Catching up again . . . after months of radio silence . . .

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, so I don’t know if I will be shouting into a void landscape or not . . . and in case you’ve forgotten about me . . .
May be an image of text that says "How a normal person tells a story: START OF STORY END OF STORY How I tell a story: PRE PRE-STORY PROLOGUE FOR CONTEXT SEMI- RELATED SIDE STORY APOLOGIZE 100 MANY DETAILS START OF STORY WAIT, OKAY, BACK Το THE MAIN STORY END OF STORY REALIZE I'VE BEEN TALKING Too LONG WHAT WAS TALKING ABoυT: SOMETHING JUST NOW REMEMBERED LOSE TRAIN OF THOUGHT WRAP STORY UP AND FINALLY GET TO THE POINT"Not sure where I got that, but I love it because it’s SO me
. . . and now you have been warned . . .

And then I found this: a photo of the Chinese restaurant in Calgary, Alberta that bears my name. It’s in Calgary and back in the day, family who lived there gathered here to share special meals; visitors were almost always brought here, too. My last Auntie had one of the tea bowls and saved it for many years, saying it reminded her of me. A year or two before she died, she gave it to me so that it would remind me of her . . . and it does.

May be a black-and-white image of outdoors and text that says "LINDA MAES COFFEE SHOP"

With everything that’s been happening here and around the world, I’ve either not felt like writing or it’s seemed too complex to address. Oh, well, I’ve missed coming here and sharing. I’ve also missed wandering around what I still like to call our Virtual Village and dropping by when someone’s home . . .

I’ve been a little busy, so I’d like to talk about my projects first, then I’ll get on to the latest news in our area.

This is quite long, so if a section doesn’t interest you, just skip on ahead, ok?

Creative Stuff:

I did finish the blocks for the Summer Harmony and joined them, too. I do love Lucy’s Join-as-you-go method; otherwise I’d have piles of blocks hanging around forever, waiting . . . but I haven’t begun the border yet. I’ve chosen a different order of colours from the pattern and I plan to do a short section following the instructions, then another using the same stitches as the Original Harmony border. Then I’ll decide and get on with it. This is the Original border:

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I crocheted a small troll head for Christmas, using the images from one of Selma’s Christmas posts. It sat on my bureau until last week and is now in the motorhome (MH).

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This photo is not my work, but that of my niece in law. My oldest sister gave our brother some of Mum’s yarn and the Niece is making a lovely pullover from it. Mum would be so happy to see this:

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I made one of Selma’s wire angels, too, and it’s been hanging around on the vine wreath I made back before 2006, when I was still living with my Mum in her house in Edmonton. It’s quite interesting to look at, as it’s not exactly circular. I’ll have to take a photo for you. I meant to make a string of those angels, but in spite of the supplies sitting beside me here for ages, somehow I never did that.

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A friend from the crochet group I used to attend gave me two cookbooks when she was downsizing for a move. I’ve always loved these two, but never owned a copy.

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May be an image of book

Another book that’s gone into the MH is this one. I read it many times in my teens and looked for it second hand for years. It was around, but at prices well over $100, so not in my budget. Then I found it, paperback and new, as they had re-printed it. So much joy to re-visit . . . and around $12, too!

May be an image of book and text that says "Honor Vinner Three Three-time Eloise Jarvis McGraw "One the ten best children's books " year IG Sawdust Shoes"

A friend sent me two books, too, which I also love:

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Firefly Lane was made into a series and is on Netflix, I think. but I loved The Four Winds because it’s set from just before the Dirty 30s and into the ’40s. In the south-western states, where it was worse than here, even.

Life Stuff:

I feel very fortunate to be so introverted and also to have so many diverse interests and hobbies. The whole Covid-19 lockdown was pretty much “life as usual” for us here (I’m still living with my cousins). The things above have gotten me through a lot and continue to do so (see the last section).

I read a fair bit. I even gave in and began reading on a tablet. Books are still my first love, but with the tablet, I haven’t had to go to the library for months. ‘had’ may be the wrong word here, as it sounds like a chore, doesn’t it? Oh, well, I’m sure you know what I mean. So I have almost finished re-reading everything by Guy Gavriel Kay, as his next book won’t be out until next spring at the earliest. Three years between books means he does his research but it’s a long time for a reader. Luckily, I have other favourite authors LOL.

I also try to do something creative every day, but some days it just doesn’t happen.

I also watched a fair bit of Netflix and Amazon Prime in the beginning; a bit less of that now. I like films and series from the UK, Europe, Australia & New Zealand and other places (Iceland, anyone?) I’m currently watching Season 6 of the 1990s Aussie hit, Blue Heelers, a cop show. I like the characters and I can usually crochet or knit while watching/listening. There are 13 seasons, but only 8 are on Prime so far. Fingers crossed . . .

I discovered DuoLingo some time ago and fell happily into that rabbithole, as I’ve always loved words and language and languages (although I’m only fluent in English). And then my youngest sister bought a membership in Rosetta Stone and gave me one, too. Well . . . I began with quite a few, because I don’t know when to leave well enough alone, apparently. Then came recent events (more on those later) and now it’s mostly Arabic on Duo and French on Rosetta. French because I’m Canadian and it is our other language. I changed schools every year until junior high, so when we moved to Salmon Arm (close to where I live now), I started grade eight quite happily. But everyone else had already taken a year of French . . . I remember the first day, because I was so excited at the thought of learning another language . . . the teacher came in and immediately began speaking French. She asked a question. Others replied, but I had no idea what to do or say. As an extremely shy (introverted) child, I hated looking foolish in public or even speaking out in front of others. So I suffered through that first year, the switched to Latin, which had to be taken by correspondence and so I was not required to learn to speak it. It’s been a huge blessing to me all my life, as it makes English and the other Romance languages so much more understandable. And for some reason I loved it . . . conjugating verbs and dissecting sentences came naturally to me and I was hooked forever. I’m reviewing Latin on Rosetta, but it’s not the same as they’ve modernized it. My course began with Caesar’s “Gaul is divided into three parts” and went from there. Rosetta is more like immersion learning. Fun, though.

When I lived in Edmonton, I began studying Egyptian Arabic, as I want to visit Egypt some day and I’d like to at least be able to be polite to people. I was using the Pimsleur courses then, borrowing them from the library. I like their format very much. But I found that Arabic is on DuoLingo now, so there we go . . . I doubt I’ll ever be fluent, but I am enjoying the study so much, it’s worth it. And I found a set of videos on YouTube that show how to write the letters and then words . . . (it’s here, if you’re interested: Arabic Alphabet – Part One  And why wouldn’t you be? hahaha)  I’ve been practising writing the letters using a Sharpie fine point pen, but I also bought a set of cheap chisel shaped brushes and once I get my paints out, I’ll be doing more with those. I like how the written words are a form of calligraphy . . .

Writing French is a challenge, too, with all the various accents, etc. But a challenge is what I was needing and it fits the bill perfectly. There is a keyboard option on Rosetta, so I can type and then click on the screen when I need to access some of the special characters.

I’ve dipped back into a few others, but we’ll leave those for now.

Current Affairs:

Some of you will have heard that lower BC, in particular, has been hard hit with wildfires this year, starting at least a month sooner than usual. A couple of days ago we had almost 300 fires burning and over 30 of them were what they call “fires of note”, meaning extremely dangerous. The small town of Lytton, (known as “BC’s Hot Spot”) burnt to the ground the day after temperatures here reached 44 C (111 F), In Lytton, it had been 49.6 C (over 121 F). The very small town of Monte Lake is also mostly gone. Many of the towns affected or threatened by this fire are places I knew as a girl and on into my young adult years. It’s hard to see this going on . . .

The scariest fire, though, is the White Rock Lake fire, burning to the South-West of where we live, but it’s 32,500 hectares in size (80,309 acres or 125 square miles).

Still, by contrast, the fire in California was 240,595 acres (97,365 ha) on 30 July, so way bigger. I’ve been following that fire and the ones in Greece, and others, as well as our own. I feel so badly for those who have lost their homes or even family and friends.

The smoke here has been horrendous and I understand it’s reached past Ontario now, possibly to the Atlantic provinces. I do have photos . . .

This is Mount Ida, seen from what used to be our driveway back in the early ’60s. I took this one in April, I think, this year.
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From the same place, taken last Friday:

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Driving along the highway toward where we used to live:

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Almost home again:

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Home and you can see the smoke drifting in the background . . . it was heavier later on.

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The MH, last December . . .

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This is a screenshot of the fire activity a couple of days ago. The evacuation order area is pink and the alert area is orange. You can see the upper right corner of the alert area is right below “Ranchero”. That’s the district we live in.

If you want to follow the progress of this fire, go to:
https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a1e7b1ecb1514974a9ca00bdbfffa3b1&center=-120.024417%2C50.304667&level=11&mobileBreakPoint=300&fbclid=IwAR1CZQLJC8VCeZj8ENG1Pl9fGphX4LrHI2vDYJpVuq36qncOdDsfg4tItaY and look for the “White Rock Lake” fire.

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So for the past couple of weeks, my cousin has been making sure all three vehicles are ready to go, just in case, and we’ve been packing things we want to save into them. And food, bedding, etc. I’m lucky I still have the motorhome (MH). I was considering selling it, as it’s too cold to live in during the winter and now it’s too hot and besides, the smoke . . . however, for now I’ll hang on to it. I did get my provisional license a couple of weeks ago and will be writing my test as soon as it’s possible.

I do know that stuff is just stuff, but I have some things that are not replaceable. If my everyday clothes burnt up, no worries, I can buy more. But my treasures from my travels are another thing . . . and because my oldest sister came by last autumn and dropped off some of my things she’d kindly stored for me since 2016, I now have all my family photos (4 or 5 boxes worth), my guitar and more. If I can save them I will; if I ever have to walk away from them, I’ll do my best to do it with grace and courage. Still . . . I also have my creative supplies, which aren’t inventoried (who does that, anyway?) and would take ages to replace. Not to mention yarn that isn’t available anymore.

This knitting bag is one of my mementoes, purchased at Yarndale at the end of September, 2018 (If you don’t recognize the saying, it’s from the film “Babe” an unexpected favourite of mine). And so are the two cushions, created in the ’70s by another of my Aunties, my cousin’s mother. The colours turn out to be quite compatible with the Summer Harmony blanket . . .

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The mug goes, of course (lol) and the runner, which was stitched by my Norwegian second cousin’s mother, who was my own mother’s cousin.

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One of the things that is helping me get through all this and also stay positive most of the time, is my little Gratitude group; four of us formed it some time ago and every day we do our best to post ten or twelve things we are grateful for, and often some affirmations for ourselves, too. It helps to remember all the good things in our lives and to take a few minutes to be grateful for them.

