Sunday, June 28, 2015

Color and Texture

On our trip to the Maritimes at the beginning of June, one thing that impressed me was color. Painted houses in shades of blue, red, yellow, green and lots of white dot the landscape. I can imagine how pretty they would look in the snow. Doors were often in bright contrast to the house color and I took lots of photos of those. 
In Lunenburg I discovered that others before me liked all the colored doors for there is a wonderful poster of them for sale in the gift shops.

While playing about in Picasa I somehow landed up with ALL the photos in one folder included in a mosaic. It looked fun and interesting, so I created something similar with photos of PEI. That's Cavendish Beach in the center, a place referred to in L.M. Montgomery's books. 

Passersby might have thought me a crazy tourist to be photographing peeling painted wood. I thought the photos would make nice backgrounds. Above I've combined them in a collage along with a photo of lobster pots.

The East Point Lighthouse sits at the south east end of the island. I've been re-reading my old Anne books, and in Anne's House of Dreams, she refers to a ship rounding East Point. Don't you love it when fiction and real life collide?

Such a pretty face on this fox. We were driving and stopped to look at the fox by the roadside. Tim snapped this photo along with several others.

I'm linking up with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five on Friday

1. In the morning, before the sun climbs high, I go out to the garden. This urban square of land is full of life. Birds sing their matins in harmony from tree to hedge. Bees flit from flower to flower. Blueberries grow fat and roll easily into my fingers, and fall with a satisfying plop into my container.

2. I move to the raspberry patch. Gossamer spider webs crisscross the canes. The berries glow translucent red, each one a jewel. Gentle tugs and soon my second container is full, ready for tumbling onto granola, yogurt or ice cream. This ability to go out and pick my own food is such luxury. 

3. Elsewhere in the garden beds, red-veined beet leaves beg for thinning. Bitter arugula is added to my basket for tonight's salad. I pick the first cucumber, dark skinned, with tiny prickles. Tomatoes, small and green, hold promises for another day.

4. Dinner on the patio with fluttery visitors. The Butterfly Bush is aptly named for they do love it. 

5. The temperature rises. We're in for a very hot weekend. I was inspired by a dish served at my daughter's house last weekend. 
Red onion, cut into thick slices, and pineapple, also sliced, tossed with olive oil and grilled until tender crisp and sweet, cut up and added to a variety of greens. I grilled some cherry tomatoes and added them to the mix with a teriyaki grilled chicken breast alongside. A squeeze of lime juice over all and no dressing needed.
A bit of couscous or bread adds more to the meal, if needed. 

What do you serve when it's hot and you don't feel like cooking? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Bit of This and That

Life has its ups and downs around here. Laughter and tears mingle. One big up is the garden - a pink climbing rose that I transplanted is blooming and thriving.

After a rainfall last week I went out and captured this Secret Rose.

And more Secret Roses. A downside is that since my cold (which is better) I don't have much of a sense of smell. Hopefully, that will return soon. What a letdown to stick my nose into the blooms and smell....nothing, when I know they are sweet and fragrant.

Most of my hydrangeas are blue, but this pink one grows in a shadier spot and I wonder if that's why it's pink - or perhaps it's the soil composition in that particular spot.

For Father's Day we got together for a barbecue at our daughter and son-in-law's new home. Grandpa happily played tea party with the Little Misses before dinner. 

It's been many years since I've spent Father's Day with my own father. My parents were over for the weekend. Here's Great-Grandpa feeding Mister F his lunch. Such sweetness.

It's all my mother's fault. She posted a photo similar to the above on Facebook and I was overcome with the desire to make these easy treats. No baking required and they come together fast. (They also disappear quickly.)

Marshmallow Squares

1 cup peanut butter (I use smooth, no sugar peanut butter)
2 teaspoons butter
1 - 12 ounce package butterscotch chips
4 cups colored marshmallows

Melt together the peanut butter, butter and butterscotch chips. I use a glass bowl in the microwave and it takes 1-2 minutes. Stir well. Cool slightly and stir in the marshmallows. Pour into a 11 x 7 glass pan. Cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Hoping life's ups and downs are mostly ups. Do you have any treats that you're enjoying these days?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Continent Apart

Visiting the Historic Garden in Annapolis Royal (Nova Scotia) was one of the best experiences of the trip, for me. For Tim, not so much. He took a nap in the car, hit by the cold that plagued our trip.

