Saturday, December 26, 2015


The second summer we were married we served a congregation in the Rainy River district of western Ontario as summer student pulpit supply.  Part of the service was going around to visit people in their homes and that often proved quite interesting.

One morning it was really quite chilly when we arrived for coffee and a visit.  Jim remarked to the "senior citizen" whom we were visiting that morning on how chilly it was for a summer morning.  The old fellow replied "Killy?  Killy?  That's plain COLD!" It amused us so much that it became one of our family sayings.

Well, that saying applies here for the last few weeks.  Today it won't even make it up to 60º.  Now, I know I can't really complain about that, but given the inversion of the usual temperature patterns which is currently bringing unseasonably warm weather to the center of the U.S. and unseasonably cold weather to the southwest, maybe there is a small cause for complaint.  I've been in the pool just twice this past week.  Monday it was just lovely, with sunshine, calm weather (temp about 61º), and the pool heated to 88º.  Wednesday it was not as comfortable.

Too bad, eh?  But we come here for the warm winter weather, and we're just not getting it.

I'm glad there is so much music going on in my life lately.  Orchestra gave a concert at an elementary school last week Friday.  The kids were just great!  It was a treat to see 600 young children sitting quietly listening and enthusiastically applauding what the orchestra had for them.  The first number was "O Tannenbaum," played in separate sections to illustrate the different instruments in the orchestra, and then to demonstrate the combined sound.  We also played some favourites, including "Sleigh Ride," "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and a few medleys of well known seasonal songs and Christmas songs.  The kids enjoyed the music and we enjoyed the kids.

Choir at church has been very busy.  Our last contribution was to the 5 p.m. Christmas Eve service.  Now we have off until the first Sunday in January.

I've been playing violin at church a bit, too.  On Christmas Eve I played a descant with the choir piece and the Sunday before that I played "Ave Maria" as accompaniment to communion.  I'm glad for these opportunities also!

We celebrated the Dear One's 78th birthday last week Wednesday with a small surprise birthday party.  Just my sister and her husband and one other couple from the village, friends of ours.  It was a good time.  My sister took a few pictures and here's one that turned out fairly well.
He takes after his mother in retaining his dark hair.  Her hair was still mostly all brown when she died at 86 years of age.  He also keeps himself nice and trim, partly because that's not hard for him, and partly because he's conscious of keeping himself healthy.  You'll notice that he doesn't have a plate of goodies, but I do--not too much on it though.

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with a very fine church service at 10 in the morning and a lovely dinner at Sis's, along with the other couple from the birthday party.  What a nice time we had!

So I give you all belated Christmas wishes.  It always seems that Christmas comes up so quickly and then is over again for another year, all the lovely music, the carols, the decorations, the special church services.  I love it all.  "God bless us one and all!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Last year I made two sets of Christmas Tree Napkins as gifts--for DD#2 and DIL.  Each time I struggled with how to fold them properly.  I looked for directions on the net, but wasn't happy with what I found.

I've just finished a set of 8 Christmas Tree Napkins as a gift for dear Kathy Brown, who has, again this year, made two tissue fitted patterns for me--patterns that I can now just cut out and sew without any fitting issues.  Last year I made two hot pads for her, with the Canadian maple leaf in red and white.  This year Christmas Tree Napkins were the choice for a "Thank You" present.

Two of my sewing friends and I were trying to figure out, once again, how to fold these lovelies.  Joan commented that she was making a set for her sister-in-law and would give them to her properly folded, but after that it was up to the SIL to figure out how to fold them after laundering.

So this morning, before giving them to Kathy, I set about finding a simpler way to do this.  I love to figure out "methods," especially methods that simplify a project.  So here's the "New Method of Folding Christmas Tree Napkins":
Fold one of your napkins to the desired finish.  Lay it on your paper pattern and draw the outline of the napkin on the paper pattern.  I made the paper pattern a few years ago by tracing an 18" diameter half circle on banquet table paper.  Note the pie shaped piece outlined on the white paper.


Place the finished napkin on the paper pattern.  At this point do a "trial fold" according to the following directions, but without pressing the folds.

Fold the napkin over, following the angled line.  Press that fold.

Fold the napkin back, matching the straight edges.  Press.

Fold the napkin back along the angled line.  Press the fold.

Fold once more along the straight edge.  Press the fold.  Looks perfect, doesn't it?  And it was easy, wasn't it?

This napkin must have slightly deeper seams.  It didn't fold properly on the "trial" fold.  I had to experiment a bit before I found the right amount.  It's easier to do this on a pattern than just offhand. See how it doesn't reach all the way to the straight edge?


Have some pity on your "giftee" and make a "Napkin Folding Pattern" for her.  Trace your own paper pattern onto some pattern paper and include that in the package.  You probably need to show her how to use this pattern.

