Monday, 29 August 2016

Out and About in the Big, Bad World

It is time for the college and university kids to head back to school. ( I may have told you this story; forgive me if I have. ) I always think back to the time my two daughters were doing just that.  They were five provinces away from me living on the 15th floor of an apartment building in the big city.  I remember the phone calls went something like this..

Me: .Is your door locked?
Them: Yeesss (said with sighing)
Me: Is the patio door locked?
Them: Yeesss ( and a few Oh Moms)
Me: Walk right over to it now so I can hear the click.
Them: Oh Mom (now annoyed) Who's going to be out on the patio? We're on the 15th floor.

 I tell them  about a story I read of a fellow who learned to rappel down the sides of buildings for the express purpose of breaking into apartments through the patio doors.

  Them: Oh Mom, only you would know something like that!!

 Much guffawing at my foolishness.  Sadly we all know it isn't all foolishness, is it? But the young have that innate fearlessness/ trustworthiness that propels them headlong into the big wide world.
My special concern (among many!!) was because I had raised them in places where you basically didn't need to lock your door; fear of strangers was not an issue. Of course, this fact just fueled extra concern on my part...  I worried that would give them a false sense of security out and about in the big bad world.
Anyway, they somehow survived and are now in the big bad work world I suppose I could say, though luckily in their case, they both enjoy their jobs.

Been on a happy roll with my recent reads.

 Just finished this one, The Green Road by Man Booker Prize winner, Anne Enright.  I loved it as I did her big winner, The Gathering.  I think I liked this one a little more.  I don't know how an author can write meaningful and a little comic all at the same time but she manages that feat.  She always strikes a chord or two in me with something a character is saying.


At one point Anne writes this about the mother of the clan, Rosaleen.

"...Rosaleen at six.  Rosaleen at seventy-six. It was getting harder to connect the dots between the two."

That's the way I feel sometimes.  Thinking back to the worried mother in my story and my journey to now being the family grandmother.  There are a lot of dots in between to connect. And for me to reach back all the way to age six; connecting those dots would be like threading wet tissues.

And I'm sure my daughters think a bit like that too.  Trying to remember themselves as teenagers and now young forty-somethings with jobs and motherhood themselves. Reconciling the two...

 The narratives of our lives, the stages, the experiences, finding meaning and trying to hold on to that meaning and carry it forward.  Or simply trying to remember who we used to be.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Books and Blueish Blooms


On my knees in the garden...I have had three massive weeding sessions because the garden was a little neglected during the sale period.
It afforded me the chance to get up close and personal with all the growing things here and there are so many.  Lots taking turns with blooming which I am so happy to see.
  Learning the names of some of them has been fun.  I'll show some of the blueish ones today.

New to me is Purple Globe Thistle which looks blue in certain light; there are three well established clumps of this unusual plant here.  I've learned it is very popular with butterflies and also bees which is great and a good perennial to include if that is an aim for your garden.









A sort of perwrinkle-Chinese Bell Flowers, another one new to me.  Two pretty bushes of this interesting flower are in the back yard.  Lots of blooms and the bees also enjoy this one.



Many little clumps of this blooming plant are dotted here and there. A close relative of sage, this is blooming Salvia. I was struck by how pretty the leaves are.  It doesn't seem to have spread like some of the other plants have done.  Just stayed neat and tidy in its own little spots.


And my latest reads.

..something literary




The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is a tough read but well worth the effort.  It is the story of the Australian POW's working on building a railway through the jungle of  Burma. Okay it isn't all about that.  The story follows the phases of one man's life including his love life but it is his time with the Japanese as a prisoner that I remember most clearly.  This was because it was horrific. But cleverly, Flanagan took advantage of the camp situation to also take us into the minds of some of the Japanese guards.  This insight provides another layer of thought on the subjects of prisoners and the hows, whys and ways of survival. I found myself talking about this aspect of the story to several people. This book richly deserved the Man Booker Prize, in my opinion.

