Monday, 17 October 2016

Monday, Tea, and October's Gifts

Hello!  How are you?  I've been thinking about you a lot this month, what with the weather and all.  Some of you have had a really rough time of it.  I hope you're okay.

We've had a very rainy few days of it here on Vancouver Island but that's fine with me. Rainy weather's pretty much the norm here in October and I have to say that I love it.  
It changes the landscape from the dry golds of late summer to a shimmering palette of silver, pewter, grey, and blue green, with splashes of autumn yellow and red for contrast.  
Water from the sky, ever drawn to the ocean, forms little streams that leap and chuckle down rocky hillsides, and waterfalls decorate every sudden drop with froths of lace.  
When it's raining steadily, it's like looking at the world through a sheer, silvery curtain; the edges of the landscape are blurred and the tops of the mountains are often wrapped in soft grey scarves.

When the weather's wet and the nights begin to draw in early, I look towards cozy pastimes like knitting and sewing, and to baking bread and cooking roast dinners that not only make the house smell wonderful, but warm it too.  

I'm baking today and  I thought that you might like to keep me company while I work. Pull up a chair to the table by my kitchen and pour a cup of tea. There are ginger scones, still warm from the oven, and butter and honey to dress them with.  Please do help yourself.

Thank you for being kind enough to overlook the mess in here today.  I've been pretty busy lately.  I've emptied my bedroom so I can paint it and hang new curtains, and the furniture, books, and bedding have all ended up in the living and dining room. 

As usual, the dining room table is home to my sewing machine and a stack of fabric on one of the dining room chairs awaits my attention.

The bedroom bookshelf (now in the hallway) has been pressed into temporary service as a repository for greeting cards.  I've been making quite a few of them this week and need to photograph them as soon as I have a bright enough day to do so.
I'm taking and editing photos of my various projects for my new Etsy shop. (Yay!) I'll be opening it soon and I'm really excited about it.  I'll be posting about its opening on my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages once it's up and running, and I'm starting a new blog to go with it.  Watch this space for more news as my work progresses.

Of course, it's not all been work around here.  I love the fall weather and have been enjoying lots of time outdoors even on rainy days.  I have good rain gear and several lovely umbrellas so the wet is no deterrent to me.  I've been visiting some of my favourite trails, camera in hand to capture the fall colour.

Most of the trails I walk take me along some part of the river.  The salmon are starting to make their way up the rivers to spawn now that the rain has raised the water levels. I've been watching them
make their way home.  

A little later in the season, I'll be heading to Goldstream Park to take some photos of the salmon making their way upstream.  If the pictures turn out well enough to share, I'll write a blog post about it.

Indoors, my entertainment at this time of year often includes attending craft fairs.  From now until Christmas they'll be plentiful. I enjoy seeing all the creative work our local artists and artisans display.  It inspires me in my own work, and when I do purchase gifts I like to support people who take the time and care to make them by hand.  I'm looking forward to seeing lots of wonderful things!

With autumn crafts and fall cooking on my mind, several interesting blog posts have caught my eye recently.  Here are a few of them:

and here are some beautiful things that have captured my fancy along the way:

Book Paper Sculpture - Paper Tree with swing on wood by Malena Valcarcel.  You can see more of her work at her Etsy shop.

I don't know the title of this painting from Jane's Shed but it sure is amazing.  You can find more of Jane Wilson's work with  maps in the Cartophilia Gallery on her website.   

Thanks for visiting me today.  I've enjoyed it.  

I'd really like to hear about your autumn too.  How have you fared with the weather?  What's been keeping you busy?  What's caught your eye on line?  Please do take a minute to comment here, or on my Facebook page, Twitter feed. or on Google+.  I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Hello! I've Missed You!

Hello!  I've missed you!  

Since I have some extra time on line today, I thought we might have a visit over a virtual cup of tea this afternoon.  

Step into my living room.  You can sit in my favourite corner of the couch, where you can gaze out the window and enjoy the view.  

It's cloudy this afternoon, and kind of cool outside; my very favourite kind of weather.  I have lots of energy on days like this and love to go out for walks around the neighbourhood.  The colours of the flowers show so brightly against the grey sky, and lots of people take advantage of the cool weather to work in their gardens or to get out and about as I am, to enjoy the sights.

My neighbourhood is very green right now.  Trees are wearing heavy canopies of leaves, and abundant crops of nuts and fruit adorn many of them like jewellery. The evergreens are dropping their cones right now and squirrels travel along the aerial highway the power lines form, carrying the cones away to stash them for the winter months.  Some of those cones end up in my foraging bag too, destined to be crafted into Christmas decorations.

The river is very low now, chuckling over the rocks where it passes through the park down the street from my house.  You can walk all the way across it now, without ever needing to swim.  At the swimming hole, children and dogs are busy playing, even in this cool water.  The sound of their laughter drifting up through my window as they bike their way home makes me smile.

