Showing posts from May, 2014

Making Progress

"Up the stairs go the bears, up, up, up. Step by step, step by step, up, up, up." I sing this little ditty with my grandchildren as we climb 10 steps up, turn and climb 4 more. It's a memory of my own childhood - a song/story 45rpm recording of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The little misses have caught the tune and often sing it with me. Mr. F will learn it, too.

Along the long wall upwards there are three wedding portraits of our children. At the head of the stairs I've started a gallery wall of family photos. Some professionally taken, others casual snapshots. I love looking at them as I climb up or down the stairs. When I took everything down to paint the hall a couple of months ago, I determined not to rehang the photos until I had painted them. Some of the frames were naturally finished wood (made by Tim in Ecuador), until this week. I've had them laid out on the newspaper covered countertop and gave them a swipe of white paint several times. Today I final…

Piles of Little Things

This week's activity has been concentrated around getting things finished. Little things, like "just-get-the-buttonholes-done-and-you'll-have-something-finished." My mother first sewed on an old Singer machine. I made a skirt with that machine and probably some other things, but then she brought home a lovely, modern Bernina machine, similar to the one above. I sewed a lot with that machine. Mom still has it but she sews quilts now, not clothing. So last time we were in Chilliwack I asked if I could have the old buttonhole attachment. You can see the green case behind the machine above and the contraption afixed to the pressure foot. It makes the best buttonholes. Thanks to my consuegros (parents of a son-in-law), I have a Bernina as well. It stitches so evenly. I still use my Husqvarna for everyday sewing, but for buttonholes - it's the Bernina. 

I've painted shelves and picture frames, filled some holes in the wall and will paint them, weeded the garden, and…

Bringing the Outdoors In

Do you find, as I do, that flowers or greenery adds life to a room? A pot of ivy on the mantel, a fern in the hallway, and a ficus tree behind the sofa add the energy of growing things in my home. But I want more. These days my garden is bursting with life. The first blooms of spring have passed and I'm awaiting the hydrangeas and roses. 

I found these metal containers at Ikea in December. I put small glass candle holders with tea lights in them and admired the light flickering through the open pattern. The other day I looked at them and thought they'd make pretty vases as well. A small jar holds water and into the water I plunked variegated sage, lemon balm, and oregano, all clipped from my garden. The herbs are at their best just now and it's time to begin harvesting for the winter. There are more than enough herbs to enjoy as greenery as well as to dry for later.

What's in your herb garden? Do you dry herbs for the winter?What do you clip from your garden when flower…

Five on Friday

1. One of my favourite photos taken while hiking this week. This perfect little fungus made me think of woodland fairies who might use it as a parasol or umbrella. Such a whimsical mushroom.

2. A simple meal on the boat - soup, bread, cheese, crudités. A confession about boating - I don't get seasick and find the gentle rocking of the boat quite soothing. However, coming off the boat is a different story. The computer is still rocking back and forth in my mind and I go to sleep at night with the waves rocking my bed in spite of the fact that I'm on dry land. This will disappear in a few days, but it's disconcerting at times. 
When our daughter took her AP Biology field trip to the Galapagos Islands (we were living in Ecuador), she complained of the same thing and ended up taking sea sickness pills AFTER her return to terra firma. 

3. Crisp fresh lettuce from the garden. I see lots of salad in our near future. Tonight's was chicken and avocado on lettuce with a blue cheese…

How to Fill a Day

This is a rather longer post - a reflection on a day spent away from normal life.

We awake to the sound of water gently slapping the hull. Another boater is passing by, up earlier than we are.Sunlight glares from the window above us since we left the curtain partially open to watch the night stars as we fell asleep.

In the morning the day stretches ahead of us, long, lovely hours. How we will fill them? There's no list of things to do, no errands to run, no schedule to keep. Will we be bored by day's end?

I stretch, dress, and make my way to the cockpit where open sides let me lean over the boat edge. I stare into the water below. It's a moving highway of life. As the tide ebbs, bits and pieces from our snug inlet anchorage drift out into the channel. Tiny translucent moon jellyfish, scarcely an inch in diameter, contract and push to get wherever they need to go. Suspended filaments twist gracefully in the current. What are they? I toy with taking a course or two in marin…

Getting Away from it All

Getting away from it all takes on new meaning when one is on a boat. On a little boat, cruising around to places without internet access means there's no temptation to take a computer along. We had a quietly wonderful three days and spent time on three of the islands between our home island (Vancouver Island) and the mainland. 

This close up of a cluster of Acorn Barnacles could be the setting for a fantasy tale. The taller golden barnacles remind me of defensive castles with the white smaller barnacles clustered around for protection. These tallest of these little barnacles are less than an inch in height so the kingdom would be minute. 

Rocky points reach into the sea requiring close attention to charts, either electronic or paper, to ensure one's boat doesn't get too close. One wants to avoid the "chunky bits" at all cost. 

Beautiful views at every point. On Portland Island we took an apparently seldom-used 2.3 km cut-off trail and had it all to ourselves, except…

Can we ever see too many flowers?

