Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday wonders - K

K is for Kitsch...

I don't know the dictionary definition of kitsch - and I'm not looking it up in case it contradicts me - but I do like the word. And I love what I think it means: whimsical, not-quite-art, tacky and inexpensive. Usually, but not necessarily, all four values in one. And I love that it all makes me smile.

We have a house full of kitsch. Some stuff is just more important in its smile factor than others. The very best pieces hold memories.

We have it in the garden. A birdbath that my son gave me for Christmas a few years ago...

We found this teapot at a garage sale and I just had to have it. It isn't actually used...

We buy it because it amuses us and ends up amusing the grandkids. So, the village not only stays but it grows. Kind of a farm theme going on there right now...

This bowl belonged to Anne's mom and I always enjoyed seeing it on her table. It reminded me of one those jello and ice cream layered desserts. When she downsized, I was crossing my fingers that we could bring it home. Isn't the color pretty?

These salt and pepper shakers came home for Easter and haven't left yet...

This green glass bowl started my love affair with kitsch. This set was always in my mother's china cupboard and I always thought it was the most beautiful object ever. I remember Mom only used it for special dinners and she always served ice cream and strawberries. I love the color, the shape, the little gold feet and the way the six little dishes (exact miniatures) nestle inside the large bowl. My kids are so not fighting over it.

And some is just flat out sentimental as well as goofy. Frogs feature big because we once collected them. We have long since purged the collection but they still lurk here and there. Anyone with a collecting habit knows that others love to enable it. And, a collection answers the gift question so handily. These guys - all gifts - watch over me at the computer. How could I ever take myself seriously with them supervising?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I love a parade!

Today was our local community's Lynn Valley Day parade. It started off quite slow and easy with decorating our bus.

The normal confusion of a parade marshalling area was all around us though. The air was full of music with the bagpipers tuning up and a school float blasting from their many - and big - speakers. Behind us, Freddy Fuddpucker's band was clowning about with their really colorful instruments. They looked pretty funny in their mad costumes but the music was OK.

We had our own music with us as one of our music groups played country songs for us to dance along with. And dance we did! We do-si-do'd and waltzed and some other forms that could be called jitterbug or jive or however we felt like moving. It was fun to watch the kids along the parade route as they danced and waved to us. It was a perfect cloudless day.

We were pretty glad to get that lemonade at the end after all that singin' and dancin'.

I'll be there next year!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sunny day

Yesterday was a play day so we headed out to Steveston. It seemed like a great idea to walk with the grandkids along the dyke to the beach. It also seemed like a great idea to take all three and let Mommy have a couple of hours to herself. We had a great walk. Wow! Those kids are good little walkers. Unfortunately, they do have shorter legs than we do so it takes more time. And we needed to rest a bit more often.

The highlight of our walk were the Oreo cows. These cows are actually called Belted Galloways and they have quite thick and rough coats. The farm is right beside the dyke and they're herded across the dyke each day to pasture in the marsh grasses.

There was even a calf who seemed a little lonely and hot sitting out in the sun.

We did get to the beach but the batteries in the camera gave up before we got there. Must remember to charge them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just read

I would probably never have picked this book up had it not been for the title. Then I looked at the photo and thought it looked like a book with something to say to me. I was also drawn to the green color. I always think it interesting what makes a book speak loudly enough to be picked up.

Because we're going to Ireland - a month of sleeps to go! - I wondered what Frances Greenslade could tell me about being a pilgrim in Ireland. I'm feeling that this trip is a pilgrimage for me too. I don't really expect to find relatives who will know me. Not at all. But, Greenslade comments on wondering if she would feel immediately at home when she sets foot in Ireland. I have had that hope, too.

Her pilgrimage begins in response to a need to find spiritual roots. A Canadia woman of Irish ancestry, Greenslade grew up in Ontario. But there is a BC connection for me: she attended UBC and married a man from the Sto:lo nation in the Fraser Valley. His aboriginal spirituality and connection to his ancestors prompted Greenslade to make the journey to Ireland.

