Monday, December 28, 2009

Just a Note

Just a short note to say that today's post is further down the blog. It's dated December 21, because that is the date I started writing it. Scroll down and find a week of menus plus a few really good recipes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Greetings!

Jim joins me in wishing you all, children, relatives, friends, acquaintances out there in Blogland, a Blessed Christmas today. May the love, the joy, and the peace of God live in our hearts and in our world today, and in the days to come. Our prayer is that God will create justice in the hearts of all, that the poor may be blessed by the rich and that peace may come in place of war.

Our little country church held a Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols last night. Because this is the year of our church's centennial celebration, many of us dressed as we would have in 1909. We sang only carols that would have been sung in that year, and although we used electric lighting (candles would have given the Fire Marshal fits!), we sang from song sheets and hymnals. I played organ for the service and Brian was on piano. For special music three young men sang "We Three Kings", and for another number I played "Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne" on violin, accompanied by Brian. It was a lovely service, appropriate to those of a century ago. Though we were not many gathered in our little church, we had a joyful time together.

Today is a day of leisure for the two of us. Daughter #1 is at work as an RN in an emergency department. Daughter #2 is at her in-laws, who live much closer than we do. Son #1 is at work in Yosemite as a mechanic and tow truck driver, and son #2 and his family are also at in-laws (same situation--it's a much shorter drive). Actually, we discourage our children and grandchildren from visiting at this time of year. The roads can be treacherous and the airports can be a nightmare.

We are spending the day by the fireplace reading and knitting, with the Christmas tree lit up. If it becomes warm enough (say -18 or -16) we plan to do some cross country skiing from our back door and over the fields.

In the meantime I'm baking a bit. When the kids were home there was always fruit cake and banket (a Dutch almond ring) for this time of the year. But since it's just the two of us, we just can't get rid of all that baking. So instead, for breakfast this morning I made a Fruity Scone and now there's some Boston Brown Bread in the oven.

Fruity Scones:
1 orange peel, zested
1/2 cup of orange juice, used to soak
1/2 cup of dried cranberries.
Mix together
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt.
Cut 5 tablespoons of butter into
the flour mixture (I use my Cuisinart for this).
Beat 1 large egg into 1/4 cup of milk.
Transfer flour mixture to large bowl.
Add the cranberries and orange juice, and the
egg and milk.
Stir gently until all the flour is moistened.
Shape into a circle on a cookie tray covered
with baking parchment.
Pat the circle down, and score into 8 parts.
Bake at 375 for 18 minutes.

Enjoy warm with a good cup of coffee, and don't worry about the calories.

And to replace fruitcake as an afternoon snack, here's my take on

Boston Brown Bread
2 1/2 cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour
(Or 2 cups of w.w. flour and 1/2 cup white flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt.
2 cups of low fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup of dark molasses
1 cup of raisins (rinsed with warm water).
Divide into 3 coffee cans, thoroughly greased with margerine.
Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
Let stand in cans until cool.
Turn out of cans.

Can be frozen. Tastes great with jam or with cream cheese, or with both, or with any other suitable cheese (cheddar, provolone, etc.)

This is a very low fat, low sugar treat which we enjoy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Down, Two to Go

This afternoon I finished the first waistcoat, the one for our younger granddaughter. It turned out so well, I'm really pleased. I love the colour, and it feels so soft and comfy. The button needs to be sewed on yet, but I don't have any blue thread. The waistcoat needs to be blocked. It's a little smaller than anticipated, since after I started it, I didn't like how loosely knit it was, and switched to the next size smaller needles. It's a size 7-8, and the granddaughter just turned 7, so I think it will be fine.

Her sister's waist coat is coming along well. The back is finished and this evening I started knitting the left front.

For this first one I did change the pattern in a few minor ways: I knit the body in one piece, dividing when I reached the length for the armholes. That took away the need for a seam under the arms. After the garter stitch lower border, I started with row two, a wrong side row. That puts the nicer side of the cast on to the outside.

The larger version for her sister was too big to fit all the stitches on the needle, so I'm knitting that in sections: back and two fronts.

But the biggest change in plans was this: I liked the pattern so much that I bought pink yarn to make one for the youngest granddaughter, their cousin, to wear when she goes to ballet lessons. So that explains the "one down, two to go."

This past Sunday we had another little trip out of town. We went to Rocky Mountain House where Jim preached and I played organ for two services on Sunday. That church often invites us, and we enjoy going there.

