About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

K for KNIGHTS

Welcome to Round 20 of ABC Wednesday where, this week, we honour and celebrate the letter K as in kiss, kitchen, kneel, knife, kingdom, kindness, and knock.  This week, I'd like to tell you about Knights

The word Knight is a term to refer to a warrior or nobleman in former times or, in these days to refer to a person who has been given royal recognition. The roots of the word knight are connected to the Old English cniht, meaning boy, or German knecht, meaning servant.  During the Middle Ages, the term knight referred to a mounted and armoured soldier. Originally, knights were warriors on horse-back, but the title became increasingly connected to nobility and social status, most likely because of the cost of equipping oneself in the cavalry. Knighthood eventually became a formal title bestowed on those noblemen trained for active war duty.

In theory, knighthood could be bestowed on a man by any knight, but it was generally considered honourable to be dubbed knight by the hand of a monarch. By about the late 13th century, partly in conjunction with the focus on courtly behavior, a code of conduct and uniformity of dress for knights began to evolve. Knights were eligible to wear a white belt and golden spurs as signs of their status. Also, knights were also often required to swear allegiance to a liege lord.

A knight was to follow a strict set of rules of conduct. These were the knightly virtues. However, original knights had few of these qualities because the church deemed knights too bloodthirsty and unruly. The church then intervened and began stressing the importance of virtues until the church became an integrated part of knighthood and chivalry. The virtues included:
  • Mercy (Towards the poor and oppressed. They were supposed to be harsh with evil-doers.)
  • Humility
  • Honor
  • Sacrifice
  • Fear of God
  • Faithfulness
  • Courage
  • Utmost graciousness and courtesy to ladies
When in Wales last summer, I visited Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, where I found a replica of a knight on horseback prepared to do battle.  The knight carried a sword and shield with the image of the Welsh dragon on it.  And it was made of straw! 
Imagine hoards of Norman warriors coming on horseback across those fields ready to cross the River Wye and scale the cliffs to conquer the castle and its environs!

Now, those of you who read my posts probably know by now that I love history, especially anything to do with my ancestry (English, Welsh, Scottish).  However, one of my daughters and her husband have gone one step further and are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. It consists of 20 kingdoms with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, and various classes & workshops.

In fact, my son-in-law is becoming quite the artisan by creating leather armour not only for himself, but also for other members.  He makes every kind of armour that can be made from leather for from the neck down as well as purses, pouches, belts, and accessories. He has also given classes in making armour of all kinds and participates in the actual "battles" after many hours of practise.  He has worked his way to becoming a "Lord," which is the first of a slew of titles. Currently, he is known as Lord Ewen Mac Dughglas of Lions Gate. My daughter is Lady Eva de Lille, but not because of her association with her husband.  She attained the title of "Lady" through her own achievements by volunteering for behind the scenes and helping to organize events.  She finds hundreds of small ways to help others at all the practises and events she attends plus she and her husband run a kitchen and do the cooking and serving at events.

Here are a couple of really quick You-Tube videos SIL said I could show of a couple of practises.  He is in the red outfit in the first one.  Apparently, if you get hit in the leg, you must kneel, if you get hit in the arm, you have to forego using it, and if you get hit in the head or body, you're dead!
Hope you enjoyed this post.  I know I learned a lot more about knights and my daughter's and son-in-law's association with the Society for Creative Anachronism just by writing it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jane Austen

Welcome to the world of J as in jam, juggernaut, jumpsuit, jack-in-the-box, jaunty, and my two dearest British friends Jane and Jill.  Last year while in England, I had the pleasure of visiting the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, and learned more about her as a person.  In Wikipedia, it states that "Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security."

Jane published most of her mature work while living in the lovely village of Chawton only a few miles from her birthplace, Steventon.  She was born December 16, 1775, and died July 18, 1817.  Most people are aware of her major works that, to this day, are read worldwide - books like "Sense and Sensibility," "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park," "Emma," "Persuasion," and "Northanger Abbey." 

In 1997, I visited England for the first time and my hostess took me to Blickling Hall where the movie "Sense and Sensibility" had been filmed.  It was while wandering the gardens there that I had an overwhelming feeling that I belonged there - in the country of England.  I've since returned many times and always feel that I should have been born there, even though my grandparents felt the urge to immigrate to the "new world " of Canada.
Last year, 2016, I was so pleased to visit the museum which had been Jane's home and where she wrote many, if not most, of her books.  It was almost eerie to wander inside the house, peeking into rooms where she had not only written, but had taken her meals and where she had slept. I wanted to try out her bed, but thought it wouldn't be very genteel to do so.  Instead I took a photo but it didn't turn out well. Here are a few of my photos from that day.
Outside, at the back of the house were several outbuildings where there was an antique donkey cart, which probably took Jane and her family to friends or relatives to visit. Also, there was an old brick oven and cooking area where the hired help would prepare their meals.
The best part of my visit, though, was the gardens! Like all English country gardens, they took my breath away.  I sat on a bench where Jane might have sat contemplating how her characters would develop while she breathed in the gentle English breezes.
After my own private contemplations, I began to wander around taking photos of various flowers and plants.  I was in my glory and my hosts finally came looking for me. All they were concerned about was that I was enjoying my visit.

And if you are ever in England and are a Jane Austen fan, I'd highly recommend a visit to the museum.  There is a lovely pub  called The Greyfriars immediately across the street where you can get a nice lunch either before or after your visit.   Here's a photo of it:
Hope you enjoyed a virtual visit to the Jane Austen Museum and may you have a jolly week!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I is for ICE FLOES Over Greenland

Welcome to ABC Wednesday, Round 20, Letter I as in ice-cream, igloos, icicles, iditerod, idioms, and illuminating

Notice that 4 out of 6 of my examples above refer to ice and did you know that the 2017 Iditerod is starting in Fairbanks, Alaska instead of Anchorage because of the lack of snow in Anchorage!  They have sent it all down here to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we've had THE worst winter EVER with so much snow that it's sometimes been difficult for me to get out in the car. And today as I write this, (March 5th) I woke up to another dump of this incessant white stuff!  No one can remember us ever getting snow in December, let alone March!

So with that in mind, I decided to show you some photos that I took from the airplane as I flew over Greenland last summer on my way home from my immensely memorable trip to the United Kingdom. I used my new Canon SX720HS camera with 40X telephoto lens and I think the shots are incredible. When the pilot announced we were approaching Greenland, I got into position at the very back of the plane (where I was sitting) and started focusing.  If you click on the first photo, you can see them in full screen and will see much more detail.  We start with a few shots of some clouds and then possibly some land.
This next one looks like waterfalls, but they're clouds.
Could that actually be land?
Then, for sure there was land!




 Notice the wing tip at the upper left corner!
These last two (above and below) are of ICE FLOES! 
I was so excited to get decent shots of this intercontinental area of the world.  And thrilled to share them with you all.