Well, I’ll leave you with this photo, taken on the island of Leka in Norway (where my mother’s maternal grandfather was born). I was wearing my handmade socks and thinking of a song by Runrig, In Scandinavia . . .

(Here I stand, in Scandinavia . . .)

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I am keeping you all in my thoughts and sending warm, if virtual, hugs . . .

Stay safe and well, my friends . . .  ~ Linne

Thanks to Kym . . . finally! and mittens, tea and blankets

Gallery

This gallery contains 28 photos.

This is mostly a long-overdue Thank You to Kym. I promised her (some years ago, I have to admit) that I was going to use her pattern to make myself a tea cosy. And then life happened and I never … Continue reading

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Hello, my friends. The latter part of the summer was quite stressful and I didn’t get back here as planned. But things are better now (not as I’d have liked, but still, it’s all good).

My cousins turned the new sewing/computer room back into a spare room for me, and without asking me (I would have turned it down if they’d asked; she deserves the long-awaited room of her own), so I am back in the house again for the winter. I was up to eight layers of bedding in the MH by the beginning of October, as it was slowly growing cooler. I’m hoping to create a better solution for next winter, though.

In the meantime, we have gotten back to our former routines and it’s all good.

I did finish the scarf. I couldn’t locate my yarn needles and refused to buy more, so I used my crochet hook and followed the instructions for Kitchener Stitch, only backwards, if that makes any sense. I was dragging the yarn through,not pushing it, as with a needle. But it worked!

This is the two halves of the scarf. I still have to decide what to do with the points once I weave in the bit of yarn that you see dangling here: leave as is, add tassels, or ???

I was deeply saddened to learn that Pauline, of The Contented Crafter, had passed away suddenly on her birthday, just a few days before mine. One of her friends, Alys, gently informed all of us, but it was still such a shock. Somehow, I always expect my world to go on, unchanged . . . Alys wrote a lovely tribute and you can read it here.

Creative Pursuits

I’ve mentioned above that I finished the scarf. I sort of finished the blanket, too, but then decided to add some more at each end before creating the border. I attached the yarn, hooked for a couple of days, then got busy and put it aside. It’s under my bed now (in a bag), waiting for me to complete it.

  

 

I used three of the flower stitches from Attic24, the Dahlia, the Sweet Pea / Trellis, and the Hydrangea. All these patterns are on the blog forever and you will find them listed on the left side of the page, down below the blogs she loves. You can see the detail in the close-up above.

Also under the bed is my much-loved and also much-neglected ‘Barn Cardi’. I’ll be knitting again soon . . . but first . . .

I posted this photo back in August of 2014; hard to believe it’s been that long . . . I’ve done a little work on the sleeves since then, but not much. That’s one of my beloved Aunties modelling it for me up at Mum’s apartment. She was under five foot tall, so it came almost to her ankles; on me it’s just above my knees.

You may remember that I call the ‘blogoverse’ my Virtual Village (partly because I dislike the word ‘blog’; it doesn’t sound friendly somehow). Most of my closest friends I’ve met here in the Village. But I’ve also met a few in other online places. Facebook brought me a special friendship. We both belong to Winwick Mum’s Knit and Natter group. One day I noticed that someone had posted about her new loom and I commented, offering to help if needed, as I have some weaving experience. We began replying to each other, discovering a host of shared interests besides knitting and other yarnwork. So I created a private page and we have met there happily most days ever since. Sometimes, when things are challenging, we don’t need someone to fix things, or us. We just need a listening ear and an understanding heart. And that is what we both have discovered. I haven’t posted much since my Mum died, as my life changed overnight and then continued changing. My friend’s support has meant a lot to me. She was going through various challenges herself and she has told me that my support was helpfut to her, too.

Anyway, when I was trying to figure out a solution to my housing situation, I slowly became more discouraged and ‘down’, even though I know that staying positive is far more helpful. I felt I couldn’t post because it would just sound like whining and complaining. And I couldn’t seem to write with hope and positivity at the time. That seemed fake. Ah, well . . .

One thing we share a love of is Attic24 and Lucy’s designs, which are free and will remain available on her blog forever. I was so lucky to actually meet Lucy when I went to Yarndale at the end of September, 2018 and later, in early November when I was able to join her crochet group twice in Skipton, Yorkshire. Lucy is a quiet, unassuming and thoroughly delightful person and I shall always remember my time there and our short chats. So I was delighted when my friend began crocheting and then bought some of Lucy’s kits. I was excited to see her blankets develop, even as I was working on my own black, white, grey and red one. If you remember, the stitches I chose were all from Lucy’s patterns.

So . . . one day, my friend asked which kit I would choose if I were to buy one. And I told her The Summer Harmony. The next day I had a message saying that she’d be pleased if I would accept that kit as a gift. I knew she meant it and I was overjoyed to accept. As it turned out, there is no specific kit for the Summer Harmony; the kit that was ordered is the original Harmony blanket, which I think of as the Spring Harmony, as the colours remind me of Easter eggs, spring flowers, etc. They are beautiful, colourful but not overbearing, and the joining yarn is three skeins of a pale grey with a tinge of violet, appropriately named Parma Violet.

The kit arrived on 23 September, but I didn’t begin for a few days. We also both belong to the Fans of Attic24 group on facebook. Someone in the group had posted about organizing the yarns for the granny square blankets. So this is what I did:

I purchased some Large size ziplok bags and labelled them. I snipped a tiny bit off one corner to aloow yarn to pass through. I put one bag of yarn into its ziplok bag. I have a special cloth bag from Yarndale; it pays homage to the film, Babe, with the quote on the front: Baa, Ram, Ewe. (really, you have to watch this film to appreciate the bag. Itfourteen colourss often billed as a children’s film, but, like Charlotte’s Web, there’s a lot in it for adults, too. And I fell in love with the farmer from the beginning.) But back to the kit:

Lucy has included in the pattern a chart of all the squares and their placement in the finished blanket. There is also a list of the fourteen squares and the colours to use for each. So I chose the bags containing the colours needed for the A Squares and proceded to make all nine of them, round by round. When I finished a round, if I had to put the work aside for some time, the squares went into the bag containing the next colour, along with two hooks and a small pair of embrouidery scissors.

Eventually I had 126 squares, all in neat piles nine high.

I laid the piles in order, A to N, on a whiteboard covered with a small towel to keep them from slipping. Above you can see the final squares just waiting to form the last row.

Then came the joining. I’d heard that Lucy’s Join As You Go (JAYG) method had caused trouble for some people, so decided to try it and, if it was not working out, to use a different method. The only trouble it caused for me was that sometimes my mind would wander off and begin thinking about some issue or other and my hands don’t do so well without a certain amount of supervision . . . but crochet is fairly easy to frog back and re-do, thank heaven. I had to do that on a few of the squares, too, including one that was frogged back two rounds, as I’d completely messed up a corner and forgotten to do the usual visual check before proceeding.

A close-up of the JAYG . . .

Above is the first row, joined and laid out along the back of the futon couch which is also my bed at night.

I figured out another trick to make the joining go more smoothly (and to prevent me from getting the fourteen squares in a strip mixed up). I have the piles of squares laid out on a small whiteboard now, in order from A to N. I choose the squares for a strip, beginning with the final one and with the first one on top. Then I use a folded piece of scrap yarn, drawing it up through the centre holes with my hook. This way I know that the top of the pile, with the next squate on top, is the right one (just in case the pile gets joggled and turns topsy-turvey). If I have to put the work aside, I tie the tails and the loop into a neat bow and then I can put the stack on top of the loose squares.

The other day I passed the exact half-way mark of the joining. I’ve completed six strips now and have only three to do.

Then it will be on to the eight rows of border . . . and after that I intend to work on the blanket I created this summer, as well as completing the sleeves for the Barn Cardi and adding the button and buttonhole bands to the front. I shall have to choose suitable buttons for it, too. I have such fond memories of showing this work to my Mum as it progressed and of my Aunty modelling it for me. It will be a joy to wear . . .

My birthday was just a few days after Pauline’s, so my friend and I considered the kit to be a birthday gift. A few days ago, inspired by my progress and wanting to share the joy she’s having working on her own blankets, my friend informed me that she and her husband wanted to send me another kit, this one for Christmas! Again, she asked me my preference and again I chose the Summer Harmony. This time I looked up the pattern and discovered that the yarn is sold in a set named the Original Pack. The pattern is the same as what I have already; only the colours are different. It should go even faster, as now I have this down. I am so, so grateful to have these lovely blankets to work on! But I did tell my friend they should be the last, as she doesn’t need to keep feeding my yarn habit. Besides, I have another black, white, grey and red blanket to make, along with all the other projects waiting for my attention.

Almost finished . . .

Ta-Dah!! Now only the border to add. 

The border called for eight rows, each a different colour. I did that (and for once, I had followed the instructions throughout the project! A rare thing, if you recall . . .) But somehow it did not look quite finished to me. There was yarn left in all the skeins, so I chose three more colours and added those. You can see the results above. These colours give me so much joy! I sit at the laptop and turn my head ot the left and there they are . . .

It can be very easy to give; it’s not so easy to receive. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over my lifetime. I remember reading a story once, written by a young woman. She said that her mother was the kindest, most generous woman, not only to her, but to all she encountered. The Mum was the sort, that, if you came to visit and admired something of hers, would thrust it into your hands as you were leaving. But she wouldn’t accept anything from others. Finally one day, frustrated, her daughter told her she was being selfish. The Mum was astounded, as she gave without reserve. But her daughter told her that she (the mum) received so much joy and satisfaction from giving, yet denied others the chance to experience the same by giving to her. I was happy to read that the Mum ‘got it’ and changed her ways and I began adopting the same attitude.

I still find it easier to give, but I’ve also learned to receive with gratitude and joy. I think that receiving gracefully is a gift we give to others when they seek to bless us. So soon I shall have two of Lucy’s blankets adorning the back of the futon couch where I sleep. Spring and Summer, so delightful! And if my friend and I ever manage to meet in person, we can wrapup in our ‘virtual hugs’ as we sit together, chatting over handwork and a cuppa. And surely some biscuits and chocolate . . .

Here is the Summer Harmony makings on the day the package arrived. It still looks the same, but now it lives under my desk. I’ve been very good about not peeking at all; I will open it on Christmas Day, when my friend and I plan to do a Zoom or Skype call so we can share the excitement. I’ll be sharing photos with you all here, too, as I go along. I did get the additional ziplok bags ready to hold the new colours (some are the same as the first blanket, so those bags will be used again), but this time it will take longer to finish; I have a very exciting new project, just begun, which is a thank-you to my friend and her husband (she knows about it, but I won’t be sharing photos until they have received the gift).