We've become quite good friends with a couple about our age there, and we've often had dinner with them. On Sunday two of their grown boys were there with their wives and six children, aged 17 years to 6 weeks old. I enjoyed having young children around so very much. The two youngest are little girls, one 6 weeks old and one 17 months old. They are little dolls, with dark curly hair, very expressive children. There was also an angelic blond boy, almost three, who had the most amazing ability to turn down the corners of his mouth when he wasn't pleased. I could hardly keep from laughing at him! He wanted some craisins, and that was fine, but Grandpa tried to sneak some mashed potatoes along with them, and little Derek insisted that he wanted that craisin there in an empty spot on his plate.

That church has quite a nice organ, and they sing most heartily. Sunday morning we sang the Christmas hymn "As With Gladness Men of Old." When we got to the final verse, two sopranos sang the descant. What a joy it was to be in the midst of all that music, both hands and both feet busy on the organ, and all the people singing with that descant floating above it all! I was transported! That's one of my special memories from this particular Christmas season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Week of Menus

(The date of this posting is deceiving. It spent just over a week as a draft. The actual posting date is December 28.)

Just thought it might be interesting to record our dinner menus for one week.

Sunday we were guests at friends' home. The dinner was plentiful: ham, sausage chunks, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, peas, carrots, applesauce, pineapple slices, coleslaw, raw carrots, broccoli, and yellow pepper with dip, wine, juice, Saskatoon pie with ice cream and cheesecake with Saskatoon topping for dessert. No wonder we were stuffed!

Monday at home: grilled pork (from pork tenderloin) with sweet and sour sauce, oven baked sweet potato chunks garnished with olive oil, celery salt, ground cumin and ground coriander, steamed broccoli, salad of fresh tomato slices with onion and peas, choice of Italian or Ranch dressing. No dessert.

Tuesday: Fresh spinach salad (spinach, mushrooms, onions, grated mozza, choice of dressings), Tilapia (gently heated in pan with dab of butter and sliced onions), Basmati rice (with onion and green, red, and yellow peppers), asparagus (from the freezer.) We have a prolific asparagus patch, and eat as much as we can in season. The rest goes into the freezer (boil 3 minutes, drain, freeze).

Wednesday: whole wheat spaghetti noodles, sauce: 3 mild Italian sausages, cut into rounds, sauteed with 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms chopped, 1/2 large onion chopped, green, red and yellow sweet peppers chopped, 1 clove garlic (all I had or I would have used 2 cloves). When the saute is ready, add 1 jar of Classico Tomato Basil sauce, and heat through. Add some dried oregano and a little ground anise seed. Serve with focaccia bread and red wine. Finish with a serving of frozen vanilla yogurt.

Thursday: Salad: fresh tomatoes, cut into 12
sections, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with dried dill. Main dish: Prime Rib roast (1st time I've done Prime Rib!), mashed potatoes, vegetable combination of carrot slices, onions and celery slices, boiled lightly and dressed with a little butter, sauteed mushrooms on top of prime rib, accompanied by a glass of red wine.

Friday: Christmas Dinner: turkey thigh and drumstick, slow roasted for 3 hours at 350 in an oven bag, mashed sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar, boiled Brussels sprouts, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing (from a box, alas), accompanied by a glass of red wine. Maybe a dish of frozen yogurt later on for dessert.

Here's a wonderful recipe for a big batch of stuffing, cooked in a large crockpot.
1/4 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 (8 ounce) can of mushrooms, drained
(OR use fresh mushrooms)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 cups (or whatever) toasted bread cubes
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups chicken bouillion
1 pound pork sausage, cooked and drained

Put all ingredients into large crock pot, stir thoroughly.
Cook on high for 1 hour.
Reduce to low and cook for 1 to 2 more hours.

Note: 22 slices of bread, cubed and toasted,
yields 12 cups of toasted bread cubes.

Saturday: We had our neighbors, our good friends L and M, over for supper this evening. I had made a huge pot of chili on Monday, refrigerated it for two days to let the flavours blend, and then froze it in quart containers. I took out four quarts in the morning to thaw and gently heated it in a crockpot throughout the afternoon. Here's how we serve chili: crumble some corn chips in the bottom of a large soup bowl, spoon hot chili over the corn chips, top with grated cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped onions and fresh tomatoes, and finish with a dollop of sour cream. Add focaccia buns on the side, along with a glass of red wine.

For dessert: a slice of homemade cheesecake with a spoonful of homemade strawberry topping.

