Saturday, June 30, 2012

Enjoying Summer Moments

Here on the west coast of Canada, summers are short. And they seem even shorter when June is cool, windy, and rainy. Yesterday, we had summer. We took advantage of that by eating outdoors on the deck. I picked a random bouquet of roses as food for our eyes. 

Eight of us sat under the summer sky, laughing, talking, eating, or sleeping peacefully, in the case of the youngest, Miss Tiggywinkle. Summer moments - I wish for many more of them.

My garden is thriving in this weather. The greenhouse affair protects the tomatoes from too much wet, but the broccoli and Savoy cabbage are drinking it in and growing well. The beans are a little slow; they flourish in the warmth that we hope is coming soon.

This morning I awoke to rain. Fat clouds plaster the sky and showers are forecast throughout the day. The grey suits my mood at the moment.

Just to "keep it real" - you may remember that we have a house in Parksville that we are trying to sell. No action there, and so we rented it, as of last Friday. This morning, the renters called to say they wouldn't be moving in. They have their own rental property that became vacant this morning and so they will move in there while they build a new house. I'm disappointed and not a little frustrated.

However, just as I know that we will have more summer moments in which to bask in the next few months, I also know that this house situation will one day be resolved. I'm trusting God to give me patience to wait well. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy the roses and take out my frustration on those weeds!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Progress

When we moved a few months ago, I asked the movers to leave the china cabinet in the garage so I could paint it. It took awhile, but here is the almost-finished project. A close look will reveal that the handles differ and one drawer has no handle. I'm waiting for more handles on a back order, and installed the old pulls on the doors to make them easier to open in the mean time. 
Here's a link to a photo of the cabinet - before. It was taken in our former home, and is just in the background of the second image. We removed the doors on the hutch to create a more open feel.

How does anyone take a good photo of a gallery wall on a staircase? I stood upstairs, downstairs, half way - and this is the best I could get. Another project in process. The three large wedding photos will anchor the gallery and other photos will fill in. These frames will be painted as well. But I wanted to get started. Tim helped me with the measuring and leveling - so glad for a husband who will take the time to indulge my ideas.

Friko recently posted about the apparently perfect lives many bloggers seem to live. The comments are enlightening, too. My life is not perfect - there are things I'm concerned about, unfinished projects, disastrous attempts at creative endeavours that never get posted, family issues that I prefer not to discuss here, and so on. But I hope my blog is real enough that no one thinks I'm making my life out to be something it is not. 

The quotation above expresses, in a small way, one of the reasons that I blog the way I do. This blog is a creative outlet for me. It's not my journal where I spill my deepest longings and frustrations, nor is it mere frivolity (I hope). I appreciate the friendships, the connections, the inspiration I've found through blogging and hope that I give back some of the same to my readers.

It might not be fine art, but these lettuce leaves and herb sprigs are beautiful to me, worthy of the time to take a photo. Yet, they are not perfect. A couple of tiny slugs washed down the drain when I rinsed the leaves in the sink.  

My parents were here for a quick visit to see their newest great grandchild, and spent a morning with the Little Miss as well. She warmed up to Great Grandpa when he took her outside to play!

I've been helping with this little one, three weeks old today. A few feeding issues have been sorted out and she's gaining weight well. Her hair is quite wild sometimes, and she reminds us of a hedgehog. As a result we sometimes call her Miss TiggyWinkle, after the Beatrix Potter character (who was a Mrs., not a Miss).

That's some of what's been happening around here. Things are not perfect, but they are good. I don't take any of it for granted.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Downtown Fun

On this sunny Sunday morning Tim and Travis strapped on their helmets and rode in the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria bike ride. Riders ranged from the ultra-committed who rode 140 km, to others riding 100 km, and others who rode 50 km. Tim and Travis were in the latter group. Travis pulled ahead of Tim in the last 12 km to arrive at the finish line under 2 hours from starting. Tim was about 10 minutes behind him. 

Ryder Hesjedal is the Canadian cyclist who recently won the Giro d'Italia race.

After Tim came home, rested for a bit and had some lunch, we went back downtown. A mountain biking track, set up along the waterfront, provided spectators with the opportunity to oooh and aaah at cyclists performing 360 degree turns in the air on their bikes. There were a few falls as well. 

The activity didn't stop at biking  - buskers, fire juggling, steel drums, and more offered all kinds of entertainment on a sunny, if cool afternoon. We usually spend our free time away from crowds in more natural settings. But a few times a year we wander along the waterfront promenade and mingle with locals and tourists alike. I'm always amazed at the languages I hear downtown - Spanish, French, Chinese, German and more. 