And, in honour of the blanket being a ‘Harmony’, I’ve been listening to plenty of music as I hook . . . from nine year old Amira singing “O Mio Babbino Caro” (conducted by Andre Rieu), to Bach (the 1/4 Goldberg Variations by Canadian pianist Glen Gould) to music from my childhood and youth (too many to name) to, of course, a wide variety of Runrig concerts and singles. No surprise there, eh? So this blanket will be infused, not only with the harmonies of a lasting friendship, but also a variety of the musical harmonies from my life.

Sorry this has taken me so long to complete; I still haven’t solved the issues of uploading photos, but did find a workaround at least. 

Hope you are all doing well and staying busy and creative as we head into winter.

More to come soon . . . 

Catching up a bit . . .

Well, after more than a year, I’m back! Much has happened during that time. I stayed with my cousins until early January 2020, then returned to Edmonton, AB, to stay with my youngest sister. The original plan was to get my last things from the container on my friends’ property and bring it all back to BC to live with the rest of my things (still in storage).

But then came the COVID-19 . . . unlike for many of you, life didn’t change much for me. I began going out only once a month, to shop for basic supplies, wearing a mask, of course. I was lucky that one of the ladies in my crochet group began making them, so I obtained some for me and some for my cousins and a friend of theirs. I never thought I’d see the day, but to me it’s worth it, just a small thing I can do to help others stay safe.

I began a blanket while at my sister’s; unusually for me, it’s black, grey and white. You may remember how much I love colour, but that’s what was available when I was shopping. I only went to the one store, so there weren’t many options. I completed the main body of the blanket, then bought more yarn so I would be sure to have enough to make a wide border. This time, there was a lovely red on offer, so it went home with me! I added a narrow stripe of red on both ends and then began on the border. I’ve not finished that yet, but soon . . . it’s just been too hot here (I returned to BC to my cousins’ in early July) – up to 98.6 F / 37 C on a couple of occasions.

More on the blanket in a bit . . .

When I returned to BC, I drove back with a friend from the crochet group and so was able to bring a few things with me. The rest went into a storage box at the U-Haul in Edmonton for now. And my friends who have been storing my things all this time have offered to store them for a while longer.

I stayed with my friend who brought me back for almost three weeks, just to be on the safe side, and continued wearing a mask when shopping and not doing much of that, either. When living in a ‘tinny home’ as it’s been called, one doesn’t need much; mainly food . . .

I’m living in the motorhome now, since 30 July (MH for now; still haven’t decided on a name for her), which is basically a tin can on wheels, so quite warm, let’s say, at present. And soon to be quite cold, too. The electrical system here won’t support heating on the scale I would need (the breakers blow), so I will be making other plans for the winter. There’s a good chance I’ll be house and pet sitting for at least a couple of months then, possibly more. The same place where I was self-isolating, so the animals know me and it’s truly a lovely home, with a fantastic view of the Enderby Cliffs.

Back to yarny things . . .

I ended up having enough yarn to make a second blanket, which I ought to be working on today. Well, actually, I should be finishing up that border on blanket number one, right?

The blanket uses three of the stitches I love from “Attic24”; Dahlia, Hydrangea and Sweet Pea. The arrangement is all mine.

I began this a couple of weeks ago, then the laptop began acting up after another ‘update’ . . . So, back again, this time typing one-fingered on a tablet. <sigh>

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can add some photos; then I can post this.

Hope you are all doing ok out there and maybe getting stuck into some hobby or other.

Since writing the above, I have almost finished a scarf for the coming winter. I used one skein for each half; last step is to join them with Kitchener Stitch. Once I find my yarn needles . . .

Here’s a photo of the halves:

I’m not fond of artificial fibres, due to their impact on our waterways and the oceans. I really have to get myself a Guppy Friend laundry bag.

The scarf is a simple design (my own) and is over 15″ wide. It will look nice with the new winter jacket and snowpants, both black. The yarn is Lion Brand ‘Scarfie’ and super-soft and snuggly. It’s 20% wool, which I love. I have a third skein and will make a matching touque and possibly a pair of mitts, too.

You know, I like the yarn so much, I’m thinking of making myself a cardi. That would be in the dark green / black mix, though.

No photos with this post, sorry. Just a catch-up . . .

Hello everyone; I’m quite frustrated with trying to use a tablet that’s a combination of touchscreen and keyboard. It’s a great idea, but the technology sure needs a lot of work.

Anyway, I thought I’d touch base here, at least, as it’s been so long since I posted. Uploading photos is very challenging, so I finally decided to just write and to post photos once I’m back in BC and can use the laptop.

This trip has been pretty amazing, although I’ve done little in the way of ‘touristy’ things. Instead, I opted to save up and visit Norway for three weeks. Definitely worth it, as I was able to stand in front of the house where my Mum’s grandfather was born and spent a couple of nights in a bed and breakfast that was the old Priest’s House at that time. He was likely baptized there, as the church burnt down the year before he was born.

In August I moved north from Surrey to a room in Heaton (part of Bradford, Yorkshire) and have been quite happy there ever since. The woman who manages the renting of rooms loves to cook the way I do (meaning that we use recipes as general suggestions and then just ‘wing it’ ) so we take turns cooking and share the meals. We both like spicy middle Eastern flavours, too, so there is often a lot of that going on. I’ll be sharing some of the ‘recipes’ I’ve concocted and some of Karen’s, too, later on. And I’ve adapted a vegan recipe for almond flour chocolate fudgy brownies that are possibly the best I’ve ever made. And a frittata and a couple of varieties of houmous, too.

Just a few days after I arrived here, Karen loaned me a tent and sleeping  bag and one of the owners of the house loaned me a sleeping mat and an emergency blanket (just in case) and I returned to Scotland to see Runrig for the first and last times. Yes, I said ‘times’!! I had a standing/camping ticket that included a campsite and free entry to a Ceilidh on the Friday night plus entry to the last-ever concert on the Saturday night.

My camping neighbours helped me figure out how to set up the tent (no time or space for a trial run beforehand) and then we helped other campers and made new friends as we did so. Then one of their friends came along and they brought him over to meet me. Colin had an extra ticket for the Friday night that he said someone had given him and he was looking to give it away. So yes, he gave it to me!! I gave him a donation for a cancer charity he supports, as I didn’t feel right about having a ticket for free when others had paid so much to be there. And it was worth every minute! So I missed the Ceilidh, which I heard was fabulous, but I got to see Runrig twice!! Something that’s been on my ‘bucket list’ since I first heard them perform on youtube.

The final concert was exactly eleven years previous, to the day, and I’m happy to say that while it did rain a bit, it was nothing like 2007, when it rained all day the day before, all night and then through the day of the concert. People were up to their ankles in mud, although no one left . . .

Anyway, it was all my heart desired it to be. I took photos on the first night with both my ancient iphone (4S, I think, and now they are up to 10 or 12 or something like that); the second night I couldn’t find the iphone, so only used the camera. I found the phone on Sunday when I was packing up, though, luckily for me.

I mention this because at the end of September, I went to Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire. I took plenty of photos the first day with the same camera. On Sunday, as I was sitting on the train heading back again, I was trying to reset the time so it would be accurate. I have no idea what I did wrong, but suddenly  the camera ‘ate’ all the photos on it; over three thousand! Shocking, at the time, as I’m sure you will understand. I had copied some of my photos onto a data stick (the terabyte sized external drive that I brought with me for storage worked perfectly in BC with the laptop, but refuses to talk to the tablet. So I bought a data stick. Downloading three days worth of photos took me nearly ten hours, tying up both the device and the tablet for that time, so I’d been putting off downloading more. Lesson learned, I tell you!

Now at first I was a bit down, to say the least, but then I heard that our friend Wendy’s grand-daughter had passed away and that’s a real loss. I have not felt down about my photos since. I figure that I have my memories and also whatever is on the iphone and that is more than I ever expected to have in this life, so I’m not going to be whinging on about losing my photos. I have felt quite wary ever since, though.

Well, Yarndale, too, was more than I’d hoped for. I met a couple of the bloggers I follow and that was a huge thrill for me. Christine from Winwick Mum and Lucy from Attic 24. Both were beyond kind and took time to chat a bit. I was lucky to meet them at the end of the second day, when the crowds had thinned out. Lucy invited me to attend some of the coffee and handwork meetings that occur at Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton and I will be doing that during the first two weeks of November.

I will post about some of the exhibitors I met (and a couple more bloggers, too) once I’m back in BC. I was very much looking forward to meeting the folks from River Knits UK, but although I visited the booths beside them and across from them, somehow I missed them. I was quite disappointed about that. They are a small family that hand dyes British wool yarns and until recently lived on a narrowboat. Now they have a house and the narrowboat has become the dye studio. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while and wanted especially to see a couple of delicious-looking green yarns.

I’m having a hard time believing that it’s mid-October already and that I have just over three weeks left of this amazing adventure! I will have been here six months less a day when I get back. It hasn’t always been easy and there was a long list of things I’d hoped to do that didn’t materialize, but that’s because I chose to do the things that mattered most to me, which certainly included the time in Norway with my cousin and on the island of Leka (where my great-grandfather and one of his sisters were born). I rather think there will always be items left undone on a list like that and the positives have been so wonderful that I really have few regrets.

I shall be returning to my cousins’ for the rest of the winter and looking for a place of my own, hopefully by late spring or early summer. I hope to buy a second-hand caravan but failing that, to rent something affordable where my storage items can be brought and then gone through. I won’t be keeping most of it, but I do want to enjoy the things I collected for my retirement, at least for a while. And there is plenty of crafting supplies, so life will not be the least bit boring.

I am quite sad to be leaving the UK; it’s been one of the best summers of my life, and I’ve had quite a few great summers in my 70+ years! Just living an everyday life here has been exactly what I both wanted and needed. Time out from all the stresses of the past couple of decades and nothing familiar to trigger sadness, nostalgia, etc.

I’ve made some new friends here and that has been so good, too. I wore my Runrig jacket to Yarndale and met three different people who had been in Stirling for The Last Dance and who stopped me to talk about Runrig. That was most exciting!!

I’d love to return for another visit and next time I’d plan more and have a larger budget. But really, for me the experience of living in another country and just savouring the days and everyday sights has been the best thing ever! I had a similar experience in Mexico City back in 1987, when I was there for a week on my way back from a work-related trip to Costa Rica (the world’s first all-organic foods and products trade show; my boss and I represented four or five Canadian growers) and so I learned that for me, living like a native of another country is one of the most exciting things I can do.

