Sunday, January 31, 2016

A CANTATA

This afternoon our church choir gave a cantata about light and darkness that our conductor, Dave Lien, had put together from various sources.  It was dramatic and very successful.  A wonderful finish for me to this year's involvement in the music program at Lord of Life Lutheran.  It's been a big blessing to me to be part of that church.  I've been made to feel very welcome and have been able to use my (meagre) talents in the services, both in the choir and with violin playing.

We had our final rehearsal for the cantata yesterday, Saturday afternoon.  I was sorry to miss the chance for another swim in our community pool, but Jim took advantage of the sunshine and warm weather to sit in the sun at poolside and enjoy reading his library book.

Thanks to Barb Hunter for the picture!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SEWING LESSONS

My friend Marcy is learning to sew.  I'm helping her.  We started last year with a simple, cotton A-line shift.  She was very, very careful and it turned out well.  Then I had to go home to Alberta, so more lessons were postponed.

This fall we actually finished that first project.  She was game for another, and this time she chose to make a bag.  She had some very attractive fabric from Hawaii, but it was fairly thin.  We decided to line the bag with the same material.  There were a few problems with this project--but they were really my fault.  She just soldiered right on and finished it.  And dove into her next project.

Wish I had pictures of the earlier two projects, but here is her third sewing project, finished this past Saturday:

A very cute "swing" jacket.  Getting much more complicated, but STILL turning out well because she is so careful with all her seams and pressing.

She wrote me an email earlier this week saying "I've had three requests for my jacket today."  What a compliment to her achievement!

She has another pattern for another "swingy" wrap, but I'm out of time.  Either she can find someone else to help her decipher the directions, or it will be a project for next fall.  
Our time together is always so pleasant and productive, I hope she's willing to wait 'til I come back! 

Friday, January 22, 2016

WELL, I GUESS NOT...

After taking turns with the flu this week (2 bouts each) the Dear One and I took advantage of a nice sunny day to relax at poolside for a few hours this afternoon.  He took his book, I took my knitting and we found a two empty chairs.  The nice weather had drawn a large crowd--so different from even 5º to 8º cooler when just a few of us brave souls still go swimming.

The water volley ball gang was out in full force, having a great time.  Folks were chatting, just sunning, swimming, and even perhaps napping.  Then someone turned on a portable radio, and not at a low volume.

It's impossible for me to NOT listen to music--even though what I was hearing sounded to me (and I know this is a little snooty) like just so much noise.  After a while it was giving me a headache.

A friend of mine was sitting a ways away on the pool deck.  I thought, I'll go have a chat with her and see if she will come with me to find out who this "yahoo" is and politely suggest that we don't all want to be forced to listen to that "music."

I put down my knitting.  Jim looked up inquiringly and I said, I'm just going to take a little walk around.

When I approached my friend I realized, Oh no!  It's her husband who has the radio on loud enough for half the pool area to be a captive audience!  Well, I guess that plan can be dumped….

I walked past, chatted a bit with another friend, visited the water fountain and went back to my knitting.

Then something serendipitous happened.  Someone stopped by to visit with "radio man." The radio was turned off and they chatted until it was time for them to leave.

I was THANKFUL!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A VERY GOOD WEEK

I had intended to write yesterday, but ended the day with an attack of stomach flu.  Well, that doesn't sound like a very good week, but up to that point it was fine.

On Tuesday I was given permission to play on the pipe organ at church for about two hours.  Well, that's bliss!  Gloria loaned me some music and I worked on three pieces I used to play--found out, no surprise--that I'm really rusty!  I'll need to do a lot of practice before next fall to prepare for playing a prelude or postlude at a service.

The weather has warmed up a bit and that makes the afternoon swim even more of a pleasure.  I'm not going today, as I'm still wrung out from the flu.  The forecast for the next seven days has the high temps in the low 70's.

And we just reached an agreement with a man from Wisconsin that he will rent this condo for the three spring months, February, March and April.  He's the brother-in-law of the couple that rented last year.  They loved it here so much that they bought their own unit.  He's single, doesn't smoke or drink or have a pet, has been a teacher and a real estate agent.  So he must know what he's doing.  I spoke with him on the phone today and he said their current temperature is -20ºF.  He's looking forward to coming down here!


You've seen this sock before, but it actually was not the same sock.  It was the same yarn, knit up in a "Broad Ripple" sock pattern, intended for myself.  HOWEVER, it was way, way too tight.  So I pulled it apart and reknit it in a plain pattern, and this time it's for my sister.  She tried the finished sock on last Saturday and it fits just fine.  Now I just have to knit the second sock.  Isn't it cute, with the stripes?

Monday, January 11, 2016

A FINISH

I finally finished a quilt, first one since last summer!  This is a donations quilt that I started here in AZ last year, but had troubles that made me put it aside.  It's a bargello that was actually made from printed strips of material.  Each of the vertical stripes is one long piece of the fabric, which was printed with these different stripes.  

Last year I cut several strips and sewed them together BUT I didn't pin and I didn't alternate the direction of stitching.  I ended up with a "strata" that will never lie flat.  That was discouraging, so I put it away.

Recently I went back to it and tried again, cutting new strips and measuring the "off-set" carefully, pinning the strips in several sections, and alternating the direction of stitching. TA-DA!  It worked beautifully.  The border (and the backing) is a batik that I liked and bought on sale.

It's a large lap sized quilt and we in the quilting group all agree that it's nice and bright!

