Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gathering the Moments: September

Mellow September. As the earth tilts imperceptibly away from the sun, temperatures cool. Summer's absorbed heat slowly fades from the earth. Sunny days yet, with just a few of rain. A beautiful month.
When I look back, I can see why these 30 days simply flew by. It was filled with family times - visiting Tim's mom and siblings in Alberta, my parents and siblings in Chilliwack, and family gatherings here on our Island.

Hiking in the Rockies, kayaking in the ocean, admiring ever-changing skies in the prairies, drifting through a misty landscape on the ferry, puttering in the garden - this month was filled with nature experiences. 

And it was a month of celebration! Three birthdays, one baby baptism/dedication, and one fashion show. Whew! Bring on October!

Joining with Cheryl of Thinking About Home

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Change in the Weather

Autumn arrived in drifts of mist and dripping rain. A quiet symphony of greys colored our mid-week ferry ride. I thought of naming this post "50 *Shades * Gr*ey, but thought better of it, not wanting the traffic that might engender. There are surely more than that number in this mist-laden landscape.

The lighthouse is the brightest spot in the above photo, but even its bright red bands are dulled.

Clouds pile up over the islands fading into the horizon. When seeing sights like these (colors straight out of the camera), it's hard to remember the vibrant blues and greens of sunnier days.

A ferry railing drips with rain. There's beauty in the grey, mysterious and soft: an abstract world that beguiles the imagination with possibilities.

The sun has returned, but I know we'll have more of these misty days.

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Embracing Autumn

 One can't hang onto summer forever. Now that autumn is officially here, I'm ready to embrace all the loveliness of the season. Like these red, red apples, hundreds of them, hanging over a fence along my walk. 

And the grasses, taller than I am, rustling in the wind along the bog path. Moody skies that remind me of a Bronte novel.

A collection of bits and pieces accompanied me home. Leaves, warmly coloured, bits of bark and seed pods.

Together with candles the bits and pieces add an autumnal air to the dining room. Autumn is here in all her glory. I'm ready to enjoy her. How about you?

Mersad invited me to link up to his Friday My Town Shoot Out which features Seasonal Changes this week. There are lots of interesting shots from around the world there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another New Activity

left to right, Katie, yours truly, Cristal, Ashley, Owen, Tim

It was a gala occasion. Tim and I, along with Cristal and Katie caught the 1 pm ferry to Vancouver. Owen's mom and sister met us on the ferry and we all piled into our vehicle (someone compared it to Mary Poppins' expanding carpetbag). We met Owen and Ashley for dinner. Then....

Off to the fashion show we went. This was a totally new experience for most of us. In February 2013 Ashley was a participant in a design competition in Montreal. To open the fashion show, her design, shown above, along with two others from the school (Vancouver Community College) were shown on the runway.

Then the finishing class's garments were shown. Ashley's designs were inspired by the pre-Revolution Russian aristocracy. She used silks, wools and blends. In the look above the silk dupioni skirt is laser cut, using embroidery patterns from the inspiration era as the basis for the design.

I really liked this look - narrow skirt with a vertical band over pants, a shirt and vest. 

The back of the above look. I have to say that her designs fit the models very well (she did a lot of fitting adjustments in the past couple of weeks) and her outfits had a very polished look.

For this collection, Ashley had to design 20 looks (complete outfits) but only had to sew up 5 of them. She was the only student in her class to include menswear in her collection. She stitched two of them for the show. Above is one of them - her tailoring really impressed me.

And here's the designer herself, walking the runway with one of her models. She's now completed her schooling and has a job in the industry as a junior pattern drafter - just what she wanted to do. 

Kudos to the dads of the Little Misses A and S, and Little Mister F who stayed behind while Katie and Cristal attended the event. We had a lot of fun and I hope the moms enjoyed their night of uninterrupted sleep.

So that's my latest new thing, unlikely to be repeated. It was a lot of fun! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trying Something New

Tim and I have talked about renting kayaks for several years. We've canoed and boated, but never kayaked. Until Sunday afternoon. The sunshine beguiled, the calendar free and off we went to Brentwood Bay.

Tim was in a snazzy Black Spartan and I in a cool blue Wave Sport. We might look like we know what we are doing, but really, it was an experiment with lots of giggles. 

One sits very close to the water in a kayak. Birds seemed less wary as we approached them slowly and we were able to get quite close. We paddled our way into Tod Inlet where hundreds and hundreds of moon jellyfish floated in layers beneath the surface of the water.

Warm sunshine poured down on this last day of full summer. That night clouds rolled in and the rains began. Trees are beginning to change color.

After paddling for two hours I thought my arms and shoulders would be sore, but they were not. Better yet, my back felt loose and wonderful. This is no small thing. There will definitely be more kayaking in our future.

