31 May 2010

Friends, Memorial Day and old time celebration

Memorial weekend is for most people the beginning of the Summer time, picnics and barbecue (weather allowing) and old fashion celebration, fairs, garage sale, outdoor concerts and my old time favourite...

Memorial Day was in fact called originally Decoration Day and a quick search engine offered much I did not know!

"Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.

Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries.

In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies.

Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it. "

The veterans have a saying: "Remember the living, never forget the dead".
Let's remember each and everyone of them!

This weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends and family. No chance for a picnic though as it continues to rain! The menu : Potato salad, baked beans, hot dogs, brownies and tall glasses of lemonade!
And I will even share my favourite lemonade recipe:

Items to have on hand:
  • 6 lemons
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 cups cold water

To prepare:

  1. Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. To make your labour easier, FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and counter top before cutting in half and juicing.
  2. In a large pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir. Adjust water to taste. Chill and serve in chilled glasses.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

26 May 2010

South America, children of the world and knitting

I came across this fantastic photo and wanted to share it with family and friends. Children eyes, an open door to the world! There is nothing like it!

As sponsors of a little girl through Child Fund (http://www.childfund.org/) we love to talk about Lina, wondering what she is doing with her family right now, what are her hopes for the future...She is only 9 and we would like to think the world is hers to grab but she lives in a very poor country, the family earns only $15 a month yet are very lucky as they own their own home.

We wonder if she is in good health, has enough to eat and we hope our small contribution indeed makes a tiny difference. We are writing our first letter to her and there are so many things we would love to share with her. We cannot wait to hear what she will write back!

My first newsletter from the Knitbox arrived (http://www.theknitbox.com/) in my email and I could not resist their beautiful Turkish cotton yarn and placed an order.
I just had to see the quality for myself and knitting for little ones often sick, I select carefully all the yarn I use!

Customer service was so nice! Oh yes, and they ship to the US as well (Note: shipping cost is fixed worldwide thus cost to the US is the same than the UK, fantastic!)
And knitters, check out also their patterns when you have a chance!
Dream, dream, dream...

ARC, knitting and favourite colour

Rain, rain, rain...and more rain. Me thinks there is no better time than to knit! It is something I love and relax with.
I picked up yet another knitting magazine whilst in the UK, (http://www.letsknit.co.uk/)
and could not resist the beautiful acrylic aqua/clear crochet which came with it!
I hear they are giving away needles for June... dreaming...

One of the many sites you have heard me saying I enjoy to visit whilst knitting for their Neonatal Division (who does not love knitting layette?) is http://heavenlyangelsinneed.com/. I cannot praise enough this group dedication to helping families in need!

I am always asked why I knit... I just know it makes me feel good. I should add I never knit for myself and thus this is a small way in which I contribute to charities. My way of doing something to help out our economy and those in (greater) need!

I came across the ARC ad for knitting in the 1940's and loved the memories! The Armed Forces still need folks willing to knit for a good cause to this day!

A favourite: http://www.theshipsproject.com/Home.htm

Knit one, purl one,...click, click... Let's not forget a little piece of dark chocolate for strength...

By the way, I just signed up for newsletters at the following:


Rain, rain, click, click, and guess what my favourite colour is?
Oops, dinner time! That is as soon as I have prepared it...

25 May 2010

Tea times, hops and memories

Rain, rain, rain... Four more days we are told... sigh... Perhaps it will change with Memorial weekend...
This is the kind of weather we sit around with a nice cuppa tea (let's not forget a little sweet or two...) and we talk of anything that comes to mind, most often than not the past. Oops! Perhaps we are getting older...

One of the many memories my husband has is of summer time spent helping to harvest hops. Many city people in England hired themselves to work in the fields. Each year vast numbers of men, women together with their children would travel by train from the Black Country (Note: The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton) to spend a month or so "hop-picking".

It made a pleasant break from the grimy industrial towns where they lived and gave the children a much-needed holiday. Each family would bring its possessions in a large tin trunk or hamper, and the trains would be met at local stations by horse-drawn wagons. On their return the wagons would again convey them to the station.

And so it seems Mum and Dad engage their family to help out, thus enabling them to save a few pounds for a real vacation and everyone had to pitch in, even the little ones. It meant long days in the fields, sandwiches and hot thermos of tea shared in the sun...

That particular summer after a long day's work, Dad hanged his jacket on the back of the door next to the bed. In his pocket was their only cash.
Afraid of the dark, my husband's youngest brother had a candle on the night table and yes, it was lit. A short time later, he reached out and opened the door still feeling insecure thus exposing the jacket to the flame...

