Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Qigong Instructors Course - Shropshire, England

I am sorry that it has been so long since I posted something new.  Here, finally, are some pictures from my wonderful experience with the Tse Qigong Centre at the instructors course.  One must have been studying Qigong for at least 3 years and be recommended by her/his instructor to be invited to the instructors course.

While I was living on Vancouver Island, I was lucky enough to discover Lee Masters, a superb teacher of Qigong and Chun Yuen.  Here is a link to her website:

This is me and my wonderful Sifu (teacher) Lee.  Sifu is on the left.

The instructors course was held at an agricultural college in Shropshire.  Below are a few photos of the group practicing.

This is Darryl teaching, with my Sifu carrying the red bag.

A group practicing Chun Yuen, a martial art.

I was successful in passing the first few forms, as shown on my certificate.

Now I remember why I have not posted more frequently.  We have very slow internet access here at the new house.  So uploading the photos for this blog is painfully slow...  I am going to have breakfast.  Maybe I will post more later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, England

Well, I have just checked into my room here at the agricultural college in rural Shropshire.  Beautiful green countryside.  My taxi driver who drove me from Stafford (about 16 miles) was very pleasant.  We discussed the problems of national health insurance, the worldwide economy, and racism.  Lovely man.

So far I have met many friendly members of the world-wide Tse Qigong Centre.  Apparently one of the "games" Michael Tse (our leader) likes to play is to have students try to name everyone there.  I am notorious for my inability to learn names.  So I have concentrated on the first few people I met.  Maybe those will stick.  If I try to remember them all, I will forget them all.

For some reason, the temperature seems warmer here.  16 degrees C today, but it seems quite warm to me.  Perhaps it is the humidity as it is cloudy and threatening rain.  If it was threatening rain at this temperature in Salinas, I would be cold, but not here.

We will meet soon for dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Tin-Tin's.  I am told that we will go there several times over the next week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From Stafford England

Today is my first whole day in England.  I am here for 10 days.  Most of them will be full of learning and testing at an instructors course for Qigong.  But I came early for a couple of days of gentle exploration and recovery from jet lag.

It was a long trip from California.  Getting up at 4am to catch a 6am shuttle to the San Jose Airport, followed by a short hop to Portland, OR.  From Portland we travelled a northern route, passing over northern Canada from west to east, then over Greenland and on to Amsterdam.  The trip took about 9 hours, but it is hard to determine how long it is because the time change from California to Holland is + 9 hours.  So when we arrived in Amsterdam, it was the next morning!

I paid for an upgrade to what they called an Economy Comfort seat, which did have some advantages.  There was more legroom, there were only two seats together.  The seats were advertized as reclining more than the regular seats.  Perhaps they did, but the difference was small.

Pluses included a very pleasant seat mate, a gentleman who was a teacher of music, especially piano.  He was about my age (actually a bit older) and what with a shared experience as college teachers in the arts, we had lots to talk about.

Minuses included parents and two small children in the seats in front of us.  I was irritable because of lack of sleep and the discomfort of sitting for so long, but the children were much more upset, understandably.  Their upset did not allow for much sleep.

However I am feeling much better today and will go out exploring the little town of Stafford.  I will take my camera so that I can share a bit of it with you when I get back to home and can download the photos.  Meanwhile, my entries will be words only - sorry!

I will go to the back garden and do my Qigong practice now, followed by a nice walk.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The baby blanket is complete.  I am really pleased with it.

Here it is right off the loom.  It measured 43.5" long (plus hem allowance) and 32" wide before washing.  Notice the dog chew at the bottom left?  As soon as I put it on the floor to measure and photograph, Becca ran on it with her chew.  I kicked her off twice and finally had to shut her out of the room in order to get this picture.

Click on this one to see the "hole" made by the dog claw in the center left (yellow section).  I didn't worry too much because it was going to be washed, and it was no problem.  This is also before washing.  You can already see the huck lace/ basketweave pattern with the natural weft.  It is pretty subtle on the gold warp, but very clear on the turquoise and brick red.

This picture was taken later in the afternoon, when the light was warmer.  It shows the colours differently.  The blanket has been hemmed and washed and ironed with a steam iron.

Here it is draped over my warping mill.  I can't share its softness with you, but that 2/8 cotton is pretty soft after only two washes.  The second time I took it right from the front-load washer (which got it pretty dry) to the ironing board.  It now measures 40" long (loss of 3.5") and 30 inches wide (loss of 2").

