Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

an excerpt from a verse by
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

And here we are, on the cusp of a new year with all that it promises,
each day anew.
We start out the year tenuously, well aware of early birthdays
that will see us twelve months along on this adventurous journey.

The small creeks that joined us to the river of life are widening out into
a placid estuary, and each day we strive for serenity,
ever grateful for the love that surrounds us,
the small boats that guide us,
and look, - look, oh look!  the stars shine.

We move towards spring.
Small stirrings in the earth, warmed by a returning sun.

Soon the sap will rise again and it will be the time of the Pussy Willow!

I'm with Poe - hope springs eternal!!!!

and now I am off to see the new year in with the beloved.

Happy new year to all dear folk.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ABC Wednesday

The letter this week is the eXtraordinary  X

X is for the kissy part of....

Charles and I have six children, who in their early years made lovely homemade cards for Mum and Dad, signed with OXOXOXOXs (hugs and kisses), and now bring beautiful sentimental cards, more sophisticated in their wording, but still with those fond hugs and kisses across the bottom, which dampen the eyes, just a smidgin, and make you think it has all been worthwhile.....

Add to that the dear cards that arrive on special occasions from fourteen grandchildren, and you will know that we have boxes and boxes of loving OXOXOXOXOXs.  What could be sweeter......

Thanks to Mr. Google for the illustrations.

For more Xamples of the letter X visit here at ABC Wednesday, with
thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her eXcellent helpers.

P.S.  Xmas kisses are especially nice.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

We are buried in the splendid confusion of Christmas, 
 but from the depths of wonderment 
Charles and I wish you all the peace and happiness and joy 
that this day brings, 
- and our earnest wish that it continues for each one of you 
as often as reality allows throughout the coming year.  

Off to stuff the bird......

A very Merry Christmas to all!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ABC Wednesday
The letter W

W stands for Whiskers

Out of four sons three of them have whiskers, but the well trimmed kind that make them look distinguished, and not anything as wild as this.....

the Brad Pitt beard, which is said to turn the ladies on, but looks a little unkempt to me

and they don't look like this, which IMHO has no pizzazz at all, but just looks
as if the gentleman in question was too lazy to shave, but thinks he
looks attractive in a manly, woodsy way.

Miss Callie sports whiskers like this, and is terribly glamorous 
and sensitive to what goes on around her.

For more interpretations of the letter W
visit here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt
and her Willing

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Letter.  December, 2011

This year, more than any year, we have a great nostalgia for Christmas!

The wonders of a childhood Christmas when, if we got up early enough in the city before the tracks of the milkman’s horses had disappeared, we could imagine a flight of reindeer; a little old driver, so lively and quick, springing into the early morning shadows where the Christmas tree glimmered with shimmery globes, enjoying his milk and cookies and leaving small gifts, precious, but never extravagant.

We remember Christmas when the children were at home, - the magic when they were small, and wide-eyed; coming home from Christmas Eve services, feeling the holiness of the night and then the tender task of filling Christmas stockings.  First the orange, down in the toe, and then the sweets and the candy canes and the small presents;  the little warm bodies, so eager with anticipation and probably  a few, at least, just feigning sleep….

Lovely memories, and now this year, quite ancient, we have moved into town, -  and although the times that make us nostalgic are in the distant past, and for many Christmas has become quite secular, still we see the same wonder in the eyes of our great grands and it seems, for the very young, the magic of Christmas is still palpable.

We hope it is that way for you, too.

We are in a dear house with a small, manageable garden which has all the flowers our hearts desire, - Roses, peonies, poppies, delphinium, daisies, lilies and a marvelous Rose of Sharon. Charles’ mode of transport about town, in good weather, is his electric cart, which takes him to sing and play bridge and socialize.  Life is good.

And the door is always open to friends and loved ones.

Loving wishes for happiness at Christmas and in the New Year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15th, 2001

I pick up the butterfly cane and make off to the Post Office with the last of the Grandchildren's  parcels.

