Sunday, May 27, 2018

Now in the Garden: Mosaic Monday

It's always a bit of a thrill when the garden begins producing. One evening this week I thought I'd go out with a small bowl and see how many ripe strawberries there might be. I ended up returning to the kitchen for a bigger bowl and filling it to the brim. Sweet and juicy strawberries are a great way to kick off almost-summer.

Then I pulled up a bunch of radishes. I got mine in late this year; usually they are the first thing to harvest. 

To go along with dinner last night I paired the radishes with cucumber, fresh snipped chives, and a simple dressing with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Crisp and delicious. Bring on summer food!

My potting bench needed a serious tidying up, so that was done this weekend. I cleaned up the paperwhites from Christmas (still in their glass containers), scrubbed pots, threw away old plastic pots, and swept off the bench. It looks much better now and is actually usable for potting, not just for throwing things onto. 

The stars of the garden just now are the roses and peonies. I'm torn between clipping them for the house and leaving them in the garden. Fortunately, there are enough to satisfy both places. 

I've been talking to the roses and peonies out in the garden, complimenting them on their showiness. I do it quietly as I wouldn't want the neighbours to think me entirely batty. 

A day or two ago, I heard my neighbour talking: "Good morning, Mrs. Robin," she said, "I can hear you singing your pretty song." 

Instantly, I felt better. Do you talk to your garden or the wildlife that happens by? 

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Friday Five from the Garden

Sometimes, I actually get a project done. This driftwood planter is one of them. I saw the idea several years ago and thought it would make a nice addition to our garden. First, I had to find the driftwood. We picked up this piece on our trip to the north Island during spring break. Tim drilled and gouged it out recently, and I added dirt and succulents and oregano from my garden. It's sitting on the garden edging bricks for now, until I decide where it will fit best. 

On a fine summer evening I was inspired to get out a piece of watercolour paper and do a quick sketch of the bird bath. I've begun painting it, but haven't made much progress this past week. It's a pleasant way to while away an hour or two with the windows wide open to let the breeze drift in.

The peonies are in bloom. How I love them in all their ruffled elegance. Layer upon layer of soft petals. There's a vase full of them on the dining room table tonight. 

A view of one corner of the garden. Siberian Iris, Aquilegia (Columbine) and Centaurea Montana (Cornflower) are in bloom just now, with blue hydrangeas and white stock waiting their turn behind them. For months, it seems, we wait and wait for the garden to bloom. Snowdrops appear, then crocuses and daffodils and tulips and suddenly everything bursts into life and colour and it's impossible to keep track of every bloom. Isn't it wonderful?

Next in line: foxgloves. They are a bit rascally in my garden, appearing where they've not been planted. This particular bunch is in the vegetable bed, but I've left it there and will uproot it after it blooms. It's a different colour than the others I have, so perhaps it flew in on a mischievous breeze from another garden. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

On a May Long Weekend

We took a quick trip to the mainland. My parents recently moved from their home with a garden to maintain to a townhouse where someone else takes care of it. They didn't move far, from Chilliwack to Abbotsford, and now they are living where they first met, probably 65 years ago, or more. 

We spent Friday night with them, and Saturday, seeing where they volunteer at MCC (Mom with quilting and Dad with the thrift store). On Saturday night, after a good dinner cooked by Mom, we drove to Vancouver to spend the night and following day with Ashley and Owen, our Vancouver kids. 

Following church on Sunday we drove to Deep Cove and enjoyed a yummy brunch at The Village Table. Ashley and I had Eggs Benedict, with spinach, tomato and avocado - and we ate all of our platefuls. Tim and Owen had the Village Hash, also good. 

The weather vacillated between sun and clouds, warmth and a bit chilly from the wind. We warmed up considerably during a hike to Quarry Rock. Up through the forest, past trickling streams, catching glimpses of the waters of Indian Arm through the trees. 

The trail is a popular one, too popular, perhaps. I've never been on such a crowded hiking trail. Unfortunately, a few hikers seemed to be unaware of hiking etiquette - some didn't know to stay to one side of the trail, or to stop and let others pass in narrow spots. Worst of all were the ones who carried personal speakers blaring out their choice of music whether one wanted to hear it or not. Hello people, wear earbuds!  

Once we arrived at Quarry Rock, there were fewer people (and no music), and we watched a couple dozen kayaks going to and fro, with a few power boats zooming by occasionally. Sitting on the sun-warmed rock was very pleasant.

Another hiker took this photo of the four of us. The descent took much less time than going up. That evening Tim and I caught the 9 pm ferry home and were tucked up sound asleep by 11:30 or so. 

We've had a lovely Victoria Day Monday at home, puttering in the garden and kitchen, and getting ready for another week of work. It's short one! As you can see, the chives are in full bloom and oh, how the bees love those flowers. Have a wonderful new week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It Feels Like Summer!

Summer arrived this week. She might leave for awhile, but then she'll be back. Record-breaking temperatures over the weekend made our first overnight trip on the boat this season a great success. 
Mount Baker appears to be floating on clouds beyond the Salish Sea. 

