Thursday, April 29, 2010


The march of the rhododendron blooms continues...

This one isn't truly ours but most of the tree drifts over to our back deck.  We have the same one in our front yard.  This one not only has a pretty-in-pink blossom but it also has the most heavenly scent. 

Anne took the camera out after our latest rain storm just for this.

But lest you think this the most perfect tree, I have to point out a little fault.  When the blooms fall, they also drop the outer covering which is extremely sticky.  One sticky bit attracts others and our feet have great clumps on them after walking under the trees.  Once unstuck, though, the glue seems to be gone and they never stick again.  Do you think there could be a useful application of this sticky stuff?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Seal of approval

A few years ago, we were out on a Saturday morning enjoying the garage sales.  We happened to admire this plant in one of the vendor's gardens...

We knew it was a kind of Solomon's seal but were only familiar with the wild ones we'd seen in the forest.  And they were called False Solomon's seal.  We were excited to see the real thing!

The woman who gardened promptly offered us some plants.  No, she insisted that we take some! 

They do multiply but very slowly.  We had about three plants originally and now we have about 9.  So, not really invasive.  But so pretty in a fresh green way. 

I love the shapes and textures of the leaves - and the beautiful way that they catch the spring light.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

A lazy Sunday continued...

We found these lovely flowers - and red railings -  while walking among the apartment buildings.  We actually looked at some places for sale. 

The first one we looked at had three bedrooms and huge balcony/decks with  a marvellous view over the city, the water and the mountains. The cost?  Just under $3 million.   Just looking!

You can look - for free - at more ruby reds.  Visit Mary T here for her Ruby Tuesday meme.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

Yesterday was my kind of day. 

From this daisy-covered spot by the beach we could sit in the sunshine...

And watch the ships at anchor.  They weren't doing much on a sunny Sunday either.

 For more mellow yellow, visit Drowsy Monkey who starts our weeks with this fun meme.  It's right here.

Sunday wonders - E

E is for Edge.

Some edges we want to stand back from and peer over while staying safely on solid ground.

Or we can stand on an edge which is more friendly.

No matter what kind of edge, we humans are drawn to them.  I wonder why? 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tiny life

I think it must be the mother in me.  Growing the veg from seeds is so like having children.

You wait and wait for your baby to enter the world.  The imagination works overtime wondering about everything from gender, to looks, to talents and even, whether he or she will like you for a Mom.  I don't get quite so carried away with seeds but I do wonder what the plants will look like, will they thrive, will there be any produce or will we be overcome with over-abundance.

Like most parents, I used to stand in wonder and watch the babies  and, often,  creep to their door to listen to them breathe as they slept.  So, with the little seedlings, I visit at least twice a day to check on their progress and whisper words of encouragement.

As you can see, I'm not a farmer of veggies.  I really am a sentimental gardener.  Pretty soon, thinning the wee plants will be necessary.  I know I'll just want to find another corner of the garden for them to live and prosper. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our bird nursery

The chickadee babies have arrived!

Mom and dad have been very busy flitting from tree to shrub to clematis trying to find enough food for their hungry chicks.

We have no idea how many chicks there are - it could be as many as sixteen.  It'll be about two weeks before they come out of the nest so we can count them.

Meanwhile, it's hard work to keep everyone happy all the time.  Some of these photos aren't the best but we have to take them from inside the house through glass with a zoom.  And those little birds move all the time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Sometimes, the most wonderful treat is a cup of tea.  Nothing fancy - a tea bag in a white china mug will do.  This was one of the most welcome cuppa's I've ever had.  Funny how a photo can take you back to the mood and feeling of a time. Last summer,  I was tired and footsore from walking, walking, walking the streets of Dublin.  Near St Stephen's Green, there was a cafe with two tables on the pavement...

For more Ruby Tuesday experiences, join Mary T here.  Better yet, find a photo with red in it and join in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

Every time I look at these tulips in the garden, I think of the old song "When You Wore a Tulip" .

I first learned it in Grade 4 and thought it was kind of a mean song putting down the person who wore a  smaller, less flashy, red rose.

You can just see the wee spider that has come to share the glamour.   I think I'll request this song at our singing group this morning.  Feels right.

For lots more yellow, check out Drowsy Monkey here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday wonders - D

D is for dancing.

When I was about 11,  a dance teacher came to our town.  I had always wanted to take ballet lessons and so I started.   I enjoyed it for about two years - and then I grew.

