Friday, 6 April 2018

A Walk In The Rain

Want to come for a walk with me? It's raining, a not uncommon thing on Vancouver Island, but we're all good with that, right?  If you don't walk in the rain here, you miss out on walking for more than half the year. 

Let's put on our rain gear, grab our umbrellas and go.  Don't forget to bring some water.  We'll be walking quite a distance - 12.4 km/ 7.7 miles - and you need to stay hydrated even on a rainy day.

We'll begin with a stroll to the Sportsplex, with its oval track often used by those nearby for their fitness walks (Personally , I don't see the appeal. I want to see varied scenery when I walk, but each to their own.), past the fields and baseball diamonds... exit via this pretty lane-way. I always enjoy it at blossom time.

From here we're going to walk the length of Lakes Road.  Yes, that is a long hill... we're going to pause at the bridge at the bottom of the hill to enjoy the view before we start the climb. (I apologize now for any raindrops that may have fallen on my camera lens.)

Lakes Road isn't as pedestrian friendly as our route has been so far.  There's a fair bit of traffic and the sidewalk runs out not long past the top of the hill, but it's worth it.  The landscape grows progressively more rural, and offers some lovely sights like this lot whose wild space has been colonized by daffodils.

There's a holly farm further on, with moss capped gate posts, a view of Quamichan Lake, and characterful old trees.  The farm's been there a long time and used to ship holly all over the world.  There's less demand for it these days and I'm glad they're still keeping the trees.

The houses are further apart now and even the newer houses have traces of old farms visible on their property, often in the form of rows of trees along the fence line.

I always enjoy passing by the sheep farm on the shores of Quamichan Lake. These are some happy sheep: the grass is always rich and green.  They know me so well now that they pose when I stop to take their picture. ;)  See how they're all looking towards me?

An old apple orchard near Lakes Road's intersection with Herd Road has recently been pruned.  These trees blossom late - next month - but they're beautifully clad in coats of green velvety moss.

I'll confess that my camera's getting a little heavy around my neck now so I'm going to stow it in my backpack for a bit.  We'll continue walking as planned though, turning left onto Herd Road, continuing through a treed area and crossing another bridge to emerge into rolling pastureland.  There are lots of horses in this area and it's easy to see why they like it.

My eye is always caught by the incongruous, like this lighthouse built to shield an irrigation coupling in the middle of a pasture.  It makes me smile every time I see it.

I'm getting a little weary now. It's been more than 8 kilometres since we started and we're on an uphill route once more.  The hill's less steep than Lakes Road's hill, it's a long, slow undulating climb.  

We're on Norcross Road now, passing small farms and then vineyards.  I'd take a picture of the vineyards for you but, really, they're pretty bleak at this time of year: gnarled black trunks, pruned hard, black with rain, marching along in lines beneath strings of equally black wire.  

There is a view of Somenos Lake though, and it's worth pausing for. Do you see that line of tall fir trees in the background?  Lakes Road is behind it.  We've covered some distance, haven't we.  :)

We're winding it up now.  We'll climb the last bit of this hill, then walk downhill on Bell McKinnon Road until we reach the highway. Cross the highway now,  and treat yourself to coffee and a muffin while you wait for the city bus to take you the last 4km/2.5 miles back to our starting point.  

Wow you guys!  Great walk!  Thanks for coming along with me.  :)

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Best Laid Plans...

This is my car.  It's a 2009 Ford Focus, purchased by me in 2011.  It was a lease return, with just 13,000 km on it.  It had lots of nifty bells and whistles and a sticker price I could afford.  Negotiation brought the price down further and I left the lot feeling happy with my purchase.  

Little did I know...

This vehicle has been the lemon everyone encounters at least once in their lives. It is notorious among my circle of friends. Every time I want to go somewhere, I play car roulette.  

Why do I keep the car?  Sometimes - fairly often actually - I ask myself the same question.  The answer's complicated but basically comes down to sentiment:

During the last few months of my husband's life he was in a lot of pain.  His lower back troubled him constantly and the pain meds he was given caused him terrible vertigo.  He couldn't lie down to sleep because the room started spinning, and he was often nauseous. We discovered that if I tucked him in the passenger seat of the car, turned on the seat's heating, wrapped a warm quilt around him, rolled down the windows, and drove, the heated seat helped to ease his pain, the fresh air calmed his vertigo, and the car's motion eased him to sleep.  Right up until 2 days before he died, we went out driving every day.  We traveled thousands of kilometres in that car during that time, and shared some precious moments.  There are a lot of tender, bittersweet memories tied to my car and I'm just not ready to let it go.

Since I'm not ready to part with it and I'm pretty much stone broke these days, when my car breaks down I park it until I can save up enough money to fix it.  I've become quite good at finding creative alternatives when it forces a change of plans. 

This long weekend was a case in point.  The car may have foiled my camping plans, but the weather was beautiful and springtime here in the Cowichan Valley is a wonderful thing.  I made a point of getting out and enjoying my surroundings as much as possible, and managed to fit in some visits with friends and family too.

I'd hoped to share lots of camping trips with you this year but since I'm pretty much dependent upon transit, foot travel, and rides from friends for the time being, I've decided I'll take you along with me on my local adventures. We can explore southern Vancouver Island together.  Look for my first post later this week. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Good Morning

How are you this morning?  I'm well and enjoying the beauty that comes with a blue-sky December day. 

