Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Few Days Difference

Our few days in Mexico were not very warm. Grey skies, mist that turned to rain, and chilly winds marked our time there. The ocean was grey as well, but still beautiful in monochromatic tones. These photos are all untouched. 


Fortunately, weather systems can move quickly, and now, just 100 miles or so up the coast, we're in California and the sun is shining. It's still chilly, but the weather forecast is for increasing heat. Hooray!

Sea lions at La Jolla Cove nestled together - I love this photo. Tenderness in nature.

Our days are spent walking, reading, walking, eating, and walking, with a lot of relaxation thrown in as well. 

Hope your days are filled with good things. 

Just a housekeeping note: I'm appalled by all the spam comments that are getting through to being published, so I've disabled anonymous comments for now. I keep watching to see if that clears things up. I know other bloggers have had spam problems lately, too. If you can't comment on the blog, you can always email me through my profile. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just a Note

I'm away from home for a few days, with limited internet access so no photos. I hope to get back to posting next week. In the meantime, thanks for the comments on my previous post.

We're visiting friends who live in Baja California, Mexico. They are from our church community and are here to work with others who want to help pull people from lives of poverty and despair. We've had a full couple of days driving around bumpy, muddy roads seeing some amazing stories of people who care for others in practical ways, such as building houses, providing rehab for drug and alcohol addictions, breakfast clubs for children, and a transition home for women.. My heart is full. My back is sore. Lots to think about.

Today we walked on the beach - lovely sand beneath my bare feet. How I love it. The waves are amazing, unceasing, powerful, crashing incessantly upon the shore. Reminds me of God's love.

Looking forward to reading and commenting on your blogs soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tweaking the Living Room

My sister-in-law, who visited last week, is a nurse. She told me that after work one day/night, she came home in the wee hours and rearranged her living room furniture. "Aha!" thought I, "this is a woman after my own heart." 

The two of us set about rearranging my living room furniture, with Mum sitting on the side, giving advice. I like the new arrangement. Tweaking my home perks up my spirits. There will be more tweaking after I write this post because, I was in such a hurry to write this that I didn't vacuum the carpet first.

The carpet mess is from the sticks I was playing with, now behind the couch, in front of the window. I wanted to ask some advice of all my savvy decorator readers. Even if YOU don't think you're savvy, I'm still asking your advice. The window is a shallow bay. There are white wood venetian blinds on it now, with a funny sort of valance topper. I would love to change this out and add more fabric for softness. Long panels would be ideal, but we have electric baseboard heat and the curtains cannot be floor length. The window coverings do need to close at night for privacy.

While you're thinking about the window, here's a view of the corner opposite the window. That chair was a wedding gift from my in-laws and is in excellent shape. During the years we lived in Ecuador it was stored in my parents' basement and rarely used. I would like to recover it someday. 

I hope you're still thinking about the windows because the same window coverings will be used in the dining room, seen here from the living room. There are two of them, in the corner, with a baseboard heater under one of them. Why do builders do this? 

If you have ideas, please share them. I've been pondering this for many months and don't like the only solution I can come up with. It's likely one of you has better ideas.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Art Gallery Visit

A dear friend of our youngest daughter invited my eldest daughter and me to the art gallery. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've never been to our local art gallery. Now that's been remedied. 

The collection of pottery from the 1970s and 80s made me smile. This was the kind of thing popular when we were married. Now it's collectable and valued enough to be shown in art galleries. I was struck by how some of the designs, notably that of the black and white plate, look up-to-date for this decade as well. As my daughter said, "it looks like something you'd see at Ikea." 


It was Family Day at the gallery. The parking lot was full to overflowing and in various rooms throughout the gallery children sat at tables creating art. In other spaces they played with lights, creating shadows on the wall, as shown above. While taking my photos (once again with my phone), I also created some shadow art - did you notice it there on the black and white plate in the mosaic?

