Saturday, September 22, 2007

O when, O when will my ego let me rest and prepare myself for the rocking chair and the knitting needles.

When I think Knitting Needles do I think "cotton dishcloths" ?

NO, - I immediately am drawn to knitting socks on two circular needles - a mystery to me now.

But also a Challenge.

I could do that.......

What fun........

Where, and How Soon can I get instructions and the necessary needles.
Being the shame faced owner of a 60 year old stash of needles and yarn, taking up space in the second walk-in closet that is sorely needed for other things, finding the necessary tools to take along on this Knitting adventure is really not a problem.

What really is a problem is that I promised Husband and myself that I would finish the warp on the Glimakra and prepare the loom for storage, so we could reclaim the room it dominates.

The Promissory Note comes due on the 30th of September, and it is blatant evidence of an ego out of control that I should even be thinking of taking on another project, - let alone sitting here writing about it.

I shall slink away to the card table and put all thoughts of circular socks out of my head while I strive to beat Husband at the nightly game of cards.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The wringer washer and its place in my life or a little nostalgia (a very little)

I have to confess it has never held a very LARGE place in my life, - the wringer washer. It was not exactly a priority, - something I could just not live without.....

But an awareness of the wringer washer did arrive fairly early in my childhood.

I have mentioned the Water Glass container that lurked in our basement, and whose main purpose in life (besides preserving eggs in a most fiendish manner) was to scare the living daylights out of small children.

As small children grew a little older and more capable they were introduced to the wringer washer, which I was told we were really fortunate to have. It was one step up from the scrubbing board, - which was one step up from pounding with stones and mashing with feet..... It was accompanied by a slatted foldable table on which sat two rinse tubs (sometimes used for bathing children or giving them a treat on hot days - pre-plastic swimming pools). We were fortunate in that we didn't have to heat water, but could rely on a hot water tap and hose to fill the washer and the tubs. However, our nemesis was the wringer that moved around from tub to tub.

The washer we had was a vile beast that lay in wait for
whoever was chosen to be washer woman this week. It had a wringer that periodically went berserk, whirling around and around at a furious pace, catching anyone who was unaware of impending doom and was within the radius of its mad circling. Its secret weapon was surprise, - it didn't always act up, - sometimes it was docile and cooperative, lulling one into forgetfulness and complacency. So that when it DID indulge in its wild round-a-bout the danger was particularly sudden, and resulted in shrieks and screams and frantic dancing to and fro as one reached for the plug to quieten its madness.

I have discovered
that a " Berserker" was a furious Scandinavian warrior of heathen times, and it describes our wringer washer to a T. The dictionary tells me it was, in fact a "legendary Norse warrior whose frenzy in battle caused their transformation into a wolf or bear, made them howl and foam at the mouth (hence ‘to go berserk’), and granted immunity to sword and flame. Such warriors were an elite associated particularly with the raging war god Odin ". (if you click on Odin you can probably find out more about this subject.)

I think because I had a Scandinavian name (meaning noble woodcutter's daughter) it was especially drawn to inflict its machinations upon me. Although I do consider that
my sister would probably challenge this statement, having enduring many a frightening flight from the Mad Wringer herself.

I had a milder version of the wringer washer when I was first married, and also a scrub board, - the day the automatic washer entered our house was certainly a celebratory one. But I still have the washboard.......... I use it for felting and cherish it as an antique.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Theodore Roethke and Ogden Nash
Sit side by each on my library shelf

If you examine the following rhymes

Can you randomly choose who penned which after being inspired by a hippopotamus???

The Hippo

A Head or Tail - which does he lack?

I think his Forward's coming back..
He lives on Carrots, Leeks and Hay;
He starts to yawn-it takes All Day

Some time I think I'll live that way.

Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

Such widely divergent poets - Nash, the light hearted humorist, whose verse almost verges on the ditty, but who, nevertheless, was widely acknowledged in literary circles.

And Roethke, whose dark spirit caused him such mental anguish during his lifetime, and who, besides his nonsense poems, wrote such poignant lines -

not easily come by.
When opposites come suddenly in place,
I teach my eyes to hear, my ears to see
How body from spirit slowly does unwind
Until we are pure spirit at the end."

And his words from "The Waking" so often quoted - "I wake to sleep and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go."

And yet some of his poetry rivals Ogden Nash for light-heartedness and breakthroughs in the use of language.

They were peers, Nash and Roethke, - both of them affected by the depression of the thirties in that they did not have the necessary money to finance their educations.

Roethke, much more serious, won many awards for his writing.

Nash made his way into the hearts of people dealing with a difficult time in the thirties and forties of the last century. His books have been with me for over sixty years, - well thumbed, and much of his verse is imprinted on the inner pages of my brain. They make me smile and lift my spirits, and besides that I admire his wit and his wonderful comments on reality.

The Parent
Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.

Family Court

One would be in less danger
From the wiles of the stranger
If one's own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.

