A Beginning

For some reason I can’t seem to find inspiration for a quilt at the moment – so I’ve turned to smaller projects. Looking through my Pinterest saves I considered the “Skinny Quilt” ideas I’d stored there. Several looked interesting – I selected two, then went through my fabric stash to see what I had that might work for both.

Idea #1

Idea #1

I found a photo of a 4-panel square quilt constructed from blocks with interspersed light and dark. One strip is probably not enough so I think I will work on two, but of unequal width. I started with the light colours – based on a soft teal and juxtaposed some dark blue (with gold), some other blues with greens gold, and finally the tans including two pieces of silk dupione which have a strong grain which I think will work well. I don’t know yet whether I will interject a contrast between the two panel elements, or not. The technical challenge is that the insert strips are cut with a curve which means cutting the seam edge of both fabrics at the same time and sewing the opposing curves. We’ll see how that goes.

Idea #2

Idea #2

This panel is based on a photo of a painting done by Marieka Diepenveen (you can see it peeking out on the left side of the fabrics – the round blue flowers). Again her painting is a wide rectangle but my intention is to create a panel about 12″ x 50″. I’ve chosen the two pale grey fabrics using the white with tiny black dots to separate them, with a collage of greens at the bottom. I have lots of colourful blue scraps and even some small circles from another project that might work themselves into the banner.

Now I just need to get going on both!

Purple Poppies – Finally Completed

Purple Poppies

I started this piece on (or about) July 7 2021 – here’s how it unfolded:

I got to the thread painting part and stopped, partly because I wasn’t sure I liked the poppies – I felt they weren’t strong enough although they were the right size to fill the space.

The piece has sat around, face down, until a couple of days ago when I finally picked it up and got to work on it. I’d already picked possible threads for the job, had them all in a plastic bin (which sat on top of the face-down piece). I threaded my machine with the lightest of the green embroidery thread and got to work filling in leaves. That was relatively straightforward; the leaves wanted a bit of texture but nothing more. The poppies were another matter. I wanted to brighten them so I started with a dark purple thread to stitch the outline pencil marks which took some careful stitching. I stood back and looked at the piece – seemed to me right then was the moment to stop. I figured I’d just muddy the whole thing had I attempted to work in the various pinks and mauves. So I’ve left it alone.

I added a batting panel, and backing, and decided to complete the piece with a narrow dark binding. The piece is 18″ x 24″ – large enough without adding wide borders to it. In truth, I just wanted the piece finished and out of my way. It’s been hanging around for six months – the longest I’ve procrastinated on a project.

The piece is not bad; not my best. It’s now finished.

The Drive Through

Three weeks ago I booked a blood test at one of the regular blood collection locations in the region – last week, when I arrived the waiting room was full, the hallway was full – at least a two hour wait (several lab technicians were absent due to COVID-19 exposure). My test wasn’t urgent so I went back to my car, cancelled the appointment on my iPhone then booked another for a week later – today. The speediest location where I could book an online appointment (only online/telephone booking is available right now, no walk-in) was at the Dartmouth General Hospital Blood Collection Drive-through.

Today, I remembered to take the requisition paper and my appointment confirmation printout with me when I went to the pool, my appointment was for 11:10. Because I wasn’t sure precisely where I was going, I headed to the DGH right after my aquacise session to give myself time to get lost – in fact, I didn’t have a problem. I took the Mt. Hope exit from the 111 highway; stayed on Mt. Hope until I reached the DGH. The turn into the Drive-through was well marked.

The drive thru saves time because during the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfecting the blood-collection chair between patients takes between five and 10 minutes. (Catherine Buckie) – image from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/drive-thru-blood-testing-dartmouth-1.5733364 (I didn’t think to take a picture of the garage door ahead of me while I waited to enter)

I was greeted by a woman warmly dressed in a parka who directed me to follow the red truck ahead of me, which I did. I reached a booth with a young woman who asked me to put my mask on and to hand her my requisition and appointment information, which I did. She signed me in, then asked me to inch forward and wait at the garage door ahead of me.

