To Boldly Go . . . (another 5-cup tale)

Well, my lovely friends, it’s been exactly four months since I last posted!  Not that I didn’t work on a few drafts in that time, but things kept morphing and I didn’t want to be handing out ‘fake news’ lol. But now I have some ‘real’ news for you . . . so grab a pot of tea or two (or whatever you fancy) and read on . . .

Living with my cousins was never really ‘the plan’ as you know, but when I couldn’t find a place to live back in 2016, I was here for a few weeks and they let me know I’d be welcome if nothing materialized. And I have been well cared for but now it’s been a total of over two years (and counting) out of the past three and a half. So I’ve been looking even more diligently for another solution.

I think I mentioned that I’d joined a couple of handwork clubs that meet on Tuesdays in nearby Enderby; a crochet club that runs year-round and a knitting club that takes a sabbatical in the winter. So I’ve made a few friends and have been planning to settle somewhere close enough to get to those treasured Tuesdays.

Back before I went to the UK I’d asked at my credit union if I were eligible for a mortgage (and, if so, how much). I asked partly as a lark, assuming they would laugh in my face (but ever so politely, of course). And I was told I could borrow up to $60,000. Not enough for property or a house in today’s market, but it did get me thinking, so I narrowed my goals to a mobile home. And I found one, in an Enderby mobile home park. Best of all, it was large enough for me to move all my things from storage immediately so I could both free up the storage fees and begin sorting, using and downsizing. Even better, the owners had bought it from the parents of one of the young women in the crochet club! It had a large side yard and a garden shed, too. So I was planning a good-sized garden and then putting much of the produce up for the winter. All of that right down my alley . . .

But, as always, there were a few bumps on that road. Turns out the federal government changed the rules on borrowing while I was away and even though I am now debt-free (I still had an outstanding loan and a balance on my credit card when I first asked about a mortgage), today I am only eligible for a $20,000 mortgage.

Not great news. Then one of my sisters offered to help with the down payment and my cousins offered to co-sign on the mortgage. So the credit union approved my request. (keep breathing; there’s a lot more to this story!)

I agreed with the owners on an offer of $67,000 (they were asking $71,900) and started the legal ball rolling. I had an inspection and an appraisal done. The appraisal showed it had a market value of only $63,000 and the inspection said it would need a new roof in a couple of years, plus a few other rather minor things.

So CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) turned down my application and the credit union only works with CMHC, so that was it!

However, I learned a long time ago to ask for what I wanted, but to add “this or something better”. So it wasn’t the devastating news you might have expected. Disappointing, though, for sure. But no tears were shed, just a few heavy sighs heaved . . . and back to the drawing board . . .

Since any affordable mobile homes were in the same price range and I would have had to pay for inspections, appraisals and lawyers again, I decided to downsize my search parameters, so to speak. And began looking at motorhomes / recreational vehicles. My cousin was looking, too, and he found one that looked possible (and it had been posted only hours earlier!). The ad said to call between 6 am and 5 pm and it was two minutes to 5! And then I had to look up the phone number. So it was two minutes after 5 when I reached the owner, but he didn’t mind. That was on Monday, 10 June. It’s a motorhome, but I shall call it “the unit” until I have decided on a name for her.

The next day, 11 June, the cousins and I drove to Kamloops and then turned north on #5 highway, which leads to the Yellowhead. But we weren’t going that far this time. Half an hour later we came to Roy’s place, halfway between Kamloops and Barrière.

My cousin checked out the unit, as he has plenty of experience with vehicles and has always kept theirs in tip-top condition. Turns out Roy bought this unit new in 1989 and has maintained it well over the years, so in spite of being well-travelled, it’s in pretty good shape. It did need new tires, though, and a few other things, so the price came down to something I could afford. Roy and his wife took their last trip in 2016, returning in October. She went downtown to pick up supplies for the house and never came back. I’m assuming it was a heart attack. That was so sad to hear. And then, sometime later, Roy had a stroke, so he is no longer driving. Even sadder. He still lives on his own and keeps the place in good shape, even managing the ride-on mower (he has six acres and at least one of that is his yard).

