Get in Line

The commercial salmon troller (not to be mistaken for a trawler) is shown here in early June, all tiddled up, ready to leave for the summer fishing season in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii). But now that the season has ended, the boat is a bit tired and ready for some TLC. Like every summer, it has taken a beating, pounding into the waves in bad weather. Rigging, fishing lines, gear,  equipment, and even other boats have rubbed on its hull.

The question friends and acquaintances most often ask after it’s all over, is “How was your season?”

The main thing is to survive the elements, stay safe from the many hazards that can befall a fisherman. Beyond that, it’s a case of trying to be in the right place at the right time and hook some salmon that happen to be swimming by.

Commercial fishermen work hard to supply us with fish to eat. Turns out though, that we humans have to get in line. No, I don’t mean the line in the grocery store. I mean get in line behind the more aggressive predators. Here’s how it comes to be that way.

This year, the Captain tells me, it has been an exercise in frustration. Yes, there were good days, but there were extra obstacles besides the ongoing bad weather. The blue shark below is one example. Often they are quick to take advantage of the salmon’s inability to escape the hook. This one was unlucky and bit the lure himself.

Sometimes the Captain might hook a salmon and before he can get it into the boat, a shark has helped himself to a meal.  Here is what’s left of the fish after the shark has taken a bite. I’ve blurred out the deckhand’s face for the sake of his anonymity.

And then there are the pyrosomes, a new phenomenon in northern waters this year. They are not really a jellyfish although they could easily be mistaken for them. They are really small creatures (zooids)  held together in a colony by a gelatinous substance. If they break apart, they just multiply and grow again. Soon we could be overrun … er .. overswum?? with them.

The deckhand holds the hoochie (a lure meant to simulate a squid), which has the hook hidden inside its rubbery, synthetic tentacles. Some pyrosomes are snagged on the steel cable and slide down to where the monofilament line is attached, while others are snagged on the monofilament line itself and slide down to the flasher or the hoochie beyond it.   A hook that is covered with pyrosomes won’t attract a fish, so the lines have to be cleaned off constantly.And then we have the same old deadly predators, the sea lions, who often follow a boat, lazily waiting for a salmon to be caught so they can snatch it off the line for their own easy meal.

With a lot of stress and frustration, the fisherman does his best to catch enough fish to sell to the buyers who will supply the stores to feed humans. Looks like we have  to get in line behind these more aggressive feeders and take what they leave us.

Music Makes Life Better

My Mexican band is not dressed in traditional mariachi style but they would do a fine job of singing for their supper on the beaches in that sunny land. With guitar, cymbals, maracas, and their beautiful voices, they can liven up everyone’s spirits.

They came to live with me when they heard that I had given a home to their friends, Annie and Mandilon, whom you may remember from my other post (The Mascot). Now Annie tells them which songs to play and Mandilon sweeps the house in time to their music.

Doesn’t he look like he’s hopping to the music? Housework is so much more fun when there’s good music to listen to.

And where is Annie? She’s busy at the moment  being Sylvia’s mascot in my novel “Orion’s Gift,” where she helps Sylvia find strength in facing some of the many scrapes she gets herself into. It’s good to have a friend, and until Sylvia finds the handsome Kevin, Annie is there for her to talk to.

For an exciting romantic suspense story with drama in Baja, why not have a look at Orion’s Gift. Click here: amazon.com

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The Mascot

When the Captain and I were on one of our trips to Baja California, we stopped to do some shopping in Ensenada. I found a puppet-style doll that I couldn’t live without. She was the Mexican version of Annie Oakley. What made me even happier, was buying the doll that had to be her partner.  He is pictured in the photo below Annie.

The store proprietor told me that this doll represents the hen-pecked husband, the Honeydew man (Honey, do this and Honey, do that), but in Spanish they called this fellow a “mandelon,”  because he is ordered about. What woman would not want a mandelon to do things for her? I had to have this doll!

In my novel Orion’s Gift,  Sylvia is all alone in the world and has more than her share of problems. She really needs someone, so I gave her a mascot to lend her strength. Below is a short excerpt from Orion’s Gift, telling about how Sylvia came to adopt Annie.

Excerpt:

In one shop, handmade puppets on strings hung from the ceiling. Each doll had a unique character and, like orphans hoping to be adopted, seemed to call, “Take me with you.” I fell in love with a Mexican Annie Oakley. She held a mini six-gun in each hand and radiated confidence and self-reliance. I paid for her and happily carried her home to my van. I rigged up a spot on the curtain rod behind the seat for Annie to watch over me at night. She’d be my mascot, a reminder that I was strong and could take care of myself.

