Monday, April 14, 2014

Packing and Preparation

 Things are busy at Chez Imminence. I have the cleaning bug and the windows and surfaces are being cleaned and polished. It's part of my Easter preparations. The kids are coming home for the weekend and I want to have baking and feasting and board games without the drudgery of housework. Plus Easter is fun and I want things to look nice. It's not as if, in the preparation for the coming of our Risen Lord I expect Him to wear a white glove and check my base boards. But a bit of my Grandma Donnelly comes out when least expected and she was not impressed with anyone else's housekeeping.
 The trees are blooming, but it's been a bit grey. The sun is in my eyes as it rises its head over Mt. Cheam and shines through my magnolia. We had a celebratory Palm Sunday with a mass choir of local churches and great fun at Youth Group, preparing for their Easter skit. D is off to Calgary today and back! He has meetings there. The flight is only about an hour, but the airport time and travelling there and back take most of the day.
 I'm so enjoying my book right now. It's non fiction, but compelling: The Hare With the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Wall. Last year my reading widget failed me and ate my list. But I hope to get it back in the margin of this blog because reading has always been important to me and there is a great conversation going around the knitting interwebs about sharing our passion for reading. It was learning to read at age 4 that opened the treasure chest to knowledge for me. I have always been an egg head. That was before the tags of nerd or geek. My D and I met on the high school debating team in 1978.
Next month, we will have been married 25 years. To celebrate, we are going to Paris and London. It will be a delightful adventure. We will wish our French was better, but I am learning the map of the city and reading up on its history (ever the geek). There are clothes laid out on the guest bed, new suitcases and decisions about shoes to agonize over. This is the fun preparation.
Still, we have a big week of Easter to celebrate and I do have a job, a few shifts left. We are enjoying the garden as it wakes up and calls us to prune and tidy and mow.
The nesting dolls table runner has been hand hemmed and now I'm stitching a red cross stitch edging. It is a long way around and I'm kind of tired of it. Plus I'm not sure my MIL will love it. But if she never uses it, it will be in good shape for my daughter to inherit.
My young friend's vest will not do in that fluffy yarn. I went to the LYS and forgot my pattern. She oversold me by almost twice the yardage! Shame on both of us. I will give her a little attitude. Good news is Three Bags Full in Vancouver brought in more Silky Wool for D's pullover and has excellent customer service. I also have an excellent friend who will pick it up for me and keep it until I can take her out for lunch.
March sock on schedule, just turning the heel. It will get to travel to Paris. Plus maybe a back up sock. I am excited to be test knitting a ZigZagular sock for Prairie Girl Susie.
The Cash Silk Nuvem is still humming along. Humming! She will be a good travel mate. I may have to use bamboo needles to get through Heathrow. Something to check out.
Hope you are enjoying spring plans!

