Monday, September 01, 2014

September comes

The page turns and we're into another month. September - a month of beginnings, a month of endings. Beginning school (although the public system here is in the midst of a teacher's strike so school won't begin tomorrow), ending summer. 

There's plenty of sunny days ahead in this month, typified by the photo above. Trees here in central Alberta are faintly yellow. The morning air is crisp. But the blue skies beguile me into thinking we have long weeks left to enjoy. We'll see.

This pileated woodpecked is not making healthy choices. Instead of all the natural stuff, she's choosing to look for bugs in a creosote-soaked telephone pole. Some birds!

We're enjoying our little getaway - visiting Tim's family in Alberta. Will be checking in from time to time. Have a wonderful first day of September!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Five on Friday

1.  Purple coneflowers at the garden I visited earlier in the week. I have some growing in my own garden, a recent addition since I realized that most of my flowers bloom earlier in the summer and I want colour all season long. The petals look as though they've been painted with watercolours. 

2.  My husband has been away since Sunday. Baltimore, Buffalo, Toronto. I thought I'd have all kinds of time to accomplish some projects, but I've mostly been keeping up with the garden. Green beans ready for the freezer. I use them mostly in soups. I did manage a little sewing, but didn't finish all I'd hoped for.

3. Do you prefer vegetables or fruit? I prefer vegetables. I do like fruit but find vegetables more interesting. This Sausage, Green Bean and Sweet Potato medley is a concoction derived from the need to use up more of those beans.

4.  Along with freezing green beans, I've canned applesauce and tomatoes this week. Just one canner full of each. This is such a rich time in the garden. Our apple trees produced a couple of dozen apples, not bad for the second year. All over our area there are abandoned apple trees. We collect apples from them to make applesauce. I'd like to bake a couple of pies for the freezer, too. 

5. The changing light and cooler nights are indications of the season turning. Days are still hot and sunny. Little Miss S's mother purchased some second hand pink boots for the rainy days ahead and now that's all the little girl wants to wear. With rainbow striped socks and a flower print skirt.

The last weekend of summer is here. School might or might not begin on Tuesday (our province's teachers are involved in some labour action). Tim will be flying in from points east tomorrow afternoon and I'll meet him at the airport in Vancouver, then we're taking a few days for a little trip. 

Have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy the golden days of summer. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Late August: Early Morning

The clock says 5:38 am. I roll over, then my eyes pop open and I jump crawl out of bed. It's not quite dark, not quite light. It's time to practice, practice, practice!

As I drive down the road, I'm hoping for fog lying across the land. Alas, it's been too hot and dry the past few days. I find one low field with a soft blanket of white and stop for a few minutes.

I head to the beach. I'm just in time to join the geese, gulls and ducks waiting for the sun.

Here comes that bright orb, barely peeking above the horizon at first, then rushing upwards in a blaze of red and gold.

Light bathes the landscape. I walk and stop and admire and give thanks to God for this most amazing day. 

Yep. I have a new camera. As soon as the battery charged I looked around for something to photograph - these tomatoes looked like a good subject.

It's a Panasonic GX7, one of the new breed of mirrorless camera systems that allow interchangeable lenses without the bulk of a full DSLR. I'm so grateful to Donna, photographer par excellence at Cottage Days and Journeys for her expert advice on how to choose a camera. I have a 14-42 mm lens that I used to take the above photos, and a 45-200 mm lens that I haven't even taken out of the box yet. Fun learning ahead.

Here's a question for you - are you the kind of person who reads the entire manual from cover to cover and explores all the buttons before trying out a new gadget/appliance/tool, or do you first figure out how to turn something on and start using it, figuring it out as you go?

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Way of Seeing

Sunrise over Sidney Island

We made an early morning airport run yesterday. Fog lay in thick bands on the fields. Wisps trailed in the air. I wished for my camera and time to stop. On the way home, I saw the fiery sun burning through and pulled over to watch. I managed one inadequate IPhone photo. 

In the evening I took a stroll through Butchart Gardens, not planning to take photos. I don't want to be someone who looks merely for photo opportunities and misses the richness of life. Tourist watching is so interesting. Some wander along the pathways going snap, snap, snap everywhere without taking the time to really look. 

Surely there's a way to both appreciate the moment and capture a slice of it via photography. I found myself pulling out my phone frequently. The dahlias are amazing and full of bees of various kinds. Here is one blossom with two busy creatures making the most of these sunny days.

No matter the season, there is always something to admire at the gardens. In the Japanese Garden I often notice the contrasting colours and textures that provide interest without a lot of colour. And then the pop of red in the bridge. So lovely.

A swirl of languages rises up from the garden walkways. I love to hear them and can tell from the tone of voice and the gestures what each one finds amazing here. The love of beauty is universal, a common trait to us all. I think it would be wonderful if world leaders would take the time to stop the plotting, stop the politicizing, stop the warmongering and just appreciate the beauty of diversity.