The light in the living room at night is not great, but I needed to include something of Becca.  Since I was not happy with the idea of doggie claws in the threads, this is as close as I let her get.

I hope the mom and the baby both like the colours.  They are not traditional baby colours, at all, but I thought they looked good together.  I tried using a navy weft for a few rows at the end; it looked much more sophisticated, and the warp colours really popped.  I would like to use this colour combination again.

Next, I will make some 12 shaft tea towels with 2/10 mercerized cotton.  Any suggestions for pattern?  There will be black in them, as a friend here just got new black countertops in her kitchen.  Of course it never entered my mind to order black when I did either of my two last orders of the above cotton.  Oh, well; guess I will just have to buy some more!  Too bad.

I would like to get the warp wound before I leave.  I am going to England for the Tse Qigong Centre's instructor training seminar.  Getting pretty excited as it is only a bit more than a week away.  Surely I will have a couple of blogs worth of tales and photos from my 10 days there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Finally weaving!

Well, the first warp that I wound to try and make this baby blanket was so bad (had so many mistakes in it) that I threw it out.  Never done that before!

Now the second warp is on the loom and I have started to actually WEAVE on my new Louet Spring.  I decided on wide stripes with navy in between.  Fifteen threads makes one repeat of the basketweave/lace pattern, so the navy stripes are fifteen threads wide.  I did not make the selvedge wider, even though I know it will draw in more.

Here is the warp ready to wind on.
It is as wide as the loom will allow, 35 inches.  I know I should have woven something narrower for my first project, but this was the item I wanted to make.

And here is Jones, enjoying the sunshine as he hopes for some stray threads to come his way.

Here the warp is lashed on to the loom.  I found that I had wound one too few threads in a couple of the colours, so I now have several things dangling off the back beam.  I already had two for the floating selvedges, and then the warp seemed looser at the selvedge edges, so I weighted all 15 threads at each end. Jones loves those dangly things.

And here it is with the hem woven with cotton sewing thread and three repeats of the pattern.  I am using cream weft to soften the effect a bit.  It is a baby blanket, after all.

Jones and Becca are telling me that it is dinner time, so I had better go.  Wish me luck with the weaving!

Becca with good news!

Hi, you remember me from the last post?  Well, the nice people I have been stayin' with have decided to keep me!  I knew they would because I am a nice doggie.  I try really hard to do the right things, but I get it wrong sometimes.

Do you want to know why I was sure they would keep me?  Even when I made a mistake, they didn' get mad at me.  They are both very nice about lettin' me know what I should do.  They even praise me when I get something right.  And the lady gives me yummy treats when I do things right.  I think I will take them up on their offer and stay.

I am also gettin' better about not barking at people as much - better with other dogs too.  But they don't understan' how much I think I should protect us all from strangers.  I had some not so good things happen with strangers in my life.  But we sure are meeting lots of nice people an' dogs.  Life is pretty good. :)

She took this picture of me while I was sleepin' in the "cat bed".  (That's what they call it, even though I am a dog.)  It was dark, cuz I was sleepin', so the picture isn' the best quality.  For some reason, the lady thinks it is cute.
Remember, you can click on it for a better view.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Something is interfering with my weaving!

Hi there!  I'm Rebecca, but most call me Becca for short (and I am pretty short).  You can see the legs of my person's loom behind me,  I don't think it is right that she is blaming me for keepin her from weaving.  I know how to sit right under her weaving bench.

No problem for me!  I like being under things. 
I like being on the furniture too, but the living room furniture seems to be off limits.
However, to make up for that, my person got a new cover for the futon that matches me:

Don't we look good?
But I found another soft spot.  I have lived in several houses, but I had never seen a soft spot like this before.  It is in the bathtub!

OK, I, Dawn,  should probably explain:  We had to shut the cats in their bathroom when we had some deliveries right after moving to this house.  I wanted them to feel comfortable, so put an old comforter in the tub for them.  Now I don't know what to do with it, so it has stayed in the tub.

Rebecca is staying with us right now.  She may stay with us for a long time.  It depends on the cats.  We are fostering Becca to adopt from Animal Friends Rescue Project, which is located in Pacific Grove, Calif.  If the cats accept Becca (and I can teach her not to bark at strange people and dogs), she will become our new doggie.