The other night, I was at an event where the entertainment was provided by a tap-dancing group.  Oh, I was taken back to those former dance lessons.  Back then, some of  my friends were also taking tap.  And I loved how their shoes made such a joyful noise. 

Dancing is such a joy.  When we're babies, it's all about making the body move.

We discover the social aspect as we get older and we have some encouragement.

Some folks join dance groups to be social and to keep body and mind active.  Oh, yeah, it's fun, too.

Others have to be cajoled into trying out a few steps of a folk dance.

Dancing, which comes so naturally to us when we're young  for some reason becomes a performance sport.  We watch others having the fun and usually sit out when invited to have a turn.   For those special occasions, we might worry that we have to be step-perfect before we can take to the dance floor.

But for a few minutes on Friday evening, I was wondering where I could buy some tap shoes.  Those ladies looked like they were having the time of their lives..and making a happy sound, too.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Some years ago, I was very involved in Girl Guides.  One of my fellow Council members knew we had just bought a house and we were stepping into our garden's journey.  Now, Terry lived a three hour drive from me and I had never seen her garden.  But she said that she had the perfect plant for Girl Guides and wanted to share it with our garden.   Meet "Freckles".

She claimed that the flower was a perfect match for the - then - navy and white uniforms that all the adults wore.  But when Terry said she was also a  violet I was hooked.  I think of violets as shy little plants.  They hide in corners of the woods and their blooms peek out from the undergrowth.  Well, maybe some violets do that.  Not Freckles.

She is a very assertive violet, thank you very much.  To our horror, she began to send out roots which became, over the years, big and knobby.  Her flowers were as sweet as could be, though, so we left her to grow.  Her stomping ground is getting bigger every year and she's a flourishing ground cover.  Her knobby roots remind me of elbows shoving the other plants aside and taking over the tiniest bit of soil. 

But, I think that she is the perfect reminder of those early Girl Guides and Girl Scouts:  feisty, strong women who were no shrinking violets.   Did you know that Girl Guides of Canada celebrates its 100th birthday this year?  I have a vision of the long parade of Freckles-type women through those years.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ready for their close-up

Remember this sock yarn I bought a couple of weeks ago?  The one I could hardly wait to get on the needles?

Voila!  I love the colors - but the yarn, not so much.  Oh, it's nice and soft and it knits up easily.  But the spinning is uneven and every now and then there are great thick sections that look like darns in the sock.  And the color pattern is not sock-sized.  No way could I ever get a matching pair. And, no, that's not important.  Now I am wondering if I had started at the other end of the ball for the second whether it would have matched. 

So.  Enough kvetching.  I really love the way the colors blend into each other.  That was a huge plus and the long color repeat kept me knitting ,  waiting for the next hint of what was to come.  The wool is very warm, though, and these will definitely be boot socks.  So, into the drawer they go.  Just too warm for them now.

One interesting plus to this yarn.  It seems to go on forever.  I could have knit a whole other sock with what's left.  And I made the tops extra long.  Know any three-legged women in need of warm hiking socks? 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Strange find

One of my volunteer jobs is restoring donated dolls - and the toys with hair - to their former beauty for resale at a local church thrift store.

Yesterday, I had a huge Rubbermaid container full of interesting offerings.  After removing a small mountain of clothes to the laundry basket, here's what I had left to work on:  Barbies, Bratz, babies and My Little Pony.  Even some GI Joes  - don't you love that guy's big wavy black hair?

But the best of the treasures is this Miss Piggy-like doll.  Since I've never seen Miss Piggy sans clothes, I'm not too sure who - or what - is represented here.  I have nothing in my clothes 'cupboard' to fit her curves but she has come in her own corset-type garment.  And, did you notice the size of that diamond she's sporting on her ring finger?

  Ooh, la, la!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's spring!

I know...I keep saying that!  Well, even though it came early-ish, there was a kind of retro thing going on when the first wave of snowdrops and crocuses came and went.  Then things kind of stalled and the rain and cold came back.

But now it feels warmer.  It's more comfortable to be out in the garden.  The heavier winter raincoat is put away until fall.  Yes!

And the rhododendrons are blooming.  These are not the earliest but they are my favorites.  We find that our rhody blooms come in waves...we have 13 of these trees on our lot.

The lovely pale yellow blooms are my number one favorite.  I love the bit of pink on the edges of the petals.  It doesn't show much after the flower opens.

The pale pink is pretty, too.  It fascinates me how there can be so many shades of the same color.  Our two earliest rhodies are pale pink but not like this.  They're more like a candy pink.  These seem shell-like to me.

