Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter (Late Fall) Stitching

Although the skies are overcast, there's no chance of snowflakes here. Instead the rain drips down, down, down. On the upside, the grass is bright green and the moss is flourishing. 

A good friend gifted me with the pretty print fabric above - chosen, she said, because of the French words. She knows my penchant for most things French. I'm making a simple table runner, with embroidered snowflakes along the center. I'll show another photo when it's completed. 

Other stitching is happening, but secrets must be preserved. Celebrations are afoot! 

Whether you have snow or rain or bright sunshine, have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Art Show

 The journals were delivered to the art show venue last weekend. I have such fun making them. And using them. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts. Most of my writing is prose, and in complete sentences. Some fragments for variety. I like lists, too. They can be superb jumping-off points for further writing of the exploratory kind. 

Some lovely fabric pieces lounge in my sewing room, too beautiful to discard, too small to do much with them. I had the idea of making some little bags. These are the result. I think them beautiful. Silk, brocade, wool, velvet - such luscious textures. They will also be in the art sale.

If you live locally (Southern Vancouver Island), here's the official poster for the event. The venue is small and cozy, with hot apple cider and drinks. There's sure to be a fire burning and lots of beautiful art - from paintings to pottery to jewelry to cards and more. I'm thrilled that my work is there as well. 

Today the wind is howling high in the trees, blowing the last vestiges of autumn from the trees. Since I was not called to teach, I'm planning to stitch and sew. Christmas is coming, you know! How are you spending this second-to-last day of November?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A French Soup Ladle and a Family Weekend

This past weekend was full of family times. We missed our youngest and her husband, but my parents came over on the ferry and we gathered on Sunday afternoon for dinner, a walk, talking and admiring the antics of Little Misses A and S. We no longer need much entertainment with the two little ones around. 

I put some lights in my ficus tree and Little Miss A thought them striking. She crawled around "through the forest" between the tree and the chair just in front of it. Her imagination is developing by leaps and bounds. So much fun! 

Do you read Corey Amaro's blog Tongue in Cheek? If you love old things, have a yen for French culture and whimsy, you'll enjoy her blog. Corey is American, married to a handsome Frenchman and frequents the brocantes, or flea markets of southern France. Recently she had a giveaway for this old French soup ladle, and I won!

The package arrived several weeks ago and I intended to polish the silver before photographing it. Alas, that has not yet happened. I've been teaching this week - English and Socials - and preparation is taking a lot of time. But, in the meantime, I'm admiring the graceful, slender lines of the ladle, and the not-too-elaborate design work.

Soup is a great meal for cold nights, and there are so many different kinds of soup. Coconut vegetable, chicken noodle, creamy squash, roasted sweet potato, and on and on. What's your favourite soup? 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

November Eve

The trees are mostly bare now. Against the sky, the architecture of trees stands exposed and elegant. The end of November nears. Rainless days means chilly temperatures and frost-nipped nights. On the other hand, rain brings somewhat warmer temperatures but a damp that drives deep into the bones. Since we can't control the weather, we'll take what comes and find the pleasure in each day's gift.

Just one month until Christmas. The season of Advent, of anticipation, is nearly upon us. Lists and plans form in my head. But before the busyness, before the rush of activity to decorate our home, bake cookies, stitch gifts, and accomplish the myriad of tasks that take up December, I want to take time to prepare my heart. On this quiet November eve (quiet after a weekend of guests and celebration), I think about the season ahead and what I want it to look like. 

What is the spare architecture of my heart that will stand against the sky of time when all the delightful sparkles of Christmas are taken away? What will remain solid throughout the season of celebration? I pause and reflect. 

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


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Project Completed

Eight blank journals are ready for the December 1 Art Show. I've been puttering away at them, unsure of how I wanted to finish them. Yesterday I just began collaging the fronts, painting with gesso and acrylics, using my markers and scraps of paper. Because isn't it more fun to write in a pretty journal than a plain one? Yes. I thought you'd agree.

In the upstairs storage room there is a shelf of journals, each page filled with prose, poems, lists, quotes and even a few sketches. There are long gaps between some entries, but the journals tell the story of much of my life. It's surprising how often I go and look something up in a journal. And then get caught up reading the words written long ago. 

I left these two journals plain because I used old nautical charts that my husband was THROWING AWAY. They are sturdy and smooth and speak of adventures on the sea. Wouldn't it be great to have a chart of our inner landscape as readily available? Perhaps that's what the blank pages are for - charting life.

