Sunday, June 26, 2011


After piecing a smallish table mat, I was left with a few half square triangles.
I promptly chopped them in half, and then in half again.
My plan was to create a mini quilt. Waste not want not I thought.
Below are mere shadows of quilts that never were. Ghost quilts.
In the end, I decided to make a pieced border for the table mat. I have some reservations......  it's a perfect match for color and pattern and maybe that's what leaves me lukewarm. 
Still, it was a good exercise in color and pattern as all quilting is.

This quilt was a leap off the end of the dock for me. It was time to take the plunge and try free motion quilting. Gasp.
I gathered my courage, feed dogs, and darning foot. 
Taking a deep breath, I stepped on the gas, sewing on the spot like a runner warming up and then zanging off.
I slowed down to a growl and sped off again with a jerk.
My stitch lengths were as erratic as my breathing.
I had ambitiously chosen to quilt roses and leaves in the four corners and centre of the quilt and meander around the border.
I started with the roses.
Meandering, I could do. It was exhilarating. It was freeing, and it was real, honest to goodness quilting. I actually took the binding off another small wall hanging and meandered around its border too. On to the next!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

acquired skill

Grading a road is an acquired skill. My father spent many a long and bumpy day ploughing snow, winging shoulders and grading highways, byways and side roads.
All the roads around Blue River were gravel or dirt, and weather and wheels were not kind to them.
Remote as that town was, strangers passing through on their way to "somewhere" would find themselves sticking like a burr to a sock before life tugged them onward.
They would take whatever work they could turn their hand to.
Bob Underhill of motorcycle racing fame was one such vagabond.
Somehow, he ended up in a grader high on a dusty mountain road.
These were dangerous roads.
I'm sure he was warned to watch for logging trucks.
And I'm sure steep banks would have been mentioned too.
It's a pity no one thought to mention rabbits.
As the novice grader driver rounded a curve, a baby rabbit froze in the middle of the narrow gravel road.
Bob Underhill sealed his fate and drove, or rather, crashed over the embankment imperilling his life, the grader, and the mental health and blood pressure of his foreman.
He eventually stood in our doorway and opened his lunch box. To our surprise and delight, a brown baby bunny gazed blandly back at us.
It was given the run of the house for a time, hopping and darting and hiding, especially at night. I woke once to find moonlight glowing on my bed, the rabbit pausing on my pillow mid-leap.
Raising rabbits is an acquired skill and one my mother had no interest in perfecting and so our rabbit was encouraged to return to wild ways in the wild woods, far beyond highway and byway and side road.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

loyal few

I was once in love with Zorro.
Television entered my life when I was seven introducing me to Atom Ant, Bonanza, The Forrest Rangers and Zorro. It was love at first sight.
Don Diego de la Vega was the romantic name of Zorro by day. By night of course, he led a life filled with danger, misunderstanding and mystery.

A masked man with a swirling black cape;
He rode his horse with a reckless passion and constantly risked his life for the sake of others.
How blind and futile where the deeds of his enemies.
How wise his loyal few.
And I was one of them.

sleeping well

My head left the pillow with a lurch, and like a puppet on a string I found myself sitting up in bed. Loud, nearby snores can cause this sort of levitation.
My husband has a rich and varied repertoire of snores. There is the tennis ball against a chain link fence sound, the coffee perk, the distant lawn mower, and the dreaded fireplace bellows, almost soundless but surprisingly annoying at 2 am.
Last night, roaring was added.
I've tried covering my ears with pillows and hunkering down into the folds of a quilt but sound can travel like xray through feather and fibre.
I have been married for more than three decades and don't recall this moonlight serenade being an issue in the "early" years.
No doubt, at first, sheer exhaustion from rising to the habitual squeaks and peeps of children out weighed it.
And then for some years I enjoyed blissfully sound slumber, revelling in my ability to fall asleep on command and stay that way for hour after dream infused hour.
Alas, the time came when I began to pay for the sins of my youth so to speak. I wasn't comfortable all night on my right shoulder and couldn't lay for long on my left side. A specialist forbade my sleeping on my face which left hanging by my toes like a bat or rolling from side to side like a chicken on a rotisserie
There's nothing like sleeping poorly to make you appreciate sleeping well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

cake and ice cream

"Would you like a piece of cake and some ice cream?" I asked my grandson.
Seizing my hand, he ardently kissed it.
I took that for a yes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

that kind of man

I made a quick trip in to town tonight. My mother suggested that she should join me to stave off cabin fever and we careened into the gathering twilight.
My thoughts travelled back in time by leaps and bounds and I found myself warbling the theme song from the Tommy Hunter Show, "I am a travelling man, following the breeze, travelling here, travelling there, gathering memories, so let me wander all my life away,......"
"No responsibility, no commitment." my mother said crisply. "We don't want that kind of man."