If you would like to read about Sylvia, you can purchase the e-book for less than the price of a hamburger. Just click on the link to amazon.com.

Click here:  amazon.com

Please help spread the word about Annie the mascot and the book she lives in by re-tweeting this post.

Limited Vision?

On May 9, 2017, British Columbia will hold provincial elections to decide which party will govern the province for the next four years. 85 members of the Legislative Assembly will be elected. Currently, of the 85 seats, 48 are held by the Provincial Liberal Party, 35 by the New Democratic Party, 1 Green, and 1 Independent.

I was driving along one of our neighbourhood streets and I noticed that one of the parties had chosen an unfortunate place to put up a campaign sign. By the way, this party did the same thing four years ago. Ask any realtor and they’ll tell you what is important. Location, location, location!

To me, this sign makes a statement. Not only is it saying that its vision is limited, but anyone can see that its platform is garbage.

I’m sure the candidate whose name appears on the sign is not aware of this faux pas (for the second time in four years), but perhaps she should be? Or she should get someone else to work on her campaign. Right now, I’m feeling rather sorry for her.

Cumberland, B. C.

The town of Cumberland on Vancouver Island came into being in the late 1800s. Most of the residents were there to work or support the new coal mining operation. By 1924 the population had grown substantially with a Chinatown population of about 2000, the second largest Chinatown on the west coast of North America.

These historic buildings have the Cumberland Museum attached on the right. You would be surprised if you went into the museum to find that you can go downstairs into an actual coal mining area to see just how it was done.

I’m sorry that I can’t explain how the equipment below was used in mining the coal, but it makes sense to assume that the wagons were filled with coal and taken out of the mine on underground railway tracks.

The machinery below is a mystery to me, but it must have been used to extract the coal or load the wagons. Perhaps there is a mining expert out there who can help us with this.  Please feel free to comment and offer any help you can about how the coal mining was done.

Coal mining is a very dangerous job, not only because of the danger of fire or collapse of the mine shafts, but because of the high risk to a miner’s health. The coal dust was particularly bad for the lungs, as were the gases released by the underground excavating. From time to time the dust combined with the gases suddenly ignited. Methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide combined with nitrogen, and hydrogen sulphide  were common threats. Open pit mining, while not pretty, is much safer by comparison.

I shudder when I think of going underground into a small space. Miners spent long hours down there, working in a dangerous job under terrible conditions just to make enough money to feed their families.

In August of 1922, an explosion in one of the mine shafts killed 13 people, and in February of the following year another explosion killed 33 more (both white and Chinese).

After the depression, many of the Chinese workers either went back home or went to Duncan or Nanaimo to go logging instead of mining. Desperate times, for logging was not much safer than mining, but at least they were out in the fresh air.

The Inside Scoop

What goes on at a quilting retreat? Here’s a peek at the inside of the lodge at Camp Homewood on Quadra Island, off Vancouver Island.

The lodge has an old part and a  new part. This is the old part, with a huge fireplace (that couldn’t be used this year until the chimney gets an upgrade and inspection). About 40 quilters have set up their sewing machines. They have brought tons of supplies and fabrics from home to finish up old projects or start new ones.

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They hang their completed projects from the upstairs railing to bring inspiration to their fellow quilters.

Some of the living quarters (bedrooms and bathrooms) are on on the upstairs and downstairs of this big meeting room.

On the distant left (below, at the bottom of the stairs) you can see a doorway that goes through to the new part of the lodge.030

Standing in that doorway, I took one more photo of the old room so you can see the setup there, and then I turned  …

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and took this photo of the new part where more quilters had their machines set up. In the foreground of the photo below, you can see the empty round tables to the left. This is the dining area. The long table in the center is where the buffet-style meals are set up. The food is always very good and no one goes away hungry.034

Some of the projects are hung on the railing on the new side as well. In some cases, the quilter might decide to only do the piecing of the top layer and do the quilting at home after adding the batting and backing under the top of the quilt.

026 The quilts below are not finished, but the tops are pieced together, ready to be quilted at home.031

More quilts and a couple of bags (not mine).032 And yet more quilts and another style of bag (not mine) below the smaller green quilt. Beautiful workmanship.025

Four days of intensive sewing and sharing of techniques, ideas (and a few jokes), made this a successful retreat.

Next time I’ll share the close up work of one quilter whom I admire very much.

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.