Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

well, hello.


It's been ages since we've caught up. I hope your summer (or winter) has been full of adventure and joy. I've been thinking a lot about some upgrades and a reinvention for this blog, but as usual I'm slow in making things happen.

I don't think there's a way for me to write this post without sounding like a big whiner, but here goes nonetheless. For those who might not know, we adopted a rescue "pitbull" this past spring. It has been a learning experience, especially for me. He has required a lot more energy (physical and mental) than I could have every predicted, and a lot of ongoing work to address his "issues" after spending the first part of his life in a troubling situation. Thankfully he is friendly and amiable with people and small children, but dog and deer reactivity is an ongoing struggle and source of stress. 

Along with the blog break just as summer was kicking in, I announced on facebook that I would be pretty quiet throughout the month of August. Part of the reason for that was knowing I would be the sole caretaker for our dog for a good chunk of that month. That I would be spending a lot of my time when not at work making it up to him after leaving him at home all day. That I would be tired, not just from taking care of his exercise needs on my own, but from the stress that comes with never knowing how your dog might react on a given day when another dog passes on the street. And that finally, some days just need to be finished with a 60lb weight on your chest (as seen above), hoping that slowly, maybe, we are building a strong trust bond with this scarred boy that will bring us all happier and healthier out the other side. 

I know, melodramatic. There are so many women who shoulder much more than I do, with kids and jobs and life. Trust me, there is no one more disappointed by me than me.

While we are back to being a family of three (and Ty is so thrilled to have his AK home), there will be a similar situation in September, so I suspect things will continue here much the same, for now. I hope I'm not making it sound like all struggles and gloom. There have certainly been many good summer days, exploring, fishing, and even mushroom hunting as the autumn season begins to make an appearance. I'm hoping an adventure is in order for the long weekend coming up, just as we slip into September.

If you're still stopping by here (and I don't blame you if you're not), please let me know what you've been up to - I'd love hear!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

summer break...

I am working on a small group of creatures that I hope to put in the shop in the next couple of weeks, and I'll try to let you know before that happens.

But other than that I don't have much to say, and the camera's been collecting a lot of dust. Maybe after seven years this blog has taken its course. Whatever it is, I'm going to take a break for the next little bit, maybe for a long bit. I'm still posting iphone photos, and every once in a while the big camera still gets used. New pieces for the shop will appear over here. If you want to keep in touch. Or not. Hope you're enjoying your June, all the same.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

flotsam and jetsam...

low low


low tide eagle


sand walk


A few random bits and pieces here and there...

>>> Above are some shots from our low tide wander last Saturday. Lots of eagles, lots of sand, lots of sunshine. And beach exploring with my two boys; what could be better? (Including when AK entertains Ty so I can stalk some wildlife - bless him.)

>>> With AK away all this week, stitching happened not at all. Hmmm. Perhaps it's because every time I sit on the couch (which is where I generally work) I end up in this position. There are a lot of things taking shape in my mind - does that count?

>>> It's a grey, threatening-rain kind of day, chilly for June 1. Seems a good night to try out this one pot pasta recipe.

>>> I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new running tights Yeah, I hate running. Except apparently the natural follow of all this dog walking is dog running (okay, we're mostly walk/runners right now). I'm not setting any expectations yet, just seeing how it goes. But cute new running pants are always helpful for encouragement.

>>> I love sewing projects using selvage. This pillow is a prime example of the cool things that can be made with what are in theory "scraps."

>>> I love how Stasia of the Stray Arrow combines poetry and beautiful metalwork.

>>> If the sun comes back, this banana & peanut butter 'ice cream' might be the perfect treat to make at home.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

razor-sharp smile...

salmon shark

Two little salmon sharks swimming into the shop today. One is already reserved, but the one above is right here. I used a cotton for the undersides this time, naturally dyed by me with a slight mottled appearance. And I got my hands on some white leather so they have "real" teeth this time. Ragged, ferocious fellows, used to the hard life in the North Pacific Ocean.


