Monday, March 03, 2014
I don't know if any of you, here, officially recognise Pancake Day.
But loads of folk all across the UK seem to find this a great challenge and fun time. Well, at least, according to the supermarkets.
I used to do pancakes on Pancake Day when my 2 sons were wee. And all 4 of us enjoyed them.
But now - I look at the suddenly gleaming shelves-ful of bottles of maple syrup, and the wee squoochy bottles of lemon juice, and the other tins of syrup and stuff.
Then there's the packets, and the bottles, and the jars, of pancake mix.
Now, all these horrors have been on the go for the past umpteen years.
But d'you know what I have found most offensive this year, here in the UK - trays, shelves, adverts, blogs, chef sites - all trying to advertise, or to sell "American-style" pancakes!
I have no problem whatsoever with America and Americans.
I have many friends in SP and in other sites who are American.
I have friends here in the UK who are American.
But I do have a major problem with being offered pancakes, or the makings for pancakes, that are American or American-style, and home stuff is ignored.
Just because - America did not invent Pancake Day.
Just because - pancakes are made all around the world - differently everywhere.
Just because - in one shop locally, I was offered the opportunity to buy pancakes in 3 different sizes - but they were all "American" pancakes. Well to me, they looked like 3 different sizes of a cross between Scottish pancakes and crumpets. And certainly nothing like Pancake Day pancakes.
Sorry for the rant - but really . . . . .
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Many of you are probably aware that I've been suffering these past several weeks or so.
I had flu again during the winter (Christmas & New Year) followed, again, by a post-viral lurgy. I thought that this year I'd take a bit more care, make sure I didn't overdo stuff and prolong the lurgy.
Well - I've tried.
I have to say that I do feel much better than at this stage previously - but still smitten.
But apparently, this year's trend in the community is continuing sore throat and headaches.
I didn't get out to church today at all, neither morning nor afternoon.
But I received an email from a friend a couple of hours ago, telling me that another friend (who was at church this morning) was in a car accident this afternoon, just a couple of miles along the road. Her husband was killed. My friend is in hospital.
It really puts my headaches and megrimes in perspective!
And I am so thankful that my hubby and I got over our grumpinesses yesterday and were friends again before we got home from the shopping!
I am shocked to the core, and praying for my friend and for their families.
But I am also already looking forward, in my own life.
This coming week, my hubby will be at his Mum's - from Monday afternoon till the end of the week some time. That will certainly save several phone calls each day, where hubby usually has to phone his Mum at least twice every day.
I am hoping that this week I'll actually manage what I always hope for - major decluttering and/or cleaning.
I'll let you know after the end of the week, if someone will please remind me!
Have a great week, my friends.
If you pray, please remember my friend Sarah.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Every so often I get an email from one of my US on-line friends, questioning something that I've posted. It's to do with my Christian belief - and hers.
This evening I had a mail from her asking about a post I made late last year about my bible discussion group.
The question was about a study that I was doing September/October time, asking me what I had decided about a particular concept.
I thought that I had really taken on board the various discussions and thoughts from my bible discussion group, for that particular discussion,
And the specific point queried by my friend was actually something that was discussed to quite an extent on a couple of occasions.
Yet, this evening, I got out my bible and the discussion book, and looked back through it. To remember, and to remind myself.
No bad thing at all.
We need to keep reminding ourselves about what we believe and why.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
I received a link from a friend in Michigan, an article in a local paper for the upcoming Burns' Suppers in town.
My friend wondered how authentic the information was. And this is my reply, rather than trying to put all this on a team thread!
From memory of some rather long ago formal Burns Night Dinners -
Dress- men wear the kilt, or a lounge suit (unless it's really formal, then a dinner suit - think that's what's called a tuxedo?). Women wear "good clothes", so they're fairly dressed up. A white blouse and a tartan skirt are acceptable. Or a black skirt, and a tartan ribbon or other decoration. The skirt should be long, for a formal occasion.
The tables are set beforehand - white cloths, white napkins, and perhaps some heather and some tartan ribbon, but less is more!
The "common folk" are shown in, then all stand while the Top Table come in. The top table are processed in, either just led in, or maybe piped in. The top table take their seats, then the common mass can take their seats too.
All tables run the length of the hall, leading to the top table across the width.
The Haggis is piped in, in procession - the piper in front, a lackey carrying the haggis on a "siller" (silver) tray. The tray is formally placed in front of one of the man at the centre of the top table. He rises to receive it, and takes his dirk from his socks (called stockings).
The dirk, or the dagger from the skein dhu (I'll check the spelling and get back to you), is drawn and held high, in a stabbing position. The man then "intones" the poem "To A Haggis" - usually with great gusto and much histrionics! After which, he stabs the haggis he was presented with.
(Point of interest - if a haggis is really hot, and a cut is made in the cover, the meat mixture starts to ooze out. So the hope is that the Address to the Haggis will be done quickly enough that the addressed haggis will still ooze when stabbed!).
