Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sign of the Season

Last week saw another "sign of the season" in our neighborhood...

The soccer field at the end of the street disappeared...

A crane arrived to pull out a giant plastic sheet, which then covered the field. It took several days, but eventually the outdoor playing field was transformed...

... into a dome for indoor sports.

Though it's interesting to watch the dome go up, it does fill me with a touch of sadness...

The dome reminds me of a giant igloo! Just looking at the white plastic makes me feel cold!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

That Reminds Me...

While in Toronto, I took a picture of my son's fancy machine for carbonating water... I've never seen anything quite like it...

As it resembles a penguin, he has named it Alfons! (It's the closest he has to a pet!)

Downloading this picture from my camera reminded me of a story my son recently posted on his blog...

His adventure begins when he tries to buy CO2 cartridges for this fancy machine, and the saleswoman wonders why he wants carbon MONoxide... This reminds him of the time....

Here's his story...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clue 6: Mystery Afghan

This is week 6 of the 12-week Mystery Afghan project... My big news is that my supply of leftover yarn - in this thickness - is running low... (Which is good and bad! I wanted to use it all up - just not so soon!)

I have been hunting high and low for other scraps, and managed to find a ball that is a little heavier than the yarn I have been using... left over from a sweater I made a few years ago. Hopefully, it won't look bulkier than the rest and out of place...

I suspect I'll have to buy more yarn in the next week or two.

I managed to have enough light green for this week's four squares of the shell stitch...

But I did use the entire ball of light green. (Now this is all that's left of my original yarn.)

This week's squares - a lacy pattern - went quickly...

In contrast, I have only finished about half of last week's 16 squares...

I will continue plodding along!

Hopefully they'll all be done by next week. Here is my pile of finished squares... from the past five weeks... beside the unfinished ones.

And here are the instructions for this week's square: clue 6 - in case you want to try it... (Has anyone else been trying to keep up with this mystery afghan?)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just When It Seems Impossible...

I was sitting in my favorite chair early yesterday morning... reflecting on some things that I was hoping for (and praying for...) Wondering how they could ever happen...

... when suddenly I noticed - on the wall opposite me - the shadow of our framed stained-glass picture that hangs in the window.

This would not have been remarkable, except that it was morning - when the sun rises in the east... But our window faces north and the light shining in was coming from the west!

Light from the north-west often shines through the window on summer evenings - but not in the morning!

This was unusual! Where was the light coming from?!

Looking out the window, I saw that it was early morning sunlight reflecting off some trees...

Do trees normally normally reflect dawn light?
Or was it happening today because the trees were wet and glistening from overnight rain?

I don't recall ever seeing this before...

Was God reminding me (in this unusual feat of nature) that He can make things happen in ways I don't expect, contrary to normal logic?

That's what it felt like...

I am now looking forward to
surprising answers to my prayers - as wonderful and unexpected as this early morning western sunlight shining in through my northern window in October!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Autumn Leaves

Winter is just around the corner (to use an expression that confused me as a child!)... Last Friday evening saw snow flakes in the air in Ottawa - though they (thankfully) melted as they hit the ground.

I am not ready for my winter hibernation! Not yet!

The month of October has been lovely...

Both at home in our neighborhood ...

And on the road trip we took on (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, the second weekend in October...

Ontario at its best!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What To Do?

Never underestimate the memory of a child... or a 91-year-old mother!

One of my earliest childhood memories is my mother putting my favorite doll "away" in the attic where it is out of my reach. "For a while," she tells me, as I protest. From time to time I ask for that doll but her reply is always the same: "I'll get it for you later..."

Strange that I would remember the incident after all these years...

As the toy never re-surfaced, I can only assume that my mother threw it out. Perhaps it was worn and dirty and she decided its time had come...

Strange how the memory of this event lingers...

It came to mind recently after an incident with my mother: I had noticed that, every time I visited her in the evening, she was wearing the same torn and patched flannelet nightgown... When my daughter also noticed, I decided to broach the topic. (Perhaps the nursing staff at the residence where she lives were also wondering what kind of family would let her wear such a tattered garment...)

I decide to buy her a new one, as similar to the old one as possible. Warm, cozy flannelet. When I bring it to her she protests: I don't need that. I have lots of nightgowns.

