Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Happy New Year Re-run from December 31st, 2007 - the thoughts are still the same, - the wishes for happiness in the New Year still as warm as ever.

Where the night is starry, bright and clear do enjoy the blue moon, the second full moon of December. Hidden from us, alas, by low clouds and a snowy sky.

I am starting to write this post early, as I'm sure I must have something profound to say about the passage of time, even if it is just a matter of discarding the old and pinning up a new calendar, full of hope and promise and good intentions. A little mundane catalyst.....but one that springs eternally and with great hope.....

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Profound thoughts do not always come easily, - they float around like vaporous clouds for some time before taking shape and form. And sometimes the end result is not as profound as one would wish.

Memories keep confounding any attempts at serious speculation about 'how times change', 'where are we headed', 'what is truly important as we skid along, day by day' and 'who is in charge of this wild ride'?

New Year's Eve has always been a special time in our lives. Christmas was for the children, but New Year's Eve was for parents, partying and compatriots. With six children we had to make a stand somewhere and strike out on our own.......

When we first came to this valley almost sixty years ago we settled on a DVA project along with forty or fifty other veterans of World War Two. We were all poor, - the fellows had spent the early years of their young manhood in Europe, and by today's standards the compensation was very sparse indeed. But we were rich in friendships and community, and our memories of those years are sweet (well, sometimes bitter sweet - it was an adventure, but also a struggle).

We partied in half built homes, - we organized dances (the old fashioned kind) - we went on scavenger hunts and played bridge at every opportunity. And New Year's Eve was important to us in many ways, - a relaxation, a time of hope that next year would bring good crops and markets (the orchardist's perennial optimism).... Sometimes New Year's Eve extended well into New Year's Day - always it was an expression of friendship and good fun.

In later years New Year's Eve was quieter. A game of bridge, some reminiscing, a drink or two, always crab sandwiches, - and always the same fondness for the dear friends we celebrated with. Time has a way of changing the things we would like to cling to. Death intervenes, and now we have come full circle, and New Year's Eve is usually spent with our children and grandchildren.

Precious moments, but still we are overcome with nostalgia for old friends and Auld Lang Syne. Midnight finds us tender and maybe teary-eyed.

So where are the profound thoughts? Awash in a sea of sentimentality I reach for the words to express the direction the world seems to be taking.

Two poems come to mind... the first one written by Minnie Louise Harkins and quoted by George Sixth in his 1939 Christmas address to a world so recently embroiled in war.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand
into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer
than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."
Words that brought hope and kindled feelings of faith and trust and courage in those dreadful times, but I wonder if today they seem merely 'quaint' (at best) to a majority of society.

The other poem I puzzle over is 'Invictus" by William Henley. "Invictus" I have read, is "...the culmination of a long and torturous struggle for life and truly as an epilogue to all the poems Henley wrote". His life was a struggle, - economically in his younger years and as a result of tuberculosis in his youth he lost one of his legs, and suffered immense pain all during his life. In spite of this he contributed greatly to the lives of young writers in his role as an editor, but I find so many of his poems melancholy and despairing.

Therefore, "Invictus" seems to be a triumph over all the vicissitudes that he bore, and it has been an inspiration to many who suffer hardship. It inspires a stiffening of the spine, a determination to maintain integrity, and to cope with whatever life sends us.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

So why does it puzzle me, when it is clearly an admirable poem?

It is the last two lines.... I know that Henley meant them to express his courage in overcoming adversity and fate, and that in this context they have helped many to deal with despair and seemingly hopeless hardship.

And yet, and yet - they almost seem like a rallying cry for those Darwinian scientists who place their belief in genes and neurons and a natural progression from the slime of the ocean to the art, the music, the culture, the search for knowledge, the altruism and the faith that has, alas, faltered in the last four hundred years. And while they nurture their belief it seems to one who was brought up in a more innocent and moral age that the world is careening on a hand-cart to hell.

It is a paradox, indeed, that Christianity allows mankind the right of self-will and conscience, whereas the modern scientific outlook chains one to a theory of evolution which controls our actions, our thoughts, our mind and our very soul (if they but admitted that the soul exists...)

