Thursday, January 30, 2014

Over the Mountains and Back Again

It was a very short trip, made shorter by not getting off the ground due to fog, and then by cutting it short on the other end by a "need-to-attend-meeting." We flew into Calgary Monday night, drove to Red Deer the next morning, and visited with family. Tuesday was lovely - chilly, yes, but sunny, and the air is dry. We didn't feel any colder than on our damp island.

Things looked a little different the next morning as we headed south to Calgary, homeward bound once again. Slippery roads with light snow falling. We wondered what awaited us in the mountains.

Lovely views with bare, dry roads, that's what. For all of these photos I rolled down the window and stuck my camera out. The wind blew in and as Tim said, "it was refreshing."

We stopped for the night in a little town in a valley beside a lake. This morning (Thursday) we were on our way once again. I learned that if I want to take photos from the window of a car going 100 km per hour, it's best to focus on something ahead or behind me, not beside me. 

Up and over another mountain range - this time the snow was heavier, the roads not bare and dry. Treacherous beauty.

Down again over the mountain to below the snow line, clearly delineated here. A quick stop for soup at my parents' place in Chilliwack, then on to the ferry. Alas, the three o'clock ferry was full so we waited for the five o'clock one. Home again now, and thankful. 

The reason for our trip - we bought a new-to-us-vehicle in Alberta - one capable of towing the boat Tim found last spring. There will be more about that in the future.

Meanwhile, I want to catch up with what's been happening in your lives. I'm tucked up on the couch in my robe, planning to do nothing else for an hour but read blogs. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A different vista

We did get off the island. Here is our view now. I'm posting via my phone so we will how it works. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Fog. Go. Away." she says

Oblivious. That describes me often sometimes. I've been so pleased with the fog these past few days, admiring the mist as it creeps across the landscape. 

However, we were supposed to be on a flight early this morning. In a conversation about cancelled flights with friends yesterday, it finally dawned on us that our flight might not leave as scheduled. 

Frantic  Determined re-booking calls.
We packed. We took a taxi to the airport. We waited. 
Late Evening flight also cancelled. Lineups and phone calls to re-book. Hundreds of people want off this Island.
Taxi return to home. A fine sleep.
Early morning flights cancelled today, too, but we're on the 6 pm this evening. Will we make it? I'll let you know.

*the airlines generously gave us taxi vouchers for our trip home and back out to the airport. Kudos to WestJet. 

Meanwhile, I have an unexpected day at home. I cleaned the bathrooms - something I didn't get around to when we left yesterday. My mind is in a bit of a dither and I can't concentrate on very much. Perhaps it's time to tackle the kitchen cupboards. 

The downside of fog. But still the robin sings. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunlight and Fog

Grey mist drifts from water to land, blurring the edges of trees, grasses and buildings. It creeps softly down, down, down, blurring first the edges of the hills, then the dark evergreens and the grasses. A few persistent blades of sunlight turn the cattails in the bog to gold.

Mid-afternoon, while walking, we watched wisps of grey with patches of sunlight turn to solid grey. To know that the sun is shining beyond, illuminating through the fog, is beauty.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden, and to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary of the Little Red House.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Button Joy

Colorful. Round. Tactile. A few months ago I found a bag of bright buttons in the fabric store and brought them home, thinking the Little Misses would enjoy playing with them. I've been amazed at their popularity. 

For safety's sake, the buttons only appear when an adult is there to supervise. One of the first questions either Little Miss asks, is "Nana, can I play with the buttons?" (Miss A) or "Buttons? Buttons?" (Miss S). A recent reaction to the appearance of the button box had Miss S's mother and me laughing out loud. She danced. She clapped. She exclaimed. Such a hoot.

So what can be done with buttons? More than I ever imagined. 

Shake the box and enjoy the rattle.
Scatter them all over the floor.
Put them into the teapot, then shake.
Try to pour them out of the teapot.
Scoop them with your hands.
Sort them into an ice cube tray.
Pretend they are candy or cookies.
Pour them into a pile on the floor and jump over them.
Pour them into a pile on the floor and stamp on them.
Give them to people.

Nothing nearly so exciting happens with my buttons. But I enjoy running my fingers through them, savoring their tactile smoothness. There's a silver tray on my sewing desk that I fill with the threads and notions I'm currently using. It does end up a mess after a few weeks. Today I cleaned it out and filled it with buttons and threads. How fun to have something pretty to look at. 

Buttons - what do you do with them?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Restless. It's that time of year. The anticipating and celebrating and tidying away of Christmas is past. I always feel restless at this time of year. I want to take a trip, go somewhere warm, see something different. 

I flit from project to project, puttering away, completing little. As Susan Branch said on her blog recently, her rule is to "start slow and taper off." I think I'm mostly tapering off now. There are things I simply must do, but the hours tick by and somehow, I've spent them daydreaming or staring out the window. Little by little, I tell myself. 

