Friday, September 16, 2011

Featured Artist at the Potter's Place for September.

Well, the potter is up and running full steam ahead.  This month I am the featured artist at a gallery  in Courtenay, BC called the Potters Place.  I have 3 shows that I am committed to over the next few months and another that I am tempted by... The question is, will these 2 hands be able to make all the work I need for another show?   I dunno!

Been making lots of fun things, like these butter dishes for instance...
I am loving working in my new studio and surroundings.  The ocean is right outside, and we have a heron that has decided that one of the trees in the backyard, is a perfect place to call home.  You should hear the sounds a heron makes at about 2 am, when all is very quiet and still - Oh My Goodness - You'd think someone has just thrown up an elephant or a large skidoo, and didn't much like the taste! 

I had an interview with a reporter today from Campbell River (this beautiful place was just featured on Rick Mercer Report if you happen to watch that hysterically funny man) as the next show/fair I am participating in is on Sept 25th at the Haig Brown Festival in Campbell River and somehow I was chosen to have an article written about me... Sweet!    Tomorrow, I will be doing another interview with a local newspaper about becoming the new president of the potters' guild in Comox and about our upcoming holiday sales. - Should be fun!~

My mom has come to visit us for a couple of weeks and we are having a delicious time with her, showing off the whales up island, the deer on the sides of the roads, and the new friends that we have made this last year.  She has been filling our freezer with her famous hearty beef/barley/veggie soup, and a brisket. - Are we lucky or what?????

Everyone in the house is  quietly sleeping or seriously thinking about it and I should do the same, so... Goodnight all.  Thinking of you and missing you,... but loving it here!!!!!

If you do the facebook thing, I seem to be posting to it quite regularly - look me up if you are so inclined.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How the garden grows

These two veggie beds are feeding us salad and greens every day. We put them right in the middle of the front yard where there is the most sun, filled them up with 'fish soil', mulch and other soil goodies, and voila, this explosion of green. Besides several varieties of lettuce there is chard, kale, dill, peas, cucumber, a couple of peppers, all flanked by marigolds. You can see from the grass that we are into the dryer part of the year, although we've had a bunch of rain this last week, which all the plants are happy about.

There weren't cherries on our tree last year so we weren't certain what it was - now we know that it has small red, almost merachino-like fruit that isn't a particular favorite. It's a good thing, because now that the tree is covered with them it's being swarmed by birds - crows, starlings, sparrows and other lbbs, finches.

Karen gave us three tomato plants this spring, and we potted them up in some of that fish soil and put them on our deck. They are doing very well. As is the purple rose on the deck. We are out there most mornings, sitting amongst this productive greenery, checking out the water and the mountains. The clematis didn't bloom last year either, but it's blooming now and I love it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What we really think about the proposed Raven Coal Mine

June 27, 2011
Union Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Rachel Shaw, Project Assessment Manager
Environmental Assessment Office
Government of British Columbia

Project Manager: Andrew Rollo
Canadian Environment Assessment Agency
Goverment of Canada

Raven Coal Mine Proposal Draft AIR

Not only have we found it difficult to know where to start with comments about deficiencies in the Raven Underground Coal Project’s Draft AIR, but we have also found it very difficult to decide whether it is even appropriate to participate in this process. But finally we have decided that it is best to put our concerns on record, and risk this effort being construed as legitimizing, or supporting in any manner the development of the proposed mine. Let there be no ambiguity: we are completely opposed to the development of this mine.

First, the joint government decision to not take this proposal through an independent environmental review has laid the ground for profound public mistrust, fear and anger. That Ministries of the Environment have, without independent detailed study, determined that there is not significant threat to a key shell-fish producing body of water and its related industry, the second most important bird area on the coast, the drinking and ground water of several communities, one of the country’s treasured old growth forests, and the Pacific Rim National Park only suggests a that there is a political “green light” for this project that has already dismissed any negative environment impact and that this whole process an expensive sham. We harbour a small and possibly na├»ve hope that this perception is wrong. We re-iterate here what you have heard over and over: the single biggest deficiency in the Draft AIR is that it relies on studies to be conducted by the company. This would be addressed by a Joint Federal / Provincial Independent Review Panel of Experts and full public hearings in all areas affected by this project. This process must include:
• a full and complete mapping and baseline testing of all underground aquifers and surface drainage systems onsite and off mapped by an independent group of experts. This must happen before any further site preparation goes ahead.
• a full accounting of the project’s carbon footprint, including the mine construction and operation, ground and sea transportation and coal combustion at destination points, and an independent expert assessment of the impact of the project’s carbon footprint on local and global climates
• an assessment of the impact of potential noise, light, water and air pollution (including dust and methane emissions) associated with the mine on all (not the small selection proposed by the proponent) species of affected flora and fauna, including the health of humans.

