Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Monday, December 19, 2016

An English Village.......................................

I was looking at a picture painted by Terry Harrison. He paints wonderful pictures of England and the countryside. His work reminds me so much of the village I grew up in. Houghton Regis may not have been quite as idyllic as the ones he portrays but those of us who grew up there remember it fondly.
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This village that Terry has painted looks more like some of the other villages one might see in the Cotswolds or some of the less industrial areas. Houghton Regis is only 30 miles from London. It did not change much over the years until right after World War 2. So much changed "after the war" all over the British Isles. Especially for us, when it came time to rebuild London. So many people displaced as always when there is a war. It took them into the 1950s to begin to sort things out. New housing had to be built and there had to be work as well. We villagers hated what happened to our village but in reality, what were the planners to do? People needed jobs and houses and if not us then who? So they built factories in places like Luton and Dunstable, the car industry was the boom we needed then. Before the war, cars were not something one would see often.
....A view along the High St.........
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....The Church, showing the fire station etc.......
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I was born in 1946 the beginning of the baby boom. Our fathers came home from the war and needed work. We already had factories in the area and my grandfather worked at Skefco who at that time made ball bearings (I think) the factory was bombed a couple of times and lucky for Granddad he was not there at the time. Two of his sons rode their bikes up to the factory to check on him, but he was safe at home.
Anyway, I remember going to London as a young girl and seeing derelict buildings and lots of craters and ruins. I didn't realize at the time that it had anything to do with the war,the war for me was ancient history at 10 years old. I didn'nt know that they were bomb sites. That was nothing I knew about. Our village was intact. I think a couple of bombs may have fell around about but was rather a cause for excitement than concern. Children from London were living on farms and with villagers away from danger. Soldiers as well as prisoners of war were billeted with families and everyone chipped in.

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......The road passed the Village Green with my Grandfathers house in the center view........
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Our village was still agricultural mainly, one would see tractors in the high street and our milk came from the farm. As I grew up it began to change. Probably the first change in a hundred years or more, although I suppose electricity was a major change, I remember the gas lights.
Then they tore down our wonderful Tithe barn, and Tithe Farm.They built a housing estate by the same name. It was to accommodate the London "overspill". In England they have "council" houses. You can get on the "list" and get a rented home from the local council. Mum and Dad got theirs on Bidwell Hill when I was about 4 years old.
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Well at that time too, one could have an "allotment" a piece of ground to have what they called "Victory gardens"..........this is still possible in some areas even now. My Uncle Eddie enjoyed one right up until he died. He had a little shed with his garden stuff in it and it was just a short walk from his house.
Well, when they build Tithe Farm Estate, they built over the allotments too. There was a little resentment needless to say.
.......Tithe Farm.........
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It is apparent that in every country village there are several Public Houses. Houghton Regis was no different. They came and they went. Some still remain but not like it was back then. There was a need really because the way the houses were heated was by coal fire. Winter was cold and damp and the local pubs became gathering places. The local villagers would meet in the pub of their choice and play games and enjoy a hot fire, friendship, and a beer or two or three and it was more like a family gathering. It was a way to socialize and stay warm as well. Later pubs served food when the economy required a change of pace. The villages surrounding us all had their pubs and the clients has teams of men who would play darts or dominoes or whatever and compete against other pubs. My dads local was down the Hill at the Red Lion. He seldom went to one in the village itself. My Uncle chose the one closest to him, The Crown. At Christmas when I was older we would walk down to the Crown and meet family there for a drink at noontime while waiting on Christmas dinner. You always knew people in there neighbours or other villagers.
.....The Old Red Lion....
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It was my dads routine, come 8pm to walk down to the Red Lion and stay till closing time or around 10.30ish. I do remember a big fight between my mum and dad when the Red Lion went up for sale, my Dad and Mums brother Ray talked about buying it. Mum told Dad he may as well take his bloody bed down there then........Dad said " pack my suitcase" Mum said "Pack your own bloody suitcase" ......I was worried because the suitcase in question was under my bed with all my Elvis Presley pictures in it. Well anyway, next day it was all over and done with and Dad had apparently slept somewhere in the car. Went to work and came home as usual. There was no more talk about buying a pub.
.......The High st.........
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Everything began to change. Not really for the better in retrospect. The local small shops whose owners we knew by name and by tradition became supermarkets. The early closing days were gone and Saturday mornings opening became all day affairs, and then Sundays too. You no longer took in your weekend shopping list for delivery Saturday morning (to get us through the weekend). We had no refrigerators and so shopping was an every day thing. The baker and the milk man delivered and at one time so did the butcher. We used a "safe" for meat to keep flys off and milk and butter were left on the table. Or in the larder in a shady dark spot to keep it cool.
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I look at the pictures of the old village and see what it's like today. One can not go back and most people now would not want to. We had two phone boxes in the village. No one had a phone that I knew. They built a shopping center and put in chain stores like Woolworths but in doing so they demolished the Alms houses and the old fire station and jail.
......The old lockup behind the fire station and at the end of the church cottages........
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.......The old fire station hut, later the bus shelter.......
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....The Pond, wagons would go through it to keep the wooden wheels from drying out.....
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When I grew up everyone knew everyone else and once the estate was built that all changed we got some refugees after the war who were looked at dubiously but accepted. We had Polio rear its head and learned all about not playing near stagnant water. We had Foot and Mouth disease and saw the poor farmers having to kill and burn livestock. Fowl pest came and went and we would have to walk through disinfectant to go on and off of the farms. Smelling the burning piles hovering in the country air. Childhood was a time of learning many things besides what we learned in school. It equipped us in ways we never knew to get through tough times in our lives. We learned that hard work and diligence paid off in the end and was it's own reward. We grew up learning country ways that probably in this modern world are not so useful but still good to know. A lot will be lost once my generation has gone.
....An old painting from way back......
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My village is gone now and there are still some of us "kids" left just now who remember and reminisce.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tis The Season..............

