Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canada Day is Coming

Canada's 143rd birthday is on Thursday. How will we celebrate? I'm hoping for a lot of warm sunshine, but whatever we do, I'll have a jacket tucked away because this hasn't been the warmest summer so far.

Maybe we'll encounter one of these...

Sip some of this...

and finish up by watching this....

And maybe I'll take my own fireworks pictures instead of pulling them off the CBC website.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Dining

The only private yard we currently have is behind the house and is small and narrow. Our patio table just won't fit back here. Determined to enjoy these fleeting summer days, I dragged one of my work tables outside and set up a small dining area - just right for two.

It was a simple supper - Cream of Broccoli Soup and a salad with orange, yellow and red tomatoes. I also made some Herbed Summer Bread from a cookbook by Patricia Wells. Eating outdoors seems festive even if the fare is plain. We just sat back and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, seen all too rarely these days.

These pretty blue flowers are blooming just now. I don't know what they are. If anyone can identify them, I'd love to know so I can look them up and see how to divide them (they must be perennial) and if they are on the deer's preferred menu or not.

Thank you to all who have expressed concern and prayers for Colin. It means so much. And while we all know and want Colin's cancer to go away and that his life be restored, we also recognize that death is part of this earthly life we live. This weekend his 3 siblings flew in to spend time together with him. His parents are there as well. There are many tears, interspersed with hugs, laughter and reminiscing. If you are interested, they have a blog, but I warn you, be prepared with tissues.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Investing Your Life

This is my nephew Colin, with his eldest son. I caught them in a tender moment during a big family Christmas gathering at our house in December 2008. 

I've been thinking a lot about Colin recently, and came across this quotation by a British musical group Mumford and Sons. Their lyrics are very powerful, and they sing with great emotion. I don't know that many people in my age group would enjoy their music, but I do. I doodled these lines in my art journal this morning

"in these bodies we will live
in these bodies we will die
where you invest your love
you invest your life"

Colin is 29, and has two sons, ages 4 and 2. He has a loving and beautiful wife. He has a strong faith in God. He has invested his love and his life in his family. And this past year he has struggled, battled and fought against cancer. Yesterday, treatment was halted.

I rarely share such personal details and sorrows on my blog. But it's all I can think about today. If you pray, please pray for Colin and his family.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Summer Picnic of the Season

I mentioned previously that we'd gone to Victoria for the weekend. We spent Saturday afternoon at the Saanich Historical Artifact Society, a place filled with fascinating bits of history, mostly in the form of machinery. Saturday was sunny and acceptably warm. We spread our blanket, set up the chairs and broke out the food. Then we explored.

This old church building stands nestled in the trees near the entrance. Too bad it's not large enough for all the guests for the upcoming September wedding.

There was Highland Dancing on the lawn. Isn't the point of their toes elegant?

The old school house looks like something out of Anne of Green Gables. I can just picture Anne slamming her slate over Gilbert's head.

The model engineers have an elaborate track set up at the Society. The first couple on the train is Owen, our future son-in-law's parents. Tim and I are behind them.

Here we are again, with Owen and Ashley riding behind. Although the wedding ceremony won't be held here, the reception will. And we think it's going to be a lot of fun. Can't you just see Ashley riding the train in her wedding gown?

The flat area where the Highland dancers performed is where we'll be setting up linen covered tables and setting them prettily. Oh, it's going to be an event to remember. Just 73 more days. Yikes! I need to find a dress!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Garden Delights

We were in Victoria over the weekend, enjoying being together as a family again. Since our youngest is renting the basement suite of our old home from us, and other renters are upstairs, I wandered around my garden, admiring the delphiniums, the roses, and more. We lived there for almost 8 years. There was no established landscape then, and we've added and cut, and pruned and lovingly tended that yard to make it what it is today. And so, I clipped a jarful of sweetly scented roses to bring back home with me. Their fragrance filled the car as we drove.