A special note for haiku lovers.  The Narrow Road to the Deep North was taken from the title of the famous author and haiku master, Basho's text on his travels written in 1687.  Flanagan inserts Basho haiku verses here and there throughout his book to great effect. I loved them.

I meant to copy out some of the ones I really liked, but because I seem to be operating on half a brain these days, I forgot. 

And something completely different...



My name would have been on the holds list for a year before I'd have gotten this book, The Widow by new novelist, Fiona Barton.  When I saw it on the Express Reads shelf  I thought I'd give it a try.  Express Reads means I just have 7 days to read it and it has to be returned on the dot...a $2 a day fine is incurred if you don't.
 Anyway, no problem as I read it in 5 days because it is one of those easy reading books not requiring any deep thought or reflection.  This is basically a crime novel; an abducted child and the ensuing  investigation.  I did find the widow's turn to talk the most interesting bits in the book. I must admit I did enjoy this book overall though I am getting so tired of these types of books being compared to Gone Girl
 Why do they keep doing that and when will it stop, I wonder.

Hope there is something blooming or good to read in your weekend.  



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

This Caught My Eye

                                  

From wonderful Purl Soho comes the complete and free pattern to make this Ticking Stripe Wrap/Scarf .  I love the stripe of bright colour and I love how they write out their instructions.  Great detail in requirements, etc. so the guess work is nil.  And the best bit of all is that this is mostly stockinette stitch!

If you are thinking at all of a hand worked Christmas...

Making Hexies is all over the quilting world.  Those little hexagons that most people fashion with the EPP method are being sewn into all sorts of lovely projects and this one caught my eye.  This is a photo of Pamela's work from her blog Hokkaido Kudasai , Pamela is an American teaching English in Japan and is embracing all things Japanese particularly in her stitcheries.  Her blog is very interesting combining local photos and hand work.



I just love her little hexie Christmas ornaments, especially the fussy cut little motifs.  A lot of Christmas fabric lends itself to fussy cutting come to think of it.


Bee-utiful Quilt Along

 Each block features a bee or two and little inspirational sayings.

 DSC_5255-Edit

These blocks have been popping up around the web.  This is Pamela Morgan's Quilt-Along on the Moda BakeShop site and that link is Here for the free patterns to make these sweet blocks.
Pam's blog is Sweet Little Stitches and I love how she writes, not only about her quilting projects, but other topics as well.  Pam also generously shares tutorials and even videos of these to help us replicate her lovely work.  Check it out.


Monday, 22 August 2016

The Upside of a Little Deafness

Not long after we moved in I was awakened at 5:45 am with the sound of loud hammering.  I got out of bed and peered out the window a little cautiously because it sounded like someone was hammering right on the side of the house which made absolutely no sense, but..

  I realized the sound was coming from the Treehouse (yes, the property came with a real Treehouse); was someone in it hammering?? I pulled on a robe and ventured outside.  Here is what I saw.

Can you spy him?  Mr. Pileated Woodpecker, I mean.




What a racket he was making and very unmindful of me beneath the tree.  I ran back in the house and came back with the camera and he was still hammering like crazy, pausing from time to time to dip his beak and that incredibly long tongue of his far inside the recesses he was making.  

No returning to sleep for me. And by the way, the dogs gave no heed to the hammering at all which was probably an indication that they knew there was no danger.

 Meanwhile Hubby slept right through it.

Sometimes being a bit deaf is a blessing!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Itch to Stitch

The 'itch to stitch' is back and I am so glad it is.
I have been working on my cross stitch project and wanted to continue the appliqued hangings started ages ago before the move.

 I thought I would start off with a little slow stitching to get myself back into my routine.  I still haven't taken my sewing machine out of its box. But soon.

I worked a few embroidered stitches on more of the Quilty 365 blocks.  At my rate, this will not be a 365 block project for me; more like a 100 block project.







And made some decisions about the Tulip appliqued hanging.  So long since I showed you...




I decided to hand stitch around the flowers and stems.  Time consuming but enjoyable.








