Friday, June 27, 2014

Water, water everywhere........

Not long now until the trip across the Atlantic. I have absolutely no fear of flying having done it from a young age. Father used to work for Canadian Pacific, so the odd trip to Vancouver wasn't unusual, and he was away a lot, usually in Europe, Prague, Switzerland, and other countries too numerous to mention, but we did get to go on some awesome holidays and always by air.

I also don't mind flying across that expanse of water, I like to look down, on the rare occasion I get a window seat, and see the sparkling blue ocean which might have white caps on it and the odd ship of some kind, unless I'm flying to the UK and it's pitch dark as its  night flight.

I, however, am banned from going any where near water unless it happens to be my morning shower and hair wash. This revelation came about quite some time back.

When we immigrated, we found the perfect property which came complete with swimming pool. Now, not having had this luxury before, it wasn't something we really thought we wanted, but the summers do get hot and it did look very inviting. Once we bought the place, we then realized we had no clue how to look after the pool, so the husband had a quick crash course from the previous owner, nothing to it, very easy, doesn't need much maintenance etc., Hmm, well, I beg to differ there. Then we found a company locally where we could buy the chemicals needed, and they would also come and close it in September and open it again in the spring which took a lot of the stress away.

Well, I suppose we had been here maybe a year or two, when I got to know the neighbours really well, and as Connie was working, I used to weed her garden and mine just to get them under control. This was in the days when I didn't have too much to do. And so, there I was, one hot summers evening weeding her garden and perspiring, ( well, sweating buckets actually), when I thought it was time to stop and have a lovely cooling dip in the pool.

The husband was inside, down in the basement watching tv with the air conditioning on, and said was I alright? I told him I was just going to have a lovely cooling dip in the pool, went up stairs and got my towel and went back down and out through the patio door shutting it firmly behind me to keep the house cool.

Dear reader, it should be said that we are quite secluded, the house is a raised ranch, so looks like a bungalow from the front but is actually two storeys from the back, with windows and patio door on the lower level leading out to the pool, which is fenced on one side by a high cedar hedge, a line of trees keeps it private from the road that only the pit trucks use, and not at night, and our neighbours on one side whose property sits quite near the main road, and the neighbours on the other side about 100 yards or more and almost on the same level as ours. So........ off I stripped. Now I had heard the sounds of others out in their gardens, but felt safe enough to skinny dip as no one could see me.

I have to tell you that I do not swim. I never have, the thought of water coming above my waist has me hyperventilating, so I have never been very fond of being in a pool and always stay in the shallow end where I can touch the bottom, hang on to the sides and try very hard not to get my hair wet.

I put my towel down on a chair, and walked to the pool steps. I held onto the bars and turned around and put my foot on the first rung, I brought the other one into the water.......... and thats when I slipped and my left leg ended up behind the steps, my right leg touching my right ear and my hands slipping on the wet bars, and me having a panic as I was well and truly stuck. I started calling out for help, first for the husband, as I didn't care if he saw me naked, but of course, the doors are firmly shut to maximize the air con and he was watching tv. Then I remembered that my neighbours were out on both sides and had to try and attract the husbands attention without alerting them to the fact that I was in a spot of bother. The layout of the basement furniture means that the husband had no view of me or the pool so had no clue that I was in trouble. Well, eventually I managed to extricate myself and not cause uproar in the village. The husband comes out a little later to see how I am and I told him of my escapade.

Needless to say, he told me I wasn't allowed to be in the pool unattended from that point on, but that was after he stopped laughing. Mind you, the bruise the size of a dinner plate a few days later, was enough to warn me off.

Well, the pool has now gone. It was quite old, about 30 years when we moved in and it needed a new liner, one of the jets wasn't working and would be costly to repair, and we just didn't use it, so we decided to fill it in. If I feel the urge to have a dip, there's a pool next door, but I haven't done it yet.

My next foray with water happened in Port Lambton.

