Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 7)


It is a sweet miracle that I have just today found the detailed notes of our South Island journey. They were buried in books a thousand miles from my home, and I came upon them. 

I am thinking of Providence. Wherever we went along that Road, we were shown a good grace by people who knew we were coming. Being a part of Capernwray had included us in a network of people, who then opened their homes and their tables. If there was no room in a hostel, we would hear of a former Capernwray student who wanted us to stay with the family. 

It was cold, freezing cold, and it snowed upon our heads. I did not have a winter coat with me and had noted this need in the diary. The next day a lady who did not know me said she had a navy pea coat she did not need. It fit me perfectly and was as warm as toast! Providence

There are other 1973 memories of:

-Lots of potatoes, peas, with meat, bread, butter and honey (and sometimes Trifle and custard!), cooked at a variety of youth hostels and homes

-The fog at Rotorua, so thick that we ran over a poor cow, standing hapless in the road with its friends

-The farming family of 20 with whom we stayed a few days. Food prep there was massive! On a Sunday, the Americans cooked them a Thanksgiving dinner, just because they were curious about it (we made duck rather than turkey - I can't believe it!).


-Seeing an American car at a stop somewhere, and being invited to the owner-lady's house. Riding in that pink and luxurious car made us hopelessly homesick and nostalgic.

So. Travel. It's been central to me ever since that one year, at the bottom of the World. Perhaps this was where a more Bohemian lifestyle began to creep in. Making me the perfect wife for a military man who every 2 to 4 years was compelled to up sticks and move the family elsewhere! 

With the journey nearing its end, it was time to begin preparing for the way back to my home. The USA was once again calling (I was surprisingly interested in seeing an American flag again). There was so much I wanted to go back to, and so much I did not want to leave. A conundrum! But a Visa was winding down to its finale, and I would be compelled to go. Would love to go.

But I realized all at once that with my new and dear friends, the lecturers we had come to love, the uniqueness and almost strangeness of that far away (but brilliant) spot, I was really and truly no longer alone, at the bottom of the World.

But, Providence was calling me home.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 6)

40 years is quite a while to keep a memory. But the 40 seem like nothing when I sit back and think, think of the sweetness that was that year in New Zealand..

It was the end of the second school term at Capernwray Lodge, and the three American girls wanted to spread our wings a bit. Get ourselves somehow to the South Island of New Zealand. We had heard much about it, about its beauty, its mountains, its people. But it would take ways and means, and this we did not have. We only had a Dream.

People learned of this dream, and reached out to help make it come true for their beloved American 'trio'. Kind Kiwi friends offered themselves and their car, to take us South and keep us safe en route. Roommates worried that we may not have warm enough clothing (the trip was in May/June, the beginning of winter there), so they donated and loaned cozy coats and sweaters. 

We would be five students, two of whom were especially concerned about expenses. We had run a little bit low, but nothing could stop the adventure now. To make us more comfortable, the driver established a 'kitty', and we two were put in charge of it. Brilliant idea! Everyone donated an amount, and when that was spent they donated another. We two took scrupulous care, and ruled kitty with an iron fist. Beware the power of the Purse!

And so, we were off, to drive, to find youth hostels, to stay with friends from the school, and to see the magnificence that is New Zealand's South Island. 

*Youth Hostel, Mount Cook New Zealand

We have never forgotten those weeks, where friendship became sisterhood. And we've never yet lost our love for, and appreciation of, the kitty.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post En Route!

Hello dear readers! I am currently writing a post but feel it is not ready to be revealed tonight. Therefore I shall keep working on it and hope for a morning delivery. And - I did NOT find a scone today! Too bad. But the day was wonderful anyway.

Thank you for coming!

the SconeLady

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Shall Be Looking for a Scone

The day began with donuts. 

It was a simple enough start, electrifying to all small people and tolerable for the adults (oatmeal has rescued them). Mary Poppins is singing her heart out from the flat screen, and six little feet are dancing along.

When Grandma walked in with the bag of donuts, a small sweet thing dashed to fetch a plastic plate and holding it upwards, piped out 'A donut, peeze?'


