REMEMBRANCE DAY IN THE TIME OF THE PANDEMIC

WORLD WAR TWO ended September 2nd, 1945.   That year winter came early to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  On November 11th with my classmates we walked in bitter cold  the two miles from school to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies at  the Armouries.    For the first time in seventy five years I will not  attend a Remembrance Day ceremony.  We will watch the laying of wreaths on television and then my husband and I will place our poppies on the Cenotaph  in our village of Ladner, British Columbia.

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If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.  There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

Gave,  once,  her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home

 

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And think, this heart,all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,

Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends;  and gentleness,

In hearts at peace,  under an English heaven.

 

My father-in-law  grew up in a quiet town in Southern Ontario.  He enlisted and his training as a flight sergeant took place in an equally small town in Saskatchewan.  This is where he met and married.    He returned from the war to live t he rest of his life in    Saskatchewan.  He is survived by his two sons.

 

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My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson grew up in my home town, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  He and his two brothers all enlisted in the Regina Rifles.  He died in action October 27, 1944.  His last letter home was dated October 27, 1944.  It was written in the dim light of a candle in a bottle.  The letter was in his effects returned to the family.

 

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My older sister and myself with my Uncle shortly before he was shipped overseas.

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This document shows the location of his grave in Belgian.  It also identifies the family who would be responsible for the maintenance and care of his grave site.

 

 

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Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago.  Members of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.

 

My father grew up in a small village in southern England.  He fought in the war to end all wars (World War One).  When war ended he immigrated to Canada to join his older brothers in Northern Saskatchewan.  The only time he talked about the war  was to tell us how  he had befriended some Turkish prison of war soldiers and they had taught him  to make Turkish coffee.

Today we fight a grim and different war.    There are no battlefields.  The enemy is unseen.  If we follow  the health protocol that has been given us we will win this battle.

 

 

 

(  poem  … The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

A FRIEND WRITES OF REMEMBRANCE DAY AND HER FATHER

This morning I returned from Remembrance Day Services at the Cenotaph in Ladner Village.  Ours is a small village but the  parade route was crowded with people.   We were there to  honour and remember those men and women  who sacrificed their lives for their country.    No matter the ethnic diversity or religion we wore the red poppy and sang O Canada.  The wreaths were laid.  The honour guard departed.  The Cenotaph was given back to Ladner Village.   It was our turn to remove our poppies and place them among the Remembrance Day wreaths.

We have our remembrances on this day and I share one written by a dear friend of mine.

“The respect which remains in far away places for our Canadian soldiers warms my heart for so many reasons; most important among them is that my dear father was one who chose to serve his country as a Navigator in The Royal Canadian Air Force.

As a child I found carefully stored boxes in which were remnants from his service: reconnaissance photos, pieces of shrapnel that entered his plane from many directions and bits of a rosary mom had given my non- Catholic father in hope of keeping him safe.  The rosary in bits because it had obviously been closely held.  I asked mom about this find but never my father.”

Dad never spoke of his experience and I somehow innately knew not to question him.  If asked anything  about his service by a guest in our home his answer would be short and non- descriptive. I can only imagine his experience while being in the midst of the horrors of war.

I thank my dad and all others who sacrificed so much, including their lives in many cases, in order to represent Canada in assisting a part of the world in its time of great need. Words I so wish my father could have heard coming from me.”

 

THE MAGIC OF GIVING BACK

Early morning.  Five o’clock.  I am alone in a small room.    I stare at the wall facing my bed.    Chipped and battered from beds being pushed in and out.  The only decoration a faded cork board and a sign advising one how to wash your hands. Nothing beautiful to look at.  Nothing to bring me up from the black abyss.  I am alone with various tubes attached to my body.  I  weep tears of utter despair. A few years ago my breast cancer returned.  The first encounter I had a right breast lumpectomy.  This time a mastectomy in the other breast.     I am alone.    Feeling so sorry for myself when my nurse enters my room with a gift  wrapped package.  Pillows!  Soft, comfortable pillows covered in a happy flowered pattern.  Pillows to give me under the arm and breast protection.    In that moment the sun came out.

I’m smiling.  I’m not alone.

