Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Great Day Out

On Friday our quilt club had its annual day trip out.  We had dark, showery weather which didn't hinder us at all!  After meeting at the Provincial Building and boarding the Seniors' Outreach Bus, which we had rented for the day, and meeting our driver, Chris, we left shortly after 7:30 a.m.

Our first stop was at Country Creations, south of Strathmore, where Lorraine Stangness, quilt designer and owner of the shop welcomed us with coffee and assorted cookies.  Because there were 19 of us women on the tour, we divided into two groups.  One group went downstairs to her lovely shop and started browsing around, picking up some bargains, and other beautiful projects.  Ten of us stayed upstairs and Lorraine gave us several demonstrations of methods.  First a quick, nifty way to make flying geese.  There are instructions for this on her website, at Country Creations.  There followed other demonstrations on use of special rulers to make cutting squares quick and accurate, and on a fool-proof way the join the ends of your bindings.

Then we changed places with the group downstairs.

I had said I wouldn't buy any fabric, as my space for my fabric stash is FULL!!  Oops!  Never say Never!!!  I saw a very beautiful quilt that I would love in our bedroom.  (Our current quilt is showing wear after more than 15 years on the bed.)  The kit available was for a single bed (71" x 86") so I ended up buying two kits.  I want to make a very large quilt, pretty much floor to floor all the way 'round, so it will finish out at at least 106" x 106", maybe as large as 110" x 110".  I spent more money than any other woman on the tour at that stop!  But I'm so excited about starting this beautiful quilt.

Our bus driver Chris had made the suggestion that we stop for lunch at Glenmore Inn, which has a wonderful buffet lunch.  He had phoned ahead and made reservations for us.  So the tables were all set up, and we were able to pick up our food from the wide variety of choices available.  We spent an hour there, and were well satisfied.  Thanks to Chris for a great suggestion and for his help arranging it!

After that we visited three quilting shops in the southeast end of Calgary, Along Came Quilting, Sewing Sensation, and My Sewing Room.  They were all happy to see us come in the door, 19 strong, ready to buy.  And we were rewarded with some prizes, fat quarters from one shop, a pin and emery board from another.  We were told to phone beforehand the next time, and there would be a little bag of goodies for each of us.

We still had time for one more visit, so we headed down to 9th Ave and 12th st, where the son of a member has an art gallery, DaDe.  We had a great time there looking at the displays, and enjoying a glass of wine, compliments of the owners!  What a fun time!

By this time, 5 p.m., most of us (only two under 55) were getting pretty flaked.  So we told Chris, Head for home.  He needed to pick up some gas on the way, so he dropped us all at the Tim Horton's in Strathmore and filled up the tank.

We reached home just after 7 p.m., right according to schedule, replete with shopping, treats, and yakking.  Chris had said at the beginning that he has only one rule for the bus: ONLY ONE PERSON TALKING AT A TIME!!!  I guess we amended to rule to read: only one person per pair of seats talking at once, as the bus was filled with chatter the whole day: just like a henhouse full of clucking hens!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Spring arrived yesterday!  Temperatures soared to shirt sleeve heights.  Frogs started singing in the dugout.  Birds showed their delight with a regular concert of song.  Jim and I sat on our back patio around 5 p.m. for the first time this year.  He had his favourite treat: an orange ice cream soda, and I had mine: diet coke with crackers and cheese.  What a treat!

Today the warm weather continues.  I'm delighted to be able to hang the wash out on the line, especially since our electricity rates doubled this past winter when Alberta deregulated electricity.  The sun purifies the clean clothes and the wind and fresh air make them smell so good!

Last week I finished up a few projects that have been hanging around for quite a while.  This wallhanging was a kit from Lorraine Stangness of Country Creations.  I bought the kit two or three years ago, and it's finally finished.

Tuesday evening we will have our final meeting of the quilting club for this season, so I wanted to have a few things ready for our "Show and Tell" Evening.  We invite other women interested in quilting (And Yes, we would invite an interested man, if we knew of one!); we all bring some goodies; we have a few door prizes; and we just have a good time showing off what we accomplished this year.

There were two other projects that I finished this year, but they've been given away already: the quilt for Slave Lake, and the lap quilt for the dear daughter-in-law.

I have two other finishes to show tomorrow:
The first is the finished wall hanging that incorporated the
folded flowers I taught in March.  What is not too clear on this
photo are the little brass beads in the centre of each flower, and
the dark gold thread curling from one flower to the next, tying
them all together in a line.

The other finish was a child's quilt made from a printed panel.
I took the easy way out on this one.  At least I thought it was
going to be the easy way: I machine quilted around all the
figures in the panel, even the individual books.  That turned
out to be a long project.  But it's finally finished, and will go
to the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer as a gift for some
child who is undergoing medical treatment.