The Draft AIR’s sections on the economic and social impact of the proposal tell us only about sources the proponents will use to describe a limited number of “valued components”. It does not tell us how these will be assessed, or weighed, and we argue again that the proponent is not in a position to provide an independent assessment of the project’s impact. Independent social and economic impact studies must include all communities from from Qualicum to Campbell River and Port Alberni, Uclulet, Bamfield and Tofino. The studies must include:
• an explanation of how the project fits with the regional plans of all communities affected, including the Islands Trust. To the best of our knowledge, none of the local regional development plans, which are the result of extensive consultations and planning and are expressions of the aspirations and interests of the people who live here, have included coal development
• A detailed description of proposed mine and spin-off jobs, including skills and experience required, along with an equally detailed assessment of whether these skills can be found in local communities. If the skills are not available locally, the proposal must identify the likelihood of training local workers, and/or where trained workers are likely to come from and their numbers.
• An assessment of the health and safety impact of this mine environment for workers, including risk of black lung, other diseases and catastrophic events.
• A detailed estimate of the negative effect on non-mining jobs and industries, particularly the shell-fish industry, agriculture, tourism, eco-tourism and recreation
• A full accounting of the project’s public revenues and costs. The public costs would need to include highway repair and maintenance, mines and health and safety inspection, job training, increased hospital and emergency services use, and any increased school, social services and policing (see Fort McMurray). It also needs to include a realistic projection of any public costs associated with catastrophic events that could occur during mine construction, operation and decommissioning (Who Will Clean Up Our Mining Mess? Christopher Pollon, 23 May 20011,
• Detailed drawings of above ground-mine operations and tailings piles, in the landscape, as they will be seen from key locations, particularly Denman Island and the Island Highway.
• Comprehensive social studies, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups, on the project’s impact on tourism, property values and the effects of a project that is opposed by a significant proportion of residents, including out-migration, mental health and community cohesion.
• A statement of the company’s commitment to workers’ health and safety, and corporate citizenship.

On a personal note, again for the record, if the Raven mine or any associated open pit mines proceed, it will be devastating for us. We moved to Union Bay a year ago, investing the sum total of our life’s work to come to a community that we understood valued and cherished one of the most beautiful environments on the planet. One of us has asthma, and we live close enough to the proposed site that coal dust may become a factor in our ability to stay here. We can barely think about the grief we would experience for this beautiful, still abundant environment, and the possible economic and social consequences for our lives if the mine becomes a reality.

Alice de Wolff
Cori Sandler

Monday, May 9, 2011

We've Joined A Choir

We've joined a choir!!!! - Island Soul Choir

It is called a Gospel Choir but it is more of a Soul filled Choir than a Gospel Choir -
We had our first of 2 concerts last weekend - They took place in Nanaimo BC and we had a blast.
This is just a sampling of what we have been up to lately.

This first video is the song Melodies From Heaven
(if the video doesn't stream well, you can go straight to youtube to see it there. just click here

This 2nd Video is the song Woke up this morning
(if the video doesn't stream well, you can go straight to youtube to see it there.
just click here

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sea Lions

Last year we saw sea lions emerging from fog covered waters just off Heron Rocks on Hornby Island, and we have known for years that they hang out off the south east tip of Helliwell Park on Hornby. I've always thought one needed to be in a boat, or in a pretty remote location to see these wonderful, noisy, smelly critters.

But 10 days ago I drove down the Island Highway and practically went off the road when I passed the Fanny Bay warf and realized that the booms attached to the warf were covered with them. The next day Cori & I went out in the morning to see if they were still there, and indeed there were about a hundred of them (literally) sunning themselves on the booms and waiting for the herring to arrive. Bark, bark, ark, bark, growl, ark, bark - they're incredibly loud! The day after that Dad, Evelyn, Cori & I went to check them out again, and there were maybe half that many, it being not such a great morning for sunbathing. I have developed considerable sympathy for the herring - their arrival here to spawn is such a sign of spring and renewal, but that's partly because a whole array of predators arrive with them. We're particularly aware of the eagles, these guys, and the human fishers.

