STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a mother, quilter, stitcher, gardener and lover of cats and fine chocolate....

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Number One Book Pick

Once you start to read 419 by Will Ferguson, you will find it almost impossible to put down. It is so well written and the characters so very believable, it's difficult to  believe it is fiction. It is a story of intrigue and suspense, fraud and deception, and human relationships. A Giller Prize winner, it certainly is very deserving.
There are a number of seemingly unrelated story threads - a family in Calgary who have lost their father/husband in mysterious circumstances, a skilled 419 scammer in Nigeria, a young African woman who is walking from the north and a young man from the Nigerian Delta, both desperately trying to survive and find a better life. It is hard to imagine, at first, how they will all interconnect, but Ferguson skillfully weaves the parallel stories together. I could not turn the last 100 pages fast enough...
419 refers to the section of Nigeria's Criminal Code which deals with fraudulently obtaining money or goods.
Any kind of fraud, actually any sort of ruse or swindle..  Although you may not be familiar with the term "419", I bet you have seen more than one of these scams in your inbox. You know, the email that promises incredible wealth if you will just help the person claim the money, or get it out of the country, or whatever. The moral of the story is never, Never, NEVER reply to one of these emails. The scammer on the other end is slick and cunning, and before you know it you can be innocently sucked into this vortex of no return, scammed out of thousands of dollars. I was amazed at how they can "trawl" the internet to easily find out so much information on you or I or your Aunt Jean. Scary!
Of course Nigeria is not the only source of  these Internet scams, but the Nigerian 419 scams are big business, and are heavily linked with more violent crimes: narcotics, kidnapping, and human trafficking, all of which  are tied to the oil industry. The Nigerian Delta is home to one of the richest oil fields in the world, where militants and local warlords have declared war on the oil companies. "Oil, kidnappings and 419 fraud are Nigeria's three biggest growth industries, and they often overlap. The Niger Delta fuels Nigeria's economy."
419 is a fascinating story. A page turner. If you like rich and complex stories with unexpected plot twists and wonderful descriptive imagery, this book is for you. If you belong to a Book Club, suggest it to the group. I thank my friend Carole for suggesting it to me.  419 may well be my number one favourite book this year. Seriously. Read it!


"To encounter a fine book and have time to read it is a wonderful thing." ~ Natalie Goldberg

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Backyard Beauty....

A good friend was away this past week so I was looking after her home, bringing in the mail, watering the windowboxes and planters, etc. I got to enjoy her beautiful pink poppies which bloomed all week, and now that she is back, they are almost finished. Too bad that she missed them at their best, but I sure am lucky that I got to appreciate their delicate beauty each day. I missed photographing my own poppies this year- the first few days they were in bloom  my camera was acting up, then several days of rain pretty much beat them to pieces... Ah well, there's always next year...

Aren't they beautiful?


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~ Anais Nin

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Winter photos

Lest you think I'm no longer doing any quilting (yes, I know, it has been a while...sigh...) here are some photos I promised you a while back... just before I had the issues with my camera- the photos weren't saving to the memory card, if you remember.... My trusty camera tech retrieved them for me. Yay!!
Here are a few shots of the blue string quilt ("Winter Blues") I did for the Veterans Unit, one of the projects our Guild took on this year. I had been trying to come up with a good spot to take some outdoor photos, when I suddenly remembered this lovely old snake fence that my neighbour just up the street has on her front lawn. (I called her to "ask permission" but she wasn't home... so I just helped myself! Thanks Mary!!) This was such a fun quilt to make (and SO easy), I can certainly see me doing another one someday (to keep for myself - yes I need another blue quilt...ha!).


"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun..."  ~Mary Poppins

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Reading

I've been on a reading jag lately. Each summer I always read a few "light" books that I consider "summer reads"... you know - nothing too heavy or "strenuous" on the brain. I would put Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh in this category. It's the story of three women who have all been seduced by and marry the same man, Ken Kimble. First is Birdie who has a problem with alcohol; she is deserted by Ken when their two children are still quite young and Birdie struggles to support the family. Ken moves on (sorry- no pun intended, but yes he IS a "mover") to marry Joan, a wealthy heiress, who is dealing with her own personal problems. Lastly he marries Dinah, a woman half his age, who also has some serious issues of her own. Woven throughout this string of relationships is Ken's son Charlie, and to a lesser extent his daughter, who struggle to deal with their alcoholic mother and a father who has deserted them. Kimble is charismatic, yes. But a wonderful husband and father? No. Yet you keep reading because you just can't figure out what he will do next. Fine literature? No. An entertaining light summer read? Absolutely.


"Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent..." ~ Stephen King

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bailing by Candlelight....

View out the front door Sat.a.m.
"Arthur" has never been one of my favourite names... and it is even less so now. What was called "post-tropical storm" Arthur ripped through my city last Friday night and all day Saturday with torrential rains and winds with speeds up to 98 km/hr. I have experienced some pretty wicked winter storms in my lifetime, but never a summer storm like this. It was scary. Our biggest fear was one or more trees coming down on the house which was a good possibility, as we have a number of very large trees in very close proximity to the house.. Not. Good. Two maples, a black walnut, a horse chestnut, a poplar and two apple trees are all close enough and big enough to do serious damage. We did lose one large tree and will have to take down another, but more on that later. Really, we got off lucky, compared to many. We also lost a number of large limbs and branches off various trees but none did any damage.
The wind and rain overnight on Friday/Saturday was unreal, I got very little sleep. In the morning the exterior of the house was plastered with debris, mostly leaves, and the entire property was littered with branches, limbs, and leaves. My gardens were battered and beaten, with many plants broken. There won't be as many garden photos this summer, I'm thinkin'.
Looking out the driveway Sat.a.m.

We lost power on Saturday morning about 8:30 a.m. Our immediate concern when this happens is the sump pump in our basement, not to mention the freezer which is full. We kept a close eye on the sump pump hole all day long, because once the water starts to rise, it's just a matter of minutes before we'd have water over the floor... We played Scrabble and Monopoly in the afternoon as Arthur raged. Lineups at fast food restaurants got longer and longer as the day progressed and more people were without power, as did those at gas stations (people wanting gas for generators.) Shortly after supper, the bailing began in earnest. It wasn't long before I realized I'm too old (or my knees are, at least) for kneeling on the concrete floor to bail water for 30 minutes at a time. We spelled each other off every half hour, one bailing, the other carrying and emptying the bucket. This went on for 15 hours straight. At around 3a.m. we decided to count to see how many buckets we were doing per hour.... can you believe 40!! And this was all done by candlelight, of course.. our basement is dark at the best of times as we have no basement windows. Yep, bailing by candlelight... Romantic, you say? Not really... It was a long night. If we weren't so tired it might have been funny... but we were too pooped to see any humour in it. At around 10 the next morning, my brother stopped by to see if we were okay, and when he heard about us bailing, he said - "Well I have a small generator I'm not using, you can have it!!" Arrggghhhh! Why hadn't we checked out that possibility the night before?? On Sunday it was hard to find hot food as most restaurants and fast food joints had closed (no power) - I was determined we were NOT going to open the freezer or the fridge as we didn't know how much longer we might be without power and I really did not want to lose all the contents... (I was craving cold milk.. there was no milk to be found in the city...) Also by Sunday gas stations were running out of gas, and people with generators were starting to panic...
Broken tree on neighbouring street

We were so very grateful when our power came back on Sunday evening about 8:30 p.m. We were lucky to only be without it for 36 hours; now, nine days later there are still thousands without power. We did lose power two more times, but for much shorter periods, and only had to bail again for 8 hours (the generator had gone to someone else at that point.) Of the over 140,000 homes in our area without power, over 90% have now been restored, thanks to over 310 power crews working. Crews have come in from Maine, as well as Quebec, PEI and Nova Scotia to help NB Power. Those remaining are mostly properties where access is difficult. I hope they will all be back on the grid soon. (We now have our own generator. Let's hope we never have to use it....)
Our fallen tree, seen out my studio window
Back to the trees... Current estimates are that our city lost around 4,000 trees- about 15%. That's just within the city limits. We lost one large tree; it came down on a car. Not our car, but that of a co-worker of Hubby's. They are from out of town and were driving to Ontario for a wedding last weekend so left a second car here. They were so very lucky as there was not a scratch on the car. The limbs just formed a perfect arch over the vehicle. (If it had fallen in a different direction it would have come right through my studio roof.) Others in the city were not so lucky as trees crushed cars, came through roofs, etc. I wasn't sad to lose the tree that fell as it was a messy tree anyway, but I'm very sad that we will lose the beautiful large maple on our front lawn. It has three splits in it and will have to be taken down.

Only a few miles from here, at a popular campground, a large sinkhole opened up and within a very short time, it "swallowed" three 30' travel trailers and a car! The car actually was washed down river!
My brothers are exhausted as they have been working long hours to clear fallen trees, limbs and debris in our court. I'm so glad they're pretty well done now, with no serious injuries or mishaps...

