I aten’t dead yet!

That line is one of my favourite lines in fiction.
For anyone who doesn’t read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, this line is attributed to Granny Weatherwax, a witch, who lives outside the small village of Bad Ass, which incidentally is what my children figure that the scar on my neck will look like. :D

Well, it’s been a few days, hasn’t it? I guess you could say that people post traumatic operations should probably take it easy, and I guess I’ve over-done it round here and now I’m in bed feeling not so hot, but over-all everything is going to be fine and ‘I aten’t dead yet.’

This lovely, fragrant posy ended up by my front door yesterday. It came with some lovely pages about planting an all white garden, an interesting art exhibit and indoor plants, with a little note: “From Rosemarie from the Art in the Garden tour, I read your blog.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

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Thank you so much Rosemarie, thank you for thinking of me. :D Please say hello so I can get to know you.

I know I should have been resting post op, but after two months away form them, Kerstie brought all three of our little girls over and we got to play with some of the toys I brought for them from England and also to start putting together the loveliest, but also complicated, wooden puzzle made after my friend Jackie Morris‘ drawing of dragon hatchlings.

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And while Ziggy was having a nap, Binky and Bunny redecorated the doll’s house.

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Now at this point I think I should have kissed my little and big ones goodnight and went to bed, but a supper came up with all of my children and I just couldn’t say no!

Jonathan made reservations at a downtown restaurant called Gyu-Kaku Japanese Barbecue.

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Most fun ever! A central grill and loads of dishes equals cook your own supper.

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And so we did.

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Chef Adam and Chef Jonathan hard at work.

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And what do you have for desert when there’s a grill right in front of you? Smores! And lychee ice cream.

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We had such a lovely time…except maybe a bit too much sake and wine.

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And got home way too late!

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Today we had monster truck races…

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…and monster chocolate chip cookie faces…

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Nourishing soup, fresh squeezed orange juice and tea, and I do believe we all felt better afterwards.

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And this evening, in the warm quiet of my studio, Clover and I finished the dragon hatchling puzzle, put it back in its box, and finally I decided I needed rest.

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And so I went to bed early with Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay, and my lovely pages from Rosemarie. For all of you who have never read any of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, I’m so jealous!!! I reread them quite often and I love them to pieces, and to think, you have this whole world to discover and delight in…you lucky ducks you.

Thank you everyone for thinking of me, and big hugs form me, (the bride of Frankenstein), to you. I’ll be back soon. :D

Hello from Sunday night

Do you guys do this?
Do you sometimes wish for things that aren’t instead of feeling grateful for things that are?
Yeah, I’m all over that these days.

Simple things; like not revelling in these warm, late summer days and wishing for cooler days of autumn so I can wear my sweaters, knowing perfectly well that when those cool days come, I’ll be wishing for the warmth of today.

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I think that a couple big things are bugging me these days.

Thing one is that I just miss Robbie so much, and thing two is that tomorrow I have to be brave and check myself into surgical day care for a small procedure which I’m dreading.

Now you probably all know that I’m the product of two doctors, so it doesn’t make much sense because I’m just pretty au fait with all things surgical, so I guess it’s the full moon.

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Still, this week/weekend has been a pretty fabulous one, (ocean and river time), and C and I even caught a special pop-up yoga class, outside, in a parking lot, under the deep blue sky.

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We’ve been looking for a new yoga studio, and must say that we’ve found a couple pretty fabulous ones, but then fell in love with the beautiful energy of one certain tiny tattooed yogini, so maybe we think we may have found the perfect fit for us.

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Lately, I’ve been noticing red. Is red the new black or something? Anyone notice that? Maybe it’s an autumnal thing, but red seems to be all over the place. Personally, I’m all over that too. I love red.

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And unusual food things. You know, It was cranberry festival time in the country today. Maybe that why red was all over the place. Maybe it’s a cranberry thing. I had cranberries in my arugula and gorgonzola with roasted pear salad at lunch. That little sweet hit of red with the sharp cheese and the peppery arugula was just wonderful.

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I also had coconut prawns with a mango chutney. Who ever thought to roll shrimp in coconut laced batter? Brilliant, wasn’t he?

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There was a bit of antiquing in the country today. I fell in love with a doll. The doll in this mosaic image to be exact. My children wince when I bring home old toys, and especially “creepy old dolls”, as they’re commonly known round here, but I don’t care. Now that I’m you know, like an adult and have my own house, I’ll buy all the creepy old dolls I want…so there! (stamps foot) But actually, this doll looks very much like the memory I have of a cherished childhood doll which was left behind in the Czech Republic when we escaped. Maybe I’m always trying to rebuild what’s been lost.

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Maybe I’m just in a funny mood tonight.

So I guess I better also tell you all, (because by now you’re all going, “come on V, what’s it all about), that the procedure I have to undergo tomorrow is not a sudden thing. I’ve been watching a growth slowly enlarge in a salivary gland over the better part of a year, and ultrasound and MRI confirm that there is a tumour which just shouldn’t be there, so out it goes.

