Hemmer Foot

“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” That is what I always heard about the month of March.

Poppycock! This saying has proven inaccurate every single year of my life, so my poppycock assertion is wholly anecdotal, based on a small sample size, me, and yet I believe it.

March is to be a cold and wintry month, even the Farmer’s Almanac says so; Long Range Weather Forecast for U.S. & Canada from the Farmers’ Almanac.

This calls for a celebration, to celebrate that we are going to make it through March! The first thing that came to my mind was spring fertility, but at my age, and with my predilection for faithful monogamy, an orgy is out of the question. It does conjure images though, a seniors spring orgy in central Ontario, complete with chaise lounges, belly dancers, and grapes. I will leave that sort of pastime to our government, and the corporations that rule Canada and the world, although the visuals on that are even less appealing. I think Attila and I will stick to watching Netflix and enjoying a turkey dinner with lots of vegetables, and maybe even a few quiet evenings watching the snow melt.

This winter, although it has been the most severe weather we have encountered since moving to the country house, has been the most bearable to date. Only now am I beginning to notice occasional, sudden mood drops, symptoms of cabin fever. This is very late in the season to be experiencing these symptoms, and I am quite pleased by that. I know what these drops in mood are, and spend no time scrambling to resolve the feelings; the cause, the weather, is beyond my control. I keep busy, I try to stay connected with people I care about, and hopefully a change of scene sometime in March will get me through without too much suffering. Everyone around and about in this neck of the woods is well and truly tired of winter! So, it isn’t just me that has to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and is making the best of a difficult situation.

The apron project is proceeding. The hemmer foot arrived on Monday, Attila brought it home from the Post Office when he came home for lunch. I spent the afternoon figuring out how to use it, which, thanks to this YouTube tutorial, How to do a Rolled Hem on Sewing Machine, took very little time. I finished the hemming yesterday, and today I sewed together the shoulder seams and sewed on the cap sleeves. I am not following the pattern instructions anymore, as I abandoned them at the point they instructed the application of expensive bias tape. Each step now, has to be custom designed, so I take my time and ruminate over every “next step”. I hope to finish the apron by the end of the week.

It is the little things that make life bearable I think. Like Attila stopping in at the Post Office, on his way home for lunch, to see if my hemmer foot had arrived. What a kindness, a sweet consideration, to be cherished. When my mood drops these are the things that pop into my head, then I distract myself with a project, in case my mind wanders into unwelcome, climate induced, territory.

This week I have been approached by a glossy magazine feature writer, inquiring about an interview and photos concerning my beloved Grandparent’s General Store. This may or may not pan out, but it has been fun to contemplate. I love thinking about my Grandparents, and sharing fond memories of them with family members. This interview may or may not translate into a story in a glossy magazine; certainly my version would not translate well into the mass media, but I would not be writing the article, so no worries there. Not much of smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles about me or my writing.

As I was thinking about my Grandparents, my mind wandered to the great adventure that my GGG Grandparents undertook as they left Scotland at 8:00 a.m., on a Sunday morning, the weather fine with a fair wind, from the East Quay in Greenock, in July of 1820. The company of passengers were reported to be in fine spirits as they turned towards Canada, the Quebec port, and the future… the future that I am a part of.

I think about the role of Government, and the wealthy and privileged, who formed the structures of power in which my ancestors struggled to survive. I am heartened to read “About the months of April, 1820, a considerable number of individuals and families, formed themselves into societies, for the purpose of petitioning Lord Bathurst and His Majesty’s Ministers, for liberty to emigrate with their families to Upper Canada, and that Government would be graciously pleased to grant them one hundred acres of land, free of any charge, along with aid in money, implements of husbandry, and building materials, to enable them to get over the first years, until they could raise a crop for their support. The petitions of these Societies were presented by Members of Parliament, who knew the distress which existed in Glasgow and the neighbourhood at that time, and were well acquainted with the situation of the petitioners.”