I've baked a coffee cake just for you.  

The whole apartment smells like cinnamon, and warm steam curls up from our teacups, fragrant too.

So...How have you been?

I've been pretty busy lately.  July and August are busy times in my little town.  We have the 39 Days of July Festival from June 24 to August 1, with live music downtown every day, the Rock of the Woods Music Festival, and the SunFest Country Music Festival, as well as all sorts of other smaller events in the other towns around us.  

I'm not a crowd person so I avoid the big events, but I do check out the smaller ones.  I enjoyed the music downtown and have made several visits to the Forest Discovery Centre.  I've walked much of the Trans Canada Trail here in the valley and especially enjoy the sections in the Cowichan Valley Provincial Park.  

My sister and I spent a day in Chemainus and found what may be my favourite coffee shop ever, with walls of books, jazz music, and - of course - good coffee.  It was a real treat!

At home, I've been doing lots of sewing and crafting.  I'm hoping to share some of those projects with you very soon.

I've been writing too.  Here's my latest piece from b-attitude. There's a lot more on all my blogs, in draft form.  I hope to have enough library time in the coming weeks to publish some of it for you.

You guys know how my magpie mind works, right?  I'm interested in all sorts of things.  Here are some on line things that have caught my eye recently:

And here are some beautiful things have captured my attention:

This sweet yellow vignette in my living room

Path in the Woods by Vincent VanGogh, shared by the VanGogh Museum

This beautiful Monet-inspired photo from The Butchart Gardens

(Cadboro Bay is about an hour's drive south of where I live.)

Milky Way at Skutz Falls by David Chang Photography
(Skutz Falls is part of the Cowichan River Provincial Park, located about 1/2 hour's drive west of where I live.)

Thank you so much for visiting with me!  I'd love to hear your news too.  If you have stories or photos or interesting links to share, please post them in the comments below my link to this blog at Aunt B's Kitchen on Facebook.* I'll look forward to seeing them the next time I have time on line at the library.

I hope that whatever the weather is like where you are, and whether you are enjoying busy times or quiet, life is bringing you things that make you happy.  I hope that you have time to enjoy the gifts each day gives you and that you're able to dream big, happy dreams while holding those you love close to your heart.  

Take good care of you.  I hope we can visit again soon.  

*G-Rated and family friendly comments, photos, and blog links only please. No politics, either.  I'll delete anything I think may offend my readers.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Rain Coast Evening

It's kind of hard to describe our spring rains to someone from "away." They're not dramatic - no typhoons or twisters, or even thunderstorms - but they demonstrate the word steady in a clear and spectacular way, falling in sheets, straight down.

The rain falls upon the stones of the hillsides, gathers together and rushes down, tumbling and laughing in rivulets that jump with effervescent abandon over ledges, before swirling in eddies and carrying on their way, coursing towards wetlands of our valley.  

The valley's lungs - it's rivers - breathe in those dancing downhill tumblers and hold them within their swift currents, expanding sometimes even above their banks, before yielding that water in exhalation to the bay.  

Grassy fields are soft with rain that wells up around your boots as you walk and, at the estuary, the landscape changes from bright green to mirrored grey and silver as fields flood with the rain and renewing silt borne down from the hills above.

The tide, its beating heart a testament to the enduring love affair of Ocean and Moon, moves the water up and down, rising it into salt marshes and then pulling it back again to reveal sand, and stone, and mud flat, and herons fish according to its rhythm, dining daily on the abundant small creatures carried in its grasp.

In the forest, all that is green is intensified, Moss becomes a lush, glowing, verdant carpet that blankets stones and trunks and branches, its edges bedecked with blue-grey lacy lichen. New leaves, looking too delicate to withstand the weather, stand up in bright contrast to rain-darkened branches, cloaked in clear water and - when the rain stops - bejeweled with crystal droplets that make rainbows in the breaking light. Fern are born on the forest floor, moving like dancers as they gracefully unspiral their long stocks and then open their arms to embrace the damp air. Heavy rain drops, accumulated in the evergreen canopy above fall with heavy "plops" onto the carpet of last fall's leaves spread upon the ground, and mushrooms poke exploratory fingers through the loam.

When night falls on rainy days, a dark velvet blanket wraps itself around our houses and raindrops make music on the roof and windows, lulling us to sleep.

We're having just such a night, after just such a day, this evening. I'm sitting listening to rain music and the swish of tires on the wet road below my window.  I see the streetlights reflected orange against the black mirror of wet pavement, and feel grateful for my comforts. A soft blanket covers my legs and feet, a book and my glasses sit beside me, awaiting my attention, and the steam from my cup of tea makes its fragrant way towards my nose. 