So, after a brief consultation with my cousin, I left a down payment and we went home, stopping for ice cream on the way to celebrate.

That evening I signed up for BCAA (adding the RV package and the level which would cover me if I went to the States or another province), which offers roadside assistance should one run out of gas, lock themselves out of the vehicle, need towing, etc. It would be in effect by 9.30 on Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, we went to Enderby to get a cashier’s cheque for the remainder owing. This time it was only my cousin’s wife and me, so she offered to let me drive! I recently obtained my temporary license, as my Alberta one had lapsed over five years ago and I hadn’t re-applied earlier due to my poor eyesight. So a few more times, plus a refresher on parallel parking (I know how, just haven’t done it for so long), and I’ll be driving on my own again. Oh, did I mention? The driving went great and I couldn’t believe how long it’s been since I was behind the wheel. Honestly, it felt like last week. So that’s another good thing.

Wednesday, we got up very early and were on the road before 8 am. A couple of stops in Kamloops and then we were back at Roy’s place. My cousin got busy getting the unit ready to roll and I began dusting the cab with a damp cloth. Kamloops and the surrounding area is desert country and very, very dusty!

We drove to Barrière next, registration papers in hand, to do the transfer of ownership and buy some insurance. First lady we spoke to was a rather snippy young thing, but I know to be nice to government officials; they can make life rather complicated if they take a dislike to you. She pointed out that Roy hadn’t signed the registration papers (not required until you sell a vehicle and I hadn’t thought to check it). Next, she quibbled because I’d put the cousins’ names down as “Smith, Daniel and Barbara” (not their real names). Turns out it has to read, “Smith, Daniel” then “Smith, Barbara”. I offered to print the surname a second time just above the given name, but apparently that is not acceptable. I have no idea why, as the entire thing is only going to be entered on the computer anyway. And Roy’s signature was required on the transfer papers as well, so off we drove. There was some muttering about beaurocracy, petty officials and the like for a few minutes. Then we turned to the more positive aspects of the motorhome.

Back at Roy’s, we got the papers filled out and signed and double checked, then, back to Barrière. When we walked into the ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) this time, the first lady had gone for lunch. And the second lady was all one could ask; happy, jolly and with a way of imparting information I needed without breaking the ‘rules’ about such. She was so awesome to deal with that I told her she should be cloned and every ICBC office should have one of her.

So, back to Roy’s. (The trips to Barrière and back totalled over 2 hours, by the way) My cousin finished the necessary work on the unit. I asked Roy if there was anything in what he’d removed from the unit that he didn’t want and offered to buy it from him. Turns out he only removed it all because he thought he should and had no interest in keeping all the memory-laden items that he won’t be able to use again. So I bought it all (to save him from having to deal with anything I left behind) and we loaded it back into the unit.

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We drove to the corner of McLure Ferry Road and Hwy #5, where Carl’s Country Market was not yet open. But there are picnic tables off to the right behind the small building and we had our lunch there before getting back on the road. And here she is in all her faded glory . . .

Our first stop

We had an uneventful trip home, with a few stops. No over-heating or anything like that. A bit bumpy, though, as the wheels had flattened a bit in the three years she sat.

And here she is inside:

 

I like the main-level bed and the extra storage over the cab (instead of the usual bed). There’s a huge storage compartment under the bed, too, and it’s accessible from outside at the back as well as from inside. If you prop up the mattress with the stick lying there, two hatches are exposed which give even more access to the storage.

The tub has a moulded-in seat so you can sit and soak your feet if you want. I’ll like that, too.

The kitchen has a stove has four burners and an oven and a microwave above, a double sink, a good-sized refrigerator with a freezer above. Also a pull-out ‘pantry’ rack meant to hold canned goods. I’ll probably use it for bags of beans and the like.

Roy left a charcoal briquette BBQ, a Coleman propane stove and a Coleman camp lantern in the unit as well as a few small tools, like a lovely sharp hatchet with a leather cover, a hammer and more.