And the hydrangeas are just beginning to bloom, so I picked a few stems of their beautiful blueness. I miss the colour of my old garden here, but I'm looking forward to creating beauty here, too, once we put up a fence against those deer! (which won't be until fall, at least) Wandering around the older garden made me remember that creating things of beauty takes time. And half the fun is in the planning!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Best of Fathers

I am so thankful for my Dad. Listing specifics is hard - so many memories come to mind. But I'm most grateful for his love for his family - for my mom and for my siblings and me. That love has expanded to include his children-in-law, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. His faithfulness to God is a wonderful example to all of us.

And I am so thankful for my husband. We've been through good times and bad times. Very good times and very bad times. I have never regretted marrying this man who has been a wonderful father to our three children. Here he's hugging our eldest daughter in the midst of a yard cleanup a few months ago.

Happy Father's Day, Dad and Tim!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm on Vacation!

Well, I'm sort of on vacation. I wrote my last exam for this term on Thursday afternoon and came home wondering what to do next. It's not that I don't have scads of projects or things to do. But after finishing something major, there's an empty lull in which it takes time to get going again. I found the same thing when I was teaching. The first few days after the end of the school year left me wandering around the house aimlessly.
I came home from writing my exam and starting cleaning the house. It's been a bit of hit and miss around here lately, and with the construction going on, cleaning is somewhat pointless. Bathrooms still need to be scrubbed and things put away. Vacuuming and dusting always make a house look cared for. So, I went to sleep in a clean and tidy house.

Yesterday, I baked and did laundry. Some wonderful baguettes (1/2 size). The fresh bread fragrance is irresistible to me, hence the crusty end missing on one baguette. Then a poppy seed loaf, and finally, some lemon bars. That and the laundry was all done before noon!

I took a few books out of the library since I plan to read for pleasure this summer, although I have some Can Lit to read for a course. And of course, sewing, gardening, trying new recipes, renovating and wedding preparations will fill my days.

Ahhh, it's a good start to summer. Now, if only the weather would warm up a little!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Roses and Ferns

"You'll be using the best tea-set, of course, Marilla," she said. "Can I fix up the table with ferns and wild roses?"

"I think that's all nonsense," sniffed Marilla. "In my opinion it's the eatables that matter and not flummery decorations."
"Mrs. Barry had her table decorated," said Anne, who was not entirely guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, "and the minister paid her an elegant compliment. He said it was a feast for the eye as well as the palate."
"Well, do as you like," said Marilla, who was quite determined not to be surpassed by Mrs. Barry or anybody else. "Only mind you leave enough room for the dishes and the food."

Anne laid herself out to decorate in a manner and after a fashion that should leave Mrs. Barry's nowhere. Having an abundance of roses and ferns and a very artistic taste of her own, she made that tea-table such a thing of beauty that when the minister and his wife sat down to it they exclaimed in chorus over its loveliness.

Wild roses and ferns line the roads around here. When I walk, the sweet scent floats by me, and the above passage, taken from Anne of Green Gables, comes to mind. Unlike Anne, I have not set my tea table with roses and wild ferns, but wouldn't it be pretty? And isn't Marilla's word "flummery" just delicious?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friendly Flowers

"Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flowers?"
Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail

Several times a week I walk down to our local grocery store, my grocery tote swinging from my hand. By deliberately not buying everything I need during my major shopping of the week I force myself to get out and walk. It takes me about 15 minutes to get there. And the road is so pretty. It's partly wooded, with a few houses along one section. Fresh forest scents waft up against me, while trees rustle in the breezes.

I was inspired today to take these pictures of the daisies that grow along the road. Friendly looking, aren't they? 