It felt like going to the car wash!

I turned off my car, waited for the garage door to open. Started my car, drove forward until I reached a designated spot just before the exit garage door (just like at the car wash), then turned my car off as directed by the signs in front of me.

I didn’t need to get out of my car – I rolled down my window, took off my jacket, pulled my left arm out of my sweater sleeve, handed my blood requisition to the technician who asked for it, stuck my arm out the driver side window. She quickly took a couple of vials of blood.

I was asked by another woman (interesting, the drive-through idea was a woman’s, the facility was staffed by women…) if I’d be willing to answer a few questions: How did I rate the experience 1-5 – I gave it a 10! Would I do this again – absolutely! Would I recommend it to others – you bet!

I was in, and out, in 10 minutes!

Everybody was friendly and efficient.

In the lane next to the blood collection drive-through, was a COVID-19 vaccination drive-through – the line of cars was longer there but I bet the whole thing was reasonably quick as well.

Somebody’s doing some innovating – I applaud them and for sure support their efforts. The initiative needs to be expanded to many locations in the province.

So I’m spreading the word – if you’ve got a drive-through site for blood work or vaccination – use it! If you don’t have either, contact your public health officials and recommend they consider the possibility.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve signed up to build more Rapid Test Kits this coming week. Here in NS a large number of volunteers are doing our best to meet the demand for Rapid Test Kits.

More iPhone Photography

I was heading out to do a bit of shopping yesterday when I noticed the wall of ice beside the road. I didn’t stop then to take any photos but I did on my way back home. Quite striking, really, to see the frozen groundwater. The colour of the ice is what caught my eye in the first place.

Then today on my way back from the pool I saw the sun peeping from the clouds so I pulled into a nearby empty parking lot to take some photos.

There is actually a communications tower which looms over the hillside – I removed it from the image using an editing tool – Retouch – I didn’t think it added to the feel of the cloudy day with the sun peeping through the clouds.

Then sun came out more as I reached my driveway:

Winter Day II

I liked the snow hat on the rock and the shadow of the building bringing out the sunshine.

Late Afternoon Sun

I get late afternoon sun in my apartment – but something you need to understand: my windows face NE! Not west. The sun shines in strongly – bouncing from west-facing windows in the building up on the hill across from my apartment. Depending on the season the bright afternoon sunlight can last for a few minutes to more than half an hour. It has no warmth but it brightens the rooms noticeably.

Today, as I was walking by, the shadows of the orchids on my studio/livingroom window ledge caught my attention. Difficult to photograph because the large Pfaff embroidery machine on the desk blocked me. Nevertheless, the photo is about shadows and those stand out – even their reflection in the plexiglas surface of the desk.

Another day, I might move the machine to try getting a better shot. Today, I was wanted to capture what I could before the reflection disappeared.

From Back Then – 1996

Fall ~1996

I received this pair of photos from a Manitoba friend I’ve kept in contact with. That’s me in the yellow fleece on the right side.

Those were my hang gliding days – I wouldn’t be surprised if that photo was actually taken on a late fall weekend fly-in in Dauphin Manitoba. I don’t recognize the glider but I recognize, and can name, all but one of the people in the pictures.

I did love flying. I didn’t get to do a lot of solo flying – my technique never got good enough that I felt safe in the air on my own but I did a lot of flying at the control bar with a number of different instructors. What a wonderful feeling to be high in the air with just the wind whistling past, the fields below, and the wide panorama in front of us.

High Over Makapu’u Point ~1993

I even got to fly, after launching, high over Makapu’u Point on a couple of occasions, from the California hills somewhere near Santa Barbara, even outside Bendigo Australia with the chill Antarctic wind reaching us.

This all took place when I was living in Manitoba.

