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.






Friday, December 22, 2017

MAYBE IT'S CHRISTMAS!

Three days until Christmas!  There was a time in my life when I would have been stressing just reading those four words.  Stressing that I had gifts for everyone, a big dinner planned, decorating done, cards written, house cleaned...

Thankfully that's no longer the case.  Sooner or later one grows up and realizes that Christmas doesn't have to be stressful.  It should be special and beautiful, but it doesn't have to be stressful.

For a lot of people, Christmas is a lonely time, a sad time.   Maybe they have lost their loved ones, or maybe they haven't lost them, but still won't be able to be with them for Christmas.

Maybe it's their first Christmas in a nursing home. -  maybe it's their second or third!

Maybe it's a young student's first Christmas away from home and family, because they can barely afford tuition, and for sure can't afford a flight home.

Maybe someone is in poor health, and just can't be far from their caregivers.  

Maybe someone just found out they have cancer, and they are so afraid of the future they can't even really begin to wrap their head around the fact that it is Christmas.

Maybe they are a single Mom on welfare, barely making the rent, with no way to give her family a nice meal or a iphone, that the television tells every kid that Santa can bring!

Maybe that thought that rattles around in our heads - the one that we wish times could be simpler around Christmas isn't all that foreign after all.  Maybe we aren't the only ones who think it -even if we think we are!

Maybe we all need a "Walton's Christmas".  Maybe we all need a "Homecoming" - even if we can never go home again.

Maybe we need a Christmas Tale, to remind us of why there is a Christmas in the first place.

I just happen to have one, that I wrote 6 years ago, on a winter day a few days before Christmas - much like this one.


My wish is that everyone finds what they "need" this Christmas. 

To all who read my posts every time I post them, Thank You for your support.  I wish you all a Very Blessed Christmas!




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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

IT WAS A FESTIVAL!

This past Sunday was a very special day for me.  For the first time ever, I played a Festival of Nine Lesson's and Carols service on an organ.

I know, you are thinking - but Gary is the organist!  You would be right - he is!  I am not an organist, even though I have owned several organs, and even though we still have a beautiful organ sitting in  our basement.  It is well known, that It ( the organ) is Gary's instrument and the old upright piano sitting in the living room is my instrument!

I have been involved with the Festival of Nine lessons and Carols for over 23 years.  First as a choir mom of a boy chorister in a Men and Boy's choir for many years.  Then as a Contralto in a adult mixed choir for several years - but this is the very first time, I have ever chosen all the music and played the whole service on an organ.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first performed on Christmas Eve, 1878 in the Truro Cathedral in Cornwall England.

Apparently that year, the residents of Truro were thought to be enjoying too much of the wrong kind of festive spirit in the local pubs, and in an attempt to bring his flock back to the church where he believed they should be, Edward White Benson, the first Bishop of Truro devised a new service of nine lessons ( nine biblical passages from the old and new testaments) depicting the stories leading up to the Christmas Story.  He interspersed the readings with carols, hymns and three anthems from  Handel's Messiah.

The service was an immediate success, and has continued to be a tradition in the Anglican church, ever since.

The service has a structure - traditionally the first lesson is read by a child, maybe a young chorister, each subsequent reader is a progression through the church or cathedral hierarchy up to the Bishop.

Once in Royal David's City is always the opening hymn, the first verse being sung by a solo treble or soprano voice.  The choir leads the service from beginning to end, and aside from the readings this service is all about music.

I had quite a few dilemmas putting my Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols together.  The first being that my little church has no choir, followed by the fact that we really don't have any children either.  How to proceed?

I decided in the absence of a choir, I would do organ meditations where a choir anthem might usually be sung.  Problem solved.  I also decided that Gary would sing the first solo verse of Once in Royal David City, in his semi-tenor voice... Problem solved?

He sang beautifully - just like I knew he would, and we were on our way.  In the end I played Three "Anthem" Meditations,  Ten carols/hymns, and a Prelude and a Postlude - and it was wonderful!

