Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blooming Necklines

The floral theme in my last post sent me searching for other ways to bring more flowers into my days. And that made me think of the millinery flowers I have. I found the one in the soft brown shades at an annual vintage sale several years ago. I think they look lovely pinned on ruffly feminine blouses. The cream blouse was given to me in the seventies by my dear friend Margery, who wore it in the forties I believe. I wear it now and then wanting to enjoy it fully, but at the same time concerned not to wear it out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Promise of Summer

It is no secret that about now I am pretty fed up with winter, with the dirty snow, grey days and lack of colour outside. So it goes a long way to bring some colour into the house. My curtains, with their brightly coloured flowers, brighten up the day and remind me of summer gardens and the promise of all the colour that lies beneath the snow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lunch Menu: Snow Squall

A snow squall was served up at lunch today, though my lunchtime walk began with sunshine. I snapped a few pics of a church that I often pass on my way to the coffee shop. About 10-15 minutes later a sudden snow squall came up. The sky darkened and the snow whipped past horizontally, greatly reducing visibility. Happily, I was seated in a comfy chair with a latte looking out the winter by this time. A short while later, the squall spent, I ventured forth once more, passing by the church on the corner again.

Surely the choice of paint colour on the church doors was intentional. It matches exactly the colour on the stones where rain dripping from the copper roof has discoloured it. (You can compare the colours by looking at the stone steps under the door.) And when the lovely large doors are opened they are held back with these large rusty old hooks. They look hand forged. You can tell by the dusting of snow which shots I took before the squall hit and which I took after.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Within Reach

There’s nothing nicer at the end of the day than luxuriating in a hot relaxing bath. As my camera was on a counter within reach, I got to thinking it might be interesting to see what photographs I could come up with while sitting in the tub. Would there be anything of interest to photograph in the immediate vicinity? A challenge of sorts, and here’s what I came up with. Which just goes to show, almost anything can be photogenic.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Colours Revealed

This pottery bowl contains a selection of pebbles found on a beach in Cape Breton. They are fairly non-descript when dry, but sprinkle some water over them and a lovely mixture of colours are revealed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Winter Scenes

By now, those of you in the midst of winters like mine are probably groaning at the sight of yet more winter photos. But at least they are focusing on plant material rather than snow and ice clinging to branches. Right? Somehow, “winter wonderland” photos like the ones used on cards are wearing a little thin with me. I think they might be more appreciated by people who don’t actually experience the type of winters that we do. I hope that you’ll agree that the ones pictured here are somewhat different from the “snowy vista with snow padded trees” variety. The last thing we need are more beautiful winter scenes. Do I sound grouchy? It must be January.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Almost Overlooked

What a surprisingly lovely photo this is. I was walking to work past a scene that I see every weekday. And because it had snowed I noticed the tree with the red berries. So I pulled out my camera and took one quick shot before I scurried on to work. And isn’t it lovely? With the muted tones of the church’s stones in the background, it’s just very soft and gentle, and atmospheric. Altogether a very pleasing shot that would have been so easy to overlook because I was focused on my destination.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cosy Tea Cosy

Yesterday I talked about Margery's tea cosies. This tea cosy began life as a hat. I found this beautifully knitted hat at a thrift shop. Unfortunately it is too tight for an adult head and not proportioned quite right for a small child's (too long in length).

So what to do with it? I thought that it would make a lovely tea cosy. I just had to sew rows of stitches (to stop the knitting from unraveling) where the openings would be for the handle and spout and then carefully cut an opening between the rows of stitches.

As warm and cheerful as a patterned sweater, it made a very cosy tea cosy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cosy Memories

When I saw this hand-knit tea cosy at a thrift store, it reminded me of my dear friend Margery who used to knit tea cosies just like this one. She had given us several of them when we lived beside her in the 70's. It's such a British thing to make a large pot of tea and keep it hot by covering your teapot with a cosy. And many a cup of tea I shared with Margery over the years, sometimes accompanied by her freshly baked scones, almost always accompanied by her reminiscences.

You don't see tea cosies in use much these days. That may be why this one was priced 99 cents. What a small price for such rich memories of a dear friend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beyond the Door

What a lovely old door this is. Wonderful old patina, making the fissured varnished surface look like leather that's dried out and cracking. And the beautifully weathered metal door knob... I would love to see the type of key that fits inside this old-fashioned keyhole. Where does a door like this one lead?

Is it still early enough into the new year to continue with a spot of introspection a wee while longer? A lot of doors felt like they were shutting in 2009, so I’m hoping that many doors will be opening this year. Doors that lead to new opportunities, to be grasped whenever and wherever they may appear... doors that guide the way to new avenues, just waiting to be ventured down... and doors through which new experiences can be found that invite exploration.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life Will Prevail

Have a close look at these roses that I came across in a tea room. Although the blooms had died, the stems were sending out leaves! I have had my share of cut roses but I have never had the stems leaf like this, especially in a window in the middle of winter. How extraordinary! Given the right conditions, life will prevail. Quite a sign of hope in these gloomy overcast days filled with dampness and cold.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Curtain of Moss

I seem to have been on a beige, brown and grey kick for awhile now. So... on yet another snowy overcast day I thought I would bring you a breath of summer and a therapeutic blast of colour: the stunningly beautiful green of moss. For those of you have read my blog for awhile, you will know that the theme of being able (or not able) to see what is front of our own eyes recurs on a regular basis. How many times have I passed by something I have seen almost daily only to find that one day I notice something I had never “seen” before? Moss is one of those things.

