Friday, December 23, 2011

2 days until Christmas - a new poem!

Well we have almost made it to Christmas.

Today is my last day at work until January 2, and I am very happy to be lucky enough to have saved enough vacation days so I could have a wee break over the holidays.

I don't have a lot planned.  I hope to relax, catch up on a lot of reading, perhaps write a bit on my mouse story, and generally be lazy.

I am house and cat sitting for our neighbours, so I will have to get out of my jammies every day - but I am not going near a store that is for certain.

I think the highlight of my week off will be having my friends over for dinner and the evening on the 27th.  There is nothing quite like spending time with friends you have known most of your life.  Its comfortable, it's fun, and its very very special. 

I won't be posting here until at least New Years Day - that's the other thing I plan to do - stay off the computer.  I will check my emails but that's about it - I don't want to spend my week attached to the computer.

So I will wish you all a Very Happy Christmas.  My wish is for all my readers to have a beautiful memorable Christmas with family and friends.  Celebrate life with life, but also keep memories from Christmas' past close in your heart...

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2012!




THE CHRISTMAS TALE


Forgotten is the little babe,
Born so long ago;
And the story that surrounds his birth,
Is one some folks don’t know.

The story says some angels came,
To tell about the child;
I guess to our rich cyber world,
This tale appears quite wild.

Three wise men came, or were they kings?
And did they travel far?
How come they walked alone at night,
And followed some bright star?

About that star that shone so bright;
How did it know just where,
The tiny newborn kid would lay;
And who’d it think would care?

Upon a pile of hay it’s told,
The baby’s crib was made.
With animals there, enclosed within,
A barn is where they stayed.

A virgin Mom, a dirt-poor Dad,
And yet they had a King.
They say he came to earth for me;
Whoever heard of such a thing?

I wasn’t even here as yet,
Nor was my family tree.
How’d he know we’d come in time,
How’d he know about me?

They tell me that he loved me then,
And that he loves me still;
Baby Jesus came to fill my heart,
I pray he always will.

However you believe this story goes,
Its one tale always told;
By those with truth and faith and love,
In wondrous pageant bold.

Repeated new each year that comes,
Great story; same great end.
The greatest story ever told,
The greatest story penned.


Dale Graumann
2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 days until Christmas - a puzzle

Someone sent me a puzzle in an email months ago which led me to Jigidi.com.  I was hooked.  Every night I try and do one.  I usually choose the large size and my favorite are the mosaic and the seasonal categories.

Here is a very simple one to start with - if you want a better challenge to while away a few hours be sure to bookmark this site and... Enjoy!


http://www.jigidi.com/puzzle.php?id=ZLC3QY70

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 days till Christmas! Reaching out!

There are many many people who will be alone this Christmas season.  We all know someone like this, some of us know several.

It could be an elderly person who's family all live a fair distance away, or perhaps all their family have passed on.

Sometimes it is not an elderly, but someone single who has no family nearby.  This person might have friends, but maybe they won't mention the fact that they are going to be alone to their friends, because they don't want to intrude on some one else's family Christmas.

Maybe someone, does have family near by - but the family dynamics are such that even with family living close - that person will be alone.

I remember my nursing days when I worked the ER one Christmas.  The staff told me that Christmas and New Years were the busiest nights for attempted suicides - and indeed they were correct.  We had many that night - of all ages, and all walks of life.

Those of us who have family or friends close to share the season with, rarely give these people a thought.  We willingly drop some money in a Salvation Army kettle, or donate to a homeless shelter - we give to the obvious needy - but what about the ones not nearly so obvious?

It really doesn't take a whole lot of time or energy to make a lonely person feel loved.  A card or even better yet a 10 minute visit with a hug included.  Amazing what that will do for someone who really needs a human touch.

Or how about setting an extra spot at your table and include someone not usually included in your celebrations?   It might just make your Christmas the best ever!

I hope we all are listening to what others are "not" saying.... It could make a secret wish come true, it could save a life!

Monday, December 19, 2011

6 days till Christmas - Blessings!

Why is it when you are waiting for something special, the days and hours leading up to that event are filled with excitement and  sometimes dread - but you can't wait for the moment to be there - and then poof - it's over, done... gone!

That is kind of how I felt about our Lesson and Carol service yesterday.  As an individual, it was an event I have attended many times in my past, and one that I have always longed to participate in.  As a choir member of our church, it was an event for which we practiced and worked very hard indeed.  Just moments before we were to go upstairs to start the service, there was an unaccustomed moment of nervousness within this group of singers, that seldom, if ever - is seen on any given Sunday.

And then it seemed - it was over....

Truth be known - as the newest member of the choir - I was most certainly the least prepared for this event, and yet it didn't feel that way when we were singing.  I felt part of a group of exceptional people lead by an exceptional leader and my knowledge or lack of knowledge seemed to fade behind the beautiful music we were blessed to be singing.

I struggled not with the music - but with emotions that were running wild.  I wanted to cry - from sheer joy  - and I did on the last verse of  O Come All Ye Faithful.  I was moved to tears to the point that singing was impossible.

Why?

Because so many people were present to hear us sing - among them my 23 yr old son who has been absent from the church for several years.  Also present was my beautiful girlfriend, some co-workers, and another friend who drove 4 hours on a snowy day to support me and our choir.  The knowledge of their love and support, the spirit of the season, and the organ at full sound - spilled me over the top.

What a wonderful feeling - what a wonderful evening.

I must say thanks to our Choirmaster and leader - Blair... thank you, Blair for allowing me to be part of this incredible choir.

Secondly thank you to the Choir members themselves.  Every one has been so helpful and accepting of the "newbie" in their midst.

And the biggest thank you goes to My Lord God, for without him in my heart - I would not be here this Christmas nor would I be writing this today, or singing his message in our beautiful church,  St. Luke's Anglican Church.

My title says Christmas is 6 days away - for me it's already here!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

7 days until Christmas - Singing!

La la la la......

Wish us all clear voices, good vision and like our choirmaster would say - make sure your dentures are tight in your mouth! 

Lessons and Carols, here we come!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 days until Christmas - Practicing!

Fa la la la la.......

Dale is busy at church practicing with the choir for our Nine Lessons and Carol Service tomorrow night.

If you have little children joining you this Christmas, here is a cute idea for a special cookie for the little ones...

http://www.meals.com/Recipes/Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Sleds.aspx?recipeid=144680&ReferralSourceId=100e63be-5a02-4368-89e5-4ea271c6f5c9

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 days until Christmas - Really?

Seriously?  Only nine days left?

Guess I'm not feeling it because:

Other than weekly grocery shopping I have yet to spend any time in a store to shop for Christmas, (my Christmas shopping was all done in October when Gary and I went to the States for a few days).   Yes - that must be it.

Or maybe because the weather is so warm it doesn't feel like Christmas - yeah - that could be it too!

Or maybe because I don't have to do Christmas dinner this year - so I don't have to think about all the food preparation - yup - that might be it!

I know what it is - this year I did not make 1 single handmade Christmas gift - you heard it right - not one angel, bear or any other Christmas anything... okay - that's got to be it!

My focus this year definitely is not on the "commercial" aspect of Christmas - what a nice change it is!

While others around me are stressed to the max and loosing their minds on what to buy, what to make, what to cook, what to wear, I am relaxed, content and more than happy to leave it all to someone else.

What have I been doing?

Well I have watched quite a few Christmas specials :)

 - TLC has had some great Christmas decorating shows.

 - Michael Bubble' had a lovely Christmas special (it would have been perfect, without Bieber's appearance).  I wish someone would tell me what it is about that kid that is so wonderful - he can't even sing!
 