Monday, April 07, 2014

New Light

It's that time of year when I have a bit of the manic cleaning bug. While washing the walls of the stairwell (don't they look clean) I was listening to Brenda Dayne's podcast, Cast On, which is wonderfully back on air, and she shared her own spring cleaning experiences. It's nice to have company when doing thankless tasks. I did not make these wall dirty by myself. There was the Canada Day incident with the cooler full of beer that was perched on the railing, the young friends who have to tap the wall above (even though they've been tall enough for many years now) and the dog hair. Oh, the dog hair. I once heard you should clean your house as if it belonged to someone else. My sister and I used to help each other with house work and garden chores. It was a great blessing. Nowadays my friends have house keepers. I'm not sure I can go that far. It's not in my farmer back ground and it failed miserably twice. 
But feel free to exclaim, "Look at those clean walls!" when you come for tea.
The light is shining in my sunroom. Soon I will be complaining of it being in my eyes. Isn't that wonderful? But the windows look so dusty....
 I finally felt the impulse to cast on something new. After Finishuary, I was just happy to have things off the needles. But my best friend's son is going to Oxford, and I think he needs a warm vest to wear in his drafty classes. This is Dr. G's Memory Vest by Kirstin Kapur. A great designer whom I trust. The yarn is from stash. I'm trying to cold sheep. Not buying any old yarn. That's not the same as not buying yarn. You can see the Opal Starry Starry Night sock yarn in the yarn bowl above. I've just started tallying it. March had almost the same number of yards in as knit. That would be OK if my stash wasn't bursting out of the plastic containers in the pantry and lining the shelf in the sunroom. I need to decide how big I want it to be, and then I need to weed out the partial skeins. There are several sweaters worth there and over a years worth of socks. Don't ask about lace weight. It doesn't weigh much.
 I did miss the Fibres West event this year. But my friends picked up a 5th skein of the Sweet Georgia Cash Silk Lace for my Nuvem. This is a big crazy wearable blanket. I was mesmerized by Supasteph's (Must Stash Podcast) hand spun orange one. Just had to cast it on and knit in the round (planarian shaped) stocking stitch, never ending, soft and luscious. Remind me when I want to rip my eyes out. But I'm 20% in and drawn to it for the comfort of simple knitting. That means no blankets until it's done.
 In Victoria I finally found the Matryushka fabric I've been looking for. I'm going to hem a runner for my Ukrainian MIL for Mothers' Day. We are travelling for two weeks before that, so I need to get it cut and started. Again with the simple stitches.
We are doing 4 extra pieces with our choir for Easter. It is a great thrill to sing in a mass choir, but the organizing of different choirs is a great pain!
 The March sock was done on time (barely) and the April Socks on a Plane in Casbah with Patons Kroy toes has begun. Much of my knitting time is now spent out of doors, walking/running, tidying up the garden. There is edging of beds, trimming of roses, planting of red dahlias, preparing the veggie patch and on and on. And in the house dusting and wiping. I know it's a lot of work, but if I don't do it now, I won't be able to enjoy the next warmer season.
I am also trying to dedicate more time to reading. I enjoyed the Edward Rutherford book, Paris, which helped me brush up on the history and absorb some of the map of Paris. Looking forward to our trip!
I'm a fan of Laurie R King, and finished her book Touchstone, which was a bit disappointing. My BFF and I are reading The Hare With the Amber Eyes as a nod to our defunct book club. It has stunning prose! Will we start another? I have books ready for travel in paper back and on my ipad.
Loving Neil Gaiman's American Gods. This time on What's not to love?
But I need to carve out time for writing.
Sometimes I need to say to myself, "If you could choose what you could do, what would that look like?" Because usually we do have the choice, but we just drift through our days.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Marching On

 I spent the early part of March in quarantine with a cough and cold and knitting as if it were my job.
But all that changed when we went to Mexico. We're back from our mission, but I wanted to share it with you, even though there was shamefully little knitting. These are stations of Faith Practices that were introduced to our youth group and the local United Churches (of Canada) by the invitation of the wonderful Doris Kizinna, minister of the B.C. Conference Youth and Young Adult Ministry (YAYA) and yours truly.
 It's Lent, and even though we are not giving up meat and the traditional sacrifices, we like to spend more time in faith practice, and my youth group (grades 5-7) prepared an evening worship.
 We sang our favourite songs, but more quietly. I led with guitar or flute and they were stunning in their readings at the microphone, and diving into the silence and reflection.
 But what about Mexico? We flew to San Diego, met up with the church from Calgary and had dinner at Rene's Tacos! D ate the most.
 Saturday morning we met with Hector (centre) at the site of the build. The concrete was poured, the boards cut and even drilled for electrical. We were 16 including Carlton Toews, of Project Help Mexico which is found on the Love Global website.
 Here is the family. They are chosen by local ministers according to need. Some of our group had met the mom 4 years ago and asked that she be considered for a house. They have waited and she has raised her family in that little blue box on the hillsides outside Tijuana.
 Here is the inside for 6 people including the wee babe.
 There were signs of hope everywhere we looked. This is in the church yard of one of the Comodores (feeding stations) that are involved with our project.
 I got to play with the baby. It took a while, but I had her beautiful wide eyes open and she giggled as I played drums on her feet (Scotland the Brave).
 At the end of the first day we had the walls, windows, doors, roof and drywall up. The finishing took two more days including painting inside, tar paper on the outside for the local men to stucco, and the bano.
 A well deserved stop at the ice cream stand. I always choose the strawberry no leche, just frozen fruit!
 There were crafts at the foster home that we have been building for 4 years. The same lovely children, some more, some moved on. They are bigger now, but so well behaved.
 Even when we took them to the zoo. Carlton had to tell us to relax and let Maria Esther watch them. They hugged us and treated us as old friends.
 We were welcomed to home cooked meals. Maria Guillermo's Guadalajara buffet is always a high light.
 Then off to the Calimax grocery to buy 60 bags of rice, beans and soup. We had such a great production line this time!
 They are bagged in sets and fill the back of the van for distribution on the hills where Pastor Juan has his ministry.
 Here's the inside of the house as we unpack the donations. We saved a lot of money by buying used furniture and appliances locally. There is enough money to donate to another house build in May, 3 doors down.
 The key ceremony. Sylvie worked very hard with translations. The boys were excited about their bunk beds!
 Then we walked up the hills to some of the poorest. We have two guides to show us the way and keep us safe.
 The houses are on the steepest slopes. The people were kind and shy.

