Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pineapple Express

It's the train from Hawaii.  Hey, did you know Hawaii had trains.  I had to Google it to find out, and yes they do.  Actually the Pineapple Express is what they call a weather system that heads from Hawaii and blasts the SW part of BC and states south with a lot of wet and warm.  Last week we had the Polar Express, with record breaking cold temperatures, and this week we are the opposite, with record breaking warm temperatures.  Tuesday the official high was 18 C or 64 F. Today was similar.

That would be shorts weather for me if the sun was out, but we've had rain, torrential downpours, high winds, power outages and even some thunder this evening.  Our power went off for a few minutes yesterday, thank goodness that was all, and the lights flickered a few times this evening, but others have had it much worse.  I was out much of yesterday, and when I was driving home there was a break in the rain, even a bit of sun in a few places, and some blue sky.  I love taking pictures of dramatic skies.  All I had was my phone, but it still looked impressive.

Among many other stops I made while I was out, I went to five thrift stores.  Boy, what a hardship that was.  I had to force myself through the doors:)  I was looking for some brass candlesticks, or something similar, as bases for these.  The coffee cup is to give you an idea of the size.  

I only found six.  
There were two or three more out of my price range, but only because that particular thrift store seemed to think their candlesticks were much more valuable than anywhere else. 

I made a few of these book trees and sold two at the farmers market last weekend, have two more spoken for, and I want to have some for the two markets I have this weekend.  The last markets  of the year! I'm sad and I'm glad.  I'm doing the last jam making this week.  I'll have a break until the marmalade oranges come in season at the end of January, through March.  I'll actually put the canner away for a while.

 Of course I picked up a few more odds and ends while I was in those thrift stores, but not much.  I did score on some great fabric buys in the Salvation Army thrift store.  For about $12 I have enough fabric to make 12 aprons and 6 shopping or book bags.

I also got six of the pillow panels.  I don't make pillows out of them, I sew them on the sides of some of the bags.

 The birds are cute, and the cow looks a little.....mad.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Prep

We've got one thing all decorated for Christmas.  The poor sign is a little weather beaten.  I'll have to try get it painted next year.
There's something moving in the background, can you see it?

A closer look.

They blend in so well that I leaned over the fence to take the photo.  It was a lovely dry mild morning, and some of the hens had wandered down to the bottom of the field, about as far away as they can get from the coop, and were scratching in the dead leaves from the big Broadleaf Maple at the bottom of the driveway.  
Pretty well camouflaged don't you think? 

Saturday, December 6, 2014


I wrote this post last week, and never got it quite finished, so never posted it.  So here it is now, a week late.  Unfortunately in this past week, nothing more has been done with the dahlias.  I am easily distracted:)  Some great cleaning up and sorting out of other things has been done though!  Those two wheelbarrows are still hogging a lot of room in the garage, as are the bins.  That cold weather that I mentioned we were expecting, with it's inch of snow, came and went.  We are back to rain and weird collapsing ground as the ice in it thaws out.  Anyway, here you go....just imagine you were reading it on Friday of the previous week.....

Since I've come back from Ontario, I've been working at getting the dahlia tubers out of the ground, cleaned off, divided and stored away in feed bags until next Spring.  We had some cold weather while I was away, so the foliage was all killed off. That's over 100 dahlia tubers to dig up and cut the rotting dead foliage off. It's been a heck of a job, and it's not anywhere near done, but at least all of the tubers are out of the ground now, and washed off, and in the garage where there is no chance of them freezing. Larry has helped me with the digging and cutting the rotten stems off.  We've got some cold weather coming in the next few days.  I don't know if it will be cold enough to freeze the tubers in the ground, but there is a good chance, as we have had a week of lots of rain, and the ground is saturated.  I dug up the last 20 or 25 this morning.   Thank goodness they were all fairly small ones, so it was easy.  Some of them have been monsters, probably weighing 25 lbs, all loaded up with wet soil and umpteen earth worms.  Last year I don't think I washed them, I think I had some nice mild weather to get them all sorted out, but it has been different this year.  So I've loaded them up in the wheelbarrow and used a nozzle on the hose to blast most of the dirt and worms out from between the tubers.  Then I'm letting them dry off for a few days, and then will divide them up.  There seems to be too many that aren't labelled, I'm not sure why.  I know some were labelled wrong.  Not sure what I can do about that, other than to write a note (on my forehead maybe?) to check them all next year when they are blooming.  I have to come up with a better way to tag them.  I had tied flagging tape around the tuber, but often as the tuber grew, the tape was buried in the middle of the clump, and I had to try and ease it out gently and try to read it.  Often I couldn't even see a tag until I had hosed the dirt off.

