Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A trouble of Border Collies

I took the dogs to the beach today with my friend Linette and her three.  That's a total of five Border Collies at the beach.  When there are that many of the breed together we call them collectively a Trouble of Border Collies.  And Geordie lived up to the name. 

After romping and playing along the beach for a while, he and Nessa headed out into the water to do some bird watching.  (By the way, the herons and seagulls are completely safe from the dogs.  In fact they don't even seem to be bothered by the splashing canines, they just flap their wings and keep their distance.)  Geordie doesn't swim but he loves to try to catch the seagulls, running into the water after them, dragging his rope.  Because of his "issues" he doesn't go anywhere off-leash, but we have graduated to using a long line in certain situations.

While out on the island, Geordie managed to get his rope caught around some big barnacles and rock crevices and it was up to me to wade out into the cold water to the island to disentangle it.  Here he is with Nessa waiting to be rescued.

Fortunately the water was only up to my knees and I didn't slip on the seaweed while releasing the rope.  Once it was released both dogs dashed for shore leaving me to find my way back from the island.

I now realize that the beach is not the place for the long rope. I think we'll be returning to the flexi-leash for future beach walks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunset on Arbutus

We had some sun on the weekend and it lasted into the evening (for a change).  This is what it looked like on the huge Arbutus tree in our front yard.

It's hard for a photo to give you an idea of just how big this tree is.  It towers over our house and I think it is well over 100 feet tall.  Doesn't it look beautiful glowing in the sunset?

We always make sure to notice its beauty--to counteract the enormous task of cleaning up its leaves, bark, flowers, and berries that litter our yard all year long. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rose in a window

Last night as the sun was setting, the rose in a vase on my kitchen window came to vibrant life with backlighting.  I rushed for my camera to take a photo and through the viewfinder I also saw the rose's beautiful reflection.

Isn't it funny the way we often don't notice reflections--that is unless we're actually looking for them.  If you want to see photographic reflections this weekend, just head over to Newtown Area Photo for the Weekend Reflections posted there.  

Friday, June 25, 2010

Watercolour play

This past winter I did some playing around with water colours while in Mazatlan and I really got to like the medium.  Aside from one little three-hour workshop at a hotel there I'd never really painted with water colour before.  So this week I've been attending a water colour basics workshop with a very experienced Victoria painting teacher, Jim Wispinski.  He's been great at introducing us older beginners to things in a way that allows us to experiement without feeling pressured.  My sister, who is a complete painting beginner, came with me and she's also beginning to feel relaxed about playing with paint. 

It's been so much fun learning about the variety of techniques that can be used with water colour paint.  It's quite a versatile medium.  The thing I like best about it is that the painting can be reworked at any time and it doesn't require a big studio or easel.  I can paint on a little table and leave it and come back to it as many times as I want.  Now I'm going to set up my own space and start playing.  I'll even schedule it into my calendar--as "playtime."

These are just some things you can play around with using water colour paint.  And here I am posing with my table mate Lisa, perhaps the youngest person in the class.  Behind us is Jim in his Hawaiian shirt.  It was such fun spending all day at art class for the entire week.  Now I have to play catch-up with some things but it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tile design in dreamtime

As part of an upgrade to our little basement apartment, we're creating a tile backsplash in the kitchen.  We wanted to incorporate some of our Mexican tile collection into it and the bluebird tile was what we chose.  About 20 years ago we bought  three boxes of tiles in Puerto Vallarta and brought them home as excess baggage on the airplane.  Over the years we've used them in kitchens, bathrooms, for tables and trivets and gifts--but we still have some left.

The top photo shows the first cut at the backsplash design that I pulled together in the tile store.  I found some tiles the same size and thickness as the Mexican tile and created a little pattern that would allow me to use the 14 bluebirds.  It looked great in the store and so I bought a supply and brought them home. 

The other day I set the tiles and it quickly became obvious that it was too busy for a backsplash in the tiny kitchen.  The first design element to go was the bluebird.  We set the rest of the tiles and went to bed.  The next day I awoke from an unsettling dream.  In the dream I was showing the backsplash to my friend Patricia who is a real estate agent.  Her response was an immediate shake of the head.  "Too much," is what she said. "It looks like a circus."

All morning I kept trying to make the design OK in my mind but it wasn't working.  The deep red tiles were overpowering the other colours and it was too much like....well, like a circus.  So we pried out all the red tiles and replaced them with the yellow ones.  And this is the result.  We still have to grout the tiles and finish them off but I really like it. It works with the blue counter top and is cheery and warm without being too strong. 

I think it was the dream that allowed me to make the final change of taking out the red tiles. Isn't it interesting how designs evolve?  Sometimes the decisions are conscious and sometimes they come in other ways.  I'm amazed at how often my night time ideas guide my day time activities.

Does this ever happen to you?

Solstice snow

Here we are at the summer solstice and there's fresh snow on the mountains!  These are the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula across the Strait of Juan de Fuca seen from a neighbourhood in Victoria taken on the morning of June 21st.

