Sunday, January 31, 2010

They didn't tell us

We were told when we got this new furnace that we would have considerable savings on our heating costs. They didn't tell us it would be a result of the furnace periodically quitting and allowing the house to drop down to Arctic temperatures. I think there ought to be a list of simple restarting instructions and an alarm that goes off when the heat drops below it's normal setting. Don't you agree? In case you haven't guessed, yes the furnace did quit again last night.

What I really want to blog about is this:
It may not seem like much to you, but when I moved out on my own I bought a lot of things to set up housekeeping for the first time. One of the things I bought was a basic set of flatware with service for 8, just because I liked having friends over for dinner and wanted enough utensils so that no one had to eat with their fingers unless they wanted to. After 25 years of use the knifes started developing pits along the blades, the tips of some of them were bent as a result of being used as screwdrivers, (I'm not mentioning names) and some of the tines of the forks don't line up (again not mentioning names) and many of the spoons have their handles bent in a n S shape (I have no idea what they got used for). So it was time to get a new set.

Now I THOUGHT that this was a simple matter of just selecting a pretty design, but apparently not. Anything with an embossed design was rejected as being conducive to pitting. Satin finishes were likewise summarily dismissed. Patterns with angular or sharp edges were cast off as being too hard to cut with, (I thought food was cut with a knife, but apparently not).

Armed with this list of criteria I ended up with this:

Plain, simple, unadorned, but don't drop it on a plate, these suckers are heavy....and don't fit in my cutlery tray. The other half has bee joking that the knives are as heavy as his hammer. (NO you can't use these as substitute tools!) So now I need a new one of those. But at least I now have a serving set that matches my flatware and I'm no longer worrying about what might be leaching out of the metal with every mouthful we eat. The pattern, if anyone is interested, is Oneida's Lincoln.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Not AGAIN!!!!!

After our little heating episode Thursday morning, which was resolved by turning it off for ten minutes and then re-starting it, it ran all day. About 10: 00 PM I noticed that it was getting a bit chilly. If the weather outside gets cold it can feel cooler in the house so I checked the indoor/outdoor thermometer on the wall. The top is outdoor and that isn't 94, it's 9.4 F which is bloomin' cold. See the lower number? That's our indoor temperature of 71.7 which isn't too bad....
Except that the thermostat is actually set for 74 and it shows an indoor temp of 72. You know what that means? It means that late at night on the coldest night of the year so far, our lovely new furnace has quit again.

OK, so we know what to do. Cut power to the furnace for 10 minutes and then start it again and we have heat once more. Or at least we have heat for an hour when it shuts off again. So we make another call to let the furnace company know that their lovely piece of crap has quit again.

Of course since this is, the coldest night of the year, they are being inundated with emergency calls and people with furnaces that won't come on at all, especially those with small children, elderly or infirm family members take priority, and that's as it should be. Unfortunately, that means that we are at the bottom of the list and no one is going to run right over and fix our problem but the technician does stay online with hubby long enough to walk him through a check of some of the more critical issues.

First thing is to check for flashing lights in the sight window. Lights? Sight window? Do you see a window?

There is a tiny window but all that you can see through it is the pilot flame and while it flickers like a flame, it certainly doesn't flash.

So my honey tells the guy that there's no flashing light at all.

Then he gets down on the floor in the tiny foot wide space in front of the furnace to undo the front of the furnace and look inside. Guess what? See that big yellow sticker? Know what's hidden underneath it? The sight window. Inside, the red light is giving 2 flashes. Know what that means? No? Neither did I until I read the troubleshooting guide. It means there is something faulty in the furnace. NO! Really? I never would have guessed it.

Our helpful techie guy goes through re-wiring the furnace to by-pass the thermostat and the furnace runs non-stop until we turn it off. At 1:00 AM Friday morning his instructions were to leave it running until it gets too hot, then turn it off until it gets too cold.

Gee thanks. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me, does it to you? You can either fall asleep with the furnace running and burn the house down, or fall asleep with it off and wake up to frozen water pipes. OR as another alternative, set your alarm clock to go off every hour all night long turning the furnace on and off, OR, my personal favourite, just stay up all night.

We ran the furnace until the house got too hot and then shut it off. After about half an hour it started getting chilly again and hubby could see that shutting the furnace on and off wasn't going to be an option if we wanted to get any sleep. Fortunately, he had taken pictures of the wiring before any of this happened so he wired it all up properly again and thankfully it ran all night.

This morning the technician called to see how things were going and when he found out that hubby had already re-wired it, he said they'd look at it when they had a little more time. (translation, never, unless we call to complain again).