I did brave the frosty morning to capture the white beauty of snowdrops in my garden. I do love their tightly closed buds and their indomitable blooming in January. My patch is small, and I have not had success in moving any of the bulbs. Maybe I do it at the wrong time of year. Does anyone know? 

Back to doing something I should be doing. Are any of you feeling restless? Do tell how you cope.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Crow on a Roof

A photo taken on Thursday, a blue-sky day. I compare the photo to the sky outside my window now and wonder at the difference. Today, nothing but grey. I like the lines in the photo, the contrasts and strong colour. Taken without much thought and unedited, this photo is one I've returned to look at again and again.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little House and Garden.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Resolutions. It's that time of year. Not here. If something needs changing in my life, I like to take steps as soon as I can, rather than wait. However, I have decided that this is my year to Stretch. Life itself will likely stretch me in ways I don't anticipate or even want. But in addition, I'd like to stretch myself intentionally. To try new things and to improve in others. To read. To grow. 

I'd like to stretch my creativity. I'm practicing writing patterns and instructions of some of the projects I've created and I hope to do more. It's fun, it's challenging, and I like to see others using my tutorials and patterns to create things for themselves. I've put the pattern for the Faux Fur Cowl Scarf - my first pattern - up on Craftsy. The link is in my sidebar. It's free, and it's an easy project. Seriously easy. I first wore the scarf in the snow on the mainland just before Christmas. It's cozy and there's plenty of winter left for enjoying it.

Moving on to Valentine's Day. (I'm jumping from not making New Year's resolutions to mid-February here.) It's low key, doesn't have to be all about romance, although that's fun, too. But love means so many things - love between friends, of parents and children (and grandchildren) - and I think it's a fun day to celebrate. 

Adding a touch of Valentine's Day to the decor doesn't take much. I have a couple of tutorials that are apt for this day - the Love Bird Mobile and the Je t'aime Pillow. I've also added a few garlands similar to the one above in my Etsy shop.

So there you have it. My non-resolution for 2014. Stretch. It feels good. Any non-resolutions in your corner? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Walking and Thinking

 Pale grasses rustle in the breeze. How welcome is the sun's warmth against my face. My camera swings from one cold hand, gloves forgotten. 

One corner of my mind looks out for photo possibilities, but most of my thoughts are taken up with pondering life. Curves in the path. Unknown future. Tangled branches.  My father told me once, many years ago, that he'd assumed that by the time he reached his mid-50s life would settle down into an even pattern. "No," he assured me, "life has twists and turns however long it may be."

A robin flies across my path and alights in a leafless tree. How beautiful his practiced flight. How jaunty his perch. He seems to have no thought of what-to-do, what-to-do, but instead does what comes next to simply survive. Does he revel in the sun's warmth? The bright blue above? 

I press on. Through the darkest part of the trail where a stream trickles or gushes under a wooden bridge. A little further and there, just where the trail comes to a T, I spy a hint of fresh green. An involuntary cry of delight -"oh Spring" - and I find more tiny leaf buds.  Hope rushes up. Winter blasts may lie ahead, but spring will come.

Sere grasses, serene water and placid ducks. Harmonies of colour and texture. Shadows enhance, rather than detract from the beauty. Shadow in the foreground, light in the distance. Trusting that God will lead, moment by moment. There's the hope.

Home again. Mind at rest, body relaxed. Tell me, where, and or when, do you do your best thinking?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time for a Cuppa

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended ton: "so I can't take more."
"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."
Lewis Carroll

Meanwhile, let us have a cup of tea...Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.
Kazuko Okakura

The cozy fire is bright and gay,
The merry kettle boils away
             And hums a cheerful song.
I sing the saucer and the cup;
Pray, Mary, fill the teapot up,
           And do not make it strong.

The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.
George Gissing

Tea time. Dull grey clouds, dark driving rain, cold skies with a hint of blue all call for filling the kettle with fresh cold water, standing in front of the shelf with the varieties of tea, and brewing up a pot of warm delight. 

Tea and stitching, tea and reading, tea and blogging, tea and talking, tea and thinking. Such a versatile beverage!

These are my offerings for Vee's Note Card party. The last image would be the box cover, and you'll see I sneaked in another photo. 

You can be certain that I'll have a cup of tea to hand as I peruse the other party attendees' photos. Here's to tea!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Clear Sailing

Mr. Sun plays peek-a-boo these days. He shows up for just a few minutes or seconds, then slips away again. A week ago he lingered awhile. Bundled up with wind-proof warm coats, scarves and mittens, we took a bracing walk along the water.

Harsh crow caws contrast with wind-ruffled waves lapping against the rocks. Pink-tinged mainland mountains glow softly in the distance. 

White against blue, a sailboat motors past. 

