Monday, July 06, 2015

Beauty in the Desert

Last Thursday Tim and I hopped onto a plane for a couple of short flights to Spokane, Washington. We thought it was hot on our island, however, the 103 degree (39 Celsius) heat slammed like a wall when we arrived.

Early morning is the best time for a walk. Our friends live on the edge of a natural park. It's a spare landscape at first sight - dry scrub, pine trees, brown foliage with little color.

It was an amazing weekend. The event was a reunion of people who had worked in the little jungle town of Shell Mera during the 50s through the present. Pilots, doctors, teachers, maintenance technicians, nurses, administrators came from all over the USA and Canada. Five people traveled from Australia and one from Ecuador. 80 of us all together. It was a little taste of heaven visiting with friends I never thought I'd see on earth again. 

As we shared stories, laughter and a few tears, I was reminded again that beauty is everywhere. From the dry desert comes delicate structures like those above and in the dry times of life comes character and grace.

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

Friday, July 03, 2015

And the Heat Goes On...

In the morning, after breakfast, I wander around my garden. Feverfew is blooming. It's an independent plant, seeding itself thither and yon. I don't mind - the small plants that I don't want to grow into flowers I yank, the others I let grow. The blooms are bright and cheery and great in bouquets. 

I have a couple of pots that I move around the garden to fill in blank spots here and there. This pot of succulents is keeping the herbs company these days.

At times, our local pharmacy has a table of used books for sale by the front door. On the honour system - just drop your toony ($2 coin) into the can.  I was pleased to find both of the above this week. Do you find that reading a new cookbook can revitalize your cooking? I do.

Cool hydrangeas belie the temperature. It's evening now as I write - 8:30 pm. Warm, golden light. Deep shadows cast by a still strong sun. Everything is still. Breathless. A summer's evening. 

Wishing all my American readers a very happy 4th of July tomorrow! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Canada Day Visitors

Tiger Swallowtails love the butterfly bush. They come singly or in pairs to drink the sweet nectar. I sit on the deck with my camera, waiting. Many shots and just a few are worth keeping. Love digital photography.

But the butterflies were not the only visitors on this Canada Day. 

The grandchildren and their parents joined us for dinner on the deck. I could have plunked myself in the pool to cool off, but the water in it was very warm. We're having a heat wave. See how dry and brown the grass already is? 

It's hard to get photos of children wearing hats who are most intent on whatever they are engaged in. 

Steak on the grill, potato salad, edamame/apple salad, beet/orange salad, and a blueberry tart for dessert. Everyone contributed and it was easy going. Too hot to fuss. What doesn't get done in the morning around here lately just doesn't get done. 

So. Happy Birthday, Canada. I'm very pleased to be a citizen.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Color and Texture

On our trip to the Maritimes at the beginning of June, one thing that impressed me was color. Painted houses in shades of blue, red, yellow, green and lots of white dot the landscape. I can imagine how pretty they would look in the snow. Doors were often in bright contrast to the house color and I took lots of photos of those. 
In Lunenburg I discovered that others before me liked all the colored doors for there is a wonderful poster of them for sale in the gift shops.

While playing about in Picasa I somehow landed up with ALL the photos in one folder included in a mosaic. It looked fun and interesting, so I created something similar with photos of PEI. That's Cavendish Beach in the center, a place referred to in L.M. Montgomery's books. 

Passersby might have thought me a crazy tourist to be photographing peeling painted wood. I thought the photos would make nice backgrounds. Above I've combined them in a collage along with a photo of lobster pots.

The East Point Lighthouse sits at the south east end of the island. I've been re-reading my old Anne books, and in Anne's House of Dreams, she refers to a ship rounding East Point. Don't you love it when fiction and real life collide?

Such a pretty face on this fox. We were driving and stopped to look at the fox by the roadside. Tim snapped this photo along with several others.

I'm linking up with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five on Friday

1. In the morning, before the sun climbs high, I go out to the garden. This urban square of land is full of life. Birds sing their matins in harmony from tree to hedge. Bees flit from flower to flower. Blueberries grow fat and roll easily into my fingers, and fall with a satisfying plop into my container.