Since I thought I might be sitting up all night turning the furnace on and off, I took the opportunity to test out some of the ebay thread. Several people suggested that the thread may not be usable due to it's age and the possibility that it had been improperly stored, so since the thread at the top of the pile was green, I thought I'd tat a shamrock or two. The extra kink in the thread caused by the little dip in the dimpled ring is sure to cause it to break if the thread is weak. It looks like it's OK, or at least this batch is. I expect that it will all be usable. I don't have to retro tat that much and when I switch from size 20 to size 80 or sewing thread, I normally relax my tension a lot.

This ball, like most of it in this batch is vintage Coats and Clark size 70.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

64F or 17.7C

Whichever way you write it your nose is sure to be cold. Mine was when I woke up this morning. See this?

The thermostat was set for 73 and hubby turned it up a notch when we got up this morning to see if the NEW furnace would come on. It didn't. We have had this furnace exactly 8 days and it quit on us. It may be set for 73, but as you can see it's actually 64. The thermometer upstairs says it's balmy 60 degrees. Man is it cold in here!

There were a whole laundry list of issues about the new furnace The old one was 50,000 BTU and the new one we ordered was 40,000 BTU which should have cut down on the cost of running it. They had trouble getting the 40,000 BTU unit on time so they substituted a 60,000 BTU furnace of the same dimensions. It's a townhouse and there isn't a lot of space between the wall and the cold air return so they needed a diminutive model. OK so it kicks out more heat, but all of the other energy saving specs are the same.

The new furnaces don't use a chimney flue they need a 2 inch wide pipe to suck in fresh air from outside and a second pipe to vent the furnace exhaust. Since our basement is, as yet, unfinished they wanted to run these pipes from the furnace at one end of the basement diagonally up to ground level at the other end of the basement. That, coincidentally, would have obstructed access to the sink/washing machine/dryer. AND the horizontal piping results in not just moisture from the air, but actual rain water and snow from outside to come in and travel down the angled pipe into the furnace. The solution is ANOTHER small half inch pipe laid across the floor and down into the floor drain. I swear these guys are trying to strangle me with the overhead pipes and trip me with the floor pipe.

Amongst the list of things not done or not done right.
They weren't sure they would have enough pipe and at some of the joins one pipe is inserted well into the connecting pipe, but at other joins they barely touch.
They drilled the holes for the pipes and left the cut out cores, dust and dirt all over the patio.
They left finger sized holes around the furnace where it connects to the duct work.
They forget to bring duct tape, so we had to run out and get proper sealing duct tape and finish the job. It took nearly an entire roll of tape to seal everything off properly.
They didn't bring a programmable thermostat which was supposed to come with the unit, but they had a thermostat in the truck that they installed only after we reminded them.
As they were about to leave we asked if they had reconnected the air conditioner - they hadn't and had to come back and wire in the air conditioning.
A couple of days after they left it occurred to us to try the fan by itself. Guess what? no fan.

With all of the things missed I suppose we shouldn't be that surprised that we woke up this morning to a frigid house. After a quick call we have been able to restart the furnace and the temperature is slowly rising, but I want to know why it quit in the first place.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In November, for the first time ever I bought something on eBay. I saw a picture. I typed in some numbers. I waited patiently for bidding to close. I typed in some more stuff to pay, and a few days later this arrived in my mailbox.

I was so excited about it, I did it again, and a few days later, this arrived, minus the heavy tin which I didn't want anyway.

I was psyched. Boxes full of size 80 thread in colours I had only dreamed of using, were arriving in my mailbox. My brain went into overload. Then my frugal side kicked in and I went looking for the Canadian version so that I might pay less for shipping.

I won this lot which has fewer balls of thread in it. I asked what the cost of shipping would be and was given a ridiculous number which I queried. I'm Canadian, I know what it ought to cost. I was told that the number was an estimate but if it was less they would refund the excess.

This lot which had the fewest number of balls of thread cost me as much as the 2 prior lots combined. Not more than I was willing to pay, just enough more that it wasn't a good deal any more, just a normal price. Most of this had to do with a padded shipping price. I don't really mind someone padding the shipping in order to get what they feel is a fair price for their merchandise. What I do mind was that when I initially questioned their shipping costs of $12.00 I was told that they would refund the difference if shipping was less than quoted and they didn't do it. I don't care about the $4.00 excess. I do care that they lied.