-Turner Classic movies has had all the Christmas Classics movies like  - Christmas in Connecticut; Holiday Inn; It's a wonderful Life; Miracle on 34th street...   I have watched more Christmas shows this season than I have watched in the last 10 years collectively!

I look forward to watching A Christmas Story on Saturday night as I relax before our big singing Sunday!  That is one movie that I can so identify with.... it is exactly as memories of my own childhood are, except for the belching furnace and Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant - the story could have been about my family!

Any way I look at it, this Christmas is shaping up to be much different than any I have spent before, and I'm discovering it's not entirely a bad thing. 

This year is all about the "small" stuff for me.  The "small" stuff used to be the really big deal of Christmas... you know - spending time with those who mean the most to you, making time to be together, doing things together.

These days it seems the really big deal of Christmas has become how many hundreds of dollars we need to spend on each child; what designer toys and clothes we can find for the people on our lists.  It has become such a big deal because we buy all year round and Christmas isn't the one time for anything special any more.  We have gone way beyond outdoing the Jones... and the small stuff like spending an evening playing Monopoly ( the board game version) just don't seem to happen anymore.

I'm going to dig out that Monopoly game, and we are going to sit down as a family and play it one evening - without cell phones by our sides, without remote controls or game controllers in our hands, or without computer screens blaring in our faces. 

Well - maybe I am feeling it after all -  I am just feeling it a bit different this year, is all!

Not entirely a bad thing, I'm thinking!   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 days to Christmas - A sweet treat!

I usually do a lot of baking at Christmas time - you know, the usual shortbread, mince-meat tarts, fruit cake... all the good stuff that we tend to only eat at this time of the year.

This year I find I have very little desire to bake and with time running out for the time to actually accomplish this task, I think I have almost come to the decision that I will not do much baking this year.  We'll survive!  In fact I'm sure we will be all the healthier for it.

One of our favorite Christmas cookies is one I have been making for years and years.  It is a refrigerator sugar cookie recipe - that makes a wonderful light and airy cookie.  It's one that you use the flat side of a glass dipped in sugar to flatten before baking.  At this time of the year I always make sure the sugar is green or red, sometime both.

Give these a try - I guarantee you will love them, as will your families.


Refrigerator Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 margarine
1 c vegetable oil ( I use Canola)
1 egg
3 c flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate over night.

Roll into balls, then roll balls in sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a flat bottomed glass.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 days till Christmas - The "Gifts" of Christmas.

No - I'm not talking about Santa Claus and his bag of gifts for all the little children around the world...

My Dad and I have had a very difficult relationship for a very long time.  Difficult enough for me to say that although we have exchanged cards at Christmas, there has been no real effort on either of our parts to share much more of ourselves at Christmas, or any other day for that matter.

It hasn't always been this way between us - growing up and pretty much until Mom passed away, my father was one of the most important and loved adults in my life.

Time has not been kind to us, and we have not been kind to each other, and for both of us this has been very painful.

Dad turned 91 this past October, and just 2 weeks before his birthday, I turned 56.  He sent me a card for my birthday, which is something he has not done in years - and so I in turn sent him a card, and a long letter and a few pictures.

And then I received another card a month later, and last Friday the postman brought yet another surprise  from Dad.  A Christmas Card - and a gift.

The gift wasn't wrapped in any paper so we were able to see what it was right away.

It was a painting Dad had done from one of the pictures I had sent him, of our newest family member, Chip.

My father didn't start painting until he was in his 60's and then when Mom passed, he quit altogether.  It has just been in this past year that he as started again.  I don't recall him ever painting other than scenery before, so this image of Chip must have been quite the challenge for him.

Still - he met that challenge, for me... and that notion gives me hope that our relationship might be changing for the good.

This gift has come from the heart.  It was created with thought and talent and me in mind.  It is not perfect - but the meaning behind it is perfect.... It is the perfect "Gift" of Christmas...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 days until Christmas - The music of Christmas!

Ah - the music...  the wonderful, wonderful music of Christmas.

Which kind is your favorite? 

I start listening to Christmas music in October, and I start singing it shortly after that.  I load and reload my ipod several times over the three months until Christmas, and still I don't run out of Christmas music to listen to. 

I love the modern stuff - the pop Christmas songs, but I have to admit, my passion really is for the classics done by the best orchestra's in the world, and of course the choral pieces done by the best choirs in the world.   Any way you look it,  the music of Christmas is the best.

This year I joined our church choir.  It is a traditional Anglican choir much like the cathedral choirs in Europe.  Much of our material is traditional Royal College Music, it is very challenging, but done right - very beautiful.  Our special night to shine, is in the special Christmas service of Nine Lessons and Carols, and this service will take place this Sunday Dec 18th.

Several years ago I took my oldest brother and his wife to this service.  He is a non church goer, and he was moved to tears many times during the service.  His comment was " I have never heard anything so beautiful - I thought I could hear the angels sing!"

Our service is being recorded this year, and I hope to find a way to put a track or two here for my readers to listen to.  I'm not sure how I'll do that, but I'll try.

In the meantime, Gary and I have been practicing at home - he on the organ, and I on the keyboard.  This tune is one of my favorite Christmas Carols... See Amid The Winter Snow.

I dedicate this to Stewart Thompson, who was my son's Choirmaster for many years with the St. George's Men and Boys Choir here in Winnipeg.  This was Stewart's favorite hymn as well, and when his choir sang this - one truly thought the angels were singing.

Stewart is no longer with us, he passed away a few years ago, but I have every confidence that he is indeed directing the angels in a wonderful rendition of this very carol.

This is for you, Stewart....
http://youtu.be/294MKkQvc4k

Monday, December 12, 2011

13 Days till Christmas - Trimming the Tree

I really did try to write a post for the 14th day till Christmas post, yesterday - but I found myself completely out of time to gather my thoughts let alone put any thought to word, yesterday.

Yesterday was the 3rd Sunday in Advent, and the word of the day was Joy.  It was a joyful day for me.  We (the choir)sang the Magnificat - quite magnificently, I might add....

Then it was home to decorate the tree in the afternoon.  It turned out beautifully as well.  I am so glad that I decided to use our traditional hand-made ornaments instead of buying new ones, like I had threatened a few weeks ago.

I spent a wonderful day with my husband, son, and my two special pets... Molly got a major brush out, and Chip watched you-tube videos with me for about an hour.

I even worked a bit on the last Special Olympic scarf I am doing.  These should all be done by this weekend - I hope!

I did not do any baking as I had planned, but that can be done next week, once our big Lesson and Carol service is over on Sunday.

Here is the end result of our hunt for the perfect tree...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

15 days until Christmas - The perfect Tree!

I usually don't post on the weekend, but since I am counting down to Christmas I really can't skip a couple of days - so today's post is all about trees.

Speaking of traditions - the Christmas Tree is one tradition that still remains popular after many centuries.  According to Wikipedia the earliest accounts of decorating a tree at Christmas was recorded in Germany in the 16th century.

The early "Christmas" trees were set up in public places such as churches and decorated with apples, nuts and dates for the children to collect on Christmas Day.  Later they started to appear in homes of upper-class families, where they were often adorned with candles.  The evergreen has always been the favoured tree, and it is this variety that our modern artificial trees have replaced.

When I was a child we used to hop in the car and travel an hour or so to a forest area where families could cut their own trees.  We made a day of it, and I remember it as being a fun time for our parents and of course for us children.

