Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sunshine in a Bowl

Isn't soup wonderful? I love it all year round and in an infinite variety of flavours. On Friday night I prepared this warming Carrot Ginger Soup, made with extra ginger to clear sinuses.

I bought a loaf of crusty roasted garlic bread to accompany it. A perfect end-of-the-week dinner.

Regular readers will know that I've been ill this week. My husband was out of town for two nights so I was on my own, which doesn't bother me. After the first night I went downstairs and noticed that the front door wasn't locked. Oh, oh. Then I looked a little closer - the front door wasn't even completely closed. Any gust of wind could have pushed the door open wide. Perhaps an angel stood guard over night while I slept.

Forsythia's blooming. So cheery and a harbinger of things to come. Time to prune the roses! 

Linking with Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hello There!

Here's what the lemon tree looks like when it's cold. The Christmas lights come on and keep it toasty warm. I snapped this from the dining room window (bit of blind in the corner) on a frosty morning this past week.

Next to the lemon tree is an apricot tree which also needs 100% rain protection in our climate. In front, raspberry canes. I like our moderately productive little yard.

Those lemons have come in very handy while I've been battling influenza. Lemon tea with raw honey from the Hutterite colony in Alberta is my go-to drink.

Yesterday I returned to work. Bad idea. Teaching means talking and talking is very hard on a throat. After a couple of really ugly coughing fits at school, I booked off the rest of the week. That gives me four more days to recover. It's coming, albeit slowly. 

The person who thought up combining Aloe and tissue should be awarded a medal. The difference to a sore nose is such relief. And isn't that a pretty colored box? It looks like spring and coordinates so well with the UK Country Living March edition. 

This morning I visited my doctor and have had energy to throw in a couple of loads of laundry. I have a few old magazines I'm going through and tore these pages from one, then put them on my fridge door - an idea gleaned from Mary.

Now it's time to put the clean sheets on the bed and clean a bathroom or two. It's good to be feeling better, but as one of my friends said on Facebook, "We just aren't the same Shell (name of town in Ecuador) gals we used to be. We're grammas now!" I guess that means it takes a little longer to recover. Sigh. I won't over do the house cleaning! I'll save some energy for visiting and commenting on blogs.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hellebore in the rain

I honestly can't remember ever being so sick. Shuffling from bed to couch was the extent of my efforts for most of this week. To add insult to injury I developed conjunctivitis in both eyes and we all know how wonderful that is!

Thankfully, I'm on the mend. I made the bed, went with Tim to buy a few groceries (he went on his own earlier in the week), and I plan to do a little sewing this afternoon. 

Not much energy here, so I'll leave you with this image captured last weekend of a Hellebore beaded with raindrops.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This and That

On our walk through the marina last Saturday, we spent some time looking over this old wooden boat. It's in rough shape. We admired the lines of the boat and wondered whose dream it was and what might have happened - illness, old age, changed focus - for someone to have neglected the boat.

The boxwood hedges along the Sidney waterfront were full of webs. The shape of this one reminds me of a pitched tent - a spider tent so intricately beaded with water droplets

Kale from the garden is delicious just now. Soon I'll be pulling it up to make room for spring and summer vegetables.  These photos were all taken last weekend. I've been down with influenza this week and feel like I'd been hit by a Mack truck. I've spent the last two days on the couch with hot tea, advil, and a rice bag. The aches are subsiding and my voice might be returning. I'm glad I still have the weekend to recover. I hope my husband doesn't get it. He gets the flu shot at work, but this year's flu vaccine is useless, he says. 

Hydrangeas are beginning to leaf out and buds of lilac and blueberries are swelling. What a lovely time of year!

I think it's time for another nap!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Lemons

With all the snow in the east, I'm a little hesitant to show these photos for fear it might look like bragging. I'm not, really, but I'm amazed! For several weeks now I've noticed, from the dining room window, round yellow shapes behind the gardening fabric protecting the lemon tree. 
On Sunday afternoon, a warm, sunny day, we decided to take a peek.

Just look at that harvest! The lemon "farmer" looks happy, doesn't he? These lemons set their fruit in August or September and have been ripening all "winter." There is more fruit that will be picked in a few months. In May we'll remove the gardening fabric and new blooms will form and be pollinated. Lemon trees are amazing!

They smell wonderful and brighten up the kitchen, too. 29 lemons. Grown in Canada! Let's see, shall I make Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Loaf, Lemon Souffle or ...? What would you make with fresh lemons?

On another note, I've sent emails to those who wanted to take part in the magazine swap. If you have not received your email, please let me know.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February Flowers

Monochromatic greys and greens were the view out the window this morning. But inside the tea was hot, the atmosphere convivial, and the food delicious. No need for sunshine.

After breakfast we walked along the sea wall in Sidney. Expansive ocean views to one side and in the gardens lining the pathway wonderful signs of spring. The trees are beginning to bloom, delicate pinks and whites that make a living Valentine. It's so early!

