Sunday, February 26, 2017

Reflections: Mosaic Monday

My husband wanted to go to Home Depot this afternoon for a new anode rod for the hot water heater. On the way home we stopped at Thetis Lake Park for a walk. The sun shone most of the time, and although the temperature was chilly (5C), we quickly warmed up as we walked. 

I grew up in the interior of British Columbia, and knew far more about lakes than about the ocean. BC has over 20,000 lakes, of all sizes. Summer vacations were spent camping beside lakes where we swam, fished, and got sunburned. Shorter fishing trips happened summer, fall, winter, and spring. Fresh trout sizzled in a cast iron frying pan for dinner, and later we would sit around the campfire. As the fire died down and the mosquitoes turned vicious, we would retire to our tent or camper. Then, lying tucked into a warm sleeping bag, I heard the poignant cry of loons streaming like ethereal ribbons across the water, now etched forever into memory.

E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, crafted an essay entitled "Once More to the Lake" in which he writes, "I have since become a salt-water man, but sometimes in summer there are days when the restlessness of the tides and the fearful cold of the sea water and the incessant wind which blows across the afternoon and into the evening make me wish for the placidity of a lake in the woods."

In my adult life, I, too, have had more to do with salt water than with fresh. Yet today's walk brought back so many memories of lakes, of childhood, of family times when I was young. What caught my eye today were the reflections in the placid water, only slightly distorted. Reflections of the past today were equally clear and lovely.  

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Thoughts from the Garden

"In all things of nature,
there is something of the marvelous"

So said Aristotle all those years ago. The mosaic above was created last February, and I really can't better it. The protecting curve of petal, the cluster of stamens, the colours - all speak to me of the intent and design of God, the Creator.

Last year's spring growth was early according to the photos I looked at. This winter has been unusually cold for an unusually long time. Today, with temperatures around 6 Celsius, we dig some digging and looking. I transplanted the snowdrops; Tim did the heavy digging for moving a Portuguese Laurel from a pot to the ground, and for transplanting a small hydrangea bush. A few bulbs are poking up through the ground. 

In a sheltered corner this juxtaposition of life and death caught my eye. The empty shell of a poppy flower gone to seed, but underneath, springing up from the soil, new growth hints of the showy beauty to come when the poppies flutter their petals and flirt with the wind.

Here, too, a green budding hydrangea seems to look up at last year's papery blossom as perhaps my grandchildren look at me, recognizable, but oh, so different. 

I bought my first ever pair of Wellies! They are Joules Wellies from the UK and I love them! They are comfortable and squelch satisfyingly in the mud, and then wash off so easily. Much better than old runners. And the polka dots just make me smile.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five on Friday: Three Birds and Two Flowers

This week seems to have both crawled and flown by. It's been busy, not with anything very unusual, but with the usual preparations of classes, marking, teacher's meetings and so on. 
We're reading Animal Farm in English 10 just now - it's read every year, but seems to have taken on new significance just now. Today's discussion on double-speak and manipulation of information seemed particularly appropriate, and we didn't even discuss current politics.

The above bird, a Sparrow, is perhaps a Song Sparrow, but I didn't get a good enough look at its head and breast to really tell. We walked around Rithet's Bog and I captured these bird images. 

The Red-Winged Blackbird's song was heard along the path where the birds lurk in the bulrushes, or sing perched atop a swaying rush. On this particular day, the males were sulking in the rushes and didn't want to be photographed. The female above fluffed up her feathers for me, arched her pretty neck and seemed to say, "look at me!" 

Plenty of mallard ducks paddled in the water, but there was also a pair of American Wigeons. I've never seen these particular ducks in the Bog. They seemed quite content mingling with the mallards. 

In my own garden, the snowdrops are fully opened, clean and white against the green foliage. I'm hoping to move a few more of them. The patch is hidden in a corner and I'd like to put them where I can see them from the kitchen window. I transferred one clump, in the green, last February, and they are doing well, so over the weekend I'll move another. 

When we had our big snowfall a couple of weeks back, I noticed the rosemary buds getting ready to open. I wondered if the cold snap would delay the flowering, but it didn't. The blooms are just opening, a lovely bit of colour in the winter garden. There are no bees to enjoy them yet, and I hope the rosemary will bloom again later.

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Puttering: Mosaic Monday

On Saturday morning I awoke feeling curiously unsettled about how to spend my day. There were the usual weekend chores to accomplish - laundry, bathrooms, a quick vacuum and dusting - but if I focus, I can accomplish that in the morning. I didn't focus. Instead, I puttered.

I recently saw a photo in Canadian House and Home that featured a mass of brass candlesticks. Hmm, I thought. I have lots of brass candlesticks, somewhere. A little rummaging in the cupboard revealed a box full, somewhat tarnished.  I gave them a bit of polish, and stuck them on the mantle.

