Showing posts from October, 2016

Mosaic Monday: Vancouver Weekend

Friday afternoon: I left school as quickly as possible, met up with my eldest daughter and daughter-in-law, and together we caught the 5 pm ferry to Vancouver. My younger daughter met us on the other side for a girls' weekend. We stayed at Ashley's home in the Mount Pleasant area of the city, where trees planted long ago now arch over the narrow streets. 

It was a weekend of good food, laughter, and fun to celebrate my birthday. Ashley prepared a Turkish inspired breakfast on Saturday morning of poached eggs in ramekins with cream, herbs, and harissa oil, along with fresh bread, cucumbers and tomatoes. She used her beautiful Lomonosov china and I'm sure that made the tea taste better. It was delicious to the eyes and taste buds. 

For several hours, we played with Shibori techniques of fabric dyeing. Ashley got her vat of indigo dye working and we tied, scrunched, stitched, and dipped. I'll do another post later on the fun we had and show the beautiful results.

We later wa…

Signposts along the way

When we're out on the boat we know to stay well away from lighthouses. They warn of chunky bits in the water that would damage our vessel. A lighthouse is a warning, but it's also a landmark. It commands our attention. "Ignore me at your peril," it says. 

I think birthdays can say the same thing. In a few days I'll celebrate a big one - 60. Even writing the number seems unreal. How did this happen? When did I become, gulp, old? 

The uncertain teenager, the adventurous 20-year-old, the busy woman with a growing family - those women that I was and still am seem not so far away. They remain inside my heart and my head. Yet, if I mentally pull myself away from myself and try a little objectivity, I know that I am not the same person I was 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. 

I don't want to be any of those women; I'm happy to be me, now, with the lessons learned from being 20, 30, 40, and 50. I look back over the years and am happy that my regrets are few and my joys many…

The Colours of Autumn

Although we don't have wildly stunning colour shows of autumn trees here on the west coast, some foliage does display the rich, tawny shades of autumn. A recent walk along the waterfront in the small town of Sidney, just north of us, revealed plenty of fall evidence.

The fish market's bright blue is hard to miss. We enjoy the occasional meal at the small restaurant to the right of the market. There's a great view over the water and good food, too.

Nathan Scott is a local sculptor whose first public commission was this Old Man by the Sea. He used his father as the model for the statue that shows an old man intent on tying his fishing lure to his line. The flowers in his hands are placed there regularly by passersby. I see that someone has placed a scarf around his neck, now that autumn is here. There are several of Scott's sculptures around the area and all are perfectly fitted for their setting.

These colours are seen in every season - black cormorants, white gulls, old g…

Five on Friday: Apples

Apples come into their own in autumn. Some varieties ripen early, others later. They are so versatile; suitable for desserts, but also add a bit of sweetness to savory dishes as well. I like many varieties of apples, but they have to be crunchy, not mealy. And I'm not very fond of Red or Golden Delicious apples, are you? Here are five (plus a half) things I like to do with apples.

1. Photograph them. Red apples in a green tree against a bright blue sky are the prettiest things. 

1.5 Eat them raw. I like them cut into wedges when I'm at home where a knife is handy, but while out and about, if an apple tree (not on private property) makes itself known, I'll happily pick one, rub it on my shirt, and take bites all around the core. 

2. Bavarian Apple Torte - Cream cheese, almonds, a buttery crust, and apples make a wonderful dessert. I've found that Granny Smith or Transparent apples work best in this recipe; others tend to stay a bit crunchy, and for this dessert, fully soft…

Hailes Abbey: Mosaic Monday

In 1535 Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Henry's right hand man, Thomas Cromwell, went on a royal tour. Henry and Anne stayed at nearby Sudeley Castle, while Thomas lodged at Hailes Abbey, founded in the 13th century.

Below the center arch of the ruins in the photo above is a long washbasin. The refectory door, where the monks dined, is on the right. Before entering the refectory, the monks would wash their hands in the basin, which was supplied with rainwater from pipes on the roof. 

Perhaps Cromwell also washed and ate there, enjoying the hospitality of the abbot and the monks. Yet, on Christmas Eve in 1539 he sat on his horse on a hill above the abbey and watched as the destruction he had ordered began. 

The history that led to the dissolution of the monasteries is long and complicated, with intrigue, greed, desire for control, lust and romance tangled together. Hilary Mantel authored Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which tell the tale of Thomas Cromwell, his ascent to power and hi…

Five on Friday: Autumn Delights

1. As I write, the rain drips trickles through the gutters. It's been dark and wet most of the day. Not much wind, but it's beginning to pick up a little. A candle burns (for atmosphere) and the gas fireplace has been on and off (automatic thermostat) several times. 

Autumn is well and truly here. The golden leaves of the Garry Oak tree show one side of this changeable season; today's views show another. A bit moody, autumn is. 

2. On a recent walk we spied this fat bunny. She was a little skittish and scampered over to the blackberry bushes in case she needed to make a fast getaway. I've never seen such a large bunny with such a thick coat of fur. The black outline of her ears is striking - is it natural, or did she use some mascara?

3. Our fair city with a bank of fog over the Strait beyond. In the foreground is Swan Lake Nature Preserve, shining in the sunlight. There's a height restriction for building, and I'm glad of it - who wants to block out the view with…

The Calm Before the Storm

Sunshine on autumn crocuses (colchicum autumnale) along the path where we walk. They look a bit out of place to me with their pale colour more reminiscent of spring. How pretty they are.

I just love Sunday nights with the prospect of a Monday holiday. We had a beautiful weekend (after rainy Saturday), and I clipped some hydrangea stems for the dining room table, and poked them into recycled bottles of various shapes and colours. 

The colours are wonderful - ruddy pink, pale green, deep purple, and pale blue. 

"October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in the aftermaths. Anne reveled in the world of color about her..."I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September …

Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving. One of my favourite celebrations. October is the perfect month. The harvest is mostly finished, autumn has arrived, and it's good to gather with loved ones and acknowledge our many blessings. Although all of our dreams and hopes may be fulfilled, there is always, always something for which we can thank God.

We celebrated with our children and grandchildren yesterday, Saturday, so that they could be with other family today. 

This afternoon Tim and I went for a ramble around Rithet's Bog. There is colour if one looks for it, and that I did, finding golden trees that glowed in the sunlight, red leaves that swung gently back and forth, and plenty of pale brown stalks of grass and fat, ready-to-explode cattails.  

Recent rains have begun filling the bog that was dry and bereft of ducks for the summer. The ducks have returned to splash and swim, not minding the debris and pollen in the air. 

A crow cawed from behind a curtain of yellow leaves shimmered and caught the light…

It's a Cotswold Mystery

Back to the Cotswolds again. We drove through the picturesque town of Winchcombe en route to Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle. It's a town I wouldn't mind exploring a little more thoroughly. Next time!

Our intended destination on this warm July day was Hailes Abbey (also spelled Hayles). Just across the road from the Abbey ruins stood this charming stone church, with its graveyard enclosed in a low stone wall. It begged to be explored.

The church predates the Abbey by a century, and was built in the Norman style, in the late 12th century. I think it's one of the earliest buildings we visited. The stone floor is uneven, the walls rather rough, and there is an old organ that another elderly visitor attempted to play, with some success.

Medieval paintings are still seen on some of the walls, and in other places, remnants of paint confirm that the people of the time used colour for decoration in elaborate ways.

The leaded windows are not highly decorated and were added much later.