Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Traditions by Victoria Chatham



I'm late, I'm late, I'm very, very late! That's what comes of looking at the wrong calendar but I have finally caught up with myself!

Our post for December is about traditions, holiday or otherwise. I can’t say my family ever had ongoing traditions because we all moved about – a lot. It came with the territory of service families and I think because of that we just got to enjoy Christmas as it came, regardless of where we were or who we were with.

Once I had my own home and family, things changed a little. For a family vacation one summer, we took a holiday cottage for two weeks in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire. The last thing I expected to find in a local pottery were unpainted porcelain nativity figures. They were discounted so I bought the full set of Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus in his manger, the three kings, two shepherds, a camel, a donkey, a selection of sheep and finally the angel. I don’t remember the cost, but after we got home, I spent weeks hand-painting them. I worked with several brushes, even one that I shaved down until there was only one hair so I could complete the facial details. That one badger’s hair did sterling service, but I needed a magnifying glass to see what I was doing. Once the figures were painted, then we built the stable and my children did a wonderful job of constructing it from popsicle sticks, cardboard, and real straw to thatch it with. It also had battery operated flashlight bulbs set in the interior corners of the roof, so everyone could clearly see it. It was the first decoration we set up and the last one we put away.

Our Nativity set reminded us that Christmas wasn’t about the gifts we gave or received, but about compassion, peace, and hope for a better future. I have no photographs of it as, at that time, no one in the family had or cared to have a camera. It’s in my memory, and maybe my children’s too. I hope it is.

So, to all of you, have a very happy Christmas, celebrate the season with your own traditions, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.




Visit Victoria here:





   


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Wedding Memories by A.M. Westerling

My goodness, I had to haul out our wedding pictures to come up with ideas for today’s post and what a lovely trip down memory lane it turned out to be! My sweetie and I met in a ballroom dancing class at the University of Calgary. I took the class to learn how to ballroom dance, he took the class, as I found out later, to meet girls. Mission accomplished, I suppose, as here we are 40 years later and we’re still together. Our family has grown as we now have two wonderful sons and two lovely daughters in law.
We got married a week after final exams which meant a) we were broke and I had to beg Revenue Canada to get my tax return in time to fund our honeymoon and b) my mom did most of the wedding planning. We had a small ceremony, immediate family only, in fact the group was so small everyone ended up sitting in the choir loft of the church. Here I am on the way to the church with my dad.  



Our best man borrowed his parent’s car to drive us – honking the horn the whole way and I don’t think that’s done anymore – to the wedding dinner after the ceremony. Apparently confetti sprayed out of their heater for months afterward. 

Our reception was held at the Romeo and Juliet Inn (yes, that was the name and how romantic is that!) which no longer exists but at the time was quite the fancy place as they had a live band and dancing. Seemed appropriate, seeing as that’s how we met. Anyway, there was one other couple having their wedding reception there the same day – May 6 – and they stopped by to say hello and wish us all the best which of course we reciprocated. It would be interesting to know how their marriage turned out. Here is our first dance as Mr. and Mrs. 

We enjoyed a wonderful 6 course Italian meal but to tell you the truth, we couldn’t wait to hit the road for our honeymoon. We left the party about 10 and found out later my in laws shut the place down some time well into the wee hours of the morning.
We spent our first night in the Banff Springs Hotel, the same hotel mentioned in Brides of Banff Springs, Book 1 in the Canadian Historical Brides Collection. Much to our chagrin, we realized we hadn’t booked a double bed but instead had two twins. We pushed the beds together because where there’s a will, there’s a way *wink*…It was kind of a waste of money because we didn’t check in until well after midnight and we were on the road by 8 am the next morning. Ah, to be young and not need to sleep. We have since stayed at the Banff Springs to make up for our wedding night.
We were in such a hurry to cross the border we ended up with a $35 speeding ticket before we left Canada which meant we spent our first couple of days in the U.S. trying to figure out how to pay for it as we knew we would be away longer than 30 day payment period. This was before the days of on line banking so it took some scrambling on our part, not to mention a large chunk of our honeymoon fund.
Anyway, my parents lent us their car, a 1976 Pontiac Sunbird and we went on a 6 week road trip down to Scottsdale where friends of my husband’s parents let us use their condo for 2 weeks. And actually, last year by coincidence we ended up driving over the Navajo Bridge in Arizona which we remembered having done on our honeymoon but couldn’t quite remember where it was. It's closed to traffic now but you can walk over it.