carrying the torch

"I need sequins and glitter Grandma," my grandson announced as he happily arranged paper plates and crayons, scissors and glue.
Four year olds love to create.
"I don't know if I have sequins and glitter,"I warned as I dutifully trotted off to check my closet.
The closet of chaos.
My mental health has been tested by this closet and it is an outward sign of chaos within apparently. I believe I read something like that somewhere.
Rubbermaid totes and boxes of random size are stacked precariously behind doors that are opened with trepidation.
They contain, in random order of course, quilting fabric, craft supplies of unknown vintage and in some cases, unknown source, thread, buttons, baby clothes, the odd item of clothing from the 70's awaiting upcycling and the list goes sadly on. Finding sequins and glitter seemed unlikely.
I was motivated by an unreasonable desire to please my small grandson though.
Amazingly, the very first box I rifled through had wonderful red sequins and emerald green glitter.
I returned triumphantly to the dining room.
My grandson carefully drew a large tadpole with legs and applied bling. So much for camouflage. Makes me think of a song from elementary school days, A Froggy Went a Courting and He Did Ride.
It also made me think of my mother. The home I grew up in was not an orderly home. Chaos reigned. There were reasons no doubt, but one of them was that my mother saved things and they tended to build up. Yet, when a wee grandchild in the grips of a creative urge lisped a request for pom poms or walnut shells, she would drop whatever she was doing and trot off to the "end room."
Amazingly, moments later she would return triumphantly bearing the items. She was like a homing device powered by an unreasonable desire to please her grandchildren.
And the torch has been passed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

like a gift

"I try to use letters, you know, to sort of help fix things in my mind." He leaned a little closer. "HST," he offered. "Humility, Simplicity, Thankfulness."
He nodded, his eyes bright.
An elderly friend sharing the wisdom of a life time like a gift.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

soaring to new heights

"How can I soar to new heights?" my grandson asked his father who was momentarily stricken speechless.

never too young

My living room floor is my "design wall." Quilt blocks have been shifted endlessly round and round on its smooth hardwood surface, patterns changing like a kaleidoscope.
I am working on summer quilts for my grandchildren. They will really just be quilts without batting. A pieced top quilted to a flannel backing.
My hovering over the design wall was interrupted by the arrival of my little granddaughter. She is two now and climbed the stairs by herself, her eyes bright with visitors joy. As she rounded the corner and entered the living room she spied the quilt blocks strewn on the floor.
Hastening across the room and dropping to her knees, she placed her little hands on them. "Quilt, quilt," she murmured reverently.
They're never too young...........

Friday, June 10, 2011

self-made man

I heeded the siren call for Wee Quilt entries from McDougall Cottage in Cambridge again this year.
The theme was DIY Plaid.

Self-Made Man
My clansmen were among the immigrants that became the early settlers of Canada.
The fields and rolling hills were their plaid; fallow, furrow and fold, their tartan. They were self-made men. DIY was their middle name. They bring to mind the old maxim, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!"
In my piece, a rugged, weathered settler and draft horse toil in silhouette against the pieced and plaid backdrop of a Canadian homestead. Some of the plaid fabrics I used are from shirts worn by my father (1924-2010) and my father-in-law (1902-1983).  

Machine pieced, hand appliqued, hand quilted.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

dressing by braille

I felt like I was in a sepia photograph this morning. A light bulb reached its best before date over night and when I flicked the switch, our bedroom was bathed in a feeble wash of pale light. I found myself squinting as I assembled my garb of the day; dressing by braille.
I actually had a bit of trouble dressing in the gloom, relying on colour as I do.
It's probably not surprising that I chose to wear a beige blouse.
I'm aware this time of year of the effect that light and colour has on most of us.
Our eye craves the light. Our soul craves the colour.

Monday, June 6, 2011

where's my face

I tried to slip a fresh summery top over my granddaugher's head without undoing the top button.
"Where's my face?" I heard a tiny muffled voice query.


"Are you getting sleepy?" I kindly asked my grandson riding in the backseat.
"Not a bit. I'm nocturnal Gramma," he assured me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