What sights are there in your town? Do you take the time to play tourist once in awhile?

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Routines and Creativity

How many crows does it take to make a murder? A murder meeting took place in our back yard this morning. Fluffing, cawing and swooping. 

Morning light on my Bolero rose. The bush has tons of blooms on it. But it's potted and I think the foliage is suffering because of it. More food? Change the soil? Transplant it? Any ideas?

Now that classes are over and my job has ended, I'm spending time helping our daughter with little Sadie. Her husband took the first week off, but he's mostly back to work now. Yesterday afternoon, while Mama napped upstairs, I sat downstairs with Baby and stitched while she dreamed in her blanket cocoon.

I'll be going over there again around noon, but meanwhile, I'm getting a few things done around the house. 

Tim had an early meeting this morning, so my day began around 6:30 with a shower and drying my hair. Then downstairs to fix his lunch and chat while he eats. I have a hard time eating that early and so I wait until he's gone. But before I ate, I stripped the bed, started a load of laundry, and then, in a fit of virtuous enthusiasm, cleaned a bathroom and vacuumed upstairs. Then I sat down to eat, well satisfied with myself for having done a chore I dislike. The rest of the day looks much better from here. 

This is another piece of stitching that I worked on. It's from the 39 stitches project on Amy Powers blog, started in 2010. I planned on doing more than 39 squares, but like most of my other creative pursuits, this was laid aside until I completed my degree. That was last fall, but then Christmas came, and a partial move, then a complete move, and so on. It's only now that I'm getting into my stitching/sewing stuff again. And it feels good. Ideas are beginning to flow again. That's a good thing. 

The internet is full of ideas on creativity and inspiration. In the end, however, if I'm only creative in my head I'm not expressing myself. And it's scary to actually try something new. The novels I write in my head are always best sellers and the sewing projects turn out perfectly. Alas, in real life, that's just not so. That's no excuse not to keep trying. I need to just do something.  But thinking time is required. Doing mindless things like cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry and vacuuming provides me with thinking time. My chores earlier this morning led to this post, scattered though it may be.

How about you? When do you do your best thinking? What creative pursuits are you involved in today?

Here are a couple of links to sites that might interest the creative mind - and I believe we are all creative in one way or another.

Daily Routines - this blog is no longer active, but the archives offer glimpses of the routines of people like C. S. Lewis, Winston Churchill and Emily Dickinson.

Creating Brains is a blog I just found and am eager to explore. Leonardo da Vinci's process is featured in this post.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

B.C. Wildflowers - June Note Card Party

Wildflowers of Vancouver Island is my theme for this month's Note Card Party, hosted by Vee. This first photo is of a columbine found while hiking "off-trail" at Englishman River Falls.

 Isn't this Columbia Lily stunning? It was blooming in the forest on Sonora Island, a little bit off the trail where we walked to the cliff overlooking the narrow passage named "Hole in the Wall."

This wild rose grew alongside the road near our home in Parksville. Since last summer the bushes have been torn out, the trees cut down and a new subdivision of small homes crowds the land. Sigh.

This last selection is a Henderson's Shooting Star, captured while hiking the Coast Trail at East Sooke Park in April.

It takes time to go back and find these photos, and the posts in which they were featured, but it's fun to re-live some of the experiences.  Click on over to Vee's Haven where you'll find many more photos that would be lovely as note cards.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Perfect Peonies - Mosaic Monday

Our cool weather that is lingering long has at least one benefit - the peony blooms are lasting for more time. I don't remember seeing so many bundles of them in the store before. Late one afternoon I took some time to photograph the ones left from last week's baby shower. 

They are just so pretty, all layers and ruffles. In flower language the peony symbolizes secrets because small fairies were said to be able to hide inside the overlapping petals. 

Outside, my peony blossoms were torn into shreds today by a constant strong wind that danced wildly with treetops and flowers alike.  A couple of tight buds survived and I hope they open. Perhaps the wind is blowing in warmer, sunnier weather. We would all welcome it. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of the Little Red House.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Thoughts

What can I say about my father? He's a rock, always has been. He loves his family intensely: his wife, his three children, his 10 grandchildren, and his 10 great-grandchildren. His faith is strong and deep; I know that he prays for all of us regularly.

As the first son (4th child) born to large family during the Depression years in rural Saskatchewan, he learned to work early on.  Love was there, but when I once asked him why he didn't tell stories of his childhood he said there were few good memories. I know that school wasn't much fun - he was strapped the very first day of Grade One because a picture fell off the wall when the door closed behind him. He came from a German-speaking home and during the war years, that made for ostracism and taunting from the English-speaking community.

