Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On a Quiet Evening

My bag had to be at school this morning, along with my sleeping bag, so that the vans could be packed. We will be driving, in 4 vehicles - 3 large vans and a small bus - for three long days to Mexico. I have a little tote bag and my pillow to take tomorrow. 

As part of the team of chaperones and drivers for this trip, I had to get my commercial driving licence. That meant a computer knowledge test (which I failed the first time because I didn't study enough about engines and torque and shifting), plus a driving test that included a vehicle inspection. That I did pass. Then, I needed a medical sign-off from my doctor assuring the licensing office that I was of sound mind and body. Also passed.

In a recent conversation with a friend, (actually, with more than one friend), she expressed both admiration and not a little horror that I would do such this - both go to Mexico and get my licence. To summarize what my friends said: "I've decided I'm too old to do things that are out of my comfort zone." 

My response is that I never want to feel so old that I'm not going to challenge myself. I am cognizant of my age and I won't be attempting foolish behaviour, such as bungee-jumping, but I'm not willing to stagnate. The students will have a day at Six Flags on the way home, but I won't be riding any roller coasters, thank you very much. 

I don't consider myself particularly adventuresome, and I often have to push through fear and worry to do the things I do. I pray. I trust God. I ask for strength to do whatever it is I need to do. 

On this quiet evening at home, I'm pondering a lot of things: a friend from my high school days is dying, and an uncle is also declining. Life is indeed uncertain, and all too short. Even as I write these words, I push away fear and uncertainty, entrusting my days and this trip to God's hands.

How do you feel about new experiences? Do you find that you sometimes have to acknowledge fear and then decide to not let it stop you?

Several weeks ago I mentioned a sewing challenge - 6 items in 6 weeks. I did finish. Tim took photos of me on Sunday afternoon when the sun shone beautifully warm. Yellow is out of my comfort zone, but I made the vest reversible in case I wanted to push myself a little. 

The family who live nearby came over on Sunday afternoon for a casual dinner. I've been wanting to try Brenda's Sour Cream Lemon Pie ever since seeing it on her blog. It was delicious and a big hit. Those pretty blue napkins are from my cousin from Wales who was here on a short visit and stopped in for breakfast on Saturday morning. They are from the Burleigh Pottery makers in England. 

The weekend's warmth and sunshine has dissolved into cooler temperatures and drizzly rain. I'll be at the school very early tomorrow morning as we plan to catch the first ferry off the island. The house is clean, there are some meals ready for Tim, and there's nothing left to do. 

I may not be able to blog much (or at all), but I'll look forward to reading your thoughts on my return.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On a Sunday in Spring

Charles Dickens knew spring well. He wrote, in Great Expectations "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade." This was our weekend. Beautiful sunshine, but chilly air and when it blew, a biting wind. 

In the grounds of Government House all kinds of flowers are blooming in clumps and beds among the pathways and rocks. My camera worked overtime, finding colour and texture everywhere. 

The sun played peek-a-boo, but when it shone, how the light glowed among the petals.  

Not all is in bloom. The stark architecture of Garry Oaks reminds me that spring unfolds gradually.

Hellebores bloomed prolifically in the Lieutenant Governor's garden. I met her, Judith Guichon, walking with her dog, and we exchanged a smiling hello.

Warm yellow beehives stand off the beaten path. I studied them for a few moments and was happy to see a goodly number of bees flying about.

Today, Sunday, was warm and sunny. We switched to Daylight Savings Time last night. I think the combination of the mellow sunshine and the time change had us feeling a wee bit tired. Family came for Sunday supper and our children confessed to the same feelings. I'm not a fan of the time switch - choose one or the other and stick with it is my opinion. 

So many varieties of hellebores, and all of them beautiful. I've not had much success in keeping my plants alive and wonder what I'm doing wrong. Too dry in the summer? I'll be doing some research.

I'll be away from my blog for a few weeks, chaperoning a group of Grade 12 students who are going to a needy area in Mexico for a service project. We leave early Wednesday morning, in time to catch the first ferry at 7 am. By the time I return, I expect more spring growth to have burst out. 

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

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Gardens, Yogurt, and Tulips

Are the days and weeks flying by for you, too? Do you find it difficult to believe that it's March already? Tick, tick, tick. Time passes. Dull days have given way to a few with more sunshine. When I wander around the garden, I see more and more signs of life. It's so uplifting.

The daffodil bulbs planted last spring are spiky stalks with a few buds and one open flower. Pointed red ovals of peonies thrust upwards toward the sun. Lilac, blueberry, raspberry, and more show the promise of life. 

I mentioned making yogurt last week and a couple of readers asked for my recipe. It's not complicated, but I did a little research into why the process is as it is. 

Many recipes call for the milk to be heated to 175-180 degrees (Fahrenheit), then cooled to 110-120 F before adding the yogurt culture. I wondered why the heating was necessary because the milk is pasteurized. If you Google the question, you'll get lots of answers, some more scientific than others. Basically, though, 180 degrees is hotter than pasteurization, and the heating alters the proteins in the milk to enable the yogurt to become thick. I'm certainly no expert as I've just begun making it, but it's worked so far!  

Here's how I do it:

Heat the milk (I do 3-4 quarts at a time) in a heavy pot over medium heat until 175-180 degrees (Fahrenheit). 
I run a sink full of cold water and set the pot into the water and let it cool to 115 degrees or so.
In a small bowl or cup, mix 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use organic) with a 1/4 cup of the cooled milk. Whisk well.
Add the yogurt mixture to the rest of the milk and stir. Pour into clean jars. Screw on the lids.
I set my jars into my electric oven, turn on the pilot light, and go to bed. In 7-8 hours the yogurt is done and ready to chill. You can leave it to culture longer for a tangier flavour. I've left mine up to 12 hours. 
It tastes best if allowed to chill before eating. 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a short boating trip to take the boat to the marine shop. On Saturday we did the reverse trip. This long pier, seen from the water, caught my attention. 

Tulips are adding colour to the house these days. I do love pink flowers, particularly in the spring when I get tired of the grey weather. Soon there will be lots of colour outside; I can hardly wait.

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