Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Textures from Nature

During spring break, we drove out to East Sooke Park, one of our favorite places to hike. We usually go out along the Coast Trail and come back via the Interior Trail. On this trip we decided to try the trail to Babbington Hill, through the interior forest.

We gained more altitude than usual (which meant more huffing and puffing), and the view from the top, while pretty, wasn't as spectacular as others in the park. When we arrived at the top, we spied a young couple with a lovely picnic set up - plastic wine glasses, pretty paper plates and a colorful picnic blanket.

Rather than crowd in on what looked to be a romantic outing, we took a few photos and found a place a little ways away (sans view) for our picnic (sans wine glasses, pretty plates or colorful blanket). 

Instead of distant views, I occupied myself with photographing what I could see from my perch on a rock. A tangle of moss and a lonely pine cone, 

a strange tuft of grass growing from moss on a rock, 

and what I call a "progressive lens" view - like my eyeglasses, with one narrow slice of clear vision and lots of fuzzy stuff above and below. I don't like progressive lenses at all, and I'm inordinately tickled with this photo that seems to capture what I think of them.

Do you wear glasses? Progressive lenses? Contacts?  Happy with them, or frustrated?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Monday

Easter. The defining event for Christians around the globe. We gathered, 11 of us, after church, for dinner, for an egg hunt, and for a birthday celebration. 

On the table I used a vintage cloth from my mother-in-law with a yellow center and sprawling vines of yellow and pink flowers. The cake was demolished by the end of the day. Sunny skies belied the rather chill breeze, but that didn't seem to matter to the young ones who stayed outdoors as long as they could. 

Monday morning. Another blue sky day. I took Tim (since it's his birthday today) and our Vancouver-based kids out for breakfast at The Pier Bistro. Small, but with a fantastic view of the water, the sun-warmed restaurant was a cozy place to enjoy Eggs Benny and chat over coffee and tea.

A recent conversation with a five-year-old:

me: What's on Sunday?
5-year-old: Easter. And Easter egg hunt.
me: And Grandpa's birthday party. Do you know how old he will be?
5-year-old: No.
me: 60.
five-year-old: 60? .... That's pretty close to 100.

We've been giggling about that for a couple of days now,
even Grandpa!

Some places around here are warmer than others. My tulips aren't blooming yet, but these, along the water in Sidney (where we ate breakfast), are full and bright. The weather forecast is for a sunny, warm week - just in time to go back to school. Sigh. It's been a lovely break. What do you have planned for this week?

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sunlit Sunday

It's Saturday evening. The day between. The house is spic and span clean. In the fridge rests the Black Forest Torte, its imperfections covered with whipped cream and chocolate. Tomorrow morning, before church, the ham and scalloped potatoes will go into the oven (or slow cooker). 

There was a little time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine while picking weeds. In the center of a lupine leaf sits a droplet of water.

The bleeding heart planted last summer is blooming already. Very appropriate for this Easter season, as it reminds me of Christ's death and suffering on my behalf. And then tomorrow...what joy! Resurrection Sunday, full of hope and amazement.

There will be lots of commotion here tomorrow. Not just for Easter, but also a birthday, a significant one, for Tim to celebrate. The Black Forest Torte was his request.

Happy Easter! 

And so concludes the Sunlit Sunday link up for this year. Many thanks to Karen of My Little Home and Garden for hosting.   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blooms in the Forest

Rain dripped in the early morning. By the time I got up, it had stopped. I met a friend at the base of Mt. Doug and together we walked along the trail at the bottom of this urban park, then climbed up to the top. The view was grey. 

On the forest floor, however, the colours are intense. A fawn lily looks shyly downwards as droplets bead on her petals.

I recently purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements. The learning curve is steep. Very steep. There is a lot of online support and it will take me some time to figure out enough to feel comfortable.

Miner's Lettuce (claytonia perfoliata) is an edible green that is found throughout Vancouver Island. It's crisp and juicy, and if you can find it growing outside of a park, it makes a crunchy addition to a green salad. As you might guess from its common name, it was eaten by gold miners during the Gold Rush to prevent scurvy. 

I was surprised to see the Henderson Shooting Stars in bloom already. It's an early spring, again. 

Tomorrow is Good Friday and Easter weekend is upon us. Tuesday I'll be back at school. These two weeks have gone by in a flash - not everything on my list was accomplished - but there were hikes and family times and those are most important.

There will be remembrance on Good Friday and many preparations on Saturday - Paska buns to bake, an Easter egg hunt to organize, a guest room to prepare, and dinner to concoct.

