Sunday Check-in: A Wee Bit o’ This and That!

This post is normally dedicated to the Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) but the last few days have been quite busy and I want to expand the post to encompass a few topics, not the least of which is the Burn’s Night Supper. I think that’s allowable.

As far as writing is concerned, I have managed to bring my word count up to and over 40,000. I’m now at 40,608. I can’t remember how many words I wrote on Wednesday night but I do recall that it brought me up to exactly 40,000 words. Then Thursday I tacked on the extra 600. I’d guess, in total, that was about 1300 words. I have discovered that any kind of writing, even on my blog, on Friday and Saturday nights probably won’t happen. I won’t bother changing my agenda because there may be some weekends when writing is a possibility and I always like to share photographs, particularly once spring arrives.

WordPress brought it to my attention today that I’ve been with them for exactly 6 years! It’s hard to imagine I’ve been pumping out posts for that long – actually longer because I was on Blogger before that but probably only less than a year. Interestingly, I still enjoy blogging as much as I did all those years ago, maybe even more now. Things have changed somewhat but just subtle changes. There are so many more blogs now, and types of blogs, readers are spread more thinly so they usually spend less time reading. Short, concise posts are usually the ones that get the most attention. I’ve never written here to be popular only for the interaction and the joy of writing. So on I go writing what’s on my mind, short or long…maybe for another 6 years.

My biggest distraction away from writing this weekend was the annual Burn’s Night Supper. I have Scottish heritage and I enjoy celebrating the birthday of the Scottish bard, Robert Burns. A friend of mine, who is also a neighbour, has become by Burn’s Night buddy. We, and our families, have been celebrating together for a few years now. Just living up the street makes it easy to split up the duties for the meal and run back and forth between houses with whatever supplies are needed. This year we asked another couple to join us as well and, to our delight, he showed up in full regalia…and brought a wonderful bottle of Glen Garioch Scotch! Together, he and I “piped in” the haggis to Scotland the Brave, I read the Ode to a Haggis and used his Sgian Dubh (knife) to stab and cut the haggis at the appropriate moment.

There were 11 of us all crowded into my townhouse and we all ate and drank merrily. It was a wonderful evening and I’m already looking forward to next year. 🙂 Happy Burns Day!

Now, no more excuses…back to writing. Until next time…all the best for the coming week.

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Happy New Year

I first heard this version of Auld Lang Syne back in 2010 and it has remained my favourite so I’m re-publishing this post for this New Year’s Eve. Happy 2015 to one and all! May this year bring you love, peace, and happiness. xo

Isobel's Creative Spaces

This is one of the most beautiful versions of Auld Lang Syne¹ I’ve heard. Please enjoy it and have a wonderful 2011!


Auld Lang Syne – Robert Burns
Sung by: Mairi Campbell

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought tae mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
For auld lang syne?²

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o kindness yet
For auld lang syne?

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o kindness yet
For auld lang syne?

We twa hae run aboot n the braes
And pou’d the gowans fine.
And we’ve wandered many a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.

View original post 79 more words

Happy Winter Solstice

solstice

The longest night has come once more,
the sun has set, and darkness fallen.
The trees are bare, the earth asleep,
and the skies are cold and black.
Yet tonight we rejoice, in this longest night,
embracing the darkness that enfolds us.
We welcome the night and all that it holds,
as the light of the stars shines down.
~ a Sunset Prayer for Yule

Milestone 1

A little more than a month ago, I started writing my first novel. It’s been quite an accomplishment for me to sit down regularly and work away at it, let alone focus for this long on any one thing. I guess the wonderful thing about novel writing is, in the first draft anyway, you can never be bored (If you are bored then you’d better rewrite because you’re doing something terribly wrong). The characters take on almost a life of their own and you start living an adventure in your head that seeps out through your fingers, onto the keys, and onto the computer screen. I have made it to my first milestone: 10,000 words! How am I celebrating? I’m continuing to write. Onward and upward, I say! 🙂

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Rideau Canal Skateway

I have to admit that it’s kinda neat to live in a city that can boast the world’s longest skating rink, The Rideau Canal Skateway. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t been out on it in years though. I preferred the community rinks when the kids were smaller. Now, however, they’re more than capable of holding their own on the canal and today I took my daughter and her friend for a little spin up and down a section of it. With a combination of it being the weekend, Winterlude (our winter festival), and the sun shining, bringing reasonable winter temperatures, the place was buzzing with people. While we took a break, I admired the vitality of the place and felt good being part of it. With the sun at my back, I also noticed the moon high in the beautiful blue sky and I couldn’t help but embrace the moment.

