Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas Eve at the Farm

Tyler and I haven't been to the farm for Christmas Eve for probably at least 10 years.  He still talks about it, especially the Christmas Eve Church service with candlelit Silent Night.  This year we decided to go, now that our Christmas Eves are free, and his parents have been so excited, they couldn't stop talking about it!  This is what memories are made of.  :)

Aside from some snow early Christmas Eve (which simply dusted everything in the most beautiful coating of frosty white snow), the weather for holiday driving this year was absolutely perfect.  As the sun was going down in the late afternoon, it was so gorgeous, I just had to get some pictures.
 This is literally in their backyard.  Isn't it glorious?
 This year, I have been taking a lot more pictures.  In part, thanks to my (new-to-me) iPhone 5S, which was a hand-me-down from Tyler.  It's much faster than my old iPhone 4, and the camera is stunning.  Case in point...
 We enjoyed a very lovely evening with the folks.  Supper was their traditional Norweigan/Danish fare that included Lutefisk, Lefse, and Flatbread.  Lefse is very yummy.  It is is a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread. It is made with leftover potatoes, flour, butter, and milk
 I may have tasted Lutefisk once before on that long-ago Christmas Eve, but I don't remember if I like it. I'm pretty brave when it comes to food, and I'll try anything once.
 For those of you who may not know what Lutefisk is, here is the definition from Wikipedia: Lutefisk is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling and burbot is also used) treated with lye. The first step is soaking the stockfish in cold water for five to six days (with the water changed daily). The saturated stockfish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The fish swells during this soaking, and its protein content decreases by more than 50 percent, producing a jelly-like consistency.
When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) is caustic, with a pH of 11–12. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.
Gross, right?  Yeah, kinda.  Arnie loves it, and has been eating it every year of his 80-year life.  Susan tolerates it.  Tyler tried some, but didn't really like it.  I had two pieces.  It doesn't really taste like anything, but the texture is very slimy and gelly.  You smother it in salt and melted butter, so it's not so bad.  I didn't mind it, but I don't think it liked me back, because it ran right through me.  Ah, cultural traditions, how exciting you are!
 At 8:30, we went to church for the Christmas Eve service.  I love this church.  It is so cute!
 The music was provided by a brother and sister.  The violin played the melody, and the piano played the harmony.  They were lovely.
 Since spending the last 6 years at my Lutheran church (I grew up in a non-denominational home church), I have been getting more and more interested in the church calendar.  Advent is really very cool.  It builds up the anticipation of Christmas over the previous 4 weeks.  I was so excited that the 5th candle was finally lit!
 And, as we all anticipated, we got to sing Silent Night by candlelight.  And singing all the other carols was an absolute joy.
 We spent the rest of the night watching Mr. Bean's Christmas Special and Home Alone.  What a special night.  I can't wait to do it again, hopefully year after year!  Love you, Mom and Dad!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas Choir Rehearsal - Dec 19, 2015

As I mentioned in my Seasonal Updates post and my Surgery post, I was unable to participate in this year's Christmas Choir Performance because I had nasal surgery 4 days before the big day.  But as promised, I went to the rehearsal on Saturday and gave what I had to give: my presence (as a very enthusiastic audience member).

