Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Sewing Husband and Some Pretty Flowers

Shortly after Christmas my husband bought himself a new toy. An old Pfaff sewing machine. Why? Because I wasn't thrilled with his plan to use my machine (newer and not as sturdy) to sew new canvas for the boat. 

This man can do almost anything. He looked at videos on line about how to sew canvas covers, bought the supplies and stitched away, installing heavy duty zippers and snaps with aplomb. I'm impressed.

It was sort of cozy for a few weeks, his sewing machine at one end of the dining room table and mine at the other. We made a rule that my stuff couldn't cross the centre line - likewise for his.

Isn't this magnolia pretty? So creamy, but with a few lines marring the petals - probably from the weather. Hey, we all look a little marred with age, don't we? 

This husband of mine recently had a birthday. We celebrated over a couple of weeks, while family was in town and then more quietly on the day.

My sons-in-law are wonderful fellows. The one in the photo above is doing dishes. They both do dishes, willingly, as do my son and husband. Lovely men.

For his birthday breakfast, I made Dawna's Cinnamon Roll Cake. Oh my. It was delicious. I halved the recipe with great success. Thanks, Dawna.

Cake rarely, if ever, is eaten at breakfast here. But it made a nice counterpart to the bacon and scrambled eggs alongside.

And more pretty flowers. I've decided that pink tulips are my favorite, although the yellow ones are close behind. Oh, but then there are white ones. Too hard to choose, I'll just like them all.

Two days of teaching done this week, and it's a short week, as is the next. I love being with the students, but full time does cut into things like housework, cooking, sewing and blogging. Still, it's a season and it will end. 

I'm sipping a mug of honeyed warm milk before publishing this and heading off to bed. Nighty-night!  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Swans by the Sea

A chilly wind shortened our walk beside the lagoon, but there was enough time to take photos of these graceful, elegant birds. 

Two swans swam in tandem with their wings fluffed up. 

On another day, this gnarled Garry Oak, still leafless, made a striking view against the blue and white streaked sky.

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Five on Friday

First off - thanks to all who identified this flower in a recent post as a bromeliad. Thanks to the internet I did a search and discovered it's an Aechmea Fasciata Bromeliad. So striking.

Last night's late dinner can be blamed on the sunshine. It beguiled me into working in the garden until 6 pm when my husband arrived home. He's very easy going that way and ended up trimming the grass edges while I cooked dinner and after eating he mowed the lawn.

I wonder if we'll get cherries this year? We had a lovely bunch last year and I netted the tree so the birds wouldn't get them, but we waited too long and something else crawled in and took them. 

I was so happy to see these tiny lilac buds forming. Spring is galloping in at a furious pace. My rose bushes didn't get pruned this year and I noticed a few tiny buds forming on the mongrel variety we have out front. Roses? Already?

Rosemary bushes like our climate. They grow and grow and grow. I trimmed this one back, leaving lots of flowers for the bees. 

My partner for the magazine swap was Maggie of Normandy Life. She sent me the two issues above - one a French magazine that shows lovely homes and interiors, and a Vintage Etiquette magazine. I'm having fun reading about the mores of society throughout the 20th century. Rules have changed but not this most basic one: "It is not birth that matters so much as treating all with a kindly heart."

Today's plans include house puttering, grocery shopping, and thinking about school - classes begin on Monday and I will be teaching for at least another month.

May you be treated kindly and treat others equally so.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Blooms, A Little Cute, and a Question

A border of tulips and bellis daisies is a cheerful sight on a grey day. 
Sometimes the blogging motivation wanes. This is one of those times. So I'm sharing more photos of Butchart Gardens with you from last week's visit. 

More pink cloud trees. The placement of these trees is so artfully done - every vista has one or two or a host of them. My garden planning is more hit and miss. Mine is definitely at its best in summer when everything is lush and full and I admire gardeners who can add interest at every season. 

A perfectly lovely camellia - such glossy leaves!

Here's the question - does anyone know what kind of plant this is? It was in the indoor garden alongside orchids and other exotic plants. The petals are very sharp and poky as my young companion discovered.

One of my favorite views in the garden. I love the curve of the stepping stones and the glimpse of the red bridge in the distance and in the reflection. All the shades of green are restful. A pathway of possibility.