I made eight napkins, which is the amount you get from one yard each of two contrasting fabrics.  Here's a picture of them all laid out in (an almost full) circle.  If I had made 10, it would be a complete circle and could be used underneath a center piece on your Christmassy table setting.
You will notice that the left edge of the napkin is longer than the right edge.  That's what makes the shape of the "boughs" of the tree possible.  If both sides were equal you wouldn't achieve that effect.  You will also see that I chose to fold half the napkins with the red side facing and half of them with the green side facing.  You can choose to do the all the same or half and half for variety.

If you need any help with this project, email me at "".

Sunday, December 13, 2015


for Christmas concerts! and this past week we attended several.  Last Sunday morning, of course, we had an advent-themed service, so Advent Carols were included, and the choir (of which I delight to be a member) sang an anthem.

That Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. I was part of a cantata at Bellevue Heights Baptist Church.  I had been invited to play viola in a small group accompanying their choir, and we had a thorough rehearsal on Saturday morning.  The performance went very well, was a joy to be part of, and was very enthusiastically appreciated by the audience.

Tuesday evening we went to a Christmas concert of the West Valley Chorale, a highly respected choral group in this area.  The first half of the program was a Bach Magnificat.   The pianist was awesome.  She really carried the whole performance.  Now, a small criticism--the soloists were from the choir, and were really not able to do justice to the music.  It would have been better to hire professional soloists for those parts.  But the rest of the program was bang-up wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed the "Bidi Bom" and the "Go Tell It on the Mountain," their last number, with a great soloist (Jane Higgs) and an arrangement that really rocked!

Wednesday brought an orchestra rehearsal in the morning, preparing to give a Christmas concert at an elementary school this coming Friday.  At 5 p.m. Chancel Choir met at church for a brief run-through, and at 6 p.m. we were part of a program of Advent Music in the fellowship hall.

Thursday was time for a regular choir rehearsal.  I stayed afterward to look at some violin/piano music with our organist, Gloria.  We got to talking about the organ--a new, fantastic, German-built pipe organ, and Gloria got out some music and I was permitted to sit down at that wonderful organ and play for about a half hour.  What a fantastic treat that was!

On Saturday we had plans to go to the Grace Bible Christmas program with another couple, but Jim had second thoughts.  He had had a hard time on Tuesday evening, in a very crowded church with what seemed to be no air circulation.  He had quickly left at intermission to go outdoors and get some fresh air, which did revive him, but he was not  anxious to repeat that experience.  The Grace Bible programs are excessively popular, and all four performances fill literally to overflowing.  So he decided to take a pass on that program, having already heard lots of good Christmas music.

Well, it was a terrific program.  It was due to start at 2 p.m., but by 1:30 the sanctuary and the overflow room were filled past overflowing--so they "entertained" the audience with a 1/2 hour of audience participation singing of carols.  Sondra Harris, a local soloist led the singing, and it was excellent.  People love to sing those familiar Christmas carols.

Then we had the program itself--over an hour of excellent choral singing, accompanied by a top notch small ensemble (6 violins, 2 violas, 1 cello, French horns, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpets, trombones -- that's starting to sound like a complete orchestra.)  For me the highlight was a clarinet solo, an arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" accompanied by the ensemble.  That alone was worth the whole concert.

Church again today featured our choir at the 8:30 service, again with an anthem and several Advent Songs in the service.

The Christmas season seems short to me--and is the only time of year that we sing this music.  What a wonderful week this has been!

Friday, December 4, 2015


This has been a season of socks, not of quilting.  This is a surprise to me, but so be it.  The socks for the Dear One turned out just right. They fit him to a "T" hugging his feet from toe to heel.  The elongated "toe box" turned out to be just the thing for a proper fit for his foot.

This morning I've been working on fixing some holes in the soles of socks that I made and gave to my brother-in-law a year ago.  He loves his hand knit socks and wears them a lot in the house.  But they have "Berber" carpet, which is very hard on socks and soon wears holes in them.  So this week I said, "Give them back to me and I'll fix them for you."

I was surprised at how thin the yarn was--both evidence of wear throughout the year, but also evidence of the fact that I used "Step it Up" sock yarn from Mary Maxim rather than my favourite "Patons Kroy Sock Yarn" also available from Mary Maxim.  You can find that Patons yarn in Joanne's (Fabric store), in Michael's, and even in our local IDA in Alberta.

If you make a darn in the sole of a sock it won't be very comfortable.  A full reknitting of the sole is preferable.  So this morning I was figuring out the best way to do that.

I started by picking up and knitting 10 stitches on about the 2nd row after the cast on.  Each knit row after that I picked up an additional stitch on each end of the needle.  The purl rows were simply purled, including the first and last stitch.

I had a bit of trouble when I came to the straight part of the sole.  The beginning of the knit row worked well, but how should I handle the last stitch on each knit row? 

I tried several different approaches: pick up and knit the inner "leg" of the stitch together with the last knit stitch.  Or pick up and purl the inner "leg" of the first stitch in a purl row.  I went back and forth trying to figure out the best way to handle this.  You can see from this that not all tries were successful!

