Friday, March 29, 2019

Blossoms and Thoughts on Friday

This has been a lovely spring break. One week away and one week at home. I confess to having made a fairly long list of things to do during this second week, but few of them have been accomplished. 

There's been a little gardening, some sewing, a lot of reading, and definitely more daydreaming than usual. Tim was gone for a couple of days and when he's not around I tend to stay up too late reading and then drag around the next day.

Wandering around one of the many gardens in our city was on the list. Government House, where the Lieutenant Governor lives has beautiful gardens open to the public. (The LG is an appointed position as the provincial representative of our Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.)

It was a glorious day, full of sunshine with wispy clouds in the distance, the chirp of birds, and lots of blossoms to admire. I wandered along the pathways, stopping to watch squirrels play peekaboo with me, and smiling at a few other walkers. 

Off to one side of the property the fence is broken by one wall of a wooden building adjoining the grounds. Although I wanted to take a good look into the windows, I thought better of it, but from a distance it looks to be a gardening shed. The gnarled tree just beginning to bloom, an apple variety, perhaps, certainly looks well there. 

I tried a new recipe one night. Chicken breast halves, sliced cross-ways not quite through, with alternating slices of mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes inserted, then pesto spooned and spread over top. I baked those at 375 for about 20 minutes, then added broccoli drizzled with olive oil and salt, along with the leftover tomato slices to the pan and continued baking for another 15-20 minutes. It was easy and very good. I based the recipe off of this one from Eating Well.  Theirs looks better than mine...

Here in my own garden the pear tree is in bloom. I've seen few pollinators around, though, so I hope they are there when I'm not looking. Daffodils nod happily in the sunshine. Muscari stand sturdy. Hyacinths, blue, pink, and white waft their sweetness in the air. Tulips are mere leaves as yet. Green leaves sprout all over the hydrangeas and lilacs. It's a riot of life out there. 

Today there's laundry to do and a little cleaning. A regular physio appointment at noon, and sadly, a memorial service for a church friend, then a birthday celebration for Tim with family. 

I took the picture of Tim and our three children and put it up on Facebook. A few people wondered about the photographer behind the photo, so I added my own face in there, too, as a bit of a joke. 

A couple of weeks ago our Vancouver family was over and we had dinner together. It was just before spring break began and Tim and I were leaving the next day, so I told everyone we would just order pizza and I'd make a salad. 

Well, I got to thinking about other options and ended up making Greek meatballs, rice, a big salad, and lots of roasted vegetables, along with a raspberry cheesecake for dessert. 

The change of menu plan did not come as a surprise to my children, who know me all too well. One couple said they had placed bets on whether or not the pizza would actually happen; another said they wondered how long I had held out, and so on. They teased me unmercifully. What can I say? I like to cook. Besides, there were things in the fridge that needed to be used up before we went away. 

So for tonight, there will DEFINITELY be pizza!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Circling Spring Break

Some of the names and geography of the west coast of Canada can be confusing. For example, we live on Vancouver Island, but the City of Vancouver is on the mainland. The mainland coast is a tangled line that curls around deeply cut fjords and rocky islands of all sizes. The area known as the Sunshine Coast, on the mainland, is accessible only by ferry. 

Last weekend, Tim and I drove north on our island (Vancouver Island) to catch a ferry back to the Sunshine Coast. We spent a few days in Powell River, then took another ferry to Earl's Cove for some more vacation time, then a ferry to Vancouver. We drove through the city to catch yet another ferry, our usual one, back to Victoria. We made a circle. Ferry, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, and so on.

What can I say - it was a spectacular trip! Cloudless blue skies, calm seas, comfortable lodgings, good food, and lots of walking. 

Lakes versus ocean. It's a hard choice. I grew up with lakes - our family went camping and fishing, but I've come to love the ocean, as well. I don't have to make a choice, do I? 

The catkins are forming on the trees, but we didn't see many new leaves until we returned home. 

On one of our ferry rides, from Saltery Bay to Earl's Cove, I just couldn't stay inside. I went out on deck and found a sweet spot where I was mostly sheltered from the wind caused by the ferry movement and I drank in the beauty all around me.

Mountains pierced the blue sky while small rocky islands drowsed in the morning sun. White gulls caught the light as they flew against the backdrop of fir and pine forests. It was achingly beautiful.

One day we hiked to Skookumchuck Narrows, famous for its rapids and whirlpools caused by the twice-daily tide change where the difference in height between one side of the rapids and the other can sometimes equal 9 feet. The Narrows draws thrill-seekers from around the globe to kayak and dive here.

The only divers were saw were a large raft of Barrow's Goldeneye sea ducks riding the currents, bobbing, ducking, splashing, having great fun.

We visited Gibsons Landing, where the 1970-80s CBC production The Beachcombers was filmed. That series brought many people to the area, and the town pays homage to the show with displays of the boat, photos of the actors, and a restaurant named Molly's Reach, modeled after the one in the show.  

Another day we walked into Smuggler Cove, a place we visited by boat in the summer of 2016. This was our last full day and pale wisps of cloud streaked the sky, signaling the end of the clear blue.

Now we're home. This morning I went out for groceries and I'm catching up on laundry. Several trees on our street burst into bloom while we were away and I look out my window to see clouds of pink and white blossoms. So pretty. I'm itching to get out into the garden and that's where I'm headed this afternoon. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf.

Note: I'm working on my blog layout and am having a terrible time with the sidebar gadgets overlapping the text. I've removed them for now - anyone know how to fix this? I've tried the CSS code available online, but that doesn't seem to be working.  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Five - Friday Bliss

Today is rather blissful - I came home from school, made a cup of tea and put my feet up - it's Spring Break! Two weeks of a more relaxed pace ahead. We have a short trip planned, not too far, and I'd like to do some gardening. Also reading, sewing, relaxing, seeing family. All good things. 

