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!