The line of joined stitches is not smooth!  In fact compared to the line of joined stitches on the opposite side of the sole, which was the beginning of the knit rows, this side is really rough.  

But look how nice and smooth the last few inches are!  I finally have it figured.  And it goes this way: Slip the last stitch of the knit row purl wise.  Pick up the left "leg" of the stitch on the sole of the sock with your right needle.  Knit these two stitches together through the back loops.  Turn and purl as usual.  You'll have a nice even join between the new knitting and the sole of the sock.

Music wise, life has been very interesting.  Choir is busy with Sunday services and now also midweek with Advent "events".  Orchestra is working toward a school concert on the 18th, designed to interest students in taking up an instrument.  And there's a separate "gig"--a rehearsal this Saturday morning and a performance this Sunday afternoon at a Bellevue Heights Baptist Church for their Christmas program.  I was asked to fill in for Virginia, who dropped out to be with her husband as he entered hospice care.  This will be a "one rehearsal only" situation, so I've put in lots of practice time to prepare.  Hope it all goes well!

Have a good week, and find enough time for quiet relaxation in the midst of all the season's busyness!

Friday, November 27, 2015


Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving Day--U.S. style.  Actually, the celebration took place on Wednesday evening in a United Method Church, two doors down the street from the Lutheran Church we are attending. There's a synagogue between the two churches, and they were also invited to the service.  A long standing tradition unites these three houses of worship in a Thanksgiving service the evening before Thanksgiving Day.

It was a very good service, and there was good attendance.  The combined choirs sang "Sure in the Shining Night" music by Morten Lauridsen, words by James Agee.  We in the choir thought it was a strange choice for a Thanksgiving service, but the reason became clear when the pastor of the Methodist Church quoted the poem in her sermon.  Accompanying the choral singing were many very beautiful pictures of the cosmos.  I think they probably were from the Hubble Telescope.  The words and the music are beautiful, but, sad to say, we had only one rehearsal to learn the piece, and though we did a good job of it, that music deserves better than we were able to give it.  Check it out sometime on the net.  There are many versions of it sung by Lutheran Choirs.

The service was followed by a pie social, which was also very good.  My one disappointment, aside from not doing a "bang-up" job on the music, was that there wasn't more of a Jewish flavour to the service.  The president of the synagogue took part in leading the service, but they are of the "flavour" of Judaism that doesn't wear skull caps.  And I had thought we might hear a shofar as part of the service.

Last week I thought I'd show you a few of the activities from here in the village, so I snapped some photos in the three-times-a-week yoga class.  Because it's pretty dark in there (we follow a video on the large screen) they didn't turn out very well.  But here they are:

And also this past week I finished a pair of socks for Jim--the first socks I've ever knit for him.  From a comment he made while I was knitting them I realized that he thought they would be some riotous colour, and that's why he always said he didn't want any.

Well, you can see they are as plain as can be.  He put them on this morning for the first time and found out how cozy and comforting hand-knit wool socks are.  He's quite delighted and won't turn down an offer of new hand-knit socks again!

So, having finished that project, I got out the yarn for the next pair.  This is a Patons Kroy sock yarn in "Blue Rag" and is an evenly striped yarn.  I'd like the stripes to land in the same area of both socks, so I pulled a long piece of yarn from each of the two balls, until I could match up where the colour run began.

These were started on Wednesday and are coming along nicely, up to the beginning of the gusset.

Friday, November 20, 2015


We tried two new (to us) vegetables this week: edamame and purple cauliflower.  Tonight's dinner featured both of them, plus oven fried sweet potato and steamed salmon.
Delicious, healthy food!  The salmon filet is unrecognizable because of the onion slices covering it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


It seemed like such a good idea, knitting up the sock ribbing in plain stockinette and then creating a ribbing by unravelling every other two stitches and crocheting them up again as purl stitches.  In the small swatch, it worked like a charm.

But when you think of 30 stitches (half of the ribbing stitches--the other half remaining knit stitches), and then think of 59 rows of knitting, maybe it's not so nifty!

Each of the 30 stitches had to be unpicked vertically 59 times, being careful to retain the knit stitch at the bottom.  At first I put the bottom stitch on a double point needle.  Then I tried putting several on a cable needle.  Then came the stitch holder, holding 6 stitches at a time.

The trouble with all of that was that the sock needed to be turned inside out in order to expose the ravelled stitches for the crochet hook.

Marcia came to my rescue with this nifty little gadget:

I guess it's called a stitch holder.  I'd never seen one like this before, but it was perfect for keeping just one stitch at the bottom of the ladder from unknitting itself.

Then the sock was turned inside out and the crochet part began.  Here's the first ladder being crocheted back up:

To process all 30 stitches took HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS.  I don't think it's such a nifty trick after all!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Today was a very musical Sunday.  First up was the 10:30 a.m. church service at Lord of Life Lutheran, which we are attending this season.  I'm singing in the Chancel Choir, which I enjoy very much.  We were taking part in that service, singing a very lively anthem "We Shall Rise."  It was a good service.

