Friday, November 30, 2012

More Troubles

I tried deleting all post from '09, February and March.  But that was a no go.  I still wasn't able to upload any pictures.

Then I tried creating a new blog, simply titled "Grammilou" but was not permitted to upload any pictures for that either.

I'm stymied!  What do I do now?


Yesterday I was all set to write a blog entry with lots of pictures about the latest finished project.  However, I am informed by Blogspot that all my "storage" have been used up.  I have no idea what they are talking about, and I don't intend to buy more storage.

It seems that my options may be
1.     Erase some of the earliest blog entries to see if that creates "room" on my "storage."
2.     Simply close "grammilousgarden" and begin a new blog.

I intend to try #1 first, and if that doesn't work to try #2.

Keep tuned to find out where I've gone!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nearly Gone

When we moved to our acreage in '99 there was a lot of work to be done.  The house had been built 20 years earlier, and nothing had ever been fixed, so far as we could see.  None of the rooms had been repainted; the carpet was still the original 70's orange and brown shag, and the leak in the kitchen ceiling was dealt with by means of an ice cream bucket placed on top of the cupboards to catch the drips.

There was an old garage about 150 ft from the house, crudely built by placing the walls directly on the ground.  An old ramshackle barn worthy of being demolished was dealt with when we hired someone to push it over with their bobcat.  An old workshop had a cement slab floor so that was worth saving.  We reshingled the roof, insulated the walls, put in a ceiling and covered the walls with rough sawn spruce.  That became our Sales Building.  The old garage received a foundation, was divided into two rooms, double insulated with no windows, the "car" door removed and replaced with one "people" door.  That became our cold storage building.

We built three greenhouses over the years, plus a good sized quonsett and a workshop.  The place is unrecognizable.

The only landscaping on the place was a shelter belt with four rows of Saskatoon bushes and three rows of about six foot high spruce trees, set several yards north of the house.  The lack of landscaping was a good thing, because it allowed Jim to gradually evolve a landscape full of trees, shrubs and perennials that now looks attractive in any season.  Even today, with the snow covering the ground, the spruce trees, the red and yellow stem dogwoods and the silvery Russian Olives lend lots of colour and interest to the grounds.

The house went through extensive renovation: a new roof, new floors and new windows, a solar space added beneath the exterior balcony.  One of the additions was a new garage, sharing the north wall of the house, but without direct access.  Jim really didn't want to knock any holes in the walls!  And a small addition to the garage is a little lean-to garbage shed on the north side, well away from the back entrance.

Living in the country means recycling.  We compost all our organic waste, visit the bottle depot to redeem all our beverage containers, and a few times a year we go to our local recycling depot with our glass, tin cans, newspapers and magazines, and most plastics.  The few things we can't deal with in those ways are deposited in our garbage shed, where there are four big plastic garbage cans.

Once or twice a year we have to make a trip to the dump to get rid of whatever has landed in the garbage shed.  It was time on Saturday to make that trip, so Jim got out the van (a really dirty old thing that is used to transport trees, etc.) and loaded up.  Just before he left he asked about a bag in the back hall, and I said, Yes, that needs to go along, and also those boots.

About three years ago I bought a cheap pair of winter boots from Walmart.  Last year the zipper came apart, not just unstitched, but the coil of the zipper parted company with the tape.  Unfixable, unless you are a shoemaker and have the right sort of sewing machine to replace the zippers in a pair of boots.  I was still using them, not having any others for walking in deep snow.  Thursday we were in the city and I bought another pair of cheap boots from Walmart--these don't have zippers, they just pull on.

I also have a few pair of very good, leather boots, including one pair of Reikers that I bought last year for $145.  I really enjoy those boots.  They fit perfectly, look elegant and, being just above the ankle, are very versatile.  I wear them a lot this time of the year, provided I'm not going to be walking through much snow.  They were also in the back hall, and, significantly, were on the dryer right beside the bag of trash.

I was busy at the sewing machine, working on finishing a project when Jim left.  Suddenly I had a thought: Did he take the old boots, on the floor by the door, or my dearly loved Reikers?  I went to the back hall and saw the dreadful truth: The Reikers were gone, and the old, broken boots were still there!!!  I quickly slipped into my clogs and RAN down the driveway, hoping, hoping, hoping he hadn't left!!!