And just the other day, I realized that this is my sixth season with my choir!  Right from the first day at practice, they welcomed me with open arms, and it's been the same ever since!  We have so much fun, and those moments when we all practice our parts separately and then put it all together and nail it are one of my favourite things.  Sometimes it feels like the heavens open, and we're standing right in the middle of it.  :)
 Arlene's two little granddaughters took part in the children's' part.  Arlene said she would practice with the CD with them, and they absolutely loved it.  So cute that they got to take part!
 I have always said I am privileged and lucky to be part of a choir with such amazing talent, and so many men!  Our cornerstone, Marlis, is the best pianist I have ever had the pleasure to listen to in person, and I am honoured to be able to sing along to her astonishing playing every week.  Her timing is more impeccable than any pianist I have ever heard.  Love you, Marlis!  :D
 In the past handful of years, we have added more and more musicians to our Christmas Choir Performance, and we pretty much have a full-blown orchestra!  There are a handful of wind instruments, and lots of keyboards each making different sounds.
 Also lots of creative percussion.  Shout-out to the oft overlooked rhythm section!  :)
I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and soaking it all in.  I was as enthusiastic as I usually am, although in the long stretch in the middle of the practice, I slouched down in my seat and rested my head against the backrest.  I was pretty tired being only 3 days out of surgery.
 In addition to a couple of solos from Jerry and Sherry, and the children's choir, we had a quartet by these lovely ladies.  Two sopranos, two altos.  Marlis' mom, Doris, is in the front row.  She's in her 80's.  So special!  :)
 And last but not least, I had to have proof that I was there, so I took a #choirselfie.  I love you guys!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fort Edmonton Park Christmas Reflections - Dec 11, 2015

Kristi and I are now officially regular patrons of Fort Edmonton Park.  She started by getting me to come here, and this year we've been here 5 times!  Twice for a play, twice for old movies, and twice for Halloween and Christmas.  Yes, that's six.  Our Christmas outing included a play and lots of amazing things throughout the park/town.

I absolutely loved the Victorian Christmas stuff everywhere.  If it looked like it could have been used in those days, they decorated with it.  Like this lovely twig nativity scene.
 There are 3 streets in Fort Edmonton Park, and throughout those streets, they have stuff going on in probably every 3rd house/building.  The first house we went to was making popcorn garland (I haven't made that since I was 5 years old!), and baking cookies.  Those old wood stoves are so warm and cozy!

One of my favourites was at a cafe, which actually sells refreshments.  :)  In one corner were these 7 lovely carollers with voices of angels.  As an avid choir member, I am always enthused to listen to other choral singers.  I counted at least 4 voice parts.  They were singing beautifully complicated Christmas carols, and they sounded amazing!  
 In the opposite corner sat Father Christmas.  There were no children there when we were there, so he just waved and smiled and sat listening to the lovely singing.  I told him he had a great job, if he got to listen to that all night.  :)
 There were so many highlights on this night!  At a chapel across the street from Father Christmas and the carollers, there was a skit put on by 4 people.  These folks are actively involved in the theatre, so they were a delight to watch.  And lo and behold, at this little chapel, who should walk in but two old friends from back home!  They came for their staff Christmas party.  Lovely surprise.

In some of the shops and houses, they set up displays and turn the lights on, but you can't go in.  I love looking in the windows.  So, I was delighted yet again, when I looked in on these two chairs, and recognized them right away!  My dad reupholstered these!  They're like my long lost cousins.  :)
 I was very impressed with some of the interiors.  I would say they were even better than Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, ON.  Such amazing attention to detail.  I always love checking out the antique upholstery.
 Kristi and I were delighted with this kitchen.  It was cheery and bright and painted pale yellow.  Our favourite find was this waffle iron on the stove.  It has a hinge and you can flip it over!  We were thrilled.  Small pleasures...
 Another of the many highlights was being directed by another fun bunch of women baking cookies in an old wood stove kitchen, out back to the barn and horse enclosure.  
 We immediately made friends with this handsome Clydesdale.  He had quite the personality and was a big sucker for attention.
 We spent a good 15 minutes out there with him.  
 Eventually, one of his friends meandered over to say hi.  We think she's a female.  She seemed smaller and more feminine than he was.  But, who's to say?  They were lovely.
 After wandering the park and taking in many more sights and sounds, we made our way back to the Capitol Theatre for our play.
 Jack and the Beanstalk was such a hoot!  It was funny and cute and hilarious and adorable and I just have no words for it!  Top notch local theatre is such a delight!
It was one of our best nights at Fort Edmonton Park, but not by much, because each time we go, we have just as much fun.  I can't wait to go many more times next year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Adventure in Minor Surgery - Part 2

I don't know if I'd like to say I'm lucky to have two surgeries in one year, but as both of them are preventative, I consider myself thankful to have access to good healthcare that allows me to take care of little things before they become big things.