We came home, had just a bite to eat, because we'd had a big omelet for breakfast and weren't very hungry.  And then we went to an orchestra/choir concert at the Sun Dial.  I belong to the Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra, which is a misnomer as it includes, in addition to a full complement of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Getting ready to play:  (You can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them.)

I play viola in this group and was sitting next to the cellos.  The fellow on the far right plays the bass viol, which is out of sight to the right.  This is only about 1/5th of the orchestra.

This next photo was taken during the concert.  The Dear One did duty with the camera, but is not familiar with it.  The first and second violin sections are off to the left of the orchestra, but not in view in the picture.

The choir is a women's choir, with whom we gave a concert last year in November.  They are excellent--beautiful tone and blending and good choice of music.  They sang mostly Christmas numbers.

After the concert my friend Mary came up to me with a bouquet of mums.  She lived in Italy for many years and says, that's what they do in Europe.  What a treat!

Mary lives in the same gated village that we do, and she and I are often in the pool together in the afternoon, having a visit and a "touch" of exercise.

What a lovely day!  Concert wise, that is.  The day dawned cloudy and ended with some fairly heavy showers.  We're snuggled at home now in warm clothes with the heat on.  I'm wearing sweats and recently complete warm wool socks.

Hope you had an inspiring Sunday also!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


This was one of those early, early wake up mornings, which I don't waste.  I was knitting away on the Dear One's sock, a little too enthusiastically.  When I stopped to measure it, the foot was 1/2" too long.  And, of course, there was no life line inserted anywhere.

So I used another option:

I inserted a needle into the right "leg" of each stitch, six rows below the current knit row.  I did this with all four needles.  Then I unravelled the extra length, and each stitch was already neatly picked up and ready to go.  It was a good solution.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


As I was knitting on the Dear One's sock this morning I had an idea.  Remember how long it took to knit the 7 1/2" ribbing on the last pair?  Nine days!  Because this pair will have a foot length of just under 12" the ribbing should reflect that by being around 12" tall, just for the sake of balance.  Twelve inches of k2 p2 is going to be a slog!

But an idea popped into my head.  You know how it's totally faster and easier to just go round and round in knit stitch, rather than knit two, purl two? You can do that kind of knitting with absolutely minimal attention and effort. What would happen if I knit the ribbing in stockinette stitch for the whole twelve inches, and then unraveled the ribbing, one stitch at a time, and crocheted it back up.  Would that create a good, stretchy ribbing?

I cast on 18 stitches and knit a small swatch, with two stitches in seed stitch at either end and 16 stitches in stockinette in the middle.  When I had about 20 some rows finished I started unravelling stitches one at a time and crocheting them back up, but now as purled stitches, not knitted stitches.

Knitting will ravel in just one direction: down, never sideways.  So I slipped one stitch off the needle and "unknit" it for 17 rows.  This shows the middle stitch of the swatch partially unravelled.

Then I turned the swatch over and crocheted the stitch back up, creating a knit stitch on the wrong side and a purled stitch on the right side.  You are looking at the wrong side (or backside) of the swatch with the stitch and the loose yarn of the stitch above it, both on the crochet hook. It's hard to distinguish the two separate strands of yarn here, but one hand held the camera and took the picture while the other hand held the knitting.

Here's the swatch with the ribbing completed.  IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!

So on this new sock project I'm planning to knit the leg section in stockinette, and create the ribbing when the sock is completed.  I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished socks.  This is pretty exciting to me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


My friend Marcia, whom I see at the pool, is an avid knitter.  She likes to make scarves and hats and has several projects on the go.  At Saturday's Lions Swap Meet, she scored big: several colourful balls of yarn for an extremely low price (was it 25¢ a ball?) that she is already knitting up into a scarf.

There are a few of us knitters who see each other at the pool in the afternoon, and we often take along our projects to show what we are doing.  I finished the second sock of the fall coloured pair on Sunday while we relaxed at the pool.

These are not as long in the foot as the previous pair (shown above them), so the leg part can be longer.  Funny thing: the ribbed cuff has just as many stitches are the stockinette foot, but it's SO much skinnier!  That pair is going to be good and comfortable.

Marcia gave me a very good hint last week, something called a "life line."  

So when I started a new pair of socks (in plain beige) for the Dear One, I used her idea.  I wasn't sure whether the socks should have 60 stitches or 64 stitches.  So when I approached the round between 60 stitches and 61-64 stitches per round, I inserted a life line.

The idea is this: Thread some crochet cotton on a big eye, blunt tip needle--the kind of needle used to sew together knitted pieces.  I didn't have crochet cotton so I used some heavy rayon decorative thread.  Before I knitted a stitch, I threaded the rayon straight through the bottom of the stitch.  Then I knitted it without involving the rayon thread.  In the photo above you can just see that thread going through the stitches, underneath the needle.

