August 9th

And what’s goin’ on at Dave’s?

Well, I had the delightful company of my kids and their spouses visiting for the last few days.  That was nice.  My son’s wife is pregnant with our first grandchild and that is kinda weird.  For me.  Everyone else is fine.  I am — by far — the most nervous person in the room.

Pregnant women scare me.  Always have.  It all started way back when I was fourteen and became sexually active.  Well, okay, when I was fifteen and became sexually active with someone else.

I am pretty normal (which is to say, slightly odd at the best of times) and when the plump subject of my worry is only seven months or less along on the baby-making process, I am basically okay.   But, if they are seven months plus, I get anxious and more and more so as the clock ticks down. I want to yell: “It’s NOT my fault!”  I seem to be grimacing and cringing a lot, too.  Some people get sympathy weight-gain, others get sympathy pains … I just cringe and grimace.  Mostly for no reason.  Just the sight of a pregnant woman in her third term makes me cringe.  And worry. I have fears of having to deliver the baby.  ‘Not on my watch!’ screams in silence in my head.

In my head, I have delivered a thousand babies.  THAT has to be some kind of weird phobia.

It’s the screaming that puts me off.

Well, the rest of the process puts me off, too.  The whole thing puts me off.  Well, except for the beginning, of course.

Fortunately, my DIL (daughter-in-law) is sane and has a good sense of humour. Plus she learned early on to ignore me.  First meeting, actually.  She’s very good at it now. Sometimes I wonder if I even exist but, all things considered, we have a pretty good relationship.  She has often remarked how glad she is that we live off the grid.  Far off the grid.  You’d think with that kind of appreciation for our lifestyle she’d be here more often but, you know, she and my son are pretty busy and live in the city . . I’m sure they would like to be here more often . . . but, you know . . .

Anyway, my daughter and her husband are a lot of fun, too.  Hub is an interesting guy. “Ya know, Dave, when I come here I expect to be put to work.  You  know . . building and crap?”

“Great!  I got in some cement over the last few months in anticipation.  Got lots of cement work . . .”

“NO!  Not cement.  No, no, no.  I hate cement.  What else ya got?” 

“Well . . . cement work kinda comes first, ya know . . . all part of the building process.  The foundation comes first.  Gotta do cement before you do building . . .”

“Ohhhhhh . . . well, too bad, then.  I would have done some of that building crap if the cement work had been done but, seein’ as how that still needs doin’ and I ain’t doin’ it, waddya got to drink?”

 

But it was all good.  Whales came by.  Sal and I always get credit from the kids if the whales show up.  I don’t have the heart to burst their bubble on their old man’s cetacean influence. They think I get ’em to come.  Well, maybe they are not so sure about my role in determining the whales schedule but they can watch me call the ravens.  I tend to milk that trick.

Son and I went riding on motorbikes. That was fun.  Zooming.  Racing.  No crashing. We’ll do that again.  Sal drove the little truck and we all headed to the nice ad hoc built community-gathering beach. See photos.  That was good.

  

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

All in all, the visit was great.  One small problem: smoke.  It was like Beijing out here the whole time. Two mile visibility stretching to four, shrinking to one now and then.  I hate to admit that I am so easily affected by it, but I am.  I find it very depressing.  I want rain. I want clean. I want clear skies.  I want my piece of heaven back.

Sunday, they say.

Idling with the Idler pulley

Bit of a misnomer that…idler pulleys…they do anything but idle.

I have a little old truck all rusted and beat up.  “It ain’t worth dog poop even cleaned up and it ain’t cleaned up!”  It’s a 1992 Sonoma with 2wd.  Pretty damn useless out on a remote island on rocky logging tracks but, now and then, Sal and will I take a drive around to see distant neighbours.  It would be desirable if it was reliable.  But, it was not.

The red ‘engine light’ was always on.  But, for $300, it was worth buying.  So, I bought it. That was last year.  We drove it a few times.  The red light was on but it ran.  “Whatever the problem is, it will show up.  No sense goin’ lookin’ fer trouble.  Let’s ignore it.”   After the snowy winter, it wouldn’t start so we got another battery and, sure enough, away it went.  It was all good if not still glowing a bit too red.

