Sunday, December 04, 2016

Jolly Times

Sidney by the Sea is just 10 minutes up the road from our place. On a clear and chilly Sunday evening we bundled up with scarves, gloves, parkas, and boots for the annual parade. It's Sidney's annual parade, but our first. We tend to be stick in the muds  homebodies, finding plenty to keep us occupied at home. 

When we do exert ourselves and get out of the house, we usually have a great time. This was no exception. Bright lights, happy people, and fun displays entertained us well, and helped us forget that our feet were beginning to freeze to the sidewalk. 

A cup of hot chocolate also helped.

After the parade on Beacon Avenue, we wandered down to the waterfront to watch another parade, this one of lighted boats. How jolly it all was. And cold. 

We came home, sat by the fire, ate pizza and watched an episode of Midsomer Murders. Very cozy. 

Are you a stay-at-home kind of person, or do you attend a lot of community events? Do you get out more at Christmas than at other times of the year?

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Slowing Down in a Season of Speed

My garden is getting ahead of itself. The hellebore is blooming well in advance. Shy flowers, dripping with rain, gaze at the ground and I kneel on the damp ground to photograph them. 

We've had two frosty mornings this week, separated by one day of rain. If the two weather systems collided, perhaps we would get the snow I wish for. 
Meanwhile, I venture outside just as the sun trudges reluctantly up the sky. Frost-edged hydrangeas draw my camera's attention.

In this season, where Nature slumbers, I keep a quiet Advent in my heart. Days are filled with lessons, recalcitrant students, sewing projects, and things I'd like to accomplish. How then, in the midst of busyness, do I hem my days with quietness? 

It's not easy when everything around me says, "do, do, do," and "rush, rush, rush." I make my lists, trying to be realistic about what I can accomplish, and I build in time to read, to sew, to go for walks. Yes, there will be things left undone, but the important work of waiting in hope as the days darken, as I wait for the Light, literally and spiritually, draws me irresistibly to quiet my heart, if not my hands.

The first week of Advent and the first day of December are nearly over. Each day is precious. Like my garden, each day can be quietly beautiful. 

Five glimpses of life here today for a linkup to Amy's Five on Friday. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Afternoon Tea

A few weeks ago, my daughter invited me to an afternoon tea at the White Heather Tea Room, along with her mother-in-law, and Little Miss S. 

How civilized to sit and drink tea, eat ginger-apricot scones, elegant sandwiches, and sweet treats while the rain dripped outside on a very dreary day. 

We three adult ladies ordered the Not-so-Wee-Tea, while Little Miss S had the Wee Tea. It wasn't so wee, and Miss S isn't so little anymore. 

Her tea was served all at once on a single plate. I watched her nibble one sandwich, and take a bite from another. She ate her apple slice, and then, it seemed like an epiphany occurred. There was chocolate cake. And shortbread. And butter tart square. ALL ON THE SAME PLATE! Surely, her mind seemed to reason, that meant she could eat it in any order she wanted.

So she did what any little person would do, she started with the chocolate cake, moved to the other sweets, and then the scone and chicken salad filling. She packed away most of that Wee Tea, along with two teacups of mint tea. What fun!

Although the tea wasn't a seasonal celebration, it coincided with the first Sunday in Advent the next day, and in a way, it felt like the beginning of this wonderful season. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.

Friday, November 25, 2016

These Days

These days, the citrus scent of Japanese mandarin oranges takes me back to my childhood. They came in wooden crates and my parents purchased one or two boxes throughout December. They stayed down in the cold room or basement. It was the only time of year we enjoyed them. How sweet they tasted.

My grandparents (on both sides) gave all of their grandchildren a paper bag filled with candy, nuts and one mandarin orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I didn't appreciate the orange so much, then, as I would now. 

After the oranges were gone, the box remained, with infinite creative possibilities. It made a great doll bed, a little shelf for books on the desk my father built into our closet, or a repository for childhood treasures. What did you do with your wooden orange crates?

On this day, as I peel an orange, I breathe in the scent of childhood Christmases, slowly section each piece, pull off the white membrane and savour the sweet pop of juice in my mouth.

These days, lists are being made and there is tea beside the fire. Advent begins this Sunday and I'll bring out the Nativity set, hang a wreath on the door, and the season of preparation will begin again. As the earth tilts, ever so slowly, further from the sun, Christendom anticipates the coming of the Light of the world.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Frith Wood and Painswick: Mosaic Monday

On these grey days (although the sun is currently shining here), it's hard to remember how hot it was in the summer. During our trip to France and England just a few months ago, we enjoyed marvelous weather. Sunshine with very, very little rain. 
One thing we had been looking forward to while visiting the Cotswolds was walking some of the ancient trails. You may remember that we were down for a few days and not up to walking very far. 
However, on our last day there, we determined to go for some sort of a walk, if not a long one. We had planned to do a canal walk in Stroud, but there was no shade at all, and the heat so intense that we turned back. The kind ladies in the tourist office suggested Frith Wood, and gave us a map. So off we went, first driving along a nail-biting narrow road through the prettiest valley, through the village of Slad and beyond, until we came to a public footpath with a small parking area.

