Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hooded Baby Towels

When I was expecting my first child, I sewed a hooded baby towel, choosing yellow as a "unisex" color, not knowing whether I'd have a boy or a girl.

I used the towel for all three of my babies. It's been washed hundreds of times - yet it doesn't look too bad, for a towel that's more than 30 years old!

I decided to make one for my new granddaughter. This one has a matching "mitten" face cloth, and a loop for hanging it up!

(A family tradition continues!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Photo Books for Family Stories?

I was recently going through old photographs - some, of Terry's family, a box we "inherited" when his grandmother Hutchins died. Neither he nor I know who most of the people in the pictures are.

(Should we just throw them out?!)

I have also been going through old albums, taking digital pictures of childhood photos to post online... Memories from years gone by. (Like this picture of my father at the beach with my brother and me in the summer of 1950.)

As I look at old family photos of places that have changed - and people no longer around, I wonder: Will my children even know who these people are when I'm no longer there to tell them?

(This is my father and me outside his garage in Hay Lakes, Alberta in 1947, before his gas pumps were modernized. I was a year and a half old.)

What to do? The easiest thing would be to go through family albums photographing each of the old pictures with a digital camera - or cell phone! Then, using the new digital format, I could create family photo books - identifying the people in each picture and, in some cases, saying when and where the photo was taken.

I have been doing something similar in the photo books I made to document recent travels.

The old black and white digital images would have their own charm, I think...

The whole project would take time, no doubt about that. But I think it would be worth it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What is that flower called?!!

I have a lot of perennials in my yard. Some were here when we bought our home, more than 30 years ago. I was given others - or I bought them... at nurseries or neighborhood plant sales. A few years ago, I created a catalogue of plants in the yard - to help me remember their names! I printed a copy up... though there were a few whose names I didn't know.

One of those are these small purplish blue flowers that bloom in June...

They're in bloom right now!

How to find out what they're called?!

To go to a nursery and look for them, of course!

One city nursery, Artistic Landscape Design, boasts having 4000 perennials. So I headed over.

Sure enough, I quickly found my plant: It's a bell flower, called Campanula Genti Twisterbell.

That was easy! It took about five minutes!

I should have come here to find it years ago!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Fun

One hot day recently, Terry and I drove out into the country to buy fresh cheese in a community cheese factory at St. Albert.

We weren't the only ones there!

Half the vehicles in the parking lot were motor cycles!

There was also an old car!

Your father would have known how to fix it, Terry commented.

After buying cheese, on our way out...

... we noticed this cute pup!

So much fun! It was hard to tear ourselves away!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Finding Passion and Purpose... at Every Stage of Life

I am reading - with great interest - Joan Chittister's book, Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy. Finding my career purpose has been a lifelong quest. I don't know why. Perhaps because I viewed my "calling" as a perfect job that I would someday (hopefully) find.

I've done a lot of different things, mainly in offices or schools. Once, for five months, I lived on a kibbutz in Israel, experiencing different kinds of manual labor. Every job started out interesting enough - but eventually left me feeling that my calling was elsewhere.

This phase of life, Joan Chittister calls the initial, exploratory stage when we try different jobs, usually settling on one. A lot of the time, "we simply stumble through, making up life as we go. Or we fall into them rather than really choose them.

"But those choices are... opportunities, fancies, lessons, experiences - all of which will hold me in good stead someday, but they are not necessarily real preferences."

Preferences often come, in mid-life (or mid-career), when a general dissatisfaction occurs. At  this point we have to decide whether to make a change - or keep doing what we have begun: "There is so much at stake now. So much life behind us has been invested in what we now find to be lifeless. And yet there is so much life left to live."

Terry and I both reached this point in our careers. At this stage, Terry went back to school, finishing a masters degree part time. I took several correspondence courses in writing. Surprisingly neither of us left our jobs, but we enjoyed them more, investing what we had learned into what we were doing.

A third stage of work occurs when family responsibilities ease and free time allows us to revisit our passions, volunteering or working part time, doing things we love - where there is a real need.

I am enjoying this stage of life! I keep busy traveling, reading, writing (especially blogging) and doing creative things like gardening, knitting, quilting, painting and pottery. I am also responsible for looking after my mother's affairs.

I have finally realized that my calling wasn't one single "perfect" job - but living a multi-faceted life, raising a family, living in a community - all the while, trying to find time to fit in things I loved to do.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Church Construction Continues

At one end of our street, a small Romanian Orthodox church is being built in a space that was once a neighborhood flower shop. The original building was torn down a few years ago. (Here's the blog post that tells that story.)

The lot has sat empty for several years... Now construction is finally underway.

A few weeks ago, the basement was dug. Walking past en route to visit my mother, I took this picture.

Recently Styrofoam forms were delivered. I'd never seen them before!

Lego-like, they fit together to make a shape... the basement.

Terry tells me that cement will eventually be poured between the two white Styrofoam layers.

Modern construction methods!

It will be interesting to watch it grow!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Exercise Dilemma

A friend called me the other day. She mentioned all her aches and pains... "I'll have to start exercising again," she added.

Her words reminded me: So will I!!

I've been doing a Curves exercise program for almost 10 years. It worked for me! I loved the simplicity of the concept... Half an hour on a fitness circuit three times a week. Anytime. In and out and I'm done!

So why am I not there?!

For the third time, my Curves location has shut down! Part of the reason may be that Curves is an American franchise... And our Canadian dollar isn't faring well against the US dollar these days. Profit margins for franchise owners are lower now...

What to do? In a city that once had a dozen Curves locations - only two remain, one 19 kilometers from our house, the other 15...

There are other exercise facilities within walking distance, Terry reminds me... Why drive so far?!

(Because I like it...? Because it works for me...?)