She shows me a pile of nightgowns in her closet. Several are made of flannelet.

But you always wear that old one, I reply.

I want to use it up, she answers.

I think you've used it up already, I tell her. It looks really worn out. Why don't you wear some of the others?

But this one is really comfortable.

Well, maybe I should take it home and make it look better, I reply, wondering if I can possibly add machine embroidery over the patches.

Reluctantly she gives it to me...

I take it home and wash it. Then I examine it to see how I can fix it and make it look less... awful! But it is so worn and threadbare that more tears seem imminent. It doesn't seem worth the effort... So I throw it out (hoping she won't remember...)

After a few weeks, she begins to ask for it. I can't sleep without it, she complains...

I thought she had forgotten all about it!

I feel as if I have betrayed her trust... Should I tell her that it is gone...? Should I keep "forgetting" to bring it or should I tell her the truth - that it was too threadbare to fix, so I threw it out?

(Never lie to a child - a Jewish maxim... Does the same rule apply to a 91-year-old mother?!)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Watch-dogs aren't too common where we live. (People with dogs often send them to doggy-daycare while they're at work!)

And watch-cats are even less common! So I was surprised to see this one in the window of a Toronto carpentry workshop that was closed for the night.

It must have been a quiet night - no mice?!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gravenhurst Wharf

One of the loveliest places we visited this summer was Gravenhurst Wharf where we took a luncheon boat ride, enjoying the lovely scenery.

The boardwalk was near our hotel, so we were able to get to it easily.

The first evening, we set out to explore the area, and noticed a heron in the water where a natural wildlife habitat has been re-established.

It was lovely just to stand and drink in the scenery!

Later we again walked along the boardwalk to find a place to eat. (The picture above was taken from our table, through the restaurant window. It was a little too cool to sit outside!)

As we were eating, we noticed people arriving by boat - from cottages across the lake. They parked their boats at the wharf - then came into the restaurant.

Water travel is a local tradition: A hundred and fifty years ago (before the era of roads and cars) people arrived in Gravenhurst by train, then took steamship "buses" to villages and elegant hotels across the water.

This definitely is one of my favorite Ontario places! Next time I'd like to stay longer - and visit the childhood home of Norman Bethune (now a museum). Also wander around the trails that circle the water.

This trip was a just a taste, leaving me craving more!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Forgetful? Me?

I was chatting with a friend - who mentioned opening a kitchen cupboard drawer and discovering... the salad she had meant to put in the fridge!

She laughed it off... But I was a little concerned. I have also found myself doing some strange things... The other day, I was about to put the milk on the cupboard shelf where the peanut butter goes... (I was putting both the peanut butter and the milk away... I just got the two mixed up!) I laughed that one off, too... but Terry gave me a strange look!

Am I getting forgetful? Or have I just stopped thinking as carefully as I used to. After all, my days blend into a pleasant kind of blur... I seem to do a lot.. (Gardening is taking up a lot of my time this week.) I knit and crochet. I'm never bored - and time passes quickly. I just have to think hard to remember what I did yesterday - and sometimes I get confused about what day of the week it is...

Does that mean I'm starting to be forgetful?!

A few months ago, I (foolishly) signed up to work on our upcoming municipal election. I did it together with a friend... who subsequently backed out. But I decided to go ahead on my own. I was informed of three dates: the training session, the date I was to pick up my box of supplies, and election day (place and time). I attended the training session, and wrote the other two dates on my calendar...

The other night I came home around 8... to discover a message on the answering machine informing me I had not picked up my box of supplies... Really?! I thought I needed to do that the following day! (I had marked the wrong date on my calendar!)

The only positive twist in this forgetfulness issue is that my 91-year-old mother, who was diagnosed with early stages of dementia a few years ago, started taking medication for it, not to retrieve her memory, but to slow down memory loss... And some days she really surprises me!

The other day, I mentioned London, England to her - and she commented: London! An interesting city. I was there once, and I remember seeing the furniture used by Queen Victoria.

I hadn't heard her say that before - and her trip to London would have been about 45 years ago!