Then, I have to ask myself, how can those who accept their version of evolution as gene-controlled be "master of their fate" or "Captains of a soul" that they deny, - and I end up more perplexed than ever....

But there, after all these memories and musings I finally wish you all a blessed New Year - keep the faith, whatever it may mean to you, and strive for goodness.......

Another sweeter poem by William Henley...but still with a hint of the inevitable............

O, gather me the rose, the rose,

While yet in flower we find it,

For summer smiles, but summer goes,

And winter waits behind it!

For with the dream foregone, foregone,

The deed forborne for ever,

The worm, regret, will canker on,

And time will turn him never.

So well it were to love, my love,

And cheat of any laughter

The death beneath us and above,

The dark before and after.

The myrtle and the rose, the rose,

The sunshine and the swallow,

The dream that comes, the wish that goes,

The memories that follow!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ABC Wednesday

X is for Xanthocomic

And with the discovery of the meaning of this word I have finally come across the origin of Blonde Jokes.

Xanthocomic means yellow hair, and there is a whole cluster of words with the prefix "Xanth"

Xanthic means yellowish

Xanthippe refers to an ill-tempered woman (with yellow hair????)

Xanthochroic means yellow skinned, and if your teeth, alas, have a yellowish cast, they are said to be xanthodont.

It is Xanthophyll which causes the yellow colour of autumn leaves, and if a plant has yellow seeds it is then Xanthospermous.

Just recently I was told about an Xanthocomic woman who went into the Post Office, asking to buy fifty Christmas stamps.

"What denominations would you like?" asked the clerk in the PO

"Good gracious" exclaimed the Xanthocomic woman, "has it come to that!!!!" And tossing her Xanthic hair she airily said -

"Then I'll have 22 Roman Catholic

3 Baptist, 10 Presbyterian, 8 Anglican

and 7 Pentecostal."

My apologies to all blondes, - I used to be one myself!

X is a difficult letter, - skip along to ABC Wednesday and see what others have discovered about X.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

from the movie "The Nativity Story"

On the Morning of Christ's Nativity
This is the month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
John Milton

A holy, happy Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ABC Wednesday

W is for Whispers

The Whisper of the sun on a mountain top - a small glow of assurance on a gloomy day.

A Whisper of clouds fanning out across the sky, - radiating from a central point on the horizon and breathing softly of not-so-gentle winds above, despite their lovely benign appearance.

A Whisper of mist in the valley bottom, showing promise of lifting and floating away.

A Whisper of slanting rays, telling secrets of more promises that lie beyond the mountain.

A Whisper from the past as I once again tack up the lovely blue angel hanging our daughter made for us when she was a young art student, forty years ago.

And a Whisper of music from the Whisperers who hail from the same era.

For your ears only!!

More W postings over at ABC Wednesday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Advent and Triumph of Christ 1480

Hans Memling
(b. ca. 1440, Seligenstadt, d. 1494, Bruges)

As we approach the Last Sunday in Advent I am reminded of the beautiful Advent Song written by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. [late Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico]

Lady, what songs are bending
The tall grasses of your mind,
What secret music whispers down your veins,
What wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
Waken our little shouts of expectation?

Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
Have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
Their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! but the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
The giddy little hills are clapping hands.

But Lady, what songs sway
The supple grasses of your thoughts,
What secret music whispers down your veins?

Glorious things are said about this city
Where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
Of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
Drift through this templed alabaster town?

We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
With chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
Vision guesses sacred silhouettes.

But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
The warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
Tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
What secret music whispered down your veins.

...and I wonder what was in her heart and in her mind on that journey to Bethlehem.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Monday's poached egg sunrise in the Similkameen.

Look for beautiful skies from all over the world here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just coming up for air here after attending to business at the Post Office, - all the parcels that have many miles to travel, and the Christmas letters, duly stamped and posted.

Somehow the hurry and scurry has interfered with a proper observance of Advent, and so I went searching for a reminder.....and this is what I found.

I hope it touches you in the same way it touches me, - Words are by John Cennick, Collection of Sacred Hymns, 1752; republished and altered by Charles Wesley, 1758, and Martin Madan, 1760. The tune is Helmsley - one of my favourites.

