Monday, August 31, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday

As the summer days get shorter, the yellows seem more mellow.

Here's a hollyhock with just a little sun left on it. It would have had more if the photographer hadn't got her head in the shot!

Visit Drowsy Monkey, the host of this mellow meme, for more yellow in the world.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday wonders - X

X is for Xeriscape.

Aridity isn't a problem in our neighborhood and so we don't often need to create a garden that will thrive without water. Nor is hot sun usually an issue. But one part of our garden space was a challenge.Between our garage and sidewalk we have a very narrow strip of ground which we struggled to make look better.

We decided that we had to do some research to put in appropriate plants for this space which became blistering hot on sunny summer days with it's southwest exposure. The strip of earth also didn't get a lot of the rainwater since it was under the garage overhang.

We came up with a groundcover that has year-round interest: geranium macro-rhizome. It has lovely big soft leaves that have a powerful scent when touched. Spring brings pretty pale pink flowers that stand high over the leaves. In the fall, the edges of the leaves turn various shades of red with the green. It remains green all winter and manages the dry heat well in summer. Perfect.

Its runners roots loosely and it's easy to create 'holes' to allow other plants to grow.

We also have bright chrome-yellow yarrow which dazzles from early summer through the fall.

Globe thistles have grown tall and are now on their second growth. Here's a baby bloom:

The milkweed ( see photo above right of this post) dies down just as the hollyhocks begin to bloom. They are now arcing gracefully over the geranium and giving us delicate color along this wall.

The letter X was the hardest in this challenge - so far.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday scene

An early morning view over Lough Leane in Killarney National Park, Ireland.

This was a beautiful walk through the trees - no rain but gray and cool. We felt right at home here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New projects

It's the season of new beginnings. School starts and the weather cools off. And even though I have some creative commitments, I've not felt very motivated this summer. It was too hot to work in the hooking studio/sewing room. It's also a SUN room facing south and west.

A little while ago, I was given a huge cone of yarn that is somewhere between sock weight and lace weight. It's also very prettily pink. I was inspired by Rudee to knit a shawl. However, it was summer and I couldn't face an intricate pattern with counted rows and complex stitch repeats. So, I decided to start at the bottom point and work up with a lace rib adding a stitch at each side every other row until I get to the size I want. I'll figure out a flouncy border later to balance the vertical lines. It reminds me of those pink chiffon scarves we used to tie around our ponytails.

I also have a quilt to make for my grandson who has turned 3. That is the magic number needed to get a Grammy quilt for your bed. I went looking in my fabric stash and discovered that I have a lot of girly stuff. I wanted bright colors and I had - finally - chosen a pattern. Quilt patterns are not created with boys in mind at all. I usually make scrappy quilts because I have so much in my stash and most of it is pieces less than a meter. But I figured I might challenge myself to stick to a few fabrics which means fewer, larger pieces. And I so didn't want to buy any more. Yesterday, I had all 16 plastic boxes out on the floor trying to choose. This is what I have come up with:

The working title is Keys to the Universe. Making up a title is the easy part.

And, not to be forgotten is the fact that Katie had her first birthday this summer. And, of course, that's also a lottery winner - you get a rug. For some reason, inspiration wasn't popping into my little gray cells. But the other day I sat down and sketched out an idea. I was trying to keep to a theme that I started with #1 and 2. I'm pretty happy with it. All I have to do now is hook it. I'm drawing it on the backing today and that's a lot closer to being done.

I'll update as I work through this fall. I wonder which one will be done first?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Imagined images

After reading some of your comments re the moorhen, I started thinking about how our imaginations work when we read.

For instance, I tried to remember what I had imagined a moor hen to be like. It's hard now that I know. But, I'm sure it was just a bird-shaped blob. It probably was brown and I might have said it looked vaguely like a quail or maybe a grouse.

I had never seen a castle before I went to Ireland. I have read lots about castles. I have seen pictures. But I wasn't prepared for the reality of the castle. The sheer bulk and size of it. Here's Castle Trim which we walked round, impressed by how long it took to get all the way around.

There's no way that a photo can prepare you for the sheer mass of the stone. The solidity and strength that is present in the building. It looms! And this is not even a very large castle. The next photo is closer and has more human orientation.

But, this isn't about castles - only my perception of them from reading. How often do we have our perceptions exploded when we meet the real thing? How many novel readers are frustrated by the casting of movie versions of the novel? Is it because there's too much detail? Or because the casting director got it all wrong?

When I was much younger, I was an avid Bobbsey Twins reader. I knew exactly what they looked like: dark, tall and slender Bert and Nan; short, plump and fair Freddie and Flossie. That was all the description I needed to make a picture in my mind. But, like the bird, it was kind of vague. I couldn't have picked the kids out from a police line up.