Our son is on a business trip - in Boston - clear across the continent as well as the border. He's flying home today, on the busiest travel day in the US.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers. I'm thankful for you! Enjoy the turkey and the pie, but most of all, each other!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gray November Textures

Almost all the colour has disappeared from the landscape. We've had some roaring wind; I hear it keening above the house as I write this post. This afternoon we went for lunch to a restaurant on the Selkirk Waterway. It's part of the Gorge, a long, winding inlet off of Victoria's Inner Harbour, which I wrote about in last week's Mosaic Monday post. 

Grey sky, grey water, grey wood. That seemed to be today's theme colour. We didn't walk for long. One of us didn't have a suitable jacket on and got pretty cold. (It wasn't me.) 

This wooden tube, also seen in the mosaic above, from a different angle, is an early water pipe to provide running water to homes in the 1880s here in Victoria. Narrow boards, grooved to fit snugly, shaped by an expert cooper, carried water from a well to individual homes. Imagine the work that took. Amazing! 

Thanks for all the well wishes for my back. I'm feeling much better - just have to take it easy for a few days until everything settles down again. 

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Down Time

I've not been teaching this week and have instead, used my time to run errands, work on some projects at home and stay satisfyingly busy. 

But just now, as I write, I'm tucked up on the couch with a heating pad at my back and warm rice bag on my shoulder. The skies outside are grey with the promise of rain. Wind is also in the forecast. A cup of tea to hand, and a square of dark chocolate add to the coziness. 

A physiotherapy treatment at noon eased my back pain but I'm always a little wiped out afterwards. No injury, just a fragile back that needs care once in awhile, due to mild scoliosis. A lot of walking and stretching exercises keep me mobile, but when the back spasms come, often in the night, a visit to my wonderful physiotherapist helps put me to rights.

Sarah Richardson, of HGTV fame (and a Canadian, to boot) posted this lovely video on her Facebook page. It's less than three minutes long. If you enjoy handwork, you'll love this. The accompanying music is lovely, too. I'm sure you'll find yourself relaxing as you watch.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Clouds Lifted

...and I went shopping. To be more precise, I went shopping in the little town of Sidney, just 15 minutes away from home. There are some wonderful shops there and I found what I was looking for. But then, (and this was my real reason for heading up there), I went for a short walk along the waterfront. 

Black cormorants and white gulls seemed quite happy to share their perch, no doubt enjoying the respite from all the rain. 

I never tire of ocean views, especially when a lighthouse (unmanned) is included. Rain is in the forecast for the next 5 days so I'm glad I took advantage of the sunnier, dry weather today.

 Sidney is famous for its bookstores. I spent a few moments, that passed all too quickly, in this one. Sadly, I noticed the one next door has gone out of business. Do you enjoy used bookstores? 

On my way home I drove by these gates, stopped, and took a photo. Christmas already! I don't decorate until the first of December. But I do have a multitude of projects on the go and am feeling a little bit panicky about that. Finishing just one or two would probably ease the feeling, so that's my goal in the next couple of days. 

When do you begin decorating for Christmas? Have you begun baking, or crafting? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On a Rainy Night

Heavy clouds and rain blocked the sun yesterday, resulting in a very dark afternoon. After coming home from shopping, I lit a candle to dispel the gloominess. What is it about a candle, or a flickering fire that is so comforting? I'm not going to ponder the psychology of it; I'll just enjoy it.

Comfort food, to go along with the candle, was on the menu last night. Butternut squash roasted with onion and rosemary - so good.

Is lighting candles on an ordinary evening something you do? Or do you save them for special occasions?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stitch by Stitch

Yesterday was a holiday, in honour of Remembrance Day. We spent a quiet day at home, mostly, other than a quick walk around Thetis Lake mid-afternoon. And it was delightful. Copious amounts of tea were consumed, laced with honey and lemon. 

I'm making some blank journals for an art show in a few weeks. Usually Tim drills the holes in the covers for me. Yesterday he taught me how to do it. Easy peasy. And quiet. I don't like really loud power tools. Not at all. So now these journals are ready to be stitched.

Much of my day was spent in my sewing room, pressing my foot pedal and seeing the satisfaction of stitches lining up along the seams of a variety of projects. And in the evening, some hand-stitching while sitting in a pool of light in the living room.

