Friday, May 19, 2017

Time, Gardening and a Good Book

Yesterday morning, just after breakfast, I went out into the garden, anticipating a quick look-around to see what magic had happened during the night!  And with every intention of coming back in and making a rhubarb crisp from the stalks I had picked the day before.

However, - my son-in-law came to inquire if this would be a good day to cut back the poor Blaze rose who didn't make it through the winter, and how could I not take advantage of his kind offer.  One thing led to another, - with the dead wood gone I was able to reach all the couch grass that finds its way through the fence from the neighbours yard.  And then there were the saplings that had grown up around the elderberry tree, and the remnants of my potting flowers that needed to find a home in the new bed I had made beside the house......

I stopped for coffee, thinking it must be 'that time' - hobbled into the house (I was hobbling by this time!) and discovered it was twenty minutes past twelve - lunch time!!!!  How time flies when one is in the midst of passion of one kind or another.........

This morning, at five o'clock, my aching muscles muttered at me - "foolish woman, foolish woman" and I couldn't stay in bed a minute longer!!

Today my gardening will consist of a long session in the comfy garden swing, a cup of tea and one of the new books I picked up at the library yesterday.  Over breakfast I glanced at the first few pages of the preface to "The Cloister Walk" by Kathleen Norris, and on the second or third page she talks about time and our perspective of the fleeting quality of life, - enemy or gift?????

Time does not hang heavy on my hands, but it does occupy my mind now that I have come to realize it is not limitless....  And so I will start with this book, which also has another story to it.  In conversation at church last Sunday Kim, our new adventurous minister, asked if I had read Kathleen Norris.  I said 'yes' but not realizing which Kathleen Norris he was referring to.  My Kathleen Norris was a novelist, whose books I read early in my marriage, - but Kim's Kathleen Norris is a poet who writes about religion, meditation  and has a history of being a Presbyterian Oblate to a Benedictine Monastery.  When I realized this I ordered what books I could from the library, and they came immediately.

The lines which drew my attention like a bolt of lightening:---

"Gradually my perspective on time had changed.  In our culture time can seem like an enemy: it chews us up and spits us out with appalling ease.  But the monastic perspective welcomes time as as gift from God, and seeks to put it to good use rather than allowing us to be used up by it.  A friend who was educated by the Benedictines has told me that she owes to them her sanity with regard to time.  "You never really finish anything in life," she says, "and while that's humbling and frustrating it's all right.  The Benedictines, more than any other people I know, insist that there is time in each day for prayer, for work, for study, and for play"  Liturgical time is essentially poetic time, oriented toward process rather than productivity, willing to wait attentively in stillness rather than always pushing to 'get the job done."  (end of quote)

So today I plan to devote my time to an appreciation of what I HAVE done in the garden, 
(though it is not finished) 
and to feeding my soul with an appreciation of what Time I have had,
 and what Time I have left...
and how best to fill these lovely days....

And my aching muscles say 'thank you'!!!!

All they have to do today is hold the book......

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Strawberry Pecan Pie

ABC Wednesday
May 17th, 2017

The letter is S for Strawberry Pecan Pie

If it EVER stops raining the Strawberry Season will be upon us

and all the Mums and Cooks and strawberry lovers

will delight in baking this delicious treat!

At least once a year this scrumptious pie in a nutty, buttery shell
is an absolute MUST.

Here is the recipe...

First the Pecan Pastry.

In a bowl combine 1 cup of flour, a quarter cup of brown sugar
and a half teaspoon of salt.

Cut in one half a cup of butter until the mixture
resembles coarse crumbs....

and then stir in one half a cup of ground pecans!

Beat together 2 tablespoons of icy water and 1 egg yolk
and using a fork stir into the flour mixture until crumbly and  moist

Press into a 10 inch pie plate
Flute the edges and cover and refrigerate for about half an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the filling....(below)

When the half an hour is up
Prick the pastry all over and bake in a 375degree oven for ten minutes.

So, for the filling - puree four cups of strawberries
and in a saucepan combine 1 cup of sugar, one quarter cup of cornstarch
and one half a cup of water, blending well.

Add the pureed berries, bring to a boil stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low 
and cook for one or two minutes until the mixture
is translucent and slightly thickened.

Keep stirring while doing this.

Remove from heat and blend in one tablespoon of butter.

Let cool until lukewarm.

If you want the mixture extra smooth you might press it through a sieve.

Arrange four cups of whole strawberries tips up, in the pastry shell.
Pour in the filling and refrigerate for at least two hours....

Just before serving whip a cup of cream
with two tablespoons of icing sugar and pipe it around the edging....

My image, which I borrowed from Mister Google,
and that would be o.k. too!!!

More Ss here at ABC Wednesday with thanks to
all those who make this meme possible!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

R for Rubaiyat

ABC Wednesday
May 8th, 2017

The letter is R for The Rubaiyat

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
is the title that
Edward Fitzgerald
gave to his translation of a selection
of poetry originally 
written in Persian
and numbering about a thousand verses
attributed to Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)
a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer

And here are a few of the lovely verses you will find
in the first few pages of the book.

