Saturday 26 December 2020

Christmas past

 It was a quiet day here on Christmas Day, with just my son and I and the two cats.  My brother had stopped by on Christmas Eve to drop off a few gifts, and we ordered in pizza for dinner that evening. I was being entirely lazy and planned that we'd eat leftovers on Christmas Day.  We did; my son had pizza and I ate the remainder of a pasta bake we'd had earlier in the week. I didn't even do the dishes, they sat in the sink until this morning.  As I said, lazy!

I started the morning, as always, woken by the yells of a hungry cat. At 20.5 years of age, Sasha has no patience when waiting for his meals.  And he's spoiled too.  After feeding the cats, I made a cup of tea and sat in the living room, with just the glow of the Christmas lights from the tree.  

This is a something I've done for years.  I can even recall being a teenager, and getting up in the quiet of the morning to sit by myself in the living room.  Usually Dad would be awake too, but busy with lighting the oil burners that heated our farm house, bringing in water, and starting the coffee for Mom.  

It was a little more difficult to do when my children were young as they were up at the crack of o'dark. We always spent Christmas at my Mom and Dad's, and she had a rule no gifts could be opened before we'd had breakfast.  Breakfast didn't come before her coffee either!  Since it was her birthday and her house, her rules. As the children got older there was definitely more quiet time for the adults first thing in the morning.

Similarly, yesterday my son was up about noon'ish.  Once the pot of coffee was made we opened our gifts from R's family.  My gift is perfect, a pair of cleats to attach to my boots or shoes, so I can walk this winter with less concern of falling.  We've got snow in the forecast for today so I'll likely wait a day or two before testing them out. 

I spent the day knitting, watching a movie (Fried Green Tomatoes) and three games of junior hockey, and I joined a zoom call with my older brother M and his family.  My first time using zoom and it went very well. I probably should have waited until later, though, as most of M's stepsons and grandchildren weren't interested in our conversation.  The youngest boy A and I had a chat, as he's currently living in Vietnam, and I was quite interested to hear how he ended up there.  I think, had M's wife D been on the call as well, it might have been easier but she was busy making a meal for the two of them.

I also had several calls from my daughter and video-chatted with Eli at least twice.  I know she was feeling quite lonely being on her own.  Next year will be different, I'm sure.

Later I did more research on my family trees in Ancestry while looking through various photo albums. Mom had eight photo albums, and my grandmother (Nan) one as well.  The latter album has disintegrated over the years and the writing under the photos has faded. 

This is one of the photos I shared on FB with various cousins.  It was taken in December, 1954 in my Nan and Grandpa's home. I originally found it loose in Nan's album but later noted that it should have been in Mom's as she had a notation that read "Dad (head), E and A." The photo bomber is my grandfather, E is my dad, and A is my aunt - she was married to my mom's brother B.  Dad and Mom were married on November 26, 1954, so this photo was taken just weeks after they married.  

One of today's tasks will be to sort through the loose photos to see if I can find the appropriate places in the albums.  I'll also try to decipher and re-write the information in Nan's album.  Note to myself - printed photos should include details of names and dates. It sure makes it easier for those who come later.  

I've started my eighth scarf, this one crocheted, and there are three junior hockey games today as well.  There are some chores that need to be accomplished first though, so I'd better get moving.

Take care everyone and stay well!

Thursday 24 December 2020

White Christmas

We received about 10 cms (4 inches) of snow over the past two days.  It's looking like a winter wonderland; fresh snow just in time for Christmas.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas wherever you may be.  Take care and stay well.

Saturday 19 December 2020

The rest of the week

 Things got a whole lot quieter around here after D and Eli left for home on Wednesday.  C had helped clear up the toys so there wasn't a lot to do as far as tidying.  Instead I focused on cleaning: bathrooms were scrubbed down, the kitchen counters were cleared and the floor washed, the front hall rug was lifted, the floor under it swept and washed, and today's chores will include vacuuming both my bedroom and the living room.