If I needed to rip out stitches because it was too big, I would have an "insurance policy" that the life line would hold all the stitches in that row and I'd be able to pick them up again easily.

Well, the way it turned out, I had to rip out ALL the rows, not just back to that level, but through the beginning of the sock.  Why?  Because Jim's feet have a long, narrow pointed part at the toe end.  The sock I was making (with the regular method of increasing every other row from the toes to the full width) was way too wide, way too soon.  So I did it.  I ripped the knitting all the way back to zero and started over.

Just a few minutes ago I reached the point in the ball of yarn that I was at yesterday when I realized it all had to go.  Here's the new version of his first sock, and you can see that it's got a long, pointy "toe box."
I tried it on his foot (just over the toes and to the wider part of the foot) and it will do very well.  I've also decided that it should be a 60 stitch sock, not a 64 stitch sock.  I think socks should fit rather snugly, because knitting stretches sideways.

The previous pair, the green/orange ones (Patons Kroy Sock Yarn, Clover Colors), start to finish took just 24 days.  For me, that's really, really quick.  The second sock (always the hardest to finish) took just 9 days, divided up very unevenly: I knit the whole foot, toe to beginning of the ribbing in just two days.  Then it took me the other 7 days to get through 7 1/2" of boring ribbing.  I was glad to finish!  But then, it is a pretty long ribbing, isn't it?

Monday, November 9, 2015


Lack of posting here has been nagging at me for some time now.  And now I've received two emails from readers asking if we are o.k., or having some trouble.  So here goes:
Last Saturday the local Lions Club held their annual swap meet.

From 8 a.m. to noon the Lions Club and several individuals offered a wide assortment of second hand items for sale in the Community Center.  There were lots of bargains to be had.  I bought several.  Somehow everything I bought was very heavy, beginning with a terrific frying pan for only 50 cents.

I had my big pink bag along but soon had to come back to the condo to empty it.  I made three successful forays and found the frying pan, the hat, the Cuisinart with four different blades (for only $5!), two white tablecloths (destined to become a blouse and a pool cover-up), an electric can opener (the hand cranked one doesn't work well), a nifty Corning Ware casserole with a lid, and best of all--a table-top ironing board.  Living in a 908 sq. ft. condo means not having a lot of room for odds 'n ends.  Oh, yes, and that cute straw hat for pool afternoons ($5, seemed a little much, eh?).

What doesn't show here are the large Christmas tree stand and the large wicker basket with gold sprayed pine cones and a big red plaid bow on the handle.  They're in the storage closet until December arrives.

Jim had made a beautiful fruit salad that morning.  He does this every day.  I have the small cereal bowl full and he eats the rest over the course of the day.  He LOVES his fruit salad and considers it essential to his health.  I'm so thankful that he does the cutting  up for this!

Part of the reason I haven't been posting is that I've been busy renting out the one bedroom condo.  We were really fortunate not to have a vacancy between renters!  But it did make me pretty busy with making all the arrangements.

Saturday afternoon I had to go over there and clean the rug with the Bissell rug machine, and then clean up the patio and the patio furniture.  I figured I could do that in an hour, and then have time to go to the pool for a relaxing swim.

The outside shutoff for the water for that condo is on the opposite side of the building: three condos to the end of the building, around to the other side, and then three condos down to the shut off.  I walked out there and turned the water on.  When I got back to the condo I heard, I thought, a tap running. I went into the kitchen to turn it off and discovered a small flood coming from the laundry room into the kitchen.  I RAN!!! to turn off the water on the other side of the building.

Fortunately I had a pail and some large rags along, and mopped up what had run into the kitchen and what was left on the laundry room floor.  The laundry room is more like a large closet and contains a stacked apartment size washer/dryer, a hot water tank and some shelving to hold supplies.  Was it the hot water tank?  I checked.  Nope.  I moved the washer/dryer as far as I could--just far enough to squeeze behind it.  There was the problem, a hole in the cold water hose to the washer.

I resigned myself to an afternoon of "playing" plumber.

There was no pliers there, so I walked back home and picked up a pliers.  Went back to the condo and, with lots of effort, managed to remove the hose from the wall outlet and the washer.  That meant a trip to Home Depot for a replacement--fortunately just a few minutes drive away.

Washer hoses come in a package of two--one blue for cold water, one red for hot water.  If I'd been thinking straight I would have bought the braided (?) steel hoses, but just got the replacement rubber hoses.  They should last a while.

Back to the condo.  Wrestle off the hot water hose (squeezed between the washer/dryer and the wall) and attach the new hoses.  Wish I had one of those wrenches that plumbers use, but was stuck with my pliers, which didn't fit in the little indentation in the wall that housed the outlets.  Finally got both hoses on.

Went back and turned on the water again.  Came back in and found another flood, smaller, but maybe more frustrating.  Ran back and turned off the water again.  Came back and worked on getting the hoses screwed on tightly enough.  Tried again.  Had to do it all a third time.  AAAHHH, third time the charm.  No leaks.