How can you not be attracted to its jewel-like greens in all its varying shades? How can you not be drawn to the sheer tactile pleasure of it? Now I realize it is not really fair to pose this question when all the moss for miles around is covered in a foot or more of snow, and I don’t expect you run out right this minute if you haven’t... but have you ever stopped to really look at moss close-up? Author Robin Wall Kimmerer (who is also that rare combination: scientist and poet) has.

In her book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, she puts it this way: “With sophisticated technology, we strive to see what is beyond us, but are often blind to the myriad sparking facets that lie so close at hand. We think we’re seeing when we’ve only scratched the surface. … Has the power of our devices led us to distrust our unaided eyes? Or have we become dismissive of what takes no technology but only time and patience to perceive? Attentiveness alone can rival the most powerful magnifying lens?”

If you take the time to really look at moss, you will find that what you perceived to be a clump of one type of moss actually turns out to be many different types of moss. “There are fronds like miniature ferns, wefts like ostrich plumes, and shining tufts like the silky hair of a baby…. Magnified twenty-fold, the surfaces of the leaves are beautifully sculpted. The light shining brightly through single cells illuminates their elegant shapes. Time can vanish in exploring these places, like wandering through an art gallery of unexpected forms and colors.”

And just as the patterns in a single leaf replicate the shape of the tree from which it grew, so too “the architecture of the surrounding forest is repeated in the form of the moss carpet, the fir forest and the moss forest mirroring each other.”

For those of you in the throes of winter, you’ll have to wait for some time before you come across a cushion of moss of any size, let alone one as lush as the one pictured here. This one, in the Gatineau Hills, is a living curtain, a cascade of undulating shades of green and brown breaking over a cliff’s edge and running down a rugged rock face. And it is spectacular.

When you next see moss, whether it’s a small cushion or a whole curtain, try to remember to take the time to stop and look. Really look.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Regular

Chickadees are regulars at our birdfeeder. When no other birds are venturing forth you can always count on chickadees to show up. Such dear little fellows they are too. Soft, fluffy and plump. Their colouring reminds me of the scarf I featured in my post yesterday.

Some interesting facts about chickadees:
* They can remember where they have hidden food up to 28 days after concealing it.
* The number of “dees” in their familiar call, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”, increases with the level of the perceived threat from predators.
* In the winter, chickadees who are used to humans will readily take seeds from a person’s outstretched hand.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shades from Nature

I promised in my post a couple of days ago that I would show you what I used my latest thrift-shop wool to make. It didn't take long to knit this scarf as it is only a simple plain stitch from beginning to end. In my previous post I had remarked that these two yarns contained a mixture of colours that reminded me of shades taken from nature. And now that it's done I see just how much they are in keeping with the colours of stone and weathered wood. The yarn itself has the softest feel imaginable. I think it must be partly made of silk fibres (one of the disadvantages of buying from a thift shop is that the labels may be missing). But this yarn is so soft around the neck that I couldn't wait to knit it into a scarf. So very cozy.

If you are looking for a super simple project to do these winter nights while watching the telly, you'd be hard-pressed to find something more straightforward than knitting a scarf like this one. I cast on 21 stitches but you can add more if you like a wider scarf. As I mentioned, I only used a plain stitch so there's no changing of stitches requiring your concentration while knitting. And if you use a single colour, then you don't even have to remember to change colours. You'll be amazed at how quickly your scarf grows!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Appearances Are Deceiving

Snow, snow, snow... some people love it, others don’t. Love it or not, what some people (who don’t live with it for long periods of time) might not realize, is that is doesn’t always look pristine white the way it does on picture postcards. It can quickly turn quite dirty, like these grime-encrusted piles. These almost look like snowy rock faces, but they are all snow, piled at the side of the road.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Harvest

Found this basket of wool in a bag marked $3.99 at a thrift shop. Two of the balls are the softest wool imaginable. Since there were no labels I don't have a clue what they are made of but they feel silky soft. I love their colours too, shades from nature. I already know what I'm going to knit them into. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Passing of Time

Left out in the harshness of winter, this dried hydrangea bloom has acquired a delicate fragile beauty, so different from its robust summer self. There is a certain gentleness about it, a vulnerability. The softness of the beiges and browns against the blue of the snow, the veined petals attached to such brittle spindly stems, all of which engenders a sense of the passing of time, the inevitability of decay, but also of its great beauty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Jolly Happy Soul

When was the last time you made a snowman? I can’t answer that question myself. Sometime when the boys were younger... in other words, I’m long overdue. It’s high time I made a snowperson or snow animal. In fact, I seem to remember that I liked to make snow mice when I was young. No matter how skilled or unskilled the hands who fashion one, the results are always charming... like this sweet snow soul. Although I did not make him, he very graciously posed for this picture.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Barren January

Maple keys, bent over like a pair of wings. Perhaps they are huddling to keep warm in the cold. Barren January... a month to keep cozy, to snuggle under a blanket, curled up with a good book and a hot drink at the ready. A mouthful or two of good chocolate wouldn’t be amiss.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Have you ever heard of a mangosteen? I hadn't. But now, thanks to a friend who lived in Indonesia for several years, I have not only been introduced to this unique fruit but I've also tasted it. Slicing through the tough purple rind, there's no hint of what you're about to find on the inside. Slimey and juicy to the touch, this white coloured fruit has a pleasant sweet taste.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Curves and Undulations

As much as I miss plant life in the winter I must admit that trees really are shown to their advantage in this season. They are breathtakingly beautiful, pared down to their essence. Stripped of all their foliage, what better way is there to appreciate their graceful forms? There’s not a straight line on a tree, just curves and undulations.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Bare Tree

My mother once said to me, '"When one sees the tree in leaf one thinks the beauty is in its leaves, and then one sees the bare tree."

From The Bare Tree by Samuel Menashe.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Wishing you a wonderful year filled with sunny days and happy days!