Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Just Discovered Some UFOs

I was searching for a needle this morning and spied a box on the top shelf of my bedroom closet here in Lethbridge that I thought might contain one.  It did.  But it also contained some UFOs ....some from as long ago as 2000 and others only four or five years ago.  No, they were not little alien space ships...although that would have been fun.  They were projects from my cross-stitching and knitting days before I discovered the world of scrapbooking.  UnFinished Objects.

I had been a cross-stitch fanatic for years.  I always had a project on the go - Christmas ornaments, pictures large and small, samplers, etc.  I've often thought of the last project I was working on and wondered whatever happened to unfinished casualty of scrapbooking.  Today I found it.

I loved the colors in this one, and the wolf.  It's stitched on linen so
is a bit harder on the eyes to work than if it had been done on Aida
cloth.  All I have left to do are the angel's wings and some backstitch
outlining.  I stopped working on this around 2002.  If my eyes are up
to it, maybe I'll make an effort to complete it sometime this winter.

When I was a teenager I used to spend a lot of evenings babysitting and to pass the time I started knitting baby layettes.  By the time I got married when I was 22, I had no fewer than 13 complete baby sets - sweaters, bonnets and bootees - in my hope-to-God chest.  They all eventually got used and when the time came I started knitting the sets for my grandchildren.  Of course by then I had lots of other things on my hands and mind and only two of the babies received hand-knitted layettes from their Grammie.  Not that I didn't want to knit for them, but I just never finished them.  By that time cross-stitching had taken over from knitting.  It seems I can only concentrate on one craft at a time.  Here are a couple of UFOs in the knitting department that I came across this morning in my search for a needle.

This is the front and back of a sweet little cable knit sweater.  All it needs are
the sleeves and finishing touches.  Unfortunately the pattern wasn't in the
box with the finished portion of the set so I'll have to wait till I locate it
before I can finish it.  I remember making this pattern in blue for my very
first nephew - way back in 1971.

This is the back, sleeve and partially finished second sleeve of the
Quaker set.  It's an extremely simple pattern - maybe that's why I
never finished it - too boring.  I still have the pattern though so maybe
it'll get finished this winter too.

These are some odds and sods of very pretty yarn that was in the box with
the UFOs.  A few years ago I made all the girls hats and scarves for
Christmas with some of this yarn.
I know at home in Edmonton I have a partially finished sweater I started for my 35-year old daughter back when she was 16.  Maybe I'll finish it in time for her 7-year old daughter to wear when she's a teenager!  Also, sitting by my chair in the livingroom at home is a knitting basket containing a partically finished sweater I started making for my 4-year old granddaughter when she was 2.  Do you see a pattern here???

The weather forecasters are predicting a long, cold, snowy winter this year.  Guess I'll just have to sit by my fireside (television) and complete some of these UFOs.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Internet problems, Scrapbook fun, etc.

I was totally without Internet yesterday - don't you hate when that happens - so I spent almost two hours on the phone today (a large portion of it on hold) getting the problem fixed.  My router had malfunctioned so the tech services guy walked me through downloading a new version of it while I still had no access to Internet.  Those guys are magicians.  The upshot is I now have a fully functioning Internet just in time to update my blog before heading to Lethbridge in a couple of hours.

The reason I didn't bother getting the internet fixed yesterday was that Mickey and I were spending the day scrapbooking and I didn't want to take such a huge chunk of time out of our fun.  Some of these layouts are from our previous session, others from yesterday.

Sara's cats, Percy and Mickey, in the snow last year

Two of my daughters, Emily and Sara, and two grandchildren, Charlie and Max, have recently taken up Tae Kwon Do.  They all had testing on Saturday and they all succeeded in breaking their boards.  It was Sara and Emily's first testing session as they've just been at it for a month or so.  Max and Charlie have been doing it for about five months so are ahead of their mother (Sara).  It was a very proud day for them all.  Sara had forgotten to tell me when the testing was being held so I missed it.  Luckily my friend Mickey was there watching her grandson, James, test for his black belt so she took pictures of my crew too.

These two form a two-page layout about our recent trip to the corn maze.

These three are layouts using the pictures I took when I was in Winnipeg in September visiting Mum and Wendy.

And that's it for today.  Now I'll go pack a small bag to take to Lethbridge, and get ready to leave.  Have a nice weekend.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Catching Up

It feels like its been a long time since my last post, but I guess it was only 5 days ago.  It's been very busy here since I got home from Lacombe and my boys.  Here's a self-portrait their parents took while on vacation last week.

SIL Anders and daughter Jenny

They really enjoyed their brief time away so I'm glad I was able to stay with the boys for them.

It's been a busy weekend.  Lloyd's birthday was yesterday but we started celebrating on Saturday.  He and I spent the day together doing all sorts of things.  We bought some cupcakes at our favorite bakery and put a candle in each of them and had our own birthday cake, with no leftovers to tempt us.

62 looks good on Lloyd

We went to the dealership and picked up his 2012 Mazda 6 which he traded in his Dodge Ram Laramie truck for.  We love the car...a nice change from the big, expensive to operate truck.

