Good Bye, Dawson City (until next year)

Dear Vi,

Our Yukon summer sojourn is over. We drove away from Dawson City two days ago.

Tomorrow will see the Yukon behind us for another winter.

I took a lot of walks, saw two parades, read a lot of books, made my 60,000 word goal on the next novel, made some new friends, and learned some interesting things this summer. And I still haven’t told you what brought us up here in the first place.

It would be so easy to stay and make a home here…so easy to knit myself into the community.

We’ll be back next summer, for four months this time. Four!I’ve got some planning to do! Maybe I’ll teach a dance class, see if any local writers want to get together, join the fitness club, make a quilt by hand, start another novel…

Life is grand and full of possibilities!

Posted in Blog Categories, Dawson City Yukon, retirement | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Autumn Knitting

Dear Vi,

Well, the frost is on the pumpkin here, and our time in Dawson is nearly done. There are so many things I haven’t shown you yet! This is my view out the front window: a dredge pond surrounded by tailings piles left by the dredges sometime in the early 1900s. The rocks make a great background to show you the knitting projects that have kept me busy. We will be loading up the camper and heading south sometime next week. I had hoped to have this sweater finished and a good start on a second one by summer’s end, but my ambition exceeded my capacity. Kelly has one last big trip to fly this weekend, and I will tell you all about it when he gets back. Today I’m off to town in search of warmer clothing. Autumn comes early this far north. I hope you’re keeping warm, too!

Posted in Dawson City Yukon, Knitting | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Streets of Dawson City

Dear Vi,You might have heard that the streets of Dawson City are paved with gold,but the truth is, they aren’t paved at all.Here’s evidence: boot brushes outside the door of every establishment.And miles of boardwalk.This summer has been a writing retreat for me. I left home with a sketchy idea for my next novel, and today I’m well over halfway there. I’m writing about 1,000 words every time I sit down, which has been about 5 days per week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When I’m not writing, I’m reading All The Books, which is so incredibly delicious – a summer of unlimited time.

And I’ve been accompanying Sam on his walks, of course. We love to walk up and down the streets, the boardwalk sometimes booming under our feet, sometimes squeaking , often soft with age.

I brought quilting projects and everything I need to sew a blouse, but haven’t taken my sewing machine out even once. And that’s just fine. It’s okay to stop once in awhile to wade in the water and smell the grass.

Don’t you agree?

Posted in Blog Categories, Dawson City Yukon, Samson, Walks, Writing | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Dawson City, Yukon: old and new, side-by-side

Dear Vi,

Dawson City sits at the place where the Klondike and Yukon Rivers merge.

The Klondike River is on the left, the much larger Yukon River on the right

In many ways, the town itself mirrors this merging. The rivers flow side-by-side for a ways, the line between the muddy Yukon and the (slightly) clearer Klondike easy to discern. And the city flows side-by-side, too. Old and new holding hands the way you did with your best friend back in kindergarten. Yes, Dawson City is a historic gold rush town, fun to visit.

The community library is located within Robert Service School. How cool is that?

But it’s also a town where people live and work and raise their kids. Old and new are side by side everywhere you look.This is where I buy my groceries:And the liquor store (in the old harness shop!):My favourite restaurant:The local community radio station (with proud show hosts):The Gold Rush, past and present, all coming together where the rivers meet. And the First Nations…don’t assume I’ve forgotten them. Their story is the oldest of all. But I’ll save that for another time, another letter.

Posted in Blog Categories, Dawson City Yukon | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Living Small in Dawson City

Dear Vi,

You probably already figured out that Kelly and I are spending the summer in Dawson City, Yukon, where Kelly is flying for Great River Air, but I heard you were wondering what our housing situation is like. We are living in company-provided housing…a very comfortable 26-foot travel trailer on the company lot in a residential industrial area (that’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one!) four kilometres outside of town.

As you can imagine, it’s a dusty place.

This is our little home-away-from-home. That’s us on the right. We share the outside space with our neighbours, fellow pilots also working for Great River Air.It didn’t take long to settle in. Throw a handmade quilt on the bed and it’s quite homey. This is a scrappy maple leaf quilt with blocks from the We Bee Canadian quilting friendship group I belong to. I finished it just in time to travel north with us.

There’s another handmade quilt on the back of the couch: Garden Party, which I made a couple of years ago. It’s astounding, really, how easy it is to live in such a tiny space.

It’s so easy to get caught up with stuff. We all have so much of it! But living here for these couple of months, I realize how little I really do need.That’s not to say I don’t appreciate or miss the luxuries of home!

Home is where the laundry dries in the sun. No matter where I am living, I still avoid the electric dryer, lol. I’m such a hippie girl.

Doing without certain conveniences for a period of time reminds me to include them on my daily gratitude list.

Things like internet access and not having to conserve water, for example.

What conveniences do you take for granted?