Is this how every one experiences imaginary images? What do you see in your mind's eye?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Can you see the tiny ruby red on the moor hen's bill? He or she was found swimming in a small wetland pond by the mills in Skerries, County Dublin.

At first we thought this was a coot, but the coloring was wrong. We quickly thumbed through the bird reference and there it was - a moor hen! I was quite excited because I'd read about moor hens in fiction. Obviously, I had no clear idea of what they looked like. Now, it's on my life-list of birds.

For more Ruby Tuesday, visit Mary T who hosts this great meme.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday

A beautiful golden butterfly for Mellow Yellow Monday. Found on our visit to Butterfly Gardens near Victoria, BC last spring.

This mellow meme is hosted by Drowsy Monkey who has more players listed here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday wonder - W

W is for Worms.
They are the heroes of our garden.

They spend the year here at home, eating all our vegetable waste and producing rich dark soil for our garden.

In the spring, we take the composted soil out by the shovelful - usually a few worms make it out, too - and spread it around. Our zucchinis are very happy with their nutritional supplement.

Right now, the worms have been gorging themselves on the bounty of the harvest's peelings. When food is plentiful, like any animal, the worms reproduce like mad. It's especially fun to find a wee nest of the babies. So tiny and often curled up in an egg shell. I occasionally leave the shells intact just for that purpose.

We always lose worms through the winter, though, so population control isn't difficult. And we can spread them out into the garden to aerate the earth there.

What wonder workers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday scene

Back to Ireland...

Isn't this a pretty city view?

This is a private cricket ground outside the University in Cork. At least all the clues we could see led us to believe it was cricket. There were several well-dressed older gentlemen having a chat near the clubhouse. They were keeping a wary eye on us that we didn't invade their sanctum.

We were more interested in what was on the hill behind because we had to walk up there to find the Butter Museum.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Just riffing on yesterday's posts and comments.

One of the parts of my life that I didn't mention is that I volunteer with a seniors' organization. One day, I learned that a person I thought I knew had been a weatherman before retiring. And I figured that was a pretty interesting occupation. I wondered why we didn't know this. Of course, it's because we'd never asked. Yet we know that everyone has their story. We will frequently ask a contemporary what they 'do'. Maybe we should be asking our elders what they 'did'.

I think partly this goes to our dismissal of the elderly mostly because we're so busy with our own lives. And partly, their under-valuation of their own lives and accomplishments. No, it's not easy to casually mention what great stuff we've done forty years ago. But wouldn't it be nice if it we had a way of finding out? You don't have to have been a' mover and a shaker' to have made an impact on society.

Since I'm getting to that 'elder' place - crone, you say? - I realize that I don't particularly want to regale others with my youthful deeds, either. Well, some just don't bear telling. And maybe it gets too hard to edit stuff out, so we keep mum. And, I'm not sure I want to share all my old skills and talents because maybe I'll have to get them out of that mothball-smelling cupboard. Then, it would be too hard to live up to all the expectations. It's easier to tell no one.

And, who wants to know what you did so many years ago anyway? Is it relevant? With each passing year it becomes less important to the world's spin. Having said that, one of my treasures is my Mom's diary which she kept as a teenager. I'm sure she thought it was pretty dull stuff but I find it a fascinating glimpse of her life then. It was a gold-mine when we were looking to add to family history information. Unfortunately, the later entries were made as she was learning shorthand and I can't read them. Some day, I'll take the old Pitman book and decipher it all. I'm sure they're not that spicy, though. She was my Mom!

This is one of my favorite photos...I just love the outfit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Morning reading

I read obituaries. I've been doing this since I was a teenager. When I first started reading them, I never knew anyone at all. Then gradually, I would see a name I recognized - a friend's parent or the corner grocery store guy when I was a kid. But then, as I grew up and my world expanded with university, then work, I knew more people. Now, after lots of jobs (paid and volunteer), with my kids all grown up, there's a huge network of people I've known through the years. Reading the obituaries now takes on more meaning.

I don't read them just because I might know someone, though. I enjoy the stories. It's too bad that people have to wait until they're gone for the stories to be told. Some obits tell a better story than others. And some folks have a longer story. But, we all have one. I especially like a story with a photo. And the best photos are two: one from their youth and one that is more current. It's interesting to see how life has told its story on the face.

It's considered not quite nice to tell your own story. But wouldn't it be good to have some input? I know how hard it was to write about my Dad when he died. All the practical stuff like cost and which papers and how long should it be? Photos or not? Just the facts? What facts? Or should it be creative, fun or even funny? There are all kinds written. And if the event is unexpected, it becomes even harder to make all those decisions.

