Friday, January 22, 2021

Five on a Sunny Friday

 


Outside my window today the sun is shining mightily. It's chilly, too, with a bit of early morning frost. Now, late in the afternoon the light is so welcome and energizing. I bought a handful of tulips recently and have enjoyed watching them open. As they matured petals dropped one by one until there were more on the table than on the flowers themselves. 



I am reading "Miss Benson's Beetle" by Rachel Joyce, and 
"Rising Strong" by Brene Brown. Two very different books that both address the issue of getting on with life after difficult experiences. I'm not very far into either book.


A recent weekend walk took us through woods so green and fresh with the sound of trickling water everywhere. Ferns and ivy flourish in this climate. The ivy is invasive, brought here by homesick English settlers in years past. In many places it chokes trees to death. Volunteers come and cut the ivy from the trees, and pull great long strands of it to discard. I still find it pretty, in spite of its destructiveness. 


Our walk took us to a small church surrounded by an old graveyard. I've written about this place before and the old headstones that speak of many who came from England, Scotland, and Ireland to make a new life in Canada, settled, and died here. Snowdrops are another plant brought from Europe and unlike the ivy, they are not invasive. Instead they bloom in gardens and cemeteries, and in far out-of-the-way places where homesick women planted them to remind them of home. 


A Downy Woodpecker visits our feeder from time to time. He prefers the suet to the sunflower seeds and his head swivels back and forth so quickly that it's hard to get a clear photo. 

Colder weather, and perhaps some snow is forecast for this weekend. I would love to see snow cover the ground for a week or so, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I have exams to mark and a few lessons to prepare for next week, so that, along with a little laundry and cleaning will keep me busy for the next couple of days. What have you planned for the weekend?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A Bit of Spontaneity Does the Soul Good

 


Late Sunday morning the sunshine streamed into the house, warming the living room, casting sharp shadows. It was just too beautiful to stay indoors. We packed up a quick lunch - crackers, cheese, pickles, cucumbers and red pepper strips, plus sliced apples and chocolate. We made a thermos of hot tea and off we went to French Beach, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

The sunshine was mostly obscured by light fog and the wind off the water made us very glad for scarves and jackets and gloves. 


Our thermos of tea was most welcome, too. The thermos is old - Tim bought it in high school, but it's sturdy and works well, and accompanies us on most outings.


Along with a first aid kit, two small rectangles cut from an old blue camping sleeping mat are permanent residents in Tim's backpack. We placed them on one of the many driftwood logs tossed up onto the shore and sat ourselves down, protected from the damp cold. Comfort!
Our lunchtime entertainment was the spectacle of two gulls perched on a log in the heaving water. I almost got seasick watching them. Up and down they went. Sometimes the log disappeared entirely and sometimes the birds themselves were hidden by waves. Up and down, up and down. They drifted closer and closer to shore and finally alighted from the log just before it came ashore onto the rocky beach. 


The woods are wet after all the rain we've had, with many muddy sections on the trail. My eye was caught by the tiny crystal beads clinging to the delicate ferns. 


The beach was strewn with logs of all sizes, tangles of kelp and seaweed. This clutch of small rocks nestled in a driftwood log was placed there by the waves, perhaps for safekeeping.


On our way home we stopped at a place new to us - Sheringham Point Lighthouse. It's been deemed surplus by the government and was destined for demolition until a group of concerned citizens took it on as a preservation project. There is a small park and a short looping trail, as well as a trail down to the lighthouse. A wild and beautiful spot. The lighthouse keeper's house was demolished, but a volunteer told us that they have the original plans and hope to rebuild a replica one day. 

We arrived home not too long before dark, tired and oh, so happy for our hours in the outdoors. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Suspended in mid-January

 


We're halfway through January. How has it been for you? I feel like I'm in a waiting room, but I don't know exactly what I'm waiting for. Or perhaps I'm waiting for a number of things - the end of the pandemic, retirement (2.5 weeks away), sunshine - things that I can do nothing to hurry along. At the same time, I'm content and go through my days with a smile on my face. I'm just drifting along, suspended on the current of time.

We've been walking most nights. We eat dinner, clean up, and Tim does email for an hour or two, then he gets up, opens the front door to check the weather, and suggests a walk. We've walked in some steady rain this week, squelching on muddy trails that are hard to see in the dark. A few times we've seen glittering stars shining through the trees. I sometimes dislike the idea of putting on raincoat, boots, and hat, but once I'm outside, it feels good to move and I return home feeling quite virtuous! 