So - as I wonder how forgetful I really am - it's encouraging to know that there is medication out there that could help me if it really gets bad!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yikes! Sixteen Squares?!

When I checked my mystery afghan project this week, I was shocked to discover that my week's task is to crochet sixteen mitered squares! (That's the same number I've crocheted over the past four weeks!) It will be a challenge!

I've never done this week's pattern before. It's called a mitered square. The instructions include a very helpful diagram. The square is begun by crocheting two of its sides in one long piece, then every row eliminating two stitches in the middle. In the end, all but one last stitch will have been eliminated and - surprise! - a square will have been created.

I am using a thinner yarn than the pattern calls for - so I need to use more stitches... But how many? To solve the problem, I decide to do the mitered square backwards, starting with one stitch and increasing by two in the middle at each row. That way I can also use up small bits of yarn I have lying around (from a sweater I made a few years ago). I can also make the square as large as I want.

After I use all the scraps up - and discover how many stitches are in two sides of an 8 inch square, I hope to make some the correct (opposite) way!

So far I've completed one square and am working on six more... But the biggest challenge will be completing all 16 by next Wednesday when the following week's mystery clue is revealed!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Unwanted Gardening "Helpers"

I enjoy gardening... but - who am I fooling? I'm not really in control...

I work and plan, but little neighborhood "helpers" have plans of their own...

Resident skunks - whom I rarely see, wander around at night, tearing up strips of lawn in search of grubs to eat...

(Can you see the spots of black in the grass?!) They seem to leave the flower beds alone... which is one of the reasons I've been planting more flowers.

But the flower beds are the favorites haunts of the squirrels - who spend their days planting seeds - which become little trees! Like this little sumac I just discovered in my flower bed! (Actually I discovered two!)

(Sumacs are so pretty in the fall... maybe I should let this one grow!)

I'm torn: I love to live in harmony with nature - but if I don't fight back (reseeding the grass, pulling out the trees) our yard would soon become a forest!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Gardening

October gardening is gardening in faith...

Planning for next spring... (by moving plants that are overcrowded...)

October gardening is also hard work,,,

...especially if you have a mature trees shedding leaves or (in our case) pine needles.

But there are delightful garden surprises, even in October...

 these roses that are still budding and blooming (even though we've already had one or two light frosts...)

So lovely to see! (I'll have to move plants that are trying to crowd them out!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Toronto in October

Cities can seem so impersonal...

Until autumn comes.

Then the scattered leaves add a slightly tousled, beautifully unkempt look... Everything seems more relaxed...

...more like home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Enriched Muffins

I often bake with whole wheat and spelt flour - because they're healthier for type 2 diabetics...

But they do change the texture and flavor of baked goods! I sometimes add cinnamon to mask that strong (healthy?!) whole wheat taste... But an annoying feature of spelt flour is that baked goods don't hold together as well - so they often crumble when taken out of the pan...

I wanted to make some nice muffins to share with a friend... and I didn't want them to fall apart...

So I tried something else... I "enriched" the (unbleached) white flour by adding one tablespoon each of psyllium (for fiber), soy flour (for protein) and wheat germ (for whatever healthy goodness that puts back into the flour) at the bottom of each cup of flour - then filled the cup with unbleached white flour...

Then I made my favorite muffins...

And they held together - and tasted great too!

(I should add that I didn't invent this strategy - it was passed on by a dietitian at a course on healthy eating for type 2 diabetics.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Perfect Weather Station

Terry LOVES the Weather Network online. He checks it first thing every morning and last thing before he goes to bed (and probably half a dozen times in between!) Not only does he check the forecast, he questions it...

by looking at satellite images...

... and various maps available to avid weather watchers.

I have stopped asking him for weather information because he usually wants to show me all the maps and give a DETAILED report!

I have much simpler needs. Near the wharf in Gravenhurst, Ontario, I discovered the perfect weather station...It's also 100% accurate!

Here it is - a rusty old anchor hanging in the wind...

The sign above it says:

Cherokee Weather Station
100% Accurate

If the anchor is...
moving, it's windy
warm, it's sunny
cold, it's overcast
wet, it's raining
white, it's snowing
If the anchor is gone,
the weather station is closed.

Now that's something I can relate to!