Out it goes tomorrow morning and off to pathology, where I’m pretty sure the diagnosis will be non malignant, because statistically 99% of these kinds of things end up benign, and also, the scans don’t show any other enlarged glands.

Still it’s a bit on the unnerving side for me round here. (And most of all the Vanity Smurf in me doesn’t really want a scar on my neck… Oh have to tell you a funny story: the surgeon said, “we’ll just put the incision in this wrinkle because incisions tend to heal better in natural creases.” and I said, “what wrinkle!?!!?” And he said, “well, OK, but eventually you would get a wrinkle here.”)

But for tonight, I’ve got a wonderful wild salmon in the oven and it’s fragrant and salmony, stuffed with lemon and red onion slices and a large bunch of rosemary, thyme, fennel and marjoram…

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…and I’m about to go sit over here with one of these and relax and think about the full moon.

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Sharing with Judith and the Mosaic bunch and catching up with everyone when I can. Biggest hugs to everyone.

A river runs

Apparently it’s been a dry and lovely summer here on the West Coast and, while we can still believe that it’s the height of summer, there are undeniable signs of autumn all around.

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But what do we care about that on a golden Saturday as this Saturday it turning out to be?

We pick our way thru the boreal forest, around the giant cedars and firs, thru the curtain of vine maple…

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…to the aspens and the river.

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And we stick out feet right in and and balance on the slippery rocks with our toes.

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And then, when the cold, mountain water isn’t taking our breath away, we gently ease our bodies right into the river…

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…and watch as the aspens drop their leaves and float them by.

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And hours go by and the shadows lengthen and we reluctantly dry off and head out of the boreal forest for home.

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And as we walk out of the forest, the summer river seems like a memory because the signs of autumn whisper to us from all around. They are as ephemeral as a spider’s web and as real as next year’s wildflowers seeds caught within.

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But even as our thoughts turn to autumn, we will hold on to our summer river as long as we can.

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Beach love

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Days in Vancouver have taken on that golden Indian Summer warmth. It’s nearly impossible to stay in the studio in the afternoon when any number of lovely beaches is just minuted away. So I grabbed a certain flaxen haired girl and off we went to a little crescent shaped pebbly beach to beach comb, splash around and have some fun.

A little drama and peace restored.

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Quiet day at home. Not sure what I was doing just at that time, but I heard a soft thud and Chloe called, “Morgan, NO, Mom, emergency!”

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A little yellow warbler had hit the window and landed panting on the patio. Morgan was up like a shot.

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While Chloe blocked Morgan away from the bird, I picked him up and took him to the garage and put him on a soft blanket into the cat carrier to recover in the cool and dark.

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And got on with a bit of gardening.

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Twenty minutes later, the little guy was recovered enough to fly to a garden tree and he sat there for a very long time, and finally flew away.

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Morgan was suitably unimpressed by this, and, especially since she…or Milo…got a small rat in the night…

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…but came to terms with it and cuddled up on the little table in the living room and went to sleep.

Peace restored.

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Sharing with the WordPress bunch for the photo challenge Adventure!

Home, missing home

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The last few days at home in West Cottage were so very busy for both of us. It’s always that way when we try to get as many projects completed as we can together. There are things we have to do, like replacing a weak piece of wood at the bottom of one of the large bedroom windows, which is just nearly impossible to do on one’s own.

The good thing is that we managed to get all the jobs done. The bad thing is that now we have to be apart for a couple of months.

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But there’s no denying that the crops in Oxfordshire have all been harvested, the fruit is ripe on the trees, summer is ending, autumn is fast approaching, and I have to return to Vancouver. The ideal would have been for R to come to Vancouver with me, but his work and projects won’t allow that right now, and my work and projects won’t let me stay longer in OXON, so there you are.

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So Robbie drove me to Heathrow, we had a lot of hugs and kisses and tears, and off I went.

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All bleary eyed and jet-lagged at home, our sweet Chloe had garden flowers waiting for me.

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She took great care of the house here, both the cats and all the plants.

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I dug up some potatoes and garlic from the garden, we stopped at a little organic market for some more veggies…

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…and made a hearty roasted veggie supper.

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In one way it’s good to be home with C and the Vancouver cats, but in another way it sucks…know what I mean?

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Time for one last walk. The Wychwood forest.

Very close to us at West Cottage is a forest called Wychwood. It used to stretch over 180 square miles and was counted as a Royal Forest of William the Conqueror in the 1086 Doomsday book.

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It’s a mixed forest of pines, beech, oak, maple, and the most glorious, tall bracken undergrowth.

It has a circular public path thru it and we chose to have a walk here today.

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At one point, the path wend out of the forest…

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…and we stopped and looked over our beautiful Oxfordshire countryside…

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…and the golden fields around us.

