Monday, June 25, 2007

Visiting is not the same as being there.


Last Thursday, I visited my alma mater. Nope, not my University. Better than that -Trent School of Rug Hooking.

I was there to showcase a possible class for the 2008 year, which I really hope I get to teach. I chose Thursday to do the showcase, since that is Open House day at the School. This was the first time in 4 years that I hadn't been there for the week, so this was the next best thing.

My friend Elaine and I went to Peterborough the night before to stay with my mother in law, since my showcase was at 8:30 a.m. Jo (ma-in-law) treated us to a wonderful Prime Rib dinner at Chemong Lodge on Wednesday night. Amazing food at a ridiculous price (low) in a gorgeous setting - highly recommended.

The following morning, we arrived at the college in lots of time to set up - much better than driving for two hours at the crack of dawn. No sooner had we emerged from the car then I found out I was sharing the spotlight with another showcase. Jon, the best wildlife hooker this side of anywhere, was presenting his course outline as well. As he set up his projector, and I knew they would be images of his amazing creations, I was feeling a tad anxious. I definitely wanted to go before him - to be the appetizer before his entree.

And, lest I forget, I also ended up following a very funny skit about Emily Carr, her prolific monkey Woo and Woo's clean-up crew. I felt caught between the ridiciulous and the sublime and it was more than a little like being on Saturday Night Live.

But the presentation went well, and there appeared to be great interest in this little project after all. I guess there are a lot of hookers like me. They already have many long-term projects on the go. They're looking for something they can design, plan, hook and finish in time to take home.

Everyone gets to vote on the showcases they have seen during the week, to help choose the classes for the following year. I have my fingers crossed that they choose me.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with lots of folks. The rug school at Trent has a very loyal student body. Many return year after year, some since the very beginning. And who can blame them! Where else can you hook all day long - and all night long too if you like, laugh out loud, carry on like kids, have all your meals prepared for you and celebrate the delight of being in the company of like-minded women for a week. It's summer camp for hookers! And it doesn't get much better than that.

The rug display this year had some incredible works. It was fun to see rugs from previous years that people had finished since school last year. There was certainly a variety of topics and techniques and it is a testament to how good the school is to see such great work.

We also saw the Friendship rug and it was as amazing as I knew it would be. Taking on that task is quite an endeavour. Having helped create last year's rug, I fully appreciate the effort that goes into creating it. Sally, Gretchen and Jane have definitely raised the bar for the next rug. It's amazing when you think that one lucky person gets to take it home.

Lunch in the cafeteria included the fries and homemade desserts that I swore I wouldn't have. Then off to the classrooms to visit anyone we hadn't seen yet. Visitng the classes is one of my favourite things to do, since it is often tough deciding what class to take. When you get inside the rooms and see the work, you vow to take that class "next year" if it is offered.

This year, the classroom visits were open to the public only. They opted for an "on the lawn" display of the work to the classes on Friday instead. I'm sure it cuts down on the disruption and loss of class time, but I'm glad I picked this year to be a "public".

I remember Thursday as being a bit of a sad day - only one full day of class left before getting ready to head home on Saturday. The week flies by like any week with that much fun in it. I remember my first year hearing one of the women say, as she packed up on Saturday, "only 51 weeks till I get to come back".

I really hope I get to come back in 51 weeks! This time as a teacher instead of a student. I hope I get to lead a class in my nice little project that they can start and finish while we are all having fun.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What a difference a door makes!


It's amazing what things give you the biggest thrill in a renovation. They aren't necessarily the biggest things. But they are the ones that trigger an emotional reaction. That is certainly the case with our front door.

For many reasons, our windows and doors were ordered later than planned, so we have been waiting with baited breath for them to arrive. A lot of things cannot be completed until the windows are installed, so we know that once they are all in, we will feel that things are really progressing.

Everyone knows what a difference light in a room makes, but the impact was greater than expected. Our new entry way was previously our downstairs bedroom. There wasn't even a window where the door is now. Because the room was always so dark, it was great for sleeping. You never knew what time it was, and if you wanted, you could just go on sleeping. Now, thanks to our new door, it is bright and cheery foyer that opens into the great room, the hub of the cottage.

Previously, the only entrance to the cottage was through the screened-in porch to the kitchen. At a cottage, this was not a problem. But for a full-time home, we wanted a proper front door entrance. You know that expression "back door friends are best". Well, that was all we had - until now!

