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Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family.


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Feels odd being here in England on Thanksgiving! I am English but with an American husband and time spent living in Tennessee, I have one foot in each country. I think it’s a lovely tradition and I wish we did more of it over here. Our roots here go back thousands of years and it’s hard to know, remember or even think of our origins. However we do have so much to be thankful for. My list is endless, it really is and today, such a special day, I am thankful for my family and friends and that includes all you bloggy followers.

I am making a pumpkin pie for Larry, although he doesn’t know it yet.  It must feel so strange for him being here today, his second year living in England away from his family and all things familiar. We’re going to have a turkey dinner out somewhere nice later on.

So Happy Thanksgiving one and all from my pen to your computer.

Oma x

Trees and conservation


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When I was living in Tennessee, I noticed lots of things which were different to over here in England. One of those things was the trees. The trees are very different, all of them. They are all beautiful but different, rather like people! I noticed that there were many more trees in America but that they were being mown down to be replaced by buildings of concrete. You can see it clearly from the aeroplanes. When I first went over, I saw the roofs of the shopping malls and I thought they were large car parks, but the sheer expanse of concrete covering the earth is alarming.

Please stop it!

You don’t need to do so much building. When a shop goes out of business, you don’t need to move on and build more, you just need to revamp what you have.  America is such a big country, huge, massive! that it is thought the land is endless but it isn’t. Pretty soon you will lose your trees if you don’t stop the endless building. I saw it at first hand. Living in Knoxville, we were on the west side. The east side came first, I believe and now a large part of that is derelict, just left to decay. Sad, very sad.

In England we have done the same in years gone by and that is why I say ‘stop it’ to you over there. Keep what you have and appreciate the beauty.

Here is a quote from one of my favourite books:

‘Over many centuries, ancient Britain was transformed from a land covered in natural forestation in which clearances were made to a ”land of clearance” with only isolated patches of forest.  However, the average person still had the security of working the land.  This changed drastically as the peasants were thrown off the land by the institution of the General Enclosures Act of 1845 and while Britain became dangerously deforested by the demands of industrialization, there was a rise in the amount of new species of trees planted as wealthy landowners landscaped their gardens and estates.  On the one hand the rough grazing land of the peasants was taken from them, enclosed and cleared of growth for the plough, while on the other, having cleared so much land, landowners had to literally remake copses in order to house the game they kept for sport.

When timber became the long-term crop of private woodlands, new species of trees were introduced and established.  These were mainly fir, larch and spruce, and they were planted alongside our fastest growing softwood, the Scot’s pine.  During the twentieth century, great conifer plantations arose as a result of the need for quickly produced timber, especially during the times of world wars, after which they became purely commercial producers.

The Forestry Commission was founded in 1919, and it advised private landowners to acquire and plant trees on any land unsuitable for agriculture.  While the Forestry Commission has been guilty of planting acres of sombre, uniform conifers, it has in fact also been successful in arresting the decline of many of our remaining deciduous forests, specifically the seven National Forest Parks.  It is heartening to realise that a new generation of foresters (or woodmen) are now concentrating upon replacing areas of hardwood trees, for deciduous woodland shows the seasonal beauty of Nature in its fullest glory.  New forests are being born out of sympathy with nature rather than for monetary gain and the skills and wisdoms of old are once more taking hold.’

from ‘Tree Wisdom’, by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

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Taking care of the babies (propagating geraniums)


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Back in August I took some geranium cuttings for next year. I usually take about twelve with one or two spares and I try to pick cuttings from the different colours so that I get a continuity. I currently have red, white, pink and peach. I am always on the look-out for that elusive blue, which hasn’t been invented yet (as far as I know).

The cuttings stayed outside until last week when I brought them in to keep them safe against the risk of frost damage. I put them on a window ledge. This one faces west, which is ideal because they get the evening sun but not all day sun. They all have well established roots now and every one has started flowering. You can see in the picture how they like to grow towards the sun. Each and every one is leaning towards the light and the sun.

So my babies are indoors now. I will water them once or twice a week until April when they will go back into the borders and make a colourful show. Yes, I could go and buy plug plants from the garden centre, but this way is just so much more fun!

The next stage is for me to bring in the medium sized plants, which were the babies last year. We have been promised frost! soon so I need to get on with it.

Oma

It’s pickle time at the cottage.


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It’s pickle time at the cottage so I’m putting my cares and worries away for a little while to wallow in the smell of salted vegetables and vinegar. Yum!

