Friday, April 29, 2011

A Day for Blossoms

I didn't set my alarm clock for 4 am to watch the royal wedding. But since I awoke on my own at 5:30, I did get up and caught the second balcony kiss live. What a beautiful wedding. I hope that the delight the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feel today is a harbinger of joy for the years to come. I pray that God will be very present in their marriage.

It's a beautiful morning here on the Island. Chilly, with a touch of frost, but blue, blue skies. I've been admiring our clematis, so I grabbed my camera and shot a few photos. I think it's a clematis cartmanii "Joe". Whatever the name, it smells sweet, like jasmine, and tumbles in luxurious drifts down the rock waterfall in a sheltered corner. It reminds me of a bride's veil.

I thought the green trees in Westminster Abbey were so beautiful - adding a bit of natural beauty to complement the wonderful stone and glass. It looked fresh and airy. 

Then, I wandered a bit and noticed a few rhododendron blossoms, and the cherry tree blossoms. White, cream and green - just perfect for today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Days Fly By

Easter weekend passed in a flurry of activity. We stayed home on Good Friday, then drove down to Victoria on Saturday evening and spent the night with our daughter and her husband. After church on Sunday morning (in our "own" church where we know so many people), we had dinner with all of our children plus a couple of extra guests. I cooked, our daughter and her husband hosted, and others contributed. Lots of laughter.

In my spare moments over the past week, I sewed this little bubble top and bloomers for our granddaughter. It's a bit big for her yet, but hopefully will fit her over the summer. What fun I had!

On Friday I made hot cross buns, no photo, and on Saturday, these date-filled oatmeal cookies, my dad's favorite. After Sunday lunch/dinner with the kids, Tim and I headed off on the 5 pm ferry to the mainland. Not only was it Easter Sunday, but also my dad's birthday. On Monday morning we were together with my siblings for breakfast (minus one brother-in-law who had to work). 

We returned home Monday evening, exhausted. Yesterday, I studied furiously, and this morning, wrote a final exam for Medieval History. Another course finished. Yay! 

And so goes the week - already it's Wednesday! How is your week going?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen!

Last night did Christ the Sun rise from the dark,
The mystic harvest of the fields of God,
And now the little wandering tribes of bees
Are brawling in the scarlet flowers abroad.
The winds are soft with birdsong; all night long
Darkling the nightingale her descant told,
And now inside church doors the happy folk
The Alleluia chant a hundredfold.
O father of thy folk, be thine by right
The Easter joy, the threshold of the light.

Sedulius Scottus (c 820-880)
translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Alone to sacrifice Thou goest, Lord,
Giving Thyself to death whom Thou wilt slay.
For us Thy wretched folk is any word,
Whose sins have brought Thee to this agony?

For they are ours, O Lord, our deeds, our deeds.
Why must Thou suffer torture for our sin?
Let our hearts suffer for Thy passion, Lord,
That very suffering may Thy mercy win.

This is that night of tears, the three days' space,
Sorrow abiding of the eventide,
Until the day break with the risen Christ,
And hearts that sorrowed shall be satisfied.

So may our hearts share in Thine anguish, Lord,
That they may sharers of Thy glory be:
Heavy with weeping may the three days pass,
To win the laughter of Thine Easter Day.

Peter Abelard
Good Friday: The Third Nocturn

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Behind Parisian Doors

Saturday morning in Paris. My husband, Tim, and I chatted over breakfast. A fresh baguette, crusty and warm, cafĂ© au lait (for him) and chocolat (for me.) 

We organized our day – breakfast, then laundry and a few hours of free time before boarding the TGV to Avignon.

Tim took a bite out of the chewy baguette. Snap. We both heard it. Embedded in the bread was Tim’s front tooth. He looked like he’d been in a bad fight, root exposed, jagged tooth front and center. Rick Steves hadn’t prepared us for this event.

“There’s two weeks of vacation left. I don’t want to keep my mouth closed the entire time,” Tim said. He fished the tooth from the bread and wrapped it carefully in a napkin. “We’ll have to find someone to glue it back on.”

The concierge at the desk of our small hotel assured us that there was a dentist just around the corner. He made the call and the dental receptionist asked to speak with Tim.

“Does it hurt, Monsieur?” she asked.

Upon hearing that the pain was negligible she spoke firmly. “It’s Saturday morning and we’re full. The dentist leaves at noon. Au revoir, monsieur.”

Apologetically the concierge said he knew of no other dentist but that he would check the yellow pages. He searched the computer for possible dentists on the nearby Boulevard Voltaire and handed us a piece of paper with numbers, 29, 40, 56, 75 and so on.

