July 2007

Monthly Archive

A quick view of the garden

Posted by on 30 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: children, climate, garden, Uncategorized

I wanted to give you a snapshot of some of the nicer things in my yard this time of year. Now, I am NOT showing you the sad-looking roses the deer got to, nor the overgrown former flowerbeds near the driveway, nor the mess of construction debris (from last year) still sitting in the driveway. No, in this imaginary garden, only the pretty, nice things exist…

The entry garden, with the bright red geraniumns set off by the yellow zinnias and a single yellow wood poppy.

from my garden

A view of the unmowed “orchard” with my lucky dog looking for the deer that sleep under the trees…

orchard and dog

The dahlias on top of the mound…

dahlias, not as full as usual this time of year

The blueberries! Ripe and sweet… mmmmmm

yummy berries

And my pirate kid, who took these lovely pics (and who, though tall, does not actually scrape the ceiling when indoors).

pirate kid

Beautiful British Columbia, Part Two

Posted by on 26 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: art, Art Museums and Galleries, Babble, British Columbia, children, friends, fun, good things, holidays, Peace Making, Uncategorized

Waking up Saturday morning to a lovely view out Hetty’s living and dining rooms, I had a leisurely breakfast, then woke up stidmatt and he had a lovely porridge made by Alan.

Dropping by Jill’s to be sure stidgrant was ready to go, Alan took the boys on a walk while Hetty and Jill and I headed into the “big town” of Ganges to walk in the farmer’s market, see the library (they both volunteer there) and have lunch. First stop was a lovely performing arts center where the “Fiber Festival” was taking place. We didn’t walk about much, but I was intrigued by a quilt display. So many ideas!

People are wonderful and creative… there is much beauty in this world if we only look for it.

Next stop, the library, where we parked. Here are pics of the library and of Hetty and Jill inviting us all to read. Don’t miss the posters up for the Harry Potter party from the previous evening!

the library in ganges

Hetty and Jillibus invite us in

A quick jaunt then across the main drag toward the harbor, and to see the dozens of really great stalls for the artists, artisans and farmers on the island. I didn’t take pictures of them, but… imagine yourself in a medieval bazaar: people changing money (yes, Salt Spring Island has its own currency); offering baked goods — including some vegan cookies and cakes which I promptly snapped up; displaying their garden’s bounty (garlic, greens, root vegetables, potatoes) in many colors, shapes and sizes; potters with mugs, plates, bowls and platters; an armorer — yes, a chain mail specialist from whom I bought a small ring for one of the boys; clothes from scarves to dresses to shirts and hats; art; and musical instruments – I bought a clamshell ocarina for the other boy. Good smells, pretty sights, and never enough money in the pocket!

Close to the market, we stopped at an Italian-style restaurant for lunch. Looked like they had good food, though most of it had dairy in it so I just had a green salad (which was excellent). Waiting for our table, I snapped a quick pic of the ladies:

Hetty and Jill

And then back to the car with another small stop at Mouats, a century-old store to get pirate T-shirts for the family and for the boys’ penpals. Car rides on this island are fun. There are so many great views — old farmsteads, forested areas, quaint clusters of dwellings, curious remnants of old places, a mix of new and old architecture that tells the story of life on the island over the last 150 years. Of course, habitation on the island goes back much longer than that, but most of the structural clues are left by non-indigenous peoples.

Supper that evening was at Jill’s place — rice, broccoli and a great chicken dish; dessert was chocolate cake with ice cream, and fruit salad with meringues. Wine or soda with supper, coffee or tea with dessert. By the time we left Jill’s cozy home with instructions to stidgrant to help with finishing clearing up… it was nearly 10 pm!

Sunday’s report in the next post…

Beautiful British Columbia, Part One

Posted by on 24 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: Babble, British Columbia, children, food, friends, fun, holidays, Peace Making, Uncategorized

Without wanting to sound like an advertisement for tourism… British Columbia is one of the prettiest places on earth. From the many islands off the west coast, to the mountains, to the lakes and cities, each spot seems to hold more and more wonderful things to discover. The people are (for the most part) friendly, the air is clean, the wildlife abundant. Though I am familiar with only the area around downtown Victoria and some of Salt Spring Island, I think it is reasonable to extrapolate a bit… so here is a narration that may encourage others to visit!

On Friday last, the children and I took the MV Coho (a privately-owned ferry) across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles in Washington state to Victoria in Canada. We went as foot passengers, leaving our car near the dock and saving about a hundred dollars in ferry fees! It was also nice to board and disembark first…

A view of Victoria from afar..

