Aug 15, 2022

Adventures in Pioneering

It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.
— Elizabeth Blackwell

Woman must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength. In a sense, she has always been the pioneer.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There is something about reviewing the lessons of the past to prepare us to face the challenges of the future.
— L. Tom Perry

Yesterday I joined a few of the ladies from my stitchery group at Lang Pioneer Village to participate in their “Tie the Knot” event, which was all about wedding practices in the 1800s. As well as setting up a display of some of the things a young bride might have in her trousseau, we worked at various stitchery projects while in costume.

First stop when we got there was the costuming building – this is where the magic happened.

It looks pretty tame in the picture, but there were hundreds of costumes to choose from, and several volunteers whose job it was to help us. The place was really hopping with activity. The styles may not have been the most flattering, but they were authentic.

Our group set up shop on the porch of the weaver’s building. Between the porch roof and the trees, we didn’t get much direct sunlight so it wasn't bad in the morning, but it did start to get rather warm after lunch.

The weaver’s shop was run by a single volunteer, but she did some amazing work

One of the displays I found fascinating was the yarn dying. I talked to the women there and discovered they used all natural dyes. It was interesting, and surprising, to learn what plants produced what colours. It’s a shame the picture doesn’t show the colours properly, but the yarn hanging to dry was actually a lovely shade of green.

Across the road from us was the blacksmith

And beside him was the general store that also served as the post office and apothecary

There was also a tin smith

And a newspaper office

The highlight of the day was a fashion show of bridal wear from the 1800s, and a mock wedding. Only a couple of us attended these events, but we could certainly hear them. The crowds began to disperse afterwards, and by 4 o’clock we were ready to turn in our bonnets and return to the 20th century.

What a fun way to spend a Sunday.

Aug 10, 2022


Okay, so I’m cheating a bit here. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t get a brand new form done. I had one all picked out, but time got away from me. So I went deep into the vault and found this form, that I first explore some 13 years ago.

The Trolaan is an interesting form created by Valerie Peterson Brown. It consists of four quatrains (a stanza of four lines), with each line having a similar number of syllables. Each line of the quatrain begins with the same letter and the rhyme scheme is abab.

Starting with the second stanza you use the second letter of the first line of the first stanza to start each line of the second stanza.

On the third stanza you will use the second letter on the first line of the second stanza to begin each line of the third stanza.

On the fourth stanza you will use the second letter on the first line of the third stanza to begin each line of the fourth stanza.

At first glance it may seem a little complicated, but it’s really not that bad. My poem was actually based on a picture of a fallen angel, which is why it seems a little dark.

Fallen Angel

Cold wind snaking through the night
Cutting the air with a wicked knife;
Capering snowflakes, like a blight
Cover a world devoid of life.

Obsequious spirits dance and sway,
Oft cast shadows looming near,
Ousting warmth they seek to stay,
Oblivious to the dangers here.

Balefire moon shines high o’er head
Bewitching in its awesome light.
Beguiling ice is swiftly spread
Banishing dreams in a blaze of white.

Abandoned hopes lay scattered ‘round
Adorning landscapes bleak and sere;
Angel lost and gone to ground
Alone, betrayed by life and fear.

Aug 8, 2022

Belle of the Ball

A man’s daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world.
— Mat Johnson

Being a daddy’s girl is like having permanent armor for the rest of your life.
— Marinela Reka

A good father will leave his imprint on his daughter for the rest of her life.
— Dr. James Dobson

Given the title of this post, I planned to use quotes about being the belle of the ball. However, I couldn’t find any. Apparently, there’s a book by that title and there were lots of quotes from it. There was also a poem that used the phrase. I could find quotes about balls in general (ie. golf balls, baseballs, etc.) and ballroom dancing, none of which really fit. So then I tried father/daughter balls and eventually settled on quotes about fathers and daughters.

The saga of the dress my granddaughter wore to the 2022 Father Daughter Butterfly Ball, actually began a couple of years ago. The daughter bought the tickets to the 2020 ball as a Christmas present. I immediately went to the fabric store to look at patterns, but I didn’t see any that looked ball worthy, so I went online and ordered one.

