Tag Archives: crafts and sewing

The Porthole, Melbourne, Ontario, Canada.

Simply stated,The Porthole, the little coffeeshop is right downtown in Melbourne,Ontario. Downtown is marked clearly across the street on another heritage building that appears to be quite retired at the moment. Around the intersection of downtown Melbourne, Ontario there are some business concerns and agricultural spots but as far as I can tell, The Porthole is the only place to eat. On my drive today in search of out of the way places I drove past the little place a couple of times before deciding to try it out.

Country style, no fuss, just come on in and what will you have?

Drawn to the serving counter first I was met by the nicest soul and within minutes of chatting with her I had the story of the place. While finding out about The Porthole I could also sense the connection this wonderful lady had with the folks gathered there. As a newbie on the scene amongst a table of beautiful seniors, another table of friendly locals, several weathered handsome farmers, a few younger, slightly weathered handsome farmers and another artsy looking chap in a leather cowboy hat I felt like I was just one of the gang.

Back in the kitchen a couple of young women cooked our lunches but one ( who turns out to be the owner I believe) also came out on request to banter with one of the comical regulars. The scene was fun and unscripted and as good as anything you might see at Blyth. Around the corner of the kitchen wall I think I could see an old time pie safe or icebox. In any other place it would be all tricked out as a décor touch but not in this place. It was just part of the furniture.

Some sailing décor, in keeping with the name is there. Sailing is hardly a pastime in this spot as it is just farmland for miles around. The owners had at one time had a connection with Port Stanley and so the name, The Porthole. Social doings in the community like barbeque suppers are clearly posted, Girl Guide cookies were promoted at the counter and several squirrel and birdfeeders hang jauntily from the ceiling.

My lunch was good, especially the fries. The fries made me think of the kind of fries you get at the local fair. Coffee was good and in a big mug served with extra cream right from the carton. I didn’t ask to see the menu but I bet it is a good place to get good country food any season.

I will be going back to get another helping of a good lunch, a bit of banter and the warmth of human kindness.

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Yard Work, Digging Mostly

Keeping me on my toes, the gathering of two family members, a neighbour, my librarian and  her daughters, I went ahead with my night to meet and encourage other community writers.

The sensory games and  creativity ideas were tried. Some poetry, mine and another’s ( a professional) published piece were read. A story about the influences of the neighbour attending the event, upon my writing, was pulled for my stockpile and read in it’s entirety. We ate fruit and dessert squares. Another evening, led by me, encouraging young writers was planned for the summer.

In the meantime, stories and threads of ideas were revealing themselves, The group dynamics were interesting. From the mixture of a very small gathering came ideas of reading with very young children, the trauma of  caring for elderly pets,decluttering household contents and wondering about the unforeseen future, knitting, crochet, tatting, hooked rug making, church yard sales, baking, cooking, reading cookbooks, dealing with children, throwing away blackened pots of burnt spaghetti, recalling the chores of working with father in the barn milking the cows and going to the mill and cleaning the house, despising those awful hooked rugs so heavy to drag from the upstairs bedrooms all the way downstairs to air them and clean them while sister baked, studying French and setting up a writing blog …. one that the mom , the librarian, can’t read because it will be all about her according to one of the young daughters.

At the conclusion of the evening another neighbour arrived. A young mother returning her library books, noticing us finishing up the brownies and the fruit tray, realizing we were a bit over the closing hour at the library. Familiar to me, a neighbour, we often say hello. I knew she was a fellow teaching colleague on maternity leave and an artist. Now I know she writes a blog. From just skimming through some of her blog posts I’ve also discovered that her husband is a poet.

All in all, a successful gathering . A very small community gathering of supportive people just planting the seed and nudging together the warming circle of stories, ideas and creativity.Tending a word garden takes effort and patience and with a sprinkle or two of interest it might even take root.

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Aunt Mabel’s Sewing Basket

Three weeks have passed since I was presented with the two dress shirts to repair. They have been left draped on a chair with the sewing basket close at hand, untouched. All that was required was some very simple button sewing but it seemed to be a job I would rather postpone. Today, I sewed on the buttons. It took about an hour because the buttons had been chewed off by the little bulldog character I’ve mentioned in some previous posts. Delicate chewing had crushed about six buttons and they had to be replaced with the extra ones sewn on the bottom of the shirts. It was good of her to leave some spares. It was also good of her to leave the shirt fabric in one piece. I am trying to be positive about her best qualities.

 The biggest pain was just threading the needle but eventually with a great deal of winking and aiming I got the thread through the needle and with tiny scissors I clipped away the tattered threads hanging on the chewed spots. After completing this simple task I felt some satisfaction and put the shirts away for my son when he breezes in to get them later this weekend.

The next thing I did was tidy up the sewing basket. For several years it has been in a bit of a jumble and I couldn’t quite close the lid properly. Obviously, this sewing thing is not a priority with me so a jumbled sewing box with it’s lid askew isn’t surprising. However, having finished the simple button repairs and feeling somewhat pleased with myself I decided to take a few minutes and just organize the kit so I could put it away neatly for the next sewing session.

Many spools of thread of intriguing muted colours filled the top layer of the box. Under this tray were all kinds of tiny clever travel sewing kits. Some were in little square cases, some were wrapped in brown paper and one was in a small metal capsule with a cute little thimble as a cap on the end. More mysterious paper packages revealed sets of hooks, buttons and what nots used for sewing emergencies. I found several threading devices also but could only figure out how to use one of them successfully.  Ribbons, elastic tape and seam binding laid in the bottom layer of the basket. I doubt I’ll ever use them but I don’t feel the authority to remove them. They stay.

An hour or so passed sorting through all this stuff and I found myself thinking of many different things in the process. Marvelling at the common sense practicality of all the items brought back memories of my aunt. This was her workbasket and had been handed down. The careless mess of the items was my doing during the years when all I could do was dash through tasks like repairing a fallen hem or lost button.  ( In my glory days as a very busy teacher I was more inclined to use a stapler to temporarily fix a dangling hem!) She had kept all these things in top order ready for action and I had pawed through them creating havoc.

In the whole scheme of things it sometimes takes time to face what needs to be done and sort through the things that don’t sit well. It takes time to really look at things, put aside the frustrations and try to use what is practical. Several years and three weeks later, some of my aunt’s common sense and practicality rubbed off on me. However, it is the thread of thought between us that I found so binding. Honestly, I enjoyed the visit.

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