Then we headed over to San Diego where we spent a fabulous evening at a piano bar and up to San Francisco where we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf. Then we worked our way back up the coast through California and Oregon which is still one of our favorite road trips.
We ran out of American money somewhere in Oregon and drove non stop until we hit the border south of British Columbia. Once we were back in Canada, we had $20 Canadian, enough money to buy a bit of food and a case of beer. Haha, priorities!
As a wedding gift, my husband’s grandmother gave us a Royal Copenhagen porcelain figurine of a couple dancing. 

Nowadays we'll dance occasionally, sometimes even in the living room when a good tune comes on and we can still rock it! The cover of Barkerville Beginnings shows Rose dancing with Hannah on Rose and Harrison’s wedding day. 


You can buy Barkerville Beginnings at your favourite online store HERE. It is also available in print on Amazon or through your local bookstore. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Family Tradition




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This will probably seem an anachronism in this day of tasty box cakes, but it's still the chocolate cake of choice at my house. It descends (as far as I know) from my great-grandmother, Emma Liddle of Argyle, NY, where, for generations, the family owned a dairy farm.



I've heard a few stories about life on the farm, but not really enough. Why wasn't I paying better attention when I was a kid?) The barn was down the road almost a quarter mile from the house, and it could snow like hell, then as now. It could be a trek at 5 a.m. in January when it was snowing, sleeting, blowing--especially before President Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Project had reached the wilds of Washington County. Those cows always need to be milked twice a day no matter what. 




I have my Aunt Juliet to thank for passing this recipe along to me, although my Mother, Grandma Liddle and Aunt Jeanie also prepared it. It has a moist, tender crumb, and, frankly, it doesn't last long at a family gathering.

Grandmother Liddle's Chocolate Cake   

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
6 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg

Sift together four, sugar, salt soda and cocoa. In a large bowl mix buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla and egg. Add dry ingredients and beat by hand. Pour into greased 9 inch square pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until cake tests done. You may also use a 9 X 13 sheet pan, but the batter will be thinner, so you need to watch closely to be sure it doesn't overbake.

* If you want to make this recipe but lack buttermilk, pour one tablespoon of white vinegar or one tablespoon of lemon juice into the bottom of a measuring cup, then add milk to make one cup and use that instead. You can also substitute one cup of yogurt for buttermilk.

The original frosting for this cake was a thin lemon-juice & rind confectioner's sugar glaze. 

My Aunt Judy offered a another, more sumptuous frosting recipe. 

Judy Hennessy's Fudge Frosting

1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 squares semi-sweet or bitter chocolate
1/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Combine sugar, flour and salt. Add milk and place on heat. As the mixture warms, add chocolate squares and stir until boiling. Continue cooking--and don't stir--until it reaches soft ball stage ( a drop in a cup of cold water will tell the tale). Remove from heat, add butter and then vanilla, beating until it is stiff enough to spread. 

You may also take peppermint patties (judge the number from the size of your cake pan) and set them atop the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. As they melt, spread them gently over the top. 


A friend suggests we start calling this "Gratitude Day" instead of "Thanksgiving." I like the idea. 

I'm trying to begin a practice of being grateful every morning for something as I get out of bed. Often, it's gratitude simply because I CAN get out of bed. As I get older that's one thing I've learned--not to take anything for granted.


Happy Holidays to everyone, wherever they are!

~~Juliet Waldron



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Vows of Sir David & Sara Kirke by Katherine Pym




~*~*~*~

David and Sara Kirke were married in London 1630. It was not long after they settled in Newfoundland, now Newfoundland/Labrador. Their story is filled with adventure, very well researched. We found as much data on them from the limited resources as possible. 