In spite of the cold weather that far outstayed its welcome, I put away the red dishes and brought out a few spring things. I'm happy to say that the cold is now gone and we're looking forward to some sunny warm weather in the next week. 

My daughter gave me the turquoise deviled egg plate, a vintage piece. My mother has such a plate, and they are so useful for ... deviled eggs. I've not been able to think of another use for the plate. Do you have one, and do you use it for anything else? 

Under the soil, life emerges in the garden. Crinkled rhubarb leaves unfold towards the sun and will soon stretch long stalks upwards. I like stewed rhubarb with plain yogurt; my husband prefers his with ice cream. There's also a Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie that I make in the spring. Yummy things ahead!

Elsewhere, Tete-a-tete Daffodils bloom alongside blue Muscari. Almost every day there's something new to see in the garden. Lilac buds swell. Pointy spikes of tulip leaves poke up through the earth. The party is starting! 

Brenda of It's a Beautiful Life shared a quote from Gwendolyn Brooks on Facebook a week or so ago.

"What she like was candy buttons, 
      and books,
      and painted music (deep blue or delicate silver)
      and the west sky;
      so altering, 
      views from the steps of the back porch;
      and dandelions." 

Someone commented on the post that it didn't make sense because you can't see music. That reminded me of Sara Teasdale's poem "Barter" in which she uses the metaphor "music like a curve of gold." 

There's a word for crossing senses: synesthesia. Seeing sounds, associating numbers with colours, etc. Some people have it in spades. I don't think I do, but Teasdale's idea of music as gold has grated me from the first time I heard it. To me, music is silver, and now, after reading Brooks' quote I can probably add dark blue, too. Gold, never.

Do you think of anything as a colour? I have a few other things that I think of in the same way. 

Some of my reading material. I finished The Dressmaker - not that great, and I've barely begun the Susan Hill novel - a mystery. The others are patiently waiting their turn.

We're looking forward to seeing our Vancouver children this evening and getting together with the whole gang for a walk and a meal on Saturday. 

Linking with Friday Bliss hosted by Riitta of Floral Passions. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Turning a Corner

Just yesterday, in the late afternoon, I noticed that the sun had moved. It inches around our house throughout the year. We see the setting sun from the front windows during the winter and from the back windows in the summer. I know that it's not the sun moving, but from our earthly perspective it's the sun that seems to tilt and shift rather than the Earth. 

I like Spring, but it's not my favourite time of year. Such capriciousness - one day cold, the next warm-ish, and often with a wind that drives through to the bone. Dickens wrote, "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the cold." 

We met some friends for coffee down in Oak Bay today. Such beautiful blue skies. A few prunus trees are beginning to blossom. Halyards clinked and masts swayed in the marina. 

After coffee we took a short walk so Tim could get a closer look at a Trimaran washed up on the rocks, probably by one of our storms. Don't let those boats bobbing about fool you - the wind was sharp and biting. 

I spent some time wandering around the garden in the late afternoon. A couple of little Bushtits darted around the bird feeder, diving in for a quick nibble, then darting out again to land on a nearby rosebush. Such agility to miss those sharp thorns. 

This semester at school is an easier one, with courses I've taught before and delightful students. I've had more time for home pursuits like reading and sewing. It's lovely. 

A bunch of tulips has given enormous delight over the past couple of weeks. They have gone from tight buds to fully open flowers with curling fringed petals seem to turn to silk as they age.

In my garden again, tiny Tete-a-tete Daffodils sprang up to brighten a few corners. I can see them as I work in the kitchen and they remind that in spite of the continuing chilly temperatures, the season has turned the corner and Spring is almost here. 

Is Spring's arrival soon in your area? 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf. 

Monday, March 04, 2019

Of Little Things that Gladden the Heart

"There is not one blade of grass, there is
no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice."
John Calvin

The crocuses and cyclamen that appeared before our great snowfall three weeks ago have recovered remarkably well. These bright days, full of cold sunshine, lift my spirits and give me energy. 

White-crowned Sparrow

Our weekend was a quiet one as Tim arrived home from a business trip on Friday night with a bad cold. Lots of soup and hot lemon tea are on the menu. I made a carrot soup with ginger, onion, and garlic, all blended together that was quite delicious. 

Dark-eyed Junco

The weekend was also a bit of a technology jolt for me. I've been avoiding getting a new phone because it's wasteful to replace one every two years, and because I despise fiddling with getting technology set up. On Saturday I put on my big girl pants and did the deed. It's another I-phone, not the latest by any means, but with more storage than my former phone. The salesman helped me transfer everything over, however, at home I had to sign into all my accounts once again. Passwords! Too many passwords! Frustration compounded! 

American Robin

We're planning a trip to Europe this summer and I decided that I wanted a smaller camera to slip into my pocket rather than take my mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. I did some research and chose another Panasonic camera. It's well-rated, and the learning curve is small as it's very similar to my larger camera. It arrived on Saturday. What I didn't expect was the incredible zoom it has. The first photo, of the Sparrow, was taken at its full extent, and I can see that without a tripod, the quality is poor. Technology can be amazing and frustrating at the same time! 

Tim felt well enough to keep our plans for dinner with new-ish friends last night. Six of us sat around the table getting to know each other better. I made White Chicken Chili shared by Penny from Enjoying the Simple Things several years ago. I make a few adaptations and it's become a favourite around here.

What little things have gladdened your heart recently? 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf.  

Days Not at Home

  Last Wednesday morning we boarded a plane for The Netherlands, landing midday on Thursday, Amsterdam time. After figuring out our e-sims a...