This time around, I had nasal surgery.  I told my doctor that my left nostril was almost totally blocked, and she sent me to the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.  He asked me if I would be up for having surgery to fix it, and I said yes.  So, here I am!

Having two minor surgeries has taught me a lot about not judging people just because they are in the hospital.  I know for myself, whenever I hear that someone is in the hospital, my first reaction is to freak out and worry about what bad things have happened to them.  As I have learned, this is not the case most of the time.  Lots of people are here for reasons that are much less scary, and even the scary things need not be so, because we are lucky to have good healthcare and fantastic doctors and nurses to take care of us.  

So, here I am in my gown and robe.  No big deal.
 And the booties are just hilarious.
This surgery was done at the Leduc Hospital.  It's a long way from home, let me tell you!  It took us over an hour from St. Albert, and we were smart enough to avoid the Anthony Henday.  It was snowing that morning, and any weather other than perfectly dry and sunny means that it will be backed up like crazy, especially in rush hour.  I'm still boggled by how they thought 2 or 3 lanes would be sufficient.  *face palm*

Anyways, we made it early, and Ty sat with me in the waiting room until I got called to change into my new duds.  The big difference between Leduc and Sturgeon was the lack of beds in the recovery area, and a few less staff (the staff they did have were fantastic, though).  At the Sturgeon, I immediately got a bed and got to stay there the whole time.  Quite a luxury, as I now know.  At Leduc, I got dressed in my robes, got to lay down for about 15 minutes while I got hooked up to IV, and then I was sent back to sit in the waiting room until it was my turn to be wheeled on a bed to surgery.  Waiting rooms are not very fun places to hang out dressed in hospital robes with a wheely IV thingy.  But as I always do, I took it as it came and wasn't too bothered.  There's no point.  So I sat patiently reading O magazine.

When it was my turn, I got into the bed, and the porter wheeled me to the service elevator (which is big enough for a bed!) and we went down to the first floor.  In surgery prep, I met an awesome nurse who was wearing lots of Christmas bling and a santa hat, and had the coolest personality.  Then my doctor came and checked in with me, and he was great.  And my anesthesiologist was also very good.  I told her about my tendency to get nauseous.  No problem.

I've noticed after doing an entire year of weekly yoga practices that I am pretty good at being meditative.  I focused a lot on my breathing and was confident and positive that everything would turn out great.  As I listened to the lady next to me talking to the funky nurse, I realized that she probably had anxiety, so I sent her good vibes, and was grateful that I am so calm and trusting that this world isn't such a scary place after all.  :)

Then after a nice quiet little rest, I was wheeled to the operating theatre (I love that word! It sounds so British!  LOL), which, in my opinion, is the most fascinating part of the whole experience.  I got onto that narrow little bed, stretched my arms onto the armrests, and they velcroed me in place.  Haha.  Of course they did.  I noticed there was soft Christmas music playing, and I chatted with them about it.  They were all very friendly.  My anesthesiologist started adding goodies to my IV, and I noticed them a lot more this time.  Rather unpleasant, when they first enter the bloodstream!  Ick!  And as with last time, I tried to notice my moment of unconsciousness.  The song that was playing at the time was either Run Run Rudolph or Holly Jolly Christmas (how cool is that?).  And again, just like last time, I never noticed my moment of unconsciousness.  

I woke up in post-op, and my nurse was fabulous.  I really felt like I was the most important thing to her.  And I'm glad I had her undivided attention, because I needed it!  I battled nausea much worse than last time.  I'll spare you the gory details, but the main reasons have to do with having stuff done to my face, all the lovely medications pulsing through my bloodstream, and blood.  Yuck.  So, I spent a decent amount of time there until my nausea mostly stabilized.  

