Showing posts from July, 2011

Newcastle Island

Summer has arrived on the west coast. It's still cool, but the sunshine is beautiful. On Sunday Tim and I went to Newcastle Island, just off of Nanaimo. A water taxi took us, and our bicycles across the water, about a 10 minute ride. 
We biked and hiked, peered at rock formations, ate lunch overlooking the sparkling sea, and learned about pulp stones. In the mosaic you can see photos of round rocks - a circle was drilled into the the rock with a special cutter (behind me), and then a small charge of gunpowder placed underneath it to loosen it. The rocks were shipped all over North America and used to grind logs into pulp for making paper. 
Thanks again to Mary for hosting Mosaic Monday.

A Postcard from Europe

Our eldest daughter and her husband are currently in Amsterdam. They flew there today after spending a week in Rome. Cristal's email this morning was so evocative of what I imagine an evening in Rome to be that I thought I'd share it with you.
On our last night in Rome we took the Metro to yet another famous piazza -- this one had a Bernini fountain depicting the four great rivers of the four known continents at the time.  We wanted to cap a wonderful week with one last really good Italian meal.  We ended up sitting at a cafe table in an alley off the piazza.  Graffiti, broken cobble stones.  
A palm reader set up table behind us.  But there was a steady stream of pedestrian traffic and the waiter was friendly and compelling.  The food was wonderful -- tomato with mozzarella and fresh basil, followed by a creamy pasta course, followed by a main course of roasted veal with herbed potatoes, followed by tiramisu.  The house wine was excellent.  We strolled home, half an hour across…

Answering a Question

Some days I wonder if I've reached the end of blogging. Ideas seem trite. I don't have time to sew or knit or craft in this last push to finish my studies. I feel empty, lacking inspiration. My life is so very ordinary.
Then a rush of ideas come. One piling onto another. Today is such a day.

Yesterday, Vee celebrated her 4th year of blogging. In my comment on her post I asked the question, "Have you found that thinking of fodder for your blog causes you to look at life differently?"
Vee answered in the comments and then asked the question back to me. My initial answer is yes, but then I thought a little more. How has it changed? And why? And how can I explain it?
So I've been thinking about it for most of the day, in between working on my French Poetry and Theatre of the 19th century (Poésie et théâtre du 19e siècle) course.

I'm finding that blogging is a lot like poetry. It's concise. It requires paying attention. What do I say and what do I leave out? Rather…

Chocolate and Raspberries

It's raspberry season and while we don't have any plants of our own, I buy them and thoroughly enjoy them. I brought a flat home today, most of them will be frozen for the winter, but I saved a few to eat fresh.
While rummaging in the fridge freezer I discovered three individual tart shells. I made desserts for a group some time ago and put the leftover shells away for later. It's a lot later - probably a couple of months. 
While on Sonora Island last week, I was looking through Julia's cookbooks and came across a chocolate and fruit tart that sounded wonderful. This is an approximation, and I don't have a real recipe. But it's easy.
Bake tart shells - or a full pie crust. Pour a chocolate ganache over the bottom. (Heat cream, add chopped semi-sweet chocolate and stir until smooth.) Let cool. Top with fresh raspberries before the mixture sets up. 
Glaze it with apricot jam (heated) if you like. I skipped that step, preferring to savour the slightly tart berries. Ch…

Found Art

It doesn't have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just  pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try to make them elaborate, this isn't a contest, but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.
Prayer, by Mary Oliver
Each of the photos in today's mosaic was taken by looking down on the ground. A collection of stones, a fallen leaf, a log riddled with woodpecker holes, detritus left by wind and waves, and small plants that are easy to overlook.
I am learning to pay attention to the small things as well as the grand vistas in life. Paying attention requires effort, especially in this age of too much to do, too many devices, too little time. Paying attention makes me thank God for his attention to detail, in nature and in my own life.
Once again, I'm joining with others around the world and linking to Mary's Mosaic Monday.

Simple Gifts

One last post about our backwoods adventure. Casey and Julia live simply. There is no store or post office on Sonora Island. They go to Campbell River every 6 weeks or so to purchase staples, check their email, and pick up snail mail. They have no refrigeration or electricity, beyond solar power enough for a light in the evening. In the winter a neighbour with a small hydro plant, shares enough electricity so that they can have light all day and watch a movie on their laptop computer. 
Casey built this clay oven. One evening during our visit, I walked up the road and purchased a freshly killed chicken from a neighbour. Julia gets her eggs there as well. 

Julia and Casey made pizza and then we roasted the chicken, along with a few vegetables, in the oven. It was all delicious.

Tuesday was bright and sunny, so we went for a short sail in their small catamaran. It was fun to get out on the water. We've missed sailing since we sold our sailboat.

