Friday, December 2, 2016

A LOVELY GIFT

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!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

THANKSGIVING DAY

Since we're in Arizona we get to celebrate Thanksgiving Day along with friends and my sister and her husband.  If I had to list all the blessings I'm grateful for, this would be a very long post.  Heading the list: the Dear One, followed by the kids and grandkids.  I've been very blest in family!

Last night we had a combined Thanksgiving Day service at the church we attend here (Lord of Life Lutheran), along with the Methodist Church and the Jewish Synagogue that are both on the same block as our church.  We had a joyful service, the highlight of which was the combined choirs singing "We Sing the Mighty Power of God."  After the service there was a pie social, and that was also very enjoyable.

Today we are going to a potluck dinner here in Sun Village.  What a good idea!  Lots of us here don't have relatives nearby; our kids and grandkids are far away.  So we will eat together.  You know how those potlucks turn out: tons of delicious food, dishes that each one kind of specializes in.  So my contribution will be:

ONION SIDE DISH
Peel and slice 2 large Sweet onions (to make 6 cups)
Sauté in 1/4 cup butter until tender.
Spoon into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish

Combine:
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Pour over onions

Top with 1 1/2 cups croutons.
Sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated Cheddar

Bake at 350º for 30 to 35 minutes.

I doubled this recipe.  I added 4 large mushrooms, chopped with the onions in the sauté.  Had no Worcestershire sauce, so used Soy Sauce.  I don't add the milk.  The onions make enough moisture when sautéed.  For croutons I'm using part of a package of stuffing mix.

I'm also bringing:
HOT CURRIED FRUIT
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a pan
Add 1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 TB curry powder

Boil slowly for 5 minutes
Drain 3 or 4 14 oz. cans of fruit
Chop up the fruit
Pour the boiled mixture over the fruit
   in a buttered casserole dish
Bake at 300º for 20 to 25 minutes.

I added a bit more canned fruit, but kept the sauce the same.  That cuts down on the amount of butter and sugar just a bit, which I think balances it out better.

So, all is ready.  It just needs to be popped into the oven sometime soon.  Dinner is at 1 p.m.  Enjoy and be thankful.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

FLANNEL QUILT

It's a cold, rainy afternoon, dark and dreary.  We had the perfect lunch: chicken soup, warm bread with cheese.  Now how to occupy this afternoon?  Get out the sewing machine--the cute little Singer Featherweight--and put the final touches on a donation quilt.

There was a small stack of 6" and 4 1/2" flannel squares in the sewing room, ready for someone to make something of them.  I sewed the 4 1/2" squares together into four patches and then trimmed them to 6" on an angle.  They were sprinkled throughout the 6" squares and formed a nice flannel quilt top for a child's quilt.

At Bob's Variety there was some "just right" purple flannel for backing and binding.  Didn't it turn out well?

I did a meander machine quilting on this one, but chose pink for the top thread and variegated for the backing.  The pink was not a good choice, as it disappeared on the pink squares.  I had a few accidents: places where the loops of the meander crossed each other. Do you  think a child would notice that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A BIG TREAT

Yesterday and today I had the great treat of playing on the wonderful pipe organ at the church we attend here.  I'm working on a few pieces with the encouragement of Gloria, the church organist,  preparing them for possible inclusion in a service some day.

One of my favourites is a very perky setting for The First Noel.  It's sparkly and cheerful and is a lot of fun to play.  Another interesting piece is a Partita on "St. Anne" a well known hymn by Paul Manz.  It includes a Theme, Adagio, Canon, Presto and Pastorale.  There is also a final Fugue-Finale, but I haven't learned that one yet.  The others still need practice before they would be ready to use in a service.  The Presto would make a whiz-bang postlude.

I am also working on a Trio Sonata by Bach that is a great favourite of mine.  We have a recording of it, a vinyl record, that I've played many, many times.  I love to listen to it while sewing.

The chorale prelude on Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, by Brahms is a supremely meditative piece.  According to the lack of dating on it, I've never used it in a service.  A quiet flute setting on the choir manual and a geigen celeste on the swell make a nice quiet contrast between sections.

For two hours on Monday and Tuesday I lose myself in this music, this wonderful pipe organ and go home spiritually refreshed, and somewhat tired from concentrating so intently.  It's a privilege to be able to do this!

Friday, November 11, 2016

ANOTHER NEW THING

Well, this one is not so exciting to me as the Featherweight was, but, boy, was it necessary!

A while ago as we were eating our dinner we heard water running.  No taps were on, so this was a puzzle.  I went to investigate and found a pipe sticking out from the laundry room wall at the back, no faucet on it.  Water was pouring from the pipe into an open black plastic pipe, a drain.  It went on and on, no pause.  What in the world was going on?

