Saturday 27 November 2021

Wrapping up a quiet week

Another week nearly in the books! I realize when we look back time seems to go faster than when we're in the midst of it. But I have to say 2021 flew by, and here we are just over a month away from 2022. 

My Christmas preparations are nearing completion. The gifts are purchased and wrapped, and hidden away in the storage room in the basement. It is the one room in the house that I know that Eli has yet to discover.  It's off the laundry room and there is nothing of interest for him in that room. I still need to pick up a few gift cards and will do so next week.

The trees are up (yes multiple this year). The first tree is the main tree in the living room, a small tree I have on top of a table that was purchased when I was hopeful I'd be living in a small place. I'm sure my neighbours across the street think I'm nuts but I love the lights and sparkle in the evening and early morning.

As usual, I continue to move the ornaments around, and last night I played with the ribbons as well (since this photo was taken).  

The second of the trees is a gawky $4 Dollar store tree. It's standing on the bathroom counter and I've decorated it with small knitted and crocheted ornaments. Pinterest is a rabbit hole! These little ornaments use up a bit more of my leftover yarn and are a quick and easy project to work up while I'm watching television.

I won't bore you the details of the rest of the decor. Suffice to say there are Christmas (or winter) themed items throughout the house. 

I've yet to start my baking, that will be the project for the early part of next week. The list is short so it shouldn't take much more than a couple of days.

Beyond that, it has been a very quiet week. The Canadian Olympic curling trials are underway as were the European Curling Championship. Because of the time zone change, I didn't watch all the draws of the latter event, but was awake shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Thursday to watch the Norway/Scotland game.  As I had expected the Mouat team of Scotland won the game. This is a young team that are so fun to watch - they make some incredible shots and love to play with rocks in play. Great for the viewer.

Sadly, our Saskatchewan team hasn't fared well.  The third player on the team had to withdraw due to personal reasons, and while the third who came on board isn't unknown to the team, the chemistry just wasn't there. It's down to three teams on the men's side, all of whom have been to the Olympics in the past, though most have different team members. In my mind, only two of them deserve the second chance.

On the women's side we have tie breakers today to determine who will be the third team in the playoffs. There are already two teams already qualified, and one of those two have also been to the Olympics. I tend to cheer for the underdog so I'm hoping for one of the remaining teams to have the opportunity to represent Canada.

Housework, laundry, and groceries have had to fit in between the draws. Other than feeding the birds and running to the mailbox, my steps were achieved by walking in the house. I've found a podcast series I enjoy listening to, so I put that on and start circling the house. Again, the neighbours across the street might think I'm nuts (assuming that they can see me walking past the window every minute or so), but I'm too wimpy to walk in the cold or when it is icy.  

We've had a few cold days and one miserable cold day (overnight temperature was about -20C/-4F) but the daytime temperatures rose to above freezing on Friday and are expected to last for a few days. A good thing, as our football team has a home play-off game on Sunday. To be honest, they've played so poorly this year, I don't expect they'll win the game. I'd rather watch curling.

I'll end this post with a Santa photo. D was able to get an appointment with a local photographer after someone cancelled. She's learned she has to book early in the future.

What a good idea to allow for the photos with a little social distancing.  Thankfully the weather cooperated too for outdoor photos.  Eli told his mom afterward that "this is the best Christmas ever!". In a few days, he'll start opening his advent calendar. The first box contains a note, look for a special visitor. That would be me, as I'm driving out for a short visit.

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

Sunday 21 November 2021

A day to remember

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I'm tired. We boarded the bus shortly before 9 a.m. and arrived back in the city shortly after 8:30 p.m.  I live close by and was home and in my pj's in short order.  Throughout the day I got in close to 12K in steps and with a little exploring in the first two communities I was able to get in 37 minutes of activity too.

The first community we visited was Montmartre, Saskatchewan.  

The small community was settled by wealthy French immigrants in the 1890's and named after the district they once called home.  The replica was completed in 2009 and Montmartre has branded itself "Paris of the Prairies". 