1 pound (or more) ground beef, cooked and drained
1 1/2 chopped onions
3 large carrots, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
5 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 14 ounce can of black beans, drained
2 28 ounce cans of red kidney beans, drained
1 28 ounce can of white kidney beans, drained
2 28 ounce cans of Romano beans, drained
2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 13 ounce can of tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup red cooking wine
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons dill
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 bay leaves
Combine all ingredients in a BIG heavy pot, and simmer for the afternoon.
Remove the bay leaves and serve. (Or leave them in and give a prize to the person who finds them in his/her bowl.)

4 pkg (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups heavy cream
6 eggs
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with baking parchment. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil, to form a collar above the pan.
Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth. (Use a few of the eggs with this or your mixer will suffer.)
Add sugar, then cornstarch, butter, cream and eggs, beating well after each addition. Pour into pan. Place pan in a pan filled with 1" of water.
Bake for 1 hour or up to two hours--until the top is golden brown. (I usually bake it for close to two hours, and it's never been overbaked.)
Cool on a wire rack for 3 hours.
Take out of pan and refrigerate, or cut (into 24 slices) and freeze.

This is a VERY rich cheesecake. Made with these ingredients it comes to about 300 calories per slice (when divided into 24 slices). Top it with some nice homemade strawberry topping.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Gardening

Since the cold weather broke, we've had gloriously sunny days. That's especially welcome as the days are at their shortest now. And when the daylight fades, I turn on the Christmas tree lights, the lights in the garlands above the kitchen cupboards, and the icicle lights on the peak of the house. It's very cheery.

But this morning was solidly overcast. The atmosphere was milky and it looked as if snow were hovering in the air. Around noon, the sun started to break through. I was just a little too late to get a really atmospheric picture of this little spruce laden with snow. We are thankful to have a good snow cover insulating the perennials and shrubs. Besides that, it's a beautiful scene outdoors these days. Our daytime highs have been in the single digits and the overnight lows dipping down to around -14C. That's pretty comfortable winter weather.

My little experiment with container gardening in the solar space is going well. These two containers were seeded late in September, and I've been picking from them for about four weeks now.
It stays very cool in the solar space, just above freezing at night, so the growth is very slow. But I'm able to harvest one spinach and one lettuce salad each week.

You can see that a few lettuce seeds accidentally fell into the spinach pot. No problem, just let them grow up together.

Other years I've seeded pots like this in the spring, starting them in the greenhouse when we begin heating it in March, and transferring them to the back patio when the weather warms sufficiently. But after the success of this fall seeding, I'll be sure to do this again. I'd much rather pick it from our own pots than buy it in a plastic bag that was shipped from 2,000 km away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

FINALLY!!! We've had a break in the weather. Tues-
day evening the temperature began to edge upward. In Alberta we are treated to several "Chinooks" during the winter. A Chinook is a warm wind from B.C. The wind climbs the Rockies, and as it descends on this eastern side, becomes warm air. A Chinook is signified by an easily recognizable cloud arch. I'll take a picture when I can. So first you see the arch in the sky, and a bit later the wind begins to blow. It can be fierce! Anything not tied down will blow away. I've lost the Christmas wreath off the back door many times, only to find it in the evergreens beside the driveway.

This week's Chinook was not like that; it was a gentle warming from -38 to +5C, without the wild winds. By Wednesday afternoon it was mild enough for Jim to take our Christmas tree, which had been resting in a pot by the back door, into the greenhouse to let some of the snow burden melt off. Yesterday we took it into the house to finish the warming and put it into the Christmas tree stand. Last night I decorated it in a very simple manner: just some coloured lights, some snowflakes made of plastic looking like ice, candy canes and hand crocheted snowflakes, all different, which I made some years ago.

I like to vary the way the tree is decorated from year to year, and we're both pleased with how it turned out this year. Here's a close up that shows some individual decorations. The glassy looking flake at the central lower edge is one of the "icicles" made of plastic. My good friend M. gave me several one year. They came from a gift shop in Rosebud, just like the plate I gave her this year. Then I bought some more when we were there, so now we have a dozen. They reflect the light beautifully.

Our Christmas trees come from our own little nursery, which Jim started maybe eight years ago. We have a triangle of land south of the greenhouses which he's planted with spruce, pine and a few other species. In the fall we have a fellow with a tree moving truck come from Red Deer and put about 25 trees into great big pots for sale the following season. He usually moves several other trees to M and L's, or to another customer in town. This year one of the trees just kept falling over in the pot. It was just too big for the pot, so that tree was earmarked for us to use at Christmas. We think it's a really nice, full little tree.

