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helwen: (Tower)
First - because it starts first - Happy Hannukah!

Many Blessings of Light and Hope for all who celebrate.

Second, starting at 12:38 a.m. EST, Happy Solstice!

In these sometimes dark and often challenging times, may there be a light when you need it, a friendly hand to help, inspiration when there seems to be no further way forward, and may you have the clarity of purpose and courage of the heart to forge a true path.

Saturday

Dec. 19th, 2011 11:06 am
helwen: (Woodsy)
Oops, missed posting on Saturday... family gathering for Christmas. This day started earlier in the week, as we found out that niece Beth and nephew Chris's plans had gotten changed again (family gatherings are complicated), so they would in fact be at the Ashfield Grays gathering this year. B is expecting in February so the previous date for the baby shower was end of January... now I needed to get the present together just a wee bit sooner. Started a bib, then finally Friday morning we were able to run errands in Gfld, so I bought a bunch of cotton flannels while L got chicken feed.

Got home and needed to wash and dry/shrink the fabric, so while the machines did that with some supervision, I folded up 22 boxes (Ma had gotten 3 done before she needed to rest), and then Doris and I sorted and filled them all with cashews. Ma currently gives out cashews to almost all the immediate family (kids and grandkids) - Pa started the tradition a few years ago and she's keeping it up. One grandkid doesn't get them, as they were processed in a plant that also processes peanuts (allergy).

Then I think there was an egg delivery and lunch around 3:30-ish, plus maybe a stop at the post office but I'm not sure, plus posting a couple of flyers... and then I had time to work on making things, while L went to kung fu.

Between that night and part of the next morning, made a bag with multiple pockets/holders for stuff inside, 2 coverlets, and 3 receiving blankets. The bag was a combo of a berries print and a plaid primarily, plus a little bit of a third pattern from one of the blanket extras. The covers and blankets were mostly plaids, but also one in red/black buffalo check. Oh, and I had a picture frame with a cow jumping up to go over the moon which I put in one of the pockets, too. The bib isn't done yet, but they liked the bag, blankets and frame :)

SATURDAY
Great lunch, roast beef, veggies, a casserole, carrot jello salad (not my thing but it's a family tradition), salad. Dessert was mostly the usual cookies, and a fruit pie by Aunt Eunice, but also a cheesecake with a GF crust (vanilla wafers) made by B and C.

I'd decided on making a savory veggie dish so my SIL Marsha could have it this time -- carrots, onions, and kale, all chopped and steamed, together with some sprigs of fresh rosemary. I pulled the rosemary out after, and stirred in some butter (Cabot's unsalted natural creamery). Local food! You could salt it if you wished to, but eaten in combo with the other foods it wasn't necessary.

Between lunch and dessert is gift time, so everyone got settled in and Beth and Chris got the first present, a rather large gift bag... when she opened it, a floating mylar balloon that had "It's a Boy!" written on it came out, and the surprise part of the day began :) They received quite a few nice and useful things - onesies, rattles, a cute John Deer outfit, disposable diapers (for emergencies/travel, as they plan on using cloth), baby thermometer, etc.

Regular gifting happened after that, which is mostly for the kids these days, with some between Ma, Dean, and Eunice. Ma couldn't be there, needing to stay closer to home, but we did our best to give a report of goings-on when we got back. We left before dark so L could tend the chickens -- he still ended up using the red head lamp, but at least we were closer to their bedtime than we would have been, so they still had a little light for getting their last drink of the evening.
helwen: (Default)
We try to show affection for friends and family more than just one day a year, but for starters this morning, I made breakfast (L usually does that), and L made a Valentine card for me :)

Breakfast, for the GF folks (or foodies for that matter):

- 6 Eggs, whisked in a bowl
- Cheddar goat cheese, about 1/2 cup shredded? (and grater washed immediately!)
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1-2 oz. Butter

I cut up a whole onion and then worried there was too much, so I ate some of it raw. It was okay. Sweet white onion, I think... although it isn't round like a lemon, but sort of a squashed down round shape. I added the onion partly for interest and partly because it has prebiotins in it and I need to make up for not having gluten foods in the diet anymore.

Saute onion in butter, pour on eggs, then sprinkle cheese over that. Let it cook for a few minutes, then fold over in half to finish cooking.