He doesn't understand how different the Curves concept is from a gym. (I had a YMCA membership when my kids were in school... Curves is so much easier and more fun... for me!)

What to do? Try to create an exercise space in the basement, one that resembles Curves - using these suggestions in a Curves book?

Or sign up at a new location, even if it means driving farther?

It's a decision I'll soon have to make! I don't want to go back to aches and pains. Being fit is important - especially at my age!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our Outdoor Rabbits

Our neighborhood is full of squirrels, raccoons, skunks and rabbits...

Terry and I have recently discovered - and taken an interest in - a family of rabbits that have popped out from under the flowers in our back yard.

At first we noticed a mother and baby. I was surprised that there was only one.

Then, a few days later, a second tiny bunny appeared on the scene!

I'm not sure how big her litter is, but we enjoy watching their antics daily through the window.

Not sure who their natural predators are either. To be on the safe side, Terry shoos away any animal that he sees prowling around in "their" turf!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Our peonies are starting to bloom. They were already in the yard when we moved into this house more than 30 years ago. When I mentioned moving or dividing them, a neighbor informed me that they don't bloom for a year after being touched or transplanted... so I resisted the urge.

I enjoyed them - but didn't pay that much attention to them.

For years I didn't realize that some blooms were single...

Others double...

Then (in a comment on this blog), one of my daughter's friends informed me...

(Thank you, Willa!)

I forgot to ask: Do both kinds grow on the same plant?!

(I'll try to remember to ask next time I see her...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ottawa Wind Tunnel

Doors Open Ottawa (held a few weeks ago) offered us the opportunity to look inside a building we have often passed on our way to the airport - a National Research Council wind tunnel.

This is the first year the building has been open to the public during Doors Open Ottawa, and the wait was long... About an hour outside, before entering the building.

(The line-up resumed inside, as well.)

We eventually arrived at several open spaces where we saw demonstrations of the kind of work that is done there...

And why...

I discovered that research has been done to discover which fabric is most wind-efficient for making suits for ski racers and speed skaters.

After testing a number of fabrics, researchers discovered that different ones tested were better for different parts of the suit. Consequently, a mix of fabrics goes into making the suits.

Vehicle efficiency is regularly tested in different wind speeds - to see how certain shapes of mirrors, for example, affect drag - resulting in less fuel efficiency.

All in all, an interesting place to visit.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Doors Open Ottawa: Visiting the Old Ottawa Jail

The second building we visited a few weeks ago during Doors Open Ottawa was the Old Ottawa Jail, now a downtown youth hostel.

We entered through a side door, walking upstairs to the eighth floor,

This top floor has been left unchanged, a kind of "museum" to show what the jail originally looked like back in the days when it was used.

The Carleton County Goal, as it was called, had been the main jail for over 100 years, from 1862 to 1972.

The cells were shockingly small.

I had little interest in reading the gruesome details of how many people were locked in one cell, who the hangman was, or in taking pictures of the scaffold where people had been hung.

Perhaps another time.

I just wanted to get out...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day...

Today is Fathers Day. My thoughts turn to my father - and his love of boating.

I've been looking through old photo albums, with the ideas of creating a photo book - a narrative of my life with pictures.

Looking at this photo of my father putting me into a boat at Pigeon Lake, Alberta, I realize that he must have always loved boating.

Ten years later, in Kelowna, he bought a lighter, faster boat. Most of my memories of family fun during those teenage years revolved around picnics in the boat and water skiing.

The other person in the picture is my mother's younger brother, Ron - who would have been about 15 at the time. When I visited him and his wife in Palm Springs in March, he mentioned that he had worked with my father for a while... helping out in my dad's garage in Hay Lakes. That's how trades were learned back in those days.

I wonder if this second photo was taken that same day.

My brother, born in December, would have been six or seven months old at the time. He was a preemie - born two months premature - but he looks chubby here!

This picture would have been taken in the summer of 1950, when I was four years old.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Doors Open Ottawa 2016

The annual "Doors Open" weekend was held recently in Ottawa. Over the years, we have visited a lot of places open to the public, but there are still quite a few that we haven't visited.

On Saturday, Terry and I headed over to the Ottawa River to visit the hydro electric facility that was open to visitors there.

Several dams produce electricity in the city, but this one is the oldest.

On display are the old meters that used to monitor the energy production. Nowadays the same work is all done on a computer.

One of the surprising aspects of creating hydro-electricity, to me, was learning that garbage and debris had to be removed from the flowing water before it passed through the dam.

This machine takes everything from logs to plastic bags and bottles out of the water.

I didn't realize that the dam not only uses the water, but it cleans it as well!

There is always something to learn on these Doors Open visits!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Birthday Memories

Children celebrate birthdays - but parents remember the BIRTH DAY!

One of our children has a birthday today...  I remember that day so well.

Here she is, in the hospital... a lot tinier... (And her father with no grey hair!)

A few days later, we brought her home. 

It was June... summer... but we bundled her up! (As I recall, Terry was afraid she would catch a cold!)

By September, she was used to being outdoors.

We were out for a walk in the park.

(Terry says I look tired - I probably was!)

She didn't want to stop to have her picture taken...

(Some things never change!)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pink and Purple Garden

After my six-day cruise, I returned home to find the lilacs gone - but other flowers blooming in shades of pink, mauve and purple.


Purple geraniums...

Pink carnations...

Purple salvia...

These lovely (but invasive) Persian cornflowers.

(To stop them from spreading too much, I pull them out after they bloom - but they come back again in abundance the following year.)

Nearby flashy pink peonies are in bud - getting ready to bloom!

On the deck, the purple clematises are beginning to bloom.

Color-coordinated gardens always impress me.

Surprisingly, for a brief time - this year - my flowers appear to be... until the bright orange tiger lilies appear!