We had about 3 1/2 hours to visit here with shopping at a local Pharmasave (a drugstore with a twist), a local jewelry maker, a ladies clothing boutique, and the library where several vendors displayed their homemade wares.  Before hitting the stores I headed over to the Eiffel tower to take a few photos.  

This particular Pharmasave had mystery boxes for children, men and women.  I purchased of the children's boxes, one for Eli and one that I will donate to a Santa's anonymous (though I realized I'll have to unwrap it).  I found a few small items to add to the gifts for various family members.  At the library I bought some homemade Christmas soap, and at the used book sale I picked up three new-to-me books to add to the reading pile.  Definitely a bargain.

From there I headed over to the boutique but it was packed full of ladies and, to be honest, the clothing wasn't as casual as I would normally wear, and the prices were higher than I would normally spend. So after a quick look around I headed back downtown.

I was among the first group scheduled to have lunch at Sister's Bistro, so I stopped there to have a cup of tea and wait for the others.  I was joined by another lady and then two others from her group.  Our lunch included French onion soup and Salad Nicoise.  The lunch was included in the cost of the event and I can say that it was very tasty.

Initially I hadn't planned to top at the jewelry store but the second group to eat lunch included the bus driver, I decided to stop in.  I was glad I did.  This will be a gift from Eli to his mom.  The colors of the heart are some of her favorites and that little boy loves his mom to bits.

Since there was still a good half hour or so until the bus was scheduled to leave, I went for a walk about. I didn't find anything else particularly interesting but the fresh air was good for me.  Soon enough, we were boarded and on our way to the second community of Kipling.

The town is known for the largest red paper clip in the world (according to Guinness). I won't enumerate the story of how the red paper clip came to be as you can read it here if you are interested.

Again, I let the others make their way to the stores while I did a bit of exploring.  My first stop was a former thrift store that now sells both new and used clothing.  I found a lovely pullover sweater for a whopping $5.  I wandered a bit further, and spotted their Pharmasave - it didn't match up to the one in Kipling.  It was time for dessert at the Paper Clip Cottage - a lovely piece of carrot cake.  Yummy!  I ought to have considered purchasing a couple of their meat pies but decided against visit. 

There were two other businesses on the list, an antique store, and the local liquor store.  I didn't visit either as I was already to feel shopped out.  Instead I headed to the bus and visited with a group of ladies who were feeling as I was.

Back on the road we headed for Grenfell.  I wasn't to find anything of note to photograph there so went along with the rest to shop.  My favorite spot was an import store that brings in goods from Indonesia.  Oh my, were there some lovely items there, including furniture, hand blown glass, fabrics, soaps, and other goods.  I spoiled myself and purchased this bag.

It will come in handy to carry my knitting or crochet projects when I visit D and Eli, and to knitting group when that starts up again. I love the colors in the bag, and another one of the ladies saw me with it and purchased one for herself.

The last store I visited was a small town department store, mostly clothing but a little of everything else too.  There were Christmas candies, cocoa, and nuts, kitchen ware, toys, and even an aisle of craft items.  Guess which one I gravitated to?  :) I walked out with a couple of items to add to the craft room.

My feet were telling it was time to get off them, so I boarded the bus and waited for the rest.  There were a few stragglers and the tour operator (Cheryl) had to chase them down. I guess they weren't ready to be done shopping quite yet. From there we headed to Indian Head to the Wooden Nickel for a roast beef buffet.  

They had a room set aside for the entire group, and it didn't take long for everyone to be seated.  Despite our lunch and dessert earlier, I think we were all hungry.  I sat with another group for dinner and had a wonderful visit.  It wasn't long before we'd discovered connections and people we knew in common.  The food was fantastic and I learned they have a similar buffet at least once a week. The community is about 45-60 minutes from Regina but might well be worth the trip for a really good meal.

It was dark as we returned to the city, and the bus was quieter than it had been earlier in the day.  I'm pretty sure everyone was feeling tired and satisfied from the day and from the meal. Back at the drop-off, the bags of shopping that were stored in clear plastic bags and tagged with our names were unloaded.  I found mine fairly quickly, was in the car, and headed home in just a few minutes.