My small congregation sang, there were smiles on lots of faces, and wonderful words of praise and appreciation for my work, after the service.

I'm already thinking about next year's service, and a week ago, all I desired was to get through Sunday's!

Well there you go - a challenge can be a good thing after all.  It was a ton of work, but in the end, my hard work put smiles on people's faces, it lit up their eyes, watered a few, and gave them voices to sing out loud.

But I really need to say one thing more.  Thank You Stewart, and Thank You Blair - I have renewed appreciation for all the hard work you did (Stewart), and for all the hard work you do (Blair).

And Thank You Edward White Benson, for caring enough for your flock, to give us this wonderful Festival to enjoy every year.






Tuesday, December 19, 2017

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?



Do You See What I See... In a One Horse Open Sleigh?

I believe that might be two Christmas songs.

But there is one more...

Goodwill to Men/Man....

This picture and all it says is why I love the town we live in.

I see a horse - we see lots of horses on our streets here, winter spring, summer fall.

I see a sleigh - Those are abundant too - some with runners like this one, some with wheels, some with both.

I see a dog - Yeah, don't know what's with that, but most of the horse folk working their horses here, either have a dog riding with them, or running along beside them.

I see a man with reins - gotta have him, or her.  This fella is younger than a few of the other local operators, but he's doing it right.

I see a passenger - there is always passengers.  Couples, Old Men, Old Ladies, children, babies, teenagers.

I see a wheelchair -  thump thump goes my heart, and my eyes tear up.

I see Henry - he's the fellow in the wheelchair getting a sleigh ride through town, on a mild winter day.  He's a fellow resident of our town, always the first one to holler hello when he sees you.  He loves to visit, he calls the bingo at the nursing home every week, he makes bird houses shaped like cowboy Hats... That's our Henry, beloved by all.  It's the first time I have seen him on a sleigh, but I'll bet it's not his first ride by any means...

These are the people in my town... I wouldn't trade them for anything or anyone!

I was feeling kind of sorry for myself just moments before this sleigh whizzed past my living room window.  I was blue because our son can't come out for Christmas.  I was blue thinking about the loss of loved ones who had passed this year, and the loss of loved ones who still live, but no longer care.

But then I saw the horse, and the dog, and the man and the wheelchair, and Henry...

And I smiled and smiled and smiled...



Monday, December 18, 2017

OH HOW SWEET!


Tradition has made Christmas time sweeter than almost any other time of the year.  I speak of the edible variety of sweet... cookies, squares, candy, chocolate.  Perhaps the new generations are breaking away from this tradition somewhat, but my generation still remembers watching our Mother's baking for weeks in preparation for Christmas entertaining.

Baked goods were given as gifts to elderly or shut-ins who could not bake for themselves, they were given to friends and families at Christmas get-togethers, and they were snacked upon wee into the hours of the morning by teen and grown children when they returned home to visit for Christmas.

I have not done any "traditional" Christmas baking this year, but I did do some baking for our Christmas Open House at the shop, earlier this month.   I decided to try some new recipes this year so I made some gingerbread cookies - which were horrible - some eggnog cookies which I absolutely did not like, and some Candy Cane Crispers - which I loved!  I guess that's what you get for straying from your own personal Christmas baking favourites.  I don't think I will repeat that practice anytime soon!

Even though I didn't want a bunch of baking sitting in the freezer tempting me, I did want a bit to offer to our guests - so it looks like I will be doing a bit more baking before Christmas - this time from my tried and true, favourite Christmas baking list.

I thought I would share the one new cookie that I did like - Christmas Candy Cane Crispers with you.  They are a lovely crunchy cookie.

CHRISTMAS CANDY CANE CRISPERS

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, plus additional for coating
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour a baking sheet.

In a large bowl beat together butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla.  In another bowl stir together flour, rolled oats and salt.  Blend with creamed mixture.

Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls, roll in confectioners sugar to coat.  Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.  Flatten cookies with a fork, making a crisscross pattern.  Sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon crushed candy canes.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets for about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 4 doz

I thought there was a major mistake in the baking time - but alas - it is quite correct.  The oven temp is much lower than for normal cookie baking, and I think that is so not to burn the candy on the top of the cookies.

They came out just perfect as you can see:


So make yourself some of these festive cookies - I guarantee you will love them.








Friday, December 15, 2017

HELLO AGAIN!

Well Hello again!  I know, I have been tardy - very very tardy - but only here, I can assure you!

The last several weeks have been anything but quiet and lazy - it seems that for someone who is supposed to be retired and taking it easy -well - I haven't been!

I am sure I did not plan November and December very well.  I think I could have given myself a little more time in between projects and commitments - but really, I don't usually do things that way, so why start now!

What have I been up to?

Well first was the craft sale in November - remember the one that bombed?  Well there was tons of work to get ready for that event - even if it bombed in the end.

Then Louise and I decided we would pool our resources and have a joint open house.  Her Antiques and my Uniques... all done in her shop "Uniques and Antiques."  We scheduled the event for four days December 6th through the 9th.  But first we completely changed the shop around, gave it a new face, and spruced it up for Christmas.  The open house came and went - we had sales, we ate a lot of cookies, drank a lot of coffee, and got to visit with a lot of really nice people - including each other!

Fast on the heels of that event was a deadline for a Christmas Swap exchange in one of my doll groups.  True to form - I decided to make everything myself - so I was knitting my fingers off, every spare moment I had ( and there weren't too many).  But happy to say, I made the mailing deadline ( by a few hours) and my swap gift is on it's way to Alaska.

This week has all been about music.  On Tuesday I played for the Spiritual Care group at the nursing home...  I played and the residents sang Christmas Carols to their hearts desire!  They had so much fun, and so did I.

The rest of the week has been devoted to polishing and fine-tuning my music for this Sunday's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.  This is a music-led service - usually by a choir, but since I have no choir, this service will be all me.  I have prepared 15 pieces of music for the service, and I think one more practice on the organ tomorrow, and I will be ready - I hope.

You'd think that next week could be some down time - but not quite yet, it seems.  Meetings, doctor visits, haircut... well the week will fly by as well.

I still have some Christmas gifts to finish, a little baking to do, but since we plan on a quiet Christmas this year, I am sure I will get everything done on time.

In the meantime, my mind is busy designing some new things, and I can't wait for a little free time to try some of my ideas out.

Wish me luck with my big service this weekend... hope it all turns out okay!

Till next week!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

How is it possible that it is December already?  The weather feels like spring, but all around me things are beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I am still working to fill orders for customers - once again this year Mug Rugs are the most popular item I make.  I have pretty much sold every one I had made for my sale in November, and now I am slowly working through the next batch.

But something is really bothering me.  Something I heard a few times as people passed my table at the sale, and I've heard it in general conversation a few times since.

It's about the word/s "Craft/ Crafts/ Crafter" and how it is used, and maybe more than that, it's about people who craft, and how they are looked upon by others.

If a person with talent paints a nostalgic picture of a vintage camper sitting under tree, they are considered an artist.  I agree - they certainly are.

If a person with talent creates that same picture using fabric as their medium, layering various colours and prints, tiny pieces of fabric, until they have a vintage camper sitting under a tree -  then they are a crafter.

Why is that?  They might have taken the same amount of time to achieve the same results - and realistically the fabric camper most likely took longer.  They both used a medium to achieve their results, they both used their talents to achieve their results - so why is only one an artist?

Taking it a bit further - if you asked the painter to create the fabric version, and the sewer to create the painted version - how do you think that would turn out?

Have you seen a Baltimore quilt?  Craft or art?

Have you watched someone make a picture appear on the back of a sweater they were knitting - craft, or art?

If you ask the talented people performing their crafts (whatever the medium) I know they will all consider themselves to be artists.

So what's the difference?

