Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bucket List Checkmark

Six Days in Paradise

This post will be heavy on  photos because we just spent six days on Maui at our our son and daughter-in-law's vacation home. Talk about glorious.

The first few photos were taken in The young folks' garden. A Tea Tree and wood panel screen the outdoor shower. Also flourishing, ginger flowers, lemons and mangos (sadly, not yet ripe!).

My Perfect Morning Walks

At home, I walk paved streets lined with homes. Okay, I guess, but it's nothing like this Kehei beach.

Just three short blocks from their home, this pretty beach was where I took my morning walk. Some days, I had this all to myself. Now and then, I shared it with a jogger or two. All walks accompanied by the sound of waves lapping, palms rustling, and doves and myna birds cooing and calling.

In Hawaii, it is best to rise early if you want to walk (let alone jog). It is, indeed, always gets warm and, at this time of year, it gets downright hot. We encountered several days when the afternoon temperatures were in the high 80s or low 90s. That's when it is time to get into that water.

It's All About the Beaches - and It's Hard to Pick a Favorite

Here are a couple that offered shade to lounge in between dips in the gloriously warm water.

We Saw Lots of Wildlife 

To see a full array, do a Google search on Hawaii Wildlife. We saw sea turtles (very hard to photograph from shore), lots of fishes at the Maui Ocean Center.

One morning,  this peahen (who would not hold still for a cell phone photo) followed me home. They range free on Maui - as do hundreds of once-domestic chickens. The roosters are handsome but never shut up.

We saw sea turtles at a beach (very hard to photograph from shore), and lots of fishes at the Maui Ocean Center. This shot was taken in the underwater tunnel. Quite fascinating.

We Also Explored the Uplands

One afternoon, we drove up Haleakala (to about 3,500 feet of the volcano's 10,000). We stopped for lunch at one of the old ranches and saw this magnificent tree. I was told it is an Australian pine. I'm hoping my Aussie pal will tell me if that's right!

And Had a Dinner With a View to Die For

Home now and ready to get back to the bench. Maybe a silver Sting Ray?


Friday, 18 September 2015

Picking Up Where I Left Off

That Iolite Brooch

You may remember, back on June 20, I came up with a design to set a customer's iolite stone into a pin. Many things got in the way — mostly the trouble I was having getting the setting for the emerald-cut stone. Should it be a claw setting or would a bezel be better? I actually roughed up one of each and spent a lot of time staring at them and the stone.

Recently, I decided it was time to get back to work on that pin. I finished shaping the back plate, filing the edges and stamping my mark on the back. In the end, I opted for the bezel setting.

Bezel Strip — or Strips

Actually, I assembled a pair of strips, one slightly wider than the other. That creates a lip for the stone to sit on. The ruler was my best friend at this point!  I knew this would be finicky because the tolerances are pretty fine. A touch too small, the stone will not go in. A hair too big, and it will fall right through! In this photo, you can make out the strips, soldered together to become a stepped piece of fine silver, slightly taller than the stone.

Will It Fit?

Here you can see the setting shaped around the stone. That excess bit had to be trimmed and the ends soldered together. That done, the process of shaping the bezel to fit over the stone began. I cut and filed away the angled corners that characterize an emerald cut. My plan was to have silver to fold over the sides and ends for security, but leave those angles free to catch the light and make the most of the wonderful color.

Not Too Short & Not Too Tall

I used a strip of sterling a bit wider than needed for the height of the stone for a very creative reason; it was the only suitable strip I had! As a result, I had to file the bottom of the setting so that it wouldn't be too tall. I wanted the stone to be on a plinth, not a skyscraper ;-)

The filing and sanding process also created a completely flat surface to solder to the back plate (which had to be filed a bit, too because the reticulation was not even enough for a proper solder join).

By the way, this sounds like way more trouble than it really is.

Together at Last

Once the pieces were assembled, I polished the silver then wrapped it with painter's tape to protect it from the stone setting tools. (You use your thumb and or a finger to protect the stone. Sometimes painful, but effective.

By now, it looks a lot like a brooch.

Or maybe not. That tape is just not beautiful!

And, Finally

A brooch to show off a truly glorious iolite. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Annie's Kettle

What Is a Thing Worth?

