Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18th, 2011

Yesterday, - what a lovely morning!

The clouds are light and buoyed with whipped cream, so they float  airily through a bright blue summery sky.

The air is still, and warm.  Breakfast over, and I am out in the garden, tackling the rest of the golden straw mulch and Charles is warming up the tractor....

I poke around, moving dead leaves and grass, and underneath the daffodils lie in a beautiful thick mat, tenderly green and bursting with promise .The tulips and grape hyacinth are pushing sword-like through the damp earth and finally the hellebore stubs make themselves known and strive to be part of this sweet March morning.

We come in for lunch, and in the distance I hear the West Wind whining and moaning, spurred on by Old Man Winter where he loiters in the hills.   Enough, he says, in a querulous voice - they've had enough - a small taste is plenty - go, go now and blow up a storm, - scatter those summer clouds and make room for my dark brooding babies.

And so the West Wind comes and blows the top off one of the bird feeders, whirling the others around while the little birds cling to the edges, and the crows caw caw and wheel through the air and down into the orchards, and the sky grows grey and sombre.

Today I am making muffins - the tractor man is hunched at his computer, listening to music and reading the news..  Off to the west the hills are hidden by misty clouds.  Snow falls on the mountain tops. But the promise of spring is still green in the garden, and we look for Tomorrow and content ourselves with the forsythia sticks and pussy willows blooming in the house.

Charles is much more sanguine than I about this late spring and constant snowfall in the hills as
he anticipates the underground aquifiers in the valley being replenished from the snow pack as it sinks and spreads itself into the ground.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17th, 2001

St.Patrick's Day

The Passing of the Gael
from Ethna Carbery's "The Four Winds of Eirinn"

They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills
they are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills,
All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and thrills
They are going, shy-eyed cailins, and lads so straight and tall
From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal,
From the greening plains of Mayo, and the glens of Donegal.

They are leaving pleasant places, shores with snowy sands outspread;
Blue and lonely lakes a-stirring when the wind stirs overhead;
Tender living hearts that love them, and the graves of kindred dead.
They shall carry to the distant land a tear-drop in the eye
And some shall go uncomforted, their days an endless sigh
For Kathalen No Houlihan's sad face until they die.

Oh, Kathaleen No Houlihan, your road's a thorny way,
And 'tis a faithful soul would walk on the flints with you for aye,
Would walk the sharp and cruel flints until his locks grew grey,
So some must wander to the East, and some must wander West;
Some seek the white wastes of the North and some a Southern nest;
Yet never shall they sleep so sweet as on your mother breast.

Within the city streets, hot hurried full of care
A sudden dream shall bring them a whiff of Irish air -
A cool air, faintly-scented, blown soft from otherwhere
Oh, the cabins long-deserted!  Olden memories awake.
Oh, the pleasant, pleasant places!  Hush! the blackbird in the brake!
Oh, the dear and kindly voices!  Now their hearts are fain to ache.

And no foreign skies hold beauty like the rainy skies they knew;
Nor any night-wind cool the brow as did the foggy dew.
They are going, going, going and we cannot bid them stay;
Their fields are now the stranger's, where the stranger's cattle stray,
Oh! Kathaleen No Houlihan, your way's a thorny way!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

UFO's and other delightful visitors

It was early in the morning when the UFO appeared.

There was just a hint of a nice day to come after all the brooding skies we have had pressing down upon us.

It came wrapped in an ordinary plastic grocery bag, hiding its heavenly blue wooliness as it slipped in the door, accompanied by our younger daughter who had found it loitering in the local Legion canteen....abandoned, alas, by the Past President of the Branch.

UFO's are not new to this house.  They first began to make their appearance in the early years of our marriage when I was awakened to crafty enthusiasms, some of which were carried forward to a triumphant maturity, but others who sadly morphed into UnFinished Objects....UFO's.

I remember well my first  'almost' UFO which narrowly escaped being a full blown UnFinished Object by my wiliness in turning a sweater I was knitting for my father into a Vest, with no Sleeves.  It was the first of many, and occasionally I come across an unfinished piece of embroidery, tucked away at the bottom of a basket, or a warp, cut from the loom in frustration while the half a yard of woven fabric that preceded it was turned into a skinny pillow, or a little bag, - or perhaps just a reminder of another 'dog' on the loom, folded neatly away and forgotten.

I have a soft white sweater still on needles, accompanied by a pattern, - the front, the back and one sleeve half done.  Perhaps I could ask our daughter to take it to the Canteen where someone might fall in love with it and with the click of the needles, take it from it's UFO stage to what it was meant to be.

As I plan to do with the heavenly blue cable knit vest that has been sitting around for the past decade,  bemoaning its fate, ever since the Past President gave up knitting,

It arrived along with six or eight extra balls of this lovely blue Sidar wool that I can dream about knitting into a pretty lace scarf.

I have all the instructions, which appeared somewhat bizarre when I first glanced at them but which now are quite orderly and readable.  I have finished the last row which the PP abandoned midway across the back, and am just waiting for an hour or two when all is quiet and I can begin to rescue this lovely UFO from its erstwhile fate.

I could have done it this morning when Charles was away at 'singing' if I had just remembered to turn the freezer part of the fridge back on last night so that it wouldn't have leaked water all over the kitchen floor, - which Charles, being first up, sloshed through on his way to turn on the coffee pot, - and which resulted in me having to concoct a vegetable soup from all the veggies that had grown soft and soggy in the warm freezer, - and which also resulted in us having a shrimp stir fry for supper tonight to rescue the limp shrimp....

But then, that's another story.....and I wouldn't want to distract you from thoughts you might be having about UFO's that could be hiding in dim, dark corners of your Craft Room....

Monday, March 14, 2011

ABC Wednesday
March 16th, 2011

The letter this week is I and stands for a country of great beauty,  romance and oft times great hardship, Irish the world over the wonderfully nostalgic homeland of  Ireland
with its ancient history, its music and its culture, all ties that tug at her children wherever they may roam.

From this Link I offer this very condensed version of the story of the Irish race.

It is said that the genuine Irish (Celtic) people of today are descended from Milesius of Spain, whose sons invaded and possessed themselves of Ireland a thousand years before Christ, and brought a powerful aristocracy to add to the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann peoples who populated Ireland at that time..  the Fibbolgs having been forced into partial serfdom by the Tuatha De Dannan,  a capable and cultured, highly civilized people, skilled in arts and crafts to such an extent that the Firblogs and the later Milesius created a mythology around them, and named then necromancers.

In a raging four day battle on the Mayo-Galway border the Tuatha De Dannann overthrew the Firblogs, but so bravely did the Firblogs fight that the De Dannann left that quarter of the Island wherein they fought to the Firblogs, - the province now called Connaught.

The struggle is commemorated by many cairns and pillars strewn on the great battle plain in Sligo.

Scotia was one of the earliest names of Ireland and the people were commonly called Scots.  One of its ancient titles was Hibernia, mostly traced from Eber or Heber, the first Milesian king, just as the much later name, Ireland, is by some traced from Ir, whose family were in the northeaster corner of the island.  Its own inhabitants called it Eire, - hence Eireland - Ireland.

"This Isle is sacred named by all the ancients,
From times remotest in the womb of Chronos,
This Isle which rises over the waves of ocean,
Is covered with a sod of rich luxuriance,
And peopled far and wide by the Hiberni"

by Rufus Avienus, written at the beginning of the fourth century.

And, of course, we all know that it is the land of the "Little People" - the Pots of Gold, the Fairies and those of the general population who have that slightly 'fey' look, as if they had ' just had breakfast with a Leprechaun'.

Charles and I both have Irish ancestry, - his from the Border country of Tipperary and County Clare....
the land of the Shamrock and the forty shades of green

and from whence his O'Callaghan ancestors came to Canada with the Peter Robinson Settlers,
By 1840 James O'Callaghan (C's great great grandfather) had purchased land
in Emily Township, in Upper Canada

and mine from Antrim, where my emigrant Scots ancestors settled in the early 18th century

and where they became part of the MasThamais native Gaelic Sept of County Cavan, and anglicized the name to Thompson, instead of MacCavish

John Thompson's reasons for coming to Canada have not yet become apparent, but his arrival at the time of the American Revolution indicate he may have come to serve in the British Army, and his eventual settlement on granted Clergy land in Stormont  County strengthens this suggestion.

He married an emigrant lass from Kincardinshire whose name, of course, was Arbuthnot.

Here is a charming touristy video about Ireland,  - do listen and you might become enchanted.....

For more takes on the letter I visit here at ABC Wednesday, with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt
 and her crew of kindly helpers.