Setting Up

  • What is more enjoyable? The process of creation, planning, rehearsing, building sets or the actual performance itself with the inherent anxiety and applause that the word implies? It's moot, isn't it? I love both (proc. & perf.) and that’s sort of a mission with Theatre Lab. To take the onus off performance; being on stage, the limelight, the sparkly stuff. There’s a dark glamour about backstage and production that is enchanting if only one gets into it.

    Here at the farm we've been setting up for Christmas 2010. Madan and Anna loaded up their car with provisions, wine, the kids, Feather...we loaded up with tart trays, wineglasses, fairy lights and tinsel....and onward ho!


    After the Heap Debacle, I ventured into Cookie Dough Ornament territory. Fortunately this one is a no-brainer and besides the fact that I couldn’t find my Christmas cookie cutters (angel, bell, star) and so had to make do with a single, round shape, I’m pleased to report that all went well. Here’s a recipe:

    The Cookie Dough Ornaments
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup salt
    1 1/2 cups warm water

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
    Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a knitting needle or skewer make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) until hard, about 1 hour. Decorate with poster colours and a layer varnish to preserve. Run ribbon through the holes and make a bow.

    We have 40 family and friends + 4 dogs staying over Christmas. Brinda, Pat & Yann + 20 friends and 3 of their dogs + 3 of our dogs are staying over the new year.


    The weather is crisp and wintry. The togri, huruli and avarekkai are doing well (although the fields look really weedy) and await a winter reaping. I made some Limoncello (with limes) and Christmas Cakes a couple weeks ago. The Limoncello is gorgeous, a light lemon colour and really fragrant, a recipe worth trying. I totally trust Nigel Slater’s recipes and so made his Christmas Cake. But I messed up on the quantity of fruit (too much) as I’m hopeless with conversions. So my cake is having a hard time holding together but tastes lovely. I offer you both recipes:


    ·         15 lemons (I used limes)
    ·         2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka or grain alcohol
    ·         4 cups sugar
    ·         5 cups water

    Step 1:
    Wash and dry the lemons.
    Zest lemons, making sure not to get the pith.
    Add one bottle of vodka and the zest to a 1-gallon glass jar.
    Let sit 10 to 45 days.
    Store the jar in a cool, dry place and don't leave near sunlight.
    The longer the zest sits in the vodka, the more vibrant the color of the liquid.

    Step 2 (After 10 to 45 days):
    Combine sugar and water in a pan and cook until thickened to make a simple syrup. Let this mixture cool and add to the limoncello mixture.
    Add the additional bottle of vodka in and leave it alone for 10 to 45 days.

    Step 3 (After an additional 10 to 45 days):
    When done aging, strain out the lemon zest and bottle the limoncello. It's easiest to save old glass liquor bottles and clean them thoroughly before bottling.
    Keep the limoncello in the freezer and serve icy cold.

    See this link for Nigel Slater’s Christmas Cake
    For our tree at the farm, we all trudged off looking for a dried branch. Zui had this idea that the farm tree should be minimalist, adorned with just red baubles and the cookie dough ornaments. Kuki finally spotted the perfect one near the rocks at the north end. Zui cut it for us and then the kids painted it white.

     This was followed by the usual argument about the perfect spot for the tree and the manger.  

    And finally, as the sun set, the lights went on.

    Only to discover that the star was so close to the roof that it was invisible from anywhere but the spot just beneath the tree. “The three wise men saw the star from the east and we can’t even see it from the verandah” griped Madan. So tomorrow, we change that, for the star must be visible to all.

    Its Christmas time folks, why does this make us so happy? Is it the year end or is it because it frees us to simply love? No Cartesian confusion about intelligence versus emotions. And if you get far enough from the duplicity of capitalism disguised as festivity, you can rest into your family and loved ones, no stress about how much, how big, how important, how known, how seen...and have yourself a really sweet Christmas.
    This is my Christmas wish for me. And for you.

    In the spirit of the love we bear and the love we ought to bear, I leave you with this…

    Tat Tvam Asi

    And this…

    Abiding in the Shadow of the Almighty 
    (Psalm 91. From The Holy Bible: King James version)
    He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
    shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say of the LORD,
    He is my refuge and my fortress:
    my God; in him will I trust.
    Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
    and from the noisome pestilence.
    He shall cover thee with his feathers,
    and under his wings shalt thou trust:
    his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
    nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
    nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
    nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
    A thousand shall fall at thy side,
    and ten thousand at thy right hand;
    but it shall not come nigh thee.
    Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold
    and see the reward of the wicked.
    Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge,
    even the Most High, thy habitation;
    there shall no evil befall thee,
    neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
    For he shall give his angels charge over thee, 
    to keep thee in all thy ways.
    They shall bear thee up in their hands,
    lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 
    Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
    the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 
    Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
    I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
    He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will deliver him, and honor him.
    With long life will I satisfy him,
    and show him my salvation.

    Merry Christmas...much togetherness, much laughter, much peace!

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