In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited to finally own a ‘home’. I’m thinking of it as a form of Gypsy caravan, so in that sense it really will be my home.

Well, you must be thinking, that wasn’t much of a five-cup post! Oh, but wait (as they say on tv), there’s more . . .

Something very interesting has been going on in my life, but I can’t explain it, really.

A couple of months ago a lady from my crochet group invited me to join a Gratitude Group she and a few friends had created on facebook, where every day each member posts 10 things they are grateful for. I got back into keeping a Gratitude Book while I was in Yorkshire, but had filled it shortly before I was invited to join the online group. Perfect timing!

In May another of the ladies from my crochet group (who is also part of the Gratitude Group) offered to treat me to a workshop in Vernon. Three of the ladies and one of their friends were going. (this isn’t related to the crochet group in any way; it’s just that our friendships began there) Of course, I accepted. The workshop was one a couple of them had done before and I’d been finding their references to it quite intriguing.

So . . . the workshop . . . there were the five of us and two leaders who are professional therapists. We began with a guided meditation. We were told we would see stairs and be asked to go up them, then look around at the view from the top. The venue had changed from a yoga studio to the therapist’s office, so space was a bit limited. I was in a reclining chair, which freed up the floor space for four people on yoga mats. But the leader was around a corner from me in the next room and her voice was very quiet, so I didn’t hear much of what she said. But I’ve done this before, so after a while to get attuned, I remembered about the stairs and going up them. (there were more detailed instructions, which I missed) I ‘saw’ the stairs and then pictured being at the top and beginning to look around at the view. This is where it got interesting!

Flying toward me was a giant golden eagle, bearing something in its talons that I instinctively ‘knew’ was a gift. I had a brief impression of green and gold. Then it swooped down a little, as they do, then rose to settle gently right in front of me, looking into my eyes, and slowly folded its wings. It’s wingspread must have been about 20 feet wide; it reminded me instantly of the giant eagles in The Hobbit who rescue the hobbits from the treetops when they are under attack. I could have easily ridden on the back of this one.

It had the usual fierce appearance of any eagle, but it felt gentle and kind, with wisdom in its expression, especially the eyes.

I wish I’d had more time to explore this, but just then we were called back into the present. We shared about what we’d experienced, then the two therapists offered some insights to each of us. I wish I’d had a pen handy and written some of it down.

A short break and then we filled out a couple of questionnaires before each creating a Vision Board. I’d thought about it on the drive down and felt I ‘should’ focus on either finding a home (the deal with the mobile had just fallen through) or else on increasing my financial abundance (so that I could more easily afford a home). In the end, though, I went with my gut feeling and simply leafed through whichever magazines drew my attention, cutting out words and pictures as they spoke to me. I deliberately didn’t look for anything specific. I just made two piles, images and words. We didn’t have much time, so I glued the pieces onto my board fairly rapidly, not trying for a ‘perfect’ arrangement as I usually do. Then the boards were put aside to dry.

Another short break and back to the floor and the chair. This time it was a hypnotherapy session. I went very deep immediately and have no recall of anything that was said, except that I clearly heard the leader say the word ‘eagle’, which caught my attention, of course. Then, all too soon, we were being called back to the present place and time.

We gathered our things. I rolled up my vision board and fastened it with paper clips to make it easier to transport. I was given a ride home, where I set the vision board on end under my small desk and didn’t touch it again.

A few days later, I was talking with my youngest sister on the phone (she’s the one who was helping me with the mobile purchase) and she mentioned that she was going on another cruise with one of her close friends and that they were going to invite our RN sister to go with them. Sounded interesting.

The next day she called again to say the friend wasn’t interested, having taken this cruise before and our sister couldn’t get away. So . . . would I like to go as her guest?

Well, yes! Peace Pilgrim had a practise that I’ve done my best to emulate; she asked for nothing from people, but accepted gratefully whatever was offered. She lived like that, walking the roads of North America, for 24 years, covering over 100,000 miles and without a penny even from the first day. So, I gratefully accepted the invitation.