His last new car before retirement

Saturday evening we went to Rob and Cindy's place for dinner and birthday cake.  Anson and Brooklyn blew out the candles for him.

Anson moved in quickly and blocked Lloyd's face - bad angle on my part

On Sunday I babysat four grandkids at Sara's while Lloyd went golfing with Rob.  Then we had dinner at Sara's with yet another birthday cake!

With help from Charlie and Max.  Love the monster cake.

Then yesterday, his actual birthday, we spent another quiet day together and in the evening went to Amy's place pie...a pleasant change from all the cake we ate all weekend.  Amy and Curtis had just got home from a trip to Minnesota so there was lots of catching up to do, and visiting with the kids.

And that's it for Lloyd's birthday.  I'm not sure how, why or when our birthday celebrations began to be days or week long events, but that seems the norm for us now.  Lloyd said it was his best birthday ever.  (I think it's because the older he gets the harder it is for him to remember any birthdays before the current one ;) lol)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adventures with James

Today is my last day here in Lacombe with the boys. The last two days while the four older ones have been at school James and I have gone out exploring and, as James puts it, having an adventure.  We won't be doing that today though because it's been raining all morning and James came down with a stomach virus last night that laid him low for quite awhile - he still has a slight fever today, although he denies it.  At least he isn't throwing up anymore.

Lacombe is a lovely little town with French/Catholic origins, named after an early settler, Father Lacombe.  The downtown area has retained it's original architecture and has been kept up very nicely.   James and I stopped yesterday to take a picture of one of their more famous buildings, the flatiron building.

Mostly though we explored the natural aspects of the town.  Here are some of the things we found in our adventures.

The lake behind the Junior High School.  In the winter this lake is cleared and maintained as a public skating rink.

A stand of cattails, in varying stages of bursting.

The ruins of an old tree house in the woods

Another lake with beautiful reflections of trees and buildings

And a peaceful duck pond with one lonely duck on it

After the boys got home from school and until they went to bed, my laptop and iPad got a real workout. They took turns checking them both out and trying out the games  and programs I have on them.  At one point I thought my MacBook had crashed but when Jonah came home it took him about 3 minutes to 'fix' it for me.  It's so nice to have smart grandsons.

Jonah (15) fixing my laptop

James (3), Nate (10) and Micah (6) playing on the laptop.

Sam (13) with Eadie on his shoulder using the iPad.

These boys have been a joy to be around.  They're so smart and funny.  They've been spoken to like adults since they were babies so they're not at all hesitant to sit and converse with adults (me!).  We had a good time.  I'm glad they just live an hour and a half down the highway from us so we can see them quite often.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Down the Highway

I headed down the highway bright and early this morning to spend three days with five of my grandsons while their parents go to Banff for a couple of days.  It's a glorious fall day, bright and sunny and perfect for being out and about.  I'm usually with Lloyd or a friend when I do any highway driving but today I was on my own, feeling free and happy and ready to face the care and feeding of five boys ranging in age from almost 4 to 15.   The hour and a half drive passed quickly (probably because my car loves to go fast and I have a heavy foot on the gas).

As I was driving along I couldn't help but remember the last time I drove down this highway by myself almost four years ago.  Conditions were different then.  It was winter.  Snow and ice were part of the landscape, and the road.  It was midnight.  I was alone.  I had left home in a hurry, stopping long enough to throw a coat on over my pyjamas and gloves for my hands, and a bag of clothes for a quick change in the morning.

I had just had a phone call from Jenny.  She was expecting her fifth baby in January but something had gone wrong and Anders had to take her to the hospital 20 kms away immediately.  This was Dec.  6.  They couldn't wait for me to get there but headed out shortly before I was due to arrive at their place.   I made it there in record time and checked to see that the four boys were still asleep and oblivious to the drama playing out in their family.

Anders kept in touch with me through the early hours of the morning via cell phone and called me when little James was born - 5 weeks early.  He was put in in NICU right away for extra care.  Jenny was tired and worried but fine otherwise.  Anders came home before the boys woke up and was there to tell them the exciting, but unexpected, news of the early arrival of their little brother.  It was heartwarming to witness their excitement over the new little guy.  This family does love it's babies.

Anders and James
Later that day I was able to go to the hospital and visit Jenny and James.  He looked so tiny in his isolette with wires and tubes attached to his tiny body.  He was doing well though and was home for Christmas. Today he's just short of 4 years old and has no ill affects of rushing headlong into this life.

James today, squinting in the sun

I'm glad my drive today was undramatic, during the bright sunshine, on bare roads, and worry-free.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Color of Fall

The ground this morning was covered in a fine sheen of frost, a sure sign that winter can't be far behind.  Already the trees have shed most of their leaves and what delicate plants left in the garden by careless gardeners have blackened with the touch of frost. 

Before the colors are all gone for the winter months, I thought I'd post some pictures of my favorite fall (or anytime) color - orange.  I've loved orange for many years, although I hesitate to call it my favorite color because I love so many of them, but orange holds a special place in my heart.  Here, then, are some of my favorite oranges.