The siamese (Jones) is doing great with Becca.  He doesn't seem worried at all, though he is even more vocal than usual.  Chloe, however, is taking her time.  She hides under the covers (a common hiding place for both of them) all day long, not even coming out when Becca is gone.  So, we shall see...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My New Spring Loom

Wednesday,June 1st, my new Louet Loom arrived. The very pleasant delivery man put it on a dolly and brought it up the driveway (only moderately sloped) and put it just inside the first bay of the garage, behind the black Z.  My husband is a car buff; one must not even breathe deeply when you are near any of his cars. 

Here is how it looked:

If it weren't for the photo of a loom on the box (upper picture), you would never guess that a loom, or at least its guts, could be hidden within.  However, if you stand on tip toes, you can just see a suggestion of the Texsolv cords that are part of the countermarch system.

Meanwhile, I have cleared some of the left-over boxes out of my room I know, I know; all the boxes should be emptied by now.  Here are my excuses: 

  • My desk has not been delivered yet. We are being kind to the furniture store, located in Pacific Grove, and agreeing to have all the pieces we ordered delivered at once. So, while my desk is in PG waiting for me, I also wait for it and its companion rolling file cabinet to match.

  • Some of the contents are things I am just not sure about. Do I need the Texaco cap with the signatures of Bobby Rahal and Bryan Herta (open wheel race car drivers)? And decorated with 2 pins from races at Laguna Seca (the local raceway set in the hills)?  I don't very often win things, and I won this hat - actually heard my name being called over the loudspeaker when I was outside the tent.  The very large tent was set up on the lawn at Laguna Seca for a fundraising dinner/silent auction put on by the raceway volunteers.  Big social event, with many of the drivers and owners attending.

    • Some will go on the shelves that I want built beside my desk, like my little inkle loom (made by Tony Irwin from Vancouver Island) and baskets with yarn or fluff in them.
    So those are my main excuses.  I am sure I could find more if needed.  Nevertheless, here is the space I made for the loom:

    You can just see some of the boxes in the upper right-hand corner.  The window faces south west, so I will put my right shoulder toward the window so the afternoon sun comes over my shoulder.  If need be, I can pull down the blinds that are hidden at the top of the window.

    So, I decided (against my husband's advice) to assemble the loom in place.  I am very glad I did.  Here is the piece unpacked from the large box pictured above:

    As you can see, it was well packed.  The reeds and the footboard plus other parts are packed into the spaces in the loom body.

    I was sure that I took a picture of all the parts and tools and five bags of hardware, but it is nowhere to be found.  I will say that laid out on the carpet, the various parts took up about 8 square feet.  I carefully labelled everything that was named and pictured in the Assembly Instructions with little hot pink sticky notes.  I began at the beginning and followed the instructions.  I made a couple of mistakes, and I fixed them.  Gradually it began to come together.

    I am glad that I had already used a Louet countermarch loom.  I pretty much understood what everything was for and that helped a lot.  Of course, there were not enough heddles to suit me, so I took my time determining the shuttle count per shaft for the first project I have planned.  I ended up putting 175 heddles on shafts 1 and 5, 125 on shafts 4 and 8.  The other four shafts got 100 heddles each.  That works fine for the basketweave and huck baby blanket I have planned for a certain new Canadian (shh...).

    Here she is - assembled though, as yet, unnamed:

    Isn't she pretty?

    I am going out later to do errands.  One will be to get two "milk crates" or the like so I can elevate the loom in order to sit in a more reasonable position while I tie up the treadles with the fist-fulls of Texsolve cords included.  They are all cut to size, thank goodness!  It took me more than an hour And, yes, I am slow. to cut all the loops on the heddles before putting them on the shafts.

    It is nice to be communicating/writing again.  More when I get that first warp on the loom...

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Multnomah Falls, Oregon

    I said that I would share pictures of our visit to Multnomah Falls, along the Columbia River Gorge.  I didn't realize that it would be so long before I would post again.

    But, finally, here are the pictures.  This falls is right next to the Columbia Gorge Highway on the south side of the Columbia River.  They have made a very large parking area and a walkway under the road for easy access to the falls.  My guess that they were forced to do this because of all the people who just stopped by the side of the road to look at this very tall waterfall - 611 feet tall.

    Only 30 minutes or so from Portland Oregon, this is a falls worth the time.  This is how you first see it from the road:

    Not until you get closer do you see the bridge across the falls part way up:

    It is fairly easy to walk up to that bridge.  The paths use switchbacks, so it is not very steep.

