Sunday, February 26, 2017


When I was planning meals for this weekend I decided to make pizza for Sunday night supper.  We had no mozzarella so that went on the shopping list for Saturday.  I remember looking at various mozzarellas, doing some comparison shopping.  For me that usually means looking for the best ingredients, not the cheapest price.

This afternoon I put some ingredients for the crust in the bread machine on the dough cycle and started preparing the other ingredients: mushrooms, green and red peppers, onions, fresh pineapple and a small mild Italian sausage, cut up into bits.  I added some of our own tomato pulp from the freezer to a half jar of Tostitos Medium Salsa.  I like how salsa has some chunks in it, which regular pizza sauce does not.

When I came to the cheeses, there was no mozzarella in the fridge.  I looked in the freezer, none there.  Finally I dug out the cash register receipt and, yup, I had done the comparisons but failed to put any mozzarella in the shopping cart.  I had bought some cheddar, some grated parmesan and a block of Harvarti.  By the way, did you know that a lot of so-called Parmesan cheese has cellulose as an ingredient?  There is hardly any REAL Parmesan cheese to be had in Canada or the U.S.  The REAL Parmesan is made in Parma, Italy, from the milk from certain cows which graze on certain pastures, and that milk is treated in very rigid defined processes.  REAL Parmesan costs a mint and most of us have never seen or tasted it.

So, since the pizza was well on the way to being put together, I substituted the Harvarti.  Of course, it wasn't stringy like mozzarella would be, but altogether it was a decent substitute for the mozza.  It was a pretty decent pizza.

When we were growing up Mom made her own version of pizza.  Most of us had never heard of pizza.  I think she got the idea from Italian neighbours who lived up the hill from us in New Jersey.  She called it Habeets.  Which is probably what she thought they said, with their strong Italian accent.

Mom used lots of margarine in the crust and on the crust before she put on the toppings.  For cheese she used the old staple that was always in the house: Velveeta.  Can you imagine?  I don't really remember how that Habeets tasted, but I do remember that we liked it.  We thought of it as a kind of "tomato pie."  My Sis and I wouldn't talk about it with friends at school, because if we tried to describe it the reaction was always "YUK!"
This was in the late 40's and early 50's.  Our friends had never heard of this strange concoction!

Later, when I was in high school pizza had become popular.  On Friday evenings a group of us girls who didn't have a date that week would get together and drive from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven where there was a restaurant called Fricano's that made great pizza.  In those days, being underage, we drank 7UP with our pizza.  It was a nice outing with lots of time for gossip and some great pizza shared with friends.


We are currently sharing our house-----with a mouse!  It's a busy little creature.  We see it mostly in the evenings, scurrying along the baseboards from one "safe place" to the next--a bit of furniture, a hot water radiator--disappearing somewhere, maybe into a hole in the wall----a little grey shadow, looking for the dark edges of the rooms.  Sometimes downstairs, sometimes upstairs.

It seems extraordinarily able to elude capture in a trap.  I've positioned traps along its preferred pathways and even baited them with cheddar, but so far no luck.  I really, really hope that it's not a Mama Mouse with a nest of babies somewhere.  But what else can explain the creature's uncanny ability to survive?  

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Just because I love him I gave the Dear One three very beautiful roses today.  He was touched and pleased.  They made a clear statement.

I'm sorry the florist didn't know the name of this variety.  It's especially beautiful.  And, of course, I get to enjoy them too!

Saturday, February 18, 2017


It was brother John's birthday yesterday, his 93rd!  John is Jim's oldest sibling, the oldest of seven children in that family.  Jim is the next to youngest.  We always said that John is the poster boy for how to grow old.  He has always been interested in the people around him, did a lot of volunteering at his church, including meeting with University students from abroad to help them learn English.  He told them, "I know what it's like, because I've been an immigrant too!"

His wife Marian died 10 years ago, but John said, I'm just thankful for all the good years we had together.  She had struggled for years with breast cancer and it was a mercy in the end for her to go.  Jim's whole family is strong in their Christian faith, and that, indeed, takes the sting out of death.  A few years ago John and Marian's only daughter also died from breast cancer, as had Marian's mother many years ago.