And we hear that they have actually opened our Vancouver Island ski area for the Fathers' Day weekend.  It's been so cold that there's been very little snow melt and new snow to boot.  What kind of spring is this?  Cold!  That's what.  We still have our heat on here from time to time.

Meanwhile I'm reading about hot weather on blogs from all over the south and the east of both Canada and the USA.  Perhaps it will come to Vancouver Island soon.  In fact, the sun came out last night as we walked the dogs past our neighbour's garden.

And today it's a sunny day with the promise of a little warmth.  Plus--the hummingbirds have returned to the pedestrian feeder.  All's well with the world.  I'm off to a water colour workshop with my sister.  I'll tell you about it soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hummingbird preferences

Wouldn't you think that the dear little hummingbirds would like this feeder better than the ugly generic red plastic one they've been sipping at for the past couple of months?  We thought they would, and we were thrilled to find something pretty to hang in our kitchen window. But it appears that this new feeder doesn't meet the exacting requirements of Pheobe and Rufus (the names we've given to the hummingbird pair that live in our plum tree).

They've been coming dozens of times a day recently and we've so enjoyed watching them, but since we put up the new blown glass feeder with the glass tube inserts they've completely boycotted their feeding station. So after two days we succumbed and replaced the old plastic feeder.  We certainly don't want them going hungry.  But it doesn't say much for hummingbird esthetics.

Perhaps there's something going on here that we don't know about.  Does anyone know if there's some kind of transferring technique for new hummingbird feeders?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers day ramble

We headed out to the woods today with the dogs for a little get-away.  The ferns in this little patch of forest were astounding.

This is a park at Shawnigan Lake with old growth cedars and a shore where the dogs can swim.  They had a great time running around playing with sticks.  And we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a little out-of-the way restaurant in a converted church nearby. 
On the way back we shopped for another tree for the front yard--a father's day gift that will just keep on giving.  I'm looking for a Cornus Florida Rubra, otherwise known as Pink Dogwood, to fill an empty spot in the front yard.  This little flower was plucked from a lovely specimen in front of Home Depot, however sadly they didn't have any for sale.  Now the search is on.  I do hope that we can find one somewhere to plant this year.  Isn't that the prettiest pink?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The chard forest

This is rainbow chard from my friend Heather's garden.  I feel like I could walk through the rainbow forest when I see this photo.  Like something from a children's poem.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer poppies

We haven't had much sun here so I'm compensating by taking photographs of the brilliant yellow and orange California Poppies that grow so well in this area.  Most of them are that rich golden orange that lifts your heart.

But in my opinion they're best of all when there are a few other colours mixed in--cream, soft yellow and even pink and bronze.

And I also love the two-tone ones. These photos are from a mixed clump just down the hill from us.  I'm going to try to gather some seeds from these over the summer and plant them in front of my house.  Then I can see summer out my window even when it's cloudy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Header woes

So I like the new simple design from Blogger.  I've always wanted to simplify my blog's look but I can't seem to find a way to make the photograph in my header wider.  I can't even see how to edit the blog title and subtitle.  I'd like to expand the photo over to the extreme right to eliminate the burnt orange colour.  Can anybody help?

Snowbirds over the breakwater

Last Saturday the Snowbirds came to town to help celebrate 100 years of the Canadian Navy in Victoria.  Here are a few photos of their amazing aerobatics and the people that crowded the breakwater at Ogden Point to enjoy the show.

These divers were enjoying an underwater show just off the breakwater earlier , but climbed out in time to see the air show.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting back to normal

I cannot believe how tired I am after organizing and participating in Friday's big event.  My friend from Vancouver was over on Friday and Saturday to attend and we had a little dinner party on Saturday with Jane and her husband and a few friends.  Kath left on Sunday and I just collapsed.  Today I begged off of going to pilates and just stayed home and rested.  I'm hoping that by tomorrow I'll have recovered enough to cope with some scheduled things I have to do.

It seems that everyone involved is experiencing the same need for a few days of recovery.  It's been a huge exertion of energy and focus for many people.  That's what it takes to pull something like this off. 

A big surprise this morning was a very even-handed article by the movie writer in our local newspaper

After such a nice article we'll have to work extra hard to get back to normal.  But I think we're all looking forward to it.  That pace cannot be sustained.   Sunny days ahead and maybe some relaxation.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An interesting evening

Jane and I are still recovering from our Friday night Dialogue with Spirit Guides event.  It was well attended and well received, although we had some difficulties with the sound equipment.  We thought because we were holding it at a theatre with professional sound equipment and lighting and sound technicians that all would be good.  However it seems that the sensitive equipment was adversely affected by the energy of the spirit guides speaking through Jane.  The sound checked out fine but once she began to channel, the microphone started to act up and produced pops and knocks that were extremely distracting.  We ended up changing it all around half way through the evening, which was quite disruptive to all involved.  In spite of that it was successful and many people received loving and insightful responses to their questions.

