Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Going Through Photos

 Why is it that with less Out and About happening yea these many months, I somehow have less time for things like posting here? Weird.

I'm currently working on another Where Has The Time Gone project: sorting, cropping and fixing photos from a road trip The Husband and I enjoyed back in September. Lest you worry about our social distancing responsibilities, I hasten to assure you that there were almost no other human being on the route we took. Truly. We took the Stewart-Cassiar Highway to Whitehorse.

I'm always grateful to be born and raised in Canada, especially close to the wild places. I want to share a few highlight photos with you.

This is a wild, untamed country with no cellphone reception, 
almost no services and very few people along this 700 km road.
As always, I have a project on the go during road trips.

One of the many beautiful lakes where we made camp during our journey.

This handsome silverback was fully concentrated on his breakfast of clover. 
We were careful not to intrude, just quietly watch and then move on.

Appropriately enough, this is Bear Glacier.

A detour west to the rainforest is always awesome.

Yukon is home to large herds of wild bison.
Again, watch respectfully but keep your distance.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Finding My Way

Several days ago, I had a discussion with a fellow artist, and the conversation centred on our current inability to find any motivation to pursue our various projects. With apparently all the time in the world, given the world situation, we do nothing... or very little.

I recognize part of my own problem, which is the lack of a deadline. I need a due date, a delivery date, some firm expected point of completion. It was ever so, going back to school and college days when a term paper or other assignment would linger until the deadline for submission loomed before me. Working for many years as a writer and graphic designer in the newspaper business just fed that tendency, and I thrived on it.

Sometimes, however, the stumbling block is that there is some hiccup: I'm unsure of the process that I'm about to undertake (always the issue with bookkeeping, even after 40 years), or the project had been set aside temporarily (and became months or even years) and it is going to be somewhat of a struggle to find the place to pick it up again, or I've lost interest midway but have invested too much to let it go.

The added challenge at the moment is the onset of spring, really truly spring. I crave sunshine and heat, so working inside on lovely days is almost impossible. There are things I can do outside, of course, but I feel a bit guilty because there are other jobs I should be doing ("should" because they are commissions, but without firm deadlines). I am getting to an age, however, where it is easier to put aside that guilt.

Learning how to mend clothes was part of my training while growing up. The point then was to make it invisible or at least as unobtrusive as possible. In the past year, I've come upon Visible Mending. I don't know if it's a new trend but I'm embracing it. Visible Mending combines function with art, and that's been my ultimate goal in all my fibre work (spinning, weaving, quilting).

I started with a favourite hoodie of mine that had a pocket come unstitched on one side and frayed cuffs:

I didn't really capture the intense colour of the embroidery threads, but the yellow is very bright. And the hoodie not quite so faded. Anyway.

Then I moved on to an old jean jacket of The Husband's, with badly damaged cuffs, frayed edges and bloodstains that never washed out properly. This was work in progress along the centre front.

There is something very meditative about this work. It can't be rushed, but there is endless scope for imagination (did you just hear Anne Shirley's voice? Ha!) and innovation.

Then we finally had a warm sunny day come along after a week of rain, cloud and cool winds. I moved the wheel with the lace flyer out to the wee patio off the basement suite, popped open a tote box with Baby Doll fleece washed and combing, ready to be spun. And that is pretty much where I spent much of the day.

Feeling guilty? Not one bit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Running Away From Home... Again

One of the blessings that come from living in Canada is the relative ease with which one can social distance. And I'm talking BIG distances. Earlier this month, The Husband got a serious case of Fiddle Foot. We have a new-to-us motorhome that allows us a lot of independence and few limitations when it comes to the type of travelling that we enjoy, and so off we went.

The original goal was to travel to Cassiar in northwest BC, not far south of the Yukon border on Hwy 37. The pictures I'm posting are in chronological order, randomly as the mood took me. We travelled about 2,900 km in five days, so several were taken while on the move. Early May in Canada means it may snow, it may rain, it may be sunny, it may be many conditions depending on the valley, the altitude and the time of day.

Somewhere on Hwy 12 between Lytton and Lillooet, looking south...

... and looking north, during a lunch break on a roadside rest stop.

Quick view of the Fraser River, which we
encountered several times along the way.

After an overnight stay north of Williams Lake, we turned west at Prince George,
travelling along Hwy 16, The Yellowhead. 

The Nechako Valley, waiting for spring to ramp up, but still lovely to us.

Our second camp, this time midway along the south side of Fraser Lake.

Over the range and down into the Bulkley Valley.
When you travel north in BC or AB, everything gets bigger and wider.

Entering Smithers with heavy overcast skies, and yes it is just as cold as it looks.

We turned north at Kitwanga to take Hwy 37.
This is probably 80 km north of the junction,
a stop to stretch our legs, looking south.

It wasn't long afterwards that we came to another valley
 where the weather cleared and gave us a fabulous view of
the Hazelton Range in the Skeena Mountains.

From just south of Meziadin Junction to our camp
at Bell 1, we sighted 22 black bear. None were concerned
by our presence, but this shiny fellow decided to lumber on.