The litany you hear wherever you go now is, "Are you ready for Christmas?" What people really mean is, "Have you bought and wrapped all the presents you feel obligated to give this year?"

Decades ago, when the kids were little, we decided to opt out of that particular pressure. They were a little taken aback when we told them there would be no more presents at Christmas. But we sweetened the sentence by adding that at some time during the year without any special occasion, they would receive a nice present. When they were a little older, I made it a special occasion, taking out each one alone for a special evening with Mom. Jim stayed home with the rest of the family, and the special child for the evening went out for a restaurant meal and little shopping trip with Mom. We would buy something that we'd never consider otherwise. For instance, one year I bought Daughter #2 a bathing suit (a bikini for a teen) for $80. Never would have done that ordinarily, but it was sure fun for both of us!

I hope the kids, all now grown ups, have pleasant memories, in spite of being deprived of the annual Christmas present bash.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Pageant Practice

Dear granddaughter #2 celebrated her 10th birthday on Saturday. But there wasn't much time for a party, because she had to be at a long rehearsal for their church Christmas Pageant. She's playing two parts, one of which is the wicked King Herod. There weren't enough boys to go around, so she agreed to be King Herod.

This pageant is a BIG production with lots and lots of kids involved. So when they were all there, and the pastor managed to get them lined up and somewhat quieted down, he asked them all to close their eyes and have a prayer before the practice. Silence settled down and pastor glanced around to see if all the little kiddies were ready for prayer, but, wait, there was his own son fiddling around with the king's crown. "IF YOU DON'T PUT THAT CROWN DOWN IMMEDIATELY, IT WILL BE PERMANENTLY EMBEDDED IN YOUR HEAD!!!" the stressed father roared. One of the little angels opened troubled eyes and asked, "Is THAT the prayer?"

I thought this was funny enough to share.

Last night was so cold we used both the new winter duvet, and the summer quilt on top of it. We think it was -40 when we got up this morning, but it's hard to tell because there's snow on the thermometer. Today the sun shone brilliantly and there was hardly any wind. I bundled up in my long red parka and walked to our neighbor's house to give that lovely plate, found in Rosebud, to my good friend M. It's such a treat to find a present for a friend that delights both the giver and the receiver.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Seasonal Fun

The deer that were munching on the garden came back with several friends. As long as they are busy with the shrubs and perennials we don't mind being the deer buffet, but when they begin munching on the fruit trees, we go out and chase them away. The little dog Honey just sits observing them until Jim goes out to scare the deer. Then she jumps up and runs after them--until one turns around to confront her. Then it's a beeline back to the safety of Jim's company on the back step.

I got busy with the pruning shears this week, day by day "shrinking" the Hibiscus until this is all that was left. I'm leaving it by the south window for a few days, and when we bring in the Christmas tree tomorrow, will put it by the south window in the Solar Space, which is just above freezing this time of the year. I'll let it rest there for a month or so, and when the Christmas decorations are put away will bring it back up and begin fertilizing it again. In about three or four months it should be ready to bloom again. This time I plan to take it out of the dirt, rinse the roots and put it in fresh soil. That may help cut down on the infestations of aphids and white flies that afflict this plant.

One of the fun events this past week was the Christmas party for the town quilt club. Only ten women were there on Tuesday evening, since it was so cold and the country roads were iffy. But we had a good time playing silly games and laughing, and finally exchanging our small Christmas gifts. I brought a 16 month quilt calendar, complete with 11 full size patterns. I took home a small ornament of Joseph with Mary and baby Jesus. I had been looking for a nice figurine along that line, but most were a little too "cutesy" for my taste. The one I received is lovely, and small enough not to dominate the living room.

Then on Thursday we had our last meeting of the year for the country quilt club, and I did a quick little experiment of a kaleidoscope quilt that I learned from Elaine Adair's blog. I grabbed some leftovers that were full width of material. Cut them in strips of 1" to 2 1/2", and sewed the strips together. Cut the strips into alternating triangles, and worked out a setting for the five full blocks that resulted. I'm not unhappy with this. It will probably be a medium sized table topper. I could have combined it with some background blocks and made a lap quilt, but this was a much more dramatic setting. It's not all sewed together yet, but when it is I'll bind it with the dark red to finish it off.