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Then we found a majestic oak and had a rest and listened to the forest.

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Summer is almost over and we can see autumn approaching fast.
Tomorrow I have to leave the country and return to the city, but I’m glad we got to walk thru this magical forest before I had to go.

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch, and I’ll come visit everyone after I land in Vancouver.

Japan, Nadine’s wonderful drawing challenge

Finally! It’s time for the drawing challenge.

Nadine took the lead for the first one after the August break and her inspiration is “Japan”.

Last month I bought a sort of “grab bag” of goodies from the London Embroiderer’s Guild.

I wasn’t sure what I would do with any of these little bits, but, being half magpie, fell in love with the sparkly richness of it all and had to have it. The bag includes a piece of a 1920 shawl, postcards, bits of lace, threads and some sort of patterns. (Not sure at all what one does to transfer these sorts of patterns onto cloth…maybe iron? If you know, please tell me. The hallmark on the side says they were produced by a company which closed in the 20’s.)

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I was looking at the pieces and decided that for this challenge I would try to draw with a needle and thread and everything I used (with the exception of a beading needle) had to come out of my little grab bag.
I’m not much of a seamstress or embroiderer, but I’ve been a huge fan of sashiko for a few years now and so tried to do a little of that myself.

There was a little piece of green-flip-red taffeta and I enveloped it around a not-so-attractive piece of black, sparkly felt and some layers of rough cotton.

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Then I took some of the orange silk thread and stitched the sun in the middle of the rectangle.

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I drew some lines with my chalk art pencil to guide my hand with some quilting.

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And I used a lovely silk chord to stitch the quilt lines. This is fascinating thread. It changes colours from a soft green to a soft purple. I love it.

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Then I drew myself some cherry blossoms with the chalk and stitched them with a fine gold thread (which is apparently supposed to be added to another kind of thread…oops…good thing I don’t know much about much.)

Lastly, some little gold beads made up the flower centres. I love it! Not sure what to do with it now, but maybe a central panel for an evening clutch? Any ideas?

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Anyway, I’ve missed the drawing challenge for the August break and am happy to be back with my lovely bunch. Come pop over to Nadine’s site and check out every one’s interpretation when you have a chance, and if you’d like to join, visit our Rose Ariane for the list of who is next. :D

Friday night disaster…averted!

I have a Land Rover story to tell you, but rather than show you the gruesome happenings, I’m going to show you the lovely vintage things I bought the other day.

So, I had to run into Oxford today and Robbie and I made a deal that I would undercoat the chassis of the Landi first thing this morning and then, while I’m in Oxford, R would put the floors back in.

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“Just get under the car,” Robbie said, “I’ll spread out a carpet remnant for you. It’ll be easy. Half an hour and you’ll have it done.”

Then he said, “Here, use this scrapper and this screwdriver and this wire brush to just brush off the loose bits before you paint it.” :D

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So I tied my two feet of hair into a braid, got into R’s overalls, climbed under the car and started scraping the tar goop and loose rust off…which started falling all over the carper remnant, R’s overalls, and my two feet of hair!!! And the more I moved under the car, the more it got into my hair.

About an hour into it R came to see how I was getting on.
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And to help me with the job because we greatly underestimated the amount of work.

About three hours later we were finally finished and I cleaned my hands with the turpentine and ran my fingers thru my fringe and my fingers wouldn’t go thru it.

OMG! How will I get tar and enamel latex out of my hair!

No time for hair rescue, tied it up and drove into Oxford.

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I love to walk the 3 miles into the town centre from the park and ride and today I had a beautiful walk in a strong wind…which blew my hair around and tangled the tar into it even more.

Now I know that the theory is that one shouldn’t have two feet of hair past their 30s but stuff that for a game of soldiers. I love having long hair and, what’s more, I love being a brunette, so cutting the tar out and using solvents was not an option.

So, back home, and I ran a really hot bubble bath, soaked in it for a very long time, washed my hair with R’s strong detergent Pantene instead of my gentle organic shampoo, squidged an entire tube of thick, gloopy conditioner thru my hair in two treatments and combed thru it with a fine toothed comb. The resulting hairball would have made my long haired Morgan jealous, but, a final little comb thru with a bit of coconut oil detangler, and my hair is back to soft, lustrous, normal.

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Disaster averted.
And I have a beautiful, rust free Land Rover (Landi update to follow) :D

WordPress weekly photo challenge, Dialogue

The building is in the middle of Oxford, in the centre of the tourist trade.

It hosts a trendy coffee shop named Pret a Manger

It’s always crammed full of students, shoppers, tourists, children… everyone touches the walls, walks the floors, chats, laughs, drinks their tea.

The building was built in 1387.

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Museum, or coffee shop? Precious heritage to be preserved or throw your serviette on the floor, spill your coffee walking up the wonky stairs?

Hmm…what do you think? Has Oxford town council made the right decision?

Opening up a dialogue with the WordPress bunch. :D