Sal, of course, is the kiss of death to all machines.  Anything mechanical that can break DOES break when Sal gets near it.  She doesn’t even have to touch the machine.  It surrenders like a Trump white house appointment.  She’s got bad machine ju-ju.  And, of course, the red light asserted itself one day a few months ago while Sal was on her way back from a day-trip with her sister.  They walked the rest of the way back.

Another battery got ‘er going again and now we kinda knew that it was the alternator NOT charging.  I checked that with the multi-meter one day and, once confirmed, subsequently ordered a used alternator from a wrecker and today, I went to put it in. Serpentine belt.  Idler pulley for tension.  But NOT an idler pulley that looked like an idler pulley to me.  This idler pulley was not sprung and seemed, instead, like a solid pulley on a water pump or something. It was not apparent that it WAS an idler pulley.

So, Bruce (nearest neighbour to where the car is parked) and I tried to replace the alternator and eventually used two-by-fours, wrecking bars and various implements of automobile destruction until, getting the old one off – I broke the casting (brute violence) and it literally fell off.  No matter that I broke the alternator, tho.  It was already broke.

The old Sonoma was built ‘the same’ for a number of years including the iteration I had. Same in 1988 through 1994.  Same.  So, the wrecker gave me a 1993 alternator for the 1992 Sonoma.  It was – as you guessed – DIFFERENT!!

No matter.  It was close enough to use force on.  First revelation: two bolts would not be used again. The shape and configuration of alt-alternator was different, the wires were going in another place and nothing LOOKED like it would fit but we had force and bloody mindedness on our side and, despite the heat, Bruce and I went about the task of fitting a square peg into a round hole.

We couldn’t do it.

But another neighbour walked by (white T-shirt, don’t you know) and looked in on our work and, like Tom Sawyer, I had him in under the hood in no time flat.  Good move.  He knew all about the idler pulley.  He saw it as an idler pulley.  He pointed that out to Bruce and I.

We didn’t care by then.

Ten minutes later, it was on and the truck was running and doing so without any beaming red lights  It was glorious.

So, our $300 + $65 (alternator) + $85 (battery) + $20 (tires) + $30 (gasoline) is all set to go.  Total so far: $500.  I doubt that we will put 1000 kms on it the rest of our lifetime.

This is how old people spend time off the grid.

On vulgarity

Despite my macho, bombastic, obnoxious personality I have generally avoided vulgarities in my speech.  It might be part of an out-sized ego, a sense of superiority, a self-image that values a better vocabulary or it may just be snobism, I am not sure. But I generally don’t swear nor do I employ f-bombs and other shock words as everyday adjectives for just about everything.  Doing so just seems stupid to me…..

I use any word that is in the bible, great literature or even benign common usage so I don’t subscribe fully to ‘high’ speech but most of my petite vulgarities can be heard more frequently amongst nuns and monks rather then the Crips and the Bloods. I am a bit of a goody-two-shoes when it comes to language.  I am a bit of a prude verbally speaking (is that a redundancy?).  However you interpret me, you would not likely use the term vulgar or coarse.  Stupid, maybe.  Not ugly.  I somehow think that language displays your sense of decency, of respect for others and, dare I admit it, your intellect. I try to project better rather than worse.

So, imagine my surprise to hear the words of the director of White House Communications, Anthony Scaramucci (the ‘Mooch’), laying into his fellow right-wing co-workers with language bluer than Babe the Ox.  As the media put it, “….sounded more like the Sopranos than the White House.”

I understand the intellectual position that words are just letters in sequence and no word is bad or good.  I get that.  But I was raised differently and, to me, dumb is as dumb sounds.  Most swearing and cursing sounds ugly, stupid, vulgar and coarse for no discernible reason to me.  What’s the point? And interspersing your thoughts with cuss-words because you do not have the right word readily to hand simply suggests that you are lacking vocabulary rather than choosing to make a statement about semantics.

And, even if you were making a stand over the use of letters and words, does it have to be the same ugly words in every sentence?  Couldn’t you employ a different set of no-longer-shocking-or-colourful words now and then?  And hasn’t the point been made already?

Jus’ sayin’….

