Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photo Problems

I'm having photo issues, and who wants to read a blog with no photos? They're there when I open iPhoto, but not when I try to choose one for the blog; there's just a black square where the photo 'Event' should be.

Nor do I know how to diagnose the problem. I trust that when I get a little time, I can figure it out myself, cause you know how these things can be -- blogspot may offer no help, and Apple may say it's a blogspot problem and they can't help. You get caught in the middle.

So wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas and Computers

Yesterday DGS came and made Christmas gifts for his parents and sister. He's putting in a zipper here --

I took a photo of a sheet of cookies (Swedish Buttons) ready to go into the oven, and I downloaded (uploaded?) it to iPhoto, but it has vanished. Sometimes computers make me want to return to this:

Can't do much with photos using a pencil, but the English have found a creative use for pencils: I took this picture while on the bus to Heathrow to fly home. Much more attractive than the ugly fencing we put around construction sites here!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Quick Trip Back to England

One of the things I think might interest you in this Season of Light (tomorrow is the winter solstice) is the quality of light in English cathedrals. You would expect the interiors to be dark, given the massive stone walls and flying buttresses. But the genius of the English Perpendicular style of architecture is that it allowed the cathedrals to be so high, without sacrificing strength and stability, that levels of clerestory windows flood the interiors with light. These photos were all taken with natural light, no flash.

This is Winchester Cathedral looking up into the transept tower from beside the quire:

Norwich Cathedral looking from inside the quire west toward the nave:

Norwich Cathedral looking east from inside the quire:

Canterbury Cathedral from just outside the quire looking west into the nave:

Canterbury Cathedral looking from the transept crossing up toward the east:

Interestingly, we were told that the interiors of the medieval cathedrals were painted with murals illustrating stories from scripture and mythology. Here and there in the most protected spots we saw remaining vestiges of some of these paintings. Imagine what these places looked like when the entire interior was painted! It must have been like being inside a stained glass window.

Which brings up the subject of the stained glass windows: Many of the original stained glass windows which dated from the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries, were destroyed in the bombings of World War II. Almost all the existing stained glass windows are post WWII.

The most prominent side chapel in St. Paul's Cathedral in London has 50 stained glass windows, each is the seal of one of the states in the United States. I easily picked out Wisconsin's, with the badger and miner. The windows are in honor and thanksgiving to the United States for helping Britain in that war. There's also a large, heavy book in a glass case which lists the name of every U.S. serviceman who died in the war; each day a page is turned by a verger wearing white gloves. Nearby is a copy of the book, kept under a velvet cover, which visitors may look at. We were told that every day people from the states come to look for the name of a relative in the book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What on earth?

Except for this one, all the newer photos are still on my camera, which is upstairs and I'm too tired to go get it. So here's a 'contest' for you: I'll send a pack of fat quarters to the first person who correctly guesses what this is a photo of. Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact you for your snail mail address. Send to me at

I've been baking cookies 'around' several repairman visits to fix the oven. It's been an eye-opener: No wonder our landfills are overflowing! The stove is only 15 years old, but the manufacturer no longer makes replacement thermostats. DH called every dealer within a hundred miles and finally found one that had it in 'old inventory.' Instead of $1500 for a new stove, we spent $240 and it's good as new.

Today I potted some amaryllis bulbs for post-Christmas bloom; once the tree and decorations are down, the house feels kind of bare, and that's when we need a reminder that things do still flower. Even though it's been ten days since our storm, the snow is still sticking to the north sides of the trees. It's really beautiful -- it outlines their interesting shapes.

Now I need to get a few more rounds of knitting done on an under-the-wire Christmas gift.

such good friends
cuddly kitties
nice dinner out with DH

Saturday, December 12, 2009

English Gingerbread Recipe

Delicious. There are certain things I make only at Christmas, so they are always special, never 'everyday.' This is one of those.

English Gingerbread (more like shortbread than cake)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (don't substitute!)

2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

2 tablespoons finely diced crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan.

Sift flour with the baking powder and ginger. Put into a bowl and add the pieces of butter, blending until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Stir the brown sugar, sultanas, molasses and ginger into the above mixture - it will be very short and crumbly - not like dough or batter. Press into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until a knife blade inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool on a rack 10 minutes, then cut into narrow wedges. Transfer wedges to the rack to finish cooling.

Friday, December 11, 2009


You know how it is when you haven't written to a friend for a long time, and now you can't because there's so much to say and you don't have time? That's where I am with this blog . . . I keep putting off writing because if I go back to where I left off, it's overwhelming! So I'm just going to start with this week.

The snow on Tuesday night was simply beautiful. Here are our woods yesterday:

Good thing Mr. and Mrs. Wren go south for the winter!

