Saturday, February 23, 2008

Two days of play

Nothing like an out-of-town guest to make 'Jack' stop working. It's been great to be a tourist. Even better that we had glorious spring weather: warm sunshine and crocuses in sunny corners. This is particularly important to our guest who flew in from -40 and nothing green in sight - only mountains of snow. On Thursday, we drove up the Sea-to-Sky highway to Squamish. Haven't been there in several years - so much has changed.
Those students at Quest University have got the most magnificent view. Wow! It just might be worth the price of admission. Lunch and great beer brewed on the premises (none for the driver, though - sob- she only had a taste) and then a very leisurely drive back to Vancouver. Long stop at Porteau Cove to watch the golden-eyes swim to and fro as they searched for food.
Yesterday was even better. A drive to Deep Cove, a labyrinth experience at the local church and honey donuts. Then gather up our books to trade and off to our favorite used book store. Such fun to pick out new books: my theme was all recent Canadian fiction. Nine new books to add to the shelf of 'to be reads'.
Our next stop was to Phoenix Perennials for their Hellebore Hurrah! event. So many different hellebores - mostly in bloom - under one roof. We have one lonely hellebore which I have mentioned before. The blooms are still buds so no idea yet as to appearance. But, we were not very reluctant customers and now have two more: Ivory Prince and Hot Flash. Look in the photo to see how prickly and uncomfortable the leaves look on the latter.
The last adventure was a walk along the waterfront in Steveston with gulls wheeling overhead. Two bald eagles did a fly past and a heron waited motionless on a rock in the big duck pond. We visited a very funky Romanian bakery. It's like a big barn inside with a small sales counter in front. All the back area is taken up with a huge wood-fired oven and long wooden counters where the bread is baked. Red and white woven cloths are draped on the walls but don't cover much of the rustic construction. To one side in the back is a small table set for a chess game with two well-used chairs. Only one kind of bread is baked but it is very tasty: whole-grain with a nice chewy crust. You can pick the loaf shape that suits you best but it all tastes the same. It was so good just torn apart and eaten as is...we were pretty hungry.

And that was it for the mini-holiday. Back to the rug now - almost finished.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doing it all

I have been reluctant to start a blog because I could never figure out how bloggers did all the stuff and had time to write about it, too. Now, I know that some knitters have been known to type with their toes while still knitting but my typing is slow enough without trying that. Talk about patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Yikes!
But, here I am back again. I've been doing all that hookin' , knittin and livin in the title. The rug is actually almost finished but I only have a picture of it half-done - too busy to take another pic. I decided to fill in the background with a modified hit-and-miss using two navy blue wools plus a couple of dark green. I kind of like the swirly effect - sort of butterflies in a night garden. Since the title is 'Butterflies Dream', I think it works. The deadline looms (Feb 27) and hooking is the fun and easy part. The dreaded finishing is what takes time.
I hate finishing anything I make. It would be nice to just have an assistant who liked to do that part. Weave in the yarn ends of knitting, block the garment, bind the rugs and put in the hems and sew on buttons. So tedious - and yet so-o important. Dream on...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mixmaster castle

Yesterday, A was cleaning up an old Mixmaster stand mixer for resale. When I saw it, I was immediately reminded of my Mom's great desire to have one. Around 1955, her ability to produce an edible cake suddenly ceased. They would fall, or have rubbery bottoms or just simply not taste the way her cakes usually did. She had no explanation for this and tried a number of remedies. The cake mix cure was the worst of all. Just not the same as Mom's and we all complained - my Dad the loudest. So, one day he came home with the marvellous Sunbeam mixer.

It was a beauty: all white with shiny black lettering and trim. Two wonderful white glass bowls that fit just so on the neat black turntable. There was a lever at the back to adjust for the large bowl or the small one. When the big handle was pushed sideways, the beaters fell out. There was another little lever under the mixer that would take it off the stand - you could take it anywhere and mix anything. The dial promised cookies, candy, bread and pies as well as those needed cakes. We kids had never seen anything quite so wonderful - we had yet to get a TV!

It was hard to say who was prouder of the mixer: Mom or Dad. I think Dad because he built this machine it's very own castle - complete with drawbridge. He built a cupboard where there was a space between the existing food cupboards. And then he added a shelf that was hinged and part raised up like a drawbridge to close the cupboard. The beautiful mixer stood inside this shelf and was safe from little fingers. When Mom wanted to bake a cake, she just lowered the shelf which was then supported on chains at either side. The mixer came out and she happily mixed and baked. I remember that all the cupboards and shelves in the kitchen were painted a sunny yellow enamel. The walls were papered in white with a cherries design. The cupboard knobs were made of wood and Mom had carefully cut out the little cherry pictures and pasted them to the yellow knobs then varnished over it. My first experience with decoupage.

The current Mixmaster is all clean now; it looks its age but still has 'good bones'. I wonder if a new-style mixer elicits such wonder in today's kitchen.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The groundhog is wrong!

Even though there is still lots of snow lying around, I can see spring creeping up on us. Yesterday, the varied thrushes were under the feeder happily scrounging the bits of suet dislodged by the finches. Today, the starlings have also appeared. I always forget how beautiful they are all decked out like Pearly Kings. The squirrels are chasing each other around the trees with renewed energy. And this morning, the Stellars jay began his greeting with his customary "chack, chack" but then did some very fancy whistling that I swear I've never heard before. Of course, they may do this all the time and because I didn't recognise it (until it came out of the jay's throat) wouldn't have known. But I like to think it's a special paean to spring.

And, the raccoons! Their appearance on our deck had more to do with snow and cold than with spring but they were such a treat to watch. Last fall, we decided to keep the large wicker chairs on deck but covered in plastic to the floor. Two youngish raccoons have found a nice place to wait out the cold by climbing up under the plastic of one. We did wonder why the snow had slid off the cover of that one chair and not the other. The best part was when the raccoons heard us in the house, they would slide out and walk over to the door hoping for a handout. Very hard to resist!


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