Hello from Sunday night, yes I know it’s Monday morning

You know what I discovered recently?
I actually only have two hellebores in my garden and they’re not very exciting hellebores at that.

Out at my favourite nursery, Southlands, Thomas had all sorts of these beautiful guys. I love winter bloomers.

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Is it me or have I blinked and suddenly there are about a million exciting new cultivars from the boring old Winter and Lenten Rose types? Look at the ruffles and spots and variegation! Have to look around my own hood for houses which will be demolished this spring and go steal save a few.

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The Southlands neighbourhood is a very bucolic country gentry life neighbourhood, with horses and stables and rural life right in the heart of a big cosmopolitan city. It ends at one arm of the Fraser River and the Vancouver airport is on an island just beyond.

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It might look bucolic and country charming, but the average price of houses starts somewhere around $5,000,000 and goes up from there. One particular house overlooking the path and river is listed at $12,000,000 and has 5 bedrooms 5 bathrooms, about 5000 square ft, and an average city lot. Buying a house in Vancouver means that you can probably afford a house anywhere else in the world…except maybe New York, London or Tokyo.

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But it is beautiful here. Blooming trees and pussy willows and horses in back yards.

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Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch. :D

A mid-winter picnic

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Take my hand and come with us. Come high up on the mountain, away from the winter ocean fog, above the clouds, into the sun. Come hike the sky line Baden Powell trail for a while. Fall in love with the dogs and mourn as their owners tug them away. Explore the winter weeds and the new spring greening. Don’t worry, I’ve packed some hot tea and some nourishing soup.

Listen to the birds.

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Happy birthday mom

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kitchen talk

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It’s not easy being a Christmas baby. One’s Boxing Day birthday is often very conveniently wrapped up with a Christmas celebration, but we’ve always tried to make it a special day for mom in some way.

My mother turned 80 years young yesterday, and we celebrated in grand style at the beautiful, Christmas-shiny home of our friend Jane. About 30 of mom’s friends came to help celebrate her birthday, and a huge treat for me because my son Jonathan and his lovely girl Chantal were in town and could join us. We all had a lovely time with plenty of yummy nibbles, plenty of wine and wonderful cake.

Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day mom! We love you. X

Christmas day warmth

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Christmas day

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Christmas day warmth.

Here on this dreary, rainy West Coast, the sun came out for Christmas. It came out and warmed up our spirits and the neighbourhood pussy willows.

Our Christmas day was full of roasting and baking and icing. It was full of quiet moments, sleepy lap cats, candle light and open fire. It was full of The Queen’s Speech, Doctor Who and James Bond.

It was merry and bright and warm. :D

Sharing all this Christmas warmth with the WordPress photo bunch :D

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas

There’s so much excitement round here. Do you all feel like that Christmas eve?

Christmas eve is the traditional Czech Christmas celebration, and, as my mother is coming to celebrate with us, I’m making a traditional Czech feast which includes a carp.

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And here is the beast!

Robert thinks carp is a big joke. I explained that one must eat the carp to have the right to put the carp scales into their wallet, to insure that one won’t run out of money for the whole of the next year.

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And he said, “Let me get this straight. At some point millions of years ago, some Czech officials said, ‘How are we going to get our good people to eat this horrible, bony, but prolific fish?’ ‘I know, let’s make up a superstition!'” :D

Lol, it might be true! It’s as big a pain to prepare as it is to eat. See that scale in my hair? That one chose me!

This particular fish came completely intact, which meant I had to gut it! (Brave girl me!) I have to tell you something. Inside carp is a sort of hourglass shaped sac which is its swim bladder. It looks like a balloon, and, as children, my cousins and I were given these “balloons” to play with while our grandmother prepared the fish. (there were usually three or four carp swimming in the tub over night) I told R this story and he laughed and said that next jousting day, I better not say anything about the little British children marching around holding fake severed heads if I played with fish organs as a child. I guess he has a point.

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There was a little last minute prezzy wrapping.

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And, as usual, Morgan did her best to help.

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Then, then all the wrapping was done…

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…Morgan took up station in the kitchen to keep an eye on supper.

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The evening came and we sat down to our Czech Christmas supper.

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And Morgan took up residence in the dining room.
Yes, she was given hand-outs under the table. Spoiled cat. Milo was under a blanket in the TV room and so he missed out on the carp.