This particular performance involves "arr. Edward Miller Interludes: Samuel Wesley Peter Holman Psalmody The Parley of Instruments".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ABC Wednesday

V is for Vaudeville

Imagine a world without radio - without television, - without talking pictures - without DVD's - with the piano in the parlour as the lure of home entertainment.

You would be living in the world of VAUDEVILLE, - the most popular form of entertainment between 1875 and 1932 where there was a vaudeville house in every town, filled night after night with traveling entertainers skilled in comedy, magic, juggling singing, music and mime, and dancing.

Here is the Vaudeville Theatre in Paris, France.

But not all Vaudeville Houses were so elegant. The word 'Vaudeville' originates from two French phrases 'Val de Vire' which meant valley of the river Vire, and 'voix de ville' which meant voices of the town. "The valley was a place where people would entertain each other in the evenings with ballads, folk songs, and general merry making. In the city streets popular theatre gave rise to the Theatre de Vaudeville in Paris in 1792".

Vaudeville was for everyone, - you didn't have to be rich to buy a ticket, - you only needed the desire to be entertained, and to laugh and be merry.

In the last stages of vaudeville, during the Great Depression when people could no longer afford the luxury of going to a vaudeville show, it was cheaper to listen to the radio, or to go to a movie for fifty-cents and see such vaudeville actors as Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and George Burns performing in a more modern venue.

But I wonder if the magic of participation was gone, - the magic of being part of a vivacious audience indulging in a night of merry entertainment? Alas, we will probably never know. We live in in an age of such sophistication (and I use the word loosely, as The Simpsons spring to mind)!!!!!!

There are many more interpretations of the letter V at ABC Wednesday.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Oh, I am very late with my posting this week, - have been out Christmas shopping on this frosty sunny day.

Here is an old picture of a pretty wintry sunrise.

For more gentle or dramatic skies visit Skywatch Friday, here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ABC Wednesday

U is for Ulster

Ulster. A style of long, loose overcoat, worn by both men and women, originally made of frieze cloth at Ulster, Ireland. The peculiarity of this coat is that it is cut almost straight for both sexes, reaching very nearly to the feet, and is sometimes girded with a belt; it frequently has a hood or cape. Also called a great coat. from the dictionary for dry goods

I have read in other places that the ulster was a practical item of clothing, - sturdy and used mainly for work. However, these fellows look quite dashing, and I can imagine them as late 19th century bankers.

My father wore an Ulster when I was growing up. A more modern type, without the cape. He looked almost as elegant as Anthony Eden, shown here in his mid-century Ulster and looking UTTERLY UTTERLY ELEGANT.

This Ulster would be referred to as a 'bespoke' garment these days.

The working men of the plains wear a type of Ulster, which they call a 'duster'. It serves to protect their legs while riding, and gives some warmth, as well as looking dashingly romantic as they ride off into the west, ulster/duster flying out behind them... Doc Holliday wore an Ulster, and called it by that name.

U is an interesting letter, and for more postings skip over to ABC Wednesday here, and see what is on offer, with many thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God Bless You.

It's true, - Christmas is coming. Although Advent is dominant in our spiritual thoughts there are practical preparations that carry us forward to the Holy Day.

I have plans to make shortbread and light fruit cakes for a Christmas Tea and Bake Sale at the church next Saturday, and on Thursday there is a festive luncheon and party that calls for a little carol singing.

Today our Bell Choir did three concerts, starting at 9:00 a.m. in Our Lady of Lourdes Church where we rang at the Eucharist service. We packed up and moved bells and tables to The Manor, an assisted living facility, - had a lovely Thai lunch at a local restaurant and then went on to Orchard Haven Care Home to ring our program once more. I have to say we did a passable job!

At one time I was pretty strict about reserving Christmas carols for the appropriate time, - one didn't sing Silent Night until Christmas Ever, or any of the Angel and Shepherd hymns, but now as I age I grow more tolerant - less arrogant about assuming what is pleasing to God.

I saw many different Christmas trees, - all lovely, from the smallest to the largest, - cheering the residents of these care homes and reminding them what Advent leads to.

