Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fresh and New



Everything is coming up blossoms here in the Fraser Valley. We are spending time in the garden, but I don't call it gardening because it's spreading bark mulch or edging: that's landscaping. Making everything tidy for us sit next to the blossoms and enjoy.
 My Handbrake cowl finished up quickly and very successfully. I knit it as part of the Gratitude KAL with The Fat Squirrel Speaks and it was a delight. The colour, the soft single merino yarn, and the pattern were all a pleasure.

 I am delighted by the fungi that show up in our garden. With a north facing back yard, lined by fir trees, poplars and cedars, we get our share of the rain forest ambience.
 Finished another Waffles blanket. I had already knit an ivory one for this baby, but I couldn't resist breaking out the blue stash when they announced they are having a boy. This is one lucky baby to have such a sweet nurse as its mom. Not due till August, but I couldn't resist.
 Another of my favourite things? The soft as a kitten's paw new growth on the evergreen trees.
 One of our knitters is spear heading a cat blanket drive for the SPCA. I used some of my FIL's yarn he needed for rug hooking and practiced crocheting in the round. I like crochet, but it hurts my right hand. There are subtleties I need to explore. When I read Attic 24's blog, I am drawn to ripple blankets.
 This is the beautiful and perfect Rosalie. She was born just 4 days before this picture. Her mom is one of my favourite people and knitters. I got to give a bath demonstration. Can't tell you how happy that makes me. I started as a paediatric nurse and I gave the bath demo both times I was in hospital having my own babies. But there is no post artem in hospital now. We had such a fun knitting baby shower for these two, and I won the baby pool- which is yarn!

 Over the moon about my lilacs. They seem so early. At their feet, I have planted lily of the valley. And a duck, apparently.
 This is for Rosalie. She has another shower this week. I couldn't resist. I have had this yarn and patten for almost 3 years. A new tack in my stash down is to just knit those things I have planned. It doesn't matter if they go in the gift drawer or turn out to be something for me. All the indecisions around what to cast on need to be calmed down. I am enjoying carving into my queue.
 My trail is glorious. The poplars have baby leaves and they offer greater privacy now that I can see people using the trail from my sun room/lab.
 One of my favourite flowers. The dog wood is British Columbia's provincial flower. This tree is really giving it her all this year.
Jean thought it would be a good idea to use up some of the donated yarn to make blanket squares. I was hoping for a bigger response. But I have to thank her, and two of the Barbs for joining me in knitting 12 inch squares. It's not the prettiest blanket, but it is soft and warm. The blocks are now sewn together (only took one evening) and I'm crocheting around the edge until I run out of the blue fuzzy yarn. I think it was from my sister's stash. This blanket, with the other blue one, will be donated to the local youth shelter.
And we are off again on a trip. Carly's health has levelled out. We are headed to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Can you say bucket list? I am taking my Melassina shawl in a soft bamboo silk blend and the neglected cross stitch Christmas stocking for D. Not sure how that will work out, but I shall pack my good intentions with the sunscreen and warm weather gear.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Easter Weekend



 Preparations for Easter feast began even before Lent. My nephew has moved home from Brazil and his partner has not experienced Canadian beers. Well, my kids are experts at craft beers and enjoy all the variety in locally made beers of Victoria. We decided to celebrate the fact that our babies are now young adults and very good at having fun. There were big batches of cookies. (while watching Stockinette Zombies).
There was a huge ham and potato salad and other salads. Very picnic. My favourite kind of food. I had my parents and a sister, lots of nephews and their spouses, and even my BFF and her son, my honorary nephew, home from Oxford for a visit.
 The Chilliwack Common Threads Knitting Circle wanted to thank my church for sharing a space for our community every Tuesday evening from 7-9 pm, so I got to present a gift of 41 hand made dish cloths.
 My kids came home! This means there is serious grilled cheese, lots of trumpet music and cozy pizza and video night.
 We went out to dinner with D's parents.
 I was there, too.
 Our tradition is to celebrate Sunrise Service on Easter morning at our rustic country cemetery. It is a time of joy and we have guests we don't see otherwise.
 D does the trumpeting, even when he still has a nasty cold from Mexico. My good news is that my back is mostly better and I was able to play the bass drum at practice last night. Still not going back.
 One of our favourite parts of the Easter feast: devilled eggs. I made 2 dozen and there weren't many left. There wasn't  much food left over at all.
 My nephew brought his new puppy, Max, and she was very good. Carly was a grumpy old lady and growled at her, so we kept them apart. Carly got the house.
 When cousins come over, there are always board games!
 Jean made Victoria Sponge with her own lemon curd. I was all on fire to make this after watching Kay on the Bakery Bears. It was just as good as it looks.
 Also from Bakery Bears is a new cowl pattern called Handbrake. I bought it the moment it came out because all proceeds go to Cancer Research and obiwanknitter, Dan, is a Cancer survivor. As a nurse, I don't get to see the happy results of successful treatment very often. And the way they have told their story fills me with hope (very Easter).
 The yarn I chose (from my stash) happens to match the jelly beans that mom brought as a hostess gift. It is done and blocking now because it is very simple and addicting to knit. I have two skeins queued for gift knitting. It is certainly a great pattern to knit for men.
Gardens are blooming all over here. The only snow we have is from blossoms falling. I hope that spring comes soon to those who have battled the weather all winter.
 For next winter, I have finished the Sockhead hat. This will be a gift. Such lovely Mountain Colours yarn and good manly colours. It was a divine travelling companion.
 Did I say I am happy to be home?
 Also finished the Declan hat after a false start. This yarn is thicker than it first seemed. So I knit the smallest size and, after blocking, it is still big enough for even my Paw's head. Astounding! Still stash diving. I am torn about starting the Messulina shawl. The only yarn I have that is suitable was actually donated to the knitting circle. I shall call the donator and ask if I can substitute another yarn for donation. Everything is coming up dk and I have worsted, fingering and lace weight. Enough yarn that I shouldn't be buying more. Perhaps when we are in Sedona, I can find some dk. Or some cashmere for the 3 colour cashmere cowl. Instead I should be stashing down harder.
My kids and their silly dog. Emily bathed and brushed her so nicely. The dog was so happy to have her kids at home. After a scare last month, we wanted to get pictures with her before they went back to Vancouver Island to their work and study.
Such a lovely weekend with family and friends. We are called to celebrate and live in the good parts of our lives.

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.