Then on Friday Jim and I went to the matinee at Rosebud. There's a buffet meal, some time to look at the art galleries and gift shops,
and then a wonderful presentation in the opera house. I always stop at the "Rosehip," a little gift shop that carries homemade soaps. My absolute favorite is "Prairie Sage" which combines sage, cedarwood and bergamot essential oils. It's a marvellous face soap that I just love. I usually buy three bars (they're not big) but there was only one. So I'm trying out a goat milk moisture bar and one called "Coulee Ceilidh" which combines orange, cinnamon, clove and ginger essential oils with oatmeal for a gentle scrub.

I also found the gorgeous plate there, which I just had to take home with me.

"A Child's Christmas in Wales" is the current production at Rosebud, and, like all their offerings, is wonderfully done, a real delight, this one with lots of good humour. We totally enjoyed it.

Then on Saturday we went to Red Deer. We each had an eye exam, and were happy that our prescriptions have not changed. We're good for another year.

We followed that up with some shopping. Jim got a pump to empty the septic tank, and I found some pink yarn plus some pink "fun fur" yarn to make another "waistcoat" for the youngest granddaughter. The other two waistcoats are for Dear Son #2's girls. I'll post pictures when those projects are finished.

We topped off a relaxing week with a concert at Red Deer College featuring a choir and a symphonic wind ensemble--lots a good music. And then a quiet night at a Red Deer Motel 6. What a lovely weekend!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Scene

This morning when we got up the thermometer registered minus 35C, (-31F), the moon and the stars were still shining, and the wind was very low. I heard a coyote howl once, and looked out toward the garden. There were three deer standing motionless in the moonlight. They stood still for so long I wondered if they had died and frozen in that position. Then one of them swivelled its ears, and I knew they were still living.

Our dog Honey was holed up in her box in the garage, a few sheets of rigid insulation under the box, and a sleeping bag over the box, forming a snug little cave for her where she nestled into an old crib blanket.

All of our activities went on this weekend, not quite as per normal, but with surprisingly good attendance. I missed the rehearsal on Saturday afternoon because our car was stuck in a snow drift in our driveway. Jim had it dug out by 4 p.m., so we did both make it to the performance of the Community Christmas Concert that evening, Jim to be in the audience, and I to be in the string group. That concert usually has standing room only, but Saturday evening the auditorium was only half full.

Sunday morning we picked up Jan and went to church, wondering if anyone would show up. Our pastor is gone for the week, and the pastor coming from a town one hour away was stuck in a drift along the country road. An angel on a tractor came by and pulled him out, and he was there on time to preach. The congregation gradually gathered until we had a respectable crowd. Jan and I played a violin/piano offertory on one of the versions of "Away in a Manger"

Then it was home for a bite of lunch and a chance to revel in some bright sunshine. That's when I took the above photo to show that even though Alberta has some awful storms, heavy winds, and low temperatures, winter can be beautiful.

The second performance of the Christmas Concert was very well attended. The parking lot at the large church in town was packed down to the last stall. I had to park a block away. This time a capacity crowd enjoyed the varied program: two choirs; two small bands of bass, guitar, drums, piano, clarinet and trumpet; trumpet duet; "radio" (circa 1945) skit; handbell choir; violin trio (3 young boys); string ensemble, and grand finale with both choirs, and all instruments. This particular concert has been held for many years here, a gift to the community from the Arts Academy. It has always seemed like the real beginning of the Advent Season to me, just as the performance of the "Messiah" by the Calvin College Choir and Orchestra in the Grand Rapids Civic Auditorium signalled the beginning of the Christmas festivities when I was growing up in Michigan.

Don't these traditions just do so much for our lives!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Time to Trim

Hibiscus is now about 4 feet tall (including the pot) and covered with buds. One day recently it sported 10 blooms at one time. Of course, this is transient glory, as the blooms last only one day. But it's time to trim Hibiscus down to about 8". The Christmas tree will be coming in soon, and with the furniture rearranged to accommodate the tree, there just isn't room for Hibiscus. So today I started cutting it down. I take off about three limbs each day, as more would traumatize the plant. When it's trimmed all the way down, there won't be any leaves left. Then it will go for a rest in the solar space downstairs, until maybe a month from now when it will start putting out new branches. By March it should be blooming again. It's really too bad to do this because of all the buds coming up. Pretty much every branch has a bud at its tip, and several are close to opening.

Time to trim the Philodendron in the kitchen, too. Time to move it to the freezer space and put up the Christmas garlands above the cabinets.

Both of these plants have been with us for a long time already. They submit to this annual reduction, and come back ready to grow luxuriantly. All the greenery above the cabinets and hanging down comes from just one plant, and that in a small pot.