And quickly realized that with the fusible applique there is fraying of the fabric edges that occurs.  To that end I bought an item called Fray Check to hopefully control the tiny little threads peeking out here and there.  Still learning, as I've stated about myself time and time again.





I also worked out what I'd like to do for the next part, the first border pieces.  A wave of ivy with a few flowers and leaves is what I settled on.  I chose the background fabric, drew out the designs on freezer paper and began the process of EPP them.  No fusing for these.



This has been a nice quiet activity for me.  Just right to get me settled down, relaxed and enjoying the contentment stitching can bring me.

Hope there is something bringing you contentment this weekend.










Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Mom's Crochet and My New Drapes


My Mother's Handiwork




The granny square afghan on the right was her way of using up her wool scraps from the previous afghans.  The granny on the left is Lucy from Attic 24's Cupcake selection of Stylecraft Special DK wool.  My wish would be that I could still be making lovely warm gifts for family when I am her age.

 Choosing Drapes

Before I continue I should tell you that I've always had rather bland drapes.  I tend to err on the side of safe so gray, beige, off white are often the colours I've used for curtains.  And for many years, I used only lace curtains in cream or white on all my windows.
 But this house, with no painted walls, presented a different kind of issue for curtains.
There are two very large windows in the main area where the kitchen, dining and living room are.  Because of all the wood, I knew the space could use real colour in the drape material for contrast. This was my chance to stray from the safe and do something a little more exciting with a window treatment.

 Since I love Jacobean design, I immediately liked these panels from Wayfair but they were very pricey.

Niche Bayliss Rod Pocket Single Curtain Panel

I do love all the colours used to work up the various floral motifs.
  I kept looking and found another fabric at Ikea that I also liked.  The patterns are not quite as intricate but the colours are bright and interesting.  And the price was wonderful.

























These are Rodarv curtains.  I had to hem the four panels and I confess I did it the easy, no sew way by using fusible strips.

I love the colour palette and there are definitely great quilting/embroidering motifs all over it.


How lazy was this?  I put the panels on the rods and set up the ironing board.  I measured, cut and ironed on the Heat n Bond right there.  It took me about twenty minutes per panel.  I measured to have them reach almost to the floor with a one inch hem.  And when I had the measurements worked out for the first panel, the other three were a breeze to fix.





I'm going to make a valance for the kitchen window from the material I cut off.  One of these days I'll get a better photo of the curtains against the wood so you can see how they work in the room.  I worried they would look too 'busy' but no fears, the large area swallows them up.

They really are cheerful.  Hubby called them 'cheap and cheerful', an expression from his mother.  I think they were about $40 a pair, cheap enough I could have another set for the winter months...something less airy and a little wintry perhaps.

What do you think?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Tidying This Head of Mine

What is it about the heat that makes me want to get my head tidied up. Humidity plays havoc with this hair of mine, I guess is why.   With that in mind I decided to get a professional cut.  First Choice is a bargain hairdresser chain here so I figured why not give them a try.  Whoever cut my hair couldn't do any worse than the job I do on it myself.  I don't remember if I had a professional trim last year or not; I'm thinking it's been two years now.

Of course, those of you with nice straight  hair won't understand what it is like to have a curly mop that as soon as a bit of humidity appears, every hair flies off in a different direction and decides to frizz up at the same time.  Then hair spray with extra humidity control is my best friend.

 So off I went and what a cut!  The very young woman had my head practically shorn in five minutes.  I think it is the shortest cut I've ever gotten but I like it.  It is an excellent cut and she left just enough on the top for me to fool around with a little bit.

 Here is a picture of me about three weeks after the shearing.  Kind of hard to tell but my wings are gone...those especially frizzy ear flaps I was sporting on each side of my head.


I'm liking this enough that I might keep my hair clipped super short from now on.  The daughters aka my fashion police, are getting used to it; thought it was too brief in the beginning but like the way it is growing out.  And I am getting a little spoiled with how easy this is to take care of.
  More time for stitching, right?