Sometimes I think that the busyness of December causes us to lose sight of what it is about Advent that is so important to us - the awareness of who we are, and the mindfulness of our relationships with others and our true spirituality. But then it comes to me that this interaction with the outreach of Advent touches us in many ways inwardly, as well, and I just relax and enjoy it!!!!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Skywatch Friday

December 3rd, - at 7.16 a.m. the moon is setting in the West after a magnificent journey across the skies....

Whilst at the very same moment the sky is heralding the sun's imminent arrival in the East.

Amazing show!

Go here to see the world's fantastic skies.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ABC Wednesday

T is for TEDDY

We have the Teddy Bear....

A knitted one such as I made for the two little great grand babies last Christmas

And the ones who go picnicking in the woods....

And we have the alluring Teddy of bygone times, - a daring innovation in ladies' lingerie in the nineteen twenties and thirties...

The traditional teddy was a loose-fitting under garment designed for visual appeal and to show off the wearer's figure. Traditional teddies often used sheer or partially sheer material.

I think perhaps the 'teddies' of today are far more daring, revealing, seductive, etc.

And then there were the TEDDY BOYS......

From Wikipedia a few comments on the forerunner of the present day youth culture.

The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period, which Savile Row tailors had tried to re-introduce after World War II. The group got its name after a 1953 newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term Teddy Boy (also known as Ted). The subculture started in London in the 1950s and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period. Although there had been youth groups with their own dress codes called "Scuttlers" in 19th century Manchester and Liverpool[1], Teddy Boys were the first youth group in England to differentiate themselves as teenagers, helping create a youth market.

And last, but certainly not least, I have heard of grumpy old men sometimes being referred to as 'just a soft, sweet teddy bear underneath it all' - presumably from those who know.

Over at ABC Wednesday there are lots of interesting posts featuring the letter T.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sky Watch Friday

An embryo sunrise in the Similkameen

Four minutes later is scribbled across the sky...

The colours grow more dramatic

before the celestial beings start to put their crayons away.

Look to the skies here at Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ABC Wednesday

S is for Summerland

The very name conjures up a most magical place; a perfect home town with orchards and wineries and beaches and sunshine. Situated between Kelowna and Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake both Upper and Lower Summerland have grown more sophisticated since I first traveled the narrow windy road from Penticton, past the towering clay cliffs and the Giant's Head that sits atop the town's own mountain.

Summerland is a vibrant, friendly town, rich in early history, artistry and a fine sense of community.

It has a colourful old Steam Engine that takes passengers on two hour jaunts along the old original CPR track that went through Falder, Princeton and on to the Coast. A number of times during the summer the touristy passengers are treated to a wild west Great Train Robbery by a band of friendly outlaws. If you want to be part of this scheduled event Google it, make reservations and join in the fun.

If I wasn't so happy in the Similkameen I could quite nicely live in Summerland, thank you....

For more interesting and enjoyable posts on the letter S click here. - with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her helpers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First attempts at stitching two pictures together digitally. I hope that I will be able to do it more elegantly after some practice, and yes, I probably should have waited until that time comes. But it was such a beautiful rainbow, stretching from one side of the valley to the other (a pot of gold at both ends, perhaps???) - a shame not to see it in its entirety, rather than in bits and pieces.

November has moved on from such schmaltzy things as rainbows and sunny days and has settled down into sulky moodiness, being most earnestly melancholy and carrying on somewhat with the wild west wind.

I comfort myself with Christmas lists and inspirations from high-end Christmas magazines, knowing full well that for practical reasons we will celebrate much more simply and more thoughtfully.

"I saw the lovely arch
Of rainbow span the sky,
The gold sun burning
As the rain swept by."
- Elizabeth Coatsworth, November

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Here in the Similkameen November is playing games with us. The days vary from warm, sunny and calm, to wickedly windy and overcast with dark threatening clouds.

Tuesday was a kind day.

A pretty sunrise....

and half an hour later a heavy shower from the south resulted in a beautiful double rainbow, stretching in the north from east to west. I haven't been able to stitch it all together yet, but here is a small bright portion.

Later in the day white clouds tumbled in a bright blue sky. Fickle, giddy November. - quite out of character.

To see what skies are doing around the world click here, and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today someone asked me what I was doing to keep busy.

I hesitated as I gave some attention to the things that keep me going, day by day.

