Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Talented Calla

My niece Calla just finished grade 7 and next year goes to high school. She has been in French Immersion since she started school and is continuing with that next year.  I'm so proud of her. She excels at school, practices figure skating several times a week, and is a talented artist.   

Calla loves the Manga style of illustration and brings to it her own unique creativity.

Here's a recent self portrait showing her little kitten Ivy climbing on her head.

Calla loves animals and fashion and here she's combined the two to create a fashionista giraffe.

These two drawings were also on the fridge in the kitchen at Calla's house.  She has so many talents and I know she'll do well next year in high school. I guess you can tell that I'm a proud auntie.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Got sheared

I went to a new hair stylist the other day and decided to go for a much shorter cut. And I like it.

Here's a before and after photo taken at the salon. It kinds or reminds me of what a sheep looks like after it's been sheared!

Now that I've been styling it myself it looks a bit different from how Piper did it--but I kind of like it. Plus it's a lot easier to take care of--especially after the swimming pool.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer afternoon socializing

Summer weekends here in Victoria tend to be a social whirl. Everyone who has an outside area throws deck or garden parties, either with a couple of friends or a larger group. This weekend I think summer officially started as the weather has finally warmed up a bit and we attended two such parties.

Friday night was a small and casual group at a friend's home where they've built a sweet little outdoor dining area in their back garden. The invitation was to come for a glass of wine at 5:00 and when we arrived our friends had also invited another couple. So the six of us sat at the table and enjoyed bubbly wine and appetizers for a while before saying our goodbyes and heading home to our respective houses for dinner.

I think this is a fabulous idea. It can be very last minute depending on the weather and involves no complicated cooking or cleaning up. Nobody has to bring anything, although you can do so if you like, and it can be quite a simple offering, like say a dish of olives or some bread and cheese. This is going to be my entertaining method for the rest of the summer.

At the other extreme was our Saturday afternoon event, a rum tasting party for a group of 12 put on by dear friends on their patio. This was planned in advance and they had acquired five fabulous bottles of rum for us to try.  For us the idea of tasting rum was new. My experience has been the Canadian standby, rum and coke, or a Christmas rum and eggnog, and more recently Mohitos. But these rums were top of the line meant for sipping.

We met at 3:00 and each couple brought some finger food to share and our hostess served us tastes from each bottle, interspersed with water and nibbles from the delicious array.

Here's some of our group on the patio. We discussed the subtleties of each rum and some of us even made tasting notes. Interesting to see the differences in scent, flavour and experience.

Here are more guests, including one of the resident poodles.

As the tasting continued we found we became more enamoured of the rums on offer. You can see here that we also took the comparing of flavours very seriously.

Two of the best are pictured here: Diplomatica from Venezuela and Kirk and Sweeny from the Dominican Republic. Diplomatica is available here in Canada at the government liquor stores, as well as another one called Zaya from Trinidad. These rums are 80 proof and have been aged for many years.  I found them quite delicious, which is saying something as I'm usually just a white wine kind of girl.

Amazing how a little sunshine on a patio can shift things.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stretch and Sip at De Vine Winery

My pilates teacher is so great. She's a fantastic teacher and also has great ideas for summer fun. Justina Bailey, owner of Studio Fitness offers a variety of classes. One is all about stretching and balance and movement based on the Aging Backwards techniques. And yesterday we got to have our class in an orchard in a fabulous winery on the Saanich Peninsula.

De Vine Vinyards is set in a gorgeous location on a sloping bench overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Mount Baker. When Sue and I arrived for our class after driving through the automatic gate and past the meadow and orchard up to the parking we thought we were in heaven.

That's the view behind our group when we posed for a photo after class. Justina is the gorgeous one in the blue and white tights and the long dark hair.

The winery offers daily tastings and Justina had organized a wine tasting with cheese and meat plates after our hour-long session.  But first we did our class in the orchard. You can see the view beyond the trees.

