Those days between Christmas and New Year's Eve when the world demands nothing from you, and you awaken deep in thought as to what the day will bring, - not knowing, just in anticipation.
I spent the whole of December preparing for Christmas.
Gifts, baking, decorating, letters to loved ones, peanut brittle and candied walnuts, and lemon curd, - always lemon curd. Nothing gets left out, even though there is only me, the anticipated family visits and the voice of my loved one saying from the past "that's enough, enough - you are doing too much".
I know it, and the old familiar traditions are so ingrained in me I just go merrily along, with the result being a fridge full of goodies, boxes of shortbread, even after all I gave away, - and me, nibbling my way through the contemplative days, sifting through the book shelves, tidying up the wrapping papers and ribbons and boxes and bags, doing a little bit of weaving, reading old Journals and wondering what this next year will bring.
Christmas Eve began with a candle-light service and then Oyster Stew for all who could come. I did a beef stew for those who could be here but couldn't abide Oysters (not properly brought up in the same tradition as my parents, and that of our children who learned to love them).
Here is a picture of great granddaughter Olivia, discussing with Kim the placement of the angel in the nativity scene.
The flowers on the altar in memory of Charles
And the little ones at their own small table for Christmas Dinner.
So I think about this coming year, which begins with my birthday, - mine and Jesse's, a dear great grandchild. He was born on my ninetieth birthday, and will be four on January 2nd. Which means of course, that I will be ninety-four, and that continues to astound me. I have been six years without my Beloved, and so the days go, on and on and on it seems. I look back in my geneology and discover that there are others in bygone days who have lived well into this same decade, but it was beyond my expectations. And I have to say I love every minute of it!!!
The one great hole is the loss of my dear one, but I have long conversations with him about various things, and I know what his answer would be to many of my questions or appeals for advice.....
Our dear children couldn't be more solicitous, helpful and loving so the hole is not as deep and dark as it could be!!!
And the little furry ones!
The days are not all contemplative, - some of them are full of plans. Limited plans, - one's mobility does not approve of gallivanting around, but the looms are here, close by, and the making of cloth a great satisfaction and a wonderful way to fill my days.
So as I contemplate I also anticipate, and 2019 seems to offer many days of enjoyment and satisfaction.
I hope it is the same for you, and wish each and every one the happiest of New Years.
This day didn't turn out anything like I had thought it would when I woke at six and immediately rose up to let Bruce out, - he not yet used to the clock being turned back one hour, so that when I get up, even at six, it is probably an hour past the time when he usually goes out and attends to morning ablutions and such!
This morning there was a small puddle of pee and a small brown pine cone like object , along with a small dog looking mournful and saying, 'sorry, sorry, sorry - I just couldn't wait!!!'
Well, that was unexpected - not on my list of things to do at all! I must stay up later tonight.....
It does take these little ones a while to get used to daylight savings time - their little mental clock has nothing to do with the tick-tock that gets changed back and forth twice a year, and it seems quite reasonable to them to start expecting supper at four o'clock, which would normally be five.
Well, that taken care of, I had breakfast and a second cup of coffee with my daughter and son-in-law who share that early morning delight on the days she is not working. Once the visit was done and my visitors had helped me put the beater and the reed back on the loom I had every intention of spending the morning, sleying the reed!!!! Then I would be able to tie on and start weaving the Christmas towels, - all red, white and green!
In order to do that I was going to have to ignore the 11 0'clock ukulele practice at the Senior's Centre, - but alas, there was a telephone call reminding me of the importance of the practice because the 'choir' would be present to sing along and make our singing of 'Enjoy Yourself" and 'Buffalo Girls' (etc) more hearty than it usually is.
So I looked unhappily at the reed which wasn't about to get sleyed, and went off with my uke, my music, and a grocery list to fill before I came home again...
I found a great parking spot where I was not going to have to back out, and as I descended the SUV my two youngest sons pulled in beside me, all smiles....