The neighbours plus the three children, the husband and I went down to a friends cottage in Port Lambton, a pretty spot. The road has the St Clair River on one side, and the cottage he has actually backs onto a canal. It has a nice garden with trees and a hammock slung between, a deck, BBQ, and is nicely laid out inside. We arrived one hot summers afternoon, got ourselves organized and then had some friends visit for supper, fogged the garden to get rid of the mosquitos and had a very pleasant time. The children were bedded down in the living room and all were feeling mellow. Connie and I had been shopping for supplies and we were set for the next couple of days.

The next morning saw us up not necessarily early, but up, and we had a lovely breakfast before enjoying a relaxing day sitting out the back by the canal and watching the world go by. There were houses on the opposite bank and each cottage has a jetty, there was a boat winched up out of the water and we had the use of it if we wished. There was also a plastic ring seat chair thing, that one could sit in and just drift in, and, as there was no current or fast moving shipping, it was fairly safe. It was also attached to the jetty by a long piece of rope. The children were all there, along with a friend of Ivey's in their swimming gear and each one had a life jacket,they all swim like fishes, but its good to keep them safe, there were only four lifejackets and I had no intention of going anywhere near the water. So, the idyllic scene was set, the husband and Connie and a friend, Sammy, were all sitting in lawn chairs, Murray was working on getting the boat into the water, the children are all there and excited, and Unger had been out in the little chair thing and had come back, Ollie was not too sure about it and changed his mind, and I was just putzing around trying to keep out of trouble.

Ollie kept asking if I was going to go in the little chair thing, not without a lifejacket says I, well, you can have mine as I don't want to go out in the boat either, so here you go. Thanks Ols! I feel much safer now. I am safely strapped into the lifejacket and I have changed into my swim suit. The kids are saying to me come on down here, Cynthia! This is fun!! Ok, ok. I climb down onto the jetty, which because it's floating on water, isn't very still, Dad is still fiddling around with the boat, and Unger and Ivey, have the plastic chair thing and are holding it and telling me how to step into it so I can have a quiet float on the canal, (which I hasten to add, isn't terribly deep). So, I am taking all this in, and I carefully lower one foot onto the plastic chair thing......................................................................
when it skids away on the water and I fall straight in.

I have to tell you that I did the only thing to save myself that I could think of, which was to grab hold of Ivey's leg and throw her over my shoulder. I am clinging on with my fingertips for dear life to the jetty piteously crying help me, help me!! Murray looks over at me, sighs and says, "if you edge over to the end, you'll find some steps". What? Oh yes, I see. Meanwhile those sitting under the shade of the trees look on and the conversation went something like this:-

"What was that?"
"Cynth fell in"
"Oh, where's Ivey?"
"Think she tried to drown her by throwing her in"

And that dear reader, was that. I managed to extricate myself from the water and haven't been allowed near it since.....

(I would also mention that no children were harmed during the telling or making of this story....)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I must be breathing.....

Well, I sort of collapsed in a heap after the Festival. We had a wonderful time and the quilts looked wonderful and classy as always, our quilters were terrific fun, and I got about 4 hours sleep every night, but it was worth it in the end.

All went relatively smoothly with just a small hiccup here and there, but if we didn't have them we wouldn't be learning or doing better next time. it's always a learning curve and will continue to be, the festival will keep evolving and has to in order to grow.

Once the Festival finished, I had one of our lovely teachers stay for the week and we had a very relaxed time, not doing too much, going up to Lake Huron - upon which, there was still ice at May 24 weekend apparently, - and down to Sarnia, (why? you may ask, well if you have never been to one of the great lakes and know that they are all connected, it's kind of fun to go to Point Edward and stand under the Bluewater Bridge with a clear view of the US in the background).