When I returned to Nova Scotia, in 1997, I switched to paragliding – trying to get a hang glider to the various rustic launch sites available to us was just physically beyond me and I wasn’t about to ask a fellow pilot to carry my glider to the top of the hill for me! I could manage the paragliding gear (glider, harness, helmet, arm pads, gloves) myself, though.

It took quite a bit of training before I felt confident enough to actually push myself off launch after inflating the glider. I remember clearly my first real parading flight on the hill at Fox River. I’d inflated the glider (I’d got good at that), but was reluctant to start the run – Brian Wheaton gave me a big push and I was in the air, aiming for the landing site beyond the trees at the far edge of the blueberry fields. The flight lasted less than 2 minutes but I landed successfully on my feet!

That was it. I made the trip to Parrsboro regularly over the next many years hoping to find good flying conditions when I arrived but often the wind was too light or too strong. However, once in a while I managed to get into the air.

I’d have kept at the sport except I discovered I had osteoporosis and suddenly a hard landing on my bum wasn’t such a good idea. My flying career was over.

I hung out with the pilots for another couple of seasons – I loved being at the top of the hills watching the gliders weave back and forth along the shore edge.

Eventually I stopped attending the Annual Flying Festival. Life moves on.

I miss flying, though!

Tradition – The Sweet Kugel

After Cooling

The other day, Deb and I again this year made the Sweet Kugel – 4 of them to be exact. One for me, one for her, one for MaryAnn, and one for Marlene.

This time we had Deb’s 6 year-old grandson Huxley as an extra pair of hands – he made short work of peeling/slicing the apples using Deb’s handy dandy Apple Peeler & Corer! (This is a very kid-friendly recipe and project, it turns out).

While Huxley was prepping the apples, I made the dough, cut it into four portions, rolled out the first.

Making The Kugel

Huxley topped the dough with strawberry jam and whole berry cranberry sauce, then he added a quarter of the apples, sprinkled raisins on top, I sprinkled the cinnamon and sugar on top of that, then flopped the dough around the topping and tipped it into the baking dish.

Huxley helped with all four kugels, making sure the one with the most apples was in his grandma’s dish.

The whole process didn’t take us long. We were done, washing up and all, in about an hour.

The kugels were left to bake for an hour and a half at 352°. I took them out and cooled them, then wrapped the one for me and put it in the freezer. The other three are in my fridge, each waiting to be sent to its proper home.

If you’re interested in trying a sweet kugel yourself, here’s the recipe and description of the process from my 2015 blog entry.

I couldn’t resist having a taste – I took a big spoonful from the one I saved for myself – the one now in my freezer.

New Face Masks For Christmas

I know, we’re supposed to give up fabric masks in favour of single use surgical or N95 masks but I hate the waste associated with those and besides my masks are made using a high grade quilting cotton with non-woven interfacing stitched into the middle; mine are three-layer masks.

More important those awful disposable blue surgical masks don’t fit me very well (I have to flip the elastic to fit over my ears to suppress my glasses fogging which makes the sides stand open), whereas my homemade masks do! And fit is more important than the materials used in construction, according to the experts I’ve read.

New Face Masks


With Omicron being rapidly transmitted throughout the community I decided everybody could use a new well-fitting face mask as a gift. I started making a batch ten days ago. I made a dozen which I gave away yesterday to the knitting ladies. I have another dozen cut out and ready to assemble – have to work on those today and get them made and washed so I can distribute them, too.

The pattern I’m using this time is the one from SeeKateSew. She provides a template for cutting out the masks. This mask is close fitting but because of the origami folds top and bottom it provides breathing space and I find it comfortable.

I don’t do the folded side in the instructions to enclose the elastic. Instead I insert the elastic into the seam as I construct the facemark which makes the sides a bit longer. I use 6″ – 7″ lengths of elastic depending on the face size of the person I’m making the mask for. When I use a longer elastic I add a silicon slide near the bottom of the mask so people can shorten the elastic if the mask fit is too loose.

Now back to sewing….