We'll be having:
Baked Ham
Raisin Sauce AND Sweet Mustard Sauce
Scalloped Potatoes
Grated Carrot Salad
Roasted Asparagus
Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

Black Forest Torte

There are two sauces because, after all, it's TRADITION. What's on your menu for the weekend?

I wish all of my readers the joy and hope of Easter.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tea Party Fun

"Come, let us have some tea and
continue to talk about happy things"
Chaim Potok

There was a very jolly tea party this week. Three little people and three grownup people sat around the table, sipped tea and munched on tea time treats.

There were egg salad sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches, neither of them a hit with the younger crowd. Crescent rolls with ham and cheese went down much better, along with the tomato/basil leaf/mozzarella picks. 

Little Miss A: I don't like the green stuff.
Little Miss S: I do.
Little Miss A: Is that just because green is your favorite color?

The scones with whipped cream and cherry jam were a big hit all around.

There's a wonderful thrift store in Oak Bay Village and I poked around in it one day this week. I brought home two teacups and one mug. One little miss's favorite color is indeed green and I found the teacup above, in palest green with pink roses. 

The second tea cup has a pale blue interior - another miss's favorite color. Both teacups are by Foley, made in England. No pattern names were given.

The girls were very careful with their teacups. 

For the sole male at the table, this Bunnykins mug seemed appropriate. He did very well drinking his milk with a spot of tea from it. 

It was a sunny time, indeed! I can foresee many more tea parties.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden, and to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith of Lavender Cottage Gardening.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five on Friday

"There's nothing like staying at home for real comfort" (Jane Austen)

There was some discussion about a trip during spring break. In the end, we decided to stay home. Tim is taking this week off work as he has some vacation days to use up. Here are some things I've been thinking about this week.

I'm realizing how much fun it can be to stay home. We're accomplishing necessary chores around the house and yard, and taking time for outings (such as our trip to Botanical Beach, and to Butchart Gardens).

I'm enjoying the delight of puttering. Filling a sink full of hot soapy water, plunging dishes and ornaments under the bubbles and washing away the grime yields a fresh appearance to things on display. Then there's the fun of rearranging. 

I'm thinking, thankfully, that there's still a creative spark in my soul. I wondered if perhaps my creative mojo had disappeared into just looking and not doing. Not so. But I'm also realizing that I have only so much energy and time, and teaching means that most of those two commodities are expended in school-related work.

I've admired moss wreaths for awhile and this week I made one. I bought the square wire frame, lined it with a plastic bag cut into strips, filled it with a little dirt and then collected moss from the stone retaining walls and shady garden patches. I wrapped clear fishing line around the wreath to hold all the moss in place. For now I've tucked in a few branches of forsythia, but I'm planning to get a few faux flowers. A quick and satisfying project.

I'm thinking about the restorative powers of nature. After our day trip to the west coast yesterday, I slept like a baby, although I did have waves crashing in for awhile before falling asleep. The Stellar's Jay above watched us carefully while we snacked at a picnic table before driving home. His feathers are all fluffed up because of the cold. I just love his colours and coincidentally, they reflect much of what's in my own closet. Blue. Grey. Black.

I'm thinking about Easter next weekend and I've set out a few things like this trio of ceramic eggs from Ecuador, given to me by a good friend many years ago.

Linking to Five on Friday hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Botanical Beach

In spring, the temperate rain forest abounds in water. Paths are often muddy and water pools in boot prints. Everywhere is the sound of running water, trickling, rushing, dripping.

During the mile hike to the beach (if you take the loop trail), the sound changes dramatically. Fresh water sounds are subsumed in the pounding of the surf as it crashes against the rocks. Anticipation builds as the booming crashes become louder.

Emerging from the forest onto the beach is like walking from twilight into full sun, especially on a day like today. This beach is strewn with rocks and tidal pools both deep and shallow. In the far distance sits Cape Flattery, the northwestern most point of the contiguous United States.

On this blue sky, marshmallow cloud day the colours are intense. Green waves of sea plants are harmoniously juxtaposed with frothy seas. 

Wave after wave forms in the blue, piles up energy, then smashes against the rocks, disintegrating into a million pieces of nothing.

My gaze swivels between the larger landscape of wave-struck rocks and the abundance of life in the tidal pools. A Glove Sponge clutches tightly to a rock, but even that weighty grip has not prevented it from being tossed like a pebble into a shallow pool.