I finished watching The Queen's Gambit and an animated The Grinch on Netflix.  If you have an opportunity to watch the first, it is a very interesting story of a young girl who arrives at an orphanage as a young girl.  We'd started watching the second program when I was at D's in early December, and watched a bit more when they were here so I finished it on my own.  It was fun!  Last night I watched a documentary on the disappearance of Shanaan Watts and her children.  I recall the story from the news; the documentary was a compilation of police cam videos, interviews, text messages, and videos from Shanaan's Facebook page. Sadly, her husband Chris Watts wanted a new life and there was no place for her or their children.  It was a sad story, but I found it interesting how the police worked the case.

While watching television, I've been knitting and crocheting. I've finished three scarves, with a fourth near completion.  It's a great way to use up scrap yarn and I enjoy using different pattern.  By the way, the photo is upside down and my photo editor would not allow me to rotate it properly.  Weird!  (By the way, Olga, you were correct about the toques, one was inside out. Sometimes I'm not the brightest bulb.)

Speaking of bulbs, my oven light has burned out.  I had to Google how to replace the bulb, but the cover has been on there so long it won't easily turn.  A job for my son to do. Hopefully he'll be able to wrestle it off. If not, I'll have to learn to live without the light until I decide to replace the entire stove...not for a while yet.  Since I was in the oven anyway, it seemed a good time to give it a clean so I've been letting the baking soda and vinegar work away at it while I write this post.  A little scraper (for use on a glass top stove) and some elbow grease and the latest spills will be cleaned up.

Earlier this week, I received some information on my maternal grandmother's side of the family from my cousin Ken.  He's sparked enough of an interest in me that I've decided to join Ancestry, at least for six months to complete some research of my own. In the materials he sent me was this photo.

William John and Mary are my great great grandparents, my great grandfather, William Francis, is pictured to the furthest right of the back row. I never knew him as he passed long before I was born but my first name is Frances, as I was named after my grandmother Mary Frances. Obviously she was named after her grandmother too. 

Nan (as we called her) had at least eleven siblings, and I'd only met two of them.  Her family were Latter Day Saints and I'm particularly interested in determining whether they lived in the United States at some point.  My limited research thus far, has not revealed any clues to how they came to this faith.  I have been able to trace back to 1775 to my sixth great grandfather but beyond his birth in Ireland, there is no additional information.  I certainly hope someday to make the trip to Ireland to look into the Jordan family history as well as my father's family.  

Well, I'm sure that was of little interest to my readers (as was most of this post) so I'll end this with one final response to a comment.  John, you're absolutely correct there were a lot of presents under the tree - most of which were for Eli.  In fact, my daughter and I had words over it, as I think she over did her gifts for him.  When you add in my gifts (two), Santa's gift (underwear), Uncle C's gift, G'ma D's gift, and her friend M's two gifts, I think he was feeling a little overwhelmed.  He just quit opening them and played with what he had.

Take care everyone, stay well and however you choose to celebrate (or not) have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday 17 December 2020

Countdown over, Christmas joy

 I had an entirely different post planned for this week. But those ideas went out the window when our health officials and Premier announced on Monday that further restrictions were being placed on gatherings in the home over Christmas.  Until Thursday morning, indoor gatherings in private homes could be as many as five, but after that we've been asked to keep our gatherings to just the immediate household. Failure to comply can result in fines of $2800 and though the risk of being caught is slim, I'm a rule follower.  

While disappointing, D and I talked about it and decided to move Christmas to Wednesday of this week.  So that's what we did.  They drove up on Tuesday, in fact they were here by 7:30 a.m.!  Apparently Eli woke at 4:30 and insisted it was time to go to G'ma's.  D kept him busy for an hour and then hit the road.  Since they had to head back Wednesday, we had Christmas dinner on our Christmas Eve.