Here's the cute - Mister F giving Nana a look that says, "I don't think I'm allowed to be here behind the ficus tree, but I'm not sure. I'll just charm her with my blue eyes."

Spring break is zooming by. Some of my list has been accomplished, other things have fallen by the wayside. That's just the way things go. 

Hope your week is going well.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Victoria's Inner Harbour

Victoria's Inner Harbour is a winding, sheltered waterway with a long history, beginning with the First Peoples, Spanish and English explorers, Hudson Bay fur traders, gold rush participants and more recently, cruise ship passengers.

Recreational boaters find moorage within walking distance of the Empress Hotel (seen above), the BC Legislative buildings and a host of tourist attractions. On the walls of the Empress you can see the tracery of ivy vines, leafless now, but soon to be covered in green leaves. 

The harbour is not just a pretty place, but a working harbour, too. Float planes and ferries take turns coming and going. SALTS stands for Sail and Life Training Society. The society owns two beautiful tall ships, the Pacific Grace and the Pacific Swift, seen in the foreground of the first photo. The society exists to teach sailing and life skills to young people (1700 per year) from all walks of life.

The Pacific Grace is 115 feet long and has 38 berths. Compare that to the Bounty (of the famed Mutiny on the Bounty) with a length of almost 91 feet and a crew of 46. Tight quarters for a voyage that lasted a couple of years. Lots of opportunities for learning to get along with people. On the Bounty that didn't work out so well.

Not everyone wants to sail a tall ship, and these little water taxis are a great option. They have a route along the waterway with stops where passengers can get on and off to see the sights.

One of the most beautiful buildings is now the Bateman Centre. It features the art of wildlife artist Robert Bateman. There's also a restaurant in the building. It was originally built as a steamship terminal to service passengers arriving or departing on ships traveling between Victoria and Hong Kong. Such lovely architectural details.

When we walked along the water, hyacinths were just coming into bloom. Mass plantings filled the air with fragrance.

These blooms have a great view of the water.  Tourist season is beginning and it's fun to hear all kinds of languages as we walk along the Inner Harbour.

I'm always surprised by how many people mention that they have visited this small city on Vancouver Island. Have you? 

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dancing in Butchart Gardens

A yearly pass to Butchart Gardens allows me to visit as often as I like. Miss A's mother used to work here and has a lifetime pass, so Miss A knows the gardens quite well. It's beautiful at every season.

I thought you might like to see some of the larger vistas. Ethereal clouds of pink blossoms feature in almost every view. Here the pink is juxtaposed with the bright first willow leaves.

The loveliness of the clouds of blossom made my heart ache.
When Miss A and I discussed how beautiful everything she was, she began singing as we walked. "The trees are so beautiful - I love the camellias - Thank you, God for the flowers - The world is a beautiful place - How pretty is the grass" and so on. I walked silently beside her as she sang without stopping for at least 5 minutes. Utterly charming, lacking any self-consciousness. Magical. 

A thousand shades of green offer a perfect foil to the blossoms. Soon that white birch tree will be filled with leaves, but now it stands out as a pale silhouette.

Flowering red currant is so pretty against the water. I think that's what this is, although I don't usually see it hanging downwards.

Miss A and I watched the water fountain swaying back and forth for awhile and then she began dancing, following the rhythm of the water. She pointed her toes, extended her arms, crossed her feet. More magic.

All that singing and dancing and walking was followed by a chocolate cookie and a drink of water in the coffee shop, then home to make Christmas trees out of play dough. The mind of a 4-year-old is a wonderful thing!

Tell me, is spring starting to appear out your way? I hope so. I thought of my readers in the eastern part of the continent as I admired all these lovely blooms. Soon. Spring.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To See the Flowers


Young Miss S and her mother came by this morning. One of my goals for spring break is to spend some time with the grands. Our sunshine is hit and miss these days, but no rain fell, so we set off for a little walk to see the flowers. 

The naturalized lawn we pass is now scattered with blue Scilla, also known as Siberian Squill. It's visible in the background above. There are just a few Henderson's Shooting Stars in bloom: the pink flower in sharp focus above.

A close up of the Shooting Star, aptly named, don't you think? 

