Wednesday, January 31, 2024

31 January - The Days in a Month


January's 31 days are done. When you think about it, a lot of living is packed into one month. This first month of the year might not be many people's favourite yet it still holds many beautiful moments. 

I've delighted in
hikes in the woods
quiet times of reading

downy woodpeckers and dark-eyed juncos
bushtits and nuthatches
sparrows of various kinds
spotted towhees
chestnut-backed chickadees
all coming to feed outside the window

a snow-transformed landscape

vibrant sunrises and sunsets
tingly cold weather
extraordinarily warm weather
rainy nights

many cups of tea
baking for family
company for a weekend
time with the grandchildren

snowdrops and hellebores
dinners with friends
reading the many comments left here

And so January ends. Thanks for accompanying me along this daily journey (I did miss two). 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

30 January - The Present and the Past


This morning's sunrise wasn't nearly as dramatic as yesterday's. Just a pale patch of pink that quickly faded to blue. Sunrise was at 7:46 this morning; the days are lengthening. 

When my sister was over she noticed the ceramic rooster sitting on my kitchen bookshelf. 

"That looks like Mom's rooster," she said.
"It is," I replied. 
"It looks much smaller than I remembered."

In every home we lived in, Mom's rooster sat atop the fridge keeping an eye on what went on in the kitchen. At one point the tail broke and you can see where it was glued back on. A few years ago Mom decided she'd seen enough of the rooster and asked me if I wanted it. Now it surveys what's happening in my kitchen. 
The rooster was a wedding present from nearly 70 years ago. Wedding gifts were much simpler then - a pretty teacup, a glass pickle dish, or a flowered cake plate. 
By the time I got married, we received sheet sets (8 of them), bone china dishes, and electrical appliances. I still have quite a number of wedding gifts in use, although no sheets nor electrical appliances. I wrote down who gave us what in a book and consulted it the other day, unsure of who gave us a favourite piece. 
Do you have things from your family's past? 

A colourful House Finch and a Sparrow at the bird feeder today. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

29 January - Early in the day


As I walked out the door into the morning, the beautiful colour made me walk faster in hopes of getting to a good spot for a photo before it all disappeared. I realized I wasn't going to make it and took a quick photo on the street. 

The light on the ponds changed visibly as I walked. I'll leave you to enjoy the photos of ducks landing in a blur, fine mosses, and sun through fog. 

I wrote for about an hour this morning, then ran errands. After all the rain, the air was invigorating, and oh, so unseasonably warm. A little cooking, a little laundry, a little sewing took up the rest of this fine day. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

28 January - Making Madeleines


A little plate of golden madeleines certainly brightened up this most grey and foggy afternoon. They were delicious accompanied by a cup of tea. 

Two little girls helped with adding ingredients, stirring, and sprinkling on icing sugar after baking. We read stories while waiting for the madeleines to bake and cool. Such fun. 

Nothing else to report today. This bowl of oranges is the most colourful thing I've seen today. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

27 January - Indoor Pursuits on a Rainy Day


An atmospheric river, also known as a pineapple express, is flowing over our island today and tomorrow, bringing lots of rain and warmer than normal temperatures. I hear it outside now, trickling in the eavestroughs and falling softly on the roof. It's very cozy indoors with the two of us reading and the fire glowing merrily. I'm sure you're envisioning a pretty scene.

I have to be honest. Although it is very cozy, the house is in very much of an uproar. The time has come to put in the hardwood flooring in the living room and entrance hall. Tim completed the staircase, replacing the carpet with wood stairs and building a new railing with a more modern look. Now for the remainder of the flooring on the main floor. The carpet was removed yesterday. Now our cozy couch is sitting on a plywood sub-floor, one that was opened up in multiple places to update plumbing today. The piano is in the entrance hall and the other furniture piled up in the dining room. Not so pretty a scene, but still dry and warm, with perhaps a sense of rustic coziness. 

I spent yesterday and part of this morning painting the walls in the foyer. That done I retreated to the kitchen, still beautifully intact, and did some baking - a date loaf and a lemon loaf. When I asked Tim which we should eat now and which one should go into the freezer, he suggested the lemon loaf, my unspoken choice, too. Tender, with a hint of lemon in the loaf itself and then a sharp lemon glaze poured over when just taken out of the oven. A burst of citrus sunshine is particularly delicious on a grey monotone January day. 

