Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Last Saturday Jim brought two books home from the public library on Bullard.  He started reading The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and I started reading Messy.  He had joked that he brought it home for me, not because I'm messy, but because he is messy and I'm pretty much on the other end of that spectrum.

I love orderliness and say my middle name is "Organization."  My parents had a little joke they would show their guests when I was just a toddler, not even old enough to speak.  They would say, "Watch," and fold back the edge of a throw rug in the dining room.  The first time I happened to wander by I reliably straightened out the rug.  It's just the way I am.

Sometimes when a person says "It's just the way I am" I suspect that person is avoiding facing a character fault that needs correcting.  But in this case, I don't see it as a character fault.

Now team that up with a husband who thinks the bedroom chair, or perhaps better, the floor is a good place to leave his discarded clothing.  Why bother with hanging it up or folding it into a drawer when you're going to need it again in a day or two?  You can imagine that we've had some conflict over these different points of view!

Well, this book revealed a lot of things to me.  First the fact that the challenges you face in an unfamiliar situation, though disturbing and perhaps even distressing, end up being opportunities.  I related this to the many changes I've had to face in our life together, not in terms of relating to the Dear One, but because we moved, often as much as 800 to 2,000 miles to a new home, a new pastorate for Jim, new schools for the kids, and a complete new environment for each of us.

For me that meant reinventing myself as a teacher.  I majored in Latin in college, aiming to teach in high school.  At the time I graduated Latin was being phased out.  There were no high school Latin teaching positions, so I took a post as a grade 5 teacher.  I loved it!  The next year it was a 4/5 split class.  That was stressful!  No matter how much I prepared I felt that the students weren't getting enough.  The following year I taught in a departmentalized junior high.

Then Jim graduated from seminary and we started having babies, four in all!  I absolutely loved that time of life, and soon enough we were into the next stage: providing for and bringing up four children.  When the youngest were in school I became a kindergarten teacher to four year-olds.  That was fun!

We moved again and for a year I was not working (outside the home).  In the meantime I was involved in the music area of the churches we served--playing organ and directing the choir.  Then the opportunity came to teach Suzuki violin, and that was absorbing.  I learned more from teaching violin than I ever did from taking lessons!

Another move and another new teaching position, this one as a Latin instructor in University of Regina--twenty-five years after studying Latin in college.  THAT was a stretch!  But it fit me like a glove!  I felt like that was what I was supposed to do with my life.  The next year teaching Greek Mythology was added.  That was the biggest stretch I ever did! because I had never studied Greek mythology and had to learn it all before I could pass it on.  But what a plum course!  Such total fun to teach!  I was scared silly before the first class--never having given a lecture and then starting with two hour classes in summer school.  Once I got past the first week, it was all fun.  Hard work, but (to coin a phrase) hard fun!

So this book prompted me to look back over my life and appreciate the value of all these "forced" evolutions.  As a tree grows stronger from being buffeted by winds and storms, I've been enriched by all these adaptations in my life.

Reading further in Messy I realized something else.  I prefer a very UNcluttered house.  I don't like knickknacks or tchochkes hanging around!  When it's time to dust and vacuum, the less "rubbish" the quicker the job is done.  BUT here in the condo I have one 5' x 5' closet that is stuffed with "stuff."  My sewing machine, my serger, packs of material, bags of yarn, cases of sewing tools, art supplies and now a keyboard all manage to fit into that space.  It's organized, kind of.  But there's not quite enough room for all the things I need, so my violin and viola and several stacks of music have found a home in the corner of the tv/spare bedroom.

Back in home-home (Alberta) I have a somewhat larger space for all that.  There's a good sized bedroom closet there that has shelves full of materials: quilting cottons, battings, and material for creating clothing and there's a 12' x 12' area for working.  That area is lined with makeshift tables (melamine board on top of see-through drawers).  Sometimes the floor is almost obscured by a pile of material scraps that I paw through in creating a real scrap quilt.

The difference between these areas is this: where I have work that needs to be done but that I don't really enjoy doing, I want clear sailing.  But where there needs to be rich and varied resources maybe MESSY wins the day.     -----  Um ----- kind of an organized  messy.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Musically speaking this has been a VERY exciting week!