Jim was planning to call John to congratulate him on his birthday.  But at 7 a.m. the phone rang.  It was John's oldest son Cory.  His message: "Dad died this morning."  It was a shock.  John had had a massive stroke a few days before and died on the morning of his 93rd birthday.

We celebrate John for the person he was, the good older brother, the good husband and father, the good friend and mentor to so many people.  We are grateful to know he died to this life, to pass on to the next, better life.  Rest in Peace, John!

John and Marian at their wedding in 1956:
There's a nice story about how they met and married.  John's younger brother Peter had gone to Grand Rapids, Michigan to take the schooling necessary to become a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.  While there he met his sweetheart, Evelyn Wiebenga, who just happened to have a sister named Marian.  When Pete and Ev married, John and Marian met for the first time.  They were taking a walk together between the ceremony and the reception, and John said, "Next year we should get married!"  Marian (either thought) or said: "You're nuts!"  But guess what?  Next year they did get married.  They had forty one good years together.

This is a picture of John in his later years, not sure just how old:


Friday, February 17, 2017


We've had unusually warm weather the last few days, resulting in a big "spring" runoff.  Our driveway is at the lowest point of our country road.  The culvert under the driveway cannot handle the amount of water flooding down into it, so the flood spreads over the driveway and over the road.

You see the water completely covering the right hand lane.  Our driveway is somewhere underneath all that water.  Where the flow spread out on the lower end of the driveway it froze overnight into this beautiful collection of crystal forms.

The water is still flowing through the culvert, down the ditch a few more feet and into a culvert that goes under the road and into the neighbour's pond on the other side.

You can see the metal culvert surfacing on the left side of the water ditch.

We're told that there was a similar melt in the middle of January.  Spring melt is important to us; it's what fills our dugout from which we water the Garden Centre plants in the spring and the landscape during  the summer.  About 2003 there had been three years of drought and the dugout (a man-made pond at a low point on the property)was dry to the bottom.  We do have a well that we can pump from, but that water is too salty to use on potted plants.  So we're thankful for enough snow in the winter to give a good runoff in the spring!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Way back last May when our quilt club had its planning meeting I volunteered to "guide" a "Valentines Surprise" project at our club meeting on this Valentines Day.  At the time I had no idea what it would be, except that it would involve hearts.  Then my friend S. showed me a beautiful centrepiece she had made with a new quilting process involving fusible foam.

This is actually two center pieces, a larger one underneath and a smaller one on top.  When I saw that I thought it could be modified from squares to hearts and simplified by creating just the one layer.  So I tried modifying the shape:

I made two version, somewhat successful, but needing more work.  These are just part of the table topper centrepiece.  Then it was time to leave for Arizona, so I would have to do the work on the project there and have it ready when we returned the beginning of February.

While at Bob's Variety, a very interesting store in Sun City AZ, a store that has a pretty good fabric section, I saw a finished table topper that could rather easily be transformed from being a Leaf Table Topper to being a Heart Table Topper.  I bought the pattern and the fabrics needed, choosing 10 pieces of batiks.

Such gorgeous fabrics.  The two pinks on the right are for the heart shapes, front and back.  The other eight fabrics are the decorative portions on the top of the leaf shape.

I shortened the leaf shape slightly to make it more heart-like, followed the instructions and produced a pretty decent centrepiece.

At the first orchestra rehearsal in Sun City I found out that there was a concert schedule for the first Sunday in February.  We decided to stay an extra week so that I could play in that concert.  It was a fun concert to play in and the audience loved it.  But staying that long meant that we reached our Alberta home just two days before the Quilt Club meeting.  I was busy typing out the directions and organizing the project.  