I haven’t done much here, either, but did go with Karen to Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, and that was lots of fun, too. I particularly enjoyed the David Hockney exhibition at Salts Mill, The Arrival of Spring.  That was especially interesting because the paintings were all created on an ipad, then printed out, five feet tall. There were signs saying it was ok to take photos so long as we didn’t use a flash, and I checked and it was true, so I have pictures of some of the images that most spoke to me.

There are a few sites here to visit still, like Lister Park and the art gallery there. So I shall have plenty to write about once I’m settled in BC again. I’m feeling ready to post regularly again, which I think is a good sign.

The other two things are Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, on 05 November and the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, a very important day for me. When I made Peace Poppies for the installation last year, I kept one for myself and I shall be wearing it this year and attending one of the ceremonies, most likely in Bradford.

I haven’t forgotten my 500 winners, either, although I’m sure they think I have. I started and then scrapped several ideas and now I think I’m going to go for something more simple and just get it done.

I’ve been working on a crocheted string bag for Karen these past weeks, I’ve finished my second pair of socks and have decided I like them so much I shall frog back the two pairs of Fair Isle style socks (three of them are up past the ankle, too). But re-making them on 2mm needles will make them both more attractive and longer-wearing. I like darning socks, but have no intention of making it a weekly event! 🙂

I’m knitting a sort of hat now, mostly because I know the cold weather is on its way; we’ve already had one fire and I’ve been using a hot water bottle for weeks now. And two thick duvets! I’m lovely and toasty warm at night, though. So nice!

I’ve done some rock painting and some watercolours, nothing wonderful but plenty of fun as I can sit at my lovely tall window and enjoy the view as I work. I shall be taking a teacher’s advice from when I lived in Victoria, BC. He said to never throw out a watercolour you are not happy with. Instead, cut it into small squares and sort them by colour into envelopes. Once you have enough, use them in collages. I’ve been doing some writing again, too, but nothing spectacular; just that I enjoy the doing.

I walk up to the allotment every few days, taking the bucket of compost material as a contribution. Karen’s friends have the allotment and during the summer we would find a bag of some delicious treat or other on the front door. And so I made the acquaintance of English runner beans . . . I shall be growing these next summer, even if I have to plant them in pots or buckets! Huge and delicious and wonderful in a frittata as well as on their own. If you’ve never tried them, do!

I bought two fresh mackerel when Karen was in New York for three weeks and the new room-mate hadn’t moved in yet (so the fishy smell wouldn’t be a problem; smells from the kitchen rise to the top of the house and we all know how fish lingers for ages . . . I stuffed them very lightly with chopped garlic and basil and fried them in a cast iron pan. Oh my word!! I would eat them every day if I lived here on my own!! And they were quite large, but only one pound each, so a real bargain. It seemed a shame to live here, where fresh fish abounds and in such variety, too, and not to try some at least once. I’d almost forgotten how much I love fresh fish.

When I was in Surrey, a new friend and I drove to Littlehampton and I bought fresh cod fish and chips and we ate them at a table by the beach. Unforgettable!

When I was a child, Dad and sometimes my brothers would bring home brook trout for supper. And when I was a very young Mum, living on South Pender Island (in the Gulf Islands that lie between Vancouver on the mainland and Vancouver Island, the Big Island), we would fish for rock cod at least twice a week (successfully, too!) and bake them whole in a cast iron frying pan. We dug clams and pried mussels off the rocks, too, and those went into chowders that we would eat three meals a day until they were gone, then we’d make another one. Somehow, I have never tired of any food that I love.

I had some excellent fish and chips at my host’s in Surrey, too, and before I go I plan to try a place in Shipley, where we do our grocery shopping. It was highly recommended to me by one of the lovely taxi drivers.

You know, I was warned several times about Bradford before I moved here, but my experiences have all been most positive. Everyone I’ve met has been friendly and helpful and interesting to chat with. So sometimes I think it’s what we bring to an encounter that defines it most.

Well, it’s late now and I’m tired of fixing the typos that occur in nearly every paragraph. I hope I’ve gotten them all out; if not, please forgive me.

I’ve dropped by the blogs written by many of you, sometimes leaving comments, more often just a ‘like’ to show I’ve been by.

I’d love to tell you about this house and the neighbourhood, and so much more, too, but I’ll leave all that for another post. In the meantime, stay warm (or cool, if you’re on the other side of the world). I’ve missed blogging and am really looking forward to resuming on a more regular basis.

Love and Light to each one of you, my friends. You are in my thoughts every day.  ~ Linne

For music, I have only one piece to offer. This is the Tweed Ceilidh band, who played at the Ceilidh I didn’t attend in Stirling. Everyone who did see them loved them!

On other fronts . . .

Hello, my friends! I am sorry I’ve been so neglectful, but life has been full and happy since I last posted. And busy! I’ll be continuing to post about my creative endeavours and all the usual ‘random harvest’ of thoughts and events and activities.

However, I have finally gotten a travel blog up and running. I had great plans (aren’t plans easy? Compared to executing them . . .) and wanted to have two blogs for my travels, one for family and friends and another for my grandchildren and other young people who might be interested. It’s taken me a while to get used to the tablet, though, and to figure out how to handle getting my photos uploaded without doing so one at a time. The tablet’s storage space is small and the little external drive I bought, which worked well with the laptop at home, just won’t talk to the tablet! Grumpy-making, for sure. But I have settled for only uploading the photos I use in a post and not all the photos. Those I am backing up to a 64gig flash drive. These are memories I really don’t want to lose! Anyway . . .

The new travel blog, which has two contributors, Flora (a mini sheep) and Bestemor (me, because that’s what my grandchildren call me). Feel free to visit when you have time and see what I’ve been up to. I’ve only three posts up so far, but will be adding more as time allows. I’m dating in the titles so you will know when stuff was happening, as the posts are not going to be in sequence by time experienced.

If you are interested, go here:  Gypsies: Flora and Bestemor [Another Great Adventure]

I had a marvellous time in Alba (Scotland) and the wedding was perfect! I wore my Meg shawl, too, although it still doesn’t have the finishing touches added. I absolutely love it!

The wedding was in Edinburgh on 18 May and I was able to watch the Royal Wedding the following day on my tablet at the hostel. Posts about all my adventures in Scotland and since then in England will follow.

I have been busy knitting since I arrived (with a little help from wee Flora):

Remember the Clover Colours socks? Well, here they are today:

Yes, they are done (and the yarn ends neatly darned in, too; I refused to allow myself to wear them until that was taken care of. I’m doing my best to mend some of my errant ways). They are SO comfy and I simply love them! No turning back for me, now.

I am beyond grateful to Ms. Snail for her recommendation of using the smallest dpns (2 mm or size zero are what I used) to achieve a dense, cushiony fabric that will wear well and so require darning further into the future. I’ll let you know when I have to make the first mend, but don’t hold your breath . . . for one thing, I’m wearing my cotton socks to work in t stable or field and even around the house if the days are warm.

Because of her recommendation, and after seeing the lovely results (and comparing the socks with the Fair Isle style ones that are still on the needles, I made the drastic decision to do this . . .

. . . yes, on 11 June I frogged the whole sock (well, half a sock, really, as it was just past the heel). And then I picked up my new favourite dpns and . . .

. . . began again. And now, as you can see, both socks are nearly up to the beginning of the heel. I think I have another ten rows or so to knit. And I am on my way to creating a Sock Drawer of my very own.

Another project that I began some years ago began as one of my ‘make it up as you go along’ creations. I had read about a jumper that was begun at one sleeve cuff and knitted across horizontally to the other cuff, increasing and decreasing and leaving openings as one went along. Sounded like fun to me . . . But I was using the yarn I had and it proved to be a bit heavy, considering that I was also working a Fair Isle style design into the sleeve. So in the end I changed my goal and decided this would make an excellent, if unique, knitted bag. The straps are different, as the less decorative one (small upper picture) is meant to be worn next to the body, with the other strap (large picture) worn facing outward.

The spiral piece is crocheted and was created to fill the hole at the bottom of the bag, once the place for a hand to pass through. Yesterday and today I have been:

joining the circle to the opening, using a crochet hook and slipstitches. It’s worked out rather well, I think. When I created the spiral piece I worked alternately with the pink and blue, switching to only pink for the last two rounds. Those two rounds I did not use any increase stitches, so the spiral took on a very shallow basket shape and its ‘wall’ is what I joined to the cast-on row of the former sleeve. I have yet to work in the yarn ends and I still have to decide if I am going to use a button and loop to fasten the two straps together. And what sort of button. And what colour . . . oh, the decisions . . .

And in the meantime . . .

This is young Cassie, a yearling filly and a miniature Gypsy cob. She looks rather wild with her mane blowing about, but is gentle, yet spirited. She is in a field with an older mare, a Thoroughbred and I am lucky in that I am allowed to feed them every morning (I prepare the food in the evenings unless my friend Veronica has already done it. I also get to groom Cassie as well as the two Gypsy cobs and two rescue donkeys in the adjoining field. When I was twelve or thirteen I was as horse-crazy as any young girl and begged for a horse of my own. Not a practical thing for a large family. My parents were sure I would grow out of it. I wonder when that will happen . . .

I also put out cat food for the feral cat here and it has shown itself to me twice  before today.

There is a big adventure (for me, that is) planned for Monday (tomorrow) and I shall have photos and a story to share. When I put out feed for any animal I always make a distinctive sound so that they come to know me and become friendly. With the horses it’s a two-note low whistle. For the cat it’s more of a ps, ps, psss sound. Today it came just after I filled the dish and called it.  And it allowed me to come quite close before retreating to its den under a thick mass of tree branches and shrubbery. But I got a photo first . . .

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This is one of my favourite colourings for cats and I adore long-hairs . . . I hope I get to pet this one before I have to leave.

I’ll be back soon; there is so much more to share with you all. In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful week from Chota Farm:

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Oh, I forgot to mention . . . I’m on Instagram and have been posting a few photos there, if you are interested. Search for Another_Great_Adventure, ask to follow me and I shall grant you entrance! I had some odd people wanting to follow me, so have kept the account private for now. But any of you, my friends, are more than welcome.

It’s too late to search for music, sorry. Maybe next time.

Instagram: Another_Great_Adventure

Travel blog

The Last Two Weeks (but who’s counting?)

That’s right, my friends; last week was pretty busy, so I scrapped the post I’d begun. And now in less than a week I shall be in the air. The changing time zones have me a bit confused at times (pun intended). I do know that when I land in Glasgow sometime close to 9 am on Monday the 14th of May, it will be close to 1 am here in BC.