Since I was not called in to teach, today is much of the same, with a shopping trip thrown in this afternoon. A good way to spend a misty, quiet November day. A good way to get some projects finished.

And how are you spending your day?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Along the Songhees Walkway

One of the prettiest walks in our town is along the Inner Harbour. Once the traditional grounds of the Songhees Nation, the route winds along the shoreline, offering glimpses of ocean, mountains and city. 

We started our walk around 4 pm, and on this November day, the sunset glowed in the sky, illuminating water and land.

I was struck by the architectural elements of this tree etched against the skyline. Stark beauty softened by the brush along the base of the photo and the foliage at the top of the branches.

We watched three float planes land, likely eager to find safe shelter before dark fell.  A light haze wrapped the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula.

Looking back towards town, the Empress Hotel is seen on the left of the photo, and a variety of hotels elsewhere. Ducks and gulls paddled serenely on the water, unperturbed by the to and fro of boats and planes.

The Coho ferry exited the harbour for a calm but chilly crossing of the strait to Port Angeles.  

 By the time we turned to walk back to the car, the sun had fully set and the lights from the city twinkled in the twilight. We were glad for our heavier jackets and gloves. Winter weather is setting in.

I'm hoping to link to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of the Little Red House. That depends on whether or not she has power yet. I certainly hope so. It's been a long stretch for many people devastated by Hurricane Sandy followed by a second storm.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Twirling Autumn Leaves

Our trip to the park yesterday involved lessons in playing with autumn leaves. Little Miss S just watched from her stroller, unperturbed by the leaves falling all around her. Next year, she'll be in on all the fun. 

Little Miss A watched her mother and aunt throwing leaves and soon got in on the action, too. Up in the air went her arms, down came the leaves and she giggled. "Again, again," she said. 

Up there in the corner is one of the snack bags I made. With her little hands she can reach inside and get her snacks. I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

I'm not wanting this to turn into a baby blog, but lately, I'm spending a lot of time with these two sweeties and not getting too much else done, other than teaching. We'll see what happens this next week.

The sunshine is glorious today. Frost last night left my dahlias black and droopy. I cleaned them up, along with a few other perennials. Tim mowed the lawn, hopefully for the last time until March. This afternoon we hope to get outside for a walk.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Pondering the nature of spam, and a few snippets of my weekend plans

Have you ever checked your Blogger Spam folder? I do, on occasion. And I have to scratch my head pondering the nature of the creators of Spam. What does anyone get out of it? Why? I'm baffled.

Here are some comments I pulled from my Spam folder. 

"Wow, this piece of writing is good, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to inform her."  

She's analyzing how I decorate my house? Hmmm. Or how about this one?

"Asking questions are actually pleasant thing if you are not understanding something entirely, however this post provides pleasant understanding yet."

Pleasant understanding about a baby shower? I'm glad I could help. And one more...

"I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your website."

Am I amending my website? I didn't think so. Is this a hint to do so? Or mere gratuitous flattery so I'll click on their link and be taken to some surreptitious site selling something I am
NOT interested in.


Outside my window today there is a tiny bit of frost on the roofs. But the sun is shining and I'm going for a walk later with the Little Misses and their mothers. 

Almost all of the leaves are off the trees. Tomorrow's task will be raking the leaves under the plum tree. I realized recently that's the only deciduous tree we have. The others are evergreens. 

I have not taken many photos recently, because of teaching this week. I hope to remedy the photo situation this week. The above were taken last year, in Parksville. Hard to believe that last year at this time we still didn't know we were moving back here.

Around the house the washer just sang its little tune telling me I need to change the loads. Bathrooms need cleaning, there is vacuuming to be done, and my cup of tea is empty so it's time to get moving. 

I hope your day is full of satisfying things. What are your plans?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Life Lessons

Take some time to splash in a puddle, kick through a pile of leaves,
and play again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Snack Bags and Using What You Have

On my daughter-in-law's wish list (we exchange them for birthdays and Christmas) was the request for reusable snack bags. I've seen them here and there, and had a couple tutorials pinned to Pinterest. So I made a few and asked her to try them out. I can see that I should have done some pressing before taking the photo.

The larger ones have a flip top, and are lined with cotton, not nylon or plastic. They would be good for drier snacks. For the fold top snack bags, I used the tutorial from My Very Educated Mother. They are a little smaller than the pattern, simply because I used fat quarters. 