The next waves of bloom will be much brighter:  dark pinks, purples and magentas.  There's even a gorgeous darker pink with the most heavenly scent.  Some have black spots deep inside their blooms that add to the drama.  And these are not tiny bushes.  They tower over our heads.  Some have huge flowers that look like prom corsages.  Others are dainty and understated like the ones pictured.

I'm so grateful to the former owners for planting all these lovely trees - many years ago - to help bring in my colorful spring.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Knitting socks

On Saturday, I presented - led?, gave? - my very first workshop on how to knit a sock. I pitched the idea to our local rec. programmer last fall.  April seemed very far away then. 

Like most things, it started small.  There were only 3 people signed up.  That's not a bad thing as I'd never done it before and I didn''t know how much attention each person would need.  The participants were required to have knitting basics but there's a lot of interpretation to that.  Luckily, we had the use of a room in our senior center which is just like being in a comfy living room and we felt right at home.

I created a little sample sock pattern which included all the elements of any sock.  As you can see it is small, too.  These are the ones I knit up...the red one I knit with the participants as we moved along.   The brown is only the heel part of a sock to illustrate a different way of knitting the flap and the short rows.

My pupils were awesome.  In the 2.5 hours, we were only able to get the sample sock made.  The time just whizzed by!  One commented that it would be nice just to sit there all afternoon and knit.  No one  wanted to be in a photo but I did get one with a sock in progress.  She had never knit on 4 needles before - isn't she doing great?  Their delight when the heel emerged from the short rows was wonderful!

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  And I have a request to do one on toe-up socks.  And knitting on two circs.  Oh, gosh, I've got some studyin' to do before the fall. 

Since there's a bit of yellow in these photos, I'm using this for my Mellow Yellow Monday entry, too.  For more mellow yellow, visit Drowsy Monkey here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday wonders - C

C is for Checkers.  Well, actually a Checkered Lily (fritillaria meleagris).

Every spring, I wait anxiously for these flowers to bloom.  The  color design of their blossom is a great source of wonder for me. 

The way the two colors create the perfect  checkerboard pattern just blows me away. 

And, as if that weren't enough to get my attention...look!  here's one that's white-on-white checkers. 

These flowers don't last long and the bulbs are very slow to multiply.  But that scarceness just makes them more precious each year. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Other ways

Since I was on a distraction roll , running away from those deadlines - that does sound ridiculous when put that way! Anyway, we decided this would be the perfect day to get some much-needed gardening done.

We started with a trip to the nursery which is one of my favorite places to shop. I love shopping.   Shopping these days really means browsing since there's so little I need.  But 'just looking' is OK too.

Anyway, there we were at the nursery with a need.  We've been wanting to plant an Italian plum tree since last summer.  It's been hard to be patient waiting for spring.  Fall planting would have been OK but apparently, no one else wants to and the nurseries had no stock last fall.

We found our plum tree.  And then I saw an apple tree:  Cox's Orange Pippin.  This name was like a magic spell.  I went whirling off into my childhood with my father describing the best apples. This was one of them.    Can you see why I had to have it?

The rest of the afternoon was spent planting the trees.  Digging big holes and amending the soil.  Planting the trees just so and settling them into their new homes with a drink. 

Those reports can wait til tomorrow.  I need a cuppa now.  

Friday, April 9, 2010


What do you do when there are deadlines to be met?

Right now, I have an agenda to plan, annual meeting reports to write, a sock-knitting workshop to prepare for tomorrow and I should be designing my Project Yarnway bag.

But, I'd rather do some silly and unnecessary knitting.  Last week, when were at the yarn store, Deb and I saw this weird and totally wonderful yarn called Cocoon.   Deb bought a discounted ball to make a scarf.

Later, at home, we were talking about I-cord which is one of my favorite knitting tricks.  One word led to another and before you could say EZ, I was casting on to see if I could reproduce the 'cocoons' with short I-cord sections.

As you can see, it's a poor second cousin and I won't be making a lot of it in a hurry.  It's fiddly (you have to CO, knit, knit, knit, then BO and tie it before repeating the process for each one) but kind of addictive - like I-cord is.  But, I think it could be used as a trim.  Maybe knit up on its own it could produce the massed cocoon-effect of the knitted scarfs or it might be knit into a fabric in progress as a contrast color and/or texture.

OK...I really do have to get to those other things.  Those deadlines aren't very elastic.

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