Thank goodness he was still there, brushing the snow off the van!  The Reikers were on the front seat.  I was able to retrieve them!  If he had left, it would have been curtains for those boots.  He doesn't carry a cell phone, and would have been unreachable.  I felt quite shaken for the next while, thinking how easily that mistake was made and feeling very grateful that I was able to catch him before he left.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


October 25, Thursday
There's not much more to tell about our trip.  Leaving Yosemite we traveled northwest on 120, a really twisty road that descends to the valley with a series of spectacular views.  Turning north on 49 we found another narrow, twisting highway without the safety aspect of a good paved shoulder.  I was glad Jim was driving.  There was a double, solid yellow centre line for at least 90% of the way.  Then we turned east on Hwy 50 to the Tahoe area.  I drove most of that stretch.

Driving north on 89 along the west side of Lake Tahoe we were treated to some very beautiful scenery, with deep snowdrifts.  The road, fortunately, was clear.  When we reached I80 East we drove to Sparks, Nevada where we took a room at the motel 6.  On the advice of the girl at the desk, we had supper at Rail City, a casino with a restaurant.  I had asked about nearby family restaurants.  This was about as far from a family restaurant as could be.  It was incredibly noisy, and we were glad to leave.

October 26, Friday
We continued east on I80 for the whole day, stopping in Winnemuca around 1 p.m. for a bite to eat and a visit to a Walmart for some groceries.  I hopped over to the yarn department, still looking for some sock yarn, but instead bought some yarn by Lion Brand (new to me) called "Amazing" in Constellation and in Glacier Bay.  As soon as I finished the current pair of socks I started on a scarf using these two close colourways.

That yarn was a delight to use, and turned out beautifully.  This looks a little washed out compared to the real thing.  It was going to be for a daughter or daughter-in-law, but when I saw how good it looked with Jim's navy fleece jacket, it was earmarked for him.  I finished it at home, and he's wearing with the jacket these days.  The socks went to my dear Sis in Arizona.

October 27, Saturday
Another day on the road.  Came to Helena, Montana about 7 p.m. and checked into the Motel 6 near I15, which we are following north to the border.

October 28, Sunday
This was a dark, overcast day.  Most fields were snow-covered, and the temperature was brisk, as was the wind.  Crossing the border back into Canada we had only a 5 minute wait in line.  As soon as we crossed the border the sun came out and the sky turned blue.  There was a lot of snow on the fields here.

In Lethbridge we went to visit our elderly friend Hilda.  The last we'd seen here was November of '11, when she didn't know us at all.  I wrote about that sad visit then.  This time she seemed much more responsive, but did say she didn't know us.  After a short visit we were saying goodbye when she cracked a joke, "Don't forget to close your eyes when you go to sleep!"  I laughed out loud and told her it was a good joke.  She smiled broadly.  How much nicer to end a visit this way compared to the sad ending of last November's visit.

Stopped in Strathmore for a few groceries and some chili at Tim Horton's.  I looked for some more of the Lion Brand yarn at the Walmart, hoping to make Jim a toque to match the scarf, but there was none.

We got home around 6:30, just as the day turned into night.  Wow! the house was cold after having the heat turned down all that time.  S. had kept everything in good order, and even put some fresh milk in the fridge for us.  Dickens was delighted to have us home, and we were glad to be there!  So that completed our little holiday for this year.

Some Projects completed since then:
I am just in a "snit" to complete some old projects, both quilting and knitting, so I got out this finished quilt top, single bed size, made my three layer sandwich and meander quilted it.  I found this a difficult project because I used a polyester batt that didn't hold as firm as the Warm and Natural.  But I got it done and here's the finished

This quilt I will keep for use when all the kids and grandkids visit.  We need lots of bedding for the whole gang then.

Here's a nifty, quick way to make a folded binding:  Cut the binding to 2 1/2" flat, place long
straight pins on the ironing board, and pull the
binding through the space between the pins and
the board.  You can just leave the iron steaming
flat down between two of the pins, and by
pulling the binding through, press it easily.  I just couldn't pull and take a picture at the same time, so you don't see the iron on the bindings.  This works just slick!

This week Tuesday I was busy at our town club showing how to make the blocks for our "club quilt"--a quilt that we all make blocks for, pay a fee to the kitty, and then draw to see who wins the quilt.  The president of the club and I had chosen the background.  The blocks are to be made using all batiks against the beige background.  The inner two strips are to be the darker fabrics and the outer two strips are to be lighter.  In that way the star design in the centre of the block shows up.  This is my sample block, and the lower left hand square shows how using too dark a fabric obscures the star in the centre.