The package contained  pillows hand sewn by a group of woman who are members of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   The hospital is located in Ladner, British Columbia.   They are post-operative pillows tailored for post mastectomy surgery.    The pillows are a gift from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.    These amazing women known as THE PILLOW PALS  cut, sew, stuff and package these pillows.  A thoughtful card with encouraging words are enclosed with the pillows.

I am giving back.

I am a proud member of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   I search for wonderful fabrics to be sewn into pillows by dedicated woman known with great affection as THE PILLOW PALS.

I am giving back.

 

 

 

 

 

THE TRAGIC TALE OF THE EASTER TULIPS . . . a tale for lovers of rabbits and chocolate

This morning I went out to  my fence garden.  Last autumn I planted dozens of tulips.      I envisioned a glorious mass of breath taking colour.  Magnificent tulips swaying elegantly against a weathered fence.  Instead I was presented with damp, black earth scattered with the guillotined heads of tulips.    At first I thought the high wind of the previous evening was the culprit.    In a Holmes like manner I examined the scene of the heinous crime.  Rabbit prints.  Rabbit paws.  Small rabbit paws.

“I’ll catch those maundering rascals.  And I’ll do what I always do with rabbits.  I’ll nibble their ears off.    I am so angry”, I muttered under my breath.

As I stamped off I heard a quiet clearing of throat. “Excuse me”.  I turned to see Oswald, gentleman rabbit.  “You have planted a garden dangerously close to our burrow.    And you know how rabbits like to taste everything, at least once. Chewing a bunnies ears seems a bit excessive”, he quietly pointed out.  “How else are they going to learn about this wonderful, green, growing world we live in”.  I had made a rather vocal faux pas .  Now I must confess to Oswald my guilty pleasure.  I do indeed enjoy  nibbling rabbit ears.

“Oswald, dear Oswald.  I would never nibble off bunny ears. If I have to choose between flowers and rabbits I would choose rabbits every time.    When my children were young I always made sure their Easter baskets were filled with the finest of chocolate bunnies.  Bunnies made from the very best Belgian chocolate.  Bunnies with very big, solid ears.  And my children obliged me by sharing their chocolate bunny ears with me.”

My secret was out.  I was a closet eater of chocolate rabbit ears.  Tomorrow I would go to Jarry’s Market in the sweet little village of Ladner.  I would buy an armful of tulips, and perhaps a chocolate rabbit or two.   Than off to the hardware store for the makings of a rabbit proof fence.

 

 

IT’S NOT JAM! IT’S GOOD MORNING SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

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I will never forget the first time I tasted home made marmalade.   I was visiting relatives in Scotland.  They lived on a sweet farm just outside Dumfries.        A behemoth, ancient  Aga stove  dominated their kitchen.  Several large pots simmered away and filled the air with the perfume of oranges.   Knives flashed and turned the knobbly peel of Seville oranges into fine, slender  slices.   Batches of the most perfect of preserves, homemade marmalade, cooled in small jars.

The season for these sour oranges is short.  Just a few weeks in late January and February.    Sometimes you can still find them in stores as late as March.  Our divine Ladner food store, JARRY’S MARKET,  made it possible to make marmalade this late in the year. Every marmalade aficionado know the best marmalade uses Seville oranges.  Their thick, bitter peel holds the secret to this most heavenly concoction.   It is this peel and pits that supply the necessary  pectin.    One can buy marmalade but it never tastes quite as delicious or gives us the same satisfaction of making it ourselves .

Making Seville orange marmalade is a two day process.   However, it is not difficult.   You juice the oranges and thinly slice or finely chop the rind the first day and have it  sit quietly over night.  The next day you add the sugar and cook the marmalade.  You do need a good size pot and a candy thermometer.   Absolutely no pectin is added.

One does not refer to marmalade as jam.  Jam is made with fruit and even vegetables, but marmalade is always and only made with citrus fruits.  The name is Portuguese in origin and refers to a preserve made with quince.

The recipe for SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS DECOR INSPIRED BY MY LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS

I’ve been away.  Traveling to my fantasy little house in Paris.   Heavy green velvet curtains cover the tall windows.  They keep out the cold wind that whistles and tugs at the window panes.  The house is snug and warm and I’ve filled it with treasure from the Christmas markets.  The flea markets have been scoured for bits of Christmas pasts.   I’ve wrapped fat white candles with brown paper tied with twine.    Angel wings hang from coat hooks  and the kitchen is rich with the intoxicating aroma of a welcoming holiday feast.   My Paris friend, Theadora, and our worldly traveled Tin Man  will dine tonight.  Joyeux Noel we shout from the balcony to the street belong.  Joyeux Noel!