My husband and I have had a few real trees over the years, but mostly we have put up an artificial tree.  We decided this year to splurge a bit and get a real tree for a change; so on Wednesday evening Gary, Jon and I piled into the van, and went on the hunt for the perfect tree.

Our first stop was at the Boy Scouts tree lot.  It was a huge lot with quite a few trees but much to Gary and Jon's dismay, all the trees were bundled in net, making it difficult to see the complete tree.

I was adamant that the tree not be too fat.  We are short on space in our home, and the spot I have decided to put the tree is in an area where we have to constantly be walking through.  So tall and skinny was my request.  This lot couldn't satisfy that request, so back in the car we went, and on the the next tree lot.

The second lot is where we have always purchased our real trees.... and... all the trees were sitting upright in snowbanks... just what the tree shoppers hoped for!

Up and down the isles we walked.  I forgot to mention that the temperatures that evening were somewhere in the -25 range with the windchill.  I was getting cold and impatient to be home with a hot cup of tea in my hand, and my two fellows were perusing the 12 ft trees in the back row!

Where would they be without me?...... Back to the front row with a few stomps of Mom's heavy boots, and within minutes we found our perfect tree.

Good thing too, because my hands were numb and my pocketbook was about to be emptied.

We paid the fellow, loaded our tree and set off for home well pleased with our choice.

And we took some pictures - imagine that!
A lovely choice, indeed!

A frozen me, waiting to load the tree into the van.

We are setting the tree up today and decorating it tomorrow - I promise to take a picture of the finished product for Mondays' post.

Friday, December 9, 2011

16 Days Until Christmas - TRADITIONS

When my son was very small, we were at a catalogue order place and he spotted a Santa Nutcracker.  We didn't have a lot of money, and he never asked for things when we went shopping in stores, so I was quite surprised when he kept referring back to the Santa as we moved through the warehouse.

It was kind of cute, for a nutcracker - it was also pretty expensive - but still he couldn't seem to get it out his head, so I went back alone the next day, and picked it up to give to him as one of his Christmas gifts that year.

I'll never forget how happy he was that Christmas morning to open the parcel and find the Santa Nutcracker.  He carried it around that whole Christmas season - and a new Christmas tradition was born.

From that year on, Santa brought a new Nutcracker every year for Jonathan.  Every year he labeled the new addition with the date and who had given it to him, until a couple of years ago when he decided that perhaps Santa didn't have to bring him any more - he had plenty!

It became customary to see Jon's Nutcracker collection sitting on the mantle every Christmas over the years - until this year.

This year I was watching a Christmas decorating program on TLC or one of the other networks and they were showing the most beautiful mantle decorations.  I decided right then and there that this year my mantle would look different than it had for many years.

When it came time to start decorating our home, I only took out the three tallest Nutcrackers, and left the others packed away in their huge tote.  Jon hadn't really shown any interest in my Christmas decorating for a couple of years, so I did not think my scheme through any further.

Jon was out the evening I decorated, so it wasn't until the next morning that he realized that only 3 of his Nutcrackers were out.  I was the most surprised Mom to find that he was really upset by my decision not to display the entire collection.  He made a big noise about "Tradition" and how much he looked forward to seeing the collection every year.

I was shocked, and embarrassed that I had not realized how much my son had cherished this one little tradition.  I guess we assume that when our children are grown adults, things like Nutcrackers no longer matter all that much.  WRONG!

Traditions do matter - Jon reminded me of that this year.  Why I needed to be reminded of that, I have no idea.  After all I still want to put the same old angel on our tree every year, for just this reason.  There are more beautiful angels and stars I could purchase for our tree, but I stubbornly hold tight to my old one because - She is Tradition!  She was on our tree when I was a child, so she goes on my tree as an adult.

The happy ending to this tale is - Mom did finally  "Get" it - and Jon dug out the tote and once again decorated the top of our mantle with his Nutcracker collection.

And somehow - it feels so right!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

17 Days until Christmas - A Poem!

The countdown continues - 17 days until Christmas.  Today I am sharing a poem I wrote a few years back. 

This it the poem that was published is the Country Women's 2011 Christmas Book this year. 


CHRISTMAS 1955


CHRISTMAS IS


A frosty night, a home so warm, with loved ones gathered near;
Christmas everywhere we look; will Santa soon be here?
Mom is baking one last time; the tree is trimmed so bright;
Daddy tells us all the tale, of Jesus born this night.


Children rush with cheeks so red, and eyes lit from within;
They wait expectant for the gifts, that only come “from him”.
Grandma smiles -  remembering, another year long past;
Her little ones, her special ones; how could they grow so fast?



The meal is done, the kitchen’s clean, we gather round the tree;
Amid the laughter, smiles and tears; our hearts now full of glee.
One by one we share our gifts, no soul is left behind;
Excitement spills around the room, in wondering what we’ll find.


It’s love that makes us gather here; not food, nor gifts, nor wine;
Young and old, wise and not; together for a time.
Love for one and all we meet, will make this Christmas right;
Just like that one, so long ago; on yet, another night.


Dale Graumann
2005





Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Special Cookie - 18 Days till Christmas!

I hope to be able to share something Christmas with you every day until Christmas Day, in my Countdown to Christmas.

Today I thought I would share a special holiday recipie with you.  These cookies are a recipie from my neice Cindy's kitchen... they are awesome, awesome cookies.

Bake a few extra's to give as gifts to those homes you visit this season...


ENJOY!




EGGNOG COOKIES


Cookies:

1 1/3 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup eggnog
2 teaspoons dark rum
4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt


Frosting:

4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon rum
4-6 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
3-4 tablespoons nutmeg flavored eggnog


Combine all ingredients for cookies in the order listed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 12 minutes. When cookies are done, pressing on the centers lightly should leave no impression. Be careful not to over bake.

To frost, combine ingredients for frosting. Frost, then sprinkle VERY lightly with nutmeg before frosting sets. Remember that nutmeg has a slight bitterness to it that children and others who are unfamiliar with it may not like. Do be careful to add only the tiniest pinch to each cookie; you may also leave a few plain ones if children are in your audience.


A note regarding the frosting in this recipe: If nutmeg flavored eggnog is unavailable, add 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to plain eggnog or heavy cream.

Christmas Countdown has begun... 19 days till Christmas!

Once again I have been neglectful in my writing here.  I do have some fabulous excuses, however... if anyone is interested!

Seriously - are we all spinning our wheels and getting nowhere?  I was doing just fine in November (or so I thought) but December is another matter entirely.  I have Special Olympic Scarves that I must get done before Christmas, so they can get to where they are going (to Alberta) in time for the Olympics.  I have three done, and really hope to do 2 more.  I had originally thought I could do 10 - but I have since chopped that estimation in half.

The baby blanket has sat idle in the basket for over 2 weeks.  Last night I picked it up and made 2 more squares.  I need 42, and I have done 22, so half again... seems to be a pattern of sorts.

I have decorated my house inside and out, but now need to buy a  tree to put up sometime soon.  We have decided to get a real tree this year, and I am excited at the prospect of having the smell of pine in my home all Christmas long.  It's been a few years since we've had a real tree in our home so this will be a special treat for us all.

I sing in a traditional Cathedral-style church choir, and we are busy practicing for several special Christmas services.  We did the Advent Lessons and Carols last week, and it was beautiful.  The next big service will be the Christmas Nine Lessons and Carol service on December 18.  The music for this one is so beautiful, I can hardly wait to sing it.  We will also sing a special late-night Christmas Eve service, so by the time Christmas Day arrives I should be good and tired, if not completly hoarse!