On the way I pass the church and see Paul and Christine with a ladder to the roof, reaching to the bell tower where the old train bell is being very balky and needs greasing.  A few years ago our son, Sid, built a lovely new bell tower in his steel shop to replace the old, but decrepit original, and the tower was dedicated to God and to the memory of the two brothers Charles lost in World War 11.  I am warmed by what these young people are doing, as they look forward to hearing the bell on Christmas Day and ringing in the New Year, and I know that Charles will be so pleased.

I continue on to the Post Office, where the subject is the nippy weather, - but 'no snow yet, thank goodness', goes echoing around from one Christmas mailer to another!  I say nothing - to me, a prairie girl, it is not winter until it snows, and certainly not Christmas!

As I come from the P.O. I hear the bell!!  Tentative at first, but then pealing quite gloriously.....well, as gloriously as an old train bell can manage...

This morning we waken to snow!!!!!  Beautiful.....

Life is good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

ABC Wednesday
December 14th, 2011

V is the letter of the day.

V is for Victrola

When I was Very young we had a wind-up Victrola that lived downstairs next to my father's crystal radio.

When I was a little older we acquired a real radio, but we still went downstairs to wind up the Victrola, put on some old records and dance a bit.  The old Victrola was quite magical......

Now people read on Kindles, do amazing things with telephones, write blogs that the whole world can read, if they are so inclined, and I think how my mother would shake her head and say, 'My word, what next'!

For more V stories visit here at ABC Wednesday, with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her Very Versatile aides.
Everything is copacetic!

Well, most things are copacetic......

The Amazon order arrived in the mail in time for my own mailing of parcels, as did the National Geographic envelope.

|Last evening I rummaged around in all the leftover wrappings and stickers and ribbons from last Christmas, weaseled my way through a cupboard filled with presents to reach the sturdy card table, set it up next to my computer and a nice source of music and went off to bed quite pleased with myself.

This morning I got up and made shortbread, some with almond bits and some with ginger, and they all baked beautifully and are ready to stuff into Christmas bags....

Sometimes life is just, well, - copacetic.  I am off to take a walk over town to look at some children's books as a last present purchase.....  I shall take my cane with the butterflies on it! And come home and pack boxes to mail tomorrow.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday, December 9th.

A beautiful, crisp, sunny December day.  No wind!

Out for lunch with the volunteers at the Bargain Centre, - 19 of us all dressed up in Christmas finery, and full of a spirit of gratefulness and appreciation for their wonderful help, given with such good humour and kindness.

I rather feel that I have been on a Sabbatical, - or else I have been stuck at an intersection, not being able to quite get the gears in forward movement.  However, whilst I have been neglecting this blogspot I have written the Christmas letter, mailed all the Christmas cards, bought most of the Christmas presents, made big, fat buttery shortbreads for Christmas bake sales, and decorated the house!

The stained glass angel and snowflakes that we bought last year catch the low sunlight, skimming the hills.  I planted the paperwhites a little early, and didn't experiment with feeding them hard liquor to stunt their growth, so now they are bending their sweet white heads, a little awkwardly, I must admit.

If they are past their best shelf life on Christmas day there are a couple of amaryllis that should join our celebration and brighten these diminished winter days.

I am about to go and do the late evening chores in the kitchen so we can get up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning - early, early tomorrow morning to try to catch the moon in eclipse.  It shone so splendidly tonight in a cloudless sky, with a few of the brighter stars to accompany it on its westward journey.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

ABC Wednesday
December 7th, 2011

The letter this week is U
Not many U's in the dictionary, but here is an absolutely marvelous one....

U is for Ustinov.......Peter Ustinov

A two times Academy Award winning film actor, director, writer, journalist and raconteur.  And it is as a raconteur I wish to entertain you with a few witty Ustinov quotes, and a wonderful video in which he recounts a tale of his mother's encounter with Queen Mary.

First the quotes.....