I’m going to keep this short; I just want to touch base for a few minutes. There may not be any photos; for one thing, I left the battery charger for the camera I’m borrowing) at home, so it was out of energy before we arrived in Princeton and those photos are all of the landscapes on the way down. For another, the cell phone camera was also worn out. I charged it up, then left it in my sister’s car . . .

Catching up: I’ve begun packing up things that will go into my storage unit for six months, in between the various creative activities. Nearly two weeks ago, Cousin S and I went to Vernon and spent close to three hours shifting boxes and bits of furniture in the medium unit so that I could put most of the items from the small unit into it and free up a bit of money. I do wish I’d been able to do it a year ago, but the fire hazard kept us from wanting to breathe deeply or even be outdoors on the bad days. Still, it’s done now. I was quite pleased not to be sore except for the odd twinge here and there, after a couple of years of a very sedentary life.

The three of us went on Sun, Mon & Tues last week and got the job done; a few things had to come here for storage (lawnmower, garbage can, two large pieces of driftwood . . . all hard to pack in a smallish space). So much relief all around. There isn’t much room left in the medium unit, though, so some boxes may end up staying here. I’d hoped to avoid that.

We were in Princeton, BC, for most of three days for our Auntie’s service. It was good to see family again; some I hadn’t seen for over 50 years and some I had heard so many stories about I feel I know them, but we’d never actually met. I am lucky in that I like my out-laws as much as my in-laws! (and I like my in-laws) Most of us met up at the Brown Bridge Pub on the Friday night. I had a glass of dry white wine in honour of my Auntie and a very good bowl of Pad Thai. My Auntie would have loved that evening; she was so outgoing and family-oriented; I like to think she and maybe her siblings, too, were hovering around us that night.

I stayed with my RN sister in her hotel room, so we sat up until 3.30 the first night catching up and talking about a million subjects. That was great!

There was something else great, too: I finally got to meet one of our second cousins from Norway (that means our parents were cousins; in this case, her Dad and my Mum). We hit it off right away; she is so bubbly and energetic and I am quiet and intense most of the time. If I can get to Norway this summer I will definitely be adding a visit with Tove to my list. Even better, I was telling her about the upcoming Great Adventure and when I mentioned a concert in August, she asked about the band. I was SO surprised (and excited) to learn she knows Runrig and one of her close friends from Germany will be at the same concert! Runrig is huge in Germany and Denmark and their concerts sell out quickly in both countries. Anyway Tove is putting me in touch with her friend and perhaps we will be able to meet up.

The service was held in a very small church and it was nearly full, mostly with family, who came from the coast, from Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with Tove from Norway. A few of Auntie’s friends came, too, including the ladies who ate with her at the assisted living place that was her last home. Lunch was provided by the Church Ladies in the traditional fashion; a great variety of sandwiches followed by a marvellous selection of baked goodies. I do love the old ways!

Later we went up to our cousin L’s place to hang out in the house and backyard and later to enjoy a barbeque. More visiting, of course.

The next morning, we were invited back to cousin L’s place for brunch. There was not only plenty of food left from the barbecue, there was an entire Seven-Layer Salad that had been forgotten in one of the grandson’s travel trailer! I’d forgotten how delicious those are.

We left Princeton and Tove came with us as far as Kelowna, where we found a hotel for her not too far from the airport, as she was flying home Sunday morning. the long ride gave us time for more visiting and sharing of stories. Her grandfather Paul was our grandfather’s brother. He and his family also came to Canada, but stayed only a few years; his wife was very homesick and they went back to Norway.

Crafty activities: I’ve been working on the Clover socks every spare chance I’ve had, mostly in the car en route to Vernon or Salmon Arm for shopping. Pictures coming soon (or after I get to Scotland lol). I’m not a fast knitter and now I’m on the ribbing, so that’s even slower. But I’m pretty pleased with them!

Since arriving home on Saturday I have completed the two ends for my moss green Meg shawl, found a pattern for a rectangular panel, made that and joined the three parts. Today I will work on the border for a bit.

There has been much other craftiness going on here, too, but I’ll leave that for another post.

I was very excited to stop in Armstrong on one of our trips to Vernon and pick up some Great Britain Pounds Sterling; I haven’t even taken time to admire them; just packed them up right away. A first for me . . .

I am nearly finished Jon Sayer‘s Batdig and still enjoying it thoroughly. I’ve rationed myself quite strictly, but do want to finish it before I leave. I really need to know how it all turns out! I’ve enjoyed finding an in-joke or two along the way, but I’m not telling you where; you’ll have to read it for yourself. The second book, Kirkenes Blue, will be waiting for me when I return. A side note: my cousin Tove happened to mention Kirkenes during one of our conversations, so I showed her the books.

Well, the last time I began a post and waited to add photos and music, it ended up retiring to my drafts folder, so I am simply going to publish this as is.

I hope to post again before I leave; if not, I shall have time in the evenings, I expect, once I am in Glasgow. All of you are in my thoughts, whether I post or not.

Edit: I just remembered the music I had planned to share once this Auntie was gone. So here it is, as I remember my own Mum, Dad, Aunties and Uncles: Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin singing (in the film A Prairie Home Companion, which I love) Goodbye to my Mama

Have a wonderful May; for many reasons, it’s always been an inspiring month for me.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was one of my earliest favourite poets and I still have the book of his poetry which I bought while I was at Uni back in the mid-60s; it was the first book of poetry I bought for myself. When I think of May, I think of this poem:

Spring

A Sad Day . . .

I haven’t posted much recently; just getting ready for the Great Adventure and all that.

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Taken at lunch during my visit in August, 2017

But this morning I had a phone call from my RN sister to let me know that our last Auntie passed away today at 6.35 am, in the hospital. One of her daughters and one of her sons were with her and it was peaceful, which is good. She went into hospital last Thursday with a bit of pneumonia in the bottom of one lung as well as feeling very tired. She has had a bit of a heart condition for some time. She would have been 93 next month and we are all lucky to have had her in our lives for so long. I spoke with her on the phone nearly every night since I went to Tacoma and the calls were always different. We shared such a variety of interests and life experiences. Plus she had so many stories to tell about her youth, growing up with my Mum and the rest of her family.

All the women in our family did some sort of handcraft; the doily was made by this Auntie, the bit of blue is a detail from a small afghan made for her by my Aunty in Edmonton and the runner on her dresser was woven by my Mum. The wee wooden sign is typical of the humour enjoyed by all our family and especially the women . . .

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This is a photo of a photo. I took the original when she was visiting Mum and me at Mum’s house in Edmonton, so back before 2006. The china cabinet belonged to Mum and Dad and held a few of Mum’s keepsakes. The wooden plant stand to the right was made by my Dad, who could make pretty much anything. The rocking chair is the one that belonged to my Great-Grandmother, mother of my maternal Grandmother who died in her early 40s. My Great-Grandmother, my Mum’s Aunts, my Mum and myself have all rocked in this chair, holding our babies. It was located in one of Mum’s Uncle’s basement in pieces and my Dad lovingly restored it. The tooled leather seat is the original; the only new bit is one arm spindle, which was missing. Dad made a new one that matches so well it’s hard to identify which it is.

IMG_1918This pitcher belonged to that same Great-Grandmother, who helped to raise the younger kids after their mother died. I heard so many stories about her as I was growing up. The girls, especially, would stay with her for a week or so in the summer and if they were very good during the day, the big treat was being allowed to brush Grandma’s hair before she braided it and got ready for bed. It’s hard for me to imagine a child finding that to be a treat these days.

One of my favourite stories from the days when mum and her siblings were growing up was of the time Mum’s next older sister (Mother to the cousin I’m currently living with and married to my Dad’s next older brother), Mum and this Auntie were up on the roof of what was called the bunkhouse. In the summer, the boys slept there and all the kids played there at times. The main house had one bedroom, which was the parents’, a kitchen off the main living room, where the six girls (one had died at age 10) shared two double beds and the three boys slept on a pull-out bed in winter, when the bunkhouse was too cold. Anyway, the three girls were up on the roof hammering some shingles back on (they had blown off in one of the frequent storms of the ’30s). This Auntie was a few years younger and not so obedient as her sisters might have wished. She was sitting there and reading a book, deaf to all entreaties that she help with the job. So the other two worked right up to her, hammered a nail or two through the leg of her shorts and went on to finish the job. Then they climbed down and took away the ladder, with this Auntie seeming oblivious to everything and immersed in her book. Of course, it wasn’t long before she went to get up and discovered her predicament. I gather she raised quite a fuss before they relented, brought back the ladder and set her free again. This was a cross-stitch kit that Mum had. You will see on the roof of the wooden bridge (meant to represent the bunkhouse, of course) that there are two ‘M’s, actually Scorpio signs, I think. Anyway, they were what Mum had to hand and she stitched them on as symbols for herself and this Auntie, as both their names began with ‘M’. This story still makes me smile.

 

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Also taken during my visit in August

This Auntie and one of her brothers went to Norway almost exactly 20 years from when I am going to the UK. They were there for the big 17 May celebration, Constitution Day. They went to Lillehammer and saw the house where their father was born and lived, I think until he and two brothers emigrated when he was nineteen. I have been told that we still have family living in that house, although the cousins my Aunt and Uncle visited are now gone.

They also went to Trondheim. Their Mother was born there or near to there and the family lived in the area until they emigrated in 1900. My Grandmother was only nine at the time. While in Trondheim, my Auntie and Uncle met the minister of the Nidaros Cathedral and got to walk down the aisles and sit in one of the pews. We think the family may have attended church there.

My Auntie was only one year older than I am when she made that trip, which encourages me. She spoke so often of wishing she could make one more trip back and even though we both knew it was not possible, we would pretend it was and talk of where we would go and what we would do. I told her she would have to be prepared to camp out at the rock concert but that there would be a Ceilidh the night before and she could dance at that and then again during the concert (my ticket is for standing, not for a seat). She loved to dance so much and would have had a wonderful time. I told her that I would take her with me in spirit and would visit on my return so she could see my photos and hear my stories. I wish with all my heart that was still possible. We talked sometimes of the fact that she might die while I was away or even before and had an agreement that if so, she would accompany me even though I would not see her. I truly hope that is possible.

I am so glad that the last words we exchanged before she went to hospital and again while she was there (during a short conversation on my cousin’s mobile) were “I love you so much.”

She ‘kidnapped’ me once when I was new and I shall share that story another time. In spite of the inevitability of this day, I still feel sad. But she was ready to go and I am also content. It was the passing she wanted and what more can any of us ask for?

