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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Valentine Mystery SAL

One of the projects that's been keeping me busy is Pamela Kellogg's Valentine Mystery Stitch Along. She's already posted all four parts, but I'm still slowly working my way through Part 1. It's been a while since I've done any cross stitching, and I've never done anything with so many close color changes. One thing that really helped me stay on track was a hint from someone to color in each section as it was completed. I've finished more than is shown here and have only two leaves and backstitching to do before I can go on to the second part.....wonder how long that will take?!
Valentine Mystery SAL

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Moon

Just one week ago, the sky was so clear that we decided to drive north toward the mountains after Dick's dentist appointment and were rewarded with some fabulous photo opportunities of the moon rising over the mountains. This week no one is driving much of anywhere, and schools are closed because of the snow that fell overnight. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Can You Guess What This Is?

Last week I made an interesting little project and thought it would be fun to show all the pieces to the puzzle. What do you think it will be?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chasing the Janu-Feb Blahs!

Miniature Violets from Deanna
I just heard something on NPR that described this time of year as "Janu-Feb" and thought it just perfect! It's been surprisingly clear and cold (for us) here this week which sometimes portends snow when the temperatures warm up and the rain returns. Two of our indoor plants graced us with blossoms recently, a sure guarantee to chase the winter-time blahs. At least there's more time for stitching and other projects without feeling guilty for not chasing the weeds outside!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comfort Quilts

Last summer when our choir went to Russia, they took along more than 75 lap quilts made by choir members and friends. These were given to children under hospice care in the hope that they'd provide a bit of love and comfort to the recipients. Due to health issues, we had to cancel out of this trip, but my friends saw to it that I also received a comfort quilt. First, I received one from 3 of my choir friends. They chose a pattern without knowing that fallen in love with that very pattern the first time I saw it a few weeks earlier.

Then, my quilt group gave me the teacup quilt that we'd been working on as a group since 2004 when I brought back the blue flowered fabric from Copenhagen, one of the places Dick and I went after our last choir trip. My friend Cathy quilted it after I pieced it with the blocks that everyone made using the fabric. Can you see the doll reading that she quilted to represent my work with adult learners?

Both quilts were given to me at a point in my treatment when I was physically and mentally exhausted. The caring and love in each stitch of these treasures helped me through the last hard weeks of radiation, but more than that they serve as a constant reminder of my wonderful friends. I feel so blessed!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Catherine's Scarf

The ends are hidden, and the scarf is ready to go with Catherine's new black coat. The yarn is the same type as used in Jill's scarf, just a different colorway. For some reason, the camera gives the yarn a bluish cast, but it's actually black, grey, and white with a bit of a sparkle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ginger, Guardian of the Stash

The other day Ginger took over my spot on the couch and decided to nap right in the middle of my various projects. If you look carefully, you might be able to recognize them all!

Monday, January 14, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes!

It was snowy like crazy here tonight, and now the moon is out! Even the smallest amount of snow makes our hills pretty challenging, so who knows whether we'll go anywhere tomorrow. Oh well, I bought some yarn and floss today, so I am set no matter what...oh, and groceries, too!

I've been working away on my Fall CQ block...only two seasons behind or so. I'm finding working without a pattern kind of challenging but also liberating.

Then the other project I finished today was this little rabbit made from 1 knit square. It's a complimentary pattern from HeartStrings Fiberarts and has great directions! It was fun to do and actually turned out just like the photo! I also am almost done with a scarf for Catherine...just have to sew in the ends and it'll be finished.

One Eagle Closer Up

Last night it was getting late, so I decided to post this view of one of the bald eagles this morning. They are so majestic and regal in their bearing, even if they are scanning for fish!

Here's another bird from a different trip. We learned at a Ranger talk several years ago that juvenile eagles are all brown and that their heads don't turn white until they're about 5 years old.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Eagle Watching

Today the skies were blue in Seattle! With this in mind, we hopped in the car after church and headed north. Lest you think it's not still winter here in Washington, take a look at this photo taken at a roadside park in Rockport.

In the winter months bald eagles from Alaska and Seattle winter on the Skagit and Nooksak rivers because they can feast on plenty of salmon that spawn here. At this particular park, volunteers set up telescopes for viewing the birds, and today was no exception. Dick got a couple of good shots here, but on down the road away from the official viewing site, we spotted at least 5 more of the stately birds. It was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More Surprises in January!

This morning when we went on our walk, we saw all sorts of signs that this has been an unusually warm winter thus far. First, we saw a cherry trying to bloom! Sometimes they do that around Christmas, and it's a sure sign that the weather has been warmer than normal. Beneath it is a hawthorne, I think, which is also full of buds and opening blooms. (Note the grey skies in the background; that is definitely our normal January sky.)

Here's a close up of the cherry. In the spring when all the cherries are in full bloom, walking through our neighborhood is a real pleasure. (Note the lichens on the branches! They're an indication as to how moist our climate really is.)