I am an optimist, unrepentant and militant.  After all, in order not to be a fool an optimist must know how sad a place the world can be.  It is only the pessimist who finds this out anew every day.

At the age of four with paper hats and wooden swords we're all Generals.  Only some of us never grow out of it.

It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.

I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me the most civilized music in the world.

For more U tales visit here at ABC Wednesday and have a wonderful visit all around.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ABC Wednesday

The Letter T - for Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)  

Poet Laureate in the U.K. for much of Queen Victoria's reign, - a prolific writer, many of whose quotes are familiar in conversation and literature to the present day.


Now sleeps the crimson petal

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me

Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
into my bosom and be lost in me.

Varsity Glee Club

For more T's trip over to ABC Wednesday, here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ABC Wednesday

The letter this week is the Sophisticated S

Ella Fitzgerald
Sophisticated Lady


Do go and visit ABC Wednesday here

for more wonderful S stories.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is it too early to plant the paper whites?  Will they be past their prime by Christmas Day?  Regardless, today the spirit moved me!!!

I planted a dozen bulbs in a shallow blue bowl

and hope they will look like this....

or perhaps a little shorter if we use the alcohol treatment!

I think I mentioned the alcohol treatment before.
It is recommended following the results of a  research program
conducted by William A. Miller, Professor of Horticulture at Cornell University
and a number of his students.

Here is the gen.....
Plant the bulbs in stones and water, as usual
After a week, when the roots have started to spread,
pour off the water and replace it with a solution of 4 to 6% alcohol
made from HARD liquor (this is important)

To get a 5% solution from a 40% distilled spirit you add one part of  alcohol
to 7 parts of water, and use this solution for further watering as needed.

Moderation is the keyword, - don't increase the percentage
of alcohol above 10%!
Plants suffer from alcohol poisoning too!

Rubbing alcohol works just as well, if you can't bear to use your scotch or rum
on a bowl of bulbs, but as it is usually 70% alcohol
when bought 1 part of alcohol to 10 or 11 parts of water
is sufficient!!!!!!

I rather liked the idea of individual bulbs in glasses, on a window sill
or in front of a mirror - perhaps I will see if we can go to the plant shop tomorrow
when we go to town.....????

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Four Months....

One would think we would be well settled in by now, but I think the time it takes to be confident that you are at home with all your belongings is a relevant thing, completely proportionate to age.

You know where the knives and forks are kept, where the bed linens live and the very essential bathroom items are pretty well right to hand, and under control,  but occasionally you wonder about certain things and you vaguely remember having seen them, but was it here, in the house on the hill, or does your vision stretch right back to what shelf or cupboard housed them on the farm????

I have lost my knitting needle case, - the long. silver cylinder that my mother kept her knitting needles in and which I have used ever since she died.  I am relying on bits and pieces of needles that I pick up at the Bargain Centre to tide me over, but it MUST be somewhere, - perhaps in the weaving trailer which still picks up the sunshine and the wide stretch of valley up on the hill;  full of looms and yarn and forty years accumulation of weaving paraphernalia.  I must go and see, - maybe tomorrow....

I have reached the point where I feel the need to open each cupboard and drawer, empty them out, contemplate them, catalogue their contents in my mind and put them all back, duly noted.  They were so quickly filled up, those busy moving days, as the boxes came in and were emptied, put into drawers and on shelves.

Charles has spent a couple of these snowy mornings going through things that he swept into boxes at the last possible moment. and having a lovely time reminiscing and putting things safely away.  Will he remember where he put them?  Ah, there's the rub.....

The Christmas linens, - where are they now??  I have been following a backward path to when I last saw them, just before the big unsettling day arrived.  Still with some fragile things to pack and no packing paper available I can remember taking them off the shelf in the linen closet and wrapping things safely, - but what things?? Oh, that escapes me, but what I do know is that the tablecloths and napkins are not in the linen closet here, or in any other drawers or chests or basket or box.  So I continue my backward journey and perhaps in the middle of the night I will waken with an ancient Greek eureka moment, and the Christmas table will be set with the old familiar linens.

