Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Skechers and Various quotes on Walking

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Today I had to change the laces in my favorite shoes.  Oh the thoughts and memories that went through my mind as I put new laces into these shoes I consider a gift from God......

It was a surprise for me to have the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh and New York City last spring.  Today, as I re-laced these shoes, I couldn't help but think of that trip again.  In Pittsburgh the hotel that C&T Publishing put me in for Spring Quilt Market and the release of my first book, "Embellishing with Anything", was within easy walking distance from the show.  It was a delightful way to discover the downtown core, people- watch and absorb expressions and sights I would have missed by any other mode of transportation.  As well, the days of the market were spent walking from booth to booth and on my feet all day talking to vendors and quilt shop representatives. Unfortunately, I didn't have these yet or I'd have worn them there too!

Walking is a way of being somewhere, rather than striving to arrive.

And that is truly what I did in Pittsburgh.  It was an unforgettable experience.  And I shared it with Jan Krentz, Those were special days I hope to have the opportunity to do over again sometime! 

When I arrived in New York City a week later, meeting two friends there, we again walked everywhere we went, except for our time on the buses and the trains.  But walking was certainly how we spent the majority of our time....and well spent it was too! 

"The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk." ~Mark Twain

This quote very aptly describes our six days walking all over New York City.  Three good friends on an incredible adventure walking and talking everywhere we went....and eating too!

But, by day three in NYC, I knew I was travelling with two women who are a decade or more younger than me.  My feet were killing me! I had to miss out on one evening's activity (the Rockefeller Center) because my feet were just so sore.  But the next day we passed a Skechers store..
...and my love of walking was rekindled the moment I put these shoes on.  We walked all day and well into the night for four more days and I didn't miss one minute, and there was NO breaking in period either!  All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole. ~ Hal Borland

The following quote is especially fitting for a day in Central Park and Tavern on the Green: There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Paul Scott Mowrer

Here's a video on the shoes, and I whole heartedly support everything they say, except they haven't mentioned plantar faciitis, which they are fabulous for.  Watch others on YouTube as well......there are many more people than me that think they're great!

Since returning home, I've walked miles and miles more in these shoes.  I've walked the dog, walked to work, walked on the beach, walked to the store, stood all day teaching classes related to the techniques in my book, and more.  I dread the day when this following quote can be applied to these shoes:  When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson  Luckily I bought two pairs!  YES....I went back and got more before coming home! 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Statler & Waldorf Knitting Bag

This will be the story of the Christmas present I had the MOST fun making this year.

One of my best friends is one that I am lucky enough to spend my days with at work with. She is of like mind, like heart, and the only work mate I’ve ever had who was willing to speak up for me when it might just be at her expense…..but that’s another story. I have worked at the school for 13 years and have no idea how I got along without her with us! She has such a hilarious sense of humour and an incredibly quick wit and sense of sarcasm. Whenever we can manage the time, we go to the staff room for a cup of tea together. We seldom talk of work….it’s what we’re knitting, our children, our family, personal things. Often we are laughing when someone else walks in the room.

One day, one of our favorite teachers came in, glanced at us and said “You two remind me of the two old guys in the balcony on Sesame Street.” We knew “the two old guys”, but couldn’t remember their names so we rushed back to our computers to “google” them (after hassling that teacher about knowing what he watches on TV ….and he doesn’t have children!)

This is what comes up as a description: “Statler and Waldorf are a pair of Muppet characters. They are two ornery, disagreeable old men who first appeared in the television series The Muppet Show heckling the rest of the cast from their balcony seats….. Despite constantly complaining about the show and how terrible some acts were, they would always be back the following week in the best seats in the house.”
Their comments were fraught with sarcasm and double meaning. Here are a couple of examples:

Statler: You think this show is educational?
Waldorf: Yes, it will drive people to read books.

Statler: Well, Waldorf, they finally made it to Broadway.
Waldorf: Yes, and I already bought tickets.
Statler: Are they good seats?
Waldorf: Sure are. They're on the next train out of town.

Statler: This show is awful!
Waldorf: Terrible!
Statler: Disgusting!
Waldorf: See you next week?
Statler: Of course.

And yes, some of these comments are close to what we say to the younger teachers that come in the staff room while we’re in there!

So along comes Christmas and I want to give this special friend a gift that will make her laugh and be useful as well. I have a number of patterns for bags and totes so I went through them for ideas ….the plan being to make her a knitting bag. I taught her to knit socks last school year and this year she gave everyone in her family a pair of socks! More than I can say! Lo and behold I found my pattern by elinor peace bailey for a purse called “Repressed Bag”. See her website here:

And this is the pattern as she designed it.

Now my idea was to do a take-off on this bag and make it into Statler and Waldorf.

