Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When you don't have an old barn

Have you seen posts and magazine ideas about things to make with old barn boards? Me, too. I've not noticed many old barns around here and even if there were any, I'd have qualms about nonchalantly prying off a few boards for my own use. 

However, I have absolutely no qualms about rummaging through my husband's stock of wood. I scored this weathered fence board and thought it perfect for a table runner.

An assortment of votive holders and a mini vase. Pansies which are flourishing in the wet cool weather. One last ranunculus. A couple of rose buds. Various clippings from herbs and shrubs.  Et voilĂ , five mini bouquets to perch on top of the board for a casual country effect. Without a barn to pillage.

Any old barns around your neighborhood? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A bit of this and that

 When we went to San Diego in January, I admired some miniature collages I saw in an art gallery. The idea tucked itself into my brain and I was actually able to retrieve it a few weeks ago.

The canvases are small, about 3 inches square, and I painted them, then layered them with bits and pieces I had on hand - fabric flowers, buttons, lace, paper. I'm pleased with the way they turned out. The green pair flew south in a birthday parcel while the pink pair languishes in a cupboard waiting for me to hang them. I have the place in mind, I just need to get to it.

A table at our local bank held a stack of books for sale, the proceeds of which would go to children's literacy. I glanced over the table but this is the only book that caught my eye. I recently read Elizabeth Goudge's Island Magic, a gentle tale of French family life on one of the Channel Islands. This book, according to the flyleaf, also takes place on the Channel Islands. I've not yet begun reading it. It was published in England under the title Green Dolphin Country.

This is the back of the cover. Published in the USA in 1944, the book cover served as an advertisement for War Bonds - the last line says "To buy them is to become a true soldier of Democracy." When I read the ad, I think that perhaps people were less cynical in the 1940s that we are today. I appreciate the straightforward, yet idealistic approach to advertising displayed here. Today we must be wooed, cajoled, and entertained with our advertising. Sometimes, watching television, I wonder what on earth the ad has to do with the product. 

Have you read this book? What do you think of advertising, modern or otherwise?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The First Bouquet of Roses

Earlier this week I read Vee's post about gathering ferns. No ferns grow in our yard, but while visiting the hospital, I noticed some along the embankment above the parking lot. Tim waited patiently while I scrambled up and picked a few ferns. They looked lovely on the mantel. Today I noticed all the blooms on this nameless and un-pedigreed rosebush. Out I went with my clippers. I do love cut flowers.

The vase is one Tim bought me for our 2nd wedding anniversary. We were directing a summer camp near Revelstoke, and were able to take one night away from the camp. We we slept and slept. If you've ever worked at a summer camp, you'll know just how exhausted we were. We did go out for dinner and wandered through town - Tim bought me the vase and I bought him a pair of binoculars. We don't always exchange anniversary gifts, but we did that year.

That got a little off track, but don't you think the ferns and roses make a wonderful combination? I'm hoping for endless roses and bouquets from my garden this summer. 

Linking with Mary for Mosaic Monday. Mary is just back from London and has some beautiful photos.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Thousand Shades of Green

Green dominated my May visit to Butchart Gardens this week. The spring display of color is almost over and summer's has not yet begun. 

The rain we've had has helped with the greening of the landscape, although the Gardens are beautiful and lush at any time of year with the aid of irrigation. 

 I took Little Miss A along with me and she sat in her cart (provided by the Gardens) and watched the fountain dance for a long time. Then, when I thought to return the way we came and not wander through the Sunken Garden, since we saw from above, she informed me that, "No, Nana, that's my favorite garden. We have to go THAT way." 

I think she's been there once before, a few weeks ago. Of course, we took a stroll through that garden since it was her favorite.

A few beds showed color, like these vivid pinks and purples that looked almost as though they had been painted.

You may remember my April post, where the rose plants had been pruned low to the ground, and I wondered how they would ever bloom by June. In the mid-ground of this photo you can see the rose bushes, fully leafed out, with buds forming. In a few weeks this garden will be a profusion of blooms.

Today I'll be puttering around the house, tidying, cleaning, and then running out do some errands. What do you have planned for this Friday in May?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Impatient Gardener Learning Patience

When we moved to this house 11 years ago this month, there were no flower beds in the back garden and the front was a mess. Over the years we dug beds, planted the cedar hedge for privacy on two sides, and I transplanted these irises from the front garden. 