Greenslade is an excellent storyteller and it was pretty easy to identify with her as she traveled around the Irish countryside, cities and towns. In fact, I will be practically following her footsteps - not to Northen Ireland, though. Her discovery of how she connects with her ancestors' faith is probably not something I will experience since my Irishness is only a single thread among many family threads.

But one parallel between her family's spirituality and her husband's was quite disturbing. She comments on how the aboriginals' spirituality had been forcibly taken from them through relocation and re-education by the Canadian government of the time. Her own family left behind all the meaningful locations of their spiritual life when they left Ireland. Subsequent generations were stripped of the past no less than the generations of aboriginal past were taken away. Both have had to refashion their spirituality from past practises in another time and place.

While I'm certain that I will find some sense of my past in Ireland, like Greenslade, I will be happy to come home.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Green meme

Think Green Thursday is hosted by Pagan Sphinx. It's not just about the color green but about how we live in our world.

But green is my 'bestest' color. It's so cool and soothing to be in a garden or a forest. I can feel my spirit being refreshed just smelling the cool garden outside my window. I love looking at the many, many shades of green that I can see on one hill as the leaves grow in the spring.

So, here are my entries for Green Thursday...

we live in a rain forest - this old giant is wearing his green moss overcoat proudly...

this is the clematis that we were so worried about after having to move it to rebuild the carport. It has rewarded us with a lot of green leaves and one bloom!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ruby Tuesday dolls

It's Ruby Tuesday!

It's also RT's first birthday - thanks to Mary/the teach for hosting this fun way to show off our reds.

These Russian dolls came in to our house last week as donations to the thrift store where we volunteer. I just knew they were perfect for today.

I especially like her eyelashes!

Now they'll go back out into the world.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Looking back

Garage sales are always exciting to go to (for us, anyway) and exhausting to organize. We had so many volunteers who were enthusiastic about pricing, setting up and selling. Finding the clean up help is not too hard either. But it is pretty heavy work. Especially the books. This year, we only made one trip home with boxes of leftover books. It doesn't seem to matter how many books you have or how many you sell, there will always be leftovers. This year we only took the hardcovers and almost 90% will be donated to the local Rotary Club who dispose of them in various charitable ways. The paperbacks all went to the Salvation Army. So that's a good result.

I seem to be Superwoman here: setting up and making coffee at the same time. I did spend a lot of money on plants, though. Half a dozen geraniums, some of which will be neon purple. I can't wait to see those! They're planted in an old wooden wheelbarrow in the front garden.

And I won a basket of herbs in a silent auction. Mine's the one in front. There are about 10 plants here. When I got it home, I moved them all to other garden locations to give them more room to grow. And, I'll fill the planter with nasturtiums. I crave nasturtiums this year.

As a fundraiser, garage sales use a lot of volunteers relative to the money they generate. But who can put a dollar value on getting people working together? And we accomplished more than making money (which was also successful) - we had a great time on a beautiful day. Visitors walked through our garden and bought plants. They ate hot dogs at the BBQ and took home baked goodies. Then, they bought a book to read in the summery sun. What could be better?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday wonders - J

J is for Jacuzzi.

Our birdbath hangs from a branch of the pine tree beside our back deck. It's just a big ceramic dish in a hanging planter and it's up high to keep the cats away - although the squirrels will drink from it when it's really hot and dry. The water drips very slowly from a tiny hose and keeps the water fresh. Birds will congregate on the chain and sip from the hose. The plants were new here but they've grown and bushed out a bit. Fittingly, the flowers are called 'angel's wings'.

Every day in the summer, the birds come for a dip around dinnertime. It's great entertainment! The robins are so vigorous that one can use up all the water. The bushtits gather by the dozen. Finches are wary and don't seem to like to get wet but will if it's very hot. The nuthatch only drinks - that we've seen. Even the crows have used the facility.

