Wednesday, February 27, 2013


still Blue River

This photo was likely taken in 1926 and is of my mother as a toddler proudly modelling a new dress.
There is always a backdrop to these memories though, a scene beyond, and they are often a story themselves.

I want to talk about the sandbox in this photo.
It is the roof that makes me smile.
The roof was not to keep off the sun as you might suspect.
This was Blue River; a northern rain forest.
The roof kept the sandbox from turning into a very large mud pie when it rained which it often did; to extend the usable days to more than just a handful.
My grandpa cut the logs and built the framework and roof. He hauled up sand from the river.
A wonderful covered sandbox rested invitingly, just a few steps from the front door.
A generation of children happily played in its shelter.
Looking at this picture reminded my that when I was a preschooler, my own father built a sandbox for me to play in and it was covered too.
It was still Blue River.

green green world

People are beginning to agitate for the ending of winter here on the coast. At first glance, it doesn't seem that we have had winter, that there is anything winterish that needs to end. Exactly the opposite is true though. In fact, there is something about our winters here that rightly make us clamor for spring. Something that is unique to a snow-less winter in the northern hemisphere. It's not the temperature and it's not the rain although many people think rain is to blame. It is actually the darkness or more accurately, the absence of light that make winter such a sad affair here.
Further north or east, snow falls and stays. It helps to dispel the gloom of mid-winter by reflecting what light there is.
The blanket of snow glitters on a sunny day.
You find yourself squinting against the great expanse of white even on a cloudy day, and moonlight on snow can make the world as bright as noon.
All is fresh and white and clean.
Color stands out crisply but even the browns and greys of winter are beautiful when contrasted with the blues and lavenders of shadowed snow.
We don't experience that here.
Instead, we have large expanses darkly damp, dimly lit forest and field.
Our eyes seek the horizon, longing for light, but the sky is often grimly gray and brooding.
And so are we.
Light is coming though.
Minute by minute, the days lengthen.
Someday soon, a flush of sweet fresh green will stain the fields and spread to the fingertips of the saplings along the roadside and we will be sustained by light and color again.
It will be a green green world.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

one day

Over lunch today I pondered deconstructing dishes from my childhood by turning them into soup. What would you think of Cabbage Roll Soup?
I would start by sauteing minced onion, bacon and celery together. I'm not sure if I would include ground meat. I would try it first with just bacon.
Then I would strain away the bacon drippings and add a quarter cup of rice and a carton of chicken broth. I would simmer for half an hour or so, then add a can of diced tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes would be fine of course, or even good tomato juice but diced are such a desirable texture.
A handful of cabbage lightly cooked at the end would be the finishing touch.
Lovely Cabbage Roll Soup.
I will try it out one day and report back.

Monday, February 25, 2013


The last tide had been so high, driftwood confetti lay in an undulating line along the walkway, as far as the eye could see.
The roaring sea was mist and spray and foam.
The wind seemed to push us down to the waters edge.
I pulled a plastic bag from my pocket and holding it aloft, allowed the wind to open it.
The air above me was suddenly, magically filled with gulls.
They hovered and dipped just beyond my outstretched hands, their sharp, dark eyes fixed upon my fluttering white shopping bag.
It was like a scene from Birds.
It was as though every gull above White Rock had drawn a bead on my bag.
"Mine, mine, mine." they screamed.
A squabble of seagulls.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

only goodbye

I love old black and white photos. Colour can be a distraction I think.
This picture of my grandparents was taken in the early twenties before they married. It is so filled with sound and emotion.
The train will soon pull out with a flourish of steam, and my grandfather will be on it. He is nervously adjusting his gloves in anticipation. He has turned towards the picture taker but my grandmother has eyes only for him. She was a very independent woman, but I can see a droop in her posture, a sadness at parting.
A whole life together lay ahead but on that day, only goodbye.

Friday, February 22, 2013

moment by minute

Sometimes I forget that I have choices to make and in that forgetting, I am making choices by default. My default settings are not always what they should be either. I think I so easily yield to powerlessness, to fatalism.
I am not powerless though.
Attitude lies within my grasp and has such power over circumstance.
By the moment, by minute, by daily, weekly, rubber meeting the road of life, habits are created and in turn character.
Now if ever there was a thought to make me feel fatalistic, that would be it apart from the amazing reality of regeneration, that principal of renewal and hope.
We were created with the power of choice; a very risky venture by God.
We don't default to thankfulness to Him naturally, but He has offered transformation in His hands.
A choice.

the heart

Thankfulness = Happiness
Algebra of the heart.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

someone we know

Pets are someone we know. It sounds like a cliche but is very true nonetheless; a truth I learned in a fresh way this week.
I had started out blithely enough to make a small quilt for my niece and nephew; a portrait of their little dog Joey.
I felt fairly confident, but as the pieces of fabric came into place, and a dog face emerged, I wasn't so sure I recognized him. This is when I realized that pets, like people, are someone we know and the more we know them the more accurately they must be rendered to capture their likeness. Otherwise, it is sort of like looking at someones twin; familiar yet different.
Still, I hope this tribute to their little friend will bring them joy.

I have been trying to remember to take pictures as I work. It's fun to look at the time lapse later.
I usually start with the silhouette in a mid-value.

