Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Just One More October Post

I'm squeaking in under the wire on this last October post. Interruptions of the trick or treat sort are a certainty. I enjoy seeing the children in their costumes at my door. They are invariably polite and always say "thank you." The last group included a girl dressed in a paper bag with a cardboard crown. She was tickled pink when I told her that I, too, love "The Paper Bag Princess." 

In my garden the fig tree is virtually bare. Surprisingly, there are some ripe, but not too ripe, figs now visible. I plan to get a ladder and pick them in the next day or two. The dahlias and zinnias keep blooming and I cut another bouquet yesterday that included heathery hydrangea blossoms.

More hydrangea blossoms on the mantel, entwined with a string of small lights. Brass candlesticks suit autumn more than any other season, I think. Tonight there's a smiling jack-o-lantern on the porch and I've lighted a few candles inside, too. When the nights draw in, adding light and warmth makes home such a cozy place. 

Reading past and current. The bottom three are finished and back at the library and the top two are being read. 

I highly recommend A Gentleman in Moscow. It surprised me how much I enjoyed it: history and philosophy woven into a compelling tale. Women in Sunlight was so-so - too much telling and not enough showing, in my opinion. The House Between Tides characterized the lovely remoteness of Scotland with a deserted house and a bit of romance and mystery. I've just begun The Clockmaker's Daughter, and look forward to carrying on with it this evening. 

A Light So Lovely is about Madeleine L'Engle, an author I admire very much. The first book of hers that I read (back in Grade 7) was A Wrinkle in Time. Who can forget Meg and her adventures? Another of L'Engle's books I own is Walking on Water, which contains this favourite quote: 

"When we are writing or painting or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions and opened to a wider world, where colours are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize." 

These two trick or treaters were the first at our door this evening. Are they not so very cute? Just for them I dressed up a little as a Snow Queen all in white/cream with a string of little lights in my hair and a soft feather boa around my neck.

As anticipated there have been interruptions during the writing of this post. In the distance I hear fireworks popping. And so this golden October ends. There's a lot of living packed into one month. Now we open the door to November and welcome in her days, one by one, "like pearls off a string" in Anne's words.  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Postcards from the Road

In my last post, I showed off some of autumn's colour in Leavenworth, Washington. On Saturday we drove to Spokane and attended the wedding of a young man we knew from Ecuador. It was great to see old friends again, the kind of friends one can pick up a conversation with no matter how long we've been apart. 

These photos were mostly taken while driving, so they are, literally "from the road." 

This morning (Sunday), we left Spokane shortly after 8 am, headed for home. We drove through flat lands covered with shape-shifting fog from which emerged old barns and deserted homes, ghostly trees, and a few scattered tidy farms. 

After 90 minutes or so, the fog lifted and a sere, stark, uninhabited landscape revealed itself. 

As we drove down into the deep coulee, rock walls stood like sentinels along the edges of what appears to be a dry lake or enormous river.

When we stopped for gas, I noticed this large painted sign on the side of a barn. I wonder just what the "Golden medical Discovery" was?

As we drove closer towards the mountains, acres of fruit orchards stretched along either side of the highway, and colour lined the riverbanks. As we climbed towards Stevens Pass the road curved through rain and leaves that swirled around the car. Towards the summit (1240 metres) the rain changed to wet snow and although none of it stayed on the ground, the mountainside trees were white. I was driving during this time, so no photos were taken. 

We soon descended over the coast mountains and the rain stopped. As we neared the Canadian border dark clouds gathered and soon poured down again. 

We had hoped to catch the 3 pm ferry, but driving in the rain slowed us down and we arrived at the terminal just in time to see the 3 o'clock ferry pull away from the dock. Oh, well. Nothing to be done but make the most of it. We walked, ate a late lunch/early supper, and caught the 5 pm, arriving home just after 7.

It was a lovely weekend, relaxing and enjoyable. I leave you with October leaves in the sunshine, from Friday's outing in Leavenworth. I hope your October has been as full of beauty as ours has. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie from Normandy Life. This link up is number 107 for Maggie, and her last. She's passed the baton to another host who will begin next week. A huge thank you to Maggie for her expertise and graciousness in connecting bloggers through this link up. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

It's a Golden World

Yesterday afternoon I left school a wee bit early and made a dash for the ferry. Tim was already on the mainland - there for a conference. I picked him up and we drove across the border, through Stevens Pass on a rainy night to Leavenworth, Washington.