out of the murky depths

There is a scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee that I love.  A ridiculously unsuspecting woman crouches by a river to wash as out of the murky depths a crocodile lunges.
I'm not sure what it is about that scene that I find so entertaining. Perhaps the thrill of fright experienced from the safe vantage point of my couch. Or the sense of superior wisdom in knowing that only a fool would crouch and wash in a murky, crocodile infested river. Or maybe even the vicarious relief in seeing Crocodile Dundee rescue the frail female using nothing more than his bare hands, and of course his huge knife.
This scene flashed through my mind yesterday as I found myself crouching to wash by equally murky water.
We had headed out at dawn for a day of fishing. The lake we frequent is difficult to get to and boats must be carried some distance or navigated through a winding stream and hauled over a beaver dam.
This tends to keep the riff raff down and we enjoyed a blissful day of quiet fishing. Well, as quiet as nature ever gets. The marshy borders of the lake rang and buzzed and trilled with bird song. The sky was high and blue and the air was sweetly crisp and fresh.
As the afternoon sun deepened and slanted, we headed stiffly for shore. The boat was emptied to lighten it for its return trip up and over the beaver dam, my husband at the helm, while I lugged gear over hill and dale to our rendezvous spot, ever watchful of snakes. If I were a car, I would sport the bumper sticker, "I brake for snakes." I break out in a run sometimes too, but I always brake. As usual, a snake paused mid-path to ponder, a sort of reptile version of "chicken" before slithering into the underbrush.
I eventually stood patiently waiting beside a small mountain of fishing gear at the edge of a swampy waterway.
As I bent to wash, crocodiles came unpleasantly to mind.
Just as I dipped my hands into the cool dark water, two decidedly reptile eyes locked with mine, and a frog dressed casually in camouflage lunged out of the water.
"Arhhhhh," I gasped.
On cue, my husband suddenly appeared, standing in our inflatable and paddling madly for shore.
Unlike me, the frog was unimpressed by this display of force and courage and refused to surrender the shore.
Our boat is an amphibian too though and needed to come ashore, so my husband, armed only with bare hands and a paddle, gently launched the frog in a beautiful arch to safety.
A scene worth replaying.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

anchoring the wind

Those that dwell in tents tend to keep an eye trained on the horizon.
We headed off for a weekend of camping once as dusky purple clouds hunched their shoulders along the horizon, darkly foreboding. Dramatic skies are not camping friendly skies.
We set up our tent in record time, spurred on by an approaching storm. By the time we unfolded the tarp, wind had started to huff and puff.
My husband takes camp set up very seriously and wrestling with tent poles and flapping ropes had stained his sense of humour.
As he struggled to secure one end of the tarp, I was appointed the task of anchoring the other side. My arms were taking their orders directly from the wind and a feeling of hysteria began rising in my chest. "Don't laugh," I sternly warned myself. "Save your strength." Save yourself would have been more appropriate as it turned out.
Our friend, sizing up the situation, sprang to my side and gripped the tarp as well. His arms joined the puppet like dance.
Our lawn chair had been placidly reposed near the fire pit, and it now hopped twice and hurled itself into the fire. There was a flash and a puff of acrid smoke.
This was our undoing.
Our friend dropped to his knees and gave way to hysteria.
The tarp seized its chance and wrenched free, tearing two grommets in its bid for freedom.
For the rest of the weekend I was prone to little fits of laughter, such are the after effects of hysteria.

fairies hide-a-way

This is a work in progress.
After I had moved the pieces around and round and finally sewn them together, my mother observed, "It looks like a fairies hide-a-way."
I added the border to emphasise the feeling of being under the leaves and flowers of a garden, looking up into the light.
Kaffe Fassett charm squares are saturated with color and light and they lend themselves so well to a color wash arrangement.

Under the leaves the fairies play
In their garden hide-a-way.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

shell shocked

Breaking egg shell makes a distinctive sound.
I was startled to hear a rustle in tree branches overhead, and then the sound of egg shell crushing on the ground behind me.
I whirled to see a robin's egg in halves, its contents rapidly disappearing into the grass.
A crow leered down at me.

I find robin egg fragments on the ground from time to time. Some no doubt have been tossed from a nest by zealous housecleaning birds after the young have packed up and headed for college. Or perhaps wind plucks the empties and parachutes them safely to the grass.
It always seems such a treasure to happen upon an egg, its shell the colour of a summer sky.

As a teenager, I found a nest on the ground with whole robins eggs in it late one fall.
Humpty Dumpty didn't survive his fall, but these little eggs were like perfect jewels.
I cradled the remains of the nest with its treasure and hastened to the car.
I placed them gingerly on the passenger seat.
I could hardly wait to take them home and show my father.
It was several hours before I returned to the car accompanied by my friend's mother who had been promised a ride home.
She opened the passenger door and tiredly dropped into the front seat.
That moment in time is frozen in slow motion in my memory.
I see her beginning to drop into the seat.
I hear my croaked warning punctuated by the sound of crushing egg.
Some law of physics closely entwined with the law of gravity allowed no possiblity of stopping her descent like an over sized chicken onto its nest.
The tragedy was not without its victims; her polyester pantsuit, and four little eggs that lay reeking among the rubble.
There's a reason BC Gas uses the smell of rotten egg to warn of impending danger.