The electric train sits idle for now, and little dolls are asleep in their 4 foot mansion. You see, the family will soon strap themselves into cars and head for the sea! At the kitchen table, son and son-in-law are plotting perfect surf locations. The pretty daughter sits folding laundry and overseeing the small dancing feet in front of her.   
Kyle Cowgill, surfing Manhattan Beach
It is all part of what we have looked so forward to, from our woodland cabin in the North. Only weeks ago we felt the bite of -25F, and now we bask in the 80's! Inexplicable luxury. So it could be tough to leave ('South' does have a nice ring to it).

What will we do in this warm idyll? In this sun-and-sea getaway with loving and lovely people? I'm not sure, but one certain thing is that I shall be looking for a scone! It has been far too long, and surely in this brilliant spot the chances of finding a nice one seem quite high. Perhaps in a place with a white table cloth near the shore. Who knows?

I share these bits with you because you are my faithful readers, coming back to this space for whatever may have been placed here. Rather like a small, daily gift. A simple click! and it is unwrapped..

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithskeltonphoto/4282658246/">Keith Skelton - California Photography Workshops</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Friday, December 27, 2013

Secrets Revealed!

Do you celebrate Christmas by the sharing of gifts? And have you seen a success in these Christmas gift choices? It is often hard to get it just right, I know! 

For me, there have been three especially sweet responses to child Christmas gifts this go around. And it has proven to be such enormous fun!

Much thought and discussion surrounded these choices. Aunts, mothers and cousins had been asked their opinions as to the giving of those gifts. I was happy to realize that these opinions turned out to be sound and dependable.

*The first was a Savannah Doll House, for the three year old granddaughter. Her response was open-mouthed shock and awe on Christmas morning. She saw the four stories, the cutest ever furniture, the porch swing, and the dolls themselves. But best of all, she saw the baby crib. The sight of a baby crib is the height of importance in the eyes of this small sprite. The Savannah has already provided hours of imaginative entertainment, and promises more to come.

*The next Christmas gift with pazazz was the Polar Express battery operated train set, made by Lionel TrainsThis train was a dear wish of the 6 year old grandson, and he has never stopped thanking us for it. He loves the four cars (with tiny people catching a ride on the top). The train is operated by a remote control device, which enables it to move forward and backward at different speeds. There are the realistic train noises, the conductor's voice calling out 'All Aboard!', and lots of bright lights. Just the thing for a first grader!

*The last success, which has caused great joy among all three grands is a superior product called Magna Tiles by KidKraft. It was received by the two year old who does enjoy playing with the tiles (a.k.a. throwing them as projectiles across the room). But the real beneficiary is the 3 year old girl. She moves like a yoyo between the doll house and these Magna Tiles. 

The most fun I have these days is seeing the thankful faces of those three beaming up toward us. It is true that they each have an ability to find joy in things which cost nothing, such as cardboard boxes which serve as their 'cars'. 

But two days ago, we struck gold in the Christmas gift department. Sweet!

And, what with all the excitement surrounding the holiday and new things to distract each of us, the two year old (remember his penchant for butter?) slipped into the kitchen last night. He was just on the brink of . . . . 

. . . when in the nick of time, Grandma came upon the scene and saved the day! But he was so disappointed that I almost wished I hadn't noticed. . .

Poor little thing. Butter would have been such a smashing end to this wonderful day.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Waving Goodbye

Boxing Day

We have spent this Boxing Day in a bright and dazzling climate. The children could play endlessly outside with small cousins, and everybody had great food. Family members reconnected with those they had not seen in a long, long time. 

We were prepared to keep a close eye on the grandchildren, but it turned out they did not need our watchfulness. They were FINE, thank you very much! Once in a while one or the other would pause briefly to touch us and say something like, 'She is my  friend!' and run on.

There never seems to be any trouble with helping cousins to get along. They seem to do it without interference from the grownups.  Not one game had to be organized today among the cousins who gathered. There was a tennis court out back, with basketball hoops cemented at either end. Balls and rackets were conveniently placed at easy eye level and the kids just grabbed and ran. 