We got a good look at sea lion "rafting", a version of the back float, flippers in the air, sun on belly, usually side by side with a friend or two. This looks kind of like a partially submerged, inverted tree root, until the flippers move or a head emerges. In this photo there is one alone, and two together.

On Sunday we were at our neighbour's across the road, and saw what first looked like a gaggle of ducks, but then we realized that it was a 'raft' of sea lions - just off 'our' beach!

When Cori came home tonight she heard what she first thought was a dog in some distress, but then realized that it was a sea lion, and then heard the full chorus. It sounds like they are on the log booms that are a couple of kilometers south of us. We will check it out in the morning.

ps. the boat in this photo is bringing in a harvest of Fanny Bay oysters.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fin Clipping

We are among the newest, and are quite likely the greenest 'stream keepers' on the west coast! On Wednesday we joined and had our first morning volunteering with the Fanny Bay Salmonid Enhancement Society. They are a great group of volunteers who operate a small hatchery and look after more than 20 streams that drain into Baynes Sound. They put us to work very quickly because they needed hands to clip the adipose fins of many thousand salmon smelts. Here's what we now know about this process..... it is done so that fishers recognize that these fish are from a hatchery, and so that they are recognizable when they return to these streams. These little guys have been fed since the fall and are getting ready for release - they are just a bit longer than the palm of one's hand, and after a dose of clove oil calmed them down it was possible to pick them up, quickly clip that little fin behind the dorsal, and put them back into running water that sent them back into their tank. The fish counters told us at the end of the morning that we'd clipped precisely 5001 fish.

The streams that these folks (us too, now) look after are the most likely to be affected by the proposed Raven Coal Mine. It is hard to believe, but both levels of government are (well, were, when there was a functioning prov. government) apparently encouraging several new proposals to remove coal from the bench just a few kms. above the Sound. There is a long and dangerous history of coal mines here, all of which have been closed for years. But it seems that it's now possible to seriously propose a new underground mine, with the coal to be transported by road to Port Alberni and then by ship to Japan. It's hard to keep track of the number of things that are wrong with this plan. We're wearing NO COAL MINE buttons and have gotten involved with Coal Watch and the Comox Valley Sierra Club. And have just had intimate interactions with several hundred salmon. There is a huge amount to learn and do, but this was a good place to start.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The January 8 Picnic

We decided that this last Saturday & Sunday (Jan 8 & 9) would be the right moment to get on the ferry to see Bob & Laura Johnson and their daughter Krista who live on the beach about 15k south of Powell River. Environment Canada predicted a couple of clear days, so we took B & L up on their invitation to meet us at the ferry and then stay for an overnight. We'd visited several years ago when their new house was weather tight but still under construction ... Dad had helped Bob install their kitchen cupboards. They'd not moved in yet, although Laura was beginning to feed big groups of us in the house.

So we needed to see the fully finished version.

And it's pretty wonderful. Bob and Laura planned and built every square inch of it, so it is completely "theirs". And it showed itself off to us at it's best - the weather was spectacular. When we arrived Krista was on the beach tending a big fire, and Laura said "Hotdogs on the beach". Years ago they'd built very protected seating just above the beach logs, so that's where we had lunch. So there we all were, January 8, warm enough to sit out, sunning ourselves on the beach (in this pic you can see Laura, Krista, Dad & Cori, with Bob way in the background roasting wieners on the fire).

This is what we were looking at - that's the Sunshine coast on the left, and Texada Island on the right - and what they look at every day. They have a remarkably long view down the Malaspina Strait -it's pretty wild, with almost no lights at night. There are sea lions on rocks to the left, and a constant parade of birds, seals, boats, barges and logs that keep Bob endlessly busy. Each storm blows in new treasures and/or challenges - they heat the house with drift wood that Bob hauls up from the beach and splits. He also tries to keep a path clear onto the beach so they can launch boats in the summer. This beach can take the full-on brunt of a storm, several of which have happened this season. We were lucky with these couple of days, and enjoyed them to the full.

What an amazing thing to be able to do - drop the car at some ferry terminal close to home, hop on, hang out on the water for a bit, watch the mountains from new perspectives, be hosted by wonderful friends and then be accompanied home by a spectacular sunset. Thanks Bob, Laura & Krista.