The trail took us along a ridge between the Slad and Painswick Valleys, through an ancient beech wood that filtered the light, and beside fields that baked under the fierce sun.
The beech trees were probably planted shortly after the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, from Belgian seed. 

There was little relief from the heat, even in the forest, but oh, how beautiful it all was. We would have walked longer, but the main trail seemed to end. We wandered along a road for awhile, then turned back and made our way back.

From a high point on the walk, we spied a village in the distance and thought it might be interesting to pop down there for a bit. Our adventurous GPS (Sat Nav) assured us that there was a road. It didn't indicate how narrow the road would become. After arriving home I looked at the "road" on Google maps and see that it is labeled a "lane." Much more accurate. 
While Tim drove, I leaned forward, craning my neck to see even one inch further around the corners as the branches slapped the sides of the car. At one point we met up with a rather snooty lady driving a fancy white convertible who wouldn't give an inch and was rather impatient with our efforts to back up to a somewhat wider section in order to let her pass. 

And so we arrived in Painswick, Queen of the Cotswolds, with its pretty Georgian houses, St. Mary's church that dates back to the Domesday Book, and best of all, The Patchwork Mouse Art Cafe where we fortified ourselves with Cheese and Tomato Toasties. A most serendipitous find.

New Street was built in 1428, at a time when the wool trade flourished. The doors are painted such wonderful colours, but after looking at all the photos, I realize that I have a slight list in all of them.
The arched door shown in the mosaic above is an older part of the church that probably dates to the 14th century. 

The tower was built in the 15th century and I'm assuming the clock was installed then, although I couldn't find any specific information. The clock was restored in 1986.

We managed to find another way back to our lodgings without having to drive that narrow lane, where we collapsed in relief, took cool showers, and later walked to The Apple Tree Pub for a satisfying, and easy-on-the-nerves dinner. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November Celebrations

Two November birthdays. Two beautiful young women. A daughter and a daughter-in-love. We gathered on Sunday for a late brunch/lunch.

I was in the mood to try a few new recipes. I made a baked, filled omelette, loosely based on this recipe. Sauteed vegetables and cheese filled the omelette and we had breakfast sausages on the side, along with a fruit plate and...

a braided apple bread that was quite good. I would serve a cheese sauce to accompany the omelette next time.

Cake decorating is NOT my forte, unlike DIL Katie. I browsed Pinterest and came up with the idea of a cupcake bouquet. There were even a few late, late raspberries to pop onto the centers. I'm sure these will be the last. 

Purchased macarons were a special treat. Tim took this photo from the other end of the table. Miss A is reading the macaron flavour key to Miss S. Notice the teacups? The girls asked if they could have tea, in their special cups, with sugar cubes. This Nana agreed with alacrity.

Grandpa suggested that the littles should have finger access to the piped green stems of icing on the cake plate. It didn't take long for that to disappear!

The dads got in on the play - one was a horse, the other helped to get everyone balanced. The ride was short, but fun while it lasted.

How often do you try new recipes? I feel like I've been in a bit of a rut, but all the time I spent in the kitchen this past weekend was a lot of fun.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Restorative Hiking: Mosaic Monday

A spur-of-the-moment decision.  I boil water for tea, wrap up cheese and sausage, cut an apple into wedges, grab the dark chocolate and put my hiking boots by the door.

And we're off to East Sooke Park, the best place for hiking, in our opinion. Water, forest, sky, mountains. As we begin, skies look dark and ominous, but Tim's pack contains rain gear and hot tea.  

We usually take the coast trail to Beechy Head, and then a shorter inland trail back to the parking lot. This time, we do it in reverse. What a difference! It hardly looks like the same trail. Do you ever do things the opposite way and find a fresh perspective?

Beechy Head is one of the points from where the boundary of between the USA and Canada is marked. We perch on a rock ledge high above the water, hoping the rain will hold off. It does. A bit of sunshine peeks through and the wind dies down as we drink our tea. Below us, nearer the water, gulls sail by; singles, doubles and groups. Where are they going? Is there a gull party somewhere? We were not invited.

In the distance, monotones prevail, a hundred shades of blue and grey. A mostly empty container ship glides down the strait, a thin, crisply delineated shape in the blurred landscape.

The softened focus of the larger views sharpens as I zero in on what's nearby. Puffs of the lichen cladonia ciliata (I think) resemble soft, pale green sheep fleece. We follow the trail along the coast. Up and down we clamber, stopping frequently to admire the view. 

Arbutus berries, yellow, red, and gold, dangle from a spindly branch.

Flocks of squawking gulls cluster around a bed of sea kelp as we near the end of our 3-hour hike. 

We drive home, tired but restored in body and mind. Here, in unspoiled creation, I sense God's presence. Beauty soothes and inspires. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.