In a half-hour or so we'll halt our reading to watch Foyle's War, which we've seen before. We're enjoying the re-runs just as much now, several years later. I think a cup of herbal tea would be the perfect accompaniment. 

I hope you are all warm and cozy, too. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

25 January - Thoughts on Time

Outside my window it's very dark. Cloudy skies were the order of the day. Fog is due to roll in later this evening. 

I am reading Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing, edited by Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini, Carol's daughter and grandson. 

I am thinking about time. Here is what Carol Shields (a famous Canadian author) says about it, 

"Time is not cruel. Given the good luck of a long healthy life, as most of us have, we have plenty. Plenty of time. We have time to try our new selves. Time to experiment. Time to dream and drift. Time even to waste. Fallow time. Shallow time.

We'll have good years and bad years. And we can afford both. Every hour will not be filled with meaning and accomplishment as the world measures such things but there will be compensating hour so rich, so full, so humanly satisfying that we will become partners with time and not victims of it.

I find her thoughts refreshing. When I think of time flying, it's easy to become anxious about not doing enough or analyzing my productivity. I like the idea of being partners with time as it marches on and not fighting it.

On my walk today I went by the ponds where mallards and wood ducks live. There were plenty of mallards paddling in the water, but very few wood ducks, and I wondered where they might have gone. Then I looked up. At least 15 of them were perched in the trees, something I'd never seen before. I always thought wood ducks were so-named because they lived in wooded areas, but no, they actually nest in trees. 

 This pretty female wood duck was quite happy perching low to the ground. Her teal feathers are just lovely.

I'm admiring a bouquet of roses brought over by my son this morning. A local rose grower is doing a fundraiser for a young boy, just 8 years old, who is undergoing cancer treatment. Our son and daughter-in-law are close friends of the boy's parents. 

In the kitchen I recently made a chicken pot pie, kale and sausage soup, and an apple-pear crisp. 

I always make my bed in the morning. I love pulling up the layers of sheet and blankets, smoothing the coverlet, plumping the pillows and walking away, knowing that after my day I'll be slipping into a neat bed. 

And that was my day. I hope yours was equally pleasant. Now I'm off to slip into the bed I made this morning. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

24 January - This and That


Some time ago I picked up a discarded library book for older children about Landscape Artists. The 3-year-old and 4-1/2-year old occasionally choose it for me to read. I simplify and skip parts of it. Today, after reading the book, they decided to draw landscapes. "Imaginary landscapes, Nana," they said. We first began with a horizon line. There are brown polka-dotted skies, beautiful pink trees, a mountain, and three people playing in the garden. How I love listening to their chatter. Such wonderful creativity.

Another book read today was The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore. It was first produced as an animated short film, although the book idea came first. Morris loves words and writes in his book every day, "of his joys and sorrow, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for." It's a lovely, imaginative tale. We follow this literary gem with "Are You A Cow?" which provokes all sorts of giggles. 

This afternoon I stepped out to empty the compost into the bin and ... the sun was shining! What a delight after clouds and rain. I took a little tour around the garden, noticing green shoots here and there. The little golden spires of moss glowed in the light. 

Snowdrops are hale and hearty after the cold spell followed by snow. 

I read a bit of folklore about snowdrops. "We should be wary about bringing them into the house before St. Valentine's Day, as any unmarried females could well remain spinsters."

I've not brought any into the house yet, but may do so soon. I'm not too worried about any possible results. The snowed-upon hellebores are recovering well with plenty of new buds promising flowers soon. 

Is anything blooming in your garden? 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

23 January - A Home on the Easternmost Point of Canada


Shall we take another look at Newfoundland? On a rare sunny day we visited Cape Spear, site of the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador. Built in the 1830s, the square building stands on a rocky cliff overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean. I was mesmerized by the deep rich blues of the water and the whiteness of the waves breaking on the shore. 

Lighthouses here on the west coast tend to have houses built alongside or adjacent to the lighthouse towers. Here, the lighthouse tower is in the center of the house, easily accessible in any weather. A round tower in the midst of a square building makes for some interestingly shaped rooms. 

Red and yellow paint shades were most common as the ochre used to create the colour was mined locally, and mixed with cod liver oil or seal oil. Can you imagine the smell of the paint? I wonder how long it lingered indoors? 

Damp sea air combined with days of rain meant that drying clothes was often finished in front of the fire. 