This all came to me this morning as I read a particularly creative entry. I felt like a teacher giving marks for essays - and this one got very high marks. I wondered if the man had participated as it seemed so personal. Had he told them what to write? And how to say it?

I know that no one writes an obituary for my personal entertainment. And that's not really how I look at it. I am as appreciative of the effort as I am the sadness at the loss of a person who is loved. But, it's the stories. Sometimes, when I read about a person I have known, I am blown away by what they have done. No one knew. They never talked about their achievements since they probably didn't think much of them. Or they were so far in the past. Or even that time and memory loss had erased the story.

All of the above is probably a reflection of human nature. I wish I'd listened more when my parents were there to tell me the stories. I wish it were easier to know what elderly people have done in their lives before they are gone. I'm so glad that some people have managed to capture those memories and experiences. And I applaud their ability to present the story in a capsule form. And I thank them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Half done

The professional painters arrived early this morning. They'll be doing the hard parts of the house. You know, where you need a really long ladder to reach those peaks. And they get to fight the raspberry canes and the rose bush with the humungous thorns.

Here's what Anne's accomplished.

We're still standing around admiring it.

Of course, we can't see those sides. And my turn will come. Apparently, in a moment of weakness, I offered to paint the deck rails.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

We had been promised a sunny day today. This was the sun at about 7 am this morning. You can just feel the heat from that fireball. I've never seen the sun look exactly like that...the red aura is amazing. But, easy to see how an hour later that cloud cover was all burned away.

Go on over to Mary T's place to see other red sightings.

Mellow Yellow Monday

Not very mellow and mostly green...but there are bits of yellow, too. Check out those nifty feet. And his antennae are so long - I could only get half their length in the frame.

This guy was sitting on the barbecue the other night. He'd found shelter under the cover and showed no signs of wanting to get away from us. We had quite a long photo shoot. In the end he had to be encouraged to move - or be roasted. He moved.

Drowsy Monkey hosts this meme - look here for more Mellow Yellow Monday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday wonders - V

V is for Vintage: the stage between contemporary and antique. Today, I'm celebrating the Summer of Love. Two weddings (mine, Joanna's) and a road trip to California made this a year to remember.

So, this is me in a vintage 1969 outfit. Oh, I loved this costume. And, I did think of clothing as costume back then. Hmmm....I think I still do. A discussion for another post. I made this from a white and navy linen-like fabric. But the best part was the red, white and blue braid. Tying my hair back is a prized red silk scarf that I had purchased at I Magnin in San Francisco. I am walking on the beach at Boundary Bay.

The photo was taken by Doug Abrams, who with my then-husband, was a keen amateur photographer. They looked for interesting shots and did all the developing work themselves. The photos were always in black and white and many of them were worthy of an exhibition. It was carefully mounted on a heavy card and hung on a wall in my sewing room for many years. It's a vintage treasure...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday scene

This is a very small scale scene: the most beautiful mushroom growing out of a cow patty. Found on the path up to Bray Head on Valentia Island, County Kerry in Ireland. Isn't it pretty? Anne couldn't believe that I not only wanted this photo but that it had to be a macro!

The closest I can get to identifying it is that it looks like a member of the Coprinus family which doesn't help much except that it isn't necessarily edible. Not that it really matters because I would be too scared to eat a wild mushroom no matter what any book told me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Water, water, everywhere.

Anne was sitting down, taking a coffee break from the painting this morning. The conversation was something like this:

"Is it going to rain today?"
"Yes, it's supposed to."
"When do you think?"
"Today, sometime. But looking at the sky I'd say it's not far away."

Anne went outside to assess the situation and FLASH! then CRA-A-ACK! The storm was upon us and the lightening was very close. I swear that one strike was right over our house.

The rain began and Anne was scrambling to get the ladder and paint stuff inside. Then the rain really came down. It was like a big water can dumping on us. The gutters flowed over.

Out came the ladder again as she went up to clear any debris. I'm holding the other end, by the front door, which is sagging with the weight of the continuing deluge. Suddenly the water overflows onto my hand and runs down my arm and down the inside of my nightgown. It was so-o cold! Now I'm drenched. The gutter is cleared.

And just when we thought it was lightening up, the rain came down even stronger. Here's our road in front of the house. Looks more like a lake in a rainstorm.

We checked out back and forgotten on a chair was this little fellow who was put out to dry last night.

What? Me worry?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


You know when you have a small thing to buy and you go to the store and come home with stuff you didn't intend to get? That just happened to us.

The other morning we noticed that the toaster had a wee glow down inside. It could have been a burning crumb but it didn't go out. And it was burning with a weird yellow light. When we looked closer we could see that it had a funny wire that seemed to have a raw end. Not being an electrician - those of you who are may be laughing - I figured: hey! let's just buy a new one. They're pretty cheap, after all.