Soft fairy lights still glow in the evenings here, creating comfort and coziness. I've finished three books this year so far, and began the fourth last night. The book most recently finished is "A Fifty-Year Silence" by Miranda Richmond Mouillot - "Love, war and a ruined house in France," in which she tells the true story of her grandparents, Jewish refugees from France. The story is like a puzzle that Miranda puts together, trying various pieces to see if they fit, without having a picture to go by. Fascinating.


Storm after storm has blown in across the Pacific bringing lots and lots of rain. On Tuesday night wind arrived, too, battering the house with loud gusts that woke us from a sound sleep. We did not lose power as our lines are underground, but others did. Because the ground is so saturated just now, many trees fell and damaged cars and houses. Today, all is calm and there are a few patches of blue sky that we must enjoy before the next storm arrives.

Tea-drinking, reading, stitching, and walking are about the extent of my activities beyond the daily routines of teaching and home-keeping. I'm thankful for technology so I can stay in contact with family. Tell me, how are you putting in these mid-January days? 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Five on Friday

 


Isn't this a striking male House Finch? We are seeing a good variety of birds around our feeder these days. They flutter in one at a time and then a colourful charm of finches perch on railings and rosebushes, awaiting their turn at the feeder. 


This is the first year Pine Siskins have visited the feeder. They are such scrappy things, beating their wings furiously when another bird gets too close, not wanting to share. On a recent cold morning, this particular Pine Siskin sat on the railing with his feathers fluffed while he waited. 


Our breakfast table looks out to where the feeders are. We have a ringside seat to bird antics. The table is an old one that belonged to Tim's mother, and to another family connection before that. 

Tim brought the two chairs home from the office many years ago and our youngest used them in her home. She painted them black and upholstered them in a beautiful rich gold and black pattern. She no longer needs them, so we took them. Over the Christmas break, Tim stripped, sanded, primed and painted them. I chose the colour and bought the upholstery fabric. He did the work. I'm so pleased with the way they turned out. They are very comfortable, too. 


"Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed...
I think food is, actually, very beautiful in itself." Delia Smith

Salads are good any time of year and we eat a lot of them. With the sky-rocketing price of lettuce, I'm looking for alternatives for winter salads. Last night we enjoyed this one: English cucumber, quick pickled red onion, a jalapeno pepper (finely minced), a handful of roasted salted peanuts, and some parsley. Tossed with a little soy sauce and sesame oil, it made a delicious dish and I'm looking forward to finishing it for lunch. 


"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough
to suit me." C. S. Lewis

January is Hot Tea Month (I don't know who decides these things...). Hot tea is served year round here, but it is especially enjoyable with my back to the fire on a rainy day. My eldest daughter gave me the mug for Christmas - isn't it pretty? It's a good size, too, and perfect for the first cup of the morning!

And so ends the first week of January. My, it's been eventful, hasn't it? Our restrictions have been extended for another month, which makes us all very sad, but we will hang in there.  School is still in session, so I'm not feeling too restricted, other than not being able to see my family. I'm so glad for technology that allows us to connect with our loved ones.

I'm sending wishes for a good weekend ahead to all of you. Treat yourself well. Be kind to others. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Quiet Beginnings

 


A bouquet of pale pink roses for you on a grey morning. I brought these roses home from the grocery store a couple of days ago. After Christmas decor is put away I always feel like the house needs something fresh and pretty. We left up the mini lights on the mantel, and the paper star garland across the mirror. On January's dark nights it's lovely to sit in the glow of soft light. 



I like to do puzzles and this one was a pleasure from start to finish. Although 1000 pieces, it took us just 3 days to complete. I just loved the colours and all those needlecraft items. 


In the kitchen/breakfast room mini lights still shine each night. 

I normally enjoy the quiet and slower pace of January after the festivities of December, but this year, sigh, it just all seems to be more of the same. Dark nights, grey days, lots of rain, and nowhere to go. 


Each year around November I wish I had a Christmas quilt. By then, however, I'm busy with sewing pajamas or other gifts and there's no time for quilts. Because of the quiet break this year, I decided it was time to make a red and white quilt. I pulled all the scraps of Christmas fabrics and started cutting, then stitching. I made a lot of progress last week and am pleased with the way it's turning out. 

School began again this week and time at the sewing machine has been severely curtailed, although I make time for a little bit of stitching. 

Outside my window it's quiet and still just now, but there is a wild storm blowing in from the Pacific later this morning. Ferries have been preemptively cancelled after the 9 am sailing. 

How is your year beginning? Have you begun any new projects? 

Beacon Hill Park on a Sunday Afternoon

  Late this morning we received a text from our daughter-in-law inviting us on a "rain or shine" walk in Beacon Hill Park. We agre...