Then there is Christmas baking to be done, cards and letters to write and send and shopping to complete.  So much to do, so little time.  Still - I have no doubt it will all get done, and in good time.  It always does, it always will - because that is the way of Christmas.

I'll be better about posting here... I hope!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Tired MInd Is A Dangerous Thing Indeed!

Last night was the final regular choir practice before our Advent Lesson and Carol service on Sunday afternoon.  Because I am a newbie in the choir, this will be the first time I am singing in this service, and so much of the music is new to me.  I am singing in the Contralto section, and if you are familiar with four part harmony, you might agree that the Alto section can often be the most difficult.

Practice last night was intense, and some of the songs were difficult (to me), and the longer the practice went, the more difficult the music became.  At break time halfway though the practice, I did not even feel inclined to partake of the goodies being offered in the kitchen, so instead I sat in my chair in the choir room and zoned in and out for about 15 minutes.


Our stone church building is 107 yrs old, and the choir room is in the basement.  The room is large and bright and clean, and very warm and comfortable.  As I sat there feeling so content, the lady who sings at my side returned from the kitchen and we began to talk.  We discovered that we are both very early morning risers, so we decided that we had every right to grumble about our state of exhaustion.

As we talked her eyes wandered around the room, then stopped at the wall on the other side of my chair.  "Look at how that wall is crumbling"  she pointed to the area where the wall meets the floor, and sure enough there was some mortar which had come away from the wall lying on it's side.  I imagine there is a lot of restoration that is required in a stone building so old... and I said something like this to her.

That is when I noticed a plastic black box sitting in the corner on the floor.  I've seen these before - they are mouse traps, and yes, even a mouse made sense in a room filled with music written on paper sheets where there may be the odd hole in the wall big enough for a wee fellow to squeeze into.

Gone went Dale's brain - I imagined a tiny mouse - decorating his tiny mouse apartment while listening to a cathedral-style choir practicing Christmas music, just outside his doorway.    The more I imagined it - the less I could focus on singing.  It nagged at me for the rest of the practice, and all the way home in the van, and the hour of tossing and turning before I was able to sleep.

Guess what!  It's still here this morning, and it's growing.  The mouse now has a name, and he has a mother and a father, and the children mice in the mouse community play a game called "pitching" on the Pipes of the mighty organ in the church proper.

Guess I have to go with this one, and see where it takes me...

I'll let you know - when I know...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CAPERS OF ALL KINDS!

Is anyone else getting the feeling that time is speeding away a little quicker than usual these days?  I feel like I am peddling uphill in a heavy wind - and pretty much getting nowhere!

Could be I am trying to do too many things at one time again - but that's okay - it's how I like to work... in confusion!

One of my projects will be able to be completed now.  Gary and I have a new great-niece, born on Friday.  Ava Payton arrived on her due date, and both mom and babe are doing well. Now I can complete the blanket I have started for Ava - I actually have enough squares made to start sewing it together so I'll be doing that tonight.

My youngest brother has been on the hunt for a peanut cookie recipe.  Mom used to make these cookies when we were kids, and I remember them as being a cookie with whole peanuts in but no peanut butter.  A couple of weeks ago, my brother had the week off, and on one of his days off he decided to try and duplicate the cookie.  He tried using the batter of a choc chip cookie, but it was not the same.

In the meantime - I found a couple of salted peanut recipes on the net, so last night I tried one... and was pretty much disappointed... not the same as Mom's.

I have a suspicion that she was making some cookies one time, using some unknown- to- us- batter and ran out of ingredients and threw in some peanuts.  She modified so many recipes this way - and in my opinion, improved them with her additions...

So the peanut cookie caper continues.

Another project in limbo is my snow-head man.  If you could have seem me last Friday evening outside in the dark, trying to roll a snow ball in snow that was not in the least sticky - well... I'm sure you would have had a really good chuckle.

Seems to me this was quite easy to do when I was a kid.  We made big snow balls all the time - and the snow here has almost always been the same... not sticky snow - just snow!  It is very embarrassing to have a body sitting on my steps that has no head... people are going to start to wonder what type of person lives in the little yellow house on the corner!

The temps are rising and the snow is supposed to melt.  Plan B is to get out there and roll the ball while the snow is "Sticky" and if I have to, I'll take it down and put it in the freezer until it gets colder again... yes I am that determined to have a snow man sitting on my steps this winter...

Okay - I know..... you can send the little white wagon for me, any time now.....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Swap Reaches Destination!

I can't believe it's Thursday already, soon to be Friday!  It seems this week is destined to fly by very quickly and I feel like it is leaving me behind in the dust!

Worse still - I don't seem to be accomplishing a whole lot.  I have been working on the baby blanket for the new baby in the family that is due today - but I have been poking at it, because I don't know if I should use pink or brown!  Hmmm, these babies that make their Auntie's wait!

I did get good news yesterday that the swap article to my CraftBuddy finally arrived to her.  She was good enough to take a picture of it for me, as I forgot to take a picture of the swap item before I sealed up the box. 

This swap was for a Christmas ornament made in the craft of our choice.  No surprise, I would crochet a small angel - but I wanted to make it special to the woman who was receiving it.   This partner is a spinner and knitter, in fact she designs the most beautiful knitted shawls.  She had designed one she called the "Gizmo" shawl, and I wanted the angel to have a shawl like that over her shoulders so I copied the colours of her shawl and made a miniature of it.  When I placed it on the angels shoulders I realized that by the time I would put my customary feather wings on the angel - the shawl would not be very noticeable - so I decided to starch out the shawl and use it as the angels wings.

The shawl idea was still running around my head, so I decided to make a miniature Moebius cowl for the angels shoulders... (my swap partner makes these too).  Then it was what do I put in the angel's hands?  My first inclination was a spinning wheel - no... where would I get such a small one?  Then I played around with the idea of designing a drop spindle (for spinning) - but I just couldn't get the scale correct - now I'm thinking I should have designed it in bread dough!  Anyway, to make a long story shorter - I decided to give the angel some knitting needles (made from tooth pics) and a ball of yarn.

Here is Charlotte's Gizmo shawl...

And here is the angel I did for her...


The colors of the shawl darkened with starching a bit, which was disappointing, but I think Charlotte got the general idea anyway!

Now I get to receive a swap item from Charlotte - she has already told me it won't be something knitted, so I get to wait in anticipation to find out what her ornament will be!

Did I mention how much fun these swaps can be?

Monday, November 14, 2011

WORLD DIABETES DAY!



Did you know that today is World Diabetes Day?  Did you also know that by 2030 1 in 10 adults could be diabetic?

Today is the day set aside by the International Diabetes Foundation to raise awareness about the escalating cases of diabetes around the world.  366 million people currently have diabetes and without intervention the numbers are expected to double by 2030.

We all know about the pink ribbon - but do you know about the blue circle?  It is the symbol for diabetes. and as part of the campaign against diabetes there is a World Diabetes Day challenge.

All around the world cities and communities are lighting up buildings in blue to raise money and awareness of Diabetes.  TV and Radio and Newspapers are announcing where you can donate money and which building will be lit in blue...

Here in Winnipeg the building we are lighting is the Provincial Legislative Building.  You can even light your own string of blue lights if you have them...

I usually am hounding you to go pink - today I am urging you to "Go Blue"....

Thank you for your Support!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Colour, Labels and a Blanket!

I have been making a few changes to my site the past couple of days - first of all you will notice I have been playing around with the colour.   I wanted a more Christmas(y) look to my page, but the red I chose at first was too hard to look at  - pretty, but hard on the eyes so I went back to a more neutral colour.