And the crocuses! Well, you can see for yourself how gorgeous they are. Purple, white, striped, and a few yellow ones. Spring seems to be well on the way.

I'm writing this on Saturday evening after a day of doing very little. It's been wonderful. I hope your weekend is equally relaxing.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday and Mosaic Monday

Friday, February 13, 2015

Simple Pleasures

The days are so full as I adapt to these weeks of full-time teaching. My husband leaves the house around 7:30 and I'm out the door by 8 at the latest. Once at school I have no time to think about anything other than classes, students and lesson plans until I get home around 4:00, unless I stop to pick up groceries or run errands. I enjoy being there, but I'm realizing how much freedom I've given up. Five weeks until spring break. Then....? Perhaps the regular teacher will return, perhaps not. 

This is the way millions of women around the world live, and I know that I would get used to it. I don't feel particularly rushed, but I do feel like I have to lay aside, for the time being, some of the things I enjoy doing. As well, I've realized that I need some small delights along the way, so I've created a little list for myself.

* flowers - the current ones in the vase are looking terrible, but they'll be replaced soon (maybe by my husband???)

* he made a breakfast reservation for tomorrow morning at the Sea Glass Bistro - I can sleep in - and have a delicious breakfast with that wonderful man

* a few minutes with my feet up when I get home

* a cup of tea or hot chocolate to sip while indulging in the above

* leaving my sewing out so that I can stitch just a seam or two as time allows

* leafing through a magazine (February's British Country Living)

* a few minutes in the evening with my journal and a pen

What small delights are you enjoying these days?

This year is a light version of Valentine's Day. Cookies may or may not be baked. I purchased a couple of little treats for the grand sweeties and that's about it. It's lovely to see pink hearts and tea parties and romantic decor in blog land. I'm enjoying reading the posts but I'm not commenting as much. As I adjust to this temporary new schedule, that may or may not change.

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine's Day whether you are alone or with friends or family - it's a day to celebrate all kinds of love.   

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

One Year Later

Sunday was party day to celebrate one year with Mister F. His mother is a talented cake maker/decorator. Isn't that airplane cute?

Today, though, marks the day of his birth. Here he is, taking the first tentative tastes of his cake. It was as if he could hardly believe this colorful piece of sweetness was there just for him.

It didn't take too long before icing and cake had almost disappeared and the birthday boy was covered in icing.  Such a sweetheart.

The flowers at the beverage station added a soft touch of welcome spring color.

The years certainly seem to fly by faster than they once did. These little ones add such brightness and love to my life. I'm often surprised at the depth of emotion our three grandchildren can arouse. I find their development endlessly fascinating. Perhaps it's the little bit of distance from mother to grandmother - I don't see them every day and notice the small changes when I do. I know that I'm blessed to have my grandchildren living in the same town and I don't take that for granted.

Just a reminder that the magazine swap deadline is Friday. I'll be pairing up swap partners over the weekend. There's still time to join - comment on the swap post (click on the link to take you there). 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Historic San Jose del Cabo

Before we went to this area of Mexico (Baja Peninsula) I thought that Cabo San Lucas was the larger, older town and San Jose del Cabo a smaller village where they just happened to put the airport. San Jose del Cabo is the original town and Cabo San Lucas younger. Both have a population around 70,000. (Cabo is the Spanish word for "cape," hence Los Cabos - the Capes.)

The younger town is much more of a touristy party town and we went there only once, for the whale watching tour. That was enough. I didn't like the feel of it at all.

In contrast, we walked to San Jose del Cabo several times. Yes, it's still touristy, but much quieter. The historic district has some lovely old buildings and interesting architecture.

The Jesuits established a mission in San Jose del Cabo in 1730. I wasn't able to discover when the cathedral was built, but much of it was destroyed in the 1918 hurricane and the building you see now was reconstructed using portions of the old walls.

The colourful painted walls in the historic district are enhanced by the strong light. Beautiful ironwork railings, lamps and doors add to the beauty.

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

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Glimpses of Colour

It's still dark when we eat breakfast on weekdays (7-7:30 am). This morning we slept in. While sitting eating my eggs, I looked out at the pots on the patio. Hey, what's that purple? Two little Siberian irises stand valiantly in the rain. Welcome, welcome!

Similarly, our walks are usually taken at night, after dinner, in the dark and we miss this carpet of naturalized croci and cyclamen with clumps of creamy snowdrops here and there. Today we went in the afternoon and enjoyed the hundreds of flowers. It's so pretty. And early. We've barely had winter this year.

Wandering further we were struck by the extensive moss creeping over the Garry Oaks. It's bright against the leafless browns of shrubs and trees.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden. There's little sunshine in this post, but all the rain is making for some welcome colour. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Birds of a Feather

A 10-minute walk from our hotel took us to a river estuary. The tall green reeds and grasses there were a direct contrast to the desert-like conditions elsewhere in Los Cabos. 