I would rather have someone say it's going to cost and arm and a leg. Period. Full Stop. Than have someone wheedle their way out of it by saying they will refund something and then not do it. If they don't intend on adjusting the cost, they should just shut up about it.

I'm not going to cry over $4.00. I have my thread and I'm happy about it. I don't want eBay to launch an investigation or make an inquiry. It isn't important. What really did annoy me was that I was requested to give feedback and with the first 2 I was delighted to respond. On the 3rd purchase I could not say that it had been a delightful experience. It was what I had bid on exactly as described. It arrived all in one piece although it took longer to get here from a city down the road than it did for the other parcels to arrive from halfway across the continent. I could not honestly say that it was a great transaction. It was OK. It was neutral. It was neither good nor bad. So I tried to give a neutral response. The system did not permit a neutral response. I don't mean that it wouldn't take a BAD response. I wasn't trying to say anything bad. I just wanted to say something neutral because I sure as anything wasn't going to give a GOOD response.

Since you can't give anything EXCEPT positive responses, eBay's whole system of feedback is really, totally suspect. As a buyer, I don't really care about the good transactions (I do care, but not as much as I care about the bad ones) because I'm going to assume they were all good except as outlined in the feedback. Then, reading through the feedback, I can judge for myself if I want to take the chance and deal with that particular vendor.

I know that as a business eBay wants to present it's activities in a positive light and that the more positive things are the better an enterprise it appears to be. I just think that not allowing a neutral response forces people to give a negative response in order to just make a comment OR to just always give a positive response. Since I couldn't say what I really wanted to say, I just deleted the request for feedback. That was as close as I could come to a neutral response.

I know eBay doesn't care about my opinion, but I wonder how many other folks came across the same issue.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


That's what this snowflake is giving me. I tatted it the first time with cluny leaves and while it was OK, the clunies didn't give it anything special. They're a lot of work, they take time and they ought to add to the design, which they didn't. So I replaced the clunies with split rings and re tatted the whole thing. There was a little overlap which I assumed would come out when it was blocked. Well here's the little stinker on the blocking board drying and it still needs work. It was only when blocking that I realized that I should not only have replaced the clunies with split rings, I should have also joined them. And shortened one if the chains, and maybe modified the points....

What's the use, maybe I should just scrap it. I already ditched a previous design because drawing it was a pain in the butt. I like that this one has nice sharp points and still holds it's shape. If it wasn't for that I'd totally give up on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Out with the Old in with the New

Our 33 year old furnace has been limping along that last few years with a lot of coaxing. It heats well enough but it has broken down a number of times. A couple of weeks ago I was up tatting after hubby had gone to bed and I heard a loud clunk. I realized after a while that I hadn't heard the furnace come on for quite a long time so I woke him up to check it out. Whatever it is that fell off he was able to put back on and the furnace started up again. The one thing you don't want in a cold Canadian winter is a furnace that stops working in the middle of the night. Good bye old friend.
Yesterday they installed a new energy efficient furnace which is supposed to save us money on our heating bill. Seeing as the government is allowing rebates on these things we had an energy audit done and we were left with a number of things that we can do to qualify for the rebates. It turns out that we can get back about 50% of the cost of the furnace. Of course the cost of the energy audit will eat up about half of that amount, but still, it is a considerable savings. Hello handsome. I hope you'll be able to keep me as cozy and warm as your predecessor did.
The old unit had a quarter horse power motor, this unit has a half. It may use gas more efficiently but gas is only half of the expense. The other half is the cost of running the blower motor and with a motor that is twice the size you anticipate twice the cost in running it. I guess we'll see.
Lest you think I haven't been tatting at all, what with all this uninteresting stuff going on, here's the latest bits to fall off the shuttle Snowflake 21 is in process and will have to be re tatted because I don't like the centre. I ought to stop now because if the centre changes in size, it's going to change the rest of it, but I have 2 full CTM shuttles and this will be the third time in a row that I've thrown away 2 almost full shuttles of thread.

As a designer I frequently cut work off and re-join thread in. That's why there is a tutorial for adding in thread on the side bar. I do it. a lot. I'm good at it. I have to be. Working on a series of snowflakes I have found myself using designs where adding in thread is most inconvenient. You may have seen in some of the recent pictures, lots of thread ends. I have finished one snowflake and then just started another with whatever amount of thread there is on the shuttle at the time.

