Friday, November 30, 2012


November is one of those months that slips by without much fanfare in Canada since we celebrate our Thanksgiving in October. There are no more celebrations until Christmas. For me November is often a grey month - grey skies, grey spirits (as my garden has shut down for the winter). So I dig out my knitting and wonder how long winter will last... Then I begin to think about Christmas.

I was looking through the monthly program at my mother's nursing home recently. (It helps me plan my visits to her: I don't want to interrupt her when she's busy.)

It's there that I read about several historic events that occurred in November. The game of Monopoly was introduced to the world on November 5, 1935. (That fact brings back memories of childhood Monopoly games that went on for days on end!) And on November 10, 1951, the first long distance call was made without dialing 0 to ask an operator to make the call...  (I remember that change... Didn't we used to call that "direct distance"?!) How many jobs were lost when we made that change?!!

Sometimes interesting things do happen in November!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Re-Purposed Poncho

One of my favorite knitting projects of all time was this poncho I knit in the early 1970s.

Colorful clothing was popular at the time (as this knitting magazine cover shows!)...

So when I saw the poncho pattern, I decided to give it a try.

I was planning a long vacation - from Israel to Canada, then on to my brother's wedding in Texas, and back again. I anticipated spending hours in flight and waiting in airport terminals. The poncho would be a perfect travel project. It could be knit on one long, bendable needle that could roll up easily into a bag.


I still have fond memories of working on this "travel companion" poncho. When it was done, I wore it until bright-colored ponchos were no longer in style. Later it re-appeared a few times in Halloween costumes or Christmas pageants.

But mostly it remained folded up, unused.

Wouldn't it be great if I could somehow make it into an afghan, I would often think. But how?!

Recently the answer came... (If you wait long enough, answers do come!) By opening it up at the neck, removing the neck portion, and sewing the front and back together!

The first cut was the hardest! Then I used the yarn I unraveled around the neck opening to make a middle portion that joins the two.

There! Our latest afghan!

(My only regret is not checking for worn spots before I started! I have found two - and am attempting to prevent the knitting from unraveling by ironing some fusible fabric to the back at the worn areas. If that doesn't work - I guess I'll have no option but to mend! After all this work, I want to enjoy the afghan for a couple of years at least!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Bazaar

This time of year, churches in our area have Christmas bazaars. I like to attend as many as I can...

 The food is great!

You never know what treasures you will find...

Like these hand-crocheted (and starched) Christmas ornaments...

And these books I remember reading as a child!... Memories from another era!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aware of Wonder

I've started reading a new book called Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness. The author recommends carrying a magnifying glass at all times... and spending at least five minutes a day closely examining things around us that we usually take for granted.

I'm looking forward to her admonitions to slow down... and notice more...

But in the meantime, there are wonders around me that don't require a magnifying glass...

... like these glass window reflections that Terry and I stopped to look out when we were out shopping...

... and sunrises and sunsets we always love to see!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ribs in Ottawa

Terry and I have a few favorite restaurants. But occasionally we are invited to try something new... Which is how we ended up at the new "Smoque Shack" not long ago.

Ribs, fries and beer... and a serving of pulled pork. (Vegetables were add-ons, at extra cost.)

So this is what young people like to eat! The food was delicious, the tables busy. (And both Terry and I noticed that we were the only grey-haired patrons in the place!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More Thoughts On Grace

"Grace" is one of those words that has no concrete meaning to me, so it is hard for me to conceptualize. In recent weeks I have come across references to grace in various books I am reading.  I mentioned grace in a blog post not long ago. Here are a few more thoughts about God's grace that have made me ponder. These come from the book, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life. This book has been one of the most significant books I've been reading this past year. I read a page a day and try to absorb its wisdom. (It's one of those memorable books I'd like to give to all my friends!) The references to grace that jumped out at me are:

We need it daily: "Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And our best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace." (Jerry Bridges)

We need to consciously use it: "Each time I feel frustrated I remind myself  I am not receiving grace (God's energy) for the task at hand." (Joyce Meyer)


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Manotick in November

We took a drive to Manotick a few days ago.

The weather was cooler...

With trees bare of leaves,...

... buildings were more visible.

 After a short walk, we stopped in at the Miller's Oven, a non-profit restaurant run by a local seniors club.