    It is only when you get there that you realize that it is possible to continue walking up to another viewpoint right at the top (just to the left at the top of the falls).  We weren't sure how much farther we had to drive that day, and it appeared that you would get pretty wet crossing the bridge to continue up, so we did not go.  Now I am sorry I didn't try to go all the way up.

    It was amazingly wet everywhere around the falls.  So much that not just moss grew on the tree trunks.  Ferns grew as well.
    It was a beautiful sight; I am very glad we stopped.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    The Trip To California

    Finally, I am able to share some of the pictures I took while driving from Vancouver Island to the Monterey Peninsula.

    My friend and I drove as far as Vancouver, WA and stayed the night.  The next morning, we met a young woman friend of mine at Lewis & Clark College.  After she took us on a tour of the beautiful campus, we drove to the Portland Japanese Garden, known as one of the best outside of Japan.  We had considered visiting the Rhododendron Gardens in Portland, but the blooms had not even begun by early April, so the Japanese Garden was a better choice.

    This was our first view upon entering the garden.

    There was a tour going to the right, so we chose to go left.

    The moss was gorgous, everywhere.  Those rainy days in Portland are good for something!
    You can click on any of these pictures to see an enlarged view. 
    Click your browser back button to return here.

    This cherry tree was just beginning to bloom:

    Here is proof:

    Inside the tea house, there was a display of Japanese flower arranging;

    I would like to study this form, which allows the use of non-native (to Japan) materials.

    Just outside the entrance to the garden was another cherry tree (I think) in full bloom, reasuring us that spring was really coming.

    And, under this tree, way on the other side, a little drama was unfolding.  I was concerned, so walked over to observe (and intervene if necessary).

    The little boy and girl were taken with this lovely, patient black lab.  And their parents were not paying attention.  But I was!  One never knows how much even a patient black lab can tolerate.

    Just as I was about to intervene, the parents called these two away and the lab settled back down to wait for his/her owner.  Just look at that face!  "Help me, someone!"

    All in all a lovely visit to Portland.  From there, we drove about 60 miles along the Columbia River Gorge.  But that is for next time.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011


    This is the first day I am able to access the internet from our new home.  Seemed like it took forever.

    Now all I have to do is find where the two cables are that connect my phone and camera to the computer and I will be able to show you some pictures...

    Meanwhile, I have work to do to finish grading my online class.  Oh, I haven't told you that I teach a class online for the college I worked for before retiring six years ago.  I do love teaching.  And being able to do it from home, whenever I want, is just great!

    The class is a lecture class about fitness and wellness and includes 15 Behavior Change Workbook Activities which are designed to help one to make a behavior change (anything that is reasonable to be accomplished in the eight weeks of the class, and some things that will take much longer).  Examples include finding ways to meet new people, quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, anger management, stress management, time management, etc.

    Sharing the skills needed in order to make life changes is really rewarding.  And I had better get to it!

    Thursday, April 7, 2011


    Just a short note to let you know that I am now in California.  The last month has been difficult, but with the help of numerous people, I have made it through.  Friends are vital to our survival.  And we don't really know how important they are until things get rough.

    I now have good friends in two places in the world.  I am sure some of you have learned how to keep friends even at long distances.  Share those experiences with me, will you?  These friends are keepers, for sure!

    We will take possession of our new house tomorrow.  Nesting should help me to feel a sense of connection that is lacking right now.  We expect the moving van to arrive about the middle of the month and then the unpacking will begin in earnest.

    As I sit at my computer (or rather a somewhat random collection of cast-off peripherals connected to my computer), my little black kitty Chloe is curled up in my lap purring.  I do think she missed me!  I sure missed her.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    It's been a bad time lately

    Right before the day I needed to leave for Canada, I got a flu bug.  Driving three days north, just me and my dog, was all I could do.  By the time I arrived on Vancouver Island I was in pretty bad shape.

    I have had really good control over my chronic anxiety/depression for about 20 years with some of these new drugs that help control the levels of seritonin in the bloodstream/brain.  But this flu totally overwhelmed my body chemistry as well as my energy level.

    Today I start a new drug.  Wish me luck!  For any individual it is a matter of trial and error to find the right prescription.  I sure hope to feel better in a few days though the doctors tell us that the new drug can take up to 2 weeks to take effect.

    So, for the few of you who read this blog, I am still here, hanging on by my claws like the kitty in the "Hang In There" poster.  I hope you are doing much more than hanging in; go out and bring joy to someone who may need your help.