To facilitate my teaching I made some another
sample block, using Christmas coloured fabrics.
This is a simple, practical way of turning a sample into a completed project.  To illustrate the method I sewed four of the squares at the meeting.  The four then are put together to make a complete block.  Yesterday at home I finished the third block and put the table runner together.  Today I put the binding on, and I will still do some machine quilting in the background areas to add a little sparkle interest with some gold quilting thread.  I'm not sure who will get this nice, seasonal runner.

I also finished up two clothing projects this past week.  The cute little pink cotton jacket is for our
youngest granddaughter.  It went into the mail this week.  Of course, she can't wear it as a jacket now that it's winter, but perhaps can wear it to school as a kind of "overblouse."

The black and gold knit top is one I bought for myself on sale, even though it was about three sizes to big.  I cut along the seams, cut the pieces down to size and resewed, using the serger.  It's very stretchy and will be a really comfortable, somewhat dressy top for the many times I wear black slacks or a black skirt this winter.  The gold thread is actually quite sparkly.

Well, now I'm all caught up on blogging.  Next thing I want to accomplish is quitting Facebook.  I've never liked that site much, and have found it difficult to navigate.  Maybe that's just my age!  But I love email, and this blog keeps me in touch with our friends and relatives, and even some folks I don't personally know.  I always am looking for some feedback in terms of comments or emails.  The person who comments most frequently is a friend right here in town.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Yosemite

October 22, Monday
Monday dawned dark and drizzly, just as predicted.  The Dear One went off early to the Lounge where internet was available, and found that it didn't open until 8 a.m.  So off he went again at 8, but this time used the car to keep dry.  I cleaned up the room and settled down to knit on my "travel" project, a pair of socks, originally meant for Grandson #2, but because the colours are quite feminine, now redirected for my dear Sis.

Dear Son #1 arrived around 11 a.m. and we had coffee together, and the Dear One came in again.  We three decided that since the rain was pretty steady and general we would do indoor things today.  So that afternoon we went to the Visitor Center to see the displays and watch the excellent film about Yosemite.  What beautiful photography!

We also visited the Indian Museum where a Native American was busy making jewelry from pine nuts, patiently shaping the end of a pine nut with a pumice stone.  He showed me a lovely bracelet he had made.  Displayed were some really amazing woven baskets, true works of art.

Then we went to the Village Store to purchase some easy fixings for supper: Three Thai Noodle Bowls (need only some hot water) and some cooked chicken, which, combined with the leftover veggies from last night's supper made a satisfying meal.  We had a good long visit in our cabin and wrapped up the day by 10 p.m.

October 23, Tuesday
Although the sky was still cloudy and there were a few scattered rain drops we decided this was a good day to visit a part of the park we had not yet seen: The Hetch Hetchy Dam and Lake area, in the Northwest section of the park, not far from where we had stayed in the West Gate Lodge on Saturday night.

We parked near the Dam, an impressive sight and hiked up the trail a ways.  I had forgotten my camera and used D.S.'s but I've had a terrible time getting those pictures from Jim's laptop to mine, hence the week-long delay since my last post.  The problem is still not completely solved, so I will just post a few pictures.  This is the dam, seen at the centre of the photo from a ways up the hiking trail.  And the next photo is the opposite view from this one, looking to the left over Hetch Hetchy Lake.  It was a very beautiful area!

The dam was built early in the last century, really in response to the San Francisco earthquake, to provide a reliable and clean supply of water to the whole San Francisco and valley area.  Because the lake and dam are so high in elevation the whole system operates without pumps, and the water travels entirely by gravity.  There are two other reservoirs in the system and besides providing a reliable water supply, all from snow melt, the whole system also provides a significant amount of power through its turbines and generators.

One very interesting "tree" or "shrub" (I'm not sure which) is the Manzanita, with its dark orange bark and convoluted limbs.  Its wood is very hard and was a
favourite of the original inhabitants of the area.

On our way here we saw the only bear we encountered in the park, a park famous for lots of bears.  It crossed the road right in front of us as we drove the narrow way to the dam.  I quickly grabbed the camera, but was too late to get a good picture.  All I managed was a little brown bump next to the tree as it disappeared down the slope next to the road.  I just tried now again to import that photo from Jim's laptop, but it just won't work.  I'm just glad I manage to get these here.