The east city skyline from a distance

Sign on warehouse coming in

The view from the ferry coming in (or going out)

Victoria, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, is a real gem. The seat of the Provincial government, and the major port city on the island, it retains a small-town feel in many ways. This was my first major trip alone with the children, and despite not having the right amount of money for the bus fare once we got ashore, and then having my debit card (that I had been using to get cash as needed) stop working briefly two days later… we managed to have a super time. Most of the people were very helpful and friendly, and the children were delighted to be having such a grand adventure.

Of course, Victoria was only a stop for us this trip — our real destination was Salt Spring Island, the biggest of the Gulf Islands just east of the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

So once we caught the bus in Victoria, we rode it up to Swartz Bay, catching the ferry again as foot passengers across to Fulford, a small harbor town on the southern end of Salt Spring Island.


Stidmatt above, stidgrant and me below, on the ferry to Fulford…

stidmama and stidgrant

We sat by the window on the ride over, and I couldn’t help noticing a young firefighter across the isle, wearing her uniform, but carrying a pretty dress and an instrument case. As we were coming in to the dock, I asked if it was a violin, and we had a nice (though short) conversation about violins and fiddles.

We were walking off the dock, when one of the children said, “Mom! Mom!” and I heard from somewhere behind me, “Stid? STID!”

It was Flosey, a babblefriend who had come to meet us for supper. She was first to arrive, followed soon after by Jillibus who had brought Dilly — and Hetty and her darling husband Alan (and aptly named poodle, Perky). We had supper at the restaurant at the top of the ferry dock.

The men at one end of the table…

stidmatt, Alan and stidgrant

The women at the other end of the table! (L to R: hetty, dilly, flosey)

hetty, dilly and flosey

I wish I had taken some pics of the place inside, the main seating area was defined by lovely abstact stained glass panels, and the windows looked out on the harbor — and a heron perched on a rock stained by lichen and lit by the afternoon sunlight. We ate, and babbled, ate and talked about babbling, ate and enjoyed the company. When the food was gone, Alan took the boys and the dog home, while the rest of us had coffee and talked on…

And before we got in the car, a pic of us all together, with thanks to Gladys (a complete stranger) who offered to take it for us! (L to R: Jillibus, stidmama, flosey, hetty, dilly)

five babblers...

Finally, we delivered Flosey and Dilly to their homes, and Hetty and Jill and I went on home ourselves. I stayed with stidmatt at Hetty’s house, stidgrant stayed at Jill’s house each night, and during the days we had grand adventures and fun times. We were really only with them for two complete days, which I will outline in the next post. But, for only two days, we made a tremendous quantity of memories!

In the Garden

Posted by on 15 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: garden, good things, Uncategorized

It has been a while since I posted about the garden.  So here goes…

The new bed by the front door looks nice.  It is framed by the witchhazel at one end and a large gooseberry in a pot at the other.  Between are mostly wildflowers and perennials, a few pots of tender perennials like geraniums and such.  The colors in this garden are mostly reds and whites, with a bit of sunny yellow and blue for contrast and interest.

We are managing to keep this one looking good so far this summer.

I weeded most of the bed around the fishpond before the boys and I went on our trip last week.  It looks better, but too many of the plants are not flowering.  The iris in this bed had only a couple blooms this year and I don’t think the gladioli are “glad” at all to be there!  Will lift them in the fall and rework the beds to add more good compost and such for better growth next year.  The wood poppy at the edge of that bed that Tom mowed early in the spring is still alive. I want to lift it soon and carefully separate out all the grass that is growing from the roots.  I think I can do it without completely killing it…

The bed that runs from the corner of the house to the front door is looking a bit unkempt this year.  I have been weeding, but it isn’t really staying pretty the way I like.  I think I need a few more filler plants that can handle some dry between waterings but won’t crowd out the bulbs and perennials.  Has to be something that comes on after the daffys are done for the year, and also that doesn’t spread too rapidly.  I tried irish moss one year, but it was too sunny for that.  Going to keep thinking.

The bed across the driveway with the heather is overgrown almost completely.  I had Tom dig out some of the larger obnoxious things, but the rest of the bed must be done by hand.  Hope to have some dryish weather this next week before our trip to Canada.  If I can get the front edge re-defined, and locate the few perennials that are in there, I will be happy enough for this year.  Next year, it also is due for a re-think.

The next beds down are the blueberries, which Tom weeded yesterday and are bearing well this year (they seemed to like the lack of fussing)…  and the small square bed where in years past I have seeded oats and wildflowers.  This year I am letting it lie fallow, and will pull, dig, replenish and work on in the autumn and next spring.  I want to cut back some of the elderberries there and in the other large clump to allow more sunlight to reach the plants.