Strong winds sighed in the trees at the gardens, blowing warm and humid. The locals said it was quite unusual. The scent of lilac drifted everywhere. A variety of gardens delighted and informed. 

The roses were not yet in bloom, but the peonies made up for that. 

This wire sculpture, named Fern Dancer, added a whimsical touch. I loved this garden and would enjoy returning for more exploration of it, and of the town of Annapolis Royal. 

And if I do, I'd love to stay in this Bed and Breakfast - the Queen Anne Inn. Doesn't it look charming? Next time.

This first week back home included a visit to another garden - our local Butchart Gardens, with the trio above.

Sweet peas and roses, begonias and geraniums - there was much to delight.

The Little Miss and I rode on the carousel together while my DIL manned the camera. Round and round we went, up and down, down and up.

I was very surprised when, passing by the blue poppies, my DIL said she knew the Latin name. She used to work at the gardens. I asked her if she knew the Latin for all the flowers there, but she said that this blue poppy is the only one all employees need to know. The Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) was brought to the gardens by Jenny Butchart in the 1920s and is quite special to the gardens. 

Two gardens a continent apart. Unique. Beautiful. 

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

Friday, June 19, 2015

Walking Through the Past

In 1605, a group of French explorers established their country's first successful settlement in North America. With the help of the local Mi'kmaq nation, they survived quite well in Port-Royal until the British invaded and burned it all to the ground in 1613. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the French relied heavily on the good will of the Mi'kmaq for survival in the following winter.

In the 1930s the Habitation of Port-Royal, as it was known, was rebuilt, following plans of the original Habitation that had been found in France.

You didn't come here for a history lesson, I'm sure. But the site was very interesting. Even in the barest of survival modes, class structure was preserved with the lowly fellows sharing the loft for sleeping, the cartographer (Samuel de Champlain) and the priests having private quarters, and the nobleman leader, Sieur de Monts, with a downstairs sitting room and an upstairs bedroom. His window was leaded glass, as seen above.

This historical interpreter is turning wood on a lathe....

run by foot-power. He pumps the springy wood to turn the lathe. Many of the interpreters wore wooden sabots and said they were quite comfortable. More importantly, they kept one's feet dry.

The dining room, set with pewter. Here the men congregated and here Samuel de Champlain came up with the Order of Good Cheer (l'Ordre de Bons Temps), designed to help infuse the long winter months with good food and entertainment. Even here the class structure prevailed, with likely only 15 of the 70 or so men considered of sufficient standing to be full members of the club. The others benefited as well, but were not members.

Tourists and historians alike need to eat lunch. We enjoyed some delicious chowder, homemade bread and German pastry in this restaurant in Annapolis Royal, just across the river from Port-Royal.

After the destruction of the Habitation, the settlement moved across the river. This piece of land changed hands seven times over the next couple of centuries - French to British and back again. Wars in Europe had their effect in the New World, as well.

In Annapolis Royal we visited the star fort constructed by the French in the 18th century. The building above was officers' quarters and now houses a museum.


The earth fortifications were designed to absorb cannon fire. The steep banks take some effort to scramble up and down.

It's often the small things that speak to me of life as it was in the past. I picked up this teapot, expecting some heft to it. However, it's light as a feather and made of tin. Such a fun squat little shape to it.

The old armoury is the only other building left. The walls are massively thick and the wind whistles through special vents designed to keep the place cool in summer.

In the museum is a very large, four-panel needlepoint tapestry telling the history of the area from Mi'kmaq through to modern day. The Queen of England came by Halifax several years ago and the tapestry was brought to her to insert a few stitches. Out came her glasses from her handbag and she sat down and stitched. Apparently she has never done needlepoint, but the guide said that her stitches were very even, nonetheless.

We wandered through the graveyard, where the oldest English gravestone in Canada is located, dating to 1720. We didn't find that particular stone. Many of the stones were so weathered that deciphering the words was impossible.

This monument to the Sieur de Monts was erected in 1904.

In Port-Royal we were greeted by this handsome Frenchman - perhaps a distant relative of one of the original settlers?

We also visited the Historic Garden in Annapolis Royal. I'll show you some of that next time. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Churches and Beaches

The prettiest churches dot the landscape everywhere on Prince Edward Island. On our first morning in Charlottetown we took a self-guided walking tour. This church gathers together many of the items that struck us as unique about PEI. 