We have had some low low tides in the middle of the day this weekend, perfect for beach combing and tide pool exploring. Yesterday AK and I took Ty for a long meander to check out ochre stars, wee crabs and more, all under the watchful eyes of a large crew of eagles also taking advantage of the low tide pickings. The sun has stuck around today, so in a couple hours I think the pup and I will go out again to a slightly different spot and see what we can find. My hopes are on some moon snails...

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

canoe dog...

are you sure about this?


canoeing's not so bad

can i swim from here?

This morning dawned full of sunshine, and it seemed the perfect time to get Ty out for his first canoe experience. We'd like to take a weekend canoe trip soon, camp along a lake chain near here. And maybe someday he'll even stand politely on a standup paddleboard with us. But first, a short little excursion to test the waters, quite literally.

We don't own a canoe (someday), but thankfully are easily able to borrow one from the canoe/kayak shop from where AK sometimes guides. Despite a persistent northwest breeze at home, the waters of the river and estuary were calm, the current also tempered by an incoming tide. Ty sat in the canoe on the grass, but once it was in the water he needed an encouraging lift to get in. He stood, but stayed, and we were off. Wooden paddles dipped quietly into the clear water, the river bottom not far below us. I felt the boat shift, and shift again, as our boy struggled to find a spot he felt comfortable with. He touched his nose to the water repeatedly, trying for a drink despite the surely brackish taste, and the bowl of clean water beside him. But he kept calm, and we paddled on.

We followed the river's flow, out into the estuary where eagles watched us from old posts and a pair of geese preened themselves in the shallows along a small island. It was a beautiful day in the valley, there was no denying that. The mountain peaks still have patches of snow, but down here at sea level it feels like summer. Out, out we went, finally turning back as we neared one of the last navigation markers that guide boaters through the river's entrance. The river's current slowed us a bit on the return journey, made us work our paddles just a little harder, but soon enough we were crossing the gentle eddy line back into the marina and to the boat ramp. I clambered out first, and Ty waited until called before jumping out. All in all, a successful first excursion since none of us ended up swimming. :)


It is a long weekend here in Canada, and so I have one more day to putter about the house. AK headed off this evening to spend a week kayak guiding on the west coast, so Ty and I will be spending some quality time. Too bad I have to work the rest of the week, but he'll be well taken care of all the same.

There are two salmon sharks in progress, but I'm not sure when they'll be ready for the shop. I have also recently acquired some gorgeous brown leather and lush wool, which makes me think a sea lion is next on the docket. My hands are slow, but things come along.

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend - what did you get up to?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

[not so] wordless wednesday...



A pair of American robins have tucked in and made themselves a home on the roof of our deck, where it is overlapped with the roof overhang from the house, and thus quite well protected. The deck roof is really just corrugated plastic sheeting, which is why I easily spotted the nest from below. I feel a bit guilty each time I venture out onto the deck now, as it seems no matter how quiet I step I am sure to flush one of them from the nest. If I am quiet enough though, and wait patiently, they will come back. I can't wait till there are little chirplings, and maybe if I am lucky they will drop a few shell pieces down to me below.


>>> for Michele who asked, Ty is a pitbull mix. For those who don't know, "pitbull" is not actually a breed, but gets used as a lump term for several breeds (Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier) and other dogs with that "bully" look. I'm only clarifying because I think the mass description is often unfair, and poorly informed (many people will identify a dog as a pitbull when it is not - test yourself with this quiz), which leads to breed stereotyping. In Ty's case, he is a mutt of undetermined breeds, although we did rescue him from an organization that specifically works to find home for "pitbulls" who generally have the lowest rates of adoption in regular shelters.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

summer whale...

summer whale

The summer weather continues around here, day after day of beautiful sun and warmth. It feels like July. While rain clouds are threatening to creep in just time for the weekend (hey, I love rain, no complaints) this delightful weather has inspired a summery grey whale in pale oceany blues.  He's in the shop now.

Here's a little behind the scenes from the photoshoot; it's good to have helpers. :)

Photoshoot helper

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

feels like summer...

9pm twilight walk, still in the mid-20s C. Summer has started way early this year. Plus, spotted my first owl of the season as we passed through the woods on the way back.

