Friday, April 28, 2017

Come Into the Garden

The sun streams through the windows this morning and I long to be outdoors. I have a few moments this morning; my class doesn't begin until 9:45, so I slip into my shoes and pick up my secateurs on the way out the door. 

I take a quick tour of the garden. The red tulips (and I thought I planted pink several years ago) blaze with life. I look more closely and sure enough, there's a pink rogue among the red. 

Over in the bluebells, the first pretty bells are open. I've noticed them in the woods where we walk, and have been impatiently waiting for ours. 

I snip a few stems. They look lovely on the tea cart, but the light in the corner windows will soon be their demise. I sip my mug of tea as I ponder where to put them. I like a mug for my morning tea, still thin bone china, rather than a tea cup. Which do you prefer? 

I plunk the flowers unceremoniously into a yogurt pot that I brought back from Paris last summer, and set it on the kitchen counter. 

As I wander back towards the fire (all that bright light does not equal warmth) to finish my tea, the play of shadow and light on this side table catches my eye and I reach once again for my camera. A plant, a book, and a coaster. I finished the book last night - Balancing Act, by Joanna Trollope.

Now it's time to head off. I'll walk to school today. Although I can't be in my garden, the sun will shine on my head and I'll breathe in the smells of earth. It's Friday and a weekend of possibility lies ahead.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April in the Garden

My camera arrived home this week. I am so tickled to have it in my possession once again. And it's just in time for the apple blossoms! Most buds are still tightly closed and such a delicate and fresh pink. 

A few buds unfurl towards the sun, revealing pale blush pink petals surrounding creamy stamens. How beautiful the light is in the late afternoon. 

A few violets have emerged spontaneously from a mossy bed. 

In the vegetable beds, lettuce is flourishing and we'll have a salad for two within the next week or so. Peas are up, and radishes. Teensy green apricots dangle from hair-thin stems on the apricot tree. Herbs are flourishing and add fresh flavour to our meals these days. 

Strawberries are blooming and I've seen a few bees buzzing around which bodes well for fruit. 

The fig tree can't wait to bear fruit as it's forming even as the leaves emerge. I never noticed this concurrence before. 

Our local grocery store celebrated an anniversary this past weekend, and while trundling through the aisles on Saturday I was offered a pretty long-stemmed rose and a piece of cake. I brought both home and am enjoying the bit of colour on the mantel. Tim and I managed to make short work of the cake.

How is your garden doing? I hope that warmth and sunshine are coming to your corner of the world, or cooler and rainy if you're in the southern hemisphere. We've had a LOT of rain this spring which makes things grow beautifully - especially the lawns. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thinking Back on a Visit with Anne

"In the garden below were lilac trees purple with flowers and

their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind."

I've been thinking back over our trip to P.E.I. recently. It was almost 2 years ago. Perhaps seeing my lilac bushes and the tightly closed buds triggered my thoughts, for Anne loved lilacs. I was happy to visit Green Gables while the lilacs bloomed. 
Here are some photos from our visit, most of which are included in the original post. I'm including some quotations from L.M. Montgomery's books, most of the quoting Anne. 

“I do know my own mind,' protested Anne. 'The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again.” 

Anne does make me laugh. In another part of the story, she says that she is many different Annes. I find myself nodding in agreement, do you? There's the quiet me, the boisterous me, the Nana, the Mom, the daughter, the half of a marriage, the teacher, the gardener, the one who laughs herself silly, and the one who cries at parades. 

“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” 

Friends took us out for a lobster supper one night and then to Cavendish Beach with its red rock cliffs that are slowly eroding away. 

Driving around the Island was such a delight. The fields were just beginning to green up, some had not yet been planted, and I could envision Matthew working away and Anne going out to call him to supper.

“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

Dishes are very utilitarian, but both useful and beautiful, as the dishes in the dresser in the kitchen show. Finding delight in the ordinary is something I've tried to cultivate in my life.  

“Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 

It is a beautiful world we live in, in spite of the horrors that go on every day. The terrible things affect us all, in big and little ways, but I believe that beauty, especially that of the created world is restorative. St. Paul encourages us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and excellent. Good advice, don't you think?

And one more quote to close this rather meandering post that is a collection of my disjointed thoughts.

“Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? 

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

An Evening Walk

An evening walk. 7:30 and the sky is blue. There's still plenty of pink in the trees, but more and more it's being replaced by varying shades of green.

Fluffy pink against the blue.

In the naturalized lawn along my path the grape hyacinths are nearly finished and now Henderson's Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon Hendersonii) cluster in bunches. 

My path takes me along suburban streets, but also through wooded parks and trails where fawn lilies continue to bloom profusely.

