with that mission.

You can read about her here: Peace Pilgrim and her writings are online here: Peace Pilgrim book in seven languages.

One of my favourite quotes from her work is:

aa peacepilgrim 01

Many of you, no doubt all of you, have your daily life challenges. In the midst of all that, I wish you Peace as it is defined here.

More to come and thank you, Pauline (I think 🙂  No, seriously, thank you!).  ~ Linne

And my favourite Peace song: Let There Be Peace On Earth, and Let It Begin With Me

2015 – a toast to the Virtual Villagers

First, thanks for all your comments; I’ve read them, but not replied (yet).

Second, I know that for most of you, New Year’s Day is already over, but I still have 20 minutes left, so no more re-writing. This toast, like last year’s, is more doggerel than poetry, but that’s the way my brain leans . . .

Another year has come and gone, another season rounds the bend.
It’s time to raise a glass (or mug) and toast each Virtual Village friend:

So here’s to designers from Fair Isle to Aussie,
to their patterns for quilting and sewing tea cosies,
for knitting barn cardis and crocheted Bavarians,
and to parents, and crafters, and crofter agrarians.

Designing a pattern, a life or a home
lifts everyone’s spirits, wherever they roam.
So does taking a moment for kindness and caring,
for virtual hugging and real-life sharing.

Here’s to the artists, delightfully fey;
Sharing, Inspiring, Leading the way . . .
To the writers of poetry, readers of books,
photographers, singers and all of the cooks . . .

A toast to the writers of humour-filled posts,
to those who share knowledge without any boasts.
And let’s toast the activists, working so hard
to make the world better; they all stand on guard.

Remember the Permies, too, tiny and tall;
their work heals the earth, bringing hope to us all.
Let’s toast every planter of veggie and bush,
of trees bearing fruit and of flowers so lush.

Here’s to soapmakers, purveyers of oils,
soothing the hands that are aching from toil.
Up-cyclers of cupboards and carvers of spoons;
Salvaging, saving, at midnights and noons.

To those who keep traditions safe,
To those who break new trails,
To those whose cats and dogs keep them
from going off the rails!

Makers of greeting cards
brighten our days;
Givers of Happy Mail
spread love’s sweet rays.
e-mails and Skype calls,
so many connections . . .
the Village extends in so many directions!

Dwellers on acreages, dwellers in towns,
some come from the cities and some from the Downs.
We all play a part in this Village so global;
and all keep our place even when we are mobile.

And I raise a glass to each one of you;
wherever you are and whatever you do,
to your courage in healing, in growing, in changing.
Love shows in your words and your acts, so far-ranging.

I’m grateful for each of you;
my life would be less
if I’d never ‘met’ you;
I feel very blessed.

Throughout this New Year I wish you much love and many blessings, strength and courage for the journey, insight and wisdom as you need it, riches of the heart, mind and spirit.

Hapoy New Year, my friends and fellow Villagers . . .

and, as Columbo would say,
one more thing . . .

Ave Atque Vale

Godspeed to those who’ve gone ahead throughout the passing year, Their tasks are done, they’re headed home; for now they’ve left us here.
We can but bless them, as we bless the newest babes whose smiles
make light our loads and cheer us on o’er all the coming miles.

We will remember each of you for all the ways you’ve touched our lives and hearts, as family members, friends, public figures and more . . .

See you on the Flip Side 🙂

p. s. I meant to include photos with this post, but the draft wouldn’t display on Mum’s PC, so I’ll save those for later, except for these:

20150101-214059.jpg Layer one.

20150101-214436.jpg Layer two.

20150101-214527.jpg Top layer.

20150101-214705.jpg Ready to ship!

I knew that wrapping paper would likely tear if I had to compress the afghans so they would all fit in the box. So I decided to use new pillowcases as wrapping. Alas, pillowcases at the only store close enough to walk to were $7.00 each.

