Monday, July 30, 2012

Midday in the summer garden

Take a little walk with me around my back garden at midday.  The sun is bright so colours are a bit washed out but still it's lovely with the warm sun.  

This nasturtium is a gorgeous peachy colour don't you think?

And here's a pot full of annuals sitting just outside the shed door.  The cement beneath this pot is home to a very shy little lizard, who runs away when we come near.  But today I managed to take his portrait hiding on the horizontal edge of flower box.

Just look at that stunning blue design on his belly!

Over at the other end of the yard are my raspberry canes.  Most of the berries have been picked but there are still a few stragglers.  The ants enjoy them too.

The tree peonies have lost their lovely white petals here but I think the centres are still quite beautiful.

This chair sits on the dried out grass if you want to spend a bit of time in the sun.  It never gets all that strong here on Vancouver Island.   If you sit here you can look at the leaves of the Golden Locust that's growing ever so slowly in the middle of the lawn.

And this is one of the Dahlias, very washed out in the sun but still showing its brilliant colour.

Back in the shade of the house there are hostas blooming.  I like the colour of this one.

Let's head over to patio and have a seat beside the big pot of feather grass. There's a cup of coffee waiting.  Would you like one?

Friday, July 27, 2012

A towering giant

One of the reasons we bought this house was the big arbutus tree growing in front.  But I'd never really stopped to see this perspective of it before.  It towers over our house by probably 100 feet.                                   
This photograph makes me wonder what would happen it if toppled over on the house or driveway.  Nothing would stand a chance.  Good thing the trunk is so big at the bottom.  I've actually never heard of one of these trees falling, though.  Whew!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The gate is finished

It took a while because we've been drawn away for music festivals and birthdays, but yesterday Harry finished the gate.  I promised to post a final photo so here it is.  We finished it with a clear oil based finish to show the variations in wood and decided to embellish it with a few hand painted Mexican tiles that we've been carrying around for over 20 years.  Until now we haven't found just the right place to put them.  We quite like the effect.

The gate has transformed a ho-hum end of the garden where we grow the vegetables into a lovely focal point.  And not only that, we can now open the gate easily to go out to the side road.  Hooray for Harry!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kaia's making a difference

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours on a highway overpass with an amazing young woman who single-handedly organized a demonstration against a big oil pipeline and oil tankers on our British Columbia coast.  Kaia is sixteen and conceived a plan to put up banners protesting the Northern Gateway Pipleline on three pedestrian overpasses to catch the attention of car traffic on Victoria's main highway. 

She, like many others in British Columbia, is opposed to the proposed pipeline to ship crude oil sands bitumen from Alberta to a port on our north coast, where it will then be shipped by supertanker to Asia.  If this goes through hundreds of tankers would be traversing the dangerous and enclosed waterways of our coast to carry oil to China.

But unlike most of us, Kaia is doing something about it.  She created three huge banners using sheets sewn together and black duct tape for the letters, then set them up on the pedestrian overpasses and organized rotating shifts of people to stand beside the banners and wave at cars going by.  

The banner on the first overpass said:   NO PIPELINE.  
This was followed by :NO OIL TANKERS.  
And the last one, where Harry and I were posted said:  STOP ENBRIDGE.  

When we got there at 1:45, Kaia had been on the overpass since 10:00 in the morning and she was still smiling and waving and giving the "thumbs up" sign to the many cars that waved back at us or honked their horns in support.  

It seems that a lot of people are concerned that British Columbia may have oil piped across the province and shipped on tankers on our beautiful pristine coast.  The danger of an oil spill cannot be ignored. We've seen what happened in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.  I think the sacrificing of our coastlines and marine life for oil has gone too far.  

We have to stop it and find other ways to create employment and transportation.  And I'm so glad to see that there are young people like Kaia and her friends who will put in the effort to show that they are opposed to the building of the pipeline. I was happy to help out yesterday as I really believe we have to stop this madness.  I will be continuing to protest the pipeline and oil tankers on our coast.   And it was heartening to see the positive reaction from so many travellers that passed beneath us yesterday.

If you want to learn more about the pipeline and the growing opposition to it in British Columbia there are a few links here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eliza Gilkyson and family

I've been following Eliza Gilkyson since I first saw her at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival about 10 years ago.  She's a talented singer songwriter from Austin, Texas and last night she gave a concert here in Victoria.  If you don't know her music, here's a nice introduction, a song called "Beautiful World" that is very sweet.  

Here's another one that's a little more gritty.  She actually has an amazing range.

Eliza comes from a very musical family.  Her father was Terry Gilkyson who wrote and sang a lot of songs in the 1950s and 60s including this one, Green Fields, which Eliza sang for us last night.  I remember the haunting words to this song so well.  Her brother is also a singer and songwriter.  Their songs are often commentaries on our world.

