Saturday, November 28, 2015

Look! Here comes Christmas!

November 28th, 2015

Tomorrow is the First Sunday in Advent, and although Advent is supposed to be a time of contemplation and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child it is also all mixed up with eternal batches of shortbread for Christmas gifts, writing Christmas letters, buying presents, wrapping presents, putting up lights, decorating trees, Christmas luncheons, Christmas dinners, Christmas drinks parties, and for the little ones great wonder and excitement...

So how do we give to Advent the recognition and honour that is due the season????

When the children were home an Advent Log centered  Sunday Night's supper  table
during Advent.
The candle of peace, the candle of hope, the candle of joy and the candle of love.

The children took turns reciting the advent prayer, and then everybody, parents included, picked the name of another family member from a special container, and were bound to do something nice for that person each day during the coming week, secretly.

Of course there were sidelong glances and sometimes groans, but it did lend a little solemnity and thoughtfulness to the days leading up to Christmas.

There were years when we had very little money, and often December included handicrafts and special secretive projects.  The children received their share of mittens, wooden stick horses, shields and homemade swords, and sweaty little hands plyed needle and thread, making little loving presents. or fashioning little figures or ashtrays out of play dough and painting them bright colours.

And everybody helped clean silver (of which we received great quantities as wedding gifts, having been married directly after the war before electrical appliances became available again) although it wasn't a job anyone volunteered for until David, our grandson stepped up to the plate one year and made the plates and platters and creams and sugars gleam like new.

We had an Advent Calendar as well, but not the  kind where you open the door to the day's treat of chocolate or candy, - instead, behind each door was hidden a message of preparation 
for the Great Day.

I see today a combination of the old tradition of Advent Calendars with an awareness of the true meaning of Advent, and hope does that eternal springiness thing in my heart.

For each day a suggestion for random acts of kindness, opening our eyes to the needs that surround us
and the opportunity to make our spirit more lovingly aware.

These are all lovely memories, but the present finds me contemplating a much quieter Christmas.
There will be no Christmas bake sale and coffee morning at the church this year. but this evening I'm going to make the first of the 'eternal' shortbread that I plan to tuck into every family's Christmas bag, and although there is no Christmas pudding there will be family for Christmas dinner.  No magical midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve as there was in days of yore, alas,
 - but does the hour really matter?

I didn't really mean to meander so long in memory lane, - Christmas is Christmas no matter which generation is celebrating it, and underneath all the commercialization there is still the matter of the heart, where love and generosity reign, and even if one scoffs at angels and shepherds and magi there is always the longing for Peace on Earth and good will to mankind.

So that's what December is all about, - at least for me, and I hope that for you
 it is happy and full of wonder., wonderful baking smells
and the rustle of wrapping paper and tying of bows,
and beneath it all the stillness that brings peace.

Edward Hays, in A Pilgrim's Almanac says

"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our  busy preparations
for the celebration of Christ's birth in ancient Bethlehem,
Christ is re born in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives.

Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery
that looks so common and so ordinary
yet is so wondrously present."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Immense Journey

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

What am I reading these days?

I'm reading Loren Eiseley, - yes, I'm re-reading once again The Immense Journey and am delighted with the prose and poetry of the words and the vast scope of his awareness of nature and humankind, from the very beginning to the inevitable end....

There was a time when most of Loren Eiseley's books found space upon our shelves, - a time when all the children were in school,  when Charles, with his charismatic leadership was involved right up to HERE with the farm and volunteer work in education and agriculture.

I turned in wonderment to reading, went back to college and became immersed in philosophy, english literature, and the naturalists and philosophers of the day;  Loren Eiseley, H.H. Swinnerton, Robert Ardrey, Ashley Montagu, Desmond Morton, Asimov, Lewis Thomas and Will and Ariel Durant.  A wonderful time, - I had always loved school, and here I was, back to learning and writing and reading, and my head full of new ideas and visions.  Loren Eisely was high on my list of favourites - fascinated with the potential paths he led me down and delighted with his words and imagery....

