Hazards of the Job

My phone has been cutting out in the middle of conversations. Today the phone man was coming to check it out. I remembered then  that the yew tree we had planted to hide the phone wiring box had become rather overgrown and the poor phone man would need a machete to get in there. The picture below was taken AFTER I did a fast trimming job on the yew. It’s still about a foot higher than it should be.

But behind it, on the wall, you can see the phone connection box,and a surprise!

Just look at all the work some poor bird did to make a nest. So many trips carrying mouthfuls of leaves, grass, twigs, and soil. The location was perfect. Hidden, out of direct sun and wind, and up off the ground, this nest was safe and dry. I have no idea what kind of bird nested here, but it had to be something smaller than a robin.

If you look carefully at the bottom of the phone box just under the black wire, you will see why I could never be a phone repair person. I’m glad I didn’t see this eight-legged fellow, even though he’s dead and dried out, until after I had done the trimming of the yew tree.

Having to push your way to a phone box, through all kinds of brush and dead critters, is just one of the hazards of the job. My phone repairman was good about having to fight a few cobwebs today. Very brave of him to come out still smiling.

Tree Art

Yesterday I visited a friend who lives on Protection Island, a tiny island across from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. She gave me a tour of the place and my camera was smoking with so many photo-worthy things to record.

One of the more fascinating things she showed me was a gateway made by a local resident. If she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have noticed that unlike the tree on the left, the one on the right is not made of wood, but of metal. I thought it was very clever of the artist to anchor the metal tree so naturally on the rocks where it pretends to send roots into the ground. On closer inspection you might notice that the metal tree has leaves that tell me it might be representing an oak.

Ironically, I think the wooden tree has a metallic name. I believe it might be a copper beech.

P.S. (A few days later…) I’ve just had word from the owner that the tree on the left is in fact a Japanese plum, so the poem doesn’t quite fit, but I’ll leave it as it is. Call it poetic license. 

 The oak tree brags, “I guard the gate.”

He shocks the copper beech,

Who leans back, but defends himself,

“A lesson I must teach.”

“I’m  tough and strong, of iron made,”

The great oak lets him know.

His metal clinks, he smirks and sneers,

“My strength withstands a blow.”

“But I will grow,” the beech tree smiles,

“And birds in me do trust,

While you will chill their little feet

before you turn to rust.”

Seize the Moment, Seize the Camera

 

I was lying in bed awake, thinking, “Five o’clock. Too early to get up. Still dark!”

But my mind was nagging me to make some changes to the manuscript of my latest novel (work in progress), so I sneaked over to my laptop and worked on those changes. I was so engrossed in the writing, I barely noticed that daylight had crept in. As I looked out the window, I saw what you see here below.  If I had hesitated I would have missed it.

My first thought when I saw this sudden light on the trees, was “Wham!” and then, “Morning has broken.”

 

Luckily the camera was handy and I seized the moment. Seconds later, the fir went back to its dark green colour and that’s how it stayed all day.

It got me thinking about how close I came to missing that photo, missing the sight completely. What if I’d stayed in bed like millions of normal people were doing? I would have missed this splendid light show.

Life is full of gems like this, that we might miss out on if we don’t seize the moment.

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.

 

One Sunny Day

Yesterday the sun came out from behind the clouds for a little while. Its rays seemed to spotlight the willow tree in my neighbours’ yard. In the early spring it begins to get buds that signal that winter is (or should be) over.

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I had to get a close up of these pussywillows. They are so representative of spring. I felt a hopeful anticipation of warmer days to come.

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It can’t be long now…. Can it?

Have you seen any signs of spring where you live?

Starting Off with a Bang

It’s the first night of the new year and the old couple has been in bed since well before midnight. The TV shows bringing in the new year were duller than dull. 2017 would arrive whether anyone waited up for it or not.

In the wee hours of the morning a loud crash wakes up the old blister. She taps the Captain on the arm to wake him.

“Did you hear that?” she whispers.

“What?”

“That crash! … Obviously not,” she mumbles. “Just stay awake and listen for a minute.”

“The dogs would have barked.” He rolls over to go back to sleep.

“Maybe Ruby’s too scared with the wind.” She’s probably lying on her doggie bed, eyes bulging out of her catatonic body.

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In the morning, the Captain calls out, “I know what made the crash. Look on the woodshed roof.”
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No, that’s not a man in the middle of the woodshed. It’s a float, a fishnet, and a bunch of firewood. But the long branch on the left side is what came down from the skies last night to wish us a happy new year.

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You might say we started the new year off with a bang. A word of advice: if you go walking on a windy day, maybe stay away from tall trees, or wear a hard hat.

Turning Seasons

The colours of fall are amazing. As we drove through Montana on our way back to the coast, the brown hills near Missoula impressed us with their brilliant deciduous growth in the valley bottoms.

Even before learning the name of the huge trees with almost black bark, I have loved the look of the black cottonwoods. In Montana’s ever-present breeze the leaves whisper soothingly. It does the soul good just to stand quietly under one of these trees, close your eyes and listen.

I don’t know what the red shrubs are that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the creeks and rivers, but I saw the same shrubs growing in the small waterways of southern British Columbia as we drove home. dscn7290If I were a painter, I wouldn’t hesitate to set up my easel here.dscn7288Or here! I love the white bark on the trees below. Are they birch? Poplar? I don’t know, but they’re beautiful.

Notice how yellow and brown the grass is. It’s usually fairly dry here.dscn7296

Now see how green the grass is in the photo below. We are on the coast and the wet weather reminds us that we’re nearly home. That tree floating in the bay is a Douglas fir that was washed away from the banks of the river and has floated all the way into the estuary. It was a very tall tree, although it may be hard to tell from the photo. I later saw this same tree in a video clip someone posted to the weather network.

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Just a couple more miles to home. We’ve driven past flooded fields and a cresting river. So glad we live on high ground.

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