Because they are in a balcony and we never see their lower extremities, I just wanted to make the faces look like them. So I used the bag pattern, fabric that looked like an elderly man’s suit, doe suede for the heads and hands, and bits of fur for their hair, eyebrows and moustache.

Here is what I produced. Terry laughed so hard I thought her chair was going to go over backwards when she saw it. It is truly a pleasure to make something for someone special and have it so well received.  That was MY gift! 

Monday, January 18, 2010

2009 in Review - The Good, The Bad and The Experiences

January & February 2009

Winter was memorable in that we had so much snow we wondered if it would ever end. I grew up with snow on the ground for months, but snow on Vancouver Island is different. It doesn’t blow around in drifts and is NOT light to shovel. It’s heavy and wet. It seems Bob and I were shoveling snow every hour for days on end!

But there was a sparkle in all this. I was taking care of two of our granddaughters one Saturday and it was very snowy in the park close to our home, which has a hill in it. Alexcia and Faith were 10 and 6 at this time, so I took them to the park with one garbage bag each to go “tobogganing.” Alexcia, the oldest, obviously thought Grandma was a little loony taking them out with garbage bags but I explained that she would understand once she had tried it. They loved it and had so much fun on that little hill that we were out there for 3 hours. I didn’t toboggan, but I was kept busy getting them set to go and holding onto them until they were ready. The favorite picture in my mind is Faith at the bottom of the hill, trudging upwards for another ride, holding her garbage bag out to the side, and calling out “Gramma, this is SO fun!” But her garbage bag had dropped and she was holding nothing but air. Why oh why didn’t I take my camera!

March 2009

The only thing that stands out in this month is the fact that I went to visit my parents on spring break.  Mum and Dad had worked on some cross stitch squares, all snow man faces....haven't we had enough snow?????  However, while there I assembled all these blocks into a quilt which Mum will bring out for decoration at Christmas.  I was amazed at their stitching.  Dad is 94 and Mum 81 and silly me.....I didn't take a picture of it before leaving! 

April 2009

My first book “Embellishing with Anything” was released April 1. This month was filled with book signing engagements which were fun and very rewarding as everyone was really supportive and complimentary.

It was rewarding to see this come to fruition after almost two years of writing and sewing and proofreading, mailing parcels and emailing and, and, and......a lot of work and time invested, and finally, the results! 

May 2009

The highlight of this month was my trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to attend the Spring Quilt Market followed immediately by a week in New York City with two good friends. I was hosted at the convention by the publisher, and shared a room with Jan Krentz, another author with C&T. It was a wonderful, head-in-the-clouds kind of dream time for me and the best part was meeting and getting to know Jan.

I read somewhere that having "stuff" is not nearly as rewarding as having "experiences".  This trip was an affirmation of that .... the sites I saw, the people I met, the food I ate, the different cultures I witnessed, all added up as far more valuable than any possession I might buy at home.....except of course my books and sewing machine!

And then there was New York City. What can I say except I would go back in a heartbeat and I’d do it with the same two people! It was spectacular in so many ways I’m still absorbing some of the details!
June 2009

Coming back to home and the reality of a person's life after an experience like this could be an anti-climax.  But my home, my husband and even his dog were welcome sights too.  It was nice to be in my own bed, and here's what happened in our yard while I was gone....not Central Park, but pretty nice in it's own right! 

July 2009

July was highlighted by the birth of our 8th grandchild, Crüz. He won our hearts and our summer was very special because we saw him and his parents every single day for a couple of hours. We did not have this privilege with our other grandchildren as they did not live in the same town when they were born. Bob delighted in cooing over this baby on a daily basis! To the point where his dog showed obvious signs of jealousy! Nothing like a new and cheerful baby to bring out the silliness in us!

August 2009

In August my Mum came to visit from Edmonton. She is 81. She was only here for three days and we turned around and drove back to Edmonton. I had promised my 14 year old granddaughter I would take her with me this year and she booked the time off that fitted best at her work. Mum booked her flight on bonus points without calling first so it was a little unfortunate that she only had the three days on the island. That time was filled with visits from our children and grandchildren. An exhausting three days, but totally enjoyable.

We headed out for Edmonton, stopping and spending a night in Vancouver to visit with our son who lived there at the time. That was fun….we had dinner together, lots of laugh and a walk at English Bay….beautiful to say the least. A magical evening ended with a stop for gelato at a sidewalk table.

The next day we headed out on the drive, stopping at my friend Judy’s to stay overnight before finishing up the trip to Edmonton. Melissa loved West Edmonton Mall. First we went to the rides and she did all the adrenalin-rush ones…..I took pictures. Then we went to the pool. I love to swim so this part was easy for me. Melissa enjoyed laughing at her grandmother on the slide! She went on every one of them and some more than once. We swam in the waves, lay in the “beach” chairs and just generally had a great time there.

Our evenings were spent with Mum and Dad. It was great to see them and visit with them in a more peaceful environment than I was able to offer at my house!