When I realized that this was more of a shopping trip, I wondered whether I should attend.  But I'm glad I did - my Christmas shopping is definitely complete now and I enjoyed getting away for a day.  I was chatting with Cheryl at one stop and we were discussing a trip they normally would make each year to the Cypress Hills, just inside the Saskatchewan border near Alberta. It's a very scenic area and I'm hopeful I'll be able to join in a trip next year.

It truly was a wonderful day.  I learned some history about the small towns we visited, I met some very nice women, ate some great food, and stayed within the budget I set for myself.  


Friday 19 November 2021

Winter wonderland? Oh snow!

Winter walloped us a good one this week.  The weekend was nice and by Monday a lot of the snow from the first fall had disappeared. I'd scraped off the driveway and front walk and the deck out back was clearing.  Then on Tuesday the winds blew with gusts nearing 100 kph (62 mph). While it dried up some of the moisture that was left over from the snow melt, it also blew in a blizzard.

This photo does not do it justice. I can't capture the flurry of snow blowing, but you can see the snow that was blown into the window. 

It took my son about 45 minutes to make the drive home from work - normally a 15 or 20 minute drive.  He said the streets were sheets of ice under the snow, and with the low visibility it made it worse.  I recall those after work drives and am even more grateful to be retired.

My younger brother and his wife were storm stayed in the city. Every highway in and out of Regina was closed. He sent me this image.  They actually have a second property here in the city; their daughter attends university and their son is working. 

I spent a good 30 minutes on Wednesday afternoon clearing a 3 foot drift in front of the garage door.  I also cleared the front sidewalk and then around to the gate to the backyard. However, there was a drift on the other side of the gate so I wasn't able to open it.  My power meter is inside that gate, so on Friday I went around the back way and cleared it out - not that I expect the company to read the meter any time soon.  Based on last year's bills, they did it twice - the rest of the bills were estimates.

Knowing there was a storm on its way, I did my grocery shopping on Monday.  No issues with finding what I needed, but I'm thinking that may change soon. As most of you will know, there has been extensive flooding in the southern region of British Columbia, and on Vancouver Island as well.  Several highways have been damaged to the point that it will take weeks, if not months to repair or, more likely, re-route.  These are major shipping routes and while they be able to travel into the United States and then back into Canada, this will delay shipments.  The province has issued a state of emergency.  At least a couple of communities (Merritt and Princeton) were severely flooded, along with farms in the area.  Earlier this year, there were ridiculously high temperatures followed by forest fires. Now in just a day or two they received as much rain as they would normally in an entire month.  It's just devastating, as so many have lost their livelihoods, their homes and other property. 

So while I may complain about the snow that fell, I can say with certainty, I'll take it any day over what has happened there. 

This photo was taken mid-afternoon on Wednesday after I finished clearing the snow.  It continued to blow, but at least the snow stopped falling. According to the local weather site, we've got 12 cm (5 in) on the ground.  It looks like we'll have a reprieve until middle of next week when the next storm is expected to blow through.

Since I was stuck indoors (self and weather imposed) I started the process of Christmas decorating.  The three tubs from the basement were brought upstairs and sorted through.  There are items in the tubs that I am unlikely to use, so I tucked those in a separate box to take to Value Village or the Salvation Army thrift store. A couple of items were set aside for D as well.  The tree was set up on Thursday and the decorating started. Even though it is a small tree it will take a few days to finish; depending on where I'm sitting in the living room I get a different perspective and often move things on the tree around.  D says I do that at her house too. :)

While I was in the mood, I pulled out all of the gifts I've purchased and got those wrapped or put in gift bags.  They're tucked away in my closet. I still have a few gift cards to purchase and will likely pick up a few more small items this weekend.