Yesterday morning I finished the second tree skirt, the one for Daughter #2. This turned out very well, with minimum mix-ups. The gold lame really makes it sparkle. The reds are actually deeper than the photo shows. I was going to bring it to the P.O. and send it off yesterday, but by 9:30 in the morning a terrific snow storm had begun.

It snowed hard for most of the morning, and although it hasn't snowed that much since then, we've had very heavy wind which whipped it all into 3' and 4' drifts. When we got up this morning we couldn't even read the
thermometer on the balcony, as it was snow covered. There are large drifts by this south window and by the west window.

Jim did manage to get out of the driveway and pick up a Globe and Mail (Toronto newspaper) which we like to read on Saturday. But he said it was a total mess in
town. We think the County and Town are waiting for the storm to end before they begin plowing out the roads. Ordinarily our road is cleared promptly, as it is a school bus route. Of course, there's no need for school buses today.

I'm supposed to go to a rehearsal at 2 p.m. and be there for a program at 7 p.m. tonight. I really don't see how that's a possibility today. The Community Christmas Concert was just one of several events scheduled for this weekend. Last night there were supposed to be a parade of lights, Christmas carolling, hot chocolate available on Main Street, and shopping until midnight. All of this was cancelled as it would be impossible during the storm. So I guess I'll be waiting and hoping for a phone call that cancels today's activities as well.

Nevertheless, we are very happy that we've started the winter with a good snowfall. We need lots and lots of snow as our level of soil moisture is far too low. So bring on the snow!!! Fortunately both Jim and I visited the library on Thursday, so we're prepared for a long weekend. We'll just stay home and have some hot chocolate by the fireplace.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I had hoped to show you the back of the "waistcoat" for the older granddaughter, the one whose birthday is on December 12. It was coming along just great! and was already 17" long, out of 19 3/4" needed, after a quick start on Saturday, and lots of knitting on Sunday and especially Monday.

Sunday we drove to Brooks for the rehearsal and two performances of Handel's Messiah. It was a beautiful winter day, bright sun gleaming on fresh white snow, and the roads were blessedly clear. We arrived during the noon hour and got a room at the Super 8, actually, a suite with two fireplaces. I had thought that maybe we should reserve a room for that night, based on our previous experience in Brooks. In the 70's one June weekend we went for a little jaunt around Alberta to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We ended up in Brooks and looked for a motel room. Not a room to be had!! and we finally were offered what was actually a broom closet in the Brooks Hotel. We took it, and were awakened the next morning by the maid coming in to get her equipment.

But this weekend was a different story. I think we were the only people in that wing of the motel. It was a great room and perfectly quiet all night.

The rehearsal was very poor, but you know what they say, "Bad rehearsal, good performance." The 4:30 performance was o.k., but needed some tweaking. The 7:30 performance was much better. It was a smallish stage (in a school auditorium) for the 100 or so singers, so they had to stand on risers for the entire concert, mercifully brief at about 70 minutes. But counting the rehearsal and the two performances, by the end of the evening, the choir had been standing for over three hours.

At the end of the second performance, just before the "Hallelujah Chorus" a soprano fainted, and knocked the soprano in front of her off the stage and into the orchestra, where she knocked over the bass player's music stand and fell between the risers holding the cello and the bass. Fortunately, she was only shaken up,not injured, and the fainting soprano revived and said, "I'm all right, I'm all right." She was helped off the stage and the other gal was helped back up onto the stage, and we gave a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus. A concert that we'll all remember!

After a relaxing start to Monday morning, as Jim drove home, I knitted diligently on the waistcoat, and continued knitting at home until 6 p.m. when my right arm started to ache. Then I quit since I needed that arm to play on Tuesday evening.

So last night we were in Rosebud giving the final performance, a very fun concert because it included two other Rosebud choirs, and the children's group which always gives a good and polished skit at the Christmas concert. I took along my knitting, since I knew it would be a very relaxed atmosphere, and worked on it before the concert and during the first half.

After the concert there were refreshments served, and Susan and I grabbed a bite to eat before we left for home. It was only when I parked the car and gathered up my things to take them inside that I realized I HAD LEFT THE KNITTING BAG BEHIND!!! Alas! It means that there's no way on earth that waistcoat will be ready to be mailed on Friday. It means that dear granddaughter will have to wait for her present.

So today I'm back to working on the waistcoat for the younger granddaughter. It's coming along well, so maybe this one will be finished on time for her birthday.

Sorry, Sweetie!!! Grammy meant well, but just didn't hit the mark this time.