Friday, June 29, 2018

Five on Friday

Yesterday, in the morning, I started slow and didn't really speed up all day. The first day of summer break should be like that, don't you think? 
In the evening, Tim and I picked some more blueberries. The bushes are loaded this year. I'm keeping track and so far we have picked over 6 pounds and they are just beginning to ripen. I put them into containers and freeze them to eat with granola and yogurt throughout the year. There are plenty to eat fresh, too. 

The scent of lavender doesn't rank very high on my list. I find it quite astringent. However, a faint wafting of fragrance from the linen closet is very welcome. I make lavender sachets to tuck between the stacks of sheets and pillow cases. 

When I cut lavender the other day, I thought I'd make up a couple of pretty bundles and took them to some of my teaching colleagues. The remainder is drying in vases. I don't hang it upside down. 

For this year's patio pots I focused on white with some purple-blues. White and pale blue lobelia, white geraniums, and purple heliotrope. I thought it would look cool on hot days. 
I hope our hot days are not over. We had a burst of summer weather and now it's chilly. Today it rained. Blah. 

Do you plant cosmos? I love their cheerful reliability. They make great cut flowers, too.

I'm always willing to learn more gardening skills, and Jen, who edits Rural Magazine, had a link to a mini-course offered by Floret Flowers. The first of three free lessons arrived this morning and it was all about pinching plants for longer stems and more flowers. Click on the Floret Flowers link to sign up.

I know it's officially summer when the hydrangeas bloom. Common Mopheads are my favourites. This blossom looks purplish, but the bush will likely produce mostly blue in future. 

For the remainder of the day, I'll be puttering around house and kitchen. Company's coming! Have a lovely weekend. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Bit of Yellow

"How wonderful the colour yellow is. It stands for the sun."
Vincent Van Gogh

I would never choose yellow as one of my favourite colours. However, I've been admiring it lately. Feverfew, seen above, seeds itself wantonly in my garden, and I let it grow where there are empty spots. The unwanted plants are easy enough to yank out. Some of my plants are single-flowered, others are double. Aren't they pretty?

Yellow, combined with white, is sunny and fresh. My neighbour has a few daisies that have crept across the strip of land between our gardens, cheerful open flowers that hide nothing. 

My mother recently gave me two plates and two bowls of J & G Meakin ironstone ware that belonged to her mother, the grandmother I never met. Mom told me that when she was about 12 years old, she and her father went to Mission, BC to buy a set of these dishes, a breakfast set, as a gift for Mother's Day for her mother. These are all that's left of the set, given at least 70 years ago. They are a pale creamy yellow with a floral pattern. 

A simple vase of uncomplicated feverfew flowers complements these dishes well. 

"Yellow is capable of charming God."

There is little yellow in my garden, yet when I went looking for it, I found more than I thought. A stray poppy plant growing under the jasmine, the center of a late blooming strawberry, a zucchini squash flower, and many tomato blossoms. The marigolds I plant to deter insects and they are a cheery sight at the end of one vegetable bed. 

Where do you stand on the colour yellow? Love it, hate it, ambivalent, or somewhere else on the spectrum? 

No yellow here, but a salad we enjoyed this week. Freshly picked and washed lettuce, diced avocado, strawberries from the garden, blue cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Delicious! 

As I write this, on Sunday evening, a flash at the window startled me, followed by the long rumble of thunder. We rarely get thunderstorms here, and I find them exciting. There's a bit of rain falling, most welcome on our already dry lawns and gardens. 

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

I hope you've all found out about the fix for Blogger comments going to emails. Another blogger emailed me to let me know, and I've seen the solution elsewhere. Here's a link to the simple fix

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dads, Books, Flowers, and Food

Summer came in with a rush over the past several days. Clear skies and heat! The poppies are nearing their first flush of blooms and what a run they've had. Bloom after bloom. I think I love the seed pods almost as much as the flowers themselves. I poke them into flower arrangements for a bit of architectural interest. 

Strawberries and thyme. I was talking with my younger daughter one day, via Skype, and she said she was making Honey Thyme Strawberry Jam. It sounded delicious, and there were another couple of pounds of strawberries just picked, so I made a batch. It's from Marisa McClellan who writes a blog and books about small-batch canning. The thyme flavour is very subtle, and I wonder if I didn't add enough. Perhaps the flavour will intensify over time. 

