Monday, June 24, 2013

Wood blocks

Two weeks ago I spend 2 days in London with friends. The first one was to see the African quilts and visit the merchant's mall. And a very succesful day we had.
 Then the second day some of us were signed up for a workshop with Paula Benjaminson.
We would be printing with wood blocks made in Namibia.
At one point in Teacher's College I had made cut-outs in linoleum, but that was a very long time ago. This time the blocks were ready to go.
It was a lot of fun. We tried different techniques  with different paints.
 I think that most of us would have been interested in purchasing some blocks, but sadly enough the ones available had all been sold.
Now the next step. What to do with them.
Most of the prints are on my dyed fabric, the light colored one is on burlap, what will fray nicely.
Some of these might work for our African Quilt project.
I talked about the project again at our guild meeting last Wednesday and a lot of members took the information paper home.
 Later there came an e mail through the guild, that there was a multi cultural festival in Kitchener. I know of at least one member, who went and found some very different things.
It seems that one thing leads to another.
Somethimes I seem to forget, what I really have.
That's the reason I put everything related to this project on the table. There is a nice variety already, from vintage kuba cloth , ewe kenta cloth , wax prints to novelty prints.
I have some metal buttons, but have to get more beads, buttons etc.
But even that seems to have been taken care of. I know that Magie at the African Fabric Shop in England has lots for sale. Would't you know, that one of our guild members will visit a quilt show in England, where they will be vendors?
 Dorothy told me, she will leave with one half full suitcase and is willing to pick up whatever I want/need. It this fun or what!!!!
 We finally finished planting, the latest ever. But the weather has been very warm. So with enough moisture things pop out of the ground in no time.
The flower beds have been beautiful.
This is a picture of blooming hens and chicken with a visiting bee.
The roses are just now starting.
And the lawn just keeps on growing!
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The end of an era

At one time there were thousands of these "bank barns" in Ontario.
This one was build in early 1900 and has seen a lot of changes.
When we bought the farm from Laurence's parents in 1974 the barn looked a lot the same.
We had a small milking parlor and we put free stalls in the barn.
The young cattle were at the neighhour's barn, but once that one was torn down, we put an extention on the back for the young cattle.
A second, sealed silo was added in the 80th.

 The hay and straw was stored upstairs and for a long time I would raise our small calves therer till calf hutches became popular.
It was not fancy, but we made it work.
By the mid nineties we realized that things were going a little tougher. Laurence needed back surgery and I had problems with hands and shoulders.
Both our kids had other plans, so the quota was sold and the cows left.
We had beef cattle for a few years, but decided to quit with that also.
So the barn downstairs stood empty for many years.
Upstairs we still stored the straw we needed for the  chicken barns.
But even that changed. From small suqare bales, that had to be handles many times we changed to big round bales, stored in the shed.
With people coming in to chop and spread the straw,, what used to take a few days, is now done in a few hours.
There the barn stood, empty. And an empty barn deteriorates.
I had been nudging Laurence a few times, but no decision had been made.
Till last week.
 Neighbour Stanley's barn came down and when Laurence went over to see who was doing it, he found out, that ours might also be of interest to the crew.
Saturday the boss had a good look and by Monday morning the crew was ready to go.
First they took all the left over straw bales out and after that the teardown started.
Yesterday afternoon the left over shell came down.
I gave Laurence the camera, but he missed it!
Next step will be the sorting out and cleaning up.

 These banrs were really amazing.
One of the pictures shows a part of a beam. Notice the ax marks.
No saws were used.
And notice the peg
The beams were all put together with these pegs. No nails were used.
Some of these pine beams are over 50 feet and in very good condition after at least 100 years

 In a way I'm glad the barn is down.
We did not use it anymore and we could not see that changing.
On the other side we spend a lot of time in the barn, both good and bad.
There are a lot of memories.

A look out of the back through what used to be the straw shed.
Things have changed in our farming times.
From using a threshing machine for the first grain harvest to a small combine, to a bigger one, still to a bigger one and so on.

The weather has not been cooperating. We still have to plant soybeans  and it looks like more rain is on the way.
I have to say, that our lawn has never looked greener and the perenials are doing great.
My favorite peony, Sarah Berhard. I love the fragrance of this old peony

Tomorrow four of us quilters are going to to see the African Quilts in London.
I'm really looking forward the that.
And then on Friday it will be a workshop with Paula Benjaminson. We will be printing with wood blocks.
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Badlands

A few years ago I saw a picture of what was called the Cheltenham Badlands, close to Orangeville.
One Sunday afternoon we went looking for them, but never did find it .
Then ,when the badlands were mentioned during our latest horticultural meeting, I really wanted to find this place.

This last Sunday was the day. This time I looked the location up on the computer and after a 1 hour drive we found this remarkable place. Parking is right on the road and you can walk right in. These are shale deposits, that have over the years eroded.
Walking on the top ridges was easy, but I can see that as soon as it rains , it could get very slippery, very quick.
After one hour, we made it back to the truck, just before it started to rain.
And that's the way it stayed for the rest of the afternoon on our drive home.

Last week I tried a few new projects, but they all were a dismall failure. Laurence thinks I'm nuts to start thinking of making Christmas cards during the summer. But it seems , that is the best time to start the thinking process.
But not so far. It all ended up in the garbage.
Next week will see the African Quilts at the London International Quilt Festival. I'm planning to go one day to see the quilts and visit the merchant mall. Then on Friday I will be taking a woodblock printing workshop with Paula Benjaminson.
I'm really looking forward to that. I have not taken a workshop in ages.
After the workshop I will continue with the African themed quilts.
So what to do in the mean time?

I took out my botanical blocks. I started this project last year, but gave up when my shoulder started to bug me again.
As you can see I have lots of fabrics for the daffodils and I'm enjoying the process again.
The flowers in this block should be done by the time the workshop is over.
Then I will have to make a decision of what to do next.

Last year we had a den of foxes across the (very busy) road. We saw the foxes most days, crossing the lawn and at times watching us work in the garden.
This year I had not seen them, till a friend mentioned, that he saw foxes across a small field beside the house.
On the other side of this field is a creek with lots of trees ans shrubs.
Now we see them almost daily.
Then last evening, while sitting in the office, I noticed 3 of them watching me outside, maybe 10 feet on the other side of the window.
I ran to get my camera, but could not get a good picture, since there was an an evergreen in the way. They were not afraid and took their time watching me. One even nosed in the garage.
Once I opened the front door they took of. Then during the night Laurence woke up. He was sure they were playing under the window.
We hope they will keep their distance. We don't want them to get too friendly. We will make sure that there is no garbage sitting around.
I do love to see them playing though.
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