The top photo is of Jane and me doing our introductions at the beginning.  This one is of me talking to one of the guides brought through by Jane.  
The backdrop for this was a slowly shifting scene of leaves and trees.  It looks quite dramatic doesn’t it?
Now our work is done on this and it’s up to the filmmaker, Krista, to pull it together.  For Jane and me it’s nice to think about getting back to our regular life.   I don’t think I could ever be a full-time performer.  From this small taste of it, I know that it’s just too exhausting. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Busy preparing for a big night

I've been busy preparing for another big Dialogue with Spirit Guides event.  We're putting it on tomorrow at the Belfry Theatre here in Victoria and although we're less stressed about it because we've done it before, there's been a lot to organize.  This time we're also working with a filmmaker, Krista Loughton, who is going to use some footage as part of a documentary on Jane's work with the spirit guides.  This is our poster for the event designed by a talented volunteer Sacha.

Both Sacha and Krista plus a number of other people are volunteering to help us because they believe in this way of bringing spirit wisdom through to the world.  Any profit from the event will go towards developing the documentary film.  If you want to learn more,  you can go to our website circleswithincircles.com to see what it's about.  We're looking forward to a fascinating evening with the spirit guides tomorrow night.  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ruby Tuesday Choir Performance

On the weekend we took in a performance of the Gettin' Higher Choir here in Victoria.  I'm posting this photo for Ruby Tuesday because of all the red that the singers are wearing.  I used to be a member of this choir and I love to go and listen to them sing.  It's a "non-audition" choir, which means that anybody who wants to sing can take part--even if you think you can't sing.  I loved that aspect of it because it allowed me (whose voice is less than perfect) to take part in group singing.

The concert was to raise funds for a village in Mozambique that this choir has been supporting for a number of years.  Fundraising has enabled the village to build a school, a medical clinic, a well and many other things to make the lives of the people who live there better. You can read about it here.  It's a wonderful cause, I think. 

Plus the music is terrific.  This is just before their very first song--and you can see how focused everyone is.  The songs they choose are so full of spirit and love, it makes me want to find the time to take part again.  Maybe in the fall....?

Drops of sweetness

I’ve always noticed those tiny ants that crawl around on peony buds. But for some reason I’ve never before seen the little drops of syrup that attract them.  Until today when I cut a few flopped over buds and brought them into the kitchen.  Later looking at them I could clearly see the little drops of sweetness the peonies exude.

They’re like little jewels and I can attest that they taste very sweet in a flowery way.  Imagine being able to taste the nectar of this gorgeous flower!  The peony flower has expanded my day in a beautiful way--and it hasn't even opened up to its full loveliness yet.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blog buddies and Leaf Shadows

I’m back on line, just in time to post a leaf shadow shot for Shadow Shot Sunday.  My dear husband managed to get the modem hooked up today so my life can return to normal.  I had a lovely birthday learning how to use a mat cutter to make mats for the water colour paintings I did in Mexico.  My stepson Ben helped me and we are going to build white wood frames for them too. 

Another sweet surprise on my birthday was a special post from my blogging buddy, Angry Parsnip.  She sent me a birthday photo and some music via her blog, Two Little Square Black Dogs .  The world of blog friends just gets wider and wider.  It’s a special connection.  I loved getting bloggy birthday greetings also from Ches at Alt. Build Blog and from Kathleen at Easy for Me to Say.   

We actually had some sun today but I was too busy planting and raking to remember to take some shadow shots.  This image from my archive shows the shadow from the Akebia leaves on the back fence.  I like the way the shadow of string shows its wound-up effect.  I hope your weekend is productive and fun as well.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Computer woes

All I wanted to do was move my modem from one room to another.  Somehow in doing so everything got messed up and it can't be fixed until Monday.  So no blogging for me today or all weekend.  I think I'll be in serious withdrawal.  Not to speak of all the emails that will be piling up.  This is posted from a coffee shop but I think I'll try to take a little computer break this weekend since it's my birthday.  See you next week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dockside Green

These pictures are just a small part of a very cool development that's been built on an unused part of Victoria's harbour, just across a bridge from downtown.  The design has qualified as a LEED project: a Canadian program based on principles of smart growth, green building and sustainable design.  I've been hearing about Dockside Green for a couple of years but haven't really seen it until recently.  Our Tai Chi class takes place just behind here and we've been stopping in for coffee after at a little place that's tucked into Dockside Green.

Just the other day I took a walk along the greenway and was very impressed the small part of it I saw.  I was drawn to the canal with wooden bridges that connected to the condo dwellers deck areas.

I really like the feeling of "new urbanism" in this complex.

It's a combination of contemporary architecture designed to promote community with beautiful natural features that also have a purpose.  This waterway, besides being beautiful, is part of a waste water cleansing system.

I am so pleased to to see builders beginning to take sustainable green building principles seriously.  What do you think of this approach?  Would you like to live here?