Monday, February 27, 2012

gull 1, crab 0

the second approach

backing away

what are you looking at?


as promised, a little shoreline drama. nothing too crazy, just a bit of the risk of being a tasty treat at low tide. we had been wandering along the sand slowly exposing itself to the sun as the tide went out. while admiring all the vibrantly-cooured seaweed, i noticed a gull at the water's edge, pulling away at something. i thought it, too, was seaweed, but quickly realized it was a sunflower star, a rich purple in the sand. low tide is prime lunch time for all the feathered foragers. A quickly directed my attention the other way though, to spot another gull looming over a crab it had flipped on its back. we were only a short distance away, watching as the gull pecked at its quarry, while the crab poked arms upward in a fruitless effort to fight him off. but after a few moments the gull flew off, and we couldn't hep but approach what it had left behind. the crab sat helpless on its back, but when i flipped it right side up again it quickly began its backwards/sideways escape, despite missing two legs. i tried to encourage it back in to the safety of the water, but he stubbornly hunkered down into the open sand. it seemed best to let nature take its course, so we backed away and left the red rock crab to its business.

no sooner had we put a few metres between us though, and mr. gull was back in the scene. it wasn't on the top of its game either, as we noticed a strong limp as it moved on its prey again (maybe something to do with what's stuck/tied to its leg? hard to get close enough to see). but nonetheless it took no time at all to have the crab on its back again and that seemed like the game was over. i don't enjoy the kill, but i feel honoured to be able to witness these raw moments once in awhile. nature taking its course, as it does, and should.

i'm heading back out to another beach shortly, for another sunshine low tide walk. i hope your monday is going well!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

whales on sunday...

boro grey whale no.8

beluga no. 3

northern right whale no.2

narwhal no.3

i had big plans to line up all the whales for a group shot at the beach today. they all seemed quite jovial on this sunny sunday, and i thought they'd be happy to play along and pose together. the wind, however, had other ideas. even with A as my whale wrangler, we had troubles getting shots of just one whale at a time, as large gusts kept spiralling in and trying to send these swimmers flying back to the sea. the northwest wind was boss of the show, and also responsible for the beautiful blue skies, but we did manage to do a little photoshoot with all of the new whales. they are available in the shop now, eight whales in total: two narwhals, two belugas, two greys and two right whales.

i think i could have spent much of the afternoon at the beach, but i had promised some folks i would get back and update the shop early on. still we took a short walk along the sand and it was gorgeous, even as the wind cut right through our layers. we even caught a bit of low tide drama - will share tomorrow. i'm hoping the sun will hang around for another good walk tomorrow, maybe with a bit less of a gale behind it.

i hope your weekend was a good one - are you like me and critiquing red carpet fashion right now?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

texture in purple

purple texture

purple texture

some wonderfully bumpy seaweed spotted on the beach the other day, a chilly walk i took just after the cast came off. there is such incredible colour along the shore, often made all the brighter by the grey sky overhead. and a little peek at my skirt-in-progress, purple upon purple. inspired by alabama but using my own skirt pattern and feather stencils.


i decided to celebrate my cast coming off by getting a terrible head cold, so you'll have to forgive me if this post is not coherent. i'm settling in for a night on the couch with my man. black bean soup is bubbling on the stove, to be topped with crunchy sautéed polenta cubes, avocado, maybe a spoonful of salsa. hopefully that will warm these chilly bones. they're forecasting snow for tomorrow. snow! we've barely had a winter, and it certainly seemed recently like spring was elbowing its way in, gaining ground without giving any back. but the snow will be bookended with rain on both sides, and a gale wind too. a miserable day to head into the weekend. i hope your week is capping off well!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[not so] wordless wednesday

furry tree

like little green stars

in the forest


a few shots from the very mossy woods. does anyone know the name of that incredibly large, fern-like moss in the second photo? i keep meaning to look it up.


thanks for all your well wishes recently. i got my cast removed and pins yanked out (with regular old pliers, no less!) yesterday. i have a bandage to cover the wounds for a little bit, and a splint to wear when out of the house. at home i'm on a regimen of stretches to try and work the stiffness out of the joint. all in good time, although i was a little disappointed to still need to wear a plastic bag on my arm in the shower last night, to protect the bandage. but, that's how it goes.


i am planning a whale of a shop update for this sunday - har har. right now there will be two grey whales, two belugas, and a right whale. i'm hoping to have a narwhal or two as well, maybe another right whale. after that i'm going to switch focus to some other creatures, including a special project coming up that i hope you guys will enjoy.

hope your week is going well!

