Monday, 27 May 2013

Kingston - OHCG Annual

People browsing the OHCG rug show
Last weekend I went, with a bunch of "hooking" friends, to the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild's 47th Annual Meeting and Show (otherwise known as "the Annual"). It is in a different place in Ontario every year. This year it was in Kingston and 6 of us stayed in a lovely cottage on Cranberry lake about half an hour north.
It was a full vehicle and 2  happy hookers

We were able to book the cottage from Thursday to Sunday, so got a jump on the weekend and an extra day hooking at the cottage before we had to go into Kingston to set up our Guild's (J.J.Ruggers) display. Friday evening I helped as a volunteer judge so got to see the show early in an intense hour of viewing and assessing the comparative merits of a wide variety of rug hooked items. It was a great learning experience.
 One of the beautiful rugs that won

Saturday was spent at the annual meeting, viewing the show again, shopping for rug
 hooking supplies and generally socialising. Back to the cottage by mid afternoon and hooked, drank, ate, gabbed, laughed, the usual.

Piles of wool for sale, heaven for a hooker.
Sunday we cleaned up the cottage, went back to the show and then took down the the display and headed home.
It was a great weekend of fun with friends and rug hooking awe and inspiration. I have been to about 15 annuals (I think, I really can't remember when I started hooking) and have found some, in more recent years, to have nothing truly impressive. This one, I was back to being awed by the artistry and skill of Ontario's rug hookers.

 Note: this was my first blog post using a Samsung Galaxy tablet. In spite of all the hype, it is not as easy to use as a computer for this type of thing and I had to (with tech support) download a different browser to upload the pictures.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Long Point - Victoria Day Weekend

Chris invited 12 of her friends down to the cottage for the Victoria Day weekend. This is not unusual, we usually have a full house of young people for the first holiday weekend of the summer. However I think this was the largest number so far. There were 15 of us in total and only 4  had to sleep on mattresses on the floor in the basement.
Chris, being the event planner that she is, had set a menu and sent out a sign up list. As people began to arrive on Saturday the kitchen and the floor around the kitchen gradually filled with coolers and grocery bags. I couldn't believe we would really eat and drink that much. In actual fact the only thing that we had massively too much of, was lettuce.
We were able to seat everyone at two long tables pushed together although this meant we pretty well didn't have a living room as all that furniture had to be shoved together.
This was on Saturday evening as we ate Noah's homemade burgers.
The menus accommodated vegetarian, lactose intolerant, Kosher and a diet that was labelled in Christine's e-mail as "Kristen". This was at its most interesting at breakfast with some scrambled eggs made with egg whites, almond milk and onion, some with egg whites and cheese and some "regular" (with everything left over from the day before ,delicious). French toast was a challenge too (for the record, almond milk doesn't seem to cook the same as cows milk).
The "make your own sandwich/salad bar" for Sunday lunch.
The weather was amazing, allowing for a lot of outdoor activity:

Or should I say, inactivity.

On the list of items for the weekend was:"trashy magazines". Made for a sedate evening activity.
More sedate that the previous evening which involved cards and rum soaked gummi bears!
It was a great weekend: fun people, good food and drink, sunbathing, running on the beach, games, bocce, hammock lying, cards in the sun, kayaking etc etc. It was made even better for me because all the food was taken care of and everyone helped out in the food prep and clean up. Perhaps the best thing was catching up with Chris' wide circle of friends, current and applied for jobs, wedding and house plans, travel and of courses celebrating Christine's birthday (which actually occurs this Friday).

Long Point - the people return

Its been a cold and/or wet May so the Point has stayed pretty quiet. People have been gradually returning to their cottages and homes but it really has been so slow that it was hardly noticeable. On the weekends there were slightly more people walking, there were slightly more cars on the road, slightly more people checking their mail boxes. Of course the businesses were getting cleaned up and the County Works Dept and the Provincial Park workers were also doing some final maintenance work.
Because of this slow start to the season, Victoria Day weekend was a real shock to the system. There were suddenly, lots of people here. All three days the parking lot at Abigail Becker was full.
Which of course meant there was plenty of pedestrian traffic on the walkway to the beach and lots of people on the beach too.

The water is still very cold. Leg numbing cold, in fact. Though some brave souls did go swimming, it was more like - rush in , dip, scream, rush out.
George and I went for a bike ride on Sunday and the amount of traffic on the roads, made us realize how lucky we are to be able to ride here when there are very few people in residence. There was the usual traffic of people visiting cottages (most cottages had 6 to 8 cars in the driveway) but also people just "cruising" and lots of motorcyclists just out for a ride.
Even "the shovel tree" looked rather crowded.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Long Point - The start of the Season

We had our first asparagus last week, from a farm we have been going to for the last 5 years. We drive in and are greeted by two large, old dogs who bark their heads off and wag their tails as they hobble over. We then walk into the barn where a conveyor belt is moving the, just picked, asparagus along as about 6 people pick through it, sorting. About half are Mennonite women. One lady breaks away and comes to the table set up by the door. A white board shows the prices. This year it is $1.75 a pound for seconds and tips. Firsts are $2.25. We tend to buy about 3 lbs of seconds or tips and sort them ourselves into what we will eat right away, what we freeze and what I will puree to make into soup later.
This contraption moves through the field with the three workers bent over cutting the asparagus
with knives and putting it into the yellow bins.  When the asparagus is growing fast, they may turn
around and start the same field again. It looks back breaking.
We bought a new barbecue (the other one was on its last legs and will live out its days in
Christine's backyard). George put it together, doesn't he look proud. We are now ready
to host Christine and 12 of her friends for the weekend.
There was a gale warning on the marine forecast today, so, of course, the
kiters were here.