Emily Carr is a famous Canadian artist from Victoria. I grew up in the interior of our province and when I first saw her paintings of coastal forests, they were incomprehensible. It was only when we moved to the area that her work began to mean something more than brushstrokes on canvas or paper. I felt the same way when I went to Provence and saw those twisted cypress trees that Van Gogh loved to paint. 

Emily Carr loved the woods, as do I. She wrote, "Go out there into the glory of the woods. See God in every particle of them expressing glory and strength and power, tenderness and protection." 

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

From Across the Mountains

When I asked my sister-in-law if there was anything in particular she wanted to do while visiting, she asked if we could take a walk on the beach. I told her that I thought we could find a scrap of beach somewhere nearby. Here is one such scrap.

Tim's mother was happy to meet her two great-granddaughters. There were meals shared, conversations over coffee, several walks (we found more scraps of beach), and just a few photos. We were too busy visiting to take many pictures.

Four generations - great grandmother, grandfather, father and Little Miss A, who is learning to say "cheese" when having her photo taken. We took a similarly posed photo with Little Miss S, her mother, her Nana and her great grandmother.

There was an afternoon tea at The White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay - with a variety of scones and sweets and a dizzying assortment of tea to choose from.

And one last walk on a scrap of beach, with Mount Baker over in Washington State glowing in the rosy sunset. This photo was snapped with my phone, hence the lower quality.

Today, Tim's mother and sister flew off home again, across the mountains. The house seems very quiet and empty, but full of memories.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Finished Project

Last October I posted the above photo, mostly for the lemon verbena tea. But you might have noticed the knitting. I was inspired by a cushion I had seen on Mia's blog. Isn't it wonderful how we can share inspiration globally through the internet?  She added her instructions later, after I began my riff on her design. 

Her yarn is finer, her needles smaller and that results in a nicer cushion, I think. However, I did finish mine this week. I just knit until I ran out of yarn, then made a pillow insert to fit.  I also put a zipper in the back as the ribbed section is just for show on my cushion. I didn't know when my yarn would run out! 

I love cushions on the couch - they go behind my back or under my head, they prop up a book or magazine, or my laptop. I pull them onto the floor if I'm cozying up to the fire. They add colour and can change the look of a room, too. What's not to like about cushions? Some people don't like them, and I don't care if they get tossed onto the carpet.

Freesias found their way into my grocery cart this week. Delicate creamy flowers. I bought one bunch, then later decided they looked a little skimpy. Alas, the freesia bouquets were not there the next time, so I brought a bunch of tulips to add to the vase. It's brightening up my front hallway.

Company's coming for the next few days, so I'll be a little scarce in blog land. Enjoy yourselves!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vee's Note Card Party - It's all about Colour!

For this month's card party, I debated between choosing snowy scenes and colourful ones. We've had no snow here, although I keep hoping. So colour won out. 

What are the colours in your world these days? Snowy white? Gray? Blue sky? How about indoors? 

Linking to Vee's Note Card Party

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cold Weather Cooking

The kitchen filled with good smells this weekend. Tim's supply of granola was replenished, bread baked, a chicken roasted, followed by the carcass made into stock. Chilly temperatures had me yearning for warming soup.

Roasted butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables, and it's even better when made into soup. Fresh ginger added warmth, and a pale yellow, fragrant ripe pear added a hint of sweetness. It was an inspired contribution. I wrote out the recipe which you can find here, on my recipe blog.

Today is slightly warmer, but overcast, which paradoxically feels colder. What's your favourite warming food?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Along the Shore

Sunny days with the temperature hovering around 0 (celsius) are more preferable to me than slightly warmer days with rain. Yesterday afternoon an afternoon walk along the beach was just the ticket. Gulls and crows thought so, too. They flew ahead of us, alighting on the rocky, driftwood-strewn shore, paying no attention to us. 

 These gulls strike me as complacent birds, standing with heads hunched into their backs, regarding the world with little curiosity. 

Waves rush over rocks, then draw back. 

My camera tells me this picture was taken at 3:49 PM. The days are still so very short, lengthening imperceptibly. 

