Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

Retreat – Stepping Back

In mid-October I took a step back – a retreat from the usual day-to-day living – to a beautiful location on Quadra Island, a short ferry ride from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The occasion was the semi-annual quilting retreat for the local quilting guild.

Four days of sewing and camaraderie, in which we had no cooking or cleaning to do. Just sew and go for a walk now and then between rain showers.

The buildings are old, but the natural scenery is older and for the most part, unchanged. It was a very quiet and beautiful spot.

The quilters each bring their sewing machines and fabrics, and all their tools and supplies needed to complete their planned projects. I had several unfinished projects, and by the end of the four days, I felt I had accomplished a lot.

One of the things I did was to take the ill-fitting squares I had made a couple of years ago and try to use them in some other way. The quilt I had intended them for was not working out but I had already done so much work on the tiny red and white squares, and on the appliqued birds and flowers.

I decided on place mats and pieced them together in whatever way the squares would fit, patching places that were odd sizes.

The result was four place mats and one table center, good enough for my own table for everyday meals.

It felt good to use up the unfinished project pieces and I was happy with the results. Now all they need is a meal to be served on them.


Ivy Comes Home

After a visit to Vancouver Island, my sister-in-law’s dog, Ivy, is back home in Washington State. It was a long trip.

Ivy Comes Home

 

A week away to visit friends

Was lots of fun, but soon it ends.

It’s time to make the long trip back,

She gladly would have helped to pack.

She’s missed the safety of her home,

And from her mistress, she’ll not roam.

Afraid of being left behind,

Our Ivy isn’t hard to find.

She’s in the car seat, set to go.

“Please take me home. I’ve missed it so.

And when I’m snug at home in bed,

A blanket warm, up to my head,

There’s no place else I’d rather be,

Than in this bed as Queen Ivy.”

Here she is checking out the kitchen, still tangled up in a warm pair of pants that just came out of the dryer.

“Did you call me for breakfast?”

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.

029

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  …

033

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.

 

013

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.

015

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.

016

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.

019

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