It’s a 26 day cruise (although we may spend a couple more days at the end before flying home) that begins in Puerto Rico, goes up and back down the Amazon river, then to Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo, ending in Buenos Aires in Argentina. The ship is one of the Viking fleet, so there are plenty of Norwegian touches and I’ll enjoy that so much.

So, for a week or more, I felt like a giant yo-yo, bouncing from my ‘homeless’ situation to my ‘going on a luxury cruise’ situation. A bit of a disconnect, that . . .

After a few days, I opened my vision board and saw this . . .

VB opened 30 May 2019 - 01

Notice the ocean images and the ship; the motorhome is a Ford Corsair Medallion and ‘corsair’ originally was word for a pirate or privateer from back in the 16th to 18th centuries. It also means a pirate ship from those times.

So here I am, about to live in a Corsair and also about to go on an ocean cruise!

The photo is the centre is of a croft on the Isle of Harris, Scotland, where Harris Tweed comes from. The picture (top right) that looks like a rock thrusting up from the sea is actually a detail of a painting. The loom is on my wish list, but it also stands for our lives; the warp is the parts of our life that are set and the weft is the part we control through our thoughts and actions. The colours in the ‘Joy at Home’ picture are colours I want to bring into my home, in this case the unit. (I really have to give her a proper name, don’t I?) The acorn spoke to me because it’s a seed, but also because my last name is Oakes. The words, or some of them, puzzled me at the time, but are now self-explanatory.

Something is afoot, isn’t it?

I’m still not sure where I will be spending the summer (or the winter, now). I’m here at the cousins’ until the new tires are on and the engine has had a tune-up. Staying in an RV park during the summer runs about $38 per night, more or less, so I’m looking for something affordable on private land. The original plan (famous last words) was to do that for the summer, then move to an RV park at the end of October. Mid-November, actually, as I’ll be away from mid-October to mid-November and the unit will stay at my cousins while I’m away.

But I learned this week that the park may be closed this winter for landscaping.And it’s a bit pricey, almost twice what a pad rental in the MHPark costs.

So, obviously, more adventures await me . . .

I hope you are all doing well; even though I haven’t been posting for so long, every one of you has been remembered often. Love and Light to each one of you!

Here’s some music for you, if you are so inclined . . .

I love the video as much as The Water Song. Not what you are expecting, I’m sure. It’s such a strong idea . . . blessing water and being grateful for it.

And, of course, Runrig’s Oran (Song) The lyrics are on the screen and also below. this is one of my favourites.

I wish you all a wonderful week and a restful weekend . . .

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A Sad Day . . .

I haven’t posted much recently; just getting ready for the Great Adventure and all that.

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Taken at lunch during my visit in August, 2017

But this morning I had a phone call from my RN sister to let me know that our last Auntie passed away today at 6.35 am, in the hospital. One of her daughters and one of her sons were with her and it was peaceful, which is good. She went into hospital last Thursday with a bit of pneumonia in the bottom of one lung as well as feeling very tired. She has had a bit of a heart condition for some time. She would have been 93 next month and we are all lucky to have had her in our lives for so long. I spoke with her on the phone nearly every night since I went to Tacoma and the calls were always different. We shared such a variety of interests and life experiences. Plus she had so many stories to tell about her youth, growing up with my Mum and the rest of her family.

All the women in our family did some sort of handcraft; the doily was made by this Auntie, the bit of blue is a detail from a small afghan made for her by my Aunty in Edmonton and the runner on her dresser was woven by my Mum. The wee wooden sign is typical of the humour enjoyed by all our family and especially the women . . .

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This is a photo of a photo. I took the original when she was visiting Mum and me at Mum’s house in Edmonton, so back before 2006. The china cabinet belonged to Mum and Dad and held a few of Mum’s keepsakes. The wooden plant stand to the right was made by my Dad, who could make pretty much anything. The rocking chair is the one that belonged to my Great-Grandmother, mother of my maternal Grandmother who died in her early 40s. My Great-Grandmother, my Mum’s Aunts, my Mum and myself have all rocked in this chair, holding our babies. It was located in one of Mum’s Uncle’s basement in pieces and my Dad lovingly restored it. The tooled leather seat is the original; the only new bit is one arm spindle, which was missing. Dad made a new one that matches so well it’s hard to identify which it is.