 Craft - is a skill, especially of the hand ( Winston Dictionary)

Art - a skill acquired by study or practice: natural aptitude: knack: as the art of sewing (Winston Dictionary)

Artist - a person who practises an art, such as painting, sculpture, music, literature, or the like.  In any field, a person who shows creative power in his work: as, your cook is an artist. (Winston Dictionary)

And according to the Winston Dictionary - if you are "Crafty" you are deceitful and wily.

I know what I have always believed about talented people who create with their hands in any medium,  I am so glad that the Winston Dictionary agrees with me.

















Thursday, November 16, 2017

IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE WORK?

Our first couple of days of reorganizing the antique shop have gone very well.  We managed to move a couple of large pieces and are on our way to creating our "county kitchen" complete with an operational wood stove, which in a few weeks is going to be called to duty to heat, and also to add the scent of Christmas to the shop.

But first, the kitchen area has a beautiful old early 1900's kitchen cupboard in original condition.  This piece is a rare find, and is as solid as it was the day it was built.


  We are adding a beautiful wooden country kitchen table, and loads of marvelous treasures to please any cook or baker, or collector, who just wants to add that special antique or vintage touch to their own decorating.



Nothing says vintage better than this Corning ware coffee percolator, or these Corning ware pie plates!
 And we have have 6 of them!

We have moulds, cake pans, a glass rolling pin, and we also have the glass and earthenware pitchers.  These are wonderful accents for any kitchen island.

We have a beautiful collection of vintage cookie jars, and antique and vintage cookie and cake tins...


And we are just getting started...

We haven't even started adding Christmas yet, and already I am way past excited!

Stay tuned!



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE WORK BEGINS...

Do you realize it's only 6 weeks until Christmas?  How did this happen, exactly?  I swear I feel like it was only weeks ago, I was still out working in the yard, and Christmas felt like it was a long way away.

Now W network has Christmas movies all day every day, stores are in full Christmas attire, and I am listening to and practicing Christmas Carols and music for our Nine Lessons and Carols service coming up in just 4 weeks.

I am participating with UNIQUES AND ANTIQUES (our local antique shop here in town) in a Christmas open house.  Louise, the shop owner and myself met this past weekend to plan our event and discuss things we want to do.

We are holding our Open house over 4 days - December 6th through the 9th, with extended hours on Friday evening.  In the next few weeks we will be busy rearranging the store and refitting it for our Christmas event.  I will be adding my handmade articles to her antiques and uniques, and as well we will be serving hot apple cider, cookies and sweets to our customers.  We also will be having daily draws for gift baskets through our event.

It's a big undertaking for both Louise and I.  It's going to be a lot of work, but I think, also a lot of fun.

I will be linking my blog to the shop's face book site for the time up to and maybe even past the sale.  Both places will have the same articles, stories, recipes and images for a little while.

The work starts tomorrow in the shop... packing up some items, unpacking others.  Moving furniture around, and setting up "Christmas rooms" within the shop to better feature the items we want to promote.

I will have lots of photos of our progress as we go along, and hopefully a few of you will have the opportunity to come out and experience our event for yourselves.

YOU ARE INVITED:











Thursday, November 9, 2017

LETTING WINTER OUT OF THE CLOSET!

I guess the snow is here to stay.  It doesn't look like we are going to have a significant warm up to melt any or all of it, so that means one thing in Dale's home!

Snowmen can come out of the closets, or cupboards - wherever they were stashed at the end of the last winter!  The very first one to come out, usually with the first snowfall, is the snowman cookie jar that our son Jonathan gave me for Christmas when he was about 8 yrs old.  To this day it remains one of my most favourite and beloved Christmas gifts ever!




He was a bit tardy coming out of the cupboard this year - I think he waited until the third snowfall - but he's out now, and yesterday I baked cookies, so he's also full.  He will stay on the counter now until all the snow is gone in spring - it's Tradition!

Christmas crazy me, is just itching to start decorating, it is a bit early for Christmas decorations, even for me - but thanks to the snow - winter decorations are quite appropriate.

I'm not supposed to do anything strenuous because of my eye, but there were a few things I could do this morning just the same.