I'm doing something new this evening, too, and will hopefully share that tomorrow or Thursday. What's the last new thing you tried?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My September Garden

Most of the flowers I like are the cool tones - the blues, the pale pinks and dark purples. Come September, however, golden yellow appeals. Shadows deepen in the rich green foliage. Flowers seem to soak in the sunshine that slants low in the clear afternoon light. 

Paper thin hydrangea blossoms benefit from this light, too. The pale blue of summer darkens to a richness that reflects the colours of harvest. Summer's end is here yet she loiters, not wanting to miss anything. 

We enjoy the sunset on our evening walk. Curtains are pulled against the darkness that falls earlier. Street lights wink on as we pass. Farewell, sweet Summer, welcome Autumn.

I'll be linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Season

Orchards used to grow where there are subdivisions today. The odd tree survives, mute witness to a once productive landscape, abandoned now among blackberries, ivy and natural growth. We see them along our walks and collect apples from time to time. Our little trees don't yet produce enough. 

With a few scavenged apples (pale green, crisp and moderately sweet) I made a Norwegian Apple Cake. The recipe comes from Mia's blog "Mias Landliv. It's a delightful place to visit, full of the beauty of Mia's garden, her charming home and her sewing and knitting projects. If you aren't a regular visitor, I'd encourage you to pop over there.

Mia served her cake with ice cream, but I had some caramel sauce left over from the pumpkin cheesecake we enjoyed over the weekend. Delicious!

Apples go so well in so many recipes. What's your favourite way to use them?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Golden Days

Summer lingers on and on, burnished light warming the earth and the abundance of harvest seemingly without end. Today it was grapes, fat and oh, so sweet. I plucked each grape from its stem and simmered them, then put squeezed each morsel of juice with the aid of a chinois. Juicy grape fragrance filled the kitchen. 

Peaches slipped from their skins after a dip into boiling water, then each sweet orb was cut, the pit removed and the quarters plopped into a light sugar syrup. Grape juice and peaches burbled in the canner and sit now, cooling on the counter top.

Sunflowers drop pollen onto the table top, but the effort of a daily wipe up is well worth the vibrant late sumer colour they bring to the dining room. 

Summer is drifting ever so slowly into autumn. I hold her clear light in my heart against the coming grey days. Stay summer, linger on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What a Weekend!

When the family gets together we make the most of our time together. Saturday morning we gathered for a brunch at Cristal and Gerry's home. The dahlias were beautiful in the morning light.

Three September birthdays (son-in-law Gerry, daughter Ashley and son Travis) celebrated with one party. Lots of laughter and talking. I think we get louder as the hours pass.

Early last spring Katie's mother called her up. "You have to come over and see this tea set at the garage sale across the street." 
Katie realized it was Russian porcelain - collected by Ashley. This tea set for 6 includes cups, saucers, dessert plates, tea pot, cream, sugar and fruit bowl. It has never been used and the seller was asking $15.00 for the box. Katie asked her if she knew what she was selling. 
"Oh yes, but I've never used it and just want to get rid of it."

Katie's been saving it for Ashley's birthday and we could all hardly wait to see her open the gift. She was as thrilled as we had anticipated.

Auntie Ashley reading to her "girlies." 

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated Felix with a baby dedication/baptism done here at our home. Felix' maternal grandfather is a pastor and did a beautiful job of reminding us all of God's grace. My parents came over from the mainland and my father (Felix' great-grandfather) read Scripture. Here are Tim and I with the little man.

And here he is, smiley and dapper in his shirt and tie. He doesn't sleep much and his parents are very tired, but he's a joy to all of us.

I made this cake for the birthday party - a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream and Sugared Pecans. It seemed to pass muster. I used the recipe in the link for the cheesecake, but did a different crust and my own caramel sauce recipe. Extra sauce was served on the side.

Everything is mostly cleaned up. Today I'm canning peaches and continuing some garden clean up. As my hands work I'll be mulling over all the weekend events. Do you relive happy moments in the same way?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Capturing Motion: A Personal Photography Challenge

This month's photo challenge, hosted by Donna, is about capturing motion. I feel like I'm on a steep learning curve with my new camera and this challenge stepped that up a notch. Between the unfamiliar equipment and being away, I haven't spent as much time on this challenge as I would have liked. But I can keep practicing.

This is one of the first photos taken with my Panasonic DMC-GX7, snapped without much thought on the automatic scene setting (bright landscape). The slightly blurred wing tips give the illusion of beating wings although anyone would assume the birds are in flight, and therefore the wings are moving.

1/125 s     f/5.6     ISO 200

This photo and the next were taken off my back deck around 9:00 pm, using a tripod and long exposure time (a full minute for the one below). For this photo, I wanted to capture the forsythia bush moving in the wind with the clear residential lights behind. It looks a bit like a blurred mess. The wind was not blowing at the moment I wanted to take the photo, so I jiggled the tree during the exposure. I jiggled it too violently and it looks like a wild storm rather than a gentle breeze.