I got this back from the long-arm quilter, and now have the binding machine-sewn on, but won't get to the hand-sewing until after Christmas:

I'm happy with it . . . it's the quiet quilt I wanted it to be. Quilted with feathers and feathered wreaths, it seems very feminine to me without being fussy.

During these snow days I've been working on a table runner for Christmas. I'm not liking it. Remember that column in, it was Redbook Magazine, I think, called "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" I keep looking at the table runner and thinking, "Can This Tablerunner Be Saved?" I wanted it to be festive and elegant, but it's just dreary. My friend Renee advises against working on a quilting project you don't like . . . maybe she's right. But I keep hoping something will jazz it up -- I'm making a border, we'll see what that does.

Tomorrow DGS comes for the day to make gifts for his parents and sister. If we have time, we'll make some Christmas cookies, and English gingerbread (quite different from the gingerbread here) for Sunday's Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols.

Now it's time to get my jammies on and have Evening Prayer.

winter's quiet beauty
a warm house
good homemade soup for supper

Sunday, November 8, 2009


With our friends from Denver, we drove about two and a quarter hours to a cabin near Buena Vista we had rented for the weekend. The weather was gorgeous, the scenery was too. From our deck we had wonderful views:

The cabin is on the banks of the Arkansas River, and we had our coffee around the campfire each morning:

We had daily visitors, as many as three doe at a time:

And this big fellow:

We hated to leave, but I managed to cajole everyone into returning via Leadville, my favorite town. It's the highest city in the United States, sitting at over 10,000 ft. on a "Fourteener" (a mountain with elevation of at least 14,000 feet). The history of Leadville is like something made up for a novel -- gold mines, silver mines, lead mines and all the stories of mining rushes. It was a very rich place (all that gold and silver sloshing around), and also pretty rough and tumble. It had grand hotels, an opera house (an opera has been written about the doings there, The Ballad of Baby Doe, by Douglas Moore), and everyone who was anyone came to Leadville: President Grant, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and many more. Remember the "unsinkable Molly Brown"? She came to Leadville from Missouri as a young woman to take care of her bachelor miner brothers, met Johnny Brown and married him. They lived in Leadville, where he made lots of money. One day Johnny came home from the mine with $100,000.00 in cash and told Molly to put it in a safe place. She put it in the firebox of the cold cook stove. Next morning, she absentmindedly lit the fire and burned it up. Johnny kissed her goodbye and went off to make another bundle.

You couldn't make up the stories of things that really happened in Leadville. It's on the cusp of being taken over by the zillionaires who want second homes (or third ones) in beautiful locations, which is a shame. I'm glad I've had a number of chances to visit it before its history gets buried by a Starbucks on every corner. Speaking of which, we had lunch at a little cafe, and when I went to the ladies' room, I saw a photo which captured my heart -- a beautiful wolf. I dragged my friend in, then both our husbands; they all were as captivated by the photo as I was. I was able to get the website address for the wolf sanctuary ( which sells the photos and have one sent to me. It's being framed now, and will hang over my desk. These are God's creatures just as we are, and they are being hunted down by people in airplanes, chased until they are exhausted, then shot. It's heartbreaking, and it has to be breaking God's heart too. Surely there is room for all God's creatures in this world. We are the ones who have invaded their habitat, and then we decide they have no right to exist there.

all God's creatures
the beauty of Creation
good times with good friends

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bad girl!

I wonder if I should be trying to blog; sometimes it's just impossible to keep up with it. We had a wonderful time in Colorado (pictures at 10), were home just a few days and I went on a quilting retreat.

You'll recognize this sort of thing that goes on at retreats:
Here's what I mostly did -- 331 flying geese. I have to finish the last 29 for a total of 360 for a block exchange in January.

Some candids:

Janet (left) does the most beautiful handwork. Gayle's a new grandma, and her son and daughter-in-law, the new parents, are the CSA farmers who have kept us in excellent organic veggies all summer.

Maria from Chicago (left) and Annie from Pittsburgh.

The other thing I did was get the last border on the blue Four Patch Posy, piece the backing and prepare the binding. Monday morning I took it to the long-arm quilter, and it should be done by Christmas.

I'm surviving this crazy year
Time with good friends
The freedom to play

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A few candids

No history lesson tonight! DH and I are leaving early tomorrow AM for Colorado to spend a few days with friends. Thought I'd post a couple of miscellaneous photos before going.
Contemplating in the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.

Doesn't this statue make me look petite by comparison? (LOL) That's Her Majesty Queen Victoria on top.
Matthew the rescue dog with Sr. Pamela. He's adorable!
Here he is enjoying the rawhide stick I took him. I had thought, from the photo I'd seen of him, that he was a much larger dog. This chew stick will keep him busy for a while!

