Comox Valley Exhibition – Quilts

Some of you may remember that my friend Gladys entered her quilt in a local show in May. She has shown  it again this past week in the Comox Valley Exhibition. It has ribbons beside it now for Best of Show. So much intricate work went into the making of this quilted wall hanging. Each of the flowers represents a province or territory of Canada. Gladys made the quilt in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Congratulations to Gladys on her well-deserved ribbons.I’m sorry I don’t know much of the story behind the other quilts but I can admire them for their creators’ skill and imagination. The second prize quilt is featured here (below). I must mention that there were several categories so there is probably another 2nd prize quilt as well, but I can only show you the ones I  photographed.

Third prize is a clothesline with individual tiny quilts hanging on the line.

Another category’s 3rd prize winner is the cow quilt below.

The show had so many quilts I couldn’t possibly post them all, but you have a glimpse of what the exhibition had to offer. It was a feast for the eyes.

Primary Colours and Walnuts

Obsessed by sky watching these past eclipsical (is that a word?) days, I found it interesting that the sky separated into the three primary colours of blue, red, and yellow. Where they overlap, there is a hint of what you get when you mix those colours – yellow and red = orange; red and blue = purple; but I couldn’t get the blue to meet the yellow for green, so not quite a rainbow effect. Still, a pretty good selection for a painter’s palette.

The black walnut (see photo below)  in our front yard has a bit of history. I bought it 25 years ago, thinking it was a walnut tree (the kind that gets walnuts on it). Well, it does get walnuts, but you have to use a sledgehammer to open them and there isn’t a whole lot of meat inside the thick, rock hard shells.

When the Captain and I planted the walnut tree, it was just a five-foot stick. Our yard was bare – no landscaping yet – and it was late February, cool and drippy. The neighbours walked past as we dug a hole in the mud and put this “stick” in the ground, and applauded. I think they thought it was a joke – poking fun at ourselves for the bare front yard.

Now, 25 years later, that stick is a beautiful black walnut. I’m guessing it’s over thirty feet tall. The walnuts are still not meant to be eaten, as it’s more of an ornamental tree. But I did go out and buy another walnut tree for the back yard. It’s almost as tall as the ornamental one but this one gets the kind of walnuts you can eat.

The two types of walnut trees have completely different leaves too.

Here, below, is the tree with edible walnuts.

In the photo below, you can see the walnuts on the tree.

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They are still encased in their green shell, but those coatings break open as the nuts ripen and fall when the weather turns chilly. A nutcracker will do the trick for opening these walnuts. No sledgehammer needed.

The Eyes of the Sun

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun….

But Mama …. that’s where the fun is….

If you don’t feel like going back in time for a whole seven minutes, you can advance the toggle to the 4:48 point and hear the famous lines that Mama told Manfred Mann.

With the total eclipse of the sun taking place tomorrow, Monday, August 21st, warnings have been everywhere about not looking at the sun, even if you think it feels okay. Those rays will still burn. “Your eyes blaze out” should just be a fun expression, not a medical emergency that becomes a permanent condition.

I’ve heard all about the special glasses you can buy – don’t be tempted just to use sunglasses. That won’t do the trick. You can also put a tiny hole in a piece of cardboard and watch the eclipse happening as a silhouette on the ground.

Somehow it doesn’t seem enough, but as tempting as it is, I won’t look into the sun to be blinded forever.

I read somewhere that even taking several short glances at the sun can result in temporary vision damage that can last for months.

I must thank my sister-in-law for the reminder to keep the pets inside! Dogs may be wondering what is going on and look at this phenomenon, even briefly.

I’m going to do the cardboard thing and/or watch it on TV.

It’s kind of a fun and exciting thing though, scientifically speaking. I look forward to not seeing this event. Ha ha.

PS I have to add a disclaimer. Not responsible if, like me, you get this song on the brain after you listen to it.

 

Waterworks on the Beach

I borrowed these first two images from the Internet. I hope the owners won’t mind. I couldn’t find a name to give credit to.

These are horse clams. I’ve heard they make a tasty chowder, but they can be very chewy if not prepared properly. I think the idea is that after a lot of work to clean them of grit and sand, and taking the stomach contents out, you can either grind the meat or  pound the dickens out of it and cut it small before frying the pieces – quick and hot –  like you would octopus or abalone.