If not, I still have a couple of damask cloths, but such a devil to iron, - sigh.......

John Singleton Copley

Monday, November 14, 2011

ABC Wednesday
The letter this week is the Regal R
R is for Rhinoceros
You may have read this story before,
but even if that is so, another reading
is sure to delight you...

A Just So Story by Rudyard Kipling


NCE upon a time, on an uninhabited island on the shores of the Red Sea, there lived a Parsee from whose hat the rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental splendour. And the Parsee lived by the Red Sea with nothing but his hat and his knife and a cooking-stove of the kind that you must particularly never touch. And one day he took flour and water and currants and plums and sugar and things, and made himself one cake which was two feet across and three feet thick. It was indeed a Superior Comestible (that's magic), and he put it on the stove because he was allowed to cook on that stove, and he baked it and he baked it till it was all done brown and smelt most sentimental. But just as he was going to eat it there came down to the beach from the Altogether Uninhabited Interior one Rhinoceros with a horn on his nose, two piggy eyes, and few manners. In those days the Rhinoceros's skin fitted him quite tight. There were no wrinkles in it anywhere. He looked exactly like a Noah's Ark Rhinoceros, but of course much bigger. All the same, he had no manners then, and he has no manners now, and he never will have any manners. He said, 'How!' and the Parsee left that cake and climbed to the top of a palm tree with nothing on but his hat, from which the rays of the sun were always reflected in more-than-oriental splendour. And the Rhinoceros upset the oil-stove with his nose, and the cake rolled on the sand, and he spiked that cake on the horn of his nose, and he ate it, and he went away, waving his tail, to the desolate and Exclusively Uninhabited Interior which abuts on the islands of Mazanderan, Socotra, and the Promontories of the Larger Equinox. Then the Parsee came down from his palm-tree and put the stove on its legs and recited the following Sloka, which, as you have not heard, I will now proceed to relate:--

Them that takes cakes
Which the Parsee-man bakes
Makes dreadful mistakes.

THIS is the picture of the Parsee beginning to eat his cake on the Uninhabited Island in the Red Sea on a very hot day; and of the Rhinoceros coming down from the Altogether Uninhabited Interior, which, as you can truthfully see, is all rocky. The Rhinoceros's skin is quite smooth, and the three buttons that button it up are underneath, so you can't see them. The squiggly things on the Parsee's hat are the rays of the sun reflected in more-than-oriental splendour, because if I had drawn real rays they would have filled up all the picture. The cake has currants in it; and the wheel-thing lying on the sand in front belonged to one of Pharaoh's chariots when he tried to cross the Red Sea. The Parsee found it, and kept it to play with. The Parsee's name was Pestonjee Bomonjee, and the Rhinoceros was called Strorks, because he breathed through his mouth instead of his nose. I wouldn't ask anything about the cooking-stove if I were you.

And there was a great deal more in that than you would think.
Because, five weeks later, there was a heat wave in the Red Sea, and everybody took off all the clothes they had. The Parsee took off his hat; but the Rhinoceros took off his skin and carried it over his shoulder as he came down to the beach to bathe. In those days it buttoned underneath with three buttons and looked like a waterproof. He said nothing whatever about the Parsee's cake, because he had eaten it all; and he never had any manners, then, since, or henceforward. He waddled straight into the water and blew bubbles through his nose, leaving his skin on the beach.
Presently the Parsee came by and found the skin, and he smiled one smile that ran all round his face two times. Then he danced three times round the skin and rubbed his hands. Then he went to his camp and filled his hat with cake-crumbs, for the Parsee never ate anything but cake, and never swept out his camp. He took that skin, and he shook that skin, and he scrubbed that skin, and he rubbed that skin just as full of old, dry, stale, tickly cake-crumbs and some burned currants as ever it could possibly hold. Then he climbed to the top of his palm-tree and waited for the Rhinoceros to come out of the water and put it on.