Monday, February 20, 2012

birds of a feather


juvenile bald eagle

karate kid

personal space

eagles everywhere you look

...well in this case, there is a lot of flocking together. in certain areas of the valley these days, the trees are heavy with bald eagles. when i used to have a longer trip to work i would count eagles on my drive this time of year. i think my high was just over 40 in one half hour commute. but lately on my route to the beach i've been straining my head around to catch sight of all the branches laden with birds in a few particular spots. the other day on my way home from nettle picking, i just had to stop.

the drizzle coming down when i had been picking seemed to have nearly stopped when i stopped the car and crossed the road to a particularly full tree. after snapping a few shots at the locals i found a trail down to the beach, wading through the beach grass in my gumboots. the eagles were on old posts in the water, out on a gravel bar, swooping around. it's february and they are pairing up for mating. i think too this is a slim pickings time of year as far as food goes, so they hang out in the open without much to do. the juveniles cluster with the adults too, their speckled bodies making them look like golden eagles, but i know better. bald eagles don't get their trademark white heads until 5-6 years of age. i was so awed watching all the big birds and trying to get some shots that it took me a bit before i realized the light sprinkle was turning into a steady downpour, and my camera and cast were not going to put up with it for long.


other things:
• i made these crab avocado quesadillas last night. a surprising but tasty blend of flavours. i skipped the bacon and shallots, but added sprouts and cucumber.
• i love the idea of this long fold over toque. i may need to knit something up similar.
• and a great tedX talk about the alberta tar sands.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


northern right whale

northern right whale

a burly fellow took shape yesterday, a true beast of a whale. this northern right whale seems like a fairly content cetacean, comfortable in his formidable form. his body is all dark denim, with a patchwork of linen on his belly and large callosities growing on his head. right whales were originally so named because whalers thought they were the "right" ones to hunt, due to their high blubber content, not to mention floating after being killed and usually staying near shore. thankfully nowadays these whales are more "right" for enjoyment in just watching as they swim the coastal waters. this particular fellow may want to dip and dive offshore, but i'll have to break it to him that he is just right for appreciating the water from the comfort of a cosy home. he will be available soon.


A and i went for an exploratory walk this morning with a friend and her pup, up and over and through the moss-drenched woods. there were a couple waterfalls that we don't normally see in the warmer months, or at that time are barely a trickle. in the dry months this area is good for rock climbing under the shade of the evergreens. today the water flowed freely over mossy bluffs, dripping off all overhangs in the rock. the trail as tricky to navigate in spots, steep and soft underfoot. i felt like a bit of any old lady with two people "spotting" me as i made my way along the rougher areas, making sure i didn't slip and land on my arm. there were certainly places where i had to use my good arm for support or with a firm grip on a tree root as i inched my way back down after we climbed high above the lake below. it was wonderfully peaceful in the woods, with friends, and an energetic lab running to and fro. my friend snapped this shot of me admiring one of the falls.

i know i promised you eagle pics today, but i wanted to share the new whale. tomorrow, i promise!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

random on saturday...

just popping up

beauty / finality


fagoting stitch

duck dive

>>> right now my knuckles burn dully, a niggling irritation as i go about my day. the photo at top shows why. i went out foraging for nettles in a drizzle late this morning, finding enough tender purple-green buds for a meal tonight. i will pair them with local pork sausage and fresh-made pasta picked up at the farmers market. but my choice of a glove saved from dyeing my hair (washed well!) was a bad choice, and i got a bit stung through the thin plastic. oops.

