late January

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The Pineapple Express recently brought us very heavy rains matched by warm temperatures up to 16C (60F) at our place, meaning no weekend snowsports in the mountains. Today’s brilliant sunny day tempted me out into the garden. Still swampy in places from that rainstorm, I put on my waterproof boots and went out for a garden inspection. I knew the snowdrops and some of the early crocuses were out, plus numerous emerging green tips of other spring flowering bulbs were a delight to see. As I cleaned up some of the leaf litter to give them light and air, I too felt a cleansing of winter’s cobwebs.

I did take some photos of the snowdrops as I’ve done every year. But the above image found on the side of the house excited me much more artistically. And yes, I did leave this cobweb in place for now.

Meanwhile I hope the folks in the northeast US will survive a major blizzard.

Added later – It has hit the Maritimes as well!

rain forest

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My husband captured these images on one of his bicycle rides on the trails along the Seymour River on the mountain slopes of the North Shore of Vancouver. To me, there is something magical, otherworldly and captivating about these scenes. They make me think of some north European Romantic paintings of the early 19th century. We are so fortunate to have all this beauty in our backyard.

Big Print Project

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Peter Braune of New Leaf Editions, here in Vancouver, was one of the brains behind the idea of several artists making very large prints using 4×8 foot woodblocks which were inked and steamrolled right on the street across from his shop on Granville Island last summer. Now there is a great video of the event – do watch it and enjoy!

I had heard about this fun project developing last summer but did not make it out to watch it happen. Great to see a few familiar faces as well as others I have heard of but not met personally. Wonderful work by all of them.

As a side note, New Leaf Editions is well known in the printmaking community for running the popular BIMPE biennial of mini-prints. I participated in BIMPE VI in 2010. You may be interested in looking through some of the exhibition catalogues featured on the site.

dancing mists

My son-in-law took pity on me for the loss of my photos, which I had written about in my previous post, so he generously offered to share this beautiful moody time-lapse video he made of the shifting mists over the lake last November. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks, Jonathan!

P.S. View the video fullscreen by pressing the button with 4 arrows on the right side of video player. Then press Esc on your keyboard to exit fullscreen mode.

back from Victoria

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All has been quiet on this blog while we were away visiting family and friends in Victoria. We had a late mini-Christmas with our daughter’s family. We caught up with their happy fat chickens and growing kittens which were keeping them close to home. One day we took the granddaughters to Miniature World which we all enjoyed very much and wondered why we had never visited it before in the many trips over many decades that we’ve made to Victoria, even when our own children were young. The grandgirls took numerous photos, as I did (but lost mine, more on that later).

We also had a nice visit with our dear friends. While the guys were out for a cycle tour, Elaine and I enjoyed a truly stunning exhibition of wildlife photography at the Royal BC Museum. No photos allowed here.

Our trip home on the evening ferry was accompanied by frequent toots of the foghorn, ever increasing as we neared the mainland. We could have used that foghorn on our foggy drive home. It was a good trip but it’s always great to be home again.

Regarding photos… I took many around our family’s home, of the lovely low fog movements over the lake, interesting details in the garden, the chickens, and many many at Miniature World. My little old camera was often acting a bit wonky. Once home I was unable to download them using two different cardreaders. There also seemed to be issues with the photo program so I tried another computer. In the end after all the fiddling I lost the photos, probably by removing the reader improperly! That’s a first. My computer and software are ageing, updates are leaving it behind, sigh. We have some work to do there. Naturally I’m disappointed at the loss of photo material ideal for the blog. So, since I do like to illustrate my posts, I’ve chosen the above image from the archives.

gift of wonder

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This morning (December 30th), as I sleepily walked into the kitchen, I was stunned by the low deep yellow rays of the rising sun striking the skylights, skylights covered in tiny little frost flowers.

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A rare miracle, a gift of wonder! The beauty of nature right at home.

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The Old Year is almost past and the New Year is almost here. I now wish all of you this gift of wonder in all you see, really see in this world. There is beauty even in ageing, in deteriorating, in the returning of all to the earth in the cycles of life and death. Wonder at the light and the dark in the cycles of the seasons and years, just as our long ago ancestors wondered in awe.

Have a happy, healthy and creative New Year!

gift books

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Santa left two fabulous books under the tree for me: Marly Youmans’ Glimmerglass and a Phaidon monograph about artist Anselm Kiefer.

I already own and love some of Marly’s books and admire the illustrations by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, so this was a must on my wish list!

After recently writing about Anselm Kiefer’s huge exhibition in London and feeling sad that I could not go and see it, I desired a monograph or catalogue. The large Royal Academy publication looks stunning but is rather expensive with the shipping on top so after some research I chose this Phaidon edition, though smaller, for Santa to bring me.

Touching and admiring their beautiful covers (Marly’s book especially!) and browsing through to enjoy the images inside give me great pleasure while I wait to start reading each once I’ve finished my current library book.

Did you receive books at Christmas?

on the feast of Stephen

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photo: 4:30 pm Christmas Day 2014

Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen… I wrote at the start of a post on this feast day in 2008. Please visit that favourite page of mine for an interesting story about the Finnish source of this well-known song. Also check out the comment from Kate Laity!

Note all the snow we had that Christmas. It’s a green one this year. How is yours?

Have a great day! The two of us are having a quiet morning while some of the family are out visiting friends and one is out at a Boxing Day sale.

Winter Story 2014

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Once again, our granddaughters’ annual Winter Story is up! Please click here. This one looks to be partly inspired by their brood of chickens and their new kittens. The crocodile is revisiting from an earlier Winter Story.

You can see their other annual winter stories on their site as well. Long time readers may recall that I’ve posted each of them here every year with grandmotherly delight and pride. Enjoy!

We hope you have had or are presently enjoying a wonderful Christmas Day with loved ones or dear friends, as are we.

PS – Did you know…

The word “Christmas” means “Mass of Christ,” later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” The even shorter form “Xmas” – first used in Europe in the 1500s – is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: Xristos, therefore “X-Mass.”

And I thought “Xmas” was just a modern lazy way to write what it means!

happy holidays

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Merry Christmas, Hauskaa Joulua, Frohe Weihnachten, Joyeux Noël!

My warmest good wishes for a peaceful holiday week to all you dear readers and friends, however you celebrate it, or not. I am so very grateful for your visits and friendship over the years.

I am still baking and cooking and cleaning in preparation for tomorrow. Some of our family will be here for our own blend of Finnish and German Christmas Eve traditions. Our latest wave of the Pineapple Express should be over soon and we may have a sunny green Christmas. Hope yours is a beautiful and safe one.