Fallen tree which took down power lines on neighbouring street

So, overall, we have a lot to be thankful for. No one was injured or killed. Trees can be re-planted. We did not lose our freezer contents and what was lost from the fridge was minor. Being without phone, tv and internet for nine days was annoying but really just an inconvenience. Others are much worse off. There were many acts of kindness and generosity as people shared generators and  power lines, grocery stores gave away food before it melted or spoiled, etc. etc. Disasters can bring out the good in people. As we were bailing in the middle of the night, I said to Hubby, in 23 years in this house, this is the first time we've ever had to do this, as we've never lost power for more than a few hours before. So we are indeed lucky! Goodbye Good riddance Arthur.
I did not leave our property for three days, by the time I ventured out to take some photos elsewhere, most of the large trees had been cleared, but hopefully these few photos will give you some small idea of Arthur's fury.
With being offline for nine days I am certainly way behind in visiting my blogging friends. I hope to catch up although likely won't be leaving too many comments. I'm sure you'll understand.


"Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy - your work becomes a dance with light and the weather..."  ~ Annie Leibovitz

Finally- back online!!

I'm back. And yes, we are okay. But we've had an interesting nine days... Post tropical storm Arthur unleashed his wrath on our fair city and "cut a swath" as they say. Fredericton has long been known as "The City of Stately Elms". Well, now I think we are the "City of Fallen Elms".  Our beautiful green city with tree-lined streets lost hundreds and hundreds of trees. Actually it was likely thousands. I doubt there will ever be an accurate count. Several city parks are still closed due to so much damage and it will be a good while before crews get to the parks... they are still trying to clear trees fallen on power lines and from streets and other public areas. There are still people without power - on day nine, post-storm. We just got our phone, tv and internet back this afternoon. So yes, we're okay. But still doing post-storm clean-up. I'll be back soon with a few photos.

Thankful for power!

"When passing through the storms of life, please remember:
1. It could be worse.
2. It will get better.
Stay strong, focus on what you can do, not what you cannot, and know that the clouds will soon part and the sun will shine again."
~ Doe Zantamata

Friday, July 4, 2014

Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival 2014

The 2014 Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival brochures are now out! Classes are listed and registration is now open. Although the new website is not quite ready yet, the NSFAF blog has a listing of Instructors and Contact Info so you can get in touch to register soon for the classes of your choice. Workshop/class descriptions are also there. My class on Miniature Quilts is scheduled for Saturday, October 18th. You can email (or call) me for further info, or leave a comment here on this post. I will soon be adding a button to my sidebar which will link directly to a post with further info.
EDIT: The new website is now up and running and can be viewed by clicking here.


"Never be afraid to do something new. Remember amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic." ~ Anonymous

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rhubarb Crisp...Yummmmm...

One of my favourite spring and early summer desserts has to be Rhubarb Crisp. Quick and easy, and good for you too! Most people top it with vanilla ice cream, but my favourite topping by far is Raspberry Sherbet! Try it - it's heavenly. I'm lucky to have my own rhubarb patch, it's well established (okay, it's older than I am!) and never fails to provide us all we can eat and then some.  

Rhubarb Crisp

3 to 4 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tblsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter, or maybe a bit more...

Mix together the white sugar and cornstarch. After washing and chopping the rhubarb, toss it with the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Spread in an 8x8 pan.

Mix together the dry ingds. for topping, then mix in softened butter with a fork. Mixture will be somewhat crumbly. Spread over rhubarb, and bake at 350°F for about 35-40 minutes or until rhubarb is softened and bubbly and topping is browned. Let cool a bit before serving, topped with raspberry sherbet (or vanilla icecream if you insist...)


"Stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts". Coincidence? I think not...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day everyone! We're celebrating Canada's 147th birthday today! Wave those Maple Leaf flags!! Three cheers for the Red and White! We're taking it easy today as it's just too darn hot to do much of anything. We're all laying low with the blinds down, trying to keep out the heat.... Hope you are enjoying your day too, whether it's a holiday for you or not.


"Canada is a great country- one of the hopes of the world." ~ Jack Layton

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Purple Power

As I said a few posts back, my early summer garden seems to go through color phases, and we are just finishing off the "purple phase". Alliums, Irises, Chives, Jacob's Ladder, Cranesbill, Columbine, etc. etc. All in various shades of purple, bluey-purple and pinky-purple. Yep, we've got "purple power" goin' on!
And it's even spread to indoors! The orchid I bought last November is blooming again. This is the first orchid I've ever had so I'm very pleased that I have kept it going and actually coaxed a second blooming. I thought it might be years before it would bloom again... At this point there are three blooms and nine buds still to open.

