Friday, July 31, 2009


We have had, ever since we've lived here, a family of raccoons that pass through our back yard. In the summer they visit our neighbor's cherry tree and devour the fruit. I think he leaves it just for them since no one there ever picks any.

These lovely raccoons come through at night with the young'uns chittering softly and the adult(s) answering with authority. Almost every night, they leave the cherry tree, walk to a certain place on our grass and respond to the call of their digestion. Every morning, we clean it up.

The other day, we were building two more of our raised garden boxes and thought: those raccoons will have to find a new spot to use at night.

The next morning, we saw that they had accepted our box as an enclosure for their use. Is there no end to the ways that these critters have trained us?

We even grow strawberries just for them! We haven't managed to get a ripe one yet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swimmin' hole!

Hey! It's really hot here! Even the bush tits are looking for some relief.

The bush tits come around to get a drink quite often. But this is the first time, I've seen them actually take a dip.

Their technique is quite awkward - maybe they're afraid of water. They gather on the edges and look for a long time. Then, a big jump through the water with a lot of wing-flapping gets them in and out too quickly for my camera lens to capture.

The bird bath is a pretty popular place these days with birds, bees and even squirrels. If I were the size of Tinker Bell, I could swim there, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ruby slippers

I was digging around in my photo pile and came up with the perfect one for Ruby Tuesday. This is my grand-daughter last Christmas. The only thing better than ruby slippers would be a tiara to match!.

MaryT hosts the Ruby Tuesday meme. Drop by and check out other great red photos.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday

Today, I am celebrating the first of the harvest. We have a huge sage plant - you can only eat so much fresh sage! Last weekend we found some herb jelly recipes and decided to try a couple.

This is the sage jelly. It's a pretty mellow color, I think. I've never thought that the juice of the leaves would be anything but green. It turned out to be yellow. Tastes pretty good, too.

And if that's not yellow enough, you can squint at the bottom of the first jar - there's a bit of yellow label peeking around.

Look for more yellow ideas at Drowsy Monkey's place.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday wonders - S

S is for Snapdragon.

I love these old-fashioned flowers. Each winter, they are the second constant on my 'yes, please' list when Maria orders her seeds.

I love the tall clean shapes of the plants and the bright, yet somehow restrained, colors of the flowers.

Best of all, I love how the flowers 'snaps' open when you squeeze it. This game has been a joy since I was a little girl. I have enjoyed sharing it with many kids over the years.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


When we were getting ready to fly to Ireland, I was agonizing over the knitting I wanted to take. Guess how many rounds, I actually did on the socks that I packed away? Exactly 12. I was either too busy in the evening or too tired to even pick up the needles. But, I have finished the socks they are: my Northern Lights yarn all made up. I really like the sparks of color on the dark blue.

And, then, I went looking for the next project. I still had a sock yarn that I really liked in the stash. It's the lower skein in the photo: Arequipa from Peru, an alpaca with lots of pretty colors.

But I was a little tired of knitting socks and I thought maybe a scarf. I found this on aemmeliea's Not another Knitblog and set to work. I think it came out well - it's drying at the moment. And I'm thinking blocking wires would be a good investment.

Here's a close-up of that Eye of Partridge pattern. It's an alternating sl 1, k 1 pattern and forms a kind of layered fabric which will be lovely and warm in the winter.

I decided that the edge was rather plain with only the yarn-overs for relief and made a picot bind-off all around.

Now, I've moved back to socks. They're easy to work on when it's hot. I'm using a bamboo yarn (the pink one in the photo above) and saw the perfect pattern this morning on Knitty. The ribbing was done and I'm much too summer-lazy to create my own pattern. Then this morning
I saw 'Sunday Swing' and that was IT.

I love it when the universe is working with me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's in a name?

I used to hate these flowers. They seemed so stiff and took up a lot of space. Then my brother-in-law gave us one. We call it a Red Hot Poker and it's proper name is Kniphofia - say that three times fast. Apparently, it has another couple of names: Torch Lily and Tritomas.