First off, the sign does not say "church," but "kirk," reflecting the heritage of its 18th and 19th century inhabitants. The church is constructed, in part, of the red sandstone of the Island - it's very porous and glows warmly in the light. The church spire is wooden, not stone.

The depth of the pointed arch window gives an idea of the thickness of the walls. Also, note how the leaves on the plant in the foreground are still emerging. PEI had a very hard winter and June felt like early spring.

In the afternoon we drove out to Greenwich Beach. I never thought of PEI as having marshes and yet, there they were, full of scrub brush just like marshes where I grew up in the interior of BC. Doesn't the board walk to the beach curve nicely? 

Red sandstone, blue water, blue sky - lovely.

Tim and I each took a photo of the other. On a whim I put them together in this collage. Fun. 

I have more photos to show of our trip, but don't want to get into the "would you like to come and see our vacation slides?" trap. I take comfort in knowing that if you don't want to look at them, you can simply click out and not hide behind the curtains to avoid the vacation monologue. 

The garden exploded while I was away and I've been trimming, weeding, digging and picking raspberries and blueberries. Tim gets home this evening and he's diving right back into a very busy work schedule, poor fellow.  We're both still getting over the dregs of the lurgy that attacked us in the east.

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my postcard posts. I used just my phone for the photos and the posting and was quite pleased with the ease of doing so. The difficult part was replying to comments, so I did very, very little of that. I'm slowly getting around to your blogs and catching up with what's been happening. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spending the day with Anne

Even now, as an adult, I find it hard not to believe that Anne Shirley is a real girl. Anne and I first met in my early teens, I think, and we became kindred spirits right away. I did think she talked an awful lot, though.

It was with a little trepidation that I visited the setting for the Anne books in Cavendish, PEI. Would my lovely imaginings of Marilla and Matthew's house be shattered? Would I be able to see the landscape with Anne's eyes? Would my understanding of Anne be enhanced or diminished?

The home that originally stood on this site in which is now part of Prince Edward Island's National Park belonged to relatives of Lucy Maud Montgomery and LMM visited the home frequently. That home was replaced with this replica of Anne's home as described in the novels.

In the above photo, Anne's bedroom is over the porch. An electric candle burns in the window - perhaps Anne is signalling to Diana that she has something important to say.

The natural world provided much inspiration for LMM, who loved her native island with a lifelong passion. 

"In the garden below were lilac trees purple with flowers and
their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind." (Ch IV) 

It was lovely to be there when the lilacs were blooming, just as they were on the first morning that Anne awoke in Green Gables and dreaded being sent away because she was not the boy the Cuthbert siblings had asked for.

This gnarled tree with a few blossoms is perhaps a model for Anne's beloved cherry tree, the Snow Queen, that was destroyed by wind.

I've not read the books for years but memories were triggered at every turn. Above is Anne's bedroom, less austere than her first glimpse of it. The white bed, the sprigged wallpaper, the little touches of plant and candle bear Anne's imprint.

Hanging on the closet door is the dress that Matthew had Mrs. Lynde sew, complete with double puffed sleeves.

"All I want is a dress with puffy sleeves."

"It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable."

The spare bedroom - perhaps one of Rachel Lynde's quilts is on the bed.

"Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down to the hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white birches grew, upspringing airily out of an undergrowth suggestive of delightful possibilities in ferns and mosses and woodsy things generally."

I visited the site with a friend named Ann, without an e; a lovely, kind soul who lives on PEI and encouraged me to take all the time I wanted. We wandered through the Haunted Woods and Lover's Lane. White birches, moss and ferns abound. Mosquitoes, too, and I don't recall reading anything about those pesky critters in the Anne books, do you?

This washstand is in Matthew's room, which is downstairs, unlike the other bedrooms. You can see a shaving brush there on the corner.

A dresser with beautiful dishes reminds me of the meals Anne helped prepare - usually with some calamity attached. 

Details extend to geraniums on the kitchen windowsill - perhaps this one is named Bonny, just as Anne named the first geranium she saw there. 

In the evening, Ann and I went to the Anne of Green Gables musical in Charlottetown. The season has barely begun and in fact, we saw it on a preview night. It was delightful. I laughed. I cried. Not everything was true to the novel, but that didn't really matter - the spirit of Anne was true. I left with my heart full of emotion. The visit to Green Gables and then the musical was a girlish dream come true. 

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

All quotations are by Lucy Maud Montgomery. 

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...