Joyeux Noel!  Merry Christmas!  The perfect words to welcome dear friends and family to our house in the country.  I’ve brought memories of Paris home.  I shall wrap candles in brown paper.  I will conjure up golden angel wings.  And I will paint the words Joyeux Noel. There  is only a few short street of stores in our tiny  Ladner village.   It’s a charming , calm place to shop.  Far away from hustle and bustle of malls.   Quite by chance  I found these  letters on unpainted blocks of wood.   The perfect do-it-yourself project.  A little dark paint.  A little white paint.    Voila!

My slow and happy enjoyment of this season continues.   There are presents to be wrapped.  More decorations to make to adorn our home.  A Christmas tree to decorate, but all in good time.

 

(If you visit TripSavy you will discover the Christmas markets and other magical places to visit during the holiday season.  Photo of a Christmas market by TripSavy.)

 

 

 

POLENTA WITH SAUSAGES AND TOMATO-OLIVE RAGOUT

“And men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper.” – William Shakespeare.

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When it is a rainy January night and you live half way up a mountain one craves warming, simple comfort food.  Our nephew Brett and his wife Fiona were entertaining us.  What a delight to walk into  their new home and smell the rich aroma of dinner cooking.    Perfectly grilled lamb sausages served on mashed potatoes with a fresh tomato sauce.   A supper  so delicious I repeated a slightly different version on this dreary winter day.

This recipe is composed of several parts.  Each quite simple, but the sum total of their parts is an outstanding dish perfect for a family supper or casual entertaining.  You can vary the recipe by your choice of sausages.  We are fortunate that our local Ladner  village grocery store,  Budget Foods,  carries several varieties of Italian pork sausages  from A. BOSA (a class act Italian grocery store in Vancouver).

Polenta is a staple of northern Italy and  its hearty character is best accented by the robust flavours of the savory ragout.   SAUSAGES WITH TOMATO-OLIVE RAGOUT AND POLENTA  is indeed nourishment which is called supper.

THE RITUAL OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE

The lot that sells Christmas trees is on the main street in our Village of Ladner.   Around the third week in November I begin watching for signs the trees are arriving.  First the fence goes up, then the poles for the trees.  At last the trees arrive. For me  Christmas has begun.

The ritual for selecting the trees is always the same.  The Good Husband goes in one direction.  I go in the other.  Each searching for the perfect tree.  It’s a gentle day. I walk through a forest of  evergreens.  A carpet of cedar chips mingles with the fragrance of the pine needles.  The secret to finding the perfect tree is to look for one with the broadest base.  It should have the thickest branches.    The Good Husband holds up a tree.  Too sparse.  I spy a fat looking tree with a broad base.  It is the one.  But then every year the tree we pick regardless of what it looks like,  is the perfect tree.

 

Putting up the tree is a two-day event.  The first day is the complex procedure.  The Good Husband sets up the tree, and then arranges the lights.  Sister Heather has sent me a pair of sparkling red birds.  The newest decoration is the first decoration to adorn the tree.

 

 

I bring out boxes of memories, and hang them on the tree.

 

Fifty-five years ago my Mother gave me this tiny copper kettle.  It is time worn and part of the spout is missing.    I hang it front and center.

 

 

I pour a glass of sherry.  The tree is taking on a sparkling attitude.  I love the whimsey of  this  monkey.

 

Birds perch on the branches singing Christmas Carols.

The last decorations are “the angels”.    They are my favorite.  So much so one year I couldn’t put them away.   The Christmas angels spent a lovely year in various rooms in our home.

 

 

 

 

I adjust a glittering ball or two.  Step back and admire The Tree.  Sparkling, twinkling, happy Tree.

 

 

I’ll wrap more presents   This tree is calling for them.

 

 

The ritual of the Christmas Tree ends.

We admire.

Sit by the fire.

Watch A Christmas Carol.  The best one with Alister Sim.

The Good Husband and I enjoy our “slow Christmas:”.