But here's the real reason we made a second loop on our walk; the witch hazel is blooming like it always does at this time of year. This bush always reminds me of my mom because she used witch hazel astringent to clean her face, and the first time I saw this bush in bloom, the odor is what helped me identify it. The flowers do look like they should be little witch wigs, don't they? When the sun shines, these flowers are really fragrant and so reminiscent of Mom.

Friday, January 11, 2008

January Surprise!

Primroses are the best! Just when you think that the days couldn't be darker or more grey, they surprise you. The other day I saw them in pots (4 for $5.00) at the grocery store and thought to myself, "It's that time already?" Well, had I just looked outside more closely, I'd have seen these peeking through the leaves in OUR garden! Their cheerful colors drive away the gloom, that's for sure.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Music Ministry Abroad

Linda just sent us a link to her photo album from last summer's MMA choir trip to Russia and Finland. Sadly we had to cancel out due to our mutual health issues, but we did participate in a small way by sending along some quilts for the Russian children's hospice.

This was the fourth trip for our choir, and we participated in 2001 (Croatia, Slovenia, Budapest, Venice and Como, Italy) and again in 2004 (Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic). The most memorable experience in 2001 was singing during a Mass in St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. In 2004 it was singing Psalm 23 at Auschwitz standing on the train tracks at the entrance. It was a holy moment in a place where unspeakable evil occurred, one none of us shall ever forget.
Nothing I'd ever read or seen prepared me for the vast expanse of this place.

This is a photo of a friend and me in front of a poster advertising one of our concerts.

Here we are waiting to enter the church to sing in Mikulov:

Now I find myself wondering where our choir will go next

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas Memories

On Sunday when I was putting away the Christmas ornaments, I stopped a while to look at this little handmade stocking. It's only about 4 inches long, made of felt, and embellished with stitching and beads. Sadly I have no recollection where we got it, probably a local craft fair, but it sure is cute, and someone put a lot of time into making it.

And then on Monday, just when I thought everything had been put away, I found another ornament I made a long time ago from a pattern my friend Jane gave me. It was fun to make, and next year perhaps I'll make some more.

Here's the back view:

It seems as if each little ornament has a story to tell, including the little glass apricot that hung on our tree years and years ago back in Wisconsin. Hopefully it will survive after we're gone, and someone will hang it up, wishing it could talk, too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

David's Grown!

In searching through some old photos, I found this one of David wearing last year's Christmas sweater. My how he's changed? He's a little boy now, not a toddler.

In my other searching and thanks to Ulla, I found a very nice source of cross stitch patterns from Ute in Cologne, Germany. This city is special to us because Catherine spent 3 months there in 1992, studying German, and we have visted Monika, her host mom, several times. I also like Pam Kellog's designs and have joined her Valentine mystery stitching but haven't yet started it. (I am the great procrastinator, remember?) Now I must get serious and work on some of these projects, but first I'm off to Pilates.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Still Christmas at Our House

Despite the fact that the stores all are featuring Valentine items, we still have our Christmas decorations up. They won't come down till tomorrow, Epiphany, and who knows when the train will be put away? (I always hope by Easter!) This is one of the few cross stitch projects I've done and kept; most have been gifts. I fell in love with this pattern at first glimpse because the snowmen reminded me of our of the most fun musical experiences we've had.

After posting the raccoon photo, I realized we didn't have a good photo of Ginger. (She's the black blob in the confrontation photo.) So Dick took this one. In looking back at old pictures, it's very apparent she's now a full grown kitty! And a tough subject as she won't pose in a way that shows her pretty coloring. She's a tortie, has 3 dark legs with a dark stripe down her face, and most photos make her look black, but she's not. When we adopted her last year, we promised to keep her inside, and as you can see on the raccoon picture, our backyard is filled with dangerous critters, lots of them!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jill's Scarf

During the various football games yesterday, I finished this scarf for Jill. It's made from a fun yarn called Little Flowers by Crystal Palace. I love the sparkle, which doesn't show up, and think the leftovers might just work for CQ embellishment as well. Then I started another scarf for Catherine using another colorway of the same yarn. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Beginnings

Last night we had an interesting confrontation at our house. Ginger was running back and forth in front of our patio sliding door and making strange noises. When I finally got up to see what was bothering her, she was nose to nose, protected by the glass in between, with a raccoon that was being encouraged by 2 more raccoons. Dick tried to get a picture, but it turned out quite dark. We've had as many as 7 noisy raccoon visitors at a time out back, but this is the first time for this kind of encounter...a good thing the glass was there, I'd say!

Today is the first day of 2008 and time to get started with new projects. I did, however, finish one last thing yesterday: some socks that were worked on each day enroute to radiation treatments last June. Thankfully, that experience is over, and I am sending them as a birthday gift to my friend Linda who admired them in their half-finished state during their visit then.

Susan's posting today reminded me of a photo Dick took last spring in Sisters, OR. We had yet another visitor, a much friendlier one. Dick kindly takes photos of all my finished projects, but he also takes lots of other great pictures on our trips and of our family.