Thursday, March 26, 2015

On a Mission

D and I travelled on our fourth Project Help Mexico mission this week. We went with a couple we have known for years, but don't really know at all. They have both just retired from education and are as lovely to be with as their kids were when I had them in Sunday School and Youth Group years ago.
We flew to San Diego and met up with our friends, old and new, from Calgary.
 Chicken tacos at the foster home where it all started. Carlton built a feeding station for the children of the very poor hillsides outside of Tijuana, and some of them didn't have homes to go to.
 We brought crafts and toys.
 The next morning we split into two groups and headed to two build sites. We were the blue team. The house is a kit with all the wood pre-cut and we were lucky to have a foreman, Pablo, but it was his first time in charge.
 We start by all hammering together and raising the walls.
 Here's D.
 We had 6 youth of varying abilities. It helped that the weather was fine. We painted some of the wood before we put it up high. Such a pretty blue.
 The walls were up and the struts for the roof were painted and all ready to go at the right time. I took on the task of setting up the painting, having the wood ready in the right place and getting the women and small people working together.
 Our family even pitched in. The lady in pink is the mom of the little kids, and is surrounded by her cousins.
 Ash asked to borrow my pink tool belt and he rocked it. All the walls were up before 9 am. The roof was set up before lunch.
 We went back to the foster home for delicious make your own sub sandwiches and more playing.  This sweetie is an old friend I have seen grow up in the last 4 years.
 Carlton took us to church because it was Sunday and it was a delight.
 Return to work. Our house was down below the road and the path was a bit tricky. I did fall in the morning moving those large pieces of plywood and really hurt my back. It is only now starting to feel better. But we didn't have enough tools or man power to step back.
 Leanne was magic with the children and spoke lovely Spanish.

 Our family makes pizzas. It sounded like they make 50 pizzas most days in this tiny oven on a dirt floor.

 They deliver the pizzas on motor bikes, carrying the pizzas up the hill and rolling the bike up too.
Behind the house is a gully. It was dry, and a bit messy, but could be full of water in the rainy months. I took this picture as I walked around the corner to the Pemex station to use the washroom and buy water. The loo was clean and beautiful and sometimes we just went to get a break from the dust and the dirt.
Pablo came back at the end of the second day to magically help hang the door. And then we were off to one of the pastor's homes for a buffet. Each meal was made for us by friends who put the money toward the supporting churches and welcomed us into their homes. It got really cold at night, so I was glad I had my down vest to go over my paint stained camp hoodie.

 There is a real beauty in the colourful homes that crowd the terraces beyond Tijuana. The people are rich in the wealth of faith and family. Project Help Mexico has built over 300 houses in this area over 30 years.
 We love to stop at the michoacana ice cream stand. I always get the fresh strawberries that are just crushed and frozen. I was also nursing a few guys with sore throats, so they were pretty happy.
 Day 3: Dry wall and painting. This is not as easy as it looks. I have done it before, but always as the helper/ follower. Two of our men were pros and did most of the mudding.

Our painting team. My flowered tshirt hid the paint specs, but they were all over my glasses and face and arms. It was warm enough to do two coats, which it needed. Then the furniture started arriving and we had to prepare for the key dedications.
 The other team made a red house, exactly the same pattern. We had a fiesta lunch and gave them the keys.
Then we went back to our house to give our family their keys. It is always powerful. This is the group from our church.We also brought a cross that a friend from choir made, and some art from an artist who joined us on the trip last year.
Life can be very hard here, but it can also be enjoyed.

 We had such a great team and enjoyed spending time with the Mexican families. It was the hardest build yet because we didn't have enough people and tools to stretch to two builds. But, sitting in my living room, looking at the comfort we have, it was good to give.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Turn Around

We have had am embarrassingly mild winter. Just a few flakes of snow in January. When we get rain, it's dark and stormy, but there are so many bright days. I don't want D to mow the lawn yet because of the violets.

This rhododendron is an old fashioned one. We find them more hardy. The lower part of the yard is shady because of the fir trees. D had a guy come and cut down the last of the fallen willow. It was a big job to haul the wood out. A friend cut a lot of the wood and only took a prized piece of apple for his workshop. The young fellow who first helped D with his piping, now a grown man, carted away a lot of the logs for his wood burning stove. Being back in the pipe band community links us with friends from our early married days and folks we raised our kids with.
A few swap squares in a box have become a happy blanket. I knit four more squares and crocheted them all together with a crochet edge- all with yarn that was included in the swaps. I had planned to donate this, but am quite fond of it now.
Booties! Great pattern, Blue Steps. We are planning to hang these with other wee hats and booties for a banner at our up coming knitting circle baby shower. Such a delight to make small items. I have been introduced to the Bakery Bears podcast. Such a sweet couple from Yorkshire, and their delightful little knitted bears. I'll certainly be making one or more of those.
Got the urge to knit a prayer shawl. It was for a fellow soprano, but the colours turned out too bright. This is yarn I bought at the Fibres West gathering about 3 or 4 years ago. I haven't been able to attend for a few years and will miss it this weekend. But I can't complain because I'm busy with friends and family.

The Multnomah shawl is the pattern I chose for this. I love the one I made myself. But my friend knit one of this yarn. So I gave one ball to a knitting friend, and she knit the Multnomah, too. Finally, I just had to destash and quit futzing. This will be the third, though the colour is brighter than my first skein. While knitting it, of course, I had other ideas for the yarn, especially from Martina Behm.
I have an idea for gifting it, if we get a good resolution to our long interviews for a new minister.

We had our annual Fiesta Lunch after church with D's famous chilli and a 5 times batch of corn bread. This is our one fundraiser for our Project Help Mexico mission next week. We will meet up with Carlton and the Southwood United Church to build 2 houses in 4 days!

