Friday, November 21, 2014


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


 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.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Last year during the Christmas season Jim and I were watching some of the excellent concerts available on t.v. at that time of the year.  For about a week you can find some wonderful, inspiring viewing.  But it made me sad: I thought, "That part of my life is over.  There are no more opportunities for me to play in a good string group, enjoying the unique high of making beautiful music together."  The possibilities in our small, rural town had simply "dried up."

Yesterday I was privileged to play in a fine, fun concert.  The Sun City Women's Choir, the Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra and Joan Monk, a piano soloist, performed in a very fine concert.  It was dedicated to Mardelle, whom we wished to honor for her life and her contributions.  I was especially grateful to Mardelle because it was she who invited me to play in that orchestra.

The program was mixed, beginning with the Star Spangled Banner, including The Stars and Stripes Forever, highlighting Joan playing the first movement of the Grieg A Minor Piano Concerto, accompanied by the orchestra and concluding with several numbers by the Women's Choir (a very accomplished group of singers.)  Some of the choir numbers were winter/Christmas songs, some were spirituals/Broadway hits.  Sometimes the orchestra accompanied the choir, once a single flute did the honours, and once just the cello section.  Both the orchestra and the choir are composed of mostly grey/silver haired members.  But did we ever make music!

It was just a thrill for me to be in the middle of all that wonderful sound!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Tribute to Mardelle

I met Mardelle Driscoll last April at the Art Show here in the village.  She was the art teacher, a vibrant, interesting woman.  Mardelle told me about the orchestra she belonged to, a fairly large group of retired men and women who met on Wednesday mornings to rehearse for the occasional concert.  She was happy to learn that I am able to play viola and would love to be part of an orchestra.

When we returned in the fall I signed up to take art lessons from Mardelle.  She was able to teach in a variety of media, and I asked for watercolour lessons.  We also talked about the orchestra and she said, "You'd better get out there!  We've already had three rehearsals."  So that Wednesday I showed up at the rehearsal and was warmly welcomed.

After the rehearsal Mardelle asked me if I would like her to accompany me to the Art Supply store, an offer I gratefully accepted.  We had fun!  She guided me in the choice of several tubes of paint and other supplies.

The following Wednesday we did that again!  We both thought it would be nice to have lunch together, but that day I needed to go home.  I told her I'd make arrangements to go the following week.

That next Wednesday the orchestra rehearsal was somewhat shorter than usual.  Mardelle and I went to a small Mexican restaurant she knew of, but found we were about 40 minutes too early.  We spent that time at a ladies' clothing store and had some more fun!  We both found something we needed at a good price, and then we had taco salads at the restaurant.

I said to Mardelle, Tell me about your children.  Well, that started her on quite a story, all about her son and daughter and the life that she had led.  It was a sad story, with lots of suffering, but a happy ending.  Mardelle had found Jack, her third and current husband, through and she was very happy with him.  Indeed, Mardelle was a person who laughed a lot.

When we left the restaurant she said, I don't tell many people all that much about myself.  I don't have many good friends, but I feel like I have a new friend in you.  I embraced her and said, I took to you right away!  We were both happy to have an interesting new friend, and looked forward to spending time together.

This past Monday I received an email from Jack saying that the art class was cancelled because Mardelle was in the hospital.  I wrote her an email, wishing her a speedy recovery from whatever problems she was experiencing.  I hoped to see her at orchestra rehearsal today.

I was stunned when I learned there that she had died of an aortic aneurism on Monday around noon.  I feel a deep sense of loss.  The world is a lesser place without that dynamic, inspiring woman.  The concert this coming Sunday will be dedicated to her memory.  Sometime in the future when Jack is able to handle it, there will be a memorial service.

Mardelle was a very talented, warm hearted person, an inspiring art teacher, an encourager.  I will miss her.  You can see her work at

Monday, November 10, 2014


The sewing room, which I really enjoy now that it's set up, has another use.  With the sewing machine stashed under the shelf, the table with the Ott light (full spectrum) makes a nifty "Painting Studio."

I spent some time today working on a watercolour that I started a week or two ago in painting class.  It proved to be a comfortable working area.  I'm delighted that such a small space can function so well!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Launching the Sewing "Room"

This weekend the sewing "room" got its first use.  Even though it's only 5' x 6' it was reasonably comfortable.  The limited space means that I can roll my chair back from the machine just far enough to stand up.  If I want to move around to cut out squares and press seams I need to put the chair out into the "t.v. room" aka the second bedroom.  That didn't seem to be a real big deal.  The pressing board is a small padded square on the desk just outside the sewing "room."

A shelf at the back of the room holds a small cutting board.  That works just fine for cutting 6 1/2" squares or 4" squares.  I tacked up a bit of the batting that is used in hot pads--I always forget what it's called--the kind that has a metallic side.  It doesn't hold the fabric as well as regular batting.  I'll have to pick up a good sized piece of regular to make a "design wall."

I made a dozen 6 1/2" blocks and 24, 3 1/2" blocks from the extras that were cut off when the 4" squares were trimmed and folded over.  This represents 1/4 of all the blocks for a new lap quilt, very similar to one I made in June.  There are several arrangements possible for these blocks.  I'll play around with them to find an arrangement that I like.

The little fan clamped to the sewing table is a real bonus.  It keeps me comfortable in a room with no air circulation.  I'm so glad I found it at the Swap Meet.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Funny First Loaf

Or maybe I should say, failed first loaf!

Yesterday I baked a loaf of bread for the first time here.  I used the new (second-hand from the swap meet) bread maker to make the dough.  It seemed fine, had good "elasticity."  I treated the dough as usual, rolling it out to a long narrow piece of dough, and then rolling that up into a loaf.

I oiled it a bit and put it in a parchment lined loaf pan.  So far so good.

Then we decided to go out, Jim to the library, and myself to pay a bill and do a little shopping.  If I left the loaf to rise, it would be too high by the time I got back, so I put it in the fridge to "stall" it.

Well, it stalled good and proper.  I took it out when I got home at five and set it in a warm place to rise.  It didn't cooperate.  I turned on the oven and put it on top of the stove, a very warm place.  Still no go.

I oiled it a bit, because the crust looked kind of dry.  No rising resulted.  Finally I oiled it again, and in response this time, the top sank in a little way.

Oh well, I might as well just bake it as it was 9 p.m. by this time.  I took the picture when it came out of the oven--no higher than when it went in!  We've had just a few slices from it, with a bit of cheese.  It's extremely dense, but edible.  Better luck next time!
In our walks around the village we are treated to lots of lush foliage and blooms.  This is a spectacular tree just loaded with very pretty white blossoms.  I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it's typical of the blooming shrubs and trees here.  Just beautiful!