Thursday, January 29, 2015

When The Neighbours' Cats Come to Visit.

 Today felt like April. Or May. The neighbours' cats came for a visit. In nicer weather they lounge around and snooze. They get you to stop  and sit with them.  Spencer is the snooziest. Morgan often picks him up, feet dangling, and cuddles him as if he were a teddy bear. He seems to know he's welcome.Smokey  peers in the door every day. His eyes  searching .  On a warm day like this he is  apt to flop on the doorstep to prolong his visit.

 "I love cats because I enjoy my home, and little by little, they become its visible soul."
                             (Jean Cocteau)
  And then there's this one.He came for a visit as well.  This young tabby. He toddles around after Smokey. He lives down the block. He bounces around like a ball. Smokey thinks he is great fun.

         When they come to visit they snuzzle noses.
                                   While Cordelia shows the world how pretty she really is.
"If a cat has decided to love you, there's not a great deal you can do about it." (K. Smythe)
  And there is a sign of spring. Today, when the neighbours' cats came to visit. Very early. Too early.This bush will often bloom in winter, but only here and there. This year it is popping like popcorn. I think the cats have noticed the change.

  When the neighbours' cats come to visit, they sit in patches of sun. Unmoving. Staring. Dozing.
                                                  Staring in windows.
                                    Teaching the younger ones to circle.

 "Cats have nightmares about: being chased by mice the size of dogs. Life number ten. Being bathed in soapy water then covered in flea powder.Work. Being laughed at for getting stuck up a tree. Turning into a dog." (Stuart and Linda MacFarlane)
          And it's good to stop for a moment. Or more. When the neighbours' cats come to visit.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

You Know it Feels like Spring....

                 Still winter. But feels like spring......
                           You know it feels like spring,  when the neighbours air  underwear on the line.
         You know it feels like spring,
                           when  morning light starts to glow in strips of coral on the horizon.
                        You know it feels like spring, when bags grow on trees.
                  You know it feels like spring, when morning light makes  trees stark against the sky.
                           You know it feels like spring, when rain trickles, instead of thundering.
                  You know it feels like spring, when branches grow fingers.
                          You know it feels like spring, when Cordelia basks on the fence.
                           You know it feels like spring, when  seed pods multiply before your eyes.
                          You know it feels like spring, when Spencer wants a cuddle.
                           You know it feels like spring, when the ocean is not so fierce.
                   You know it feels like spring, when Smokey comes to stare in the door. Then something  calls him, and away he splashes, to run with the wind and the rain......

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Perfect Day

 Mt Washington Range.  You will find it on the eastern side of the mountain range on Vancouver Island. I am lucky enough to find it outside  my front door. Practically.   These were all taken from our front  hill at 500 mm. On a really, really good day for mountains and mist.A perfect day.
 "Mountains holy as Sinai. No mountains I know of are so alluring.None so hospitable, kindly, tenderly inspiring.It seems strange that everyone does not come at their call.They are given , like the Gospel, without  money and without price.'Tis heaven alone that is given away." (John Muir from "John of the Mountains", 1938)
            "Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous."                                                         (Thomas Mann 1875-1955)
 "The cure for all the illness of life is stored in the inner depth of life itself, the access to which becomes possible when we are alone. This solitude is a world in itself, full of wonders and resources unthought of. It is absurdly near: yet so unapproachably distant." (Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941)
                                        Today the mountains were perfect. Steeped in snow.
                      If you drive to Courtenay, about 40 minutes south of Campbell River,
                                               you will find the road leading to the mountain.

                      "The morning sun, the new sweet earth and the Great Silence." (T.C. McLuhan)
                                                                    A perfect day

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Letter from Isabella May 1st, 1937