I dressed this little beauty who sits on my mantle in her winter coat and hat, and because she is so adorable, I also made her my profile picture on Face book.

Then I decided to make a wreath for the front door.  Every time I find a bag of Christmas greens or things at the recycle I haul it home.  Today was the day to make something pretty out of all the used things I found.

I started with a pair of skates I have had for a long time.  I took the laces out and replaced them with some red cord, and added some bells on the laces as well.  Next I crocheted some red cuffs for the top.  I found a little wreath in a bag of stuff that I had picked up, so I attached the skates to the wreath.


Then I added some greens to the wreath...

add some pine cones, glass balls and decorations...


and finally a bow.

The finished product:


a pretty door decoration made 100 % from recycled used materials. 

Who says you have to spend big bucks for pretty!


And now I will rest... for a little while!








Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A TURN IN A NEW DIRECTION!

Everything happens for a reason - do you really believe that?

I do, actually.  I have found that when things happen in my life that are not exactly planned or even wanted, my brain goes into overdrive thinking around the problem, and often times pointing me in an entirely different direction.

Something like that happened to me on Sunday.

I had worked so hard for months preparing for my craft sale here at the local community center.  I had no expectations, but I did have some hope that I might do well, or at least fairly well.

But that was not the case.  There were 40 tables at the sale, and many many wonderful crafters with well made, beautiful things to sell.  But there were also commercial vendors like Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Epicure, and more.  In fact I'd say there were more of those tables than crafters.  There was even a lady there doing nails!

It was a bitter pill to swallow.  It was more common to see people walk right by my table without even glancing at what I had to sell, than to make eye contact with me as they passed right by.  That told me that the buyers were there for specific tables, and not to shop the whole floor.

My table rental was 30.00, and I made 28.00 the whole day.

As if that wasn't punishment enough, after standing all day, the foot that I had been nursing along for the better part of the week was past painful, and I had a massive headache from the florescent lights.

I went home with my tail between my legs, put my feet up and fell asleep in my chair for a couple of hours.

When I awoke, it was to a light show happening in my left eye.  At first I thought it was just my eyes getting accustomed to being open from a deep sleep, but the bright flashes of light continued all evening and all day Monday.

Yesterday, in full panic mode, I went to the hospital to have both my eye and my foot checked out - my eye being my #1 priority.  The foot needs orthotics, and the eye will be seen by an eye doctor on Monday.  In the meantime, the flashing lights have pretty much stopped, to be replaced by a very large fuzzy floater in my eye.

I'm sidelined from just about everything - not something I do well at all.  About the only thing that can keep me sitting in one spot for a time is music - but even I can't do that for days!

So yes, I am sitting quietly, looking for all intents and purposes like I am resting - but oh, is the mind every moving.  I have been writing a new story.  Formulating a new novel.  It's been about 10 years since I wrote my last one, maybe its high time I returned to something I truly love doing.

I'd love to write my Aunt's story - the story of her life.  I already have the characters and a lot of the pieces of the puzzle, but there is research to be done, which is another aspect of writing that really pleases me.

I can do this - with my eyes closed!

Well, you know what I mean...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

INSPIRATION FOUND!

I love to use the first good snowfall of the season for an opportunity to take my camera for a walk.

I know a lot of you don't love the snow - but I really do.  There is something so quiet and peaceful about snow.  It says Shhhh.... no talking - just look.

After Gary and I dug our driveway out on Saturday, I decided to spend a little more time outside taking some pictures.  I had plenty of great subject matter, and I went no further than the edge of my property.

Here are some of the beautiful images I was able to catch...


In my garden

Heavy Laden




The Colours of Winter

One Last Sing



Greetings!



In The Dark


None of these images would have looked quite the same, without snow.  One good wind, and all the snow that is clinging will be gone - and so will my beautiful subject matter - but I was lucky - I went for a walk before the wind blew.

I decided to send one of my photos to our local TV station on the weekend, and yesterday the photo that is on the top of my blog was featured on the 6 o'clock news.  My 3 seconds of fame come and gone so quickly, but I was happy to share the snow with the rest of Manitoba, and maybe even some of Canada.