This is a chickadee who's come on his own for a bit of a splash.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday fun

This was Friday. Our seniors' association is having a garage and book sale tomorrow. So, we spent the day setting up. It started out like this:

And by noon it looked like this:

and outside, volunteers readied plants from our garden. Our building is a heritage house owned by the daughter of a pioneer in our area. She never married and lived her whole life in the same house which she gave to the community on her death. She had a famous garden and it has been beautifully restored on a smaller scale. So, when the plants outgrow their space, the gardener divides and pots them up for sale in the spring. Every year there are more.

Before I left I took some flower shots just for myself. here is one of the lovely alliums....

Tomorrow it will be all business.

Last note: the wireless problem has been resolved. The Guy Who Helps has absolutely no idea what he really did for two hours but we're online again. Ye-e-ss!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Just hangin' around and a little frustrated here. For some reason, all network connections have been lost and the wireless won't connect. Sigh!

So, I'm feeling growly and I keep tinkering. I have sent an SOS to our Guy Who Helps but it may be a few hours until we get a response. Meanwhile, I'm trying to be patient but really I just want to play with the new toy. Now, I can do stuff with it because it is working. And, as long as our other computers are networked it's all good. So, I've just put myself in patient mode and know it will all be resolved in time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New toy

Meet the newest member of the family. I'm so excited about the possibilities of this little traveler. It's really tiny (screen is less than 9"), lightweight (around 2 lbs) and a beautiful blue color. I know that color doesn't really matter except that if they're offering choices it's nice to have the one you like best. According to the specs, I could have had red, white, blue or black. The sales associate told me all I could have was black. Reminded me of Henry Ford and the Model T (or was it A?). However, when she went to get one, they all turned out to be blue. Happy day! That's what I would have chosen.

I'll be playing for a while. But first the tedious chore of installing everything. Funny, how no matter what, you can never play before the work is done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today is Anne's birthday. She wanted fireworks! No, not really, but she did want to be part of Ruby Tuesday which is hosted by mary/the teach

She claims that on every birthday that she can remember, the poppies have been blooming. I tried to make that happen this year but my magical powers are limited. This has been such a cool spring that everything is at least a week behind. So, I've had to grab a photo from another year.

And, her other memory is strawberry shortcake. So, I dusted off the old Nova Scotia cookbook and made a traditional strawberry shortcake. was good. We cheated a bit and had the birthday party last night. But today's the day...Happy Birthday, Anne!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday wonders - I

I is for Inspiration.

We take a lot of photos. Sometimes, they are just to provide ideas (another I-word) for the creative side of our lives. Our watercolors, hooked rug designs, knitting patterns are always close to our thoughts. Anything at all can provide inspiration for our crafts.

This was one of my first inspiring pictures. Actually, this - and the tortoise - were taken by my daughter in Japan. I could see a rug with the screen design and a background of hand-dyed greens.

The colors and lines on this tortoise's shell will be a rug someday. But the colors, shapes and textures could work in a watercolor, too. Or a knitted blanket, maybe.

It's good to have a reminder that leaves can be many colors. Sometimes, I get stuck in the greens or browns.

These are plastic plant pots stacked at a nursery. I like that you can't tell what they are - it's all shape.

The rough bark of a Douglas fir makes an interesting color and texture study.

This tumble-down barn on the prairies and the dry winter grass make a good contrast in texture for the watercolor artist...

Another leaf study. An oak leaf and pine needles close up on a rainy day.

These fishing nets and floats are colorful enough for a watercolor or a hooked rug. Even a sock design could come from this.

None of these subjects have been anything more than imagination (another I-word) material yet. But someday, I know they will become something quite different from their present reality.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


For about six months now, I've been noticing a change in advertising. I am one of those really weird folks who likes to watch TV ads and I also enjoy the colored flyers in the paper. (Put it down to a short attention span and a love of bright colors!) Advertising is a business and part of our economy so if it's evil, it's a necessary evil for our times.

But it's that economic aspect that's interesting. I've seen the TV ads moving in a less costly direction which involves ads with out the expense of paying actors. And this is not necessarily a good thing since it puts people out of work. But so many businesses have had huge advertising campaigns which have depended upon actors and story lines. And now, their ad agencies are having to be creative without spending money on payroll. Sudden thought - maybe they're not even using agencies any more. It doesn't make the ads any better, necessarily, and I wonder if it will be effective advertising.