I'd read about developing a master plan for a garden and thought it a good idea, going so far as to scratch out a general plan on a piece of paper and make a list of what I should get at the nursery. Shrubs that would provide interest during the dormant months, colorful perennials for summer blooms, trees for some architecture. However, I'm easily led astray by plant nurseries, and came home with few things on my list and a lot of pretty things like a buddleia that promised to grow to 15 feet in the first year, vinca that would quickly fill in and cover the soil, and so on. Friends and relatives gave me clippings that I accepted with gratitude, just wanting to have a pretty garden. It didn't take long before the lovely Snow on the Mountain (Aegopodium podagraria 'variegatum') and the Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) and the purple Vinca took over. 

I managed to keep things at bay with serious clipping and pulling out and cutting back, but when we moved away for two years, the renters just let things go. I can't blame them. So last year, after moving back into our home, I became ruthless. My first task in the spring was to dig out all of those invasive plants. I dug up the soil and sifted through it, searching for stray roots that would produce perky stems of the very plants I was trying to eliminate. Of course I was not totally successful. Persistent pulling out last summer and now again this spring has the plants mostly gone. I'll be equally persistent this year.

Then we decided to clear the back corner for a new garden shed, which will likely be built in the fall or next summer. And add a block border which finishes off the beds very well, and has the added bonus of providing a place for Little Miss A to walk along. So there's more empty spaces. This year we added some fruit trees and in the fall I'll be dividing perennials.  When I purchase perennials, like the creeping phlox and the blue flowers whose name escapes me just now, I verify by reading the tag and inquiring of the knowledgeable folk at the nursery that these plants will mound nicely and contain themselves politely.

The rock rings are where I've seeded cosmos, annuals that never fail to provide lots of color and texture to my garden. I can move them where I want them once they sprout and grow a little. Elsewhere I have piles of large and medium-sized rocks, placed here and there, artistically, in my view, although my husband thinks them a bit odd. Dahlias and other plants (like the uber-friendly vinca) in pots fill in more of the blank spots. I'm determined, this year, at last, to wait.

Happily, I don't have to wait quite so long for other things - like the lettuce and rainbow chard. They grow fast and I'm happy to start cutting and consuming. 

So tell me that I'm not the only impatient gardener out there. Please? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Day

I love holidays that fall on a Monday. The weekend seems to stretch luxuriously. This morning, we braved the coolish temperature to eat our breakfast in the sunshine. One four-egg mushroom and cheese omelet, divided not quite evenly, toast, a few cherry tomatoes, and tea. It was simply lovely. The first of many to follow, I hope.

There's a boat sitting alongside the house - it probably won't see the water this summer since there are things to do on it, but Little Miss A was so excited to get into it and explore. Then Grandpa put the dinghy on the back lawn for a bit and she climbed right in. Now there's Grandpa's Big Boat and Little Miss A's Little Boat, according to her. 

Both of the Little Misses soothe themselves with their thumbs. Little Miss A tugs at her ear with one hand and Little Miss S holds a piece of hair. The thumbs pop into the mouths only when the girls are tired or upset, sometimes only for a few seconds. I think it's sweet, but then I was a thumb-sucker, too. Were you?

Gardening is what I'm doing today. I came in for some lunch and to write this blog post. I'm heading out again right away. Weeds won't wait and it's high time to finish getting the vegetables planted.

Happy Victoria Day from Canada!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Walk Through My Garden

The life of a substitute teacher is such that for several weeks I have no work at all, then I get a spate of calls and could be in three classrooms at once. These last couple of weeks have been busy with teaching and with family, also with working in the election. Gardening has taken a back seat. 

I did a quick reconnaissance of what was currently blooming - the bluebells and lilacs are fading rapidly, but the irises are beginning, as are the day lilies.

Hundreds, or so it seems, of tight purple buds on the chive clumps are getting ready to burst into full flower, like the one above. I like the peppery bite of the blossoms in a salad as well as the more mild snipped chive stems.

An update on Casey - he's slowly improving. Yesterday he sat for 2 minutes on the edge of his bed with his legs dangling. A week ago he passed out when attempting to sit. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

What's blooming in your garden? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May's Note Card Party - Reflections

I chose these photos for Vee's Note Card Party for their reflections, all taken on cloudy days. Some reflections are clearer than others. It really depends on the light. But water reflects any little bit of light there is.

The photo above was taken on a hike through Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park. Cloudy skies, also reflected in the water, didn't hinder the sharp pointed fir tree from standing out.

This photo shows abandoned pilings in Tod Inlet, just behind Butchart Gardens, and part of the garden's history. Again, it was a cloudy day (in January).

Grassi Lakes in Alberta, just outside of Canmore, is the site of this photo. I've never seen water so clear. The colors stunned me with their clarity. 

Another Butchart Gardens shot. The red bridge is faintly reflected in the water, as are skeletal tree branches.