On the trip back, we again stopped at Judy’s house. It was hot, hot, hot! We both enjoyed time at the lake close to where she lives. We played with fibre, she taught me to do silk fusion, and we visited late into the night. Melissa seemed to enjoy our stories as well. I would have loved to stay longer but Melissa had to be back at work so we had to leave.

The month of August is usually one in which Ionne McCauley ( and I usually arrange a “retreat” with all our quilting friends and a teacher. This year it didn’t work out so in retrospect, it was a good time for me to do some “finishing”. It’s an amazing thing. I’ve discovered that when you finish projects, it creates SPACE! So I’m trying to do more….I won’t even tell you how many UNfinished projects I have in my studio!

September 2009

Back to work. We have a new principal this year, who is working out well in that he is pleasant, dedicated and outstanding with the kids. After several years of leadership turmoil, this is a good thing. Nothing like working in a school to teach you to adapt to change.....the leadership changes and shifts about every three years. 

The outstanding thing about September this year was the color in the leaves. It was absolutely spectacular and lasted well into late fall. My window in my office had the most incredible scenery with mountains behind the colors and the green field. I caught myself several times gazing out the window and appreciating that!  But best of all, the sunflowers I planted were HUGE and rewarding.  I loved watching how their 'face' turned with the sun throughout the day. 

October 2009

Did anything happen in October?  It must have.  I can't think of anything outstanding that happened in October of 2009 in my life.  Wait a minute.....Is that the month when my son decided to take that beautiful grandchild and his wife and work out of town.....thousands of miles that the little person they brought back at Christmas was a different little person?  What a difference three months can make!  This is who left.

And this is who came back.....

November 2009

The highlight of November is always our retreat at Tamagawa.  The same group of people meet there twice a year to quilt, eat, inspire and just generally reconnect with each other.  We usually take things we have to finish or need input on.  This year I managed to finish quilting THREE quilts in the three day retreat.  What a sense of accomplishment.  I've posted a couple of these pictures before.  I felt SO accomplished!  And....the lesson learned is that "finishing" projects actually creates space!  What a concept! 

December 2009

This winds the year up at Christmas of course.  A time for family and friends and overeating.  Ours went really well and there were some touching and rewarding moments this year.  But I have to say that I was almost relieved to go back to work so that I could quit eating.  That tells you a part of what my New Year's Resolutions are!  One of the delights of our season was our youngest grandson....home for a visit.  We got to babysit.  Amazing how two people with aches and pains and disabilities can suddenly be on the floor being silly with a baby and not feel any of it! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baby Cruz & Giraffes

Our youngest grandson Cruz, (six months Christmas Day) had a mobile over his change table that was giraffes that dangled and twirled.  When he was barely a month old he was entranced with these giraffes and would follow them and twist his head to watch them....and then smile that adorable dimpled grin because he enjoyed them so much. 

Now he is six months old.....and teething. He has a rubber giraffe that he chews on.  (But his little Gumby is his favorite teething toy.)  I got a book for Christmas called "Itty-Bitty Toys".

Lo and behold, there is a giraffe on the cover!  So of course, I had to make this for Cruz.  It was an enjoyable knitting project for the busy holiday times.  It's finished, and here's a picture.  I believe it should be felted to hold the snippets of wool in the pom poms, but he's so cute I haven't done that yet.  The giraffe I mean....Cruz is way beyond cute! 

Friday, January 08, 2010

2010 - The Year for Organization....Starting with Books!

This year we gifted ourselves with an IKEA Expedit storage unit for our den. I must admit to having a book fetish, and I own a lot of books. (I’ve always thought that in the event of a flood, I’d want to take my books first). They are reference books for fibre art techniques, gardening, stone work, knitting, art and the inevitable bibles, dictionary and thesaurus. I don’t keep very many novels because I don’t like reading them more than once! So those go to the book exchange and rotate….thus being kept on a different and smaller book shelf. My treasured collection has until now, been stored on a collection of garage sale shelving units and tended to look rather higgledy-piggledy.

When the unit arrived, I packed all my books into boxes and put the bookshelves we had out at the curb with a “free” sign on them. They disappeared the same day! I waited for the unit to get assembled but it wasn’t happening and I was beginning to feel a little grumpy about that.

Lo and behold, over the Christmas holidays, my darling husband assembled that unit for me and I spent a delightful day sorting and organizing and arranging and just generally fondling my beloved books. There’s something very cathartic about that activity – except for finding that I had two copies of three books! I guess I liked them really well!

But best of all, in telling my friend Joan, who shares my passion for books, about what a nice day I’d had doing that, she said something I thought was greatHaving good books at home is like being able to take a one-on-one class whenever you feel like it, no matter the day or time.” . So, with her comment, I feel this collection is validated and can be justifiably expanded! Aren’t good and supportive friends the best thing in the world?