They loved having us out there playing along, but they didn't really need the help. Their young uncle/cousin (our son) was a dazzling and willing participant in anything they might think up. Nothing they wanted to do was too boring, and the littles ran round him like small gnats.

It was sad to go. The singsongy voices of tiny people rang out down the street as one van

loaded up and drove away. 'But Grandma, where are they going?' said the 3 year old granddaughter with wide, sad eyes.

'Home. They're going home, my darling.' 

'But why?' she said.

I was suddenly reminded of one sad day when my own small cousins watched as we piled into our station wagon for the long drive home. So much fun had been had. So many games played. So many old fashioned dresses, shoes and hats tried on in front of Grandma's big mirrors. We were all crying. 

Why did it have to end?

I didn't have a very good answer for the tiny sprite at my side. So I just hugged her, and led her back into the house.

You might wonder, was there anything lacking here in this one, glorious day? I think not. Except, perhaps - animosity.

There was a glorious lack of that.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gruenemann/3941213139/">Gruenemann</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I can't Believe It's Butter

One Christmastime, not long after seeing the movie Julie & Julia (2009), we bought Julia Child's book  Capturing the Art of French Cooking. I was drawn to it at first by the sight of a splendid chocolate pie being made.

One of the first ingredients listed in the recipes? Butter. Lots and lots of it! If one is going to cook French food, as did Julia, one had better get on down to the local and buy a good amount, because you are going to need it.

Cooking your foods in butter heightens their taste significantly. I cringe right now to think that there have been times when Cool Whip and diet jam sat quite alone upon my refrigerator shelves. Not all the time, you see, but - times

I am now someone who does not think guiltily of Butter. This is good for the SconeLady, as almost nothing is as good without it. Case in point - scones.

Possibly I am thinking about this commodity these days because we are visiting grandchildren who have a healthy view of it, and of food in general. This is because their mother thinks of healthiness in eating. She is an example of it, and kindly leans toward it. The two year old (it has been mentioned) has no need to worry about calories, and has availed himself of the butter dish when his mother was not looking. 

There was no negative consequence, apart from the unjust disappearance of the butter dish when he most wanted to find it.

                                              Some things in life just aren't fair.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/3061691298/">Robert S. Donovan</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Now, About That Butter

My dear scone-lovers.

We are all on the brink of a lovely Christmas, anticipating some lovely food. Besides our upcoming breakfast of fresh cinnamon rolls and Quiche Lorraine, there is a ham dinner afoot. The accompanying set of my sister's pies will suffice to put us all practically 'under the table', groaning.

It is well known that we have reason to be thankful. Our daughter, she of the rolls, quiche, and ham dinner, expressed this sentiment while up to her elbows in flour. Three freshly scrubbed and eager blond children were helping in the preparations (the 2 year old was safely tucked into his high chair to preclude any attempts toward the butter).

The three and the six year old followed their mother's instructions, and all of them experienced the rewards of good hard work (their mother knows the value of an occasional taste).

Keenly aware of strange secrets whispered among the adults, all small eyes are peeled. Sleep may not come easily this night, but it will come. And parents will sneak down to assemble complicated doll houses and train sets, squinting at the small print. These are the time tested procedures that we do each year, but never grow tired of. It is all so much fun.

During the Christmas Eve service, we participated in Lessons and Carols; hearing the Truths which never change. The children listened, holding their candles carefully, and keeping (mostly) silent (the two year old proudly sitting on the kneelers: 'I sit here, daddy!').

And now I had better close this laptop, ready to greet those sweet grandchildren early tomorrow morning. I know you are each thinking your own thoughts about what tomorrow will be, for you. I hope and trust it is all you hope for, on this Christmas Eve of 2013.

God Bless!
                                  the SconeLady
Granddaughter's Christmas candle

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Monday, December 23, 2013

And Mary Pondered

"And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

Luke 2 is a good place to start. A place to see the arrival of a Gift so exquisite that it left shepherds, kings and Mother each wondering, and asking, and pondering. 