There didn't seem to be a way to turn off the fast running water that was being totally wasted.  We used the shut off valve for the condo, out in front.  Of course, that meant we had no water available.  For the rest of that day we turned on the water when we needed some and went outside to turn it off again afterwards.  We started looking for help.

A friend who is a knowledgeable handyman stopped by and diagnosed a failed pressure valve on the water heater.  He also gave us the name of another handyman who could fix the problem, a handyman who had done work for us in past years.

So we called up Sam and he came and had a look.  The diagnosis: you need a whole new water heater (which was what Ron had thought also.)  We don't know beans about that, so we gave Sam the go ahead.  The following Monday he was able to come, along with the new heater.  This is the old water heater going bye-bye.

The laundry room here is a small 5' x 5' "closet" off the kitchen.  The washer and dryer are a very large, stacked pair in there.  There is also a water heater and just enough room for a set of plastic shelves to hold all the cleaning utensils, etc.  That shelving unit had to be moved out to make room for taking out the old water heater and putting in the new.


That wasn't too bad.  I just gently dragged it into the kitchen.  Then Sam got to work.

When he removed the old water heater we found that at some time tile had been laid around it, but not under it.  It was very wet and dirty underneath there.  I cleaned that up and we put in a spare tile that we had found in the storage closet out by the carport.

Here's the big new water heater ready to be installed.


We enjoyed having Sam around that day.  He's so cheerful!  He worked so hard!  He told us that he just loves working.  We happen to know that he is 82 years old, still going strong as ever.  Jim asked him where he lives, and it is not in our village.  I jokingly told Jim, Well, Sam's too young to live here! (Age requirement: 55)  Sam relished that joke.
Here he is wrestling the water heater into position.  He worked so hard and fast that he was dripping sweat down his face.


So the new water heater is all hooked up and works just the way it's supposed to.  I think the hot water is a little too hot, but Sam says that it's factory set at 125º.  Still, when I take a shower now, I have to have the shower faucet (one of those round ones) set quite a bit lower than before.

It's only when you lose one of your modern conveniences that you recognize how easy all these conveniences make our daily lives!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

RECOVERED

A year ago today I took a photo of a "trimmed" shrub in front of our home here.  We do not take care of the outside of the condo, the association does that.  Periodically the landscaping crew comes along and "trims" the shrubs.  The gorgeous shrub covered with orange blooms was "trimmed" down to this sad remnant:

Growing shrubs, and much of nature for that matter, have wonderful abilities to heal and replenish themselves.  

We were very happy to see how recovered this same shrub was when we came back this year.  

Butterflies and hummingbirds love these blossoms!  I hope it is left alone to bloom like this all winter.  It's about as tall as I am, and is just resplendent.  What a treat to look out our bedroom window and see this beauty!

Monday, October 31, 2016

A NEW "TOY"

Quilters love Singer "Featherweight" sewing machines because they sew a very good straight seam.  That is all that they can do, but they do it extremely well.  Plus, they are extremely durable machines.  They are a basic, mechanical model, manufactured from 1933 to 1968.  Approximately 3 to 3.5 million of them were sold.  AND they are cute in the way that small things are cute.

I have long thought I'd like to have a Featherweight.  A really fortunate person might find one at a garage sale for $10 or so, but for a machine in good condition $300 is pretty much the going rate.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend in church choir who is also a quilter.  I asked her about her sewing machines; she has seven!  She mentioned that one was a Featherweight which she had for some years and just never used it very much.  She would like to sell it.  I told her I might be interested and she brought it to the next choir rehearsal for me to try.

This particular machine was manufactured between December, 1948 and May, 1949.  It's in excellent condition with the original decals (the gold decorations) intact.  It runs smoothly.  It was pretty much irresistible.

Here in AZ I have a Janome portable, an electronic machine that works very well and is very versatile.  At home in AB I have a Janome Horizon 7700, a large machine with an 11" throat, to accommodate a large quilt for machine quilting.  At home is also a Janome "SchoolMate" portable machine, a mechanical built to stand up to hard use.  This is the machine I bought when I first joined a quilt club and needed a portable machine.  All three of them are excellent machines.  I did NOT need another sewing machine, but I did desire that lovely Featherweight.

The Dear One was a little flabbergasted that I simply "wanted" this machine, even though I had no need of it.  But after a week of contemplation and a few discussions, he agreed that this machine could come home with me.  He's a sweetheart!

So here's the new member of my sewing family:


The blue masking tape marks the guideline for a 1/4" seam.  At home I'm pretty sure I have a magnetic seam guide that can be used with the mechanical machine.  But for now the tape with be a sufficient guide.

I'm just delighted to be a quilter with a Featherweight!  And I'm looking forward to stitching many, many squares and blocks on this little beauty.