Friday, March 05, 2010

A picture of the Lenten roses as the bees buzzed around them today in the sunshine - framed specially to announce the Grand Re-opening of the Garden Diary, noted in the Sidebar. Do come and visit and see how our garden grows.

As an aside from the garden two things I read today that expressed what I have been feeling for quite some time.

Sheila Wray Gregoire in her weekly 'reality check' comments on the changes in society over the last few decades.

"As the idea of objective truth has grown passé, it's been replaced by the ultimate idea that our feelings are the proper arbiter for the goodness or rightness of anything. Truth is what feels right to us.

At one point, people believed in a higher morality, even if they themselves weren't religious. People gave generously, or volunteered, or lent a hand, because it was the right thing to do. They didn't have to be convinced to do it because it would make them feel good about themselves; they did it simply because it was the right thing to do, and doing the right thing mattered.

We no longer believe in "the right thing" as much as we believe in "the right thing for me".

And as I finished the last pages of Alexander McCall Smith's endearing book "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones" one of his characters (Angus Lorde) is remarking in conversation on the importance of rituals and how they lend order to life and a grace to living. He comments on the Sixties, and the resulting chaos when people threw tradition to the wind, tossed their caps into the air and took to the road in search of themselves. And nothing has been the same since, he laments.

I question myself continually as to why I feel that this is so, and I wonder if it is a generational thing - if we weren't Ancient and if the Sixties hadn't turned our ordered life topsy-turvy and if I were one of the flower children, would I believe that the lack of order and rituals (I don't necessarily mean church rituals) and a moral day by day concern for others was necessarily wrong?

And then I think that I generalize far beyond what the actual situation is, and I consider the young people,the middle-aged and the Ancients we know who who cling to honesty and truth and grace and integrity and respect for others (maybe not traditions, she said, ruefully).

Oh well, - what do you think? Are we all going to Hell in a Handcart, or have we just taken a little swerve off the straight and narrow and soon we will all get back on the path and become more civilized again.

Things are quiet and peaceful so far in the garden - we have it looking neat and tidy and orderly, - but when I was digging up some cutch grass today I ran into one of the Chinese Lantern Underground Lines, so trouble is brewing there, as well.

I am off to post some pictures in the Garden Diary....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Not a breath of air and in the stillness Skaha Lake, in the Okanagan, reflects the shoreline, the mountains and the clouds.

Click to enlarge.

More wonderful world wide skies here, at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

In my mail today -----

A copy of the Handwoven eNewsletter telling of a planned conference in Peru this coming October where 'we have the opportunity to experience the treasure of the Incas first-hand. Weavers, spinners, and dyers from all over the world will gather in Cusco, Peru, for Encuentro de Tejedores de las Américas, the Gathering of Weavers of the Americas. They will come to celebrate the rich textile heritage and cultures of the Americas; to share techniques, knowledge, and weaving experience; and to build ties of friendship that will enrich the community and the craft.

Off to the side was an information note about weaving in the empire of the Incas which impressed me so much I had to share.

"The website reports that “In Tiwantinsuyu, the empire of the Incas, spindles and looms were just as important as spears and shields. Cloth pervaded every aspect of Inca society, from adolescent rites of passage to major political alliances. The production and exchange of cloth held the Inca realm together just as effectively as the power of the Inca armies.”

According to Hiram Bingham (who some speculate was the inspiration for Indiana Jones): “[The textiles of the Incas] are as worthy of admiration as the finest specimens of Egyptian or Chinese weaving.... We are told that the finest textiles were made in the convents connected with the Temples of the Sun, by the Chosen Women, sometime called the Virgins of the Sun, who were carefully trained in this difficult art. Some of their products are as fine and soft as the finest silk.” If you want to know more about Hiram Bingham and see a crazy, psychedelic animation of an Inca woven tunic, click here.'

Do go and look, - even if you are not a weaver you cannot help but be amazed at the awesome creativity and techniques that were required to produce such gorgeous cloth.

Go further into the site by clicking on weaving in the sidebar and marvel at the intricacies of the designs within designs, - the golden rectangles and triangles in the Inca weaving.

Here is a sample of patterned cloth woven on a backstrap loom, - that is the one where you tie the warp around a tree and weave on the most primitive of looms. It is a different intellect from that which produces the technological marvels of today, but I am equally as appreciative of the concentration and the artistry and intellect that produced this cloth.

I suppose that given the great technological advance of this age it is only natural that there would be some arrogance about our achievements, and not a lot of appreciation of the 'primitive' cultures. But as you get older you get humbler, and you realize more and more that today's wonders are built on the shoulders of the cultures and the art and creativity of yesterday's civilizations.