You might notice at the bottom right hand corner that there is a new feature called Labels.  I have had a few requests from new readers wanting to read Winter Wheat asking if there was a way to find the novel easier - instead of having to scroll through the archive all the time.  So I am creating Labels for all the posts where Winter Wheat is part of the post.  The problem is that one chapter can be spread across several posts - so I have had to come up with a numbering system of sorts.  Blogger isn't numerical at all - so a regular numerical system doesn't work - it wants to list everything alphabetically.

It is turning out to be one of those exercises in frustration!!

Please bear with me as I learn how to get this right.

For now you might have to have a scrap of paper sitting near your computer where you jot down where you left off, as it seems like blogger is just going to list the posts willy-nilly... no matter what I do to get it in order.

I have identified the beginning of each chapter for example Chapter 1 - the beginning of Chapter 1 is called Winter Wheat Chapter 1.  The next post for this chapter will be Winter Wheat Ch 1 (2) - the second part of Chapter 1.  Followed by Winter Wheat Ch1 (3) - the third part of Chapter 1.

I hope this isn't going to be too complicated - but it is better than hunting around the Archive.

It might take me a day or so to get the whole novel listed in labels - so keep checking, if you are just starting the book.

I will also have my poems listed in the labels as well.



I finally got around to taking a picture of the blanket I finished a couple of months ago.  It turned out beautifully, I think.  I loved the pattern, it was so simple and yet looks so elegant.


Gary and I walked through the Christmas section in one of the large department stores today - I'll tell you all about our finds next post.

Happy weekend all!

Friday, November 11, 2011

LEST WE FORGET!

Today is Remembrance Day.

I just heard the 21 gun salute go off from the Legislative Building downtown, and I did stop what I was doing an listened to the salute as it went on for several minutes it seemed.

We don't afford our soldiers and our military enough recognition in this country... at least that is my opinion.  We should not wait until November 11th to remember the fallen - those brave men and women who have sacrificed much and those that have given their lives for our country and the freedoms that we all take so for granted.

Buying a poppy, and wearing it proudly, and reciting In Flanders's Fields does not nearly cover the respect and gratitude we as a country should feel towards our men and women in uniform.

For all our soldiers and sailors and air force men and women... for all our leaders, and their leaders... Thank You for what you do for us all everyday.

For all the soldiers and sailors and air force men and women and leaders of the past.  You did not die in vain - you helped keep our Home and Native Land...Our True North, Strong and Free.
Thank You for doing that for me, and for every other Canadian who lives today.




LEST WE FORGET....



In Flanders Fields 

By:  Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from 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.


Today is also my brother Norman's birthday.  Happy Birthday Norm - I hope you have a wonderful day... I love you....



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Got Eggs?


I found these pictures that I meant to share in my Those Were The Days series.  They are of an iron lung I made from a double-yolked goose egg a very long time ago.

The picture's aren't great but you can see the detail I was able to duplicate in my "Egg lung".

Here is yet again, another craft my Mom and I used to do together.  To make a very long story short, my Aunt Margaret (the Martha Stewart before there was a Martha Stewart) introduced us to Eggery way back in the 1970's.  Mom and I started with pretty much making Christmas tree ornaments from ordinary chicken eggs to creating all kinds of bejeweled wonders from every egg imaginable.  Along with our dear friend Dianne, who owned a local craft shop here in Winnipeg - we formed the "WinnipEggers"... a local group of women who loved to meet on a regular basis and do eggery together.

If you have never seen a Christmas Tree decorated with eggs - you have missed something quite special.  Every year my tree has close to 100 Christmas Eggs of various sizes and types on my tree.  Some are pretty fragile after all the years, and sadly some have even broken over the years, but I still prefer them to bought ornaments because each egg holds (for me) a very special memory of time spent with Mom.

It's hard to see the eggs, but this is one of my trees filled with my handmade eggs and crochet pieces.

A close-up of one of the goose egg ornaments.

And the best "Egger" I know is still my Aunt Margaret, who at 92 is still creating beautiful pieces using not only Chicken and Goose eggs, but also Rhea and Ostrich eggs.


Yes, those 2 teapots are eggs.  The one on the left has a garden scene where a girl sits on a swing that actually moves.  The one on the right has a scene of another tea set - you got it - made from tiny eggs.

Now is the perfect time to do"eggery".  To begin with baking season is right around the corner, so the egg's contents will not be wasted.  Secondly a decorated egg makes a lovely gift for a hostess or friend or neighbour - guaranteed they won't have one of those already hanging on their tree.

Even a simple chicken egg can become a beautiful addition to any one's tree, and it is a craft that even children can learn to do on a cold weekend before Christmas.

I'll be posting how-to's in the upcoming weeks... If you are curious, join us as we carry on the tradition of the original "WinnipEggers"!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Publish That!

Sorry I have been absent for a few days, I have been under the weather since Saturday.  For some reason every year around this time, flu shot or not, I get this sinus thing that sets me on my keester, for a few days.  I had so much planned for the weekend, and for this short week, but it's turning out to be a bust from start to finish.

Oh well - it was a short work week to start with (Friday Nov 11th being a holiday0, and it got very much shorter with 2 sick days unexpectedly thrown in there as well. 

So with foggy brain, here I be to natter to you about what?  I have completely forgotten my train of thought of last week... which tells me I should write my ideas down when I get them.

Yesterday I received a package in the mail from Reiman Publishing.  Months and months ago I was contacted by them asking permission to publish one of my poems in their Country Woman Christmas 2011 edition.  Of course I said yes, and that was that.  I was told that there would be some changes made to my poem (this is common with publishers) and I would receive a free copy of the hardcover edition as my payment.  Okay to that too.

I hadn't received my book by October so I checked back to the original email and discovered I was to receive the edition sometime in July - so off went another email reminding them of our agreement.


The book arrived yesterday, and it is quite a nice book full of recipes, crafts, decorating ideas, a few stories and 2 poems.  I skipped right past mine the first time, because I was looking for The title of my poem.  "Christmas Is"... they renamed the poem, and pretty much left out the first half of the piece.  It kind of makes me wonder why they would publish it at all... could someone (an editor) not have just come up with a few stanzas and publish that?

Apparently not!

So although the book is nice - don't rush right out there and buy it on my behalf...

Just another reason why I hesitate to publish my work...

Friday, November 4, 2011

MAKING BEAUTIFUL MUSIC

Every Christmas season Gary and I perform a Christmas concert of sorts for neighbours and visitors to our home during the season.

The last couple of years our concert has pretty much been the same repertoire, as Gary's declining vision made it impossible for him to learn new music - in fact last year he played strictly by memory, as he couldn't see the music.  It was a particular sore spot with him that he could not take full advantage of the many different stops and voices on his "new to him" pipe organ, due to his failing eye sight.

Well that has all changed, thankfully.  His successful eye surgeries this spring has resulted in a very happy organist this year... so much so that he has announced that this year, our Christmas concert will be all new material.

Wish he would have clued me in to this... about July!  If he is learning new material, it means I have to also... and right now my calendar is kind of full.  I am working on so many projects again, I really don't know if I can squeeze in an hour or so every evening to learn and practice new music.

Still, I don't want to let him down, so last evening we sat at our instruments and planned our event.  Yup - looks like a lot of practice coming up for me!  Still, it could be worse - at least it is Christmas music which is such a joy to play, and I do enjoy making beautiful music with my husband!