Saturday, November 4, 2017

MERCY, GRACE AND THANKFULNESS!

I don't usually post on a Saturday, but today is a perfect day to be sitting at my computer writing, so here I am.

Did you see my cover picture?  Well that explains, why I am sitting at my computer writing.  We are getting snow - a LOT of snow.  It started overnight and is supposed to leave us 20-25 cm by the time it is through.

It's a very gentle falling snow - not the type we usually get here in Manitoba, I suspect it is filled with water and if the temperatures warmed enough it would be gone, but I can't see that happening, so I guess it is ours until spring.

It's been a slow day.  I finished the last of my projects for my sale on Thursday evening, yesterday I finished pricing and packing everything up, so today is sort of a rest day for me.

Even though my sale hasn't come and gone yet - my mind is already on my next major project.  This one occurs Dec 10th.  I am playing my first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.  I am not stranger to this service, I have sung it many times in the choir, and have heard it many years when our Son was a boy chorister.  It is one of my favourite events of Christmas.  It is a simple service of the nine lessons ( readings) of Christmas, and the singing of many many carols.

Our little church doesn't have a choir to sing some of the music, so I decided I would play selections where a choir would normally sing - so I will be playing 17 carols - some to be sung, and some just me and the organ.

It's quite the undertaking for me the non-organist, but the organ and I are starting to really get to know one another, so I think we will do fine!

Today I decided that perhaps I should get out some popular Christmas music and start practicing that for the nursing home.  I have a huge Christmas book with nice arrangements so this morning I started practicing.

At the back of this book there are some more challenging Christmas and New Years songs.  One I forgot was in there, is one I really love.

FOR THY MERCY AND THY GRACE.

The music for this piece was written by Georg Christoph Strattner - an Austrian born composer from the 1600's.  It is a beautiful piece of music that always tears me up when I play it... and I'm not sure why.

Same thing happened this morning when I played it, and I was so moved that when I finished playing the song I bent over and kissed the keys of my piano.

I have no idea why - I have never done that before, but just at that moment I was so very thankful for the gift of music, and for my ability to play it.

Right on the heels of that kiss came another thought - I am so very thankful that my parents gave me the opportunity to learn to play the piano.  Even though they had little money for frivolous things back then, they somehow found a way to buy a piano and pay for lessons with a Registered  Conservatory teacher.  Their actions have given me a lifetime of pleasure, comfort and purpose, because of everything I do - I love to play the piano the most.

So many times in my life, I have turned to my instrument -  whether it be a keyboard,  upright, or spinet, whether it be electronic, hammer, or air.  I have turned to it for that which nothing else can give me...  Comfort, peace, or pure enjoyment.  My life just would not be the same without it.

So on this snowy day, once more - one song has taken me here - to share this experience with you.

My oh My - how lucky I am.




FOR THY MERCY AND THY GRACE
(Words by  Rev. Henry Downton 1843)

For thy mercy and thy grace,
Constant through another year,
Hear our song of thankfulness,
Father, our Redeemer, hear.

Lo! our sins on thee we cast,
Thee, our perfect sacrifice,
And, forgetting all the past,
Press towards our glorious prize.

Dark the future; let thy light
Guide us, bright and morning star;
Fierce our Foes, and hard the fight,
Arm us, Saviour for the war.

In our weakness and distress,
Rock of strength , be thou our stay;
In the pathless wilderness
Be our true and living way.

Who of us death's awful road
In the coming year shall tread,
With thy rod and staff, O God,
Comfort thou his dying bed.

Keep us faithful, keep us pure,
Keep us evermore thine own.
Help, O help us to endure;
Fit us for the promised crown.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

THE "WINNIP"EGGERS" !

Did you have a close look at the picture on my Blog header.? The beautiful egg with the crystal tree in it, was made by my Aunt Margaret.