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Canadian Thanksgiving: Not much to do with the Pilgrims

mayflowerI never really thought much about the history of Thanksgiving. When I was a kid I learned about the Pilgrims and the Puritans in Plymouth, Massachusetts and I coloured pictures of the Mayflower and turkeys wearing puritan hats. I watched my mom hang corn on the door, ate a big plate of turkey, and recited what I was thankful for but I had no idea of the real facts of our history. Have you ever wondered why Canadian and American Thanksgiving are more than a month apart? Ya. Me too. Now my middle-aged self, who tends to be a little more curious about such things than my younger self, has finally looked into the history of Canadian thanksgiving. Clearly, my whole life has been a sham! I had no idea that Canadian Thanksgiving has very little to do with American Thanksgiving. Why were we never taught our own history? No idea. Maybe it’s because the Puritan hats were so cute. Maybe the story of the Mayflower was much more romantic than that of the Ayde and her 14 sister ships but really, we would do well to make our own history a little better known.

What’s the Ayde, you ask? Well, let me tell you…

frobisher faceThe first recorded formal thanksgiving on what is now Canadian land happened in 1578, long before Confederation. Back when our country was just being discovered, an explorer named Martin Frobisher, was making his third voyage on the flagship Ayde with his fleet of 15 ships from England to Greenland and then through the dangerous and icy waters up the Hudson Strait in search of the Northwest Passage. After nearly losing half the fleet, the ships finally came back together in Frobisher Bay. Frobisher had meant to make a settlement but had lost his ship, the Dennis, which was carrying the building supplies. Considering the odds against them and that they had managed to rendezvous almost unscathed, the chaplain who had traveled with them, Robert Wolfall, gave the first Anglican Eucharist on the new land in celebration and thanks for the safe delivery of the fleet.

sevenyearswarI’m not sure, however, we can truly draw a link from the Frobisher expedition to our current tradition.  It seems more likely that the tradition developed after the Seven Years War in 1763. This war encompassed a large portion of the world and was a major struggle, simply put, between the French and English (for more details on the war see here). At the end of the war, the British were victorious in taking New France. In Nova Scotia a large Thanksgiving celebration was held by the citizens of Halifax. Then, in 1799, in Lower Canada a Thanksgiving observance was held “In signal victory over our enemy and for the manifold and inestimable blessings which our Kingdoms and Provinces have received and daily continue to receive.” In the years following, Thanksgiving celebrations were held without regularity and all times of the year for various reasons – ends of wars, battles, and rebellions, the cessation of illnesses such as cholera,  and simply for God’s mercies.

Queen_Victoria_by_BassanoAmerican traditions of the feast entered Canada with the influx of Loyalist refugees after the War of 1812, which ended in 1814. Turkey, pumpkin, squash, and the bounty of the harvest began to be incorporated into the feast. However, it wasn’t until 1859 that “abundance of the harvest” was officially celebrated. Finally, after Confederation in 1867, the first Thanksgiving celebration of a united Canada was held on April 5, 1872 for the recovery of the Prince of Wales. Subsequent “abundance of the harvest” celebrations were held in the fall, usually late October and early November unless there was a significant event to do with the Royals. For example, in June 1887 thanksgiving celebrated the “50th Anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to Throne” and in June 1896 the “Diamond Jubilee of H.M. Queen Victoria”.

After the World War I, starting in 1921 Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada on the Monday of the week in which Armistice Day (November 11th) fell. In 1931, parliament separated Armistice Day (renamed Remembrance Day) and Thanksgiving and each year, until 1957, held Thanksgiving by proclamation usually in early October. Finally, in 1957, Parliament fixed the holiday to the second Monday in October for “…general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured”.

And here we are in 2013, nearly 500 years after Frobisher, still giving thanks for our many blessings, eating lots of turkey (thanks to our American friends), and generally enjoying the bounty of the harvest, the closeness of family, the beautiful fall colours, and the freedoms hard-fought by our ancestors. Of course, none of us would be here if it weren’t for the brave and heroic adventurers who, either on purpose or mistakenly, landed here and began the exploration of this huge uncharted land. Although our history of Thanksgiving is a lot more chaotic than the well-formed folktales of the Mayflower, it is our history to embrace. This Thanksgiving, I think I’ll raise a glass to Martin Frobisher! Who’s with me? Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanksgiving 2013

Sources:
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Canadian Heritage
A Brief History of Canada
Wikipedia

His Dream…Our Dream

martin-luther-king-jr

On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. That was 50 years ago.

Today many of us still hope…

May we, the human race, one day fully realize his dream. May there be the “richness of freedom and the security of justice” for all races and both sexes, not just in America but everywhere in the world. May we finally understand that it is not violence and hatred that will quell the “thirst for freedom” but from a struggle conducted “on the high plane of dignity and discipline”. May one day we all live in liberty and prosperity.

When we “come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny” and “that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom” the world will be a much better place.

Peace to you all.

If you’re interested, this movie – 42 – encapsulates  in a gentle but poignant way the struggle for blacks – and whites (with their consciences) – in America in the 1940’s. Extremely well done and enjoyable to watch.