Monday was quiet--no organ practice because the church office staff had the day off and that means that the sanctuary is locked.  But number one son and I had a good time going to Arizona Art Supplies.  I bought him some sketching materials for his birthday present (birthday coming on January 10--his big 50!) and some alcohol ink supplies for myself.  What an interesting place that is to look at what's on the shelves.  Tim commented when we left, "For that small space it has a very high value in inventory.  I don't think any other type of store could pack that much value into that small space!"

Tuesday was an organ practice day.  Wow!  I could sure tell that it had been a few weeks since I was free to go practice.  Ever since the 12th of December.  But it just requires some concentrated to work to get back on the track again.

Wednesday morning we had a Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra rehearsal.  And a very good rehearsal it was.  Lots of concentrated work.  The principal violist was substituting for the conductor who has a serious case of shingles, so I got to sit on the first stand.  So much more fun to play up in the inner circle!  We were working on music for the concert scheduled for February 5.  Much of it was unfamiliar and we were sight-reading a lot of it.    But that was fun, too.

And Wednesday afternoon I had my first organ lesson in 45 years!  That was so exciting that I actually had trouble sleeping last night.  I have a few new pieces learn and some techniques to practice.  But my practice time of the pipe organ at church is limited to Mondays and Tuesdays, and now perhaps an hour before my lesson on Wednesdays.  Gloria, the church organist and my teacher, has loaned me a keyboard to practice on at home on the days I cannot access the church organ.  So after choir rehearsal this afternoon I took home a Yamaha keyboard.  That was pretty exciting too!

This evening I spent about an hour playing on the keyboard.  Well, it surely isn't the same as playing my lovely grand piano at home-home, but it IS a whole lot better than not touching a keyboard from Wednesday to Monday.  Thank you, Gloria!

Sunday, January 1, 2017


It's been a quiet beginning to 2017.  We went to bed last night around 10 p.m., as per usual, and had a sound sleep.  Woke up in the new year.  That's good!

Back to the carpet guys:  Kenny's crew returned around 10 on Tuesday morning, and this time included his dad, Jessie.  Jessie spent the day working on new baseboards for the living room.  They had been pried up in order to lay the laminate.  I had figured on sanding and painting them before they were replaced, but found they were just too beat up.  Jessie went to Home Depot and bought new, white primed base boards.  I'm really glad we decided to do that, as they look 100% better than the old ones.

I thought the fellows had a rather late start on a day when they needed to lay new carpet in two bedrooms and two 5' x 5' closets plus moving back all the furniture.  Here's a few snaps from that day:
They first tried to shove the sofa bed into the little bathroom.  Oh, oh, no go!  You see the old carpet here.  The sofa bed ended up near the kitchen.

Once all the old carpet was disposed of it was time to carry in the new carpet from the truck.  But it came, all of it for the two bedrooms and closets in one huge roll:
The roll was too big to lay out anywhere in the condo,  so they solved it by laying it out on the road.  Not too much traffic going by, just one car they had to send another way.

O.K.  Now for the cutting.  Just like quilting and building with wood: measure twice (or more) and then cut:
Now it's ready to come inside:
In no time it was all in place a looking beautiful. 

Jessie had been working all this time on the baseboards, carefully cutting and fitting them in place.  Looks good!
In all respects they did a beautiful job.  They had their own vacuum cleaner and before they left everything was spic and span, at least as far as the floors went.  I found dust galore on tops of cupboards, fridge, etc.  That had all been stirred up when they scraped the floors free of old padding and glue.

I would recommend this crew anytime.  They were very pleasant and hardworking.  Never heard a cross word or a swear word.  They came when they said they would and finished when they said they would.


Monday, December 26, 2016


We had a lovely Christmas Eve Day and a lovely Christmas Day.  Dear Son #1 is with us. It's unusual for us to have kids or grandkids around at Christmas.  During the times we are in Alberta for Christmas we tell them not to come visit at that time of year.  Kind of cross, are we?  A Christmas grinch?

No--this started over twenty years ago when D.S. #2 and wife came for a Christmas visit.  They were supposed to arrive around 6 p.m. and didn't actually arrive until 2 a.m. the next day.  We were frantic!  We called the RCMP around midnight and asked whether there had been any traffic accidents that might have involved them.  The explanation: they had stopped in Calgary (coming from B.C.'s lower mainland) for supper and gotten mixed up in their directions.  They turned around and headed back toward B.C.  In the dark it took them some time to realize that.  They reversed and came back into Alberta, heading north on Hwy#2.  They had to negotiate Edmonton, and spent a good deal of time there before that was straightened out.  They still had two hours to drive to get to where we lived north of Barrhead, AB.

That was one bad experience.  Another time they were travelling home by bus in a bad snowstorm and experienced several delays and misdirections.

After that we all agreed that the highways--and the airports--were "high hazard" areas during the Christmas holidays.  July is the best time to visit us in Alberta.  The roads are clear and our landscape is at its best.  The weather is good for outdoor activities.  So that's when we get together.

This is our third Christmas in Arizona.  So far we've done minimal Christmas decorations here.  No Christmas tree in the condo so far.  I was determined to have one this year, and made sure to take along the boxes of Christmas decorations.  But--another miss!  Here's our Christmas tree for this year:

I hung two pine cone wreaths outside and put this basket of cones with a little greenery on the patio.  Not much, eh?

Well, there was a very good reason:
Last Monday morning these fellows arrived.  They pulled up the old carpet in the living/dining area.  They hauled it out the door.  Goodbye, and good riddance!
They hammered out the old tile by the door:
And they installed the new "honey oak" laminate:

When they finished late in the afternoon they moved the furniture out of the bedroom into the living room:
That allowed me to finish painting the bedroom.  The extremely heavy armoires on either side of the bed were bound together by a "bridge" over top of the bed with pot lights for reading in bed.  I think they had never been moved since the bedroom furniture was installed--possibly as long ago as '87.  The amount of cobwebs and dust clinging to the wall and to the backs and tops of all that was astounding.  The rest of the room had been painted in the past two weeks, and now I was free to finish the last wall.  That made me happy!

We had planned to sleep in my dear Sis's guest house on Monday night, but late in the afternoon she called that they discovered a leak in that bathroom that had soaked the whole place.  So the Kenny and his helper sweetly set up our bed in the living room.  It was surprising how well we slept that night!

This story will continue--there's more carpet to be replaced!

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Yes, I'm still here, just have been super busy this month.  I'll start with yesterday and go backwards for a while.

We had a nice visit with my sister and her husband last night.  Dear Son #1 is with us for a while also.  Wayne and Joanne wanted to see our new flooring which was installed this past Monday and Tuesday, so we made a little bit of an evening out of it and had a good visit too.

Joanne also choose the yarn for her socks for this year.  By tradition I give Wayne and new pair of hand knit socks when we arrive in October (his birthday is the end of September), and give Joanne a new pair when we leave.  She choose a lovely Brown Rose Marl yarn--in my favourite yarn for socks, Patons Kroy Socks yarn.  I got started after they left.
It always seems so strange to me that such a ridiculous little thing surrounded by four needles will actually turn into a sock.  Here's the beginning last night:

Here's the sock this morning (11 a.m.)  You can see that I've spent some time on it:
I needed to have some quiet time after their visit before going to bed.  This morning is a quiet time also.  The three of us (Dear One, Dear Son and myself) are just sitting around quietly reading.  Nice way to spend a morning.

Especially nice to have a quiet morning because later this afternoon I will be singing (in the choir) and playing violin solos in two Christmas Eve church services.  I like doing that, but need quiet time to prepare.

Wednesday my friend Marcy and I spent the morning together working on sewing projects.  I was simply trimming some squares for a quilt (I'll post that later) and she was making potholders for Christmas presents.  I think they look terrific:

We spend time together about once a week, working on sewing projects.  But it's less about the sewing and more about visiting.  Always a good time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I was at church this morning to practice on the pipe organ and thought I'd share some pictures so you have an idea just how grand this organ is, and how exciting it is for me to have time on it.

