Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Clematis in Bloom

Years ago we planted this clematis near our back deck. It's like a large bouquet of flowers visible through the window.

The problem: It's blooming season is too short. By mid-July its blooms are gone.

And we miss its cheerful color!

Why not get another later blooming one, I suggested last year. So we went out and got a Clematis "Josephine" that begins to bloom around the time that this one ends.

We watched it grow - then suddenly it disappeared.

Have I killed it with too much watering? Terry wondered.

But this year something is back again, climbing the trellis.

Its leaves resemble the other plant's.

Has "Josephine" made a come-back?

I hope so... though I don't see any buds. Maybe we'll have to wait another year to see what plant this is!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pottery Inspiration

My pottery studio sessions are over for the summer, but I'm sure I'll be back...

There is nothing like sharing studio space with other potters to be inspired by their work...

Everyone's pieces are so different. There is so much to learn...

We all learn by doing - inspired by each other.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When the Way Ahead Isn't Clear...

"When much is obscure to me, let me be all the more faithful to the little that I can clearly see: When the distant scene is clouded, let me rejoice that at least the next step is plain..." (John Baillie)

Uncertainty is hard to live with, especially when contemplating major life changes, like a career switch or a move (like some I know are contemplating)...

My life is free of major decisions at the moment, but even small ones (like determining how to finish this quilt) require thought...

My strategy? To sit and weigh my options for a while...  (in this case, the fabric options... Do any of the colors I've placed near the quilt jump out at me as interesting fabrics for a border?)

If not, I'll postpone deciding for a while and simply quilt the part that's done...  Eventually the next step will become clear...

If not... after a while, I may ask myself: What's holding me back?! Do I want to do something that seems crazy?! Is that really what I want to do?!

Then I may take a leap of faith and follow my instincts! (Sometimes my instincts are smarter than me!)

I often use the same strategy with major life decisions, when I can't decide what to do. I often make a list of pros and cons... and wait a while. Then I follow my instincts: Same strategy - different situations.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Familiar Faces

This past week I had lunch with two teachers I used to work with, both retired now, like me. One was visiting from Victoria, BC, so we met up in a popular restaurant near our former school.

Imagine our surprise when, stepping out to leave - we meet the current staff - or, at least, many of them - out for a farewell lunch before heading off for summer vacation.

A beautiful surprise! It couldn't have been planned any better.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two Quilts... Almost Done!

A few years ago, I made several scrap quilt tops. Now I'm inspired to try to finish them...

I wasn't sure what to do with this one - to make one really big quilt out of the three sections... or two smaller ones?
In the end I decided to make two quilts. This one combines two of the large assembled pieces and has a narrow border... It's also machine quilted.

I'm hand quilting this one, adding wider borders.

The two quilts will end up quite different. It's fun to see what can be done... It will also be satisfying to finally finish them. They have been sitting around long enough.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Algonquin College's Lovely Garden

A short walk from our home is the Algonquin College Flower Garden.

Created by horticultural students, it's always an inspiration to visit.

Recently Terry and I wandered over - to be inspired.

We have some of the same flowers in our garden - but it would be nice to create some lovely garden structures...

... or garden "rooms" - like these, as well...

And (while I'm dreaming) perhaps a bubbling fountain and a pond!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just Show Up!

Since January I've spent two afternoons a week doing pottery.

When I head for the studio, I often have no idea what I'll be doing when I get there. (Sometimes, in a panic, I check my Pinterest pottery board for inspiration before I leave.) But I never know will get done by the time I leave, three hours later.

My goal is simple: to finish things I've started and (if time permits) to try something new. Often I'm inspired by what other potters around me are making...

And in the end, I'm always surprised by what gets done!

After 5 months, I've accumulated quite an array of pottery - by just showing up and doing something!

Perhaps I should take my pottery approach to other things I want to do, like work in the garden, organize my study, sew, mend and quilt...

Three hours a day, twice a week could see some significant changes... if I just show up and do whatever needs to be done!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Tree Falls

It had been windy for a day or so...

Driving down a neighboring street early one morning recently, I was surprised to see the road blocked... by a large tree.

Hmm. They usually put markers around to stop traffic when a tree this large is cut down.

Was it cut down? Or did it fall?

I got out of the car to see.

A neighbor was looking at it, too. She said she'd heard a loud crack - then noticed the tree on the road!

When I passed by again an hour and a half later, city crews were already clearing it away.

I wonder how often this happens every summer in our neighborhood - so full of large trees...

Luckily nobody was under it when it fell.

A day or so later, I walked by again - and I saw that they had removed the branches from the trunk that had grown next to it. (Had they sprouted from the same tree or had two trees grown closely together?)

