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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Of Primroses and a Crochet Project

I'm encouraging spring with this planter of blue and yellow primula.  My heart skipped a beat when I first noticed the annuals for sale last week.  Could brighter skies and longer days be just around the corner?  These omens of sunshine sit on the front step and make me smile every time I walk past.  That's what flowers are supposed to do, right?

Primroses of not, it's actually been a soggy couple of days around here and I'm spending more time curled up with my crochet.  I think one of my favorite things about crochet is that it goes so well with curling up.  There's no need to sit at a sewing desk or run back and forth to the ironing board. These days, I'd much rather enjoy my down time sitting down.

Here's my most recent project.

This soft airplane toy is for my little nephew.  I didn't think to take a picture of it until it was time to wrap it up.  There wasn't a lot of light left, so you'll have to forgive the photography and believe me that it's very cute.

Project Notes:
For those who are interested, the pattern came from this Etsy vendor and was very easy to follow.  I had a bit of a light bulb moment while stuffing it and added a rattle. Between the soft, knobbly texture of the crochet, the floppy wings and tail pieces and the rattle, I think Baby Boy will find lots to appreciate.

So here I sit, with one foot in the garden and the other curled under me in a comfy chair.  It's the impatient season.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Moment in the Life

Dazzled by all the beautiful online glimpses of other people's lives, I set myself a little challenge this afternoon.  While the Little Miss napped, I crept through the house to search out my own bits of macro beauty.  The rules:  no cleaning up before taking the shot, no arranging or turning to catch the light.  In short, no touching.  Just document the moment.  Take a freeze frame of life to see if there is anything lovely -- anything thought-provoking or meaningful or blog-worthy -- in this very ordinary moment of my life.

Would you like to see what I found?

Tea, anyone?  My Little Miss loves setting her tea table on the ottoman.  She stirs and pours and narrates.  Soup.  Tea.  More more.  Salsa.  There's always something new on the menu.

Just a few feet away, my crochet project sits on the couch.  Last night yarn hook came to hand and I didn't know quite what I wanted to make until it was done.  What should I do with it?

Don't trip on the train!

Piled atop the sewing machine, another project.  This one was started with more intention (but I won't tell you how long ago) and is almost done.  It's a shirt for me.

Sitting pretty on the dining room table, a bunch of rosemary.  A little green from the garden goes a long way on a rainy winter day.

And that, friends, is a what I found in this ordinary moment.  

I'm still trying to settle on my reasons for blogging and what I want to write about.  It's a process, a growth curve.  I think this little challenge has helped.  Blogging is quickly becoming, for me, a way to freeze an ordinary moment and examine it for meaning or beauty or even ambiguity.  It plays toward the examined life.  And the shared life, because I'm starting to make friends and look in on their moments.  

What's laying around your house right now?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Sunny Day

Sunshine is good for the soul, and more so in the winter.  A couple of days ago I opted to forgo my usual suburban stroll to the library or playground in favour of a nature walk with the Little Miss.  We have lots of options for walking around lakes, along beaches, through forests, but they all require a short drive.  Some how that presents a mental hurdle.  I made the leap and, like always, it was worth it.  

My Little Miss moves at a burst and bust pace with unending commentary offered in single words -- run run, water, tweet tweet.  That leaves me plenty of time to notice things with eyes and lens.  Shadows.  The violent green colour of moss against a washed-out winter world.  The changing sky.  Red wing blackbirds.  Reflections on the lake.  We're not far enough away for true quiet, but city sounds fade and leave space for wind in branches and hidden birds.  Little Miss delights in the sound of her feet on the path -- walk walk, stomp stomp.  Love her.  I unwind.  For a moment, I live in the moment.

Then it's snack time.  

Something about the fresh air and the sunshine (weak and fleeting as it was) produced a tingle in my soul -- a rush of vitamin D, a smile -- and wakened a longing for more.  

Have the winter blues hit you?  What gets you through?

Friday, 10 January 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Shadows

Linking to Donna's Personal Photo Challenge.