"The daisy's for simplicity and unaffected air." Robert Burns

I think Robert Burns would like the bottom photo. Those friendly daises are nestled up to Scotch Broom, brought here by a homesick Scotsman in the 19th century, and now considered invasive. But the daisies don't know that and they thrive along with the broom.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's Going on Around Here

Major renovations have begun. This cabinet, between the kitchen and dining room, is now totally gone, leaving me with more counter space and more light. It's very rough - we spent a lot of time figuring out the timeline of what has to happen first around here.

And the first step turned out to be moving the laundry room to the basement. We lifted the laminate flooring to discover water on the cement. Not a good sign. We had roto rooter out. Our lovely curly willow tree's roots are clogging the drain tile. So that's going to disappear soon. Meanwhile, this week, the roto rooter boys are going to install another cleanout so they can get access all around the house. And they'll cut the roots and clean out the drain tiles.

After the laundry room is moved downstairs, then the staircase will be turned around.

The picture above was taken while we were still thinking about the house. The front door is about 10 feet from the staircase opening and my first impression on walking in was this gaping staircase leading down. We have drawn and played with many ideas and the easiest solution is changing the staircase direction. It will give us more space between the hall and living room, and will improve the access to the basement as well. 

After the staircase is moved and the walls redone, then we can install the hardwood flooring. I can hardly wait to get rid of this oh, so green carpet. But I need to be patient. Tim works full-time and does all this renovating during the evenings and on weekends. I do what I can, which isn't much in the way of construction. 

So I will live in a construction zone for many months. Our bedroom is done, the green carpet is banished. I study, cook, and clean, and did I mention study, with a bit of gardening and wedding planning and sewing thrown in. Thursday I'll finish my current list of courses and then I'm going to sew and garden more.

Here's a bit of stitching that I did recently - on a round robin sampler. This stitcher sent along a bag of threads, beads and other inspiration to use on her sampler. After I took the photo, I packaged it all up, wrapped it nicely and took it to the post office. When I returned home I was shocked to find the sampler neatly folded up, sitting on the table. I had sent the supplies without the sampler. Not too smart. But the sampler is now on its way and will catch up with the threads.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I've Got Mail

We no longer have our mail delivered directly to the door. But the community mailbox is just across the street so I can keep an eye on when the mail is delivered. I haven't actually seen the delivery yet, but I think it's in the afternoon because that's when our neighbours stroll by. 

We have a key for our own box, which holds regular sized letters and magazines. For anything larger another key is left in our box which opens the bigger community box. I've been opening that box a lot recently.

Several weeks ago I opened up a parcel from my friend Karen who is wonderfully creative. She must have been keeping an eye on my decorating scheme because the tag collage above is what showed up. It fits perfectly in our new gray bedroom. Look at all the elements she included - feathers, pressed flowers, seashells, and more. It reminds me very much of Sarah Lugg's collages which were featured in Victoria magazine quite a few years ago. 

Anna from Nest Happenings sent me this fun tote bag and sewing case, both of which she stitched. Anna belongs to the same group I do that is currently doing a round robin embroidery project. I love the vibrant colours on the tote bag. Now, if the sun would only shine here so I could use the bag for the beach or the park!

If you have never checked out French General, you really must. They have all sorts of wonderful notions, fabrics and books. Kaari is a very creative person and I have a couple of her books. I recently won a giveaway on her blog The Warp and the Weft. It came packaged in red toile tissue paper, along with postcards featuring her book covers, and stickers that say (in both French and English) "I dream in French."

Well I'm dreaming in French these days but it's not much fun. I'm trying to sort out adverbial complements from parallel actions and cramming all sorts of new vocabulary into my head for my exam in French Composition next Thursday. But back to my parcel...

I'd much prefer to be dreaming about French sewing projects, like what I'm going to do with this lovely jelly roll assortment of fabric from French General. I'm thinking of making a table runner, or some placemats. What would you make with all this lusciousness?

Doesn't the swirl look just like creamy pudding mixed with swirls of cherry jam and chocolate? Mmm, I could eat it up! 