Posted in Blog Categories | 2 Comments

Dawson Blooms

Dear Vi,

This morning, the radio reported that it was overcast in Dawson City when in reality the sky was blue, blue, blue with not a cloud in sight. Our weather reports come from Kelowna, BC, over a thousand miles south. And this morning we had the news feed coming in from Yellowknife, about 1,000 miles to the East. Serious distances.So how would they know the weather was completely wrong , way over here? Heh heh heh.Well, such a beautiful day requires pictures of flowers, don’t you agree? My neighbour brought me a bouquet from her lovely flower garden:And I even have a few pots growing beside our travel trailer home.One of the things I’ve always loved about Dawson City is the flowers. Along fences and other creative places…Summer is short in the Yukon.The first leaves come out in mid May and they start to change in late July.Mother Nature has a lot to do and not much time to get it done.When you live in a landscape where you’re always dealing with winter or preparing for winter, colour is very important.

Dawson City used to be known for its beautiful vegetables. I remember walking the side streets and alleys, gasping in admiration of the back yard gardens, the giant cabbages and lush trellised peas. But times and priorities change, along with the population. The old timers are mostly gone, and the new people moving in aren’t here for the long haul, and so don’t garden. That’s my guess, anyway.

But thank goodness the flowers remain as bright and plentiful as always.

Posted in Blog Categories | 2 Comments

Good Grief: when the story is over

Dear Vi,

I just finished reading the Best Book. Really good. You should read it, too.

Except…I was nearing the end when I read the last two words on the left hand side: “It’s okay.” And then I shifted the book a bit in my hand as my eyes slid to the next page on the right and what I assumed was the next chapter.

But instead of the next chapter, I read the word “Acknowledgments,” and “First, thanks to Frank…“.

There was no blank page to signal the book was over. Not even a good old fashioned The End in fancy flowing script.

Here’s the thing: when I finish a book – especially a good book, I like to savour the ending.

I like to set the book down on my lap and gaze at the ceiling for a few minutes, absorbing what I just read, reflecting on it a bit. Maybe I have a little introspective smile on my face. Maybe I think about turning the book over and reading it again.

So, in the absence of a blank page following those final words, I was robbed of all that delicious savouring.

I tried to go back and read the ending again, capture the aborted moment, but it was gone. Forever.

In a funny little way that I’m embarrassed to admit, the entire book was diminished for me. Instead of that final minute of reflection, of easing back into the ordinary world, the transition was abrupt and jarring.

I need to take a minute to savour what I’ve read…then turn the page when I’m ready to ease myself back into the world, and read the author’s thank you’s to everyone who helped along the way.

However…the book really was excellent and I’m glad I found it in the library. Give it a read and see what you think.

How do you like to finish a good book?

Posted in Blog Categories, Book Review | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Languishing Along the River in Dawson City, Yukon

Dear Vi,

Last Friday Sam and walked a well-worn trail along the side of the Yukon River in Dawson City.The city was preparing for the annual Dawson City Music Festival. Facing the river, we could hear the echo of a band bouncing back at us from the opposite shore.. It sounded as though the very rocks and trees were singing.Above the trail is another: a double -decker trail along the top of the dike that protects the town from spring flooding. It boasts some lovely places to sit.Life is slow at the moment… these past weeks…these past months. Here at the top of the world I search out the internet in interesting locations. The library, the airport, parked in my truck before the laundry at a motel down the street.

The internet up here is as slow as I am. It takes several long minutes to load each picture.

I’ve decided it’s time to start querying for an agent to represent Holding Space again.

Like me, it has languished too long. What have you let languish?

Posted in Camping, outdoors, Yukon | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Catching Up

Dear Vi,

I’ve turned my chair to look North, where a thunderstorm is slowly working its way down the lake. I sat knitting for an hour or so while Kelly napped in the cabin and listened to thunder rumbling in the distance, wind in the trees, the snick of my knitting needles, the pair of baby ravens learning how to talk as they danced in the sky around their mother.

We have been in the Yukon about five weeks now, ensconced in our cabin at Fox Lake, totally off the grid and being quite antisocial, to tell you the truth.
But I shouldn’t say we. I spent more than three weeks of that time here completely on my own while Kelly was away having an adventure of his own.
He was hired to ferry this beautiful vintage airplane to the Yukon from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. I’ll tell you more about that in the next letter, I promise.
As consolation for not being allowed to go, too, the day he left, I stopped into The Itsy Bitsy Yarn Shop  (yes, that is really their name) in downtown Whitehorse and treated myself to enough wool to knit myself a sweater in Heritage, from the Briggs & Little Wool Mill in Harvey, New Brunswick. The colour is called Fawn.
The pattern is called Mandolin from the latest issue (Fall 2018) of Knitty Magazine.
It’s coming along well, considering the only thing I really know how to knit is socks. In fact, it’s coming along so fast, I might just have to go buy more yarn and make it a two-sweater summer!
What are you working on this summer?
Posted in Flying, Knitting | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Bye, Sam! Leaving the dog at home

Dear Vi,

Every time we leave the house, we have a conversation with Sam first. Sam sees us getting ready and starts his little happy dance.

