Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Adding Buttons to a Shawl

I've made quite a few shawls over the past few years.

I created a pattern of three equilateral triangles, and made it in several sizes and colors. This is the largest, lying on the back of the sofa...

Recently I wore one to a gathering of former co-workers. Noting that my shawl kept falling off my shoulder, one of the women - a knitter herself - suggested I add buttons in the front and sides to make "sleeves."

I decided to give it a try - and I do like the result! It feels more like a jacket than a shawl... now that I have added the buttons.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Not Lost Arts

When I was a teenager, my grandmother told me how - when she was my age - she had to weave towels and sheets for her future household. Every girl apparently needed a large "hope chest" of homemade linens before getting married. Enough for several months, in fact: in summer women washed sheets and towels in the river, drying them by hanging them over bushes. But they couldn't do that in winter, so they needed enough linens to tide them over in winter months.

I laughed at the idea! Girls in my generation simply went out and bought what they needed! In fact, it appeared that many traditional skills like knitting and weaving were becoming obsolete. I knew how to knit and crochet, but these were no longer considered essential skills.

A few years later, when I was in my twenties, there was a resurgence of interest in traditional crafts. My mother began to teach spinning, weaving, yarn dyeing, as well as knitting and crocheting in her home economics classes.

Since then, interest in traditional crafts has continued to grow.

Many traditional arts now have a "modern" twist... like these interesting "log cabin" designs.

... leaving "traditional" knitters and quilters like me madly trying to keep up!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Rearranging Furniture... To Improve My Health!

This past summer, I've suffered from two annoying physical problems - an aching back and a sore right knee.

I bought a smaller purse to deal with the back problem. Carrying a lighter bag over my shoulder did help me get rid of the back pain.

Now I'm trying to fix the knee problem by... rearranging the furniture! I noticed that I was putting all my weight on my right knee when getting out of my chair... Repeatedly doing this aggravated it and made walking difficult.

Several times last summer, I was away for a few days... and to my surprise, the pain started to lessen. It came back when I returned home.

Eventually I decided to try facing my chair in the opposite direction, so that the weight of my body would be on the opposite leg when I stood up. I now face the window that used to be behind me. It's a totally new view... And hopefully it will also cure my right knee problem.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thinking about "Advent"

A few years ago, a friend was looking for a calendar that began, not with January 1,  but with Advent - the official beginning of the church year. I was surprised, as I had never given much thought to Advent before.

Since then, I too have begun to pay attention to "Advent"... the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Unlike popular tradition, which focuses on the number of shopping days until Christmas, Advent reminds me of  'the reason for the season.'

This past year, I have been reading books of sermons by Barbara Brown Taylor. In one, she says that the challenge of Advent is to wait and watch...

"Unlike the culture that surrounds us, the church is in no great hurry to get there [to Christmas]. With the wisdom of centuries, our tradition tells us that the journey itself is what we need as much as finally reaching that shed outside of Bethlehem. It tells us to pause, to take stock, to lie on some hillside a little distance from our destination and watch the stars. It tells us to empty our hearts so that there is room in them for the birth of something new and altogether unforeseen."

So this year, my challenge is to watch and wait... open to discovering "something new" about my Christian faith.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Church Bazaars

Several neighborhood churches hosted Christmas bazaars last Saturday.

I planned to attend two or three but in the end, I only got to one...

I stopped for lunch at their tea room... and a chat with a friend I hadn't seen in a while.

These days, I'm focusing on getting rid of things we no longer need - so shopping doesn't have the appeal it usually does.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Sixteen years ago today - on November 25, 2000, I went on a hot air balloon ride with my daughter.

There was a little snow on the otherwise brownish landscape around us.

Balloon rides begin early in the morning or late in the afternoon - I'm not sure why. Perhaps there are more gentle breezes then.

We soon outdistanced the balloon lifting off right after us.

This was a morning excursion, the early morning November sun casting long shadows. We were dressed for cold weather.

We started out at the edge of Carleton University campus and sailed over the Rideau Canal towards Dow's Lake.