Lo, some we loved, the loveliest and best
The Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

Remember that the Moving Finger
does move on ........

and although Omar Khayyam would be
much more passionate about it,
still it is my reason d'etre
for DaybyDay

More Rs here at ABC Wednesday,
with thanks to all who work so diligently
to make this meme so interesting
and widespread.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

ABC Wednesday
May 3rd, 2013

The letter is Q, for Quoits

This ancient game 
whose history reaches back to Greek and Roman times
is not as popular as it once was

but in the United Kingdom
(and perhaps elsewhere)
in Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire

there are still Quoit pits
and on a summer's evening  
the music of the quoits
zinging through the air
and the melody as they clash with each other
in the clay pit
still draws rural gentlemen
to the game.

More Qs here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to all who maintain this meme.

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Tribute

My Favourite Sister-in-Law

When I first met my husband there was a lovely little chemistry going on, so the fact that he had a sister didn't make me love him any more, but it was a definite plus on his side, and she grew dearer as the years went by.....

Wenonah Finch - a beautiful girl, lively and spirited with many of the same interests I had and a sweet, compassionate nature.  She was to play a welcome part in my life, through books and music and family and philosophies.  I looked forward to her letters, all beautifully written (she had her mother's penmanship and her own wonderful way of putting things) and full of news of the little ones, when we both became mothers, - books she was reading, music she was playing, nature, and later on the part she took in publishing the books and paper she and Grant wrote.

She also introduced me to word games - like Hinky Pinky (hinkity-pinkity, etc. etc.) but the very best thing she shared with me was her discovery of Scott Joplin when he became popular again.  I have her to thank for his book of Ragtime, and in the last few years of her brother's life I played The Elite Syncopations, the Peacherine Rag, Solace,  The Maple Leaf Rag or some of his other favourites each morning after breakfast as he got ready for the day,  and invariably I thought of Nonie.

When we were quite young, and while Nonie was still nursing st St. Paul's, -  before she and Grant were married, our first born (Steven) was admitted to St.Paul's with an auricular flutter.

 Granny and I took him down over the Coquihalla when it was just a rail line, and after a few days left him there with Nonie, in pediatrics. Much lighter of heart knowing that someone who loved him was helping to take care of him.

We both had large families,
 so there were cousins by the dozen, and just a few more....

My children, all grown now (Steven is seventy) remember with great affection the visits of the American cousins, all peering out from the top of the camper as they drew into the farmyard.

What an exciting time, - for grown-ups as well as the children.

They roamed the hills, investigated the caves on the hillside, and helped with chores. When they got older some of them came and stayed a few days and formed nice friendships.

They came with water skis and boats,  and one winter they brought a toboggan and had an exciting time in the Fairview Pass.  And I looked forward to those times when Nonie and I could have conversations about life and how it was affecting us......about books we were reading, how we thought about politics and religion (we had lots of ideas to exchange, carefully, having different views on both subjects).

There was Expo when Nonie and Grant came to Vancouver at the same time we were visiting the Perrins, - the BC Centennial, when Charles grew an old fashioned moustache and we did a side trip to Seattle, and I recall vaguely that we spent an evening pub crawling?

Time passed, - the children grew up and away.  We all traveled a little more and increased our memories of lovely visits when Grant and Nonie came back to Seattle and the West.  We took our friends to Mats Mats Bay and enjoyed sharing in the wonderful life they had there, - the boat, the harbour, the music and the conversation.

Nonie took me with her to Turtle Island when she went for a music lesson with Gwendolyn Moore, and on the way she showed me where Betty MacDonald of "Egg and I"fame lived, - the sun shone, we chatted, the music was marvelous and it was another day with Nonie to put away and treasure.

Before you could turn around twice and say Jack Robinson we were all Grandparents!!!

Now when Grant and Nonie traveled it was just the two of them, and the dog,  and Charles and I would go to wherever they were camped close to the border, - sometimes at Chopaka and once, when we were getting quite old and not as mobile as we once were, to a lake, east of the Similkameen,
probably over the border?  Grant took the little boat out (rubber???) while Charles and Nonie chatted on the deck of their cabin and I wandered between the three of them.

All fond memories of a tender family relationship that I learned to cherish.

I keep Wenonah Finch Sharpe's book of poems beside me as I write and am astonished at how beautifully and profoundly they define her, and her life.  And how deeply I relate to them - this interaction with our loved ones.

Nonie's maturity, her compassion, understanding and acceptance speak clearly through her words. Her "Pantoum for Lena" is poignant and heart-breaking, as are all the poems From the First Five Years.  "Irish Air" and "Retreat" bring back many memories  of Granny Finch and how she bore the loss of her two sons in battle.  I love "Sidney at 100", and see his staunch and sturdy figure out in the orchard, at a steady pace, or sitting playing crib with the children when he was with us.