We tried our own version of  "Jesus Jesus rest your head".  He played the accompaniment with the bells on the organ, and I did the melody on the piano using the harp.  We played it very slow like a lullaby  - which if you read the words or "Study the Poetry" like a very gifted choral director used to say - you will find that it IS a lullaby.  The resulting rendition was beautiful, soothing, peaceful.

So that's one down, many more to go.  I have to say - that pipe organ is amazing!  And so is the organist who plays it.  This is going to be a wonderful concert when we get it all practiced and put together.

You are all invited to come and listen... and in case you can't make it, we'll record a few songs to share here. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shop till you drop.

This past weekend Gary and I took a short trip down to the states to do some much needed shopping.  It was also a little get away for us to celebrate both my birthday and our anniversary.

We left early Friday and was down there in time for lunch at IHOP.  Then we hit the stores!

I had a definite list of items I needed to buy (clothes for work), wanted to buy (bedding), and hoped to buy (craft supplies).  Off we went... the closest store to IHOP was Target.  Super Target at that.  We are all terribly excited here to be getting a Target store in the next year... so we were anxious to see what we might be getting.

I was disappointed.  It was quite expensive for the quality of merchandise they were offering - in fact most of the items were the same price, and some where actually higher than the same item would be here in our stores.

So Target was a short stay.

On to Gordmans... now there's a store!   The clothes were much too young for me, but the rest - OH WOW I loved it!  As we made our way to the back of the store, I could feel myself getting warm.  This happens to me at a fairly regular occurrence, so I thought it would pass, but it did not.  In fact it got worse.  It was the store, and not me... it had to be 100 degrees in there and the longer we were in there, the hotter it got.  Finally I couldn't stand it, so we decided to leave and go back at a different time.  We completely missed the Christmas section, and most of the home accessories section... which was what I wanted to see the most!

On to good old Wal Mart.  This was without a doubt the largest Wal Mart store I have ever been in - it was even larger than the one in Chicago.  My head was spinning after about 15 minutes in there.  I was drawn to the Christmas section, but then wandered into the bedding section, then wandered in to the clothes section, then crafts... so yeah I wandered around without actually seeing a thing.  In the end Gary ended up with a terrific winter jacket - and I walked out in a daze, empty handed.

We stopped at a few more stores, he bought - I wandered, and then it was time to find our hotel and rest.

Determined to end the aimless wandering spree, we set out early Saturday morning for another go at shopping.  We hit Kmart first because it was on the way to the mall - Gary bought - I wandered.  When we arrived at the mall I sat down and had a very stern discussion with myself.  "Shop, you Idiot -  the day will be gone and you will have lost your opportunity!"

Sears - I bought.  Penny's - I bought and bought and bought!  Maceys' - yeah, I bought.  Back to Wal Mart - I bought.  and by the time the day was over we had finished our Christmas shopping, and much on my list was in the van.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......

Mission accomplished....

Only there was this terrific section in Gordman's that was calling me.  I decided I would check that out before we left for home in the morning.

Well that didn't actually work in my favor - the stores didn't open till noon on Sunday, and by that time we were on the highway headed home.

All in all - aside from the fact that I missed that incredible section in Gordman's and the fact that I did not find one craft item at a reasonable price - the trip was a complete success...

The best part - spending time with Gary... think we will do this more often from now on...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Those Were The Days Part 3

I will never forget my first night shift on B and F (the names of the two post-polio wards).  When I arrived on shift the ward was already pretty much dark, aside from the night lights in the halls and the nursing station which was brightly lit. 

All was quiet, except for the hum of motors running and many soft hissing sounds that I already knew came from the iron lungs as they pumped pressure in and out of my patients chest cavities.  The evening staff gave report in a very hushed way - no loud talking, no laughing out loud, and no banging of cupboard doors or drawers.

I was the head nurse for the night, and working with me that night was a Practical Nurse, an orderly and an aide.  Between the 4 of us we cared for 20 completely paralyzed patients, all with tracheotomies and all on either respirators or in iron lungs.

I was a hot summer night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing.  I remember feeling pretty much scared out of my mind for fear the power would go out.  The respirators all had battery back up - but if the power should fail - the only way to keep the iron lungs going was to hand pump the bellows at the back of the iron lung - a procedure which required one person per iron lung, and a lot of muscle.  We had more than 4 iron lungs operating every night.

Within minutes of the evening staff departing I heard a clicking sound - sort of like someone clacking their tongue to the top of their mouth.  "That's Hugh", the aide said as she made her way to a room down the hall.  A few minutes later there was a cute little whistle,  "That's Bert," and then.... a long "Nuuurrrsssseee"... "That's Ray".  A really loud clicking...  "That would be Dave."  and so the night went.

Each and every patient had their own call... it was their only way of communicating their need of help.

The patients who clicked, did so because they did not have the breath capacity to call out, or because the glass plug had been removed from their tracheotomy rendering them speechless.

Those who could whistle did so -  but softly, and each patient had their own distinctive tune.

  It was the most bizarre thing I had ever experienced in my limited nursing experience, but in a way it was also the most touching thing I had ever experienced.  In order to help these people, one had to really get to know them.

As different as their night calls were, so were their personalities.  You have to consider that these 20 people had been struck down in the prime of their lives.  They had all lost their livelihoods, some had lost their spouses and families (some spouses just got tired of waiting for them to get well - so they left, or divorced and moved on).  Some never saw their children grow up, and a few even lost their young children and babies to Polio.

You wouldn't know this upon first meeting with any of them... those stories only came with years of working, and yes loving these very special people.

Instead they lived through you.  Never had I experienced people who were so hungry to hear about my life.   Within days they all knew more about me, than I almost knew about myself.  They were quick to smile, to laugh, to tease and to listen.  They had nothing but time, and they wasted none of it, but gave of it constantly.  They never squabbled or talked behind each other's back, but they knew exactly what was happening down the hall to a fellow patient almost before we did.

They gave gifts, to each other and to the staff who cared for them - and no one turned their gifts away.  It wasn't taboo to say thanks so much for thinking about me, and give a peck on the cheek - be it a male or a female cheek.  They gave advice, as if they had lived outside of those hospital walls all their lives, and they gave their love for all time - whether you gave a good needle, or not!

When they were cross - which was not often - they said sorry - and meant it.  When they were happy - they included you in their joy - and meant it.  When they cried - they accepted your comfort - because they knew YOU meant it.

They were:
  Frank, Bert, Ray, Peggy, Dave D, Hugh, Menno, Maurice, Mary, Pauline, Dave B, Betty, Mae, Trudy, Martha, Ted, Charlie, Burt, Jimmie and Paul - and while I would hard-pressed to recall many, if any of my patients names over the years - these names come quickly, and with them, memories that still fill my heart with joy and pride and love.

I learned many valuable life lessons just listening and watching them live their lives on the second floor of a very small hospital.  This world was their oyster, we were their family and they lived each and every day to the fullest.

I count myself blessed to have know each and every one of these very special friends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Those Were The Days Part 2

A Lovely Array


Down in the valley one morning
Amidst the overnight dew,
Some lovely flowers were gathered
From the soil in which they grew.

Each beautiful flower that morning
Appeared as if trying to say,
Do not neglect to place me
Somewhere in the lovely array.

The dew drops sparkled like diamonds
Out there in the summertime breeze,
Where I heard the voice of a Robin
Among the whispering leaves.

After the flowers were gathered
And placed in a nice array,
There were lots and lots of good wishes
Enclosed for a special day.

The beautiful flowers that morning
Out there in the summertime dew,
Were gathered for someone that's special
That someone special, was you.