The last few designs I have needed a full row's worth of CTM thread. When I've needed to start again it has meant pulling the thread off the shuttle, or in my case popping out the bobbin with the half done bits and popping in 2 new CTM bobbins. Since these are new designs and I don't know where I'm going with them or how they might change along the way, I want full bobbins before I start. I've run out of empty bobbins. I don't like leaving half done designs on the bobbins. I'd rather cut the thread off and start again. I have a dozen little skeins of thread I've already pulled off the shuttles and it's really starting to bug me. I think all of this duct pulling/ energy audit/furnace installation stuff is really messing with my creativity. I'm finding the only time where I can sit and work undisturbed is in the middle of the night. Literally. I'm not at my best creativity wise in the middle of the night and that's bugging me too.

Here's hoping I can get my brain in gear and get some serious designing done instead of half full shuttles and twisted little skeins of unfulfilled dreams.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Only 11 more designs to go. Twelve of the nineteen are blocked and drawn. Four more are blocked but not drawn. Two more are sitting by my tatting seat. This one looks pretty, but has a few stinking long split chains, one of which needed to be tatted in reverse order. I may need to re-think it, as the only way to tat it in one go, it needs a joining ring in the middle of a split chain.

My designing lately has taken a back seat to demolition and other "fun" stuff. Our furnace is over 30 years old and you can no longer get parts for it. To take advantage of government rebates, we've decided now is a good time to get the job done. We called several companies and had them come out and take dimensions, arranged for the energy audit and then started removing some extraneous duct work in preparation.

This mess piled up beside the bike is the remains of some duct work originally installed to pump heat into the garage to keep it toasty warm in the winter so that the shop could be used. Unfortunately a minor repair 30 years ago resulted in the furnace being red tagged and the gas was shut off. We couldn't get it turned back on until the opening into the garage was sealed. Once it was sealed off, it served no purpose, but it did connect to the duct work that they are about to start working on to install the new furnace. We had to remove duct work that was about a foot across, accessed from an opening that was 7 inches wide. Do you see a problem with those numbers?

Part of this was done by working overhead in the basement and part of it from the 7 inch wide opening in the garage wall. Much of it was cut out in sections using metal cutters. Boy, does that hurt the thumbs after a while. We took turns working at it and finally resorted to using a cut off blade. We wore out 2 cut off blades and hubby got gashed on sharp metal bits, but it's finally out and the openings in the basement and in the garage have been sealed back up. AFTER, we got most of it out, we realized that 30 years ago a section of the garage wall had been removed to give access so that the whole Z shaped thing could be inserted into the wall in one piece. Which explained how things were screwed together from both sides when they couldn't be reached from either the basement or the garage.

I am SO looking forward to getting this installation completed so we can get back to normal.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm on a roll.....

....downhill. I began this one and realized at this point that if I continued it would end up being doily size and not just a snowflake so I cut it off and started again.
I tried something along the same lines adjusting for the mistakes in the previous version. I wanted a centre of cluny leaves which I thought would look good but it turned out to be just a mess.
I've had 3 designs in a roll that have been total duds. It's enough to make me want to quit designing. I expect it's just that I've been pushing too hard instead of letting it flow. I think I need to change my perspective and maybe change the kinds of things I'm working on.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I used nail clippers to snip the shuttles off the last snowflake while I was sitting in the waiting room and knowing that I was going to be waiting a little longer I started right in on a new design, and just started making a ring without thinking or planning much. I hid the thread ends as I worked the first ring and chain and just carried on.

After I did the first ring neatly hiding ends, I realized I had only put 3 picots on it so I thought I'd do the next snowflake vertical. What I mean by that, is working the design from centre to outer rim and back to centre, for each of the 6 sides of the snowflake. I threw in a cloverleaf to broaden out the section of the snowflake and then had no inspiration of where to go from there so I lamely attached the chain to the side of the ring and slapped on a large ring at the point. Coming down the second side of the point, the chain had nothing to join into yet and the join was on the wrong side of the chain.

You can do it by slipping a spacer in at the appropriate point so that you can join into it later but it's what I call an "ugly" design. Not ugly in final appearance, but ugly in the way it needs to be worked.
After a couple of repeats I ran out of thread and couldn't whip up enough enthusiasm for the design to add in the thread to finish it. It's disgusting and I'm not going to finish it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What else? A Snowflake

Started last night, finished this morning sitting in the waiting room while hubby got his hearing aid adjusted.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Best intentions and all that jazz

I thought that this year, since I have kind of cleared the deck and I don't have anything pressing that needs doing, that I might make the attempt to blog every couple of days. For the last little bit I've been blogging about the snowflakes Ive been designing and it's given me a reason to post stuff every few days. It hasn't been all that hard really, since there is lots of bloggy, tatty stuff to talk about. I was wondering why I hadn't been blogging all along and then it hit me.

