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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Wonderful Surprise

The day after Christmas the first mail delivery in days brought a surprise gift from my blogging friend, Kathy. She felt bad that this beautiful pillow didn't arrive in time for Christmas, but actually the timing was exquisite. I awoke that day feeling terrible and spent most of the day in bed, and her wonderful surprise was a real pick-me-up! Thank you so much, Kathy. Your stitching is lovely, and your pillow is a real treasure! Some day I hope we can meet face-to-face.
A Beautiful Gift

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Birthday Farewell

Today marked the end of the fastest week in 2008! As I am posting this, our Chicago family is headed back home, and we are reflecting on a wonderfully busy visit despite the snow that kept us pretty much housebound until today. David started off the morning stirring up a batch of Snowman Soup with recipe and ingredients provided by Pat Winter. I doubt she knew how happy she'd make one little guy who was a little grumpy when he got up. Thanks, Pat!
After we all got dressed, we left our driveway without a struggle for the first time in days and met our two older kids at a nearby restaurant for brunch because it was Auntie's birthday. Yesterday I baked a Cocoa Cola Cake, our traditional birthday feast, while Sophia napped. (I woke up around midnight on Friday feeling absolutely wretched and spent the whole day sleeping off some kind of bug. That plus the fact that we got another 8" of snow caused us to cancel the Open House scheduled for yesterday.) So while I baked, everyone else went to the Museum of Flight, the only outing since Tuesday, except for Christmas Eve when only Dick and I went to join the choir in singing at 3 services. The restaurant very kindly allowed us to serve the cake for dessert! (I did ask.)
Happy Birthday, Auntie!
We've had a fun and hectic week that was made possible by the generosity of our two younger children who pooled their miles to bring their sister's family home. Isn't it fun when kids grow up and get along? We feel truly blessed to have spent this time together.
Fooling around with Uncle

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Snowy Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! This is probably the snowiest December in our area since 1990. We had snow again, starting on Saturday afternoon, that continued for much of yesterday. On Saturday morning we had a great choir rehearal with the orchestra, and everyone had a fine time putting the finishing touches on our altered program....rehearsal Thursday had been canceled due to snow. That evening we faced the challenge of two trips to the airport to pick up our Chicago family. Jill's flight was only a little bit late, but Michael and David's flight had many delays and arrived at about 3AM sans luggage. Thankfully our son did that pickup, and everyone was home safely, tucked in bed by 4:30AM. When we awoke, our backyard looked like this:
More Snow
The choir concert for Sunday morning was canceled before we went to bed, but Dick and Michael made two trips out, one to fetch Auntie Catherine in Seattle and the other to retrieve the suitcases. Both missions were accomplished, and we spent a great day together, warm and cozy in our snow-covered house. The arrival of the suitcases meant that I faced another challenge, fixing David's sweater. As you can see, Sophia's looks great.
Miss Blue Eyes
Fortunately, I was able to open up the shoulder seaming without too much difficulty while David helped Opa with the train setup. Right now everyone is napping/resting while we await news whether tonight's choir rehearsal will actually happen. Christmas Blessings to All from this snowy corner of the map!
Helping Opa

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowy Days and Nights!

Snow here in Bellevue and Seattle pretty well shuts everything down. And so it was yesterday when we awoke to snow that continued well into the afternoon. For the first time since we joined choir in 1995, rehearsal was cancelled and rescheduled for tonight. (Luckily we had already changed our tickets for the 5th Avenue performance of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers!) My one day stint of jury duty was also cancelled! And I sure got a lot done with these gifted hours! More snow is predicted for Saturday night and Sunday, so who knows whether we'll actually get to sing our Advent concert. Today we absolutely HAVE to venture out to stock our cupboards for the arrival of Jill and family tomorrow.
Front Yard
Look what the poor little critters have to contend with out back!
More Snow
It seems that every holiday includes a touch of sadness whether it's an illness or the unexpected passing of someone dear to us. Just this past Wednesday we had a phone call from Dick's cousin with the news that Auntie Del had passed away on Tuesday evening. We are so very thankful that we were able to visit her last fall and have fond memories of chatting, driving around, and eating together. Little did we realize that would be our last time together in this lifetime! She is the last of that generation of Shaws and will be terribly missed, but so fondly remembered.
We'll miss you, Auntie Del
Choosing a Christmas tree this year took us all of five minutes as it was absolutely pouring rain. Our Scottish ancestry causes us to look for bargains, and this is what we found: not bad, I think. Every year I like to hang the little orange ornament which, up close, looks rather like an apricot. It has hung on every tree since my childhood and brings back many wonderful memories of long ago Christmases everytime I see it.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keeping the Ladies Busy