Composed by
Peggy Korman



Peggy spent most of her day in an iron lung.  She suffered from debilitating migraines almost daily, but still she could whip out a poem faster than most could read the Saturday comics.  When I met Peggy I had written a few simple verses of poetry, and after a time I let her read my work.  I remember her beautiful face beaming up at me from the iron lung, she said "Dale, keep writing... don't ever stop."

So I did write -  more and more as the months and years rolled along.  Peggy always was my greatest inspiration and also my biggest critic.  

I admired her spirit, her passion and her determination, because while she would compose her verse in the quiet hours of her seclusion in the lung, she adamantly insisted that she also type the verse out herself.  

To do this Peggy had to be removed from the iron lung, or the rocking bed, and she had to have a chest respirator attached to her chest - sort of a portable lung, if you will.  But Peggy was completely paralyzed from the neck down - so her head was placed in a halo brace for stability, her manual typewriter was placed just so on her wheelchair tray, and a rubber-tipped stick was placed in her mouth.  

One letter at a time, she typed her words - perfectly spelled, perfectly formatted to the page, and perfectly written.  

She wrote the above poem for my 21st birthday - what an honour and today - what a treasure!

Thank you Peggy, for everything you taught me about, Poetry, human kindness... and life.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Those Were The Days Part 1

I must either quit cleaning my craft room, or clean it more often.  Actually I was not cleaning, but looking for a pattern in one of my many bookcases last evening when I came across a binder I had not looked in for over 20 years.  In fact it might have even been longer, but the minute I opened it I was transported to another time, and another place.

Back to 1977 to be exact.  Back to the first position of my nursing career when I accepted a job as a general duty RN at the King George Hospital here in Winnipeg.


The King George Hospital was one hospital of three, that was then known as the Municipal Hospitals.  The George was built in 1914 and at the time it was built it was considered the most modern hospital in the world for the care of people with communicable diseases such as typhoid fever, diphtheria, small pox and TB.

It became internationally renowned during the poliomyelitis epidemic outbreak in 1953, and when I started working there in 1977 there still remained 30 some patients from that polio outbreak still living permanently in the King George Hospital.

It was an eye opener for a newly graduated nurse to venture into such a facility, especially on the post-polio ward where I was to work.  Yes, we learned all about polio in nursing school - but not about iron lungs, rocking beds and chest pieces.

To work on the post-polio floor was to step back into time to 1953..  All but 2 of the patients still slept in the iron lung at night and for part of the day, and when they weren't in the lung - they were on rocking beds.

Our younger generation might not even have ever heard of such equipment - I hadn't really either - but I learned quickly.. and I grew to love these very special patients that were actually more like a family than anything.

All of the patients who lived on the ward in 1977 had entered the George in and around 1953 as young adults.  Some, were husbands and fathers, some were wives and young mothers... some were in love and intended to marry, some were single.  They came from all over the province and from all walks of life.  None of them ever returned home.

Polio - now pretty much eradicated thanks to inoculations received routinely as children, is more often known for it's paralysis of limbs, especially legs... but in extreme cases as the ones from 1953, everything from the neck down, including the lungs were paralysed.  Without the iron lungs, these people would not have survived.

One of the first things we were asked to do as new employees on this floor was to get in the iron lung, pop our head through the tight rubber collar so it was outside of the lung and have the lung closed.  Of course it was not turned on, but really it did not need to be.  Imagine that all of the world you can see is what is reflected from a little 8 X10 mirror suspended over your face.

For my patients -this was everyday life.  They were completely dependent on nursing staff for every normal function of life we so take for granted.  If you opened the lung - they were deprived of lung activity, so everything we did for our patients had do be done in 2 minute intervals.  Most of the patients had learned how to frog - breathe( a technique of swallowing air, but it was a technique that could only be used for a couple of minutes at most .  Some were better at it than others.

Some patients were able to be removed from the lungs in the day time and placed on to a rocking bed.  They tipped back and forth all day long moving the diaphragm up and down - like breathing.  We gave bed baths, bedpans and fed patients all the while the beds were rocking.  I had a terrific waistline when I worked here because one had to move with the bed - so it was 8 hrs of stretching at the waist.

All of this - and much much more was in the binder I uncovered last evening.

Next -  you will meet the special people that changed my life in such a positive way, so many years ago.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday Insanity!

Saturday was a weird day.  I had the house to myself (which hardly ever happens) for part of the day so I planned all kinds of projects to get me through the day. 

I was going to really clean my house - ha!
I was going to mend and hem the pile of clothes lying around on my ironing board, right beside the sewing machine.
I was going to iron the other pile of clothes sitting at the other end of the ironing board.
I was going to knit some on the scarf I started for the Special Olympics project.
I was going to finish my swap item for Charlotte.
Did I mention I was going to really clean my house??

I saw hubby off to his conference, poured a cup of coffee, grabbed the laptop and signed in to Facebook.  Somehow I landed on a FB page of a group I belong to of Manitoba Crafters and I was merrily browsing the posts, seeing what everyone was up to, when I noticed an add for a Christmas Craft Sale in November.

I followed the link to the site, and the more I read, the more excited I became.  Remember my last post?  Well here was just the type of sale I had been longing to find.  Local CRAFTERS only, cash only, no business or commercial vendors, no Visa/Master Card or Interact - just a good old-fashioned kind of sale.

To apply one was to send 3 pictures of your work, or a link to your web page/blog, whatever, and they would get back to you if your work was something they wanted in their sale.

Finally!!! A promoter who wanted to see the quality and type of work you did!  I was pumped!

The sale date was November 26th - so I quickly calculated 9 weeks till the sale, then figured how many items I could get done, and I was completely pleased to think that just maybe  I could pull it off.

I still had time - registration had to be in before October 14th!

Are you getting this picture yet?

I fired away three pictures, an email and a link to this blog, and was so excited to think I could be in a sale after all... I went looking for my #10 thread and started crocheting a bear.  In the back of my mind a shopping list began to form for our trip to the states this weekend.  How timely was that?  Perfect - I could really stock up on items I'd need.  Wow!

But I didn't stop there...

I fired away yet another email to my friend Dee who makes the most fantastic cards, and who worked with me at our sale last year.... Dee..... look at this fantastic sale... hurry you could get in too, maybe!

The next thing I know, hubby is home, and he was barely through the door and I was telling him all about the sale.  He scrunched up his face, kinda tipped his head to the side, but didn't say anything... at first.  He went down to his office to unload his stuff, and when he came back he asked me if I was feeling okay!

Okay?  Are you kidding?  I'm Great!

"How are you going to do this sale?  Do you have a lot of stock?"
"No, but I have almost 9 weeks!"

There's that look again....

"Dale it is almost the end of October... a week away from November!"

OH - OH - as Chip would say!  What did I do!

Back to the computer - fire away yet another 2 emails - one to the promoters apologizing for my late application, and another to Dee...

Well maybe we'll just forget Saturday even was.  Yeah, we'll just wipe that one right off the board!  Good plan!

Except this morning in my email was a reply from the promoters with an application form, posters, and a nice note saying how wonderful it would be to have me in their sale...

Oh my....how was your Saturday?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Craft Sale Season Begins!

You might think it's early, but there are several Christmas Craft Sales this weekend.  Most of us are not thinking of Christmas yet - but some start their shopping early and so I guess these early sales are directed at catching a few of these shoppers.

Christmas Craft Sales have really changed over the years.

To begin with they used to be "Craft Sales".  Meaning all the sellers actually made the items for sale!  This is a real peeve of mine.  I get all excited to attend a "Craft" sale - only to find, after I've paid my entrance, that it is 80% vendors and 20% crafters.