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We had a bit of wine and exchanged prezzies with my mom. She gave me the most beautiful and huge amethyst geode. It’s just so glorious that it now has pride of place in the middle of the mantle. I’ll take a photo soon and show you.

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Then we kicked off our shoes and went into the family room to watch a movie. R picked You’ve Got Mail. I’ve never seen it and it was lovely.

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All the prezzies went under the tree…

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…and off we went eager to wake up for our traditional British Christmas morning.

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Just as we were in bed, there was a soft thump from the kitchen. That scrubby little Morgan climbed up on the counter and dragged a whole loaf of bread out of the bread basket and onto the floor!!!

But now all is still and all is calm. I wish you all a wonderfully merry Christmas day with loads of love and warmth to sustain you for the whole year. I thank you for your loving support and friendship. It means to world to me and you’re all in my heart.

May you be loved.

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Hello from Sunday night

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Hello everyone. :D I know it’s been an age since I posted, and to tell you the truth, I’ve missed photographing and posting something rotten.

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Speaking of something rotten, C came down with a nasty little cold last week. Tis the season, huh? We drove down to our favourite juice bar, the Juicery, and picked up some good medicine. She was over the cold in no time.

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R and M
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One big bit of news, Robert has flown in for Christmas. :D It’s so lovely to have him home again. And, with R here, we went to find a Christmas tree. We found a beautiful, slightly imperfect, spruce, which a) we could afford!!! (seen the price of Christmas trees this year?) and b) reached up the nine feet to the ceiling.

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Then it was just a matter of decorating it. I’ve been collecting glass ornaments for about a million years now. I love them more than anything. It’s been two years since we got them out because Christmas has been in England for the past two years, and I was so excited to see them again. They’re like old friends…do you know what I mean? There’s that wonderful familial comfort in seeing Jonathan’s baby ornament, (34 yrs old now), my grandmother’s favourite one to remember her by, one special glass bird we somehow brought out of the Czech republic in 1968, the street car from San Francisco, vintage silvered glass bells from the antique markets in England…so many special stories attached to so many of them.

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So many beautiful ornaments gathered in various places over many years. It took me four hours to put most of them on.

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Especially since you can see just how much help I had…lol.

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch.

Hello from Sunday night

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Well, here is a turn-up for the books!
I know all my friends on the less temperate parts of the old globe will be thinking “oh, just shut up V!”, but we’re thrilled to bits with the Friday night to Saturday morning snow. Oh yes we are!

We didn’t mind the frozen fingers and the scraping of the car first thing Saturday morning either. Didn’t mind one bit because we were invited to our wonderful Realtor‘s client appreciation party at the cinema. C was incredibly excited because the film on offer was the third Hunger Games film. At some point in C’s young teen life, apparently I agreed to see all those dreadful Twilight movies with her and she held me to that, and now, teen-agy films, especially if she’s read the books, seem to be a C and my tradition. Anyway, these films are much better than Twilight, so there’s that, and there was hot tea and glazed doughnuts.

The sun shone cool and crisp for rest of the weekend, and, with the exception of a bit of laundry and a bit of grocery shopping, I really didn’t do much else except enjoy the sun and some good books.

And sometimes that’s as it should be. :D

Linking with Judith and the mosaic bunch.

Getting into the holiday spirit

It’s beginning to feel very wintery here…as much as the West Coast gets “winter”, but as you can see from this “artfully arranged” reflections shot :D the atmosphere here is cooler, whiter, and darker than ever.

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Recently mom bought some beautiful little Christmas lights at Anthropologie and I helped her string them up in her living room. They’re the same ones I have, (which stay on all the year long), except mom’s are a longer chain. Aren’t they lovely and twinkly?

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Yesterday we had a walk in mom’s neck of Vancouver, Kerrisdale, grabbed mom a coffee and had a good mooch around some of the stores. This place has changed so much recently. The sky-high rent prices have forced almost all the quaint little boutiques to relocate or close, and ubiquitous chains have moved in. Shame really, but that’s life. Still, a couple of little boutique stores remain. In front of mom’s favourite coffee shop, Cafe Artigiano, was this tiny little dog waiting for his master. He was so friendly and so super cute. Across the street is one of the last remaining boutiques, a flower shop, with a completely different animal in the window. Isn’t that fabulous? Chloe said, “Narnia”. Talk about holiday spirit!