But there was a SIGN! Among the pillowcases was a package of pre-cut fabric!! So, off to the yarn & fabric area . . . where I found flannelette, two cut pieces to a package, for under $7.00 and a large piece of green flannelette for under $12.00. Problem solved!

Now you know what those photos are about. With any luck, the Bavarians will be on their way tomorrow. They will go to the other Grandma and she will take them to Saltspring Island in time for Little Christmas. A great start for a new year, isn’t it?

Oh, here’s a teaser for you:

20150101-224000.jpg

20150101-224022.jpg Can you spot the difference? 😉

Apun my word . . .

An opun letter to all and pundry . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

This law opuns many doors, doesn’t it?

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

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

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

or here (and choose from the links):

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

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

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

Voyage Through the Virtual Village (AKA “Blog Hop Around the World”) :-)


OK, friends, here it is! So fill up those buckets of tea, gather some food and prepare yourselves for a somewhat lengthy stay . . . and big hugs to anyone who makes it through to the end . . . I’ve not written for a while and this is what happens when all that energy is kept pent up . . . some of you may need to come back and read this in sections . . . consider yourselves duly warned . . .

I’m sure you all know by now that everyone in this Village holds their own special place in my heart, each for their own unique self, and it’s been a great privilege to share vicariously in the lives of so many diverse people: gardeners, crafters, artists, writers, parents, travellers, designers, and so on and on . . . we may never meet in person, but in some ways we meet so authentically here in the Village that it makes no never mind to me, as some would say. You are each a treasured part of my HeartFamily and no matter what the future might hold for any of us, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers, in my heart, my mind, my memories . . .  but put that aside for now . . .

Today I want to take you on a trip, a Voyage . . . here we go, off to meet a few of the others in my Village. I hope some  of them come to dwell in your Villages, too . . .

I’ve been following posts by several friends as they participated in this Blog Hop Around the World and now I’ve been invited to join in . . .by Jess, the Rabid Little Hippy. In the beginning of my blogging days, I saw a comment by Jess somewhere and was enchanted by her blogname, being a Rabid Larger (and Older) Hippie myself. Since then, she has become a great friend, supportive and encouraging, not to mention inspiring. In many ways she is the daughter of my heart, just the sort of daughter I might have wished for . . . and maybe more like me than a daughter of the blood would have been . . .

I love everything Jess and her family get up to, although some days I feel I need to lie down and rest after reading about all she accomplishes in a day or a week . . .  😉

. . . and then there all my other new friends that she has led me to . . . this Virtual Village is just what any extreme introvert needs . . .

a new waterlily bloom about to flower more water primrose and I still have my water hawthorn flowering too. I definitely need more plats in there to prevent evaporation and to cover the water surface more though.  Orik's personal race track. He loves doing laps around the garden bed! The area where the bench now sits has had its tyres ripped out, the soil moved into the garden bed and tiles are down now. Todays work with Jas and Eggra as assistants.

 The removed bed is now in the corner here. Once the chooks have done their work the wire will be removed and reo mesh upcycled into trellis for the grapes I'm planting here. They will in turn shade the rest of the bed from the early afternoon sun onwards, providing a micro-climate. Well, that's the plan.  Above are three photos of the Rabid Little Hippy’s backyard garden, where chooks, goats and other lifeforms also reside. Also out there you will often find Martin, her husband, as well as three of the cutest Pint Sized Permies, whose activities are occasionally posted in their own blog. Jess introduced me to hugelkultur and rocket stoves, not to mention a wagonload of information about various ecological issues and more. The Rabid Little Hippy and her entourage dwell in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.

And me attempting to do the same

Here is Jess sporting her Katniss braid . . .

creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t it?

From comments on Rabid’s posts, I found myself often on The Road to Serendipity with Narfie and Stevie-boy and the two pups . . . and that led me to so many others that I can’t name them all.

