Monthly Archives: August 2018

Sawing Logs

Two years ago at a quilting retreat, I had finished my planned small projects and had time left over to mess around a bit.  I sewed a few left over odds and ends together, making a square in the log cabin pattern.

The strips of fabric are like logs of all different lengths,  stacked into a “log cabin” of sorts. I made 14 of these squares with the shortest “log” being 1 inch and the longest, 9 inches. I thought it was a good way to use up scraps of fabric that would otherwise not be good for much.

Then I had a brainwave: I could put the squares together and make a quilt!

Okay. How many squares would I need? I had a quilt at home with a different design of squares. It was  10 squares across and 11 down, but was a tiny bit small for the bed.

I could do the same thing and add a border.

Great idea. So how many squares would I need to make? 10 times 11 = 110.

I had 14 done (and it had taken me some time).

Only 96 more to go. Eeeeeeee!!! What was I thinking?

But I had already made 14 and I had the “logs” cut out for many more. Too late to abandon the plan.

…. Last night, almost two years later,  I finished the monstrosity. Now, if I snore, I can say I’m sawing logs.

Tenting

In this summer of wildfires, the only ones doing any tenting are the caterpillars.

In my front yard is a black walnut tree that the Captain and I planted when it was no more than a six-foot high stick. Twenty-six years later it is a tall tree, desperately reaching for the sky as the leylandi cypress beside it crowds it more every year.

But see who is camping in the walnut tree! With all the warnings about camping being banned in so many places, these tenters have invaded my yard AGAIN! They attacked the apple trees in the early spring. Then they came back to take up residence in  the walnut tree (the kind that has walnuts) in the backyard, and now they are taking up residence in the ornamental black walnut in the front yard. They’re getting smarter too. This time they are much higher and out of my reach.


Here is a closer look.

And an even closer look. You can see that many of the leaves have already been eaten. I looked up tent caterpillars and found out that these are most likely the larvae of the malacosoma moth. I don’t think I like moths anymore.

Guess I’ll have to call the fire department to come and get this tent out of the tree. They have high ladders and brave men, but oh, hold on — they’re all busy fighting wildfires just now. I’ll have to see if I can find a good Samaritan to help me out.

Do you have these unwanted guests tenting in your yard too?

The Essentials

My parched throat croaks out complaints. The smoke blankets the coast and most of Vancouver Island. For several days, until yesterday, our area has been rated as 10+ (very unhealthy) on the Air Quality Index.  Last night a little breeze brought the rating down to 2, going up to 4 today. Relief for  dry, raspy throats, coughing lungs, aching heads, and itchy, red eyes.

As I researched other areas affected by the more than 560 fires in the province of British Columbia, I learned that some places have far more serious air quality issues than we do here on the coast.  Knowing what we are suffering here, my heart goes out to the people who live in those hardest hit areas.

The whitish-gray part of this photo should show blue water of the bay and greenish hills beyond, but none of that is visible  here. The smoke hangs in the nearby trees as if someone had a campfire going.

You can see the impact of a long, rainless summer on the grass in my front yard. It doesn’t even look yellowish brown as it should, but has a pinkish tinge from the red smoke-covered sun.

I’ve had my hedge trimmed and the trimmings are yet to be picked up. Just waiting for a slight reprieve from the heat. I feel very lucky to be able to think about mundane things like trimming a hedge when many hundreds of people in the province have had to evacuate their homes and manicuring their yard is the last thing on their mind.

During this summer’s fire season I have definitely learned to appreciate having a home. And having had to do without clean air and enough water, I know how important these things are — the essentials of life.

 

A Honkin’ Good Time

Skies are still a bit hazy from the wildfire smoke, but somehow the geese have found their way to the estuary. Many of these birds will move on further south, but many will stay for the winter, putting up with wind and rain, and possibly a day or two of snow. The farmers’ fields will provide food for them with leftover cobs of corn and grain seeds that have missed being harvested. In case of severe frost or snow, the geese have the estuary to find food as the salt water doesn’t freeze.

The arrival of the geese always tells me that summer is ending and the northern latitudes are cooling off already, driving the birds south.

For now, life is still comfortable for them and they chat and preen and enjoy the warm days and nights. Some stretch their wings while others preen their back and neck feathers. A few are resting, some are dabbling at the water’s edge, and the farthest one has his neck stretched up tall and alert. It’s like kiddies’ day at the beach.