Away went the red dishes, in the hutch since the end of November. We used them most recently for Valentine's Day. They've been replaced by delicate, mostly floral teacups, reminiscent of the gardening season to come. 

An overgrown, root-bound fern has been relegated to the patio until I decide what to do with it. In its place I brought up the old tea cart from the basement, and set the silver tray with an embroidered cloth sent from England by Barbara of Small Moments, my china teapot, an orphaned crystal creamer holding coffee spoons, and a crystal cream and sugar set.

All that remains is to make some scones, and have tea!

I removed the plate gallery from the dining room wall. I've been wanting something a little more streamlined there, and haven't found what I'd like yet. But I filled and patched all the nail holes from the plates, hung a temporary picture there and quite like the simpler look. 

Three hyacinth bulbs bloomed over the weekend. They are on the dining room table, filling the room with wonderful fragrance. I laid the tablecloth crocheted by Tim's grandmother years ago over the wood and set the pot of hyacinths atop.

By mid-afternoon, the house was clean and tidy, and felt airy. So lovely. Satisfying.  

In the mornings now, it's not utterly dark. The chilly air streams in through the open window and I hear early bird songs as I awaken. There's a lightness in the air and energy as the earth's northern hemisphere slowly tips towards the sun. Are you feeling it, too?

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.   

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Five on Friday: Things that Made Me Smile

Regular readers might remember our family celebrated Christmas in a rented ski chalet. There was snow, lots of it. We hauled all our luggage, food, and gifts for the grandchildren up on sleds while the snow swirled around in torrents. 
I'd sewn nightgowns for the girls and a cute pair of pajamas for Mr. F - red, with little white cows. 
When the snow finally disappears on Mt. Washington, in May or June, I think a little parcel will appear, wet and bedraggled, and inside will be a pair of red pajamas.
So, at last, over the weekend, I stitched a new pair of pajamas for the young man, and gave them to him at his birthday party. With a Christmas label. Bugs this time, not cows.

While walking one afternoon, we came across a man walking his dog, and his parrot. I asked to take a photo. We occasionally saw wild macaws when we lived in Ecuador. They are so majestic flying through the jungle, bright wings outspread. Their colours are magnificent.

Mr. F is three. He had a bug-themed birthday party, with a gummy worms and "dirt" on the cake. Doesn't he look pleased to be sung to?

I tried something new this week - making marmalade. Seville oranges appeared in the store and I brought 2 kg home with me. Deciding on a recipe was tricky - there's a plethora of tips and variations out there. In the end, I used one from Canadian Living as I thought the sugar would be the same as what I could get. It tastes delicious, bright citrus sweet with a hint of bitterness from the peel. I enjoyed it first on a crust of freshly baked whole-wheat bread, and since then, on a bit of cheddar cheese.

The bouquet of tulips given a couple of weeks ago is reaching its end. I trimmed the stems to avoid legginess, and got another week out of them. Now the petals are twisting and drying - still pretty, but this weekend I'll replace them.

Happy weekend! Linking with Amy at Love Made My Home.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mosaic Monday: Valentine Fun

One set of parents asked us to watch their children on Sunday afternoon/early evening so that they could go on a Valentine's date together. So we offered to the other set of parents childcare during the same time.

I prepared some craft supplies beforehand and we had fun making these heart-shaped sun-catchers that look so pretty taped to the windows. 

The two girls, in particular, loved the gluing, the arranging, the choosing of colours and so on. Grandpa helped Felix to create his artwork, and then the two menfolk went off and did other things while the girls continued to craft.

Yesterday I baked a batch of sugar cookies, the same recipe that I've used for many years, my mother's recipe. She made heart-shaped cookies for Valentine's Day, and sent them carefully packed, when I was in college. 

There was a lot of icing consumed, and plenty of sprinkles landed on the floor (and into mouths), and it all added up to a very sweet time - the kind of time I've anticipated as the children grow up. Thank you to all the other Nanas out there who post about the things they do with their grandchildren. I'm inspired by you all. 

I showed them my collection of heart-shaped rocks and they each picked a favourite one. Miss A was astounded that rocks could be found in such shapes. Next time we go to the beach I'll help her find some for herself. 

Decorating for Valentine's Day is minimal. I've left the red and white dishes from Christmas in the china hutch, and will take them down soon. I propped up this old postcard, written with a simple "To Bertha, from Grandma and Grandpa" on the back. It's undated, and must have been hand-delivered, for there is no postage on the card, but I have others to Bertha, and they are from the early 20th century. 

While cutting out simple heart shaped cookies yesterday, I cut a few pairs with cutouts, as well, and put them together with raspberry jam, then dusted them with icing sugar as a treat for the man I love. 