I didn’t even get a chance to start looking at material before we went on lockdown, and the ball was postponed. For two years. But finally the ban was lifted and it was time to get to work.

I live in a small town and there is no proper fabric store. There’s a place that carries a small selection for quilters, but that’s about it. So off to the city I went to the fabric store for material. But because there hadn’t been any social gatherings for the past two years, there wasn’t much to choose from. So I went to a different city. Then a third (we’re kind of equidistant to them – north, west, and east).

The third fabric store had a better selection than the others, and their fancier material was on sale. I came away with 5 metres of a pale blue organza, and 5 metres of a light blue lace. I wasn’t sure which would look better, but I was leaning towards the lace, although that would mean adjusting the pattern. Unfortunately, this store didn’t have any lining material, but I came away with something I thought could do in a pinch.

Time passed. I decided to go with the organza, but I didn’t like the lining I had, so this required more trips to more fabric stores. Next challenge? I’d bought the pattern a couple of years ago and my granddaughter had grown since then. So the pattern had to be adjusted.

My first try making the bodice didn’t work – I tried it on the granddaughter and it didn’t fit. Fortunately, I had just enough material left to re-make it. This one was perfect. Then, when it was time to attach the lining, I realized I’d made an error. Instead of cutting the lining from the same pattern as the skirt, I cut it using the pattern for the slip.

There was supposed to be netting under the skirt to poof it out more, but I decided not to do that because the organza was already poofy enough. What I didn’t realize, is that the netting was sewn onto the slip so it was sandwiched between the skirt lining and the slip. *sigh*

I did not have enough lining material to redo this, nor did I have time to go back to one of the fabric stores for more. What I was able to do was add some material in, which actually worked better.

For my final challenge, I had to put in an invisible zipper. The only problem was, I did not have an invisible zipper foot for my sewing machine and we had no place in town to get one. Argh!

The daughter reminded me that she had my old machine, so she dropped it off (because she didn’t know one foot from another) and while there wasn’t an invisible zipper foot, there was a regular one, which would do in a pinch. Then a trip to Walmart to get more thread revealed they sold plastic, snap together, invisible zipper feet. I was back in business.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done an invisible zipper, but I remembered they can be a little tricky. So I did a Google search and found some step by step instructions. It was so much easier that I thought, and I can’t understand why I haven’t been doing all my zippers that way.

The dress was done, with a couple of days to spare. I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. And the granddaughter was certainly the belle of the ball.

Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with five metres of light blue lace.

Aug 3, 2022


At first glance, this 14th century French form looks fairly easy. It’s only thirteen lines, and some of those lines repeat. But it can actually be a little tricky to write.

Its basic structure is two quatrains (four-line stanzas), followed by a quintet (five-line stanza). The first and second lines are repeated as a refrain at the end of the second stanza, and the first line is repeated as the refrain for the last stanza.

Got that? The rhyme scheme is ABba abAB abbaA, where the capital letters are the repeating lines.

This form might be easier to follow with an example:

Measuring Time

This is how we measure time –
Day by day, a lifetime passing,
Slowly good and bad amassing
Memories sounding like a chime.

Then life will take the steeper climb
And then we fall, our ego crashing;
This is how we measure time –
Day by day, a lifetime passing.

And after we have passed our prime,
Looking back, we start rehashing;
Memories, good and bad, start clashing,
Sins and virtues – life refined.
This is how we measure time.

Aug 1, 2022

All Good Things . . .

But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.
(source for All good things must come to an end)
— Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde

It lasted for a long time, I believe.
A very long time. It was a great success, but even great successes come to a natural end.

― Isaac Asimov, Robots and Empire

All good things come to an end and the pain of some endings isn't worth the good things.
― Emilyann Allen

Well . . . I’m back. Albeit a little reluctantly. It was nice to have a bit of a break from blogging, but I figured if I took the month of August off as well I might never get back to it, so here I am. :-)

Unlike other times where I’ve needed a mental break, I’m happy to report I didn’t just dive into a reading binge. I did some reading, yes, but not constantly. And I was able to stay away from Nora Roberts. LOL

I managed to get out of the house a few times – lunch or coffee with friends, poetry gatherings, stitchery gatherings, early morning walks. And I’ve been spending time with my granddaughter while her parents are at work, which is always a good time. But the main way I found to relax was with my crafts, mostly stitchery/sewing.