Then another porter lady wheeled me back to recovery.  She took it nice and slow, for which I was grateful.  Back in recovery, I had another fabulous nurse looking after me.  And I battled more nausea.  Thankfully, before I went home, all the icky stuff was over with.  Here is Tyler taking a picture of me, at my request, and he said I looked terrible.  LOL
 The drive back to St. Albert was thankfully uneventful.  I dozed like this all the way back to Superstore.  I may have fallen asleep a couple times, but I was mostly conscious.
 And here I am in the Superstore parking lot waiting for Tyler to fill my prescription and pick up some apple juice and Cup-a soup for me.  I'm in good spirits, because I was expecting to feel like I had been hit in the face by a bus, and it wasn't really that bad!  All is well!
 At home, I grabbed ginger ale, cup-a-soup (which is super fun to drink through a straw), apple juice, and water, and settled in on my mountain of pillows.  I put the Spa channel on my Slacker Radio app, and snoozed with soft music in the background all afternoon, all night, and all morning.  

And after taking only two Tramodol yesterday afternoon (4 hours apart), I've decided that I don't like or even need strong painkillers.  They made me nauseous.  So, before bed, I took two Ibuprofen, and I felt fine, and today, I took two more shortly before I had my shower and took out the packing.  The pain is very low.  Or maybe my pain threshold is getting higher.  Either way, I don't like scary painkillers!

This is how I looked:
This is how I felt:
 That's Johnny Depp in The Libertine.  On his deathbed.  LOL.  I didn't feel that bad, but with the gauze in front of my nose, this is the closest image I could think of.  What kept me going was looking forward to today at noon, when I would finally be able to remove the packing from my nose.  Isn't it pretty?
 I had a shower, as instructed, to make sure everything was very wet, and I firmly but gently pulled on the strings, and it wasn't that painful.  And now I'm free!
 The doc told me I would feel quite stuffed up for up to 3 or 4 weeks.  And as I'm sitting here blogging, (Hi!) it's definitely liveable.  A bit swollen and stuffy, occasionally runny, but not bad.  
Today I feel like I'm going to take it very easy and sleep some more.  Tomorrow, I'd like to venture into my sewing room.  I will do my best not to bend forward too much.  Sewing involves lots of bending forward, so I'll take lots of breaks.

Sitting up with a laptop is a pretty good position, so I hope to catch up on all my vacation posts over the next several days.

Thanks for reading about my latest adventure!  :)

New Jammy Pants for Me!!!

One of the pairs of jammy pants in my "almost finished" pile was a pair for me.  All I had to do was coverstitch the elastic waistband and the hem, and sew a label to the back.  So, I decided to quickly finish them up the night before my surgery (that post will be coming next :)).  I already had the right thread colour loaded on my serger, so I just had to sit down and do it.  Easy peasy!

Here are my two old ones.  I could go back and see how old these are, but I'm too lazy.  My guess is that they are at least 4 or 5 years old, and they are both quite thin and threadbare.  But I still wear them constantly, and I still love them.  :)

 The chickens and eggs fabric faded much worse than the penguins.  The penguins are my favourite.  Aren't' they cute?
 If you look really closely at the elastic waists on both of these, you will see how threadbare they are.
 So, it's time for new ones!  I don't remember if I bought this fabric last year, or the year before, but they've been floating around in that big pile of jammy pants that I've been trying to finish for about 3 years.  I think this print looks like a Christmas sweater. :)
 And here they are!  I've started making everyone's jammy pants about 2" too long, because as the months and years go by, that's how much they shrink.  :)
 I love them.  I made them slightly bigger than my old ones simply by sewing my side seams at 1/4" instead of 5/8".  Easy way to gain an inch and a half all the way around.
 I love my labels!  And I even had white thread in my industrial, so I didn't have to fiddle with anything!  It was all ready to go.
 And a big shout out to Elisha, who gave me her Grandma's old iron, which is basically still brand spankin' new!  I desperately needed a new iron, and this one does not disappoint!  It steams like a champ, and it's heavier than my old one, and presses like a dream.  Totally retro, hey?  Thanks, Elisha!  I love it!  :D