Friday, August 31, 2012

Fifty Fridays #5

It was very hard to choose a photo today.  There seemed to be so many stories and memories running through my head as I looked.  So for no particular reason, I chose this one. 

I have always liked to drive.  I think it's something that was born in me, don't you?  I am clearly taking my three-point turning quite seriously. 

The facts:  this is my brother and I in the first house that I actually remember.  It was in the deep country then.  A few years ago, my dad and I made a pilgrimage to all the old houses.  Of course, we couldn't find this one as it had become the site of townhouses.  The fields, the trees and the houses all gone. 

What I remember is having no idea that there was danger in the world.  I could ride that little tricycle anywhere I wanted to - as long as I, more or less, stayed on the path.  My brother was always with me.  It was my job to look after him even when I was three.  It was well known in the family that if there was trouble to get into, Geoff would find it.   What no one knew was that I was the leader and he was my willing accomplice.  If  trouble found us, I was probably responsible.  Funny what the grown-ups will persist in believing. 

He was, I think, an adorable and happy baby.  Everyone said it so it must have been true.  I know he could make the most amazing car, truck and tractor noises from a very early age.  He had a thing for vehicles - still does - and you can see that his truck is very much the focus of his attention.  For years he has driven big pick-up trucks and you can see the beginnings here. 

What makes me laugh a bit is our clothing.  We look as though we were on our way to church rather than just fooling around in the back forty.  But my mother always dressed us this way.  She made most of our clothes and I'm sure would have sewed the plaid skirt.  The sweaters may have been knit by her but more likely by her step-mother who enjoyed knitting baby things.  It looks like I'm not wearing shoes and that is a huge possibility.  I was always taking them off.

Those woods still look just as big as I remember them to be.  Endless fields, trees and very few houses.  Across the road was farmland and our closest neighbors.  But to get there was down a long driveway on our side and another on theirs.  Now that road is a busy highway.  Glad I've got the pictures or no one would believe the changes. . 


Thursday, August 30, 2012


Or rather food gathering.

The other day, I went to the grocery store.  Not for the first - or even the thousandth - time in my life.  But every time I go I am struck by how inefficient is this process.

Have you ever thought about the number of times you handle that stuff?  Picking it off the shelves to fill your cart.  Taking it from the cart to place it on the check-out conveyor belt.  If you're in one of those pared-to-the-bone stores, you get to place it in the bag to carry home, too. 

Once home, the items are carried into the house.  Then they need to be put away on shelves and in the fridge.  I used to wish I could just take the kids to the grocery store and let them graze the shelves.  It would have been much easier. And that's just your part in the process.  I'm imagining all the other hands in the long chain from producer through prep and packaging to the loading, shipping, off-loading and shelf-stacking. 

I think it kind of makes the case for on-line ordering and delivery.  Even though it would deprive me of the fun of shopping for the stuff.  You see,  I actually enjoy the process just not the incessant handling of each item.  I have considered being a volunteer grocery shopper for seniors.  It would tick all the boxes for me.  But not yet...I'm still in the middle of other commitments.

As I look at the veggie garden, I think that this system is the best of all: walk outside;  harvest whatever; prepare and put it on the table.  Way more direct and a whole lot fresher.  But not entirely practical.  And that's why we have grocery stores.  Back to the beginning.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lunch mystery

Is it a girl thing?  Sometimes, there are interesting happenings and you just have to know why? how will it end?  
 There we were enjoying our lunch in Bruce's Kitchen.  Our dishes 'of the moment' as Bruce refers to his fresh creations made with what he has in the kitchen when you order.  I ordered a quiche which could have had zucchini in but came with leek because the zucchini was all gone.  That sort of fresh.  Just like your kitchen at home.  I loved it. 

The view was nice - not spectacular because it's not truly overlooking the boats in the marina.  But close enough.  And there was a delightful wind sculpture to watch as it twisted and twirled for us.

But soon there was another sight to attract our eyes.  A bride.  At least that was all we could think of given her white dress.  Not a traditional dress but pretty.  She reminded me of some sort of woodland fairy dressed in a white lace skirt.  Being curious, we watched the little knot of people as it ebbed and flowed.  Now, really, there were only ever four people in the group.  Some came and went.  Some went and never came back.  The bride was always there.  Getting ready.  Putting on a garter.  Adjusting her hair.  Changing her shoes.  Ah, we thought.  It's a photo shoot before the wedding.  But there were no cameras being brought out. Hmm...curiouser and curioser.