I have a hard time waiting for things to cook, so I washed the whisk and egg bowl while I was waiting. Also, depending on size of pan vs size of burner, you may need to move it around some, in order to get even heat on all of the omelet's surface.

That's the theory, anyway :D L is better at making large omelets than I am, so it was part omelet and part scrambled -- he got the prettiest part ;) And it all tasted wonderful!

Valentines

Feb. 14th, 2011 12:35 pm
helwen: (me1)
On this day and every day, I wish for all reading this -- and all the special folks in my life who won't see this as well -- good health, meaningful work, and good times with friends or family!
helwen: (Default)
Lots of work before the snowstorm that only sort of was... (mostly wind here)

L was on vacation this week -- kind of hard to tell, since he still had all his farm stuff to do :D Still, nice that there was one less thing going on, what with trying to prepare for our kung fu exam, etc.

Also, he had an MRI on his shoulder yesterday, a few hours before the exam. Should know more in a few weeks.

Kung Fu exam went.... well, I won't say great because we both forgot things. My memory is extremely visual so I often can't put names and actions together and have to work really hard at it. Still, there were good things too - enough that both L and I got our blue sashes :)

Kinda unreal, in truth. When we first started learning kung fu, my highest aspiration was purple sash, maybe with a stripe. But we're both getting into better shape, and so the current result :)

To be clear, I never aspired to get a particular color of sash, but rather to attain the fitness and ability to do whatever a purple sash person could do. And now that we've progressed beyond that... the goal is essentially unchanged. To keep on keeping on, learning, practicing, getting more fit. And a great group of folks to do all this with is a wonderful bonus.

One of the next things on my list? Getting a tumbling mat. Really, _really_ need to work on the self-defense stuff, and I'm just not keen on throwing or getting thrown onto frozen ground or even the barn floor. Someday, maybe, but not yet.

Today is cleaning, tonight is joint beginner and intermediate class at school, then later tonight is going to Elmer's for food and music and perhaps a random conversation or three.

Happy New Year, everyone!
helwen: (Default)
...to all who celebrate it :)

Our main Christmas gathering was last week, but this morning L and I had breakfast downstairs with Marian, which was quite nice.

SIL Susan and BIL Warren dropped by later in the morning and we all had a good visit. Now we're all off doing various chores, including Ma, who's doing some book work. The day itself is usually a fairly quiet one, here on the farm.

In fact, I might take advantage of that to get a nap in...

Happy....

Dec. 25th, 2009 03:04 pm
helwen: (water drops)
As a college friend of mine once said...


Happy Fill In the Holiday of Your Choice!

(It was specifically in reference to the presents she was bringing, but close enough ;) )


May all who see these words be blessed with good health, good friends, food on their plates and roofs over their heads. May those traveling arrive safely. May the Earth prosper and all her creatures be blessed as well.
helwen: (me1)
As another friend said, despite the history of the U.S. Thanksgiving, we do enjoy certain present aspects of the holiday. Spending time with family, eating good food, and most importantly, giving thanks for all the many blessings in our lives. Good friends, family, shelter, an interesting life, things to learn and things to do. There are many problems in the world, but still there is much to be thankful for.

The extended Gray family gathering has already happened this past Saturday. We were only there for about 1-1/2 hours unfortunately, as we had a choral obligation that day, but still chatted and had a fine dinner -- no time for dessert, but I don't miss most of it that much. Picked up Eli and then met in Springfield for warmup and carpooling. The cathedral has terrible parking. Friends of ours, one of whom is in our choral group, were renewing their marriage vows -- 20 years :) Nice little service, and the cathedral has great sound. We sang a couple of song during the service, and a couple afterward just for fun. Retired to their house for a little party, drove Eli home and then eventually got home ourselves.

Sunday was more leisurely for the first part of the day, then rehearsal in the evening. Kung fu on Monday and Wednesday, also chiropractic appts.

Door stretches continue to be my friend, I expect that to be a permanent feature. Also a particular type of leg lift that works the sartorius and some other muscles on the inside of the thigh -- important if you do activities where one might tend to mostly use the outside leg muscles, because the muscles can get stronger than the inside ones and pull the patella off track. Trust me, this is _not_ something you want.