DSCF7091DSCF7107

DSCF7039Above are two photos of the Sanctuary, a HUGE veggie garden completely encased and roofed with fishnetting to keep out various predators. The netting was completely installed  by Narf7 and Steve last year. The bottom photo was taken on a walk with the two ‘pups’, looking across part of the river Tamar to The Road to Serendipity (somewhere in the middle of all that lovely green). Serendipity Farm is in Tasmania, south of Australia. Go visit the Farm and you will learn, love and laugh ’til you fall off your chair . . .

DSCF6942DSCF6564

Creativity takes many forms at Serendipity Farm; music, cooking, renovating, etc. Still, I feel the most creative thing of all  is found in Narf7 and Stevie-boy’s approach to life, love, learning and all that good stuff . . .

My blog-following is most eclectic, like me, and so I decided to invite an eclectic batch of friends and see what happened. I can now tell you that I’m quite over the Super-Moon (which was happening as I typed the draft for this post):

But first . . . My answers to the questions:

  • Why do I create what I do? Wish I knew! I just can’t help it; it’s like reading . . . if I were locked up with only a cereal carton, I’d read every word on it (several times), then I’d write on it (in blood if necessary), then I’d see what I could fashion from it . . .  Honestly, I think creativity is a vital part of each of us, although in some people it’s farther down the list of strengths than it is for others. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t create and the very act of creating has healed me, entertained me, amused me, given me hope and strength, distracted me when I most needed it, oh, and so much more . . . kept people warm and fed, made a home of wherever I happened to be living at the time, filled a gap when the budget didn’t stretch to something I wanted or needed. I learned to be creative with sewing because I am tall, with long arms and legs, and women’s clothing rarely fits me. Many tops have sleeves a couple of inches too short; pants stop above my socks, and so on. In my slightly younger days, I hand-stitched long skirts and dresses and even a couple of pairs of pants. I still have most of them, but they are not available for a photo session. I fell in love with Folkwear Patterns and hand-stitched the Kinsale Cloak from a heathery green fabric of unknown components. I never finished the hood, but I loved that cloak a lot. Fully lined, with topstitching and it was so cosy! Somewhere along the way, it seems to have disappeared, but I still have the pattern and would like to make it again one day; this time from a woollen fabric. More recently I discovered the Sense & Sensibility patterns for days gone by . . . I own most of the Edwardian patterns and some of the crochet and Romantic Era patterns as well. And that’s only the sewing of clothes bit of my creative endeavours . . .

20140301-233543.jpg

Some dyeing I did for the Etsy store (closed for a while now)

  IMG_2683[1]

My favourite drawing, which is the cartoon for a couple of watercolour paintings.

IMG_2677[1] IMG_2676[1]

A casual drawing of a ‘hobbit home’, done while drawing with children.

IMG_3559[1]  IMG_3404[1]

A ‘plain’ shawl that I somehow managed to complexify and bits for two of several knitted bears, something I love to work on when possible.

20130624-155806.jpg

A round shawl I made up as I went along . . .

 20130421-130659.jpg 20130421-121401.jpg

My favourite shawl; mossy green and also invented as I worked. It has a macramé fringe and a pattern of ‘holes’ worked in just for interest.

20130413-102830.jpg 20130417-195852.jpg

Two of the double-sided crochet bits I’ve made. This is from an easy pattern shared by a bus driving friend and posted here a while back.

20130405-035103.jpg

The most creative time of all . . . loving someone small . . .

 20130328-040705.jpg

A crochet doily with white and ecru-leaved violets; I made this several years ago, when I was still living on the west coast of BC.

20130205-195212.jpg

Hexagon flowers for an eventual ‘Bestemor’s Flower Garden’ piece. Bestemor means Grandmother in Norwegian and it is what my grandkidlets call me, in homage to my Mum’s mother, who died years before I was born. I wish I had known her . . .