One of the returnees was a man with a carrier bag.  From this, the bride had taken out the garter and the hair fancy.  Now she took out what seemed to be a rabbit-sized bra.  She held it up to her face like a mask.  Mask?  We exchanged looks.  Now what would this be for?  The mystery deepened.  Then, the bra was tied over her eyes and, just like that, she was led away towards the parking lot.  What happened?

We were almost finished lunch but not quite ready to jump up from the table and run after them to see what was going on.  We speculated amongst ourselves - and with others at the next table.  The conclusion was: yes, it must be that she is being whisked away to a mystery location for her wedding.  Now, that's trust.

My daughter figured they were heading to the dock to get on a boat.  It was a lovely day, so it seemed a likely idea.  Pay the bill, quick!  Hurrying through the parking lot, we spied the honeymoon car all ready to go.  We had the story right, we figured.

 Then, we hung out by the Coast Guard station trying to see any boats that would fit the bill.  All I could see was this lovely old boat.  Fishing?  Tug?

Then, someone spots the tiki-boat way out on the water.  It's like a thatched beach hut on the water.  Yes, says my daughter, that would make sense.  They're probably headed for Chocolate Beach, she mused. 

Quick, get out the zoom lens.   You can, if you squint hard and use some imagination, see the bride in her white dress. 

This is a view of Chocolate Beach.  Would you be happy with this mystery destination?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Room with a view

I like to visit cemeteries.  Most of the time I have no idea who is buried there.  It's always interesting to read the grave markers and imagine the stories.

In this one, I don't have to imagine quite so hard.  Here on Salt Spring Island is where my parents and younger brother watch the world spin on.

This is their beautiful view.   Essentially  this cemetery is a mowed and fenced field .  It was donated to the church because the original cemetery was being outgrown. Now, almost forty years on, it is still a pretty sparsely populated place.  I'm sure no one could have predicted a slow-down of custom. 

But, being a less busy place and off the road more travelled isn't a bad thing at all.  Bees hum in the lavender which grows all around.

Deer munch their way through the field and the only thing that worried them that day was the dog barking at the farm down the road. This mother and faun were part of a larger family of five. 

No one had come to pick the blackberries in the hedgerow so we obliged.

Though, we had only travel mugs to fill, we managed to pick enough for two breakfasts. 

Mom, Dad and Howard do have a few neighbors to keep them company.  I love the decorations on this piece of cement.

And, if I have to have a stone, this would be the sort I would like to have.  It looks as though it was always there, doesn't it? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Wonders - H

H is for Holiday.  While it wasn't the last little trip ever, it was probably the last in such warm sunshine-y weather.

Last week we took a couple of days off and went to visit my daughter who lives on Salt Spring Island.  On the way, we met a dog who was keeping guard over the van.  He was  just a puppy and very friendly.  

While there we had a lot of adventures packed into a those few days.  Today is only Wednesday.  First, we went to a nursery.  It was the most beautiful plant store I've ever been in.  My photos can't do it justice and half the time I forgot to take a photo being so busy admiring the plants.  Luckily, we had more than one camera with us. Here is one view - thanks, Anne.

And here is another with a tiny gardener admiring his handiwork.

We visited two wineries and the tastings were good enough to get our money out for a few bottles.  Here there were no dogs standing guard over the vineyards...just geese.

Such a serene setting for sitting in the sun with a glass and friends.

 Then, a visit to the goat farm to see how they make their famous cheeses.  And to buy some, too.

Goat's milk gelato - mango flavor.  Yum!

The best place, though, was the bakery.  Drive, drive, drive down a long road to the south end of the Island.  Then up a long winding farm driveway to the top of a hill.  Where we could see the ferries passing by on their way from Victoria.

This is where the poor baker has to toil.   If you just turn to the right you will see a view like the one above. Or you can just walk out into the lavender.

The loaves are all baked in a wood-fired brick oven.  And ready to be taken home for dinner.  They had had about 200 people visit that day and we didn't have too many choices left.  For our dinner?   Caramellized onion bread plus a loaf of that chocolate bread for dessert.  With the cheese, wine, olives  and a few green  beans from my daughter's garden,  it was a meal for queens.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Stash

Today, I'm bringing exactly one finished item.  Afraid I've been not knitting very much.  Too busy visiting and sight-seeing.  More on that in another post.