I'm a little late to Vee's Party this month. Yesterday was Election Day here in our province, and I worked at a polling station. I left the house at 7 am and returned at 9:15 after counting ballots and balancing our tallies. It was a long day, but I enjoyed interacting with the voters.

This morning I'm looking forward to a cup of tea while perusing blogs. It's been awhile since I've visited some of you and I've missed you. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Most people are kind

Be kind to one another...

Late Saturday morning. Little Miss S is napping upstairs while her parents take the day to celebrate their anniversary. The house is quiet, with Casey's parents (his father arrived yesterday) and his wife at the hospital. Tim is outside, doing some yard work, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to give you an update.

First of all, thank you so much for your well wishes and your prayers. Casey is improving, but his full recovery is going to be a long and arduous process. No one is saying much about when he will be released from hospital. In the meantime, we are just trying to be encouraging and supportive. I've been taking some meals up to the hospital for the family, and generally keeping the home front going. Our local friends have offered so much help - someone is bringing fresh home baking over later this afternoon. Strangers have offered help. Truly, most people are kind. 

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I'm privileged to have a wonderful mother and a wonderful mother-in-law who are both examples to me on how to show kindness to others. I love them so much. 

Be kind to someone today. You may never know what it may mean to them. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Taking Time

Longtime readers of my blog may remember a trip Tim and I took to Sonora Island to visit Tim's nephew, Casey, and his wife. If you click on the link, you will be taken to one of the posts I wrote about it.

Early Monday morning the phone rang. On Sunday afternoon Casey had been gliding, with a wing (but not hang-gliding - I don't know quite the term to use) and had a run-in with a cliff. He had his marine radio on him and although injured and unable to extricate himself from his perch, was able to call for help. Within an hour some of his neighbours reached him, but were unable to get him down. Attempts via water were also abortive. After 4 hours rescue workers were dropped from a helicopter, made their way to Casey and he was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital.

He had surgery yesterday - a badly broken wrist, hip/femur break requiring pins - and is recovering. His wife had been in Seattle visiting family; she arrived around 4:30 pm just as Casey came out of surgery. After school I went to the hospital to wait and was there when she arrived. His mother arrived around 8 pm. We spent the evening at the hospital, came home around 9:30, ate a bit of dinner and fell into bed. 

Recovery is going to take awhile. His wife and his mother are staying with us. I'm so glad we can offer that bit of help. If you pray, would you please pray for Casey? 

I'm likely to be less in blogland for a week or so - school has been busier, and I'll be trying to help Casey and his family however I can - providing nourishing meals and a restful place to stay. But I'll be popping in and out of your blogs to say hello and we'll see how the posts here go. For now my mind is too full of other things.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Burst of Summer: Mosaic Monday

Summer came to Vancouver Island this weekend. It won't likely stay for long, but retreat to other regions, then visit again later. But how we're enjoying this little taste of things to come. I've been gardening like crazy - pulling weeds, planting out vegetable starters and replacing a few shrubs. We've barbecued, sat on the lawn, and played ball with Little Miss A. 

On Friday evening Tim and I went for a walk on the breakwater which protects the entrance to Victoria's Inner Harbour. The breakwater has been closed for a few months while workers installed handrails. They do add to making the walkway more secure and more accessible to families, but the rails take away a little bit of the adventure. I think the rails look like something from the deck of a ship and if they have to be there, are quite attractive. 

The giveaway winner is Alisa from Life is a Beautiful Place to be. Congratulations. Thank you to all who read my blog and entered the giveaway. I'll be mailing out the parcel this week. 

I'm linking up a bit late to Mary's Mosaic Monday. It's been too beautiful a weekend to sit at my computer.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Spring: Thursday Inspiration

Spring is delicate green filling in the landscape, one leaf at a time. Once the temperatures begin to rise, there's no stopping spring from bursting out in color.

This is what the roses look like at Butchart Gardens just now. In March the plants were pruned to about knee height. In April, after danger of frost (although we have had frosty nights lately) the gardeners cut them back severely. I spoke with one of the gardeners last week who told me that intensive feeding now will result in the beautiful blooms we will see in June. I can hardly believe that these stubs will produce anything. I'll be sure to go to the gardens in June just to see this.


Fritillary. One variation is called Chocolate Lily. I didn't know these flowers existed in North America. Actually, until a conversation with Elizabeth of Cornish Cream a couple of months ago, I didn't know they existed at all. They are apparently native to Western North America. Have you seen these before? Do you have any in your garden?

Linking with Mary of the Little Red House for Inspiration Thursday.

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-...