Below you will see the a facsimile of what someone felt looked like Sir David. There is no portrait of Lady Sara that we could find.

Sir David Kirke.
Excerpt from Pillars of Avalon, the wedding (taken from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer):




Doctor Spangler took a deep breath and said, “Dearly beloved friends, we are gathered together here in the sight of God...”  

David’s chest deflated and his gut heaved. The very raising of her chin emasculated him, casting him into the hoary pit of impotence. She did that often and he wondered if women were born this way or if they learned it from their mothers. 

Lord above, but he pitied Sara’s father. Being married to a bloody harpy like Mother Andrews would be his undoing. 

“...an honourable estate instituted by God in paradise, in the time of man’s innocence...” Spangler said in a singsong manner. 

David wanted to scoff. Man’s innocence, my arse. Women’s cunning and their wicked ways unmanned men. In his weakness David would soon lustily bed Eve as Adam had taken the apple and eaten thereof. 

“…of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men, and therefore is not to be enterprised, nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts…” 

Of course, he was a brute and a beast. He hungered for Twig, her softness, how her eyes brightened when he walked into a room. Their bundling showed she had the capacity to love him. She was open to do all things imaginable behind the bed curtains. He intended to try the sports expressed in chapbooks. All of them. 

“…but reverently, discretely, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.”
David did not like those words. A woman must have whispered in the ear of whoever wrote that part of the Book of Common Prayer. Why should a man fear God when he created the physical body to enjoy the act of procreation?
He scoffed in derision and Sara gave him a look. The minister paused in his reading. They turned to him with question, their regard on the verge of horror. Embarrassed, David’s neck heated. His ears buzzed and his knees wobbled.
All he could do was shrug.  

Spangler cleared his throat. “Duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained. One cause was the procreation of children, to be brought up in fear and nurture of the Lord, and praise of God…” 

Why should he raise his sons to fear God? When a man struck out on his road, to do what his heart most desired, if it was honourable, then there should be no fear. He sliced a glance at Sara. So far, she hadn’t been overly reverent or spouted homilies. She did not judge with the Good Book in her hand. He nodded. They would do well together. 

“Secondly,” the minister continued, his voice falling into the monotone of words often said. 

David frowned. Would this never end?

“It is ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication that such persons as be married, might live chastely in matrimony and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.” 

Those words should be stricken from the ceremony, David reflected sagely. The only reason a man would fornicate outside the marriage bed was a cold and stiff wife, which he would not have. He’d sell Sara in a public auction if she was thusly, and he snorted. 

Spangler tripped over his words and Sara faced him, her lips curled in a frown. David reared back, as if he would soon be pummelled by the two of them. Nervous coughs came from the congregation. He tried to look innocent of any wrongdoing. 

After several tense moments where he burst into a mighty sweat, Spangler flipped through the pages of his book, then said, “I require and charge you, as you will anywhere at the dread full day of judgement, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed,” he put his hand to his mouth and coughed, “that if either of you do know any impediment why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, that ye confess it.” He gazed at David.

Sara turned to him. 

He wanted to shout, “What have I done?” 

Still looking at David, Spangler said, “For be ye well assured that so many as be coupled together; otherwise then God would doeth allow you are not joined of God. Neither is your matrimony lawful.” 

Annoyance turned to anger. The man was a damned rogue who pointed an improper finger at him. 

“David Kirke, wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour and keep her…”

Surely he would if she weren’t a crone and enjoyed tussling upon the counterpane. 

Spangler cleared his throat and Sara gave him a murderous regard. 

David could not fathom their discontent. “I will.” 

“Sara Andrews, wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will thou obey him and serve him…”

She would certainly obey him. If not, David knew he had the full right to beat her into proper submission. He gazed at her. She was so pretty with bright eyes and kissable lips. He could never lay a hand upon her, no matter how much she vexed him. 

“I will,” Sara said. 



As they sail into the Sunset to Newfoundland

A story of love, struggle and passion. A good read for YA & Adults.