Only a little music for today:

Sissel Kirkjebo of Norway singing Going Home

and Runrig of Scotland singing their own Going Home

Take care of yourselves, my friends. You are in my heart today especially.

The Dancing Goes On . . .

You’ll need a large cup of tea or whatever you fancy, and possibly something edible, too. This is rather long, even for me . . . my excuse is that I’m making up for the long gap between posts. But even if I posted regularly, I’m not sure I’d be much better at brevity.

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There was a lovely parcel in the mail for me on the 2nd of March and the photo above shows what was in it (along with a lovely note). Back before Christmas, Ms. Snail of The Snail of Happiness blog had a give-away to celebrate her 1000th post. I was one of the winners and this package contains my prize. And what a prize it is!

Of course, it arrived the day after my eye surgery, so it was a while before I could properly appreciate the contents. But I have had a quick browse through the cookbook “Free Food for Rats” (although I still haven’t found an explanation for the title, which I find both endearing and intriguing) and it is SO my sort of thing. Ms. Snail had no way of knowing that I have a small collection of cookbooks of very eclectic sorts and that this will be very treasured and used for the rest of my days. My cookbooks, of course (and 99.9% of my other books), are still in the storage units and likely to remain there for another year, but I am enjoying browsing through this one and planning future feasts. The author is a friend of the Snails and that adds to its appeal for me.

This is my first cookbook with seven recipes whose names begin with ‘X’; there are many Asian (from China, Malaysia & Indonesia) recipes here. Also some family recipes from Germany; along with recipes from France & Spain, Holland and Wales.

I love the anecdotes that accompany the recipes, sharing where the dish was first eaten, who made it for her, or other details that I yearn for, being a person who loves plenty of ‘background’ to anything and everything.

But when I read the recipe for ‘Kota Bharu Special’ and saw that the ingredients included “a large knob of butter,  2 handfuls of dessicated coconut and 1 handful of caster sugar”, I knew this would become one of my favourite cookbooks. This is cooking as my foremothers knew it, more art and less science lab and all the better for it in my opinion.

The other two books are equally special to me; for one thing, they are Mr. Snail’s first two novels, for another, the covers captivated me even before I opened them. On the back of the first book, “Batdig” (whose meaning and origins I have yet to discover) are these words:

Twelve People
Eleven yellow packages
One destination

AT 9.25, EVERYTHING CHANGES

The first twelve chapters introduce us to twelve characters, and each (I’m assuming, as I’m only up to person 3 so far) is given a mysterious package wrapped in yellow plastic and told to deliver it to a destination near St. Paul’s Cathedral at 9.25 am.  I like the cover design very much, as it resembles the yellow packages and includes silhouettes of the Cathedral.

By the time I’d read the first three pages, I was captivated. I’m not the easiest audience to captivate, either, as I’ve read thousands of books in my life and many of those were mysteries or mystery/thrillers. I wish I could read more quickly, but my near vision is not up to the task and I still haven’t located my glasses (well, to be honest, I haven’t put much time into searching; I’ve been busy with other things, as you will see shortly). I am reading two or three pages most days, though, and I have to say that I love Mr. Snail’s style very much. The characters I’ve met are quite real to me already and I’m very eager to discover what happens to them all once I’ve met the rest of the cast.

The second novel I haven’t begun, as I prefer to read an author’s works in the order they are published, as a rule, anyway. It is titled “Kirkenes Blue” and again I have no idea why (yet!). On the back it says:

In the polar night:
A Librarian afraid of the dark
A Policeman afraid of the light
A Hacker who collects kicksleds

Together, they can destroy the Web

Now I don’t know about you, but for me those are nearly irresistible words. Especially ‘kicksleds’ (I haven’t googled that yet). However I am resisting them until I am finished exploring “Batdig”.  I’ll let you know what I learn (well, some, anyway; I don’t like to spoil a good book for a potential reader) at some time in the future. Stay tuned . . .

i have continued to make progress with the first of the red pair of wool socks; it is now above the ankle and I have suspended work while I decide whether or not to add a design next and, if so, what exactly. I have some ideas, though. I am still not too happy with the shape of the toe, but that’s ok; I’ve only recently begun knitting socks again, after a hiatus of some decades. The other thing I’m not happy about are the stitches at the sides of the heel, where I was to pick up both a wrap and the stitch the wrap encircles at the same time. If you have never knitted socks with this technique, just ignore this paragraph. I’m not competent to explain the procedure adequately. I shall likely shape the second sock in the same way, just to keep them similar, and in any case, my feet will be warm and the offending bits should be safely out of sight in my shoes. 🙂

The shawl I plan to wear to the wedding on 18 May is coming right along and I am more than happy with it. But, as usual for me, I am not following the pattern to the letter. I decided that the shawl, for whatever reason, is a bit shorter than I’d thought it would be. So I have taken the second skein of wool and wound it into a ball and have been busy crocheting a second triangle, which will form the other half of the shawl once they are joined together. This way I can continue to increase until I gauge I have enough left to complete the border and the dangly bits. And I am toying with the idea of ordering a third skein, just in case I decide to make it longer than the yarn allows. I could use the leftover yarn to make a pair of fingerless gloves or a small hat or . . .

Our meals here continue to be simple and yet amazingly delicious. These photos are of the pizza we had for dinner several nights a couple of weeks ago. Cousin M and I helped with the veggie chopping and Cousin S put it all together after she made the crust. She is very precise in her work, as you can tell. And the results are lovely as well as tasty.

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We went to Vernon just over a week ago and I loved the sight of these frozen ‘waterfalls’ along the highway. We went again a few days ago and most of them are melted and gone.

These will likely be the last pictures of huge piles of snow, as temperatures have been above freezing in the daytimes and even here in our narrow valley, or whatever it should be called, it’s beginning to feel as though Spring is really on its way. I love the smell of the damp earth as it’s revealed to us again. And in spite of the amount of snow remaining (and it’s entirely possible we shall have more before it’s gone forever), I found myself itching to get out and plant things . . .

The willows are beginning to colour up and we have spotted pussywillows and catkins here and there, too. Spring, indeed! But not yet . . . You can see the puddles in the road just south of our place, and that’s not entirely a good sign. We had minimal flooding here last year, but the year before the car had to be parked out on the road and Cousin S couldn’t get to it for work until she had a new pair of wellies brought to her. a few days later, the water was so deep it was higher than the boots. The water came up to the top of the bottom step of the porch that year, partly thanks to a neighbour a few houses away. A renter, he had filled in the ditch outside his place a year or so earlier (flooding doesn’t happen every year and it never occurred to him that it might happen one day).

All the other residents along this part of the road put in larger culverts under their driveways, but this one owner refused, so when there is a lot of snow, the water backs up and floods properties ‘upstream’ from there. When it floods the road, the highway maintenance people come out and deal with it, but otherwise, it’s every person for themselves, apparently. We are hoping for a gradual melt this year, but are prepared to face whatever comes.

The bottom photo is of Mount Ida, taken on a sunny day from outside our grocery store at the Uptown location.

Cousin M got up on the roof and pushed most of the snow off. When I looked out mu window later, I thought the lumps resembled giant sugarcubes and took these photos to remind me later. They are about a foot and a half on each side.

Baked potato, salad and steak cubes one night, Quinoa, salad and the rest of the steak another night. I’m the only one who eats quinoa here, but I’m using up my supplies of ‘odd foods’ before I go away. Quinoa, brown basmati rice, oat flour (although I use that in my scones now and they are quite delicious, if I do say so myself). I think there is still soem buckwheat and the like to use up, too.

As I was wiping my runners off one day I noticed these lovely astilbe plants in the snow right beside the front porch and took a couple of photos. The silhouettes are so delicate against the snow, aren’t they?

On the second trip to Vernon the cousins were going to shop for a new computer and dropped me off at Fabricland to browse for a bit. I hadn’t been aware there was a rack of remnants quite near to the door, but this time it caught my eye. The pictures at the bottom right are of the first fabric that caught my eye; then I chose several others that co-ordinate quite nicely. And then I saw the black strip with the floral design . . . I have been thinking of what to do with it. I’m reluctant to cut it up and I’m thinking it may make an interesting scarf. I tied it around my neck to see if that might work. Of course, it wouldn’t be worn over the red and black lumberjack shirt . . . 🙂  Serger thread was on sale, so I purchased four spools of that, too. And then I spotted the knitting needles. Double-pointed sock needles in sets of five, my preference. And for only $4.00 CAD with 40% off at the till because I have a membership. Very nice and most irresistible . . . They are already in sue, too, as you will see shortly.

The larger picture above is of an old farmhouse that I love looking at when we go by. Just what I’d love to have (well, one of the types I’d love to have; I have rather eclectic tastes in houses, too). The smaller pictures are of the barn and the farmhouse that are now owned and lived in (the house, not the barn lol) by another cousin, the daughter of my Dad’s oldest brother. We lived across the road in a motel when I was seven and we had just moved up here from the coast. It belonged to another family then. Later, my uncle and aunt bought it and raised their daughter there. I worked for them one summer picking strawberries in the front field. The house has had a couple of rooms and a large porch added across the front, so it took me a while to recognize it when I first returned here. It just didn’t match my memories. In those days it was simple brown shingles outside, similar to the house in the larger picture.

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I have been doing a bunch of small tasks as I prepare for my trip; here you can see the rosemary and lavender that I grew in a large planter last summer. I had sage, too, but we needed sage for the Christmas turkey stuffing, so I offered it up . . . most years Cousin M simply digs some out from under the snow, but this year we’ve had more than usual of the white stuff. Back in late summer, I chopped a good handful of these three and infused them in a mixture of oils to create my own hair oil. I’ve used it on my hair a few times and am more than pleased with the results.

I apply a few teaspoons of the oil to my hair, then sit in a very hot tub for about an hour, after which I wash the oil out using the “No ‘Poo” method, which involves washing the hair with warm water and some baking soda, then rinsing with warm water and a bit of vinegar. This gives hair a lovely soft finish and a bit of shine, too. The oil is meant to give a bit of natural colour, but I haven’t used it enough to say if that works or not. I’m considering making a hair rinse with vinegar and water and some of the above herbs chopped finely into it. If I do, I’ll let you know how it works.

Progress on plans for the trip has been quite satisfying, too. I have now booked two nights in the Tartan Lodge Hostel in Glasgow for my first two nights in Scotland. This will give me a day in between to walk about and see the sights. One thing I really want to see, whether I can see inside it or not, is the Barrowland Ballroom. Some memorable concerts have taken place there, including a few with Runrig, and it’s possible that Cousin M’s Dad might have gone there while he was stationed in Scotland during the war. For the first part of his service he was in a forestry outfit and stationed on a great estate. I don’t remember the name just now, but will find out before I leave.