"...our heads, the little globes which hold the midnight sky and the shining, invisible universes of thought, have been taken about as much for granted as the growth of a yellow pumpkin in the fall"

"we have joined the caravan, you might say, at a certain point;  we will travel as far as we can, but we cannot in a lifetime see all that we would like to see or learn all that we hunger to know."

These quotes from "The Immense Journey"

And then, of course, there is the story adapted from
The Star Thrower (by Eiseley) wherein a an elderly man comes upon a young boy throwing starfish abandoned on the beach by the tide, back into the ocean.

And when the old man remonstrates with the boy, pointing out that the number of starfish
are beyond saving,
 and he cannot expect to make a difference,
the boy replies, as he throws one more starfish
 into the water, -
"Well, it will make a difference to this one.

"A modern moral quotation.

 Loren Eiseley sees the magic and mystery of life, from the time when
we first crawled from water to dry land, and acknowledges its importance to our survival.

"I am sure now that life is not what it is purported to be and that nature, in the canny
words of the Scotch theologue, "is not as natural as it looks."

Says Eiseley - "At the core of the universe, the face of God wears a smile"

and he cautions....

"The need is not really for more brains, the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear.  The hand that hefted the ax, out of some old blind allegiance to the past fondles the machine gun as lovingly.  It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Terrace, British Columbia

ABC Wednesday
November 25th, 2015

The letter is T for Terrace, B.C.

Terrace lies in the beautiful Skeena River Valley amidst the Coast mountain Range and was named for the natural terraces cut by the Skeena River over the past centuries.

It is literally a city built within a forest, surrounded by National Parks with
endless tracts of trees, sweet mountain air, hanging valleys and beautiful lakes.

The First Nation people of Terrace are one of North America's oldest populations
still occupying the same land as their ancestors did.  
There are a number of First Nation villages in northwestern B.C., 
and closest to the city of Terrace
is the Kitselas and Kitsumkallum, occupied by the Tsimshian people.

Kitselas canyon, a favourite place to explore

and the Kitselas People seated around their Beaver House Totem in 1912

in modern times

                                                                the Kitsumkallum peoples

an Indian canoe on the lake

the Long House

The west Coast of British Columbia abounds in Totem poles, - in Stanley Park, 
Vancouver, in northern villages and the island of Haida Quai

Originally called Eby's Landing Terraxce began in 1901 as a telegraph station on the Dominion Telegraph Line, and in 1905 was a port of call for sternwheelers pllying the Skeen River, establishing the town's important role in future transportation in the Skeena River Valley.

George Little, the founding father of the town, tired of the Gold Rush and settled in Terrace in 1905, built a sawmill in 1911, and established the area economically.  Today
the forest continues to provide the mainstay of the area.

Terrace is home to "Ursus americanus "kermodei", the rare white Kermode Bear, and this statue in the town is dedicated to the "Spirit Bear", honouring the traditional legend that the spirits of these bears help humans in distress and protect then from evil spirits.The Kermode bear is a pale colour form of the black bear, and it is protected by law in B.C.

The area abounds in wildlife

Grizzlies,(there is a Sanctuary) wolves, cougar, black bears, bald eagles
and is a wonderfully inviting spot for fishermen.

The town has a renowned Farmer's Market, a golf course, many hiking and biking trails through  forest stands of Sitka spruce and Western Red Cedar, an Art Gallery, beaches and  interesting Heritage Buildings at the Terrace Heritage Park
 representing the distinct aspect of pioneer life.

How will you get there?  

By air, by rail or by road.....

A wonderful part of British Columbia to explore.

Lots more interesting Ts here, at ABC Wednesday, and many
thanks to all who make this great meme available
week by week.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

While dusting

The sun shone quite nicely this morning.  The windows have been cleaned, inside and out, so nothing  there to cast a guilty shadow.  But, ah, the dust!!!

