Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm so excited

No...not 'cuz it's Hallowe'en. This is probably one of my least favorite events of the year.

So, instead of thinking about that, I've embarked on a new rug. I drew it out on Thursday but I just started hooking yesterday. Unfortunately, there were a lot of things going on yesterday and I didn't get to hook nearly as much as I wanted to do. I have had this design in mind for a while - kind of fixated on the bass clef. And I wanted a colorful background. Tentatively it's called "Bass Lines". But here's a preview of what I mean.

And it's even better closer up:

I love the wavy hit and miss. Well, I love hit and miss anyway. Has anybody noticed that? This time, I am even trying harder not to control the color placement and that is so-o hard to do. And I am trying to actually use up the 'worms' leftover from other projects. I would like to not cut any new strips. I think that's a pretty realistic goal as I have a container full of the things. Since I plan to give this to DS, I'd like to keep most of the pastels out. A few for balance and then concentrate on the 'manly' palette. So, you can see I've already established some control already. Oh, well. I'll just have to keep trying, won't I?

Enough typing...I'm off to hook again.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A theme

Over the weekend, I started another book from the huge stack: Wild Swans by Jung Chang. It's a fascinating true story - almost a saga. It starts in 1890's Manchuria with her great-grandparents and slowly winds its way into the present. Since I've not read all that far, I can't do much of a review except to say that I've learned a lot about the Communist/Kuomintang civil war and the Japanese occupation of Manchuria.

I thought I was detecting a theme in my choice of books which was geographical. Having just finished The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, I figured I was continuing on from my Egyptian adventure, then moving east to Nepal and now to Manchuria.

But, I think the real theme is the rebellion of people who are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more". These three novels are dealing with people whose lives are controlled by foreign occupation and economic oppression. It certainly is making me think in a different way about the nationalistic forces struggling in the world today. The goal is always to make things better but it's hard to know who is right. Maybe right and wrong are not relevant concepts here. We all struggle with the questions of how to make our world a more liveable, peaceful place. Answers are hard to test without actually putting them into action.

Just my ramblings...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dinner & poker

So, here we are at the Wild West-theme dinner. We originally had a much different entertainment in mind. But the dance group which would have got us up line-dancing had to cancel. Obviously, they never wanted to have to perform for us - ever - as the whole group retired at that point. So, on to Plan B.

Coming up with a fun activity isn't that hard...not for us old Guiders. There's so many games, skits and ideas rattling around in the brain that they'll never see the light of day. So, we decided to go with a saloon and poker game idea. Each person is dealt a 5-card hand. Then we will ask for different poker 'hands' . Every now and then, the players have to change cards with a neighbor or they may discard and get new cards.

I have never made a costume for myself in my life and Wild West is not one of my preferred dressing styles. So to the drawing board for inspiration and came up with: an older dance hall 'girl'. I got a crinoline from the thrift shop, used a top I already had and sewed up a red silk skirt. Making the velvet bows was easy but I had black velvet fluff all over the sewing room. Anne thought she would be a feminist chicken farmer. At least, I think that's the look she was going for LOL

We were surprised to see that all the tickets had been sold and there were some sold after the food order went in. Nail-biting time but when the food arrived there was so-o much. More than enough and even the extra volunteers who just came to help got a share. Then, we played our version of high/low stakes poker. There were prizes big and small and we all had a lot of laughs. Everyone went home happy.
Definitely a success.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Remember the 50-cent yarn? It took a while but I came up with a suitable design. I was planning on keeping them for myself but Anne really liked them. What could I do?
The yarn is quite crisp for sock wool and the checkerboard pattern really suits it. I'm happy - even if I didn't get the socks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I have a fairy name, Too.

My fairy is called Feather Snowglow
She is a cleansing force and a peace-bringer.
She lives in high places where the clouds meet the earth.
She is only seen in the light of a full moon.
She wears pale blue like the sky. She has delicate pale blue wings like a cicada.

Monday, October 20, 2008


So, some of us had to work really hard selling our stuff while the boss just stood around drinking coffee, wearing her hard hat and schmoozing with the customers.