A cluster of Scilla grows between the rock wall and the sidewalk in a perfect bouquet form.

A collage of our Little Miss with her coordinated hat, boots, jacket and glasses. I love how closely she inspected the grape hyacinths growing beside the sidewalk. She squatted down, stroked the flower, turned it this way and that, all without pulling it up.

Late morning we picked up cousin Miss A from preschool and had a special lunch together at McDonald's. I won't need to return there any time soon. Then off went Miss S homeward for her afternoon nap, while Miss A and I visited Butchart Gardens. That will be the subject of tomorrow's post.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From my Garden

Spring blooms are so precious that I hate cutting them. But this afternoon I collected a few bits and pieces from the garden.

I have a long candle holder that holds 10 tea lights. A few years ago I had the idea to use the glass candle cups as miniature vases. I like the look of a long arrangement marching along the length of the dining room table.


A trio of small narcissi plus a handful of grape hyacinths combined with lemon grass and a few lamb's ears add a bit of garden freshness indoors.

The forsythia blooms will soon be dropping, so I cut a few to grace my kitchen windowsill. In the background, outdoors, is the forsythia bush.

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

edited to add: Dear Sally Croft, I enjoy reading your comments and wish I could return them, but when I click through, I get to Google+ and there is no way to contact you. If you have a blog, would you mind sending it to me via my email address on my profile. I'd love to connect with you. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Five on Friday

All the layers of ocean, land and sky fascinate me. Someone asked in a recent post if these colors are natural - yes, they are. So very beautiful. This is another view of Mount Baker from our island.

Thank you for all the sweet comments and thoughts and prayers regarding my last post. The bumps are smoothing. 

In my garden the first tulips are blooming, rather short stemmed, but pretty nonetheless.

My maternal grandmother (biological) died before I was born. My mother tells me that these Bellis (bellis perennis) daisies were some of her favorites and I think of her when I see them in the spring. 

A cormorant conversation last weekend. One looks like he/she is chewing the other out. Maybe the one with the head tucked is thinking, "oh no, here she/he goes again."

Spring break is here. Oh, frabjous delight! I celebrated by coming home, putting up my feet, and watching the final of the Great British Sewing Bee. The civility and friendship of the contestants is heartwarming and so unlike some of the contests seen here in North America.

Five on Friday. It's been a long while since I've done one of these posts. Weekend plans - there's a sewing show in town I'd like to visit tomorrow, shopping and cleaning to be done, and hopefully a little time in the garden. How about you?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bumpy Days

Not everything is shared on a blog. The roots from this bright blossom go deep into the rock wall, hidden from passersby. I'm feeling a bit melancholy this evening.

Grape hyacinths poke their pretty heads out from under the rocks. How hard they have worked to grow in this inhospitable place.

I watched this boat for awhile on Saturday. The waves rocked it backwards and forwards, bumping it against the shore. Things have been a little bumpy in my world for the past few weeks and the outcome not a happy one. But like the gull who managed to stay on his perch while the boat rocked, I'm keeping my balance and perspective, knowing that the bumps will ease and there will be quiet days ahead.

Three more days until spring break. I will likely not be teaching full time after it's over, and that's okay. Full time work is exhausting as well as rewarding, and there are other things to occupy me. I've got great plans - some redecorating, definitely gardening, time with loved ones, sewing projects and lots of books to read. Three more days of school and a pile of marking until I get there!

Saturday, March 07, 2015

A Seaside Stroll

Water views or gardens? This was the question we asked our visitor from Alberta today. Water won out, so we headed to Sidney-by-the-sea for a sunny afternoon walk. No formal gardens, but lots of spring blossoms lined the pathway. Aren't the daffodils gorgeous?

Daffodils and crocuses, yes, but tulips, too, in the first week of March. Pure delight.

The Pier Bistro perches on the end of the dock with a clear view of Mt. Baker across the water. Crab cakes with salad made a delicious lunch for me; Tim and Janet had crab cakes and seafood chowder. The restaurant is small but very busy, a sure sign of good food.

Tall masts reflected in the water in the marina. I thought of so many of my fellow bloggers still battling snow and cold. I'd like to waft a little of this gorgeous sunshine across the continent, but will have to be content with sharing photos. Take heart, spring is coming!

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

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