Sam: oh boy oh boy oh boy, we’re going somewhere!

Us: Oh, Sam. Mommy and daddy are going to work and you have to stay here. (“Work” means going away without Sam)

Sam: ears go down, slinks away to jump on the bed.

Us: (following Sam into the bedroom) You’re in charge of the house. Don’t let Spooky invite her friends in. Be a good boy. You’re a good boy, yes you are, yes you are. (Said with smooches)

Sam: ducks head to escape smooches.

Us: We’ll be back in a while. Two whiles. Okay, probably more like three. Three whiles. Okay? (Said in overly bright happy tones)

Sam: climbs into the pillows, digs himself a nest to wait out the long desolate hours.

Us: Okay, well. Bye.

Sam: follows us with his sad eyes.

When we pull out of the driveway, there he is, watching through the glass door. We wave. “Bye, Sam.” Then we sigh.

Sometimes I seed his toy basket with treats before I go , creating a sort of doggy Easter egg hunt. When we get home, he’s always found them all.

I know, I know. But I bet you do something similar. Am I right?

Posted in Blog Categories | 3 Comments

The Best Banana Bread in the World

Dear Vi,

Outside the snow is coming down fast and furious, and it’s just the perfect kind of snow, too. Light and fluffy. The kind that squeaks when you walk on it. Not, thank goodness, the heavy wet coastal snow that soaks through every layer and chills you to the bone. Nope! Right now, today, we’re in the Goldilocks zone as far as snow goes. And we’re predicted to get up to 10 inches of it.

Image result for harry potter snow fight gif

Ignoring all the shoveling that needs to be done, I decided to bake banana bread instead.

Do you have a bread machine? I don’t.

Well, I do, but it actually belongs to my son, so technically I don’t. But I have the use of one, which is just as good.

And just so you don’t mistake me, the only thing I use it for is making banana bread. All other bread (by which I mean yeast bread) I make from scratch with my own two hands, no magic allowed, if you don’t count the oven. Or the yeast. Yeast is a little bit magical, don’t you think?

Image result for hogwarts stirring potion gif

Right now, while snow fills my driveway, the wonderful smell of baking banana loaf is filling my house. Can you smell it??  Yup, I know. You’re welcome.

Related image

So, do you have a bread machine?? If you do, here’s my advice: drop everything and go dig it out of the closet right now. Next, take a handful (that’s three) bananas out of your freezer. We both know you’ve got enough bananas in there to feed all the monkeys in the zoo.

I kid you not, the best banana bread in the entire world is made in a bread machine. I don’t know why, and I don’t care.

Here’s my recipe, which I have modified a bit from the original.

Nita’s Magic Bread Machine Banana Bread

In a big bowl, combine the following in the order listed:

  • 2/3 cup milk (I used lactose-free milk because of some dairy issues I’m having at the moment)
  • 3 mashed over-ripe bananas
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar (I use a scant cup because the bananas are so sweet on their own)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir together and spoon into the bread pan. Insert the bread pan into your bread machine. Select Quick Bread. If you get a colour option, select medium. Push start.

Yup. It’s that easy. You’re welcome.

Related image

 

 

Posted in baking, Cooking, recipe | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Two Quilts for Two Sisters: warming the heart with hearts and chains

Dear Vi,

Last spring I made two quilts that I haven’t shown you yet, and since it’s getting close to the end of the year, and considering these are the only quilts I finished in 2017, I thought maybe I should get their pictures posted!.

The quilts were made for two adult sisters in my family.

I wanted the two quilts to share common elements while also speaking to the personal tastes of each sister, so I chose a versatile pattern: the Irish Chain with hearts.

The first quilt is made with sweet floral fabrics for a soft, comfortable, old-fashioned feeling.

It is the most basic of the Irish Chain versions: a simple 9-patch alternating with a plain square. Except instead of a plain square, I pieced a heart using the same fabric I’d sewn the 9-patches with.The quilt is finished with a mix of machine and hand quilting.

The center of the hearts are hand quilted, as is the looped row of hearts running along the bottom edge of the quilt.

The 9-patches are done in straight-line quilting, and I practiced my free-motion quilting by making loops and hearts in the borders. I’ve only tried free-motion quilting a couple of times and I really enjoyed it. The stitching isn’t perfect, but neither am I, lol!

The second quilt is a Double Irish Chain in a soft grey neutral palate.

I tried to enlarge this so you can see the print. It’s very sweet, and reminds me of France, for some reason. Perfect, because its new owner is bilingual!

I hand quilted hearts into the plain squares. The chains were done with my walking foot.

The soft, neutral tones in this quilt were a challenge to photograph. I apologize for the poor lighting.

It was a pleasure to make both quilts, and I know they are being enjoyed.

Now I think you’re all caught up, as far as finished quilts go, anyway!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours from me and mine. May you always have a warm quilt to warm you, body and soul. ♥

 

 

Posted in Blog Categories, Gifts, Hand Quilting, Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments