Monday, May 29, 2023

Warm weather Joy....

 I am a warm weather person. As a family, we went to Florida in August. I could live in the tropics. How I ended up in the cold of Canada is something I often ask myself. This last week, though, was a warming up week. Everyday that the temperatures nudged up - 14ºC, 15ºC, 16ºC... were moments of pure Joy.

The garden has progressed with the warmer temperatures. The Rhododendrons are in bloom, my beans are up. I've planted the tomatoes, various annuals and dug out the invaders, for the moment.

The sprucing up of the house continues. I have ordered new basement windows, got a quote for a new door - it was ridiculous, so I guess I'll just paint the front door.

The noise of the build next door but one is deafening. Yes, they stop on the weekend, but then the kids next door take over and scream through most of the remaining 48 hours and if they are away for a few blissful moments, someone in the apartments at the back of the garden decides to talk to a friend on her phone, so all the world can hear.

I may be hard of hearing, but, unfortunately, I'm not deaf!!

In addition to the weather and the garden there were some other slivers of Joy this week.

1. A friend came over for dinner to celebrate Victoria Day. We smoked some ribs and chicken legs to go with a number of salads. It was delicious!

2. I had lunch with another friend on Wednesday. Always wonderful conversations about music, knitting, the creative process and life in general.

3. I decided I needed a plan for the next 10 years - working on it.

4. I watched several episodes of "Slow Horses" with my son. It's the first TV, I've watched in 6 months and it was fun.

On weeks that are "slow," it's difficult to decide what to select that is Joyful from a field of uninspiring routine. However, since I am here to elevate the mundane to the sublime (maybe), I have found that material "things" work.

1. (Mundane) Bought and assembled an outdoor storage box to tidy up the patio clutter. (Sublime) Did it myself without help.

2. (Mundane) Found some "cheap" doors on FB, just hoping something comes of it. $12,000.00 for a new front door is definitely not a go! (Sublime) Got reimbursed for a deposit scam on FB marketplace. There are too many out there.

3. (Mundane) Filled orders at work. (Sublime) It's quiet there and it's an escape.

On the less material side..

1. (Mundane) I have decided to buy the book, "Obscure Sorrows" by John Koenig because I need help in elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary with some new words and some new concepts!! (Sublime) - to come.

2. (Mundane) I can take my cooking to the next level by having pre-made Herbs de Provence on hand and maybe some ready-to-shake Italian seasoning. I have all the individual herbs, but I might just put them together in a jar to make it easier. (Sublime) - Jars of herbs with Summer Savory and Lavendar are transporting!!

3. (Mundane) I made BBQ'd pizza on Friday. It's a lot of work, but we ate the leftovers all week. It's festive, well received, a recipe from a friend and it's a summer meal. (Sublime) It elevates the frozen and the ordered in, to the made from scratch, cooked on the BBQ amazing!!

Now, what can I extract from this week of nothing particularly special to add to my Joy Jar? I think it has to be that my Rhododendrons are in bloom. These are my late husband's flowers. He planted most of the bushes years ago. They reminded him of Scotland, where the "rhodos" grow wild on the banks of the Clyde. 

It is good to have something embedded, not only in memory, but also in place. We need a permanence to our lives. "Never cease to know, for whom the garden grows."

The second picture is of my ubiquitous Columbine. These are the free spirits of the garden. They grow where they chose and mutate, as they please, to some amazing colours!

Have an awesome week!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Victorian Joy

 It's been a quiet week leading up to a long weekend. Monday is a statutory holiday in honour of Queen Victoria. I'm sorry. I'm a royalist and I celebrate our connections to Britain, if only for the traditions that give purpose and meaning (maybe) to our lives. 

The 24th of May, or whenever it is celebrated, is also known as "firecracker day." It's the first long weekend of Spring/Summer and it has many traditions. 

1. For those, who have cottages - there is the tradition of "opening up" the cottage.

2. For those who don't (have cottages, that is) there are picnics, BBQs, a day "off" and.....

3. There are Firecrackers!!

I know many have decided to "do" fireworks on July 1 - Canada Day. Sorry, it's just too American for me. Yes, we should celebrate Canada, as a nation, but let's not give up so much of what has made us Canadian - our ties to Britain.

I'm not prepared to celebrate Nov 5 - Guy Fox, as the Brits do. It's too soon after Hallowe'en. :) However, Victoria Day, has a certain classic vibe, that counters all that is new, trendy and passing. If we give up fireworks on Victoria Day, might we think of giving up the traditions of Remembrance Day too?

It's a short post this week. I've spent most days in the garden. However, I did find a white shawl, I designed and knit, several years ago, to give as a gift to a friend of my eldest. She will be married in June and my son has been invited to the wedding, as have many of the graduating class from their high school. It will be more than twenty years since they all went to school together. I'm all about keeping friends and traditions.

The picture - Victorian lace, for a Victorian weekend. Victory is also in keeping all that is precious and meaningful in our lives.