So, from my point of view the highest office in the land should sound like it.  And it does not. Currently, the highest office in the land sounds just plain stupid.  Worse, the official ‘mouthpiece’ intended to make the highest office in the land sound good, instead sounds worse than the pussy-grabbing idiot that he is representing.  This is an example of a real-life Dumb and Dumber tweeting and spewing vile and ugly and somehow, unbelievably, doing so from the Oval Office of the White House everyday to the entire listening world. And it does not stop!

If it wasn’t actually happening, no one would try to make this stuff up even in a cheap B gutter-based comedy starring Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler.  The stupidest Hollywood has ever offered up is not as stupid as the Republicans of the United States have delivered.  To my mind, it is an embarrassment to the country in the extreme and Anthony Scaramucci is currently on the crest of that embarrassment.

Who and what will Trump give us next?

 

Chuggin’ along….

…we are.  Still doing ‘deckwork’ and, today, I welded up a couple of stanchions to hold railings.  We’ve rebuilt a set of stairs, started on the water closet and generally made a helluva lot of noise and mess.  Just chugg’n along doin’ what needs doin’.

The view from our deck

And so are the WHALES!!  Last few days, it has been practically Moby Dick-ish around here.  Humpies, this time – the last few times.  We saw a lone humpy a few days ago, then a couple yesterday and – just today – a family of three. AND the lone humpy came back heading south.  But the best part is their proximity. Most of the time they are mid-channel.  But, at least twice for Sal and three times for me, we have had them so close to our beach they could have been scratching themselves on Potty Point.  I would estimate that the closest they came was ten meters from the shore. They are BIG.

The whales were so close that Sally realized after the fact she shouldn’t have used a telephoto lens

Very nice to see.

I have to put in another plug for solar panels.  I know, I know….‘what more can be said?’   And I am definitely repeating myself but…….we have not had the genset on for three months! ALL POWER FREE FROM SOL!  That’s computers, lights, battery chargers and freezer and all the power tools anyone needs.  Plus the odd appliance. We are very fortunate.

Some poor bastards (47,000 at last count) have been sent fleeing from their fire threatened homes in air thick with smoke and ash while we bask in the ‘coastal version’ of our provincial summer sunshine.  The garden grows, the power flows and why we are so blessed, no one really knows.  But that’s the way it goes sometimes.  We are very lucky.

Nothing much to report – that’s why the lack of posts – and I accept that politics is off the table when it is so beautiful.  AlthoughI wonder how the Machiavellian politicians take advantage of the public’s summer focus on life and beauty instead of the economy….?  I am sure they have used that time for some subtle evil-doing but even I am in a ‘who cares’ kinda mood when the outdoors is so fantastic.  It is that kind of time right now….I just don’t care enough to comment on Trump, BC politics or any kind of politics right now.

Got my motorcycle running a few days ago.  Up and down a crazy hill to give it a test run. That was good.

Checked out the alternator on Charlie’s truck – the one we use now and then – and it is shot so I will get another and replace it next week.

Another new couple moved on to the island a short time ago. Sal met R at book-club. Part-timers, tho.  Pleasant. A good addition.  Population still hovering around 50.  Island about 50 square miles in size.  The ratio remains the same.

I sincerely hope that everyone reading this is having as great a summer as we are.

 

Been awhile……summer…you know…?

We’ve been busy.  Boat repairs are half done.  And we built a new deck down at the boat shed. Its about 16 x 12.  Pictures pending.  It’s good.  Looks good, too.  So far, anyway.

Sounds ambitious, doesn’t it?  Gardening, quilts, boats, decks.  Hosted a few dinners and a few guests already.  And a whole new deck? But this deck is not as HUGE as it sounds. It is the lazy butt-head deck (LBHD).  You see, the deck is half-tucked away and half out-front but even the out-front part is private and all. And, well, we were gonna build a bathroom for our guests and a deck unexposed is kind of a bathroom….you know?  I will put a nice vanity and sink on it.  I will make a cute little water closet.  And the shower can come off the boat shed wall….maybe install a curtain rod….sump’n modesty-wise fer the women-folk, ya know….?

