Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Cool (Finally!) Morning in the Garden


Late in the evening a gentle breeze began to fill this overheated house with coolness. Such relief. We slept in our bedroom last night and I even pulled up a light blanket towards morning. Ahhhh. Rose Gertrude Jekyll this morning, seen with a few water droplets from the watering system, looks very happy. I will have to do some hard pruning today or tomorrow - I read that will encourage more blooms to appear over the summer. Here's Monty Don's advice on this. 

Some have asked about how hot it actually was. Here we reached 39 degrees (102 F). In the interior of British Columbia 46.6C (116F) was the record shattering high. 

I should have been picking blueberries and raspberries, but I couldn't face much time out in the heat. They are holding their own, though, with many berries still ripening. 

Yesterday I had Iris picking blueberries for a few minutes. She is very careful about getting only the purple ones, and they go straight into her mouth. She LOVES blueberries. 

The cosmos are putting on a show in their corner. The heat didn't seem to bother them too much. We have an automatic watering system and most of the plants did well. In the front garden the heat is more intense and the hydrangeas didn't like that. 

This hydrangea is more shaded and is just beginning to open. Such lovely creamy whites and blues. Today is hair cut day. I thought my appointment was yesterday, so I showed up at 10 AM, only to discover that perhaps the heat had addled my brain. I took the opportunity to walk in the cool mall, since I was there anyway. 

As of tomorrow most of our Covid19 restrictions will end. Masks are no longer mandatory in indoor spaces, although they are recommended for those who are not yet fully vaccinated. Social gatherings are back to normal. Church services, too, I believe. And we will celebrate Canada Day!

It will be a quiet celebration everywhere this year as we reflect not only on the very good things that define Canada, but also the very bad things such as the residential schools and the children taken from their homes, many of whom died there. We feel sorrow for those who suffered so, and look forward to a more understanding way of going forward in this wonderful land in which we live. 

As of tomorrow the email option on my blog is going away due to Feedburner discontinuing the service. I don't know how many of my readers used the service. I won't be signing up for another one, so you have a couple of options to continue reading here (and I hope you do). One is to visit my blog directly (you can bookmark it). Another is to use a subscription service such as Bloglovin or Feedly. I use the latter and have found it very useful. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Let's Think of Cooler Days


You may have heard that western Canada (and parts of the US) are undergoing an extreme heat wave. Records are falling all over and this system is not predicted to ease until Wednesday. We returned from a wonderful visit with my parents on the 11 am ferry today. Where they live is even hotter, and I am happy that they are staying with my sister and her husband for a few days, as they have air conditioning. 

I'm writing this sitting in our travel trailer with the AC blasting. Most homes here do not have air conditioning. We came home to a very warm house. Tim went up on the roof and covered the skylight with a canvas dropcloth. I have the start of a gazpacho chilling in the fridge for our supper. Appetites decrease in the heat as we drink more and more water. So, let's think of cool things, like boating!

One morning on our trip we woke up to fog enveloping us. It was so beautiful, and I saw a "fog-bow" - like a rainbow - but with very little colour. The photo above was taken when the fog had just about disappeared. It was a perfect bow, and even more amazing, was reflected in the water. 

Here is a photo of the earlier fogbow. The islands are very faintly visible, and you can see a tiny bit of colour on each end of the bow. It was a unique sight for us. 

That same morning one of these swallows flew into the boat for breakfast. He quickly flew out again and joined his mate on the pulpit (bow railing). They sat there for the longest time, chattering to each other in the dissipating fog. 

Some have asked how we live on the boat. Here you can see yours truly, writing in my journal. This area is our "living area" and can be fully opened on each side, with a fixed roof. We eat at the little table and have the best views of wherever we are. I spend time reading, writing, and sketching on the boat. We go for at least one good hike each day, depending where we are, and travel to different anchorages according to our itinerary. Or according to the whim of the moment. 

The door behind the table leads to a small cabin that can be used for sleeping, but we use it as a closet, a pantry, and general storage. 

In the above photo the dinghy is still on the back of the boat, but it's usually in the water, towed behind. It's what we use to get to shore, unless we are tied up to a dock, which is rare. 

Our lunches are casual affairs as seen above. We have a fridge/freezer. On trips more than a few days we use it as a freezer for storing food, and for making ice for an insulated cooler to keep produce and other groceries refrigerated. We eat well. There is a small gas barbecue on the railing where Tim grills meat, and in the galley I have a two-burner gas stove with an oven. I made muffins, soups, pancakes, and even a stovetop pizza on this trip. 