Are there any other crafters out there that feel this way?

Whatever happened to the days when a crafter had to have their product judged to even be able to even get into a sale? Yes, it was a pain - but the sales were fantastic. Customers returned year after year because they knew the merchandise was excellent. They came to see - they came to buy!


When I do a sale it represents months and months of work, time and effort I have put in to my product.  Vendors are not "Crafters".  Well maybe they are, or once were - but they have opted out for a new way of selling and making money without all the time, and labour...

To clarify - by vendors I mean - dealers selling commercial products such as Epicure, Mary Kay, Avon, Tupperware ... that sort of thing.  How did it come about that they have been included in "Craft Sales"?

My other peeve about craft sales is some of the shoppers themselves... they want cheap.  I understand the economy is not great, and believe me crafters do take that in to consideration when they make and price their items... but come on people... if you would rather pay ten dollars for a plastic mass-produced made in somewhere ornament - than a handmade one of a kind made by the person you are looking at ornament - then shop at Walmart!

I cannot tell you how many times someone has made me an "offer" on one of my bear ornaments - like I was selling in a Flea Market! 

Aside from my specialty bears (Brides/grooms and custom made orders) my Bears are the same price they have been since 1988.  How many things that you buy these days can you say that about?

When you exhibit in a Craft Sale or Show you are often asked to complete a survey after the sale is over.  This is our opportunity to speak out... tell the promoters the truth if you don't like something - speak up.  We have to get more vocal about our venues.  We pay them to allow us to sell our items in our table rentals and our auction donations... we deserve to be able to sell our product!

The alternative - gone forever will be the the opportunity to purchase custom hand-crafted items and that, my friends, is a very sad thought!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

THE MOST WONDERFUL DAY!


Can you remember what you were doing 27 yrs ago today?

I can...

That's right, I was getting married to My Best Friend, The One I Live For, Laugh With, Love.
That's what our wedding invitation said:
Today I Marry My Best Friend,
The One I Live For,
Laugh With,
Love.
Truer words were never spoken.  He was my best friend then, and 27 yrs later, he remains my best friend. BFF!
We have had a wonderful marriage.  It hasn't always been easy, but we have always weathered our storms together - side by side - holding tight to each others hands.
Happy Anniversary Gary!
Thank You for 26 wonderful years together.
I Love You!
I have to tell you - we have the crummiest wedding pictures anywhere... actually all we have is some proofs, none very well done at all.  I have been scanning them into the computer, more to save whatever images we do have, because the prints are starting to fade quite badly.  

Then I thought - Why don't I work on these photo's and make them more like the beautiful photo's of today?  So to Picnik.com went I and my scanned photos. 
Here's what you can do with crummy photo's.  The above photo looked like this originally...

and the ring shot...

Here is another one I cleaned up.


What a difference a little technology makes.

So now I've found myself yet another winter project!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where have all the Yarn Stores gone?

Long time passing?
Where have all the Yarn Stores gone, long time ago?
Where have all the Yarn stores gone?
Young girls passed them everyone.
Oh, how will they ever learn?
Oh, how will they ever learn?

I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me at home yesterday after work.  Remember that Mary Maxim baby ensemble I ordered last Thursday?  Yep - it arrived yesterday!

Wow is that excellent service or what?  Less than three working days to have something shipped from Ontario!  How come other companies can't do that?  It is a big package. -  12 balls of yarn (6 of each color) which I'm sure is actually going to be too much for the three projects, but maybe not... and the pattern all in a zippered plastic container with a handle.  Now that's classy. 

I certainly could have not gotten this much of this quality of yarn in any store around here, so it was a good deal. 

I used to order a lot of stuff from Mary Maxim - and I have never ever had a problem with either their merchandise or their service.

Certainly with reliable yarn stores disappearing and the department stores selling less and less yarn - this is a reliable and reasonable alternative.

Remember the days when every large department store had wool and yarn, and needlepoint kits?  In my stash of yarn I still have the odd ball of yarn inherited from Mom's stash from Sears, Eaton's and the Bay.  The Bay had wonderful wools and yarns... well that was quite some time ago, but still we who love to knit, crochet and stitch are pretty much reduced to ordering from mail order or online places to get our supplies.

The same can be said for material.  We used to be able to by material in many stores - now, here in Winnipeg we are down to one general Material outlet, and quilt shops. It is pathetic, really, but I guess that is the sign of the times - for every material/yarn/craft store that has gone by the wayside - 20 electronic stores have opened!  That is our new reality!

Perhaps instead of knitting with needles some of us should be devising a method whereby we can design, create and make a garment on the computer - and press SEND - to a knitting machine attached to the computer - and  - well yeah - you guessed it... 20 minutes later you have a perfect product knitted by a machine -

Remember - you heard about it HERE first!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nothing like a Swap!

While I am sort of on the topic of Craft Buddy, I thought I would share some pictures of our recent Fall swap.

Craftbuddy.com is a craft forum I belong to on the net.  I have been involved with this group of crafters for almost 5 years now.  We are a collection of mostly multi-crafters, some have craft business where they sell their wares online, some do the sale circuit's, some own shops, and others like me, work on consignment and special orders.  In the group are spinners, knitters, crocheters, doll restorers, wood workers, painters, photographers, beaders, card makers, soap makers, just to name a few.

We haven't done a swap in awhile so when one member suggested it, we all jumped at the chance to participate.  Usually there is a theme, and a few rules such as cost, sometimes materials, colors, but usually we keep it pretty basic and let our creative hands just work.

This time around we did a fall swap.  The item was to have a fall meaning or colour, and not cost more than 10.00 in materials.  Swap was to be completed and mailed before Oct 31st.

Almost everyone has not only completed their item, but has already swapped and received their gift.

My swap partner was my good friend and fellow doll lover Eva.  Eva is a fantastic seamstress so she made a complete "Back to school outfit" for my Chatty Cathy Doll... what is more fall than back to school?









Of course I was delighted because this doll has been wearing blue jeans and a sweater for much too long.  I made the books and holder to go along with Eva's outfit.

My swap to Eva was a Fall wall hanging.  I took a big chance and challenged myself.  Of all the things I do sewing is my least favorite and my most frustrating craft.  I'll blame my Mom for that ( but that's another post!).. about the only time her and I ever butted heads - it was about sewing!

The little quilted wall hanging I did for Eva didn't turn out too bad - but still I was not 100% happy with it.  I got the pattern on Freepatterns.com.
http://www.freepatterns.com/detail.html?code=FQ00210&cat_id=1


   Some of the other swap items include note paper and cards in an autumn theme.  A fall scarf, a beautiful knitted doily in a sunflower motif, a wooden lamp decorated with fall characters.. to name a few.
swaps&ttt 009 (2).jpgdoilyforcarol.jpgIMG_1542 (260x195).jpg

CIMG1252.JPGFall Swap from Sue.jpg

There are still a few pictures missing...

Next up  - A Christmas Ornament swap, due Dec 31st.
My partner for this swap is Charlotte - shawl designer and knitter extraordinaire... and NO - I will not be knitting something for Charlotte!  She's a REAL knitter - not a knit and purl variety such as I!

I have almost finished my swap item, and plan to mail it to Texas where Charlotte is when we go to the states next weekend.

We are all like Children waiting for Santa, when it comes to these swaps, but really - it's just the thought that someone I have never met is spending time making me something that I know I will treasure for years to come  - well for me - that's the most special part of our swaps.

Thank You fellow CBer's... you make the world a much better place...

Craft on -