Monday, August 31, 2015

A Late Summer Walk

Rain and fierce wind on Saturday gave way to washed, blue skies on Sunday. Perfect for an afternoon walk around the bog. 

There's a hint of gold in the foliage, a portent of what's just around the corner. 

Hawthorn berries are turning rich red.

Under the closed tree canopy, a cool trickle of water and dappled maple leaves could trick one into thinking summer is here to stay.

But there, against the fence, in the open, there's no doubt about the season. Today, on the last day of August, Autumn waits in the wings while Summer sings her farewell.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Five on Friday (or Six or Seven)

Another bloom of roses, taken earlier this week. Today they are bedraggled with the very welcome rain.

Last weekend two of the grands came over to stay while their parents went away for a couple of nights. We had a LOT of fun visiting the Children's Farm, two playgrounds, and the beach. 
We were all very tired by Sunday afternoon, and Nana took a nap after the little ones left. I realized that the rhythm of life with preschoolers has faded into the background of my mind.

Pinterest is a great place for inspiration. I found the link to this skirt pattern there and printed it out rather a long time ago. I ran across it and decided to stitch up a couple for the little Misses. The green skirt has some Richard Scarry themed fabric, and the blue has Frozen themed fabric. Catering to tastes, you know. 
Then I thought I'd make something for Mister F. More Richard Scarry fabric and a shirt pattern came together quickly. 

Signs of the season - cobwebs on the grass and spiders looking for winter homes. 

More signs of the season. With the rain predicted for today, I spent a couple of hours cleaning out space in the garden beds for fall plantings of kale and kohlrabi. The squash vines were pulled and the harvest, above, is sitting outside to harden a little. I left the pumpkins for later. Tomatoes will be dealt with this weekend.

A few of the books I've read recently. The Hare with the Amber Eyes traces the story of a Jewish family and its rising and falling fortunes from the mid-1800s to the present, focusing on the family's collection of Japanese netsuke. (I'll leave you to look that up.)
Four Queens is an historical work that tells the story of four sisters who grew up in Provence and each became queen of some part of Europe. Yes, it's medieval history, and fascinating.
The Cellist of Sarajevo evokes the horror of living in a war zone. It's beautifully written and made me look up the history of the conflict that took place in the 1990s. 

This book is sitting on my dining room table. I'm itching to get to it - Louise Penny's latest, released this week. But I'm being strong, telling myself there are a few things to do first - like finish editing a paper for a friend, and dealing with those tomatoes.

What's been happening with you? Projects going on? Books read, or to read? Changing seasons?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Puttering around the House

Tomatoes are ripening fast these days. Yesterday I spent a few hours turning part of the harvest into ...

Tomato Jam! I was inspired by my eldest daughter who made some Tomato Basil Jam and gifted us a jar. Yummy with cheese and bread. I didn't have her recipe but went online and found this Tomato Jam. It's a little spicy and also very yummy with cheese and bread. Or crackers.

While on the site for Tomato Jam (Food In Jars), I came across a recipe for Zucchini Butter - a savory spread. The zucchini glut continues so I made up a batch and pronounce it just fine! I froze it in small amounts for later. Four litres of peeled, sliced peaches went into the freezer as well, great in cobblers, sauces and smoothies.

The house smells of citrus today. Yesterday the carpet cleaners came with their equipment and did a great job on the carpets. The gentleman noticed how grimy our rocking chair was looking and offered that he could clean that, too. It looks so much better now. 

The chair is a Lazy Boy from the 70s. It was a wedding gift from my in-laws. Its good condition is very likely due to getting little use during the years we were in Ecuador. It sat in my parents' basement. I've been thinking of moving it somewhere else and getting a new chair, but the modern recliners are puffy monstrosities. Does anyone make a more tailored recliner with a built in foot rest that really reclines and rocks, too? I'd love to know.

After the carpets dried, I put the living/dining room back together. The hydrangeas are changing colour - all the blooms above came from the same bush.

A softly rumpled linen runner for the dining room table topped with single stems of garden blooms - dahlias, hydrangea, buddleia.  The vases are empty food containers of various sizes - a fun change from crystal or silver.

The same grouping taken from another angle. A change of perspective can reveal different qualities. Good to remember in life. 

I love the satisfying feeling of a tidy room/house, finished with flowers, plants or some other bits of nature.

Do you enjoy house puttering?  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beauty in the Rain

Not every day of our boating trip a few weeks ago was sunny. The day we planned to go up Toba Inlet was more than drizzly. Rain fell in hard splatters on the boat. Visibility was limited. Still, in between gusts of wind and clouds of rain, I managed a few photos. 

The sides of the fjord rise steeply from the water and fall equally steep below the surface. 

 Mist hung heavy in the valleys, but lifted occasionally to reveal muted greens of forest and sea.

We anchored in Brem Bay where the river joins the inlet. Grizzly bears live here and we saw one cross the river. It was a good morning for sipping on hot chocolate while we waited for more bears. They never showed. Perhaps they, too, were hunkering down somewhere in the rain.

When the rain stopped for a bit, we took the dinghy and went up river a little ways. The landscape looked almost tropical with hanging mosses and lush ferns. 

After deciding the bears were not going to cooperate, we headed further up the inlet to see the waterfalls we'd heard about. What is it about water falling over rocks and splashing into the ocean that is so appealing?

I took a lot of photos. Tim went back and forth with the boat while I tried out different settings. Most are overexposed. Also, it's kind of hard to take a level photo when the waves lift the boat up and down. 