With cheeks and nosy red from the chill wind, we turn back, anticipating wrapping our hands around mugs of steaming tea. Mr. Sun, please come back. We miss you.

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shadow Shots

Shadows have been in short supply around here. Our days are mostly grey and dull, with little contrast. But here, on a sunny walk with Tim, our shadows are clearly delineated. Don't we look odd? As if we were on stilts. 

One morning as the sun beamed happily through my dirty large living room window, I noticed the shadow created by the ivy plant. 

On our August 2012 trip to Alberta, most of the photos I took of the mountains were covered with haze from forest fires. On the day we left, early in the morning, the haze cleared and the mountains were clear. I snapped this from the car as we zoomed by.

Donna's photo challenge this month was to capture shadows. It was a challenge. I experimented with shutter speed rather than f-stops and I think I like working with my camera that way better. There's lots more to learn. Post processing included bumping up the contrast a little on the first and third photos, while the second photo has a longer shutter speed. Thanks to Donna for hosting.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

On the Possession of Many Books

There are books in every room of our house. And a full bookshelf in the basement. I do most of my reading in the living room, but oddly, that room has the fewest places to store books. They pile precariously on end tables, stack themselves on the floor, and generally threaten the tidiness I like. 

I like having my books handy. Inspiration to check a quotation, to read one particular poem, to sigh over a "best part," comes often. Today I was looking at the piano. Since taking down the Christmas decorations, it's looked rather bare and I've been uninspired about changing that. Until one of those "aha" moments. 

It's the perfect place for books! I gathered current reads, a few old favorites, and I confess, a few for looks, and stacked them on the piano. Mary Oliver is nestled next to Madeline L'Engle, Dickens to Jane Austen, Gerard Manley Hopkins to Jan Karon, and Susan Branch to my new bird book. There are books I want to read, some to re-read, others to just admire. It's an eclectic mix. 

As for what I'm currently reading - as above. I have not yet begun The 100-year-old Man... but I've heard it's good from my mother-in-law. I've recently finished two Louise Penny mysteries, and one by Alan Bradley - a young adult novel starring Flavia deLuce. Have you read any of Bradley's books? There are four in the series and although I'm no longer a young adult, I thoroughly enjoyed them. Flavia is a young girl growing up in England in the post-war years. She's interested in science experiments and solves mysteries.

The carton of eggnog languishing in the fridge had me wondering what to do with it before it went bad. I've been wanting to try a Panna Cotta so that's what I did with the eggnog. It turned out well - refreshing and light after the sugar glut of Christmas.

Where do you store books? Any unusual places? What are you currently reading?

Memories Crowd In - Elisabeth Elliot

 January 8, 1956. I was not yet born. But on that day, 5 young men, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Peter Fleming, Americans, were speared on a sand bar in the Ecuadorian jungle. Life magazine sent a reporter and the January 30, 1956 issue published a 10-page photo essay on the discovery of the bodies. It was a story that influenced my life. Elisabeth Elliot, widow of Jim Elliot who died that day trying to make contact with this isolated tribe, wrote several books about the incident. There are many online links about the event.

Fast forward to 1994. I, along with my husband and our three children, lived in Shell Mera, on the edge of the Ecuadorian jungle. Elisabeth Elliot returned to the town of Shell with her 3rd husband, Lars Gren, with plans to visit Shandia, the village where she had lived until that event in 1956. Tim and I volunteered to drive them there. I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to spend time with Elisabeth. Her books had challenged me.

Our family of 5, plus Elisabeth and Lars, and Elisabeth's former house helper, Antonia, (who, in 1994, worked in the hospital Tim administered), piled into our bright yellow van and jounced our way along pot-hole-filled roads, in the pouring rain, for several hours.

Once at the village, we visited in several homes, drinking chicha (don't ask), waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't. Elisabeth finally said, "let's just get going." She took off her shoes, saying that she had always walked the jungle trails barefoot and saw no reason not to do so again. I kept mine on. Then up the slippery, muddy trail we went, rain pouring down, not in rivulets, but actual rivers, soaking us to the skin in spite of our umbrellas. 

The first photo shows Elisabeth and Lars in front of the house that Jim built. A local family lives there now, but graciously allowed us all to traipse through it. Elisabeth spoke of little memories in each room - "Jim loved to play with Valerie in front of this fireplace," "I had my desk in this corner and I gazed at this view while writing my first book," "here's where the radio was and where I was standing when I heard the news." 

The second photo shows a young boy, Elisabeth and Lars, Antonia, Tim, and Ashley standing on a bank overlooking the Napo River. 

It was a story I'd read and heard of so many times, but I gained a new perspective that day - the perspective of a strong woman of faith who deeply grieved the loss of a beloved husband, and who wondered what the future held for her tiny orphaned daughter.