One of them on his way to Penticton, and the other prepared to come and do some garden work for me after shopping. Well, that was lovely, but we had to have lunch first (lasagna (sp) which I picked up at the Deli) and a little visit over cookies and milk.
We talked a bit about him driving the car to Penticton so I could visit the Doctor and the Audiologist
(I don't drive to out of town any more - not that I am not able and capable, but too many children worrying and putting their collective feet down!!!!) I phoned, and made the appointments for next week, and eventually he went off to attend to leaves that had fallen and I gave a little thought to making some more cookies for the children at Remembrance Day.
My ego said that the ones I had already made had spent too much time in the oven and became quite crisp. I know the kids who were to partake of cookies and cocoa would not object, but said ego wouldn't allow me to send second rate cookies with my name on the cookie tin!!!! Heavens to Betsy!!! At my age!!!!!
By the time the cookies were out of the oven (this time quite acceptable, - soft and smelling delicious - there was little time left to sley the reed, but I did go into the loom room and managed to snag at least three inches (54 ends) through the reed. At this point my back began to winge, reminding me that we hadn't had our usual little after lunch nap, so to appease the back I went and poured a little brandy and had a before supper drink while I watched the news!!
So much for sleying the reed!!!
That is on my list for tomorrow morning, when I promise myself I won't be distracted.
Right now Callie, the cat, is stretched out beside me and the PC and I think we will spend the rest of the evening watching Netflix, making sure that we stay up long enough that Bruce's bladder isn't put to the test before morning comes again!!!
...and true to its melancholy ways it comes into our lives on the dreariest of days.
Dark, damp, foggy and miserable - October has stolen away with her sunshine and bright blue skies, and the leaves that still cling to the trees try in vain to glow, but it would seem they have been dipped into the most shadowy of mordents to sadden their brave colours.
So dull and dark are the November days
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze,
The place we occupy seems all the world.
John Clare - November.
So that is November!
This photo was taken six years ago, in the early days of November when I was making daily trips to the hospital as my beloved struggled in vain to live, and the memories it evokes do not lighten my spirit, or make me more accepting of November's funereal depicture.....
However, Time has a gracious way of softening life's realities, and memories and gratitude eventually
do teach us acceptance and the way to cope with day to day living. So last night when the children came around for Halloween I remembered with gratitude the lovely Halloween nights when Charles and I used to dress up to greet them at the door, and the grandchildren came back later for cocoa and cookies, and it was good.
If we must endure November, looking back at happy times
and looking forward to April brightens the days....
I haven't yet got the Christmas music out but the looms will soon be warped
with Christmas towels and scarves.
That seems to make November bearable - even pleasurable!
I have my Fannie Farmer Cookbook out tonight, - Callie peers over my shoulder as I search the index for "date" recipes...
Not my favourite cooking ingredient, but I find myself with ten cups of dates lurking in my cupboard, and I must do something with them, - something besides date squares which I would always pass over if there was some other goodie available.....
These dates arrived with an equal amount of raisins and unsalted peanuts, part of the 'loot' that was passed around the community when the summer fire fighters (whose main operational and dining room was here in Keremeos) all went home and left the cupboards bulging with supplies......
Peanuts and raisins are no problem, but what shall I do with all those dates!!
I remember the date loaves my mother used to make, and cannot truthfully say they appealed to me, but perhaps a loaf or two in the church freezer could be passed around at coffee time after meetings or services....
Fannie Farmer gives instructions for honey date and nut bars, stuffed dates and muffins. I am drawn to look up the recipe for lebkuchen (page 566) . Dense and moist, says the introduction to the actual recipe ---- good for a picnic sweet. We shall see!! (This, by the way, is not to be confused with the classic German Gingerbread type of Lebkuchen)
The recipe calls for the grated rind and juice of one lemon and two oranges, to which you add one pound of pitted dates, cut small, and let it marinate for one hour.
In the meantime you beat four eggs until light, add one pound of dark brown sugar, two cups of flour, one quarter teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of instant coffee, two teaspoons of baking powder and two teaspoons of cinnamon. Beat until well blended!!