I hadn't yet picked up a whole chicken, so instead I roasted chicken breasts with poultry seasoning and sage.  There was mashed potatoes, gravy, two types of stuffing, and roast carrots and turnips.  Want to take a guess what part was Eli's favorite?  The turnips! I must admit they were delicious, but so was everything else.

It was a busy day: Eli and I went out to feed the birds and to shovel the driveway, while his mother wrapped the stocking gifts, she dropped off gifts at an adopt a family, as well as with friends while Eli and I played (or with Uncle C), and dinner prep took a good amount of time as well. A bath was in order for the little guy after dinner, and all shiny and clean he popped into his new Christmas pajamas.

My brother R stopped by briefly after dinner.  Eli was so excited to see Gr'uncle R and there was much tickling and giggling going on.  When R took his leave, D took Eli to the bedroom to sleep just before 8 p.m.  There was no nap that afternoon, he often doesn't, and within five minutes he was asleep.  At that point, D was ready for bed too, so the two of us put the gifts around and under the tree and she put out the stocking for the next morning, and took her tired self to bed.

Christmas morning started early, at 5 a.m. when one excited little boy was awake and ready to get into those presents. D explained that he had to wait for Uncle C to wake up, and he was satisfied with the gifts from his stocking, cartoons on television and breakfast.  We had sausage, croissants, and D and I had eggs as well. Although Eli has outgrown his egg allergy, he still doesn't care for them.  We wonder if his tummy gives him a bit of grief.  

I had informed C that he was to be up by 9 a.m., so D and Eli headed downstairs to ensure he did so.  A little voice told his uncle that Santa came!  I'd made a pot of coffee in time that it was ready when C arrived upstairs and in short order the fun had begun.

Eli is playing with his small Paw Patrol firetruck.  The large box to his right contains a large Paw Patrol firetruck.  The little one (from Uncle C) stays at G'ma's and the other (from his mom) went home.  Also in the photo is a package of Oreos - the only thing he asked for.  My homemade cookies just didn't cut it!

My daughter was thrilled with her afghan and her other gifts, while my son was surprised with the gaming chair.  D and I had brought it out and tucked it behind a side table and covered it with a blanket.  Eli was so excited to help bring it out and take the blanket off to show Uncle C.  I received a new set of sheets from my kids and Eli gave me a box full of paints for my crafting.  

The rest of the morning and early afternoon were spent tidying up the living room, playing with Eli, tidying up behind Eli, doing dishes, tidying up behind Eli, while D loaded her car and met a friend to pick up another gift.  C spent a lot of time with Eli - which I know both enjoyed greatly.  D had a t-shirt made for her brother with the wording "PUNK - professional uncle, no kids". Perfect!

With the car loaded, I asked if I could take a photo of D and Eli.  It took a bit of doing, as his middle name is not cooperation, but I did get some good photos.  First off, an outtake.

This is one of my favorites, even though Eli is in profile. 

I'm grateful that we were able to spend this time together to celebrate.  I know that Eli had fun, and even though our plans were pushed up by nine days, nearly everything had been done.  The house could have used a little more cleaning, but it needs doing now too after the visit. We won't be together again until at least mid-January when the restrictions may be lifted.  Already I'm thinking ahead to a visit near the end of January (dependent on the winter weather and road conditions).  

I'll be back on Saturday to wrap up the rest of the week.  Take care everyone and stay well!

Saturday 12 December 2020

The countdown continues - 13 days to go

The weather was perfect for my drive to and from my daughter's home.  Just below freezing, the highways were clear of snow and there were periods of sunshine.  I thought about stopping to take a few photos but, to be honest, there isn't much to see besides fields, some trees, and a few small communities.  I noticed that the house I took photos of last summer has now lost its front wall entirely.  I guess the owners are simply allowing it to disintegrate naturally.

Visiting with Eli and D was good, although she's having a bit of time with it being winter.  She's definitely not a fan of cold weather and it affects her mood.  I think turning 39 was a bit of a downer too. She ran out on Saturday morning to do a bit of shopping by herself, while Eli and I tidied up the upstairs.  I vacuumed her bedroom, cleaned the bathroom, and together we picked up his toys in his room so I could vacuum that as well.  