My only experience with trying to cook horse clams happened many years ago,  before I knew how tough they could be. I gave up after several minutes of not being able to chew through the first piece. Horse clams are probably named for their large size (see the ruler under the photo of the clams), but I’ve heard that even the smallest of that family will give your jaws a good workout.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I might try again, doing it the right way (but I’d have to be desperately hungry).

The diagram below shows the foot of the clam (on the left). The clam uses this for digging down into the sand. The siphon (on the right) has intake and outflow tubes. When the clam is digging down into the wet sand, the siphon helps it move along with its “water jets.” In the photo below, taken by the Captain, right into the sun, he has nevertheless captured the horse clam action. If you look closely you can see the water squirting about two feet into the air as the horse clams frantically dig to hide from him.  Actually, the tide has been going out and the clams don’t want to be left “high and dry.” (Now you can see where that expression came from.)Do you see the squirts of water going into the air all along the beach? It’s almost as tricky as running through a sprinkler to walk along this beach. Be prepared to get your legs wet.

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.

Town Deer

The smoke from the wildfires in the BC interior is still thick in the air way down here on Vancouver Island. I keep trying to get the redness of the sun to show but it doesn’t come out in the finished photo. I must be doing something wrong or maybe I need a filter to get the red colour to show. I tried taking a picture of a red geranium and it was bright red, but the sun? No dice.

That smoky day, I was driving along in downtown Comox and noticed a doe and her fawn at the edge of the golf course parking lot. I’m always a sucker for baby animals so I took this picture of the deer. I had mixed feelings about them being in town. It’s a modern day phenomenon that many deer now live in town, but they do have a hard time avoiding dogs, finding food, avoiding traffic, and even avoiding people who might do them harm (yes, they are out there too).

I didn’t notice until I uploaded this photo that the doe has a lump in front of her shoulder. It could be an injury from a pellet gun, or she may have been poked by a branch.  Any number of other mishaps may have befallen her. I think it will heal eventually, but in the meantime she will have to live with that discomfort.

Don’t stray too far, my little one,

I’m keeping watch for you.

Most people in this town are kind,

But some have mean streaks too.

 

Stay by my side and eat your greens,

They’re hard enough to find.

Most gardeners get annoyed with us,

But others do not mind.

 

Watch out for dogs who like to chase,

Be careful of the cars.

If neither of them injure us,

We’ll thank our lucky stars.

 

Look sweet and mild into the lens,

The lady sure can gawk.

But then she’ll put us on her blog, 

And folks will say we rock.

 

 

 

A Dog’s Breakfast

It is morning. Ruby is lying low while I get my coffee going.  I can almost hear her thinking, “See? I’m being good.”

Emma takes her cue from the older dog and lies low too. They both know there’s a good chance they’ll get a treat before breakfast, just so I won’t feel so guilty about eating mine before going to feed them.

The tiny Melmac dishes have been part of our household since they belonged to our cats 40 years ago. They are the dogs’ snack dishes now.

I usually crumble half a slice of bread into each dish, add a bit of whatever tasty morsel might be around – a sprinkle of parmesan, a tiny dash of half and half, whatever is handy – and add some warm water. I walk over to the hallway with Emma and Ruby right behind me. Without being told, they each sit in their usual spots, Emma to the right, Ruby to the left. I place the dishes on the floor and as always, Emma looks up at me while Ruby stares at her dish. When I say, “Okay,” they lap up the goodies.

Afterwards, like the good girls they are, they bring me the dishes to put in the sink.

Here is Ruby with her brown dish.

And here is Emma with her cream dish. (Her pictures are often  blurry because she is always in motion.)

Then, partially satisfied, they lie at my feet until I’ve had my coffee and toast, knowing that afterwards we’ll go downstairs and they’ll have a real “dog’s breakfast.”

“Manners matter,” Ruby says.

Emma says, “I’m cute.”

“That’s not enough,” the old dog warns.

“And you should follow suit.

 

Just lie down flat, and roll your eyes

To watch what’s going on.

Pretty soon we’ll get our snack

And breakfast won’t be long.

 

Sit there patiently and wait.

Never whine or jump.

If you do, we’ll miss our snack

So sit down on your rump.

 

When the mistress says, ‘Okay!’

We can begin to eat.

You’d better not start in too soon,

She doesn’t like a cheat.

 

“Oh yeah, but Ruby,” Emma says,

“You always watch your food.

I watch, adoringly, her face,

And capture her good mood.”