Victoria Day weekend is the official start of cottage time and we are seeing all the signs at Long Point. The weather forecast is looking good and people are starting to arrive. Some even wearing shorts. One crazy couple ran into the water wearing bathing suits one evening last weekend, it was about 4 degrees at the time! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture.

Final Season indicators:
The garbage cans have been set up at the beach access. This Norfolk County worker was
kind enough to pose.
The porta potties have arrived at the Abigail Becker parking lot.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Long Point - Goodbye Meridian

Today was the closing of the sale of our boat. We have shared the responsibilities  costs, anxieties, adventures and fun of owning Meridian with my brother and sister-in-law, Simon and Danielle. Si and Dan are on to another boat and George and I are going to be boat-less  for at least this year, while we decide what we want to do re a boat.
I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand it was a lot of money to shell out for a short sailing season, I was quite an anxious sailor in windy weather (which of course is when sailboats go out) and we tended to feel we should be sailing rather than doing other things in the summer. However I do love sailing, racing (in less than 15 knot winds) is fun, improving and learning more is gratifying and there is a great group of people involved with the Port Dover Race Committee. I hope we will be able to continue with some of the pluses.
So in honour of Meridian and to wish her new owners much luck and enjoyment (three young guys from Simcoe who are novice sailors) I am posting some pictures of our experiences with Meridian over the last 5 or so years.
Meridian was docked at LaSalle Marina, Hamilton Bay, overlooking Stelco, when we bought her.
Our first adventure was bringing her home through Lake Ontario, the Welland Canal and Lake
Erie with the help of John Morey. In this picture we are fending her off the walls as the lock fills.
We have some lovely pictures of her, mostly taken by whoever was the committee
boat for the race that night, as they are the only ones who have time to take pictures.

In the thick of things, racing.
We didn't know this picture had been taken until we looked up the weather, on the internet,
the next day. It had been posted on the Weather network website. Almost looks like we have no
boat under us at all.
We raced Monday nights in June and September, Wednesday nights from June to
September and raced the two weekend races (June and September). Full schedule.
This is taken at the dock in Dunneville. For the Hewson Regatta, in June we race to where the
 Grand River flows into Lake Erie. Stay in Dunneville over night and race
 back the next day. Fiona is usually happy to be part of this race as they have a great
firework display on the Saturday night.
The trip up and down the river is very pretty and peaceful.
The last two years we entered the Lake Erie Interclub race which is a 5 day race from
Erie PA, to Dover, Pt Colborne and Buffalo. This is the crew picture at the beginning
of the 2012 Interclub.
This shot took 3rd place in the Interclub photo contest. I took it of Meridian flying along in the
midst of a lot of bigger boats, from Zatarra, a cruising boat. Simon said I had gone to "the
dark side".  This was during a very windy Long Point Bay race (part of the Interclub) and
the spinnaker was looking great.
Of course it doesn't always go well. I stopped taking pictures at this point.
In fact I stopped watching too.
The day she is lifted into the water and the day she is lifted out mark the
beginning and end of the sailing season. We have had some horrendous
weather on some of these days but this year, May 1, we had a beautiful
day to put her in and even went for a short sail/motor (not much wind).
Of course the day the boat is taken out of the water is the day all those
off season chores start.
I hope Meridians new owners enjoy her as much as we have and find the Port Dover area sailors to be as helpful and generous as we have.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Long Point - return of the birds

Long Point is a major stopping point for migratory birds and our feeders get cleaned out in 2 days in the spring. Cyndy came to visit this weekend and we visited the bird banding station twice and had some "birding walks". I'm not much of a birder myself but enjoy the walking and seeing them up close when they are banded.
In honour of Cyndy's visit I am posting some bird pictures that I took this evening, sitting on the back deck, experimenting with the zoom on the new camera.
The usual suspects, the red winged blackbirds are our constant, and voracious
guests at the feeders.
We have had as many as 3 Cardinal couples at the feeders at one time but they get
very frustrated with this feeder as it's rigged so only the small birds can eat from it.
The pair of Blue Jays must be nesting nearby as they come every evening and compete with the Downy Woodpeckers and the Nuthatches for the suet.
This Rose Breasted Grosbeak has been here the last couple of days but I
suspect he's just passing through.
This Red Headed Woodpecker is quite stunning. This is the first year we've had one
around and I hope he stays.
He even eats from the feeder

Friday, 3 May 2013

Long Point - Definitely Spring

Its the beginning of May and spring is definitely here. We put the sailboat into the water on May 1st on a beautiful sunny day. In the past we have often had dreary weather for that ritual of spring.
Other signs of spring at Long Point:
The buds on the cottonwood poplars have burst into these neat looking
cattails. Some are brown and some green. They make a mess when they
fall but for now they are quite decorative.
We have been sitting out on the front (beach side) deck occasionally.
This year there is the addition of 2 solar tiki lights that I was given for Christmas.
We've put up both of Bob's martin houses now and there are a few couples checking
them out, but there don't seem to be as many swallows as usual, even though it has
been warm for a few days and there are bugs in the air.
We have a new camera with a better zoom. This little guy was checking
out one of our "detached" birdhouses, rather than the "multilevel community
living condos" next door.
There is farm machinery everywhere when we drive off the Point. The OPP is even
making public service announcements reminding drivers to be careful when
passing them.
Trillium are out, beside the road.
The beach looks the same as in the summer, but without any people. The weather
is forecast to be beautiful this weekend, so I think that will change.
And the final sign of spring on Long Point:
The portable sign is back on the entrance to the causeway. It also says
"Watch for Turtles"