I did convince her to go with us to the park on Saturday afternoon it had warmed up some - Eli and I had fun! He does enjoy the slide, the swing, and just running about.

That evening we ordered in Chinese food from a local restaurant.  It was an order for two - it could have fed four easily I'm sure.  D was able to stretch the fried rice the next day by adding some additional vegetables and some leftover chicken she had.  Eli decided he particularly enjoyed the "pink" sauce (cherry) and we caught him putting his fingers in the container and licking it off.  Stinker!

Eli and I played hide and seek a couple of times during the visit too.  He makes me laugh because he always hides in the bathtub.  There are two, one upstairs, one down.  If I don't find him quickly enough, think nanoseconds, he starts hollering "G'ma where are you?"  When it is my turn to hide, he'll give me those same nanoseconds, before he's coming to look.  I'm sure he'll get better at it the older he gets but for now, it's pretty funny. 

Before I left on Sunday, Eli and I went outside to play in the yard.  We found a big piece of ice that had developed from the vent in the bathroom.  He wanted so badly to bring it into the house but I convinced him it would be happier outside.  We did shatter it into some pieces and his mom was okay with us bringing in a small piece or two to show him how it would melt.  We cuddled on the couch (all three of us) and watched a bit of the animated Grinch movie before I left for home. We'll watch the rest when they come here for Christmas.  When I arrived home that afternoon, I was ready for a short nap, maybe 20 minutes or so.  

I brought home D's gifts to Eli - she's spoiling him rotten - those got wrapped and tucked away on Monday.  I did some vacuuming upstairs and used the Green machine to spot clean the living room furniture. I also put together this sign for my front hall. 

The frame was one I had tucked away after the glass was broken.  I used a sheet of scrapbook paper as the focal point, but it was a bit smaller than the inside of the frame and it was too thin to fit nicely. I had some foam board that I'd used for a cross stitching backer last year and had enough to make a piece to fit in the frame.  The edges of the board needed to be covered though and I used a partial sheet of scrapbook paper to do that. It's the thin red line (it's actually plaid) that you can see around the Holly & Jolly.  To dress it up a little bit more, I added the bow, greens and berries.  

I did a grocery run on Tuesday, mostly items for Christmas and a few things that we were low on.  I did a pick up at Walmart, and again, though I'd indicated I'd bring my own bags I ended up with several more plastic bags.  Just for fun I looked up the instructions to make a rug - this one a braided rug - I just need another 100 bags or so.  

Our Co-op store had sale on meat, and I was able to pick up ground pork for $2.99/lb, as well as sausages  and pork chops on sale.  The family pack of ground pork was split in five portions; I made taco meat with one portion and the rest went in the freezer.

I picked up C's gift to his sister for Christmas, a new charger for her I-phone, and stopped in at Staples for a black ink cartridge for my printer.  Apparently ink cartridges are in short supply.  There were none at the store nearby so I ended driving to the other store in the north end of the city to get what I needed.  What a ridiculous price these are - I paid more than half what I paid for the printer in the first place!  But it was needed as I have some printing to do.

Wednesday was a housework day, all the boring stuff like laundry, more vacuuming (basement), washing floors, and dusting.  In the evening, finished off a toque for D and started one for myself. 

I finished mine on Thursday morning - that's it on the left.  Both of these were made using the same pattern, hers with a slightly larger hook  (which Eli misplaced when I was at their house) and 9 more stitches.  I did modify hers to enlarge it so that it will fit over the bun she wears in her hair all the time. I got that far before I left on Sunday.  For some reason, unknown to me, the stitch pattern is different with mine looking almost vertical and hers horizontal.  I've started a third toque for Eli, modifying it again with fewer stitches and a size smaller crochet hook.  