And the grasping of it may mean changes are afoot! It could mean becoming a person who suddenly stops thinking only of himself. Or exchanging a tortured nightmare for the chance to sleep in 'Heavenly Peace'. 

For the Gift is not momentary, but life on infinite terms.

It can be grasped. It has been. To some it may seem ancient years since the Holy Night took place in Bethlehem. But eternity sees that moment as though it were Now, and Then. The angels, after all this time, have never stopped their singing.


Meanwhile, your Gift awaits. And it is well worth pondering.

See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/6439649585/">Waiting For The Word</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"They Won't Be Expecting That!"


All over this world today, the Sunday before Christmas, people have gathered to celebrate that upcoming Day as a family. Children have been included in services normally populated by the adults alone. It is only fitting that this should be so, as we acknowledge the fact that God came here as a tiny child, Himself.

Because these small ones joined us for that hour, the hour was not quite as calm as church normally is! As we walked through those doors today, I immediately saw a difference. There was a liveliness around me. Some children were running. Some were laughing. Young parents were herding, the mothers watchful.


But it was all good. A pan of fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls reposed temptingly at the center of each table, with bright new crayons and Christmas images. A 'corral' of childhood toys was set up at the back, for the smaller ones if they finished eating and coloring.

The music was inviting and upbeat, Christmas carols at their best. And then at just the right moment, 'Silent Night' rang throughout the auditorium, and all restlessness settled into silence itself. All was calm, all was bright.
In those little faces, we could see the wonder that is beginning to dawn for them. The miracle of Christmas that brought that other Child so far, down to us. 

In my home, a sweet illustration of God's plan for Christmas has been watched over and over. It is called "An Unexpected Christmas", and was created by children from New Zealand, my long ago home-away-from-home. Your children and grandchildren will love it too. 

Bring it out and watch it with them, here. You will soon be thinking, "Brilliant! They won't be expecting that!"

Merry Christmas!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/b-tal/68139854/">B Tal</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Vision of Miss Dove

If you have ever seen the 1955 movie, 'Good Morning, Miss Dove', you will recognize this face. There was something about the noble lady that made me wish to stand in her shoes. The students called her 'the terrible Miss Dove' behind her back. But they all loved her.  

Back then I did not know that there had to be something which crafted that 'nobility'. I was to learn something of it in New Zealand. 

I had a job over the break, at a Children's Health Camp. No one spoke of health at this camp, and I did not know how the children came to be there. Perhaps they had become orphaned, or temporarily displaced.

I thought I would be an assistant to some matronly female of robust stature. But no! I    was to be a Matron, immediately gifted with a large troop of my own rascally rascals. They took one look at me and sensed easy pickings.

30 girls, ages 12 - 14, went at it with a will. They ran if I said walk. The smallest went missing and was found by the director, hiding in a cupboard in the men's toilet. They took to repeating, in unison, everything I said, in exactly my accent. It was all most traumatizing.

These darlings plagued that first week. And then! one morning I instructed the girls to 'Line up, please' (their signal to scurry into hiding places beneath the building). At this, something inside of me all at once broke. I had hit the wall. I could take no more.

I became the 'terrible' Miss Dove.

Out of my throat came a Voice I did not recognize (neither did they). It sounded ominous and - well, terrible. All at once the girls scrambled, got into a straight line, extending their arms forward, and stood. In silence. 

It felt like magic, but I think 'miracle' is a better word. From that moment the voice of Miss Dove was not to be defied ever again. The scenario shifted from horror to pleasure, for once they did not need to be naughty, the girls became surprisingly interested and eager. This would not have happened without the Backbone I so suddenly discovered.

Somehow a seed of 'nobility' was planted that day. It was to be some years before a red apple would be handed to me by a cherubic student. There were many more lessons ahead. But I would be forever grateful for that first lesson I learned, alone, at the bottom of the World.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 5)

It's All About The Food!


Any mention of food in this space elicits a heightened response. Several faithful readers have shared their surprise at having pancakes for lunch (along with the white bread, scones and tomato soup). The scone-lovers among us especially perked up at the mention of a scone. They are fans of the scone and emit a cheer each time the SconeLady utters it. 