Our city home has a front door that is barely used. Everyone we know comes to the side door. Only people who don't know us go to the front - too often people trying to sell us things, or ask us to donate to things. When we have a dinner party and at Christmas when family and friends assemble, they use the front door. It makes these times feel a bit more special. I know that the front door at the cottage will do the same.

We still have many things to deal with regarding the exterior of our new front door. There's a capped roof to go over the platform. The hydro meter needs to be hidden somehow. And there's an old oak tree that cuts across the door as you pull in the driveway, whose fate is to be decided. But once we have the sconces on the wall, the cap over the door and the landscaping done to lead to the front door, this will be a warm welcome to all who visit.

And there's still the decision of bell or doorknocker. I think I'll vote for doorknocker. But we now have a wonderful front door! And what a difference a door makes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Some calm amidst chaos


Meet Morris. He is the official guard moose at our cottage. He was a Christmas gift from my husband many years ago. He has been keeping watch over the bay 24/7, 365 days a year and is well loved by all who spot him. Visitors on the lake often circle back to get a closer look, sure they saw something peering at them from our property.
His initiation into cottage life was a story unto itself. Morris was transported in our pick-up truck up the 400 highway, securely bungeed in position, wearing ski goggles and a scarf. The honking of horns and laughter of surrounding motorists was sheer delight. I think we have a picture somewhere of just how silly he looked.
Over the years, Morris has become dwarfed by many of the evergreen trees we have transplanted from around the lake and will be relocated as soon as we have 4 strong people to move him. We have a perfect, more visible spot for him where we lost a tree to a storm last year. A good vantage point for him to keep watch and for passersby to spot him. Morris has become an important part of the landscape, and like all the other elements, needs things need to be moved because of too much shade.
Although I was never a gardener by choice, I have become quite a good gardener by accident. Very much the trial and error approach versus the horticultural scholar. The past two Saturdays have been weeding days, which I love. I think weeding is the one activity that I do without thinking - about anything. It's rather hypnotic, like staring into a fire - you just get lost in it and hours fly by. It's extremely therapeutic. And when you are done, everything looks better. Plants look happier and order is restored. Yes, even to a cottage garden.
These renovation days, it is even more therapeutic, because everything inside the cottage is so out of control. Progress is being made, albeit more slowly than we hoped, in so many areas that everything is in disarray.
So we drive up from the city and spend the day tending to the exterior. After we check progress on the inside and ooh and aah over what's been done, we get to work outside. These days our real sense of accomplishment is in the whacking and the weeding and the tending to the grounds.
We know we will have order restored on the inside eventually. And our inside tasks will become the rhythm of our weekends. But in the meanwhile, we create our calm on the outside to counterbalance the chaos within.
And Morris keeps watch over our progress.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What's in a name?




While we are working away at our addition to our cottage, there's been an even better one at the cottage next door to us. A brand new, perfect baby girl - first child for one of the daughters and first grandchild for the parents. Her name is Rayla Belle - quite a handle for such a tiny person.

Her mom told me that "Rayla" had been in her head for a very long time. And Belle is a salute to her maiden name Belluz. For me, the name brings up images of a southern belle sipping mint julips on the porch. But I'm sure once Rayla grows into it, that initial image will fade. It will be replaced by a toddler eating sand on the beach in front of the cottage, learning to swim and going for boat rides with her grandpa.

When I first saw her pictures of "the most beautiful baby in the world", I had to agree with her new daddy that she was. She has a pink complexion, perfect rosebud mouth and button nose, and a halo of hair that promises to have a touch of red like her mom.

My normal new baby gift (pre-hooking) was always a home-made sweater. I realized that they outgrew those in about 20 minutes, so I have switched to a new, home-made gift that offers greater longevity. Rayla Belle has the distinct honour of being the recipient of the first one.

Influenced by my recent penny rug workshop, I incorporated a little touch into the ends of this piece. I wasn't certain about how to attach the lambs tongues and certainly learned a bit as I proceeded. I will revise the construction on the next one, but basically I am happy with the end result.

I hope Rayla Belle is happy as well. Her parents have given her a name that will make her truly unique. I don't believe she will run into too many other girls in her class with the same handle.