I was surprised at how large the house was, with a good-sized living room, an office, dining room, several bedrooms upstairs, and the downstairs bedroom shown above for the assistant lighthouse keeper. 

When I posed the question about wanting to be a lighthouse keeper several days ago, Granny Marigold said she would like to experience the life for about a week. I'm in agreement. A week of isolation would be lovely, months would not. 

I'm attempting to include a video taken at Cape Spear. We sat and watched the waves crescendo and fall for a long while. How small the sea makes us feel. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

22 January - A Quiet Day at Home


A day of quiet pursuits at home. Over the weekend I made some gluten-free cookies for my sister and her husband. There are some left and are good with a cup of tea in the afternoon. They use ingredients common in any home, without the special flours that people with celiac disease often use. 

 Food preparation of another sort. The little girls are fond of playing with little dishes and imaginary food just now, so I stitched up some breakfast food from felt. Eggs, strips of bacon, and pancakes with maple syrup and a pat of butter. I'm looking forward to listening to them play with them next time they come by. I think I will add a cluster of blueberries to the breakfast, too. 

I'm a good way through this pleasant book, a simple mystery set at the imaginary home of Agatha Christie and her second husband. Phyllida Bright and admires Christie's detective Poiret very much. When a body turns up in the library, Phyllida uses her own "little gray cells" to solve the crime. 

Once again the rain trickles through the eavestrough and it's a cozy evening by the fire. 

21 January - Clouds, Rain, and Birds


The rain is dripping outside this evening, melting all the leftover snow. It's a toss-up between slightly warmer weather and cloudy rainy days, or colder weather and snow with often blue skies. I'll enjoy them both.

We saw at least 15 American Robins in the tree outside the window. They were all fluffed up keeping warm in the chilly weather. I don't know that I've ever seen so many of them together. Are they perhaps confused and migrating north already? I think they had better hunker down somewhere for a few weeks. We could easily get another blast or two of cold weather.

Our walk on Saturday afternoon took us to Island View Beach. Across the water, James Island, shrouded in cloud, still has plenty of snow. 

Gulls, and Barrows Goldeneye Ducks swam in the chilly water, unconcerned by the dull skies. 

Subtle colours in the landscape. Thank you for all your lovely responses to the questions posed in yesterday's post. It's really fun to learn a little bit more about the people who read my blog. 

In a recent post I mentioned making marmalade. Someone asked for the recipe and this BBC Good Food recipe is similar to the one I used, although I did not warm the sugar before adding it. 

We had a good visit with my sister and her husband, catching up on everyday life and also planning a trip we're taking together in June. Planning and anticipation are part of the joy of travel, I find. I don't think I'd like to be whisked away in a surprise adventure without being able to plan ahead. Do you feel that way, too? 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

20 January - A Lighthouse Picnic


We have guests this weekend - my sister and her husband. So I've prepared another travel post from last summer. 

Part of the fun of our across-Canada trip was being spontaneous. We knew where we were headed and had a rough idea of what we wanted to see along the way. We left space in our planning for doing things we might not have known about beforehand. 

Antigonish, Nova Scotia was our stop for a Sunday afternoon walk along the water. It was hot and muggy, but very pretty, green and lush. After returning to the vehicle we noticed a sign indicating Cape George Point Lighthouse. A narrow winding road took us to a beautiful look-off over the Northumberland Strait. (In Nova Scotia, there are look-offs rather than look-outs.) 

Blue sky appeared and a fresh wind blew away the mugginess. In the distance the faint outline of Cape Breton Island smudged the horizon. What is it about lighthouses that is so appealing? I know that I am always attracted to them, beacons of light and hope standing tall in storms. 

This lighthouse was first built in 1861 and was destroyed by fire in 1907. The replacement lighthouse of 1908 was rebuilt in 1968, so this is not an old lighthouse. We were unable to go into the structure. Most lighthouses are now automated, although I recently read an advertisement for lighthouse keepers on our coastline. 

Reasons for wanting to be a lighthouse keeper included: to watch the migrating sea and bird life along the coast, and to help people. Reasons for not applying for the positions: "Because you think it's romantic, you want to run away from your past and drink yourself to death, or you finally write that novel." Further to that, no alcohol is permitted on lighthouse sites. 

I put together a simple supper and we sat at a wooden picnic table admiring the view and soaking in the warmth of the sun. In a little store in Quebec I had purchased a venison pate - something not available at home. It was delicious with crackers, cheese, olives, and crudites. Other families came with their picnics on this fine Sunday evening and we chatted with them. 

