Monday, December 26, 2016


We had a lovely Christmas Eve Day and a lovely Christmas Day.  Dear Son #1 is with us. It's unusual for us to have kids or grandkids around at Christmas.  During the times we are in Alberta for Christmas we tell them not to come visit at that time of year.  Kind of cross, are we?  A Christmas grinch?

No--this started over twenty years ago when D.S. #2 and wife came for a Christmas visit.  They were supposed to arrive around 6 p.m. and didn't actually arrive until 2 a.m. the next day.  We were frantic!  We called the RCMP around midnight and asked whether there had been any traffic accidents that might have involved them.  The explanation: they had stopped in Calgary (coming from B.C.'s lower mainland) for supper and gotten mixed up in their directions.  They turned around and headed back toward B.C.  In the dark it took them some time to realize that.  They reversed and came back into Alberta, heading north on Hwy#2.  They had to negotiate Edmonton, and spent a good deal of time there before that was straightened out.  They still had two hours to drive to get to where we lived north of Barrhead, AB.

That was one bad experience.  Another time they were travelling home by bus in a bad snowstorm and experienced several delays and misdirections.

After that we all agreed that the highways--and the airports--were "high hazard" areas during the Christmas holidays.  July is the best time to visit us in Alberta.  The roads are clear and our landscape is at its best.  The weather is good for outdoor activities.  So that's when we get together.

This is our third Christmas in Arizona.  So far we've done minimal Christmas decorations here.  No Christmas tree in the condo so far.  I was determined to have one this year, and made sure to take along the boxes of Christmas decorations.  But--another miss!  Here's our Christmas tree for this year:

I hung two pine cone wreaths outside and put this basket of cones with a little greenery on the patio.  Not much, eh?

Well, there was a very good reason:
Last Monday morning these fellows arrived.  They pulled up the old carpet in the living/dining area.  They hauled it out the door.  Goodbye, and good riddance!
They hammered out the old tile by the door:
And they installed the new "honey oak" laminate:

When they finished late in the afternoon they moved the furniture out of the bedroom into the living room:
That allowed me to finish painting the bedroom.  The extremely heavy armoires on either side of the bed were bound together by a "bridge" over top of the bed with pot lights for reading in bed.  I think they had never been moved since the bedroom furniture was installed--possibly as long ago as '87.  The amount of cobwebs and dust clinging to the wall and to the backs and tops of all that was astounding.  The rest of the room had been painted in the past two weeks, and now I was free to finish the last wall.  That made me happy!

We had planned to sleep in my dear Sis's guest house on Monday night, but late in the afternoon she called that they discovered a leak in that bathroom that had soaked the whole place.  So the Kenny and his helper sweetly set up our bed in the living room.  It was surprising how well we slept that night!

This story will continue--there's more carpet to be replaced!

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Yes, I'm still here, just have been super busy this month.  I'll start with yesterday and go backwards for a while.

We had a nice visit with my sister and her husband last night.  Dear Son #1 is with us for a while also.  Wayne and Joanne wanted to see our new flooring which was installed this past Monday and Tuesday, so we made a little bit of an evening out of it and had a good visit too.

Joanne also choose the yarn for her socks for this year.  By tradition I give Wayne and new pair of hand knit socks when we arrive in October (his birthday is the end of September), and give Joanne a new pair when we leave.  She choose a lovely Brown Rose Marl yarn--in my favourite yarn for socks, Patons Kroy Socks yarn.  I got started after they left.
It always seems so strange to me that such a ridiculous little thing surrounded by four needles will actually turn into a sock.  Here's the beginning last night:

Here's the sock this morning (11 a.m.)  You can see that I've spent some time on it:
I needed to have some quiet time after their visit before going to bed.  This morning is a quiet time also.  The three of us (Dear One, Dear Son and myself) are just sitting around quietly reading.  Nice way to spend a morning.

Especially nice to have a quiet morning because later this afternoon I will be singing (in the choir) and playing violin solos in two Christmas Eve church services.  I like doing that, but need quiet time to prepare.

Wednesday my friend Marcy and I spent the morning together working on sewing projects.  I was simply trimming some squares for a quilt (I'll post that later) and she was making potholders for Christmas presents.  I think they look terrific:

We spend time together about once a week, working on sewing projects.  But it's less about the sewing and more about visiting.  Always a good time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I was at church this morning to practice on the pipe organ and thought I'd share some pictures so you have an idea just how grand this organ is, and how exciting it is for me to have time on it.

