Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dance at Sod House NW of 36-27-10

Dance at Sod House NW of 36-27-10

It is really fortunate that we have such amazing records of familial history on both sides. This is a small story with huge heart of my husbands' people who came to Canada in 1903 with lots of hopes and dreams to build a good life on the wide and wild prairie.
They arrived from England in 1903. In April of 1905 they set off by ox team from Saskatoon to their newly claimed land section in the (then) N.W. Territories. The province of Saskatchewan did not get established till later that year. They lived in a tent until they could build their sod house. Although great grandfather was a very good carpenter he did not know that you built the sod house first and then could lumber line it from the inside. He built a frame first and then put sod around it. Well it worked but wasn't as efficient as the usual way.
These were amazingly efficient homes when you consider it. A floor was dug down below the frost line and filled with chips and then a thick layer of packed clay. The temperature of the earth stays fairly constant once you dig below the frost line. The best sods were cut from dried out slough areas as the roots were much thicker and therefore held the house together much better. The sods were usually about 100mm deep by 0.91m wide by 1.5m long. These were then layered to the height you wanted and a roof put on. It was solid sod on three sides with door and windows only on one side, away from the wind. The high density of the earth changes temperature very slowly and so provided a fairly consistent temperature even when the temperatures fluctuated between -40C in winter to +40 in summer.
Great grandparents' home became the centre of the social scene. A dance was held in their sod home every two weeks and a Club was formed. Music was supplied by several bachelors and Mr. Bert had a gramophone. Great grandmother would clear the room of beds and stuff and put them in the shed. Dances started at 8 pm and carried on until morning. Great grandmother and grandmother Flo served two lunches. One at midnight and the other before the dance ended in the mornings. The Club would all contribute to these goods. At the end of the season the Club presented the family with an armchair and a rocker to thank them for their hospitality and the express how much the community appreciated the fun.
It is easy to think that times were tough in those days and they were, but it is sure wonderful and inspiring to know that they took the time to enjoy friends and music and dance the night away on a regular basis. It must have been great fun.
Everyone had arrived in Canada with similar hopes, dreams and aspirations. Everyone was a stranger and yet they formed tight and solvent communities in a very short time. Everyone pitched in, helped each other out. They worked hard together and then they played and rejoiced in their accomplishments.
I had the pleasure of knowing Grandmother Flo for a short time. She was a woman ahead of her time. She was the forerunner of the woman's movement let me tell you. She was great. Still took the stairs instead of the elevator at 98, liked to beat men at cards and liked her finger of rye each night.
Don't make them like that anymore.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


It is the time of year where the pressures of the farm are on low dial for now. It gives me the luxury of fiddling around and about the house. About a month ago I was looking for Christmas paper to wrap something and it started something really big. I got very upset and angry with myself as I began to realize how much stuff I had accumulated and saved for all the rainy days. I am one of those, " I might need this one day" kind of people. Well I just don't have room anymore for all the "one day" things.
It is now at least a month later and I am still sorting and organizing and ruthlessly throwing out those "one day I'll use it things."
My biggest load of stuff has turned out to be all the knitting and crochet paraphernalia I have accumulated over 30 + years. I have thrown very little out to be truthful but it was truly all over the place. It is now organized and all in one place. It is labelled and sorted and I certainly don't need to purchase yarn or patterns for, well, almost forever.
Of all the creative things I have learned to do and love to do in my life this has got to be the one I enjoy most. It gives me endless hours of quiet pleasure. All the studies that tell you to do crosswords and stuff have nothing on learning and creating a challenging pattern of stitches. Plus you get something lovely you have created and can give yourself or someone else.
So the clutter is down to a minimum. Its a good feeling. Probably the only one who needs to fear me once I am through with sorting my things is my husband. Workshop. Watch out !!!  "ha, ha. Only kidding honey."

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Story of Soup

Today I made soup. One of my favourite foods. I grew up on a lot of soup. The Germans have a word for creating soup. EINTOPF, it means one pot. At the end of the week everything leftover goes into one pot and it becomes soup. The origin of the word soup is suppa.  An old word, before Latin even. In German the word for soup is still suppe. It means "to sop".
Until bread was invented there was NO soup. Only a thick kind of gruel at best. Made from pounded grains or plants with maybe some meat cooked into it.( It doesn't sound good.) The "sop" part of soup is the thick slice of bread that was placed on the bottom of the bowl and then the soup ladled over it to sop it up.
Soups could be very, very nutritious when cooked over a length of time to extract the goodness of the marrow in the bones and stuff. The soup became a staple food in most medieval homes. They could afford to make soup from basically the scraps of leftover food, especially the bones which couldn't be eaten and were until then thrown to the dogs.
What is most interesting is that the invention of soup also beget the first restaurant. The word comes from the root "to restore". A Frenchman had the brilliant idea to make a nutritious soup and sell it to the weary travellers who needed something with sustenance to restore their energy.
Now you understand my little drawing. No criticism please. Drawing on the tablet isn't the easiest thing to do but I am trying. As good as it gets folks.
A little bit of fun - "oui?"