I answered with the obvious - I am getting so slow that it really doesn't take a great number of activities to fill my day. But I finally realized that my interrogator, being a Crafty soul, was referring to what creative things I was doing with my hands?

Oh yes, - what is it that is keeping me busy these days! Creatively busy?

There is that pair of socks that need both toes finished before they can be washed and given to one of the guys.

And there is a warp on my loom with approximately one yard woven with silk ribbons cut from salvaged blouses, meant to be made into tote bags for young, trendy granddaughters, or fine thin durys, or place mats....

There are the Handwoven and Spin-Off magazines that come with regularity and fill me with inspiration as I spend random half hours being filled with enthusiasm.

I am not sure if this can be classed as creative, but there is my casual job as Go-fer. It does require a degree of concentration and creative thinking...

There are half a dozen Christmas aprons which I cut out half a dozen years ago, intending to present them as stocking stuffers. They are neatly packaged with all their parts together and live in a basket a-top a shelf in the Collective Room! Next to my sewing machine so that if I am suddenly moved to finish them it will be in close proximity.

a free pattern from Phyllis Dobbs

And then it takes time to keep a close eye on my stash of wool and weaving equipment, - it requires sorting through at regular intervals, sighing all the while....

Oh yes, I have a bobbin half full of spun wool on the spinning wheel, and two bags of roving still to spin.... - the thread hangs desultorily from the orifice, tugging at me every time I pass it, but I have grown indifferent and cold hearted, alas...

I'm not sure why I wasn't completely honest. I should have said I spend most of my evenings on the computer listening to music, and all my creative handwork has fallen by the wayside while I google and surf and explore the most delightful and interesting blogs. I am filling my head with knowledge, - some of it frivolous, some of it of interest and some of it even of great importance as it sets my mind along its creative path.

But my friend is not intimate with computers, and so we talked of knitting mittens and baby outfits and hemming tablecloths.

She did, however, waken in me a longing to make something beautiful in its practicality, but it may be only a temporary aberration.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ABC Wednesday

R is for Ranunculus

From Wikipedia

"Ranunculus (pronounced /ræˈnʌŋkjʊləs/)[1] is a large genus of about 400 species of plants in the Ranunculaceae. It includes the buttercups, spearworts, water crowfoots and the lesser celandine (but not the greater celandine of the poppy family Papaveraceae).
They are mostly herbaceous perennials with bright yellow or white flowers (if white, still with a yellow centre); some are annuals or biennials. A few have orange or red flowers and occasionally, as in R. auricomus, petals may be absent. The petals are often highly lustrous, especially in yellow species. Buttercups usually flower in April or May but flowers may be found throughout the summer especially where the plants are growing as opportunistic colonisers, as in the case of garden weeds.
The Water crowfoots (Ranunculus subgenus Batrachium), which grow in still or running water, are sometimes treated in a separate genus Batrachium. They have two different leaf types, thread-like leaves underwater and broader floating leaves although for some species, such as R. aquatilis, a third, intermediate leaf form occurs.
Ranunculus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hebrew Character and Small Angle Shades. Some species are popular ornamental flowers in horticulture, with many cultivars selected for large and brightly coloured flowers".

I must to confess to being somewhat confused about ranunculus. but I think it has something to do with the Greater Celedine and the Lesser Celedine.

I do believe that Wikipedia is talking about the Lesser Celedine in the above extract as you will note that Wikipedia makes the comment about their prolificacy as follows:

" Buttercups usually flower in April or May but flowers may be found throughout the summer especially where the plants are growing as opportunistic colonisers, as in the case of garden weeds".

I have certainly found this to be the case in our garden, (see first photo) where the buttercups grow with great vigor, side by each with whichever garden flower they might fancy.

I know that you can buy ranunculus bulbs shaped like little oysters with dangly legs that spring forth in the spring in varied hues - a veritable feast of colours.

But I am only familiar with the lovely lustrous pushy type that twines its wandering roots around the Oriental Peony and is now making itself at home among the Iris.

I would welcome any information which would clear up my confusion!

For other R's skip on over to ABC Wednesday here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sliding through November

We were sliding through November quite nicely, thank you - until today.

