Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Good Wood

After we had the pin cherry trees taken down, and the tree cutters had put the small branches through the chipper and raked up the rest of the mess, we were left with several tree trunks to cut up, split, and stack for firewood. During the process, I was too  exhausted busy to run for the camera, but I did take some pictures after we were finished.

Here is the old splitter that three friends built with scrounged parts and their own labour.


We put the bolts of wood on the splitter and broke them up into smaller pieces for the woodstove. Then, rather than use a wheelbarrow to move the wood to the woodshed on the other side of the yard, we decided to load the back of the pickup, drive over, and unload it. That was a lot easier than making twenty trips with the wheelbarrow for each of the several truckloads of wood.

Meet Ruby and Emma, the supervisors. Their jobs were to:

  • take big pieces of bark and get them out of our way, maybe giving the bark a good airing all around the yard before dropping the pieces here, there, and everywhere
  • help with the smaller logs, chewing them down to a more manageable size
  • inspect the power saw up close the odd time it needed to be started up
  • jump in and out of the back of the truck, testing our throwing skills as we tried not to hit them
  • help pack smaller logs closer to the woodshed, if not all the way there
  • challenge any bolts tossed over towards the splitter, barking at them if necessary to prevent them from rolling under the truck
  • test the soil by rooting under the newly removed bolts of wood, in case a mouse had been snooping around
  • remind the workers to wear the gloves they had momentarily put on the ground, by freshening them up with a tear around the yard, flapping the gloves vigorously
  • ride in the front seat of the truck when it was moving, the better to watch for stray dogs that might get under the wheels.


The younger supervisor is in dire need of sprucing up her appearance, but the older one is setting a good example.

The finished product (until there is more room in the woodshed). The two sides of the shed are full and the overflow is waiting to dry out in the summer.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll throw another log on the fire. That fog has persisted all day, almost every day this week, and it brings a chill with it.


Quilting Fun

Everybody loves a quilt. They are cozy and comforting, cuddly and warm. That was how quilts used to be anyway. Now, in addition to those comfy quilts, we have quilting in artwork, wall hangings, placemats, clothing, purses, beach bags, and table runners. The sky is the limit when it comes to design.

Making a quilt used to be something that only grannies did, but recently it is becoming a very popular hobby among people of all ages. Granted, most of them are women, but at least we don’t have to be grannies to learn how to make quilts and projects using quilting.

I recently signed up for four lessons on getting started in quilt making. I had made three quilts before, but I knew they were clumsy efforts, and when my old, old, superold sewing machine packed it in, I bought a Bernina with all the gadgets needed for quilting. Trouble was, I didn’t know what to do with them.

The quilting course was perfect for getting me started learning how to do it right, and at the same time teaching me how to use the very fancy sewing machine I had bought.

The mug rug below with the red checkered pieces is made from an old work shirt, remnants of a pair of jeans, and the extra material from a pair of coveralls that were too long. It’s a “man’s mug rug.”001

The placemat below is also made by throwing bits of material together. This time the material was all new, but the pattern came out of my head. I must have been craving Chinese food because it looks to me as if it belongs in a Chinese restaurant.??????????

Below, is the starter quilt from my first sewing class. It’s far from perfect but it made me happy to learn how to put it together.??????????

Now that I look at these two mug rugs (below), it looks like the pink one is a bit skewed. It shouldn’t affect the coffee cup that will be placed on it. This is the beauty of being a beginner. No one expects perfection and there is always another mug rug to make for more practice.??????????

I love the idea of using old bits of material to make a new quilt. In the clumsy quilts I made long ago, I had pieces of blouses, skirts, and shirts that were too worn out to wear, but still too good to throw away completely. I felt better when I could recycle them.

Quilts have so much to say. I look at one of the old ones and hear a  scrap of blue shirt say to me, “I saw dolphins in Baja.”

Another shirt scrap says, “I chopped a lot of wood.”

Yet another, “I was your favourite shirt until that nail tore me apart.”

“I was a skirt you never liked because the waistband was too tight.” (Oof! Okay, I’ll go on a diet.)

“I was a fancy scrap your mother bought at Goodwill 40 years ago.”

Here is one of the old quilts I made and became unhappy with once I saw how poorly I had sewn it 30 years ago. I took it apart and did a major overhaul on it. I’m much happier with it now, in spite of the inevitable flaws that still crept in.


I have extra placemats now, so drop by for lunch any time.


 And the fun continues when I go for another sewing lesson next week.


Conditional Love

I love trees, but in the case of the pin cherry trees in our yard, that love is conditional. It depends on whether the trees are thanking us for the care and water we give them, or if they are threatening us. The pin cherry trees at the top of our driveway, where the power lines come down to the house,  hovered ready to fall on the power lines in the next big windstorm. My biggest fear was that I might have to deal with it alone when the captain was away fishing.

Today, the captain arranged for the tangled web of dead pin cherry trees to be removed. You can see what remains of the two trunks (on the left side of the picture) when the arborists were halfway through the job.

??????????They put the smaller limbs through their chipper and left the bigger pieces of the trunk for us for firewood. See the chips flying from the machine into the utility trailer?


 But the bigger job was yet to come.Another pin cherry tree had become so wide and unwieldy that it couldn’t support itself on the small slope where it had first started to grow. Several years ago, in a humongous windstorm, the huge spread of densely feathered branches caught enough wind to rip half the roots out of the ground. After that, the tree leaned and began to die.

It was a beautiful tree at one time and the birds loved it, but it was becoming a hazard as the dead and dying branches broke in subsequent blows. It was time to take it out. It used to give us some privacy from the neighbours across the street, but we would have to sacrifice that in the name of safety.