>>> after picking a small bag of nettles, i wandered down onto the beach where i spotted a poor dead mallard on the rocks. sad thing, and yet i was mystified by the way the rainwater beaded on its belly feathers. a beautiful creature, even in death. the beach grasses too held the gently falling rain, like jewels strung across the shore.

>>> on the way back from foraging, i also spent some time on a small beach in the quickening rain, shooting the crowds of eagles that are filling the trees these days. i'll share some photos tomorrow.

>>> a little peak at the skirt i'm working on, mentioned yesterday. i would love to hand sew the whole thing, but for ease of time and my awkward wrist, i machine sewed the skirt pieces together. now though, i'm adding decorative stitching along the seams, a fagoting stitch to work with the stretch of the fabric. then i will begin reverse appliquéing a design on the skirt to reveal the lighter purple underlayer. this shot also shows what happens when you start making a skirt late at night in a dimly lit room - the body of the skirt is "wrong" side out, showing the purl rather than knit side of the fabric. i think i've decided i'm okay with that. i think. at least it is both the front and back, not just one or the other. the knit in the left of the photo is the fold over waistband.

>>> a recent drawing in progress, a surfer girl and her seal companion duck diving under the swell. i want to add more above the water, but i haven't decided what yet.

>>> now to do a bit of stitching, working on a new beast of a whale. i hope your saturday is going well.

Friday, February 17, 2012

hold on...

moonglow anemone

moonglow anemone

moonglow anemone

grab hold

on a beach walk last Monday, the low low tide meant carefully navigating the shore to avoid stepping on moonglow sea anemones barely visible in the sand, tucked up tight against the air. but here and there in shallow pools they would unfurl their vibrant tentacles and wave gently underwater. i love that one at the top just poking out, its stalk coated in a sort of broken shell mosaic of armour. i reached in to touch one, gently, and was rewarded with an equally gentle but firm grip, testing me out, holding on.


i think 2012 has it out for me. only a month and a half in, but it seems like unpleasant and uncontrollable things keep happening to me and all i can do is hold on and hope it gets better soon. i'm trying not to complain, but it's all a bit exhausting, and, as it turns out, expensive. without getting into too much detail, last night i picked up my truck at the mechanic's after three days of waiting, and paid three times what it should have cost putting new rear brakes on my truck, due to snowballing parts problems, not to mention the ongoing rust problem. (never ever buy a vehicle that spent a few years on the salty winter roads of the east and then was brought out to the rainy west = rust city).

but we're heading in to the weekend, thankfully. we're having dinner with family tonight, and i get to play with all four of my niece-phews, who i don't get to see nearly often enough. i'm hoping to get out sometime in between the rain drops tomorrow and pick some of the stinging nettles starting to pop up. despite the grey skies, spring does seem to be making inroads. i made a pretty good start on sewing a new alabama chanin-inspired skirt last night, and a few pieces for the shop are slowly taking shape. and - fingers crossed - my cast and pins are being removed on tuesday.

what are you up to this weekend?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

hope is the thing with feathers

...or at least that's what pinterest keeps telling me. sometimes the beach seems full of feathers, each catching the light and wind in its own way, each in a different state of dishevelment. i love them all.


>>> this short film by mickey smith fills me with such awe and inspiration. such a beautiful ode to the sea and a meditation on a life spent in it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

sea-washed blues...

new boro grey whale

new boro grey whale

this whale came out of nowhere, yesterday and today. i found a groove and stitched her together under a rainy sky. starting to feel a bit more like myself, i suppose. she is mix of pale blues, soft denim, chambray, linen and silk. i will make her available soon; i'm trying to stitch up a few companions for her first.

and if you're curious, the urchin shell in the second photo is actually a sculpture by local artist william van orden. i dream about one day owning one of the big fish casts he does.