Tomorrow is a holiday here - how I love Sunday nights with Mondays off. It's Family Day here in our province, and we will be getting together with family once again. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Five on Friday: Delights of the Week

This week we've had WEATHER. Lots of it. Snow, wind, more snow, freezing rain, sunshine, wind, and more rain. Two no-school snow days. 

1. I'm still delighting in the snow, although many people are getting thoroughly sick of it all. I admired the way the snow caught on one of the metal porch chairs, so delicately caught in the swirls and curlicues. 

Our patio and back yard. It's been a long time since we've seen this much snow all at once.

The row of pots awaiting spring, each pot topped with fluffy snow meringue. 

2. And then the sun came out. Blue sky. White snow, dark trees. Perfectly elegant. 

3. The grandkids came over to play in our sloping back yard. Whee! Down they went.

Then trudge, trudge, back up again. They stayed for lunch, eaten in the living room because that's where the sun was shining in. 

4. A snowy Valentine, caught in a tree. Love to you, it says.

5. Tim was up Island today at meetings, so I was on my own for dinner. Some sauteed vegetables, a bit of turkey sausage and cheese folded into an omelette and topped with chopped cilantro and green onion hit the spot, along with a little leftover coleslaw. What do you eat if you're on your own? 

I watched a Father Brown mystery while I ate, and as the episode opened, I thought, "I know that place!" And I did - it was Sudeley Castle where we visited last summer. Such a beautiful place, where stories from the past lurk around every corner. How fun was that!

Weekend plans include celebrating a 3-year-old's birthday, baking Valentine's cookies, some house fluffing, and a Monday off for BC's Family Day long weekend. 

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

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Snowy Days

Those of you who live in more northerly climes will surely laugh at our paltry snowfall that wreaks such havoc with normal life here on the coast. I grew up in the north and hearing of Victoria's inability to cope with snow was cause for some derision. 

I understand better, now. We have minimal snow removal equipment for it's not needed every year. Temperatures that hover just around freezing make for very slippery streets. And I'll confess that many people here lack the skills for driving in snowy conditions. So things slow down, or shut down.

All that to say that when I got a text early yesterday morning saying that school was cancelled because of snow, Tim thought I'd gone nuts. There's something about a snow day that is like a gift - no plans made, and no obligations.

He, of course, had to go to work. I spent a leisurely early morning drinking tea, reading blogs, and relaxing. Then I thought I should get some milk, so I pulled on my snow gear (the temperature was just under the freezing mark), and set out for a walk. 

It was so pleasant that I took the very long way around the Bog and arrived home with a bag of groceries a couple of hours later. As you can see from the photos, (taken with my phone), it was a good day for ducks. I've never seen so many of them all together. 

The view from my windows is magical. I cradle a cup of hot tea as I walk from view to view, admiring the transformation that snow brings. 

Blueberry bushes, buds swelling, cradling delicate snowflakes.

And the view from inside - pretty spring blooms while the snow falls. I took all of these photos yesterday morning; it snowed all day so there is much more on the ground. Today is another snow day off from school - the roads are treacherous although the snowfall has ceased. And by Thursday, the high is forecast to be 9C. Such weather!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Staying Safe on the Coast

On a weekend that has been raw with patches of indecisive rain/snow, Tim and I have begun planning our summer boating trip. Our coastline is a beautiful place, its scenery varied and breathtaking. Danger is present, as well as beauty. Swirling currents, plenty of chunky bits just under the surface, strong tides and lots of marine traffic means that we need to know what we're doing out there on our little boat.

This morning, after church, we joined some friends at the Coast Guard Communications Centre for a tour. The centre overlooks the water, through the trees (and you can see patchy snow there, as well).

From this large room, with dozens of computer screens glowing, Coast Guard members monitor marine traffic. Radar sweeps across the screens, lights indicate the movement of large ships, ferries, tankers, and more. 

While we were there, a call came in - a small (28 foot) pleasure craft had hit a log and was requesting a tow. Since it wasn't an emergency, other boats in the area responded.

Most lighthouses on our coasts are unmanned, functioning by solar-powered batteries. There are just 12 lighthouses manned by humans along the west coast. The Coast Guard checks in on them regularly by radio and by boat with supplies. 

Things are fairly quiet on the water just now. Once the weather warms up and more pleasure craft head out, the traffic increases exponentially. Our friend, the tour guide, told us that calls come in about once every 20 seconds in the busy season.

Most calls are relatively uncomplicated, but emergency situations require immediate response, and often lives are saved by the quick action of the Coast Guard. 

I'm glad they're listening to the radio, and ready to respond. It makes me feel just a wee bit safer out there on the water.

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life.  

Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...