Since my lovely teacher went back to the UK, I have sort of collapsed in even more of a heap, but thought I would use the time to finish entries for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham and was so excited to think all I had to do was sew the pocket on the back and put a label on it, won't take long I thought and then it will be ready to send. It was quite a satisfying feeling. I also re-did my CQ challenge quilt in 3 days, I had made one but it turned into a disaster, so thought I can do this again. The second one turned out much better than the first to be honest, and I set about making the binding and stitching it on........ except I didn't like it at all and it didn't lie flat.

I am turning away more and more from conventional bindings on my work,  I find it restricting and it hems my work in, my style tends to be freer. So, I took the binding off and used a hand dyed cheesecloth and hand stitched it, it looked so much better and framed the work without restricting it, a more organic feel. Ah!! That's better, so I eventually find the entry form and find that the edge should be exhibition standard, whatever that is. So took a deep breath and decided that they probably wouldn't like what I had done so would probably dismiss it. If anybody can tell me what an exhibition standard edge is, I would like to know, I am assuming it means a conventional binding which just didn't suit my piece.

So, never mind, I'll just finish of the other one and send that instead, so I walked down into the basement, and saw my piece lying where I had left it on the pool table, (which is where I keep all my quilts), and right on the front is a small black lump......

The offending mark

I was not having a good day anyway, so this just about put the lid on it. I picked the quilt up and took it into the light where I could see it better, and saw that whatever it was had dried onto the fabric, - ice dyed silk/cotton mix, - and left a hard dry black mark.

After a good sob, I put it back and thought that's it, not sending that one either.

So, that's where I am right now. I have tried very gently cleaning it, but it makes no difference and now I have a watermark as well as the black mark. so, I thought it best to just put the two pieces away and start on something else.

We always have lots of help with the Festival, and always a really good spread for the Gala evening which is provided by Fine Restaurant in Grand Bend. Jan always likes to do something by way of a thank you, so this year I offered to do a wall hanging, I have had a lovely time working on it, found it very relaxing and there is no pressure to get it finished within a certain time, which also makes a difference. So here are a few shots of where I am so far...

The husband looked at it and was quite complimentary, said he liked the bit on the bottom right hand corner so have decided to let that hang although it is now stitched down, the cheesecloth bushes will be hand stitched on.

I had fun looking for the different materials to go into this piece. The background fabric is a piece of my own hand dye, (which reminds me, I really must do some more this weekend),  and I painted the tree trunks on white dupioni silk. I have also used dyed Mulberry bark, and silk roving.

That got me quite excited as it won't be long before I head to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, I think most of our, (Cathy is going to chance coming with me again on the understanding that she doesn't lose me in any holes...), time is pretty much taken up with meetings, still lots to do for next years Festival, and hopefully I will get the chance to do a little shopping at the Festival, certainly with a couple of my favourite suppliers of silk rovings, threads and other materials, so, just bear in mind that I will be on a mission and apologise now for knocking you out of the way.

Our hotel is booked, although Cathy wondered if we should have booked an apartment just to get a feel for the local area, I told her that as the NEC is pretty near the airport there were no apartments so no danger of me falling in a hole. I am sure we will have a story or two to tell when we get home, there is always an adventure to be had.

My friends daughter has asked if I can shop for dresses this year. Last year I was able to do my Christmas shopping, this year it's in and out, no time for shopping. Anyway, I bought you skirts last year, whats wrong with that? I don't like them, they're uncomfortable so lets try dresses. Really? The skirts came from Monsoon! Just give them a whirl, you might feel differently if you wear them more often. (Sorry, has to be said that trousers, jeans, shorts etc are the order of the day here, I tend to be an oddity in a skirt). So we'll see, not that I'm expecting to go shopping elsewhere, but if there is an M&S close by.....

But I'm digressing here, back to work! I have been tidying things up too, putting binders away, and other Festival related stuff, hope I can find it all again next year.

Anyway, I have some time to myself although there are things to be done before Birmingham, not least some fabric dying, but at least I have a little time to breathe.......