Now, when you are 6 years old and you see flames where you should not and just know you are guilty, you do not say anything at first. However soon after Dad smelled smoke and looked to inquire as to the source and found his jacket aflame. The fire was quickly extinguished but part of the money had burned...

After applying his hand to his youngest son's backside Dad resolved to check with the bank to see if they would honour the monetary value. Luckily for him, the serial numbers had not been damaged thus enabling him to replace the money.

This story always seems to come up. It is a most memorable one for sure, not the least for the youngest one in the family!

23 May 2010

Old fashion roses, reading and dreaming

Cold rainy days are still upon us and it really hardly seems Spring will soon be replaced by Summer! Rain and more rain...and slugs! We tried everything in the book but they are persistent!

Gardens are blooming little by little everywhere. Irises, rhododendrons, calla lilies and now roses. The nights however are still so cool the vegetable patch is having a slow start! Perhaps Memorial weekend will bring better weather!

Last night saw us seeing the last installment of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Anyone who is not familiar with this talented writer will appreciate this introduction to her work through the fantastic BBC presentation of the miniseries.

The story revolves around Margaret Hale, a young woman in the 1850's who moves to the Northern industrial part of England and discovers the shocking inequalities between the rich and the working class.
John Thornton is the mill owner, a man who triumphs over poverty and seeks to constantly better himself. Someone with high standards, yet none higher than he holds himself to and Margaret is his match in every possible way.
Nicholas Higgins is the mill worker, a union man who seeks fair working condition for himself and the others workers peacefully.

This is a tale of love and pride but it is also a social novel which describes the many changes industrialization brought to Victorian England.

Elizabeth Gaskell balances her sympathy for the workers in the factories with the dilemmas posed to the mill owners by new machinery, strikes and competition from abroad.

I was amazed at the extent to which the producers went to represent the industrial revolution of the 1850's in England including the 1851 Great Exhibition of London .

The cotton mills in particular and the reenactment of the living condition of the times were so accurate in their details you could see the cotton floating in the air and feel the squalor.
The actors are to be praised for their flair in drawing us to each character.

This is a story that will let you dream.
This is a story you will never forget.

19 May 2010

Mountains, furry neighbours and tiny cabin

Definitively one of the first signs of the upcoming Summer season for us is planning to go check on our cabin in the woods. Each year we go open the cabin and check to be sure all is well after a long, long winter nap. Once the shutters are opened, we sweep the floor, check our supplies an replenish our wood pile.

It is nothing fancy, just a small cabin built on a 20 acres lot on the side of a mountain but it becomes home when we have the chance to runaway!

I am learning to cook on a wood cooking stove and I can tell you there is nothing tasting better than pancakes, eggs and bacon early in the morning!

The nights are cold and the days hot. There is no electricity and our best friend is a 5000 watts generator but we have all the water we want thanks to a 306 ft well.

The night sky especially is a wonder to see. The stars never seems so close to earth than on top of a mountain with no light pollution!

The wildlife are our closest neighbours, a small transistor radio our only contact with civilization and mountain air allows us to breathe without the fear of smog!

You hear the many song birds, the bull Elk snort, the calling of the wolves late at night and a lonesome coyote in the valley... In the mornings you see lots of Marmots... they just want to check out those Humans!
We remember how life should be, less stressful, closer to Nature and the Creator.
It is a good time for relaxation, a few good books, some knitting and a few dreams...

17 May 2010

Rainbow bridge, canine friends and family

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Today a good friend wrote to say she lost her faithful Labrador. He was part of her family, he will always be remembered and I know will be never forgotten.

We get so attached to our canine and feline friends (or birds etc...) They become part of us. They loves us, they never judge us, they listen and are sensible to our every mood. They are happy with a bowl of food and a walk to the park, they are ecstatic when we play ball...

It is so hard to loose a pet. I remember well how it feels and I hate to think of the next one...

Always remembered, never forgotten... And dreaming of the Rainbow Bridge...

14 May 2010

I Has a Hot Dog by Professor Happycat, book review

I Has a Hotdog: What Your Dog Is Really Thinking by Professor Happycat

Okay, I needed something really funny in my life as things were a just tad too serious lately! So when I recently was given the opportunity to review this book I jumped on the occasion. After all I am a dog person and being a Corgi lover I can tell you everything they think is reflected in their facial expressions and then there is their soulful eyes...