Aunt Margaret started "making" eggs in the early 1970's, starting with simple designs drawn or decoupaged onto chicken eggs. Her inspiration was the gorgeous Faberge eggs, known the world over. 
 She brought a couple of her early eggs up to show my Mom, and our friend Dianne and I, and the "Winnip"Eggers" (as we called ourselves) were born!

We all started our hobby working with chicken eggs, but soon we were sourcing duck, and goose eggs to make larger egg creations.  Aunt Margaret went even further - working with Rhea and Ostrich eggs.

Here are some of her beautiful creations from her work over the years.  She had many display cabinets full of her eggs, I wish I had taken more pictures.


This shows a variety of chicken and goose eggs...


The teapot on the left, with the scene built inside of it is made from and Ostrich Egg.  The one on the far right is made from a double yolked goose egg.  Note that she has cut away( with a Dremel) both eggs at the front and built scenes inside each egg - the one on the right holds a miniature set of china tea cups.


My Wedding Cake top was an egg that Aunt Margaret made for us, with a Bride and Groom inside it.  It broke in transit when we moved back to Canada from the USA.   I haven't been able to find a picture of it yet, unfortunately.

Most of the eggs that Mom and I made were for the Christmas tree.  Eggs that she and I made together over 40 years ago, still decorate my Christmas tree every year.  

I did make a few novelty eggs however, and as you can see mine took a slightly different twist than My Aunt Margaret's.


Outhouse, Snowmobile and a 10 Commandments egg, made from a goose egg, with each opening segment decorated with a charm from my Childhood bracelet.


A wood stove, and coach and a ballerina  - all made from goose eggs.



An Iron Lung made from a goose egg 
( I was working as a RN in a post-polio ward at the time I made this)


My Mom and a few of her eggs...

Mom's egg "Wedgwood" set, and her hanging egg "Mugs"


Mom cleaning goose eggs with a hose at Aunt Margaret's


One thing I have noticed is the difference in the quality of photos.  All the pictures of my and my Mom's eggs were taken in the 1970's  - all with film cameras - no digital yet in those days.

Aunt Margaret's eggs were taken about 7 yrs ago, with a digital camera.  So much better.

Most of my Mom's eggs and mine are long gone, except the Christmas tree eggs.  I do have a few of her other eggs still in a cabinet, but I don't take them out much any more as with age they become more and more fragile.

Even the eggs I hang on my tree every year require some repair each year.  Every year that I hang them on the tree I tell myself it will be the last, because if they fall there will be nothing left to salvage - but then I think of my tree without them, and I just can't imagine how horrible that would be.

It was a hobby enjoyed by Dianne, Mom, Aunt Margaret and myself - we did it together, often times sitting long into the evening and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.   Together -  cutting, painting, gluing, trimming, decorating and creating in the most wonderful environment of friendship, family, fun, and creativity. 

I miss those days - 

I miss those women.... 





Monday, October 30, 2017

A THANKS, SOME SNOW AND SOME SALE ITEMS.

I want to say a very heart-felt Thank You to everyone who read my tribute blog to my Aunt Margaret.  So far 148 people have read her story, and it makes me so proud and happy to know that her tribute was read by so many people.   All who have known her, loved her - and all who loved her, feel her loss just as I do.  

She would be the first to say - "Okay - now get back to finishing up the stuff for your sale this week!"

And that is exactly what I am trying to do.  My sale is this Sunday November 5th and although I am all but done  - there are a few last things that I am dragging my heals on.  But I will get them done, and most likely it will be on the last day before the sale.

Winter has come to our little neck of the woods.  We got some snow overnight on Friday, and then yesterday we got more, along with a significant wind.  Today it's snowing with freezing rain mixed in there, and the wind is blowing from the north.   I fear the white stuff is here to stay now, as our forecast calls for snow all week long.

I just took these photos from my upstairs studio window a few minutes ago  You can see the blowing snow on this first one...


If it continues at this rate all week - I will have to take another picture!

I finally have better sample pictures of some of the mug rugs and a few other things that I will have for sale this weekend.