I'd like to plant them in a different spot next year, in a single row along a fence line.  That will involve a lot of work to prep the ground, so we'll see how that goes.  Probably won't go well, it will be too physical.  I think it might be too much to try to get our little rototiller to break through sod that has been here longer than us.  I've thought about it quite a bit, and have a few ideas, but it remains to be seen if I put them into action.

Here's today's and yesterday's haul in the yellow wheel barrow.  The other wheelbarrow is from earlier in the week.

Here's some more that have been in the garage for a while and are waiting to be divided.

Here's the ones that I'm actually finished with, rolled up in labelled bags and stored in what used to be a wine cellar that is accessed from the garage and is built under the stairs.  One year a mouse thought that was a good place to spend the winter too:(  I am taking them into the utility room and dividing them there, near the warmth of the woodstove.  Much too cold to work in the garage.

I don't think there is room in there for all of the bags I'm going to have.
And camping dishes....? Don't think we will ever use those again, any camping we do now is in a trailer, and it has it's own dishes.

Monday, December 1, 2014


It was a cold farmers market on Sunday.  We had a bit of snow on Friday night, and then the temperature dropped to below freezing and the wind howled, and it was miserably cold, at least cold for us.  At the market we were set up inside, but the doors were open most of the time, so despite having tights on under my jeans, plus multiple layers on top, and a scarf, I got cold.  A few times I went outside and found a protected sunny spot, (there wasn't much wind on Sunday) and was able to soak up a bit of heat from the sun.  

After the market was over and we were all packed up, we met a friend for lunch and then Larry headed home and I went to visit my mum.  The care home she is in is 5 or 10 minutes from the market, depending if the traffic lights are in my favour or not, and this past Sunday they were.  My mum always wants to go OUT.  Quite often we go the grocery store to pick up some of the extra things she likes to have.  Right now she is having a lot of trouble with one foot.  A large patch of skin cancer on it, plus a couple of smaller ones, and it is heavily bandaged.  Hard to get a shoe on it.  A couple of weeks ago I just pushed her for a walk in her wheelchair straight from the home.  The last couple of Sundays have been quite cold, so instead I suggested we just go for a drive.  Thankfully that was okay with her, as even to get her and the wheelchair in and out of the car once is a difficult chore for both of us. In the three years she has been in the care home, I can only really remember one time that I visited her and we didn't go out.

The Sunday before last I suggested we drive to Crescent Beach and watch the sun set.  It was hard to get her moving, so when we finally got there, the sun wasn't setting over the water as I thought it would , but because the days are so short, had already disappeared behind the houses on the last point.

We were parked in front of the dog swimming area, and the tide was right up.  There were no dogs there that day.  A lonely boat is chugging towards the marina. Vancouver would be off in the distance on that sliver of land on the right edge, with the north shore mountains in the background.

Yesterday we went for another drive.  This time we went back the way I had got there, and down to the beach.  This is the pier at White Rock.

White Rock got more snow than us, but even there, some of it had melted, especially close to the water.

See that breakwater at the end of the pier.  My dad used to fish around there in his little boat, and jig for cod.  Sometimes I went out with him.
There is some boat moorage on the right at the end of the pier, and now just a small dock on the left.  There used to be a large dock there that formed a square, it was called The Tank.  I took swimming lessons for a year or two there in the summer.  The lessons went rain or shine or jellyfish.  Yes, at times a bunch of jellyfish would pass through.  After all, we were swimming in the ocean.  I wasn't much of a swimmer, and was often the oldest one in my class.  I hated it, and was so glad when my mother switched me to tennis lessons when I was 12.  Tennis I was good at:)

The tide was going out.  There is a sandbar forming halfway along the pier.  It wasn't there in the previous picture.

We drove up the hill and got one last shot of the sun before it set.  What a view that house would have.  I wonder if they ever tire of the view, or don't notice it any more.  Probably not. You can just see the pier and the breakwater to the left of the house.