Can you even imagine being confined to the hospital at this time of year? That's the case for the Antepartum ladies in the ward where I teach knitting each week. Being there is a good thing for them because skilled care means the difference often of a healthy baby or one who has to spend fewer days in Intensive Care (NICU), but, oh, the hours and days pass slowly. With this in mind, I often search the Internet for interesting, and relatively easy, knitting projects. I found a wonderful source of all sorts of free craft patterns here. Among them I chose these:
Holiday Projects
Interestingly enough, the ladies seemed to prefer this pattern by Danish knitter Vivian Hoxbro. Her website includes many beautiful and free patterns. This bear has an interesting history and is a fun puzzle to put together as it's knit in ONE piece except for the arms. I felt rather like a surgeon when I sewed the final seam! Try one, they are fun to do.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moose, Meese? Whichever Spells Trouble!

Question: If the plural of "goose" is "geese," why isn't the plural of "moose," "meese?" "Why?" is what I asked myself in the middle of this project, holiday vests for Sophia and David. I'd seen this cute moose on a sweater made by a choir friend. Well, this little devil fought me the whole way...twice! I did lots of frogging, finally finished both of them and sent them off. "Why?" is what I asked myself once again when I learned that David couldn't get his vest over his head! Maybe I should stick to Poof scarves? Or mittens? Or hats? The Vests
Our son-in-law sent this photo of the vest recipients having fun together. They are coming here for Christmas and bringing the misbehaving moose for me to fix. I hope I can!
Tickle, tickle
Unlike the vests, this scarf is a fast, easy project. I am really beginning to like Cascade yarn as there are so many varieties, some fancy and some very practical. The scarves are made with a ball of Kiddo and 2 balls of Poof. You can see the many choices here, a much too convenient way to shop!
Poof Scarf #4

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Flora and Fauna at the Beach

In roaming around the beach in Oregon a few weeks ago, we stumbled across some interesting plants and animals. Some were not too surprising like the herd of elk in a field near Seaside while others challenged our identification skills. This piece of driftwood was covered with what looked like shells. Upon a closer look, we saw that many of the shells had an odd protuberance which was moving! When we got back to our condo, we discovered an article we'd saved that provided the answer: razo clams.
Razor Clams
On another walk, we found some interesting and very colorful mushrooms. In searching the Internet, I think they are a type called Amanita muscaria and while beautiful, also deadly.
Amanita muscaria
The tide was very high this time, and as a result we saw lots of critters that were stranded on the beach, including this poor jellyfish.
Cannon Beach has rabbits everywhere! Last summer we read in the local paper that the bunnies are all related to a pair of rabbits that were set loose over 30 years ago. Where we stayed was quite a ways south of our normal bunny sightings, so imagine our surprise when we saw this little guy (gal?) in the bushes outside our condo!
Flopsy or Peter?
When we were up at the Astoria Tower, we could hear barking off in the distance, and sure enough, right near the cannery a number of sealions were making their presence known. I stopped counting at 30! They were lounging on a pier and quite particular about letting any new residents join their forces, shoving and barking loudly to keep their spot in the sun.
This is my good side, I think.
While we go to the beach for recreation, we are always aware that the ocean is a place of commerce as well. We enjoy listening to the daily shipping reports and watching the variety of vessels off shore. I can remember long ago reading about the mighty Columbia and the vast Pacific; it's quite another thing to see them first hand.
Working Hard