We are enroute to Spokane for a wedding tomorrow and took this day for a bit of a break. We walked along the Wenatchee River enjoying the golden world. Clouds came and went but the rain held off until we arrived back at our lodgings.

I'll leave you with just the photos - they speak for themselves. Walk along with us.

"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks." John Muir

Linking with Friday Bliss, hosted by Riitta of Floral Passions.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

One Last Boating Outing

Day after day deep blue colours the sky. Patches of gold, red, and orange glow among our mostly green forests. This October is one to mark. Just a fraction of our normal rain fell, as golden day followed golden day. There's a change coming, though. These are our last few sunny days, according to the weather forecast. It seemed appropriate to make the most of the flat seas and warm temperature and plan a boating trip as a finale to the season. 

Quite frankly, I was reluctant. I was tired from a long week of teaching my own classes plus covering for another teacher during my spares. On Thursday evening a colleague and I took the ferry to Vancouver for a professional development conference on Friday. We returned Friday night and I wanted nothing more than to spend the next day quietly at home. However, the trip was planned, our friends ready to join us, and so I went. I'm so very glad I did. 

In spite of a misty chilly morning, we set out on the glassy water, I had a cup of tea, and chatted while we watched the sun slowly emerge and burn away the mist. My friend said that her grandmother always told her that a "patch of blue large enough to make a Dutchman's pants" was the sign of a sunny day. I've never heard that expression before, have you?

We tied up at Port Browning on Pender Island after passing through the narrow channel and under a bridge. By then the sea sparkled with diamonds. 

A bald eagle watched our approach from a tall tree at water's edge. In a nearby apple tree, a pileated woodpecker hammered away. We ate lunch at the pub with views overlooking the water. The day was much too pleasant for being indoors and so we ate on the patio, warm and toasty as can be. I even got a faint sun burn.

After lunch we walked along the beach where a few derelict boats have washed up. Derelict vessels are a hot topic around these parts. No one claims them and the jurisdiction around who is responsible for their removal is a moving target. 

As we chugged homeward, the horizon changed to pale pink and distant islands became shrouded in mist.

Ernest Dowson's words seemed appropriate for such a magical day:

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: Summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these. 

A gulp of cormorants (isn't that a great collective noun) grabbed the last bits of sunshine as they perched on a chunky bit in the water. We arrived home replete with sunshine, laughter, and the company of good friends. I'm glad I overcame my reluctance and enjoyed such a fine day. Do you have similar experiences? Hesitation followed by immense delight? 

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Making the Most of October Days

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October." Nathaniel Hawthorne

We are in the midst of sunny days and cold, clear nights that hold the best of this month. These days are all the more precious for knowing that they will soon be replaced by rain and cold. 
While chatting with two friends over tea today, we all agreed that we must make the most of this beautiful weather. For me, that means spending time outside when I get home from work. There's time for a walk in the sunshine before making dinner, or some puttering in the garden.  

The bird feeder is a popular place, and close to the window where our breakfast table sits. We find great entertainment in watching the comings and goings of our feathered friends. The goldfinches, not quite so golden now in the fall, feed alongside the house finches. But let a junco or towhee try to alight and the feathers fly! Above, it looks as though quite a conversation is taking place, with the female house finch talking a mile a minute! What enthralling story is she telling?

"The clear light that belongs to October was making the landscape radiant." Florence Bone

Today's walk took us to Thetis Lake. Still water reflected coin shaped leaves - nature's pieces of gold. 

Along the roads, fiery red leaves twirl to the ground, soon dry and swirl up in the wind. They make me want to twirl, too, or pick them up in great handfuls and throw them into the air.

These are also the days for lingering over breakfast on a Saturday morning, talking about the plans for the day, and not being in much of a hurry to do anything. As I prepared the baked eggs, I thought about where the ingredients came from - the eggs gifted from our daughter in Vancouver who has 4 urban chickens. The tomato and Swiss chard were grown in our garden. There's a little Parmesan cheese grated on top, brought from Italy for us by our tenant. How kind of her. 

A stack of freshly ironed tea towels and the linen napkins used last week for Thanksgiving dinner begged me to take their photo. I don't always iron my tea towels, but felt like doing so this week. They work just as well un-ironed as ironed, but do look prettier when smooth and crisp. Even the chore of ironing was easier on a bright and leisurely day.

One last photo from our walk. A tangle of branches, a swath of gold and the dark water of the lake. Autumn perfection!