So every year I have made it my project to put away all my "stuff", pack it in boxes and store downstairs. My husband brings up the Christmas stuff. I do this the weekend of Thanksgiving. If I don't do it then, it hardly seems worth the effort. I really did not want to do it again this year. No Tristen, so what's the point? It's so much work, what normally took me the weekend, I strung out over the whole next week after Thanksgiving.
Well, I like it so that should be the point, but so much effort, but now it's done, it was worth it. I thought maybe I would just put up the tree. That's what I did last year. However, this year we have even less money than last year, thanks to someone who will remain nameless but dragged us to court. So..........I thought maybe I would share my Christmas stuff instead of giving gifts.I really have some pretty things. and a lot I have made over the years. So............Gerry dragged up the boxes.
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As you see there are many boxes.
I gave our tree to Laura as they didn't have the money this year to buy a new one. Gerry put it up for her because Robert was not home. I have several smaller trees so I figured I could use one of those.
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While we were sorting out the tree situation, I figured I would also give her 1/2 of my tree ornaments as well and also things to decorate with. That unloaded 1/2 my stuff.
When I put out the things I kept I wondered where I actually put everything before.
Indeed each year I decorated every room. I managed to do the same but with 1/2 the stuff. It still seems full.
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I found that all my knick knacks needed a good wash, so it seemed a good idea to go through with my plans. When I put everything back I more or less do my Spring cleaning. So that is a good reason to continue with my tradition. Now I have less to put away and can get it all in one place. I will know where everything is. I cleaned out the storage area. Something I have wanted done all summer. So yeahhhhh!!!!
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Anyway. I did decorate every room after all.
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as you see, the dining and kitchen also
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I had to get a picture of Bessie eating her lunch. She has not wanted to go out since it snowed
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I don't have a lot of counter space and so not a lot in the kitchen.
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Even the laundry and downstairs loo gets a little attention.
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The entrance too and Boots loves to lay on the heater
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I am glad its done. I also want to do more outside this year. I did manage a few and will show that on my Garden Blog

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016.............

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Happy Thanksgiving.
Well this year it was Jason, Gabby, Tony and Cooper, Laura and Robert and Reina for dinner with us. Tristen was able to come too. He is here for the weekend, but he is sick, poor kid. So guess who will be sick next week. I see it in my future oh yes I do.
Well it took me two days to get everything done and together and about half hour to eat it. Isn't that the way it is. Boy was everything good.
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So I thought I would try a few new things this time. Well not new but different for me. Tony said he likes a green bean casserole so I made that and I apparently had better crispy onions than last time I made one. Last time I was not impressed but this time it came out really good. I made it the night before so it just needed 20 minutes in the oven while we were getting everything else ready.
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We don't like sweet potatoes, but I want to like them. So I found a different recipe from what I did before and whoah!! was that good. Could almost have been desert. I don't like it with marshmallows. This was more savoury and went down well and Gerry even tried it and said it was OK.
The turkey of course turned out great. Can't really go wrong with a turkey can you.
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I was looking at a friends picture of their Thanksgiving table. It was set so perfect and so pretty. I just wish I could do that. We are just not that kind of people thought. As you see my table is not set. It is full of food. No table cloth, nothing. So sad.
Just look at these roast potatoes though, Oh my were they ever good.
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Laura and me and two of the kids sit at the table to eat, the others were in the other room watching the game. Its what they like to do at Thanksgiving and Christmas too. Sigh..........that's my family. Not at all like I was raised. Still, there was good food and they enjoyed themselves and so I suppose that's what counts.
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I suppose I could set the table all pretty like. I do have the stuff to do it. Then put the food on the kitchen counters but........they would not be happy sitting at the table when they could be watching the game so is there really any point? Sigh!!!
So on the menu this year. A roast stuffed turkey. Roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels, baby carrots, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, stuffing in the bird and seperate in its own dish. We love stuffing. Then home made cranberry relish. Gravy (yum) and Yorkshire pudding.
We had chocolate cream pie and fruit pie for dessert along with snacks that we have no room for. We ate deviled eggs and turkey ham for lunch. We have been sitting around in a stupor the kids are in bed and we are watching stupid movies. The others are about to play some card games. Me I am still stuffed and will catch up on my blogs.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I don't expect much....................