There used to be a lot of flower stalks but recently we've been limited to one. This year is no different. Lots of little plants but only one has flowered. I stopped disliking them when it first bloomed. I watched it slowly acquire its colors. Then, just as slowly, the petals wither and a huge seed head is left. Then the chickadees visit and hang off the stalk pecking out the seeds.

I'll put up with anything to make the birds happy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Airport scenes

Our flight was delayed when we left Dublin last week. Wow! Already a week has flown by.

While we waited for our plane to arrive, so did many other people. It was a stormy day over Europe, I guess, because there were planeloads of folks waiting for their flights to Paris, Amsterdam and Gatwick. Of course, it's hard not to notice the scenes going on all around.

Mostly I like to watch the kids...
For instance, there were two little girls - maybe 8 years old - waiting to go to Paris. They were never bored as they made their own fun. The two of them choreographed several ballets and a couple of tangos. So, unselfconscious and lost in their art that they didn't notice that they had groupies. One was a little boy about 2 who had aspirations to the dance himself. Every move they made, he copied as well as he could. It was hilarious watching him echo their moves right under their feet . But these young artistes didn't notice him at all. Oh, he tried to get their attention. But it didn't work.

When they were tired of dancing, they dragged over their case and sat down to rest. Our young fellow promptly dragged his over, too, and parked himself as close as he could. His older brother was a little shyer but was also staying close to the action. Never once, did the girls look at the boys nor give any sign that they even knew that they had a fan club. Divas in training, for sure!

A second little picture that made me smile: a young man walking back and forth with a baby in his arms. He had a blue blankie thrown over one shoulder, a bottle in his free hand, a soother between his teeth and a big orange plastic W hanging from a back pocket of his jeans. Dad and son looked pretty content to wait it out.

When we finally boarded our plane, we noticed a late arrival being shown to her seat. A woman of later middle age was being settled in by the flight attendant. A second crew member placed the tiny baby in her arms and strapped her in. I created a few stories to go with this picture but I'll never know, really. I did notice, at the baggage carousel, that she no longer had the baby and that there were two young men helping her. Didn't really help with that back story, though.

That's one of the best parts of travelling...watching the people. Wonder who was watching me?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

For this week's RT, I'm sharing a find from Valentia Island, Co. Kerry

We never actually saw any bull. Lots of cows but this sign was as much bull as we got. I was not sorry for his absence since we had to walk through this gate to get to our van.

MaryT hosts Ruby Tuesday. Visit her here for more ruby photos.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mellow yellow Monday

Yellow is a popular color in Ireland...

this house near the harbor in Skerries...

and this lovely gate on the long downhill road into the harbor at Howth.

Visit Drowsy Monkey for more of Mellow Yellow Monday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday wonders - R

R is for rain.

Here in North Vancouver, it rains a lot. But, the odd thing is we never take pictures of the rain.

We can see it coming....

We can see the results...

in the moss-covered trees...

the snails that come out to play...

the drops of water left on the leaves and flowers...

And if we're really looking hard, we can see the rainbow and the end of the storm.

All pictures except the mossy tree were taken in County Kerry, Ireland, where it also rains.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Now that I'm home and have had a couple of nights sleep., I thought I'd take Mimi up on her challenge of things I liked and disliked on my holiday.

This isn't easy to do. I think I liked everything about Ireland so I'll just share some observations. Ireland is a different country and I wanted to go there for what made it different. Hard to say that anything should be changed since that would change the experience. Having said that, here's my offerings - in no particular order.

I especially liked:

1. The walking that is a way of life. Everyone walks. Short distances are given in walk times. The public transit in Dublin and Cork is very good - and gets good use - but you see many, many people walking.

2. All the 'green' measures that I encountered: dual or controllable flush toilets and electrical outlets that could be switched off were two outstanding ones.