Here’s the rationale: Making a foundation and building walls and stuff and stuff is a chore, requires energy and what the hell do you get?  Really?  A little cramped room in which to ablute, collect hair and grow mold.  For the year that we lived in the boat-shed while building the house, we were so bloody exhausted at the end of each day just doing the main chore that we dispensed with a real bathroom.  We made do.  We’d just macho our way into the sea to wash. Then we rinsed off with a solar bag on the old deck.  Yes, sometimes it rained.  Yes, sometimes it was dark.  Yes, that meant occasional nude sightings of us by rounding-the-point kayakers but that also served to perk us up. Abluting on the deck and diverting now and then to Potty Point (just around the corner) kept us nimble, alert, flower fresh and clean.  It was au naturelle but good. Kind of exciting in a peek-a-boo kind of way.

But we promised a bathroom and so we felt obliged to keep our promise (made to ourselves). However, our guest days are dropping.  Demand for facilities is falling off. We may only have 15 visitor-days this summer. We’ve had many, many more.  They were a load in the beginning…….sometimes.  This new number of visitors is more easily doable and, with a lazy-butthead deck, more easily doable with style. Minimal and spartan, to be sure, but still some kind of style.  Guests deserve a bit of style. Funky-rustic and bare-back style.  But style, nevertheless.  It will at least be better than dipping in the sea. Better than peeing off the deck in the dark. Better than no sink, no tap.

AND, don’t forget: it’s summer time.  They won’t freeze.  They’ll be fine.  I think a private deck with a partition or curtain, a few concessions to bodily functions and all done minimally will serve us and our guests very well.

And, best of all? I have ready access to my own bathroom when I want.

It’s all about me.

Quilting is a Gift

David defines quilting as cutting up perfectly good pieces of fabric into small pieces and sewing them together again. Of course I think it’s way more than that.

One thing I’ve come to realize about quilting is that it’s mostly a gift culture.  A gift culture is a very special way of exchanging items. Things are not bartered, traded or sold, but rather given away, without an agreement for immediate or future reward. (Excluded from this are the vast sums spent in fabric stores by quilters adding to their ‘stash’.)

Very often finished quilts are given away to friends, family or community. And frequently fabric, equipment, and, in particular, knowledge and ideas, are shared freely with quilters.

I made this quilt for a friend’s baby boy, Beckham. The interesting part of the process for me was designing it on my computer using Microsoft Paint. It took only a few minutes on the computer and the final product ended up looking remarkably similar to the initial design—not always the case for my quilts which often morph as they progress.

The following quilt is made from cozy flannel that I found in Arizona and is unlike anything I’d seen here in Canada or on-line. I had in mind the cabin belonging to our friends and neighbours, John and Jorge, when I bought it. It was perfect, in a rustic cottagey kind of way.

At the time I thought I was making a quilt entirely different from the batik paper-pieced quilt that preceded it (pictured in my November 2016 guest blog). After having the new flannel for a short while I realized with surprise that the colour scheme was exactly the same as the batiks’.

I don’t always use patterns as I usually prefer to design my own quilts. However this twister’ pattern appealed to me and seemed perfect for the flannel. A special cutting ruler is needed for it—a fellow quilter was happy to lend me hers.

A cushion for my friend, Pat, and another for my daughter, Emily, were two smaller quilting projects.


 

 

 

 

 

The quilt below is a special one made for an island mom when her new baby was born. Grandma distributed squares to twelve of us to quilt in a mom and baby animal theme. Cooperative quilts like these have been made quite a few times to celebrate island events.

My very first quilt included Sashiko stitching (shown in the previous blog). I am still intrigued with this stitching so there  is  a new quilt in the works for which I have done some very non-traditional Sashiko work and purchased some authentic Japanese fabric.

Thanks to my old (length of friendship not age!) friend, Joy, http://www.avintagegreen.com/ I am the proud owner of a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. Joy is an antique dealer who found this machine and generously gifted it to me—I will be eternally grateful. It is the premier sewing machine for quilters as it is light to carry and clicks along stitching a perfect stitch year after year. Mine was made in 1952, the year I was born, so I feel a special affinity for it.

The older hand-operated Singer (below) was perfect when David and I lived on boats many years ago. I could repair sails easily, even if we were under way. It was a gift from another friend who was clearing out his parent’s home. Even though it comes with a lovely wood carrying case it is not remotely portable—it weighs a ton.