We're enjoying fine weather here; a ridge of high pressure has brought us several clear sunny days, unusual in this part of the world at this time of year.  The lack of clouds allows night time temperatures to drop below freezing and, because the days are still quite mild (9 to 10 C/38-40 F), the ground is warmer than the sky during the dark hours of the night.  This inversion gives rise to thick fogs that shroud the landscape and fur onto rooftops, fences, branches, and grass as thick, iridescent frost.  

In the morning  I can sit in my favourite corner of the couch and enjoy the transition from foggy night to clear skied morning as it unfolds outside my windows.  Before the sun rises, but as the sky is lightening, the sky turns ceruleaan blue.  There's still enough darkness for the street lights to shine, creating a beautiful contrast where they cast their orange light. I see this through the lacy silhouette of the walnut tree beside my balcony.  Traffic lights add to the picture, transitioning through green, yellow, and red as regularly as clockwork.

As the sun appears above the edge of the hills encircling our valley, the fog retreats to the shelter of the trees and swirls in the air above the river winding through the park at the end of my street.  It changes colour as it goes, from white, to soft grey, to the palest of lavenders before it blushes to shell pink and then wafts away for another day.

The lightening of the sky is accompanied by an increase in traffic on the busy streets below my corner apartment.  The sound of engines and the occasional honking of horns mingle with the conversation and laughter of children walking past, on their way to school.  The change encourages me to stir myself too.  I dress for the day and prepare for my morning walk.  I'm looking forward to enjoying the brisk air today, and to seeing frost crystals twinkling in the gardens along my route.

Wherever this morning finds you, and whatever the weather may bring your way, I wish you a heart filled with happiness this Thankful Thursday.  Have a joyful day.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en!  I know it's a busy day for many of you, but I'm hoping you can take the time for a little visit with me.  I've made some coffee and I thought we might share a bowl of popcorn in a bit.

Don't you just love popcorn? It's a great thing to keep in the pantry: quick and fun to make, and much less expensive than processed snacks. There's something festive about a bowl of popcorn too. Just the smell of it popping brings back memories of happy times.  I've shared some links for different popcorn recipes below in case you want to try your hand at some popcorn treats too.

Before we get all busy snacking and chatting though, have you got time for a quick walk around the neighbourhood with me?  It's such a pretty day, with the sun breaking through the clouds. Many of the trees are still brightly dressed in autumn colours. It would be a shame not to enjoy some of that beauty.

The paths by the river are 
scattered now with heart-shaped-cottonwood leaves. They're everywhere right now: on the trail, on the bright green autumn grass of the fields, and even floating on the water, like golden valentines
strewn with abandon by an autumn-drunk Cupid riding home on the wind. 

We'll take the top trail, I think, because the lower trail may well be flooded now, blocked by the several small streams that form when it rains heavily here.  If you glance over towards the river, you can see the brush along the river bank back lit by the light bouncing off the water.  You're enjoying the beauty of
Nature's stained glass windows.

On the street that leads from 
the river trail back towards my place, the sidewalks seems to change colour as they go along, carpeted with leaves from many different trees; here vivid red from the Japanese maples planted by the fish hatchery, there yellow from the ornamental cherries, further on reddish pink from the dogwoods, and several patches of enormous yellow leaves with russet edges from the big leaf maples. Some of them measure
more than a foot across!

People are putting their gardens to bed for the winter now but some front borders still boast colourful chrysanthemums,
nodding sunflower heads - much beloved by birds - and
orange calendula. 
Hollies bear clusters of bright red, pyracanthus branches bend under the weight of abundant orange berries, and rose bushes sport both late blooms and scarlet hips.

How can a person not fall in love with the colours of October?

And here we are, back at my place again, with roses in our cheeks from our walk in the fresh air.  That coffee and popcorn will taste even better now.  :)  Why don't we settle in and I'll share those recipes, and some beautiful things that have caught my eye recently.

I'd eat popcorn for breakfast, especially with coffee and bacon in it. Can't wait to try these coffee maple bacon popcorn treats from Jenni Field's Pastry Chef On Line.

How about a little indulgence?  Check out this Truffle Oil Black Pepper Popcorn from ChinDeep.

This Garlic Parmesan Popcorn from Feasting at Home is right up my alley.

Gingerbread Popcorn? Two of my favourite things in one bowl! From An Edible Mosaic.

Who can resist classic Caramel Popcorn?  This recipe from Premeditated Leftovers is very good.

This Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn from Liz on Call is another wonderful sweet treat.

Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls from Busy Creating Memories combine two Hallowe'en classics into one great treat.

These S'mores Popcorn Balls from i heart eating are another combination of popcorn with a classic treat.  I mean, who doesn't love s'mores?

The first Beautiful Thing I want to share today is actually one of my own posts from 2013. October still makes me feel this way.  I want to write love poems to autumn at this time of year.  

Our autumn rains do many things, not least providing big, still puddles that capture beautiful reflections.  I particularly like this photo of the provincial legislative buildings in Victoria, taken from the Inner Harbour causeway by Doug Clement Photography. 

More fall beauty.  This photo was taken in the Japanese garden at Hately Castle, on the grounds of Royal Roads University, by Carrie Cole Photography.

Aren't the sky and its reflection in this photo, Before the Dock by Paul Fletcher, amazing?

I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit today! Want to continue the conversation?  I'd love to hear what you've been up to lately.  Have you been spending time outdoors?  Gardening?  Cooking? Crafting? Making cool costumes?  Pop over to see me at Aunt B's Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ and share your news. Bring pictures if you've got them and, however you spend the rest of your Hallowe'en, have a joyful day.

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.