Today we'll be cooking a turkey -- got one from a local farm. Farm stuff still has to be done, so likely at some point today will be more work loading and delivering hay. But at some point there will be dinner and some leisure time :)

To those who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, may you have a wonderful day. To everyone, may there be much in your life to be thankful for!

Sunday!

Jun. 21st, 2009 02:25 pm
helwen: (Default)
Happy Solstice to all who celebrate it! Midsummer it is, although it may not feel like it with all the damp we're having.... Just sort of overcast up here today, thank goodness. Grove celebration ended up being astral because of all the wet -- the Sunwheel is surrounded by water, so it could have been not just awkward for us walking about, but also damaging to the grounds :( But an interesting morning nonetheless.

Happy Father's Day to [livejournal.com profile] fitzw, [livejournal.com profile] daurdabla, [livejournal.com profile] bkdelong, [livejournal.com profile] hugh_mannity, and any other fathers reading this who I missed!

Choir practice tonight -- gotta wash and cut up a bunch of strawberries for the potluck!

But first, lunch (yeah, we're running a little late on some things....)
helwen: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nq3x posted this cool thing:
Roman 20-sided die



***
LJarchived my journal today. Hopefully SUP can manage LJ fine from Russia and we won't have to move. Meantime, I find my old posts are easier for me to look through on LJarchive, so I'm happy with having done this anyway.

If I do have to move, I will probably just add another account on blogger to the one I already have there. Some folks are going with something called InsaneJournal, and there are others out there as well, but until something actually happens I'm not going to bother.

***
We had lunch at Frontier Pizza in Sunderland. Very tasty manicotti there; I brought half of it home as well as the salad, probably for lunch tomorrow. Then we went to the antique shop in Amherst and found many nice woodworking tools as well as a few other things. L got a man-yoke too, and it's a very nice one indeed. It should make an excellent model for making future ones. One of the planes has a piece of ivory on it, next to the blade, so we even got something "appropriate" for our 14th anniversary ;)


***
Went for a good walk this evening when we got back. Cold, but if we get ice tonight I won't be going out tomorrow. Go me!


***
Choir practice this past Sunday went well. We learned two new songs -- not perfectly of course, but it's a nice change from the long battle we had with Palestrina.

Also received a lovely ornament from [livejournal.com profile] harpnfiddle, who is doing some lovely lacemaking these days.

It's been a good year for gifts this year. Generally speaking it isn't a big thing for me, but I do like the mistletoe from [livejournal.com profile] harpnfiddle in its handy little gauze pouch so I won't lose any of the bits and the little porcelain plate from Jeni and [livejournal.com profile] gwynt_y_storm with the two pelicans on it -- very SCA-appropriate for us. No, we don't collect pelicans, but the plate is perfect. And of course the necklace, tea, woodworking tools and other things from last month. Nothing I have to wonder about how it ended up here and what I'm going to do with it -- no scented candles or cutesy Christmas sweatshirts, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

Good times with good friends is all I really ask for; the rest is icing on the cake.


***
We'll be going to EK 12th Night this coming weekend. Anyone else?

First Day

Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:23 am
helwen: (Default)
First Day didn't go too badly. Not spending too much time on the computer was only moderately successful, but did do lots of other things as well. Didn't get to practicing a musical instrument.

- Did Tai Chi and stretches
- Some self-accupressure
- Made bread pudding to use up some stale bread (making another batch today)
- Made potato soup
- Sorted Rosemary leaves I'd trimmed off my plant, put good ones in a spice bottle
- Accidentally found my missing spinning wheel bobbins
- Did some spinning
- Washed a few dishes
- Replaced the elastic in the ankles of my old Tai Chi pants
- Watched a bit of the Rose Parade early in the day, as well as catching some old Monk episodes

May possibly be catching a cold, but we'll see.
helwen: (me1)
Was busy last night and this morning, getting some Christmas cards done. This morning was partly spent writing up a letter about the past few years, with some edited variations depending on who was getting it. 2006 was apparently not a good year for a variety of reasons, most of which L and I both seem to have forgotten. That was the year I couldn't seem to find things or get anything done for Fall Festival and ended up pulling out of my booth spot (although I did manage to do it in time for them to get some friends of mine in, Chena River Marblers). Winter 2007 was surgery recuperation time, so only a handful of cards went out. This year December's been a little more exciting than usual, but since we moved and many folks didn't have our new address or even know we'd moved I wanted to send out some cards and letters. Even though we've been cutting down on paper mail, sometimes it's nice to send or receive a material message :)

A sign of how crazy 2006 was? Some of the cards we received were never opened. So, we're now caught up on some folks' lives from two years ago, and I'll be saving some of the cards for re-use in future times. Some of the artwork is so pretty or fun that it seems a shame they only get used once; my plan is to cut off the fronts and paste them onto fresh cardstock. I'll need new envelopes of course, but I usually have extra around because of making cards to sell.

