Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hey how for Hallow e'en...............

Hey how for Hallow e'en
A' the witches tae be seen
Some in black and some in green
Hey how for Hallow e'en.

Traditional rhyme

Another event in the turning of the year, whatever name it goes by in your house, however you choose to mark it or not, it's still around! My children are older now, so we don't mark it as we used to, and have never gone in for it in a big way. I carve a pumpkin, and we usually have something different/special to eat, but that's as far as it goes. I'm not very sure of the traditions associated with Hallowe'en in England, but when I grew up in south west Scotland, it was always a highlight of a child's year, but very different to the more commercialised event it seems to have become today.
In Scotland, the children went out guising - from the word disguise; they would dress up in all sorts of weird and wonderful clothing, often fronm their parents, blackent heir faces with burned cork or soot and set off around their neighbours. There was no "trick or treat", but at every house we were expected to really earn the goodies that they had laid in for their strange little visitors. The word would go around the village a couple of weeks before the day - "What are you doing for Hallowe'en?" - meaning what poem, rhyme, riddle, recital, song etc would you be performing for your gifts. There was less interest in the costume part of it, and as long as you were disguised to a greater or lesser degree, that was fine. Certainly no bought costumes or masks, no themes or film star costumes back then! All "hame made", costing nothing usually, and often with the ability to be returned to everyday use after the great event, barring a bit of burned cork or a coal dust dressing on your father's shirt! lol
Pumpkins were unheard of then, where we were; we made a tumchie lamp - a hollowed-out turnip (swede) with a candle inside, and a bit of string to swing it by. By the end of the next week, it stank of rotten burnt neeps!lol
Even if you were rubbish at your chosen act, friends and neighbours always gave generously, and it was proper Hallowe'en fare -seasonal, homemade, given with love and affection for effort on the child's part. I remember monkey nuts, treacle toffee, tablet, small oranges, the occasional copper or sixpenny piece; home at what seemed a hugely late hour with a bulgin bag of goodies which lasted a whole week for play pieces and midnight snacks. The older folks in the village loved it, and were always glad to see us; tehy loved the songs especially, and the old poems etc, often in Scottish dialect or similar, old rhymes and suchlike. Most people gave generously, but those who didn't want to partake were left alone, and we respected their decision. In a community like we lived in, we all knew what was going on, so there was no need to intrude on folks who didnt' want it. Easy. :)
Everyone rails against comemrcialism these days - yes, Hallowe'en, with the import of a more American way of marking the event, has become commercialised, but only because folks have been buying into it. If people didn't buy all the masks, costumes, rubbishy themed sweeties and things, then there would be no market for it, and things would/should revert ot homemade fun and a bit of imagination (when better than Hallowe'en to use your imagination?) By buying the stuff, they are feeding into the very industries they are criticising for making things like Hallowe'en too commercial - but they still buy all the stuff for their children. Just say no! Make something, involve the children in making something, give seasonal fruit, nuts, homemade biscuits and toffee. |Why feel pressurised and obliged?
Hallowe'en should be a bit of fun for children, but along with learning about how the traditions came about and the history behind it all; now sadly swallowed up by the reatilers' imposed American-style fever of the time of year, perpetuated by the ongoing buying into it.
Do your own thing at Hallowe'en!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Birch trees

I heard a very short extract of this on the radio this morning. Birches are one of my favourite native trees, so I reminded myself of the whole poem.


When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows--

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A day out


I like being at home, I'd be quite happy to stay here and just get on with things.......Sometimes, it's nice to go out, though - it doesn't have to be far or exotic, just to a different place, see new faces, meet up with a friend or two, that sort of thing. So yesterday, I went into town to meet up with a friend and spend some time with her. I got the early bus in; buses aren't the same as they used to be you know! I've spent a lot of time travelling by bus and coach, and my memories of the journeys are always of frindliness, people talking together, even if strangers and only about the weather - general chit chat, that sort of thing. Yesterday, although the bus had a good number of passengers, there was no chit chat, no atmosphere, no nattering, only the ever present annoyance of Someone Else's music, supposedly on headphones, but I could hear it away down the front of the bus. It was an uneventful, if short journey, but there was definitely something lacking. Maybe I'm getting old, but things ain't what they used to be!
This is one of my favourite parts of town - it's fairly easy to imagine how it would have looked 200 years or so ago - not that much different, give or take a yellow line or two!

The town is full of very old buildings, up the main shopping streeet they are used today, and it's not an unpleasant palce to shop, even if the shops aren't quite to my taste; there's a good range of charity shops - more to my taste lol - an excellent book shop, some very good cafes and coffee places, and the florists and greengrocers' displays brighten up the street scene wonderfully - a riot of colour and living plants at most times of the year; seasonal by the very nature of the businesses, it lends a good deal of atmosphere to the street.

