Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sept 2019

The promises of Yellow...

It's not just Winter's snowy silences, Summer has it's own promises to keep, too. First tulips and daffodils spring forth to announce the arrival of light, then dandelions pop up to shout about it and to give children the chance to participate in blowing its seeds asunder before the wind usurps. Finally, the glorious sunflower stands tall and unfolds to reveal it's own riches: seeds for topping our summer salads AND for planting to ensure next year's repeat performance.

Seems Mother Nature simply loves the bright yellows, n'est pas?

According to science, though, that was not always the case. Flower fossils reveal original flowers were almost universally just pale greens and some pale yellows. That's when bugs were the primary pollinators. As MN re-evaluated, she decided that winged pollinators would ensure a wider distribution of her flowers, so she invented ways to attract them.

Colours! But not really colours. Those very valued pollinators can't see most colours. So flowers developed surfaces that can reflect differing UV radiances back to pollinators like bees (yes!) and birds and guide them from on high—not just to a flower itself, but further, into her nectar-laden centre.

Go here to see some neat stuff about it, but mostly the one image that shows a yellow Carolina Jessamine flower as we see it and a bee might see it.

Seems reds and blues and yellows offer some of the highest reflective opportunities, and lo! We now have flowers of many colours. Today I'm obsessing about the yellow ones. According to its etymology, it seems the word yellow, itself, comes from the Old English geolu, geolwe, meaning "yellow, yellowish," devived from the Proto-Germanic word gelwaz "yellow." It has the same Indo-European base, ghel- as the words gold and yell; ghel- means both bright and gleaming, and to cry out.

So today I'm shouting about all the wondrous yellow hues in our paint box: Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Chrome Yellow, Zinc Yellow, Titanium Yellow, Gamboge, Orpiment (aka King's Yellow), and Hansa Yellow. And, of course, remembering Mellow Yellow, quite rightly.

I am happy to thank Fiona Phillips for this glorious show of the Power of Yellow.
 Fiona planted a bunch of Sunflower seeds in her Canterbury (yes, the one in England) garden and took this spectacular image about 8:30 on the morning of Aug 19th as this flower was the first of the bunch to announce its joy to the world. When not planting and taking pix, Fiona offers a free tarot class that explores cards through intuition and imagination, here.
As for me, I'm overjoyed to welcome this Sunflower and all his stunning siblings to my world.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Aug 2019


Laze, haze, & daze... tis summer at last...

When I was a girl, my dad's brother bought a small getaway next to a small New Mexico lake. I don't remember the name of the lake, but Uncle Dick referred to his cabin as a cabinet. I remember my parents laughing at his nomenclature—until we got there. It was a barren beachfront with about 30 tiny buildings sharing a clap-trap communal outhouse. TINY. It was indeed a cabinet. Plus no trees. People just parked their cars next to their own cabinets and it was so hot on the sand they drove the 20 yards to the outhouse. I don't remember anything else. OK: bugs. I remember bugs. The lake seemed murky and was not very inviting. From my today's mind, I'm guessing people must have had boats and gone out on the water to fish, but I certainly don't remember any of that. My memories are full of only the discomfort and the TINY-ness. I was about to start the third grade in Lubbock, Texas, at the time, so maybe you'll forgive my narrow focus.

Granted, in Texas, many people had cabins on one lake or another, but they were not common among my friends as I grew up in San Antonio... and those cabins were more often rustic one-room affairs, each situated on a small wooded lot with its own well and outhouse. That had always been my understanding of what a cabin was supposed to be.

Since coming to Toronto, I've been introduced to the tradition of cottages, cottage country, and cottage season. Cottage country is marked by many small lakes and lots of picturesque woodlands. The tradition is from before the days of working mums. On the first weekend as soon as school was out at the end of June, families would pack up bedding, pots and pans, linens, food, and water toys galore and drive several hours to their own cottage or one they'd rented for the summer. The dad would help them get settled in, then return to work Monday morning. Then every Friday the dad would return for the weekend, often indulging in boating and fishing and maybe even dock repairs—then rush back to his job in the city on Mondays. Of course, if the dad could arrange his work vacation to fall during this time he could stay a week or two. He and his friends might spend their time putting a new roof on the cottage. These days the tradition continues, but with adjustments for working mums and sometimes these arrangements involve nannies. The high-school version of Kate did a summer stint as a nanny at one such cottage.

Family cottages might be small or even rather large houses. They are never, ever cabinets. They may or may not have wells, but they always seem to have a way to bring water from whatever nearby lake is offering its presence as excuse for the season. Drinking water, then, is often carried from nearby springs. Septic tanks have made indoor plumbing possible for many. Many cottages these days have ALL the mod cons.  Larger families share their cottages generation after generation. Some families seem to pile in all at once like a hive and others work out their own time-share arrangements. But all the family cottagers share in the upkeep and the expectation of relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The view here is from Marje's family cottage. It's is on a very quiet small lake in the Muskoka region a few hours north of Toronto. I hear the black flies can carry one away. Monday night's storm blew these very chairs over, but not away. Stormy gusts are obviously less onerous than country insects. There's no denying the idyl of it all, though, is there? Haze, mist, and the myst-ery of calm solitude. Ah-h-h-h-h-h.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Monday, July 1, 2019

July 2019

Vibrant summer colours are here at last...