I set aside my coffee, - mopped the floors and started dusting with my nice new scarlet microfibre duster....  

By the time I had reached the book shelves I had lost quite a bit of my original impetus, and I lingered a while, pulling out a book here and there.

Ah, there is Jan Karon, and her 'Continual Feast'

The invitation was palpable!!!

Warm up the coffee and have a little brouse through Father Tim's words of comfort and celebration.......

The face page declares this to be an edition of the words of others,
gathered together to inspire and comfort
and probably to advance the sale of Ms Karon's books
about the beloved Father Tim.

"I have gathered a posy of other men's flowers, 
and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own".
                                                        John Bartlett

I leaf through the pages and come upon this....

"Great works are performed not by strength
but by perseverance".  Samuel Johnson

Well, I am sure Samuel Johnson was not interested in my dusting
when he referred to 'great works'........

I flip over and find by an unknown author, but in Father Tim's own hand writing

"Eternal God, I thank you that I am growing old.  It is
a privilege that many have been denied. 
 Spare me the self pity that shrivels the soul...  
and grant me daily some moments living on tiptoe,
 lured by the eternal city...."

This sounds more appealing.....I am grateful and I do look for Tiptoe Moments

but I turn the page, and find here some words on Bereavement....

and they touch my heart.

"It is not that we feel cut off from the bigger spiritual relationship which
survives death, but from the hundred and one lesser links which
bind people together, incidental things which when looked back on seem
of enduring significance but which were taken so much for granted
at the time.  The other person's sense of humor, prejudices, moods,
all that has gone.  For the rest of our lives we shall have to do without
his mannerisms, his shyness, his ways of pronouncing things.

The voice is silent - we had expected it would be - but that the
yawns and bursts of laughter will never be repeated is almost more than we can bear...
These moments were not passing moments at all.  
They had something in them of eternity."

Herbert van Zetter, Moments of Light.

I am lost in memories, the duster forgotten for the moment
but the next page I open releases me from guilty idlesness....

"Work is not always required... there's such a thing as sacred idleness, 
the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected."

George Macdonald

There, not only released, but released into worthiness...

and then I read from Macbeth

"Cans't thou not minister to a mind diseas'd, pluck from the
memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written trouble
of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse 
the bosom of that perilous
 stuff which weights upon the heart".

and I sigh a bit, pick up the duster and look out upon the sunshine
and smile at the quail which have gathered to feed.

After the work is done I practise on my new ukulele!!!!
That is another story......
I know all the chords to Silent Night so
am getting ready for Christmas!

Watch for a progress report!

Monday, November 16, 2015


ABC Wednesday
November 18th, 2015

The letter is S for Summerland

"There no cloud shall dim the sky, in that happy home on high,
In that heavenly Summer Land, in that heavenly Summer Land."
excerpt from a spiritualist hymn

Said to have been the inspiration for the name of the town, certain to
 entice settlers to come west to a heavenly Summerland 
(and there were a lot of Baptists in early Summerland!)

and still are....  here is the Baptist church - a fine
church with a great men's choir in which our oldest son sings !

Originally the area was called Nicola Prairie after Grand Chief Nicola of the Okanagan Nation - successful hunter/gathers who had been in the area for many hundreds of years.

A few major First Nations trails passed through Nicola Prairie in the early days, and
they were used by fur traders and later miners on their way to the gold rush.
The excellent grasslands along the route attracted ranchers and orchardists.

The first Summerland town site was incorporated in 1906, on Okanagan Lake
where the sternwheeler boats delivered goods and people imported fruit to market.
When the population ran out of growing room houses and businesses began
appearing on the flat lands above and a land deal was negotiated with the First Nation's
people from Siwash Flat, making room for a new townsite which became the
Summerland of today, - a pretty and cheerful town with leafy boulevards and
a wonderful combination of history, arts, culture, wineries, and the fruit industry.

An  extinct volcanic mountain dominates the skyline - Giant's Head, so named
because of it's resemblance to a face on one side of the mountain.