3dollsProgressOct2012 20121211-220641.jpg Green Hair!  20121211-220649.jpg

Three of the hand-sewn dolls for my grandkidlets . . . from a rough pattern.

20130525-230744.jpg  20140312-031836.jpg

Above, one of my Dad’s stained glass lampshades and on the back of the couch, a quilt made by my Mum, with her quilted pillow in the centre front. They both did so much more . . . I love that creativity has been passed down in my family for many generations.

My parents, with me and the first two of my brothers, back when we lived in a small one-room shack with no power, no indoor plumbing and a wood cookstove that also kept us warm. My creativity began even before that, though . . .

  • How does my creative process work? Well it’s different when you’re not so skilled and also very eclectic. (Do you think there’s a relationship between those two?) If I stuck to one or two creative endeavours, I might have mastered them by now and life would no doubt be quite different. But no such luck. I am inspired by an idea, a photo, a pattern, whatever; I gather materials and I start a project . . . then, “oh, look, a blade of grass!” (that phrase is a family joke among my sisters, often used when we are talking about something and then digress and then digress again [but we always come back to the original topic] ) and I am off learning about something else. Or maybe I had to move and my projects are in storage and I can’t stand the emptiness that comes when I have nothing on the go . . . so I read a bit (if you think I’m being honest with ‘a bit’, think again! LOL) but it’s never enough; I have to make something . . . so off I go on another project and then, there it is, that ‘blade of grass’ and away I go again . . .  In a perfect life, I like to have several things on the go at once, set up and waiting for me. Then I can ‘feel’ what I want to do for the day and pick up where I left off. In reality, I do have several things on the go at once, but practical considerations often determine what I work on at any given time. So, when at my Aunty’s, I need a project that doesn’t require me to read a pattern so that I can pay attention to our chats. One of the major reasons I fell in love with Dani’s Bavarian crochet afghan. I have finished two, have a large one well under way and am in the middle of one I haven’t really mentioned yet. Photos at the bottom of this post, but no peeking!

IMG_6629 IMG_6616

The large Bavarian afghan above; two for the grandkids below.

IMG_6609 20140604-230247.jpg

  • And I have enough yarn now . . . sigh . . . the first Bavarian was meant to use up two oversized balls of acrylic; then I had to buy more so there would be enough afghans for each of the soon-to-be-six grandkidlets to have one of their own and the parents to have one large enough to cuddle under . . . and then there is my other son and his former girlfriend. Like Scarlett, I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . A major part of my creative process is that simple projects somehow become complex and, like objects in the mirror, much larger and nearer than they seem) One reason they become complex is that I am creative with practically everything, and in a rather slap-dash, ‘what-the-hey’ manner. “oh, well” is a mantra heard often in the inner regions . . . but I LOVE it so much!! Why? I ask you . . . I makes me happy and frustrated, often in equal parts, to be creative; to learn and do; to master; to design (a life-long love of mine, designing); to teach . . .

When I can, I love to make things that are more challenging; last year I started my first Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’; some of you will remember it; not perfect, but it will be warm and cosy, and the lovely hot magenta background is very cheerful. Only the sleeves and buttonbands to go now (and maybe a hood), but it’s on hold at my friends’ place at present. I used traditional Fair Isle motifs, but the cardi itself and the arrangement of the motifs are all my own doing; the shape of the cardi evolved during the knitting . . .. as did the collar . . .

If not on the edge 01

A favourite quote . . . from Stephen Hunt.

IMG_5076[1]  20140203-230107.jpg

My Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ . . . and that’s my lovely, 94.5 year old, under-five foot Aunty helping out as my photographer’s model . . .