Did you notice the white house there in the left corner of the background photo? Wouldn't that be a wonderful place to live? I don't think I'd get much done - all my time would be spent staring out the window. 

Linking with My Little Home and Garden for Sunlit Sunday,
and with Mary at the Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quiet Days

The weekend prior to Christmas, Tim and I walked around Fisherman's Wharf. A scoop (or squadron, brief, pod, or pouch) of brown pelicans had dropped in for an unexpected visit. These birds are normally seen along the Gulf of Mexico, and along the California/Mexico coastline. Do you remember John Grisham's book and movie "The Pelican Brief?" I was quite taken with the thought of seeing an actual brown pelican, the cause of so much havoc in the novel.

I'm not certain how large the scoop is; we saw about 8 birds in total, but some may have been off elsewhere. The pelicans have made visits here before, but never in December. 

They shelter under the pier, dodging the pilings in a ghostly, silent fashion.

It's been a quiet couple of days around here. I came down with a minor ailment requiring antibiotics. The first antibiotic made me feel weird and weepy. I mentioned it to the pharmacist who recommended getting another prescription. The doctor concurred. So not much has been happening around here - a little sewing, a lot of reading, some sitting around and staring out the window - where, I might add in utter glee - the sun is currently shining!

I've also been looking at photos - above, Little Miss S at 7 months. She's at the adorable stage of sitting like a potted plant and looking intently at things she wants but can't yet get to. She doesn't like being on her tummy so I was happy to get a smile out of her.

And then there's Little Miss A, along with her sheep (that says Baaaaa). We went for a walk the other day and she walked all the way to the park and almost all the way home. We've been told that we're not allowed to jump on the bed anymore, so we've devised a new game called Kerplunk, in which Nana scoops Little Miss A up under her shoulders and then Kerplunks her down on the pillows. Giggles, smiles and cries of "again" are lovely sounds to this Nana.

Time for another cup of tea and some staring at the sunshine! And blue sky! Oh frabjous delight!


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Just Chatting

This is one of those posts about inconsequential things - like a conversation that leaps from one topic to another, without many connections between them. My family seems to think I'm pretty good at that, and it gives them great delight. 

The rain-battered primroses are blooming in my garden. Hardy souls. I was looking for snowdrops and found no sign of them at all. Puzzling.

Eating just a little of everything at Christmas meant a little bit added to me. Everyone has their own way of losing a couple of pounds - mine is to cut refined carbs for a few weeks. I tried out the Cauliflower Crust Pizza that I've seen here and there. If you love the chewy bready crust that holds your pizza toppings, you won't find it with a cauliflower crust. But it was still pretty good. Do a search for the recipe and you'll come up with many options. I sort of did my own thing, simplifying some of the steps. Yes, I'll make it again.

Lately I've found it hard to get into a book I really enjoy. Do you think I might be getting pickier? I was worried. On Saturday I took this book out of the library. I finished it after work today. A story with unexpected turns, full of humour, characters I'd like to meet, and a friendly setting. Highly recommend.

Candles make the January gloominess a little less so. I've been practicing taking low light shots with my new tripod. It does make a remarkable difference.

Re Downton Abbey. Yes, there is a Christmas special for Season Three. It was shown on Christmas Day in the UK. However, it does not take place at Christmas time, so it won't be too unseasonal when it airs here in February, I believe. Spoilers are all over the internet, but I won't say a word now. I'll have plenty to discuss later. Plenty. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

For Downton Abbey Fans

The third season of Downton Abbey began last night in North America. Ah-hem. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I have already viewed it, seeing each episode the day after it aired in Britain. But I'll be watching it again, you can be sure. 

I found these two videos on YouTube via another blog - so if you're a fan, take a look.

This first one is a little tour of Highclere Castle, the real-life setting for fictional Downton Abbey.


This next video was done during the filming of Season Two.



Sunday, January 06, 2013

Taking a Closer Look

This photo showed up in an earlier post. The arbutus tree is gorgeous, etched elegantly against the water and distant shores. But did you notice that dried out section of tree near the bottom of the photo? 