I think weavers are especially aware of this, - and knitters too!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

ABC Wednesday

G is for GINGER

My favourite spice....

'Ginger is a tuber that is consumed whole as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale. It lends its name to its genus and family (Zingiberaceae). Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.
Ginger cultivation began in Asia and has since spread to West Africa and the Caribbean.[2] It is sometimes called root ginger to distinguish it from other things that share the name ginger.'

And for more information from Wikipedia on the wonderful medicinal attributes of ginger, the delicious ways it adds pleasure to the palate, a little of its history and other bits and pieces about this fine tuber, visit here.

A little ginger tea when the tummy is upset....

Here is a recipe - a great soother for sore throats as well.

• About a 3 inch piece of ginger root
• 6 Cups of water
• Honey
1. Grate the ginger as fine as you can get it, leaving the skin on.
2. Put the ginger in the 6 cups of water and bring to a boil
3. Once the water is boiling, simmer it on low for about 15 – 20 min
4. Use a fine strainer and ladle to pour out the tea into a cup, toss the ginger in the strainer back into the pot
5. Add about a teaspoon of honey or to your likeness.
6. Sip slowly and enjoy!

Ginger is said to contribute to the relief of pain and swelling in arthritis and is a strong and wonderful antioxidant.

And when the summer afternoon is hot and humid and you rest, panting, in the shade, what is more appealing that a glass of ginger beer... and perhaps a gingersnap or two.

When the children were all home and the summers in the orchard were hot we used to refresh ourselves in peach picking time with homemade Rootbeer, or Gingerbeer, - whichever we had been energetic to make in the cool of the morning.

Early in the last century the Chinese who helped build the towns in the valley left a legacy of ginger pots. They weren't the elaborate ones that delight the eye, - very ordinary and practical. We have one which Charles found in the old part of town, and it looks something like this, only a little rougherin construction. It sat on the mantel in our last house for years, but is now in a box, stored away when we down-sized.

Ginger adds zest and comfort to life, and it's all too true, a spoonful a day helps keep the medicine man away.

Here is another Ginger, - equally delightful, loved and admired.

For more Gs go here, where Mrs. Nesbitt and her kind friends host the meme ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This and That

Some pictures and a few comments - all I have time for tonight. Bed beckons.....

How I have been filling my time.....

A trip to Osoyoos on Friday to pick up our new bar height table and chairs. A gift from the 'meadow' people to make it easy for the Ancients (Charles and I) to slide off the chairs. And they swivel too.

I used to know a lady who we nicknamed 'Mrs. Lovely Lovely' because that is how she described most things. Unless they were 'shocking, shocking'. or 'dreadful, dreadful'!

This is just how I feel about this 'lovely, lovely' high table and chair set. It fits perfectly in the breakfast room. However, being perched up on a bar seat, with my feet on the rail that encircles the table pedestal, I am more in the mood for a glass of wine, a few nuts, and a biscuit or two, rather than a prosaic breakfast. Naughtiest of all I have this strange pining for a cigarette (something which hasn't been part of our lives for many years) and maybe a pair of bewitching shoes with rhinestoned heels to hook over the bar railing. 'Shocking, shocking'

On the way over the Pass to Osoyoos we passed new grape plantings, which are gradually replacing orchards and cattle ranches in the valley. I find it ironic that the valley is part of the B.C. Agricultural Land Reserve which prohibits farmers from subdividing their land and which was introduced to encourage food production, - in the future will we all be sitting around high bar tables drinking wine, rather than feasting on a good steak and apple pie?

We did see some nice big spreads of calving cows, and in some of the orchards that still hang on the sap is rising and the peach trees glow scarlet in the sunshine.

And there was green grass in the meadows....

Early in the morning, before breakfast (when it is too early in the day to drink wine and wear high heels) I have been working on the sock project while I read McCall Smith's wonderfully civilized and gently humorous 'Unbearable Lightness of Scones'.

I am on my seventh sock! Only twenty more to go before Christmas! I was afraid they might get boring, but I find that it is such a habit now to pick them up and knit a few rows without a great amount of concentration. I almost knit unconsciously, and if you're not conscious of something how can it bore you? Does this sound logical.

When the sun shines I am also out in the garden a bit. A few budding blooms, and the faint sound of the Chinese lantern underground railway getting into production, searching out spots for new stations to co-habitat with any friendly plant that gives them the slightest encouragement.

And so go my days - longing for spring!