Monday, January 30, 2017


Dear Son #1 likes toques.  Sometimes I knit for him and sometimes his sister knits for him.  This year we both made a toque for his birthday.  Mine missed the mark:

He usually likes colourful, but this proved too colourful for him.  It was the yellow that did it.  Maybe I'll keep it for myself (that's me in the photo).

When I make a gift for someone it's theirs to do what they want with it.  It doesn't bother me at all if they don't like it.  They can give it away, and I'm fine with that.  Once I made my sister a chenille vest.  She didn't like it and asked if she could give it to a friend.  That was fine with me, and the friend thought it was the neatest thing in her wardrobe.  Rather someone who likes the object than someone who won't wear or use it!

Friday, January 27, 2017


Looks like the butterfly pjs are a hit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


January has been unusually cold and rainy.  Rain is expected and welcome this time of year, but the cold--well, can we complain?  Pool visits have been few--who wants to swim on a cold, rainy afternoon?

My friend Marcy had to scrape ice off her windshield this morning, and right now the temperature is just below 40ยบ.  I'm so thankful that I have all my interesting activities to keep me occupied.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Marcy was here today and we worked on the pyjamas for her niece's daughter's 5th birthday.  Marcy had asked her what she wanted and the answer was: live butterflies, a house full of live butterflies!  Some research showed you could give a cocoon that would hatch and produce a live butterfly, but this is the wrong time of year for butterflies in Nebraska!

So Marcy came up with the idea of butterfly pyjamas and found JUST the right material.  We started them last week Saturday and this week we finished that project.  And are they ever cute!

The finishing touch was these darling butterfly buttons.  You'll have to look closely!  They are the very small butterflies.

I think Marcy should make a pair for herself!

Friday, January 20, 2017


The Art Group here which meets informally on Friday mornings had a demo last week on using Alcohol Inks.  It's a new process to most of us.  Nan Adams and Monica Martel demonstrated.  We had so much fun!  Alcohol inks are used on smooth surfaces, such as ceramic tile or special papers--one is called Yupo Paper.

I didn't want to get involved!  I'm really too busy as it is.  But the week before in Michael's I saw sets of three bottles of the inks for $9.99.  On impulse I bought two sets and some small amount of papers.  The alcohol used is 91% rubbing alcohol, which I bought at a Fry's grocery store.  Also needed: some cheap Taklon brushes which I found at Walmart.

Nan Adams gave a great introduction to the many ways to use this medium.  Then we started experimenting.  And it REALLY is experimenting.  There is very little control over what happens on the paper.  Here's how to do it:
Spritz a small amount of alcohol on the paper, or drop it on with a brush.  Then drop some colour into the alcohol.  Blow it around the paper, spread it with a brush, or just tip the paper to make it run.

I had put on a white knit top that morning.  Not a good idea when working with these inks!  Nan loaned me a coverall apron.

The idea after that is to gradually develop a picture from the colours.  At that point I realized that I just don't have the artistic vision to develop something coherent.  It was fun, and I enjoyed the morning very much, but by noon I was back to my original opinion: I should try to develop some skill in my chosen medium: watercolour, and not branch out into new challenges.  

Latex gloves are recommended as the inks are very staining.  I wasn't wearing them, and here I am showing off a very green middle finger.  A week later there's still a trace of green around that fingernail!

Monica showed us how she develops a beautiful landscape from areas of blue, green and yellow.  She is very skilled at manipulating these inks.  She also had a finished landscape along which just took our breath away with how beautiful it was.  Today she did a painting with the inks of a beautiful orange flower with spikey leaves surrounding it, another wonderful painting.  I look at how she just wiggles her paint brush around a little and these things emerge from the blotches and I'm just amazed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Last Saturday Jim brought two books home from the public library on Bullard.  He started reading The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and I started reading Messy.  He had joked that he brought it home for me, not because I'm messy, but because he is messy and I'm pretty much on the other end of that spectrum.

I love orderliness and say my middle name is "Organization."  My parents had a little joke they would show their guests when I was just a toddler, not even old enough to speak.  They would say, "Watch," and fold back the edge of a throw rug in the dining room.  The first time I happened to wander by I reliably straightened out the rug.  It's just the way I am.

Sometimes when a person says "It's just the way I am" I suspect that person is avoiding facing a character fault that needs correcting.  But in this case, I don't see it as a character fault.

Now team that up with a husband who thinks the bedroom chair, or perhaps better, the floor is a good place to leave his discarded clothing.  Why bother with hanging it up or folding it into a drawer when you're going to need it again in a day or two?  You can imagine that we've had some conflict over these different points of view!

Well, this book revealed a lot of things to me.  First the fact that the challenges you face in an unfamiliar situation, though disturbing and perhaps even distressing, end up being opportunities.  I related this to the many changes I've had to face in our life together, not in terms of relating to the Dear One, but because we moved, often as much as 800 to 2,000 miles to a new home, a new pastorate for Jim, new schools for the kids, and a complete new environment for each of us.

For me that meant reinventing myself as a teacher.  I majored in Latin in college, aiming to teach in high school.  At the time I graduated Latin was being phased out.  There were no high school Latin teaching positions, so I took a post as a grade 5 teacher.  I loved it!  The next year it was a 4/5 split class.  That was stressful!  No matter how much I prepared I felt that the students weren't getting enough.  The following year I taught in a departmentalized junior high.

Then Jim graduated from seminary and we started having babies, four in all!  I absolutely loved that time of life, and soon enough we were into the next stage: providing for and bringing up four children.  When the youngest were in school I became a kindergarten teacher to four year-olds.  That was fun!

We moved again and for a year I was not working (outside the home).  In the meantime I was involved in the music area of the churches we served--playing organ and directing the choir.  Then the opportunity came to teach Suzuki violin, and that was absorbing.  I learned more from teaching violin than I ever did from taking lessons!