Laundry and sightseeing plans discarded, Tim tucked his tooth into his pocket and we set out to find a dentist. While we walked, I formed French sentences in my head. I hadn’t thought to brush up on my medical vocabulary.

Imposing stone buildings line Boulevard Voltaire. Tall doors in glossy green, blue or black stood firmly closed. In front of #29 a woman swept the sidewalk.

“Ah, non,” she said. “C’est samedi.” The dentist isn’t in.

We crossed the street and walked down to #40. The sign said, “By appointment,” but we pushed the button anyway. A buzzer sounded and we entered. I was relieved that I didn’t have to explain over the intercom. And surely any dentist with heart, seeing Tim’s predicament, would help.

Up the stairs and down the hall we pushed open another door. Dr. Josserand (not Dr Bernard) came to the reception area. He unwrapped Tim’s piece of tooth, held it up to the light and asked us to wait for about 30 minutes. He had another patient with him.

With high ceilings, gleaming white woodwork, a fireplace and pale, floral-upholstered bergere-style chairs, the waiting room was unlike any other I’d seen. We paged through current issues of Cote Sud and Cote Ouest and gazed out the window onto the street below.

“Maintenant, on voit le canadien.” He ushered us into his treatment room. “We’ll see the Canadian now.”

The room shone with cleanliness. It appeared that liners could be purchased for older rooms to provide surfaces to match modern ideas of sterility without ruining the old architecture. The liner started at the floor on one side of the room, went up and across the ceiling, then down the other side, like a square tube. And white was everywhere – white chair, white counters, white floor and white desk. Stainless steel instruments gleamed. A touch-screen computer for the dentist’s convenience stood alongside his tools. There were no cute posters with huge teeth holding toothbrushes, no television screen mounted in the corner, no soft music playing. It should have been forbidding, but wasn’t. On one polished white surface stood a tall, rectangular clear glass vase holding two greenish-blue hydrangea blossoms. It looked so…French.

When we left the office 30 minutes later and 95 Euros poorer, Tim had his tooth back in place. Dr. Josserand advised us that this was not a permanent fix – he would have preferred to do a root canal and cap the tooth, but since it was Saturday morning… He shrugged.

While we’d come to France as tourists, I felt like this unwelcome and unanticipated experience gave us a tiny glimpse of Paris from the inside. Merci, Docteur Josserand.

I wrote this after our trip to Europe almost 4 years ago now. It was published in the Globe and Mail in their travel section in August 2007. I was thinking about Paris recently and thought I'd share this little story on my blog.

When we arrived home, Tim went to his dentist who said the French dentist had done a great job and that he should wait until it broke again. Then a permanent crown would be applied. The tooth held for almost 10 months - until the day of my grandmother's funeral, when, at the luncheon afterwards, it snapped, and he once again kept his mouth firmly shut.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sights of Spring

While walking the other day, I noticed these deer grazing. Not in my yard. 

Another pair. They are graceful. I can admire them a little more now that our fence is up. They still eat whatever they can find in the front part of the yard, but behind the fence, I've started planting - or transplanting. The wisteria they gnawed and a couple of leafless shrubs for starters.

Tulips are a delicacy. Since there was no point in planting any until now, I picked up a bunch at the store. All dark pink with white edges - like a lace ruffle. And that warm golden center - what a wonderful creation from the hand of the ultimate Creator.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Must Go Down to the Sea Again...

Does that line from John Masefield's poem ring any bells in your memory? 

My education was lacking in the memorization of poetry.  But I do remember this poem from Grade 5 or 6. The lines captivated me. I never imagined that I would ever live near the sea, but here I am.

On Saturday night, after a day of work in the yard, and a hearty dinner, Tim and I walked to the marina, about 20 minutes from our home. The moon is almost full and the sky clear. The water - smooth as glass, reflecting the boats tied to their moorings. 

It was also very cold, and a cup of steaming tea was just the thing when we got home. And yet, today, beguiled by the sunshine, we were at the beach again. It was a lonely sea - no boats, just a handle of people. Cold and windy. Tim climbed a big rock ... just because he could. 

Here is the poem - maybe it will trigger memories for you, too.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield

I'm linking once again to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Blue thou art, intensely blue;
Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?

James Montgomery

Grape hyacinths make me smile. They bloom in quiet places here, under trees, tucked behind a rock, or almost hidden in other foliage. I find them enchanting.

I usually don't pick them because they add color to a landscape that needs it in spring. However, the deer are also enchanted by them and nip them off, leaving short stems, and my heart to mourn their loss.