    More soon (I hope).

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    A Beautiful Day in Pacific Grove

    Ever since I first moved from the LA area to Pacific Grove (next door to the more well-known Carmel, Calif), I have said that, on a beautiful day there is no place prettier than Pacific Grove.

    Yesterday was one of those days.  The temperature was about 72 degrees F.  It was a Saturday in February and the hiking/biking trail was peopled with tourists and hometowners out for a walk/ride.  The PG portion of the trail was built on the old Southern Pacific Rail right of way, with construction beginning in 1986.  See more about the trail here.

    I had been walking my dog in this area since moving to PG in the late 1970's.  I lived a block and a half from the coast.  The little town of PG was so quiet that I rarely had to wait for a car to cross the street on my way to the beach.  At that time, I usually shared the walk only with an occasional gentleman with his liquid refreshment in a paper bag. 

    I still have mixed feelings about this addition to the larger Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.  The trail begins in Castroville, 18 miles to the north.  The PG section was one of the last to be developed.  Now that area that I had mostly to myself is busy most of the time and there are rules (pick up poop, keep dog on leash, walk to the right, don't walk on the paved bike trail - this one is the most problemmatic as the paved part is also much better for baby buggies).

    Local dog walkers (including me) had to protest at City Council meetings because as soon as they had "improved" the trail by levelling it and taking out the railroad tracks, they put up "No Dogs" signs!  That was the most politically active I have ever been.  We got rules, but at least we still have the right to walk out dogs there...

    Anyway, here are a few pictures I took with my Droid.

    The tide was in.  There are narrow beaches along here when the tide is out.

    Lovers Point Beach.  Please excuse the finger in the upper left.  Notice that there is at least one brave person in the water.  At two points along the coast, at more secluded beaches, scuba divers were suiting up by their trucks, preparing for a dive.  Lovers Point Park is the only place along this trail that is off-limits to dogs.

    This was my home in PG for more than 20 years.  It was built in 1913 and added on to several times.  I added the second story.  The property consists of three 30'X60' tent lots.  This is a really big lot for PG, which is filled with lovely little (and some big) Victorian homes.

    The town was originally a Methodist Retreat where people came in the summer and stayed in tents.  PG has a wonderfully rich history.  I have been searching websites, but many links are broken or the photos don't show.  I will continue to look for a good website to link to.  The Pacific Grove Heritage Society has a nice site, but lots of the links and photos aren't working so it is frustrating to view.  Here is one picture of these tent homes.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    SPCA Dogs

    Thought I would show you some of the great dogs I have walked lately.  Most of the photos are less than perfect as the dogs were interested in smells, sights and sounds instead of posing prettily.

    This is Jill, the first dog I walked at the Monterey SPCA.

    A few weeks ago we received a slew of Great Danes.  The breeder decided she couldn't manage them any more.  This was the mom who came in with a litter.  I didn't get to see the puppies. :(

    Continuing with the B&W theme is this lovely guy.

    Here's his face.

    This is one of the daughters of the Great Dane mom above.  Also very sweet.  Danes are so easy to walk, at least that was my experience with these girls.

    This lovely brindle Pittie was interested in each sound and sight.  A very sweet boy.

    Isn't she a little sweetie?  She is a Wire Haired Fox Terrier.
    When she walks, she looks like she floats above the ground - just beautiful.

    There have been so many more.  But my job is to walk them, not to take their pictures.  The little ones (there are so many) are even harder to photograph. 

    There is a little boy named Lucky (there are quite a few "Luckys" on any day).  He is a mix of Chihuahua and something black and tan.  He has those dots of light brown above his eyes that I associate with Rotties - but surely not!  He has a deformed front leg and paw that you don't notice for quite a while because he is so friendly and cute.  I guess it is why he is still with us.

    It is interesting to me how my attitude has changed about the animals at the SPCA or other rescue organization.  There was a time that I couldn't even consider going to see the animals because I would feel so sorry for them.  Now I know that these are the lucky ones.  They will get a loving home, and while they are here, they are surrounded by people who want the best for them. 

    Living in a kennel with lots of other unknown dogs is not the best life, but in most cases it will lead to a forever home with a good, caring family.  Meanwhile they will be comfortable.  They are well - fed and any physical problems will be addressed.  If they have psychological scars, these will be addressed too, by the animal behaviorist and other caring staff and volunteers.