Isn't this columbine a pretty colour? Tim's nephew lives on a small island, away from any towns or villages. We stopped in for a visit. He and his girlfriend have a garden and I was charmed by the delicate pink of this blossom. 

More foggy beauty. Still morning water, an old dock with trees growing in it, layers of mist between the mountain folds and everywhere the tall green trees reach for the sky. 

Do you feel cooler? I do, but it's because of the noisy air conditioner, not the photos. Still, it was a beautiful morning with many marvels. 

Stay cool (or warm) wherever you are. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Friday Favourites: Five Scenes from Sea and Forest


After eleven nights on the water I was glad to arrive home and sleep in my comfortable and spacious bedroom. The trip was wonderful; relaxing and interesting. We boated and hiked, read a lot, met some fascinating people, ate well, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of this part of this world. There are thousands of islands and islets between our home island, Vancouver Island (distinct from the city of Vancouver on the mainland), and the rest of our province of British Columbia, Canada. It's a popular place for boaters, but with the border still closed between Canada and the USA only Canadian boats were seen this year. 

There were plenty of scenes like the one above, mountains and ever-changing skies, forested islets and islands, and water that varied from choppy to rolling to smooth. Layers and layers of texture and colour. 

During the last century, this region was populated by fishermen, loggers, trappers, guides, and people just wanting to get away from civilization. Many of the small towns and settlements have disappeared, and the coastal population is much less than in the past. Remnants of settlement linger on abandoned docks like the one above, where a wild rose plant has somehow found enough soil and nutrients to grow and bloom. 

With the availability of satellite internet connections, and the ability to work remotely, more people are moving back to these remote areas. Many are accessible only by water - boat or seaplane. 

From our boat on the first day of our trip we spied the osprey above checking things out. I guess we must have passed inspection for he flew off, looking for fish elsewhere, I assume. 

We watched the heron and the merganser approaching each other from opposite directions and wondered what interaction they might have. Zero. Like ships that pass in the night they gave no indication of being aware of each other, both intent on their own plans.

The world is full of so much that astonishes. "It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world," poet Mary Oliver writes. Tim saw the elaborate spider web on a sailboat (not ours) and pointed it out to me. Each fine filament is beaded with moisture. Such a wonder. 

As Mary says, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."

We're off again to see my parents (hooray) this weekend! It's been 10 months since we've been together. The next few days are predicted to be very hot, so I'm sorting out the lightest summer clothing to wear. 

Have a most wonderful weekend, dear readers.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Message in a Bottle: Toba Inlet


A quick post from limited wifi at the marina. 

So much beauty in the world! There have been mornings misty with fog and afternoons of warm sunshine. Lots of hiking and reading. 

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful month in your corner!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Message in a Bottle - Discovery Passage

Saturday afternoon. We are sitting at the dock waiting for the tide to turn so we can set off on a little adventure in the wilderness. We are in Campbell River and heading north through Discovery Passage. I’m composing this post on my phone and finding it a bit cumbersome. 

I wanted these photos to show up in the opposite order, but my technology skills are challenged. Isn’t this driftwood wildcat well done? We took a long walk this afternoon along the water. Clouds  fill the sky and it’s a bit windy, but the locals say the passage will
be fine.  

Being able to town the boat behind Tim’s Tahoe means we can get to places faster than boating all the way. Tim stops every so often to check the temperature of the axles and during one stop I noticed this pretty clump of daisies beside the abandoned rail track. 

We will be out of cell range for much of our trip, but if we do have coverage I’ll send a quick “message in a bottle”.  

And I’ll look forward to reading your posts when we return. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Mid-week Musings


Outside my window today puffy clouds are sailing across the the blue sky, signaling a rainy front moving in from the Pacific. We've had a dry spring, and rain will dampen the forests and prevent fires, so I won't complain.  

A big vase full of deep pink, white, and pale pink peonies graces the dining room table. They have such elegant and extravagant ruffles and a delicate scent. I have a dilemma in my garden, though. The peonies are in the back of a wide bed, with roses in front of them. I cut the roses way back in the dormant season and think, "yes, I'll be able to see the peonies before the roses bloom." The roses, however, grow at such tremendous speed that they hide most of the peonies. I've decided to move the peonies and have written it on my calendar for September or October. I have an idea to create another bed for them, but I'll have to speak with my hard-scaping gardener (aka Tim) about it. 