Stay well, be good!

Got all my errands done today
Going to see good friends and relax
I have such a good life

Monday, October 5, 2009

St. Augustine's Abbey & Henry VIII

In Canterbury:
Three Saxon Christian churches already stood on this site when, in 597, St. Augustine was sent from Rome to 'evangelize' the English. The not-yet Christian king, Ethelbert, allowed St. Augustine to build a Benedictine abbey on these grounds. Over the centuries, the abbey was added to until it became a large complex. Many of the Angle and Saxon kings are buried here, and many of the early archbishops of Canterbury.
This is the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary:

This is one of the newer graves! (Date is 1063). Several date back to the 6th and 7th centuries.
Today, of course, the abbey is in ruins. It was destroyed by Henry VIII, along with all the monasteries in England. Now Henry wasn't quite as depraved as he's usually portrayed. He was certainly every woman's worst nightmare husband. But his reasons for what he did were sound. England had just been through a thirty-year civil war (the War of the Roses) over the succession to the throne, causing the land and its people terrible misery and poverty. Henry needed a male heir to ensure there would be no war over the succession after his death. His wives (all six) produced among them only one very weak surviving son (by his 3rd wife), who died at age 15.

Although popes had granted divorces and annulments to royalty for just this reason, the pope at the time, Clement VII, would not annul the marriage of Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. She was the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, a Spanish king, and he didn't want his aunt's marriage annulled as it would prevent their family's heirs from eventually ruling England. And Charles had Pope Clement right where he wanted him -- in prison!

Additionally, the English monasteries had become very wealthy. Rich landowners would leave vast tracts of land to monasteries so the monks would pray for their souls after their death. The monasteries received rents from the common people who 'sharecropped' the land. The monasteries then sent huge sums of money to Rome. Rome, in turn, gave the money to either France or Spain, whichever was currently in favor, to fight against England during centuries of constant warfare. This didn't set well with the English, understandably.

So the usual story about Henry VIII and the English Reformation leaves out a lot that explains what it was really all about. The amazing outcome of this mega-soap opera was Elizabeth I, the child of Henry and his 2nd wife Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth was without a doubt England's greatest monarch, male or female. She kept England safe from foreign enemies. (She said, "I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too.") The arts flourished (think Shakespeare!). English explorers sailed the seas (think Drake). English scientists made great discoveries (think Newton).

Not being a queen!
History is so interesting.
Wildflowers can grow from ruins.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Really Olde Things

This is a Stone Age hill fort. The people would have dug the ditch (second photo) using cattle's hip blade bones as shovels and red deer antlers as pickaxes. And we think we work hard.

This next one needs no naming! Whatever Stonehenge was meant for -- and no one knows for certain -- it has to have been very important to the people who built it. I have now seen many 'henges' as these stone circles are called, and none of the others had stones which came any higher than my chest. These are unbelievably huge, and each must have a good bit underground to have kept upright for so many thousands of years. See the person in the right background to note the scale.

I am almost back to Central Daylight Time (which will switch again soon!). The accumulated To-Dos and the new commitments that come with fall are keeping me swamped.

Fall is here (I love it).
DGG's 10th birthday - she's a pip!
DS's 42nd birthday coming up.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Olde Things

The English don't tear down old buildings and put up new ones. I was told they will gladly spend more to preserve the exterior of an old building and replace the interior if necessary. Some of these buildings are comparatively 'new' next to some things I'll post another day.

Here's a house across from one of the gates to the cathedral close in Norwich -- this is a top-notch neighborhood!

This next one is on King's Street, the 'main' street of Norwich -- also an excellent neighborhood. The lower level will soon be upscale shops and the upper level will be residential flats.

Norwich today is quite a large city; there was a time when it was larger than London. It was the center of trade with the continent, especially for wool exports, a major part of the English economy for centuries. To this day, the Speaker of the House of Lords in Parliament sits on the 'Woolsack,' which was the symbol of Britain's prosperity.

My body is still about four hours out of synch with this time zone -- so at least I'm halfway back to normal. I saw the orthopedic surgeon today, fifteen weeks after the shoulder surgery. He was very pleased with where I am now, and so am I. I was able to schlep my own luggage without help on the trip.

good recovery from surgery
the character of old buildings

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home from England

Got home Friday night and am still between that time zone and this one. I'll tell more and show photos bit by bit (and in no particular order). This is a very old church in Canterbury, St. Martin's, built in the 6th C. and still in use:

This one is looking toward the West Door of Canterbury Cathedral from the quire (about 2/3 of the way up the nave):

A beautiful, beautiful space which reaches to the heavens.

And here is the view from my bedroom window in Canterbury:

I could walk (past all those banks of roses!) from my room to the cathedral in five minutes!