It's time for drawing in, for quiet and for rest. I wish you peace and calm this evening; comfort and coziness and love. Sleep a restful sleep and dream gentle dreams. Wake refreshed and filled with good cheer in the morning.


Monday, 14 March 2016

I'm Back....Again

I may well be the most on-again/off-again blogger in the world. but here I am back again.

My life has changed a lot over the past couple of years.  I left my office job to care for my husband during his final illness and then, after I lost him, began adjusting to life alone after 34 years of marriage.

I doubt that anyone can make that journey and remain unchanged. I know I'm certainly I'm not the person I used to be. 

My priorities are very different now. "Stuff" is much less important than it once was and experiences are key.  I've come to believe that life is much too short to spend any more time than you absolutely have to on things you don't enjoy.

With that in mind, I've dithered a lot about returning to blogging and social media.  Being present on line has brought a lot of really interesting, intelligent, caring people into my life.  I enjoy my conversations on social media, I learn a lot from the people I interact with, and I love to write, but I don't love the amount of time and self-promotion required to establish and sustain a commercially successful online presence.


I'm going to follow my own lights on this one. If I write on a regular basis, have good conversations on social media, and learn something new each day, I'll have achieved my goals.  

You'll see me on line on weekdays but not on weekends, and my posts will be less frequent than they once were, but - as always - the focus will be on sharing good content in a positive, welcoming environment, with plenty of good conversation.  

I hope you'll drop by just as if you were visiting a friend, and that you'll encourage your friends to join the conversation too.

I learn so much from you guys!  I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Here's where to find me:
On at A Word From Aunt B, Aunt B on a Budget, B on Balance, and B-attitude,
On Facebook at Aunt B's Kitchen and B on Balance,
On Google+, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Good Morning

Some mornings I am completely seduced by the allure of reading.  The "to do" list written prominently on the blackboard by my kitchen clamours for my attention, but I ignore it.  Healthy Me tugs at my conscience, whispering in my ear that I should really go for a walk, but I pretend not to hear her.  Instead, I stay in my pyjamas, brew a pot of coffee, and settle in to read.
I'm book-wealthy just now, having made a trip to the library this week and then been given books as well, and this morning their siren call was impossible to ignore.  I curled up on the couch, plucked the first book from the top of the pile and settled in, dividing my attention between my book and the sunrise scene coming into view outside my front window.
The novel, a detective mystery, was action-filled and interesting, busy with sinister villains and a complicated plot. 
The sunrise was exactly the opposite. 
The sky grew paler at its edges and then began to blush. faint pink spreading upwards from the hilltops. It caught the trails of cloud just above, and deepened into something altogether different - a vivid fuschia limned at the bottom with an edge of glowing phosphorus - then continued its gradual flow of colour across the sphere above. 
The book drew me back again.  The family dogs, stolen by the villain's henchmen, were in danger.  Would they survive?
I read on until the changing light once again drew my eyes from the page.  The view from the window was magical:  the clouds had gathered together to form a few tall cumulus stacks - orange shadowed with lavender grey - that sailed upon a sea of pink and mauve.  
As transitory as a single breath, the colour in the sky began to fade, not disappearing so much as growing quiet. The clouds settled into shades of peach and grey, the blush behind them receding, giving way to the palest, most delicate of blues.  Peach faded to yellow, then brightened to white, and the sun, having made its appearance above the shoulder of the hill, shone directly in my window.
On the power lines across the street, a crowd of raucous crows shouted their morning news across the neighbourhood while a covey of mourning doves in the tree beside my balcony hoo-hoooed a gentler good morning to each other. 
A breeze came dancing down the street, ruffling leaves as it passed my way, and in its wake the neighbourhood woke up. 
The ginger cat who owns the family across the street climbed onto the roof, arranged itself so it could drape front paws and head over the edge, then settled in to watch its humans enjoy coffee on the steps just below.
Two women, with the serious stride of those who walk for exercise, strode along the pavement discussing their plans for the day.
The first city bus of the day went by, mostly empty, a few seats occupied by still-sleepy passengers leaning their heads against the window as they nodded their way towards their destinations.
An old man walked a tiny, perfectly groomed white dog towards the park, pausing patiently every few feet to allow his small friend to sniff fence posts and shrubs.  Both took their time; the man gazing at the scenery around him, the dog gathering news of other pets who'd passed this way before him.
My heart, quieted by the peaceful scene outside, told my spirit that all was right with the world, then urged me back to bed. I set the book aside, - heroes and villains could wait a while - tucked myself in, and drifted back to sleep.
However your day has begun today - busy or quiet or some balance between the two - and whatever your plans may be, I hope you find a peaceful moment in which to enjoy the gifts it brings you, and to shelter in the calm.  Have a joyful Thursday.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Good Morning

I woke well before dawn this morning, the stars still bright in the arching cobalt bowl above, the air blessedly cool, and decided to watch the sunrise from one of my favourite spots at the lake.  I quickly dressed, filled my backpack with breakfast and camera, and set out to walk there. 