I had to run to the grocery store on Thursday, to pick up some fresh vegetables and milk that I hadn't thought to put on the order earlier in the week.  I also mailed off a few Christmas cards.  Once at home I finished my toque, finished Eli's mitts and started on his toque.  It's such an easy pattern, just a circle of single crochets really, that I finished it early Friday monring.

What to do next? I have to keep my hands busy, right?  I have small amounts of the yarn I used for Eli's sweater, toque and mitts, so I started a scarf. This won't be for him, but rather for donation.  Another blogger, Jackie recently mentioned she had made several scarves this year and delivered them in secret to a local care home. I've decided to follow her lead and use up some of the leftover bits of yarn I have to make a few scarves between now and Christmas.  I'll deliver them after Christmas to a local charity that assists the homeless.  Thanks for the inspiration Jackie!

I did put down my needles/crochet hook on Friday to do a little more crafting.  I'd purchased these signs at the local dollar store (so in Canadian money that $1.25). I wanted the frames that the paper covered up.  The paper came off easily but the staples that held the paper and twine hanger were a little more stubborn, but I got it done.

I used some wood stain to finish the frames, and painted some small boards, I'd picked up on clearance at Walmart several weeks ago, white.  In the end I wasn't happy with the way these looked so I ended up adding scrapbook paper for the background.  The ornaments were also dollar store purchases, and I used a couple of small wooden blocks to raise them off the surface for a 3-D effect.

They are now hanging on the wall behind the television in the living room.  I'm pleased with the results but if I were to make them again (and I might), I'd use a flat canvas for the backing and glue the paper to it first before affixing the backing to the frame.  Live and learn.  

Today I slept later than normal, with my alarm clock cat Sasha yelling in my face at 7:15 a.m. After feeding them, I went back to bed and talked to my daughter on the phone for a half hour or so before starting my day.  There are two pans of buns rising on top of the stove, while a pot of chili is working away in the slow cooker.  I plan to watch some football, some PVR'ed programs, and knit for a good part of the rest of the day.  

One last thing before I sign off for the week.  The header above was taken one evening earlier this week.  My brother and I were on the phone when he said, you have to go outside and see the sunset.  We hung up, I grabbed the camera, and went to the end of the driveway. He was right!

Take care everyone, stay well and have a good week ahead.

Friday 4 December 2020

39 years later - 21 days to go!

By the time this blog posts I'll be on my way to my daughter's home for a short visit.  My baby girl turns 39 on Saturday! I must have had her when I was 15 or 16, right?  Actually I'm in my 60's so you can do the math.

Writing this turned my thoughts to the night she was born.  During my pregnancy I was living in a small community in Northern Saskatchewan, with the nearest hospital 50 miles away.  I had experienced premature labour in September.  One of my bosses and his wife drove me to the nearest hospital where I was checked by the local doctor and the decision was made to air flight me to Saskatoon for further care.  I believe I spent a week in the hospital before I was released and able to go back north.  About the beginning of November, we decided I would go south to my parents home to wait for her birth. No one wanted a repeat of the early scare.

Of course, I then went nearly 10 days overdue before I finally went into labour on a Thursday morning.  Mom drove me into town to the hospital where I laboured for close to 48 hours before the doctor decided it was time to get her out of there. I recall it was very early Saturday morning, when the doctors, including the anesthesiologist, arrived from their Christmas party in good spirits. Several of them, more than I think were needed, crowded into the operating room along with a nurse or two.  D was slightly injured in the melee, receiving a small nick in her eyebrow, requiring a stitch.  She reacted to this indignation by pooping. My aunt and mom saw her as she was moved from the OR to the nursery however I was out cold and didn't see my baby until three hours later, by which time she'd been cleaned up. Because of my surgery we were kept in the hospital for a week, and D was the only baby in the nursery for five days of that week.  They didn't allow rooming in at that time, but I know that she was cuddled and doted on by the nurses when I didn't have her with me.

We stayed with mom and dad through Christmas, which was good for me as I was still recovering and baby D did not sleep through the night (until she was 6 years old).  At least I could get a nap in during the day while mom kept an ear out for her.  