I will be posting this blog on Friday because I'm taking a day trip on Saturday. I'm joining a group - Women on the Go tours - for a trip out of the city to several smaller communities in the area.  While the primary reason for the trip is to shop at local businesses, I'm taking my camera along with some specific points of interest in mind.  I'll likely blog on Sunday or Monday and share the results.  The cost of the trip was quite reasonable, and includes transportation, lunch, dessert, dinner, and shopping bags.  This will be the first time in a long time since I've been around this many people or eaten in a restaurant. We all had to provide proof of vaccine and we'll be wearing masks on the bus and in the shops.  While I still have some trepidation, it is time for me to step out of my comfort zone.  It will be lovely to get away from home for the day and meet some new people too.  

This morning I had to run out to do an errand for D. I made a stop at the dollar store and was parked near this pile of snow.  This pile is one of several at the local mall that was cleaned up from the parking lot.  

It was the first day I was out after the storm, and the streets are still a mess.  Especially on our neighbourhood streets.  There are sections where the wind blew the snow in and although there has been traffic through, it has yet to get packed down so there are deep ruts.  My son and another fellow helped a young guy get his vehicle moving again last night when he got stuck in a drift. We won't see a plow until spring so it will be there for the duration.  They were just plowing the major street a few blocks away with a couple of graders.  Good to see.

Have a great weekend everyone.  Take care and stay well.


Saturday 13 November 2021

Gratitude, cleaning and catching up

First, I must thank you all for your kind words of support and condolences on Sasha's passing.  It seems that most of us have lost a fur baby at some time or another and understand how painful it is to lose a special member of the family.  I've received a card from the vet clinic with some paw-prints they made for me.  At some point, I'll frame a photo of Sasha to include at least one of those prints.

After a quiet weekend, watching curling, catching up with television programs (I'm not done with these yet), and adjusting to the new normal without Sasha,  I needed to get moving on Monday.  The grocery shopping was taken care of and I stopped by the dollar stores to pick up a few more craft items in the morning. (I've told myself I'm done for this year.  There are enough projects to work on to keep me busy for a long time yet. Ha, we'll see how long that lasts!)  I spent the afternoon cleaning bathrooms and catching up on more television.

This week I finished another scarf and have pair of mittens almost complete for Eli. I need to pick the next skeins of yarn for another scarf to crochet when I need a break from knitting.  My right index finger gives me grief when I always knitting.

In the craft room I finished this glass snowman.  I've been picking up the pieces over the last few weeks.  One of the bowls came from the dollar store but the other two I found a Value Village along with the snowman and rocking horse.  Silly me, I didn't dry fit the pieces together so the middle one had to be placed upside down because the rocking horse was too high. As a result the middle bowl doesn't have the fake snow and another ornament.  I've used a piece of ribbon for the scarf but may knit something up at some point.  The little toque came off a plastic dollar store ornament.  This will be a piece that sits in the kitchen window so little fingers won't be able to reach it. Or I may literally be picking up the pieces again.

I spent a little time with this small crochet project.  I spotted the pattern for the peppermint candy coasters on Pinterest and couldn't resist.  A very easy project and it used up some yarn. 

However, housework was top of the agenda for a good part of the week.  I brought the stepladder in from the garage and cleaned off the top of kitchen cabinets.  Another blogger had shared her use of newsprint to cover the top of the cabinets to trap the dust (and in my case, cat hair). It definitely works but I learned I'll need to replace the paper more frequently.  The paper felt gritty and the cat hair flew.  While I was up and down the ladder I cleaned the blades of the ceiling fan as well.  Another spot I need to clean more often. Then I noticed that there were several grease spots on the ceiling stippling above the stove.  Out came the cleaning supplies and I took care of those as well.  It must have been a hot pan to splash that high.

I think I picked up a couple of small kittens in cat hair vacuuming the basement and upstairs.  I guess I'll see in a week whether one cat loses as much fur as two did. When I was cleaning the cat litter on Wednesday morning I realized it has been 21 years since there has only been one cat using the boxes.  Sasha joined us in July and Silver in October, 2000.  I won't go into detail as to the difference in output from then until now. :p

I've started another clearing out of cabinets and cupboards where things hide and get forgotten.  There is box to be delivered to the thrift store, but I'm going to wait until I've sorted through more of the craft room.  There are items in there too, that I won't use in my lifetime so it will be better to let it go for someone else to put to use than store it indefinitely.