The “Edwardian Garden” is a loss this year.  I hope to set one or the other boys the task of digging everything, sifting and sorting and then place most of the plants back.  That is a long-term project though,  and I think I’ll wait until after we return from Canada for that.  The dahlias are apparently mostly still there…  just slow and small this year.  Will lift them when they go dormant, divide them and replenish their beds as well.

The orchard is unmowed this year and the trees (and the deer, apparently) are fine with that.  I like that the yarrow and a few other wildflowers are growing and giving some color and texture; and that it shades the trees’ roots well enough that I haven’t needed to water this year.

And no vegetable garden this year.  The one big project I really want to accomplish is still that fence…

We’ll see.

I will add some pictures later, but thought I would post this now so at least there is something new.  With the kids home for summer, I get hassled when I am at the computer very much.

Ashland Oregon

Posted by on 13 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: crosspost, garden, good things, Uncategorized

I just returned from a trip to see my grandfather in Ashland. Had a lovely time. Only there two nights (that’s about a day and a half for visiting), but it was a good test run for a longer trip another time. This was the first trip that I made by myself with both kids and it went well. Tired today though…

Will post more pics tomorrow, but for now, here are the kids with my grandfather and his partner, and a pic of the community garden my grandfather helps keep going.

This is only a small part of the garden actually, there are 15 + available plots; but toward the back some of my grandfather’s plants are visible. More pics soon (I hope).

Forgetful? Or Just Lazy? You Decide!

Posted by on 08 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: Babble, blogposts, friends, Uncategorized

As I was posting about my child and the pirate puzzle earlier today, I realized I didn’t post about our visit toward the end of June with Babbler Hetty and her darling husband, nor about the ATC card Babbler Atalante sent me last week!

With apologies for such omissions, I plead summertime activity syndrome… and direct you to the three pictures I posted at flickr.com for the former;


The additional note and picture on the page I maintain for Artist Trading Cards I Received.

Though ordinarily I would have been able to do a good bit of work during the many (four) hours I was sitting waiting for the kid who had band camp two weeks in a row, my laptop computer’s battery stopped holding a charge. Ergo, no computer during the day, and lots to do when I got home!

Excuses? Perhaps… but true!

Avast! Klutz does it again!

Posted by on 08 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: blogposts, book review, children, fun, pirates, Uncategorized

I am a big fan of the Klutz books for kids and adults. Not just about juggling now, they have branched out to other activities. From string figures and knot-tying to activity sets, they seem to have a knack for the things that make kids happy to think.

The latest cool Klutz books we have seen are their “building cards” sets. My mother purchased one for each of our kids for a summertime quiet activity. The younger got the one for pirate ships, and we just finished putting it together. Here are some pics of him, thoroughly engaged on a warm summer afternoon.

Klutz activity book pic

Klutz activity book pic

Klutz activity book pic

Klutz activity book pic

As you can see, he is completely interested, engaged and HAPPY! (insert proud mama smile here) A video of happy kid is also available on the page I keep for all things piratical… Pirate Ship in Action.

I highly recommend Klutz products. Well thought-out, very fun. The ISBN for this kit is 1-57054-228-7.

Last but not least, every pirate needs his dog. Here’s our Scally-Wag!

One Lucky Dog!

Guests at my “Table”

Posted by on 06 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: blogposts, critters, crosspost, garden, Uncategorized

Starting July 1, there have been three unexpected, but not unwelcome “visitors” to my home and yard, and scores of “invited guests.”

Sunday, there was this lovely fellow on my dining room floor…

lizard on glove

I put him briefly in our “critter box” a clear plastic holding pen designed for just such occasions, so the kids could see him. Let him go the next morning in the cedar grove, and hope that was the right place for him.

He was nearly followed the next day by a lovely little garter snake that was ascending the steps to the back stoop.

The usual assortment of lovely birds have been in the yard, fewer the last couple weeks since I stopped feeding them — there were reports that birds were getting sick from the close quarters near backyard feeders. Still, the doves and the flickers, the hawks and the sparrows have been happy enough. I will resume feeding in the autumn when bacteria don’t survive as long.

Then yesterday, as I was bringing the garbage cans up from the road, I spied:

orange moth

Isn’t this moth lovely! The pun of a moth on a butterfly bush didn’t escape me… wish the pic were better, but in the time I had, I could only get a few shots with a digital camera. (Mental note to put good camera closer the door.)

And THEN, yesterday evening when I came in from outside (all the doors and windows were open because of the heat), I heard birdsong. Yes, from inside the house. In my zeal to help the poor creature get out, though it wasn’t as frantic as others, I didn’t get a picture of the sparrow. Still, what a strange crush of lovely visitors!

I hope all the guests in your home are as welcome as these have been!