I keep rechecking the calendar date. Surely it can't be only the beginning of May. For days now the temps have been reaching into the high 20s (C), and the blue sky stretches unbroken to the mountains on either side. It feels like summer, well and truly, and there's little choice to make but to enjoy it fully, as one never knows when it will change again.

Last night, in the twilight, Ty and I slipped out the door for a walk. The streets were mostly quiet - a few folks digging in their gardens here and there, sprinklers watering lawns as we passed. We followed the path off the pavement and onto dirt under a fresh unfurled canopy of leaves. The songbirds were sounding their sunset chorus, with the occasional alarm noting our passage. The creek trickled quietly underneath us as we ambled over the bridge. Down at the beach, lilting voices carried across the water from a pair of kayakers gliding serenely in the bay. We paused for a breath, a quiet contemplation, and to enjoy the view.

Then we were back amongst the trees, following the winding path as the light continued to fade. I noted again the birds, those trumpeting out an alarm about this woman and her dog, and those singing in the night. But I was only half listening. And then I realized I should be listening fully, and embracing what the robins know and can share with me. I turned my comments and commands to Ty down to a whisper, and quieted my footfalls on the trail. We descended back to the creek, and stopped so he could have a drink of water beside the bridge. I thought for a moment I heard something splash out of the water as we approached, but then I doubted myself as I watched the tiniest waterfall gurgle repeatedly with the same sound.

Up ahead, the songbirds were alarming in a group, too far off to be a comment about us yet. I was pretty sure what that ruckus was for. As we got closer I started scanning amongst all the branches, trying to isolate the centre in growing darkness. There! A larger bird, adjusting its feathers high on a Douglas fir branch, just barely silhouetted against the forest background. Unmistakably an owl. I looked down for a moment and it was gone, but then found again on a tree on the other side of the creek. I smiled, and Ty stood there, oblivious to the action above his head. I had already been planning to return to the woods near our old house in the next few weeks, in hopes of re-acquainting myself with the barred owl pair from last year. But to know there is at least one owl in the wooded area near our new place makes me excited to do a bit more exploring here as well, perhaps earlier in the evening with big camera in hand. I'll keep you posted.

We climbed the stairs back out of the woods, pausing to note a deer crunching through the dead leaves on the other side of the creek. The heat was more noticeable back out on the street, free from the cooling effect of the forest canopy. We were both thinking about a drink and I kept the rest of the loop short. In the open park past the tennis courts two does watched us and Ty created a bit of a fuss in his apparent growing fascination for deer, much to my dismay. But soon enough we were back in our own driveway, and then he was fast asleep on the couch as we settled in for the night.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


A little something I made this morning. Looking forward to the afternoon.

My somewhat wonky afternoon ring effort.

I stepped away from the needle and thread today, from the knitting pins and spools of wool, the reams of fabric. Today I tried something completely new.

I have been interested in working with metal for some time. More recently, I have been wowed by artisans like Jillian and Kelly and so many others. On a whim I signed up for a one day class, Metalsmith for Beginners, and showed up this morning with an eager glint in my eyes. We played with copper, bronze and silver. We learned sawing, hammering, texturing, drilling and much to absorb. I was a little sad we didn't get to try any soldering, but understood the time and space were limiting. And I came out at the end of the day with two pieces worked from my own shaky hands, a pair of earrings and a...let's say very "organic" ring (organic means wonky and uneven, just if we're being honest). Feeling pretty happy about the day.

There are many who would argue that the last thing I need is another hobby, but I'd really like to play with this medium more, whether on its own or incorporating it into my other work. Lots to experiment with, to be sure. I'm already considering taking a private soldering lesson with the instructor. Sorry AK and Ty - yet something else to keep me from paying attention to you. ;)

Have you learned anything new recently?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

small update...


green sea turtle

My apologies for not posting much recently. Honestly, I guess I haven't had much to say. This too will just be a short post to let you know there are two new beasts in the shop - another green sea turtle and a new take on a giant pacific octopus - this one is covered in logwood dyed cotton gauze, overlaid with hundreds of stitches for added texture. I love to make the octopuses, but they are a lot of work when stitched entirely by hand (all those legs!).