The ceaseless waves rise and fall in unending rhythm. I think of ee cummings' words - "i thank You, God for this most amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes"

A lone Blood Star sprawls in a shallow pool partially obscured by the fine bars created by waving eel grass shadows.

I try to capture the curl of the wave as it falls over upon itself before collapsing in a sea of foam on a less rocky part of the beach.

Finally, as the shadows barely begin to lengthen, we turn our backs on the sea and climb once again through the forest. How quickly the sound is deadened. 

I've uploaded a 20 second video that will give an idea of the sound. We'll see if it actually works!

Linking to Thoughts of Home on Thursday, hosted by Laura of Decor to Adore. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

History in the Garden

In the summertime, Butchart Garden is awash with locals and tourists alike, beetling along the paths, oohing and aahing at the landscape. It can get crowded.

The winter months tell a different story. The gardens are open and there is lots to see, but those walking the paths are mostly locals. In the Butchart's home, where visitors can have tea, lunch, or dinner, part of the restaurant area is closed and history comes to life in a sun porch, billiards room, and other displays. 

On this raw March day, I wandered through the old home and gazed down on the Italian garden, seen above, from the sun room in the top photo, much as earlier inhabitants did.

 Jenny Butchart had a comprehensive vision for the gardens and worked hard to achieve her goals. Jenny is seen above, in London, in the early 1900s. Her outfit brings to mind the earlier seasons of Downton Abbey.

A sheet of paper, behind glass, lists "Arranging Artistic Flower Combinations." I wonder if Jenny Butchart followed these lists, or if she just enjoyed thinking them up and then put together whatever flower arrangement she felt like? I can imagine that number 14 would be so pretty - "pink rambler roses and Queen Anne's lace in a cream and green jardiniere." Perhaps she composed the list on a rainy, windy day when going out into the garden wasn't appealing. 

A china cabinet with interior lighting displays a few pieces of Spode china, named "Butchart" and dedicated to Jenny Butchart in the 1930s. 

After wandering through the rooms, I went outdoors, put up my umbrella, and walked (rather briskly) along the paths that Jenny Butchart had envisioned. This camellia bush caught my eye, with its creamy pink ruffled blossoms. 

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sunlit Sunday

Grape hyacinths, mint and lemon balm leaves on the window sill, with a glow of forsythia outside makes for a very sunny view even when the clouds roll in. 

The bunnies and flowers say, "It's spring!" and it's beginning to feel and look that way. I hope this lovely season is appearing in your corner of the northern hemisphere. For those down under, you'll be anticipating cozy evenings and cooler temperatures. Seasonal changes are most always welcome anywhere.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

Five on Friday

I was one of those students who tried to hide a book on her lap and read in class while the teacher was talking. I thought I'd matured and was able to delay reading until the appropriate time. Not so. One morning this week I read the second to last chapter of The Lake House before going to school. Bad move. I couldn't leave it. I popped the book into my bag and after getting my classroom set up (computer logged in, screens working, handouts ready), I spent the last few minutes before the students arrived finishing the book. Ah. So satisfying!

The atmosphere in school was festive this afternoon for we now have two weeks off for spring break! Oh frabjous delight! In Home Ec, as a treat, we made these Chocolate Easter Egg nests.

Yesterday, this magazine arrived. I haven't opened it yet. I'm planning on settling down one afternoon with a cup of tea and immersing myself in reading. 

There's a long, long list of what I'd like to accomplish over spring break - things like scrubbing the kitchen floor and painting the bedroom. Gardening. Sewing. Reading. One thing I hope and plan to do is spend time walking on the beach, or in the forest. Getting outside. AND of course, there will be time with the family. 

Right now I'm mellowing into a happy, relaxed puddle in front of the fire, cup of tea to hand. Hooray for spring break! 

Linking to Five on Friday hosted by Amy of Love Made My Home. 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sunlit Memories

I awoke Saturday morning to the sound of wrens chirping. And light. So wonderful. The promised rain forecast was a dud! Instead, the sun shone and the birds chirped and I worked in the garden and didn't take one photo.

Instead, I'm showing photos from my trip to Europe with my sister and mother a number of years ago.

I'm happily anticipating our visit to England as a new adventure, and a return to France for more familiar adventures. 

This window latch, found in the King's Grand Salon at Versailles, is one of my favorite images. How many hands touched the latch? Did anyone fling open the window and call to someone in the courtyard below, or was it all pompous duty? What stories this little detail could tell.

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

A Bit of This and That

  Off in the distance Mount Baker, in the USA, gleams in the sunlight. My best guess is that it's about 100 km away as the crow flies. T...