We would have loved to overnight at Cape George Point, but there were no camping facilities. We did manage to find another site elsewhere overlooking the water and witnessed a late sunset streaked with clouds and light. 

Many more lighthouses featured in our travels and I hope to share the most memorable ones with you. Does being a lighthouse keeper appeal to you?

Friday, January 19, 2024

19 January - What We Think


Blogging has been so much fun for me. My first post was published waaaay back in March of 2007. I was inspired by all the sewing and craft blogs I'd found and enjoyed. Hence the name of my blog. My writing soon evolved into a "slice of life" blog, but I haven't bothered to change the name. I hope it's a gentle and beautiful place, for that's what I intend it to be.

I've "met" so many wonderful people through blogging, reciprocating comments by visiting your blogs, or comments via email, occasionally. It's a wonderful community we have. But. We only share a teensy tiny slice of our lives. We share what we choose to share. 

Let's play a little "get to know you" better game. I'll pose the questions (and my answers) and you can respond (or not) in the comment section. 

1. What's appealing to your taste buds just now? These days I'm making and eating soups. I could eat soup for almost every meal. Most recently I made a vegetable soup filled with onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, and tomatoes. A vegetarian borscht, you might say. 

2. What do you do for exercise? Walking is my primary form of exertion, although I've added some strength and mobility training. Lucy Wyndham-Read is an English lass with a Youtube Channel who has fun and doable workouts that I enjoy. They are short and varied. I confess that I had to get used to her voice.

3. Are you a list-maker? Definitely. I'm a much better list-maker than list-doer. I love writing things down on paper with a freshly sharpened pencil. And although I may not complete everything on my list, just making the list seems to provide focus for me. 

Your turn soon. I've written on another topic below and then added the questions for your responses at the bottom of the post. 

Further to the point of sharing just bits and pieces of our lives on blogs, I was a wee bit surprised by a comment on yesterday's post. Anonymous Beth, who has never commented before that I can see, wrote "At the risk of sounding censorious, which I really am not intending, where does the posy of gerbera and stocks come from - ie, are they grown under glass, flown in?"

I've been pondering this off and on today - why the question? Does the commenter live locally and want to know where to get them, or is it a subtle nudge to consider greenhouse gases and climate change? I'm curious, and I'm afraid that I took the question to mean the latter. Perhaps I am mistaken. 

Tone, body language, and other non-written communication devices are difficult to express in writing. It behooves us all to be very clear about what we are saying. And if people have questions, my e-mail address is in my profile for a one-to-one conversation.

I do not share my thoughts and opinions on many topics here, wanting a space free of dissent. No one knows my shopping habits or which manufacturers or products I won't purchase, nor my views on politics or environmental issues. It's personal, and not in keeping with the intent of my blog. My posy of flowers delights my eyes and nose, and adds a bit of fresh beauty to my dining room table. I make no apology for them. 

Once again, here are the three questions, put together without my answers, for you to copy and paste and respond to, if you wish. And, if you wish to respond to the other topic, I'm here to listen.

1. What's appealing to your taste buds just now?

2. What do you do for exercise?

3. Are you a list-maker?

Thursday, January 18, 2024

18 January - More Snow and Marmalade


I ventured out this morning to the grocery store, driving the larger SUV with 4-wheel drive through the sometimes icy, sometimes slushy streets. I grew up in the north. My father taught me how to drive in the snow. Once, I drove his pickup truck to high school and while descending a hill, hit a patch of black ice and the truck spun completely around. Fortunately, there were no other vehicles on the road. I pulled myself together and kept on driving. 

Today, I drove slowly and found it rather fun to be navigating the snowy roads. Other drivers were cautious, too. 

Pink Gerbera daisies and white stock came home with me. How fragrant the stock is. A bit of an indulgence, but oh, so pretty. 

My real reason for venturing out was reading that Seville Oranges were in stock. I spent most of the afternoon making marmalade. While I chopped and stirred, I watched the falling snow outside. It snowed most of the day. By morning rain is predicted. 

I'm happy to fill up my jam shelves as I didn't make any this past summer since we were away. Store-bought jam just doesn't have the same delicious flavour as homemade. Tim had some of the new marmalade (not quite set) on a cheese scone and pronounced it quite satisfactory. 

Do you like making jam or marmalade?

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