As the peonies lose their petals the roses are coming into glorious bloom. The top photo is of Boscobel - named for Boscobel House in the UK where King Charles II hid in an oak tree during the English Civil War in 1651. It's such a beautiful colour with a lovely fragrance. 

Just above are Winchester Cathedral buds. This is a pretty rose, with a delicate fragrance, but the blooms are fragile and don't hold up to cutting very well. My other white rose, Bolero, is much more robust, with a stronger fragrance. 

In a corner of the garden we installed a bed for a cutting garden. I say we, but it's Tim who did the work. I'm sure he groans inwardly when he hears, "I have an idea." For this year I've planted foxgloves, which I hope will reseed themselves, cosmos, sweet peas, zinnias, dahlias, and delphiniums. Temperatures have been below seasonal this week and everything is emerging slowly. 

My mother told me that her mother, who died before I was born, used to go out into the fields where foxgloves grow in the wild and collect the leaves. She would dry them, place them in paper bags, and send them off to a pharmaceutical company where they would be used to produce heart medication. The Latin name of foxglove digitalis purpurea is a key to the drug name - digitalis. 

Over the weekend we held an outdoor party for these two little girls. Iris is watching how Sadie blows out her candles and she was able to do the same with hers. We also hosted two indoor get togethers with individual families, so now we've had all three of our children over inside! It feels so good to be getting back to normal. 

The party was held at our eldest daughter's home. She has a beautiful Lady of Shallot rose bush that is loaded with blooms just now. It was planted in memory of 4 little ones lost to my daughter and her husband, and when I see it, I take a moment to remember them. 

This lantern collects light all day and then, as darkness falls, begins to glow. It's pretty to see the soft light on the patio as I walk by the windows late in the evening. Days are still lengthening and I love the energy the light gives me. 

I spent yesterday in the garden, and today I'll be doing some kitchen tasks. We roasted a whole salmon on the grill over the weekend and there are plenty of leftovers, so I'm making a salmon and spinach quiche for dinner, along with a big salad of lettuce and radishes from the garden. The cookie jar is almost empty so I'll fill that with something yet to be decided upon. 

Wishing you all a most lovely day!

Friday, June 04, 2021

Early June Delights on a Friday


Early June. These first days have been warm and sunny and the garden is flourishing. The peonies are glorious, with roses coming up a close second. Lavender buds are barely opening. I've had a busier than normal week with this and that, and it feels good. I was beginning to get a bit bored with this retirement thing. There's always something to do, but no urgency to do it, and I think I do better with a few fixed points in my weekly schedule. 

One of the delights of retirement is slower mornings. I get up with Tim, but I don't like eating breakfast right away, so I putter in the kitchen and we chat while he eats. I get his lunch ready, unload the dishwasher, or start some food prep for later in the day. After he leaves I make my tea and get some breakfast. This week I've enjoyed eating out on the patio being serenaded by the birds. 

While unloading groceries from the car I noticed a pretty ladybug perched on a lavender stalk beside the driveway. I wondered if she would stay there while I went inside for my camera. She cooperated nicely, and flew off shortly afterwards. 

Do you remember the nursery rhyme, "Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home, Your house is on fire and your children will burn"? I read that it's in reference to burning the fields after harvest in the old days. Some of those old nursery rhymes have rather gruesome histories to them, don't they?

Someone is turning two soon and her Nana made her a birthday crown. We spent the day together yesterday and I gave it to her then. She was so pleased and preened in front of the mirror, turning this way and that to admire herself. Iris' fascination with hats and headgear goes back many months. 

We went out to the garden just to pick and eat strawberries. She knew just what to do after watching me, and was soon bending down and choosing the berries on her own. 

I picked the first bouquet of roses - Boscobel, Falstaff, Winchester Cathedral, Bolero, and Gertrude Jekyll. They mix well together and I'm enjoying their fragrance in the house. 

Tonight is a birthday party for Iris and Sadie, whose birthdays fall one day after the other (in different years). The weather is turning cooler and rain is in the forecast for the weekend, so, since we are over the limit for indoor gatherings, the party will be held outside and tonight's weather seems the best. We're hosting more individual families indoors over the next few days. 

Today I'll wrap some gifts, make a salad to share, do a little stitching, and the moments will fly by. I'll be sure to smell the roses along the way. I hope you take the time to enjoy the beauty in your world today. 

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...