30.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400

This is the opposite of above. I was hoping to pan the camera and create movement in the lights. Instead everything is moving, and I've decided to call this photo "As the World Turns."

60.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400

I'm sneaking in one more photo because the two above sort of count as the same thing, don't they?

I used a tripod, indoors, and gently blew on the candle flame as I snapped the photo. The flame's angle and slight blurring contribute to the effect of motion. I think this photo is a little bit ominous with the dark shadows looming. It adds suspense and makes me wonder what comes next in the story. Kind of a shivery excitement.

1.0 sec     f/7.1     ISO 400 

I can think of all sorts of possibilities with this new knowledge - ocean waves, cars at night from the overpass, little grandkids who can't stay still - thanks, Donna, for this fun challenge.

Do check out the other participants' photos. It's sure to be a "moving" experience.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Signs of the Season

Books set in years past often include scenes of spring or fall cleaning. I don't really follow a schedule for seasonal cleaning, although there are things I do at certain times in the year. Yesterday, I scrubbed the siding and porch rails of the front porch. Front porch in the fall, back deck in the spring. 

The door window framed was painted and I also took down the plaque with the house numbers, removed the numbers and painted both the plaque and the numbers. Now to replace the very old weathered mail box. A pot of mums and I'm finished with this area. It feels good to have one project finished.

The hydrangeas faded early this year; some to this pale lavender, others to a richer burgundy. Although the sun shines brightly and skies are blue, the wind whispers that colder weather is coming. I put on blue jeans for the first time since June. I might be thinking about putting socks on my feet. 

But the dahlias, brightly coloured, still dance in the breeze. There's so much beauty in our world. Early Autumn is a time to let the blue skies and lingering flowers seep into my mind and soul, even as my days are filled with busy chores. Take a moment to breathe. To give thanks. 


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Too Many Fronts

My house looks like a battle zone. Piles of garden produce to deal with make me wonder why I embarked upon a major clean out and reorganization of rooms and closets. I'm faced with too many fronts - a clear strategy for losing. Just ask Napoleon. 

In an effort to gain some perspective, I took a little walk around the garden with my camera. A few new spikes of lavender bloom and the dahlias are lovely.

My neighbour has a grape vine that trails over our fence. She (the neighbour) encourages us to help ourselves to the grapes. Last year I canned some grape juice which made a wonderful drink when mixed with club soda for those who don't want wine with dinner. The grapes are ripe now and should be picked soon. But I won't think about that now.

I wanted an evergreen plant for the pot in front of the porch and settled on a bay laurel - laurus nobilus - that I'll prune to a fuller shape. The prunings can be dried and used to flavour soups and stews.

This little village spends most of its time in a cardboard box, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I have it out on our dry sink in the dining room just now. The buildings replicate those of Old Quito during Spanish Colonial days and make me think of the years we spent in Ecuador.

How quickly the years pass. I'm feeling rather pensive just now, looking at those little buildings. Those were the years of active mothering. Now I'm a grandmother of 3. How can that be? 

There's a weekend of celebration coming up and I have to get the house in order. The important things will all be accomplished. Onward I go, taking little breaks here and there to read a few of your blogs and sometimes leave a comment. How are your early September days? Full to overflowing or just right?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Mountain Memories

The clean scent of pine fills the air as we begin our hike to Chester Lake. A steady climb up for 40 minutes has my heart pounding. I wonder why my head feels a familiar dizziness. Ah, the altitude, that's it. Haven't felt that since leaving the Andes mountains years ago. 

We stop to catch our breath several times. Those are good opportunities to turn and look back over the valley to the snow-covered peaks beyond. A pair of chipmunks scurries in a clearing. We reach a snow-covered meadow. A few summer blooms peek out through the white and our boots crunch on the trail. A young Spruce Grouse hides behind a tree while his mother stands guard closer to the trail. She doesn't move and I get several photos.

Canada's National Parks are amazing places. We enjoy today the foresight of past decisions to keep these areas free of development. 

The other hike we enjoyed was a short one to Grassi Lakes, where the water is the beautiful colour you see in the photo above. 

An American Dipper perches on a branch over the water, eyeing us carefully, but content to pose, turning this way and that.

We're home again now. The grass is cut, laundry is swishing, and everything unpacked. I picked 15 pounds of tomatoes and will begin canning/salsa/freezing once again. There are green beans, raspberries, kale and zucchini. Our lovely trip is a memory, kept in our minds to be brought out at will. Oh, and there's a little residual stiffness in my upper legs from the climb. 

Joining with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening.

Living Alongside Medieval History

  Several people have asked why we chose Leiden for our visit to the Netherlands. We've found it's easy to stay in the large cities ...