I clicked the needles extra fast so that I could have something to report that was finished.  And here it is...a basic kimono jacket for baby.  Comfy Kimono is very simple.  Very quick to knit.  And I think very easy for a baby to wear.  This one goes in the craft sale box.  I've discovered that I'm not very good at predicting what will sell.  It seems that my knitting adventures don't always coincide with what the buyers want.  I'm pretty confident with this one, though.

Progress is being made on the cardigan but I've only just reached the mid-point of the back.  I've not been too stressed about getting it done since the weather is still warm and I doubt I'll be needing it for a few weeks. 

And, while I spent time on ferries, this was my travel knitting.  I am now halfway through the second sock.  It's definitely a good thing to have had the long period of time in between socks.  I've found at least three errors in how I wrote the pattern.  And we're not done yet.

While the weather is good, I think I'll dye some more of the sock yarn.  I still have four blanks to play with and I have some ideas.  Always a good combination. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fifty Fridays - #4

I've been sorting through photos from my few days away this week.  It was probably the last little road trip of the summer and we had a lovely time. Naturally,  that means my family pics have had a bit less sorting this week.

But I do have one.  This, of course, is me.  It was taken before my 2nd birthday and it was at my Aunt Myrtle's house.  That's my dog Mimi with me.

I don't remember the occasion.  In fact, I don't remember visits to any relatives because we had none on the West Coast.  And everything I know about this photo is from family stories.   At this point in my life, I was called Deedee because I couldn't say Stevie which was my nickname.  Much hated by me and never used beyond the age of four!

The toy dog I do remember.  It was a flattish black dog by the time my memory kicks in.  It's fur was worn thin by then and at least one seam had split.  I can remember straw poking through the hole.  It sure wasn't the cushy soft feel of today's stuffed toys.  Her name should really be spelled Me-me, I guess.  That's what I said when I saw her and the name the story goes. 

 I like my little knitted dress, socks and the white pinafore.  So true to the period. And I like the way I'm laughing.  I wonder what was happening to make me laugh like that? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Wonders - G

G is for Gastropod.
Sometimes, I have a great photo and I have to search for a word.  More likely, a great word pops into my brain and I have to find the photos. 

This week's word didn't actually pop into my mind.  It was sort of  just...there.  Waiting.  And, since I like snails and slugs, I know that there will be at least one great photo to share.  But, look!  I have two of each.  This is a local - and very common - snail tucked into a leaf of hellebore right in our front garden. 

And, from  much further away: we found this snail hanging out on a rail at the University College Cork in Ireland.  They do look quite different.

Slugs are not everyone's favorite animal, but this leopard slug from Salt Spring sland is very pretty.  In a sluggish sort of way.

And, closer to home: a Banana slug just doing its best to clean up the forest floor.   I really do like these forest creatures.
 However, I am not so fond of the common garden slugs that eat the tender green plants.  As you can see, I have NO photos of them. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Stash

Everything's printed and stapled and ready for distribution.  Now I can concentrate on the knitting for a few days. 

Last week, my knitting was all about the Sidewinder skirt.  Those gores were so addictive. With the yarn being a further plus.  It's a very springy yarn and seems to want to knit itself.  Really.  So nice on the hands after cotton and acrylic stuff for the babies.   The skirt is finished except for the elastic waistband.   I will get a photo on the model but not until after this heat is gone.  If you think I'm even trying on a wool skirt today.  No-o-o!  Ain't gonna happen. 

But, thinking that cooler weather is ahead and there's half the stash of this nice yarn left.  What to do?  A cardigan seemed to round off the twosome nicely.  It makes me think of pearls and twinsets.  A blast from my past, for sure.  So, trolling the patterns, I chose this short-sleeve cardi from Drops.   I thought that it would go well with the skirt for a put-together look ( not my usual day-to-day style) or look pretty good as a topper on its own.

And, now I have to catch up on my reading.  Maybe look for a couple of 'little' patterns to provide some variety this week.  ' Course I still have the other Woodstock to go but my feet aren't exactly crying out for wool socks right now.  So I've put them aside for a while.  This will be the test of my pattern-writing skills.  Can I figure it out after a few week's hiatus?  Stay tuned.   

