Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Washing Garbage

When I was kid, now admittedly that was a long time ago, I used to open a can, dump out it's contents and throw the can in the garbage. The can, after all, was just a container whose purpose had already been served. So it was open, dump and throw. Back then, microwave ovens hadn't been invented and most people cooked their meals from fresh meat, fish, fowl and vegetables which don't really generate a lot of waste. Meat came from the butcher wrapped in paper and veggies came in whatever natural wrapper God gave them. Potato peels, apple cores watermelon rinds and corn husks all got thrown on the compost heap, which did what compost heaps do, and ultimately furnished rich loamy soil to feed the garden.

Then we got more sophisticated and dinner now comes pre-cooked and pre-packaged to make things more convenient and consequently produces a lot more non usable garbage that we're quickly running out of places to store. The empty plastic and foil containers can't be composted, so now we need to recycle them. Of course gone are the days when you can open, use, and throw. Now after use, the empty container has to be stored for weeks and if you live in a townhouse like I do, there is no room anywhere to store enormous garbage, recyclable, and organic waste bins. There is barely enough room in the garage for the car, let alone these huge bins and smaller bins won't hold weeks worth of garbage. So that means they need to be stored in the house, the only remaining space. To avoid the stench of rotting garbage we have to carefully wash all of these containers before storing them.

This week again I marvel at how far we've come as I wash out cans, bottles and tubs, literally washing garbage before I pitch it out.

I'm all for protecting the environment, but I wonder if governments were really sincere about reducing waste if they couldn't find some way to reduce the garbage at the source. You know what I mean. Every time you bring something home from the store it's wrapped up like a mummy. Component parts are wrapped in plastic bags and then fitted inside protective styrofoam blocks with cardboard spacers holding things in place inside the cardboard box, which is inside shrink seal cellophane. Overkill much?!!??

A long time ago, when a lot of the jobs went overseas because of the cheaper work force, one of the ways a manufacturer could still claim the product Canadian made was if a certain percentage of the product was made here. In practice, that meant that it could be identified as Canadian, even if the only thing Canadian was the packaging, as long as the Canadian content dollar wise, met the threshold. Guess where some of the excess packaging started coming in?

In all fairness, since most of the manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, the products that we use every day have to come back from overseas to be sold here and in all that travel you don't want something like a large TV to get a hole poked in it just because it wasn't sufficiently protected.  But somewhere, somehow, there has to be a happy balance.

In the interim, I'm stuck here, washing garbage.

Monday, April 16, 2018

High Efficiency - NOT

After many many years of faithful service it's about time for my old washing machine to be retired. It washes clothes perfectly in a very short amount of time but lately it's been getting stuck now and then and when I go to throw things in the dryer, the machine is still full of water. It takes a little nudge before the machine will go into the spin cycle and empty out. It's a small irritation, but it's prompted me to look for a new machine.

I loathe front loading machines. I'm tall enough that I don't have a problem reaching down into a top loading machine and I've always considered front loading machines stupid. It makes no logical sense to me to have a door where the water is. In my opinion it's an accident looking for a place to happen. IF there's a leak in the door seal, there will be water all over the floor, which is never an issue with a top loading machine.

A couple of years ago one of my sisters, (I have 5 of them) replaced her old machine with a front loading model because she's short and another of my sisters recommended it. Ever since I've been listening to her complain about how inferior her new machine is, how it doesn't get the clothes clean, and it takes so much  longer to do a load of laundry.

Knowing that I might have some issues, I started doing some research. I discovered that in addition to being a dumb idea, 20% of front loading machines develop issues with mold, mildew, bad smells and clothes coming out of the washer dirtier than when they went in. That stupid front door seal needs to be carefully and thoroughly dried after each use, or the build up of stagnant water just stinks and gets dumped into your next load of laundry. Really impressive. Front loaders were never on my shopping list, but finding out about that little problem would have permanently removed them from my wish list if I had been looking at them. I know another alternative is to just leave the door open and let it air dry, but that means the door is permanently open where you can trip over it and if you do frequent washes, the fold over gasket that's used on some machines can still trap water that doesn't fully dry out.