The reason that there is a clear deck is that the Marvellous Motifs book is done, the Design-Tat group is finished and the senior's tatting class is in hiatus till January 12, 2010.

The new book of snowflakes is about quarter done. 15 designs completed with 9 already drawn. I have plans for a book of 30 designs, so there is one for each day of the month. There will be a new Design-Tat group in the spring and I need a dozen -easy for first time tatters- patterns to create for the senior's group. Then there is the hour or so every day to keep up with the 25 Motif Challenge blog and whatever time out of my schedule hubby needs for me to help out with whatever project he has going on.

I guess that explains why I don't blog regularly. All this "free time" is just the lull between the busy-ness of living. Just in case you're wondering, here's most of the snowflakes so far. I did a few with the rhinestone centres but I'm re-doing them without as well (nothing like doubling up the work).

That should just about keep me hopping until it's time to do the massive bookkeeping job that is doing taxes for running 2 businesses..........I think I need a big bottle of time.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Flower Power

My one living room window faces north and the blinds are almost always closed because that same window faces the 3 story townhouses behind us and offers them a front row seat at whatever it is that we're doing. Consequently the house plants don't get enough light to survive let alone flower. I used to have over 100 plants on my south facing windowsill until the parrot got to them, but that's another story. The violets I buy in flower, never bloom again, the Amaryllis I bought last year flowered gloriously and grew a crown of leaves which died off, one after the other this fall leaving me with a stump. I'm hopeful that it has gone dormant and will surprise me soon with another big showy flower. As for the rest of the plants they are mostly just green leaves that look like overgrown grass.

Some time ago my sister gave me a potted cutting from a Schlumbergera more commonly know as a Christmas cactus. It wasn't anything remarkable, just a few leaves stuck into a pot and I put it on the table by the patio doors and hoped for the best. I had reason to open the curtains the other day and noticed a bud on the tip of one leaf. I had no idea what colour the flowers would be and the bud appeared mostly white. White's OK but in a dreary Canadian winter I long for vibrant reds, that splash of "in your face" colour that says 'Hey! Look at me, I'm alive!"

So want to see what it is? It's as close as a cactus gets to red.
Of course you know that in a house where there is exactly ONE flowering plant, you really want to be careful with it, especially while it's blooming. Just as a precaution, I mentioned this to hubby to make sure the delicate flowers didn't get bruised with the curtains being opened and closed as we take out the trash. Of course you know it was inevitable. It's the one plant doomed to get knocked over and turned upside down on it's head. I picked it up and put it back in the pot and pulled it out from behind the curtains to keep it from getting frozen as we go in and out and as an extra safety measure, put it on the dining room table so that I can enjoy it's colour for as long as it blooms. Of course since I moved it to the dining room table, the table has become a necessary work bench and it's been leaned on, knocked over again and had all manner of bits and pieces of things laid on top of it.

If it survives, I'll take a cutting to plant on the opposite side of the pot to balance it out. The weight of all of the leaves hanging to one side is what caused it to topple in the first place. Just to prove that it did live long enough to flower I at least have a picture of it, and while I was at it, I made an attempt to use the macro setting on the camera.
Crappy lighting and my crappy photography skills are to blame for this less than stellar picture. I'm sure it's not the fault of the camera. I'm hoping the plant will still be pretty tomorrow and maybe I can try again in bright daylight. That is, of course, if we get some. Lots of cold, a few sprinkles of snow, but not too much in the way of light lately.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year

Happy New Year everyone! I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to a Blessed year full of the richness and bounty of God's love. That would make it much like last year and the year before. God is good even when we don't recognize it.

I never bother to make New Years resolutions. They are a waste of time. I always think that if you are going to make changes, you will and you don't have to wait for a new year to kick over to do it. I think it is much better to make continual small adjustments to my behavior and character throughout the year than to try to make some grandiose change at the beginning of the year. I expect that that is why most people fail to live up to the resolution schemes.

One thing I can tell you for sure about 2010, I will be tatting more lace. Just to prove it, here is the finished Jingle Bell.

The bell was hung from the spruce tree out front and filmed in falling snow. I was aiming for a creative, white bell on a backdrop of dark green needles with a few falling flakes. After a dozen shots taken of a bell wildly spinning in the wind, all I got was a lot of blurry pictures and my new camera getting wet. I probably would have had better luck using the other side of the tree, but then I'd have to explain to the neighbours why I was standing out in the snow in my slippers shivering and taking a close up of a tree branch.