We always make mustard pickle at this time of the year and I have to add here that this is really Jim’s forte. I am just a helper. The ingredients are mainly, shallot onions, cauliflower, marrow, runner beans, a little flour and mustard and vinegar. We use the ordinary sort of malt vinegar, not the one with spices in it, but that’s just a personal choice.

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The vegetables have to be prepared and salted, then left overnight with a tea-towel over the top. This process extracts the excess moisture. In the morning, the vegetables are washed off and put in a large pan to cook. When cooked (imagine delicious smell), they are thickened with a flour paste mixture and then put into prepared jars for Christmas.

Here they are, all ready to give as gifts (just need the labels)  and to eat ourselves:

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Now, isn’t that a nice way to spend an afternoon?

Oma

Celebrate Mabon


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I love everything about this time of the year when day and night are brought into balance with the Autumnal Equinox. All our endeavours in the garden have come to fruition (hopefully). Some things have done better than others. This year, in my garden, we have had a bumper crop of runner beans and tomatoes. The tomatoes have been slow to ripen, as usual, because the sun has been hiding but indoors, on the window sill, the tomatoes are happy to turn red and we have been enjoying their fruitful taste for a few weeks now.

The blackberries are also ripe and tasty.

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The harvest moon is one of the most splendid things we can ever hope to see, isn’t it. It hangs in the night sky like a great big heavy ball, full of abundance and ready to pop. Who could not wonder at such a spectacle.

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I think that at this time of the year we all have an overwhelming urge to thank somebody for all this abundance, but who to thank? God is the obvious choice, but are there many Gods? After all, there are many Saints and we can pray to which ever one we choose depending on our circumstances.  When I took up Wicca as my main religious interest, I took a deeper look at the Gods of old, of whom there are many. Whilst retaining the God I was brought up to worship, I no longer see him/her as the only one. I am drawn to the Goddess Freya, a Norse Goddess who seems to call to me sometimes. Perhaps it is my Viking roots, who knows.

‘Freyja : Sometimes known as Freya or Frea, was the daughter of the sea god Njord in Germanic mythology and sister of Freyr. She was an important fertility goddess and a member of the Vanir, one of the two branches into which the Germanic gods were divided. After a war, the Vanir seem to have been supplanted by the younger Aesir, who were led by odin.  When peace was agreed between the two sides, Njord went with Freyr and Freyja to Asgard, where they lived with the Aesir as a token of friendship.’ taken from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm.

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I think the most important thing about harvest time is that we must share what we have with others less fortunate than ourselves. We mustn’t keep it all but spread it around. Spread the love too. We all need it. Most of us have something in our lives which is giving us trouble. Perhaps if we share the trouble, it will lessen and not be such a burden on our shoulders. I need to take my own advice for even in my idyllic world there is trouble. My eldest son has recently lost his home and finds himself homeless, living on a beach in the south of England and this is giving me a lot of grief. Many times in the past he has returned home to the cottage but it never lasts. He no longer wants to live with his aging parents and we, for our part, need a quieter life now. He cannot find work and he has no proper address. It all seems very hopeless and yet when I look at the fruits of nature, I think that maybe tomorrow or the day after, the fruits of his life will appear and he will be whole again. He has troubles in his mind and these are very hard to cure, if not impossible. The troubles are not visible. If he was missing a leg, people would feel sorry for him, but when there is nothing to see, the help doesn’t come. We all turn away because none of us knows how to cope with it. His situation has done untold damage to the family in general and to those other people who love him too.

So back to Mabon, this time of celebration. A time of stability perhaps and a link to the past when we all lived in smaller communities and it was incumbent on us to help our neighbours. In this day and age many of us don’t even know who are neighbours are.

I refuse to be discouraged in my life and will carry on as if all is well. Perhaps if I do that, I can sow seeds of happiness for the future. In the Wiccan year, we are also coming up to New Year, which starts after Halloween. It is a good time to be thankful and look to the future.

I wish you all a joyous Mabon.

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What am I making this week?


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I’ve just recently finished a patchwork quilt for my bed, see above. After working on Larry’s American themed quilt at the beginning of the year,

dscf1805 I was ready for something ‘girlie’ and this is the result. It’s pink, red and flowery!!! Of course since I’ve finished it, the weather has turned warmer so I haven’t actually used it yet but the time is coming.

It was hard to get a picture of the quilt because it is quite big, but in the end what worked best was Larry holding it up for me. You can see his feet at the bottom!

So now I’m (almost) ready for the colder weather.

What about you? have you started squirrelling things away for the winter yet?

Oma