A stream of waitresses, in black & white (or dressed as serving girls in brown sacking dresses and white aprons), usually with a tartan bow at a corner of the pinny, then process round the tables with plates of haggis, neeps an' tatties. The top table is, obviously, served first. Then the people closest to the top table, down the length of the tables.
After the haggis course, the plates are removed.
Oatcakes and cheese (Scottish cheddar) are then served,
But before anyone eats again, the toasts are drunk.
This is where the "Toast to the Lassies" would be given by one of the men, followed by a reply on the lasses' behalf by another of the men.
The drink for the toast would be whisky.
The drink for the reply would be whisky.
I think, historically and especially in the Highlands and Islands, the men would have a tot or more in a hip-flask type of bottle - same shape works well for the sporran!
They'd have been nipping on and off all evening.
The women would perhaps have tea after the celebratory meal.
The top table would then rise, followed by the other diners - again working down the tables from the end nearest the top table.
And after that, things change,
There may be a dance, or there may be just a stand-and-chat time (in the really formal cases).
If there's to be a dance, everyone has to vacate the dining hall for a while, till the tables are cleared and put away.
Obviously it can be only Scottish Country Dancing - with a proper Scottish Country Dance Band or a Scottish Ceilidh Band.
And the evening proceeds - the womenfolk with a bit of cake (Dundee Cake or other fruit cake) and more cups of tea. The guys heading outdoors for a nip and coming back in to stand around the sides of the dance hall, or taking their own women folk into the dance.
And things getting rowdier as the evening progresses (well, some of the girls will possibly have had a few nips with a lad, or with the lads - a totally different concept).
That's my take on a "proper" Burns Night.
I'd love to hear other Scottish memories.
And I'd love to hear what happens around the world.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Yesterday I got an email from a church friend asking me for 2 favours.
One is to play "Happy Birthday" on Wednesday evening - a surprise birthday party for another friend's 60th.
The other is to play for her and her husband. They have been asked to sing at a coffee morning in a few weeks time. They intend to sing one of the hymns, but to the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer".
Hubby googled and found the music last night, then did battle with his printer till he got me a useable copy printed off, so I had a go this afternoon. Then I had a go at some other stuff that I came across yesterday evening when I was searching to see if we by any chance had a copy of the particular music required.
All this has come about because another friend volunteered me to play Christmas carols for the church Ladies' Leisure Hour Christmas dinner 2 years ago.
At that stage, I hadn't played any piano in about 9 years. And I hadn't played in public for over 40 years, nearer 45.
I was sick with nerves, but it went really well, fortunately.
This past Christmas, I was asked to do the same again - the first week of December.
Then I was also asked to play for the church's monthly Coffee Club, the second week of December.
Then for the 3rd week of December, my friend and I usually go into the church on a Wednesday morning - I play from the hymn book and she sings, just so I can get to know some of the hymns (a totally different hymn book from what I was brought up with) - my friend had announced we'd be there to sing carols if anyone else would like to come along!
Fortunately, there was only one other couple came along, and we had a lovely hour or so.
With not too many folk around, it didn't matter when the guy asked for certain hymns I didn't know - they coped well with my sight-reading!
I have regained my joy in playing - but then, reality and life have caught up again.
Friend and I played/sang yesterday - and that was the first I'd touched the piano since the week before Christmas.
Then yesterday evening I came on line, only to read an email from another church friend. And that's where this email started!
The "Happy Birthday" thing is actually causing me more anxiety than the coffee morning gig!
The birthday venue doesn't have a piano, but may have a keyboard.
If you are in the know - these are 2 quite different instruments.
The person who asked me - I'm pretty sure she doesn't know there's a difference.
However, hubby reminded me last night that our older son's girlfriend returned younger son's keyboard to us at Christmas.
So I could try to work out how to work it.
Then again, I could get out my guitar from it's hiding place behind the settee - it's only about maybe 15 years since I played it. So if I started now, I'd be able to play "Happy Birthday" without crying at the pain in my fingertips! And - I could have my weekly singing accomplice involved, as she plays guitar too.
Then again, having got my friend and her guitar involved, I could play my clarinet - it's a smaller box to carry, but would also need a load of practice, as I haven't played it in maybe 7 or 8 years.
Please don't think I'm boasting - that's furthest from the truth.
I am so grateful to my parents, when I was at school, for giving me so many opportunities.
And I am so grateful that over the years I have been blessed with owning and having the various instruments.
I am taking the music up again, after all these years. But it's a bit spasmodic.
I have, through SparkPeople, taken up on exercise again over these past few years. But it's still a bit spasmodic.
I am succeeding, gradually with the music.
I must be, or I wouldn't have been asked to accompany the couple for the coffee morning.
Folk are showing that they have confidence in me.
I am succeeding gradually with weight loss.
I must be, or I wouldn't be seeing a difference in my trousers and tops.
Folk are showing they have faith in me, and look to me for support!
This has given me a lot to think about, the evening before the new 5% Challenge starts.
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