The trunk was hollow inside and all the branches lying on the ground were rotten in the center. No wonder the tree fell!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Eccentric Flash Forward

Wouldn't it be nice to fill my cupboards with one-of-a-kind hand-made pottery that I've made or bought? I found myself thinking... Of course, I'd have to give away my matching sets. I only have so much cupboard space...

Then I had a sudden "flash-forward" (the opposite of a "flashback")...

A little old lady smiling as she set her table with totally mismatched - but handmade - dishes...

Oh, no! That little old eccentric lady could be... ME!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ottawa's June Rib Fest

Today is the last day of Ottawa's June Rib Fest weekend. (In recent years, there has also been a smaller version in September.)

It's popular festive event - especially when the weather is nice.

It's also a family tradition: For years now, we've headed downtown to Sparks Street, a pedestrian mall near the Parliament Buildings, to determine who has the best ribs.

That's what we did yesterday. Lineups were long. While Terry and our older son stood in line to get the ribs, I volunteered to find a table at a sidewalk cafe, order drinks and wait...
(After years of trying to eat the ribs standing or sitting on a park bench, we now opt for the sidewalk cafe option.)

This time I also ordered the cafe's soup of the day - squash soup. It was delicious and not as messy to eat!

It was a perfect day for enjoying summer in Ottawa - by eating outdoors!

It's tempting to make a return visit today as well...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

First Bonfire of the Season!

Two evenings ago, Terry and I headed over to my mother's nursing home for their first bonfire of the season.

We didn't actually sit around the fire... But we could smell it and see it nearby (contained in a metal barbecue).

We sang campfire songs - led by a guitarist...

Songs like "Home on the Range," which everyone seemed to know...

My mother, as usual, had a good time.

There was lemonade to drink and sticky roasted marshmallows to bring back memories of campfires past.

It all ended too soon... After half an hour, it started to sprinkle... then rain lightly... so we headed indoors.

By the time Terry and I were ready to head home, there was a real downpour, adding another touch of reality to our outdoor campfire experience!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eats Shoots & Leaves

I have been reading a book about punctuation - wondering if it would have been a good one to recommend to my students back in my teaching days. The answer, in short, is NO! Too many words... as funny as they are!

Written by an editor who finds mistakes in punctuation very annoying, its subtitle is: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation!

Think crazy lady with a black marker going around correcting punctuation errors in signs... as I have sometimes been tempted to do!

Reading the book, I've discovered that I'm a "stickler"  - and the humor in the book (which makes it a British best-seller) comes from the author's descriptions of her extreme reactions to seeing incorrect punctuation in public places.

Like her, in my teaching days, I may have screamed inwardly at some of the mistakes my students made. (And once I wrote a  blog post about a punctuation error painted on the side of a catering truck.) But, unlike the author, I have never demonstrated outside a theater holding an apostrophe on a stick, to show passers-by that the title of the play needs an apostrophe!

The book does have interesting examples of miscommunication when punctuation is off. They would have been interesting examples to use in my teaching days. The book's title itself is one: Eats Shoots & Leaves.
  • Did someone eat, then shoot, then leave?
  • Does the person (or animal) eat shoots and leaves?
  • Or, combining both, did someone eat shoots and then leave?
I'm only about a third of the way through the book, and I have already learned that a comma in a list before the "and" (which I assumed is incorrect) is called an Oxford comma. Also that Americans put the punctuation inside a quotation mark, while the British put it afterwards...

She replied: "That's not right." (American)
She replied: "That's not right". (British)

I used to write it the British way, but assumed it was wrong. It isn't, apparently. At least, not in Britain.

The book would be most enjoyed by people who have some sense of punctuation and want to make sure they are getting it right... Also teachers, editors and others who have to regularly correct punctuation errors...

And I do have one (punctuation) criticism of the book: Shouldn't the subtitle be: "... a Zero-Tolerance Approach..." with a hyphen between zero and tolerance?!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creative Growth

It seems like only yesterday that my daughter introduced me to a friend's new business venture: The Workroom - a place where people could come and sew by the hour.

There would also be fabric and sewing supplies for sale.

I remember wondering: Do people these days still like to sew?

Over the years, the store has grown, and I know why: Just being in this creative space inspires me!

Recently walking around the neighborhood, I saw another sign on a building around the block: The Workroom Studio.

Apparently the Workroom now has so many classes that they needed a second sewing space.

So people do still like to sew and make things by hand!

Wonderful to see creativity blooming here!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Birthday Reflection

Today is a family birthday...

It's strange to look back on how much has changed as the birthday baby grew and grew.

But one thing hasn't changed...

Her love of pretty dresses!

For parents, it's amazing how the seeds of so many interests are there from the very beginning - waiting to bloom!