Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Settling In

After having lived here for a week and a half, we are starting to feel like this is home.

Each morning I go for a walk with my sister around a man made lake that is part of the water purification system.  I meant to take my camera this morning to show how lovely it is.  Hope I remember tomorrow.

Yesterday the Canada Geese were back, an even dozen of them.  If you have some living near you, you know how messy they are.  The area around the lake is off limits to the geese because of the walking paths there.  But how to keep them away?  The Village hires certain dogs who patrol and mark the area, and then the geese don't like to be there.

First I thought, well, that's just sending the problem somewhere else, but Sis explained that all the other water features in the village don't have walking paths so the geese are not disturbed in those area.  Good!  We'll share in such a way that works for both species.

In the afternoon we went to the local branch of the Regional Library and got library cards.  The whole system works just as it does at home, with the exception that this library, serving many more people, has a "self check out" system.  That's pretty nifty.  You place your card under the red light line and it is recorded.  Then you place the books one at a time on the black rectangle and their bar code is recorded.  You may have a receipt or not, whichever you wish.  You can access your account on line from home.  You can order books, etc. on line and pick them up there.  How nice to have that service available just a mile from where we're living!

Then we went to Sprouts, a grocery store that specializes in fresh fruits and veggies, and lots of organic goods, packaged and fresh.  It's a great place to get your fresh things, but for items such as grated cheese, etc. you really want to go to a different sort of market.

Also yesterday I picked up several things at a Target store, which I found much more pleasant than the local Walmart, which is always very busy and crowded.  The prices at Target are slightly higher, but I was able to find several small items I had been looking for: a clothes drying rack, a dish rack, a large spoon and a large slotted spoon that I liked, and a large soup pot with a good heavy bottom.  Gradually, gradually we are getting set up here.

Today I think I'd like to go to the pool again, rather than do some more shopping.  Hopefully more pictures soon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Pleasant Jaunt

Yesterday morning we left right after breakfast, about 8:15 on a little trip to Tucson, 2 1/2 hours south of here.  We took expressway (Interstate) right through Phoenix, but it wasn't bad because it was early on a Saturday.

This photo was taken south of Phoenix, north of Tucson and shows how we traveled on very level roads in an area surrounded by mountains.

One thing we learned today was that these mountains are called "sky islands."  They are the result of continental compression that have already been broken down considerably by erosion.  The cliffs on these mountains continue reaching down below the flat land to the bedrock deep, deep below.

The reason the land between the "islands of mountains" is flat is because all the rock that has eroded down from the mountains has filled the chasms between them to produce the level land.

The first place we went was the Arizona/Sonoma Desert Museum west of Tucson.  It was a great place, well organized, expansive and very informative.  We spent about three hours there, walking through the exhibits and the extensive grounds.

One very interesting presentation we saw was a demonstration of raptors.  We missed the first part and saw only the third set of birds, a family of Harris hawks.  These hawks live in families, directed by the Alpha female, who is supported by the Alpha male.  With the offspring helping, they hunt together.  They were beautiful birds, a living family who flew about right above the heads of the crowd.  Awesome!

Then we spent some time at the International Wildlife Museum, a large and well organized collection of mounted specimens from all over the world: butterflies, moths, insects (including some ginormous beetles), birds and mammals.

One interesting, though suspect, display showed a well preserved skeleton of a centaur (half horse, half man).  That was in a small area devoted to "Myth or Reality?"

Leaving there at 5 p.m. we went to our reserved room in a Comfort Inn.  Nice, spacious, clean.  Just a little down the road was an International House of Pancakes where we enjoyed a delicious dinner.

Today we went first to the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  They were begun in the 1930's by a couple who bought a house and 5 1/2 acre parcel there and built a nursery business.  Over the years Mrs. Porter developed a complex of trails and gardens on that spot, and eventually willed it all to the city of Tucson.

The gardens were very well organized with labels on almost all the plants, shrubs and trees.  Beautiful and enjoyable.  Here we are taking a short break in the shade.

Today it came home to me why in Biblical times the first duty of a host was to offer water to wash one's feet.  Most of the paths are covered with very small gravel and sand, and as I was wearing open sandals, I soon found my feet grew hot, dirty and irritated.  How I longed to plunge them into one of the many fountains or pools on the grounds!  That was forbidden by signs placed near any water source.

Our last stop was at the Tohoni Shul gardens just north of Tucson, also fairly extensive and quite well organized with paths and special areas, but just not quite on a level with the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

By 2 p.m. we were on our way, but pretty flaked out from the heat.  We found a mall with a food court and ordered a malt for each of us, strawberry for Jim and vanilla for me.  Did that ever hit the spot!

Revived and replenished we drove home, having had a very enjoyable weekend of doing the tourist thing!

Friday, October 25, 2013

First Project

This afternoon I sewed my first project here at our condo in Arizona: a set of six lovely napkins.  We like to use cloth napkins (cutting down trees to wipe our mouth does not "cut it" with us!) and I hadn't found any that I liked.  I found this very nice 100% cotton homespun fabric in Walmart and bought one yard.  From that I was able to cut six (15" x 18") napkins.

For the first one I hemmed the raw edge under and then turned it under again and sewed that down.  Very secure!