IMG_1918This pitcher belonged to that same Great-Grandmother, who helped to raise the younger kids after their mother died. I heard so many stories about her as I was growing up. The girls, especially, would stay with her for a week or so in the summer and if they were very good during the day, the big treat was being allowed to brush Grandma’s hair before she braided it and got ready for bed. It’s hard for me to imagine a child finding that to be a treat these days.

One of my favourite stories from the days when mum and her siblings were growing up was of the time Mum’s next older sister (Mother to the cousin I’m currently living with and married to my Dad’s next older brother), Mum and this Auntie were up on the roof of what was called the bunkhouse. In the summer, the boys slept there and all the kids played there at times. The main house had one bedroom, which was the parents’, a kitchen off the main living room, where the six girls (one had died at age 10) shared two double beds and the three boys slept on a pull-out bed in winter, when the bunkhouse was too cold. Anyway, the three girls were up on the roof hammering some shingles back on (they had blown off in one of the frequent storms of the ’30s). This Auntie was a few years younger and not so obedient as her sisters might have wished. She was sitting there and reading a book, deaf to all entreaties that she help with the job. So the other two worked right up to her, hammered a nail or two through the leg of her shorts and went on to finish the job. Then they climbed down and took away the ladder, with this Auntie seeming oblivious to everything and immersed in her book. Of course, it wasn’t long before she went to get up and discovered her predicament. I gather she raised quite a fuss before they relented, brought back the ladder and set her free again. This was a cross-stitch kit that Mum had. You will see on the roof of the wooden bridge (meant to represent the bunkhouse, of course) that there are two ‘M’s, actually Scorpio signs, I think. Anyway, they were what Mum had to hand and she stitched them on as symbols for herself and this Auntie, as both their names began with ‘M’. This story still makes me smile.

 

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Also taken during my visit in August

This Auntie and one of her brothers went to Norway almost exactly 20 years from when I am going to the UK. They were there for the big 17 May celebration, Constitution Day. They went to Lillehammer and saw the house where their father was born and lived, I think until he and two brothers emigrated when he was nineteen. I have been told that we still have family living in that house, although the cousins my Aunt and Uncle visited are now gone.

They also went to Trondheim. Their Mother was born there or near to there and the family lived in the area until they emigrated in 1900. My Grandmother was only nine at the time. While in Trondheim, my Auntie and Uncle met the minister of the Nidaros Cathedral and got to walk down the aisles and sit in one of the pews. We think the family may have attended church there.

My Auntie was only one year older than I am when she made that trip, which encourages me. She spoke so often of wishing she could make one more trip back and even though we both knew it was not possible, we would pretend it was and talk of where we would go and what we would do. I told her she would have to be prepared to camp out at the rock concert but that there would be a Ceilidh the night before and she could dance at that and then again during the concert (my ticket is for standing, not for a seat). She loved to dance so much and would have had a wonderful time. I told her that I would take her with me in spirit and would visit on my return so she could see my photos and hear my stories. I wish with all my heart that was still possible. We talked sometimes of the fact that she might die while I was away or even before and had an agreement that if so, she would accompany me even though I would not see her. I truly hope that is possible.

I am so glad that the last words we exchanged before she went to hospital and again while she was there (during a short conversation on my cousin’s mobile) were “I love you so much.”

She ‘kidnapped’ me once when I was new and I shall share that story another time. In spite of the inevitability of this day, I still feel sad. But she was ready to go and I am also content. It was the passing she wanted and what more can any of us ask for?

Only a little music for today:

Sissel Kirkjebo of Norway singing Going Home

and Runrig of Scotland singing their own Going Home

Take care of yourselves, my friends. You are in my heart today especially.

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

Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

I have been sitting here and contemplating what to write about tonight. There are things in the works that I’m not ready to share yet and things I planned and haven’t been able to begin. Still, there is much to be grateful for.

