Monday, April 21, 2014

A Colourful Easter

 My Nuvem is my refuge when my brain is spinning with details or my hands are sore from gardening, working, scrubbing walls. It is soft and bright and will make an excellent travelling companion.
 But I am loving working on my test knit for Prairie Girl Susie, the Zigzagular socks. A simple cuff down sock, but the raised stitch pattern makes it fly by. I am planning to use Susan B. Anderson's recipe for the heel, but am being wooed by the double gusset heel. Blame SupaSteph again!
 The hot tub was rolled away. Like the stone covering the tomb. No. It took 4 men (and two women onlookers) Now I have a shady cement slab to make into a patio.
 My kids came home for easter. It was lots of fun to bake and cook and we even got to have a few drinks because Lent was over. Just us four. D played trumpet at the Sunrise Service at our rustic country cemetary. My youth group did a skit about the empty tomb, I played guitar and sang for the young dancers, and did a Children's Time that ended with shaky eggs for all. Emily played trumpet with our choir. The church was full and there were over 15 kids! Such a celebration. At the end we invited people to come up and join us in the Hallelujah Chorus.
 There were chenille chicks, but also chocolate eggs. Unlike the last two Easters, in Mexico, I didn't have to worry about the chocolate melting.
 And more than just chocolate eggs. These yummies don't last long in our house.
 Now D and I are getting down to the Paris planning. London will be a breeze as we are pretty comfortable there. But I've never been to Paris. I hope we can walk a lot, see some churches and museums and eat some excellent croissants. Always, one wishes one had worked harder on learning the language. The Spanish got in the way of my great start at reviewing French. But I think I would feel that way no matter how much I worked at it. I'll go back to listening to Coffee Break French podcast.
Not so thrilled with the Confederacy of Dunces. A little too Archie Bunker. But at least it is a very good recording.
 Restarted the vest for my young friend who is starting his PhD in Oxford this fall. The new yarn is much better at showing the cables. The second set of swatching means I have the main cable pattern memorized. Surprisingly I had to go down a few needle sizes. He's about the same size as Scotty, so I think it will fit under his blazer when he is dressing like an academic. He is also an excellent knitter, as is his mom, so I need to do well on this one.
 The Socks on a Plane were finished before the middle of the month. The Zigzagulars are bonus socks for April. I feel I could whip them up quickly, on the journey. We'll see. Don't count your socks before they're blocked.
 A warm welcome to my niece and nephew meant the kids had a fun board game night. I was so happy to walk the dog in the big field after church. I missed my kids and the feeling of a full house. Even having the car full was fun. We had dinner at my parents and lunch with D's parents, so everyone got a dose of the young adults.
The yard is growing. D is mowing now and setting up a mower while we're gone. Two weeks is a long time for a lawn. I work tomorrow and then it's just one sleep. I was using Easter to keep me focused, but I'm excited. It's an overnight flight. We have  a loose itinerary and leave for London on the Chunnel on May Day. Hope to be able to post from my ipad while we're away. There will be knitting. But right now I'm too restless to sit still. Maybe I'll go to the video station to find a movie about Paris.
Hope your Easter was full of blessings!

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.