But for the others I decided that wasn't necessary.  I trimmed 1/2" off each corner, turned the edge over once and pressed.  Then I turned the edge over once more, mitring the corners as I went, pressing that down firmly.  Then I was able to just sew the hem in place.  I happened to have the exactly right blue thread in my box.

They turned out very well, and are a lovely soft cotton, woven with dyed threads so both sides are the same (except for the hems turned under).

There is a Sunbeam iron here that steams very nicely, and turns itself off if not used for a while.

All in all (though it took longer than I expected) a happy result for the first sewing project in Arizona.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Strange Coincidence

Yesterday afternoon as we were enjoying a leisure time reading on our patio, our neighbour across the way (about 30 feet from our front door!) came over to introduce himself.  His name is Alan, and he is a Canadian.  In fact, as we replied, Yes, and you come from Red Deer!  We had seen his vehicle occupying the space for condo 513, and the license plate surround indicated that it came from Red Deer.

How strange that we have driven about 2000 miles, and our closest neighbour here comes from a city just an hour's drive from our home in Alberta!

Monday, October 21, 2013

No Sewing Yet

Sorry for the long absence!  We were getting ready to go on an extended holiday, and that involved lots of planning, packing, etc.

On Saturday the 12th we started our trip by going to Rosebud to see "Our Town."  It was excellent! as their productions always are.  I was surprised by the second act, which was deeply moving, in contrast to the first act, which was quite humorous.  By the end I was brushing tears from my cheeks and sniffing.  The woman sitting next to me was doing the same!  She opened her purse, took out a pack of Kleenex, took one for herself and then handed me one.  After the lights came up I said, Thanks! I needed that!

Then we drove south to Shelby, Montana where we had reservations for the night.  The next two days we spent on the road, and reached Sun Village, Surprise, Arizona by suppertime on Monday.  We were welcomed by my dear sister and her husband, and settled in to their guest house.

I spent the next several days working hard to organize, clean and prepare our condo, and on Friday afternoon we were able to move in.  Since then I've done more cleaning and organizing, and we're almost all set here.

This afternoon I was able to hang the Halloween wall panel by the front door.  It's attached with strips of Duct Tape to the stuccoed wall.  I didn't want to use nails, for fear of cracking the stucco.  This works!  We'll see if it lasts until November.

Soon I hope to start on a small wall hanging featuring a poinsettia.  That's one of those laser cut kits, so it just needs to be attached and the edges sewed down.  I'm looking forward to doing that, but fortunately, I have some time yet to get around to that.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 Today I finished S's quilt.  We had bought the material on the 7th of January, so it was actually quite a quick project, considering it is a monster: 118" wide by 115" long.  (And considering that I was busy teaching violin and conducting the string group.)

I sewed the top in two sections, one 7 blocks by 14 blocks, the other 6 blocks by 14 blocks.  I quilted the two sections and then sewed the top together and hand sewed the backing together.

Then I made the borders (10") separately, quilted the middle seam on both sides, and then sewed the borders to the quilt.

Picture #2 is the quilting of the borders happening.

Pictures number 3 shows sewing the borders to the top of the quilt.  Then I turned it over, trimmed off the extra batting and backing and hand sewed that seam.  You can just see in #3 that the borders have been somewhat quilted and the binding applied (and hand sewed to the backing) before attaching them to the body of the quilt.  This worked very, very well, as I didn't have to deal with the whole bulk of the quilt when working on the borders.

I cut off the two bottom corners which would have dragged on the floor, and even inserted a godet at either corner of the cut off section.  It worked very well and looks smart.

Picture #4 shows the quilt on her bed, with those lovely milk chocolate brown walls.  You can just see in the corners of the windows the stark white trim that sparks everything
 up so beautifully.  The floor is a dark maple laminate, and the room look terrific.

This pattern is in a book called "Fun & Easy Scrap Quilting" from House of White Birches.  The pattern is called Nine-Patch Special and was a very easy pattern to do.  The original called for scrappy materials, but we chose to do it in just a few contrasting fabrics.  We both loved the fabric when we bought it, and we still think it's beautiful.  Also we like the fact that it's not a terribly feminine or masculine looking quilt.
She was smart enough to take along one of the drapery tiebacks when we went to look for material, so there's wonderful harmony with those different fabrics.

I showed the completed quilt to both the town quilting club on Tuesday and the country quilting club today.  We always like to share our accomplishments, and I find it inspiring to see what other women have made.

There is another pattern in this book that I've used several times for baby quilts or lap quilts.  The Color Block Lap Quilt also goes together very easily and looks great when it's finished.  Both these quilts can be done in a variety of colour ways for completely different results.

One of the challenges of making this quilt was that the pattern was for a single bed quilt, 64" x 70."  I had to redraft the pattern to accommodate a very high queen size bed, and that meant refiguring the yardages also.  It came out pretty close: there is very little material left over, not even a full WOF larger than 4" of any of the fabrics, and of some fabrics there are just small scraps.  Because I left the borders for last I was able to use almost everything by cutting them as large as possible from the fabric we had.

I would highly recommend this book, especially these two patterns, as they are quick and easy to accomplish and produce a very good looking quilt.  You can look up House of White Birches, which is in Berne, Indiana, at ""  

Happy Quilting!