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“Blue Skies”

Re-blogged today, June 25th, 2017…because we have “Blue Skies” today!

Joie du Soleil

We have blue skies today, here in Vancouver! An early Autumn treat, in between rain showers. I’ll be potting up a container for the front porch, with white Violas and some colourful Spring bulbs and grasses.

Following along in the spirit of Joie du Soleil’s initial intention, which was to focus on the light, the positive, and the upbeat things in life, I’m posting a once popular old song which came to mind: “Blue Skies”, composed by Irving Berlin and sung here by Doris Day. I’m happy to report that Doris is still alive and well, and living in Carmel, California. She’s still an animal rights activist, and through all of her years as a Hollywood actress and singer, she presented a cheerful outlook, and an inspiring image. Some may say that Doris & I are being “Pollyannas”, but I’ve found that focussing on the positive is better than dwelling…

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More Crochet

Crocheted wool afghan

Grey wool afghan

Here’s an inspiring little story about a fellow crocheter:

In 2009, a ninety-eight year old woman survived the earthquake near L’Aquila, Italy. She was found alive and uninjured, buried under rubble and in her bed, about thirty hours after the quake struck. She told her rescuers that she had passed the time crocheting as she waited for help. Amazing, but true!

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Crocheting has been there for me, too, since I first discovered it many years ago. I’ve taken my crochet hook and yarn along with me to so many places, including the beach, and have used every spare moment to practice this age-old craft. I find it to be both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. It’s been such an engrossing challenge to see what I can create with a little hook and a ball of yarn. Afghans, clothing, housewares, toys, and home decor…on goes the list of things I’ve enjoyed making for friends, family, myself, and others. If this is an addiction, at least it’s a positive one!

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It’s the process of crocheting that I love. Rather than selling the items which I’ve crocheted, (something I’ve done for many years),  I now agree with the following statements:

“I do not worry about the marketplace.”

—Alex Cuba, musician/singer

“Better a craft than gold.”

—Jenkins Family motto, Ewenny Pottery, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

My aim, or hopeful intention while crocheting, is to create beauty and to share what I make with others. But, to be honest, I crochet because I love it!

 

It’s been a grey and colder than normal Winter and early Spring here in Vancouver. Cherry blossoms are a few weeks behind schedule, but the daffodils are bravely blooming. Here’s an old Carter Family song to remind us to stay positive! (and to look forward to some sunshine!)

 

 

 

Crochet

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Crochet: My Definition: a calming, soothing, magical craft, a meditation in itself. Creating useful and beautiful items for others to enjoy is a bonus. Crochet is a portable craft: just a ball of yarn, a hook, and a bag to carry it in. So simple!

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“The autumn wind blows through

Little Pines-a lovely name-

Bush clover and pampas, too.”

–Basho, 1644-1694

The weather of autumn and winter 2016/17 has been more like it used to be in the old days here in Vancouver. Before climate change brought warmer winters, we had more snow and ice, and more pronounced seasons than we’ve been experiencing for the past few decades.

Here on the south coast of B.C., this past autumn and winter have been different, starting with a cold snap in early November of 2016. We’ve had three notable snowfalls during this exceptional winter. It seems that “climate change” does not necessarily signify warmer weather all the time, but it does mean unpredictability and changes in climatic conditions. It was unseasonably cold from November right through until early February, and our heating bills can attest to that fact! We’re back to milder weather now, and spring is on the way.

Here’s a retrospective of photos taken from October 2016 to early February 2017.

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Blue Pumpkin with Spanish Chestnut & Hazelnut…Cotoneaster berries in vase…Canadian Thanksgiving, October 2016

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Japanese Maple tree, Autumn colour, 2016

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“Every leaf a miracle”…

–Walt Whitman

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Schizostylis (Crimson flag), Autumn 2016

“To create a little flower

is the labour of ages.”

–William Blake

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Super Moon & Clouds over Vancouver, November 14, 2016…the closest the moon has been to the Earth in 68 years. Photo taken from Trimble Park, W. 8th Ave. & Discovery St.

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Winter sun & shadows…

“Beauty lies not in objects, but in the interaction between the shadow and light created by objects.”

–Junichiro Tanizaki, in his essay “In Praise of Shadows”. (1933)

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Blue sky, white clouds & Blue Atlas Cedar tree…December, 2016

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And then it snowed. Three little trees at the edge of Pacific Spirit Park on West 16th Ave.

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Hollyburn mountain, West Vancouver housing developments, freighters visible in Burrard Inlet, all seen over the rooftop of West Point Grey Academy, next to Trimble Park, (aka West Point Grey Park).

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Grouse & Seymour mountains at sunset. Stanley Park is visible, stretching out into Burrard Inlet.

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Snowy West Point Grey sidewalk, December 2016

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter,

Long ago.”