We planned to have dinner at a nice restaurant near the dam, but found out it opened for dinner at 5 p.m., and this was only around 3.  Instead we stopped at the Park Entrance gate and ate some chicken wraps we had bought earlier in the day.  There was a very cold wind that swept through the area, and we were thoroughly chilled.  It felt like about +38ºF!  Found out later that the high had been +40º that day.  Unseasonably cold.

 Back in our nice warm cabin we had some hot chocolate and ice cream.  Jim enjoyed reading a N.Y. Times newspaper that DS had brought, and we again visited until the evening was spent.

This was our third trip to visit DS in Yosemite, the first in 2003, and again in 2008.  I do have one little correction to the last post: DS is responsible for 40 buses ALONG WITH THREE OTHER MECHANICS!  I guess I inadvertently gave him a promotion!

Right in front of our cabin was this sign warning about bear damage.  Bears in Yosemite Valley have come to associate easy food with cars, as people often leave food in their vehicle.  There is a very strict prohibition against leaving any food in a vehicle, but nevertheless about 100 cars, trucks or vans are practically demolished there each year by raiding bears.  If you leave food in your car you risk having it impounded, or wrecked by a bear.

The strange thing is that there are snack machines in various outdoor places that the bears have not bothered.  So the conclusion is that one bear learned to trash a car for easy food access and actually imparted that behaviour to other bears.  They just haven't caught on to the snack machines yet!

October 24, Wednesday
We followed our usual morning routine, Jim to the lounge to use the internet, I cleaned up the room, trying to keep things neat and then sat down to knit for a while.  DS came around 11 a.m.  We had something to eat, bought at one of the cafeterias, and then set out for Happy Isles and Mirror Lake.

There have been some big rock slides at Happy Isles, and rock slides are actually a "usual" thing in Yosemite Valley, because of the geology of the place.  But that particular rock slide killed one camper and injured several other people.

Couldn't get a very clear view of the slide area, but all the white rock shows where the slide was, a huge area.

There was this bit of beauty alongside the trail where it crossed the Merced River on a small wooden bridge.

The shaded area just to the right of the "nose" in this picture shows the route DS and his climbing buddy were planning to tackle in the next week.  They were figuring on spending possibly three days on the face of this cliff.

Mostly we don't know when he's climbing and that's a lot more comfortable for us.  On the other hand, knowing that he's spending his days and nights on this rock face, really concentrates our prayers for him!

That was a few weeks ago now, and he is safely on the valley floor again.

Here's an unusual shot of Half Dome.  I didn't even recognize it from this point of view.  When we were here in 2008 I took a lovely picture of Half Dome from the Glacier Point Lookout.  Later I made a watercolour painting of that scene.

We had hiked up to Mirror Lake and, to our surprise, found this scene:
Mirror Lake is a seasonal lake, and this time of the year, when there is no snow melt going on, it's a large sandy area dotted with huge boulders.  It reminded me of a Japanese garden, and needed only the marks of careful raking to complete the picture.

Other hikers were similarly confused, thinking they should hike farther up the trail to find the lake.

Well, this pretty much brings us to the end of our visit with DS in Yosemite.  Again, we ended the day with some purchased food eaten in our cabin and topped off with a good long evening visit.

Because we planned to leave promptly on Thursday morning we said our goodbyes this evening.  It has been a very satisfying visit, and we are sad to leave, but very happy we had this time together.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Movin' On

Continuing the account of Friday, October 19, we drove on to Death Valley.  I have a similar picture taken in 1972, but that time we were leaving Death Valley.  We stopped at the first inn, Furnace Creek Inn.  There we discovered that you need reservations to stay there.  However the clerk at the counter was very friendly and helpful. She said they did have just one room that was not taken for that night, we could have that.  It had a King-sized bed, but no view.  We asked what the senior's rate for that room was, and after a few calculations she said, "$300. plus tax."

Well, no thanks.  We thought that was a little too steep to pay for one night's sleep.  She very helpfully called all the other accommodations in the valley (I think there were three others), but there was not a room to be had.

Since it was only 3 p.m. we decided to drive on to Lone Pine, a small town outside the park, on the west side.  We had planned to visit some of the attractions in Death Valley, but this turned out to be a "Drive By" visit.