There is no way of knowing exactly where the wind will take a balloon. Amazingly, this day it took us right over the school where I taught... Adult High School (formerly the High School of Commerce). The school looks like a group of three buildings to the left of the tall apartment building in the center of the photo. In actuality, it is one building with several different third-floor roofs.

Equally amazing - we next flew over Parliament Hill... (How great is that?!!)

Then across the river to Quebec, where we landed gently in a park.

Once safely landed and out of the balloon, we celebrated with hot coffee spiked with Bailey's.

(Summer balloon rides traditionally end with a glass of champagne.)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Later" Box

The large yellow box under the coffee table is my new "later" box... (Not to be confused with a "letter" box, though it may contain letters...!)

My sitting area tends to accumulate papers I don't want to deal with just yet... So they pile up.

I don't have a "junk drawer" in the room. So when I want to quickly tidy up, the box can store things I plan to look at "later"...

My "later" box!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Snow Again!

Yes, we have snow again!

The trees look lovely "frosted" with snow...

But I hope this week's predicted warm temperatures will melt the ice and snow on roads and sidewalks.

Snow may be beautiful - but getting around is nerve-wracking when slippery ice can be hidden under the snow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trimming the Hedge

One of our last pre-winter gardening task is trimming the hedge at the back of the yard.

The hedge harbors a lot of wild vines that we pull out every year - wild grape and Virginia creeper.

It takes Terry half a day to do it - while I hold the ladder.

This year, when we were done, he said: Next year we should probably have a professional do it.

(Exactly what I was thinking!)

Monday, November 21, 2016


Occasionally, when I glance out of the kitchen window, I notice "faces"...

The folds on the black barbecue cover occasionally resemble faces of people or animals!

What is that?! The face of a cat?! Or Darth Vader?!! I don't know... But seeing these surprise "faces" always makes me laugh!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


I put out several obituaries after my mother's death. One was in Kelowna, on a website called "Cast a Net." (I wonder where that name came from...)

My mother was a high school home economics teacher for almost 30 years in Kelowna. Several former students had not forgotten her, sending condolences that brought tears to my eyes.

I forwarded the link to my children so that they could read the messages, too, and recognize what a contribution their grandmother had made to the lives of some of her students.

Most of us don't realize how important we are to those around us. Just being there - and being predictably kind - makes a big difference to the world!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yard Work

This past week has been lovely and warm...

Perfect for doing yard work!

Terry did a lot of raking, while I moved a few stepping stones in the grass. I also divided some robust plants, transplanting them. Now I can't wait to see how they'll look next spring!

It was lovely to spend time outdoors working!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Out With the "Ladies"

One of the fun things I get to do when visiting Toronto is to go out shopping with the "ladies"!

This visit we wandered around Yorkville and browsed in Holt Renfrew...

I especially enjoyed hanging out with the littlest "lady"!

(I don't get to push a baby stroller every day...)

Our visits are always too short!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Toronto's Skyline... by Day and Night

On our most recent trip to Toronto, we stayed right downtown, where we enjoyed dramatic views of Toronto's skyline.

Here is the daylight view of Toronto, looking northeast from our hotel room in the Delta Hotel.

Our room overlooked the Union Station train tracks...

I couldn't help but think of my father and how much he would have enjoyed watching the trains come and go.

With shortening daylight hours, it was dark by 5 pm, so we saw the lights of the city well.

The cross atop the building on the right is actually the TD logo on the skyscraper visible in the upper picture as well.

This was the first time we've stayed at the Delta. I'd definitely go back. The location is great. It's a short walk to the train station - and to the waterfront where I always like to stroll on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My New Easy Lunch

Funny how we all have meals we can eat day after day without getting bored... Like toast and jam for breakfast!

Recently - in my efforts to eat more veggies - I have been eating spinach salads...

Two to three cups of raw spinach with a handful of Craisins and another handful of walnuts tossed in.

Add a tablespoon of goat cheese, crumbled - and drizzle with balsamic vinegar...

