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.

Bargello

A few months ago I had never heard of “bargello” but it has been fun learning about it. “Bargello” is a quilting term that refers to a zigzag motif similar to a design found on some chairs in an old fortress (they call it a palace) in Florence, Italy. The Bargello Palace is now a museum, and in it you can find these chairs with the zigzag design in the seat and back coverings.

Some bargello designs are made with needlepoint, but quilters can also make a design that reflects the bargello style. Recently I went to a workshop to learn more about quilting a bargello.

The options are endless, but traditionally the colours are supposed to go from dark to light for that special effect. I did not go out shopping for well-matched colours, but used scraps of what I had. For learning how to do the process, I thought it would work well enough. Others in the workshop had much better colour matches and the effect was much more dramatic.

The process is basically this:

You lay out your strips of cloth using two sets of colours going from light to dark.

Sew the strips together. You even sew the last strip to the first one to make a tube.

Turn the  tube sideways and cut into strips again.

Lay them out in a zigzag design that you find pleasing, opening up the top seams for the full length of the strip again. You can see this on some of the samples of designs that other quilters came up with.

The strips will be sewn together and evened out at the top and bottom, then batting and backing and binding is added to finish the quilt.

The possibilities are endless.

Brother and Sister

Emma, our field bred English cocker spaniel came from the Edmonton area. That’s a long way from here – about 1400 kms. She is three years old now and has a brother, Gus (from a new litter – same parents), living in town. Gus came for a visit the other day. We kept Emma outside for this visit. It was Gus’s special time.

The bowl of walnuts and hazelnuts that was on the coffee table was the first thing to be investigated. Bowls seem to have special meaning to both Emma and Gus.

One leap onto the table  and the nuts were all over the floor. I had to laugh because it brought back so many memories of puppy fiascoes that I had to deal with when Emma was Gus’s age. Everything had to be explored and there were still many rules that needed to be tested.

Like Emma, Gus is energetic, playful, and loving. He showed us how smart he is by lying down and waiting for the treat he knew was coming. A little piece of cheese makes a great reward for good behaviour. 

Notice the big mitts on him? Proof that he is Emma’s brother. She has the same big paws. In the photo of Emma (below) her head looks big because of the way I had the camera right in her face. In this picture she is the same age as Gus is now.

Here she is several months older, but she still has some growing time ahead. Her ears are not yet covered in long curls and the tail doesn’t have all the “feathers” that will make it look like a flag waving.

We loved meeting Gus, and recognized so many behaviours and physical traits that were so much like Emma’s. Their parents both have pedigrees a mile long, loaded with Field Trial Champions, and these puppies have the best of their genes. Sweet and loving and very smart. Can you tell I’m over the moon about them?

 

 

 

 

Julia’s Violinist: A Story of Love, Courage, Survival

Lori Greer in Portland

I miss Julia.

Sometimes my need to know the “rest of the story” competes with not wanting to let the main character go by finishing a book.

I can be almost finished with a book but find that I have to force myself to read the final chapter.

This is the case with Julia, the main character in Julia’s Violinist.

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Learning to Quilt

After finishing three bags at the quilting retreat, I was looking through some red scraps and found this elephant. I was about to cut the material up to make a bag with an elephant on one side when my quilting buddy suggested I make a coffee table topper.  She has a good eye for possibilities and suggested the corners to accent the center. It was also her idea for me to make a flange. 

I had never made a flange before, and in case you don’t see it, it’s the narrow dark border around the elephant square. The really neat thing about a flange is that this little trim lifts up and has a 3-D look. My free motion quilting is still … let’s say … in its developmental stage, but I had fun sewing swirly elephant-trunk-like designs all over the work. In the end, I was happy I didn’t make yet another bag out of this elephant.

Herring Time

When the herring roe fishery happens each spring on the BC Coast, the seine boats and herring skiffs congregate close to shore because that is where the herring can be intercepted as they rush the beach to spawn. At night when the boats have their anchor lights on, it looks like a floating city just offshore.

Sea lions and seagulls and eagles patrol the area in hope of some tasty bites.

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Photo courtesy of P. Knettig

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It’s a bluebird day. Hard to believe it was rough and windy just a couple of days ago. Still it was fishable and the herring filled the seine nets. Then disaster struck as an extra heavy net caused a boat to list  and not recover. The fishing community lost a fellow fisherman. His brother is quoted on CTV News:

“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over.”

It brings home to all of us once again, how dangerous fishing is. While the fleet mourns the loss of one of their own, the fishery goes on, as it must. The pretty night lights, and the bluebird daytime sky and sea belie the sombre mood and the heavy hearts of the fishing fleet.

Canada’s 150 Years

This year, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada. Queen Victoria gave her assent to the British North America Act (BNA Act) on March 29, 1867, saying that on July 1, 1867 the provinces of “Canada” (which then split into Quebec and Ontario), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick would unite and become the Dominion of Canada. Gradually, over time, Canada has grown to include ten provinces and three territories.

Each region has an official flower. In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, my friend Gladys has begun a quilted wall hanging to commemorate this special celebration. The wall hanging will feature the flower of each of the provinces and territories of Canada.

At the quilting retreat, Gladys worked on appliquéing the flowers onto a dark background. She has quilted the areas around the flowers in various patterns that she feels will enhance the subject.

The photo below shows a tentative placement of the flowers as a beginning look at some of the design possibilities, but there is much more to come in the design of the finished quilt.020Going from top to bottom and left to right, the flowers represented on the photo above are as follows:

wild rose – Alberta

western red lily – Saskatchewan

prairie crocus – Manitoba

fireweed – Yukon

mountain avens – Northwest Territories

purple saxifrage – Nunavut

white trillium – Ontario

blue flag iris – Quebec

purple violet – New Brunswick

Mayflower – Nova Scotia

lady’s slipper – Prince Edward Island

British Columbia’s Pacific dogwood and Newfoundland’s purple pitcher plant are still to be made.

Below are close-ups of some of the flowers. Notice the fine stitching around the edges of all the flowers and leaves. Then take a look at the quilting around the flower shapes, sometimes echoing the shape, sometimes offering beautiful designs of its own. By the way, for the non-quilters who are looking at this post, the yellow dots you see at the top of each flower patch  – those are the bright yellow heads of the (temporary) pins used to put the flowers on the board. They are not meant to be the sun shining on the flowers! 😉

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White trillium of Ontario

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Fireweed of the Yukon Territory

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Mountain avens of the Northwest Territories

Gladys will put binding on these flower shapes and add some interesting designs to the wall hanging. I know that when it is finished it will be a work of art. I will do another post when she has it finished, hopefully before July 1, 2017, the big 150th birthday.

PS In case any of you are readers, please check out my other blog, Anneli’s Place, and say hello to today’s guest writer, Lori Virelli. https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/ever-been-at-your-wits-end/