Maggie’s Wee Rant: This is so very different from turning people off the land, to replace their way of life and subsistence farming, with commercial and corporate land uses, including mega-mono-cropping, like rubber plantations, tender fruit plantations, for example. I have been aware for more than forty-five years that plantation farming around the world has transformed healthy communities into labour dependent economies, teeming with poverty, subject to abuses of power, and dominated by commercial and industrial interests for profit. Economic theory sounds so very appealing, this competition and highest and best use line of economic logic. Theory is like a loaded gun, in the hands of the wrong people it can lead to some very unhappy outcomes. The black box of economic theory is greed.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WATCH IN EFFECT
-19°C
Date: 6:19 AM EST Wednesday 26 February 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 15 km
Temperature: -19.1°C
Dewpoint: -21.2°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: W 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -25

What’s Coming Our Way:

Wed 26 Feb Chance of flurries 60%
-14°C
Thu 27 Feb Flurries
-17°C*
-14°C
Fri 28 Feb Chance of flurries 30%
-15°C
-30°C
Sat 1 Mar Chance of flurries 30%
-6°C
-19°C
Sun 2 Mar Chance of flurries 30%
-11°C
-13°C
Mon 3 Mar Chance of flurries 60%
-10°C
-23°C
Tue 4 Mar Sunny
-9°C
-23°C

Quote

“…there, after I had toiled until I could toil no more, I would have the mortification of being a burden… here it is a fair prospect of independence…”

GGG Grandfather Andrew’s letter home to his sister in Glasgow, dated from Upper Canada, 24 August, 1821.

Ciambotte and Cornbread

I read and enjoy a blog written by a crofter in Scotland. He related that there is a modern name for this Monday, the third Monday in January, Blue Monday. It is referred to as the “most depressing day of the year”. It is a bit of humour really, not science. But there is a ring of truth to it, at least here in the bush, in the middle of winter, sitting through yet another series of snow squalls that make travel unwise and snow shovelling mandatory.

The snow squalls today are building new snow banks in the trees, so that everywhere you look you see white, or grey, with a few black squiggles here and there, where tree trunks and branches peep out from the white shroud. [Note, language is revealing is it not! Shroud, buried in snow, not a positive way to be thinking about cute little white snowflakes! Blue Monday!] The wind is picking up and the temperature is falling. Chop that wood Attila!

Yesterday afternoon Attila used the new soup pot to whip up a batch of Ciambotte, cabbage soup. What a wonderful lunch it made today, as the storm wind roared, and the white swirled around us. I tried a new cornbread recipe, Aunt Octavie’s Cornbread, Jehane Benoit’s Aunt, to eat with the soup, a recipe that I will definitely be making again. Cornbread is usually dry, but this recipe is moist and delicious. And easy, it has to be easy if I am going to make it again!

My New Calendar of Wisdom project has been neglected for some days now. It is a tough go, finding two wise quotes by women, every day. There are a lot of quotations from literature that women have written, and a lot of quotes written by men about women.

The challenge is that the lives of women draw me in. With each quote I find, I want to know more about the woman who wrote it, or said it.

Because the internet is not really offering me the wealth of wise quotes by women that I would like, books are being used to supplement the research.

For instance, years ago I purchased and read Jean Rhys: Letters 1931-66, edited by Francis Wyndham and Diana Melly. Jean Rhys wrote the Wide Sargasso Sea. Further investigation into the story of Jean Rhys’ life, led me to the book The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys By Lilian Pizzichini, which provided a context for the letters. Following my curiousity around means that it can take a whole day to gather one quote. I like to put two quotes in every day’s posting. I catch up, then I fall behind, then I catch up, then I fall behind, and so it goes. I am having fun with it.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
Current Conditions Light Snow (HA! Snow squalls all day long!)
-6°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Sunday 19 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 99.2 kPa
Visibility: 1 km
Temperature: -5.5°C
Dewpoint: -6.6°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SW 24 gust 37 km/h
Wind Chill: -13

Quote

“Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882

Sunny Day with Snow Squalls

The New Year is upon us! Wishing everyone health, wealth of the soul, and wisdom in the New Year!

Sunshine! We see this sky, and then within ten minutes one can hardly see the trees for the falling snow. The snow squalls come fast and strong. Then they leave and this beautiful blue sky appears once more.
Goodbye2013

We will celebrate quietly in front of the evening fire. We usually nod off before midnight.

Sunshine, how glorious is the sunshine today. The snow squalls are pretty too, we have had several of those already today; but they add to chore list, and so are not nearly as popular with us as the sunshine.

I have bounced back from my down day. Slept soundly through the night last night, and arose with enthusiasm to get going with my day. When I let myself experience my feelings, when it is time to do so, they are liberated towards a natural balance.