Sunset in Arizona

Oranges we picked ourselves

Fruit on the tangerine tree

Orange rose from a Mother's Day bouquet

Pumpkins in a Fall table display

My table lamp, which gives a beautiful soft glow at night
The vase Lloyd bought for the hearth

Scrapbooking embellishments - ribbons, flowers, buttons, etc.

The sky at Sunrise after a storm
The last leaves of autumn.

Orange - the perfect color for fall - and anytime of the year.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good-bye Sweet Chester

We lost a special family member over the thanksgiving weekend.  We knew the end was inevitable and soon, but it was still a very sad passing.

This was taken in May, the last time Lloyd and I saw Chester.

Chester was an eight or nine year old bull mastiff.  Mary and Greg got him from a breeder when he was a couple of months old, before they had any children.  When Mary got pregnant we were all concerned about how such a huge dog would interact with a baby, but he proved to be very protective of her, and of her brother Baron when he joined Chester's pack a few years later. 

For some reason, he didn't like men too much, but learned to like Lloyd eventually, and he was always happy to see me - dancing and peeing in his enthusiastic greeting when I came to visit.  He came to trust and like Lloyd too, but was very watchful one day when Lloyd was teaching 4-year old Layla to hit some golf balls.  When he saw Lloyd swinging a club around Layla, he moved in growling low in his throat to warn Lloyd that he better not hurt 'his' girl.

Lloyd and Chester

Layla and Chester

Lloyd, Chester, Layla and Greg

Chester always accompanied the family on their long walks in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of BC and particularly enjoyed playing in the river along their walking trails.

He was a great guard dog.  Whenever anyone came near the house he'd terrify them with his deep, throaty bark - there was no doubt to visitors that there was a large dog on the premises.  I think he topped the scales at 165 lbs.  But he was always gentle with his kids and let them crawl all over him and pull his ears and tail.  He even slept with Layla sometimes.

He's had health problems this past year and at the end had only the use of one front leg and one back one on the opposite side.  He still appeared happy though and it was only when he started moaning and looking sad and sick that the final decision was made.  The vet who had been treating him for several years kept him as healthy as he could for as long as he could, but when it became too much for Chester to bear, they had to put him out of his pain.  He had bone cancer which gradually affected all his limbs.

Family picture 3 years ago.
So it was a sad thanksgiving weekend for Mary, Greg, Layla and Baron.  But they know they did what was best for Chester.

RIP sweet Chester. We'll miss you.  


I Don't Feel So Good

Is that not pathetic! Don't you just want to tell that person to crawl back into bed and hide for the next couple of days!   Don't you feel sooo sorry for me!

Actually, I'm feeling better.  Day three of a head cold - and it's never a pretty sight.  Especially when the picture is taken at 5:30 am just minutes after being coughed awake.  I managed to stagger to the computer - I have my priorities! - and wrapped up in Lloyd's 'special' blanket.  I'm going to go now and shower and dress and get ready to ride herd on a particularly active one year old, who has already had this cold.  In face, I think I got it from him, his siblings, and/or cousins, all of whom I interacted with this past weekend.

I have all afternoon to rest and recuperate.  Got to.  Have a date with Mickey tomorrow, and on Monday or Tuesday (I can't think straight right now or I'd know the exact day) I'm off to Lacombe to take care of Jenny's five boys while she and Anders get away for a much needed kid free break.

So I haven't felt much like blogging these past few days.  I'll be back in a day or so.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkins and scarecrows and mazes, oh my!

Yesterday Lloyd and I and two of our daughters and their families went to a corn maze out in the farm country around Edmonton.  It was a beautiful fall day - sunny and cool and bright - perfect for our outing.

It was more than just a maze - there was a haunted house, and conscession stands, pumpkin patches, scarecrow making areas, petting zoo, and much, much more.  We took in as much as we could with 8 kids between the ages of 1 and 9 years old.

Here's an overview of some of the fun we had.

Part of a beautiful display ast the entrance of the farm

Kenzie, Sydney and Aidan with their pumpkins.  The girls have a
Harry Potter lightning bold painted on their foreheads.

Quinn tried to pick up every pumpkin she saw and take a bit out of them.

Aidan loved the scarecrow he made in the scarecrow barn

Max, Charlie and Kenzie are busy stuffing their scarecrow's head

We bought some delicious fudge at this candy shack.

Pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors were all over the place.

This beautiful owl watched over the pumpkin barn.

These live scarecrows wandered all over the grounds visiting with people and
having their pictures taken.

Six of our kids, with ice cream cones all over their faces
rode the wagon over to the corn maze.

There was a parking lot full of hearses with various gruesome creatures in them.

Kenzie, Elly, Aidan, Max, Charlie and Sydney at the entrance to the
Great Prairie Corn Maze

SIL Curtis riding herd on the kids as they made their way through the maze.

Elly and Max resting after their trip through the maze.

So thst was our very fun day in the country on this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend.  To all my fellow Canadians, I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.