We mailed a bunch out today at lunch and I might try to get a few more out Friday or Saturday.

***
It's finally stopped snowing, but there's still a severe weather alert here until 6pm. We had been thinking about going down the hill to see Jeni and the dance troupe she's with, but will probably not go :(

***
While we were in town to go the post office, we also walked next door to get a bottle of BBC's Steel Rail Pale Ale, as well as a six-pack of Sam Adam's Winter Lager to try out.

Then we stopped in at the hardware store but the ladies are on vacation. So we went into Country Pie Pizza for a bit of lunch. We're not eating pizza for a few weeks, but they make salads, grinders, wraps, and some really greats soups or sometimes chili (I like the veggie chili better than the meat one -- it has lots of different types of beans in it as well as the veggies).

The guys there presented us with their Customer of the Year award! Apparently we were quite successful in our efforts to support our local businesses :D It's pretty amazing actually -- a certificate that should cover quite a few meals. That about floored us, for sure.

And they also let us know that there's a New Year's Eve party at Elmer's, starting at 9:00 p.m. tonight. If we're awake, we should be able to make it to that at least.

***

Wishing All A Happy New Year!

May you have good health, good friends, and good times. And if there are hard times too, may you find the adaptability, strength and support you need to handle them.

Dec 25

Dec. 25th, 2008 11:19 am
helwen: (Default)
A Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it!

Very windy last night. That plus the warmer temps made for an exciting day and night, with snow and ice falling off the roof, sounding and feeling like avalanches. There was one especially solid thump last night that L investigated but there was no damage to the house. We think it was a large chunk of ice falling off the back attic roof onto the downstairs kitchen's metal roof, before sliding down to hit the ground.

***
For prezzies I received some nice knit gloves and an Indian silk scarf with gold designs on it from my mom. We also received a household organizer thing that looks pretty useful actually -- might even use it :D My SIL Doris had me in the Gray family exchange and gave me gripper gardening gloves (supposed to make weeding and stuff easier), and a mini garden claw (designed to be turned not pulled) -- I'm not a big tool person but it looks interesting so I'll certainly give it a try. L gave me a lovely necklace made by [livejournal.com profile] nazrynn -- I'll get a picture taken of it to put up. Pa Gray gave out his usual monetary gift as well as boxes of cashews, and Ma gave us a stone for baking pizzas, cookies, etc. on (she had fun going through the Pampered Chef catalog!).

Oh, and from earlier this month, [livejournal.com profile] ellid gave me a tin of a tea called Florence. She'd had us try some when we were at her house earlier this autumn and I loved it, so she got me some of my own :)

***
I have snowshoes! I have no idea how to use them!! So today we are going to do a little snowshoeing. We still don't have new ones for L, so he's going to try wearing a pair of the family collection -- we're hoping they aren't too old and fragile. Maybe tomorrow we can go to Olympia Sport in G'fld and special order a pair for him -- I'd like to order Yukon Charlie's iBlades for him, since he tends to be the trail breaker for me and Willie.

***
L is going to be checking the pipelines today finally, to see what the ice storm did on the hillsides and over in South Woods too. I'll go along for some of it but probably not all. Have to at least make it over to the grove and see how things look there, and hoping to see at least North Hill. West is steeper, so I might skip that. We'll see.
helwen: (Default)
I was just replying to [livejournal.com profile] harpnfiddle about gifting and she had commented on handmade gifts not costing as much as bought ones. Of course if one counted the time to make it.... the day of that concept being more generally accepted is coming, I think...

One year for the gift exchange I made a "book" using an Altoids can. I covered the surface with polymer clay, added various little decorative clay doodads, and after baking I also glued on gems (I pressed them in to make impressions and then removed them for baking, so the gems would have 'settings').