This was taking a lot of time!  I considered going home and having a dish of ice cream (my comfort remedy) but thought I should persevere.  So I prepared the rug cleaning machine and had a go at it.  Did a pretty thorough job.  And then went out to the patio and got rid of a few months worth of blown in dirt.  Things were looking good now.  Still no leaks in the laundry room.  Emptied out the dirty water from the rug cleaner, gathered up my bucket, broom, rags and cleaners and dragged the whole caboodle back home.  It was just after 5 p.m.

Then I did sit down with a generous helping of ice cream.  By generous, I mean a slightly bigger cup than the usual 6 ounce serving.

Today I went back to move the furniture back in place and was pleased to see how clean the rug looks now--and still no leaks in the laundry room.

I felt like a fairly competent plumber--UNTIL tonight when I came home from my walk with my sister and the Dear One told me that the garbage disposal wasn't "disposing." I looked up on line what to do, did it all, and it still didn't drain.  There's one thing left to try there: unplug the disposal, remove it from its clamps, being sure to have a bucket underneath.  Empty it, examine why it's not clearing.  Hopefully be able to get the thing going again.

If not, it's time to call Able Dave!  (There really is such a fellow here, and he is able.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


There are two things that bug me about the way yarn is sold.  For socks I like to buy Paton's Kroy Sock yarn.  I like the feel, I like the way it washes and wears, I like the colours.  It comes in 50 gm balls, enough for one sock each.  So to make a pair you need to buy two balls.  I always check to make sure the colour number and the lot number match.  But sometimes the socks don't match, as we saw in the last pair I finished.  I planned to give them to our daughter in law, but they just weren't good enough.

So that's number one: sometimes there's an inconsistency in matching in the same colour way.

Number two:

I really, really wish that the manufacturers would tag the end of yarn at the middle of the ball.  Look at that mess!  I was trying to find the beginning of yarn in the centre of the ball.  It's so much better to pull the yarn from the centre and not have the ball jerking around as you knit, which is what happens when you start with the loose end on the outside of the ball.

If yarn comes in a skein, it's so much easier.  That is, if you have a yarn winder, which I do.  Remember how years and years ago you dragooned a family member into sitting with the skein around their wrists, so you could wind a ball from it.  Well, now we have yarn winders, and we can just wrap the skein around the back of a chair and go from there.  Come to think of it, when there were no willing family members, that's how I wound my yarn ball years ago.  (Plus, I had learned how to wind the ball so that the yarn pulled out from the middle, and wandering balls were avoided!)

And now I thought of a THIRD thing that bugs me when making socks.  I like the socks to have the colour changes at the same places.  But that means that each ball should start at the same spot in the colour changes of the yarn--and go in the same direction.  That is OFTEN not the case. 

I have resorted to rewinding yarn and trying to spot visually where they match, so that my socks will match.  Sometimes I come close.  Sometimes I hit it spot on.  But often, it just doesn't work.

Hey, that was a pretty big rant, wasn't it?  I wish the yarn companies would hear what I've said and actually make some changes.

Oh, and guess what?  I've thought of a FOURTH thing.  Have you ever experienced this: you buy what is supposedly a good ball of yarn and in winding it, or knitting from it, you discover it's full of broken threads, or knotted threads?  That happened to me once on a ball of bamboo yarn from Mary Maxim.  I took pictures and emailed them with the evidence.  They responded right away with an apology, and mailed me a free replacement.  That was GOOD customer care!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Dear Son #2 arrived on Friday evening on time for supper.  He had been attending a conference in Las Vegas which ended that day.  When he went to pick up his rental car to drive here, the only vehicle left was pretty shocking.  Although he had asked for a simple small car, he had a choice between an old 12 passenger van and this smart number:

He's tall--six feet six inches.  The car is pretty low-slung.  He said he felt as if he were driving lying down.

One of the car's fancy features was the projection onto the pavement beside the door of the mustang logo, a bright white light figure shining from the underside of the side view mirrors.

We're not much of a family for fancy vehicles.  DS#2 never owned a car until after he was married.  His wife came with a car, which, sadly he crashed on their honeymoon, driving down I 5 in Oregon, hydroplaning into a bridge abutment during a rainstorm.  Their honeymoon was somewhat of a disaster, beginning with a night on an island near Vancouver.  Supposed to be really romantic, but the accommodations were somewhat short of what had been advertised.  Then the car crash and an enforced stay in a motel in Salem while the car was repaired.  A memorable time, I guess.  But now, 20 years later, they are still together and have two smart, beautiful and talented teenage daughters.