The climate in this country at the moment is shocking. I am appalled. Our first black president is being vilified and insulted and soon to be replaced by an ignorant buffoon. Condemned in my opinion by his own mouth before he even begins.
I won't get into politics. Not everyone will agree with me and that's fine. I am not a citizen of this country and never will be . I love where I live but do not like this countries ways of government. From the very beginning it was founded upon hate and treason. On the murder, no the genocide, of its original inhabitants. I can never put my name to that. Now they are once again fighting for their rights. It is just not right.
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I came here with my family from England when I was young, I married an American and we expected to go back. That never happened. So here I am and most likely here I stay.
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So............what do I expect from living here?

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I would like to be able to live in peace surrounded by pleasant people, that part so far seems to be working out OK for me. I have very good friends.
Financially I would love to be able to go to the dentist and be able to afford care for my teeth. The cost is astronomical, outrageous and unless I am in pain just will not happen. I would like for everyone to be able to go to the doctors and be able to afford the office visit at least, let alone the medications. For many people that I know, and in my family, that is not the case. Who can afford health insurance? It takes a huge bite out of the income.
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I would like just a little extra to be able to afford to maintain household appliances. To keep our old car running. I am not greedy, a new one would be nice but that's off the table.
I would like to be able to maintain our home. Do all the things that need fixing or remodeling. This is a very old house built sometime in the late 1800s. We have done a lot of work on it in the past. It needs to be maintained though. It is our sole investment and we will be relying upon it's sale for our future security.
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I love my garden and would like to be able to keep that up as well as do a veggie garden again next year. All that costs money. Sometimes it's just cheaper to buy veggies and baked goods but, at what cost to health I wonder? It is no longer financially the better choice to make things yourself. Cookies, cakes etc.....bread. All those things, the bare necessities cost more than buying already made. Then you subject yourself to all the additives that are used these days.
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A garden has to be fertilized, soil added and maintained. Then buying the small plants or seeds is as expensive as buying the product. If your garden fails its a waste of money. If it flourishes then we may have a chance at canning and preserving, in that case maybe a good investment. That is after you have got all the canning jars, lids and so on. One tip, look at garage sales for glass jars.

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So what is the answer as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Thing is, if you are really poor you can get some help. Those of us who have always worked and now see the years ahead shrinking and the prospect of living on for many years in comfort questionable.
Our plan, if it works out is to buy a smaller house and hope that this one can retain it's value enough to pay for that without a mortgage. We may need to move to a place where the cost of living is not so high. Changes to our lifestyle and so much more. We have to be willing to change.I do not mind a challenge.
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I do not worry about myself but I do think that the times ahead will be very difficult for our children and grandchildren. Families may have to live together as they did in years past. So many have become used to being independent and maintaining a separate life from their parents. That will not be the future for most people. It used to be that children lived and helped at home, and in the end cared for their elderly parents. Who can afford assisted living or retirement homes? Not me. Nor would I want it. Life does not always go the way we want or plan. We need to be open to new things and new possibilities. I think our days of freedom from reality are coming to an end. Maybe not such a bad thing actually. Maybe families can be closer again. Now so many are separated by distance and they like that. What a shame. My parents and grandparents lived in the same village as all of their forebears did, and knew the same people. We grew up with and kept the same friends and neighbours. Then it all changed.
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I do not resent the rich for being rich. They earned their money either by inheritance or luck or their own smartness. What I do resent is that they get all the breaks. So many of the new rich, people like Bill Gates understand what it's like to be a regular guy and has given so much to so many. I applaud that. Paul Newman and Warren Buffet and the Facebook guy Mark Zuckerberg. All good people who understand............then there are the Donald Trumps of our world whom I despise. Well, there we go again. That gets into politics and I have no interest in that. Jesus said "My Kingdom is not of this world" so neither is mine. I live life as a visitor and observer only. I have no horse in that race. I await His return with interest. We are moving so quickly towards that hopeful day. I thank God for what I have and for what I can give in help to my family.
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No one should expect a free ride. Having said that a country should take pride in helping the elderly, the veterans and children who are our future. Free health care for all. Get rid of the VA and make everyone the same. Free dental and optical. Free education. All paid for by taxes that are equally shared by all. Does it really seem so impossible?

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