Just before leaving, I snapped one more quick picture. When I got home I noticed that one of the geese was flying past the camera just by the tree on the left. Or was it? I zoomed in for a closer look.  You can see it on the next photo.

Here, below, is the flying goose at the end of a skinny branch.  It’s all dressed in leaves. Sure had me fooled.

Mrs. Goose is on the loose,

Chattering, she’s quite obtuse.

“There’s a party at the beach,

And I hear it’s out of reach.

Nobody will bother us,

We can honk and spit and cuss,

Holler loudly as we wish

And the place is one big dish.

Food aplenty ‘cross the way

in the fields  where corncobs may

Still be lying on the ground,

Seeds are scattered all around.

People stop and look at us

But they’re harmless, make no fuss.

It’s just heaven being here

Even though the winter’s near.”

“Honkin’ right,” the gander said.

“Still some pleasant days ahead.”

“Watch your language, Gander Dear,

Bloggers won’t approve, I fear.”

Gander stretches out his wings,

Rolls his eyes and up he springs.

Goosey scurries, much impressed,

Goes to give her mouth a rest.

 

 

 

Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

Generally, I look out my window at this refreshing scene. The air is clean even if it is a bit cloudy.

This morning, I took that same outlook and zoomed in for a closer look. It didn’t help make things any clearer.  There are no clouds in the sky. That would be too good as it might mean rain.

 

Here is another scene (to the right of the first photo) from some time ago when the air was clean in spite of the cloud cover.

The same view but harder to see.

 

And no wonder we can’t see much. So much smoke in the air from wildfires easily obscures the sun. This photo of the rising sun was taken early this morning.  Wildfires burning on the island are less than  100 miles away, and the smoke is drifting into our valley and hanging there.

My eyes are dry, it hurts to blink,

The smoke’s not good to breathe, I think.

My throat is scratchy, as I croak,

My vocal chords are full of smoke.

The Captain calls and asks, “What’s wrong?”

I tell him that the smoke is strong

From fires burning all around,

And ask, when are you homeward bound?

He’ll be home soon, he starts to say,

But then the sat phone cuts away.

We’ll talk again another time,

He doesn’t need to hear me whine.

And when he gets here he will sigh,

For misty isles of Haida Gwaii.

No smoke or drought does plague them there

The constant gales will clear the air.

 

 

 

Three Skies, One Moment

The last of the evening sun’s rays add a sweet pink tinge to the rare scattering of clouds in the eastern  sky. I’ve been watching for clouds, desperately hoping for a few drops of rain to end weeks of sweltering heat and parching drought.

I turn to the southwest. The glow of sunset touches clumps of cloud and wisps of smoke that have drifted into the valley from faraway wildfires.

I turn a few more degrees to the west and I’m left wondering if this is a sunset or another of those raging wildfires I’ve seen too much of on the television news. But yes, it is the sunset, searing us for a few more moments before allowing us to recover from yet another day of being barbecued.

We’ve been promised rain for today, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The clouds that have moved in are way too high and way too thin. Just a hint of hope for relief someday, but probably not today.

Please remind me of this whining post a few months from now when I complain about the relentless wind and rain.

Scarab Beetle or is it Scary Beetle?

This scarab beetle should have been in construction or house renovation because its name sounds like Polyfilla, the goop that fills cracks in wood and drywall. But no, it is “Polyphylla” and the rest of its name refers to its ten lines (four long and two short). Like decades of lineage, it is called decemlineata. Now you’ll never forget the name of this beetle whose face only a mother could love. It’s called Polyphylla decemlineata, the ten-lined June beetle.

It’s a big scary inch to an inch and a half long, and hatches from a prawn-like grub when the weather gets hot. Then it waits until dusk when you can’t see it very well, and when you’re standing there waiting for the dogs to pee, it attacks. Mainly it tries to land on your back because that makes it hard to fight  off.

I heard this guy talking as I took his picture while he hung onto my fence.

I push the air beneath closed wings,

To hiss and buzz and make her cringe.

With beady eyes I see her stand,

And when she turns, that’s when I land

Upon her back and hear her shriek.

I only turn the other cheek.

I try to lift my spiky feet,

But threads entangle and defeat.

It seems I cannot get away

I have to stay and watch this play.

She’s running crazy round the yard,

It’s fun to cause her to discard

Her vest and fling it on the ground.

I crawl away without a sound,

But, hee, hee, heeeee. Hee, hee, heeeee.

Anneli’s afraid of me!