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fifty Fridays - #3

Peering out from under the stack of copy for the newsletter, I see that it's Friday!  Already?  I have to catch up with everyone but I'll just share this photo.

This is my mother and her raccoon coat.  The facts?  It was taken outside the fourth house we lived in after moving to the west coast.  (It's the third that I actually remember.)  I turned six that winter but for some reason I'm cut out of the picture - only my leg is there.  I guess I wasn't the star that day.  I have to say there was nowhere to take those sleds - it was a very small yard. 

The memories it evokes are many.  But this is about  my mother's fur coat which is part of her love story.  When she and Dad married, so she told me, they made each other promises as young couples do.  She promised that he would never be hungry - and she certainly kept that promise.  And, he?  Well, he promised that she would never be cold.  They came from the Maritimes and the winters there were cold. Not so much here but I know that they were colder sixty years ago than they are now.

Dad kept his bride warm with a fur coat.  Mink was out of the question on his budget, but raccoon was doable.  I remember the long, soft hairs of this coat.  The soft, downy fur underneath.  I loved the wavy nature of the colors and the way they blended into each other.  It seems funny when raccoons roam through our neighborhoods now, but I had never seen a real raccoon then.  And, of course, now some would shudder to think of wearing the fur of those cute little yard bandits.

Mom took great care with her coat.  As soon as the weather became too warm to wear it, the coat went straight into the Eaton's fur storage.  It didn't reappear until fall chill deepened into winter.  I remember one year, being allowed to wear it to high school.  It was perishing cold and for some reason, Mom thought I needed to be extra warm.  I felt so grown-up and was sure the stares were envious.  Now, I'm not so sure of the envy.

In the 70's, Mom gave the coat to me and sad to say, I didn't give it the care that she had.  Eaton's no longer had summer storage and I couldn't have afforded it anyway.  But I do have two very clear memories of wearing it then.   One in the early days of coat ownership:  me with hair in long braids, wearing the coat while driving our bright, yellow Boss 302 Mustang in Vancouver.  Now you know where our money really went.  And, two, in the ealy 80's: dressing up as my favorite rock artist for a party at my sister's.  I chose Janis Joplin -I would still choose her today! - and the coat worked perfectly with the rose-colored glasses and the rest of the costume. 

Unfortunately, time and lack of care were not kind to the fur and it lived its last days in a trunk.  I salvaged the inner lining which was a lovely dark green wool plaid for my rug hooking but the fur was beyond help. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday wonders - F

F is for Flowers.  And for Fruit.

There's not a lot flowering in our garden right now.  The nicest part of the garden is the vegetable patch because that's where these beauties are.

That's right!  Sweet peas.  I plant these every year but I don't always get such a lot of color.  Or scent.  This is a great year and these blooms have a strong, carrying scent.  Anywhere when I'm harvesting, I can enjoy them. 

It's funny about the sense of smell.  I couldn't imagine the scent of sweet peas or the aroma of apple pie baking.  Not the way I can a sound or a touch.  But I sure recognize smell a lot faster than I do sounds.  I wonder why that is?

Oh, I promised some fruit, too.  It's no wonder I thought of apple pie...this is the first year we've had any crop - at all - from our little Cox's Orange Pippin.  This year, I think we will be able to fill a medium sized basket.  Isn't it a pretty apple? 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Stash

Oops!  I went and bought some yarn.  Poor Ted the Bear has been begging for a picnic in this fine summer  weather.  But he had nothing suitable to wear.

So, I made the mistake of visiting Michael's (always a mistake, anyway) with a discount coupon in my purse.  This beautiful aqua cotton yarn jumped into my hand.  Yes, it did so.  Now Ted has a new bib and he's ready to dine al fresco. I know it's not stash but it will go into the donation basket.  OK?

That bib was just a hiccup in my skirt construction.  You know, there's technique and then there's technique.  In my piano practicing I don't like to play scales as much as arpeggios.  Knitting is no different.  This skirt is one of the best projects I've knit.  It has short rows which seem to amuse me.  And it has those amazing I-cord welts.  Some construction methods are clearly more satisfying than some others.  And that makes any project playtime.