The bluebells are beginning to bloom. Along the streets each garden has something in bloom - daffodils, tulips, clematis, rhododendrons, azaleas, and more. Colour bursts out on every corner.

A steady patter of bird calls fills the air with sound as the birds hide in the trees and sing themselves to sleep. Can you find the lone robin sitting on a branch in this photo?

Home again and the light is fading quickly.

An easy dinner this week used up the last of the ham (other than the bone). Frittata with broccoli, mushrooms, ham, eggs, and a bit of cheese.

It's been a long week, in spite of the Monday holiday. Report cards are done, whew, and we're paddling down the rapids of the last term. One more day of classes and then the weekend. Dinner with friends is on the calendar, and other than that there will be gardening, housekeeping, and relaxation.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sidney Spit


Spit: a narrow coastal land formation that is tied to the coast at one end...Spits, which may be completely formed of shingle or sand, are formed by the longshore movement of sediment. They are often completed curved, with a characteristic recurved head (hook). 

After our wonderful Easter dinner with family last night, followed by a joyous church service this morning, Tim and I packed up some dinner leftovers and launched the boat for the first time this year. 

Our destination wasn't far - Sidney Island, clearly visible from our own, much larger island, just a couple of kilometres away. Scenic Mount Baker showed her pretty white head across the water. 

I've wanted to walk the length of the sand spit on the north side of the island for a long time. The spit is mostly covered by water during high tide. Today, though, a very low tide happened mid-afternoon, enabling us to walk the full length (2 kilometres) of the spit and back with ease. 

We did not dawdle on our walk, for although the sun shone most of the time, the wind whistled about our ears and had me pulling up my hoodie for warmth. 

The east side of the spit is sandy beach that rises up to a narrow top and then falls away on the other side to mud, rocks and intertidal pools where birds like to congregate. Today we saw Great Blue Herons, Gulls, Eagles, and migratory Brant Geese en route to their northern nesting grounds in the Arctic. 

At the south end of the spit, one-third of Sidney Island comprises a national park, and the other two-thirds is privately owned. In the early 20th century, a group of Victoria business men purchased the island to use as a hunting preserve. They introduced guinea fowl and peacocks, as well as fallow deer that are now considered invasive. 

A view from the trail lookout, slightly above the beach, shows the meandering shoreline of the spit. 

After returning to our boat (via the dinghy), we tried relaxing and reading for awhile, but the rocking waves soon had us firing up the engine and heading back to shore. All in all, it was a successful first run for the season, and we hope to do some longer trips in the near future. 

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Preparations

An Easter photo from long ago. This photo is taken in front of a motel, so we were traveling. Probably to Abbotsford to visit family, hordes of family. Boisterous cousins, aunties by the dozen, groaning tables, and green foliage everywhere, a striking sight after the brown that signaled spring in the interior. 

My mother created those darling outfits for my sister and me, often sewing late into the evening. I'm the one in blue. Skirt, blouses, jackets. She's very talented. Don't we look prim and proper in our black patent shoes, little hats, and white gloves? And our brother in his miniature blazer? Just what we wore in the mid-60s for dressing up. The hippie movement hadn't caught us yet.

Easter Sunday. We attended services at my grandparents' church at East Aldergrove. I remember it as chilly, and a bit damp. The front of the church had a curved ceiling, painted pale mint green. The choir sang. The highlight of the service, for me, was when we all stood and sang, "Up from the grave He arose," the sound welling up as the notes climbed higher, joy filling hearts and space as the triumph of the Resurrection was celebrated. 

Tomorrow we will attend church and that song will likely not be sung. But I sing it to myself every year. Today, Saturday, preparations are made. Our family will gather this evening. The table is set. A vintage tablecloth from my mother-in-law sets the mood for spring. I iron it and think of her, and pray for her. 

Sometimes the little ones sit with us, sometimes they like their own table. I know they'll like the eggs on each napkin. 

Although this is the day between, the day when Jesus lay in darkness, a quiet day, we know the end of this chapter and so, in the spirit of hope, I say to you, Happy Easter! He is Risen!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Digital are You?

I read about people checking their weather app for the temperature. Really? What's wrong with an old-fashioned thermometer? We have one mounted outside the kitchen window, and it gets checked throughout the day. 

How do I know if I've had a good night's sleep? I feel energized, ready to greet the day. And these days, the mirror tells me if I'm rested or not, and it does.not.lie. Ever. 

E-reader or paper? I'm all for paper, as the overflowing bookshelves in our house might tell you. On a long trip (such as last summer's) I read on my tablet/computer. It was okay, but let me turn paper pages when I can.

Recipes? I'm ambivalent. The tried and true ones in my books and recipe box are often referred to, however, if I'm browsing for something different, I'll use my computer as often as a cookbook or magazine. 

Phone numbers? I confess that whereas I used to know a lot of numbers by memory, I now know about three. That bothers me occasionally.

Library books? I love using the on-line catalogue to search for books, place a hold, and then go and pick them up. 

Photography? I'm all for digital. I never worry about how much film I might be wasting with lousy photos. Editing is fun. Aren't these fawn lilies, seen during a weekend walk in the woods, ever so pretty? I'll enjoy nature in its natural state rather than watch a program on television. 

How digital am I? No idea, but probably somewhere between a complete Luddite and a techno-geek. How about you?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mosaic Monday - Easter Week

Although the temperature remains chilly, and the drizzle falls, there's enough sunshine and warmth to make the garden pop. I went out and collected blooms and greenery for a table bouquet - forsythia, daffodils, grape hyacinth, blue and pink hyacinth, lemon balm, lamb's ears, and feverfew made their way into my basket. 

The flowers brighten up the dining room table. Walking past, the lovely sweet scent of hyacinth wafts upwards. 

Easter decor is very simple. Some bunnies, a lamb and a pretty bookmark that says, "Believe." 

The first bleeding hearts of the season dangle from slender stems.

Spring is here, all in a rush of blooms. Part of me wants to say, "hurry, hurry - warm up", and another part wants to say, "slow down - let's enjoy each bloom to the full before moving on to the next". Is spring lagging behind or rushing ahead in your area?

These are taken with the I-phone. Although I know my camera is in safe hands, it's not here yet. Perhaps this week, or next. Meanwhile, the phone does an acceptable job. 

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

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Saturday Doings

Seen from the breakfast table and the kitchen window, these flowers make my day bright from the start. This collection was one of those pre-planted pots I purchased one spring and had on the porch until the flowers faded away. I wondered how they would do planted in the garden, but I figured I had nothing to lose. And now I see I had much to gain. This morning, in the rain, this sight filled me with happiness.

These "book" titles, seen in Winners, made me giggle. 
Letter Writing: the new texting, 
Have My People Call Your People: How to get others to do your work, and 
The Day the Wifi Died and Other Short Horror Stories

Best sellers, all, don't you think?

In spite of the drizzle, I couldn't resist going out into the garden and puttering a little this morning. The peonies are growing tall and I see they've escaped their cage. Time for some re-jigging there. 

I potted up a few stray herbs/weeds and put them on the table on the front porch. They look a little muddy, but will soon be cleaned off with the rain. The Snow-on-the-mountain in the right front pot is such a pretty plant, I think, but oh, so pushy. I sowed it plentifully quite a few years ago and have regretted it ever since. Now it's confined to one pot in the garden, and when I see a bit of it emerge elsewhere, I am ruthless. 

I'm not particulary short, nor am I tall. 5'4" and a bit. But I find most furniture is too deep and I have to stash a pillow behind my back or my feet don't touch the floor. The other day in Winners (the same day I found those catchy book titles), I saw this chair. I sat in it, went home and thought, went back to the store and sat in it for a longer time, thought some more, and on Thursday night brought it home. Of course it meant some re-jigging of the furniture arrangement, but I'll show you that another time. I'm quite pleased with my new chair and am sitting in it now, as I write this post. 

Soup's on the stove, the dishwasher is ready to be unloaded, and the dryer has sung its melody telling me it's finished, too. So I'll sign off here and get back to housekeeping. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Over the Mountains and Home Again

Last week the two of us boarded a plane and flew over the mountains to Alberta. What a difference 90 minutes can make. This was the view. Brown fields, cloudy skies, and the snowy Rockies in the distance. 

One morning I looked out the window and saw fog. Chilly, it was. I took a walk around the still-ice-covered ponds. No green anywhere.

We had a good time with family at a wedding, a wedding shower, family dinner, and more. Unfortunately, I left my camera (sob) behind, on a table at the reception. I was quite upset with myself when I realized it. It was too far to return that night, and I knew that the cleanup crew would find it. It's taken awhile to track it down, but a family member has it and will return it to me. Whew! 

So all of these photos are from my phone. It took awhile for me to figure out how to download them to my computer - in fact, I couldn't figure it out, so I used my Surface Pro 3, and that worked well. 

The contrast from Alberta to our green BC island was nothing short of astounding. In the short 5 days we were gone, the cherry trees burst into bloom. I stepped out into the street in front of our house to snap the above photo. 

Then I went into the garden. These hyacinths were curled tightly, barely poking above ground. Such an explosion of colour!

School began on Monday and it's a whirlwind. The break was needed and we're all energized for the final push to June. Is there anything prettier in Spring than blooming trees tossing in the wind?

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...