–Christina Rossetti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bee on Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia….English Lavender)

Grown in slow-motion by Nana (moi), the boulevards at our daughter’s family home are being transformed. Be gone, foul grass! And welcome, herbs and perennials!

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Work in progress…a perennial bed in the making…

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

—Lao Tzu

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Oregano, Mint & Marjoram (very attractive to bees, and organically grown!)

Bees have been experiencing a rough time worldwide, due to a variety of human-caused problems. Pesticides, herbicides, loss of habitat, climate change, lack of flowering plants which are loved by bees, mite infestations in hives, (caused in part by lowered immunity, as a result of stress, perhaps?), and on it goes.

Planting flowering herbs and perennials which bees love for their nectar is one way that we can help the bee population to become stronger. Without the bees and their ability to pollinate plants, much of the food we eat would not be able to grow.

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Sedum “Autumn Joy” & Michaelmas Daisy (Aster)

My garden has a mind of its own, and I love it! Just when I think that my garden ideas are working out as planned, up pops a surprise. For example, this little Aster plant hitched a ride (unbeknownst to me) from the previous garden to its new home, hidden in amongst the Sedum leaves. Instead of trying to control everything, I’ve decided to let it be, and just enjoy the mingling of the flowers and leaves, and their attractive colours.

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Michaelmas Daisy (Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’) and English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.

Alfred Austin

When I’m down on my knees, digging out the grass to create new flower beds, I certainly feel humbled! As you can see, there is plenty of grass to dig out, still. It all goes into the city’s “green bin”, to be composted along with Vancouver’s food scraps and whatever garden trimmings don’t get put into our own garden compost bins.

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There’s so much work to be done! A little at a time is my approach….this is going to be a short stretch of shade garden. I plan to add ferns, hostas, and plenty of home-made compost. The soil is depleted and dry, just crying out for some organic matter to be added!

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And finally, serendipity! I’d always meant to grow some of these in other gardens:

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) & Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

And up they popped, all on their own, self-seeded in the long grass under a phone pole, planted there by the previous owners. This week I’m going to plant more poppy and cornflower seeds, as Autumn is a great time to do it. But first, out with the dratted grass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When our daughter and her family moved to a new home last year, the front lawn had to be dug up in order to install an improved drainage system. They decided to replace the grass with a vegetable garden, and Nonno (Grandpa) dug right in!

Today’s quotation:  “Lawns, it seems to me, are against nature, barren and often threadbare–the enemy of a good garden. For the same trouble as mowing, you could have a year’s vegetables: runner beans, cauliflowers and cabbages, mixed with pinks and peonies, Shirley poppies and delphiniums; wouldn’t that beautify the land and save us from the garden terrorism that prevails?”

–Derek Jarman

from: Derek Jarman’s Garden

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“Before” photo of the lawn…

We are a (mostly) vegetarian family, and prefer organically-grown vegetables and fruits. No pesticides, no herbicides, no GMO’s, no chemical fertilizers, just lots of home-made compost and sea soil, and lots of tender loving care from Nonno.

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Where’s the lawn? Remay cloth covering Swiss chard and kale to protect from aphids.

Being totally hand-watered with an old-fashioned watering can and a “wand” attachment on the hose allows the gardener to get up-close and personal with each plant. It also saves water. Although Vancouver is on the edge of a rain forest, we still have watering restrictions for the entire summer, due to a lack of rainfall from spring to fall.

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A forest of kale! Pea-supports in background. Squashes to right.

Kale, Swiss chard, pole beans, radishes, peas,lettuce, parsley, basil, arugula, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, winter squash, carrots, beets, cucumbers, hot peppers, green onions, leeks, garlic…so good!

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Most seeds were sown in pots, then transplanted into the garden. Feverfew plants helped to keep the aphids at bay, as did some nasturtiums and the remay cloth.

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Beautiful Swiss chard, sharing a bed with carrots and beets.

As an added bonus to working in the garden every day, the gardeners get to socialize with passers-by, creating a sense of neighbourliness and community. So many people who would usually just walk past a house will stop to chat, talking about everything from plant varieties to the weather.

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Easy Kale Recipe: (serve with rice or pasta)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in large heavy pan on medium heat

Add 1 medium onion, sliced, 3 cloves garlic, chopped, 1/4 cup water and saute gently, lid on, until onion is limp.

Wash and tear off leaves of large bunch kale. Chop or tear into smaller pieces and add to pan. Mix it in. With lid on, cook gently 5 minutes or longer.

Add 1 medium tomato, chopped, and cook a few more minutes, lid on.

Tamari sauce with the rice, or parmesan cheese with the pasta….(unless you’re vegan, of course!)

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Pole beans beside the raised vegetable boxes.

We enjoyed lovely, healthy veggies all summer long, and also saved a lot of money!

This is “sustainable” gardening….and now that Autumn has arrived, it’s time to plant the crops for over-wintering, but that’s another story!

Kristah Price

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