GLA Tartan Lodge Hostel 01

http://www.tartanlodge.co.uk/pictures.html

That’s the Tartan Lodge Hostel above and the Barrowland Ballroom below.

GLA Barrowland Ballroom 01

I’m including a video from December, 1989, when Runrig played here. At about 2 minutes in, you can see some historic footage of the original Barrowland Ballroom, full of people dancing. (there are some nice shots of the MacDonald brothers, too, runnning in one segment and further on working on a sheep farm along with a lovely Border Collie). There are some interviews with fans, too, including one girl from Germany who says she saw them 27 times, in four countries, that year.

I shall check out early on the 16th of May and catch a train to Edinburgh, about an hour and a half away. If the trains have been held up due to rain, which apparently happens at times, I will have to take a bus. The train would be more comfortable, I think, especially since I will have both a large suitcase and a backpack.

There is a lunch planned for the 16th for all the wedding guests who are coming from overseas and I’m looking forward to that, too. I know the bride’s parents and sister, as well as some of her friends, from when she and I worked together at Lewiscraft in Edmonton.

I shall be staying at the High Street Hostel in Edinburgh for six nights in all, so I shall have time to see a few sights. Apparently the hostel is walking distance from Edinburgh Castle, with Arthur’s Seat next to it, and a few other places of interest, including the statue of Greyfriars Bobby; I read about this faithful dog as a child and since, too, and it will be thrilling to see the statue for myself.

EDI High Street Hostel 01

http://www.highstreethostel.com/

The Royal wedding is on the day after my friends’ wedding, so I will not be in London for that, unfortunately. Still, I have been told that many of the pubs will show it on their tv sets and that there are likely to be street parties that evening. I shall see how rowdy it is, but I may venture out for a bit just to be part of the fun.

Remember I said I’d bought two more sets of sock needles? In size ‘0’, by the way, which is 2mm in size. I read in a post by Ms. Snail that if socks are knitted on smaller needles and also more tightly, they wear better and so won’t need darning as quickly. So here is what those two sets are doing now:

This is the latest in my sock creations and so far the ones I am happiest with. The yarn is Kroy sock yarn, so washable, and the colour is a variegate called “Clover Colours”. I fell in love with the colours back when I ordered the moss green wool for the shawl for the wedding.

The balls are very dis-similar in colour (as you may be able to see from the first photo), so it’s not possible to make a pair of matched socks, well, not exactly, anyway.  I found a way around that, though. What I have done is to pull the yarn from inside to begin one sock and use the yarn from the outside for the second. It’s working out even better than I’d hoped. I found a different pattern to work from, too, so I’m more pleased with the toes. In future, I shall begin with more stitches so as to have a more usual rounded toe instead of the point. I’d forgotten how addictive sock knitting can be; now I see that one day not far off I shall have my own ‘sock drawer’, full of handmade knitted socks.

I’ve saved the best news for last: I now have a ‘home base’ from which to make as many smaller journeys as I can manage. I will be staying with a friend of my friends in Tacoma. He owns property in Surrey, south of London. So I shall likely see more of the ‘Big Smoke’ than I expected, an added bonus.

I will be returning to Canada in late October or early November, not staying for a year or more as I had hoped. One of my incomes would be stopped if I were away over six months and I can’t manage at present without it, so I shall simply have to pack everything in that I possibly can before I have to come back. I find it rather ironic that I must live here even when there is currently a near-zero vacancy rate and what little is offered to rent now has sky-high prices. But that’s how it is, for now. So the long-term plans continue to morph and that’s fine with me.

There is more news about one planned trip, but I shall save that for another post. It’s getting late here and I have to be up early, as I’m having my right eye measured in the morning in preparation for the second surgery. I’m feeling quite positive about this one, as the one week exam showed that I have regained 90% of my sight in the left eye and in early May I shall have laser treatment to remove the remaining cloudiness. So in the end, I shall probably have sight better than I’ve had most of my life.

Now, let’s have a little music, shall we?

Faileas Air An Airigh sung by Rory MacDonald (and the rest of Runrig) with the Glasgow Islay Gaelic Choir. The title translates as “Shadow on the Sheiling”. A Sheiling is a rough hut or shelter used by those herding cattle or sheep in more remote pastures.
The lyrics translated into English:

There’s a shadow on the sheiling
A shadow on the sheiling
The ship is waiting at the head of the bay
Early on a May morning

The sun of our memory is rising
The sun of our memory is rising
Walking the streets of foreign countries
And the cities of another era

The evening is calm and the skies are warm
The sun is in the west, a great ball of gold
The ocean is like a mirror, blue without blemish
And great is my desire to be in Uist with you

We will lift up our voices
We will lift up our voices
Although I am now so far from you
We will never sever

And here are Runrig singing An Ubhal As Airde with the Bethany Choir in Harlem, NY, USA. The title means “The Highest Apple”. Runrig were in New York as part of a charitable concert after 9/11.

The Highest Apple
The garden is well stocked
With mighty trees
With fruit growing for the whole world
Ripe, sweet
And bitter apples
And the one apple
That is beyond reach

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Who amongst us
Can exist a single day
Beyond our own time and our own limits
Countless and futile
Are times I’ve climbed
To reach and taste
The forbidden fruit

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Last, something different.
One of my favourite violin pieces is this: Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins
featuring Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzach Perlman, conducted by Daniel Barenboim
My youngest son played this with his closest friend and it brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Enjoy the good in the world and know that the rest will pass . . . I think of you all as I knit and first thing in the morning most days, too.

Happy Dances!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hello, my friends! I do hope February  is treating you well so far; not too cold (or hot) and all that. And I also hope you are finding consolation and joy in the indoor time, with  handcrafts to do and with cooking and baking keeping your home warm and cosy (and smelling delectable!). We’ve had all that and more; as you can see from the photo, there was a birthday here (not mine) and Cousin S and I made the birthday boy smile with our creative approach . . .

That’s certainly the case here, with the snow still coming and the snow-blower piling it up in great heaps.

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But I have been quite happy being indoors. Yesterday I finally !! finished darning in the yarn ends on the two tuques and then I handwashed and sort of blocked them. I say ‘sort of’ because the yarn is acrylic (I know!!) and doesn’t block well. But I think I worked out the larger part of the ‘ruffling’ at the crown. For now I have given up on finishing the matching scarf for my sister. I have run into or created challenge after challenge and what began as a rather fun thing is now more cumbersome than anything. I’ll finish it; just not sure when.

And so, finally! I have sent off the tuques to my sister, along with a birthday card and a wee gift. I didn’t take a photo of it, but I’ve shared that before here: it’s the dark green tea cosy I knitted when we were in Edmonton the summer of 2016.

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Knitted Tea Cosy

The cosy will cover our Aunty’s teapot, which I gave to my sister. We were both close to our Aunties and this sister has Aunty’s medium sized Brown Betty teapot.  Her birthday was in January, but I think she’ll enjoy receiving a package even when it’s a bit late.

I left the tuques unwrapped so she could see them herself and then wrap them, so I included some wrapping  paper and red yarn. They are a gift from both of us, after all.

I was on a bit of a high after getting the tuques done, so today I (also finally !!!)  finished the patterned end of the five foot long scarf I was completing for my friend in Tacoma. It was meant to be a Christmas present for her husband in 2016. Today I not only finished the pattern and end, I closed off the end with Kitchener stitch. You knitters will know what I mean. For the rest of you , Kitchener Stitch is a way of joining two pieces of ‘live’ knitting (i.e., still on the needles) by using a yarn needle and the tail end of the yarn to create a row of ‘knitting’ between them, making them seem to be one continuous piece of knitting. I have pictures to show how it looks: the top right photo shows the end of the scarf. I still have to  join the other end, the one where I began. It feels good to have the pattern section finished! My friend J knitted nearly all of the middle section and I did the patterns, so it’s been a joint project. When I put the scarf around my neck, it hangs down just past my waist on both sides, and I’m quite tall.

Saturday, 17 February

My, how the time has flown! I am still busy, but enjoying it, too. I have always been rather ‘all or nothing’ in some ways, which is probably not the best thing to be. Still . . . the two groups I am participating in on facebook have been very helpful in getting me back on track in regard to working on myself and changing my life. It might have been a bit crazy to volunteer to post the daily exercises for the first group, but I found it such a helpful focal point when someone else did it in January and I was hoping that ‘someone’ would do it for those of us who continued through February. And I’ve always said that if you think ‘someone’ should do something, the best place to find them is in the mirror . . . and then I signed up for this week’s sewing group . . . Well, that is a good thing, I think. But everything is taking longer than usual, with glare bothering my eyes  at times. And the worktable that I use is shared with the cousins. They are planning to replace the carpet in the addition with laminate flooring, so Cousin M has been packing up his lovely collections of antiques and family pieces in preparation. But he only needs the table at times, so I’ve been able to use it, too.I cut out two sets of pieces for the cute little Gnome jacket a couple of days ago, then realized that I had cut out the pieces for the outers, but not the lining pieces. The jacket can be reversible, but I have decided to make it one-way. I’m using cotton fabric for the outer and flannelette for the inner. Nice for a 3 month old, don’t you think? I shall have to make a 6 month size, too; I am expecting another grandchild in April and I doubt that a jacket will be used much before autumn. I won’t post photos that aren’t mine, so here is a link if you’d like to see some pictures of this cute Gnome Jacket.

Yesterday I printed out the pattern pages for the Shirtzie for myself and got them taped in the right sequence. PDF patterns are great, but they are taking me a bit to get used to! I am using patterns from Stitch Upon A Time and I’ve been buying them for a while but this is the first I’ve actually done anything with so far. I was going to make the Brazi with a long waist, but finally realized the Shirtzie would be similar, but with sleeves. I still haven’t decided which length I want. You can see photos of the Shirtzie if you click on the link.

I will be adapting the top, though. I don’t like having a contrasting band, so I will use the same material and extend the band downward to make a longer waist, similar to the yellow top of one of the dresses.  Then I can wear it with jeans as well as the skirt. I will have longer sleeves, too; it’s going to be cool for much of the time I’m away. The skirt will be as close to a circle skirt as I can manage with two metres of this fabric:

I have ordered some more stretch knit fabric from Purple Seamstress Fabrics in California. I think I told you another time about the ‘Fearless Dreamer’ fabric I bought from her with the co-ordinating Jade solid for the outer layer.

fearless dreamer fabric

Fearless Dreamer fabric!