We tried a new type of potato, bought at Trader Joe's.  It's called a Murasaki and is a type of sweet potato.  The skin is purple and rather thick, so I peeled them, cut them in rounds and boiled them for about 5 minutes and then let them stand in the hot water.  Just before we ate I drained and mashed them, adding just a little butter and some salt and pepper.  They are DELICIOUS!  Highly recommended.  They are actually a very pale green colour. We'll make them a regular dinner item.

Monday, January 4, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Here we are in the new year.  What's nice about it this year for me is that a lot of my busyness, particularly in music, is behind me and I finally have time to finish up a few knitting and sewing projects.

On December 31 I finished the second pair of socks for the Dear One:

I made a few slight adjustments to the pattern, and these fit even better than the first pair:
 

I shortened the foot part just a little, flattened out the heel cup just a little and added 10 rows of plain knitting at the ankle before beginning the ribbing.  He really loves these hand knit socks for their warmth and comfort.

And LeeAnn had another finish!  Not a quilt this time, but a very beautiful afghan.  I'm not sure what you call this kind of work, but it is basically a type of embroidery with yarn on a white, woven background.  She used some variegated thread for the more detailed parts, and a straight blue for the open diamonds.  You should see it in person, as it is simply beautiful!  You can tell from the fact that it requires three women to hold it up that it's really large.


Here's a close up of the stitching:
 
This picture doesn't do justice to the beautiful colours in the variegated yarn.  

And this week I finished a "donation" quilt that I started here last year.  I'm doing the machine quilting, a simple, large meander, which I usually enjoy.  But I've had mega problems with the thread breaking.  A large frizzy area develops above the needle and then the thread breaks, again and again and again.

I did the usual steps to correct the problem: rethread top and bottom, change to a new needle, etc.  Nothing helped.  It was really frustrating!  Today I had another idea.  Here's how the thread was situated atop the machine:
 
It's a big spool and the thread tends to fall off because it's quite slippery.  That's why it's on top of the machine and not on its side where the thread is ordinarily positioned.  Every now and then when the thread coming off the spool was at the bottom it would give a jerk on the spool.  Could that be the problem?

I thought of winding some on a bobbin and trying that:
 
That helped a lot!  But then it had this problem, when the bobbin was quite full, the thread would fall off the bobbin and get tangled around the spindle that was holding the bobbin.  So a further fix was needed.  I thought of placing the thread somewhere away from the machine, but don't have one of those thread holders that work in that way.  So this is what I tried:
 
And that worked!  Just the little bit of extra weight on top put enough drag on the bobbin that the thread fed smoothly!  Relief!

Now all the machine quilting is finished.  Tomorrow I will trim off the extra batting and backing and bind the edges.  I'll show you the finished quilt when it's completed.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

PRETTY KILLY!

The second summer we were married we served a congregation in the Rainy River district of western Ontario as summer student pulpit supply.  Part of the service was going around to visit people in their homes and that often proved quite interesting.

One morning it was really quite chilly when we arrived for coffee and a visit.  Jim remarked to the "senior citizen" whom we were visiting that morning on how chilly it was for a summer morning.  The old fellow replied "Killy?  Killy?  That's plain COLD!" It amused us so much that it became one of our family sayings.

Well, that saying applies here for the last few weeks.  Today it won't even make it up to 60º.  Now, I know I can't really complain about that, but given the inversion of the usual temperature patterns which is currently bringing unseasonably warm weather to the center of the U.S. and unseasonably cold weather to the southwest, maybe there is a small cause for complaint.  I've been in the pool just twice this past week.  Monday it was just lovely, with sunshine, calm weather (temp about 61º), and the pool heated to 88º.  Wednesday it was not as comfortable.

Too bad, eh?  But we come here for the warm winter weather, and we're just not getting it.

I'm glad there is so much music going on in my life lately.  Orchestra gave a concert at an elementary school last week Friday.  The kids were just great!  It was a treat to see 600 young children sitting quietly listening and enthusiastically applauding what the orchestra had for them.  The first number was "O Tannenbaum," played in separate sections to illustrate the different instruments in the orchestra, and then to demonstrate the combined sound.  We also played some favourites, including "Sleigh Ride," "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and a few medleys of well known seasonal songs and Christmas songs.  The kids enjoyed the music and we enjoyed the kids.

Choir at church has been very busy.  Our last contribution was to the 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service.  Now we have off until the first Sunday in January.

I've been playing violin at church a bit, too.  On Christmas Eve I played a descant with the choir piece and the Sunday before that I played "Ave Maria" as accompaniment to communion.  I'm glad for these opportunities also!

We celebrated the Dear One's 78th birthday last week Wednesday with a small surprise birthday party.  Just my sister and her husband and one other couple from the village, friends of ours.  It was a good time.  My sister took a few pictures and here's one that turned out fairly well.
He takes after his mother in retaining his dark hair.  Her hair was still mostly all brown when she died at 86 years of age.  He also keeps himself nice and trim, partly because that's not hard for him, and partly because he's conscious of keeping himself healthy.  You'll notice that he doesn't have a plate of goodies, but I do--not too much on it though.

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with a very fine church service at 10 in the morning and a lovely dinner at Sis's, along with the other couple from the birthday party.  What a nice time we had!

So I give you all belated Christmas wishes.  It always seems that Christmas comes up so quickly and then is over again for another year, all the lovely music, the carols, the decorations, the special church services.  I love it all.  "God bless us one and all!"