Another thing I discovered is that most top loading "high efficiency" machines don't have an agitator, even when agitators clean better. One of the reasons I was given for not having an agitator is that it wears clothes out. Nonsense. I've always used a machine with an agitator and I have clothes that are older than my machine that are still going strong after hundreds of washings. I've seen dozens of reviews where people have complained that there clothes end up in a tight ball, and badly wrinkled due to the constant spinning of the non agitator machines.

It was at that point that I discovered the new "high efficiency" machines take about 50 minutes to go through a normal cycle. Really? 50 minutes?!?!! My old machine takes about 20 minutes to wash a load of bedding. The delicate cycle takes about 7 minutes. The dryer takes about 30 minutes to dry a load of bedding, maybe 40 minutes if it's flannel sheets. Which means I can wash and dry a load in less than an hour.

The comes the kicker. The longer 50 minute cycle, because it doesn't use enough water will probably not actually get really dirty clothes clean. They'll probably have to go through a second cycle if they're really dirty. So, my old machine can take badly soiled clothes, like the things hubby wears to work on the car and have them clean and fresh smelling in 20 minutes, but a new "high efficiency" machine will take 50 minutes to go through a cycle, but probably it will take 2 cycles to actually get the clothes clean, or nearly 2 hours.

I asked the sales people to explain to me how that was more efficient. Nobody had an answer, so I went back and did some research. It turns out that what the new machines are more efficient at is using less water and less detergent. They're not really more efficient at all, when efficient is measured in terms of cleaner clothes, less use of electricity, or more important to me, less use of my time. In a small household, we still have a couple of loads of bedding, a couple of loads of towels and 3 or 4 loads of clothes every week. I can't imagine how a large family copes with the issue. Especially when you're trying to fit that in around the less expensive hours of electricity consumption.

So, the so called high efficiency washing machines, use less water and less detergent to do a less effective job of cleaning clothes. Some machines reportedly don't use enough water to even get all of the clothes wet. Without an agitator, they ball the clothes up in a knot leaving them badly wrinkled. Supposedly, these high efficiency machines spin the clothes so well that they need less dryer time which is where they save on electricity. Except that the new dryers now have a steam cycle to put moisture back in the clothes to take out the wrinkles that the washing machine put in!!!!!!

I think I'll just get my Mr Fix It to replace the worn parts on my old machine so that I can efficiently enjoy really clean clothes in short amounts of time.

An extra note: I heard several sales people telling me that people are adding a wet towel to their wash which adds the water in the towel as well as increasing the weight of the load to trick the machine into adding more water. Which is probably good for most things, but some items are liable to come out with a lot of extra fuzzy bits from the towel.

Sunday, April 01, 2018


Easter, is for Christians, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. There are some atheists and skeptics who not only don't believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, but they also question whether or not he was crucified. These people however are very few and no historical authority gives them any credence. It is a historical FACT that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross.

Since I want to talk about history, not speculation, here is a significant FACT. The writer of 1 Corinthians, who is believed to be Paul, wrote his letter sometime between 52 and 56 AD. What is significant about the date, is that it is only about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus which was somewhere between 30 and 33 AD. To put it in perspective, the attack of 9/11 was 2001 or 17 years ago. An eye witness of the attack could give you a very precise and accurate description of what happened on that day. There are a lot of people alive today who were eye witnesses of those events and well able to corroborate what happened.

I mention this because Paul gives in the first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15 verses 3-8, an impressive list of people who saw Jesus die, get buried and live again.

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."

So according to Paul there were over 500 people that saw Jesus alive again after the crucifixion. People who were eye witnesses to his death and eye witnesses to the fact that he was alive again afterward. You can trick one or two people, you might trick 30 or 40 people, but there is no way you could trick 500 people into believing a lie.

Why does this matter? Simply because if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he was a liar and a charlatan. But he wasn't a liar, he didn't perpetrate an elaborate hoax. Just like the events of 9/11, the events of Jesus' resurrection took place in the open where people could see for themselves the truth of it. You, yourself know about what happened on 9/11, or if you're too young, you know of several people that can tell you what happened because they experienced it first hand. 9/11 is roughly as far in our past, as the death and resurrection of Jesus was in Paul's past, when he wrote that letter to the Corinthians. So we're not talking ancient past, we're talking about a current past.