the rain disappeared today and was replaced by bright sun. big low tides have been happening mid afternoon in the last few days, which is great for walks. the colours under the bright sun were much like the little grey whale, soft and windswept. should you need a deep breath, i made a short video on my wander:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

love on sunday

wool love

this month is of course heavy with heart imagery, and i've seen a few heart elbow patch tutorials out there too. i have been fond of elbow patches for awhile now, but had yet to incorporate them into my wardrobe. this little twist on the classic shape seemed like a fun idea, and my old forestry cardigan seemed like it could use a little sprucing up. i still get a lot of use out of it over three years later and it has held up well, although i removed the buttons because they were too heavy and now i just wear it open or occasionally belted. anyway, i cut two heart shapes out of a felted thrift store sweater and stitched them in place with a simple blanket stitch. i thought about a bright colour but ultimately i think this adds a bit of fun while still making it easy to pair this sweater with just about anything.

we just got home from breakfast out (i am so full of waffle) and a few errands. it's a rainy sunday and seems a good day to be cozy inside just the two of us, maybe watch a little homeland and do a bit of stitching. i finished a whale last night! it was so good to see something more tricky like that come together despite my slowness with the cast still on. that was a custom order, but i hope very shortly to have some new whales in the shop, along with other ideas bubbling away. happy sunday!


plus a little public service announcement:
our government thinks that i'm a radical because i am opposed to the northern gateway pipeline project. If you are a radical too, then please got to to let the prime minister and the minister of natural resources know that all of us radicals are just ordinary concerned canadians.

Friday, February 10, 2012

into the mystic...

winding path

in the mist

disappearing distance


the other day i took a short walk along the river in the fog. the mist gets into your bones, chills all the way through. but it's peaceful, dampening the sounds of the traffic. the world pares down into a simple colour palette, and all that exists is just what you can see.


it's a quiet, rainy friday night. A is working late. i'm trying to make some actual progress on a custom minke whale for someone who has been waiting far too long because of my injury. when i get frustrated with it, i turn to my pens and pencils. the sketchbook project seems to have done what i hoped, keeping me interested in drawing even after i mailed off my book.


other things:
• this edamame arugula dip looks fantastic. or if you're looking for a sweeter treat, check out Annie's haystacks.
• a recent trip to a mall reminded me that mass-produced clothes just doesn't do it for me anymore. i need to get back to sewing more of my own. i think this dress pattern from wiksten might be first on the list.
• tensions regarding the northern gateway pipeline are continuing to ramp up around here. this short film in particular brought tears to my eyes. i'm also looking forward to this upcoming film from woodshed films and patagonia.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

sunshine in february...

a gathering of gulls

sunny sunday walk

february in the strait

the strait

me by the sea

a short spell of sunny days ran over this weekend. today will be the last one i think, before a stretch of rain clouds and grey skies. it has in general been a much milder winter than they originally predicted, but still it felt wonderful to wander the shore with jacket unzipped and soak in the late afternoon sun. i walked farther around the point than i had before, finding a new pocket of rocky beach where i was all by myself, away from the other sunday wanderers. while the strait itself was curiously quiet, no barges aiming south behind chugging tugboats, the air traffic coming in to the airport and military base kept a regular rhythm above. a fighter jet coming in to land directly over my head made my ears protest wildly for an achingly long stretch of seconds. but thankfully it was just that, seconds, and most of my walk was just the scrape of rocks below my feet, gulls conversing together, a heron croakily protesting after being spurred off its rock by approaching kayakers, and soft voices of other walkers carried over the water. i hope you had some moments of peace this weekend.


>>> just two more weeks till my cast comes off! (i'm saying 'just' to try and convince myself that isn't still FOREVER) but i am improving a lot and trying out my hand at more sewing. i have been trying to make some whales, but they are fiddly so the going is slow. as an attempt at 'cross-training', i also tried to do a bit of knitting yesterday, but that was not particularly successful. it'll come though, i know. my patience is waning though.  (patience? ha! when have i ever had any of that?!)

>>> thanks to all who entered my giveaway. a winner has now been announced, but if it wasn't you stay tuned for more giveaways soon.