Mel is wonderful and I love the service! I ordered the Evergreen colour this time, as I need something that will work with the floral that is destined to become a circle skirt or as close to that as I can manage. I wanted it too set off the Meg shawl as well. And I ordered some power mesh; it will make the top more flattering for someone my age. Mel lets customers start a ‘pile’ and will hold it for up to two weeks, which gives one time to add a little something else. Now who would do that?  🙂

Getting ready to cut out the Gnome pieces, I pulled all the cotton pieces out of the closet and was surprised (I’m not sure why; this is nothing new for me, trust me!) to see what  a large pile of fabrics I’d amassed since I returned here last May. I was planning to make some dolls, but circumstances and working conditions weren’t easy to fit together and I tend to be easily discouraged by some things. Or I used to be; not so much these days!

The top left corner picture is the newest, flannelette, fabrics; the photo in the bottom right corner is the older fabrics, some of which I bought in Tacoma, but most of which I accumulated here. I think there are still some dolls in my future . . . and several Gnomes.

I’m in a bit of a hurry to get the first two Gnomes stitched up, but the skirt and top can wait a bit; I have finally gotten a date for the surgery on my left eye (to remove the cataract) and it’s set for 01 March. Less than two weeks away now! I’m not happy about having to have a fixed lens, but the ophthalmologist doesn’t recommend the new flexible ones and besides, they cost over a thousand dollars at present. So I shall see how my vision is after the surgery and may opt to put off surgery on the right eye. I’ve been using some alternative treatments, but the left eye cataract is the hardest the doctor had ever seen, he said, so maybe I should have begun some time ago. But it wasn’t possible earlier. Still, it isn’t the end of the world.

Today I cut out the inner parts for the two Gnomes and it took me about two hours. I’m slow with the new rotary cutter, but I can tell I’m getting more comfortable with it all the time. The thought of cutting into the knit fabrics is still a bit daunting, but I can practise on the XXL Tshirts, so it should be all right in the end. (yes, I know . . . if it isn’t all right, then it isn’t the end . . . LOL)

Tomorrow (actually later today; it’s after midnight on the morning of the 17th) I shall pack up the tuques with a note about the patterns, the tea cosy I made for my sister to use on our Aunty in Edmonton’s teapot. I gave her the teapot because she drinks tea and I more often drink coffee, and I have the antique coffeepot that belonged to Aunty as well. We both loved her and I thought my sister should have the pot. I was making the cosy for fun for myself and I offered to make my sister one in blue, her (and Aunty’s) favourite colour (this one is dark green, a favourite for our Mum and myself), but she liked the green one, so it will be on its way, too. And a birthday card; she had her birthday toward the end of January.

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Now, in the midst of all this finishing up of old projects and beginning of new ones, you are probably wondering what has happened to the ornaments project for the winners on my 500th blog post contest? Quite understandable, really. Well, I have to tell you, I have begun and scrapped three sets of ideas and now have settled on the PERFECT one! It’s based on an idea that’s been percolating  around in my brain for a couple of years, just waiting to be brought forth into the world. I think you will like it when you see it. I have not bought anything new for this; it’s a scrap-happy project, which I love.

I am not going to post this just now. For one thing, I haven’t added pictures and I have plenty to add! For another, it takes me  time to find the right music and I do love to do that. And, lastly, I want to get to bed and get up early tomorrow. I had begun getting up at 6.30 am because I am back to my morning routine after quite a long time of hit and miss practise; mostly ‘miss’ and occasionally ‘hit’. I did well with the new programme for a while, then one night was up too late, up in the night for long periods, then slept in. That took me right back to where I had been for so long. But the early stages of learning to walk is mostly composed of falling down, so no worries; I’m simply resolved to succeed and will be out of bed early again tomorrow morning. I keep reminding myself that in less than three months I will be getting up just after midnight here, because Scotland is eight hours ahead of us. So. back on all of my various wagons . . .

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Especially this one! LOL

23 February 2018

Sorry this has taken me so long; life continues to be a bit busy.

Updates:

I tried stitching the Gnomes, but have not succeeded yet.  Cousin S’ machine has several new features (to me) and I needed help getting the bobbins threaded and then the needle. Then the thread pulled out of the needle three times and I needed her to thread it for me each time. Quite frustrating for someone who is used to doing for herself and for others.  So I’m planning to pick up my glasses from the Vernon storage next time we go. Tomorrow if weather permits, but it’s been snowing even more and that may continue through the weekend. below you can see the gradual buildup of snow on the porch roof just outside my bedroom window. The first photo was taken last November, the last one this morning.

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In the meantime, though, I have continued to get pieces ready for the ‘500’ prizes; assembly may have to wait until after the surgery a week from today. I’m hoping that seeing things like sewing machine needles will be easier then.

However, I have two more pieces of news:

I have finally begun the Meg shawl! Here are images of the first skein after I opened it up, the label, the first ball of yarn wound, then the shawl in its various stages to date. I added two close-ups, as the colour in my photos isn’t true. The darker colour is more what it looks like in real life; the lighter shows off the stitches a bit more. I did have to frog it back a few times, until I got the hang of it. Counting the DTRs  (UK terms) accurately has made a great deal of difference, of course.

LOL I am loving this pattern SO much! The finished shawl is meant to be about 9.5 feet from end to end. I am a quarter of the way now and it’s measuring 18 inches, which means it will come to 6 feet. Possibly due to the fact that I am using a smaller hook than called for; I crochet fairly loosely and it looks better now. Still, there is a border and I expect the shawl will stretch a bit. I’m considering ordering another skein and using the leftover yarn to make a matching tuque or maybe fingerless gloves.

And now, a news flash: my wonderful package has arrived!

There is a story behind this package . . . I ordered some yarn back at the end of October. I had planned to enter a contest for a crocheted square based on a faerytale of my choice. I knew just the one and spent some time selecting colours I thought would work. I placed my order. Then I went back to look at the contest rules and realized I’d missed an essential step: the colour range was given! And not many I had ordered were in that range. Oh, well . . . I decided to go ahead and simply design my own entire blanket, documenting each step so that, if it turned out as planned, I might offer the pattern for sale.

But the package took a very long time to arrive . . . no worries, though. I hadn’t asked for it to be sent Express Post or any other expensive route and I’m patient as a rule, AND I did have a few other things to do in the meantime. but by January I began to wonder . . . so I emailed Wool Warehouse and enquired as to when I might expect my order. They were very glad to hear from me as they’d had a computer glitch that resulted in some orders’ payment being accepted, but the orders themselves not finding their way to the warehouse. Hence they were not picked and mailed. I worked as Promotions Manager for a warehouse back in the day, so I understood very well. Unfortunately, they were out of one of the colours so I opted to wait until they could send the entire order. As I said, I had other things to do in the meantime.

Cousin M brought it home and, without telling me, simply put it on the dinig table where I sit at meals. What a wonderful surprise! I was so excited to see what was inside; choosing colours is most important to me and choosing from a laptop screen isn’t as satisfactory to me as choosing something I can see and hold in my hand. But I trusted Lucy of Attic24’s recommendation of the yarn itself and I ordered a colour chart for future reference as well. This link is not to Lucy’s latest blanket, whose CAL just finished, but to a previous blanket, which I am completely in love with. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way to see the finished blanket with its borders. It’s the colourwash effect that has captured my hooky heart forever!

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I do have to confess that this yarn is acrylic.  I am not a fan of plastics; quite the opposite, in fact, and I am slowly switching over to natural fibres only. But this much wool is not in my budget at present. So in my tutorial I shall include information about the GuppyFriend bags that Ms. Snail has posted about. Here is her report after she tested the bags for herself.

I don’t have a Guppy friend yet and all my things except for items I’ve made using acrylic are natural fibres. But I shall have to buy one for the Faerytale Duet Blanket once I am ready to launder it.

If you have made it this far, I expect you are as curious as I was to see the contents of that bag.  There was the aforementioned Colour Card and a roll of the sweetest label tape, which I shall sew into everything I make from now on. I’ve included a picture of the handwritten note at the bottom of my invoice, too. I will certainly be sharing photos with the company!

Aren’t those colours inspiring? Want to know which ones I chose?

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I can hardly wait to begin this project, but wait I must . . . sigh . . .

And here’s the very best part (well, the yarn is the best, of course, but this . . .)

The yarn did NOT arrive packaged in a plastic bag, which is what I’d expected. No, it came in THIS:

. . . a gorgeous organza bag tied with ribbon that has the Wool Warehouse logo imprinted on it. I love the bag nearly as much as I love those colours! Ant the bag will go with me on my travels this year, holding my nightie and the like. So feminine!

I finlly took a photo of my suitcase, which was a gift from my friend J in Tacoma. She took it with her to England the last time they went and I feel it is quite excited about going on a trip with me next.

The first three photos are of the big suitcase; the last two are my backpack, which is carry-on size and has wheels and a pull handle. I’m hoping it’s within the allowable size to take with me. On econo flights one is not allowed the usual ‘personal’ item, so I am taking my Peacekeepers jacket and using its pockets for my food, etc.

And one last thing, as Columbo would say . . . last week I sent in my passport application! AND I was checking out Yarndale and saw that their tickets were finally available for purchase, so I have one of those, too. NOW I’m getting excited!!

Well, that’s it for Happy News today, my friends; I shall be back soon, I expect. I’m not sure how long after the surgery I will be permitted to use the computer; I do know that I shall have to spend a couple of days at least just resting. I have been lining up some things online that I can simply listen to without watching; some Abraham Hicks tapes, thank you, Marlene! and Downton Abbey on netflix) (again; lol!) I’m familiar enough with it that I can see it in my mind’s eye and happily follow along.

I wish for you all the very best of weekends and weather. It’s still snowing here . . .

Love and Light to each of you; you make my life so much richer! I’ll be over to visit soon, so do have the kettle on the hob, will you? And maybe a plate of bikkies . . .

And there MUST be music! Especially if you have survived this even-longer-than-usual post . . .

Sissel and Russell Watson with Bridge Over Troubled Waters from the 2002 concert

Sissel Kyrkjebo singing In Dreams

. . . which brought me to this: Roy Orbison and the Travelling Wilburys rehearsing “You Got It. A short clip bit cool, with Tom Petty’s commentary at the beginning and end. I hadn’t seen this before.

. . . and this: a short clip, also, this time of rehearsals for the Concert For George.

Eric Clapton, unplugged, with Change the World

I’ll leave you with part of Runrig’s Year of the Flood concert at Borlum Farm at Drumnadrochit,  Loch Ness on 18 August 2017, exactly 11 years to the day before the concert I will see.  But I expect sunshine and gentle breezes for this final gig.