The clay cliffs that line the road leading to Summerland from Penticton
make a magnificent entrance.

The town itself is surrounded by sumptuous orchards and wineries

Lots of wineries!!!

There is a self-guided walking tour of the original town site on the shores of Okanagan Lake,
and more up Giant's Head and in the surrounding hills.

Summerland is the site of a provincial Agricultural Research Station,
with beautiful lawn and gardens - a lovely place to picnic and explore.

There is a Marina and sail boats to accompany it....

Zia's restaurant in an old stone house of pioneer vintage, where we love to lunch or dine....

The main street...

and the piece de resistance - a steam railway!!!

 The Spirit of Summerland

A restored 1912 steam locomotive pulls the combination of vintage rail cars and open observation cars through the farmland of Prairie Valley, around the base of Giant's Head Mountain, ending on Trout Creek Bridge, the tallest on the KVR at 240 feet, 
providing excellent views of Trout Creek Canyon.

There are special events from May until September featuring a Great Train Robbery
and at Christmas the Train Morphs into a Santa Express.

Videos below that celebrate these events.....

Summerland is within travelling distance for tea, here in Keremeos!!

Click here for more great Ss with thanks to Roger and Denise
and all helpers, saintly or sinful.

Photos all from Sir Google
November 16th, 2015

....amd Life is Eternal and Love is Immortal,

and Death is only an horizon, 

and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight....
                                                                      Rossiter Raymond
Rest in Peace,  my love

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


ABC Wednesday
November 11th, 2015

First of all R is for Remembrance Day  

and secondly, the letter is R for Revelstoke

An area rich in bears  - brown, black and grizzly bear habitat.  Hence their welcome sign!

A major winter destination, Revelstoke is not one of those chic, 'cookie-cutter' ski villages.  For more than a hundred years it has been a railroad town. and before the railroad came to town it was very nuch a wild west town complete with general stores, hotels, brothels and saloons.

Originally it was called Farwell, after the surveyor who laid out the town.  However, when the Canadian Pacific Railway reached here they disputed Farwell's claim to the land, locating their station and yards east of his land and in 1886 the name of the settlement was changed to Revelstoke, to honour Lord Revelstoke, whose banking firm provided the funds to ensure the completion of the railway from  coast to to coast.


Just down the track from Revelstoke is Craigallachie, where the Last Spike was driven, joining East to West, and where there is a small railway car museum and a gift shop to draw tourists to this historic spot

When Charles' Lancaster crew visited western Canada for their last reunion in 1997 there were two or three railway buffs amongst them, and they stopped to see the Mountaineer go through and to heft the hammer representing the one which drove the Last Spike!

To get back to Revelstoke and its early years.... the town was once one of the largest and most prominent communities in the interior of the province, mostly due to its importance as a railway centre.  Steamboat traffic from the south connected with the CPR making this an important transportation centre.  The city has many sophisticated facilities, - an opera house, a fully equipped YMCA gym, and many large businesses and department stores.

The town still maintains its traditional ties with the CPR and has a strong connection to the railway industry, but today mining, forestry, government services and tourism play a strong role in Revelstoke's economic success.

It is also the location of the Revelstoke Dam, constructed on the Columbia River.

But you have not yet seen the beauty of Revelstoke.

A birdseye view.....

Revelstoke has long been a skiing town.  Norwegian immigrants brought skiing and ski jumping to Revelstoke and by 1910 several ski jumping hills had been built around the town.  Due to the heavy snowfall in the area the town is home to four heli-skiing and two cat-skiing operations with numerous backcountry skiing lodges.

In the summer these same hills are covered with wildflowers and mountain bikers.....

In the town itself the railroad aspect makes itself known in the famous Railroad Museum.

and the picturesque streets

 Revelstoke National Park, and Mount Revelstoke

How to get to this wonderful spot

More interesting Rs here, with many thanks to Roger, Denise
and their uber reliable helpers.