Sunday, August 13, 2017

A VERY SPECIAL PRESENT

Our daughter who just visited us gave me a very special present!  A few years ago she took up pottery, a creative activity that takes a lot of skill and training.  Last week she gave me a bowl that she had made, a very, very nice bowl:
It's placed on the sofa cushion to show how well it coordinates with the upholstery.  In this next picture it is on the coffee table, which will be its special place in the living room.


I really love anything made by hand.  Handmade objects show time and skill, and a willingness to use them to give something of value.  

In the 80's I taught Suzuki violin in Kelowna, B.C. for five years.  When we left for Regina, my students' parents got together and bought several pieces of pottery from a local studio as a goodbye gift for me.  I thought it was about the nicest present I had ever received.  There was a coffee pot, a sugar and creamer,  six smallish mugs, a dinner plate and rice bowl (for snacks) and 6 luncheon plates, all decorated with a "soft fruit" design, such a very Okanagan icon.  The Okanagan is THE PLACE for soft fruits.  Many orchards offer U-Pick and it's possible to pick, for instance, huge ripe peaches that come off easily into your hand.  It's just not possible to buy that kind of fruit in any grocery store!

Within a year I had accidentally broken the coffee pot, so I simply ordered another one from that pottery studio.  I also ordered 5 more dinner plates and 5 more rice bowls and a serving bowl.  We still have the coffee pot, the sugar and creamer, 6 mugs, the serving bowl, 5 dinner plates and 4 luncheon plates.  All the delicate rice bowls are history.  These are the dishes we use every day, and you can be sure that I think of all those good people in Kelowna and feel grateful very often!

I don't plan to use this new bowl that way.  It will hold place of honour in the living room for as a long as I'm here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

TIME FOR GOODBYE

Sniff, sniff....they just left!  The Dear One is driving them to the airport for their flight home.  It was a wonderful visit.  I enjoyed them so much!  But a whole week has gone by and now it's time for them to leave again.

Usually the "goodbye" picture is taken by their car, all packed up and ready to go.  But this time the DSIL had to stay home for work reasons, and they didn't drive.  So here's an indoor goodbye picture, and that actually works better--no one's squinting into the sun.

Goodbye and God Bless!  For another year.

One of the sad things in my life is that we never have and probably never will live close to growing grandkids.  Some things in life are just the way they are and have to be accepted!

We did have another nice day out together yesterday.  We went to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller--the Dinosaur museum.  On the way we took a little detour through the country in order to cross the Red Deer River on this little ferry.  The kids had never been on a ferry before.  About 45 years ago the Dear One and I crossed with this ferry.  I should dig out the old slide of the ferry to compare with this new one.



The trip is SHORT!!!  Just 344 feet.  The kids comment was, "Why not just build a bridge?"  I mentioned this to the nice young man operating the ferry and he replied, "No one would come here if there were a bridge."  He's probably right.  We came just to give the kids a "ferry experience."


The weather was beautiful, the drive was enjoyable and the countryside looked quite lush, considering this is Alberta and the middle of August!

I had been to the dinosaur museum a few times already.  In fact, way back in the '70's the Dear One and I visited it when it was in a small building long before this "world-class" museum was built.

There were many exhibits I hadn't seen before and everything is very well done, but I have a few negative comments, and probably wouldn't have noticed these things except for our recent visit to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

First: there aren't nearly enough ladies' washrooms.  There are just two washrooms for women in the museum, and there are long lineups whenever you want to use them.  They need at least twice the washroom capacity.

Second: The museum is laid out in one very long continuous gallery.  That's not very family friendly!  The Science Centre has all separate but connected galleries, so you can go from one to another, or you can return to the centre atrium.  The Tyrell does not have a central atrium, just a rather modest (considering the number of visitors) space beyond the entry kiosks.

Then when you want to take a break for lunch you need to finish walking through, go to the cafeteria and then try to re-enter against the traffic flow, unless you want to repeat the whole journey through the long, winding gallery.  The two grandkids were going to go ahead of DD. and myself, and were stopped by a "traffic police" and told they were not allowed to enter unless they showed proof of payment.  We were not each given a pass, we had just one for the whole "family."  So they came back and waited for us.  That could be dealt with in a better way.

And then lastly a minor "quibble": everyone must exit through the gift shop.  I rather object to that in principle, as it seems a little too pushy to me.  But just practically, it created a real traffic jam, as there was only a narrow aisle between displays.  Someone was trying to push a wheelchair through and had a tough time of it.  Someone else was walking with a cane and also could hardly manage the congestion.