We speculated just how many bear were in the area
given the sampling we saw! None bothered us.

The red bubble points to our third campsite.
Cassiar is another 400 km north, but this evening,
the generator gave us grief. Along with some other minor
 issues that developed (all since resolved), we decided that
it was better to turn around rather than boondock in cold
weather without a fully-operational unit. Yes, we're getting old.

5 a.m. the next morning, a full moon setting behind the mountains
with the sun rising behind us. Not every day you see this.

And this is why we opted for a shorter trip. We knew there was snow
at higher elevations, and it was -1C in the morning.
Our winter camping days are behind us... far behind us.
Coming into Gitwangak from the north, almost back to Kitwanga.

The beautiful Skeena River heading to the Pacific Ocean, at Kitwanga.

Not all of BC is mountains. There are vast plains and plateaus in between the ranges.
We drove through to Prince George for our fourth night camp.

One of the historical sites along Hwy 97, the portion
known as the Cariboo Gold Trail when prospectors
headed to Barkerville in the late 1850s.

At 150 Mile House, I persuaded Himself to take a detour up to
Horsefly, home of the fabulous banjo maker and musician Jason Romero
and his wife Pharis. We just did a there-and-back drive but I
will return for a longer visit very soon.

Somewhere south of Williams Lake for a lunch break and
afternoon nap. From there we continued to 93 Mile where
we turned east onto Hwy 24, the Interlakes road to Little Fort.
Lac des Roches was still partially icebound as seen from our vantage point,
stopping for supper. And you can also detect the altitude by the
lack of foliage on the trees. We're at 1130 m here, and
Little Fort, 35 km from here, is barely above 500 m.

Those are some of the highlights. I hope you are inspired to come and visit when travel is once again permitted.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


I promised weeks ago that I'd post photos from my trip to India. That adventure seems like such a long time ago, what with the global goings-on. Rather than spend time on the computer working on photos and writing, I've been outside doing spring yard work or downstairs getting familiar with Dorothy, the LeClerc table loom that I rescued last summer. She and I had a few stumbles, but I'm almost ready to own up to the yardage that has been created in the past week.

So let's talk about camels.

While in Pushkar, deep in the heart of the old, crowded, noisy, dirty, exciting, amazing and always odiferous Old City, it was hard to remember that there is a desert not all that far away. Camels are an important part of the city and area, which is home to the magnificent camel and cattle fair held every November.

I grew up riding horses on a cattle ranch on the Canadian prairies, but it's been a long time since I've on a horse. Even so, I learned that there is no comparison to riding a camel. To begin with, THEY ARE TALL. The neck and head are far below the rider's line of sight. They swag side to side. And don't get me started about the getting up and down part - just lean back, close your eyes and hope for the best.

Each camel is led by its owner, which was just fine by me. The thought of controlling an animal of this size with only a lead rope attached to a wood pin in its nose... 'daunting' as Lady Dianna would say. Those without the nose pin were even more daunting to my mind.

The camel camp is a few kilometres away from the fairgrounds (empty this time of year), filled with children running out to meet each group that comes through while the animals have an opportunity to use the water troughs. There are tents with an array of goods for sale, and people riding the camel carts are their particular target audience.


 Of the many extra activity options that were available to us, I'm glad I chose this one. I don't know that I'll ever get to the Arab countries where, I was told, the camel riding is superior. At least I can now say that I spent an hour aboard one of these amazing creatures. And also spent that hour in the kind of surroundings I can relate to better than the interesting but far too intense cities.

As I write this, I see subalpine fir and western white pine trees out the window, Connaught Mountain behind them and the grey cover of a sky about to burst into rain. It's a far cry from the photo above. At any given time I loved or hated the country, was enchanted or disgusted, amazed or frustrated - sometimes all and more within the span of a day. Would I go back? A few days before I came home, the answer was No. With time and contemplation, the answer is now Yes with no hesitation. I'm already looking at destinations for a time when travel is once again available to us.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Social Distancing Northern Style

Why is that when I have all the time in the world to work on the projects I love, my motivation flies out the window? I know I'm not the only one - other craftspeople and artists have been saying the same thing on the few social media sites that I use.

I think some of it is that we've just come out of winter (she says as snow begins to fall again outside her window) and are longing to be outside in warm sunshine and walking on green grass... or at least cleaning up the yard in anticipation of said conditions.

The photos I took in India are still in the Being Processed stage. I like to sort, crop and sharpen my photos, especially those taken with a cell phone - it is amazing the quality of photos a cell phone can take.

Anyway, what with shelter at home requests and social distancing, even the introverts are peeking out the windows, looking around, quietly panicking and wondering "Where did everybody go?"

I do my Tai Chi set every morning and walk the town perimeter most evenings. Today the sun was shining but the wind was still bitterly cold coming down off the snowpack still on the mountains around us. I put the day's laundry out on the clothesline, then grabbed my camera, a bottle of water and the car key fob, kissed The Husband goodbye and told him I would see him when I saw him.