One: I am grateful for the skills that my mother started me on when I was a wee child; hand-stitching from the age of two or so, for one. Knitting and crochet and embroidery for more. I feel so deeply happy when I knit and crochet; I feel connected to such a long line of women in my family who all did the same, either to keep their family warm and cosy or to be creative or, in most cases, both. Last winter i crocheted an enormous throw for my friends in Tacoma. Out of cotton yarn. It began as an idea for a light (ha!) summer wrap, something to keep  one’s back warm when sitting by an evening campfire. And it morphed into this:

crochet spread teal white mango 01

I used two yarns; one teal and the other a variegate with teal, mandarin orange and white. I started in the centre, crocheted once around, then joined the second yarn. I just kept alternating yarns in a lovely spiral. I changed the pattern a couple of times, too, but now I wish I’d written down what I did. I would like to try this again one day, but with three yarn colours. I did find at first that the variegate interfered with the clarity of the pattern. Next time I will choose solid colours only. AS you can see, it’s five feet across or more. I’m still amazed that I created this in about two months, in the midst of other handwork and with only two to four hours a day, some days not at all, too.

The second thing I’m grateful for is my renewed love of sock making.  When I was in my twenties, my lovely mother in law gave me a pair of work boots for Christmas. I was living with my oldest son and his dad on one of the Gulf Islands and we walked everywhere. They were wonderful boots that fit me exactly and I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness. But I needed some warm socks to go with them. I didn’t than have the patience for knitting with fin yarns and I had some pure wool rug yarn, so I took a men’s dress sock pattern and did the math. The resulting pattern was a perfect fit and I had those socks for many years.

A few weeks ago my cousin and I were driving to Vernon for some of the weekly sales shopping and he kindly took me to Armstrong along the way. Armstrong is a small town about twenty minutes from here, not far off the main highway. We went to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio and I bought some Jamieson & Smith pure wool two ply jumper yarn in five colours: black, burgundy, red, pink and a sort of sage green. I had not stopped to think what I might make, so gave the colour selection less thought than usual,; the selection was small for my taste and I simply picked colours that I thought I could use successfully in Fair Isle type stranded knitting. A few days later I decided I needed a pair of wool socks and the adventure began. The colours aren’t quite what I like, but I think they are working out fairly well. In any case, they will keep my feet toasty warm.

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AS you can see, I’ve successfully turned the heel and am about to begin knitting my way up the leg. The other sock is ready to have its heel created, too. There are a few errors in the knitting; While doing the hearts motif I was listening to Runrig on my headphones and lost track of the counting, so some of the hearts aren’t quite right. By the time I noticed it was too late for frogging. And while doing the heel, the pattern required using short rows with a wrapped stitch at the beginning and then picking up the wrap with the stitch and knitting or purling them together. Sounds easy, right? Well, try doing that with black yarn in the late evening and under rather dim lighting. Not to mention that my eyesight is not too good at present. However, I got through rather well, I think and the heel looks fine to me.

Today, with snow coming tonight for the firs time this autumn, we went to Vernon again so that I could buy a pair of thick work socks, some heavy work gloves for shovelling snow and the like and some more candied ginger. My cousin is a very kind man and made time to take me to the Twisted Purl again, where I put in an order for a few colours I feel I need before I begin the next pair of socks and another ball of the black for this pair. The Purl was out of the black but ready to make another order, so I asked for not only the black but also a medium green, a slightly golden yellow and I think another colour. And as long as I was in the store . . . I bought these:

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Two balls of dark green, one of a light blue, one of  a darker blue and one each of the three reds I’m already using in the current socks. We were in a bit of a rush to get all the shopping done and get home before dark, so I didn’t want to take time over the colours and order more. I think I can make these work, though. I have a happy pattern in mind for the legs of the next pair and I’ll share that with you all once I get to that. It’s all part of the plan for next year . . .