My reading stack. I've finished the bottom three and enjoyed them. Today, after the family left in mid-afternoon, I took Winter Garden out to the patio and read, lounging in the shade. Utter luxury. 

Today is Father's Day in Canada, and in many other places in the world. I have been so blessed with wonderful fathers in my life. My own father is in the photo above, taken in 1945, in Saskatchewan. He's the eldest of the four brothers, the tallest lad in the photo. He's been a steady and loving presence in my life and I am so thankful for him. I'm also blessed with a husband who is a great father, and a son and son-in-law who have learned from their fathers to love and guide their children. 

After a large midday meal with the family, beginning with appetizer tarts and continuing on to grilled ribs and a variety of salads followed by dessert, something simple appealed for supper. I went through my recipe cards this week looking for a recipe and came across this recipe for a Brie and Apple Salad. I threw in some fresh strawberries. The dressing is cream, mustard, a bit of maple syrup and white vinegar. Different and very good.

Just two more days of classes, then reports and clean up. Graduation is on the 28th, which is the official end of the school year here. Someone asked about when we begin classes - that's the first Tuesday after Labour Day, so, the first week of September. The schedule differs a little from province to province. 

I'm looking forward to getting out in my garden more - the weeds are taking over the vegetables, and spending time with grandchildren, taking a little vacation, and hopefully lots of reading and lounging about. 

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Five: Admiring the Morning

First, a caveat: This is a Friday 6, not 5. 

As I sat at the table this morning, the sky was cloudy and things looked a bit dull. I forked up my last bit of egg and avocado, and then - the sun burst through, and compelled me to go outside. I poured myself a mug of tea, slung my camera around my neck, and stepped out into the morning. 

Oh, what a morning! No noble lady strolling her vast estates could take more joy in seeing the day's delights than I in my little urban bit of garden. God's wonders are everywhere.

I notice the oregano will flower soon, so I'll cut it back tomorrow, drying the stalks on trays before stripping the leaves and storing them in jars. The bees enjoy the flowers so much, and I'll leave a patch of stalks for them. Blue campanula peeks from underneath the oregano.  

The Secret Roses smell wonderful and bloom repeatedly, although they are mottled this year, with splotches of odd colour. Perhaps they absorbed some of the peony colour blooming behind them and looking rather tattered these days. It's time to clip those stems! 

Circling round the flower beds, I come to the blueberry patch, an ambitious name for a collection of 5 or 6 bushes. They are loaded with berries this year. What delight to see the first ones begin to ripen. We've had a few cooler weeks that slowed things down, but heat is in the forecast and will speed the ripening.

I stand and gawk at the jasmine vine for a considerable length of time. It's loaded with tiny fragrant blossoms and obscures the trellis supporting it. My inaction is in sharp contrast to the busyness of bees, wasps, and other flying things darting in and out of blossoms, oblivious to my attempts to capture them on my camera. 

When I looked at the photos later, I noticed this fat bumblebee balancing himself with one leg resting on an adjoining vine as he drinks sweet nectar. He was there less than 2 seconds.

In the vegetable patch the pole beans are finally sprouting. I planted them late and then the cool weather came. Beans like warmth. What pleases me most about my pole beans is that I've saved seed for several years and never purchase it anymore. Beans have a way of getting too big too fast and at the end of the season when I'm tired of picking them green, I let them ripen and dry on the vine, then shell them. Some are saved for seed and the others for dried bean dishes. 

My tea mug empty, my eyes and heart full, I return to the house and notice this caterpillar on the door frame. What magnificent spiky parasols he sports.  I snap the photo and then let him be, an action I may regret later when I see leaves and flowers chewed up. 

Now, I'm off to school - there are papers to grade and reports to write, as well as students to teach. There is precious little teaching going on these days as we review for tests and try to harness the energy as summer break approaches. The teachers drag through the hallways, exhausted, while students bounce up and down. Just three days of classes left. We can do it. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June Days

It's 9:30 pm. There's still plenty of light in the sky, and the street lights have just come on. Birds have chirped their sleepy goodnights and the air is still. 

These days the garden grows almost visibly each day. Just now the strawberries are the stars of the potager. I've harvested at least 8 pounds already. It's a bumper crop in our area. We're enjoying them every day with our yogurt in the mornings. I made some strawberry preserves, froze several bags of them, concocted a fresh strawberry pie, and on Saturday we enjoyed a puffy oven pancake with mounds of fresh berries. 