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Keeping the Peace

What has life been like with two cats, you ask? Well, at first Ginger refused to even walk down the hall next to the room where Mocha was housed. (All the books said to "take it slow.") When I carried her down the hall, she would hiss at the door. She was curious though and soon we were able to let Mocha out for a short while. As soon as one of them started to hiss, Mocha went back to her room.
It's been almost a month now since we brought Mocha inside. She has filled out nicely and no longer eats like a little vacuum cleaner. Ginger and she are slowly becoming friends. A couple of days ago I was reminded of the time long ago, way before carseats were required for kids, when I was the "human barrier" in the back seat of the car, . Someone sat up front with Dick, and I sat in the back in the middle, keeping the peace. And here I was back in my role, only this time with furry "children" on the futon.
The Human Wall
Now, however, they've been inching closer with only an occasional hissing match. It will be interesting to see what happens next!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Catching Up with Noah

Retreating to the beach is a great way to get caught up with all kinds of projects. I finally finished October's Noah BOM and most of November's. That one got the last few stitches here at home. Cannon Beach offers no distractions other than gorgeous views and invitations to go walk the beach. In between is lots of time for stitching and reading.
October BOM
Oops, one big distraction I forgot to mention is SHOPPING! But after a trip to the yarn and quilt shops for me, and the bakery for Dick, we settle in and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Sorry Kris, but you're way ahead on the borders! See the link on the sidebar for these fun and free patterns by Lynette Anderson. Gotta run.... It's time to finish the Cranberry Fluff salad for our dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome, Annalise!

Annalise, my sister's fourth grandchild, was born on the eve on the Presidential (actually she was born in the morning that day!) election, November third. Isn't she a sweetie, and doesn't Gramma Jane look pleased?
Gramma Jane and Annalise
I finally got this sweater put together and mailed with Dick's help. This is one time I was really glad that the ultrasound was correct....don't know what I'd have done if it hadn't been. This sweater just wouldn't work for a little boy!
Thinking Pink
Annalise is our seventh grand niece! She joins her sweet sister Chloe who is almost three. (We also have 3 grand nephews.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cannon Beach Getaway

Last week, since we didn't have to sing on Sunday, we spent a long weekend at Tolovana in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The weather was amazingly balmy, better than any previous trip. Due to the high tide, we couldn't walk out to Haystack Rock, but we did have fun exploring new places. Bridge to Washington
The Astoria Tower is on a high hill overlooking the Columbia River and affords some great views in all directions. The tower, temporarily closed for repair, is an interesting structure which tells the history of Oregon through beautiful scraffito carvings.
Astoria Tower
The mouth of the Columbia is a dangerous place. A plaque says that over 2000 ships met disaster in its currents. The rusted remains of the Peter Iredale which was beached in 1906 can be seen poking up through the sand.
Peter Iredale
We took lots of walks on the beach and even encountered a little girl in a bathing suit who was rock-collecting. My rock-collecting attire included a hooded jacket!
Rock Collecting
The tide was too high to walk on the beach at Hug Point, but we were treated to a beautiful view of the trees in the sunlight instead.
Hug Point
Without the distractions of technology, we also get a lot accomplished in the evenings....the Christmas card envelopes are stamped and addressed, and I finished several projects and a book! And oh yes, there's a great quilt shop and a yarn shop in Cannon Beach, my idea of an ideal place to visit! Four days weren't nearly long enough!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bookworm Award

Kathy gave me a Bookworm award and guessed that the closest book to my computer would either be a knitting book or a children's book. just so happened that she was almost correct. The mail, which I was opening, had just arrived and in it was a new (to me) Maggie Sefton knitting MYSTERY, A Killer Stitch, part of a newly discovered series I've been reading lately. As an added bonus, each book includes a knitting pattern and a recipe! As for the fifth sentence on page 56, it is: "Curt rested one leg on his knee." And he continues to say, "Kelly, I've decided to proceed with the same plan, only go a little slower. There's no need for us to sell what's left of the herd right away." To find out what in the world this has to do with knitting or a mystery, I guess you'll just have to take the plunge and read the book, too! And if you feel like participating in this challenge, go right ahead and grab the nearest book, check out page 56, and post the 5th sentence and a few of the following ones on YOUR blog.

And while you're doing that, I'm going to add a crazy photo we took last summer at Yellowstone. I'll bet you didn't know about this alien sighting!
Alien Sighting

Friday, November 14, 2008

Almost Finished!