But they think mostly in terms of a scone with tea, or with jam and cream, tea sandwiches, tea cakes, maybe even lemon bars. Maybe not so much with pancakes and white bread. Therefore let us think of it this way: we need not lower our standards, my friends, but perhaps we can broaden them to include the odd pancake!


Today, in honor of the inclusion of the pancake, I Googled up a New Zealand recipe for you. The pancakes above are from a Women's Weekly blog, and don't they look smashing? I suspect you will need the recipe, and may soon make them for your own eager families - for breakfast or for lunch. 

New Zealand PANCAKES
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
100ml water
200ml milk
25g butter

Sift flour and salt. Add eggs, then water and milk mixture. Melt the butter, and add. Bake round cakes on a greased hot griddle. The Women's Weekly blogger recommends you serve them with a bit of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. 

I, however, plan to reach for the syrup. It's what all good Americans do.


See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alone at the Bottom of the World (part 4)

New Zealand:
Where they speak English, and Understand American

This statement was in a brochure intended as a comfort for hapless traveling Americans. The trouble was, the company found that many Americans had...

Never heard of New Zealand?? (Oh dear). I am embarrassed now to reveal that in 1972, I was one of those. (This bears no reflection upon my Geography teachers, who tried in all good faith to insert knowledge). But I made up for this deficit by falling entirely in love with the beauty of New Zealand, its people, their slightly-gentler-than-Aussie ways, and their food. 

Oh - NOT!!!!!!

At least not at first. I think it just took a bit of time to get used to beans-on-toast for breakfast (and creamed corn-on-toast, and then spaghetti-on-toast!). A letter home noted that our first lunch consisted of white bread, scones, tomato soup, and pancakes. No one could understand when the Americans asked for syrup.

I am not making fun of this food, I'm really not. Given time, I began looking forward to it. I grew to especially like Tuesday's generous servings of sausage and mash for dinner, which my American friend absolutely refused to eat. I took to eating hers as well as my own. 

Someone said that they had 'gained a stone' during the course of that year...  Oops! was that me? (Do you know what a stone is, my friend? It is NZ-speak for 14 pounds. *ahem*). 

I think every American young person should spend a year, if they can, in a country not their own. The uniqueness of other people and other places can paint a panorama never dreamed of. The yawning teenager becomes aware that he or she is not, after all, the only Focus of the universe.

Perhaps their parents wouldn't even recognize them upon their return. And not just because of the stone they may have 'collected' while they were away!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

                           Brochure on this pate is my own, from papers gathered during 1972-1973

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 3)

The Trio

We were to meet that night in the Lodge, 40 strangers, students of multiple nationalities. A few of the students did not speak English. Everyone felt a bit shy.

I was keen to find the other Americans, and began a quick inspection. There would be 4 of us - 3 girls and a 17 year old boy. Perhaps that other blond, over there..? But then our director, Tony, and his wife introduced themselves to the group and shared the dream - no, the mission of Capernwray.

Someone noticed my guitar. In his quiet and gentle way, Tony asked if I might perhaps agree to lead the group in some music? Absolutely! I asked if anyone had a request, and someone (an Australian) shouted out 'God Save the Queen!' This broke the ice, and we were off!

As a last piece, I introduced the song 'For Those Tears I Died', and began to sing it. At the chorus, first one and then two female voices joined with mine. Suddenly the lovely sounds of harmony rang out in that place, and we forgot our uncertainties, lost in the words:

You said You'd come and share all my sorrows,
And You said You'd be there for all my tomorrows.
I came so close to sending You away,
But just like You promised, You came there to stay,
I just had to pray.

And Jesus said, 'Come to the water, stand by My side.
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you cried.
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.'
lyrics and music by Marsha Stevens

Silence followed the song's end. I glanced shyly over to see who had been singing with me, and knew just by looking that they were the two other American girls (there was just something about those smiles). Smiles and hugs! We were a trio! 

Laughter and applause erupted from the group, and all at once we were no longer strangers, not even just classmates. No, we were much more than that.

We were a Family. 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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