20131029-222851.jpg 20130916-232925.jpg

A Fair Isle style bag I invented, also with traditional motifs.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, my friends, if I had a genre, maybe I’d have an answer for you . . . The best I can say is that I am wildly eclectic, with a wide range of creative loves that encompasses language and languages, music, folk art, fine art, design, almost all the arts known to woman including fibre arts of all sorts, traditional skills and current ways, and more. Perhaps what is different at times is that I am a philosophical thinker by nature (my top strength), so things I make often have meaning for me that they don’t have for others. I like to make things by hand. I’ve done a little spinning, some weaving, some dyeing, and so on. I’d hoped to do stamping and free-hand painting on some of the silk scarves, but those plans are on the shelf for now. I designed a Cowichan sweater for my husband a few decades ago, with symbols that are meaningful to him and knitted from unspun yarn in cream with light and dark brown motifs. So far as I know, he still has it. I have a couple of photos of it and will post them here if and when I locate them . . .

I like to combine media, too. I’ve done a little printmaking and the idea of combining that with watercolour and then collaging on top of it all is very exciting to me. I have created a few masks and art dolls. One piece I especially like is a four-foot circle of thin plywood covered in canvas. I fastened three masks of my own face on the front, then painted the entire thing white; it looks like faces emerging from the background.

  • What am I presently working on? Well, the Bavarian crochet afghans, of course, and here is a series of photos of pieces of the latest one, which is my way of being creative with a lovely pattern:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Does that seem confusing? The large piece is the centre; there will be twelve smaller pieces (below is the photo showing the centre and three of the smaller bits) surrounding it, then there will be several rows all around and all in white. I may throw a row of purple in there somewhere, too; that depends on having enough left to complete the work. I have only one ball of the purple, but have three balls of the white and a good chance of getting more if needed. No chance of more purple; the yarn is different from the same brand now; softer and finer spun. But I do want a purple edge, as it will show wear a bit less.

IMG_7069

Here you can see the centre piece. Each side of it will have two of the purple hearted squares and the four corners will be the white hearted squares. Hope that’s more clear.

Here are the latest photos of this piece, which is turning out even better than I dreamed:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_7279[1]  IMG_7280

As you can see, this new piece is now wider than a single bed . . . and still growing . . .  I call it “Violets in the Snow” and it’s my favourite of the Bavarians I’ve made so far.        I think I’ll be keeping this one . . ..

IMG_7281

A detail of the corner as it is today . . .

OK, that’s enough about me . . . 🙂 Four people have been kind enough to allow me to twist their arms ever so gently and have agreed to take part in this Blog Hop Around the World, or, as I like to think of it, this Voyage through the Virtual Village:

(Please note: all photos from participant bloggers are used with permission)

First up is Sarah from the Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm
(pronounced: fruu-lings-cab-ee-na)

20121110-221855.jpg

Sarah and her lovely family live in an old California gold rush town. 20130228-195603.jpg

Backyard chickens and so much more . . . but I’ll let Sarah tell you about that . . .

Her creativity is evident not only in her approach to sustainable living, but also in her artwork:

2 Nordic Animal Prints of Hand Drawn Illustration Designs with Rune Poems - Goat, Chicken, Horse, Sheep, Duck

One of Sarah’s Celtic mandala drawings, perfect for using as is or for colouring in.

On the blog are a page for Printables, with excellent resources for small-holding farmers, as well as another page with a variety of DIY projects. Check them out!

Sarah has an Etsy store, the Little Farm Shop, and it was there that I purchased my lovely raven amulet necklace:

IMG_6157

. . . as well as her beautiful ‘Backyard Farm Coloring Book’ for my grandkidlets and for a friend’s children, too. These are a perfect gift, as you can email them to whomever and they can print out as many copies as they like. Children can colour the pictures, then send them to Grandma or . . . all while learning a bit about backyard farming.


23 Thorns tea-towel

The Official Tea Towel of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Next up is . . . Mr. 23 Thorns! I first discovered him via The Road to Serendipity, and he makes me laugh and sometimes cry, often at the same time . . . Writing is one of my favourite forms of creativity, or I should say, reading other people’s writings.