3. The yogurt in Ireland is fantastic!

4. The train travel which was efficient, easy and so-o comfortable. Getting from one city to another or just riding the commuter train to the suburbs was always a treat. On longer journeys there was a cafeteria car as well as a trolley that came through the cars. The stations are clearly signed and, even though in old buildings, very clean.

5. Seeing work being done by people not machines. On the bus in from the airport, I started noticing that work which we in Canada (and the US) have relegated to bar-codes and noisy machinery provides employment. There are ticket takers on the trains and people at the stations who will help with information and directions - with a smile. I saw gardeners working with non-electric or gas-powered tools.

6. The food is almost always good. Nothing's perfect but my less-than-stellar meals were about two. I loved the soups which always came with delicious brown soda bread no matter how inexpensive the eatery.

7. The abundance of public toilets. These were everywhere and only when we were on top of a mountain or in a farmer's field did we have any concerns.

8. A fun hand dryer made by Dyson (yes, the vacuum cleaner inventor) which dried your hands in about 3 seconds flat. You put your hands in a slot and a tornado of warm air started up with the g-forces of a jet. These weren't common but were such fun.

9. That most of the cars were compact models. The delivery and work vans are small, too. I got quite fond of the little green postal vans. They were the same color as the letter boxes:

So, to things that could be improved:

1. It was often difficult, especially in Kerry, to find a place to put your litter. This was most noticeable at the beaches where we often ate our lunch. And I could make the case that we should have been prepared to carry our litter out with us. But at the beach we saw a lot of trash in the water which could have been avoided with a litter barrel. Or maybe some people will always be careless.

That's all I can think of. Really. I found more to admire than not.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


You know that day after a long trip over time zones? This was my view when I woke up at 4. 30 this morning. The sun is just starting its journey today.

I think I'll have a nap now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Home again

Two sleepy owls have landed!

We were up bright and early (5.30!) this morning to catch the flight out of Dublin. Which was delayed by 2 hours, then 2.5, and finally 3 hours.

Then, when we're all on board and the plane is taxiing to the runway - we stop. A couple of silly rabbits have got themselves in the way and have to be removed before we can continue. Another 15 minutes.

Of course, we missed our connecting flight in Toronto but Air Canada found us all seats. Just a short wait. We finally arrived in Vancouver at 3.30 am - Dublin time.

Glad to be home. Glad to see my bed. Have a shower. Get out of these clothes. Oops, wrong order...that's how tired I am.

It was all so worth it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Another lucky weather day. We left Dublin on the train - love those trains - and headed for Howth. We had wanted to go there yesterday but one town was enough to explore. So, today it was Howth. When we arrived it was raining and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to walk the cliffs.

This is a view from the road we walked up to get to the cliff path. We were going to come back if the rain was too much. It was so wet that I was covering the camera with my hat so Anne could take photos here.

These fishermen reminded us of Newfoundland with the yellow oilskins. I'm sure it was not too pleasant out there.

Just before the cliff path we passed a martello tower. These were built in the time of the Napoleonic wars and could garrison up to 25 men and were sturdy enough to withstand cannon fire. They also had cannons mounted on the flat roofs.

The rain dried up, the sun shone and we went cliff walking. The path was steep, steep at first and then levelled out. We tried to get a photo that would show how close to the edge we really were but it's gard to see. We are standing back from the edge of the path and with the strong wind that blew constantly, it was easy to imagine a wrong step sending you over the rocks. It wasn't really dangerous with a path that was usually about three feet wide and another two feet of ground beside it. Occasionally, the path went inland a few feet and seemed to tunnel through ferns and blackberries. Yuck! It was so humid and hot and green-smelling. I liked the fresh wind much better.

Still no puffins but we did find colonies of gulls nesting on the steep rocks. And lots of cormorants just resting on top of big pointy rocks.

