Saturday, April 30, 2016

Manotick, in Spring

Terry and I often head to local towns and villages on Saturdays, to enjoy a change of scene.

Recently we drove to nearby Manotick for breakfast at the Miller's Oven...

(This cafe, run by volunteers, is still going strong, I'm glad to say... A few months ago, we were told that it would probably be shut down, due to lack of volunteers.)

After eating, we headed over to the nearby historic mill - which was still closed.

In a few weeks it will no doubt be open again on weekends, as a working museum.

Across the street from the mill, the old stable where farmers' horses rested after delivering grain to the mill, now houses a used book store.

We watched the rushing fresh, clean spring water that powers the mill.

A cool wind made it chilly to stand around for long - but we enjoyed our little walk in the cool spring air before heading back to the car.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Interesting Discoveries in Tweed

On our frequent trips to Toronto to visit our children, Terry and I avoid highway driving as much as possible, preferring, instead, to take roads through small towns.

On one recent trip, we stopped in a town called Tweed.  They are famous locally for their painted fire hydrants. A few years ago, I also wrote a blog post about a spring flood that inundated their town park.

This year we discovered a local coffee shop, "By the Way Cafe."

The coffee and fresh-baked scones were great! (We'll be back!)

The decorations on the wall were cute, too! (I could identify with this one: Instant human Just add coffee... That's me!)

Most of the customers were greeted on a first-name basis. (We even stopped to chat with the owners as we were leaving.)

The second interesting discovery I made was that a little dog that came into the cafe with its owner - and was also greeted on a first-name basis - is actually a working dog. The owner, a diabetic,  uses the dog to tell him when his blood sugar levels are too low. The dog warns him, especially at night when he's asleep...

(Here he is, sitting on the owner's RV...)

I didn't know dogs could be trained to sense blood sugar levels, but apparently they can! (And to think that I prick myself with a needle daily! Maybe I should simply get a diabetic alert dog!)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spring: Busy Time of Year!

Now that spring is here, life has become extra busy for me...

There is raking to do. The pine needles that fell over the winter need to be raked up before the plants growing under the trees get too tall.

Windows need to be washed. Thick construction dust coats the ones on the east side of the house.

I'm also trying to get out  and walk more. The weather is perfect for brisk walks...

My new cell phone has an app that counts my steps - motivating me to walk more: at least 10,000 steps a day.

I'm not complaining! Spring is my favorite season and I'm enjoying every opportunity to spend time outdoors.

Indoors, I'm trying to tidy the house. I'm also trying to finish two knitting projects I started a while back - an pinkish orange afghan and a black sweater!

(So much to do!!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Organizing My Knitting Patterns

It's easy to pick up free knitting patterns here and there. For years I've been stuffing them into a blue file folder.

But this year the folder was too full - things were always falling out.

Time for a better organizing system... A binder with dividers!

The only problem is - now that I've put everything into the binder, it too is packed! I may need to look for a larger binder...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Retirement Advice

A good friend is retiring at the end of the month...

I'm sure he'd appreciate advice on successful retirement, his wife suggests...


After a few minutes I come up with three tips...

1. Make a to-do list of things you want to accomplish or enjoy during retirement - but don't be surprised if your priorities change over time and you'll end up making a new list!

2. Make a plan. Talk to your spouse about how you see retirement... (Don't be surprised if your spouse has completely different ideas...) Then make another plan...

3. Retirement has three stages: The go-go years, the slow-go years, and the no-go years. Don't put off doing what you really want to do. The go-go years may not last forever.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Using Up Yarn Stash

One bedroom upstairs houses my yarn and fabric stash. It's totally out of control! But I'm trying to get it down by not buying more... unless it's a really good deal!

I was pleased that my latest knit blanket was made entirely of yarn I had on hand...

But, no sooner was it done than I saw this yarn on sale for $1.50 a ball! (So I couldn't resist...)

My only regret: I only bought 15 skeins - I should have bought all they had.


I don't know what I'll be using it for so I have no idea how much I'll eventually need!

(That's how stashes grow out of control!)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Passover: Reason for the Season

Passover is one of the Jewish holidays I didn't appreciate when I lived in Israel... because I was young.

I was often invited by friends to join them for the Seder meal, held on the first evening of Passover. In it, the exodus story was recounted... The Jewish people were once slaves in Egypt, but Moses led them out, traveling under God's presence, physically seen as a cloud of fire by night and a protective cloud providing shade by day. Among the amazing events was the parting of water - twice... (once at the Red Sea and again at the Jordan River). And then there was the daily miracle of enough food and water provided in that barren place to keep a million people alive in the desert for 40 years. I've been to the Sinai Desert. I know that keeping so many people there for so long was truly miraculous! But I (being young) wasn't amazed...

Re-reading the account, all these years later, I am amazed! Is there any story like it in all history?!