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Five on Friday

1. October has shown herself quite changeable, but pleasantly so. A day or two of cloud and rain is followed by several days of clear skies where night time temperatures dip to several degrees above freezing and the sun warms the afternoons with golden light. Who can complain about that? 

In my garden, the dahlias, zinnias, roses, and marigolds continue to bloom prolifically. The fig tree leaves are paling, and drop yellow to the ground to soon curl and shrink into crispy brown clumps.  

Every few days I pick a couple of handfuls of fresh raspberries, so good with our morning yogurt. Kale and Swiss Chard are flourishing. 

2. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a family dinner on Sunday afternoon. Here the three littles are getting ready to eat their pie. When I appeared with the camera, they said, "Happy Thanksgiving" instead of "cheese." For some indecipherable reason, one said it with his eyes closed. 

3. Monday was drizzly and grey. We pulled on our rain gear and drove out to East Sooke Park for a hike along the coast trail. Sea blended mutely into sky. There were a number of fishing boats out on the water, and a few other hikers on the trail, but the peace was palpable.

4. We sat at Beechey Head to eat our lunch of cheese, crackers, vegetables, apples, and chocolate. It feels so luxurious to pour a steaming mug of hot tea in that setting, and it tastes so good. 

While we munched and sipped on our perch high above the water, gulls glided silently below us. A trio of sleek sea lions swam purposefully across our field of vision, intent on some goal. Later, a pair of snub-nosed seals followed them. In the distance a tug pulled along an enormous barge. A whale blew and breached in the distance and then disappeared with a flick of her tail. Waves rushed noisily upon the rocks below, flinging up white spray before dying back into calm.

5. This miniature scene grew in a damaged arbutus tree - three tiny fungi, a bit of moss, and some curls of red bark. Do you think that perhaps the fairies had a party here? 

Like Anne of Green Gables, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." 

How is your October shaping up? 

Linking with Friday Bliss, hosted by Riitta of Floral Passions. 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Down Memory Lane

For one year, in the mid-1990s, we lived in a rented house in Abbotsford that backed onto a park with a pond and walking trails. That year, my husband studied for his master's degree. 

This week I was in Abbotsford for a teacher's conference. Thursday was the perfect fall day: the bluest of skies, crisp air, glorious sunshine. Before returning to my parents' home (I chose to stay with them rather than in a hotel), I drove to Ellwood Park for a walk. 

As I walked, memories of that year came to the fore, memories both good and not-so-good. It was a good year, but tough in many ways.

Around the time we moved into the house, a young girl was murdered and another attacked. The attacker was not identified for most of the time we lived there. Our eldest daughter started high school and it was a huge adjustment from the small jungle school she'd previously attended. The entire town was on edge that fall, and I walked her through the park each day to where the path came out on the road, and there were more people. 

At the same time there was an attack on a woman by an unknown man who entered her home while she was away and beat her when she entered through the door. He was later discovered to be looking for money for drugs.

In the small town of Shell, Ecuador, we lived on the grounds of the hospital where Tim worked, along with other expats - Canadian, American, Finnish, Australian, German, New Zealand, and Dutch. We all had our own homes, but it was like living on the same block or two as all of your co-workers. At times the closeness could be too much, but if childcare was needed, or someone was ill, there was a built in community that looked after the needs of its members. 

In Abbotsford, I was frightened and worried about living in a house where I could not see anyone's front door nor could anyone see mine. There were times when odd noises in the house had me going outside in fear that an intruder had somehow gotten inside. It took several months for me to get used to the isolation in the neighbourhood.

All these memories rushed forward as I walked around the pond on Thursday. There were good times, too - visits with family and friends, proximity to services I had missed, such as libraries and well-stocked grocery stores, and the enjoyment of the changing seasons. 

We were also concerned about our future plans - would we return to Ecuador or stay in Canada? There was a lot of praying and talking, and even a job interview. In the end, we did return to Ecuador, but to the city of Quito rather than to the jungle because of schooling needs for our children. 

One of the best small things about that year was the park. We walked it together as a family and as a couple. I walked it alone. We walked in the rain and the sunshine. When it snowed we were ecstatic and rushed out to enjoy the event. When spring came we watched the ducklings swim in straight lines behind their parents. Watching the seasons unfold was pure delight. 

Thursday afternoon was still and quiet by the pond. The geese and ducks were mostly sleeping, or soaking in the sunshine. Light glowed through thinning leaves. 

Memory - what's brought up memories for you lately?

Linking with 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-...