The month seemed to have discarded its surliness, its lowering clouds and its melancholy darkness. Some days have been absolutely brilliant, and although the trees have taken on their stark winter beauty in many places there was still an autumn glow in the valley when the sun shone.

Today we woke to dark clouds and a bitter wind that has grown wilder with each hour that passes.

This afternoon Charles drew my attention to patches of sunshine in the Cawston Basin, with no break in the clouds to explain their presence,....a mystery we eventually solved by following the lights on the clouds to the south. Rays from the setting sun were slipping along the back of K Mountain and lighting up the Cawston hills and Orofino Mountain.

We can expect the wind to continue until late tomorrow afternoon, and I guess November is just reminding us that the lovely weather of the first two weeks was just a flirty attempt to pull the wool over our eyes...

We have a spat of birthdays to finish off the month in a celebratory mood.

The intimations of winter did cause visions of sugar plums and other Christmas delights. I have illusions about what I am able to bake this year. I know these illusions are only temporary, and eventually I will settle on a simpler version of Christmas as it was in the kitchen in days gone by.

However, I have already stocked up on butter for shortbreads (some things are essential) and soon I will buy fruit and nuts and cream cheese and lemons for tarts. I am beset with plans and questions....

Who will clean the silver in lieu of busy grandchildren?

Who will put up the lights in the garden?

Will we have a small Christmas tree in a cheery red pail?

Or will we bring out all the old and treasured ornaments and find a spot for a larger greenery?

Perhaps we could hang them on garlands around doorways and high, along hallways (large room here for disillusionment).

I glance up at the garden, where the wind blows fiercely and ponder.

Shall I leave the dead stalks for protection during the winter? Or shall I snip them off in this bitter wind and then find protection for the garden elsewhere?

Well, that's an easy decision to make if you don't let your mind wander to March and the winds that sweep the valley in early spring, rustling through the old stalks while the eager bulbs push their way through the great disorder.

Decisions, decisions, decisions, - but lovely ones where Christmas is concerned.

I am off to dig out the Christmas CD's - Pavarotti's old original 'O Holy Night', and the newer music of Ill Divo. My sister tells me of lovely new seasonal recordings by the Canadian Tenors and Andre Botticelli. I look forward to hearing once again Boney M's 'Daughters of Zion' and all the haunting Ave Marias.

Let the wind blow as it may..... sugar plums are not confined to the land of the young...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Catching Up

A busy week, with Remembrance Day in the middle of it and it felt as if every tomorrow should have been Sunday. But it wasn't... Things have happened since Wednesday, - it has been a busy week. Late to be reporting on Remembrance Day, but important to me to to record it here, so please be patient.

It was a beautiful calm sunny day. Family who could came to help us remember our own dear ones who were taken in battle, and all of the others from this community whose names grace the Cenotaph. Others sent messages.

Here is Charles with another old Navy Vet, as he prepares to read the names of the Fallen. As he has done for many, many years. While I was shopping today someone remarked how much his participation is appreciated, and what a fine, commanding voice he had. At home, too, I commented!

The parade marches on, led by the RCMP in their Scarlet Dress uniforms, the Colour Party, the Piper, followed by the Veterans, the members of the Legion, the Service organizations and the children, - the cubs and scouts and guides and brownies.

The Two Minutes of Silence.

The laying of wreaths.

It is a solemn and reverent ceremony, one which remembers with sadness and gratitude, and in no way glorifies or romances the deadly adventures of War. Veterans are heartened by the people of the small towns of Canada who remember those who made it possible for them to live their tomorrows.

The parade marches off to gather at the Legion Hall with those who attended the ceremony - Hot Buttered Rum, Chili, Stew and Buns, singing old songs, laughing at old stories and a few reminiscences, although not as many as in the early years.

At home we talk with mixed emotions, listening to Charles' account of some of those far off days when life was tenuous for so many, and survival was fifty per cent luck and fifty per cent skill and experience, combined with a marvelous trust and dependence upon those who were as close as brothers to you in the battle.

It is one day of Remembrance, and so soon, after a night's sleep, we waken to the realities of the present. But still, there lingers the words, -

"To you with failing hands we throw the Torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep,
Though poppies grow in Flanders Fields".