And here's a picture of the table under the arbour where we enjoyed lunch and wine afterwards. The the orchard can be seen just behind us. It was wonderful fun to sit together having lunch in the soft sun and chatting. Actually, I was right: we were in heaven.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Filled up with music at the festival in Courtenay

Another music fest has blown by and we are filled up with songs and musical performances. Every year we go to this festival without knowing much about the performances that will take place. This year we knew only the music of  Matt Anderson and John Prine, both headliners and we liked them a lot. John Prine played for an hour and a half on Friday night and we enjoyed his diverse and gritty music. I knew only a few of his tunes but some in the audience were singing along with every song.

For me the highlight is always discovering new music from people I've never heard of before. A few of this year's discoveries were RJ Cowdry, Darlingside, and The Small Glories.

Here are some scenes from the weekend:

A small child dancing on her mother's shoulders

People in fun headwear waiting for an evening performer

On the left, a big crowd at one of the woodland stages for a daytime performance, and on the right a closeup of one of the tall trees surrounding the stage.

It rained for a short while but people were willing to hunker down and wait it out. Below is the same stage a half hour later.

Evening at the food tent area around dinner time.

As usual we stayed with our dear friends who live outside of Comox in a lovely house on a marsh full of birds and a sense of peace. It's great to come back from a day and evening of music to this peaceful spot. This is their bird feeder with a red-winged blackbird perched on the roof.

A doe and her fawn wandering into the woods in the morning just outside the house. I was a little late with camera for this one but you get the idea.

Music festivals are full of excitement, wonderful food, meeting old friends, hanging out and laughing, buying T-shirts.... And we love the ambience, but after three days we were filled up with music and song and socializing and it was nice to come back to our little house in the city, along with some memories and some new CDs.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Emily's paintings at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler

We spent an afternoon in the new Audain Art Museum in Whistler and what an amazing place it is! Michael Audain is a collector of British Columbia art (among art from other places) and he has built a beautiful space to share it with the public in Whistler. The land was donated to the cause by the Municipality of Whistler and construction began three years ago. The museum opened earlier this year.

First, the building on a floodplain, is really stunning. Only one tree was removed during construction and it's very unassuming from the outside, almost hiding among the smallish trees that surround it. You enter by a walkway above the ground and it's designed so water from the roof is reused. Inside it's all light and natural wood and is a perfect place to showcase the art.

There's an amazing collection of West Coast ceremonial masks beautifully displayed. Most of them have actually been used in dances and they've been gifted to Audain by Native peoples who know that he will honour and protect them. Some of the masks had articulated jaws, eyes, and ears that could be moved by the dancer. They were incredibly expressive of human faces or animals. A real treat.

I loved looking at the masks but I was more entranced by the two dozen Emily Carr paintings that I had never seen before. Living in B.C., I've seen a lot of her work, from her early water colours to the later deep woods oil paintings.... like these ones.

The pole painting is a faithful recreation of a village she visited and the forest scene is a more emotional rendering of the deep rainforest.

But what I really loved were some paintings done in oil on paper, often with thinned down paints that had an impressionistic sketch quality to them.

One of Beacon Hill Park is so evocative of what I love about our shore at Dallas Road. It still looks like that on a windy day.

Plus I loved this one of a tree in a clearing....

And this detailed painting of war canoes in Alert Bay, a community that I have visited on the northern part of Vancouver Island. (It doesn't look at all like this now.)

There was also a collection of paintings of E.J. Hughes, a more contemporary painter who recorded coastal B.C. for many years. His paintings are like snapshots from my childhood when I visited so many gulf island wharves like this one.

Visiting the Audain museum was a wonderful time lapse. And if you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it.  Whistler gets a lot of international visitors so I think it's a great place to have a museum showcasing British Columbia art.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Green Lake, north of Whistler

A dear friend has built herself a house on Green Lake at Whistler and we've been spending a bit of time with her here. The view from the house is across the lake to mountains and glaciers. It's incredible. Yesterday we watched an osprey fish for about half an hour as the sun was getting low.

Sunset brings out colours in the sky.

Even though it's now July we're experiencing a cool and grey time. Even so, the green colour of lake shows up.  This was the lake yesterday afternoon...

And again this morning....  The colour would be stunning in the sunshine. The colour of the lake comes from glacial silt in the water.