I'm hoping to get a whale or two done this week, so if you have been waiting on them keep an eye out next weekend!


Heading up this afternoon to take in one more snow day as the mountain season finishes. A friend and I are going snowshoeing, and give Ty is first taste of the white stuff. Then we'll watch crazy people in costume ski into a frigid pool for the annual "slush cup". Brrrr, but enjoyable to watch! Here's hoping you've had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

in bloom...

lantern of spring



daffodil kiss

in the morning sun

It starts small, literally. Still stomping the trails in hardy boots, head and hands wrapped up against the biting wind, you start to notice small green shoots unfurling amongst the mud and last year's dead leaves. It starts slow too, and can't help but anxiously await the first little flower buds. Then one day they are there - small snowdrops in clusters out in the woods and on lawns, bowing under the still cold breeze on grey March days. The first bright yellow glow of swamp lanterns thrusting up from the boggy areas lights up the woods. And you know - spring has well and truly started.

Suddenly it's everywhere - vibrant green nubs on each branch, pink salmonberry stars, a carpet of green on the forest floor followed by trilliums, fawn lilies, bleeding hearts. Each yard including yours boasts a clutch or two of daffodils and tiny grape hyacinths. The magnolias, unable to hold themselves back any longer, unleash an explosion of petals. The streets are lined with cherry trees littering blossoms that swirl and dance in the breeze of each passing car. You find yourself walking the trails in sandals and a light sweater, hands and face open to the sun. Everywhere the birds are singing and flirting, even more thrilled than you about this change in the weather. Spring has sprung.


After a small string of glorious days, the rain moved back in today and the world feels a bit grey. It's milder though, without the determined chill of a winter day. A few things going on on the interwebs:
>> A recipe of mine made it into the new Hollyhock cookbook. Even without that bit of luck, I would totally recommend this book for healthy, seasonal recipes. I just made the whole wheat chia bread and it's awesome!
>> The weather might be warming up, but a squishy cowl like this makes me wish for a few more chilly days.
>> Once those lovely daffodils start to fade on the front lawn, I think I'll gather up the wilting petals to make a dye bath and if I'm lucky I'll get buttery yellows like these from Clarabella.

How's your week?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

to the beach!

late afternoon stroll

the beach!!!

a man and his dog


My camera is feeling a bit neglected these days. When I picked it up to take these photos, I realized it had been 12 days since I'd last clicked its shutter. That's depressing. But I guess that's what happens when a four-legged companion now trots along beside on all my walks. A smart-but-still-learning pup who needs a bit of leash attention, especially as he's bit anxious in the presence of other dogs (understandable given his history). You can pretty much guarantee that if I stop to take a photo an off-leash dog will come racing up out of nowhere, often with an inattentive owner far behind. Quick shots with my phone have been all I can muster lately.

So it was nice to get out with both my boys the other evening, an opportunity for me to tag along with camera in hand while they explored the shore. Ty's first real trip to the beach with us, in fact, and he loved it. There were a few stretches of sand where he could race back and forth, and eagerly eye the hundreds of seagulls still feasting on herring eggs out in the strait. The weather has been beautiful for the most part this past week, and the coming long weekend looks promising indeed. Here's wishing you a fantastic weekend, and here's hoping I get out with my camera a little.


With flowers blooming all over town and temperatures creeping up, there's no denying it any longer - welcome spring! I'm doing a little clearout over in the shop - pop over for 25% off with the code SPRINGCLEAN.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

barbados: fauna

don't look up

Barbados Bullfinch

toad stacks

green heron

carib grackle



ghost crab

Barbados anole

Besides the amazing sea turtles, there were a lot of other animals in Barbados to admire. All kinds of birds, amphibians and more, just a few of which I've tried to capture here. Such an interesting variety of creatures quite different than my own west coast beasts. Although I had desperately hoped to spot a monkey or two, all these guys kept me well entertained. As always, please click on the images to see more info about each one in flickr.