And, of course, - "Candy is dandy - but liquor is quicker!"

Roethke is later coming to my book shelf, but I value him equally for the beauty of his language, and the poignancy of his thoughts.

"Come littlest, come tenderest,

Come whispering over the small waters, Reach me Rose, sweet one, still moist in the loam,
Come, come out of the shade, the cool ways,
The long alleys of string and stem.
Lean from the tiers and benches,
Cyclamen dripping and lilies.
What fish ways you have, littlest flowers,
Swaying over the walks in the watery air,
Drowsing in the soft light, petals pulsing."

His father's greenhouse, with its benches and greenery and warm fragrance, comes alive for me, and I am in awe of how he perceives......

Roethke wrote "The Hippo" - a dead give-away is the last line.

Nash wrote "The Hippopotamus" - a nice little bit of reality in comic verse.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thank you to Mrs. Morrison...

Mrs. Morrison was my Grade 4 teacher, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. I thought about this when I was rummaging through old music and came across my father's favourite, " Charmaine" and also a copy of Ketelbey's "Monastery Garden".

Who could resist Ketelbey, - that wonderfully showy music that gives young students heart that some day they will be able to WOW their audience. That and the "Flower Song" of crossed hands fame.

I was alone in the house, and I sat right down and indulged myself in a dramatic frenzy of arpeggio's, deep chords and bell notes, and it all came flowing back through my fingers as if I had played it yesterday, rather than fifty years ago! The birds trilled in the garden, and the Monks chanted the Kyrie Eleison and I marveled at the way fingers and brain (and probably neurons) worked together to bring such satisfaction. (I must look for the Persian Marketplace, and Husband reminds me of Nevin's Narcissus which he used to play with great dexterity)

I owe it all to Mrs. Morrison.

She it was who approached a piano teacher, recommending that I have piano lessons to "broaden my education". What a gift that a result my soon to be piano teacher, Mrs. Shillabeer, offered my parents the opportunity to send me to her for lessons each and every Tuesday, for the sum of fifty cents. Hard to believe in this day and age, but the combination of her generosity and the economic times of the Thirties made this a price that was just barely affordable.

Before Kathleen was married she taught from her studio, upstairs in her parents' house. You waited on a bench at the bottom of the stairs while she finished with the student before you, - either marveling at that student's proficiency, or feeling buoyed up if you felt you had your lesson up to scratch and wouldn't disappoint.

One of the really excruciating experiences was the semi annual Piano Recital.

I didn't mind the yearly exams so much, and by the time I was ready to compete in Music Festivals my confidence was a little steadier. But Piano Recitals, - ah, I shudder when I remember. Always dressed to the nines, with parents present, and the eternal fear that you would forget your notes and mess up your performance. Even the goodies that followed didn't compensate for the butterflies.

Until their deaths a few years ago Kathleen and her husband, Walter, were good and cherished friends. When they came to B.C. they visited the farm, and letters flowed between us sporadically.

I miss seeing Kathleen's writing on a Christmas card, or note, but I treasure the memories I have of her, as a teacher and a friend.

However, my most profound thanks must go to the teacher who saw the potential and acted out of kindness to bring music into my life. I have only a vague memory of what she looked like, but I am in awe of her perception. I never did get beyond the proficiency stage, but the many joys I have had, and the little bits of teaching I have been able to pass on, have made my life much richer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Day of Surprises

Surprise No. 1

I traipsed up the church aisle this morning, hoping that the dead "F" on the organ had been fixed, and I would not be confined to playing hymns in any Key that contained F#.

I arrived at the organ, and something was not right.

There stood a replacement for the old familiar organ that has become a friend since I learned all its idiosyncrasies and no, it wasn't a replica of the beautiful pipe organ shown above.

Rather it was an old, but still elegant, Hammond L102, completely foreign to me, - the big white tabs labelled full organ, soft, etc. etc, didn't take too much imagination to manipulate, but all the drawbars with numbered figures from 1 to 8 on each one, were a complete mystery.

What do elderly ladies do when faced with a surprise of this magnitude, - well, if they're versatile, they cope. So I gathered all my versatility around me, and I must say that after so many years it has grown rather thin and scarce on the ground. Nevertheless there was enough to enable me to get through the service, rush home and google the Hammond L102. With surprising results, - I was fascinated by its history and the possibilities of making it sound just a little like the gorgeous pipe organ... Just a little was enough to pique my interest, and Husband and I will go to the Church one morning this week and see what marvels (if any) we can draw out of those numbered bars.

Second Surprise..

Ah, what a pleasure it was. A visit from our new Great Granddaughter, and her wonderful parents. Dear child, - she will not remember visiting her great grandparents, but we will cherish the chance to hold her and marvel at each tiny perfection, - the little baby fingers that grasped her Daddy's thumb so tightly, the lovely little three cornered smile of content, and the tender gassy smile of delight.

Happy, happy Great Grands.....