For the second, smaller bags, I used the tutorial from Laura at We Wilsons.  Again, I tweaked the pattern slightly, making a flap to fold down over the velcro closing. I thought it might prevent crumbs from getting caught in the velcro. These I lined to make them water resistant. But first, this conversation ensued:

Me:  "I need to get some rip stop nylon to line these bags."

Husband: "How much do you need?" 

Me:  "oh, not much, about ...." (and I hold my hands about 18 inches apart)

Husband: "I have some."

He goes downstairs and comes up shortly with an entire tent fly. Yellow. It's never been used because somehow, when we bought our tent, we landed up with two flys. I've warned my children that every snack bag I make from now on will be lined with bright yellow rip stop nylon.

I'm planning to make a bunch of these for stocking stuffers. This is not a secret. 

Have you started making anything for Christmas yet? 

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Breakfast Party

Bacon, Puffy Pancake, Spinach and Sundried Tomato Frittata, two kinds of Muffins, Jiffy Cinnamon Buns, Fruit, Chai Tea, and Coffee. What a feast we enjoyed over the weekend. No lunch needed after this meal. 

It was, as is our tradition, a triple celebration. Within 18 days, three of us have birthdays. The mothers of Little Misses A and S, and their Nana. The gentlemen of the family, plus Ashley, who celebrates in September, whipped up a beautiful party for us, ending with a Raspberry Cheesecake Coffee Cake. How I love my family, and the times we all get together. It can get noisy, and there's always a little picking up to be done at the end, but oh, the joy!

After Little Miss A's nap, she and I went for a walk to the park while the others played games. Blue sky peeked between the clouds. The Garry Oak branch still holds its leaves, but not for long. Many trees are bare. 

Today is bright and sunny. I think I like this time change that brings the light earlier in the morning. I feel more energized. Or maybe that's a result of all the cake and cinnamon buns I've eaten!

I hope your Monday is just fine.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Salmon Spawn

Rainy. Misty. Mysterious. These words describe our visit to Goldstream Park yesterday to see the salmon returning upriver to lay their eggs and then die. Droplets of rain falling on the thick leaf carpet beat a soft counterpoint to the rushing water swirling around rocks and splash of fish leaping upstream.

Here, a leaf, barely submerged glows yellow on a very gray day. In autumn, death is so prevalent in nature, yet life begins, too, in the salmon eggs laid in sandy gravel and the decay of yellowed leaves. 

I could get very philosophical standing there in the woods, thinking about all of this. The seagulls pull me out of my musings. They are there to gorge themselves on the dying salmon, their plaintive screech filling the air as they watch which fish to feed on next.  

I know that Robert Frost wrote his poem about a winter's eve, but yesterday, the line that came to me was "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," for that they were. Full of quiet in spite of the cars rushing by on the highway. Full of the awe that is life and death. Deep with peace. 

I am not linking to Mosaic Monday, usually hosted by Mary at the Little Red House, because she lives in New Jersey, an area devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Mary is without power and trying to get a generator started to provide heat and power. Continue to pray for those affected by the storm.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

On this first day of November

 Two little people visited last night, one a flamenco dancer with an authentic Spanish dress, the other a rock star complete with gelled hair, jean jacket and a studded leather cuff (worn on her ankle.) The flamenco dancer caught on quickly to the idea of candy when she said "trick or treat." The rock star looked askance at the dancer's fan in her lap and paid no attention to the candy. They didn't stay long, since these little people go to bed early.

Daylight hours are shorter and shorter. I took this unsuccessful photo from our deck at 8 am this morning. It does show the lights and gray sky. Not enough light to take a photo without a tripod.

Setting the camera on the deck rail worked well. The photos look lighter than real life. Believe me, it's dark out there. Inside, however, it's cozy and warm. I'm baking cookies for a youth event and the house is full of chocolatey scents.

For lunch, I'm meeting up with these two sweethearts. It's Little Miss S's mom's birthday today and I'm celebrating along with her, since I'm not working today. 

I awoke before the alarm clock this morning and lay in bed thinking about her birth day, just 
2 1/2 months after we arrived in Ecuador. What crazy young kids we were back then. And how adaptable we humans are. But those are stories for another day.

I hope your day is full of good things, be they big or small.

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 ...