Teresa, my friend since the last century, has finally settled in Toronto again after many years roaming and working with UNICEF communities helping to uphold children's rights to happiness and education. My joy at her return is underscored by her moving to a place near my own home base, so we are able to hang out frequently... often indulging in nearby Mexican-style food. That's an essential for both of us; she is originally for Mexico City and I am from San Antonio, Texas.

This month's calendar is one of Teresita's paintings.Teresa had decided to pick up her interest in art by taking some lessons. And lo! She found a wonderful artist/teacher right in her own building: Nina Keogh.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, June 1, 2019

June 2019

There's probably a good reason Mother's Day is in May... right?

It's about welcoming Spring, eh? Salads on the balcony... and iced tea... and maybe even lemonade. But this Mother's Day found almost no green in my valley. 

Then these tulips arrived! Their job: to remind me just how much I have relished both motherhood and grandmotherhood—plus how much I was ready to bask in Spring sunshine! I was soooooo tired of grey days enveloping my world into a never-ending cloud.

So... I added some sweet pickle relish to my tuna and mango salad and bided my time, enjoying my the salad with the delish Mexican crackers that also arrived for my day. Enjoying the freshening colours,
 I relished my sweet memories of lotsa mothering... two kids and two grandkids... plus memories of my own mum and the stories about my grandmums. 

Obviously these tulips did their job. Now there is valley green. Many days we even have glorious real-life sunshine, like the sunshine I added to this image—to welcome your June. Enjoy your version of Spring wherever you are.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, May 3, 2019

Luke Skywalker Day 2019

Drinks for your muy grande weekend...
and praps your Monday too...

Saturday, May the 4th: Get into the Sar Wars spirit with this green Yoda Soda or this green Yoda Cocoa. There are also some non-drink suggestions here and the Food Network has a whole Star Wars collection.

Sunday, May the 5th: Try a special Cinco de Mayo Lavender-Lemon Margarita. While you're there be sure to check the whole Muy Bueno Cookbook site for inspiration for a full-on Cinco feast.

Monday, May the 5th:
The experts deem tomato juice to be one of the favoured solutions to a morning-after. Try a Virgin Mary in case you overdid your muy bueno Cinco evening.

However you decide to celebrate this weekend,
I invite you to enjoy Chavela Vargas in the background. My all-time fave is the first one.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Monday, April 29, 2019

May 2019

A glorious pink sunrise... with snowflakes in the afternoon!

Yes, we know it's officially Spring, but In Canada. Gardeners are always told never to plant until the May 24th weekend just to avoid the risk of freezing. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, then, to see scudding snowflakes, especially in the higher altitudes where I live. But still! it was 6°C! ... sighs.

How green is my valley? Not at all. Of course, this sunrise was reflected in the skyline buildings (because my balcony faces west), but the sun had not risen high enough to show you. My valley is in shadow like this every morning, and as the sun gets higher and higher, he reveals more and more of my valley. Maybe my valley will develop some lush greens this month. Greens would go nicely with pinks, but by the time the sun uncovers my valley, the pinks will have always given up their drama to blues. Of course, blues bring their own drama ... smiles.

This is still, pretty tho, eh? If you'd asked me I'd say I'm not fond the colour pink. Guess it's that traditional blue-is-for-boys and pink-is-for-girls thing. But Nature does pink soooooo well. And I often seem to find myself in her pink thrall: 

Other people seem to have a more embracing relationship with pink. There are even oodles of images with quotes about pink.

Who knew? 

And now there's this from Pantone: In Pursuit of the Perfect Pink!

PS: I've put my May Day Basket file here. Grab it fast and have some May Day fun!

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

April 2019

TO's March was a regular slumgullion
of lions & lambs...

So many lions! So many lambs! The pic for this month is from one of the more lion-y days. My balcony was in a cloud and even my balcony buddha couldn't see a thing. I had to shoot this through the window because the wind was so strong I couldn't even open the balcony door. Other, more lamb-y days meant nice walks on ice-free sidewalks and wearing only a jacket and no boots, hat, or gloves!

Looking at this picture and thinking about the goulash/ragout of this March's weather stew had me searching for a word that started with a nice lion/lamb-y alliterative L. But no! Instead, I found one of my dad's favourite words: slumgullion. I always thought he had made it up. When I was a girl, he always brought me to giggles saying it. I knew it was a mixture of a bunch of stuff thrown together without rhyme or reason. I knew that because that's what he told me, but I still thought he had made up the definition along with the silly word.Guess my funny daddy wasn't quite so original as I had thought. Seems "slumgullion" has a history mostly referring to stew-type foods enjoyed by the poor. Here I'm enjoying using it more like Good Old Fred Forester might have done.

And that made me think of Good Old Fred's favourite word for an undefinable colour: "muckle-dee dun." So I looked that up, too! Seems it's a real colour used in various forms to describe tan horses. My daddy was a farm boy, so my guess he knew that. And he was just having fun with the word... and my giggly reaction to it.

I managed to make it through all the lions and all the lambs and now I'm lollygagging—and giggling.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course