Tuesday was Quilt Club meeting day.  We got started around 10 in the morning.  After a longish break for a potluck dinner we went back to our projects.  A few of the women hard at work:

Janis was the first to finish, done by 4 p.m.:
Very pretty!  Then we stopped for afternoon tea and cake.  By the time we packed up to go home, around 5:30, Bev had finished her centrepiece:
The other women will finish at home, or at our next meeting in two weeks.  It was a fun and productive day at Quilt Club.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


We reached home about 3:30 this afternoon.  The house was warm, thanks to S. who looks after everything for us.  She did a great job.  The neighbours had plowed out the driveway, so we could drive right up to the back door.  What a blessing to have the help of neighbours and friends!

I plugged in the refrigerator and the deep freeze, got a few things out of the freezer in the garage.  We had picked up some groceries in Strathmore so we're all set again.  Jim turned on the water supply and I turned on the water heater again.  Also reconnected the t.v.  Our t.v. set is an old RCA from 1985, so when we go away we make sure to unplug it (fire hazard).  We emptied everything from the car and got most of it put away.

It will be good to sleep in our own bed tonight, even though the Days Inn in Provo and the Comfort Inn in Great Falls had very comfortable beds.  The Comfort Inn also had a great breakfast room with lots of choice, including hot scrambled eggs, sausage, waffles and everything else you might wish for.  Nice rooms and very quiet.  Still, home is the best!

Saturday, February 11, 2017


A few of the photos of rocks from yesterday's drive.  But, as I said, the most beautiful scenes were already behind us by the time I got the camera out.  These are all in the Lake  Mead Recreation Area.

This morning we were surprised to find this scene:

It was still snowing lightly when we left around 8:45 this morning, but it soon cleared up and we had good, dry roads and mostly sunshine all day.  We had headed for Helena, Montana, but were there early enough to go on and we are now in a Comfort Inn in Great Falls, Montana.  That means an easy drive home tomorrow.

Just across the street and down 1/2 block from our motel is a Golden Corral restaurant, so we had supper there.  A good day on the road.  Tomorrow morning a nice shower, a good breakfast and on for what should be the last part of the drive home.  The weather forecast looks good.  But first, a good night's sleep.

Friday, February 10, 2017


This morning we left Surprise at 8:00 a.m., driving north and west on Hwys. 60 and 93.  Just west of Hoover Dam we took Lakeshore Drive north through the Lake Mead Recreation Area.  This is a two-lane paved road that begins just west of Hoover Dam and bring you to I 15 well north of Las Vegas, skipping all those busy freeways.

The scenery was spectacular!  Dry desert, with intriguing colours on the hillsides.  I got out my camera, but just too late to catch the best colours.  Not much traffic at all and good paved road.  Well, we will certainly use this bypass of Las Vegas whenever we come this way.  I would show some of the pictures, but the camera is in the car and I don't care to go out in the rain to get it.

Somehow or other it seems that our drive through Salt Lake City always involves rain.  Remember when we were driving south in October?

Once we are on I 15 the drive should be easy, but the last hour was dark, rainy and busy.  AWFUL!  We were very grateful to find a room in a Days Inn in Provo, Utah.  Tomorrow morning, quite early, say between 7 and 9 a.m. we plan to get through Salt Lake City.  The rest of the drive is fine.  We just hope for clear roads and decent weather.

Onward to the North lands.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


I have certain traditions about giving socks to family: sometimes someone receives a pair of hand knit socks for their birthday, ex. #3 grandson last August.  Sometimes they receive a pair when they come to visit.  It's become a tradition to give my brother-in-law a pair when we arrive in Arizona and to give my sister a pair when we leave.  We plan to leave this coming Friday, so since the 23rd of December I've been working on a pair for her.  It's the time I don't spend knitting that makes them take so long.  But tonight I finished that pair.  They turned out very nicely.

I'm delighted that the stripes match.  How to do that: pull out several inches at the beginning of each ball (socks take two 50g balls of Patons Kroy Sock Yarn), until you can see a colour match.  Cut the yarn right at the beginning of the colour match on both strands.  When casting on, make sure that the "tail" that's left after the stitches are cast on is the same length on both socks.  This seems a little fussy, but IMHO I think it's worth the effort.  It's not always possible though.

Another nice tradition that has grown up, in its third year now: we get invited to their house for a potato soup supper the last evening we're here.