Quilting Retreat

Anybody who loves to quilt or sew, knows that it’s a time-consuming job. Often we have to leave our sewing to deal with everyday chores like cooking and cleaning. Even answering the phone takes us away from  projects we’re working on and the momentum is often lost. This could be why so many quilters have UFOs (unfinished objects) in their sewing rooms. Wouldn’t it be a dream come true if we could just take a step back from regular chores and concentrate only on our quilting projects?

If you belong to a quilting guild that books a place like Camp Homewood on Quadra Island (a short ferry ride from Campbell River on Vancouver Island), you might make that dream a reality. Imagine four days for yourself. All you have to do is eat, sleep, sew, and maybe go for a little walk now and then to stretch your legs.

This building is the main lodge for the camp. About 40 quilters from the Schoolhouse Quilters’ Guild have booked in here to work on their sewing projects.

Sewing machines, boxes of fabrics and sewing notions, folding tables, irons, bedding, toiletries, and clothing are unloaded at the main door on the left. From there the sewing  equipment is taken into the main part of the building where the women (no men this time) set up their machines and tables. The bedding and clothing is taken to individual rooms that have been assigned at registration time, weeks earlier.

 

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My friend and I slept in rooms in the guest house below tucked under a canopy of Douglas firs. It’s a short walk, maybe 100 yards, from the main lodge. But most of our time was spent in the big building working on our sewing projects.014

Below you can see the newer addition of the lodge. Huge windows have been placed all around to take advantage of the fantastic view on the front.

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Let’s climb up the steps on the far right of the building. Just inside this door we set up our sewing machines. Once in a while we might glance up and see a gorgeous view of the salt water passageways and small islands. On a clear day, the mountains are visible in the distance, but not today.

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Stepping out onto the deck on the front of the building, this is the view that greets you and bathes you in peace for the next four days.

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In the next post I’ll show you some of the work the quilters have done during their stay at this quiet retreat.

 

Love! It’s for the Birds

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Wait until she sees what I’ve got for her for Valentine’s Day. She’ll love these special bugs from the maple tree.

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Oh darn it. I think she’s coming this way. I wanted this to be a surprise. I’d better hurry.

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Just stay there, dear. I’ll be there in a minute. (And then I’ll present her with a wonderful Valentine treat. I do so love that girl!)

Greedy Guts

This varied thrush is in the same family as the robin, but for some reason we see them here more often in the winter or very early spring. I think this might be Mrs. Thrush.

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Mr. Thrush, I presume? Either way, they are cooling their heels on the mound of snow that covers the top of a rhododendron. It seems Greedy Guts is hogging the feeder.

029aNo one else can get near the suet block. I can just hear that starling calling from the feeder, “Eat your heart out.” Sure, the starlings are hungry too, but they don’t care if the other birds starve. I don’t like that.

100 Europeans starlings were introduced (unfortunately, IMHO) to North America in 1890-1891. Now the bullies are everywhere. Pests, they are. They do have a talent for mimicking other bird sounds, which makes them interesting, but still not lovable.

My pretty little thrushes, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches,  and juncos are afraid of the starlings and have to wait until he goes away to burp or take an antacid pill, before they can have a turn at the dinner table.

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The starling’s coat is glittery

With iridescent shine.

His manners are atrocious, 

But he’s master of the mime.

Easy Wind and Downy Flake

The snow kept coming, and coming, and coming. It covered the ground and the trees, and piled up on roofs and vehicles. How can it look so pretty while it covers up the food for animals that live out there?

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Our back patio table is partly under the roof overhang, but you can see which part was exposed to the elements.

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The bird feeder has been a busy place again today, but what worries me is the potential avalanche risk to the birds. Many of them spend the nights under shrubs, and they scratch for food there. When the huge clumps of snow let go, they could easily bury a little bird. I found several around the yard after the last snowfall which was not as bad as this one, although it was colder.

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It’s quiet out there and the snow coming down is peaceful, but I find it ironic that this lovely weather is so deadly for many birds. We who feed the birds will save many of them, and “survival of the fittest” will save the strongest, the brave, and the lucky.

I feel quite small and helpless against the power of nature. I do what I can to make my pets comfortable and to feed the birds. Beyond that, I do enjoy the special quality of a snowfall. I had to think of Robert Frost’s famous poem. There are two lines of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” that I find especially appealing, and which stand out from that poem for me.

The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.  
 
I love the sound of the words. They are music to my ears. I wish I had thought of them first. 😉

They Lied!

The official weather groundhogs (marmots), Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Ontario’s Wiarton Willy have predicted an early spring this year when they did not see their shadows yesterday, February 2, Groundhog Day.

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Vancouver Island marmot photo above, borrowed from Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation.

Hurray, an early spring is on its way. Behold the sunshine on the masses of gray cloud moving in from the southeast. Yes, the sunshine is hopeful, BUT, I forgot to consider what is INSIDE those clouds.

I shouldn’t have believed a mere rodent when he predicted that early spring. In the last post I had sunshine brightening up pussywillows, and today, the very day after the early spring prediction, these glowing clouds opened up and ruined everything. They made liars of the marmots and Nervous Nellies out of all the wussy drivers of the rainy West Coast.

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Just LOOK at this mess!  Beautiful, isn’t it?

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One Sunny Day

Yesterday the sun came out from behind the clouds for a little while. Its rays seemed to spotlight the willow tree in my neighbours’ yard. In the early spring it begins to get buds that signal that winter is (or should be) over.

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I had to get a close up of these pussywillows. They are so representative of spring. I felt a hopeful anticipation of warmer days to come.

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It can’t be long now…. Can it?

Have you seen any signs of spring where you live?

Blurry Feeding Frenzy

No, they’re not sharks in this feeding frenzy, but they’re bushtits. This is the picture I was trying to get the other day when there were so many birds at the suet all at the same time. One photo I took today had a couple more birds than this one, but it was even blurrier. The reason for much of the blur is that it is taken through the window and I haven’t cleaned my windows for months, since the bad weather started. The salt spray reaches us even though we’re quite some distance from the water and it only takes one wind/rain storm to mess things up again. So why bother until spring? This window is too hard to reach anyway. Trying to focus on birds that won’t hold still was another challenge, so don’t look for sharp lines in this one – just count the little bodies. I think I see 11 of them. If I had risked opening the window to take the picture, the bird count would have been 0.

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