Monday, June 07, 2010

Signs Along the Way

(signs from Zermatt, Heidelberg, East Sooke Park, Italy, Mount Arrowsmith, Pender Island, Mayne Island)

I like signs. They tell me where I am, where I've been, and where I'm headed. When I want to get somewhere, following the signs is the best way to get there. Sign styles are unique - different fonts and different colours reveal some of the spirit of the place: rugged woodsy signs in parks and forests, clean cut "all business" signs for streets, swirly letters to evoke romance.

If only life were as easy as following the signs. But along life's path from point A to point B, there are many twists and turns, forks in the road, and choices to make. Sometimes the choices are of my own making, other times choices are forced upon me, and sometimes, it seems like I'm left with no choices at all. It is in these most shadowy times that I stumble my way through, wondering if the choices I'd made in the past were right or wrong and I try to second-guess my life.

I've found that the best way to make sure that I'm on the right path in life is to follow my guide, my Lord. He doesn't always choose the easy paths, nor shed a lot of light on the path, but I know that through the dark and bewildering times, as well as the sun-filled days, I can trust him to lead me in the right paths.

More Mosaic Monday posts can be found through Mary's blog Dear Little Red House.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Little Garden in the Rain

One of the things I miss most about living here in our new locale is the wonderful garden space I had in Victoria. My sweet husband dug up a little patch of grass in our present narrow back yard (we live on a corner lot), edged it with blocks and hauled in dirt. The back yard is fenced so the deer can't get in, but it doesn't get a lot of sunshine. I've planted cucumber, zucchini, lettuces, spinach, green beans, some herbs and in a long trough not seen in this photo, some scallions and carrots.

On the deck in the front of the house, where there will be lots of sunshine, once it decides to appear, I have a couple of containers with strawberries, and some tomato plants. I planted these last weekend, took the photos right away, and looking at them this morning I notice that they've grown a little in spite of the wet, cold spring we're having. I also have a pot of cherry tomatoes bought at a farmer's market last weekend that has been in a hothouse and is further ahead.

Tomorrow I write my final exam in Medieval History I, and then on the 17th of June, French Composition. Then, I'm taking a break and oh, I feel like a child longing for the end of school! I have all sorts of plans, including sewing, painting, puttering in the yard, reading for pleasure, and of course...wedding preparations!

I keep telling myself, it's just a couple more weeks - I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memories of a Wonderful Day

Three years ago my husband and I went to Europe. We planned it for years and had the most wonderful time. Of all the memories, one day in Provence stands out as absolutely perfect.

We rented a motor scooter and took off with a very sketchy map, no knowledge of French driving rules, and a lot of courage. Our goal...

...the Pont du Gard. And we found it! No problem at all. French signage was really very clear and we had no troubles enroute. It may have helped that we learned a bit of crazy driving while living in Ecuador.

This is an awesome place. I couldn't help think of the soldiers who tramped over it, of the history they'd seen - perhaps some of them had been in Palestine and had seen Jesus or the disciples. The history boggles the mind.

It was a very hot and muggy day. We brought along our swimming suits and took a refreshing swim in the river. Can't you just imagine the soldiers and workers cooling off in the same spot?

We spent the afternoon riding through Provence on the motor scooter. Fragrances of lavender and olive trees rushed against our faces. Fruity orchards beckoned. Lovely warm air slid over our skin. It was absolutely marvelous. I could have ridden all day.

In the evening we returned to our small hotel in the old walled city of Avignon, just in time for a fierce thunderstorm. Pounding rain, lightning flashes and afterwards, the sweet smell of earth refreshed by water.

It's no secret that I'm a francophile. Paris was all that I'd dreamed of, and I'd happily go back there anytime. But this one day among all the days of our three-week trip stands out. It was more than sightseeing - it was an adventure!

I'm linking to Le Chateau de Fleurs French Obsession Party for June 1 and am looking forward to seeing more of all things French.

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...