It was a success. We made almost $5K which I think is nothing short of wonderful in this economy. What we were selling were luxuries which are certainly the first things to be cut from the shopping list when the belts start to tighten. And, since a lot of our potential customers were dealers, they need customers to be buying the goods from them. If only we we could just cycle back about a month and have the sale then. However, no need to cry - it was good. And there are a lot of positive outcomes to such a community effort that can't be measured in monetary terms. We had lots of happy helpers.

I even met the mom of one of my former Brownies. Lucky for me, she'd been just looking at old photos and recognised me. I sure wouldn't have known her out of the blue like that. And it's always fun to chat with people about the books. After the dealers leave, the customers are so genuinely interested in the books for their content. The constant theme was how sad it is that there isn't a home for all these unwanted books. To me, what's even sadder is that all these books were so loved at one time. But that's another rant.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Afternoon delight

So the other night - in the middle of the night - we heard the pump which deals with unwanted water flooding the crawlspace struggling. This meant that something was very wrong somewhere. But, as you've noticed we've been really busy for the last few days. Not even at home most of the daylight hours. Besides, it was raining.

So, today, despite being totally exhausted, we decided to be proactive. The weather's perfect today but it's going to rain again by tomorrow. We'd better be prepared, right? So, Anne dons her Buckeye boiler suit and we dig right in. The sump pump was very clogged and didn't make a very happy noise. We trekked off to Rona to buy another. Did you know that sump pump sales are final? We made the hapless clerk unpack it before our eyes - it was a repack and who knows about that?

Back at the big hole in the ground, Anne works her magic. I am ably assisting with clever suggestions and supplying the tools needed, when needed. Sort of like the OR nurse. Oh, and I'm the second pair of hands because one always needs at least four to do this kind of work. Eventually, after a lot of pushing, shoving and a little swearing, the new pump was installed. It worked beautifully and the water was pumped away - fast, fast. Yay! Anne earned a rest on the driveway.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


The antiques and collectibles sale is here. Anne has been working for this day for over 6 months. Every room in our house has been full of boxes; our garage has been full of boxes. The research and pricing of items goes on constantly. I have even been sucked into research. Items were cleaned, packaged and put away in boxes.

These photos are from yesterday when we were setting up. Through the pouring rain, we loaded up the pickup truck twice and the station wagons five times. And, then, we unloaded them and pushed and shoved the boxes into a small holding room. Then, last night, after all the church programs were finished, the tables were set up and a team of helpers unpacked all the stuff.
So, now we're ready for the sale. I'll post the results tomorrow. The house sure seems empty, though.


This is what I call success!
It's taken me two years to get to this point. When I started as a volunteer coordinator, the Reception team was anything but a team. It was a list of names and a schedule. We had our first coffee & muffin morning exactly two years ago and 12 people came. No one knew each other and many were surprised to see people they sort of knew around the table.

I've gathered them together twice each year and at one of the meetings, there was only 6 people. This time I started advertising in July so they could schedule their lives - since that's always the reason for non-attendance. This year, I had 20 out of 25 on hand. And such a laughing, chattering group they are now. I could never have gotten them to pose for a photo two years ago...and now, look! they're smiling.

Not only have they come together as a group but I have turned over the leadership to one of their members. I'm sure it's the muffins...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend travelling

A whirlwind tour of Salt Spring Island and Nanaimo thanks to BC Ferries. We had wonderful weather and had a great time.

The first stop was Salt Spring to visit Andrea and see her new house. We've only seen pictures which is not the same at all. It's very much a character house with tons of personality quirks. It was built about 25 years ago by folks of Danish heritage. There are some really interesting bits such as barn-style doors with interesting pieces of wood for handles. Or what looked like an old switch of some sort with a huge handle. It would appear that some of the materials were found from architectural salvage. Very neat visually.

As you can see from the pictures it has lots of windows for the water views and outside deck space to sit out and watch the boats go by. The decks are one of the priority jobs for the next year, though, as they need to be replaced. The property is quite big but mostly wild. There is a huge fruit and veg garden with a sturdy deer fence as they are constant visitors. But the garden was left for the last summer and is in need of a lot of hard work. It'll be worth it, though. There's lots of interesting stuff growing in there. In fact, the former owners had won an award for conserving heritage/native plants.