The streets - usually loud and busy in my neighbourhood - were quiet.  Only the occasional car whisked by. Here and there along the way, yellow light spilled out from kitchen windows: early risers preparing for the day.

By the time I'd left the houses behind to walk along the edges of the marsh, the first blush of morning had appeared above the hills to the east and the chorus of birds that each day announces the coming of dawn was in full voice.  Hidden among the low bushes, scrubby trees, and tall golden grass that are the marsh this drought-y summer, they made their presence known in a volume that only sheer numbers can bring, each tiny set of lungs filling with the morning air and exhaling song upon the softness of the breeze.

When I reached the lake the sky was lightening, scarfed with wispy cloud, and tinged with pale blue, peach, and butter yellow, all reflected on the water, the edges of the landscape blurred by rising mist.

I unpacked my breakfast, poured my tea, and settled in to watch and listen.

I was surrounded by a choir of frogs.  From their seats among the lily pads their voices rose together, discordant, ranging from high pitched ribbits to something as unmelodic as the twanging of a rubber band; all matched in their enthusiasm for this morning conversation.

Fish rose for the morning bite, an occasional flash of silver above the misted water; more often a quiet "plop," leaving concentric ripples in its wake.  A kingfisher, perched on the railing nearby, watched them intently before diving to pluck his breakfast from just beneath the shining surface of the lake.

Two otters surfaced just beyond the edge of the lilies, and regarded me with curiosity.  Then, having decided I was not a threat, swam by and climbed onto the shore, disappearing lightning-quick into the thicket of willow that overhangs the water's edge.

A heron, resting unnoticed on the nearby trestle, took wing and passed not six feet overhead, the creamy-yellow undersides of his wings glowing in the not-quite-sunrise light.

And still we sat, the chorusing birds, the choir of frogs, and I, to greet the sun as it rose above the blue hills to the east.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Good Morning

I've traveled the road to the bay so many times it is as familiar to me as breathing and yet, still, each time I wend my way along it, it offers me new gifts. 

Today the roadsides are cottage gardens. A tangle of blackberries and wild morning glory form the hedge, the bright white trumpets of the morning glory flowers turning their faces to the sun while beside them clusters of berries ripen in various stages, acid green, and red, and deep almost-black purple all found together in each single cluster.  In front of the tangle, expanses of tall golden grass are trimmed with roundels of white Queen Anne's lace dancing in the morning breeze, while magenta vetch, ragged blue chicory, and tall clumps of bright yellow tansy crowd up against the edges of the pavement. 

Here and there, accidental fruit trees grow, sewn by birds or by careless passers-by who've tossed away their apple cores or plum pits and left them there to grow.  The trees are heavy with fruit now, their newest branches so laden that they bend like bows, arching towards the grass below.  Small green apples, thumb sized pears, clusters of bright red plums hanging like grapes among burgundy red leaves all promise abundance in the months to come.

Our unusual weather has caused many forest fires and the sky is hazed with smoke.  It's a worry but - as with everything in nature - the smoke brings its own gifts too.  The skies both morning and evening are intensely coloured, and the landscape washed with filtered, golden light. 

This morning, the newly risen sun washed the sky above the bay with lavender and apricot, reflected in the dancing ripples of the breeze ruffled waters below.

I ate my breakfast picnic at a table in the park and watched the morning unfold: 

Barn swallows and purple martins swooped and soared in an intricate dance above the shallows.

Gulls wheeled overhead, uncharacteristically quiet, as if they too were taken in by the morning's majesty. 

Small brown rabbits peeked at me from the edges of the undergrowth and then, when I'd been still for long enough, ventured out onto the grass to continue with their morning meal before fading silently into the shadows once again as an eagle swept by overhead.

The eagle, for one single, breathless moment, hung perfectly silhouetted against the pastel sky, great wings outstretched in flight so seeming effortless I was surprised by how quickly it was gone.

A single fish jumped in the deeper water, the circular ripples left by its course making a contrasting pattern on the satin surface of the bay.

A heron stood across the way, perfectly still, a totem to patience and calm planted at the water's edge.

The village had not yet stirred.  There were no human voices, no passing cars to mar the perfect quiet of the moment. 

Peace settled itself on my shoulders like a blanket.

My breathing slowed.  My heartbeat calmed.

I made my way home slowly along the winding road.

I wish you a happy day today.  Whatever it may bring you, I hope you find a quiet moment or two to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.  Open this Friday like a gift, enjoying both the wonder of its wrapping and the worth of the treasures found within.