Now it's time to get ready for some window washing.  I'm
looking forward to clean windows upstairs in our living
area, but today is the day to clean the windows in what we
call our "solar space"--an enclosed area downstairs in which
we keep plants over winter, and enjoy as a lovely sitting
area in the summers.  A good place to sit in the afternoon and
keep an eye on the garden centre in case a customer shows up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bambi Factor

You know from previous posts that whenever I see deer in our yard I do my best to chase them away.  Just this morning I ran out in my slippers, doing my best imitation of a fierce dog barking to scare a herd of about seven feeding on our trees and shrubs.  They do a great deal of damage to the trees over winter by stripping bark.  When the tulips come up in the spring the deer act as if that is the dessert bar favourite.  I have even threatened to buy an air gun to "ping" them hard enough to frighten them away.
Nevertheless, when this badly injured deer sought refuge among our buildings this afternoon, we had pity on it.  We kept our distance, so as not frighten it, but after I stood for a time and took a few long distance pictures, it got up and hobbled painfully behind the workshop, out of view.  I was glad we don't have a dog which might have harassed the poor thing.

We called the owner of a small, local zoo, who knew the proper procedure.  He called the local detachment of the RCMP and soon a police car drove up.  The officer went with Jim to see the deer and determine how badly it was injured.  There are rules for these cases, and the rule states that if the animal can walk, even if it is limping, it must not be interfered with.  

Three years ago the RCMP received multiple calls about an injured deer.  They finally located the animal, but it was able to walk, although limping badly.  They left it alone, and even now they occasionally spot the same deer, still limping, but still getting along somehow.  

The officer determined that this poor animal was indeed badly injured and needed to be put down.  He and Jim made sure that there were no people in the area, not hard to do at this time of the year as the Garden Centre is certainly not busy yet.  He mercifully shot the deer and ended its pain and suffering.

Then the zoo owner removed the carcass.  Tonight the lions have fresh venison for supper.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A BIG Hole!

Last night I bit down on a delicious square of dark chocolate for a bedtime snack.   "That's funny," I thought, "this chocolate shouldn't have any nuts in it!"

I fished the "nut" out and realized it was a sizeable chunk of a molar.  Fortunately it wasn't painful to lose this piece of tooth.  I phoned the dentist's office and told the answering machine my problem.

Shortly after eight this morning they returned my call and made an appointment for 9:30.

The hygienist  had a nifty little digital camera that was like a toothbrush, and with it she took several pictures of the huge hole.  You know how your tongue can't resist exploring something like that over and over?  It felt like Grand Canyon in my jaw.

Dr. Kerr soon fixed me up with a temporary filling.  My mouth feels normal again.  In May I have to go back and get a crown put on this tooth.  Thank goodness that a crown will do it.  I had visions of needing a partial plate.  Jim and I are thankful to have our own teeth yet, and try to take good care of them.

Thanks to Dr. Kerr for some quick relief!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two Good Experiences

Back in April 4, '09 I wrote about the combined Good Friday service that was celebrated here in our small town.  It was a polished, multi-media production hosted by the Victory Church.  I had one reservation about that service: it seemed far too triumphant for a Good Friday service.  I quoted from a hymn written in the 1600's, Ah Holy Jesus, how hast thou offended....

This past Friday we gathered again in the Town School Gym for our Good Friday service.  This was entirely different.  The very small Anglican church had organized this service.  They have a fine sense of liturgy, and that showed.  It was a Tenebrae Service--a service of shadows.  There were seven sections of shadows: of Betrayal, of Denial, of Aloneness, of Accusation, of Suffering, of Crucifixion and of Death.  The final section of the service was titled "After the Shadows" and quoted Revelation 5:6-12, the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain...  And finished the quote, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!" Amen.

I cannot read those words without hearing the chorus from The Messiah, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.

Each section of the service began with scripture reading, which was followed by a "reflection" and concluded with music.  The first section was graced with a harp solo, "Into Jerusalem Jesus Rode."  So effective!  Other sections featured the small choir and congregation singing a Good Friday hymn.  For the section "The Shadow of Suffering" I played "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended?"  It was a very interesting arrangement by John Carter, music I had bought just two weeks before.

It was very fulfilling to me to be able to play that music for that service!

Then today my youngest violin student, a six year old boy, came for a make-up lesson (we are in spring break).  I had been thinking much about how to proceed with him.  He learns music very easily, but is careless about how he plays.  When he concentrates he can do very well, but often his bow slides around on the strings.  NOT conducive to good sound!

Today he was very discouraged.  He said that he played all his songs in practice and they sounded awful!!! Actually, I agree, they do sound awful, BUT we can fix that!!!  We worked on where the bow was on the string, not over the fingerboard, and not too close to the bridge.  We also worked on how much of the bow he was using (too much!) and how he was stopping the bow stroke (by pressing down, giving a crunch at the end of each note.)

This is a real breakthrough!  He's now focused on how to make good sound, and has a few techniques to help him do that.  I'm excited to hear him play at his next lesson.  I know it won't be perfect, but there's reason to think that there will be a big improvement, given that he is motivated to make a better sound.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back to My Birthday

This year for my birthday (March 17) I chose to celebrate by attending an all day painting class at Red Deer College.  It was a treat!  I really, really liked the instructor, Jean Pederson, from Calgary.  There were five middle aged women in the class, and we all got along very well.