Moses, who lived through it, was also amazed. Here are his parting words in the book of Deuteronomy:
Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 
Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 
Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation,by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.
Four thousand years after Moses wrote this, I share his amazement. There is no story like it!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Climbing the CN Tower For a Good Cause

A few months ago one of my sons was inspired by an unusual fundraising event: I've signed up to climb the CN Tower, he informed us. I wasn't sure how tall it was, but I knew the tower was Canada's tallest structure. I later found out that the climb was 144 floors from the base to the observation deck.

Do you really think you can do it? I asked.

I've started training by walking up the stairs at work, he said.

How many floors are there in your building? I asked.

Thirty. I've started doing it twice, taking the elevator down, then walking up again, he said. My goal is to do it five times in a row... 150 floors.

The weekend of the climb, Terry and I headed to Toronto to cheer him on...

Looking at the tower, as we approached it, I must admit I had my doubts... Could anyone really walk up to the top?!

So I was amazed to see how many had decided to participate!

A steady stream was heading to the stairwell...

(Is every fit person in Toronto doing the climb?! I wondered.)

We recognized some later exiting the elevator ... from the observation deck on the 144th floor!

Later we joined our son as he stood in line with dozens of others, waiting to pick up a T-shirt that had their personal climb time written on it.

We were amazed to see how many had not only tried - but succeeded!

Our son's goal had been to do it in 30-40 minutes, but he ended up finishing his climb in just under 20.

We were amazed that so many people would try... and actually succeed!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Latest Pots

My goal this past pottery session was to make thinner, taller pots...

Here are my latest ones, fresh out of the kiln...

I half succeeded. They're a bit thinner - but still not that tall!

A few - the pink ones - haven't been glazed yet. In the end, I ran out of time.

In my handbuilding studio time, I also tried to move beyond making rabbits and squirrels and try to make cats. They weren't a great success!

(The one on the left looks more like a mouse!)

They aren't quite finished yet, either... There's always new things to learn, new things to try!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baby Blanket - Done!

I wasn't really rushing...

But I'm glad to have the baby blanket done.

(Some babies arrive early!)

I may touch up some of the black sheep legs and faces... They're embroidered on. I've tried to make each sheep a little different. But some of the legs are hard to see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Easy Egg Recipe

My daughter recently introduced me to an easy egg recipe.
  • Fill a ramekin with uncooked spinach or kale... One ramekin per person.
  • Break an egg and drop it on top of the green vegetable. 
  • Add a teaspoon of milk or cream.
  • Mix lightly with a fork.  
  • Then add bits of cheese, to taste.
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) for 20 to 30 minutes.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Looking Forward...

This spring I'm planning to take a 5-day cruise down the Rideau Canal from Ottawa to Kingston. The trip involves going through 47 locks.

In preparation, I've been reading about the construction of the canal, almost 200 years ago (1826-32). It's amazing that this engineering feat was finished so quickly. I've also watched a video about the cruise.

I've been learning new things: Didn't know that, by slowing the flow of the rivers, the canal created ideal conditions for bass to live. Didn't know that ever since the canal was built, bass fishing has been a canal tourist industry...

I also didn't realize that the thousands of workers who came from Britain to work on the canal often brought their families along... their wives and children. A thousand workers died (in those five years of canal construction). Most died of malaria. But many of their descendants stayed and still live in the area today. Didn't realize that malaria existed in our cold climate.

Must remember to take along mosquito repellent! I haven't heard of malaria in Canada in recent years. But spring is a bad time for mosquitoes, even today.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Grandma Crafts

I didn't have time to knit much for my babies when I was a young parent, as I recall...

Now I have more time - and I'm trying to make this cute "sheep" blanket - in pink!

(I wonder if it will get it done in time!)

The book (Precious Knit Blankies for Baby) has lots of beautiful patterns - in case more grandchildren come along!

Here it is - just started! Hopefully it will get done before the baby arrives!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Sabbath Vision

I have been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's book, An Altar in the World, and have found her chapters on "Vocation" and on "Sabbath" extremely interesting - probably because I have given a lot of thought to both over the years.

Living in Jerusalem made me very aware that observant Jews spend their Sabbath not cooking or lighting fire, not driving a car or even being driven in a vehicle, not pushing an elevator button or talking on the phone. Knowing this made me wonder how I, as a Christian, should be spending my day of rest, which happens to be Sunday?

Barbara Brown Taylor has also given a lot of thought to Sabbath rest. In her book, she writes:

... I think it is good to have a Sabbath vision... Here is mine...

At least one day in seven, pull off the road and park the car in the garage. Close the door to the toolshed and turn off the computer. Stay home not because you are sick but because you are well... Take a nap, a walk, an hour for lunch. Test the premise that you are worth more than what you can produce - that even if you spend one whole day being good for nothing you would still be precious in God's sight - and when you get anxious because you are convinced that this is not so, remember that your own conviction is not required. This is a commandment. Your worth  has already been established, even when you are not working...