There was one more thing I wanted to drive past.  I had noticed this when I had gone to retrieve the truck at the end of the market from the parking under the community center.  This is part of the area where the summer markets are held.  Someone got pretty creative:)

My mum has a doctor's appointment this week, where he will cut away another small spot of skin cancer.  Just before Christmas she has an appointment with a plastic surgeon to take care of the mess on her left foot and ankle.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More Blue and White

When Meredith first bought her condo, David's girlfriend's mother offered her an almost brand new brown leather couch.  Since she needed furniture, and had none, she was happy to accept.  Since the couch just happened to be minutes away from the White Rock farmers market, we arranged to pick it up one Sunday after the market.  We had the truck and the car, and all the stuff that would normally be in the back of the truck, was packed into the car, so that we could fit the couch in there.  
At the corner of their street, there was a house with a few things at the end of the driveway for free, including this chair.  I never drive past a free pile without giving it a quick once over.  I got David to walk back with me to check out the chair.  It was still really solid and quite comfortable, but totally the wrong colour for Meredith.  With the dark couch and the dark floors, she was wanting the rest of the furniture to be light.  She had repainted the beige, mustard and red walls to a light shade of blue, with a couple of accent walls a darker shade.  What I didn't take a picture of was the back side of the chair, which had been totally destroyed by a cat.  We strapped the chair onto the top of our market utility trailer and took it to Meredith's along with the couch.


I think Meredith did most of the work removing the upholstery and it's thousands of staples.  We had to take one arm off to be able to remove the seat.  I helped her to paint the chair in a creamy white.  You can see another chair, a $9 thrift store purchase, on the right, upside down.  We painted the bottom of that at the same time.  It has yet to be recovered or slip covered or maybe even painted, the fabric that is.


I went with her to the fabric store, and we spent a lot of time trying to find a reasonably priced fabric that she liked.  She settled on something, I managed not to say anything, but it certainly wasn't something I would have picked.  After all, it was her chair, she could upholster it however she liked.  Then the fabric and the chair sat there unfinished for a long time.  Long enough that by then Meredith also started to wonder why she had picked the fabric she did.  So that put her off working on the project, and then more time passed and by then she decided she really didn't like the fabric at all, and wanted to pick something else.  I offered her various pieces I had, but nothing appealed to her.  Back to the fabric store we went, and she decided to buy this. It was more expensive, but much much nicer, I really liked it too. 


At the beginning of October she finally got moving on the chair and recovered it all on her own, made the piping, sewed the seat cushion.  I handed out my advice freely, but she did it herself.  It is the first time she has done anything remotely like this.  But then, the best way to learn is by just doing it.


I think she did a great job, and the chair looks so lovely, and really goes well in the room.  


Monday, November 24, 2014


I have one more Ontario story to tell.
A couple of days before we flew home we drove to the historic town of Brockville.  Well most towns in Ontario are historic.  That part of Canada has been populated by non-natives much longer than the western part of the country.  I love the old brick and stone buildings.

It was a nice but very blustery day.  We were down along the river and decided to take a photo with the river in the back ground, and that is the US on the other shore.  I put the camera on a table thing, put the timer on, and we rush into position.  I had left my hat on the table.  All of a sudden a gust of wind blew my hat off the table and it was heading rapidly for the edge of the walkway and the railing between it and the river.  Cathy ran to save it, and didn't get it right away, you know how it is when the wind is bouncing things around, you always seem to be just one step behind it.  So I ran to help, and Cathy said I just about tackled her. Never!:)  Anyway the hat was saved, but in the meantime the camera got a shot of Meredith laughing at it all.

Here we are, safely hanging onto our hats!

Meredith said she had never tried one of those viewer things, so she stuck her looney ($1 coin) in, and the blasted thing didn't work.  I looked and saw it was only 10x magnification, so gave her my camera and told her to look through that, as it was 20x

Morristown New York, on the other bank.

One of the cute restored brick houses.  Cathy treated us to some good fish and chips, which came wrapped in newspaper, and we sat in the car and ate them.  This house was just across the street. 

We did visit a few little towns on our trip, and wherever we were, we always checked out any thrift stores.  We didn't get much, after all we only had carry on luggage since you now have to pay for checked bags, and the carry-ons were pretty full.  I picked up a few small things, and Meredith bought 4 blue and white English China bowls.  