Looking at the old year, I am grateful for all our good fortune. Our loved ones are relatively healthy, that is first and foremost on my list of luck. Attila, Mist, and I have much good fortune. We have our health, comfortable shelter, healthy food, adequate health care, and the ability to lead active lives. My only regret is having paid any mind to negative people and circumstances they created. Having to deal with them is a part of life, but paying them mind is regrettable. Perhaps I will do better with that in 2014!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Tuesday 31 December 2013
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -10.2°C
Dewpoint: -16.5°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NW 15 gust 28 km/h
Wind Chill: -17

Quote

“The words ‘I am…’ are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.”
A. L. Kitselman

Highway Closed

The police have closed the main highway here, due to weather conditions, snow squalls and zero visibility. Luckily we were not planning on going anywhere. We still have power, for which I am grateful.

The snow squalls are predicted to persist into Thursday, with the possibility of 40 more centimetres of snow. We already have 30 cm of snow on the ground.

Attila will be getting up very early to clear the snow out of the drive so that he can get to work. Of course, if the road is not ploughed he may not be able to get out anyway.

When the winter weather is this intense Attila gets worn down, he works outside. In November it was rain, rain, rain. Now it is snow, snow, snow. I wonder if we will be getting sun, sun, sun, and if we do it will probably be very cold, cold, cold.

Rural living revolves around the weather in the winter.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-10°C
Date: 9:00 PM EST Tuesday 10 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -9.6°C
Dewpoint: -11.1°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: S 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -16

Quote

“It is healthier to see the good points of others than to analyze our own bad ones.”
Francoise Sagan
1935-

Price Increases

All of these pre-Christmas sales! Flyers stacked on flyers, stacked on flyers, arriving in the mail. The thing is, the prices for everything I am looking at are very, very high. With prices this high, we will make very few purchases, and will insist that everything we buy be made in Canada, if at all possible. Truth be told, we don’t make many purchases anyway!

My Christmas wish list is very short this year, a new energy efficient hot water heater, and a new energy efficient refrigerator. Those are gifts that would keep on giving, every single day we spend at the little house in the city. OK, for the budget conscious gift givers in my life, which is ALL of the gift givers in my life, warm socks are very much appreciated. Good quality coffee is great too.

Yesterday was gift wrapping day. We have gifts for our siblings, nieces, nephew, Mom’s and Dad, Grandchildren, and last of all each other. It occurred to me as I was cutting and folding and taping, that I may just be the worst gift wrapper alive in the world today. Gift wrapping is not my strength. And yet, aside from the appearance of the end results, I enjoy gift wrapping. The colours are wonderful, the sentiment warming. The wrapped gifts are all under the tree now, and if I do not look too closely, or if I take my glasses off, it makes wonderful picture.

The tree continues to gulp great amounts of water, and is being watered twice daily. It is losing some, but really very few, needles. The pine scent is heavenly. In the morning the lights are turned on, to great effect, as we rise several hours before dawn.

The Christmas tree is such a cheerful, warming presence in the room. When the celebration is over, and the decorations are stored away for another year, the house will seem empty and drab. Terra and I have been talking about some sort of colourful February decorating event. We have family day in February, a statutory holiday in much of Canada, to which we could attach some colour. Valentine’s Day already exists. Colour, warmth and hope are the themes I need in February, detached from the focus of family or a romantic partner. I will be on the lookout for a focus.

The dark days of winter put me in mind of a program I watched sometime in the last few years. It gave me an “AHA!” moment. It dealt with a time when humans did not have electric lights, which was most of human history. The point made was that material and items that reflected light were impressive in fire-lit abodes, which is where humans were hanging out after dark. Wearing items that reflected light meant that movement sparkled, so to speak. How wonderful gold threads, shiny beads, and the like, would have appeared in the hearth-fire glow.

In the dead of winter I could use some of that primordial human sparkle. For now Christmas colour and light cheer the long dark evenings and mornings.

It is now just after 7:00 a.m. Attila sleeps on, exhausted from an extremely busy week at work. I sit writing, gazing out the window at the quickening light and the falling snow, with the glow of colour from the Christmas tree constantly catching my attention out of the corner of my eye. Mist is sleeping near me, on the chesterfield. She has had her morning ration of milk, and will sleep until she hears Attila stir, at which time she will yowl loudly at him, then sit diligently in front of the masonry heater, gazing at it with silent intent.

Christmas Tree and Snow Squalls.
2013 xmas view

The weather report calls for snow squalls, the roads will be unpredictable. We had considered travelling today, but postponed our visiting for another time, when the driving conditions will be safer.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
Current Conditions Light Snow

-6°C
Date: 7:24 AM EST Saturday 7 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: -6.3°C
Dewpoint: -8.7°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: NNW 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -9

Quote

A favourite poem, one our mother read to us at bedtime.

“The Land of Story-books

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter’s camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.

So when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.”

by Robert Louis Stevenson