A few more photos from my latest visit to Butchart Gardens. I admire the gutsy colour combination of white, pink, and orange tulips underplanted with blue forget-me-nots. 

Another larger view, taken from above the sunken garden. I love the masses of color and all the curved lines. When we lived in Ecuador, I had a local handyman help me dig out some new beds. I had laid out a garden hose to indicate the shape of the bed. He thought it absolutely crazy - all graceful curves. Straight lines is what he preferred. After the beds were dug, though, he admired the effect.

A green door on an outbuilding. Love the vine creeping up the walls.

The Japanese Garden is a peaceful place without a lot of showy colour. The red bridge really pops in the green landscape.

More curving lines that lead the eye and the foot. This garden is designed and maintained by professionals, but there are many wonderful principals to apply to home gardens as well. Every time I go I think of something else that will impro…

Five on Friday

Je suis crevée. I'm tired. I'm glad that calls to teach have been steady, but work combined with a dodgy back is exhausting. Ah well, a long weekend is ahead, and I'm paying the second visit to my physiotherapist this evening. Things are looking up. 

1. Speaking of looking, a friend with whom I walk noted that I frequently take photos of details; single flowers or small vignettes, as opposed to grand vistas and larger scenes. Since then I've been watching myself. She's right. So I give you, above, a larger view of the old quarry, now a wonderland of plantings and pathways at Butchart Gardens.

2. And here I am, back to detail. I've been teaching Social Studies (history) recently. The students are preparing for a test covering the time period of the defeat of the French troops on the Plains of Abraham through the American Revolution and the War of 1812. We reviewed today and one question they struggle with deals with the roots of Canada's bi-culturalism. They h…

Almost Summer Days

Almost every day I prowl around my garden discovering what's new. Today, this wild blue cornflower showed her pretty face. I know that she'll scatter seeds in places I don't want them, but I'll deal with those later and admire the flower.

There was a rosebush here when we arrived 12 years ago - just an ordinary unpedigreed rose. She's always the first to bloom. Today I picked a few flowers for the house. The petals are falling already. Mint sprigs seemed like a good accompaniment. The mint is flourishing! It may need to be reined in soon. I just hate digging out plants - they go to all that effort to grow and mint is so pretty and green. 

Several weeks ago friends picked us up enroute to a gathering. Just a block from our house, I spotted a large mirror on the side of the road with a "free" sign. The driver stopped at my exclamation. Tim and Paul tried to put the mirror into the car, but it wouldn't fit. We were all laughing ourselves silly. Tim picked…

Breakfast by the Sea

"We're going out for breakfast on Saturday," said he, "We have a 9 am reservation." 

Reservation? For breakfast? Really?

And this is where he took me. It's in Sidney by the Sea, just a few miles north. Our good friends have their boat moored in the nearby marina and recommended the Sea Glass Restaurant. We did need that reservation.

Table 12 has the best view overlooking the marina. A grey day, but brightening. Masts reflected in the water rippled in the breeze.

Sea glass, shells, and watery shades of blue, green and aqua made for beautiful decor that just added to the experience. 

And the breakfast? Wild salmon cakes on foccacia bread layered with spinach, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Crispy potatoes on the side. A little dish of fruit. Earl Grey tea to drink. Delicious and satisfying. So satisfying that I brought home half of it and enjoyed it again on Sunday morning! 

A great start to a Mother's Day weekend that included a wedding shower…

Photography Challenge: Colourful

Donna's photo challenges are always interesting. This month, the challenge was colourful. (Actually, it was colorful - but I'm Canadian, so I'll add the extra "u.") I found this challenge a little more difficult than earlier ones. Don't we always photograph colour? How could I force myself to learn a little more with this challenge? 

My favourite colours are the cool tones of blues, greens, violets, pinks. I can handle some yellow, but not too much. My home and my garden very much reflect this cool palette. So I decided to stretch myself a little and go outside of my usual palette. Ta Da! Above is a detail of a Golden Chain Tree, currently blooming along the path I walk. Doesn't it glow against the greens?

A trip to Butchart Gardens was a revelation. I can walk by beds of orange, red, and yellow flowers without once feeling the urge to snap a photo. Okay, red, sometimes, but it has to be a deep, cool red. This time, I forced myself to really look at the oth…

This Beautiful Broken World

A walk over the weekend took us by the naturalized front garden on Lily Street. Currently blooming among ever lengthening grasses are native Camas Lilies. The tubers of these plants were a staple food for the First Nations People who once lived here. There are also white Camas Lilies, but those are poisonous. Only the blue ones are safe to eat, thus, harvesting must take place when the plant is in bloom.

Nana pushed the stroller, but Little Miss S preferred to walk. We kept her overnight while her parents enjoyed an anniversary getaway. All went well although after her bath she wanted to "go downstairs, see Mommy." At nearly 2 she hasn't spent much time away from her parents.

How beautiful the bluebells are in the woods, here framed in front of a mossy tree. The world is so full of beauty, yet brokenness is everywhere.

Girls are captured and held as trade goods in Nigeria. A Nigerian student at our local university spoke on the radio this afternoon, expressing sorrow not on…