As usual, the food was delicious and the hospitality friendly!

Manotick - and the Miller's Oven: always great places to visit!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Painting... Upside Down!

One of my daughter's art instructors commented that the first portrait a person draws or paints resembles the artist more than the subject. In other words, a first portrait is always a self-portrait! I thought of this last week when our painting instructor asked to to paint a portrait - but to do it upside down, seeing it as shapes and colors - not a human face! (What a wonderful way to trick the brain!)

So I dutifully started, with both the canvas and the photo reference upside down...

 It was a liberating experience - no trying to make it look like anyone!

Only after the first coat of paint was down did I turn it upside down to focus on details. I was happy with the result as I could recognize the person in the painting. Now to tweak it a bit - though I fear "fixing" it too much... I might lose what I like!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today my extended family is grieving the loss of its oldest member - my mother's 98-year-old brother Erhardt. I won't be at the funeral - 3000 miles away - but I will miss his presence, knowing he is "there" - as he has been my whole life. His family home was always a welcoming place for our whole extended family. It will be different without him.

"Grief," writes Joan Chittister, "is simply a measure of the joy, the depth that comes from growing to know another..."

"Where does grief for the dead come from, in fact, if not from the anger and sense of abandonment that emerges from the realization that some part of ourselves has been taken away from us without our permission?"

A loving husband and father - and older brother to his remaining eight siblings - he will be greatly missed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Trim Back Perennials in Fall or Not?

I often let my perennials winter as they are, cutting them back in the spring. Terry prefers to trim them in the fall. (And our neighbor mows some of his down.)

I know it looks tidier to trim them back - but I don't think it makes any difference to their growth the following year. Besides, I like to think that the seeds left on the dead flowers provide food for hungry birds when snow is covering everything...

Flowers peeking out of a blanket of snow add interest to the landscape!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Touch of Joy

Quilts - like these I saw in the nursing home where my mother now lives...

... bring joy, not only to those who live there...

 ... but to visitors like me as well!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creating Energy

I have long wondered if I (personally) shouldn't be doing something to reduce dependence on gas and oil. So I was delighted to see that one of our neighbors has covered his roof with solar panals!


How much money does this cost? How much money will they save? At what point is an installation like this cost-effective? These are all good questions to ask...

But perhaps a better one is: Will I be doing something that makes a difference? If so - and I can afford it - maybe I should just do it because it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Teach Me to Stop and Listen"

One of the joys of my day is my cup of coffee early in the morning, when everyone is asleep and the house is silent. Recently during one of these "quiet times," I came across this song-prayer (by Ken Medema). It reflects the spirit of my early morning hour - so I share it here.

Teach me to stop and listen, 
Teach me to center down.
Teach me the use of silence,
Teach me where peace is found.

Teach me to hear Your calling,
Teach me to search Your Word.
Teach me to hear in silence
Things I have never heard.

Teach me to be collected,
Teach me to be in tune,
Teach me to be directed - 
Silence will end so soon.

Then when it's time for moving,
Grant it that I may bring,
To every day and moment,
Peace from a silent spring. 

(By Ken Medema  - Quoted by Richard Foster in Sanctuary of the Soul, p. 13)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photographing... Barns!

Perhaps it was the acrylics class where we painted a picture of a barn in winter...

Perhaps it was the barn I visited in Edmonton in September - one my grandfather built in the 1930s.

But I have begun to notice - and photograph - barns...

Old ones...

Red ones...

Unpainted ones.

Massive structures that age beautifully.

Impressive architectural feats created - not by architects - but by farmers and rural carpenters...



I snap pictures of them whenever we drive in the country...

Why are you taking all these pictures of barns? Terry asks.

I want to draw or paint pictures of some of them, I tell him. This may be my "year of the barn"!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Suite With a View

We usually travel to Toronto only if Terry can find good hotel deals. On several occasions, we have been lucky enough to stay at the Renaissance Hotel - where some rooms overlook the SkyDome stadium. Once we lucked out: Terry was able to watch a football game from the comfort of our room. That was a big treat!

Recently we lucked out again...

We were given a junior suite - with a downstairs bedroom and an upstairs living room! (I didn't know rooms like this existed!)

The downside: There were no sporting events (or any other events) happening the night we stayed there. We could only imagine the thrill of watching a game through the window of this comfy "living room."