The organ has three manuals, each of which has its own section.  Here's the "great organ":

And the "swell organ":  The swell and the choir divisions have expression pedals, meaning you can "swell" the sound or diminish the sound.


Behind this grid is the "choir organ."  I learned just this past week that it's called that because it faces the choir.

These "divisions" of the organ are not always in these relative positions.  Sometimes one of the divisions is up in what we would call the balcony at the back of the church.  Sometimes the console is there also.  This is a pipe organ, so all the sounds come from these pipes.  An electronic organ would have speakers placed strategically around the sanctuary.

This is the console at which the organist sits and makes music! The console sits on a movable platform so it can be placed off to the side or in the center, for instance when an organ concert is given. 

This is a view of the "choir loft" in this particular church--not a very "lofty" loft.  This is where the choir sits during the service, and that's where you'd find me on a Sunday morning.

There are three major choirs in our church, the A Capella Choir, the Celebration Choir and the Chancel Choir.  I sing in the Chancel Choir.  There is also a bell choir and a "visitation" choir that goes to sing in care homes.

On the weekend there are three identical (almost) services held, one at 5 p.m. on Saturday, one at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday and a third at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.  Chancel Choir sings at the 8:30 service the first two Sundays of the month and at the 10:30 service the third and fourth Sunday of each month.  If there is a fifth Sunday perhaps one of the choirs takes the service or other "special music" is provided by a small group or a soloist.

There is a lot of music at each service.  We begin with a prelude, usually organ, but sometimes an accompanied solo or a piano solo.  I've played preludes on the violin and viola, accompanied on piano or organ.  We have a nice way of presenting a prelude: shortly before the service begins the pastor comes out and makes the announcements.  Then the pastor asks that all cell phones be turned off and says, Now we will listen to the prelude.  Everyone sits quietly attentive while the prelude is played and then the service begins.

This part begins with a "gathering" song from the hymnal.  Then because this is a liturgical service there are sung responses.  These are followed by the "special music" interspersed with the three readings from the Bible.  There is an offering with an offertory of some sort, a sermon, a "hymn of the day" and a communion service.

For the communion there are four "stations" at the front of the church, each consisting of someone who hands you the communion wafer with the words, "the body of the Lord for you."  Next in line is someone with a chalice of wine.  You dip the wafer into the wine and are addressed with the words: "the blood of the Lord is shed for you." There is a third person with a chalice of grape juice if you would prefer that.

The ushers conduct the people by rows to the front of the church where they are served the communion, which we immediately eat while we return to our seats.

Both pastors are good preachers and give us something to think about beyond just the morning service.  The senior pastor is particularly adept at looking at a text from a fresh point of view.  We are blessed to attend these services.

This coming Sunday, for the first time, I will play the organ--just for the postlude.  I was supposed to play during the communion also but backed out of that.  It was a little too intimidating!  I haven't played organ in church services regularly since we retired, seventeen years ago.  I feel I need more practice before I'm up to that.  But a postlude is the least "nervous" part of the service.  People are leaving and chatting.

I will play "Shepherd's Noel" by J. Wayne Kerr.  It's a very bright, cheerful piece, and short--just three minutes worth of music.  Short because although it's four pages with several repeats, it goes by very quickly.  I hope that I can just relax and enjoy playing it!

Friday, December 2, 2016


Today I received a lovely, meaningful gift from my friend Nan.  It's a frame with two of Mardelle's pictures in it.  Mardelle was a very gifted artist, teacher and musician.  I met her in April of of '14, and started taking watercolour lessons from in October of that year.  She also invited me to join the Sun City Chamber Orchestra, to which I still belong.  We were becoming good friends and I liked her immensely.

It was a great grief to me that she died suddenly that November.  I wrote a memorial to her on this blog on November 12, '14.

Later her husband had a sale of much of her art equipment.  My friend Nan helped set up the sale.  I was blessed to be given an unframed watercolour of daisies that Mardelle had painted.  Nan is going to help me mat and frame that watercolour.

We have a perfect place for that picture Nan gave me today:

I think it looks great here, and it's where I will see it several times a day.  Many thanks, Nan!