In the afternoon we returned to the marina where we spent the night. The sky was clearing and a watery sun peeked through. Smooth, soft water and the promise of a sunny day to come.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage. 
This week I'm also linking up to Through My Lens, hosted by Mersad Donko. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Walsh Cove - A bit of the Caribbean in the Northwest

Azure. Turquoise. Cobalt. Ultramarine. Sapphire. Water in every possible colour and then some.

We chug up Waddington Channel. Light glints off the water. Sky, sea, mountains meld in harmony to fill our senses. We tuck in behind the Gorges Islets.

Waddington Channel flows between East and West Redonda Islands. The islands thrust up from the ocean in steep inclines. Beaches are few and small. But, oh, the colour. The peace. A feast for eyes and soul.

I take the small dinghy and paddle slowly around the cove. Oysters and mussels crowd the inter-tidal zone in prodigious generosity. I'm entranced by the minutiae of creation.

I discover three heart shapes in this cove. The golden-orange rock now sits on my china cabinet. The white rock is immense. A tiny empty mussel shell lies open, washed by the waves.


I succumb to the lure of the water. After the first shock the water slides like silk against my skin. Tim joins me and we swim in the lovely, refreshing sea. Behind us, the island rises, inhospitable, as fortified as a medieval castle. 

We stand on the back deck and rinse off the salt with sun-heated water from our shower bag, then eat a simple dinner with a million-dollar view. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August Delights

There will be more posts featuring photos from our trip, but for today I'm sharing what's happening closer to home - in the garden. The tight buds that were appearing on the dahlias when we left have opened to full and beautiful blossom. The fuschia plant I put in this year is producing masses of dancing flowers. In Spanish the fuschia is known as "aretes" which means earrings. They do look like fancy, dangly jewelry, don't they?

The potager is producing well - this is representative of what I'm harvesting every three days or so.

Temperatures have cooled off a little, although I hear more heat is coming. Dinner last night was spinach souffle with a green salad. 

I picked a bouquet of roses for the house. Although the pink rose in the above photo is the same as the "coral" ones, lighting indoors and out makes a huge difference. For filler I used some oregano stems that are in flower just now.

I'm experimenting with growing quinoa this year. The stalks are tall and the seed heads becoming dramatic in shades of pinks and golds. The time to harvest is after the leaves fall off the stalks. They are turning yellow now, so I expect we'll be figuring out harvest plans in a few weeks. I'd welcome advice from anyone who has grown quinoa.

What's delighting you this August?

Linking with Mosaic Monday hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Nervous Nellie in the Wild

Two boats tied up to a dock. Just to give you an idea of the size of our boat - the small one. It's 25 feet long. The other is 62 feet long. We were usually the smallest boat in any marina or anchorage. But I think we had just as much fun as the big boaters. The important thing is getting out there to enjoy all the beauty.

Normally, we anchor the boat and often stern tie it to land, especially if things are choppy on the water, or an anchorage has a few boats in it. 

One of our destinations was Toba Inlet, a narrow fjord that winds its way into the mainland of the province. Anchorages are difficult to find, hence the tie up at the marina dock. Another plus was the hot showers available at the marina.

We like to hike. We see some great scenery and get good exercise huffing and puffing our way up mountains. (One of us huffs and puffs; the other is steady as a metronome.) 

We asked the marina host, Kyle, for a trail recommendation - "about an hour's climb," we said. He gave us directions and off we went.

"What about bears?" asked she of the nervous disposition.

"Haven't seen any for quite awhile."

"Good," thought she. But she was glad that her hiking companion, Mr. Woodsman, had along his bear spray.

(You can probably figure out where this is going....)

We got to the viewpoint, had a drink and some gorp and I took lot of photos. In the photo above, the waterway opening in the center is Waddington Channel, coming into Pryce Channel, our route from the south to Toba Inlet, which stretches to the left of the photo.

We began our descent. 

Rustle. Rustle. Something was in the bushes. 

Mr. Woodsman didn't say anything, so I assumed it was just a bird or squirrel.

Rustle. Crash. Crackle. "It's an awfully big squirrel," thought she of the nervous disposition. "But I'll be brave."

That lasted just a few seconds. "Mr. Woodsman," said she, "stop for a minute and listen."

About 50 feet in front of us Mama bear and Baby Bear broke onto the trail from the bush below. Baby bear hightailed it into the bushes on the other side. Mama Bear stopped to take a look at us.

"Get behind me," said Mr. Woodsman. 

Nervous Nellie didn't hesitate for a second. But she did remember her camera, and had a momentary pang that the zoom lens was in the case and not on the camera.

"Scram!" said Mr. Woodsman, and clapped his hands. So Mama Bear scrammed, stopping to take one last look just to make sure we weren't following her.

We had just passed a fork in the trail and decided it might be prudent to back track a little and take the alternate route down the mountain. You can bet Nervous Nellie scrammed as fast as the bear!

How wobbly would your knees be after a hike and a bear encounter? Nervous Nellie's knees quivered for quite awhile.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

There and Back Again

Last night we anchored in Rebecca Spit and took a short dinghy ride to Heriot Bay where we ate dinner. It felt a little weird to be back in civilization. I've had a most wonderful blogging break, cruising around islands, exploring inlets, and seeing wonderful sights.

You're sure to hear more about our trip, but for now I'll leave you with this morning's sunrise (top photo) and an evening shot taken last week sometime. 

For now, there's a pile of laundry to deal with, a garden bursting with tomatoes, green beans and other delectables, emails to attend to, and hopefully soon, blogs to read. 

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 ...