All of this sounds fairly exotic, and makes me think of palm trees and the sheiks ladies.
To continue, it is time to add one cup of walnuts to the marinating dates, and to stir them into the egg/sugar/flour mixture....which should then be spread in a 12 x 15 inch pan and baked for thirty minutes.
When cool mix up a nice icing using three tablespoons of orange juice, one teaspoon of melted butter, and a cup or more of confectioners sugar. This you spread on to the lebkuchen, which you cut it into one and one half inch squares, and pop it into the picnic basket, I guess.
Well, it sounds better than that heavy date loaf
If by chance I should try it (if I am not able to distribute this ten cups of dates among my friends who love dates) - well, if by chance I should try to make lebkuchen, I will let you know the outcome....
This is a lovely opportunity to listen to the Sheik of Araby with the Ukulele, - I'm sure there is some connection to dates -great music, at least, for all us ukulele players!!
Half way through the month and I have been looking at some of the wonderful October pictures on my son's camera....pictures he has taken as he and our youngest son do maintenance on the various internet stations located on the tops of mountains that surround the Similkameen Valley.
I can remember another fall when Charles and I exclaimed in delight as we drove the back roads.
All autumns are beautiful, but some are simply spectacular!!!!!
In a box of unsorted photos I came across an old picure of me as a child
and some wonderful old pictures of my grandmother
as well as a group of relatives on Robert John's porch
(my great grandfather)
but when I opened this box of old pictures I found
the greatest treasure of all....
My Auntie Hildred's Autograph Albums!
Is anybody besides me old enough to remember Autograph Albums?
They were all the fad....
you got your nearest and dearest to write little verses
and even a casual acquaintance!
And everyone was prepared with kind and sweet words
of wisdom, if they were so moved...
or some wrote humorous ditties.....
My Aunt Hildred was my father's sister,
and it was their father who first initiated the name "Hildred"
into the family
My great-aunt Min wrote a verse I would have been pleased to get...
Let us weave into the warp of our lives here below Beautiful threads as white as snow, That when the last shuttle through the warp has run The great "Mystic Weaver" shall say "Well Done"
At work my Aunt was affectionately known as "Tommy"
as her family name was Thompson
some wag with the initial H.H.
Dear Tommy They walked the lane in silence, The sky was studded with stars, They reached the gate together, And for her he lifted the bars. But this day is long since over, There's nothing between them now For he was just the hired man And she, the old Jersey cow.
In August of 1925 R. Irving of Calgary wrote...
"Lo! As the wind is, So is mortal life, A moan, a sigh, a sob, a storm, a strife"
But Mrs. van Calat had a much less melancholy verse about same wind
and the responsibility for our mortal life!!!!! One ship sails east, and another sails west, With the selfsame winds that blow. 'Tis the set of the sail, And not the gale, Which determines the way you go.
On January 19th 1931, my Aunt's very best friend wrote this...
Does anyone know, does anyone care Where you go or how you fare? Whether you laugh, or whether you sigh Whether you smile or whether you cry? Glad when you're happy, sad when your blue - Does anyone care what becomes of you? I do, old pal, I'll say I do! ever your friend - Eileen
"Tommy" never married, although my mother knitted her a beautiful pink
negligee for her trouseau
(alas, her finacee turned out to be a bounder)
but her lifelong friend who adored her wrote...
"Dear Thomasino - I love you truly, truly Dear"
She didn't marry, but she was so loved by all her family, -
her neices and nephews especially.
On July 10th, 1933, when I was pretty young, I wrote.. Dear Auntie Hildred May your voyage through life be as happy and free, As the dancing waves On the bright blue sea.
and her Mother's words...
In the book of life God's album may your name be penned with care And may all who here have written, write their names forever there.
and my Mother's words
(she who loved her like a sister.)
Dear Hildred Only the actions of the just Smell sweet and blossom in the dust Love - Dolly
So many dear verses of love and caring
but this one I found particularly appropriate!