Well, that wasn't how I planned to start this post, call it stream of consciousness or something like that. It strikes me I can remember so many details from that time, but not what I had for dinner two nights ago.

I've had a busy week puttering as I always do.  I started the week planning to do the laundry on Monday but that was put aside while I did a bit of baking. The first batch of shortbread was made along with a batch of peppermint/vanilla cookies.  These were green and white, since I had no red food coloring, and I'm sure they will be a hit with a little boy.  While these were baking, I started a beef stew for dinner, so the oven got more of a workout when I made biscuits to go along with our meal.

Tuesday, I finally got around to the laundry and while the first load was in the washing machine, I decided the weather was warm enough to head out for a walk.  It was just a degree or two below freezing, and bundled up it was quite nice.

I was disappointed to find that the paths hadn't been well cleared, and were quite icy in spots.  Most of the time, I walked on the snow next to the path, as I did one of those slip and slide, but didn't fall down at one point.
I did leave the path to walk down to the creek where I had seen open water a week or so ago. It's not open anymore, it's definitely frozen over.  

Back at home I finished the laundry, completed my grocery order on-line, and started another pair of mittens for Eli.  In addition every afternoon this week I've managed to work a bit on my cross stitch.  I've finished the counting portion, and just have the back stitching left on the one motif.  I should have a photo next week to share.

I picked up my groceries at Walmart on Wednesday morning, also making stops at Shopper's Drug Mart, Safeway, the gas station, and Michaels.  Collage photo frames were on sale, and I wanted another frame.  Walmart had sent out a coupon offering 15 free 4X6 photos, normally 15 cents apiece - I couldn't pass up free, so had a number of photos printed to eventually use in that frame, changing them out depending on the season and my mood.
This is one of the photos I had printed. It was taken in September 2016, near Parksville, B.C.  I've spent some time this week going through the folders of photos I have saved to my computer.  I'm deleting some, but others have evoked so many wonderful memories of the trips I've taken. For those who have been reading this blog for a long time know that Vancouver Island has a special place in my heart. 

Back at home, with the groceries put away, I started baking again.  This time for friends; shortbread for J, and a spice cookie, Medenjaci - Croatian honey cookies for K.  I'd not made the latter before, but will again in the future.  The spices include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, with honey and brown sugar as the sweeteners.  It mixes up quickly and is easy to handle. I rolled it out for wafer cookies and didn't add the glaze, but I might make another batch for us and add the glaze.  C tasted one and said it tasted like honey nut Cheerios!  

When I filled up at the gas station, I had my oil checked and though the level was good, it was looking a little dark.  Since I couldn't recall when I last an oil change, I decided it was a good idea to get one done before I headed out of town.  So Thursday, I headed over to the drive in oil change place.  While there, they checked air filters, transmission fluid, belts, etc. and suggested based on my mileage it was time for a transmission fluid change as well.  When I told C later, he said I probably could have waited awhile yet, but there is some solace in knowing it won't need to be done for a very long time. 

I made a road trip to the other end of the city to pick up the gift cards for my niece and nephew, and dropped off the cookies to K and J.  K and I had a brief chat with K outside their door with our masks on.  I might have also stopped at the Dollar Tree and Dollarama, picking up a gift box, toothpaste and a more craft supplies.  At home I finished wrapping the last of the gifts.  I haven't quite figured out how my brother's family and mine will exchange gifts but I suspect it will be a drive by one of these days.

Today, I've done some last minute chores before I pack up the car.  The garbage has been taken out, the bed made, the dishes done, dried and put away, the living room tidied and dusted, the birds fed, and the floors swept.  I suspect I'm not the only person that tries to leave the house in good shape before a trip.  C sticks to his area in the basement most of the time and other than a few dishes in the sink, the house will look much the same when I get home.  

I'm off to put my bag and the items I'm taking out to D in the car.  Have a good weekend everyone! Take care and stay well.