I indulged in another little day dream as I strolled along. I thought of you, my readers, many of whom have blogs I visit regularly. "Wouldn't it be wonderful," thought I, "to have a meet up here?" We could visit with the flowers and each other, and then enjoy tea in the old family home, chatting over tea and scones as long shadows fall.

Wishing you all a most lovely day.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leaving a Mark: Mosaic Monday

All sorts of textures are scattered throughout the intertidal zone. One day we, (Tim, his sister, and me) sat with our feet in a cooling tidal pool and watched. Tiny crabs, less than an inch across investigated my toes, causing the faintest tickle. Crabs chased each other - they seem to be very territorial. Most fascinating was observing the barnacle feeding - with its feet! The link takes you to a short article explaining just how it works. 

Stone worn by the water looks like a miniature landscape in the top right photo. Tangled ribbons of bull kelp line many beaches.

Someone created this crooked little set of steps, probably with the aid of a chain saw. A random piece of man's inventiveness in the woods.

Tim snapped this one from Solitude as Janet and I rowed the dinghy to shore. Doesn't it look like a blessing from heaven? We were certainly blessed by the beauty of creation and the good time we had.

Many people have left evidence of their visit to Wallace Island by writing/painting/carving their boat name on a piece of driftwood and hanging it on the outside of this abandoned building. The inside is filled with more such pieces. No, we didn't leave our mark here. Perhaps next time.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five on Friday

1.  It's been a week of getting things done. Feels good. Closets organized, carpets cleaned, and a little pre-fall gardening. 

2. There was a day spent with a friend, including two hours of walking which included views like the photo above. We've not had any significant rain for some time and the grasses are golden. So pretty against the blue.

3.  The tomatoes are ramping up their ripening - they need to be a part of almost every meal. Green beans and zucchini keep chugging along, too, along with the occasional cucumber. The heritage raspberries that produce in the fall are big and juicy although not quite as sweet as the summer crop.


4.  The new Louise Penny mystery will be out next week (Aug 26). I'm looking forward to reading devouring it. In preparation for the new book launch there's been a coordinated re-reading of her earlier novels, found here on Gamache Series. I wish I'd found it earlier. There are some wonderful essays by writers and editors as well as great discussions about the books.

5.  Today I'm planning to make some Honeyed Peach and Blueberry Compote. I'll let you know how that turns out. A little laundry, some cleaning and hopefully some time in the beautiful outdoors. That last photo - a harbinger of things to come. Nights are much cooler and noticeably shorter. Have you noticed it, too? Fall's coming. There. I said it. Guess I'm not in denial any longer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today's This and That

Well, hello there! Isn't this a lovely smiley face? Mister F and I got to spend some time together yesterday. He's a fair boy with the bluest eyes. He'll take the occasional bottle now and as I fed him, we looked at each other and time stretched backwards to when I cradled his father who looked at me with the same blue-eyed stare.

This business of walking through life is a funny one - I've never thought of it as circular, but linear, with the ability to move back and forth along the line thanks to memory.  And not so much that I move but that my mind holds the present while musing the past.

Yesterday's pickings - enough green beans for dinner (I made the Copycat Green Beans again thanks to a conversation with a friend who reminded me of it), tomatoes and plums. Something is eating my tomatoes and I don't think it's birds. Gardens seem to go in cycles. This year my winter squashes bombed. I have one small pumpkin and that's it. The tomatoes are doing well, the blueberries were fantastic and the fall crop of raspberries is coming along very well. Plums, eh, not so much, and just when I was thinking about picking the figs, they disappeared. Into thin air. I hate to think what took them away.

The first batch (a double one) of salsa. Last year I made enough salsa to very nearly get us through the year. I had to buy one jar. I like salsa with my morning egg, Tim likes it with crackers, and we both enjoy it with tortilla chips. Then there's tacos and fajitas. Salsa is our all round purpose condiment. We go through jars of it while the ketchup bottle languishes in the fridge.

And here he is again, playing with the little musical ball all of our children played with. Let's see, that makes it very nearly 33 years old. It's been through the wash numerous times and still jingles merrily.

Oh, a camera update for those who might be interested. It's toast. Water on the main circuit board. I've been considering what to get for a replacement and I think I've settled, but I'm thinking about it for a few days. I do miss my camera. These photos are Iphone products and they are okay, but not the crisper quality I enjoyed with my little point and shoot Nikon. 

This morning I'm meeting an out-of-town friend for a walk and then we'll come here for lunch. The house is in a bit of disorder as carpet cleaners are coming today so lamps, plants and occasional tables litter the kitchen eating area. Have a lovely day, reader friends - I'll catch up with you all later!