Mr. 23 Thorns  Mrs. 23 Thorns

Mr. and Mrs. 23 Thorns (she has her own blogs: Tracy  Loves History and The Rubbish Collection Day Collection. This woman has the most inspired approach to taking out the trash that I’ve ever heard of; she, too, makes me laugh and sometimes cry. They deserve each other (and I mean that in the nicest of all possible ways)!

Master 23 Thorns  Miss Carmen Miranda

Mrs and Miss 23 Thorns

As you can see, the 23 Thorns children are as creative as their parents . . .

Here are links to a couple of my favourite 23 Thorns posts . . .

  • Jesus died. But now he lives. In Detroit, sort of. This post introduced me to the work of Jesus Rodriguez, a man whose music and approach to life continues to inspire me. If you are intrigued, check it out . . .
  • Parenting for Dummies.  As my parents, and later myself, had quite ‘relaxed’ approaches to parenting, at least when it came to letting kids roam free, climb trees, take risks, etc., I found this post both refreshing and amusing. Don’t let the first line fool you; Mr. 23 Thorns loves his kids as much as any of us; he just doesn’t subscribe to the “wrap ’em in cotton wool ’til they grow up” philosophy.

23 Thorns kids n elephant  23 Thorns kids road trip

As you may have guessed from the photo on the left above, the 23 Thorns do not live in Canada . . . nope, they live in South Africa . . . I hope, if I ever get there, to camp somewhere nearby . . . I dream of hearing the birds, maybe even elephants, at night.

23 Thorns Protector of All

Fierce Protector of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Mr. 23 Thorns also writes Why Books. That is a link to a wonderful post about WWI.


Getting Stitched on the Farm

Third brave participant is Kristin Nicholas, of Getting Stitched on the Farm. Kristin has her own shop, where you can browse for patterns (I’ve bought a couple), books, kits and more, even wallpaper!

  

Kristin has books of knitting and embroidery patterns in her shop.

One of the wallpaper patterns she painted by hand and which can be purchased.

Color by Kristin is her own brand of yarn. Half wool, a quarter each alpaca and mohair.

You can find these in the Embroidery Supplies section.

Kristin began sewing at age nine and, like me, learned to knit, crochet and much more soon after that. She was lucky to have a German Gran who taught her embroidery.

She sells her own notecards and postcards, too, in sets of assorted or single image.

  

Kristin has written several books, too, including these. I bought the centre one and love it! I will take it along the next time I visit my grandkidlets. My eldest granddaughter taught herself to stitch by age 5 and is still interested at 15.

Kristin lives a couple  of hours from Boston, Massachusetts. If you are going to be in the neighbourhood, you may be able to take in a class or two. This one interests me . . .

See her post on Fabric Printing if it interests you, too . . .

As you can see, Kristin’s creativity has many outlets. I have found her blog more than inspiring. Now if I only had more time . . . note to self, plant thyme next spring . . .


City House Studio

Fourth and final participant will be Michelle of the City House Studio blog. I found her through a couple of sewing and quilting blogs that I follow and was instantly smitten with her work and with her fresh approach to quilt design.

One of Michelle’s gorgeous quilts.

. . . and this is her Farmer’s Wife Quilt, completed in 2011. 90 blocks, to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday! More than impressive, isn’t it? There is a great story behind this quilt; you can read it here. It covers from the 1890s to the 1930s. I love the tradition that is carried on through the stories and by people still making this quilt.

here she is with her Gran and the quilt.

And here’s the back of it . . . equally lovely.

I love her Scrappy Asterisk Block tutorial and it’s on my ever-lengthening list . . . this is the first of Michelle’s quilts that I read about and it caught both my eye and my imagination. I simply adore anything not ‘in-the-box’ when it comes to design.

Michelle has an Etsy store and it should be open again soon. I happen to know she’s extremely busy getting some quilts ready for several fall fairs. Which explains why Michelle’s Blog Hop post will see the light of day in September – watch for it!