One of the projects that I worked on in Chicago and haven't finished is a heart sachet; the pattern was a free download for a time on Knit Daily and, I think, was once featured in Interweave Knits. It's a fun little project, and all I have left to do is to stuff it with lavender and sew it up. There are 3 others, too!
Eventual Sachet
We are headed off to Cannon Beach, OR, this morning, so I thought I'd include a couple of photos left over from our visit to the Botanical Gardens in Chicago. If you're ever anywhere even close, it's worth a visit to see the ever-changing exhibits.
Lombard Street
Flowers and Family

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rain, Leaves, and "Sno"

We are having a spell of warm and mostly rainy days, a "mini-pineapple express" according to the weather folk. Today though, the rains haven't yet appeared, so we snuck outside and finally planted some daffodils (to fool the squirrels) and tulips. Generally the squirrels take note of this event, thinking that their gourmet restaurant is back in business, and devour the tulips immediately. Hopefully, the daffodils will ward off the little thieves. At least the bag promised that they are "deer and critter resistant." Time will tell. The trees are dumping their leaves at an incredible rate; Dick's been raking daily. Our backyard is still pretty greeen, and in one spot the beauty berry reigns supreme.
Beauty Berry
With no snow in sight here, thankfully, I've been trying to find a few easy projects for the antepartum ladies at our local university hospital. These are women confined in the hospital thanks to a pregnancy that's become complicated enough to require hospitilzation. (One woman came up here from CA in July for a wedding and was finally allowed to go home about a week ago....with a healthy baby boy.) Knitting helps the moms-to-be pass the time in addition to allowing me a very fun volunteer opportunity. This pattern by Chris de Longpre caught my eye; next I'm going to try an ornament, a tree pattern, which I found online.
Small SnoBuddy

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Introducing Mocha!

On Halloween we made a big decision: we rescued a kitty that we'd seen around our house all summer and who'd been a more or less permanent resident of our backyard since we got back from Chicago. Since the temperature was dropping and the rain moved in, and I discovered that she'd been declawed and was therefore defenseless against the raccoons, we took her in. The vet discovered that she has an unregistered microchip, so we now have a second kitty that's terribly thin but happy to be dry and warm. Ginger, however, isn't sure about this interloper, but hasn't hissed at all today. We're still keeping them separate but hopefully soon they'll get along!
After the rains quit this afternoon, we went for a walk and finally remembered to take the camera. The specific tree we'd hoped to capture didn't have a single leaf left, but this one more than made up for that. I don't remember a fall as beautiful as this one!
Autumn Glory

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To the Rescue

One of David's favorite interests is FIREMEN and anything related. He especially loves the "Firefighter George" video series and has figured out the prescribed fire fighting gear from his own resources. He's getting remarkably fast at donning all this equipment!
Firefighter David
He has also been interested in my knitting and stitching projects. This time I let him pull a few threads and quickly learned he'd be nice to have around to thread needles as he can even do the tiny ones. While in Chicago, I did finish my September Noah's Ark BOM. Now on to October as time is running out..........
Noah's Ark BOM 7

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicago Memories

We are home again after ten busy, fun-filled days in the Midwest. The trees this year have been just beautiful everywhere we've gone, and especially so at Sylvan Lake where Jill and Michael live. For most of the time we were there the weather was pleasant and fallish. (These orange trees are for Rian!)
Sylvan Lake
One afternoon we all went to the Botanical Gardens, mainly to see their model train exhibit which would soon close for the season. David loves any and all trains, and we enjoyed this exhibit too, as it recreates some well known tourist spots, including a few from Washington State. Incidentally, all the train scenery is constructed of living materials.
Pike Place Market
The chrysanthemums at the gardens were abundant and spectacular! I've never seen them used in such profusion as they are all throughout the Chicago area.
Purple Mums
The highlight of our visit though was the time spent with our grandchildren, just many precious moments to store atill the next time we see them. We are both very grateful to Jill and Michael for always making us feel so welcome. The days flew by, and here we are doing our usual unpacking routine and savoring our memories.
Reading Time
Miss Blue Eyes