Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Glory to God in the highest. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Handmade gifts

The last custom orders were delivered on Thursday. A bit later than usual this year, but then there were a few more than usual.

So Friday we started making our Christmas gifts for our family. Yes, I know, that is really, really late. And some of them I had started earlier and had them all finished before now -- especially the handwoven ones. But I don't have gifts for Robin, Sarah or a few others yet.

We have a family tradition of giving hand made gifts to those who value them, among our family members. No made in China under the tree from me.

Living in the country has made this tradition a necessity. I haven't been shopping since September except to the grocery store. And I wasn't thinking in September that I should be doing Christmas shopping.

And then a trip to Kelowna to shop means a 6 hour drive at this time of year. There's a lot one can create in 6 hours at home.

So with only 6 sleeps till Christmas, what can a person do? Well, I nuno felted a shawl in the new Ashford merino and silk rovings in Christmas red (pomegranate) and green (peppercorn) for my sister in law -- time 3 hours. Robin knit some sock machine socks for his brother (4 hrs) and we made up a diabetic foot care kit -- wool/mohair socks, toe nail clippers, and Joybilee Farm peppermint foot cream.

Then I found a knitting pattern that can be knit in 2 hours and finished in 1 hour. Very cute felted slippers that use worsted weight wool -- I have lots of this. I downloaded the French Press Slippers pattern on Ravelry and I've finished two pair since Friday morning. One is for me. One is a secret. And Sarah wants a pair under the tree, so I'll get that one done today.

Our friends Connie and Dave have the handmade gift giving down to a science. They make the same gift for all their family members -- production knitting or weaving. With a new idea every year -- usually their own design. I haven't mastered that one yet, but it seems like a good plan for next year. Our family has expanded by two new members -- so streamlining the gift making may be a good idea.

I will so enjoy this week -- The tree went up last Sunday. The shortbread was baked by Sarah yesterday. The gifts are being delivered in Abbotsford and Vancouver today. And I get to spin, knit and weave all week, for my own family. How good is that!

Merry Christmas! and Happy Hogmany!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Water, water every where

No water. The cold froze the gravity fed water system on the mountain side. Robin went up in the dark, with a wind up flash light and the 4 dogs and broke the ice and channelled the water into the water box. And the house system gradually filled again.

That was 4 days ago. Then the pipe in the stock water covered over with ice and Robin broke the ice and inadvertently broke the pipe as well. Water gushed forth at the lowest point in our gravity fed system. The house emptied of water and water.

Then Gavin, our neighbor, came over and helped Robin repair the pipe, replace the faucet and attach a new output pipe. About an hour later the output pipe blew off from the built up pressure and again the house emptied of water, while water gushed forth in the pasture, uncontrolled.

Last night, in the dark, lit by the headlits of the borrowed Honda Fit, Robin again repaired the pipe, a little tighter this time. After about an hour the house again had water pressure and water flowing in the taps.

And today we have water -- reliable, flowing water. Amazing how precious water, in control, is and how frustrating and damaging when it is out of control.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Making music

There is a satisfying similarity between a well dressed loom and a finely made harp. This is a Dusty Strings FH26 Celtic harp, in Walnut. It sounds warm and mellow with a brightness in the treble voice.

I learned this week that the celtic harp originated in Scotland around 1,000 AD. There were harps in Egypt and mesopotamia around 3,000BC but they lacked the upright pillar for stability -- appearing more like a bow than a triangular harp. The lyre of the Middle East and Greece is actually a psaltry (as is the guitar) rather than a harp, since the strings run across the sound board.

With winter at our door and darkness creeping over the farm at around 4pm each day, we are again dusting off our instruments and making music together as a family. We deeply miss Ian's beautiful bass -- both the instrument and his voice. But we trust he is making music in his new home and playing duets with his lovely and talented bride. Sarah has her 120 year old mandolin in fine tune and also accompanies us on piano. She is getting more at ease with our family ensemble each year. Robin is using my guitar (his guitar is on loan to a friend) and is discipling himself to learn the notes rather than just chording. I play the recorder and long to learn a more full voiced instrument.

Our children have all benefited from music lessons from 6 years old to graduation. We purchased the best quality instruments for them that we could afford at the time. I've wanted music lessons since I was 7 years old and the time has never been right for our family to invest in mother's music making. We decided that it is my turn, now that Sarah is close to graduation. But at 50, I don't have much time left to master an instrument.

So after examing several options and the size and fragility of my hands, we are exploring the harp as a possibility. The harp is an instrument that one can make beautiful music on in just a year or two of lessons. It plays wonderfully in a small ensemble and can be played alone for the pleasure of its voice as well.

The melodic vibrations are healing to the body and soul. And its music gives pleasure and relaxation to those who hear its voice. Its also an instrument that would compliment the other instuments in the family -- afterall there is only room for one piano.