Dear Son #1 who visited the week before has had only one four wheeled vehicle: a now-stationary Volkswagon camping van.  He had also rented a vehicle to drive here, and his was a nifty little black car (I forget the make), easy to handle, with excellent gas mileage.  Our own car is a second hand Toyota Camry, from 2000.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Things don't always turn out well.  These socks started out so nicely.  The one in the lower left was the first of the pair.  I like it a lot, but wished the leg could have been longer.  The yarn is Paton's Kroy Sock Yarn, the colour is "Cameo Colours."  You need one 50 gram ball for each sock.  I thought when I bought the yarn that there were two balls of the same dye lot.  But they are quite different.  The second sock has much less blue in it, and even the pink is less intense.

One would hope that the manufacturer would start every ball of yarn in one colour run at the same place in the colour run.  Evidently not!  This is quite disappointing.  I was planning to give them to our DDIL, who has not yet had a pair of socks from me, but these are just not good enough.  I guess, by default, they will be mine, to wear with jeans or slacks.

These socks in the first photo are knit in a "lace" pattern, but that's not very evident.  It is a nice pattern with eight cables around the leg, and four cables on the instep.

This next pair has such an interesting yarn, again Paton's Kroy Sock yarn, this time in "Clover Colours."  Because the yarn has so much going on I decided to knit a very plain sock, with a 2 x 2 ribbing on the leg.  I wonder how the colour match between these two socks will be.

We expect #2 son to arrive around supper time, so I've planned a nice meal: salmon, "dressed up" rice, steamed broccoli.  And, of course, ice cream for dessert--Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean, quite yummy.  Last year when we were in AZ I found an even better vanilla bean ice cream, Blue (something, I forget), but that company had problems with Listeria and had contaminated ice cream.  It's no longer available.

I joined the choir at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church we are attending.  Love it!  That and the orchestra are just big treats for me while we are here.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Dear Son #1 was here from Monday suppertime until Saturday morning.  We had a wonderful visit with him and it was such a delight to have him around for a week.

This coming Friday we expect DS#2 around suppertime.  What a treat!

We've had a few storms lately.  This one came through last Friday afternoon.  That's not rain--it's dust.  You could see a dust coloured cloud, quite towering, heading our way.  It roared through with lots of force, blowing blossoms off bushes and small limbs off trees.

The landscape/cleaning crew had already gone home before it came through, so there was lots of debris around for the weekend.  We went to the pool on Saturday and Sunday anyway, and the water was the dirtiest I've ever seen it.  There were husks from palm trees floating on the water, and lines of dirt on the bottom of the pool.  The few people using the pool simply removed the largest pieces of vegetation.

Today when we went it had all been cleaned up.  The areas in front of our condo had all been "blown" clean by the crew and the tree debris picked up.  All is clean and neat again.

I have great respect for the labourers here.  They come to work early and work hard with the result that the village always looks lovely.  Donald Trump would like to send a lot of them south, but what would AZ look like without them?  Who would pick all the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy from the markets at such low prices?  We should rather encourage them to stay and become citizens, include them in health care and educate their children--tomorrow's workers and caregivers.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Monday morning I finished spray painting the two white wicker chairs, changing them to a warm brown.  That afternoon I sewed the cushions for them.  Wednesday I bought a lovely plant from Sprouts to complement them.

The cushions look a little funny--they're so tall, but when you sit on them, they squish right down.  I made them quite tall because the chairs are very low for comfortable seating.

I had intended to put piping at the top and bottom seams, but when I made the first cut of the fabric I wrecked that possibility.  I cut the sides to fit the foam, and forgot to include the extra fabric to cover the piping.  Then there was not enough fabric left to cut the piping separately.  Oh well, this version is o.k. too.

Dear Son #1 is visiting this week from California.  It's a real pleasure to have him here.  It will be hard to say goodbye again on Saturday.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Last January I bought two wicker chairs which I found advertised on the Community Billboard, for just $5 each.  They show their age, but the price was right!

This morning I scrubbed them up, and then, since I had the big brush and a pailful of soapy water I also scrubbed up the screens, windows and door on the little patio out front.  I love clean!

Just now I spray painted one of the chairs, and am SO pleased at how this is turning out. The "warm caramel" one is the newly painted chair.  The white is how it was.  The fabric hanging over the white chair will cover some foam cushions for the seats.  I'm happy with this simple project so far.  We'll see what happens when I try to make the cushions. That will be the hard part.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


We had a good trip down here to AZ, not too much hustling.  We stopped in Ogden, Utah at a tourist info and were given a suggestion of how to go around Salt Lake City.  It was a nice drive, but a little too long to be a doable alternative.  However, this time we chose to stay in Ogden, checking into a Super 8 around 3 p.m. rather than tackle SLC on a Friday between 4 and 6 p.m., combined with "Conference" and a very popular football game that would have tripled the traffic.  Therefore we were on the road an extra day, arriving here on Sunday noon.

Thursday we are scheduled to have internet/t.v./phone hooked up, and that will be a relief.  For now we can go to the Community Center to use the internet there.

Today I finished unpacking our luggage (what we "lugged" along) and what we left here in the storage shed.  We also bought a new fridge at Sears to replace the original which runs pretty much non-stop.  Should be a big improvement and save on the electric bill, although I must say, Arizona Power is extremely reasonable.