I have thwarted the deer, and picked a few stems to enjoy indoors.

Thank you, my dear readers, for your encouragement regarding my paper. It's done except for the final polishing. I dither over pushing 'send.' There's always a word or a sentence that can be tweaked. Or a sentence rearranged. Or a comma to insert or omit. 

My husband and my children tell me to just push send ... So I will. This weekend. Sometime. This is what comes from studying on my own, without firm due dates. Dithering. Tweaking. 

Now I'm off to tweak my house. It needs it. The dust bunnies amassed in great hordes while I was furiously composing my papers. It's time to quell their advance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

It just sits there. A log washed up on shore. Impossible to move.

Huge from any angle. Looking more closely I see more character.

Openings. A way through.

Just choose the path.

Look closely. 

Look past the immediate to see the mosaic beyond.

A post written in frustration over a paper I'm working on. Political Science is NOT my thing (and taken only to fulfill a requirement.) 

Little by little. Word by word, or, as Anne Lamott says, Bird by Bird. 

Back to my Word document.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Puttery Sort of Weekend

After 6 weekends in a row spent in the company of family and friends, I hardly knew what to anticipate with just the two of us. Our weekend ended up both productive and relaxing, fun and mellow. 

On Saturday we puttered in the yard. I'm enjoying the bright, dancing daffodils in our neighborhood. Every yard has at least one clump. Deer are not at all fond of them, hence their ubiquitousness.

I made some granola, and a pan of apricot almond squares. Click on the links for the recipes.

Tim puttered in the shop, building the unit of cabinets we need to complete the kitchen. Next step is replacing the countertops, then painting the cabinets.

Today, Sunday, has been wet and blustery, good for spending some time with a cup of tea and a library copy of the British Country Living magazine. A bit of dark chocolate never comes amiss, either.

And I finished a sweet garland for a little girl I love. I was inspired by Vee's links, and adapted the garland somewhat. It felt great to do something a bit creative. Attending church, a little studying, and cleaning rounded out the weekend activities.

I'd encourage you to visit Mary's little red house for more mosaics - what have YOU been up to this weekend?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Spring Buds

"Nothing is so beautiful as Spring - 
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;..."

"... And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs - 

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast with 
ah! bright wings."

Gerard Manley Hopkins
(God's Grandeur)

My days are filled with study, study, study, and did I mention study? Essays, study questions, readings ... they seem never ending. I have two more exams scheduled in the next month and need to finish the course work before then.

My back screams in protest at all this time in front of the computer, so I try to get out for a walk. It's been so pretty lately, I take my camera and capture the bits of beauty I see along my way. That's the only creative thing I'm doing - enjoying God's creativity.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cherry Blossoms

"Early oats greened over the red fields;
apple orchards flung great blossoming arms about the farmhouses 
and the Snow Queen adorned itself as a bride for her husband."

"Anne liked to sleep with her window open
and let the cherry fragrance blow over her face all night.

She thought it very poetical. Marilla thought she was risking her life."

"It seems to me, Marilla, that a pearl of a day like this,
when the blossoms are out,
and the winds don't know where to blow from next 
for sheer crazy delight,
must be pretty near as good as heaven."

(L.M. Montgomery)  Anne of the Island

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Weekend Getaway

After an intense weekend of study culminating in a final exam (yay, one more course finished), we packed the car and drove down to Victoria.

Saturday morning saw us on a ferry to Pender Island. Blue skies mingled with grey and raindrops. But the atmosphere immediately around us was as sunny as can be. With four of our good friends we enjoyed the steam cave, the swimming pool, the hot tub, and the beautiful view from our three-bedroom cottage at Poet's Cove.

The cottage was outfitted with a small kitchen and a gas barbecue on the deck. We all brought something to contribute to dinner - meltingly tender steaks, prawns with garlic butter, roasted asparagus, raspberry shortcake and more. Our evening lasted long as we laughed and talked.

Spring is dawdling this year, but on Pender the hellebores and euphorbia added color along with sunny daffodils. Trees are showing hints of green. I feel for so many friends and bloggers who continue to see snow and suffer intense longings for spring. I hope these photos encourage you. Spring is indeed on the way. 

Weekends like this refresh and invigorate us. Now, it's home again and back to the regular routine. 

Linking once again to Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Words to Inspire

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever;

with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."

A Bit of This and That

  Off in the distance Mount Baker, in the USA, gleams in the sunlight. My best guess is that it's about 100 km away as the crow flies. T...