Off to the toaster - and other stuff - store and we hem and haw over which is the best deal. Of course, we don't want to pay more than we have to - right? Decision made, we wander through the aisles to the checkout. And on our way, we admire some of that other stuff.

It all happened pretty fast after that. Result: we now have a 32" LCD TV. The helpful young man said that his mom came in for cat food and left with a TV! But, we can't blame the young man. It was our impulse buy.

I am usually the one who goes for the new technology but for some reason had been dragging my feet on the TV issue. We've looked and I come away feeling slightly seasick with all the moving mass of huge screens on display. I have been perfectly happy with a 16" old-style tube effort. And I have resisted the comments from kids and friends about my dinosaur. But, Anne is working so hard painting the house, I think she deserves to be able to read the sub-titles when she's relaxing. So, that's why we did it. Me? I'm still getting used to the size. Adding insult to injury here, we now have to sign up for HD - the telemarketers will have won. It is already better picture, though. There I said it - OK?

And a big thank you to all you Keen shoe fans who have me convinced that my life would be happier with a pair of these great red shoes. I think I better stay away from that store for a while. I hear they come in many colors!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

This week I am presenting another 'guest' photo. Everybody likes Ruby Tuesday and today I had help from Penny.

She got some pretty funky sandals which seem to be cause for comment on the streets of Saskatoon. I like 'em. They look comfortable, functional and beautifully RED!

For more Ruby Tuesday ideas check in with Mary T.

Mellow Yellow Monday

Bright yellow floats are on fishing nets in Steveston, BC.

drowsymonkey hosts the Mellow Yellow meme - check out the other folks who play.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday wonders - U

U is for Underside. This was a tricky little photo assignment. I had to shoot blind since I couldn't see the viewfinder. There wasn't - in most cases - anywhere to lay down under the object. So, the focus wasn't always great. Or the photographer was in the shot. Who knew that your hand didn't hold things straight on? Or it just didn't look the way I thought it would. Here's the best:

a ceramic planter with cactus...

a seedhead on a clematis...

a macro - very hard to get focus - of a bracken leaf...

looking up from the bottom of my thread holder...

This is my favorite: melon leaf with oregano flowers underneath and silhouetted through the leaf . The raindrops are on the top side of the leaf...I was amazed that they showed through since it seemed so thick and tough.

This was fun. Looking underneath gave me a whole new perspective.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday scene

I'm starting a new theme day for myself. I'm leaving it with a vague title so I can be pretty loose in its definition.

This is my daughter and I on the beach below her house on Salt Spring Island. Most scenery photos that we take have no humans in them. I think that the two figures convey a quietness to the composition. Or maybe it just has some meaning to me.

The morning was just as pretty and peaceful as it looks here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last of the day

The last of the day-lilies, that is.

Up close, they seem to glow.

This will have to last me until next summer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


It was too hot to knit anything bigger than a sock and, anyway, I'd just finished a pair. So what can you do with leftover sock yarn? I'm glad you asked. You make a dodecahedron star, of course.

I like a challenge. And it could be sold at a craft sale, or given away to a baby or...
It turned out to be less challenging than fiddly. But that's OK, too; I like to fiddle sometimes. I had fun knitting it and that's what counts.

And, in the end, it makes me smile. I may keep it just for that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, we realized that the dry weather was perfect for painting outside. We had a carport that needed repainting after its winter rebuild.

So, instead of looking for leftover house paint we decided to go big. Let's paint the house, too! Here's the before:

Here's a beginning of the after:

We stop and admire it frequently. It's such an amazing change.

Of course, there's still a lot of wall to paint.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

My niece went to New York City recently. This is my souvenir of her trip. Great scouting...thanks, Jess!

Lots of other RT photos can be found here.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Vancouver's Pride Parade was yesterday.

This is my - she says - conservative sister after participating. She was supporting the Dr Peter Centre where she works. Their float theme was the Starship Enterprise. Look, she's still smiling. There's something about a parade.

Given the basic foundation piece (skirt), a sewing machine and a lot of imagination we came up with this costume in two hours on Friday night. Requirements: cool, cool, cool. I don't think it turned out too bad.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday wonder - T

T is for tendril. That tiny green vine some plants use to pull themselves out of the dirt and into the sunshine.

I love the name as it connotes the tenderness of the shoot. This twining melon looks so fresh and young on the older stalk of another plant.

Some are complex...

And some are very simple...

The wisteria performs its dance in the air above our heads...

And some, like this sweet pea vine , just seem to perform for the sheer joy of it.

Beauty of form as well as function. Aren't they truly wonderful?


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