I guess that was not "lastly" as I have one more comment: It's not really a good outing for young children.  Once a three year old has seen a few dinosaur skeletons, they've had enough.  They are just not good for two or three hours of the same.  There are no interactive displays, and I can understand why, so there really is nothing for the young ones to do.  The newer beginning area of the museum was a very "intellectual" display that children under 12 would not relate to at all.

It is a really excellent dinosaur museum, but it's really not a "kid-space."  There were quite a few unhappy children there--a complete contrast to the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

BEEN BUSY

Saturday I picked up D.D.#2 and her two children, 16 and 12, from the airport.  We had a nice supper at Smitty's on the way home and got back to town early enough to pick up a few groceries for the next few days.  It's a treat to have a visit with these dear ones!  And we miss her husband but his job with the post office is too new for him to qualify for holidays in August.

Tuesday we went to the Telus Spark Centre in Calgary, a fairly new and exceedingly good science centre, with tons of interactive displays for children to learn about science. There are about 5 different galleries, organized around different topics.  There's also a theatre, but we didn't go there.  Outdoors there is a very "stimulating" playground, aimed at developing physical and mental abilities.

For me, one of the most enjoyable activities was in the large airy atrium where there were lots of big blue blocks made of some sort of rubbery substance, in several different shapes that made building things easy.  Young children were having a wonderful time with them, running around, building things out of their imagination.  Some made up a little "teeter-totter" with them.  Others created a pile to jump over, others made a sort of rocking horse. I saw so many happy children there--that was a treat for me.

In the "Being Human" gallery there was a fountain--as part of a toilet!!! Its purpose was to illustrate instinctive recoils.  There was a sign saying it was clean water--go ahead and drink!

That's the granddaughter overcoming her instinctive dislike of "drinking from a toilet"!

Yesterday DD and the grands went to town, visited the library and the very fine book/gift store in town.  The kids picked out a game each and DD found an interesting cookbook.  While they were away I finished sewing the binding on the quilt, "Entwined."  It's complete now, and she can take it home with her.




It's pictured in our bedroom where it would also look very good.  It's not quite as big as my usual bed quilt.  I like to make them reach to the floor.  But they have a dog who would chew on the quilt that reached the floor, so it's somewhat abbreviated.  To that end, I also rounded off the bottom corners which would otherwise "pool" on the floor.

This quilt was an enjoyable project from beginning to end.  I seldom make a quilt from all new material, but the materials for this top were all bought in one greatly fun, afternoon.  The Fabric Nook, our local quilting shop, was having their semi-annual 50% off sale and I found everything I needed for the top.  The pattern had the darker colours all one dark blue, but I decided I'd prefer using a mixture.  I love how it turned out!

Next up: sandwich and quilt the Picket Fence.  That will hang up in The Fabric Nook with a sign advertising a demonstration day in September at which Brenda and I will show how to cut and sew a Picket Fence quilt.  That will be fun!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A QUILTY DAY

No picking or juicing happened today because last night we had a thunderstorm that stayed around for a long time and dumped about 1" of badly needed water on our area.  While we were thankful for that moisture it made everything too wet to be out in the bushes picking cherries, etc.  Plus, it was a dark, gloomy day and one that stayed cold (not enough sunshine!).  The high temperature for the day at our place was a steady +15ºC, or 59ºF.  Not too inspiring for working in a garden!

It did seem like a good day to work on quilts!  The Raggy Quilt is finished!  Here are a few photos:
Snipping of seams finished, before washing and drying:
That's the special scissors there on the quilt.  It springs open after each cut, and that saves a tremendous amount of wear of your hand!  Here's a close up of the snipped but not washed and dried seams.

Here's what the quilt looks like after two trips through the washer and dryer:
And here's a closeup of the seams after the washer/dryer treatment:

I'm pretty happy with this bright, fuzzy quilt, and also happy that it's finished (except it needs a label on the back) so early.  It's for a baby due in November!

Later today I sewed the label on the Entwined quilt and am working on finishing the hand stitching of the binding to the back of the quilt.  This one needs to be finished before Saturday.  

With that and the cleaning that needs to be complete before the weekend, I'm giving up the idea of finishing the scraping and painting of the downstairs door and window frame.  It can wait a while.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A "FOODY" DAY

In the morning (and sometimes the night before) I make plans for what I should accomplish that day.  Today I planned to clean downstairs where the spare bedroom and bathroom are, because on Saturday DD#2 and her two children (16 and 12) are arriving for a visit.  We look forward so much to this as all our children and grandchildren live at least a day's drive or an airplane ride away.  I am blessed to see them once a year!