Fat seals lounged on sunny rocks and looked up indifferently as we motored past. 

We took our two granddaughters for their first overnight on the boat. Port Browning was our destination, on Pender Island. There's absolutely nothing like a beach, even a rocky one, for entertaining children. 

Gulls cried and swooped across the water and we watched one pick a crab from the sea, bang it on the rocks, and devour it in front of us. 

A curious river otter (they live in the sea, too) watched the girls playing near his fishing ground. He studied them, then flipped his tail and dove, several times. He, too, caught a fish and ate his dinner there.

I spent most of my time on the beach watching the girls. How quickly one forgets the energy it takes to parent little ones. By the end of the weekend, I was exhausted. It's not that they were demanding, but that I'm no longer accustomed to that "always watchful" mode in which parents operate. 

I took a few photos of this rock just below the water level. I didn't notice that I'd caught those three tiny bubbles until I looked at it on my computer. For some reason they tickle my fancy. How perfectly round they are, and for all their transparency, look at the shadows they cast. 

Here's another one of the same scene, this time as the rushing waves receded into ripples that caught the light in beautiful patterns. 

Our summer weather is supposed to continue through the upcoming long weekend. Hooray!

Is spring warming up to summer in your corner of the globe?

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Of Gardens and Dining Rooms

What a glorious weekend. Warm sunshine beguiled us into the garden on Saturday. I planted out the tomato starters, but will leave them covered lightly until the last full moon in May which is the 29th. We can occasionally get a touch of frost this month if the skies are clear. Carrots, beets, and radishes were planted earlier and are emerging from the soil. The strawberry plants are full of blossoms and I mentally encourage the bees and other pollinators who busily move from plant to plant. 

Tablecloths or placemats? I use both, but I prefer tablecloths. I've had two pieces of printed linen in my fabric stash for a couple of years and was finally motivated to stitch them up on Saturday. I mitred the corners for a nice finish and am very happy with the way they look. 

A couple of weeks ago my daughter-in-law Katie was listening to a radio talk show about how dining room tables are passe because no one sits down to a meal together anymore. A number of callers responded in agreement. Katie called in and said that she was a millennial and she certainly used her dining room table. The talk show hosts wanted to know how she used it, and were surprised to hear that she and Travis sit down to dinner every night with their two young children. Katie told the hosts that it was an important time for the family to connect and talk about the day. 

I know that in my Foods 8 class, many students say that they don't eat together with their families and often each person heats something up in the microwave on his or her own, and no one actually cooks dinner. Is it possible that this is the future? Or the present? 

Do you have a dining room table? Do you use it? We eat at a small kitchen table when it's the two of us, but the dining room gets used if there are more than four people. I can't imagine being without tables to eat at. That said, Tim and I do eat dinner on trays while watching the news more frequently than we used to. 

I think of the meals eaten around our dining room table, and of the laughter, the discussions (sometimes heated) and the more infrequent tears that accompanied the food. I don't think those conversations could have happened anywhere else. We'll be keeping our dining room and kitchen tables. 

On the blog Delightful Repast, Jean gave the recipe for a Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake. The rhubarb is flourishing, so I went and pulled up enough stalks and made this cake. It's SO good, with a buttery taste and very tender crumb. And not too sweet. YUM! I like my cake plain, but you could certainly have yours with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lilacs are at their peak in my garden just now. I picked a big bouquet and put them into a crystal vase (after smashing the woody stems with a hammer to help with water absorption), and placed them on my dining room table. The sweet scent fills the living and dining rooms.

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

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Lilacs and Anne

This evening I'm on my own as Tim is at a meeting. Long shadows stretch across the garden, and there is just an hour or two of sunlight left in today. Earlier I heard the summer sound of a lawnmower across the street. 

Yesterday I spent time in the garden, potting up annuals. This year there are white geraniums, purple heliotrope with its sweet vanilla scent, and blue and white lobelia. Our old white lattice deck railing is no more. Tim built a new one and I love its clean lines. Soon we'll get the summer gazebo set up and enjoy sitting outdoors. It's still a bit chilly for that in the evenings. 

When lilacs bloom here, I am reminded of Anne of Green Gables and of our visit to Prince Edward Island several summers ago. The lilacs bloomed at while we were there. L. M. Montgomery created such a full picture of Anne in her books; an Anne who changed and grew as any child does.

Anne's imagination took her to wonderful places - "But I just went to work and imagined that I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress - because when you are imagining you might as well imagine something worth while..."  

Old lilac bushes still surround Green Gables. They are grown tall as trees and when the wind blows, sweet fragrance floats through the air.

In my own garden the lilacs are not so well established. One bush is almost 16 years old, and from it we've planted two others in other places. The newer ones have just a few flowering branches, but will have more each year. All of them are taller than I am. Lilacs can last for over 100 years, and often remain as silent witnesses to places where homes once stood. I think of women from years past who planted a lilac bush and stood under it, breathing in the scent on a spring day.  

On days like today, full of blue skies, warmth, and promise, I say along with Anne, "dear old world, you are very lovely and I am glad to be alive in you."

Do you have lilacs in your garden? Are they blooming yet?

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