 The beauty of living in a county as large as Canada with a population as small as ours is the ease with which one can be physically distant from another human being. It takes two minutes to get out of town and into the backcountry, travelling on relatively good roads that are empty even in normal circumstances.

We don't have a TV in our house, we seldom listen to the radio except when driving. We have internet access but tend to save that for work (me) or Netflix (him) in the evening. We do know what's going on in the big wide world, but I have found that I have to leave my cell phone alone and stop obsessing about the growing statistics.

If I must count something, I prefer to count the number of newborn calves in the valley, the number of quail and juncos at the feeding station, or the number of cars in the long freight train rumbling by the crossing above Squilix.

The higher mountain lakes are still closed with ice, but spring is here. And with the arrival of spring comes renewed hope that we can get through this Present Predicament in one piece with minimal mental and spiritual damage.

Keep well, my friends.

Friday, February 7, 2020

A Long Hiatus and Ancient Student Workbooks

Hi there.

It's been a while since we last met. No reason really. I just ran out of steam. I celebrated a birthday that has had some major impacts on my life in the past year, spun about a million km of wool and silk (that might be a slight exaggeration but not by much), welcomed two new grandchildren into our lives (a girl and a boy, just to balance the scales) and practiced a lot of tai chi.

You know, the usual stuff.

The last time I wrote, I was with The Husband in Florida, celebrating said birthday and enjoying a great time with one set of the in-laws.

As I write today, I'm on the cusp of another trip, but this one is far different. On Saturday next week, I am flying to Delhi for a two-week adventure in Rajasthan.

The Husband is going to spend those two weeks back in Florida with his youngest brother and SIL. It is difficult for him to spend much time in an airplane, gets him badly gimped up. He would not survive the 14-hour flight from Toronto to Delhi or the 14.5-hour return from Delhi to Vancouver. Just sayin'.

Much of the past week has been dedicated to a renewed attack on my mother-in-law's photo collection. I would like to have all of them scanned before the end of next month (allowing for my two-week absence) so that the originals can be distributed among family members.

The collection has also contained many interesting paper artifacts. There are wedding invitations from the 1920s and 1930s, birthday postcards and cards of affection from the 1920s, and school workbooks from 1894 to 1915. All the workbooks but one were filled with hymns written with childhood hands in Gothic German script. That method of learning not only how to read and write High German but also memorize hymns is still used by the Hutterites. The books belonged to the mother-in-law's mother (born 1901) and father (born 1897). The pictures below are the front page and next page following, written by her Aunt Margaretha (1885-1921) when she was 9 years old... with a steel nib pen and ink!

There is one workbook, unidentified as to owner or year, in which the handwriting is so beautiful that I'm sorely tempted to take it apart and have the individual pages archivally framed. They are works of art.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Is it Spring Yet?

It's the middle of March, and Mother Nature is teasing us with enough sunshine to pretend the spring is really, truly on its way. I do believe the back of winter has been broken.

Why does it seem that winter lasts longer every year, even here in a moderate clime? Perhaps it was the Significant Birthday last month, one ending in a 0. Or perhaps it was the two-week break we made to visit family in southwest Florida.

A sandy beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
Colour me happy.

It was a lovely break in every way: spending time with the youngest BIL and his lovely wife; basking in warm weather and sunny skies; visiting historic locations and blasting through a mangrove canopy on an airboat. *deep sigh*

Home away from home for two days in Key West.

I didn't realize how far it was to drive from home base near Fort Myers to Key West, but if one is going to celebrate a Significant Birthday, mein host was in the wish fulfillment business. Bless him!

Ships coming home at dusk, Key West.
Not the glorious sunset that everyone hopes to see,
but simply getting my saltwater fix is enough.

One of the famous Key West roosters,
pushing the boundaries for one barkeep.
It's against the law to harass the boys and their ladies.

Of course, a piece of the famous Key Lime pie -
I was willing to tempt fate with my GI system for this.

Banyan tree at the Edison/Ford Winter Estate in Fort Myers.

There are many, many (MANY) more photos but I've not picked through them yet. Sort of hit the ground running and haven't had much time to raise my nose much above the water line: modelling for life drawing classes; doing public spinning demonstrations; year-end account books for The Husband's business and our tax filing in general; writing for the next issue of Boulevard Okanagan; curling, both evening league and some small bonspiels; a volunteer project in town. Last but not least (in fact, a priority) is time with the Little Man who apparently every day we were gone was heard to ask "Grandma's house?"

Curling season is almost finished. The accounts are almost ready to send off to the accountant. The writing is at a good place right now. Spinning is back to production work, as shearing is soon upon us. I'm looking at some WIP stuff in the sewing room and thinking it's time to get serious about it.

But today - today was a Boy Day. He helped Poppa feed the quail and other wild birds. Then we went to visit the animals at Historic O'Keefe Ranch, requiring some washing of outerwear upon our return. It's all good.

I hope you've come through your winter in relatively good condition.