I will say that I'm grateful for wood floors and carpets at home -- we spent a good six hours a day standing and walking on stone floors -- very hard on the feet, knees and hips! How did those ancient folk do it?

very easy flights both ways
good traveling companions
wonderful experiences

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Who would think it was possible to make so many mistakes in one tiny sweater? So far I have made the back hem in garter stitch and the two front hems in ribbing, picked up a dropped stitch halfway down the back, made one front too long, and now I discover the first sleeve is 1/2 inch too short. This is an easy fix, but good grief! How oblivious am I???
Nevertheless, it's coming along. I'll finish it pronto when I get home.

Here's an old-fashioned quilting bee -- well, more of a binding bee -- last Monday at our monthly Dump Salad supper. Judy is teaching this quilt at Expo this weekend, and needed to have the sample done and washed by Thursday.

This is the fourth or fifth year (maybe sixth?) of Quilt Expo in Madison. The first year they thought it would be a good sign if they had 2,000 - 4,000 people attend. There were 10,000! It has been very successful:

I've been busy getting things ready for DH to manage here without me (sob), and getting packed and organized to leave for England tomorrow (yaayyy!). I haven't done any sewing all week; I have been listening to the Goldberg Variations played on harp -- beautiful and amazing. I love that piece of music. I've also been listening to Alexander McCall Smith's 'Love Over Scotland' on my iPod. I'll take it with me, can't leave it behind unfinished! It's laugh-out-loud funny.

A great trip ahead
Loving family
Fun with good friends

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Getting ready to go . . .

Here's how I do meds for traveling -- I sew channels from top to bottom of a baggie. Then I poke one day's meds to the bottom of each channel:
Then I sew across the top of those, making a little pocket for each day:
Here's fifteen days worth (I should be gone twelve days, but always take an extra three days worth -- you never know what might happen):
Each morning I use the scissors in my little Swiss Army Knife (in checked bag) to cut one pocket open. At the end of the trip I have at the most three pockets left. I'm a big believer in 'throw-as-you-go' traveling. I save my ratty old underpants and then throw a pair out each night. As the trip proceeds, I'm making room in my suitcase for mementos and gifts.

I'm gradually packing, to collect everything in one place and see what I still need to dig out, and making sure I have the really important stuff, like this dog chew treat for Matthew:
Matthew is a rescue dog who lives at All Hallows Guest House at the church of St. Julian in Norwich. He's comfortable around women but afraid of men. Living with nuns suits him fine.

Sister Pamela, one of the winners who submitted a name for the bridge to link King Street with Riverside.

Sr. Pamela with Matthew

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sleeves and Dove Bars

One sleeve is started. I should have picked a specific spot in the strand of yarn to make it easy to match the pattern on the other sleeve, but thought of it too late -- the story of my life. (In case you wondered, this is cheater sock yarn.) I should be making notes on this pattern in case I ever make it again.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the peace lily today -- the sunlight was shining through the blossoms, though the camera didn't catch that. They are one of the best houseplants for 'laundering' our air. This from an environmental website:

"Environmentalists have celebrated the peace lily for its ability to clean the air, removing chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from the air. NASA conducted a study on houseplants and named the peace lily among the top ten plants for removing indoor chemicals and keeping the air 'greener.'”


"The plant is toxic. Ingested by children it can cause mouth ulcerations, and vomiting. A small amount of leaves chewed by a dog or cat is even more dangerous and potentially lethal. If you suspect a child or animal has eaten peace lily, you should contact poison control immediately. For the safety of all residents in your home, it’s suggested that you do not keep peace lilies if you have children or animals."

We have two cats, though, and they leave this alone, although they do like to chew on a couple of others.

A little private joke at our house. DH adores Dove Bars, but only milk chocolate with almonds. He always has a box in the freezer. Yesterday when he stopped to get another, the store only had dark chocolate without almonds. He shopped around until he found the ones he likes, and then -- just to make sure no emergencies arise such as having to go to bed without his evening Dove Bar -- he stocked up:
I laughed when I opened the freezer door.

green plants
corn on the cob for supper

Monday, August 31, 2009

From Sock to Glasses' Case

I'm going to England in two weeks, and need to pack light. My sunglasses are the kind that fit over my regular glasses, and the case that came with them is ridiculously bulky. I've been wondering about something to protect them from scratching that won't add bulk or weight. Quilted case? No -- still too bulky. Then I remembered my Miss Matched Socks -- the kind where you get three in a pair and each one is different. I have some that are black with big polka dots, wide black and white stripes, and narrow ones. Here are the narrow ones with the glasses:

Do they fit? Yup.
How long does the case need to be?
Serge or cut and sew:
Yaayy! Very thin and lightweight. And kind of cute.