I thought I was adding my darks and lights but I went astray.
I didn't get the values right, so I needed to add lighter lights and darker darks.
I stitched with black thread and then white to hold the applique in place and replicate hair.
The background was quilted to look like curly hair.
This seemed like just the quilt to add to the fun linky event over at Lily Pad Quilting.
Pets on Quilts Show 2015 has a category for animal themed quilts so I've joined the fun.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


"I don't think I'll go with you this afternoon," my mother declared. "I'm older than I think I am."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

a welcome light

I did it without really thinking.
I just pulled the door shut with a click.
It was the click of doom.

A visitor had arrived with Valentine greetings.
As I hurried down the hall to answer the door, I paused at a doorway.
The room beyond seemed outrageously cluttered.
Not the clutter of daily life.
Not the clutter of a working room.
It was more the clutter of serious housekeeping dysfunction.
Hoarder clutter.
The room is at times, my husbands classroom, his computer room where he toils away at online courses.
It is also my sewing storage room, and a place for toys of a bulky nature.
It is also a temporary storage solution for two pieces of 'family' furniture.
These things are not dwelling in harmony.
They are competing for space and the winner varies by the week.
It is a room of shame.
This is something I can fix.
It lies within my power to change this, but today, I took the easy way and closed the door.
If ever I needed an object lesson on the wisdom of taking the easy way, today provided it in capital letters.
The door has a keyed lock which is unusual on an interior door.
We have closed the door a million times in the eight years we have lived here and suffered no ill effects.
There is a way to lock it from inside, but we have never used that function.
We have never paid attention to that function.
I had forgotten that function even existed.
But somewhere along the way, in recent days no doubt, the locking function had been set.
It was just a matter of time.
A doomsday clock was ticking.

After our guest wended her way homeward, none the wiser as to the shameful state of my spare room,
(spare?! Hah! what a laughable pun) my husband innocently turned his steps toward school work.
His hand seized the door knob and he turned and pushed the door.
"Why is the door locked?" he asked, baffled.
He brought out keys that had not seen the light of day in many a year.
He riffled here and there but to no avail.
The door remained locked.
He descended into the garage and returned bearing tools.
Quietly, he removed the door trim and eventually was able to open the door.
"Uh.... Happy Valentines Day," I said, putting my arms around my husband, gratefully seeing in his eyes a welcome light.

my days

"I'm just getting a grasp on life and I feel like I've reached my best before date," I lamented to my husband.
I get a bit morbid that way sometimes, a bit mortal.
I see my own life flash before my eyes.
I see the myriad superficial concerns that consume my thoughts and energy.
Oh to live a life of some consequence, some value.
To number my days aright that I might at last present to Him a heart of wisdom.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


There really is nothing so fine as the taste of muffins fresh and piping hot from the oven; a delight for both body and soul.
Muffins from the supermarket are not truly fresh and of course, not piping hot. Therefore you miss out on the fragrance factor which really can be headier than taste alone.
It doesn't take long to whip up a dozen muffins.
You may get a call that a hungry horde are about to descend upon you like locust and if you sprint to the kitchen, you will be pulling open the oven door just as you hear the doorbell chime. Or you may decide that soup could be transformed into Dinner if hot muffins made an appearance. Or, perhaps you need something to put in lunch bags or for a road trip or to have with tea. Perhaps you just crave that homey feeling of accomplishment and contentment that baking imparts.
Whatever the case, I will share with you the math of muffins.

Two cups of dry to one cup of wet.
That's it.
You can't go wrong.
Two cups of any dry ingredients to one cup of any liquid/s.

 I usually use one cup of flour-just plain white flour, but you could use unbleached or whole wheat.
Then, for the second cup of dry ingredient, I use a combination of oatmeal ( Quaker Quick Oats) and wheat or oat bran, but you could just use flour.
I toss these into a mixing bowl.
Then I add a smidge of sugar.... a tablespoon is fine, or a couple more if you have a sweet tooth.
Then I add four teaspoons of baking powder and give a stir to distribute the leavening.
Next, I add two eggs beaten in a little bowl with a fork. One egg will still work.
I also add a quarter cup of oil, but a couple tablespoons will still work out.  You can leave almost anything out of muffins and they will still turn out... just not several things in the same batch.
Sometimes I also add a tablespoon of molasses but that is optional
Sometimes I also add a single serving container of apple sauce or a jar of baby food carrots.
If I do, I reduce the milk by a quarter cup, or add a tablespoon more floor.
Depends on the mood I'm in.
I add a cup of milk and stir the mixture well then spoon it into an oiled muffin pan.
Bake at 350 to 375 degrees. Anywhere in that neck of the woods is fine.
Hotter is fine too.
It doesn't really matter.
Take them out when they have risen and turned golden brown.
It will likely take about twenty to twenty-five minutes.
Let them sit for just a few minutes if you can because they are so much easier to pop out of the pan then.
These muffins are practically health food.
And you can always freeze extras or share them with neighbors or take them to work.......
They are moist and have a wonderfully tender crumb.
You don't even need butter or jam, but either or both is wonderful too.
So is cheese.
Give it a try.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

bright and early

"Graaaaaaaamma." It is 5:30am and I am awakened by the cheerful voice of my little granddaughter calling. I find her perched high on the bathroom counter top beside the sink, her eyes bright.
"Do you need my help?" I query.
"That's why I called you Gramma," the little girl points out.
It seems mighty early to be so cheerful....... and so loud.
She is soon tucked snugly back in bed and soundly sleeping.
Of course, there are casualties of this sunrise saboteur.
Her  brother and I speak in whispered tones until the hand of the clock marches slowly onward and we rise for the day.
Bright and early.