We had actually intended to take a fairly short circle route along the cliffs and back to the village. We looked up and there was the lighthouse! This meant we'd taken a wrong turn somewhere. Luckily, a local man came swinging along the path with his umbrella rolled and ready. That was our clue that he was a local. He kindly gave us directions to the path out as well as to the nearest pub. Information which was music to our ears. This route turned out to be the 7 kilometer trail - our Kerry walking guide would be so proud of us.

After we left the pub we still had a long descent down to the village. We could have taken a bus but we're too tough now for that. So, we trekked down and down and down til we reached the harbor...

And here we headed for the train station where we actually found a train waiting to take us to Dublin. As we sped along the tracks, the gray clouds got darker and it was pouring as we pulled into Connolly station. Now, the sun is trying to shine again. We've had so many lucky days.

Now, it's time to start packing. This is my last post from Ireland. It's been amazing. I love this country. I'll have 12 hours of flying time to think of all the wonderful things we've done and seen. There'll be more posts about Ireland when I get home.


Yesterday, we jumped on a train and headed north. Our goal was a little seaside town named Skerries which we read had teo attractions: windmills and bird sanctuary. I have to tell you that Anne is still looking for the elusive puffins.

We didn't see any this time either. But we did see the windmills. 4-sail (above) and the 5-sail below. We had a wonderful tea in the cafe - the best scones I've ever tasted - but didn't take the tour.

Instead, we walked down to the seaside and along the beach so we could see the Skerries Islands. These are the sanctuaries and people are not encouraged to go there. Dire warnings about walking to the islands at low tide and becoming trapped - with the birds - keep everyone away.

Then we strolled around the town looking very native with our hats and backpacks - not! I saw a lovely little clothing shop with huge discounts and almost couldn't resist. It was only the thought that I would have to carry the stuff around the town and then back to Dublin. Did I mention that the women in Ireland dress very nicely? After two weeks with walking gear, it would be nice to dress up.

Here are some town shots...cute thatched houses, too.

We found a cemetery which was old as well as new. The interesting thing to me was the tower on the edge of the graveyard. Apparently, during the late 19th century, medical students paid well for cadavers to study their anatomy. These towers were built to allow the families to guard the graves for long enough that the dead were of no use to the bodysnatchers who made their living in this way.

It was the most beautiful sunny day until just before we headed for the train station. Then it rain. We were dry on the train, though and it had stopped by the time we reached Dublin. Good enough to join a literary pub crawl around Trinity College area.

The actors were good and their stories were funny. The quiz afterwards was a lot of fun, too. Not that we did well for Canada - USA took first prize and Germany, second. The extra pints of Guinness didn't seem to stimulate the little gray cells as we thought they would.
And so to bed.

Ruby Tuesday

Another Ruby Tuesday...this is the delivery door of a pub in Skerries, Ireland. The harps and kegs say it all.

More beautiful red photos here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday

It;s Mellow Yellow Monday. Here is a very industrious bumblebee mining a huge St John's wort blossom. We found it on a very tall bush - never knew they grew more than two feet - at Knockreer House in Killarney, Ireland.

Drop in here for more lovely yellow photos.


The tomb of the Hostages - no certainty that that is what it is - is an ancient ritual site on the Hill of Tara. We took a tour bus out to the Boyne Valley which is about an hour north of Dublin. The link will give you lots more information and photos.

Trim Castle is very big. We've so far been seeing smaller Norman houses and estates. I hadn't seen one this big around before. It was a defense castle with a moat. The dark line of stone at the bottom indicates how high the water used to be. It also had the vertical arrow slits which we've not seen before.

This is the entrance to the 'passage grave' at Newgrange. We went inside the mound through this narrow passage where we had to duck down as we walked.
The guide turned out the light in order to demonstrate the winter solstice phenomenon. I have never been in a place so completely black in my life. And with tons of rock piled above me. An amazing experience.

We got back to Dublin in time to have dinner with Mimi, a blogger I've been following for a while. This is the best part of blogging...actually getting to meet those people you've gotten to know online.

After dinner we walked home through Dublin. This is a view of the River Liffey from O''Connell Bridge. A long but really nice day.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin