Monday, January 15, 2018

A COLD MID-JANUARY DAY!

So, what does one do in the middle of a very cold January in Manitoba, when you can't get out much -  aside from stewing about the fact that so many people are so very sick and there is nothing much you can do about it?

You can get up in your craft room and make something?

Wrong - the craft room is off limits until it warms up significantly.

You Read?

Bingo!

Thank Goodness for books and magazines.  I happened to stop in the recycle shop on Friday after I had been to clean the library, and some nice soul had left a box of Manitoba Gardener magazines.  Okay, so they are not recent additions, but that's of little signifigance to a gardener such as I.

Even though I have had gardens for years, I am still learning. No matter how much you may think you already know about plants and soil, water, sun - there is always more to learn.  That's the true beauty about being a gardener.   Those who think they know it all - may know a lot - but you will never know it all!

So I hauled home the box of magazines, and one day has led to another, and another, and to be perfectly honest with you, I have somewhat forgotten that it's mid January in Manitoba.  I'm already months ahead in my thoughts... to March, April, May... and beyond.

I have learned the difference between Dragonflies and damselflies... and I am now researching how to bring more of them into my yard and gardens!

Have you been taking notice of the way the foilage grows on your Iris rhizomes when you transplant them?  Not I - I just transplant them.  Here's the thing!  The foilage at the end of the rhizome grows only in one direction.  So your Iris when growing in clumps are open in the centre with all the foilage growing outwards... not pretty.

Solution: when splitting your Iris, split out all the rhizomes, so each one has a single or at most a double leave blade per rhizome.  Prepare them all this way before you replant.

When you go to replant, consider each plant as a circle.  Place three of the rhizomes around the circle at 12 oclock, 3oclock and 7oclock with the foilage pointing away from the circle..

The remaining two rhizomes are placed at 11oclock and 5 oclock with the foilage direction of growth towards the center of the circle.

The result of this method of planting will be a uniform clump of Iris with blossoms supported on each of the stems in the following year.  The center of the clump will remain full and colourful as the clump expands.

Brilliant!  I didn't know this, but I certainly intend on trying it.

I have started inventorying my seeds, and I am thinking about turning my nook into a temporary plant nursery.  It would make a great place to start my plants for spring, and it would take little time to get it functional.

There is nothing like thinking about plants and the beauty they share with us to brighten a cold mid- January day!



Thursday, January 11, 2018

BLESS US ONE, AND ALL!

We are back in the deep freeze, and once again I am being conservative towards the heating demands of my workspace.  That is because my attic space is not on the main heating system, but instead is heated with electric baseboards.  I refuse to heat a space, that isn't used 24/7 and pay Manitoba Hydro exorbitant amounts of cash to do so.  The last time we had such cold weather, I hauled my computer down to the main floor, but I am not going to do that this time around. 

So for the next week or so, I will only be at my desk for very brief moments, to pick some thing up, or to put something away.

Yesterday was not a great day for some of my loved ones.  A family member who went for a routine test yesterday, ended up on the operating table early this morning, having by-pass surgery, while yet another loved one received the most devastating diagnosis following a test that was done a couple of weeks ago.

My prayer list was already long, and now it has two more added to it.

I believe in the power of prayer, and even if I did not, I would say them anyway. 

So many people laugh at prayer, but prayer is something we all do -  whether we admit it or not - especially when we are helpless to do anything else. 

To the families of those on my list - I am here - always.

So lets hope this current cold snap is short lived, so we can once again get outdoors and get the fresh air our minds and bodies need to rejuvenate ourselves.

God Bless You one, and All....






Wednesday, January 10, 2018

SPEAKING OUT ABOUT SPEAKING OUT!

I had a completely different post written for today, but this morning I changed my mind about posting it on this day.

I don't usually comment on political or social issues that go on in our world here on my blog, but today I just really feel like I have had enough with Hollywood-driven garbage being shoved down every one's throat, wherever you happen to be - on the Internet, watching TV - even talk shows and pod casts.

As if it hasn't been publicized enough over the last several months, this past week's Golden Globes frenzy on the "Me Too" movement has fueled more fires, angry debates, fights and arguments that this world really needs to see and hear right now.

I am beginning to wonder if this is still about "Sexual Predators" or if this has just become a way for women to speak out against men in general.

I am all for "Sexual Predators" getting what is coming to them, but I also read names of people I know who said "Me Too" on the Facebook movement a few months ago.  Women I know well enough to know that they were never victims of this sort of behaviour.

So, is this how we go about "Empowering Women"?  We become followers, we jump on a bandwagon of a movement that everyone seems to be saying YES to?

I wonder - if we had a movement called "Not Me" - how would the numbers stack up against the "Me Too"?  I think we know the answer to that question.

So why don't we hear about the "Not Me's" ?

Because we are the boring women, who have worked hard in our careers and homes,  who have perhaps had a touch to our arm from a charming man a time or two, but who know that a touch on the arm, is a touch on the arm, and not a sexual deviation.  We are the women who have had enough confidence in ourselves to brush it off, call the guy an ass, and move on.  We don't need a "cause" to get us through the day; we don't need to be "Empowered", because we already are.  We don't need to feel better or smarter or prettier or sexier than anyone else - because we already are!

And how come we are not hearing the flip side to this issue? 

I cannot tell you how many times in my working career when I have been witness to the flip side.  Men who are being gushed at, fawned over, and yes given verbal sexual innuendo's by female co-workers who know full well the male is not in the least interested.

These men are out there, and I am sure they exist in Hollywood as well - why are they silent now?

Box sexes are guilty of the crime of the "Me Too" movement - whether it is talked about, or not.  Personally, I don't find it entertaining, or empowering.  I also don't agree with the route it is taking.

Yes, those who are truly guilty need to be punished - but allegations, are allegations, just like Hollywood is Hollywood.  My mind has to question why the same group of people who speak the loudest are also the ones promoting a movie where a gay male forms a sexual relationship with a 14 year old boy, in the name of a love story.  This is the movie they are promoting to be the big Oscar winner this year.

Enough said!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A WALDORF KIND OF DAY!

Today I have the day free to spend upstairs in my studio for the first time in weeks.  Late last night I snuck up there and pulled out a bunch of patterns and laid them on the floor and on my desk.  Some were crochet, some knit, some fabric, some stitched.  Talk about a way to drive oneself crazy!

But the one pattern I kept picking up over and over again was for a little knit Waldorf-style doll.

What is a Waldorf doll?

They have been around for generations. They are a small handmade doll, generally knit, but they can also be made from a very soft cloth, or a pillow case.  The material they are made from is usually a natural fiber, such as wool. 

They are crafted very simply, using traditional doll making techniques which originated in Europe.

Waldorf dolls, are based on the principals of Waldorf Education, which seeks to enliven a child's imagination.  For that reason the facial features on these dolls are intentionally simple - some even have no facial features at all.  This allows a child to use their own imaginations, they can imagine their dolls, awake or sleeping, happy or sad.

These little dolls ( 9-10 inches) are wonderful first dolls for babies and toddlers, but they are also becoming very popular for children of all ages.  Soft dolls and hand made dolls such as the Waldorf- style dolls are back in vogue.

I have had a pattern I found on the Internet years ago, of a cute little doll, designed by Beth Webber.  It is knit, using a worsted weight yarn, and Mohair for her hair.  She is knit on 2 needles, in one piece.  Its a simple pattern, even a beginner knitter can do this one, just knit and purl.

It's a great way to use up small balls of yarn, and the patterns for her clothes are also on the web site, which require only basic knitting skills.

There are also crochet versions out there.  They are just as cute, and just as easy to make, but I think I am going to stay with the traditional style doll this time around.

You can find images and all the patterns for these sweet little treasures on the website below. 

If you have little ones in your family, make some - I'll bet they would love them - in fact, I know they will.


http://byhookbyhand.blogspot.ca/2011/11/white-friday.html


Happy Waldorfing!

Monday, January 8, 2018

SO WHAT'S NEW?

Well here we are, eight days into 2018 already!  We had several weeks of extreme cold, as did much of the country, but now we are in a much milder and warmer temperature pattern, which is predicted to only last a few days -  but we will enjoy it anyway.

It was so cold here, that I decided not to heat my attic studio, so I shut the lights and heat off and hard as it was, kept my body planted on the main floor of our home.  Now that is warmer, I have returned to my "space" only to discover that I had left everything in complete chaos, since well before my Christmas sales started.   My space is a mess, and I am making my first real project of 2018 to clean and organize my work space so I can work efficiently again.

I have been doing a bit of knitting while I was stranded on the main floor, and I plan to do some more this winter with some new patterns that I acquired over the holidays.

But I have a new project, that I really hope will be successful. I am going to start giving piano and theory lessons.  I interviewed my first student's parent yesterday, and my first student is a 7 yr old boy, who loves music and has been wanting piano lessons for over a year. 

I am excited to start this new venture.  It is something I have wanted to do since we moved here, and I think it will be just as rewarding for me as it will be for the students.  So music has one again taken hold of my life.  There was time when music was the most important thing in my life.  I was singing in choirs, taking voice lessons and doing solo performances, playing in orchestras, and I couldn't seem to get enough music in my life. 

To some extent music has hit me that way again.  I am playing the organ at church, I play at the nursing home, and do music therapy there.  Giving piano lessons is a great next step, and I don't think I am quite done yet.  Next on my mind is trying to form a community choir.  I have heard some of these farm folk sing - they have pure joy coming from their vocal chords - I'd like to help them share that joy with other's. 

But I am getting ahead of myself...

Today I am heading to see the dentist.  I have a wisdom tooth that has gone bad, so I guess we will be making a decision.  I am deathly afraid of dentists - so you know it's bad if I get up the nerve to go.  At this point, I keep telling myself that the pain of having it pulled could not be any greater than the pain of it abscessed - -  yeah, that's not working, I'm still shaking!

So that's my life in a few paragraphs.

If my knees are not shaking too much when I get home, it looks like it would be a perfect sunny warm day to get outside with the camera.  You might see the results here, soon.

So get outside and play in the snow, or go for a walk, or take your camera for a walk.  It's days like this that I really miss having a dog.

Talk to you soon.... stay well...


Sunday, December 31, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What does one write on their blog on the eve of  New Year?  A year ago this day, I was reflecting on the year almost past, and wishing for even a better year to come, and that certainly is the case today.

But the year we are leaving wasn't quite what I had expected.  Yes, there were some wonderful times, happy times, healthy times, but there were also more than our share of sad times, frustrated times, and even a few times when we questioned if we would see the end of the year.

We lost very Dear ones in our family this year.  My Dad in January, my Aunt Margaret in October.  There was sickness - our little Thomas continues to battle leukemia; my brother Wayne, now also battles leukemia.  I had several health scares myself this summer.

There was a wedding in our family, a new beginning for a nephew and his bride, and so also for another brother's family.

There were disappointments for all of us - a new year doesn't guarantee there won't be.  In fact in the world we live in today, perhaps there should be a New Year's warning... more disappointments are on their way!

We all have disappointments in our lives - in ourselves, in our friends, in our families, in our communities - the list goes on and on.  Most of us vent our disappointment and move forward, while still others allow their disappointment to boil and fester into anger and even into hate. 

I saw this several times this past year in my own family, but then, I have seen it there in other years as well.

It makes me wonder about human nature. -  why some people forgive, and some just can't. 

Still in all, this is about starting a New Year.  I guess my point is that none of us know what this New Year will bring.  We hope and wish and long for only good things, but we may have to accept the not so good things as well. 

My wish for everyone I love is only the good things - good health, happiness, love.  Enough money to pay the bills, good food to eat.  Sun, when we need it, rain when we need it.  Birdsong in the mornings and marvelous sunsets in the evenings, and a rocking chair on a porch or by the window to enjoy it all.

I also wish for healing for those who need it - both body and mind, and certainly soul.  Forgiveness for your fellow man, including those whose home you shared as a child.

I wish for a cure for Cancer, and a healthier world.

But mostly, I wish for Peace.  Peace inside our hearts, and everywhere in the world that is ours to share. 

It's a tall order and I know we can't get it all - but wishes are free and so is a heart full of love.

Happy New Year Everyone!  May all our wishes for the New Year come true!


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

IT REALLY WAS CHRISTMAS!

I must admit, I was kind of dreading this Christmas.  It was the first Christmas without two people I loved with all my heart, my Dad, and my Aunt Margaret.  Thoughts of both of them filled my mind the days before Christmas - memories, good times, happy times, and the only thing that made those memories even brighter, was knowing that this Christmas they would both be together with their loved ones in heaven - in a much better place than here on earth.

Also on my mind were two family members who are battling cancer this Christmas, and one very dear friend who continues to fight cancer with all her might.

And then my own family were ever present on my mind, in particular my relationships with my siblings.  Profound sadness hits me like a wall when I think of Christmas past with my siblings, and Christmas present with them.  There is no Christmas present with two of them, and it is something that I just can't seem to get past.  It's not what I want, but I alone cannot fix it, so I have to accept it for what it is.

Yes, I was certainly dreading Christmas!

But then things began to change for me.  Off we went to attend our little church's Christmas eve service in the morning.  Gary preached, and I played the last of my Christmas services.  My eyes watered, and my lips quivered while I played and tried to sing the first verse of Silent Night, but then something happened.  I felt myself calm down, my eyes dried, and I began to enjoy the words of the song - and all of a sudden I felt happy!

Later that afternoon, Gary was on Face book, and announced that the Church we attended in Winnipeg when we lived there, was on a live feed with their Family Christmas eve service, so we sat and watched people we knew, in a place we knew and loved, and it was wonderful.

And then it was 10:30, we tuned in again  - this time for the late service.  The camera was right in the choir loft - I felt like I was sitting in my old spot.  There was Annie, Gail, Maggie, Gerry, Anne, Malcolm, Shirley, Richard, Al, Don, Ted... all my old choir family - singing so beautifully like they always did - I felt so close, like I could poke them and they would jump!

We watched to the end... a beautiful Christmas Eve service, I heard the words, I heard the voices I knew so well, I heard the Cassavant...

I went to bed feeling so happy!

Christmas morning was pretty minimal.  We had breakfast, I dusted - yes I did, and then I headed into the bathroom to take a bath.

While I was in there the phone rang - it was Jon - and he had something he wanted to tell us!

Well you know what it's like in a perfect family - timing is often, not so perfect.  With the aid of speaker phone, and while still in the bathtub, I learned that our son Jon, and his girlfriend, Sasha had just gotten engaged!

It was the best Christmas gift ever!  Christmas had arrived - a new beginning for our family, a chance to welcome another family into our lives, into our hearts.

 It made me think of the Christmas story - the "Real Christmas Story", and the new beginning that happened on that Christmas day so long ago.

In the end, it was a great Christmas Day, I suddenly felt ashamed that I had been dreading it before it came.

I am so looking forward to the new beginnings started Christmas 2017.  God willing, they will follow us for many many years to come.