You can buy patterns from Michelle’s Craftsy store, too.

See her “Read” Library Tote pattern here or her Bionic Gear Bag Notions tote here.

Now, if you’re into free motion quilting, be sure to visit Michelle’s FMQ Challenge blog. That’s one example in the photo above. And then there is this:

Don’t know if I’ll ever have time for trapunto quilting, but I hope so. At least one piece, maybe a pillow . . . Project lists certainly give us reasons to live, don’t they?

 

Two of Michelle’s ‘Sticks’ quilts. I. Want. More. Time. !!!  🙂

I’m not sure where this Blog Hop began, but I have traced it back a ways for you, in case you, too, are afflicted with terminal curiosity . . .

Rabid Little Hippy

The Road to Serendipity

The Contented Crafter

Boomdeeadda 

One Spoiled Cat

These Days of Mine

A New Day Dawns

Simply Trece

I’m assuming the Hop goes back much further, but have run out of time; if you are interested, I’m sure you can do what I’ve done so far; go to the last blog listed and go back through posts to around June (or earlier, as you go on), then look for the specific post. It’s been lots of fun, just seeing all the different types of blogs that are linked through this Hop. If you read the posts, you will see that there are branches to this hop; as many bloggers have twisted the arms of found three others to ‘volunteer’ to join in.

It wouldn’t be a “post accompli” without a bit of music, would it? Much of it is folky, so if that’s not your thing, no worries. None of us have enough thyme for everything, do we?

Heiland Harry by The Corries, in honour of all the young men who never returned from the various wars they were sent to fight.

Like Janis by Jesus Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz)

Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg (with Nelson Mandela!)

Hobo’s Lullaby by Arlo Guthrie (written by Woody Guthrie), in honour of all those out of work and homeless . . .

Two songs that link to my childhood now:

The Log Driver’s Waltz by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. My Dad used a peavey like these when managing logs in a boom im a holding pond. I don’t think he ever rode a log through whitewater, though.

The Frozen Logger by The Weavers. My Dad used to sing this all the time. I learned it as a young child and I still love it.

A half hour of Stompin’ Tom Connors, a Canadian icon. I don’t listen to a lot of country, but I still love Stompin’ Tom, who passed away not that long ago. A true, true Canadian!

His The Hockey Song will always be one of my favourites.

and, of course, Runrig, singing The Water is Wide and Steppin’ Down the Glory Road.

. . . performing An Sabhal Aig Neill, followed by the Drums . . . should make you dance!

Last, my favourite rendition of “We Will Rock You!” This one’s for the more rockin’ of my followers.If you want a lot more more rock and a lot less folk, here’s one of my favourites from Woodstock . . . Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this voyage . . . I sure did. Hope it was worth the wait.

Here we are, home again . . . someone has the kettle on and there are treats ready for our tea . . . too busy now? Come by another time; the door is always on the latch . . .

BTW, the Happy Hibiscus says ‘hello’ to all of you; this is the most recent of an amazing summer of flowering. I think it’s thirteen or fourteen so far and there are another two or three buds coming along. The most I ever had in one year, ever, was three and that was once. Most years there has only been one and occasionally there were none.

IMG_7290[1]

Sorrow and Gratitude

IMG_6403[1]

The Happy Hibiscus this morning.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, as I’m sure you are all aware. My Dad wasn’t part of the invasion, as he was with his tank regiment on the way from Italy through France, heading toward the liberation of Holland. Still, every year this day reminds me of him and of all he and his brother (as well as one of my Mum’s brothers, and others in the family) sacrificed for me and for this country.

IMG_6417[1]

A Canadian veteran returns to Juno Beach, 70 years after D-Day.