The water sparkled. Warm sun poured down. W…

On the Mountain

Listening to raindrops falling on a tent while I'm cozy and dry is a wonderful delight. Rain has a most soporific effect, don't you think?
But Sunday dawned dry, if not sunny. We put a few things into a day pack and went for a wander. Behind Julia and Casey's house the mountain rises steeply. We meandered up and up, stopping to look at interesting mosses, a rough-skinned newt, various mushrooms, and other things that caught our attention. There was no hurry, just enjoyment of God's beautiful world.
Our walk took us to the spot pictured above. It's the same spot in the last post. If you look carefully, you can see the lighthouse as a tiny speck on the rocks. In the distance are the Octopus Islands, and Quadra Island, long and narrow.

It's hard to drink in so much beauty. At every turn the vista is awe-inspiring. My heart feels like it can't expand to hold any more.

I took this photo to give an idea of how high above the water we were. You can barely see the peop…

To the Back of Beyond

Last Saturday Tim and I drove north to Campbell River, hoisted our backpacks (and carried a couple of extra bags), and jumped on this water taxi to Owen Bay on Sonora Island, one of the Discovery Group of Islands.

We passed through Seymour Narrows, site of the infamous Ripple Rock planned explosion of 1958 to make navigation safer. The link takes you to a video of the actual explosion which took the tops off of two underwater mountains in the center of the passage. This explosion still stands as the largest non-nuclear explosion in the world.

And it rained. And rained. But even in the rain this is beautiful country. The mist hangs on the mountains, cloaking trees in ethereal white and blurring lines between ocean, land, and sky. 
After an hour on the water taxi we arrived at Owen Bay where Julia, Tim's nephew's wife met us with a bicycle cart. We followed her up the muddy road to their home.

When Julia and Casey first arrived here about a year ago, forest surrounded their tiny hom…
I lift up my eyes to the hills -  where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip -  he who watches over you will not slumber; Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you -  the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm -  he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Summer Indoors

We've had so much rain and cool weather that summer seems like a magic trick gone wrong. 
I wrote the above sentiment on my chalkboard and set it on the mantel as a means of inspiring myself. 
Several years ago Deborah gifted me with some vintage paper. She had it all organized and dated - some sheets from pre-1850. 
I've been storing it all this time, and decided that no one can appreciate it in the closet, so I took some of it, rolled it up and tied it with vintage blue seam binding and placed it in the tall glass container. I like the look of old paper a lot. And the sea shells under glass remind me that surely the sun will shine again and I'll get to the beach.

Pink Sweetness

For our camping trip a couple of weeks ago, I made some chocolate cheerio pops - for the grownups. But this little one's mother decided to let her have a go at it too. I think she liked the sprinkles best of all. It's a little hard to bite anything without teeth. 
She was the cutest little camper I ever saw - that hat, and a pink fleece vest. 

After turning in two big assignments, I rewarded myself with a little time on Picnik. In honour of the Space Shuttle's last flight, they have some Space textures to try out. This is one of them. 
I'm joining Beverly's Pink Saturday for the first time.

O Summer, where art Thou?

I know that many people are experiencing extremely hot temperatures. And I sympathize with you. Somewhat. Because hot is not what's happening around here. 
Early Wednesday morning I awoke to lightning flashing in our room followed by thunder rolling and booming in the hills. We rarely get thunderstorms and the sound took me back to Ecuador where they occurred frequently. And then the rain began. And it rained all day. Sometimes hard, sometimes just a drizzle. 
You can see my poor roses are beaten down with the rain. This morning is cloudy, but brightening and I have high hopes for a more summery day.

This cooler weather is great for some things, though. My squash plants are enormous - and under those leaves are many zucchini growing their little hearts out.

The brassicas are doing well, too. I planted my vegetables wherever there was a little space, and this is the view from my office window. It's the first time I've grown brassicas and I'm quite liking it.

Looking more on …

To Market, To Market

...To buy a fat pig. Home again, home again, jiggety jig. 
We didn't buy a fat pig, although I did purchase a pork roast at the Qualicum Beach Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, along with fresh strawberries, tomatoes, snow peas and other veggies.

We went by bicycle, about a 35 minute ride. Come along with us on our route home, past quiet country houses, 

through sun-dappled woods,

past quietly grazing llamas,

and over a small bridge where we stopped to gaze into the stream.

Seeing the golf course meant we were getting closer, 

and after passing this mini field of lavender, we knew we were almost home.
Joining in Mosaic Monday at the Little Red House. Come on over and see more mosaics of life in various places around the world.

Rewards of Summer

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again - I'm so happy with my fenced yard! It means I can grow things both pretty and useful. These roses are in the pretty category. Roses give wonderfully immediate rewards. Unlike planting a lilac or rhododendron or peony plant, roses bloom the first year. I currently have two bushes. This one is called Bolero - and reminds me of the ruffles of a flamenco dancer's costume. Intricate layers folding in and over. Delicately scented - gorgeously beautiful.

This rose's name is Secret. And I have a suspicion that it's the same rose I had in Victoria - I'll check next time I'm down there. I have been lax at keeping track of the names of my roses, but other bloggers who toss off names have shamed inspired me to do better.
I love the pink edges that bleed into white, and the scent is reminiscent of apples and roses. Just delicious. 

We're enjoying strawberries as well as roses around here. They are from the same bo…