July 2/33 Dear Tommy I will not wish you riches or a flow of greatness, But that wherever you go Some weary heart may gladden at your smile, Some weary heart know sunshine for awhile And so your years shall be a track of light Like angel footsteps passing thru' the night.
I think this wish defines her life...
she was truly and dearly loved.
I shall pass these precious albums on,
in the hopes that they will be as treasured
as they are now.
On the morning of October 11th, 1918 Canadian troops were advancing north-east of CAMBRAI, preparing to resume their clean-up of the siuation at Iwuy, and in conformity with these plans the 31st Battalion would soon reach Hordain, there to establish a screen of outposts to protect the left flank of the Division
Promply at 9:00 a.m. the Brigade began to move.
"No sooner had the advance commenced, however, than German artillery observers, watching the lines of infantry as they moved forward, signaled to their batteries, and within a few minutes a devastating barrage had been brought down upon the Canadian formation".
For a time hell was loose among the men of Alberta - as they fell the shells detonated off the trees that covered the Battalions assembly area, and the wounds caused by the flying shell splinters were terrible. *
"....the deafening crash of bursting shells, the rending of riven timber and the continual stammer of the machine guns combined in an inferno of din sufficient to strike terror in the heart of the bravest".
The Battle for Cambrai continued through the day and that evening word was received that the 31st Battalion would be relieved during the night, and thus ended the part played by this particular Battalion in the advance of the Canadian Corps upon Cambrai. (information from 'A History of the 31st Battalion')
*My twenty year old father, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, fell victim in the early hours of the battle to the barrage which resulted in the flying shell splinters and a fracture of his right forearm.
In the dreadful confusion of battle it was some time before he reached the Field Hospital, and the wound there was described in his medical records as "very dirty"...."urgent".
In the end an Osteo infection set in, and he spent over a year in hospitals in France, in England, in eastern Canada and finally in the Col. Belcher hospital in Calgary, his home town.
After this lengthy recuperation he was declared fit and discharged on the 19th of December, 1919 and was able to resume a fairly athletic civilian life.
He met my mother, - a nice romance!!
They married, moved to Edmonton and for twenty some years
enjoyed good health and dear friends... a bit of tennis and hockey,
lots of bridge, and a firm foundation in the Anglican Church..
Alas, the Osteo infection which had lain dormant in my father's body
for so many years
came to life, and laid him low for the next two years.
He eventually recovered, but the infection had left him
with a stiff leg, and he required a cane,
not to swing and be debonair
but just for perambulation!!
My cousin, at that time, was a member of the Medical Corps
in the Canadian Army
and on behalf of my father he set the wheels in motion for a pension
and was eventually successful.
My father received a cheque for seven dollars and some cents
from that time until his death.
Ah well, life is such a mixture of happiness and disaster.
I write this on the 100th anniversary of
the Battle for Cambrai
and the 100th anniversary of my father's wounding.
I am so pleased with what I have accomplished in the last few days!!
It is not always so, - sometimes I feel my age and aching bones and spend an afternoon napping and reading. (I should say reading and napping, - that is the sequence!)
But both my floor looms were warped and Sunday I finished a lovely blue, soft, Jagger scarf, - cut it off the Glimakra and after snipping the ends and fixing the errors doused it in the magic of water where all the sweet bits of wool reached out to cling to each other and came out looking like this....
Another Christmas present to keep a loved one cosy....
The wee bit of warp that was left
looks like this......
A nice little cover for a small tabletop
and fun to try a new pattern.
Flushed with success, yesterday I spent the afternoon finishing weaving
a Collapsable Scarf,
and in the evening I dipped it in the magical water
(hot-ish, and with a bit of soap)
After fifteen minutes agitation
the plain, loosely woven warp, striped with deep blue Jagger wool
and pale blue silk.
morphed into this delightful ruffled scarf!
Oh wow! Magical indeed....
Today I plan to replant bulbs in the wonderful rich compost