It is hard to understand why so many people put "Thou shalt not do any work" in a different category from "Thou shalt not kill" or "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," especially since those teachings are all on the same list... No, I will not earn my way today. No, I will not make anyone else work either. No, I will not worry about my life, what I will eat or what I will drink, or about my body, what I will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Signs of Spring

You know spring is here when you begin to notice...

... the snow that hasn't melted yet, like these dirty mounds piled up over the winter...

... by snow plows clearing a large parking lot, like the one near us at the college.

On the streets you begin to see street cleaners going about their business...

And - driving along the freeway - you notice (with delight!) that ice cream vendors are preparing for a new season...

Sure signs of spring!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Walking in Cornwall... by the St. Lawrence River

Terry has been teaching one course at Algonquin College this term. As part of his responsibilities, he has to meet with students at their internship work sites. One of his students has been doing a placement in Cornwall, a city about an hour south of Ottawa, on the St. Lawrence River. So for a change of scenery, when he drove to Cornwall for the student's final evaluation a few days ago, I went along for the ride.

Afterwards there was time for a walk in the park by the river.

Last time I was here, there was snow. Now there are Canada geese.

The grass is turning green.

It wasn't warm. The trees are still bare - but it was still refreshing to walk by the river.

Each season has a flavor all its own!

Thursday, April 14, 2016


There's nothing more disconcerting than seeing fire trucks blocking your street entrance when you arrive home!

Fortunately, my panic was short-lived... They were leaving. As I drove down the street, I could see no damage.

A wrong turn? A false alarm?

I never did find out if there had been a 9-1-1 call, or if they had simply taken a wrong turn up our dead-end street.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Appreciating... Snow!

I'm really no fan of winter.

To enjoy winters in Canada, you really need to enjoy winter sports, I used to tell my immigrant students, who often had never seen snow.

Then I'd urge them to learn to skate or ski.

Unfortunately I do neither - and winter walking (on ice) is risky business for me.

But I do have a new appreciation for snow.

California has had a drought for several years now. I was there a few weeks ago, just after a major rain storm had hit.

Does that end the drought? I asked.

No... Unfortunately, heavy rain on hard dry ground, tends to wash away, I was told.

But snow - water suspended in frosty flakes and ice crystals - melts slowly, allowing the water to slowly penetrate the soil. Amazing!

I still may not enjoy winter walking - but I view snow a little differently now!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Preparing to Become a Grandma...

In a few week's time, I'm expecting my first grandchild! This stage of life has been a while in coming. One of my childhood friends (two years older than me) is a great-grandmother twice over!

I'm not sure what grandparents do, apart from love their grandchildren... I guess I'll find out soon enough. But recently the nesting instinct hit me... and I headed out to shop! That's always fun!

Talking to a few first-time grandmothers-to-be, I've discovered that there are now courses on grandparenting, the goal being to bring the older generation (that must be me!) up to speed on the 21st century way of doing things.

Babies are laid on their backs now, instead of their tummies. Baby car seats now have expiry dates...

Do we really need a course?! My three survived childhood. Now that they're adults, we still enjoy hanging out together.

Enjoying your children - isn't that the goal of parenthood, after all?

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Geography" Happens

In my first year at university in Vancouver, my favorite course was an introduction to "physical geography." I found it fascinating to discover how rivers meander over time, as they carry silt downstream, depositing soil at turns in the river, obliterating sharp curves, eventually depositing the remaining silt at the mouth of the river, forming fertile deltas.

That's how the Vancouver delta was formed, the rich farmland at the foot of the mountains, we were told. The geography was all around us. It was amazing to see what happened over long periods of time.

Then mid-way through that school year, after our Christmas break, a landslide obliterated part of the highway between my hometown of Kelowna, BC and Vancouver, where I was now studying. In fact, I had traveled that highway just a few days before. Now that stretch of the road was impassable. (Eventually it was re-built around the slide.) Again, our geography instructor explained how a mudslide like this could happen, showing us that geographical change sometimes occurs very quickly.

I thought of this recently when reading about a spring landslide that occurred a few weeks ago not far from Ottawa. On our recent trip to Arnprior, as we were admiring the river view from a park, a stranger commented on how muddy the Ottawa River looked.

Part of it was blue - but a brownish stream ran right through the middle.

I've never seen it like that before, he told us. We assumed he was a local.

A few days later, Terry pointed to a story in the Ottawa Sun, one of our local papers.

Here's the cause of all that mud in the Ottawa River, he said. A large landslide had deposited a hillside into one of the rivers that flows into the Ottawa River, blocking part of its flow. Ten hectares of land had been washed right into the river, causing local flooding.

The mud we had seen in the Ottawa River had originated  in that washed-out hillside. Again, in a brief moment, geography had changed!