My camera worked overtime taking photos of the birds we saw there. The grouchy looking fellow in the above photo eyed us with suspicion as we stopped along the path. "Should I flee or shall I stay?" he seemed to be thinking.

Here's the same kind of bird, a Great Egret, with his lovely long neck extended. 

And away he goes, lifting off with sudden grace, long spindly legs trailing behind, extending a lovely double arch of feathers.

This brown pelican looks like he's doing a salutation to the sun, but he is just landing on a scrappy island in the middle of the estuary.

The editing of photos is going slowly. I've been working full days since Tuesday and have agreed to work full time until the middle of March, filling in for a teacher who has some family issues to cope with. Lesson prep takes precedence over blogging, I regret to say. Still, I hope to keep posting as time allows. 

My last class of the day is Home Ec 8 - the students are sewing aprons. What a bustling hive of activity. For all of them, this is their first introduction to sewing. What fun it is to help them, and what a great job most of them are doing. Soon we'll move to the foods unit. This is a half-term class designed to give them just a taste of sewing and cooking. 


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Magazine Swap?

The photo has nothing to do with this post, but how can one put up a post without a photo or two? Anway, that was dinner on Monday night - salmon, vegetables, polenta, and a citrus avocado salad.  After returning from a trip I'm always glad to eat home-cooked meals again.

Several years ago I took part in a couple of transcontinental magazine swaps that were a lot of fun. Floss, who blogs infrequently these days, and Elizabeth of Cornish Cream, hosted at different times. 

The idea is to exchange a magazine (March/April issue) of the craft/lifestyle/vintage variety. Bear in mind that a magazine from "down-under" published in these months might have a different focus that one published in the northern hemisphere.

If you would like to take part, here are a couple of guidelines:

1. Please be aware that postage can cost more than you think. Let me know in your comment if you are willing to participate in a transcontinental swap or if you would prefer one from Europe, North America (US or Canada), New Zealand or Australia, or elsewhere.

2. Please say whether or not you would prefer a magazine in English, or if you are interested in French or other languages. I was so pleased to receive a couple of French-language magazines. 

3. I'll match up partners and then you can exchange addresses via email. If you have a blog, your partner get to know you a bit that way and find out what kind of things you like from that.

4. Leave a comment on this post. I'll leave it open until February 13 and send out partners the next week. We'll plan to have the magazine posted by mid-March along with a little note or post card from the sender. Easy peasy.

Interested? Leave a comment and we'll see what turns up!


Monday, February 02, 2015

The Whales Go By

I sit on the couch, one, two, or three children nearby, perhaps one leans against me. Outside the window is a tangle of jungle growth and the heavy sound of tropical rain beats on the roof. I open the book and we are transported to another world, that of the sea. I begin reading the tale of the humpback whales' yearly migration from the Sea of Cortez to Alaska. 

I clamber into the inflatable open boat, fasten my life jacket tightly and protect my camera from the spray. We're off!

The boat slows as we pass the famous rock arch dividing the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.  It's mid-afternoon and the water is cold molten steel.

The waters surge around the rocks. Waves heave in every direction. Just a moment longer and we round the last bit of rock to head for the open ocean. 

The spectators, 20 of us or so, give a collective gasp as we see the first of many whales.

We maintain the distance mandated by law so as not to bother the whales unduly. The whales, however, are unaware of the law and approach the boat. Most of these photos are cropped, but the above one is not, just to give you an idea of how close the whales came to the boat.

We see several pods of humpbacks, their enormous charcoal coloured backs rising from the sea, then sinking down in a graceful arc as the water pours off their tails. In between whale sightings, I take a photo of the land in the distance.

Down he goes as lovely trickles of water flow off his tail.

Two, three, and four whales at once. Mothers and babies. It's an abundance of life and beauty and action. Click, click, click, goes my camera.  

All around us the whales rise up to breathe, expelling air and mucus in great blows. Scanning the ocean for plumes such as this is how the boat pilot knows where to go. 

Each tail is distinctive, our guide tells us. The pointed ends of the tail are encrusted with barnacles.

Humpbacks are massive creatures - 12-16 metres in length and around 36,000 kilograms in weight. Massive.

A new spectacle. A female begins waving her pectoral fins in the air, first one and then the other. She does this to attract male attention. 

Slap goes her tail on the water and the males churn up the water. Wave, slap. Wave, slap. Wave, slap. She rotates from side to side as she flaps and slaps first one fin, then the other.

The males rise to the surface, then dive down, circling the female. Our guide tells us they will fight each other for her attention.

Wave, wave in graceful arcs. I stop clicking and sit watching in awe at the amazing display. 

We are the last tour of the day and our guide and pilot are in no hurry to return. They are as entranced by the show as we are. Finally, as light threatens to fade, we head to shore.

The Whales Go By. A story book come to life.

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