Sunday, December 14, 2014

MORE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC

Yesterday afternoon we went to a lovely Christmas program at Grace Bible Church.  We arrived 30 minutes ahead of time and had to sit in the annex, as the church was already full to overflowing.  This turned out to be an advantage, as there was a large screen so we had a much better view of the performers than if we had been sitting in the main auditorium.

The program began with the excellent small orchestra playing Bach's Sleepers Wake chorale.  Lovely!  There was a large mixed choir, very well trained, and a perfectly wonderful soloist named Sandra Harris.  Wow! could she sing!

There were a few quiet, contemplative songs, but most of them were the sort of music you'd typically hear in a large, evangelical church.  Quite loud, with upward modulations in key toward the end, and building up to a really loud, rambunctious finish.

Altogether enjoyable, and a very Christ-centered program.

This was a notable contrast to the entertainment another choir offered to our potluck dinner meeting at church this past Tuesday.  This was a small choir of seniors.  (Well, the choir on Saturday was pretty much all seniors, also, except for the soloist.)  Now, I think it's wonderful that there are outlets like this for seniors who have always loved to sing.  I'm talking about your average church choir member--not much training, but loves to sing.

It was obvious that they had worked hard on their music, which was all accompanied by taped music.  But it was also striking that none of their music mentioned the Christ of Christmas.  It was all about the trappings of the holiday, with a lot of attention to Santa Claus, Rudolph, sleigh rides, "chestnuts roasting" etc.

I enjoyed this choir, in a sort of "campy" way, and also genuinely enjoyed their love of singing.  Still I went home impressed with how empty Christmas is without the baby born in Bethlehem, the real reason for the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

PAINTING PROJECT

The bathroom with our bedroom is very small, just 5' x 8'.  It needed repainting, and I chose a deep blue that dear Sis and hubby had used on a few walls in their home.  I really liked that blue, and asked him what's the name of that colour.  He said they had almost a whole gallon left over from their painting last summer and I could use some of that, just leaving enough for him to do a few touch ups when needed.

I had painted the ceiling pure white last Saturday, and Monday I had a clear schedule and decided to do it that day.

It was a pretty difficult room to paint as there are small spaces and a whole lot of cutting in.  It took me four hours to finish the job.

Now I think it's too "heavy" a colour for such a small room, especially in view of the fact that there is no window or skylight in that room.

I have to do a few little touch ups where the pale cream colour that was there shows through in a few places, but on the whole it covered very well.  It was good paint--went on well, covered well, and dried to a nice eggshell finish.

I think we'll live with it for a while and then if I still feel that it's too "heavy" for that room, I'll cover it with a lighter shade.

Monday, December 8, 2014

ANOTHER LOVELY CONCERT

Last night the Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra gave a concert of Christmas Music, both sacred and secular.  It was held in the Advent Episcopal Church, a lovely building, with good acoustics.  The church was packed (a moderate sized sanctuary) and the audience was very enthusiastic.

Among the music we played were two medleys of Christmas music, one sacred and one entitled The Bells of Christmas, which was mixed.  We featured our wonderful trumpet player, Dan Reed, particularly in The Lord's Prayer and Trumpeter's Lullaby (Leroy Anderson).  Masterful playing!  Quiet and moving.  We also played some spirited numbers, including Sleigh Ride and Fiddle Faddle.

At the end of the program the audience jumped up and gave us an enthusiastic ovation.  They had also expressed lots of enthusiasm after each number.  We really enjoyed playing for them.

After the concert there was a little cookie and iced tea reception.  Iced tea is appropriate here at this time of year, and we were thirsty by that time.  I thanked the conductor and said goodbye for now to my section mates, as the next concert is planned for after we leave for home.

It's been a privilege and a joy to be part of this orchestra, which in spite of being called a Chamber Orchestra, has a full complement of winds, brasses and percussion along with plenty of string players.  I remember Mardelle with gratitude, as it was she who introduced me to this talented and warm hearted group.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

GASP!!!

Last March I started on a pair of "Skew" socks for myself, toe up.  I got as far as the ankle and realized they were going to be too wide, so I "unknit" them completely, cast them on again and knit a few inches.

This Thursday I finished the pair of socks I made for the dear brother-in-law (forgot to take a picture!)  Friday I started on the "Skew" socks again.  This first picture shows how far the sock was at 7:50 p.m. today.  This next picture shows the same sock at 7:54.

Now, why in the world did I "unknit" this sock a second time?  Well, I was up to the part where a gusset begins for the ankle.  But things were "backassward."  The increases were on the wrong side of the sock.  I reread the pattern (find it at www.knitty.com, go to the pattern library, click on past patterns and enter "Skew" in the search box) and realized that I had made a mistake IN THE FIRST ROW!!! 

With toe up socks I use Judy Becker's magic cast on, and after the first round (two needles) I hang the tail of the cast on outside the sock and use that as a reference point to determine the beginning of the round.  This pattern said, knit just one needle, then begin the pattern of rounds, which puts the beginning of the round at the opposite side of the sock. Non-knitters, just don't mind the confusion: even knitters will wonder what I mean. You have to understand this strange sock pattern to know what's wrong.