If you don't know her music, I recommend taking a listen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

After the rain

The other day the warm weather was interrupted by a heavy rain that left droplets of water on all the plants on the patio.  This was what the daylily leaves looked like.

And this was water captured within the the foxtail grasses.  The July garden is beautiful even in the rain.  But thankfully we're back to sunshine again for a few more days at least.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A peaceful spot in the forest

Last weekend while at the music festival we took a break each afternoon at our friends' lovely house in the forest. They live on property that backs onto a marshland that is also a bird sanctuary and what a peaceful place it is.  They're surrounded by bird song and trees and the scent of resin and water.

 These foxgloves grow at the edge of the garden with the tall fir and hemlock trees behind.

Here's the marsh, easily seen just by walking down a little path through the woods.  This wetland is also home to a family of beavers and many migrating waterfowl.

One afternoon I rested on the upper deck and had a few visitors.  Not sure what these sweet birds are.  Perhaps someone knows.

This is the mother red squirrel who is bringing up her family here.  They're very tame.

And here is another visitor who would love to actually enter the vegetable gardren.  Here the adult deer is looking to eat any leaves that poke through the fence.

I don't have a photo of the house but this is the woodshed that Paul just finished.  Those are pieces of whale bones sitting on the stump. And to the right, you can see other forest dwellers use the trees too.  These holes are made by resident woodpeckers.

These last two photos of absolute dreamy stillness were taken on our walk to the marsh the last morning we were there.  It was hard to leave such peace.

 I hope you have a peaceful day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Music festival highlights

We spent the weekend in Comox at the Vancouver Island music festival in the balmy sunshine wandering around a beautiful meadow with hundreds of like-minded people chatting and eating good food, having fun and listening to music from all over the world.

It's fun for all ages. These three girls allowed me to take their photo with their matching face paint and shirts.

This year there were way more people than in previous years--probably because the lineup included stars like kd lang and Emmy Lou Harris.  We enjoyed those performances but as always, the highlight for me is discovering new artists.

This year's discovery is a singer named Betty Soo, a Korean American woman who is a fabulous talent.  Here she is playing to a small group at the Woodland Stage.

You can tell it was a hot afternoon. People wandered down to the river to have a little wade or a swim and then walked back past this stage.  The fellow on the right had obviously been down to the river with his little girl and they stopped to listen to the music. 

I love the way people get dressed up for this festival.  Young people especially use it as an occasion to wear their party clothes. These little ones took a break to eat some pizza on the grass in their ballet dresses.

As for me, I wore shorts and a tank top--for the first time this summer.  It was wonderful to hang out in the sunshine at the festival.  The last photo is of the crowd watching one of the evening concerts at the main stage as the sun was setting.  It was a fabulous weekend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

the critters' salad bar

I fear my vegetable garden has become a salad bar for critters.  It all started with the rebuild of the fence and gate.  When Harry took down the sagging farm gates to rebuild them, he bridged the gap with a wire fence that we'd used for the dogs some time ago.  The thing is, it wasn't quite tall enough to keep out the deer.  One morning we found that many of the new kale and lettuce plants had been munched, along with the leaves of the apple tree. 

We suspected deer because there are a lot of them around here. (I know better than to plant Hostas or Tulips in my front yard--but the back yard is a cornucopia of leafy delights.)

We didn't actually see any deer--but these photos were taken by my friend Linette at her house not too far from here.  So you know they're around, antlers and all!

Anyway the next day we added some wires at the top of the wire fenc to keep the deer out.

But things are continuing to be munched.  My Nasturtium flowers don't bloom--all that's left is chomped stems.  The kale is decimated, and the hostas and lettuces have big bites taken out of them.  It was a mystery.... 

Until yesterday when I went around the outside of the fence and saw this little fellow eating clover.  As I came closer he ducked right under the fence and headed back into his salad bar--our vegetable garden.

I guess I'm just going to have share my veggies with these little cuties.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A walk in the green woods

 We took a little Canada Day jaunt through the woods with the dogs yesterday.  And I was struck by just how green everything is there.  At this time of year in the Pacific Northwest there's still a lot of rainy cool weather so nothing has dried out.   No matter which direction you look, everything is green.

Above are the leaves of the trees backlit by the sun; below are brilliant green leaves pushing out of the soil.

To the side the sun brings the dark cedar branches to life and lights up the daisies with their green background.

Even the rocks are green where they're covered with moss.

And the final touch, these lime green berries on a salal branch.  They'll ripen to a deep purple colour but right now they're in keeping with the green theme.

I've been thinking about the East Coast where they're suffering terrible heat and storms and I am grateful for the natural air conditioning that keeps things cool and green here.