I was not disappointed! I chuckled, I laughed and pretty soon, my husband checked it out over my shoulder! This is good, this is funny and it is a keeper!

Anyone looking for a great gift for any dog lover will deemed it perfect!
MacIntosh (our Corgi) says check out "Fun! Fun? Not Fun" and you will understand how he feels at bath time! We gave it a 5 stars! Woof, Woof!

For your information I received a free copy of this book by Hachette Book Group as part of their Blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I expressed are entirely my own and I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Pss... Note to all kitties lovers: Check out the other titles in the series! Just in case you thought cats are not expressing their thoughts as well as their canine friends!

10 May 2010

Living the Resurrection, another book review

In his book, the author utilizes the Apostles reactions to the Resurrection such as fear, surprise, astonishment and wonder as building blocks to help us live a life where every day is resurrection day.

Taking us back to Jesus' time, Eugene Peterson invites us to reflect on three different aspects of Christ's resurrection that is certain to renew your faith.

Recognizing and responding to Resurrection is not a private experience but something you share with others and it is something you practice everyday.

This book inspires anyone looking to improve their spiritual life. It is a work of faith reminding us that only through Jesus can we live again.

I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New car, good service and blessings

New car (albeit with a few miles on the odometer, but new to us! A 2003 Suzuki XL7 with enough space for MacIntosh's crate! Welcome and please, keep us safe!

And now for good service! My heart broke when the insurance company of the man who rear ended us totaled our little RAV4. I know it had many, many miles on it but we took good care of it and it was hard to say goodbye!

Obviously we were too shaken as we quickly removed our belongings and I forgot something in the glove compartment. I must admit I did not think of it immediately but when it hit me, I just knew I had to try to retrieve it.

I placed a call and left a voice mail message at the auto repair shop. We had left our little car in their parking lot to be collected by the salvage company and so albeit this being a long shot I inquired if anyone had find a little piece of mica holding a picture of our Lady of Scherpenheuvel. So insignificant yet a gift from my Mum, something my Dad had in his cars always.

As for blessings, here is the rest of the story: I was given a phone number to the salvage company and told poor old faithful was going up for auction this coming Friday. The kindly receptionist offered to check the glove compartment and promised to call back.
A few minutes later, she called and yes, she had found the little piece of mica and placed it in the mail to return it to us. How nice of her!

There is a reason for everything in life and I thank God He is always nearby! I am after all just a dreamer...

09 May 2010

Mother's Day, Dover cliffs and long walks

Mother's Day is a time Mums everywhere reflects on time past, present and future. I know I do, always, and I try to remember little stubby legs, sticky fingers and sloppy kisses.

It sounds like a long time ago but it is nice to remember just the same and to dream about those good times or even sad ones.

Mother's Day is not about cards, presents or special (and often) expensive outings. Mother's Day to me is about good wishes, a kind word, a bit of extra attention. It is about that feeling you have done something of your life, you have helped groom someone to be so and so. It feels like nothing else. It makes "YOU" feel special! I try to make a point to seek out all Mums and wish them a happy day. After all I am one of them and I just know how good it feels!

Today was indeed one of those nice days: family and friends remembered and it made me feel good and content. I just hope I did not forget any Mum out there myself. No one should be forgotten!

I was introduced today to a poet named Matthew Arnold. His poem entitled Dover Beach was just the right touch to help me dream... I love walking along the top of the cliffs! What better way to celebrate Mum's Day?

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin...

Today was a good day... I remember... and I dream ...I feel good!

04 May 2010

Vacation, coming home and staycation

Going on vacation is for many the nicest part of the year and I admit I was so looking forward to be back in the UK! We planned to stop in Iceland as we love the chance to see this beautiful island before continuing on the last stretch of our journey. Landing at Keflavick we saw the most unusual sunrise! The sky looked red!

Our journey continued in the UK and I must say we filled every minute of our stay! Few of us can say we only had a couple of drops of rain during our spring holiday and despite some chilly days, we had a very nice sunny weather!

Little did we know the volcano's activity and the ensuing eruption (and the airspace closures) would create such a chaos overseas. We felt we were indeed very lucky to be rerouted on AA with the help of Iceland Air.

We were so glad to come back we would have flown any airlines but AA will see us again! The service was absolutely the best we have seen in a very long time. Once jet lag is over, I really should send a thank you for the crews on both flights merit a big thank you! It is not everyday you see people enjoying their jobs as they seemed to and they treated us as friends!

Dreams are all very well but for the next vacation, we have decided to try "staycation". It might just be better all around!