THIS is the Parsee Pestonjee Bomonjee sitting in his palm-tree and watching the Rhinoceros Strorks bathing near the beach of the Altogether Uninhabited Island after Strorks had taken off his skin. The Parsee has put the cake-crumbs into the skin, and he is smiling to think how they will tickle Strorks when Strorks puts it on again. The skin is just under the rocks below the palm-tree in a cool place; that is why you can't see it. The Parsee is wearing a new more-than-oriental-splendour hat of the sort that Parsees wear; and he has a knife in his hand to cut his name on palm-trees. The black things on the islands out at sea are bits of ships that got wrecked going down the Red Sea; but all the passengers were saved and went home.
The black thing in the water close to the shore is not a wreck at all. It is Strorks the Rhinoceros bathing without his skin. He was just as black underneath his skin as he was outside. I wouldn't ask anything about the cooking-stove if I were you.

And the Rhinoceros did. He buttoned it up with the three buttons, and it tickled like cake crumbs in bed. Then he wanted to scratch, but that made it worse; and then he lay down on the sands and rolled and rolled and rolled, and every time he rolled the cake crumbs tickled him worse and worse and worse. Then he ran to the palm-tree and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed himself against it. He rubbed so much and so hard that he rubbed his skin into a great fold over his shoulders, and another fold underneath, where the buttons used to be (but he rubbed the buttons off), and he rubbed some more folds over his legs. And it spoiled his temper, but it didn't make the least difference to the cake-crumbs. They were inside his skin and they tickled. So he went home, very angry indeed and horribly scratchy; and from that day to this every rhinoceros has great folds in his skin and a very bad temper, all on account of the cake-crumbs inside.
But the Parsee came down from his palm-tree, wearing his hat, from which the rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental splendour, packed up his cooking-stove, and went away in the direction of Orotavo, Amygdala, the Upland Meadows of Anantarivo, and the Marshes of Sonaput.

THIS Uninhabited Island
    Is off Cape Gardafui,
By the Beaches of Socotra
    And the Pink Arabian Sea:
But it's hot--too hot from Suez
    For the likes of you and me
        Ever to go
        In a P. and O.
And call on the Cake-Parsee!

More wonderful tales of the letter R can be found here, at  ABC Wednesday, and this grand story by Rudyard Kipling can be found at Sir Google's address here


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday, November 13th, 2001

We are swept away by the wonderful help we get from our family, and the most recent was quite magical, - I am sure it involved a wand in the hands of a speedy son, here on holiday from the Caribou, and a flash-by grandson.

They arrived mid afternoon and by supper time had transferred the garage-cum-workshop into the neatest, tidiest space with room for the SUV in the midst of all the things that survived the Great Downsizing.

Christmas decorations, wrappings and ribbons flew up the lift from the garage into the walk-in closet.  Pictures that have not yet been hung went down into that lovely cemented space under the house, along with a half a dozen boxes whose contents haven't yet found a place to perch.

Suddenly all of Charles' bits and pieces. and his thousands of small tools that he cherishes and just might use someday, found a home on the shelves that line the west side of the garage and the pegboard they hung on the wall.

David went out and measured the SUV, - came in and measured the free space in the garage, and all was well!  Home for the vehicle, out of the wet snow that  fell this afternoon!!  When ladies get ancient one of the things that have little appeal for them is sweeping  the snow from the car, and chipping  the ice from the windshield.  I have become thoroughly spoiled with a nice dry garage, and am not prepared to give up this enormous luxury!!

Thank you, you lovely, big, strapping elves!!!

In case you materialize around here again, my dear wizards,  I am on the lookout for the Christmas lights whose 'putting up'  requires an agility that doesn't live in this house any more, alas..............

Remembrance Day in a Small Town

Late afternoon on the 10th of November when Charles starts looking for the new can of Never Dull, brings out the old toothbrush, the sliding thing he slips under medals to protect the ribbons, and last of all the Medals and the small and precious silver wings.