Types of Soup
Bouillon -concentrated
brown stock
Consomme -clarified
brown stock
Broths -clear
Jellied -made from
bones and clarified
Vegetable -prepared
with or without meat
Puree -with/without
Bisques -shellfish based
cream soup (my fave)
Chowders -thick, fish
meat and vegie base
Fruit soups - huh???
what ?? (if you are
European you know.
I grew up on this.
Delicious !!! )

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pie in the Sky

Today I was preparing a turkey pie for our supper and my stream of thought took me to thinking about pie crusts and their purpose. Preserving food was a very difficult task before refrigeration, freezers and canning. These are all very recent methods of keeping our foods fresher, longer. Food had to be dealt with quickly and eaten within a very short time. 

Pie crusts became a way of keeping the food within them a few days longer. They were made with lard and usually in a heavy, deep dish. The crust would be thick and heavy as to envelope the food and protect it. It was most often a meat dish. Usually hunted game or pork. It was baked in a wood fired oven and then set to cool. 

Pie cupboards were created to keep the vermin out of the food. They were made mostly of wood with holes (vents) drilled into the sides to allow air to flow through. The vents were tacked with bits of metal grating so no creatures could get in. 

These pie safes, as they were called, are very collectable now and often found as decorative furniture in some homes. 

My mother tells of a story when she was young. The pie safe was full of goodies as Christmas was near. My grandmother had a lock on it. She was out and so my grandfather conspired with the children to enter the cupboard from below and remove some of the tasty morsels. He was positively delighted to be conducting this prank with the children and all anticipated how my grandmother would react once she discovered the theft !

I don't think you have to imagine too hard how my grandmother reacted. At first she just couldn't figure it out but once she did she was angry. Problem was, she couldn't get mad at the children because their father had set them to it. 

Needless to say they didn't try it a second time. Its always interesting to me how food got to be presented the way it is. There is always a story, usually practical and makes perfect sense. 

By the way. Our turkey pie tonight was delicious. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


"hi" everyone. The New Year is upon us. What will it bring ? In german there is a great saying for the new year that roughly translates as "wishing you a good slide into the new year." That is what I wish for everyone, including myself. A good, smooth ride for us all throughout 2014.

I have been very silent on this blog for a long time but the past year and a half have drained me of any urge to post. There were challenges to life that took priority and needed my full attention. Life is like that. It takes you where you are needed most at the time. Suffice to say that for the time being life is on a more even keel and sailing along.

I have had the urge to open the blog and write for some time now. Sometimes I do believe I think far too hard about what to write and once I get going all the well thought out thoughts change as they begin to form words on the screen.

The picture of my basket has inspired me today. Its a glimpse into my life on a daily basis. A basket that appears to collect and disperse various objects throughout the day. Right now it has accumulated what is going on today. The farm has allowed me a bit of down time and so I am reading my first Alice Munro book, learning some new crochet techniques with my new hooks and a book about how to create the best blogs !  The binoculars were a rush to take a better look at a bald eagle outside my window alighting in the pine tree and looking with great curiousity at something on or in the tree. When I opened the window to see he took off. There does appear to be something high up on the tree's trunk that is attracting his attention. Might be a squirrel hole.

So on this eve of the last day of 2013 I am being drawn back to the door I closed for a while and opening it again. That's the wonderful thing about doors. They are never really closed forever. You can choose to walk through at any time. What you see when you open it the next time, now that is something we can never know until we open it.

It feels good to be standing with the door open again as I enter the coming year.

Again. " I wish you ALL a good ride through 2014. "

tisket, a tasket. a day in my basket.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Wortcunner - to know plants

I learned a new word recently. "Wortcunner"  A wortcunner, a simpler . Wortcunners were those that lived with and understood plants on another level. These were the folks, the wise women who truly understood all the ways of plants. Not just what they were useful for but the magick of them as well. They learned and knew how to engage the "spirit" of the plant and see beyond what was seen by the naked eye.

I have always loved and been forever enamored with plants. I grew up in the city but we had a lovely garden and our neighbour, Mr. Wilson, had a double lot and grew flowers for the florists in Vancouver. Chrysanthemums by the hundreds of every colour and variety. Our home was always full of flowers. My mother always had spring flowers and lots of roses in the garden. We had a weeping cherry tree in the front yard and I can remember countless hours spent lying under the graceful, bent down branches. It was like a living tent that hid me in the garden and allowed my spirit to roam free.

My mother has often told me what a "vivid" imagination I had. I was always communicating with living things and telling my mother the stories they were telling me. Lucky me that my mother never told me to "stop that nonsense !" My mother has always thought that I would become a writer and I guess in a way I have. I have many stories inside me.

It is interesting that as I become older I am also remembering and retrieving memories of "simpler" times. As an adult I went to school and studied herbal medicine and have taken countless courses to learn as much as I can about plants and how they can help us. But my "true" love has always been the "magick" of them. What they can tell us if we move past the physical reality and see beyond, into the ethers.

Plantago lancelata - Ribwort plantain 
Plants are SO much more "connected" than we are. Of course they are ! They are "rooted" into the earth and grow under the influence of planetary forces and so much more. They are here to help us this much I know. We cannot live without them. 
grows under the influence of Venus. 
I have spent a lifetime trying to figure out what I really want to be when I grow up. "EUREKA" I have found it, in the definition of this very appropriate word, wortcunner. I am an aspiring wortcunner and still have a lot to learn. The plants will teach me and I am doing  my very best to be a worthy student. 

Stay tuned :-)