Summer has finally arrived.... we are enjoying an absolutely beautiful weekend, sunny and hot. It's about time! Spring was cool and wet with many more overcast days than bright ones. I hope the weather is lovely wherever you are this weekend. Get out and soak up some Vitamin D! I'm heading to the deck with my book...

I am joining Mary at
Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.


"Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another Book Finish...

A powerful story, The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy is set in both Garmisch, Germany during WWII and current day Texas. The main characters are Elsie Schmidt, the 16 year old daughter of a German baker and Reba Adams who is a journalist in El Paso. Although these two young women are years apart, they are both struggling with similar "life issues" - Reba is engaged to Riki, a border patrol officer, but is not certain he is right for her and in fact she is unsure that a life in El Paso is for her. Elsie is doing her best to cope with life in Nazi Germany but is not sure about a future with the high-ranking young soldier who wants to marry her. But he seems to be keeping her family safe in terror-filled times, and besides the family is worried enough about her older sister Hazel who is away from home with three young children in the Nazi Lebensborn program. Attending her first "adult" dance on Christmas Eve turns into a traumatic experience for Elsie when she encounters a determined Nazi Officer, then returns home to find a young escaped Jewish boy on her doorstep. She knows that helping him in any way will put her family in grave danger.... Reba's search for a unique Christmas feature story brings her to a bakery and she eventually forges a friendship with the mother/daughter owners...
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but the author does an excellent job of transitioning back and forth between the two time periods and locations, and masterfully weaves together the two stories and characters' lives. The descriptions are vivid. Bakery settings in both stories seem to add a warm flavourful touch to the story, as you can almost smell the baking breads and other goods. Isn't it amazing how words can evoke the sense of smell? It's a story of love and loyalty, courage and determination, fear and prejudice. Recipes at the end are a bonus. If you have enjoyed reading other WWII fiction such as Those Who Save Us, The Book Thief or Sarah's Key, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book.
Now I'm off to bed to begin a new book...


"We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming." ~ Anna Quindlen

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Catching Up and Rhodo Beauty

Things are finally taking shape around here and I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. My vegetable garden is all planted and coming up - lettuce, spinach, beets and peas are poking through, the beans and carrots are taking their sweet ole time. The tomato and cucumber plants seem to be taking hold, putting down roots. I start my gladiola bulbs in flats, and they are all sprouted now, and growing lovely roots so in a few more days they'll go in the last garden row and that job will be complete. Except for the weeding and watering, of course...
My bedding plants are all in now too, as of today. I always feel like giving a huge Whoop!Whoop! when the planting is done, done, DONE.
I have also solved my camera problem. (It's about time!) I bought a new camera body today. When the same problem reared its ugly head yet again on the weekend, I knew it had to be the camera and not the memory cards. When the camera and I went crashing to the cobblestones last July in Prague, it obviously DID do some damage; I guess I'm lucky to have squeezed almost an entire year out of it after that disaster...

So I pondered whether to upgrade or simply replace, whether to switch makes... In the end I got a good deal on a new Pentax body, not the newest model, but newer than my previous one. It is slightly smaller and lighter (only slightly), has a larger display screen, more megapixels, and has video capability, so that will be fun to play with. Now I just have to work my way through the 328 page Operating Manual....  :(

I brought my new baby home this
afternoon and snapped a few quick shots around the front of the house to try her out. The rhododendron is in full bloom right now (and lookin' maaaahvelous darling!) and the hostas are looking great too, so here's a look at the first photos out of my new Pentax K7. This rhodo is just over six feet tall. It's hard to believe that just a few short months ago, the snow was up to about the five foot point on this bush.


"All that in this delightful garden grows,
Should happy be, and have immortal bliss."
~ Edmund Spencer  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another Good Read

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes was recommended to me by my good friend Barb F. Isn't it great to have like-minded "avid reader" friends, who share their "good finds"?  I am so lucky to have many friends who love to read, so my list is ever-growing... All suggestions welcomed.....
Me Before You is well written and has a thought provoking storyline. After losing her job in a Tearoom, Louisa takes on a job as a caregiver to a young man who is a quadriplegic. She and Will come from very different backgrounds, and have quite opposite personalities, but eventually they manage to forge a friendship and come to trust one another. It isn't long before Louisa discovers that there is a reason for her new position being only a 6 month contract and this changes her feelings towards her new responsibilities. I don't want to give away the plot, suffice it to say it is thought-provoking and emotional. You will laugh and cry, feel hope and despair, and be quickly drawn into the character's lives. You can't help it, and consider yourself warned- it's hard to put this book down. And you'll be thinking about it a long while after you turn the final page....


"Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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