As you know, I usually have several projects on the go. I picked the one that needed to be done the soonest, and worked steadily on it until it was done. In this case, it was the baby quilt for my great-niece (who’s due this month).

I like baby quilts because they’re something I can work on a bit at a time. I usually start with solid coloured squares, then trace pictures from colouring books onto them to embroider. When I’m done I find a print fabric to go in between the squares, then flannel to back it with. Then it’s just a matter of sewing it together. I don’t actually quilt my baby quilts, I use embroidery floss to tie them. It makes the quilt a little puffier, but I think it looks just as nice.

For this quilt, I’d chosen a medium violet colour and traced cartoon animals onto them. Then I used bright colours for the embroidery. Then, of course, I had to find material to go between the squares, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. But I did find a print that was more green and white than purple, used light green flannelette for the back, and then couldn’t remember how I used to bind them – it’s been a long time since I’ve done a baby quilt.

I had a vague recollection of putting a ruffle on them, but I didn’t have enough material left for that and there was no time to go to a fabric store, which would mean a trip out of town. So I used satin blanket binding, which turned out well enough that I think that’s what I’ll be using from now on.

Anyway, here’s a picture of the finished quilt (click on it to see a bigger version):

Next week I’ll be talking about my second project, the ballgown I made my granddaughter for the Father/Daughter ball.

Jun 24, 2022

Gone Fishin'

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That was definitely me yesterday when I fell victim to an internet scam that not only compromised the security of my computer, but also my bank accounts.

After a trip to the bank to close our current accounts and open new ones, our money is safe. My compromised lap top, the fairly new Lenovo, is at Staples for a security check up. I still have to get in touch with my other bank, my credit card company, my cell phone company, and PayPal, and then I have to figure out how to set up one of the automatic payments I get again.

Fun stuff. Not!

So I’m taking a mental health holiday for the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be checking my email and Facebook (the msi Apache wasn’t compromised), but I’m not going to be blogging. My heart just isn’t in it.

The only good news in all this mess is, because I stubbornly refused to sync my devices, the Lenovo is the only one that was affected.

Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get Magickal Mayhem finished while I’m on my break.

Jun 22, 2022


One of my favorite poetry forms is the Parody. This is where you take a familiar, or well-known poem or short piece of prose and change the wording to make it humorous. You get this comic effect by using exaggeration, or spoofing the piece, keeping to the original structure as much as possible.

The first Parody I ever wrote was in high school. To teach us about rhyme and rhythm, our English teacher had us picking a poem with a strong rhythm, I believe the example he used was “How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix” by Robert Browning. We were to write a minimum of three verses using the rhythm of the poem we selected.

For my poem, I chose “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service. Only I didn’t just write three verses, I rewrote the entire thing, turning it into a Parody and calling it “The Refrigeration of Sam McGee.” The actual assignment wasn’t to write a Parody, just to capture the rhyme and rhythm – what can I say? It was a lot of fun. And I’ve been writing Parodies ever since.

Now, I have a funny story for you. The second poetry reading I ever did took place at a retirement residence. I was so excited that I thought I should write a brand for the occasion. I decided to do a Parody of Shakespeare’s “To Be, Or Not To Be,” turning it into an anecdote about dying my hair. It wasn’t until years later that someone pointed out to me that it might not have been the best poem to read to an elderly audience. The title of my poem? “To Dye or Not To Dye.” Oops!

For my example, I chose Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this classic poem, I’ve included it below.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Dessert Not Eaten
By Carol R. Ward

Two desserts lay on the yellow table
And sorry I could not eat them both
And not gain weight, I was unstable,
Staring at cake, dark as sable,
Chocolate, I could never loath.

The other, lemon, sweet cream filled,
Was like to make a dead man drool
Because it was so nicely chilled
And stacked in layers by one skilled;
Truly, each dessert a jewel

And both that morning equally lay
In splendor on that table bright
Oh, to keep one for another day
But no, indulgence starts that way –
my pants are already much too tight.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two desserts upon a table lay, and I—
Rejected both, with a heavy sigh,
And that rejection made all the difference.