When I first read this month's photography challenge, a couple of thoughts went through my head.  First, I smiled to think of my Little Miss this last fall desperately trying to shake off her shadow.  She doesn't like it one little bit and we are careful, on sunny afternoons, to point her into the light.  But I realized that the shadow hasn't given us trouble lately, so either that stage has passed or -- and here's my second thought -- our shadows haven't been around in a while.

Mysterious.  Ominous.  The case of the missing shadows.  But it's true.  Here on the Canadian west coast winter months are grey and drizzly.  We don't see the sun for weeks and months on end -- or does it only feel like weeks and months?  I started paying attention.  Mostly, it's pretty grey with the occasional, and very unpredictable, break of passing brightness.  Twice in the last month, we had a string of three or four sunny days. What a boon!  I'd like to tell you that I was out there with my camera, making the most of that sunshine, but I wasn't.  There was Christmas to prepare for.  The flu hit.  I went out without my camera.  You know, life.  But I did get out into the garden, camera in hand, for a few minutes last week before the sun set (so early).  So here are my offerings.

In these two shots the late afternoon sunshine projects images from the garden onto an old fence and casts a dramatic dichotomy of light and dark across a wooden shed.  I like the texture in both, though the shed is my favorite.  On this day I had literally minute to work before losing the light and didn't remember until it was too late that I wanted to play with the exposure settings on my camera.  This is a feature I learned about in Donna's recommended readings and wanted to try out.  *Sigh*  I settled for darkening the shadows and bringing up the highlights a little in Picasa.

Both of the above photos taken with my Nikon 1 J2, a 10-30mm lens and Shutter Priority setting.

I wasn't sure about including this picture as reflections aren't quite the same as shadows, but I finally had opportunity to use that exposure setting.  Here I lowered the exposure a couple of notches and was pleased with the deeper, stronger colours of the pier.  There's so much to learn and I'm having such a wonderful time at it.  This was a good day for camera play and you can read more about it here if you like.

Photo taken with my Nikon 1 J2, a 30-110mm zoom lens and Aperture Priority setting.

Thank you to Donna for tossing out these challenges and to all the other kind bloggers who visited me last time around.  I might be getting hooked.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Enjoying the View

The view from BC Ferries is always a treat.  This time was no exception.  By seven o'clock I was up and dressed.  I had already entrusted a sleepy Little Miss to her Nana, made my way to the terminal, bought my ticket and boarded the boat.  All was dark on the water, so I treated myself to coffee and eggs in the cafeteria and watched the other passengers -- mostly business people and other locals who, like me, had their own reasons to rise early and visit the mainland.

An hour into the crossing, the sky began to glow and I hit the deck with my camera.  It was cold, just above freezing.  The boat hummed beneath me and the occasional cry of a seagull pierced the salty wind.  All else was quiet.  Sky and water blushed pink, then orange as we turned through Active Pass and pushed into the open straight.  In an instant, the sun rose.

I passed a lovely day in Vancouver with my sister.  We talked and drank tea and walked through Gas Town.  Wonderful but short.  Before I knew it, I was back on the boat.

By the last light of the day I got off a few shots of the container loading port across the bay.  All was dark again before the ferry left its birth.  I don't know if I've ever savored sunrise and sunset of the same day.  Have you?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Finding January

This tray sits on my dining room table.  The teapot has seen almost daily use since I first ventured out on my own at eighteen.  It has shared dorm rooms and basement suits with me.  Today it's joined by a teacup and candle to make tea more accessible, more appealing.  A little ritual -- a little tea from a teacup -- recharges and inspires me.  Leftover Christmas chocolate and an hour of TV do not, but in those first ten minutes of Miss S's nap time, their appeal is overwhelming.  

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I reflect a bit.  I gaze backward and forward, sharpening my focus on the things that matter most, and savoring the clean slate of a new year.  It's been hard to get going again this January.  Four cases of the flu swept through our family of three between December 23 and New Years, and I was the lucky double winner.  The darkness has gotten to me bit too.  I don't feel especially energized or creative, so I'm trying to cut myself some slack and focus on the little things that inspire me.  A good book.  A walk with Miss S.  Fresh air.  And, of course, tea.

Iris Murdoch writes that "one of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."  I think she might be onto something.