The slip for the Joy Jar this week will be finding this lace shawl intact. Giving it to someone in honour of their very special day and remembering how much I love this first celebration weekend!!

Have a cracking great day!!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Joy of Adventure

This week, my eldest sent me a text to say that he and his partner had put in an offer to purchase 80 acres of land in Northern Ontario. I had promised him a small sum from his uncle's estate, for any real estate investment. That small sum, has paid for a sizable piece of land just south of Cochrane ON. Yes, it's quite far north - 6.5hrs from Toronto. However, three nearby towns have hospitals; they may actually be on a train line and it is close to a dream come true!

They plan to take possession in the Spring of 2024 and live "off the grid" there, all year round. It takes my breath away to think of the -50ºC temperatures in mid-winter with nothing but a wood fire. I worry about the truck breaking down, the snow becoming impassable, or someone taking ill.

Still, my great-great grandmother arrived in Canada from Ireland in 1853. She homesteaded north of Mount Forest, ON with a 13-year-old son and two young daughters. Her husband joined her ten years later. He remained in Ireland to work their passage over. I come from a long line of survivors.

I wired my son the money on the day that would have been his father's 74th birthday. I was told that the transfer would take about four days. It took four hours. I have to believe that the powers that be are supporting this adventure.

In fact this entire week has been a portal of pure Joy....

1. My youngest has relaid the looks amazing!!

2. Jelena finished painting the dining room table. The last piece in my 35-year-old Ikea furniture collection - sofa, large chair, dining room table and 6 smaller chairs. I love it.

3. I may have found a "doable" route to add 4 basement windows, 1 new front door and 2(maybe) eco-heating systems with rebates and interest-free financing to the house.

4. My daughter has proposed a holiday to NYC in July to see a baseball game or two, plus a show - The Lion King. We just have to work out the details - another adventure.

5. I have been able to do a ton of work in the garden!! This is an ongoing garden adventure.

6. My son and my daughter took me out to dinner for Mother's Day Eve - It was wonderful.

7. I went for cocktails at my next door neighbours.....initially to discuss eco-heating solutions.....and, well, life in general!!

8. We prepared a pork roast tonight to be cooked on the smoker tomorrow. This food adventure is coming closer to perfection!! 

The picture - so sorry there is just one (OK, now there's two) and not at its best. It's the front garden with the re-position dwarf Iris in bloom. I have to remember to photograph & post the garden more often.

My slip for the Joy Jar this week has to be the purchase of a piece of Canada!!! - My home and native land!! - Gotta love her and the people who inhabit her - we are all a special breed!!

Have an adventurous day!!



Sunday, May 07, 2023

The Joy of Scales.....

 I probably should have said the Joy of new windows, but the disruption of any sort of renovation takes away a lot of the Joy!! Still I have 3 new windows at the front of the house upstairs and the main window downstairs clad in the same colour as the upstairs windows, so I never have to paint any of them again.....future Joy!

My real Joy that day was how I occupied myself for the 12 hours it took to do the installation!

It might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but...I worked out all the major and minor scales in music. OK, I usually pass the time doing crossword puzzles. I like puzzles. Well, from my Coursera course in music theory (from the University of Edinburgh), I learned that there was a pattern for the major scales and another pattern for the minor scales. Obviously I had missed this somewhere along the line. My daughter knew the patterns, as I'm sure almost every beginner in music knows them. OK, I didn't, but now I do.

This exercise got me half way through the window renovations. For the other half, I finished the improvements to the book I am writing. I now have to get it professionally edited and go from there. Windows let in so much more than light!

There was little Joy in the rain most of the week, except that the garden looks very green. The cold Spring has kept the blossom and the lime green of the young leaves a little longer. These are Joys I look forward to every year.

Finally, there was the Joy of working in the garden on a sunny day. I mended the raised bed, with a wooden plug from Ikea. One of the original plastic plugs that came with the raised bed had dislodged itself and the frame was threatening to break apart. I raised it; inserted the plug and Eureka! It worked.

I prepared and fertilized this bed. Dug the front bed and prepared it for fertilizing tomorrow. It will be planted with tomatoes, cucumber, zucchinni etc. after the 24th of May. Finally, since I didn't want to leave a gorgeous Spring day, I dug out a dozen huge weeds from the patch of grass we still keep.

 The Periwinkle is in full bloom, as are the wild tulips, the Azalea and some Forget-Me-Nots. On Friday, I began the planting of a shade bed under a False Cyprus with Astilbe, Primrose, Lady's Mantel, and I will transplant some Bleeding Heart there, as well. 

This is a working blog....a blog in progress.....and it can be, at times, a little pedestrian. Although I enjoy working in my garden, the work is about progress and "getting things" done. So I sense that my writing here is a little laborious. Things will improve, once I move from the real to the sublime...just give me a few days to find my magic wand.  :)

Now to select just one Joy for the Joy Jar this week. It probably will be my new windows...."All the better to see you with, My dear."

Have a joyous week.