2. I move to the raspberry patch. Gossamer spider webs crisscross the canes. The berries glow translucent red, each one a jewel. Gentle tugs and soon my second container is full, ready for tumbling onto granola, yogurt or ice cream. This ability to go out and pick my own food is such luxury. 

3. Elsewhere in the garden beds, red-veined beet leaves beg for thinning. Bitter arugula is added to my basket for tonight's salad. I pick the first cucumber, dark skinned, with tiny prickles. Tomatoes, small and green, hold promises for another day.

4. Dinner on the patio with fluttery visitors. The Butterfly Bush is aptly named for they do love it. 

5. The temperature rises. We're in for a very hot weekend. I was inspired by a dish served at my daughter's house last weekend. 
Red onion, cut into thick slices, and pineapple, also sliced, tossed with olive oil and grilled until tender crisp and sweet, cut up and added to a variety of greens. I grilled some cherry tomatoes and added them to the mix with a teriyaki grilled chicken breast alongside. A squeeze of lime juice over all and no dressing needed.
A bit of couscous or bread adds more to the meal, if needed. 

What do you serve when it's hot and you don't feel like cooking? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Bit of This and That

Life has its ups and downs around here. Laughter and tears mingle. One big up is the garden - a pink climbing rose that I transplanted is blooming and thriving.

After a rainfall last week I went out and captured this Secret Rose.

And more Secret Roses. A downside is that since my cold (which is better) I don't have much of a sense of smell. Hopefully, that will return soon. What a letdown to stick my nose into the blooms and smell....nothing, when I know they are sweet and fragrant.

Most of my hydrangeas are blue, but this pink one grows in a shadier spot and I wonder if that's why it's pink - or perhaps it's the soil composition in that particular spot.

For Father's Day we got together for a barbecue at our daughter and son-in-law's new home. Grandpa happily played tea party with the Little Misses before dinner. 

It's been many years since I've spent Father's Day with my own father. My parents were over for the weekend. Here's Great-Grandpa feeding Mister F his lunch. Such sweetness.

It's all my mother's fault. She posted a photo similar to the above on Facebook and I was overcome with the desire to make these easy treats. No baking required and they come together fast. (They also disappear quickly.)

Marshmallow Squares

1 cup peanut butter (I use smooth, no sugar peanut butter)
2 teaspoons butter
1 - 12 ounce package butterscotch chips
4 cups colored marshmallows

Melt together the peanut butter, butter and butterscotch chips. I use a glass bowl in the microwave and it takes 1-2 minutes. Stir well. Cool slightly and stir in the marshmallows. Pour into a 11 x 7 glass pan. Cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Hoping life's ups and downs are mostly ups. Do you have any treats that you're enjoying these days?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Continent Apart

Visiting the Historic Garden in Annapolis Royal (Nova Scotia) was one of the best experiences of the trip, for me. For Tim, not so much. He took a nap in the car, hit by the cold that plagued our trip.

Strong winds sighed in the trees at the gardens, blowing warm and humid. The locals said it was quite unusual. The scent of lilac drifted everywhere. A variety of gardens delighted and informed. 

The roses were not yet in bloom, but the peonies made up for that. 

This wire sculpture, named Fern Dancer, added a whimsical touch. I loved this garden and would enjoy returning for more exploration of it, and of the town of Annapolis Royal. 

And if I do, I'd love to stay in this Bed and Breakfast - the Queen Anne Inn. Doesn't it look charming? Next time.

This first week back home included a visit to another garden - our local Butchart Gardens, with the trio above.

Sweet peas and roses, begonias and geraniums - there was much to delight.

The Little Miss and I rode on the carousel together while my DIL manned the camera. Round and round we went, up and down, down and up.

I was very surprised when, passing by the blue poppies, my DIL said she knew the Latin name. She used to work at the gardens. I asked her if she knew the Latin for all the flowers there, but she said that this blue poppy is the only one all employees need to know. The Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) was brought to the gardens by Jenny Butchart in the 1920s and is quite special to the gardens. 

Two gardens a continent apart. Unique. Beautiful. 

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