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The other side of the shop had this wonderful window full of branches. So many surprises dotted around this window that we couldn’t stop looking into it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to replicate something at home for Christmas? I think so.

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Next we drove down to my favourite garden centre Southlands. I love this fragrant, warm greenhouse and could very easily just move in! :D

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I suppose if I lived in a greenhouse there wouldn’t be much room, or need, for a Christmas tree :( I suppose some vintage Santas and a painting or poster or two might be enough?

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Or maybe just plant some festive flowers, like Christmas cactus, poinsettias or these fabulous red bromeliads or maybe some gingers, or bird of paradise.

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Actually, probably not…lol…I’d still fill it with my millions of glass ornaments (marginal exaggeration) and over-the-top gingerbread houses.

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And just look at the fabulous trees waiting for December! Wow!

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Since this year Christmas is in Canada, I’d love a 11 foot tall tree in the living room. I bet it will end up completely covered by my ornaments.

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But not like this…lol. This is a little over-the-top for me. :D

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I usually get my tree on December 15th and then it stays up till twelfth night. But now I’m so into the Christmas spirit, that I can’t wait to get the tree. I might not last till the 15th. :D

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Hello from Sunday night, which turned into a Monday post again

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Well, well, well, after days of leaden skies the promise of sunshine thru the velvet curtains turned the whole room rosy pink. Mornings like these make my world so much better. Milo and Morgan love the sun and try to hang out in the sunniest spot as much as they can; usually upside down on the sofa.

My son has come back from Japan and brought his lovely girlfriend Chantal for lunch. I made us some smoked salmon sandwiches and salad. I took my eye off the salmon for two seconds and Morgan was up on the counter and made off with a slice of salmon. She was told off and pushed out the kitchen door into the garden where she sat for the longest time licking her cheeks. The scrubby little cat! One minute she’s sleeping, the next minute she’s pilfering our lunch. She’s a bit overweight and so on a diet and hating everybody these days.

My children and I had a lovely chat and spent a good hour looking thru the baby Jonathan photo albums. Jonathan wasn’t too pleased at the idea at first, but the girls ganged up and majority won. After a while he really enjoyed seeing the old photos. He asked me if he ever wore any clothes as a baby…lol. There were a good number of photos of naked baby Jon and baby Kers on the beach or in the garden in the summer time. What can I say…they were very European babies. :D Chloe and Chantal decided that I had the best clothes in the 80s and now they want to hunt similar down and wear them. C especially loved my bathing suits, my high-waisted jeans and a one piece safari jumpsuit, which I wore to death. I think it was Rodier and I loved it too.

The sun shone golden for most of the week, but it’s that weak winter sun which never really warms much, and that means the temperature has dropped. I suppose it’s dropped all over the continent because I can see the jet stream dipping way low on the environment maps. Morgan hates the cold and so I didn’t leave her out for long…no matter how bad she is I’ll always love her mushy little face.

Hope your weekend was a lovely and cozy one. Time to check out some weekend movies and have a first open fire in the fireplace I think. :D

Remembrance

Yesterday I painted in my very personal journal. I found some words and painted a poppy around them.

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Today I spent Remembrance Day with my mother. We remembered my father and his years of dedication to veterans as the head doctor of the Vancouver chapter of Veterans Affairs Canada.

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After lunch, while mom filled out some paper work, I riffled thru dad’s glass collection.

I love his collection of sparkly shiny glass. Some ancient Pompeii glass, some modern Waterford crystal, some rare medieval pieces he picked up at auction.

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And then, from the very back, I pulled out this strange little etched goblet. Strange because I have no idea where dad got it, and, now that he’s been gone all these years, I can’t ask him about it. It has flowers etched into the crystal. Maybe some are meant to be poppies, maybe, or probably they are, because under the etching of the flowers is an etched word: “Erinnerung” German for Remembrance.

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And maybe there isn’t a mystery. Everyone, whether allies or enemy, everyone a person, everyone affected in some way by the tragedy of war. I’ve no idea where my British father got the little goblet with the German word etched on it, but you know what? I’m so glad I found it today of all days.

Lest we forget.