This morning my Aunty and I watched the CBC special on D-Day, which was both inspiring and moving. When I was in Ottawa, the year after the Canadian War Museum opened, the lady I was staying with took me to see it. We were so lucky, as we only had a couple of hours and there was more to see than would fit. An older man heard us talking about how to find the exhibits that meant the most to me and offered his services as a guide. He’d been a docent for some years and was full of information. I got to see a real Sherman tank, just like the one my Dad drove. He was a Trooper (same rank as private in the army) in the Governor-General’s Horse Guards, or the Gee-Gees, as they are commonly known. I also saw a mannequin wearing the same uniform and carrying the rifle and equipment that Dad would have had. I stood in the middle of a landing craft that had been used at Juno Beach on D-Day; as I stepped in, a film began to show in front of me. It was hard to watch. It seemed that young men were rushing past me, with rifles and gear, jumping into the water and trying to make it to the beach. So many were shot down as I watched. This is the only known footage taken from inside one of the LSTs, we were told. I was only glad it was in black and white; the bloody water would have been even more horrific in colour.

Peter Mansbridge, CBC’s premier broadcaster and journalist, shared his experience flying in one of the last two flight-worthy Lancaster bombers; his father flew in one during the war and to honour his Dad (who died a few years ago), Peter took one of his Dad’s medals with him on the flight).

Over the last week, I’ve been listening to this song by Runrig: The Old Boys

IMG_6440[1]

Tonight, the Happy Hibiscus is nearly finished with this bloom; to me, it’s a fitting reminder of all those beautiful young, brief lives (over 350 died on Juno Beach alone)

It makes me cry every time. So many young lives sacrificed; so many wounded; so little recognition once they arrived home again.

Dad turned 21 on the day he arrived back in Canada. This July 16th, it will be 70 years since that day. He had spent three years or more overseas, and now was finally legal to drink and vote. We forget that in those days, the ‘men’ we sent to fight were legally only ‘boys’. Like so many, he didn’t talk about his experiences, feeling, no doubt, that if you hadn’t been there, you wouldn’t understand.

I know that he was wounded by an accident; one of his regiment had been out on guard duty and returned to the tent where Dad was sitting at a table, reading. The soldier emptied his knee pockets of the grenades he’d been carrying. They weren’t supposed to carry them there, but many did anyway. As he pulled them out, the safety on one of the firing pins pulled out. Dad caught sight of it from the corner of his eye; he was sitting sideways to the tent entrance. A three-second delay, there wasn’t time for the young man to do anything; the grenade went off, killing him instantly. A piece of shrapnel passed through my Dad’s torso, missing all the vital organs. He had scars on both sides from then on, though.

The Chilliwack Progress had a mention of the wounding in its January 3, 1945 issue. If you scroll most of the way down the page, you will see it:

Under:

Yarrow News From The Chilliwack Progress For 1945
The Chilliwack Progress January 3, 1945

There are four photos of H.G. Sukkau’s plumbing and electrical store. Below that is the mention of John Letkemann. Some time later, the final ‘n’ of the surname was dropped by the family.

When the war in Europe ended, the soldiers were told they could only go home soon if they re-enlisted to be sent to the theatre in the East, to help in the fight against Japan. Dad and my Uncle both agreed, but they had no plan to follow through. After years of war, they were ready to forget about it and begin living a normal life. Luckily the war in Asia was over before it became an issue.

I didn’t post anything on Anzac Day, but I spent a lot of time thinking about those young men, too. This song, sung here by The Pogues, says it all: “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

And when I think of the Second War, I also think of the First, one of the worst and most meaningless wars ever. This song, about that war and sung by the Corries, also makes me cry: The Green Fields of France. My brother in law who worked in radio and had his own show, played this every November 11th, but if you called any radio station and requested it, your request was refused.

I’d like to leave you on a happier note, so here is Day Three, in Aqua:

IMG_6436[1]

 

Sorry I’m behind with comments again. I’ll catch up with you all soon.

Two last images from today’s ceremony:

IMG_6433[1] IMG_6429[1]