The third thing I’m grateful for today is my odd knack for baking ‘on the fly’; adapting recipes that I’ve never made before I make them and then having it all work out so well. Usually, anyway. Yesterday my cousin’s wife, Cousin S, gave me five bananas she had brought home from her work as a school custodian. They had black spots on the skins but were still firm. She mentioned that she had been thinking of banana bread and had Googled for a recipe, finding one for Chocolate Banana Bread. I offered to whip that up, as she rarely has time for baking and after lunch I set to. I added chopped walnuts, whole wheat flour and wheat germ to the original recipe (I like to maximize nutrition as much as possible). I doubled the recipe so that I could use all the bananas and when I found the batter a bit dry I added some yoghurt. In the end, we got twenty four muffins out of the recipe. I chose to do muffins instead of a loaf as it makes it easier to pack one for lunch and, wrapped individually, they keep very well in the fridge. They turned out scrumptious, especially hot from the oven with butter after I split them open. The chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either; they formed wee volcanoes of deliciousness that I’m sure you can imagine.

I will share the recipe here, likely tomorrow. It was very easy and well worth it.


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

INGREDIENTS for a single recipe: makes 12 muffins or one loaf.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1/2 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter). This will work with less sugar.

1 large egg at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take one out, so I used a cold egg. You could use 2 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour)

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

INGREDIENTS for a double recipe: makes 24 muffins or two loaves.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

1 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali. I used a couple of heaping tablespoons more; we like chocolate around here.

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

5 – 6 large brown bananas – 3 cups mashed. I confess I didn’t measure them. Hence the yoghurt added at the end.

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter) This will work with less sugar.

2 large eggs at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take them out, so I used cold eggs. You could use 3 – 4 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

1 to 2 cups raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour). I didn’t use raisins this time; cousin M has requested them for next timre, as he loves the large raisins we buy.

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

Variation: I think these would be wonderful made with chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger, too. But I love candied ginger! lol

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

Grease one or two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or one or two 12 hole muffin pans, I use a non-hydrogenated margarine made with olive oil. Safflower oil would likely work, too. I like the margarine because it isn’t absorbed so much by the muffins / loaves.

In a medium sized bowl mix the flours, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter.Add the butter and oil. Stir until well mixed.stir in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, folding in carefully. I usually add the dry mix in three portions; it makes the folding in easier. Don’t overmix.

IF the mixture seems too dry, add a few heaping tblsp of plain or vanilla yoghurt. Milk can also be used. Use your judgement; less is more sometimes.

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

Using a large serving spoon or a tablespoon (a small metal measuring cup would also work, I think), spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the loaf pans.

Optional: Spoon a little of the topping mix onto each muffin or top the loaves with it, if using. I didn’t and they were fine without it. It’s my idea, not from the original recipe; I just thought it would fancy them up for a special occasion.

If making a loaf, the original recipe calls for baking it for 50 – 65 minutes. I’d test them from about 30 minutes on, using a toothpick or table knife. When it comes out clean, remove from the oven, let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.

If making muffins, bake for about 15 – 20 minutes and then test to see if they need more time. Every oven is different. I had mine in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes and it was a wee bit too long; the chocolate didn’t burn, but it would have if I’d not checked them.

These muffins are fantastic eaten hot, split open and buttered. You may want to make tea, coffee or your favourite hot drink to enjoy along with them.


I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It’s well after midnight now and bed is calling me . . .

Correction:

I didn’t link to The Twisted Yarn’s Three Things on Thursday post. And a good thing, too! I was doing my best to get back to more timely posting and typed that from memory. Actually, the Thankful on Thursday posts belong to Mrs. Snail. My apologies to both ladies.

It’s too dark for me to type properly as it is. I’ll add that tomorrow, too. In the meantime, do share your Three Things / Thankful in the comments, if you feel inspired to do so. Love and warm hugs to each of you. I hope you are all doing well.

A final addition: This is what I woke up to today:

And, as to my Peace Poppies for Kendal; they arrived in time. In this photo you can see two of them quite clearly (the ones with the red bit around their black centre):

The second photo shows the WWI medical tent over which the poppies were draped after being fastened together by some wonderful volunteers.