Another move and another new teaching position, this one as a Latin instructor in University of Regina--twenty-five years after studying Latin in college.  THAT was a stretch!  But it fit me like a glove!  I felt like that was what I was supposed to do with my life.  The next year teaching Greek Mythology was added.  That was the biggest stretch I ever did! because I had never studied Greek mythology and had to learn it all before I could pass it on.  But what a plum course!  Such total fun to teach!  I was scared silly before the first class--never having given a lecture and then starting with two hour classes in summer school.  Once I got past the first week, it was all fun.  Hard work, but (to coin a phrase) hard fun!

So this book prompted me to look back over my life and appreciate the value of all these "forced" evolutions.  As a tree grows stronger from being buffeted by winds and storms, I've been enriched by all these adaptations in my life.

Reading further in Messy I realized something else.  I prefer a very UNcluttered house.  I don't like knickknacks or tchochkes hanging around!  When it's time to dust and vacuum, the less "rubbish" the quicker the job is done.  BUT here in the condo I have one 5' x 5' closet that is stuffed with "stuff."  My sewing machine, my serger, packs of material, bags of yarn, cases of sewing tools, art supplies and now a keyboard all manage to fit into that space.  It's organized, kind of.  But there's not quite enough room for all the things I need, so my violin and viola and several stacks of music have found a home in the corner of the tv/spare bedroom.

Back in home-home (Alberta) I have a somewhat larger space for all that.  There's a good sized bedroom closet there that has shelves full of materials: quilting cottons, battings, and material for creating clothing and there's a 12' x 12' area for working.  That area is lined with makeshift tables (melamine board on top of see-through drawers).  Sometimes the floor is almost obscured by a pile of material scraps that I paw through in creating a real scrap quilt.

The difference between these areas is this: where I have work that needs to be done but that I don't really enjoy doing, I want clear sailing.  But where there needs to be rich and varied resources maybe MESSY wins the day.     -----  Um ----- kind of an organized  messy.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Musically speaking this has been a VERY exciting week!

Monday was quiet--no organ practice because the church office staff had the day off and that means that the sanctuary is locked.  But number one son and I had a good time going to Arizona Art Supplies.  I bought him some sketching materials for his birthday present (birthday coming on January 10--his big 50!) and some alcohol ink supplies for myself.  What an interesting place that is to look at what's on the shelves.  Tim commented when we left, "For that small space it has a very high value in inventory.  I don't think any other type of store could pack that much value into that small space!"

Tuesday was an organ practice day.  Wow!  I could sure tell that it had been a few weeks since I was free to go practice.  Ever since the 12th of December.  But it just requires some concentrated to work to get back on the track again.

Wednesday morning we had a Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra rehearsal.  And a very good rehearsal it was.  Lots of concentrated work.  The principal violist was substituting for the conductor who has a serious case of shingles, so I got to sit on the first stand.  So much more fun to play up in the inner circle!  We were working on music for the concert scheduled for February 5.  Much of it was unfamiliar and we were sight-reading a lot of it.    But that was fun, too.

And Wednesday afternoon I had my first organ lesson in 45 years!  That was so exciting that I actually had trouble sleeping last night.  I have a few new pieces learn and some techniques to practice.  But my practice time of the pipe organ at church is limited to Mondays and Tuesdays, and now perhaps an hour before my lesson on Wednesdays.  Gloria, the church organist and my teacher, has loaned me a keyboard to practice on at home on the days I cannot access the church organ.  So after choir rehearsal this afternoon I took home a Yamaha keyboard.  That was pretty exciting too!

This evening I spent about an hour playing on the keyboard.  Well, it surely isn't the same as playing my lovely grand piano at home-home, but it IS a whole lot better than not touching a keyboard from Wednesday to Monday.  Thank you, Gloria!

Sunday, January 1, 2017


It's been a quiet beginning to 2017.  We went to bed last night around 10 p.m., as per usual, and had a sound sleep.  Woke up in the new year.  That's good!

Back to the carpet guys:  Kenny's crew returned around 10 on Tuesday morning, and this time included his dad, Jessie.  Jessie spent the day working on new baseboards for the living room.  They had been pried up in order to lay the laminate.  I had figured on sanding and painting them before they were replaced, but found they were just too beat up.  Jessie went to Home Depot and bought new, white primed base boards.  I'm really glad we decided to do that, as they look 100% better than the old ones.

I thought the fellows had a rather late start on a day when they needed to lay new carpet in two bedrooms and two 5' x 5' closets plus moving back all the furniture.  Here's a few snaps from that day:
They first tried to shove the sofa bed into the little bathroom.  Oh, oh, no go!  You see the old carpet here.  The sofa bed ended up near the kitchen.

Once all the old carpet was disposed of it was time to carry in the new carpet from the truck.  But it came, all of it for the two bedrooms and closets in one huge roll:
The roll was too big to lay out anywhere in the condo,  so they solved it by laying it out on the road.  Not too much traffic going by, just one car they had to send another way.

O.K.  Now for the cutting.  Just like quilting and building with wood: measure twice (or more) and then cut:
Now it's ready to come inside:
In no time it was all in place a looking beautiful. 

Jessie had been working all this time on the baseboards, carefully cutting and fitting them in place.  Looks good!
In all respects they did a beautiful job.  They had their own vacuum cleaner and before they left everything was spic and span, at least as far as the floors went.  I found dust galore on tops of cupboards, fridge, etc.  That had all been stirred up when they scraped the floors free of old padding and glue.

I would recommend this crew anytime.  They were very pleasant and hardworking.  Never heard a cross word or a swear word.  They came when they said they would and finished when they said they would.