He's been retired for a number of years now, but he's still one of the hardest-working men I know. Countless hours are spent volunteering at his church - painting, renovating, cleaning - and in helping others. He doesn't suffer fools gladly and has decided opinions. 

I love my father. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Sometimes I think fathers get short shrift on their day. Mothers are showered with cards, flowers, meals out, and a day more-or-less free from duties. Gifts for fathers, on the other hand, tend to run to barbecue tools (so they can cook), tools (so they can fix/build), or new shirts (so they can look the way we want them to look). Gifts of time to do what they please, such a round of golf or a hike are less common. 

Tim, pictured above with our newest granddaughter, is another extremely hardworking man who loves his family and his God. For him, a meal out is never as welcome as a home-cooked gathering with the people he loves, so that's what he's getting. He says there is nothing he needs or wants, so his gift is a token.

I am blessed to have these two men in my life.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Evening

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Brenda of It's a Beautiful Life asking if I would be interested in the cover of an out-of-date planner. The William Morris design was just too pretty to toss. Of course I said yes, and so she mailed it off to me. It arrived a week or so ago - in the midst of travelers and baby arriving, and I've just had time to photograph it now. The design is so rich - I'll look forward to creating a journal worthy of it. And the tags she included are so pretty. Brenda's blog points the reader to find the beauty in every day life and it's one that often gives me thoughts to chew upon. Thank you, Brenda, for the parcel, and for inspiring your readers.

I've been dragging with a cold for the past few days. I've managed to go to work, drinking copious amounts of lemon-and-honey-laced tea all the while, but the evenings have mostly been spent doing nothing. Today, I feel like I'll survive. I've stayed away from the baby but today after school I zipped over there for a little cuddle. What a darling.

After dinner I watered my plants, did some rearranging on the deck, and lettered signs for my herb garden.

Tim made the signs a few weeks ago and this is the first chance I've had to do something with them. I used a Sharpie and lettered them free-hand. If they fade too quickly, I'll go over them with acrylic paints. But I wanted something finished NOW! After pounding the stakes into the ground I took a few pictures. The light was fading and long shadows testify to the lateness of the evening. 

I'm using fresh herbs almost every day now - enjoying the luxury of stepping out my door and snipping off fragrant fresh leaves to flavour marinades, teas, salads and dips.

Do you have a garden? How's it doing? What are you currently enjoying from it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For the Love of Books

Chapter One  -
in which a girl learns to read
and escapes to many worlds
but always returns home for dinner with her family

I cannot remember learning how to read. I remember Dick and Jane but not the struggle to decipher the letters and words. Once I did learn, I was off like a rocket, devouring every printed word I could come across. My younger sister and brother say their only childhood memories of me were with my nose in a book.

I've spent the past 5 weeks here, with a few days off last week to help with the new baby, in the school library, surrounded by books. I arrange the shelves, neatly pulling the books out to the front of the shelf, shelving them by strict alphabetically (or numerical) order. 

And I am overwhelmed.

I recognize many of the books and have the time to open a favourite, read a chapter, then close the book and put it back. Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien - their stories live on and on. Newer authors like Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Alice Munro and Bernard Cornwall. Classics, adventure, romance, magic and more reside on these shelves.

How to choose what to read?

So many books. I love to re-read the good ones, savouring the knowledge of the story's end as I bask in the beauty of the language. 

My library time comes to end this Friday when classes end. I'll miss it. The library is a busy place, full of students coming and going, studying, choosing books for pleasure, visiting with friends. They energize me with their youthful enthusiasm. 

How do you decide which books to read? 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sleeping Beauty Baby Shower

A baby shower was planned for BEFORE the baby's birth. But the baby must like parties and really wanted to be there in person. And so she was. The baby's mother thought she could swing a couple of hours sitting in a chair eating, visiting and opening presents. So we went ahead with it. 

Sleeping Beauty was the mother's favourite fairy tale and so we went with the that for a theme. Pink was the colour of the day, with lush peonies in vases around the room. On the door, a white wooden frame held a bouquet and across the frame was a ribbon lettered with the classic opening lines, "Once upon a time..."

We took a few quotations from the story, lettered them onto cardstock and placed them on easels. And another quote "Every good and perfect gift comes from above..." from the book of James in the Bible. A banner over the fireplace said "Sleeping Beauty" and we gathered the gifts in and around a doll bed made for Baby Sadie's Auntie when she was a child.

On the mantel I stacked well-worn children's books gathered from my bookshelves and placed vases of peonies atop. A simple collage of photos of the baby and her parents took centre stage on the mantel.