This morning, I was pulling the flyers out of the paper and one just jumped out at me. It was for Old Navy and all the models were mannequins. It was the strangest looking clothing ad I've ever seen. But, it did catch my eye. So, to that degree it was effective. What they sell is so not my style - they haven't lured me to their store. But, it works on a lot of levels.

I wonder if this kind of restrained advertising will be our future? Or will we just return to the old ways when the economic crisis is over? I suspect the changes are here to stay if the advertising methods work to sell the products.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Leeks' progress

You win some; you lose some. The tiny leeks are still not very big. Unfortunately, there are always hungry bugs and we lost one of the three. But, over in one of the other seedling homes, a second leek has germinated and is now the same size as it's siblings. Obviously, this is one tough leek. I've unwound it from the other and it now has a new home. But not the old, cursed site - all new.

Since the leeks aren't very photogenic yet, here are the last of the spring tulips. I love the subtle yellow edges on the pink petals. I'm a sucker for that color combination and these are my favorite tulips each year. I also was intrigued by the maple leaf shadows on the tulip bloom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Past and present

This is proof that I haven't adapted entirely to the world of high-tech gadgetry.

At a recent family gathering, I had to look up a phone number. My son's reaction to seeing the address book was: " I can't believe you still have that book!"

Now, I'm not sure whether he was aghast that I'd had it for over 40 years or whether he thought I should have embraced some other wizard way of capturing the information. But I started looking at it differently.

I saw the shabby and torn cover for the first time. I could see all the scratchings of old addresses and new ones inserted. All the different pens and pencils which had been used. Certainly not going to win me any prizes in the neatness stakes. I pictured it on a CD to give scale. It's really very tiny.

Ah! No matter. I have an archeological document: forensic anthropology right here in my hand. It shows what's been happening behind the family and friends scene since I was in university. Since I had friends who didn't live just across the road. And family was sometimes far away.

There are addresses for friends who have moved many, many times. And entries for a very few friends who have never moved at all. Some of the people listed are no longer living but all have been important in my life. All sorts of birthdays are listed on the back cover. And I've kept it current so all three grandbabies and a great-nephew are there in the continuum.

I'm very grateful to have had the addresses in the back of my mom's teenage diary as it helped when studying family history. I've known people to buy a new address book and make it all tidy again. Me? I think I'll keep mine just the way it is. And keep on adding to it. It'll be valuable to that son one day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Getting real

We're finalizing the details of our trip to Ireland in July. All that finding of hotels and deciding which nights are spent where. The actual locations we're visiting have been worked out already.

Sometimes, it would be nice just to go without a plan and wing it. But I am the spontaneous one and travel with an organizer and it's best to let organizers get on with it. In the end, I appreciate knowing I will have a place to lay my head. It all works out.

This is my great-grandfather who came from Ireland. I think we may have better travelling conditions but just as beautiful scenery. The photo was taken in Nova Scotia.

The more concrete the plans become the more exciting it is. I'm having visions about Dublin and all the places I want to see there. And all the other towns we're scheduled to visit, too. I doubt there's enough time to do everything I dream. Isn't that always the way?

One thing that has surfaced in my mind. I will be computerless for a whole two weeks. I'm not sure I can stand not blogging and sharing the fun and photos as they happen. Just a two day road trip generated so much stuff. So, I'm researching lightweight notebooks at the moment. I figure if we carry a camera why not a computer?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Here are my offerings for today's Ruby Tuesday hosted by Mary/the Teach.

First, some winter 'flowers'. I love the way frost makes such beautiful patterns on glass. The red behind the frost is actually part of an antique stained glass window which hangs inside the garage.

And I have a spring flower, too. It's a tulip which is almost ready to drop its petals. This was taken in Nelson, BC. I really loved the pale blue inside. Most tulips are purple or black.


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