Have you ever heard of this story from 1956? It made world wide news with the Life magazine coverage.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Chatting Over Tea

January is National Hot Tea Month. I don't know who comes up with all these focused months/days/weeks. Likely the marketing folks. Hot tea is consumed year round here, but in winter I drink gallons quarts of it. Earl Grey, Tetley Orange Pekoe, dried Peppermint and Lemon Verbena from my garden. A friend from the USA gave me some Good Earth Citrus Kiss which I'm enjoying today. 

If we were sitting across the table from each other, you might ask about the teapot. It was a wedding gift from friends of my parents and has traveled far away and back again. I have to smile when I see my Pyrex mixing bowls and other things listed as "vintage collectables." I guess that means I'm vintage, too.

In December, while Christmas shopping with Tim, we stopped to watch a young man at one of those pop-up kiosks demonstrate flying a remote control helicopter. Tim was more interested than I was - he got his private pilot's license in high school, and also built and played with operated model airplanes (much larger than this one) while we lived in Ecuador. It was a good hobby for him.

I returned to the mall on my own one day and purchased the helicopter as a sort of fun extra for Christmas. It's proved very entertaining. All the menfolk had their turn and Ashley, too, with varying degrees of success. It's a sturdy little thing and survives crashes into plants, furniture, the ceiling and the floor. The little girls are enthralled with it, still. This frivolous purchase has been quite worthwhile. 

I wandered through my garden a couple of days ago when the sun shone. The garlic is up, long skinny shoots of pale green, and the broccoli is growing slowly and will be ready to harvest in March. Kale has survived the frosts and there's lots to pick. For all you folks who are enduring such severe winter weather, I hope this encourages you - spring will come.

My cup of tea is empty so I'll move on and get going with my day. I have some errands to run, a load of laundry to wash, some sewing, and more such puttering. Nothing dramatic or exciting, but the days fill up nicely. Yours, too?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Clear and Cold

Cold is a relative term. What's cold here, barely freezing, is a pleasant day in other parts of the country. However, after warmer, rainy days during which the sun sulked away behind the clouds, I am thrilled with cooler, clearer skies. My energy levels bounce upwards and people smile more. I'm also more motivated to take photos. We went for a walk on Saturday afternoon around the bog. Thin ice covers some of the water. Watching the ducks land on the ice proved entertaining, especially when one foot suddenly broke through and coasting changing to paddling.

The robins are back. They don't stay away from here very long. Tim spied this one up in the tree. American robins, as they are known, are different from the European robins and belong to different families. Can you tell I received a bird identification book for Christmas?

Dry grasses and bare trees make for an austere landscape. Austere, but lovely in its sparseness. Cold or warm, however relative the terms, I hope that you're finding bits of beauty in your world today.

Are you gearing up to watch Downton Abbey's fourth season? 
Sharing with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary, and with Sunlit Sunday (the first of the season), hosted by Karen. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Clean and Bright

While thinking of a title for this post, the words from the song Edelweiss from The Sound of Music came to mind. The flowers above are hyacinths, not edelweiss, but you get my drift. Yesterday was taking down, today was putting back together. 

No sun shone today. The sky dripped grey off and on. Dismal. These photos were taken at 2:00 pm, when one would assume the light is as bright as it's going to get. I turned on the lights and lit the candles, yet still the shadows lurk and photos are grainy. We must make our own light at this time of year. I spent a happy couple of hours tidying up, puttering, and pulling together things from various parts of the house to complete this mantel. The clippings of rosemary and sage are from a quick foray into the garden in between raindrops. 

Have you been puttering lately, or are you into full-speed ahead mode? 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Celebrating the Beginning

After church on Sunday a friend spoke with Tim, "We're thinking of having a few people over on New Year's Eve. I'll call and let you know." 

No call came, so yesterday I thought about what to make for dinner for the two of us. We'd build a fire, toast the New Year (perhaps early), watch a movie together and enjoy the quiet. 

At 2 pm the phone rang. "I thought I should let you know what time to come." 

A quick revision of plans was in order. I prepared an appetizer to take along, and at 7 pm we were out the door, dressed up for dinner with good friends. 

Such a good time. Chatting, eating, laughing. The New Year came in on a brighter note than I had anticipated. That's a good thing. Yesterday had me feeling rather melancholy as I thought about what I had accomplished in 2013 and wondered if I would be as unfocused in 2014. 

We got home at 1:30 am and I didn't sleep until 3 am. The tree is undecorated and most things are put away. It's been a slow day, with a nap in the middle followed by some time with Little Miss S while her parents went to see The Hobbit (part two). 

I sit now in front of a cozy fire. Things look a little austere - mantel, piano and tabletops are uncharacteristically bare. I'll be putting things back in the next day or two. No hurry. Symbolic of the new year, in a way. It waits empty, each day will be filled in time.

How was your first day of 2014?

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-...