In 1972 we made a thorough visit to the various interest points there, so we didn't feel too badly about having to skip them this time through.  This second photo shows some of the roadside scenery nearer to the west side.

We reached Lone Pine around 6 p.m. and got a nice room at a Comfort Inn for a little over $100.  The Comfort Inn is two miles south of town, which was probably a good thing, because when we went into town for some supper we found it full of tourists, motels, restaurants and souvenir shops.  There were lots of people roaming the streets, and, of course, a casino, maybe more than one.  But we had a lovely meal at a local restaurant, the Mt. Whitney, and a nice quite evening at the Comfort Inn.

October 20, Saturday
After a good breakfast at Comfort Inn's Breakfast Room, we drove to Bishop, California, where we stopped for some groceries and gas.  We were headed for Yosemite Park, and there is no gas available in the park, so be sure to tank up before you go there.

Here you see some of the colour at the eastern end of the Tioga Pass Road.  I wasn't quick enough to capture the amazing, all orange tree that livened the right hand side of the road.

Tioga Pass Road transverses the park from east to west (or west to east, of course).  The highest point of this road is just under 10,000 ft.  There's no way to keep it open and safe under winter conditions, so when it snows, the road is simply closed to traffic.

The day we came was a wonderfully sunny day, just gorgeous!

The night before I had reserved a room for us at the Yosemite West Gate Lodge on Hwy 120.  So we followed the Tioga Pass road (Hwy 120) and where it split at the west end, we stuck with 120 right out the park gates.  Our hotel was another 12 miles along that road, and it was the closest one to that gate.  What I hadn't realized when I made the reservation was that this northwest gate is quite a long way from the valley of Yosemite, where our dear son #1 lives and works.  But it all worked out fine.  We were at the hotel by 3 p.m., had a lovely large room and a relaxing evening.  Went for a little walk and had a cheese sandwich for supper.

October 21, Sunday
After breakfast at Buck Meadows Restaurant (pancakes, sausages and eggs) we drove into Yosemite to Curry Village where we had arranged to meet DS #1 at noon.  He had previously made reservations for us at a cabin there, and the staff at registration kindly put us through early, so we were able to settle in.

This day was also a lovely, sunny day, so we took advantage of it to go see some of the park.
The main tourist area is the valley itself, where the accommodations are.  They range from simple campgrounds to luxurious hotels.  We were in a fairly simply cabin--really quite old, with two double beds, a dresser and a small bathroom.  Really everything that we needed.

The big scare this summer about the Hanta Virus centered on Curry Village, but the problem was in their newer hard wall tents, which were double walled and provided a perfect habitat for mice who could chew their way into the space between the walls.  That is all being cleaned up, and we felt we were in no danger whatsoever staying there.

One of the iconic sights of Yosemite is this awesome rock face, El Capitan.  Because it was was a lovely day, there were lots of climbers out scaling the cliffs around the valley.

I was able to get a telephoto shot of a small group:

Dear son #1 first came to Yosemite about 10 years ago to climb there.  When he ran out of money he applied for and got work at the garage that services the park vehicles.

Because the roads are narrow and congested the management prefers that you park in the valley and take the free public transportation that they provide.  They have a fleet of vehicles, mainly busses to transport people around the park.

These busses are cleaned and serviced every night and that is what DS began to do.  Because he really enjoyed that work place he took classes and became a tow truck driver there.  Some years later he took training and now is a senior mechanic, responsible for something like 40 busses in that fleet.  He really enjoys being there and was glad to show us around and introduce us to his fellow workers.

I had bought fixings for a meal in Bishop: pork chops, stuffing and veggies.  But when we reached the park we found out there is NO COOKING in Curry Village, so I was wondering what to do about the food.  I had no refrigeration so it needed to be used.  D.S. volunteered the facilities in the "Break Room" at the garage, so that is where we cooked our supper.

One of the fellows has a small George Forman grill and a hot plate, and he kindly helped with the cooking and provided a pan to cook the veggies in.  Supper was ready during the staff's "Lunch Break" around 7 p.m., so we joined them while they ate their meal.  What a bunch of ebullient and friendly fellows!  What a good time we had that evening, getting to know them a little bit!  The finishing touch was watching "Sharktopus" with them while we ate.  (At least, I think that was the name of the movie--it was anyway what that fearsome version of "Jaws" was called.)  We had a rollicking good time with them, and our food problem was taken care of in the best way possible.