Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CHECKING IN :)

We got away from Victoria on Saturday, early afternoon, as planned, and cruised under a warm and cloudless sky -- arriving at Sidney Spit at about 4 pm. Spent an uneventful night there (and never got off the boat!) and then cruised around to Brentwood Bay on Sunday afternoon. Spent the night on the dock at the haul-out place, and came up on to 'the hard' Monday morning. We'll be back in the water around 6 pm this evening, and I'll have pictures and stories to tell next time I blog! We are SO looking forward to getting away on this holiday!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

WE'RE AWEIGH!

I can't believe how little I've blogged in August -- this crazy month just kind of 'got away' on me, I guess. But this morning we are untying the lines and heading off to Brentwood Bay for our haul-out, and then cruising the Gulf Islands for the entire month of September. I'll have email and internet access, and TIME to update the blog pretty regularly -- if you want to follow our adventures, you can take a look back at last year's for starters, because this year will be similar. :-)

Here's a photo I took of the full (harvest) moon coming up over the Chatham/Discovery Islands the other day:

We'll be 'out there' somewhere for the next 4 weeks -- and we'd prefer if you don't find us. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

DISCOMBOBULATED

Yes, that's really a word, and it perfectly describes the state of affairs chez M & M these days.

Much has happened since I last posted (are you surprised?), both good and bad, so I'll try to give you a brief update - ha! Anyone who knows me knows how impossible 'brief' is for me.

First of all, Michael and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary a few weeks ago -- we decided to drive out to Jordan River for the day, and it was lovely...


No place there to have dinner (we couldn't afford it anyway!) but we had a hot dog and ice cream at this fancy joint...


We've had at least one dinghy picnic in the past week or so, and met up with these fellows...

Check out the dude who's telling us to get lost:

Yacht-spotting that day included the 145' MV Aghassi, a Canadian vessel available for charter at a mere $150,000 a week (but, hey, she carries eight crew and ten guests, don'tcha know) ...

Then I celebrated 31 years of continuous sobriety last Wednesday, and that was pretty cool. We are SO busy right now that there was barely time to celebrate, but we combined a nice lunch with a little trip we needed to make, so it worked out.

The trip we needed to make was just out to Brentwood Bay, where this coming Monday the Wind Walker will get 'hauled out' for its every-other-year bottom cleaning (which partly explains why we're so busy - getting ready for a haul-out is HUGE).

We arrived at the facility just in time to watch a 50' sailboat come out of the water...


This system is called a marine 'ways' and basically it's the least 'intrusive' to the boat, which is important to us when the boat in question is a 45-year-old classic wooden boat. The idea is that you come in on a high tide, and the 'carriage' is lowered into the water under your boat -- as the tide goes out, the smart folks who work there work with you to 'position' your boat on blocks on the platform - then they use a very powerful winch to pull the platform up out of the water into that shed, so you can work on it under cover. In the industry what we're doing is called a 'shave and a haircut', which means a pressure wash of the whole bottom, scraping mussels and other assorted growth off the props and struts, and then a paint job before it goes back into the water.

All of which is very stressful, and we have less than 24 hours from beginning to end so everything has to be completely prepared and ready to go the minute the boat is high and dry. For us it's compounded by the fact that our annual Gulf-Islands-cruise-holiday begins the moment the boat is back in the water, so we are actually having to prepare for a full month away -- not that we'll be able to afford much of a holiday by the time we pay for that shave and haircut! :-)

Meanwhile, we had our final knitting cruise of the season last Sunday, and eight wonderful knitters joined us for the trip ... we went out to Albert Head for lunch, and then cruised into the Esquimalt Harbour on our way home to see that Tamil refugee ship that's been in the news...

The Fisgard lighthouse was a much prettier sight...

It was a lovely day ... until... Rosemary, one of the knitters, slipped and hurt her knee quite badly as we were coming back in to the dock. Warning: everything I'm about to tell you now is very sad.

Rosemary is 48 years old, and I'd never met her before -- she came along with another friend who is a regular at our Friday Knit'n'Cafe. She had a blast on the cruise, really enjoying sitting outside and being in the company of other knitters.


Because we live on a boat, and Rosemary couldn't move without a lot of pain, we had to call an ambulance as soon as we were back on the dock. Rosemary lives with and looks after her elderly mom, so I went to the hospital to hang out with her in Emergency, knowing that it's usually a looooong wait. It was nice -- I was getting to know someone that seemed like a really neat woman!

After several hours she was sent for an xray and the result was inconclusive -- for sure she had dislocated her knee and torn ligaments, etc., but the swelling was too bad for them to tell for certain if anything was broken. Meanwhile her Mom had turned up in a taxi, and then they decided to release Rosemary, with a pair of crutches, right after they pumped her full of morphine for the pain.

Her mom and I both protested, to no avail ... Rosemary apparently didn't fit the 'criteria' to spend the night in the hospital.

I got them home about 9:30 Sunday evening, after much ado trying to help Rosemary negotiate getting in and out of my van with those crutches, and helping her get settled in her bed. The poor woman was exhausted!

