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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I wrote this last year  and thought I would re post it since I still find the words to hold true.
Remember, on this day, those who made the sacrifices for our freedom.

I have never known war in my life.
I have only been witness to it through the news and stories told in books and movies.
Some of my relatives fought in wars, but I never knew them and only saw pictures of them as young soldiers in uniforms.
I am in great turmoil to hear that the most popular game gift this season is a bloody, violent interactive video complete with assaults on innocent civilians.
I am disturbed to know that people play the game of paintball as a recreational activity.
When I think of November 11th I am filled with thoughts like these:
I am not the young lad who watched his comrade fall and join the ranks of lifeless bodies on the muddy field.
I am not the naked, young girl running down the road, burned by a bomb.
I am not the face in the black and white photo in the museum for the Killing Fields.
Nor am I the veiled housewife who is killed by a roadside bomb after buying oranges in the market mid day.
I was not shot trying to jump over a wall that divided a nation.
My race did not land me in a box car headed to Auschwitz.
Alcohol and heroin, I don't need, to exercise my demons in the middle of the night.
I do not walk with a cane or artificial limbs and neither is a wheelchair my only transport.
My religion did not create a Peace Line in my neighborhood.
I was not the one who marched in the rain and slept in the filth for weeks on end.
Or looked into the eyes of my neighbor as I fired the rifle on the battlefields of North Carolina.
I was never treated like an animal because of the tone of my skin.
I am not the old man, standing with the last of his comrades, remembering friends lost.
I am a Canadian. I am 47 and have only known peace and freedom.
I have choices.
I honor those who died or suffered trying to make changes in their world and mine.
I have never known war and hope I never will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out of the woods...

Wwwhhhooooo's there?
Baby Harvey...
Just hatched in the studio a few days ago...
sitting patiently...
In my etsy shop.

A good way to start the day...

While looking after my folks place, I spent every morning at Island View beach with the dogs.
You see, it's on the east side of the Island and sunrises are it's specialty.
Now, as a photographer, this is something hard to pass up.
I could have posted 50 photos but will try to reign myself in a bit...
The peak in the left of the photo is Mount Baker, an active volcano in Washington State.
The high cliffs on the beach are spectacular layers of time...
Some people have found mammoth teeth in these sandy banks...
At some times, with the sunrise colours, I'm reminded of the shades of Arizona...
Sadly, time and water are eroding these cliffs and now a project has been going on to create a structure to try and hold back some of the banks and make it somewhat safe.
Large trees, roots and all can come crashing down without warning.
The seaweed has been tumbling up onto shore in lovely shades of umber's, reds and browns...
twisted by the waves...
And then the sun is up and lighting up the trees, slowly going to sleep for the winter, crows wake up...
 Looking across from the beach is James Island...
 This was once home to about 50 families who were employees of the CIL dynamite factory.
My great grandfather, the one who survived The Great War, worked here.
Although they didn't live on the island.
I've kayaked over there several times, finding old bottles and pieces of crockery.
All traces of it's past are gone now and it's privately owned with NO TRESPASSER signs all over.
Lucky for us in Canada, no one is allowed to own any land below the high tide line so
beaches are public property. YEY!
On my way back to the van, as I turned around from the sea, I saw these posts which summed it all up...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The good news...

The tragedies were great in World War1, but there were some happy times too.
My great grandfather Jack Cairns came home.
He wasn't engaged to my great grandmother May, yet, when he went to war.
But he knew he had a girl back home and sent many letters which my mom has transcribed in a book.
He also sent a few sweet souvenirs.

 These were called 'WW1 Silks' and were embroidered by Belgium and French women to sell to the soldiers who sent them back home.
The message was short and sometimes cryptic...
They were sent at no charge to the families who desperately awaited news from their boys overseas.
He also sent this beautiful, large lace-silk hanging.
I haven't searched my great grandfathers military history yet, but I do know that he was in the war for at least 2 years and survived.
This tender moment captured on film was taken when he first got home...
They were engaged not long after that and were married the same year.
They were married for 57 years and had 4 children, one of whom was my grandma Marge.
He died the year I was born.
To think how fragile the outcome of ones life can be is very humbling.
He fought alongside many who weren't so lucky.
Who never came home to their sweethearts.
So young, that they never knew the love of a woman.
These young men who lived and died through some of the darkest horrors known to man.
My great grandparents were blessed.
And in turn I was blessed.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Usually, on Remembrance Day, I bow my head to all those who died fighting for our freedom.
The crowd of soldiers, young and old are only a sea of faces to me.
I don't know any of them.
But this coming Remembrance Day, I now honor a familiar name.
He was Joseph Ambroise Quilty.
Born in 1889 to my great great grandparents Nichcolas and MaryAnn Quilty.
He was my great great Uncle.
He lived 28 years.
He's been dead now for 93 years.
He was a Private in The Canadian Infantry, 5th Battalion.
He was one of  72 men  in his unit killed on Vimy Ridge.
He was one of 3,600 Canadians killed in the 4 days of taking control of the ridge from the Germans.
It was a freezing cold Easter morning.
  I just learned of these facts in the spring and knew he was buried in France.
I went on the search to find out which of the many cemeteries for the Canadian soldiers he was buried in.
I found out through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
It's here amongst these stones that he lies.
In the Nine Elms Military Cemetery, Thelus, France
This, along with other cemeteries in the area, are deeply cared for, revered and visited by thousands every year.
Someday I hope to visit Uncle Joseph's grave and give thanks in person.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


On a little hilltop, above a pretty little valley, is one of the most peaceful places I know.
I've been visiting this church yard for many years...
Through these gates...
Surrounded by sweet picket fences...
Sits the pioneer Anglican church of St Stephens.
Since June the 3rd 1862, services have been continuously held here and has earned it the title of B.C's oldest operating church on it's original site, in it's original building.
I've never been to a service here but I've come here many times to take in the beauty of the valley and the feel of serenity it has to offer.
Here on this bench, I've sat...
 and absorbed this view, completely...
I think of the pioneers who built this church and of the hard life they must have endured farming, clearing land, hunting, just living.
Some came from far away...
Some were historically linked to my great Aunt Thora...
Imagine this, your claim to fame...
Some markers were simple but said it all...
While out in the church yard, we met the custodian who happily showed us where his future resting place will be...under this big tree...
Looking out across the fields...
Not a bad place to spend eternity.
The church doors are open and anyone is welcome to have a look inside...
 I imagine the pioneers coming here on a Sunday, dressed in black wool, fine silk top hats and crinoline.
Some would walk to church, it being the sabbath, and not being allowed to do any work, including tacking up horses to the wagons. 
Many people spent the day in worship.
Children were not supposed to play.
Meals were cooked the previous day.
I think of them on sunny summer mornings and snowy winter days and on days like today...
The air crisp and clear...winter coming on.
I love the sense of history in these places.
It grounds me to people and stories which brought my family here.
Weddings, christenings and funerals are still held here and so the stories continue on.