 We are ready to roll!
 There were many mangy dogs, but this one wins the ugliest award. None of the dogs are very attached to people.
 A much appreciated break on Rosarito beach. In the last few years, we have been there on Easter Monday with wall to wall people. But this year, on a Wednesday, it was quite empty. We were also there a little earlier in the year, and it was chilly with the breeze.

 Love the candy store!
 Can you believe we ate in a Chinese Food Restaurant? It was OK. They had spaghetti on the menu.
Hope this little video shows up for you. This was a lovely group and we worked well together. The connections we made in the churches and community stay with us in our prayers throughout the year.
And now March is done. I finished my March sock just last night. I wore Emily's Matryushka shawl to Uvic when we got back to her final concert, which had Mexican composers. And I took the kids out for waffles for breakfast.
Now I'm home and stricken with the spring cleaning bug. Washing carpets, dog bed, washing machine. Next will be the tidying of the garden in the sunshine and warmer weather. Time marches on.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrate a New Season

 I just finished Emily's new shawl design, Matryoshka for my Babushka out of Sweet Fiber Yarns Sweet Merino Lite.  I love it. Test knitting is a little more stressful than knitting for yourself, because you have to actually count every section and every row to verify the pattern. But it was well written and very enjoyable. See the nesting dolls?
 Tis the season of hot crossed buns. This makes me incredibly happy.
 The sun has barely shone this first day of spring, but the ducks are excited.
 Two days ago, the path on my walk was so inviting. Very chilly, though. Yesterday was the raining of the end of days. Today is kind of in between. I got a little wet and a little cold, but the big black dog was in heaven.
 Had a heavenly visit to Fort Langley with some knitting/ piping friends. So good to just take time to be with them. Lunch at Wendel's Book Store is especially nice when they snag a table.
 Liz brought me some goodies I had ordered. Autumn coloured stripy sock yarn. It looks like a lot, but some is to give away to the knitters who I am joining on an Autumn trip. More on that later.
 I bought some vintage sock blockers at one of the antique stores. They are from the 1940's and my (big) size. The books are from local designers and I'm stoked about the hip knitting, especially for my young friends.
 Celebrated Pi day with pie from the Chilliwack Airport Cafe where "We fly for pie". I had Bumble Berry and D had Bing Cherry. See the special price of $3.14? Cracks me up!
 Actually got some sewing done! This is a baby blanket that I quilted on the machine. Now I'm ready for friends to bring their babies to crawl on my floor. I love to celebrate babies!
 The creek has risen because of the deluge of rain, plus the snow melt. We have had some weather! Pretty soon we will see salmon coming through.
 But now the field is green and the trees are budding. I love the layers of green. We are going down to Mexico tomorrow for 5 days to build a house and work with our foster kids. I look forward to the warmer weather, getting out from under the schedule, spending time with D and our Calgary friends, and just playing with the kids. But I will miss our mountains and trees.
For St. Patrick's Day, the pipe bands had a pub night. This was the most successful one I've ever been to. Is it because I'm not practicing with and travelling with these people? Is it because there were 5 bands playing together which meant new people to meet and old friends to say hi to? This is not a competition band, and D is doing a great job of bringing people together to play music, improve their techniques, and just get along. Well done. Happy special days!