This was for my SIL K, who's Roman Catholic, so I took the prayer of St. Francis and cut and pasted it on my computer so that it would fit on several pages. Each "page" had a medieval border on it (some work I'd scanned into the computer ages ago). The font was some type of calligraphic Gothic.

Instead of separate pages I printed the pages in a long strip and folded them like an accordion (fan fold). Make sure to have a little extra bit of paper at either end of the strip. These extra bits will be folded under and glued to the inside of the box lids.

The idea was to make a tiny book that was like the old medieval treasure books. It actually took a bit of time to make it but I had a lot of fun with it. I was worried that she wouldn't like it because I wasn't sure how she felt about handmade things, but it had just seemed like the perfect thing at the time. Thankfully, she absolutely loved it :)

You can use Altoid containers (the rectangular ones of course, because they're hinged), but if you don't buy Altoids or have friends who do, some craft stores also carry blank tins. Tins and containers in general are great fun.

I also like decoupaging things, and boxes and tins are great candidates for making really unique things. Great little gifts in and of themselves, or you can put a little something inside too. In the old days people used to decorate all kinds of containers and cans -- cigar boxes, coffee (or other food) cans, candy boxes, etc. Keep an eye out for interesting things, you never know what trash could become a treasure.
helwen: (Default)
Thanksgiving yesterday was most excellent. S and J did not in fact show up with their new baby -- we were kind of wondering when they said they'd be there, and apparently the day after having the baby was what convinced S that maybe taking it easy for a few days was a good idea! But everyone else was there and many good conversations were had, as well as a lot of good food, of course!

The gift exchange was brought up at the end of the gathering, to clarify amount to spend on gifts. They're lowering the amount from $25 to $10 since times are tight. Doris said that if people wanted to still spend up to $25 they could, but the main thing was choosing a little something that was thoughtful and meant you were thinking of the other person, and that in fact it had never been a problem for folks to spend less than that but she thought that had been lost over time and needed to be reiterated. Further discussion on what to do next year will happen later, probably after Christmas. I think I overheard someone suggesting joke gifts for next year.... if that comes up as a serious suggestion I'll be counting myself out, thanks.

Uncle D said he'd be thrilled if we dropped gifting entirely as he felt the whole holiday was a fraud in its current incarnation. Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday because it's just folks getting together and sharing good food and good times. He was pretty funny -- said he didn't really need anything anymore, and if he did he went down to their equivalent of a transfer point to get things (I guess they have a book exchange and other things like we do at ours). I wouldn't mind dropping the whole gifting thing myself!

***
This is the orange jello salad I made for Thanksgiving. My mom used to make stuff like this when I was a kid, although most often she made the lime version for Christmas.

Orange Jello Salad

3 packages of Orange Jello
Hot water
1 15 oz. can of Mandarin Oranges
1 20 oz. can of Pineapple chunks in juice (or slices and chunk it yourself)
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
1 16 oz. container of small curd cottage cheese

I had two containers, one larger than the other, so I put one packet in one and two in the other. But you could start off with them all together and then pour into containers, as long as you can keep track of how much is in each one...

Pour gelatin into container(s). One cup of hot water per packet, stir until gelatin dissolves.

Next comes 1 cup of cold liquid per packet. I use 1/2 cup of evaporated milk per packet and 1/2 cup of juice from the cans of fruit per packet (remaining juice is a tasty treat for the cook!). Stir in and then set in fridge until it has had a chance to cool and start to gel a little.

Bring back out, and if it isn't in the dish(es) you want to serve in at this point, now is the time to do this.

Divide and add in the cottage cheese, mandarin oranges and pineapple so that one third goes with each packet's worth of jello. Stir so the fruits and cheese more or less evenly distributed. Put back in fridge and let it continue to set. Voila!

*** Notes ***

Yes, lots of packaged/canned stuff. In the case of the pineapple though it's absolutely necessary. Raw pineapple and also some other raw fruits (listed on package) will keep the Jello from gelling. Also, you can use low-fat evap. milk and low-fat cottage cheese and it doesn't affect the taste. I don't use sugar-free jello because a number of us can't handle the fake stuff in significant quantities.