The organ has three manuals, each of which has its own section.  Here's the "great organ":

And the "swell organ":  The swell and the choir divisions have expression pedals, meaning you can "swell" the sound or diminish the sound.


Behind this grid is the "choir organ."  I learned just this past week that it's called that because it faces the choir.

These "divisions" of the organ are not always in these relative positions.  Sometimes one of the divisions is up in what we would call the balcony at the back of the church.  Sometimes the console is there also.  This is a pipe organ, so all the sounds come from these pipes.  An electronic organ would have speakers placed strategically around the sanctuary.

This is the console at which the organist sits and makes music! The console sits on a movable platform so it can be placed off to the side or in the center, for instance when an organ concert is given. 

This is a view of the "choir loft" in this particular church--not a very "lofty" loft.  This is where the choir sits during the service, and that's where you'd find me on a Sunday morning.

There are three major choirs in our church, the A Capella Choir, the Celebration Choir and the Chancel Choir.  I sing in the Chancel Choir.  There is also a bell choir and a "visitation" choir that goes to sing in care homes.

On the weekend there are three identical (almost) services held, one at 5 p.m. on Saturday, one at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday and a third at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.  Chancel Choir sings at the 8:30 service the first two Sundays of the month and at the 10:30 service the third and fourth Sunday of each month.  If there is a fifth Sunday perhaps one of the choirs takes the service or other "special music" is provided by a small group or a soloist.

There is a lot of music at each service.  We begin with a prelude, usually organ, but sometimes an accompanied solo or a piano solo.  I've played preludes on the violin and viola, accompanied on piano or organ.  We have a nice way of presenting a prelude: shortly before the service begins the pastor comes out and makes the announcements.  Then the pastor asks that all cell phones be turned off and says, Now we will listen to the prelude.  Everyone sits quietly attentive while the prelude is played and then the service begins.

This part begins with a "gathering" song from the hymnal.  Then because this is a liturgical service there are sung responses.  These are followed by the "special music" interspersed with the three readings from the Bible.  There is an offering with an offertory of some sort, a sermon, a "hymn of the day" and a communion service.

For the communion there are four "stations" at the front of the church, each consisting of someone who hands you the communion wafer with the words, "the body of the Lord for you."  Next in line is someone with a chalice of wine.  You dip the wafer into the wine and are addressed with the words: "the blood of the Lord is shed for you." There is a third person with a chalice of grape juice if you would prefer that.

The ushers conduct the people by rows to the front of the church where they are served the communion, which we immediately eat while we return to our seats.

Both pastors are good preachers and give us something to think about beyond just the morning service.  The senior pastor is particularly adept at looking at a text from a fresh point of view.  We are blessed to attend these services.

This coming Sunday, for the first time, I will play the organ--just for the postlude.  I was supposed to play during the communion also but backed out of that.  It was a little too intimidating!  I haven't played organ in church services regularly since we retired, seventeen years ago.  I feel I need more practice before I'm up to that.  But a postlude is the least "nervous" part of the service.  People are leaving and chatting.

I will play "Shepherd's Noel" by J. Wayne Kerr.  It's a very bright, cheerful piece, and short--just three minutes worth of music.  Short because although it's four pages with several repeats, it goes by very quickly.  I hope that I can just relax and enjoy playing it!

Friday, December 2, 2016


Today I received a lovely, meaningful gift from my friend Nan.  It's a frame with two of Mardelle's pictures in it.  Mardelle was a very gifted artist, teacher and musician.  I met her in April of of '14, and started taking watercolour lessons from in October of that year.  She also invited me to join the Sun City Chamber Orchestra, to which I still belong.  We were becoming good friends and I liked her immensely.

It was a great grief to me that she died suddenly that November.  I wrote a memorial to her on this blog on November 12, '14.

Later her husband had a sale of much of her art equipment.  My friend Nan helped set up the sale.  I was blessed to be given an unframed watercolour of daisies that Mardelle had painted.  Nan is going to help me mat and frame that watercolour.

We have a perfect place for that picture Nan gave me today:

I think it looks great here, and it's where I will see it several times a day.  Many thanks, Nan!