Up stream from out house, the river is quiet. When I was little, there were swans swimming in front of the fancy houses. We were 4 little girls travelling on the city bus from Cultus Lake to downtown Chilliwack and it was a highlight of the trip. We also loved Casey, the bus driver.
They used my idea on the church sign!

There is a thread on Instagram right now on "What's on your bedside table?"
These are the books I have queued to read next. The last in the top 100 books by a BBC poll.

And my sweet companion had a turn this week. She was unable to lift her head. I sat next to her, knitting and watching podcasts. We took her to the vet the next day and she was exploding with excitement- she loves the vet office. Her joints are wearing out, but she is healthy otherwise.
Yesterday she demanded a walk and tried to make it longer. We hope to have her a bit longer, as her quality of life continues.
Across the street, a back hoe was unloaded. The next day, the little house was gone.
I like to get out and walk in my neighbourhood and see the leaves coming out, the blossoms emerging. It helps me to be rooted in the seasons and to be able to wave at your neighbours. Time is moving so quickly, I want to make note of the turn around.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Looking for Signs

 Is it spring? It can't be spring in the first days of March. But the Forsythia are already blooming. This plant is an indicator that it is safe to trim the roses. But I am not convinced. The nights are still chilly and there has been a teeny bit of frost. But really, it's been ridiculously beautiful in the Fraser  Valley.
 Looking for signs of life in my sourdough started. This one was actually replaced. But the current batch is bubbly and yeasty and very promising.
 The heavy winds were hard on the trees around my field. Coqualeetza is a traditional First Nations healing ground which later became a Residential School, a TB Hospital and an army barracks. Now the Sto:lo Nation is developing public health offices, schools and resource centres and business planning centres on the acreage just behind our house. This plum  branch is from a very old tree that fell down, but still decided to bloom. The tiny buds opened beautifully and quickly.
 OK. Mowing the lawn is a sign of spring. D won't be mowing just yet, which is good news for the violets that have spread out of the beds.

 I pulled out the blocks of my swap blanket. This was through the Knit Girllls podcast many years ago. I would have a partner and she would have me, and we would knit one another a block according to each preference. I ended up with 8 squares. Finally, I took the left over yarns, so graciously included with the cards and stitch markers and other goodies in the mailing, and knit 4 more squares.
This was an unexpected project and I'm really happy to empty another bin in my stash cupboard. I am not someone who likes a lot of variation in pattern, but the blue makes this blanket more homogeneous.

Trying the single crochet joining method. It is really quick, and helped to even out the different sizes of squares. The ridge on the back is not unpleasant, but I feel that mattress stitching would make a tidier join. Luckily I had enough yarn to seam all the pieces and do a single crochet all around the outside. I will steam press the seams to day and take it to knitting tonight. I am trying to encourage the knitters to use some of our donated yarn to make blanket squares for the local youth shelter. Hopefully, showing them a complete blanket, and the two squares that I have knit, will encourage them to knit just a square to join together.
 I am thankful. This small rhododendron, Snow Lady, is not always successful. D has trimmed her so she has grown beautifully. But sometimes she blooms in the rain and is just mush, or we are travelling and I miss it. Very early blooms are already happy in the sun. Unfortunately the blueberry fields are blooming very early and we are worried the bees won't be out in time to do the pollenating.
 Along with the waffles blanket for my nurse friend who is due in August, I made her a Bunny Nugget. Had forgotten how much she loved the one I gave my yoga instructor. I love it when the ideas come at the right time with the right yarn.
 Walking the trail is such a pleasure. Carly is not doing well enough to walk it every day, but when she is walking straight, we go to the other side of the creek and follow the crush gravel path.
 We snuck away for a quick trip to Vancouver Island. D has been working so very hard and long hours and needed to be away from work and band. This is Sidney, where our son works, but we didn't get to see him when we were poking around the shops and the beach right near the ferry.
 Bee Hive knits is right downtown Victoria. I was looking for some specific yarn (Noro Kureyon for my fussy cuts blanket, and natural sport sock yarn for kilt hose) and they had good choices. This is the first time I also had good service. Don't know why I am not normally welcomed as a real knitter. But there was a lady about my age who shared the delight in the colours and softness and even husband sat D and showed him the electric ball winder.
 We stayed at the Strathcona Hotel, right down town. Great location. But I was a bit worried when we recognized it has a liquor store, Sticky Wicket pub, District club and Big Bad John's Western bar. Not a problem.

 Friday was a bit drizzly. We walked around downtown and found Emily's poster she made for her band concert.

 Loved the Fan Tan Gallery in Chinatown which has the import items, but displayed in a great way. This kitty just about jumped into my bag.

 We went to the Copper Owl to see Emily's band. It was very cool. And late. And loud. We weren't the oldest there, but we were probably the soberest.
 Nine piece band! Crazy good music. Their style is Balkan and jazzy. Yes, that's a tuba, and two trombones and two violins and an accordion. Plus two drums and two trumpets (Em) and a flugelhorn. Too much fun! We even danced a wee bit.
 The next day we set off to the ferry. I am finishing up my Bricks & Mortar mittens. Need to write up the pattern to share with others who want to support our local yarn shops.
 Got to knit on the ferry, in the sun, just resting and almost dozing. At home, it was Paw's birthday which was great fun, and not too late.
The colours we have pushing up in the gardens now are becoming a riot.
And the lovely magnolia is starting her debut. She will continue to bloom well past October. This is a great sign of beauty, right on the edge of my deck. We planted it a few years after we moved in, and it is well past 30 feet high. A sign that we have settled here.
Hope that you have hopes of spring and the promise of new blooms.