Measuring of fruit and cheese was by eye, but feel free to figure out the measurements if you like, for making smaller quantities. Mandarin oranges and pineapples do come in smaller sized cans, although I'm afraid you're stuck with leftover cottage cheese and evap. milk. Actually, I had a little bit of evaporated milk leftover, probably because of imperfect measuring (yes, even with a measuring cup), so we put the extra tablespoon or so into some hot cocoa -- yay, no leftovers! Making jello salad isn't as exacting as some types of serious cooking or baking.

Oh, and if you're using a jello mold, remember to use 1/4 cup less liquids. The jello needs to be a little more solid if it's going to be free-standing (don't worry, that reminder's on the packet too).

My MIL requested I make it again this year, and she took some of it home with her for later :D Yes, it's tasty!
helwen: (me1)
21 Nov

Nephew born this morn,
Day before our family
gathers to give thanks.
How much more to give thanks for,
their happiness and good health.

***
The Massachusetts Gray family usually gathers on the Saturday before or after Thanksgiving -- usually before, I think. Sometimes Grays make it from out-of-state, but not this year. The new baby, mom and dad are actually planning on being at the gathering. There is much preparation of food of course -- we have our things to make this evening. We meet around 11:30-12:00, a fairly relaxed affair.

This year we need extra choir practices before Bergental/BBM Yule -- Palestrina's Sitivit Anima Mea is being challenging -- so practices on tomorrow and next Saturday, as well as the Sundays.

Thanksgiving Day itself, which will be celebrated in the U.S. this coming Thursday, we'll be happily at home. I'm not fond of travelling on holidays; I did enough of that when I was younger. Not that those weren't enjoyable times, but I like travel less and less as time goes by, and the longer the distance I have to go, the more time I want to spend there before coming home again. If we were to go to the UK for instance, I'd want to be there for a few weeks, so we didn't drive ourselves into the ground trying to see everything.

Speaking of travel, I should talk to my MIL about her Christmas list, as I have no intention of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, nor too close to Christmas itself.

Ah, but Thursday, when L has the day off and we have no social obligations, we can have a nice lazy day if we wish, or get lots of things done if we wish, but no obligation to do either. I'm definitely looking forward to that!
helwen: (Woodsy)


You Are a Yule Log



While you do have holiday spirit, you have a secret, heathen past.



One of my favorite things for Christmas that my mom would make was a Yule "log". I was helping by the time I was eight, I think... Thin chocolate wafers sandwiched together with whipped cream to form a log, and then covered with more whipped cream. Impossible to move the log neatly, so do sections and then assemble them on the dish you'll be serving on, then cover with the whipped cream. Then cover carefully and set in the fridge overnight. The crunchy wafers become cakelike, having absorbed some moisture from the cream.

We did this for Bergental Yule years ago as a few sotleties too, with marzipan figures from previous Boar Hunts on it -- a boar, a snow leopard, and a hunter. And since we were doing this for a lot of people, we also did a couple of them as rings, which Octavia make marzipan holly and berries for... We had proof people came over to look at the sotleties before they were served, too -- we had set the hunter and animals up one way, and they changed positions periodically. Although once the animals were hunting the hunter, everyone seemed satisfied. No, not medieval at all, but we had fun :)

The Sotletie has a mixed history in our group. Some take hours to make, some a few minutes -- folks enjoy seeing all of them. Some are more historically correct, others not so much.

One I liked was the gingerbread church tower with the stained glass window. It had a lit candle inside for during the presentation. Sminster had the making of the tower I think, but we were all over at Randall and Christiana's place to help because in addition to the sotletie there were stained glass cookies to make, and that was a good project for a bunch of people. Even people who didn't care for baking, because we used hard candies for the 'glass' and they needed to be put in bags and smashed into little bits :D

Anyway, I think the group activity beforehand and being able to share out the sotletie with everyone at the feast without destroying the tower (kind of like having your cake and eating it too) are why it was one of my favorites.
helwen: (Default)
Happy eve of the first day of winter!

Oakstone Grove celebrated yesterday evening, as it was the day that most folks could make it. Being a weekday we went for evening, trying to time it with sunset. Started only a few minutes behind in fact, although perhaps I should have followed my original instinct, started a few minutes later, and light the candle and incense beforehand instead of during the ritual as we usually do. I had a particular idea for doing the purifying with elements part that mostly worked, and I think with practice we can have even more fun with it. Turns out my thought is similar to something in JMG's Magical Lodge book -- guess I need to read more of that :D

Anyway, overall I think it went pretty well, and we definitely had some visitors in the North. We had fun going between the "bonfires" too (candle lanterns on posts, so the university wouldn't get upset and to protect the flames from the wind).

