Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Golden Days



Summer lingers on and on, burnished light warming the earth and the abundance of harvest seemingly without end. Today it was grapes, fat and oh, so sweet. I plucked each grape from its stem and simmered them, then put squeezed each morsel of juice with the aid of a chinois. Juicy grape fragrance filled the kitchen. 
 

Peaches slipped from their skins after a dip into boiling water, then each sweet orb was cut, the pit removed and the quarters plopped into a light sugar syrup. Grape juice and peaches burbled in the canner and sit now, cooling on the counter top.
 

Sunflowers drop pollen onto the table top, but the effort of a daily wipe up is well worth the vibrant late sumer colour they bring to the dining room. 

Summer is drifting ever so slowly into autumn. I hold her clear light in my heart against the coming grey days. Stay summer, linger on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What a Weekend!



When the family gets together we make the most of our time together. Saturday morning we gathered for a brunch at Cristal and Gerry's home. The dahlias were beautiful in the morning light.


Three September birthdays (son-in-law Gerry, daughter Ashley and son Travis) celebrated with one party. Lots of laughter and talking. I think we get louder as the hours pass.
 

Early last spring Katie's mother called her up. "You have to come over and see this tea set at the garage sale across the street." 
Katie realized it was Russian porcelain - collected by Ashley. This tea set for 6 includes cups, saucers, dessert plates, tea pot, cream, sugar and fruit bowl. It has never been used and the seller was asking $15.00 for the box. Katie asked her if she knew what she was selling. 
"Oh yes, but I've never used it and just want to get rid of it."

Katie's been saving it for Ashley's birthday and we could all hardly wait to see her open the gift. She was as thrilled as we had anticipated.
 

Auntie Ashley reading to her "girlies." 
 

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated Felix with a baby dedication/baptism done here at our home. Felix' maternal grandfather is a pastor and did a beautiful job of reminding us all of God's grace. My parents came over from the mainland and my father (Felix' great-grandfather) read Scripture. Here are Tim and I with the little man.
 

And here he is, smiley and dapper in his shirt and tie. He doesn't sleep much and his parents are very tired, but he's a joy to all of us.


I made this cake for the birthday party - a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream and Sugared Pecans. It seemed to pass muster. I used the recipe in the link for the cheesecake, but did a different crust and my own caramel sauce recipe. Extra sauce was served on the side.

Everything is mostly cleaned up. Today I'm canning peaches and continuing some garden clean up. As my hands work I'll be mulling over all the weekend events. Do you relive happy moments in the same way?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Capturing Motion: A Personal Photography Challenge


This month's photo challenge, hosted by Donna, is about capturing motion. I feel like I'm on a steep learning curve with my new camera and this challenge stepped that up a notch. Between the unfamiliar equipment and being away, I haven't spent as much time on this challenge as I would have liked. But I can keep practicing.


This is one of the first photos taken with my Panasonic DMC-GX7, snapped without much thought on the automatic scene setting (bright landscape). The slightly blurred wing tips give the illusion of beating wings although anyone would assume the birds are in flight, and therefore the wings are moving.

1/125 s     f/5.6     ISO 200
 

This photo and the next were taken off my back deck around 9:00 pm, using a tripod and long exposure time (a full minute for the one below). For this photo, I wanted to capture the forsythia bush moving in the wind with the clear residential lights behind. It looks a bit like a blurred mess. The wind was not blowing at the moment I wanted to take the photo, so I jiggled the tree during the exposure. I jiggled it too violently and it looks like a wild storm rather than a gentle breeze.

30.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400
 

This is the opposite of above. I was hoping to pan the camera and create movement in the lights. Instead everything is moving, and I've decided to call this photo "As the World Turns."

60.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400

I'm sneaking in one more photo because the two above sort of count as the same thing, don't they?
 

I used a tripod, indoors, and gently blew on the candle flame as I snapped the photo. The flame's angle and slight blurring contribute to the effect of motion. I think this photo is a little bit ominous with the dark shadows looming. It adds suspense and makes me wonder what comes next in the story. Kind of a shivery excitement.

1.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400 

I can think of all sorts of possibilities with this new knowledge - ocean waves, cars at night from the overpass, little grandkids who can't stay still - thanks, Donna, for this fun challenge.

Do check out the other participants' photos. It's sure to be a "moving" experience.  


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Signs of the Season



Books set in years past often include scenes of spring or fall cleaning. I don't really follow a schedule for seasonal cleaning, although there are things I do at certain times in the year. Yesterday, I scrubbed the siding and porch rails of the front porch. Front porch in the fall, back deck in the spring. 
 

