wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Nature’s Orchestra

It’s early morning. I throw a jacket over my housecoat and take our two dogs outside. We have a big yard so there is no need to go far, but I do have to step outside with them or they would just huddle by the door and wait to be let back in the house for breakfast. All winter it has been cold, often with rain pelting down sideways in the wind. I’m always glad to get back in the house to warm up (and to do that before any early walkers see me).

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But the other day, the air was noticeably warmer. The breeze carried a scent of trees and warming earth. The warm, pink rays of the sunrise said good morning to the snow-covered hilltops. Pussywillows on the neighbour’s willow tree seemed to have opened overnight.

The sounds around me were definitely of spring. I tried to identify each one.  No more morning stillness. I heard the calls of Eurasian collared doves, flickers, towhees, chickadees, juncos, nuthatches and two other songbirds I couldn’t identify, and of course the big indicator of spring – the robin. And right after the robin’s call came the scratchy cawing of crows. They are already cruising to find the early nesting sites of the robins so they can raid them. If they don’t get the eggs, they’ll get the chicks. Good old Mother Nature will provide well for the crows, as she does every year.

In the waters of the bay below, sea lions barked to call each other over a feed of herring while the loons filled the quiet gaps with their lonely calls.

It’s like an orchestra here on some spring mornings. The songbirds are the strings,clarinets, and piccolos, while the doves are the oboes, and the loon is the flute. The sea lions are the tubas, and the crows are the brushes, tambourines, and snare drums.

And me? I guess I could be the opera singer, calling my dogs to come in now for breakfast.

 


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Eagles Have to Eat too

When my friend Gladys and I went for a walk along the roads near Camp Homewood, she spotted this eagle. I was admiring the water on the other side of the road and would have missed this sight completely if she hadn’t spoken up. I grabbed for my camera and hoped that the battery was still good.

The eagle sat fairly still for quite a while, intent on eating his lunch, so I had time to study him. Notice the feathers on his legs? They’re fluffy and make his legs look bigger than they are, but even so, I think they are quite strong.

I must have interrupted his meal. He hasn’t swallowed that morsel in his beak.

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Gulp! Down the hatch it goes!

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Hmm…. Now let’s see …. What other parts are the tenderest?

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I was curious to see what the eagle was eating. I suspected a small deer, or a sea bird, but the ringtail told the story. A raccoon. Not a particularly big one, but a raccoon nonetheless.

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By coming closer and closer, we finally made the eagle too uncomfortable. He flew up into a stand of trees. He’s not taking his eye off his dinner though.

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When we walked by later in the day, the whole carcass was gone. Gladys said she had seen the eagle trying to lift it earlier but I suppose we interfered with his supper plans. Up in these trees for safety, he would still have a good view of his meal. Maybe we convinced him it would be wiser to take the rest of his dinner to a safer place to eat it.


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Quilting at Camp Homewood

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Set on beautiful Quadra Island on Canada’s west coast, Camp Homewood was the venue for a quilting retreat last weekend.

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It’s a very old building, but it easily accommodated the 32+ quilters and guests of the Comox Valley Schoolhouse Quilters’ Guild who had signed up for a weekend of quilting fun.

The location was absolutely gorgeous. Here is the view from the sundeck of the building.

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Hard to concentrate on sewing at first, but the view wasn’t going to run away, so we got to work. It was my first time at a quilting retreat and I went along as a guest of a friend who is a seasoned quilter.

Below, you can see how we set up our sewing machines and our workspace on the “no view” side of the room.

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Towards the view side, several other quilters have set up their workspace. All have brought their own sewing machines – mostly Bernina, Janome, and Pfaff –  and they have brought their pre-cut fabric. Some brought irons and ironing boards which they shared with the group. Many arrived with extra folding tables and some even brought their own comfortable adjustable chairs, in anticipation of many hours of sitting hunched over a sewing machine.

You can see the extra round tables at the far end of the hall. This is where the group was served meals from Thursday to Sunday afternoon. The excellent food was prepared on the premises, mostly from scratch. Best of all, the guests had a whole weekend without having to wash dishes.

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A second room in the older part of the building accommodated many more quilters. See the setups in the photo below.

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Here is one lady’s workspace with fabric pieces cut out and labeled, each ready for placement in the correct spot. Some quilters are working from a pattern while others are making it up as they go along. This workspace holds more than 22 items, but each of them is necessary for the job. I was impressed by the organization of materials.

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The first afternoon and evening, I frequently thought about home. I wondered if this or that little job was being done, now that I wasn’t there to take care of it:

Were the dogs being let in or out of the house when they needed it?

Were they being fed?

Did the Captain remember how to use the dishwasher?

Did he remember to turn off the stove?

Did he remember to lock the doors before going to bed?

Did he blah, blah, blah…?  Nag, nag, nag….

Finally, I called home. Everything was fine, and I relaxed and shut these things out of my mind for the rest of the weekend. I concentrated on my sewing and listened with half an ear to the other women telling stories. After supper, many of the women had gone to their rooms and come back up to the sewing room in their pyjamas or muu-muus. Might as well be comfortable as hours of sewing still lay ahead.

At times, the whole room sounded like a hive of babbling voices, punctuated with spontaneous bursts of laughter. I chuckled to myself at some of the funny laughs that some of the women had, from high-pitched “hee-hee-hee”s to raucous “haw-haw-haw”s straight from the belly, and once in a while a red-faced silent laugh interrupted by a horsey snort started everyone laughing again. You might say the storytellers left us in stitches.