The other day, I was sorting through a bunch of photos (my photo files need to go on a diet) and I came across this one.

I have always known this as Annie's Kettle and it has history. It was most likely a wedding gift to my GG grandparents when they married in Glasgow in 1859 so it is about 156 years old. Looks every bit of its age, too. The amber glass handle is badly broken, the matching knob is long gone, its wire stand is bent, the lid has been welded shut with a century's worth of polish (much applied by me) and you can see a ding on the body in this photo.

Colin and Annie certainly were not wealthy. I think they were, in fact, poor. He was a stone mason and she, variously, a cotton bleacher, cotton yarn weaver and, eventually, washer woman. He was 27 when he married 18-year-old Annie. They had two sons and two daughters (one of which died at three years of age) before Colin, born and raised in the fresh air of the island of Islay, took pneumonia in the slums of Glasgow and died. Annie lived on, re-married and died at the age of 67.

I imagine the kettle was a prized possession on her hearth until she died and then it passed to her only surviving daughter, Flora. In 1887, in Glasgow, Flora was married to a tall, handsome upholsterer from Caithness. They produced six children, one of whom died at age six. Boy, life was so tough in those days.

In 1912, the family moved to Canada and settled in Winnipeg. The kettle came with them and took up residence there. The kettle passed on to my grandmother when Flora died in 1934. By that time, my grandparents had moved to Vancouver, so Annie's Kettle moved west.

I remember it on Nana's hearth when I was a child and, when she gave it to my mother because my grandfather had taken a job in Toronto, polishing it became my job. I used to be frustrated my the fact that the lid could not be removed. I think I hoped to find a note from Annie inside!. The kettle stayed with my mother through two husbands and five homes. Then mom died and, because her second husband had been an American, she died in the USA and we had to have the estate appraised. The appraiser was very thorough. I don't think she missed anything in that condo. She even put a $200 valuation on one of my oil paintings. Yeah, right! The expert's opinion was that Annie's Kettle was worth $35. Well, to her, maybe. There is no amount I would sell it for. Ever. Period.

Like I said, it has history.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Labor – or Labour – Day Musings

September Song

I suppose it is the end of summer that makes me think of the past. I was musing the other day about the years when we spent these warm, late summer afternoons on our floating home's roof deck. Before we built that home, we lived in a Victorian farmhouse on two acres, complete with charming barn and big, ugly but useful shed. It was a wonderful place to raise our children but 11 rooms, three bathrooms and an acre of lawn became way too much when they grew up and left.  It was time to downsize and fulfill a different dream.

Bringing Our Home Home 

Our wonderful builder lived and worked on the river in Ladner, BC but our site for the home was a six-member community several miles up river so, once the structure was complete, a tug to towed us to our berth. Figuring this would be its only voyage, we "cruised" on our soon-to-be-home and enjoyed our first real experience with being on the river. That's me on walking on our "prow" deck. The living room opened onto it and the balcony you see above was outside our bedroom.  The peak on the roof was the staircase to the roof deck.

Welcome to Berth 5 (of 6)

Here is the view you would have had if you were coming to visit us. By the time this was taken, we had acquired a small skiff to explore the river. This was taken at high tide, with the ramp nearly flat, In the winter, on a low tide, the top of the ramp was about level with the second floor windows! Walk with care was the warning, especially if it snowed.

Those windows on the top floor are the hallway and hubby's desk (left) and my office (right). First floor: powder room, boat deck and the kitchen nook (see below). The swans used to come to the boat deck to get fed (puffed wheat).

Always Something to See Whatever the Weather

We were there for more than 20 years, but I never tired of having my morning coffee at this table, surrounded by nature. 

So Many Moods

Although the river bank behind us could be a muddy mess at low tide, I loved the water iris that bloomed there each spring.

Winter sometimes brought a real spectacle (below).

The willow trees were beautiful at any time of year. This giant behind our home gave some very welcome shade on hot summer days.

The Crowning Glory

This was our summer retreat. We had a BBQ at the top of the stairs and could entertain friends — or just ourselves — with waterfront dining.

Of course I miss it (who wouldn't?) but I count myself very lucky to have had all those years afloat.