The snow started falling on Wednesday evening.  It continued to snow on Thursday, Remembrance Day.  My son was off work, so it was quiet day.  He slept, I caught up on more television and watched curling.  I didn't (bother to) get out to shovel until Friday morning. The driveway had a layer of ice crystals under the snow that I hope will disappear in a few days as we are forecast for a few days of above freezing temperatures this week.  And more snow to follow.  I suspect winter is here to stay.

Every morning, when I talk with my daughter, she always asks me what my plans are for the day.  My answer is always the same, other than watching curling at some point, I'll just putter.  Some things will get done and others will get put off to another day. I need to pack away the fall decor and start pulling out things for Christmas.  D and Eli are putting up their tree today, but I'll likely wait until later in the week. Somehow when the snow falls, I feel the need to add sparkly things to my home.

Have a good week ahead everyone, take care and stay well!

Thursday 11 November 2021

It has arrived


The forecast was for less than 5 cm (about 2 inches).  They lied, it's still coming down.  I'll be out shovelling this afternoon.

Saturday 6 November 2021

Life's up and downs

I've been reading posts this week of snow in other areas - it's too soon! While we had a few flakes in the air early Monday morning, we have thus far avoided seeing the white stuff stick to the ground. It has been cool though, especially in the morning so I've been continuing to walk inside the house after I run out to feed the birds.

In preparation for the winter weather, I headed to the local tire shop on Tuesday to have my tires changed over.  I had an appointment for 9 a.m.  I was told the work would take about an hour so I elected to stay at the store. I'd brought my knitting and a book just in case.  Unfortunately it ended up taking longer than anticipated.  First, they didn't get the car into the bay for nearly 30 minutes and then I was told that my tires needed replacing.  I don't have the tires on rims, so they have to be stretched to change over each season.  There were pieces of rubber cracking and flaking, so I agreed it was time. I've gone with an all-season tire that I won't/shouldn't need to change again.  Since I've retired, I don't drive as much and the car is 15 years old, so I anticipate this will be the last set of tires I buy.

Wednesday and Thursday were particularly hard days.  Our eldest cat, Sasha has been showing sign of decline over the past few weeks.  My son and I talked on Wednesday evening, as Sasha was not eating his regular soft food, and would only eat two small treats. Sasha has always been his cat - actually we used to say that C was Sasha's boy. Together, we made the hard decision to let him go, and I made an appointment at the vet's office on Thursday morning.  I was grateful to be able to hold Sasha in my arms for the procedure and he passed peacefully.  This photo was taken in 2011, when Sasha was just eleven years old. He loved the sun room and this shot, while over-exposed is so Sasha, enjoying the sun. It is how I will choose to remember him, healthy and happy.

Friday wasn't much easier, my tears were never far away, so I kept myself busy as much as I could.  I ran out in the morning to run an errand for D, and mailed off a parcel to her.  Included were the little angels I made up for Eli's pre-K teacher and teacher's assistant.  I missed a row in the smaller one, but left it be as I don't think anyone but someone who crochets would notice.  The original pattern didn't have halos but I found another patter and added them.

I also stopped and picked up more bird seed.  We've had decent weather this week, but the forecast for the next two weeks are more seasonal with possible snow in the mix by mid-month.

The curling is back on television, has been since Thursday so I've spent more time knitting and crocheting.  The latest scarf is about 2/3 complete and I started a small project making coasters to use up some more scrap yarn.  

This morning, I'm catching up on television programs I've PVR'ed over the past few weeks.  Apparently it's been awhile as the show I'm watching now has four episodes I haven't seen.  It seems I've been watching a lot of curling.  There are three draws today starting at noon, so my day is mapped out.  Housework can wait!

To end this post, I'll leave you with a photo of my cat Saku.  Having him here is helping me deal with the loss of Sasha, especially when he is being a goof.  I can always count on him to add a little levity to my day.