                           Grandmother Isabella Glen Shiels
I found her letters again. They were addressed to my mother, Nessie, who was newly married, and living in Victoria, B.C.  My pioneer grandparents lived in Bethune, Saskatchewan; tilled the soil with oxen and horses. I visited the homestead quite  few times , long after they were gone. A quiet, windswept place, where wild prairie forever stretches. "Like the ocean," my mother would say. You could walk the fields getting lost in the grain . To find your way back , all you had to do was turn around and see the homestead in the distance. When I see the old photos, I can still smell those warm prairie nights, and all those people come alive again.....
       (Stuart, Isobel, Nessie , Bill, Isabella Glen Shiels and Robert Shiels
                                                                               and Jessie  their favourite dog)
(This  letter deals with a measles epidemic and a blistering mustard plaster.......)
Keddleston, Saskatchewan                       May 1st, 1937
Rain everywhere, but around this district . Bit it still comes in time .  I guess Edda and you had quite a nice time. It was nice for her, anyway.
 Just as I started to write this I got one of my turkeys poisoned with formaline wheat. I had 3 set on 49 eggs, so one is gone, and eggs spoiled. Blanch Ferraby is off with her sister to the old country and I met Blanche Wilke at Ferrabys on Tuesday. Went to spend the afternnons to get my curtains run up. I bought the same material as the front windows, changing them to bedroom and North window.  
Bill, waiting to hitch the horses.
      Blanche  was blowing on about Mrs. Bunker and Mrs. Smith, being absent and Mrs. B had shown her all over. Oh Hell,I said, Nessie is all.Electric and all kinds of lovely furniture. She has been subbing for Jean Muirhead, until they got another teacher . A Friend of the Family….Principal of Scotts. Got her a school, or room, rather, 23 children, 8 grades at $800. A salary she deserves. She did a lot for Keddleston , even starting a girl guides. They got a Miss Griffin from Regina.
     The measles has taken it s last person. A. Thompson. It did not miss a house that had got it. Left behind weak eyes and 5 that I know of had ear operations. Doctor Gillis’ boy had 2 mastoids. Niel Wilkie , two of Art Beals’ kids and quite a few more, but with the last two warm days I think the worst is over.
Nessie and her beloved horses
     Dad is back to his old self and has been on the land the last two weeks with 6 horses, so you can judge from that. I blistered him with mustard , just as I did Stuart, and it has cleared out the Bronchitis, I think.
     The men have all the wheat in now, and burning for oats, but won’t sow for some time.Helen Tomlinson lost out in the finals of the Amateurs, the best singer, but her voice was not suitable for radio. They must have had quite a time choosing, as they cried out her name. Too bad.
     Had a long letter from J. Irwin, he is working and work is plenty over there, but the weather has been wet and more wet.
      I am sending you Mac and also one of the Boyce and his Ma. Where is you snap shots ( eh?). Harry has got a new Bug he is renting. Hargraves , 14 acre and group to keep a cow and 100hens and 2 pigs, raise 400 bushel of grain to feed them, and be Independent.The grass is just showing, and the cattle have to be fed yet.
      Oh yes, Freddy has bought the Hotel, and giving a dance to tonight, with the Beach Orchestra. I think Silsby is renting Ferraby’s and Harris’ had to rent his to Guy McConnell, as he had only 3 horses. Oh, again Herb and Aggie have moved into Irwins, and rented their own to F. Goolatt, as no others would take it.
Ferraby's in Kedelston, 1931
    Mac works with Willie all forenoon, then sleeps all noon. He is the whole cheese to see his little legs dancing around the cows and horses. To make them go is to laugh, but he takes a great kick out of it. Now, he is chasing the 10 little pigs , but I have two red ones and when I let them out, and they just shoulder aside. They say: No thanks. What are you getting 50 chicks for, Norman, and us this week. Oh, I forgot to tell you was at Regina two weeks ago, and had a fine time…skinned my heels with new shoes and sent your money to the Victoria Bank ( $105). Please let me know if you got it all right. Going up to Keddleston, tonight, taking Stuart up to the Davee Hall.
Stuart, Mar 21, 1934

    Fred Lydall will sell his pool tables to Fred Goolatt, I think, for the Hotel, so am glad. Must stop as I have the kitchen to clean up, yet, and it looks like rain. Has Champ got $300 as honary Relief? Does he still talk about building the Hotel, and I hope his Ontario one has not caught in the flood.

    Must stop…Love to Davy and Nessie.
                      From all, including Mother.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Quilt

 New year. New quilt. Have been hanging onto  a swatch or two of Flower Fairy fabric. Sincelast year. Just waiting to figure out how to use it. For Morgan's bday in May.  For all this time it has eluded me what to do with it.
 The fabric is lovely. Little glistening specs cover the wings of the fairies. Flower Fairies were orignial drawings done by Cicely Mary Barker, in the first part of the 20th century. Gorgeous , whimsical creatures that flit and float. On fabric they pop up from the threads.Cicely Mary Barker had epilepsy as a child and was home schooled. She would paint for hours. Her majesty,Queen Mary, loved the flower fairies and because of her interest in them, Cicely's artwork sold like hot cakes.
 I decided to go with something that resembles an Irish Chain, using beautiful green squares to offset the other fabrics.
                              Cordelia helped to supervise. To get an idea of what it would look like, I spread out the pieced squares in some sort of chain design, making sure the green squares would parade down the whole of the panel.
                                   With a few breaks . Of course. With the cats from the hill.
             In 1923 , the first flower fairy book was published. Cicely Mary Barker received 25 pounds for her first book.
                    After laying out the squares, it was time to sew into strips. I tend to number them from the left to the right, so they don't get mixed up.Oh, how I love fabric........
                              At the end , I decided to add a green border with floral accents to complement the fairies, who fly across the panel. All that is left is add a backing and batting. Then quilt! Spencer came down from the hill at the very end of laying out the quilt top. Not interested in the quilt, he got cuddles instead....