But after my friend M. and I did our 2 1/2 mile walk this morning she gave me some zucchini.  This year we have no zucchini in the garden--so my friends can "unload" some of their extra on us.  You always have extra zucchini when you have any in your garden!

I remember the first time we grew zucchini.  We had no idea!  We planted three long rows.  The harvest amounted to a few tons.  We finally used them for "green" fertilizer.

So I came home from the walk and started slicing and sautéing zucchini--for about an hour.  Then I added a can of diced tomatoes--we are all out of our own canned and frozen tomatoes--onions, garlic, loose-fried ground beef, oregano, basil and a little seasoned salt. Together with a few ears of delicious fresh corn from the garden, it made a very lovely dinner for us.

In the meantime S. had been picking the last bucket of raspberries.  There will be more, but no more bucketsful.  The rest we'll eat as they come.  That was enough for 2 1/2 quarts of freezer raspberry jam, bringing the total to 17 quarts.  That might be enough.  I gave away a large container of it on Saturday to the young couple who moved into the north house across the road as a "welcome to the neighbourhood" present.  They'll surely enjoy that.

Have you ever made freezer raspberry jam?  For four cups of crushed raspberries, put one and a half cups of sugar in a measuring cup, mix in one package of freezer jam jelling powder, add the sugar/jelling powder to the crushed raspberries and stir for 3 minutes.  It's ready!  Put it into containers and freeze it--makes about 6 cups, or just put it in the fridge and spread it on your breakfast toast.  DELICIOUS!!!  It tastes very different from cooked jam--a much "brighter" flavour, slightly on the tart side.  YUM!

Then she picked 3 ice-cream pails of Nanking cherries.  There's only one quart of cherry juice left from last year.  They went into the steam juicer and here's the result:

Six jars of ruby red cherry juice, all set to make syrup or jelly, or just use as juice.  YUM again!

Tomorrow, hopefully, there will be more picking and more juice making, storing up the summer's goodness to enjoy throughout the year.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

RAGGY QUILT

The sewing of the raggy quilt is finished just now.  It's a very quick quilt to make--up to this point.  Now it needs to have all those "on top" seams clipped, then it needs to be washed and dried at least once.  Because it's flannel it should fray quite well.  I will post a picture when it's finished.  So far I like it a lot.

I added an extra fabric, 1" wide, around the edges and then pressed it over.  That will give the edges the same amount of "rag" as the inner seams.

I sewed this quilt on my portable Janome, the School Mate that I bought when I first started going to the town quilting club.  The bigger machine that I had at that time was not suitable for taking to those meetings.  This is a mechanical machine and utterly reliable.  It was an excellent investment (a little dark in this photo as the sun was shining brightly behind it.)

Next up: My friend Shirley (one of three Shirleys whom I count as friends) was kind enough to make this label for the "Entwined" quilt for me on her embroidery machine.  I really like that she put the design alongside the letters, as the design is entwined!

I'll press this, iron on some wonder under, and apply it to the bottom backing of the quilt.  That needs to be finished before next Saturday, as DD#2 and the two "grands" are arriving for a visit that day.  Much to look forward to!

Friday, July 28, 2017

CORN and DISEASE

Today I picked the first three ears of corn for our dinner.  They were very good.  Picked, shucked, boiled for one minute, served with butter, salt and pepper.  That's hard to beat!

The first time I served corn to the Dear One shortly after we were married he looked at it and said, "That's pig food!"  He had grown up in the Netherlands and had never had sweet corn, so, yes, field corn, is animal fodder.  But I told him it was my favourite vegetable.  He dared to try it and he found, yes, it's a great vegetable.

He did somewhat the same thing with pizza.  Early on, if I made pizza for the kids and myself, I had to make him a "regular" dinner.  Dutchmen love their potatoes and veggies!

When I was just a babe sitting in the highchair my mom gave me corn cobs to suck on to keep me happy while the rest of the family had their dinner.  My cousin Marilyn went home scandalized and told Aunt Sue, "Aunt Jo gave the baby corn cobs for dinner!"

But back to today.  I picked three nice ears, the first ones ripe enough to eat.  Then I saw some ears trampled over, the stalks lying down on the ground.  "Well those blasted deer," I thought, "if they don't eat it, they wreck it!"  I pulled up the broken stalk and realized it was probably not deer depredations: it's probably some disease in the corn!  I went online and looked at many, many pictures of diseased corn.  There was nothing that really matched what our corn looks like:

Does anyone know what this problem is?  And what to do about it?  How to prevent it from happening in the future?

When the afternoon cools down a little I need to go out there and remove all the ears that have become diseased, in the hope that it doesn't spread to the good ears.  I love corn and want to enjoy the fruits of all my work to bring it to the table.