Now,  having put this task off for as long as possible, I shall turn to the newsletter that is due out on Tuesday.  It would be more fun if I could write about knitting. you think? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fifty Fridays: #2

Today, this seems like a daunting challenge I have set for myself.  Looking back at so many old photos...which to choose?  Which has the best story?  Which stories do I really know?  And there are so many photos in the selection box.

This one is me, my Mom and my baby sister.  I don't know who took the picture but it was definitely my Brownie box camera.  The facts: I must have had my 9th birthday because the Christmas decorations are up.  Ros is about six months old and we have been living in this house since before she was born.  The house is rented and it is HUGE.

The downstairs has a kitchen plus a kind of work pantry where dishes were washed.  The den was our living room.  There was a formal - really formal -  dining room.   There was a huge room that was more like a ballroom than a living room.  It was definitely made for grand receptions.  Upstairs, the master bedroom has a wonderful covered balcony.  I can't picture the bedrooms but I do remember the airing cupboard.  The grounds are large - like a park - and there are lots of trees dotted around.  Many years later, it was re-purposed as a nursing home. It was very elegant at one time and I know that my mother loved to wonder about the dinner parties and gatherings that would have taken place here.  I'm sure that the one-time owners would have had servants to help manage such a home.

What do I think of when I look at this photo?  I remember being a Brownie.  We were much older than today's version.  My tie could be made into a bandage or a sling and folding it right made me feel very clever. And the brass pin had to be polished just so.  I remember finishing the school year at my old school which was 1.5 km away across a busy highway.  Not as busy as today, though!  When this photo is taken, I'm at my new school -  a much more manageable .5 km distance.

Having a baby in the house was a big change for me and my brother as we had been the only kids for seven years.  I hadn't really had any experience with babies before but my memories are not unpleasant ones. .  I remember my dad was ill and, for most of that year, he recuperated at home and took baby-care to heart..  She was a very well-cared-for infant!  And she was always happy.

I have an image of my brother and I roller skating around the huge ballroom place.  This was in the days of metal-wheeled skates.  You know, the ones with keys.  And the floors were beautiful hardwood.  It was a perfect place to skate but I cringe when I think about it now.  What were our parents thinking?  I'm guessing it was in the rainy weeks.

Living here was a happy time for me.  There were lots of kids around to play with and, of course, I was older and could do more interesting things.  It was here that I began my horse-riding phase.  And my brother and I would ride our bikes everywhere.  There was the most gorgeous hill that swooped and curved.  I know we occasionally flew down without hands.  Dares and challenges were a big part of kids' life back then.  And, luckily, for us it, there were only minor scrapes and bruises. 

The house was just a stopping point for us.  Before that school year was finished, we were on our bikes, scouting out the new neighborhood  - the next town - where Dad was buying a house for us.  We felt like explorers setting out to find the New World.  We were heading into the 'here be dragons' part of the unknown.  It was exciting and scary and sad all at the same time. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


There were some people who thought yesterday would never come!  A new Lego store opened in Vancouver in the spring and we were so excited to go and see what they had.   All my kids played with Lego - some with more dedication than others, as will always be the case.  And now, the grandkids are finding their way to Legoland. 

All four have birthdays  from July to September and we planned an expedition to celebrate.  It started out as a Lego store visit and became a shopping adventure which would cater to everyone's desires.  Luckily, the Lego store is in a mall so we could make sure everyone was happy.  And, yesterday was the Big Day.

Thanks to the iPhone, we have a few photos of the excitement.  Running here and there, exclaiming with delight and trying to figure which was going to be the best value for the budget. 

Which ones to choose? This is the bulk-buying section.  It was really hard to choose which ones would best  fill your bucket. 

I know which one I want!

If you're just not that into Lego yet, you can always practice your stair-climbing skills. 

There was also some clothes shopping because Grammy and Becky like to do that girl thing.  Then we all went to have a special birthday lunch.  And, when it was all over, we headed home, flushed with success.  On  a whim, we made a small side-trip down a shady tree-lined street...

And, we found a surprise - more mania!  I am only showing only one part of this front yard.  Every corner was filled with their collection which must have taken years and years to build.  I thought it was amazing that they were able to focus on the blue theme so well.  I wonder what the back yard looked like?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday wonder - E

E is for Eye.

The eye embodies one of my personal values:  that useful should also be beautiful. 

Our eyes are so incredibly useful...

What wonders will she see? 


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