The wind howled all night and the rain came down, down, down. Ty stared at me in disbelief this morning when I led him out just after 6 for a walk on dark, wet streets with the trees swaying around us. We only did the small loop though, just to clear him out and hopefully hold him till this afternoon. Poor boy, but tomorrow there'll be someone to play (or sleep!) with him all day.

Whether you're weathering a storm or seeing the evidence of bright spring days, here's a few links to check out today:
>>> I have a sad little shamrock hanging on in my kitchen window, but I'm thinking I should upgrade its living quarters.
>>> Is it sad I kind of wish one of my denim shirts would spring a hole so I could mend it as beautifully as this?
>>> These buttermilk berry muffins sound delicious, and I even have buttermilk on hand from making soda bread for St. Patty's. Definitely will be made this weekend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

oh the noise, noise, noise!*


i feel pretty


wanna be startin' something

*Excuse my random Grinch reference, especially at this time of year, but it was appropriate considering the racket these big beasts can create. Just like last year, the beginning of March coincides with the spring herring run in the Strait. Countless fish appear in our waters to spawn, and their eggs cling to every bit of seaweed that washes ashore. And with all that herring and eggs comes a variety of other creatures big and small flocking to the east side of Vancouver Island to gorge on the calorie boon. While there are numerous places along the shore to spot the sea lions that come in to feed (including hearing them from my house), one of the best spots to see them haul out is down in Fanny Bay. And just like last year, I headed down to visit the big party.

On this sunny weekend day, I wasn't the only one - a steady of people came and went down the dock to stand on the float at the end and wonder at the raucous colony arguing over space on the pontoon floating just off shore. A constant chorus of "aaarr! aaarr! aaarr!" fills the air, so without even looking I know that most of these burly beast are California sea lions; a glance confirms this by noting the large sagittal crest on the foreheads of the big males. There are a few lighter, larger Stellers in the group, but they seem in the minority, at least for today. While eyes are instantly drawn to the sea lions hauled out on the pontoons and the edge of an aging Seaspan barge, there are plenty of swimmers in the water. Poking their heads out from under the barge stern. Swimming along the float edge in search of a space of their own to haul out. And a raft of creatures a little farther out, bobbing together as they nap with a flipper thrust toward the sky to soak up some sun and regulate their body temp. Even if I don't stay for long, it is always worth it to come spend a little time with these giant furry beasts.

But my own furry beast is waiting, albeit much smaller and less noisy. Thank you for all your kind comments about our new family member. He is fitting in quite well, despite the stress of adjusting to a new home, owners, and immediate neighbourhood (no big beach walks or new doggie friends just yet), all while finishing off a course of antibiotics and painkillers in his first few days with us. And as mentioned on fb last night, it seems I can be crafty even with a snoring pup's head resting in my lap!

Hope you're having a good week!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

my boy...

Morning walk with Ty

I'm terribly behind with posting. I still have lots of photos from our trip I'd like to share. There's been a fair bit of exploring around here too. And - whoa - even a little crafting here and there. But in the last couple days somebody new has entered our lives and is snuggling his way to a fair bit of my attention.

Meet Ty.

AK and I have wanted a dog for a long time. For years we have lived in places where that wasn't possible, but last fall when we moved into this house that was part of the appeal - we could finally have a pup of our own. We weren't in a rush though, wanting to find the right fit for us. And last week things came together and that fit is Ty.

He's a rescue dog that had a bit of a rough start in life - if you look closely at the photo you can probably see he's still bearing some physical evidence of his trials. They will all heal in time.  He's now about 1.5 - two years old, and doesn't have as much training as one might hope for that age. But, he's a fast learner, and already a near-star at many tasks. He's generally pretty mellow, and did I mention he's all about the snuggles? We just got back from our morning walk and he's currently tucked up against me, fast asleep. I'm still learning how to balance life with him in it (not to mention a camera in one hand and leash in the other), but we'll figure it out. Tomorrow is the first big trial, with both us humans going to work all day, although I plan to come home at lunch. Once he gets settled though, and figures out this is his forever home, I think we're going to make a real good team. As long as we can agree that wildlife are for watching, not chasing... ;)