If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, Christianity is a vain hope. 500 eye witnesses makes for very reliable information. Jesus DID rise from the dead and since He did we have hope for our own resurrection from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 goes on to state, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Death has no power over the person who puts their trust in Jesus.

Do you know where you will spend eternity? If you're not sure, you can be. Romans 3-23 says "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" You've sinned. If you've ever lied, stolen, or cheated, you've sinned. Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." So you've sinned and the penalty for sin is death, BUT God gives you the gift of eternal life. Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus paid the penalty for OUR sin by sacrificing himself. Romans 10:9 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." The penalty has already been paid, you just have to avail yourself of it by confessing the Lordship of Jesus and believing in your heart the God has raised him from the dead. Then go share with someone what you have done. The Gift of everlasting life is yours just for believing on Jesus.

John 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

If you have followed those steps you have passed from death to life everlasting. You belong to Jesus and He'll never let you go, you will spend eternity with him. You don't have to doubt about where you'll be, you'll be in heaven with Him. There's no better time than Easter to make that decision that will change your life forever and you too can be resurrected.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Merry Christmas Flutter

The pattern for the butterfly is here and colour coded. I don't usually colour code diagrams as they end up being uniform black and white when they are printed. The butterfly is done in 3 sections, body, left wing, right wing. In size 20 thread wind 2 shuttles CTM with about 1.5 yards on each shuttle of the colour being used for the body.. The first and last ring are normal rings and the others are split rings. I used a scrap piece of card about a half inch wide to measure the picots for the antennae to make sure they were the same length and tied a knot in the tip of each picot. After struggling with the first one, I used a  piece of thread through the tip of the antenna to give me something to hold onto while I tied the knot, then pulled it out when the knot was done.

For the wings I wound about 1.5 yards of the solid colour on one shuttle and about 1.5 yards of the variegated colour on the second shuttle. I hate trying to match up the colour distribution in variegated threads when I'm part way through a project so I tend to use more thread than I think I'll need so that I don't have to play match up. On the other hand I don't like to waste thread. It's a constant battle. "use more!/don't waste it!" I also don't use precise measurements. I generally pull off  an arm's length of thread and then add a bit more if I think I need it.

The wings begin at the bottom and when using 2 colours, start the first ring with one colour and hide the ends of the second colour as you tat it. RW and tat the short chain with the second colour and begin the first large ring with the second colour, doing the split part with the first colour. The next ring is also a split ring split on the side. The third large ring is a normal ring done with the second colour. The last large ring begins with the second colour and the first colour is used on the split side.

There's a short chain followed by one inward ring in the second colour and one outward facing ring done in the first colour. When you reach the bottom of the wing again, switch shuttles and tat with the second colour. The next two inward facing rings are done in the first colour and the outward facing ring is done in the second colour, which is also used to finish off the wing.

The second wing is done the same as the first wing, except that if you choose to do front side/back side tatting, you'll need to switch stitch order. Personally, I think life is too short to play around with fs/bs but do it the way you want.

Anyway, here's the pattern. Let me know if there's anything missing on it and just to make it easier to refer to both picture and pattern, I've added in the green and yellow butterfly again.

Edited: Green just didn't do it for me. I just had to tat it in red. So now the butterfly is in red and white.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

One more flutter

I started modifying the pattern for the butterfly so that I could post it and it occurred to me that without some clear direction on when to switch shuttles, other folks might have difficulty with this one. I decided to tat another one in 2 solid colours so that you can clearly see which shuttle needs to be use. Turns out it's not half bad done in solid colours. I was using up bits of thread off these 2 balls and had to add in both the yellow and the green on this one. I used my standard method for adding in thread and it's really hard to see where the joins occurred.

The pattern still requires hiding 6 thread ends, 2 for the body and 2 for each wing, which isn't bad when you consider it's done in 2 colours of thread. I'm thinking that if I tried really hard I might be able to figure a way of tatting it in one pass, but the mental gymnastics to do it might not be worth the effort in the end.