Many of the women surprised me by staying up until the wee hours of the morning, but the next day at breakfast I was always surprised by how much they had accomplished (in between behaving like teen girls at a pyjama party). These were not just a bunch of old ladies. They were a group of very talented women who were sharing techniques they had learned in their many years of experience.  As the projects were completed, the finished pieces were hung on the railing of the upper floor. Each person displayed their work and went on to the next project they had brought with them.

Here are some of the projects of the second room.

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Here are some from the first room. My friend’s snowflake quilt is third from the right, and the tote bag I made is the last one on the left.

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It was a wonderful weekend, with breaks for walks in this pristine nature setting. In the next posts I’ll tell about some of those walks.

 


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Quilting Retreat

Next week, I hope to tell you all about the quilting retreat I will be attending this weekend. There was a time (long ago, now) when I would never have considered spending a weekend sitting around, sewing with a bunch of old ladies.

We get wiser with age, and now that I’m one of “the old ladies” I don’t feel all that old at all, and I’ve come to realize that, even though I’m an amateur quilter, there is great satisfaction in creating something original and possibly even useful.

Today I’ve packed my threads, fabrics, rotary cutter, and my wonderful Bernina sewing machine. I’ll be bringing along material to make another quilt similar to the one in the photo below, which I made last June for the guest bed, only this time I’ll make a bigger one for my own bed.

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I’m looking forward to being away from the usual housekeeping duties for three whole days. I’ll miss the Captain and the dogs, but with any luck they’ll miss me too and be happy to see me after the weekend.

If my sewing comes together, I may share my creations with you next week.


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Will You Be My Valentine?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, our friend Bruce has a new puppy, an American Brittany. It seems to be an oxymoron to call it American if it’s a Brittany, but they retain the name “Brittany” because France is their origin. They are now also bred in the States and some traits of the breed have changed ever so slightly.  The American Brittany is slightly larger and tends to run further afield than the smaller French Brittany which works more closely to the gun when hunting. So says Wikipedia, but who is to say how much truth is in that statement, and of course there are always exceptions.

Here, the Captain is holding Bruce’s still nameless puppy. I’ve had to fade out the Captain because the little princess wanted to be the star of the show.

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You can see that she is well fed. The line on the bridge of her nose is not a scar, but rather just the way her hairline goes, much like a cowlick. I wonder if she’s been near any cows….064a

Well fed or not, she is still interested in eating anything that becomes available. Like my friend’s rings. The princess has an eye for jewelry.

Eating the ring

We convinced her to try a slipper instead. She showed that she has a strong retrieving instinct when she fetched the slipper and rushed to the nearest mat for security.

Slipper chewer

Inspection time!

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What’s this? A very tasty insole, with a lovely texture for her puppy teeth.

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I hated to say goodbye to her, but it was so nice to have her visit.

I mentioned that Bruce has not yet named the puppy. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment to let me know your favourite name.

 


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A Proper Prop

No wind or rain today! Here’s a chance for the Captain to put the troller on the grid and exchange the old prop for a new one while the tide is out.

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He’ll have to work fast before that water rises again and floats the boat. As soon as the tide has dropped enough to give him a working surface on the grid, he begins.

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The old prop needs to be pulled off, but that isn’t so easy. Nor should it be. It’s meant to be on there good and tight. Not something you want to have wobbling on the shaft or twirling right off the shaft and whooshing away into the deep. It’s hard work but the wheel puller (fishermen often call the prop a wheel) that he puts around the propeller puts physics to work and with a bit of elbow grease and a few grunts, the old prop pops loose.

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This boat is going nowhere until the new propeller is put on. You can see the gadget that helped pull off the old prop lying on the ground next to blue kneeling pad. The propane bottle on the left was used to heat and expand the hub of the propeller, making it easier to release it from its tight fit on the shaft. Like holding a stubborn jar lid under hot water to make it easier to open.

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The new propeller is placed on the shaft. It’s a bit like changing a tire only harder work. The blocks of wood under the bottom blade will stop the prop from wanting to turn as the wheel nut is tightened to hold it in place.

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Whew! That was hard work. The Captain drops the pipe wrench on the ground while he stretches his legs and gives his arms and shoulders a rest. But OH! Look at the back of his coveralls. Which washing machine will want that mess in its tub? Bottom-of-the-boat scunge and copper paint. So much fun for Ahab’s wife.

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The annual spring cleanup of the hull of the boat is yet to come. A proper shipyard will be needed for that job. For now, Ahab’s wife will try to enjoy how shiny the new propeller is and forget about how grungy her Captain looks after a hard day’s work.

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If you have made it to the end of this post, I would like to invite you to check out my other blog http://annelisplace.wordpress.com  and comment or follow it if it interests you at all. That blog is dedicated to writing-related posts, and introduces authors and their books. All of you are readers or you wouldn’t be reading this post, so why not see what else is out there in the reading world?


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The Seamless Web

Anneli's Place

My guest today is Joe Eliseon. He is looking at you over his glasses because he wants to make direct eye contact with you, dear readers, as he is about to share his interesting history with you.

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The well-seasoned old codger looked at me sideways, stroking his clean-shaven chin.  “You know, if we hire you, you’ll be the only lawyer in the firm with a beard.”

“What is it?” I asked. “Some sort of hormonal problem?”

Honest to God, I thought it was something in the water.

Times have changed since I was in law school, interviewing for jobs. I grew my beard back then, wanting to do something women couldn’t do, at least not well. Recruiters described a law firm as “casual” and “relaxed” if they allowed you to take off your suit coat on a hot day. The constant, staccato beat of secretaries’ typewriters told the partners they were making money. Big…

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