She had a nice mind.  Wonderfully articulate, quick-witted and sensitive to her role as daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend.

To her children who gather to remember and honour her life I send my love and my appreciation of the extraordinary mother you were blest with.  And I know what a blessing you all were to her....

Monday, April 24, 2017

P is for Pie - the Flapper variety

ABC Wednesday
April 26th, 2017

The letter is P for Pie

You have to have grown up on the Canadian Prairies
to be intimate with today's PIE recipe....

I am going to tell you about Flapper Pie....

dear to the heart of all Prairie Folk
and a staple at all Church and Harvest dinners
in the thirties and forties and fifties
and perhaps even today...
but I have left the prairies and live in mountain country now.
and the home grown treats here are Nanaimo Bars.

But the Flapper is a humble, throw together pie, - the ingredients all available
on the farm or at the corner grocery store.

What you have to do to set this yummy dessert before your loved ones is
firstly, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together one and a quarter cups of graham cracker crumbs
with one quarter cup of melted butter
and one half cup of sugar.

Put aside a couple of tablespoons of the mixture
and press the rest into a ten inch pie plate and  bake for 8 minutes.

Combine two and a half cups of milk, one half a cup of white sugar, 
one quarter of a cup of cornstarch, three egg yolks
one teaspoon of vanilla and one quarter teaspoon of salt,

Cook on medium heat until it bubbles and thickens,
making sure to whisk constantly.
when nicely thickened set aside to cool.

Beat the three egg whites (you did save the egg whites, didn't you!)
and one quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar
until they are foamy and hold soft peaks.
Then gradually beat in the sugar,
whipping until it holds stiff, glossy peaks.

Pour the cooled filling into the crust
and top with the meringue.
Sprinkle the set-aside crumbs on the top
and bake in the oven until the meringue browns slightly
(probably around ten minutes, but watch it carefully)

Cool in the fridge and eat the same day,
as the meringue and the custard have a bad habit of slipping apart.

This is not a detriment..
No matter where you hide it the Flapper Pie will call to you
and you won't be able to resist......

Amazon has for sale a cook book entitle "Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky"
by Karlynn Johnston,,it calls to me too
for some good prairie cooking!

That takes care of the pie - here is a little video devoted to the Flappers...

My mother's era....

For more interesting Ps click here
to see what's going on at ABC Wednesday
with thanks who all who maintain this great meme.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Evening

April 23rd, 2017

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that

I get up reluctantly from my loom with just ten more inches left
before I finish the pretty new scarf that I am so anxious to take off and wash
and see if the gracefulness of the drape  is everything Jane said it would be
if I were only to concentrate on making the sett balance.
The same number of ends per inch in the reed as I throw picks per inch with the shuttle....
Jane is Jane Stafford, a whiz of a weaver who is conducting an online studio
that I am so happy to take part in.

I am a self taught weaver.  I developed the passion when we had sheep, and I learned to spin.
It was also an era when many of our helpers on the orchard
were hippies living the easy contented life.
Some of the girls had taken to old crafts and were doing odd, primitive weaving,
which inspired me to go further into fabric arts.

There were no teachers or Weaving Guilds nearby,
so we bought a small loom, a number of books
 and dozens of skeins of wool
 from the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers, and I was off!!!

Soon I bought a floor loom, a spinning wheel,
and eventually a counter marche eight harness, which really challenged me.
But I was learning, and that really brings me to the thoughts I have been having lately,
 about learning something new every day!!

I am astonished at all the things I don't know!!!!

Even about weaving, although I have been involved with it for forty years or so.  
I knew a balanced sett was important, but I didn't know what an amazing difference
it made in the "hand" of the cloth.  Very exciting!

My children are teaching me oodles of things.  
Sometimes they tell me about mischief they indulged in while growing up,
all new to me!  
But more often they tell me of new ideas about the universe, 
about physics and sometimes different spirituality. 
or set me straight about technical tips and ancient

One of my sons is reading Durant's History of the World's Civilizations,
all thirteen volumes.  
They sat on our bookshelves for many years, for research, 
- but now he tells me all sorts of amazing things
about the ancients Greeks and Romans and Byzantines, etc.
 I am content with reading Durant's Pleasures of Philosophy.

 The sons who live on the meadow in the Chilcotin are full of tales 
about the creatures that inhabit this lovely spot, 
and the great variety birds who come to visit in the summer, 
and the accommodation they provide for all the swallows 
who make the meadow their summer home.

When will it all end - this gathering of knowledge
(oh, some of which I forget, I must admit). 
 It makes life so interesting, and I realize how lucky I am 
to have the energy and interest to absorb it.

Tomorrow I will finish the nicely balanced scarf
and if it all falls in a gentle heap 
when I let it drop I will post a picture.

What I learned today was that if I spend more than an hour in the garden with trowel and snippers

my back will ache and my knee will freeze up!!!!

No matter how golden the daffodils are or how tenderly green the new leaves appear!!