The door window framed was painted and I also took down the plaque with the house numbers, removed the numbers and painted both the plaque and the numbers. Now to replace the very old weathered mail box. A pot of mums and I'm finished with this area. It feels good to have one project finished.


The hydrangeas faded early this year; some to this pale lavender, others to a richer burgundy. Although the sun shines brightly and skies are blue, the wind whispers that colder weather is coming. I put on blue jeans for the first time since June. I might be thinking about putting socks on my feet. 
 

But the dahlias, brightly coloured, still dance in the breeze. There's so much beauty in our world. Early Autumn is a time to let the blue skies and lingering flowers seep into my mind and soul, even as my days are filled with busy chores. Take a moment to breathe. To give thanks. 

 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Too Many Fronts



My house looks like a battle zone. Piles of garden produce to deal with make me wonder why I embarked upon a major clean out and reorganization of rooms and closets. I'm faced with too many fronts - a clear strategy for losing. Just ask Napoleon. 
 

In an effort to gain some perspective, I took a little walk around the garden with my camera. A few new spikes of lavender bloom and the dahlias are lovely.
 

My neighbour has a grape vine that trails over our fence. She (the neighbour) encourages us to help ourselves to the grapes. Last year I canned some grape juice which made a wonderful drink when mixed with club soda for those who don't want wine with dinner. The grapes are ripe now and should be picked soon. But I won't think about that now.
 

I wanted an evergreen plant for the pot in front of the porch and settled on a bay laurel - laurus nobilus - that I'll prune to a fuller shape. The prunings can be dried and used to flavour soups and stews.
 

This little village spends most of its time in a cardboard box, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I have it out on our dry sink in the dining room just now. The buildings replicate those of Old Quito during Spanish Colonial days and make me think of the years we spent in Ecuador.

How quickly the years pass. I'm feeling rather pensive just now, looking at those little buildings. Those were the years of active mothering. Now I'm a grandmother of 3. How can that be? 

There's a weekend of celebration coming up and I have to get the house in order. The important things will all be accomplished. Onward I go, taking little breaks here and there to read a few of your blogs and sometimes leave a comment. How are your early September days? Full to overflowing or just right?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Mountain Memories



The clean scent of pine fills the air as we begin our hike to Chester Lake. A steady climb up for 40 minutes has my heart pounding. I wonder why my head feels a familiar dizziness. Ah, the altitude, that's it. Haven't felt that since leaving the Andes mountains years ago. 

We stop to catch our breath several times. Those are good opportunities to turn and look back over the valley to the snow-covered peaks beyond. A pair of chipmunks scurries in a clearing. We reach a snow-covered meadow. A few summer blooms peek out through the white and our boots crunch on the trail. A young Spruce Grouse hides behind a tree while his mother stands guard closer to the trail. She doesn't move and I get several photos.


Canada's National Parks are amazing places. We enjoy today the foresight of past decisions to keep these areas free of development. 

The other hike we enjoyed was a short one to Grassi Lakes, where the water is the beautiful colour you see in the photo above. 


An American Dipper perches on a branch over the water, eyeing us carefully, but content to pose, turning this way and that.

We're home again now. The grass is cut, laundry is swishing, and everything unpacked. I picked 15 pounds of tomatoes and will begin canning/salsa/freezing once again. There are green beans, raspberries, kale and zucchini. Our lovely trip is a memory, kept in our minds to be brought out at will. Oh, and there's a little residual stiffness in my upper legs from the climb. 

Joining with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Beauty in the Wild



Yes, there was snow. None at first, then just a little beside the trail and soon we were crunching through the snow that fell yesterday, softened a little and froze again overnight.
 

The temperature was perfect for hiking, not too cold, not too warm. We hiked up to Chester Lake and then around the lake, picking our way along the scree on one side. We are so thankful that we are both strong and healthy enough to enjoy these excursions into the semi-wilderness.
 

Here's a photo of a Vancouver Island tree-hugger in the Alberta Rockies. Notice the new hiking boots? They made the hike even more pleasant.
 

A view on the way down. You'll notice most of the snow disappeared as we descended. But the vistas were just as awe-inspiring.

Confession time: These photos were taken with my husband's I-Phone. I lugged my new camera all the way up and back, but after a couple of photos at the beginning, my battery died. I was rationing photos because I forgot my battery charger at home. The last charge disappeared rather quickly. I'll know better next time. And an extra battery might be included in my bag!