For showiness, the poppies have taken over. Huge pom-pom like heads in grand profusion fill one corner of one of my vegetable beds. Two plants seeded themselves there and I let them be. There are others in the flower beds that haven't yet bloomed, so I'm looking forward to more of these beauties. 

I discovered that the poppies don't do well in cut arrangements. I put together a vase full yesterday and ended up taking it outdoors. I found the scent mild, and not unpleasant, but it seemed to stifle the air in the room. 

Last week's arrangement of roses and feverfew, along with lemon balm leaves, sprigs of lambs' ear, and some Portuguese laurel was a much better choice. I have a smaller version of this on the mantel now. 

Here's a collection of purple flowers from the garden today - clematis (General Sikorski), sage blossoms, heliotrope (I do love that vanilla/baby powder scent), foxglove, and lavender. The garden is a richness of blooms and each day I meander through it and discover something new.

I have 7 more instructional days of school, then a week of marking exams, writing report cards, and tidying up. I'm very ready for the end of the semester. At the same time, I don't want to wish away these June days, for they are so beautiful. How are you faring in this 6th month of the year?

In the 30 minutes it's taken to finish up this post, darkness has fallen. Silhouettes of trees and houses stand against a summer sky of not-quite-dark.  

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

Sunday, June 03, 2018

A Mountain Escape

About 10 days ago I read a text from Tim: "I have to go to a conference in Whistler. Can you come?"
My first reaction was "no," but then I thought about it, checked with my principal, who said, "certainly." 
So I arranged for a TOC and last Sunday, Tim and I took the 11 am ferry to the mainland and drove to Whistler. You might remember it as one of the main venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

It's in the most beautiful setting, in the heart of the Coast Mountains. The Sea to Sky drive showcases view after view of the ocean, snowcapped mountains, distant peaks, and more. I'm glad I wasn't the one at the wheel so I could just take in the scenery.

The above photo is the view from our room, overlooking the hotel garden and pools (not visible) and Whistler Blackcomb ski runs. 

Tim was in conference all day Monday, so I had the time to myself. What to do? I could swim and lounge by the pool, or wander through town, or go off exploring one of the many trails in the area. I chose the latter. 

I set out in the morning along a biking/hiking trail around Lost Lake. There weren't many people about yet, and those I did see were on mountain bikes. These four little tykes looked so cute in their mountain biking gear. 

As the first one got on his bike and began pedaling up the hill, he called out, "Come on, boys!" 

I briefly spoke with the leader/guide about getting them started young.  

For awhile I wondered if Lost Lake was really lost, for it seemed a long while until I found it. I took a few meandering pathways that looked interesting and discovered the small lake above, unnamed as far as I could tell.

Here is Lost Lake, found again. The weather was perfect, not too cool, nor windy. Spring lags behind in the mountains, but there were lovely emerging greens, tulips still in bloom, and the fresh scent of fir and cedar in the woods. 

For lunch I wandered into town and sat on a bench, people-watching, while I ate my salad. I find Whistler a not-very-interesting town. Its setting is gorgeous, with plenty of outdoor activities, but the architecture is all the same, and there is little evidence of the history of logging and the railway that opened up the area. However, people come from all over the world, and it's fun to watch and listen as the world passes by.

This lovely corner is just by the hotel elevator and I sat there for a bit, enjoying the splendid view. Then to our room where I indulged in a novel (Joanne Trollope's "Daughters-in-law"), a cup of tea, and perhaps a little nap. When Tim returned, we went on another walk around Lost Lake again, on a more direct route that took less time. In all, I walked 12 miles that day. 

We ate a really lovely and delicious dinner, artfully presented, in the Wildflower Grill Room. Our table was beside a floor to ceiling window that looked out into a small garden where fat bees hummed among the pink rhododendron blossoms. For dessert we indulged in sharing a sticky toffee pudding with a rum cream sauce. 

I didn't see any bears or beavers or other wildlife along my walks, but there were a few wild flowers and delicate green shoots. I thought Proposal Corner was cute, and wonder how many proposals have taken place there. 

We came home Tuesday afternoon. It was a quick trip, but relaxing for me. A great little mountain escape.

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

Oh, I have one blogging question. I've changed the template of my blog, but I can't get your comments to go to my email anymore. Have any of you had this difficulty? 

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-...