On Tuesday morning at about 6:30 a.m., she was trying to get out of bed ... and had a stroke. This vivacious, fun and funny woman passed away Tuesday evening at about midnight.

Yesterday most of the women who were on that cruise (her last awesome day alive) and most of Rosemary's family came back aboard the Wind Walker for a bit of a memorial -- we met her wonderful 23-year-old son (whom she'd raised as a single parent) and her sister, and spent the afternoon sharing stories about her life. It's unbelievable ...

Now you know why I'm discombobulated -- it's been a crazy, busy and very sad week here. Thank goodness for friends, a large to-do list, grandchildren...

... and knitting. The heather shawl got finished, blocked...

... and worn...

It's Monday morning, we leave the dock here in six days, and I have to 'hit the decks running' ... more tomorrow, hopefully!

Monday, August 16, 2010

AAaaaaahhhhh ... summer

I can't believe it's been six days since I posted! And I think I promised a glimpse into Vancouver Island's only fibre mill, which I had the privilege of touring two weeks ago. Owned by Anna, the entire operation is housed in a Quonset hut on her property north of Qualicum Beach -- she showed me this photo of the first 'rung' when the hut was being built...

That was almost four years ago, when she bought the mill and trucked the equipment up-Island from Crofton.

Anna said the first thing that happens when people bring fibre to her is that it gets 'registered,' so to speak, so that she can identify each individual order all the way through the process.

A 'project card' is completed for each order, and then it is weighed...

... and bagged....

... and then washed -- there are eight sinks along small section of wall, but I arrived too late in the day to see the washing.

Then the fleece is laid out to dry, sometimes with the help of a giant heater or two...



There's only Anna, and only one way through the process, so from this point on, the work takes a lot of time - that's why, when you take a fleece to a mill, it may take weeks to get it back. It gets processed in order....

The next step is carding, and Anna's machine is an amazing creature, built in the 1870s in Philadelphia. Standing about eight feet high and with about a badillion moving parts, it's amazing to watch -- you'll hear my one-word comment at the end of this little movie that about describes it all!
video
How cool is THAT?

But we're not done yet ... if you want even nicer fibre for spinning, that roving still needs to take a little trip through the pin drafter -- a machine that's only 50 or so years old! In Anna's words, the pin drafter 'combs and attenuates the roving', making it more compact to store and easier to spin because it will 'feed out' better.




Finally, if you want Anna to spin your yarn, this machine can spin 14 cones at once!


Until I get Anna's website up and running, you can reach her at annarunn at telus dot net (you know the drill)!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

VEMF and

While we were enjoying Symphony Splash, our son was the General Manager for another local event called the Victoria Electronic Music Festival, held in Centennial Square on the same day.



Depending on who you listened to, the event got good press and then bad -- I wandered through long enough to give Jason a hug and look around, and it felt pretty good to me, but the local paper reported several arrests and troubles. About 10,000 folks attended, and what I loved about it was the diversity of the crowd -- from kids to ancient hippie-types (you know, like me) everyone was dancing and laughing and having lots of fun.

I also finished socks #51 on that weekend, and Hailey immediately claimed them ...

I still need to tell you all about my tour of the Qualicum Bay fibre mill, but first let me describe the day I was there. There are a lot of forest fires burning on the mainland right now, and the smoke is drifting across the Strait. Here's what the area looked like, in full daylight...



It was pretty eerie!

Ok, tomorrow's post will be about the fibre mill tour, and then I can tell you about our road trip yesterday (which was, in short, uneventful and lovely)!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'M BAAAACCK

No way .... this is the first time I've posted in August?? Well, it's been a busy month already, that's for sure. It started off with the annual BC Day Victoria Symphony Splash, always a highlight of our year, last Sunday. Here's the decorated and sound-ready barge, first being moved from the Upper Harbour (where we are) to the Empress docks where the concert took place:


Michael and I and Gibson in our inflatable towed Hailey and River in a borrowed aluminum boat (lots of room for stretching out, and for food, toys and blankets, which would be needed later):

The theme this year was a salute to our Navy's 100th anniversary, and they were there to help celebrate:

Here's a sense of the crowd, which they always estimate at about 40,000 people around the harbour:



We love doing this 'by boat,' where we get front row seats:



Here are a few shots of our neighbors -- always part of the fun!


The boys have a good time!



The concert was amazing, as always ... during the grand finale it's always almost dark...

... and the final number has cannons, a pipe and drum band, and fireworks!




And then, in the darkness, alone on the stage, the pipe and drum band plays 'Amazing Grace' as the crowds slowly make their way home, and Symphony Splash is over for another year...
video
I have much more to tell you about .... Victoria's Electronic Music Festival, my trip up-Island (during which I got a tour of the Island's only Fibre Mill and interviewed its owner, Anna Runnings), the BC fires, and last night's dinghy dinner -- but it's just taken me 45 minutes to complete this post, and today is our 31st wedding anniversary, and we're going on a road trip! More later... :-)
***(EDITED TO ADD: And I just found out that we share our anniversary today with what would have been Elizabeth Zimmerman's 100th birthday -- another reason to celebrate)!