Today is the last day of the year for some folks, so happy new year to you all! Tomorrow is the first day of winter, and with the snow we had this week, I think most folks might agree that winter is here.

Naturally, like all things in real life, there is no clean-cut edge to the changing of the season, any more than turning 18 means you're suddenly all grown-up or getting a diploma means you've learned all there is to know. But the natural world in this part of the world is slowing and getting sleepier, and as the weather gets colder we all scurry to finish getting ready for the colder part of winter, bringing in food, wood, and warm things, and thinking about the books and projects we'll have more time for.

***
Today in Ashfield is the Halloween parade. No haunted house this year, but the hardware store has a giant pumpkin and L has been invited to dress up in his armor and creak at the kiddies. Tomorrow evening is the party at [livejournal.com profile] ellid's home, then Sunday evening we have choir practice. If we have time during the day this weekend, we might stop at one of the places open for Cider Days.
helwen: (Default)
Been thinking of things to post but been too busy to post anything!

***
Did more sorting/unpacking/packing of fabric, winter & summer clothing. Some winter stuff still needs washing -- fell behind on laundry with doing other stuff around the farm, studies, writing people, artwork, etc.

***
Finished typing/editing mom's Chapter 5 and sent it off today. Working on her changes to Chapters 1-4 now. Should be getting Chapter 6 in the mail next week sometime.

***
Not moving along as fast as I'd like on the card project, but I know it will pick up.

***
Beltaine was great! [livejournal.com profile] harpnfiddle wrote up the ritual and was acting chief druid Sunday. We were at the Sunwheel as per usual, and the weather held up, thank goodness! This meant she could play fiddle both for the opening and for the Maypole dance. I loved how participatory it was, with people alternating reading. Great fun with the May dance, silly and light-hearted, with the occasional "threat" to wrap our our Greenperson, [livejournal.com profile] gwynt_y_storm :D The redwing blackbird stayed for the ritual, and also we saw an eagle off to the north.

We all took a walk up to the grove L and I are working on so they could see what we've done so far. The trillium were in bloom! Gorgeous deep red blossoms :)

Unfortunately we determined that one of the pines to the east had to come out -- it had a serious case of fungus and we didn't want it to spread to the pine next to it. Poor thing, it wasn't very old. We carried all the affected parts down to by the road, away from the woods, for later disposal.

***
I suggested to L that today might be a good day to start disassembling the loom and moving it to the other end of the attic (more room). We got much further than I thought we would -- disassembled, moved, and now mostly reassembled! I've moved a lot of stuff into the smaller room that the loom had been in, and am trying to set up some of his weaving materials so they're a bit more accessible. More tomorrow, like as not.

***
Lots of rain over the past few days, and much needed of course. But the sun has come out finally -- probably part of why it's supposed to be below freezing tonight! (Clear skies)

***
If the ground is dry enough tomorrow or Thursday I may work on removing some of the grass from one area of the turned garden beds -- potatoes don't like growing where grass has been, so I need to get rid of as much of the roots as I can.

***
Working on choosing clothing carefully for Pennsic so that we have more space in the vehicle. The plan is to fit [livejournal.com profile] harpnfiddle and her stuff in too -- good company and shared travel expenses.

It may not be that much of a challenge in some ways (to fit in a third person), as I may not be able to fight this summer after all. The shoulder is coming along quite well and getting stronger every day, and of course I continue to do the stretches, etc. But the other day, after I'd already belted myself in, I bent over in my car seat to tuck something into the drawer that's under the seat, and the shoulder strap slid/pressed across my shoulder and hurt like the dickens. If the nerves are that sensitive to a bit of pressure, imagine how a blow with a stick of rattan might feel! (Or don't, it isn't a nice thing). Mind, it's my right shoulder so I'm not nearly as likely to get hit there (shield side!), but pain also means stuff is still healing. It still itches from time to time as well.

I'm less bothered about the fighting this year than last, and I'll check the pain issue in another month to see how I'm doing. But it was a surprise because normal types of contact -- hugs or someone putting a hand on my shoulder -- don't cause any pain. Oh well. I should still be able to do archery at least, which is more than I could do last year.

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