My hope is that the holly trees that were growing up in the same place will now thrive because they won’t have to share the sunshine, food, and water. In time they will grow into a new privacy screen for us – one that won’t threaten to fall on us when we walk by.


Wild Weather

Yesterday, in the morning the breeze was only a few puffs of air. By noon it was brisk, and by late afternoon it was wild.

The waves that roared in to the beach were like a never-ending freight train.


When I see whitecaps on the water, I know I don’t want to be out there in a boat, no matter how big it is.


The trees in this area have hardly any branches on the windward side. They have been buffeted by the southeasters for years and years.


But there are some hardy kitesurfing souls who look forward to this stormy weather with great anticipation. One of their favourite places to come is this spit of land that has a slightly sheltered bay on one side of it. Although the bay is not affected by huge surf, there is enough wind from the open ocean side to give good lift to the kites. See the two kites below? The surfers are way below them, out of our line of vision, in the bay on the right side of the road.


If you do as I did — look through all the neighbours’ overhead wires and the fences, down near the bottom of the photo between the bare branches of the tree — you can see one of the surfers. The picture is hazy and murky because the air was so full of moisture, all of it blowing sideways.


I missed the calm before this storm, but I sure enjoyed the calm that came after it the next day. Pink early morning sunshine on the freshly fallen snow always brings a smile to me.


I try not to think about the grouse that may be freezing up on that hill, and I hope all the marmots and squirrels are sleeping someplace, cozy in a winter nest. Down here at the lower elevations it almost seems like spring might come one of these days. I’m ready for it.

004If you like wild weather, you might like to read my novel, The Wind Weeps. It has plenty of bad weather scenes set on the coast of British Columbia. Just click on the cover image of the book if you’d like to find out more about it.



Dog Trains Owner

My neighbours across the street have been trying to get shrubs to grow along the edge of their property. I say “trying” because it is a challenge to grow anything with leaves in an area inhabited by starving town deer.

I sympathize because for the past 23 years I’ve been trying to do the same. I had to put a fenced compound in the backyard if I wanted to grow any roses or fruit trees. Even a hedge at the property line was impossible. The deer were hungry.

Recently, a greenway was forced on us, even though it is a detour of the original walking path. Even with the deer eating most of my gardening efforts, I did not like the idea of fencing my yard. I’ve had to give in though, and we now have a fence.

I could handle the deer, but not the dogs running at large. People come from far and wide. They don’t walk in their own neighbourhood, but drive here to walk their dogs. As soon as they see a stand of trees, they unleash their dogs to play “Born Free,” allowing them to tear through everyone’s yard, and do their business whenever the urge strikes them. Some dog owners even pick up after their dogs and then fling the plastic bags into the shrubbery in front of the homes along the path.

Below you see our neighbours’ continued brave attempt at preventing the deer from eating their shrubs. The little bag of blood meal seems to keep the deer away. But they are paying the price inflicted on us by the dog walkers. Many of their shrubs have been attacked by dogs who rip off the bags of blood meal. Where are the dog owners? I met one today.


You see in the photo below where the path is. This is where the dogs and their owners are meant to walk. There is even an untamed grassy area where a dog might do its number and the owner can pick up. Why would a dog walker allow her dog to run over to the shrubs on private property and watch the dog as it attacks the blood meal bag?

015I was in my front yard with my own dogs when I saw a golden retriever run over to the neighbours’ shrubs and start pulling on the branches. I walked over closer and called to the dog’s owner. I saw then that she had him on a long retractable leash, but was allowing him to do whatever he wanted. I thought I’d just watch to see what she would do. Nothing! She did nothing at all. Only watched.

“Why are you letting him do that?” I asked her.

“I’m not letting him.” She turned her attention to the dog and pulled on the leash. The dog wouldn’t budge. He had his jaws locked on the blood meal bag and was not letting go.

The woman pulled and pulled. She begged him to come away.

I said, “The people have put those bags of blood meal on to discourage the deer and I know they’re upset that some dogs have been eating them.”

She gave me a look, and then let out a big sigh. She pulled a bag out of her pocket and took out a doggie treat. The dog let go of the shrub to take the treat and the woman dragged him away.

Now, who has learned a lesson?

The woman seems to have already known that she can get the dog to let go of something by offering him a treat. Do you think she’ll do it again? Yes.

The dog has learned that he can do what he wants and be rewarded for his disobedience. Do you think he’ll do it again? Yes.

The nosy interfering neighbour has learned that some people should not own dogs, and that her day would have been better if she had not tried to look out for her neighbours. Will she do it again? Yes.

So it seems that life will go on without any changes, at least until the neighbours also give up and build a fence.



Clinging to Life

It’s the harshest time of year. In the Pacific Northwest, the moisture in the air may not always be in the form of snow, but it can feel just as cold. We may not have to worry about frostbite, but we shiver just the same.

??????????The skies are ominous and are a challenge for those who suffer from bi-polar personality disorder.


This rose bloomed because the cold weather was late in arriving.

016While it clings to life, its buddy is already succumbing to the effects of icy rain and wind, its leaves sick with damp diseases.


But the tenacity of this fruit amazes me. No, these are not apples, but rather quince hanging on for dear life.


Some new buds were fooled into trying to open, but it’s way too soon. I just hope they don’t get snowed on before spring finally comes. Meanwhile, they’ll continue as long as they can, to cling to life.

I am encouraged by the fact that the days are getting longer now, even if it is only by minutes a day. And like the quinces, I too,cling to life, but I prefer to do it bundled up in my blankets while I read in my recliner.