Auntie Katie (mother of the Little Miss) made gorgeous pink and white tissue flowers which we hung in corners and above the dining room table. To present the menu, I covered books with plain white paper and lettered whimsical menu names on the spine - such as Courtly Sage Crisps, Queen Mother's Cream Puffs, and Pink Palace Punch.  Auntie Ashley prepared some delectable food - which I'll wait to post since many of my food pictures didn't turn out, and there are enough leftovers to take more photos, now that I have a little more time.

This is the cake that Auntie Katie made for the shower. She is so talented and makes cakes that are not only beautiful to look at, but also delicious to eat. The buttercream icing was so light and not too sweet. In fact, after this post is up, I'm going to have a piece.

The guest of honour slept through the entire shower, but I snapped this photo as she was getting ready to go home. Car seats may keep little ones safe, and I advocate their use, but she looks entirely too tiny and fragile for all the straps and buttons. 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Friday, June 08, 2012

A lot like yesteryear ...

Here, she is - Sadie Victoria - wearing the same dress her mother wore home from the hospital after her birth in a little jungle hospital in Ecuador. The dress is newborn size, but still very big on Sadie. 

I awoke in the night after the excitement of Sadie's birth. Two scenes played in my mind - one was the hospital room I had just come from - full of aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Cell phone calls flew back and forth all day. Joy shared is joy multiplied, don't you think? 

The other scene was the hospital room in which Sadie's mother was born. Just the three of us. We were newly arrived in Ecuador and hadn't made many friends. The doctors and nurses were so caring, but we missed family. No cell phones in those days, no internet, nor a reliable land line. Instead I lay there, waiting 36 hours until a scheduled ham radio call could be made and a call patched to family. Tim and I were overjoyed at the birth of our daughter, but longed to share the news. 

I have to confess I shed a few tears for that much younger me during the night. And gave thanks for God's faithfulness even when things are tough. 

But enough about me - isn't Sadie just lovely? I marvel at her tiny perfectness.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

And the excitement continues

We all joked that Ashley and Owen had to arrive home before Cristal and Gerry's baby could be born. We didn't expect that the baby was listening, but apparently, she was. Eight days before her due date, and just 24 hours after the travelers' return, we welcomed a new baby girl into our family.

All babies are special and this one is no exception. Her arrival has been long anticipated, and we are so happy to welcome her into our family. Aunts, uncles and grandparents gathered, held her, and marveled at her perfect newness. Thanks be to God!

I'll be busy for the next few days, helping where needed, and cuddling my new grand-daughter. If I'm not around the blogging world, you'll know where I am.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

And the Travelers Return

Our son-in-law Gerry chose the perfect word to describe my feelings this evening - complete. All of our children (and grandchild + grand-to-be) sat around the dinner table, laughing, talking, eating, sharing. Together. Complete. Wonderful.

Tired and jet-lagged, Owen suffering from a cold, they smiled and we smiled back. They look so much better in person than on Skype, wonderful technology though it is. The weary travelers went to bed early and I hope they sleep soundly through the night.

Little Miss wasn't even walking when they left, now she runs and climbs with aplomb. Here she is, trying to fit her 18-month old self into the doll bed made for her auntie long ago. Her contortions were hilarious, and she eventually curled herself up and settled in - for a few seconds. 

I'm just so happy, and give thanks to God for bringing Owen and Ashley home after nine months of adventures, from Germany to Switzerland, France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Ireland and England. 

Sigh of contentment. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A Bit of This and That

On Saturday night we enjoyed our first salad from the garden - tender lettuce leaves and crisp radishes. Delectable! The first of many to come, I hope.

Although a watched pot may never boil, a watched peony will eventually open its tight buds. 

Early last fall, I planted tulip and Siberian iris bulbs in pots, suspecting that we might move. I wanted to take the flowers with me. The irises emerged from the ground first, long reed-like stalks. But they never bloomed. Until now, when I had given up hope.

Isn't that the way of life sometimes? After longing for something for what seems like aeons, hope dies, yet not infrequently, in my life, those long awaited for dreams eventually come to pass. 

Gardening teaches patience. The seed is planted, then watered and fed. A small tree grows larger, finally producing fruit. And all we can do is wait and watch, trusting that God's plan for the seed will unfold in due time. 

This post took an unexpected philosophical turn.  I'll let it be. This month is going to be an exciting one - our world travelers return this week, and another beloved grandchild will be born. This is a rich season for our family.

No Mosaic Monday this week. Mary, our host, is dealing with some family issues. Details are on her blog, if you are interested. Life's seasons come and go for all of us.

Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...