While he shines and polishes (the spitting comes later when he does the shoes) I re-sew the Squadron Emblem on the pocket of his jacket.

This is all in deference to our slower pace, - time was when Remembrance Day morning was a whirlwind of activity, but we move slower now, and find it best to start a day early.

As we prepare, the loss of Charles' two brothers in France and in Holland is ever present in our thoughts.

And I think of my father who was wounded at Cambrai a month before the signing of the Armistice in 1918, and how the effects of that wound left him walking with a cane for the last twenty years of his life.

Shortly after ten o'clock on the 11th Charles is looking pretty handsome and spiffy for an old Vet. He has received phone calls, e-mails and loving hugs from children who know how important this day has always been to him, and never fail to express their love and understanding.

We leave the house, hoping to get a parking spot close to where he will take part in the Remembrance Day service by reading the Names of the Fallen and citing the Act of Remembrance.

There is a cold wind blowing. People begin to gather, well scarved and hatted - many of them carrying wreaths. Friends and family stop to chat as we wait in the SUV for the first signs of the Parade. The crowd grows thicker (the owner of the town's grocery store says 400)

The Legion members who will conduct the service test the sound system and attend to last minute details around the Cenotaph.

There - we hear the music which accompanies the parade and led by red coated RCMP (no horses this year) the Colour Party, the Army Cadets, the Veterans who are still able to march, the Legion members, our oldest son, Steve, a peacetime veteran, the Brownies and Guides and Cubs and Scouts, the Elks, the Royal Purples and other Service Club members all right turn on to the grass and march across the park to the Cenotaph.

At one time the row of Veterans was long, and stretched for over a city block. Now there are only a handful in the Parade, a few more in wheelchairs and on crutches, but all intent on honouring those of their dead comrades who once, in the now distant past, were like brothers to them, still enshrined in their hearts.

The wind scatters leaves and causes collars to be raised. Everyone takes their place, and the service begins.

A wonderfully strong voice leads the singing of O Canada. There are prayers, and a poem written by a young student in the high school.

The Army Cadets who stand at each corner of the Cenotaph lower their Arms and Charles reads the Names of the Fallen Comrades.

The Bugler plays the Last Post and the flag is lowered.

The two minutes of silence is poignant, and heavy with emotion.

And after the Lament and Reveille,

The Act of Remembrance.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, or the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them.

The tribute to the Fallen, the Laying of the Wreaths, the reading of a Remembrance poem and the singing of 'O God, our Help in Ages Past'.

The wind comes in gusts and chases the clouds around the sky, creating small gaps that allow a little sunshine through. Fingers and toes grow cold but people remain to the end, as they honour lost loved ones and those who died to make the present moments possible.

After 'The Queen' the parade marches off, - the crowd disperses and makes their way to the Legion Hall. Charles and I linger to talk to family and old friends.

When we arrive at the Hall we find a great long line-up of shivery people waiting for Hot Rums....

There is Beef Stew and wonderful warm Chili provided by the Legion.

Four long rows of tables are crowded with adults, - next door at the Elks Home the children have cookies and cocoa. People linger, talking, exchanging memories, up-dating news. Gradually the crowd thins. Some people go home, - others make their way downstairs for an afternoon of comradeship, old time tunes, dancing, a little Karaoke and a wonderful air of good fellowship.  

During the afternoon the Legion Brass visit, the Mayor says a few words, - unfortunately there are no pipers this year, but often we are included in their rounds of various Remembrance Day services.

Years have passed since our first Remembrance Days in this town, when the Veterans were young and plentiful and glasses were raised to comrades just a few years dead.

In later years Charles and others took rum and comradeship during the afternoon to veterans confined to their homes, coming back if not three sheets to the wind, at least two and a half.....

Now the Veteran finds himself a little 'out of the loop,' - honoured, and thanked, - questioned and perhaps even held in awe in some cases, but very conscious of being of another generation. Our appreciation is great for the Legion members who make this Day so special, and for all who Remember....