New designs for the mug rugs designs added this year are Barns, Grain Elevator, and Teacher.  As well I will have vintage campers, Christmas, 










a couple of plaques




Door hangers...





Stockings



Jewelry Hanger

I will also have angels, bears, some angel kits, tree ornaments, and a few other surprises.

So that's a wrap for today.

Please stay safe everyone, especially if you are out walking or driving in this stormy weather.








Saturday, October 28, 2017

SAYING GOODBYE TO SOMEONE I LOVED!

I lost a very important person in my life last week.  My Aunt Margaret passed away on October 19th, at the age of 99yrs and eight months.  While I rejoice in her long and mostly healthy life, I also mourn her very deeply.

This post is dedicated to her memory.

My Aunt Margaret was the eldest child born to my Paternal Grandparents, Charles and Mable Fischer. When she was just 16 yrs old, her Mother passed away, shortly after giving birth to her 11th child, leaving Margaret to care for her 10 siblings ranging in ages from newborn to 15 yrs.  Margaret had help from her 15 yr old brother John, and her 14 yr old brother Joe (my Dad), but for the next couple of years of her young life she was devoted to caring for her large family.

She married a couple of years later, and had her first child in 1937.  Her second child arrived in 1942.  Her first marriage ended in divorce, as did her second.  She married Tom, the love of her life, in 1964; but that marriage ended after only 11 yrs, when her beloved Tom suddenly passed away.

By this time, Aunt Margaret was only 46 yrs old!

My memories of Aunt Margaret go back to early childhood.  She was the Aunt from the "States", that we picked up from the bus station every year.  She was the Aunt that always carried a suitcase filled with Chocolate bars or some other treats for every one of her Canadian nieces and nephews when she visited.  She was the Aunt that always looked like a fashion model, always smiled, and always made me cry when she had to get back on that bus to return home after her visits.

As the years moved forward and I grew up, we continued to see each other every year.  But now I visited her just like she had always visited us.

When I married, we lived within a couple of hours from each other.  We spent many weekends together, and often times she took the bus into Chicago and stayed for a week.

She taught me so much.  She taught me how to make things, she taught me about my family history.  She listened when I was the one who needed to talk, and she never judged.  She refused to take sides, and if she did - you never found out which side won.  She showed me nothing but love, kindness, goodness, humour.  She was my Aunt, but she was also my Mom, when I needed one, My sister, when I needed one, and my best friend, whether I needed one or not!

Most people will remember her first by the creations she made.  Everyone who knew her, has those creations in their homes.  I remember her first for her love, her strength and her goodness.   She was a woman who had experienced much by the time she was 50, and yet she was never cross, bitter or angry.

Life  gave Aunt Margaret plenty of lemons, and yes she made some lemonade, but she also made lemon pie and lemon butter.  She would have squeezed that lemon over her fish and salads until there was no juice left.  She would have scooped out the seeds, used the pulp to polish her copper, dried the rind to make potpourri, and then she would have put the seeds in a pot and grown a lemon tree! That was my Auntie Margaret!  She wasted nothing - not the lemons... not her life!

I see young women today getting all excited about attending  presentations about the Empowerment of Women, given by key note speakers, and I think about my Aunt Margaret.  She was from a generation of women, who were empowered without the aid of rallies, conferences and well paid speakers.

Her empowerment came from circumstances in her life that led her no options but to use her will to survive.  And survive she did.  She became a professional floral designer, a seamstress.  She worked out of the home and in it.  She raised her children, and forged her own destiny, with little to help her but her own determination fuelled by her knowledge of human compassion, and her faith.

She was quite frankly, the best person I have ever known.

This past week has been filled with memories she left with me, memories I have always treasured, and will treasure for the rest of my days.

She signed every letter she sent  -   Love and God Bless, Aunt Margaret.

She was so right - God surely Blessed me by giving me the Love of my Auntie Margaret -  it will never fade in my heart.

And so I say Goodbye to one I loved so very much - We will meet again, of that I am sure!

Rest Well, most precious one -