If this were an ordinary toe up sock, I could probably fix it, but these are "Skew" socks.  If you go back in the blog to the post of October 27, 2011, you will find an explanation of the Skew sock.  It's knit flat, on the bias, with some tricky business to create a heel cup.  Because of the unusual construction, it didn't seem possible to "redeem" the sock at this point.  The only cure was to "unknit" the whole business and begin again.

It's times like these that I remind myself: I knit because I enjoy it.  I like to keep my hands occupied.  I like to create things, even if it's just on a craft level.  People like to receive hand knit socks as a gift.  So it's the process, not the end result that's the important thing.

I'm chagrined though.  I went to the Monday afternoon knitting group for the first time this past Monday.  I was finishing the socks for W.  I guess I was feeling a little pumped up at being able to show up one week later with most of a sock completed.  So much for knitterly pride, which like any other, goes before a fall!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

FIRST RAINY DAY

Since we arrived here at the beginning of October we've experienced day after day of beautiful, sunny weather.  Until Monday.  Monday was overcast, not a "pool day."  Tuesday was overcast.  Wednesday was overcast with a few sprinkles.  During this past  night I heard the rain dripping down from the roof, steadily, increasingly, all night long.

This morning dawned, more or less, with a muddy looking, overcast sky and steady rain. Well, we can sure use it!  Any lawns that are not watered had turned completely dry and parched.  In the village the lawns, and the golf course (of course!) are watered every day, but, intelligently watered using "grey" water.  So our surroundings here are always green.

I had planned to use my time today prepping and painting the bathroom ceiling.  But it's kind of hard to be motivated on such a dark day.

Another "job" on my list is the renovation of these two wicker chairs.  I bought them a week ago for just $5. each, from a Lions
club member.  They had been dropped off and he wanted to move them out of his patio.  They're in pretty good condition, but the paint is worn off in several spots, and they need refreshing.

I was trying them out a few days ago when one of my neighbours stopped by to chat.  I told him my plans to make some cushions for them, as they are pretty low to the ground.  He wanted to get rid of a king-sized memory foam pad 2" thick, and I was happy to have it.

I cut out a piece large enough to cover the mattress of our sofa bed.  In the margins I was able to draw and then cut out four rounds 17" in diameter.  I thought that two
together would make a pretty good cushion for a chair.  I took two of the rounds to the patio, put them on a wicker chair and sat down.  I found out that memory foam squishes down to nothing when you sit on it.

The next time I was in Walmart I bought this nice piece of 5" thick, fairly firm foam and cut two 17" diameter rounds from it.  A good knife will slice through foam pretty well.

I had also bought a yard and a quarter of some good print heavy cotton to cover the cushions.  That's as far as I've gotten on that project.  I was planning to scrub up the chairs well today, but it just doesn't look like a good day to do that.

Here's the stack of foam and the fabric, waiting to be made into cushions.  At this point the foam for a cushion is 9" thick.  I think that when it's all sewed, with the foam squished into the fabric it will be the right size.  It will be interesting to find out what happens!

I think I'll call my sister and see if she wants to go out for coffee with me this morning.  That might be a nice thing to do on a rainy day!

Friday, November 21, 2014

WATERCOLOUR

On Fridays we have an "Open Art" day at the Art Room here in the village.  Whoever wants to come and work there between 9 a.m. and 12 noon is welcome, in whatever medium.  Sue Elliot, who was in the art class taught by Mardelle suggested to me that we come to that as a way of continuing work on the projects we had started.

Here's the picture Mardelle started me on three weeks ago.  I finished it this morning at the Open Art session.  For a first effort--maybe it's not too bad.  I did take some watercolour lessons in 1991, but haven't done much at all since then.  I feel like I'm starting over at the beginning.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A DESIGN WALL IN A CLOSET?!!!

 In an earlier post I showed a small "design wall" in my "sewing room."  Now that I've finished the blocks for a 42" x 54" lap quilt, I needed a larger design space.

I looked here and there for free wall space that could accomodate a 48" x 60" quilt batt.  The wall behind the hide-a-bed was free, but who wants to move a hide-a-bed to use the wall?  The wall behind the living room sofa was free, but again, too much hassle.  The wall in the closet/sewing room was large enough, but that room is PLENTY full already!

I finally settled on the wall in our master bedroom walk in closet.  I tacked up the quilt batt and arranged half of the blocks for the quilt.  Then I took this picture.

I took 18 pictures, trying to get a decent one of the batt and blocks on a wall less than five feet away.  This snap was taken by holding the camera up on a high shelf, aiming hopefully and clicking.  You can just see my hand on the lower righthand portion.

Later I added the other half of the blocks to this design, but didn't like the arrangement.  Last night I rearranged the blocks and now am happy with the design.  This afternoon I opted to stay at home and sew while Jim went to the library.  I finished all the little 4 part blocks.

Here's my nifty pressing arrangement: a small pressing pad, an iron and a spray bottle on a small desk just outside the sewing room.

I got lots of exercise while I sewed: the design wall is 25 steps from the sewing machine.  I picked up each four piece block by itself, took it to the pressing station, reversed the direction of two seams, sewed the block together and walked back to the design wall to hang the block up again.

There are 15 of the four piece blocks in this quilt so that made quite a few steps.  Even more because once in a while I had to go back and check which way to press a seam.

It was a good afternoon!  I will take a photo of the quilt when it's completed.