When I finally get this pattern done I may have to use 2 colours to make it readable, but that's a job for another day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

No snowflakes, just butterflies

For years I have been tatting snowflakes to send out with our Christmas cards to special people. You tat. You know that not everyone deserves the time and effort that goes into making a piece of tatted lace. So not everyone gets a snowflake. I do a few extras to give away to visitors during the holidays and as we all know, tatting is a great stress reliever so it accomplishes both keeping things calm and collected as well as providing little gifts. However, as the family ages there are more and more households without children and the need for the sparkle of Christmas trees. That means that I'm sending out snowflakes that don't ever get used.

As I considered this situation last year I thought that it might be preferable to send out butterflies that could be used all year long. For people who have Christmas trees they can still hang the butterflies. For those that don't, the butterfly can be displayed elsewhere or used on clothing or stored wherever they've been keeping the rest of them, which is hopefully not file 13 aka the circular file.

I have a butterfly pattern which can be done in one pass, but I don't really like the look of it. See what I mean?

I took the basic design and replaced the body section.You can see that I was playing around with how the wings fitted onto the body. That meant that the body, which is done with split rings needed to be done with 2 shuttles wound CTM

After working in size 20 thread I did it again in some size 80 using a solid thread colour for the body and the small rings that attach to it with a complimentary variegated thread for the rest of the wings. For the body I loaded enough solid coloured thread for the body and one wing. After tatting the body, I started the first ring of the wing and added in the variegated thread working from a section where the colours matched. (I used my method of adding thread which you can find in the sidebar to the right.) It didn't turn out to bad, but I didn't like the antennae.

When I tatted it again in the size 20 Lizbeth thread I made the antennae longer and tied a knot in the tip. I wasn't really paying attention to the placement of the variegated colour except on the starting ring to minimize the amount of contrast between the first ring and chain of the wing especially since the split rings were probably going to show a marked contrast anyway. Then again, these were butterfly wings and I wanted a lot of variation.

On some of the later butterflies I made more of an attempt at matching the wings, but sometimes, with the way the colours were arranged especially on a colour like Summer Fun, it was almost impossible. Some match better than others, although with the solid colours being in fixed positions, that certainly helps.

I'm not at all anxious about front side/back side tatting, so I didn't get bent out of shape trying to keep everything going in the same direction. On the second wing I just turned it to the back and repeated. For anyone who is, they'd have to reverse their order of tatting for the second wing.

Here's what the collection looks like. Each butterfly is approximately 3.75 by 3.5 inches which is just about perfect for what I was looking for.

And here's a picture with the one done in size 80 at the top for contrast. I'm thinking I'll glue that one onto my cell phone. I have the pattern drawn out for what I started with, but of course I tweaked it as I progressed. At some point I'll adjust the pattern to what the final version worked out at and get it posted.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

An embarrassment of riches

I have started and discarded a dozen posts over the summer covering such topics as the various silly trials we have had, the tatting I've done, the designs that have worked and those that have flopped, but it seems that something has come up before I was able to complete the post and I just never got to the point of uploading anything.

One of the things that happened this summer is that I retired. It was very anticlimactic seeing as I've worked from home for over 20 years, so retirement didn't really change things all that much. One of the things that did happen is that I declared 2016 as my last year of doing business for tax purposes. That means that I no longer have to keep track of expenditures for business and I no longer have to complete pages of business income tax forms. Yay!!!

I closed out all of the order pages on my web site and removed references to books that I previously had available so that people couldn't order them, and looked forward to not dealing with the business side of creating tatting patterns and information. I love you guys, but the remuneration isn't really worth the hassle. So there it was gone. Done and dusted. Kaput. Fini. Over.

Or so I thought. Since I closed things up, I periodically get notices from PayPal that people have sent me money. They aren't completing an order form. It isn't coming from my web site, I just get notices of money being sent to me for this book or that. Then I have to go back into my PayPal account and refund the money and apologize that I can't send the requested book---because I'm no longer in business.

I thought I'd closed the door on this part of my life, but somewhere folks are finding reference to   books and tutorials and they're sending me money looking to buy them. I'm guessing that people are reading old blog entries or something and that's what's generating these payments, so  I figured the only way to stop them is to let everyone know officially that I'm closed for business.

That doesn't mean that my patterns are no longer available. Some patterns are free from my web site and  my blog and as time goes on, other things will show up there. If you're desperate for something You've seen on line, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Otherwise, please stop sending me money.
Pretty please. With sugar on top.