The new quilt suits the bedroom here extremely well.  I think the furniture gives enough of an echo of the golden squares in the quilt, and the wall should stay a creamy white.  The quilt even matches the old carpet quite well--something unforeseen.  I actually bought the kits to make the quilt before we bought the condo.

So here we are settled in for the first part of the winter.  I had my first swim late Sunday afternoon, and had the pool all to myself.  So relaxing!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


In May of 2012 the Tuesday quilting group went on a "shop hop."  I vowed I WAS NOT going to buy any material!!!  The first place we went was Country Creations, the great little shop Lorraine Stangness had some kilometres south of Strathmore.  She had one of these "Cascades" quilts displayed.  I COULDN'T resist!  But there was no kit for a queen or king size.  I like our quilts to reach all the way to the floor.  So I bought two single bed sized kits.  That added up to the largest amount any one of us spent there!  Ahhh--but I was so happy with my purchase.  

First I had to "rechart" the quilt so that it would be large enough.  Then I started making blocks.  You know how it is with a new project--the most enticing thing in the world!  Then I got busy with other projects and progress on Cascades slowed WAY WAY Down.

I bought the kits because I was so attracted to the quilt, but I really had no "destination" in mind.  It obviously would not suit this bedroom.  Some time later Jim suggested it would be nice in our AZ condo.  I agree.

The bedroom in AZ needs painting and new flooring (which we're hoping to have installed this winter.)  This quilt will look wonderful there!  And I think I should paint the bedroom a nice, warm, golden beige to match the little squares "cascading" down the quilt on point.

I machine quilted this in the ditch on either side of the sashing.  This weekend I finished sewing on the border and the binding. 

What's left?  I intend to handquilt a large feather design in the 7" border.  Then probably feather circles in the plain blocks and also in the larger plain squares in various blocks.  That will be enough of a project for at least one winter, I'm thinking.

So this was #2 of the three projects I hoped to finish before we leave for the south.  #3 (the Picket Fence quilt) has been put away in a "To Do" projects drawer.  That will be a nice project to tackle later this winter.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


On Thursday afternoon I was at the library well on time, all set up with sewing machines, etc. with Kristen's help, ready for the 3:00 p.m. beginner quilting class.  Alas! Neither of the two women who had signed up actually came.  I settled down to read the latest "Threads" magazine.

Then G. who was in the library as an aide to an old gentlemen asked, Would you be willing to teach me, even if I'm the only one there?  Well, OF COURSE!  Glad to.  So she escorted the gentleman home and then G. and I formed the afternoon class and she made her first quilt block.  There was an unfortunate mistake in cutting the double block apart--she accidentally cut on the 1 1/4" line rather than the 1 1/2" line of the ruler.  That meant the block's points didn't meet.  But G. was undeterred, as she felt she had learned the basic method, and went home happy with her completed block.

The evening class had full participation, which amounted to four students, just right for the space we had.

I started with explaining grain lines on fabric and how to find the straight cross grain line.  Then we examined how to cut with a quilting ruler and a rotary cutter and all had a chance to practice.  They all cut very carefully, which was really encouraging!

Sewing a quarter inch seam was next up, and we used several different methods: a quarter inch foot, the edge of the regular presser foot (on a very old, but good Singer portable), and using a strip of cardboard taped down 1/4" from the needle.

After that we followed the instructions published in this blog on August 21.  The library had reprinted a copy for each student.  Here I am showing how to press the finished block so that all the seams are pressed to the dark fabric.
In the background on the right you can see the Disappearing Four Patch block quilt that I made to inspire them.  Now I'm not sure that whether it was inspiring or dispiriting: they admired the quilt and then counted the blocks.  When it takes an hour to make your first block, it's pretty intimidating to think you need to make 30(!) for a moderate sized lap quilt!

They did extremely well and before long one of the students had a beautiful finished block:

Everyone stayed until they had their block completed and pressed.  Each had chosen different fabrics, and each went home with a lovely completed block.  If they want to take this "adventure" further, they will be welcomed by Shirley at Shirl's Girls quilting group which meets at Bethel Fellowship Church every Thursday during the fall, winter and spring.

Thanks to Kristen, Program Director for the library, for organizing this event and also for taking these pictures! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


This morning was one of those early, early ones--for me that is, not for the sun.  But I used the extra hours well, finishing the hand stitching of the binding on the Disappearing Four Patch.  I made this quilt from my stash, except for the white background fabric (which I had bought a few months ago because it's lovely and was priced at $7.49 a meter), the backing (I didn't want to spend time piecing a flannel backing), and the batting--a piece cut from my big roll of Hobbs Batting that I bought this spring at a special price.

So here's the finished quilt, measuring 46" x 54"--lap sized.  I made it for a sample to inspire the beginner quilting classes I'll be teaching at the library this Thursday.  There are (of course) things I'd like to change about it, things that happened because of using just stash fabrics, but on the whole I like it!