Inside there are three stories. The loft is where she is forced to sit and watch the boats while she works at her desk. The main is mostly open plan with huge high ceilings (right to the top of the roof in the living room) and big windows all around. There are exposed cedar beams which make heart-stopping catwalks for ambitious felines. But the downstairs is what I covet. There's a studio which runs the full width of the house overlooking water, garden, woods! Oh, I can imagine hooking my rugs here. Salt Spring has an artisan tour circuit and this studio has an outside entrance which would bypass the living area. I'm so jealous. The possibilities...

We did pay our 'rent' however. We undertook the restoration of the pathway lighting down to the house. For some reason, they had been put aside in favor of Christmas lights which didn't do much for visibility.

Then,on Sunday, we jumped on another ferry and drove up to Nanaimo for the (what is becoming) huge family Thanksgiving. It was one of the noisiest dinners in a long time. There are now four kids under age 5 running around pulling on arms and demanding stories to be read or balls to be thrown. The babies cry for their needs - or just generally cry - and all the adults talk at once. Or so it sounded. But the dinner was amazing and we were all decanted on to the ferry home with full tummies and happy memories.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Well, it was pretty nice just sitting comfy in big purple plush armchairs after a morning at a HUGE flea market. I had my usual chai latte and Anne was sampling a salted caramel hot chocolate. It was all so nice and peaceful after the crowds of people and the jumble of stuff for sale.

So peaceful that I started thinking about what I was drinking. It wasn't skinny or decaf or any other kind of pretense at healthy living. And, although the hot chocolate did have the chocolate going for it, there was that salt shaken on top of caramel and whipped cream. And did I mention the apple fritter? Gosh! How could we be so irresponsible?

Definitely a downside to aging is being aware of what foods are contributing to health problems. When I was younger, I know I didn't really pay that much attention. We just ate whatever looked yummy. Weight could be dropped fairly easily with a little effort. Much of our current food knowledge was unknown. Blood pressure wasn't something we gave any thought to at all. Nothing to worry about.

Obviously, we weren't worrying at the moment so I pulled my thoughts from that kind of thinking. Back to the peace of the purple plush.

Friday, October 3, 2008


No, this isn't about the financial meltdown or recession or whatever the heck is goin' on. This is the kind of investment that makes my frugal soul sing.

Yesterday, I chanced upon two complete balls of gray sock yarn. Socken Wolle is made by Max Grundl in Germany and is very nice for socks. I have knit with it before and I know it retails for about $6 a ball. That would have been enough for a soulful tune. But, wait -

One of the balls had been used and rewound. And stuck right in the middle were 5 bamboo dp's in the exact size I use for sock knitting. And...they were Clover/Takumi which retails for more than the two balls of yarn together. My own C/T set has reduced to 4 because one had an accident. I've only been able to make up a 5-needle pattern by adapting to four or using metal dp's. I really love my bamboo needles but haven't felt justified in buying a whole new set just for one needle. Now, I'm really singing at the top of my lungs.

With a few days knitting, I can have a pair of plain socks. A couple more days and I can have something a bit more adventurous. And all for 50 cents. See why I'm happy?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Book to Cross

I'm always a little sad when I finish a book - any book. Somehow, books just seem to abandon me. The world we've been sharing for the past few days is over. And, sometimes, a book's atmosphere really the wisps of a dream left upon waking.

"The Map of Love" by Ahdaf Soueif is just such a book. I've been living in pre-WW1, as well as, modern Egypt for days now. I've learned about Middle-East politics of the past and present and particularly the European colonial power struggles in that region. I've been given interesting insights into the linguistics of the Arab language. And, I've enjoyed a good romance. Oh, did I mention that the writing is pretty darn good, too. This novel was short-listed for the Booker prize in 1999. To be balanced in my review, I have to admit that it was a pretty long read. But when you're transported to another time and place, who really wants it to end?

I'm getting this novel ready for Bookcrossing later this week. If you'd like to have it crossed to you, just let me know. I usually leave my books on the bus stop bench down the street. It's been, by far, the most successful drop site for me. I even have a book that made it to Cairo. If you want to see my bookshelf, my ID is 'fiberlover'.


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