While we were in Brockville we checked out the Salvation Army thrift store.  We wandered around a bit, and I asked Meredith if she had found anything.  She said no, well except there was a nice blue and white, made in England, teapot and creamer and sugar bowl in the cabinet. They were silent auction items.  But since the silent auction didn't end until Nov. 21, and we would be long gone, there was no point.  I went and looked at it and said why not, figuring Cathy could pick it up if it was a fluke and Meredith actually won it.  I didn't even ask Cathy if it was okay, but knew, being the great sister she is, that she wouldn't have a problem with it.  (Sucking up here!).  So Meredith said she would pay $20 for it.  The starting bid was $10, and there were no other bidders at that point.  We put down $20 and Cathy's phone number.  I thought about it more and said let's change it to $15. So we did.  It was kind of one of those cases of wanting to win it, but the logistics of the whole thing were kind of silly, so really we shouldn't win it, if you know what I mean.
Well I'm sure you know how this is going by now.  So on Friday Cathy got a phone call to say that Meredith had won the teapot set.  Meredith hadn't take a picture of it, and didn't remember the company that made it, but it looks something like this one, without the cups and saucers (courtesy of Ebay UK).


Cathy told Meredith that it would be a birthday present from her.  She is driving down to pick it up on Tuesday. I hope she feels well enough to do it, as she is suffering with a doozy of a chest cold right now.  She will try to fit it in her carry-on the next time she takes a trip our way.  She will probably not be able to bring as many clothes, but that's okay, it's a good excuse to hit a few thrift stores here.

Yesterday was Meredith's birthday.  
It was a milestone birthday. 
Happy Birthday dear daughter.
May there be much blue and white china in your future!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Empress of Ireland

When we were in Ontario, our first touristy outing was to head to the Canadian Museum of History, which was on the other side of Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, in Gatineau, Quebec.  Quebec is a mostly french province, so all of the signs were in french.  It was kind of exciting for me, as that was only my second time in Quebec, with the first time being in 1963 when we arrived in Canada after emigrating from England.

There was a special exhibit, about the ship the Empress of Ireland, sometimes known as the 'Canadian Titanic'.  This was all new to me, I had never heard of it, but it really piqued my interest. We came to Canada from Liverpool to Quebec City and then to Montreal, also in Quebec, where we disembarked and travelled across Canada by train.  We came to Canada on the Empress of England, a sister ship of sorts to the Empress of Ireland, owned by the same company, but not built until 1956.  Our route was the reverse of the route that the Empress of Ireland had set out on from Quebec city to Liverpool England.  On May 29, 1914, she was struck by another ship in the St. Lawrence River, in foggy dark conditions, and sank in 15 minutes,  killing 1012 passengers and crew.

(There seems to be some disagreement between this picture and other info I read regarding the number of deaths)

It really interested me to see the the Empress of Britain mentioned on this sign, as that was the ship my dad came to Canada on, a few months earlier than us.

I did a bit of research and found that his ship was built about the same time as ours, and was the third ship to sail under that name, so wouldn't have been the one mentioned in that picture.

Here's the Empress of England sailing under the Jacques Cartier Bridge at Montreal on her maiden voyage in 1957.  If it had been six years later, I might have been one of those lined up at the rail:)

After that exhibit we went through the West Coast First Nations Exhibit, which made Meredith and I chuckle to think that we had come all the way to Ontario to see something that was native to where we lived.

Lots of fascinating artifacts to look at, although I found the lighting very low on some of them. 
 Probably helps to  preserve them longer, but hard on my aging eyes at times.

While we were at the museum we also watched a 3D movie about the wildlife of the Galapogos Islands.  We felt like we were right there!

The next week we made another attempt at the National Gallery. There was a special Jack Bush exhibition, so we headed there.  I knew nothing about Jack Bush, and was really disappointed when we walked into the first room and then the next, and the next and they were full of huge canvases of abstract painting.  Something that looks like it could have been done by an elementary school student doesn't do a thing for me.  All three of us were disappointed.  He was originally a graphic artist, illustrating magazine stories and drawing advertisements.  Those, to me, showed his true talent, but that was just a tiny part of the exhibition of his work.  So, we went through the Jack Bush display in record time.  I was dying to ask one of the security guards what they thought of it. 
Here is a link to some of his work. 
 Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
We did view some other Canadian Art that we enjoyed much more, and then before we knew it, it was time to head off and meet the cousins for dinner. 

Three of the four cousins were able to join us, the youngest had classes that evening.  We went to a funky burger joint called The Works.

You got to pick what kind of patty you wanted (I chose ground turkey), what kind of bun, side dish, and there were numerous interesting burger choices, or you could make up your own.  I picked 'Crappy Tire', which had a round of pineapple on top, as well as some kind of cheese and tasty sauce, and it even said I could pay for it with Canadian Tire money:) 

Meredith picked one that had caramelized onions, half a pear and some brie.  We both thought our burgers were excellent.  I got a kick out of the beverages all being served in measuring cups, and the meals were brought in cake tins.  
A good time was had by all. 


The next day we flew home.