Jean started by talking with us about the elements of painting, and how one element (colour or form, for example) should predominate in a painting.  Then she started us off by demonstrating on a large canvas on the floor, dropping paint here and there, swooping some gels around the canvas, then spraying with water and spreading with a really big brush, or by tilting the canvas this way and that.

We all got started, and I really enjoyed this part.  I was even very happy with the result that I got.  Then we went for lunch.  After lunch Jean had us pick out a good painting from a book of classic paintings.  We drew three thumbnail sketches of the forms in the painting, and then, with watercolour crayon, drew those shapes over our "underpainting."  That's where I fell off the track.  I couldn't mix a good grey, just not enough experience mixing paints.  So I got a dark blue, which really covered up the painting I already had.  I tried to remove it, but was only partially successful.

At that point we were supposed to paint another painting, a realistic one, ex. a landscape or vase of flowers, over top of the grey, and then scrap with various tools, down to the underpainting to bring some of those colours through.  I never did get to the realistic painting.

Instead  I started another canvas, and that was not as successful as the first.

I liked painting on a large canvas (24" by 36"), something I had never done before.  I want to try some more paintings along this line, and I do have two more canvases to use.  But I want to develop a picture from what I see in the "underpainting" not to impose another painting on it.

Here's what I took home:

And here's a close up:

I had a really good time, and I think this part, anyway, of the painting is pretty neat.  Maybe I should just cut up the canvas so that this is the whole painting!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sewing Together

Dear Daughter #2 and family are here for a few days.  Dear Son-in-Law has been exceedingly helpful with the new computer.  He doesn't usually work on a Mac, but knows how to find things.  Several "blips" have been straightened out already.  My Rosetta Stone (Spanish) is back.  We've found my iTunes that disappeared, but still have to restore them.  I'm even hopeful that we can find the missing Address Book; that would be wonderful!!!

On Sunday afternoon we the rest of the gang was doing their own thing, Dear Granddaughter was at loose ends.  Well, Grammy knows something fun to do!  Would you like to learn how to sew something?  Of course!  She was an excellent student.

First she chose fabric for a "Polly Pocket" quilt, a doable small project that could be completed in an afternoon.  We decided to do it in a 9 patch format.  I did the rotary cutting, as that is quite dangerous.

My Janome Horizon has a very good speed control, and can be set to sew very slowly so that was where we started.  Stitch--stitch--stitch.  Not scary at all!

We soon had the 9 patch made.  Then it was time for the 3 layer "sandwich" and the machine quilting.  I gave her a sample to practice "meander" quilting on.  We both soon realized that this step was beyond her ability.  After all, this was the first time that she ran a sewing machine!  So we agreed that I would do that step for her.

She stitched together a binding and we applied it.  I turned the corners and she did the rest.

Finally she stitched the binding down by hand on the back.

Here's the final square or "little doll quilt."  We are both delighted and proud of this finished project.  I am hoping that she caught the "sewing bug" as her mom is a good, adventuresome seamstress, willing to tackle simple party dresses, Halloween costumes, even conical hats without a pattern.

It's a great delight to me to have these "kids" and grandkids around for a few days, since they live quite far away and we see each other once or twice a year.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back Again!?

I hope that things are back to normal here, and that we can carry on as we used to!

Dear Daughter #2 and her family are here for a few days, and that is a great treat for me, as all our children and grandchildren live far away from us and I'm blessed to see them once or twice a year!  So this will just be a short post to start catching up on the past weeks, really busy weeks with lots going on, including the wipe out of my computer.

So just for now I'll tell you about the fun thing that I taught at the last meeting of our local quilting club: folded fabric flowers.  We had been taught this several years ago, and the method involved lots of tiny stitches and was very frustrating.  

Each May several members of the quilt club get together to plan the meetings for the following year, and certain members promise to demonstrate certain methods.  My promise was to demonstrate the folded fabric flowers, a method I had totally forgotten.  So I borrowed the instruction book and reviewed the how to.  

The method began with a 6" fabric square and ended with a 3" completed square.  I soon decided it was easier to start with a 12" square.  That made folding and handling the material much easier!

I also soon decided that instead of "finger pressing" I would use my nifty little travel iron, and instead of just folding over the fabric I would glue certain areas down.  That worked like a charm.  In no time at all I had a large (6") flower!  

It was addictive!  I made quite a few, experimenting with different sizes.  Then I cut several 3" green squares for a background.  Sewing them together took longer than making the flowers.  At this point I quilted the background with a varied green thread in a loose meander.

Then I pinned the flowers on to decide the arrangement.  I opened up the flowers and sewed them onto the background by machine, and then folded them back and kept them in place with a little glue.  It needed a little more, so I zigzagged on a meandering gold thread that lead from one flower to the next.  

The final step will be to sew (or glue) a small brass bead in the centre of each flower.  The binding and the hanging sleeve will complete this project.  The result: a cheerful spring wall hanging!