The sewing machine I use as much as the Featherweight is a trusty Jenome. I don’t know its age but it’s at least 20 years old. I bought it when my daughter’s school was replacing their machines. I have no plans to get a new computerized model.

This quilting table (with the beginnings of a quilt for David and my first grandchild laid out on it!) was a gift from a fellow islander when a family member, who was an avid quilter, died. I never met her but I have been told stories, by her friends, of a vibrant and outgoing woman. I feel that I am getting to know her a little by using her things and I think of her often when I’m sewing.

In my first guest blog I left readers with a request  to help give my quilt “Walking On Sunshine” movement and life. I took some of your suggestions to heart and did a lot of hand-quilting in turquoise on the quilt. It gives it new vibrancy and texture to the point that I now really like it. I like it so much, in fact, that I recently gave it to a friend whose name it seemed to be calling.

As you can see, I have gifted quilts and received equipment and more. But by far the greatest gift to me has been from the women of the Quadra Quilting Guild that I joined two years ago. They have all graciously shared their extensive knowledge and expertise, patiently answering my never-ending questions and Michelle even tuned up my Featherweight for me! They exemplify the gifting society. Maybe David will be willing to amend his definition of quilting?

 

Spoken too soon…

Sal, it seems, is NOT quite ready to guest blog.  Not yet.  “Too much pressure.”  She’ll do it (in her own time which is somewhat akin to Island-time or manana or on-the-if-come or the never-never plan….) but she ‘first has to gather her thoughts together’.  

It’s just quilting!  How many thoughts can there be?

“Just?  JUST???  DID YOU SAY JUST QUILTING????”

Sorry…….never mind….when you are ready.  Whatever.  Hey!  Look!  A squirrel!

(Thank God for squirrels)

Is it just me or did anyone else notice that a public housing concrete highrise building in London CLAD in flammable panels and filled with household goods burnt like a Roman candle but remained standing……unlike the vaunted World Trade Towers built to much higher standards, with sprinkler systems and occupied by comparatively less flammable materials-in-offices which fell like a house of cards?  Unlike building 7 which, un-hit and un-burned just fell in sympathy?  Box cutters and kerosene, eh?  Who knew?

Seems Clark outdid even my cynicism.  She ‘just found’ billions of extra dollars for children, no less. Wanted to help the welfare recipients, too, the sweet lass.  And found herself agreeing with dozens of NDP/Green ideas and policies which, just a few months ago, were anethema to her.  And who said phony, smiling, lying, two-faced politicians can’t learn from their mistakes, eh?

Book 2 is chugging along like an old Citroen 2CV going uphill.  NOT a book-on-fire but moving out like a sloth on downers after a heavy night of partying.  Still, movement is movement.  That book could use a good enema.

Got boat project #2 over last night.  Brought it down the hill, rolled off the steep to the beach.  Jangled over a few rocks (slowly) and heard a ‘snap’.  Seems the neck of the boat trailer was somewhat rustier than it looked and the trailer snapped a few feet back of the coupler-hitch.  That was a smidge awkward as I wanted to go another 75 feet or so.  Four-wheeling it over boulders is hard enough with the trailer working properly but when it resists by dragging it’s face in the sand, it gets dicier.  But we prevailed.  Got ‘er done.

Then we left it all at low tide un-tied.  Waited.  A few hours later, when the tide came in, the old boat floated off nice-as-you-please and we towed ‘er home, hauled it to the newly made marine ways and winched her up.

Anyone looking from a distance might think we knew what we were doing.

Summer partners arrived yesterday to a dock-not-far.  Of course, six or so months of NOT being in residence requires a lot of checking of pipes, carrying, stocking, turning on and checking, fixing, and generally getting reacquainted with ‘the old cabin’ and it’s systems.  And, just as typically, not all systems fire up or turn on just as one might like. So, old partner is getting older as he moves from valve to valve, switch to switch and lever to lever with trips to the workshop interspersed between.  Always reminds me of the swallows……..every year they come, fly around the ‘swallow-house’, gathering twigs, getting the ‘old place’ up to speed…..

….just heard him on the walkie-talkie; “Water is finally flowing!”  

Anyway………..summer is clearly here.  Fish are jumpin’ and the lettuce grows high…..