We met up, and had a good and thorough trawl fo the charity shops; we bought two big bundles of Christmas quilting/patchwork fabrics, all in greens and reds - all new, some with bits cut out for the previous owner's projects, but a very good amount for the under 10 pounds we paid for both; my friend suggested buying both and sharing each, which was an excellent idea, so we did that. We also each came home with a small tray cloth; this is mine:

I was immediately taken by the little embroidered cottage and snaffled it straight away! I won't use it as a tray cloth, so the embroidered part is destined for part of another project, but not sure what yet - I have a few ideas.
The afternoon was spent at her house drinking pots and pots of tea and talking for England; bit of knitting and sewing too.
It was a lovely day - no pressure, very relaxed, good company and lots of talking lol
When you live in a small rural vilage like I do, and are fairly self-sufficient in your own company and happy at home, it's very easy just to not bother going out anywhere. It's good to make the effort, re-charge your batteries with a change of scene, different things to look at and people to talk to. But not TOO

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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

You Tube and the Art of Timing

One of the things I would like to get done this week is to move my treadle sewing machine out of the kitchen into the sitting room, and get my table loom indoors for the winter and really get to grips with it. At the moment, it's sitting on a table - a really nice big card table I acquired at the tip for a few pounds - but I would like a loom stand. I've priced them up new, and let's just saying I won't be getting one this week lol Anyhoo, in the spirit of the blog - re-use, use your imagination, do your research, look & learn, make it yourself - I Googled loom stand and came up with this:

How wonderful is that? How simple, clever, earth friendly and inspiring! I saw a folding table stand like that last week at the tip, so if it's still there this week I shall get it and amke one.This looks so easy even I could make a good hand of it. If not, then I'll wait unitl one appears; I've seen them often down there,a nd always thought the folding bits looked useful, but no immediate use came to mind, and coupled with the storage issue,they were left there. The time is right, now, so it's on The List. :)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Learner drivers

Don't expect a rant here about learner drivers, because you won't get it. What I am going to do, though is rant about other road users and their attitudes to learners.
I witnessed a truly appalling scene on Fridaye vening, coming home from shopping. There is a short lane, on a gradient, coming up from the town centre to the top road, ending in a hill at the top, where you turn left or right on to the bigger road. Tricky for experienced drivers, I should think, and difficult for learners to say the least. A learner driver in a small car had stalled the engine on the hill, front wheels just over teh white lines. We were two cars behind, so just stopped to wait. The car infront of us , after about 20 seconds or so, swung out sharply, went round the learner and sped off to the right; we all had a go at this driver, and moved forward in the queue, now directly behind our eklarner; a car zoomed up froms omewhere behind us and did exactly the same thing - bear in mind they are turning right, from the wrong side of the road on to what can be quite a fast bit of road. Incredibly, a third car roared past us, but this time on our left, drove straight across in front of the learner, still trying to master the hillstart, and roared off into the night. I suspect this would have fazed an experienced driver, but how the learner coped is beyond me. After about another minute or two, s/he conquered the hill start and off they went, us following behind. Surely no-one should be so impatient, so intolerant, so selfish as to endanger people's lives, no to mention their own, that they can't sit behind aomeone who is LEARNING, for 2 - 3 minutes whilst they tackle a manouvre such as this. I imagine it's hared enough learning to drive in this day and age without the actions of selfish, impatient lunatics all around you. I bet more than one of them stalled their car when they were learning..........short-memoried, selfish, impatient lunatics.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

A weekend of two halves.................

........... as the saying goes!
Yesterday was quite busy; it was Guild day, so we had to be up and out with the car packed and ready for starting off after breakfast and morning jobs done. A Friend at the Guild restores old sewing machines, so I bit the bullet and decided to pass them on to her. I really don;t need that many, but feel obliged to rescue them from the tip/skip etc for only a couple of pounds each. I was happy to swap these for some Kilner jars and some seeds.

Teh talk was excellent, by Priscilla Lowry, on The Wow factor - what judges are looking for in competitions and exhibitions, etc(. She works in silk, and brought soem lovely knitwear to show us all; I found it inspiring and want to knit sideways words and letters now!! lol Being Chairman, I have to get around and talk to as many embers as possible, as well as sorting out any problems, reading out notices, making sure everyone gets a cup of tea ( most important!), and generally being busy the whole day. I'm usually quite tired by teh time I get home, but eysterday afternoon was in and almost out again straight away - Bean's band, Ship of Fools was playing a charity gig in the pub over the road for Lluest Horse and Pony Trust (; they were very, very good, very polished performance, and Bean did a cracking Amy Winehouse cover! Proud mother alert there........ lolo We got home quite late, but a decent amount of money was raised from our small village, with generous help from James in the pub whop made no charge for the venue, the food for the band, and doanted a very generous prize for the raffle too.

At least I got an extra hour in bed - the clocks were turned back, so that was nice. Today has been very quiet, a day or relaxing apart from a bit of cooking and washing up. I spent the morning working on my new Celtic hat project:

I then started on a design for a Charleston House/Bloomsbury inspired slipover (for me), then spent the afternoon spinning some more of teh white Suffolk fleece; I want to try out my new acid dyes thsi week, so will try them on this; not much more to do for a usable amount for what I've got in mind.

A nice easy going Sunday, punctuated by a shared chocolate orange and various cups of tea. Now got a rather nice goblet of Blossom HIll to keep me company!
I hope everyone else had a weekend as good as mine.