Tree rings and layers, texture and colour fill each crevice of wood. 

 Weathered, twisted wood, beautifully intricate.

The plant in the inset photo grows on the rock in the foreground of the larger photo. It would be easy to walk by and not see the succulent leaves, the pattern of two opposing leaves, or feel the smooth texture. Having my camera has helped me to slow down a little outdoors, to take the time to bend down, to look and to see.

I was reminded of this poem by Emily Dickinson - 

"Nature" is what we see --
The Hill - the Afternoon - 
Squirrel - Eclipse - the Bumble bee - 
Nay - Nature is Heaven - 
Nature is what we hear - 
The Bobolink - the Sea -
Thunder - the Cricket -
Nature is what we know - 
Yet have no art to say - 
So impotent Our Wisdom is
to her Simplicity.

Linking with Mary of the Little Red House to Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

From the Back of My Mind

I gave up making New Year's resolutions years ago. If something needs to be changed in my life, and I realize it, I'll begin resolving the issue at the moment. Goals and resolutions grow out of real life, not a date on the calender. That said, it's hard to avoid thinking about change and growth when talk shows, newscasters, magazines and online reading focuses on the topic. It's not a bad thing. 

some of my stash

We've moved twice in the past 3 years. There's nothing like having to pack up all your fabric, scrapbooking supplies, knitting yarn, and paints to make you realize how much stuff you really have. That "you" I'm talking about is really "me." For the past year, I've been resolving to use up what I have. The progress is slow and sporadic, but sure. 

Lately, I've been thinking, not just of using stuff up, but making the most of what I have. Those photography books, for example. I've looked at them, I've tried out a few things on my camera, but I've not delved into really using it to its fullest capability. I want to. I will. Especially now that I've written it for the world (my readers) to see.  

 a section of my bookshelf

A few years ago, before beginning my B.A. in French, I did a little free-lance writing. I had some success, articles in newspapers, cooking magazines, Today's Christian Woman, Romantic Homes, and others, but it's a tough slog. And rather isolating. I love teaching and will continue to do so, but the writing urge is tickling again. Since my birthday in October, I've been writing a short (500 word) essay each night. There are book ideas brewing in my brain. Possibilities. I don't know where the writing will take me, but I'm going to enjoy the ride.

So there. I guess I do have some resolutions for this new year. 

Susan Branch wrote a post entitled "The Care and Feeding of Dreams." It's lovely. My French degree is something I dreamed about for a long time until finally just decided to do it.  Don't we all have dreams? For ourselves? For others? Dreams can be small, like beginning a small garden plot, or large, like writing a book or traveling the world. They are also highly flexible: perhaps a garden will begin with a few containers of herbs, or a grand tour of Europe with books and movies. Sometimes dreams have to be surrendered, but new ones will come to take their place. To dream, to envision the future, is a human trait. Don't suppress your dreams, adjust them, make them work.

Well. This post went on a ramble. But that's the way it is with writing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Vistas Grand and Minute

The trail down to McKenzie Bight slopes downward. Each time I walk it, I think of the return trip, all uphill. We've discovered another route, one that is steeper at first, but levels off for the last half of the return hike. Today, as we returned, I could hear the rushing water from a distance. This waterfall, so impressive now in January, dries to a trickle in the summertime. We stood and gazed at the waterfall for a long time, enjoying the play of water against the rocks. Admiring nature is a good excuse for catching one's breath.

This arbutus tree glowed in the late afternoon almost-sunshine. The branches really are that red. Amazing.

I used the timer setting to capture a photo of the two of us drinking our tea on a rocky outcropping. 

Lovely water, trees, rocks and moss. Moss everywhere. Green as green can be. 

Lichens on a rock. I've been trying to identify this lichen. I think they are of the Cladonia genus, of the cup-bearing type. Perhaps Pixie Cup Lichens. Isn't that a poetic name?

Being outdoors on a chilly, but not rainy, day was a wonderful beginning to start 2013. I hope your first day of this new year was equally pleasant.

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-...