That's the lunch I've been eating for weeks now! The mix of sweet and sour is strangely satisfying.

In fact, I make several salads at a time and refrigerate them - adding the cheese and vinegar at the end when I serve it.

My new easy lunch!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Signs of Late Fall in Our Neighborhood

No flowers in bloom in our yard right now...

But there is lots of raking to do!

I'm having a hard time motivating myself to work outdoors. I'm not sure why...

But I really shouldn't put it off. I've been fully intending to move a few perennials, and divide a few more. Not really a lot of work...

If I don't get out there, it will soon be too late!

The indoor soccer dome near our house is up again!

That's a sure sign that winter is almost here!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Choosing Photos

These days, I am in the midst of planning my mother's funeral, which will take place towards the end of the month, when my brother can be here.

There are so many details - among them, choosing photos to be on display...

I've been going through boxes of them, trying to find the "right" one.

Maybe I should choose one for my own funeral, I tell Terry... It would save someone a lot of work!

But then again, maybe not... Maybe it's important for them to choose, based on how they remember me!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

End of Autumn's Feast of Color

Last weekend, we drove to Toronto...

We wanted to take advantage of our mild weather, while roads were still bare of snow!

Once the snow falls, we tend to stay close to home.

All along the route, I was surprised to see some trees still had colorful leaves.

By November, I expected them all to be bare! But they weren't!

I thought that leaves changing color was governed by hours of sunlight...

Maybe it's more complicated than that!

As we drove along, the scenery around us was a feast for the eyes! Knowing that any day now, everything could be enveloped in cold white snow made the fall colors all the more wonderful!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fall Visit to Manotick

Terry and I are trying to enjoy the outdoors - by driving to some of our favorite local places, stopping for lunch and to walk around.

Recently we headed to the village of Manotick, a 20-minute drive away.

The historic mill wasn't open...

But the river is beautiful any time of the year!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Green Sweater... Done!

I was really motivated to finish the green sweater-vest I started, using a Mary Maxim knitting kit.

It was my first ever top-down garment, knit from the neck to the waist. I'd like to try another soon, just for practice. I had to modify the instructions a bit, counting stitches with each row's increase rather than using markers, as the directions indicated. I tried several types of markers (safety pins, plastic knitting markers) and none of them worked. The safety pins got caught in the yarn and the plastic ones fell out. In addition, I wasn't really sure where to put them... (On the loop of the stitch? Between stitches?!) I wasn't getting the first few inches right, so I tore my knitting apart several times. I realized that I should be increasing in several places (sides of sleeves, front, back) so the counting method worked better for me. I made a chart to keep track of how many stitches I had to knit before increasing based on where the increases should be...

I'm looking forward to wearing the vest on top of a fleece shirt or a long-sleeved sweater. Hopefully it will provide a little extra warmth around the shoulders and upper body.

I made it a little longer than the pattern said, as I didn't want it to ride up when I leaned forward. There was plenty of yarn in the kit for the modification. I still have several balls to spare.

Hopefully, my new vest will be a useful addition to my winter wardrobe!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anemone? Or Dogwood?

There are so many kinds of flowers in the world! I often ask neighbors if I'm hunting for the name of a local flower... And sometimes I do internet searches.

The internet wasn't available when this book was written - one of my mother's books about the Rocky Mountains.

Leafing through it, I noticed this illustration of "dogwood" that looked like the anemones that grow in my garden.

Dogwood? Or anemone?

Based on pictures online, the flower in this photo isn't dogwood at all - it's an anemone!

I wonder: is dogwood a flower on a tree?!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Memories - of Tractors Past!

Fall displays outside supermarkets these days often include pumpkins, bales of hay... and old tractors!

Terry and I can't resist! We have to go over and check them out...

I remember those! Terry tells me...

Me too! I even stood on the platform beside the driver once crossing a field! That was exciting!

Modern ones have a cab... and air conditioning!

No more fresh air? Maybe something has been lost along the way!