Well, this is how it is in one small town, and probably to a great extent the happenings would be familiar in hundreds of other small towns.... a people expressing their sorrow, their love and their need to pay honour to the Valiant hearts. And in doing so gathering closer together.....

(The pictures are from yesterday, but many of the words are archived from a Remembrance Day post of 2008 - still relevant to the honour  a small town pays to those who 'gave their todays for our tomorrows'  )

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nov. 9th, 2011

November comes to visit


We go to the house on the hill to admire the work of the floor installers as they lay 'Whiskey' laminate throughout the house, - completed pictures to follow.  Soon.......

It has been a dull day.  November tires of lurking in the hills and comes to visit the valley folk, bringing with him a dusting of snow in the early morning and dire portents of miserable days to follow.   There is no sun to catch the shadows in the hills or to highlight the rolling meadows of fall grasses.

Frost lends a more subtle air to the garden that last week glowed gloriously in the sun.

Remnants of the morning snow embroider the sedum

and the last roses, a little tattered, a little torn, but still icily delicate 

plump rose hips mark a memorial to their June sisters

The climber at the garden gate is surrounded with the rich shades of autumn

and along the way the small furled leaves of the burning bush turn wine and rose and crimson

By the time we leave to come down the hill into town, and home, November has relented, and sent a few fluffy clouds and small patches of blue sky to ease us gently into this melancholy month.

Tomorrow we will shine shoes and medals, press jackets and knife sharp trousers, in preparation for Remembrance Day on Friday.

Monday, November 07, 2011

ABC Wednesday
November 9th, 2011

Q is the favoured letter this week

I have always been fond of words that begin with Q.  Quicken, quiver, quaver, quintessence, quiet, quail, quest. quip, quietism, quicksilver - they all have a rather old fashioned romanticism to my ear.

And then there is Quatorzain, a poetic term used in English literature, as opposed to 'sonnet' for a poem in fourteen rhymed iambic lines.

The difference being, the Quatorzain ends in a couplet, as a sonnet never does.  Almost all the 'sonnets' of the Elizabethan period, including those of Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser, are really Quatorzains, consisting of three quatrains of alternate rhyme, and the whole closing with a couplet.

This book will tell you all about the differences in the two forms!

Here is a perfect example of a Quatorzain, published by Michael Drayton in 1602.

Dear, why should you commend me to my rest,
When now the night doth summon all to sleep?

Methinks this time becometh lovers best;
Night was ordained together friends to keep.

How happy are all other living things
Which through the day conjoin by several flight,
The quiet evening yet together brings,
And each returns unto his love at night,
O thou that art so courteous unto all
Why should'st thou, Night, abuse me only thus,
That every creature to his kind dost call,
And yet 'tis thou dost only sever us?

Well could I wish it would be ever day,
If, when night comes, you bid me go away.

This small bit of information about the forms of sonnets and quatorzains may not be something you have been aching to know, but please do enjoy the poem, and the poet's lament at being separated from his loved one when night falls.

For more interesting interpretations of the letter Q visit here at ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her Quaint helpers.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

The skies are a brilliant blue and against their depth the trees who have not yet cast their golden leaves are burnished by the fugitive sunlight.  The rest of them have dropped their glowing funeral gowns and raise naked arms into the November air.  

Nights are chilly and I pull a warm woolen blanket over the pots of geraniums that
 hug the house for warmth.

"This is the treacherous month when autumn days
with summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
her head and blooms again.  The soft, warm haze
makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
and, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns........"
Helen Hunt Jackson, Autumn Sonnet  an excerpt

Friday afternoon I made a quick trip to the garden on the hill, looking for the remnants of the rust and wine chrysanthemums that linger long into November.  Across the path I saw a valiant poppy, brave against the night frosts and crumpled crimson with defiance.  Two more fat round buds lay nestled in the fresh greenery of second growth.  

I brought the poppy home and took it to the church today for Remembrance Sunday.