Monday, April 14, 2014

Running Challenges

View from my home office window at 5:40 Monday morning. . . . didn't want to shock Ms. Robin with the flash, so please excuse the blur. . . .

Today's the last day of classes, and I'll admit I'm very much looking forward to a less performance-directed schedule (although not so much to the reams of marking and the inevitable meetings and meetings and meetings). The mid-teens (Celsius, natch!) temperatures we had this weekend have me itching to get into the garden, although I do wonder if last weekend's weeding forays had something to do with my knee issues.

I have another physio appointment tomorrow, and I'm trying to stay positive. A running buddy with marathon experience and recent certification as a fitness leader coached me (via Facebook messages) through my panic and discouragement at missing my long run this past weekend. She assures me that I have enough foundation to run the marathon even if I don't manage any more long runs between now and then. We'll just have to wait and see. I do recognize that it wouldn't be smart simply to run through the pain, although that is a very big temptation -- especially since the tenderness generally eases as my muscles warm up.

I'll probably write more about my response to this setback (from both a training and an emotional perspective) as I figure out what my physio thinks and as I move through this week. For now, I'm still visualizing myself running and completing the BMO marathon, but I'm also thinking of positive ways to respond if that possibility evaporates.  Meanwhile, I've got an ice pack on my knee, and plans for a long walk and some foam-rolling . . . .

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekends, Gotta love'em

We've been in Vancouver for the weekend, where Paul had these lovely tulips waiting for me on arrival. We've been crazy busy with family stuff (3 of the 4 couples/families for sushi Friday night at our place; helping one couple with some real estate adventures Saturday; pizza with the 4th couple and a granddaughter Saturday evening). A bit of shopping. Considerable fretting about tenderness of my knee and how to proceed with marathon training (didn't do my long run this weekend, did get a great massage from my RMT daughter). Oh, and got to savour sight of 5-month pregnant belly of one beautiful daughter. Still savouring that in my mind's eye, to be honest. Much happiness there, for many reasons.
And now we're off to breakfast with a son whose wife has abandoned him to play soccer (love that reversal, not even thinkable in my mom's day, only just barely in mine). It's a spectacular day on the West Coast, with a possible 17 degrees of warmth. Should be a gorgeous ferry ride home this afternoon. You have a lovely day as well, if that's at all within reach. And, as always, feel free to comment. I've been too busy to answer comments from the last post or so, but I've read them all and will pick up the conversation as soon as I get back to my home office.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Spring Colour!

Splendid spring sunshine is on the forecast, but even last weekend, temperatures just moving into the low 'teens, I got into the garden and couldn't help responding to the colour, fragrance, and sheer energy of the growth pulsating around me. Birdsong everywhere and obliging insects buzzing already, ready to shift pollen where it needs to go. . . .

Above, a bevy of pinks -- the indigenous salmonberry offers a rather bland berry, but its flower (upper left) is a simple delight. Interesting how close its colour is to that of the ribes sanguineum (red-flowering currant), also indigenous, here long before we were and pictured above top right and bottom left. On the right the mauvey-er pink of the somewhat scrubby Daphne mezereum. Its scrubby appearance is happily tolerated not only for the perfect of the flower's colour but for the marvellous perfume it shares generously. . . .

Below, you see its scrubbiness, but perhaps you can also glimpse the combination that pleased me of that buttery yellow, blooming in the species tulips below, framed by the mauve, accented by the rich bluey-green of the surrounding foliage. I don't think I planned this particular conjunction, but its serendipity pleases me mightily.

As does the combination below, which I deliberately nurtured, nudging the starry-eyed blue of the brunnera macrophylla (false forget-me-not) closer to the acid-green bracts of the Euphorbia (amygaloides? var. robbiae -- I probably have this name written in notes somewhere or other). Until this spring, when I got this:

Which pleases me mightily every time I walk past, and will for a few more weeks. And then the combination will be gone again until next year. A wee lesson in savouring the moment. . . .

As is this little corydalis which I'd completely forgotten about. Unlike its yellow-flowered cousin which has started blooming already and won't stop until early October, this purple daintiness, backed by the laciest of leaves, will disappear completely, foliage, flowers, the entire herbaceous mass, under the soil once the weather heats up. And if I'm not out prowling the garden at just the right time, some years I miss it entirely.
 I think it's Corydalis solida, perhaps Purple Beauty . . .

Whatever its handle, I was charmed to re-discover it last weekend.

Other dainty flowers I was pleased to say hello to included these sweet little epimedium flowers (top left) that you really need to get down on the ground to appreciate. The woodland anemone (top right, shyly nodding in purple) and the hellebore (bottom left also tend to direct their blooms downward, but the congenial tulips open right up in the sunshine.

And that concludes today's garden tour. I must warn you, however, that there may be more garden posts coming. It's such a seductive place to be these days. . . .

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Garden, More Memory. . .

 Travel photos are an obvious form of memory, as mine of Barcelona. I wrote about another kind last week when remembering my mother through the flowers she'd planted in my garden. But here's an exquisite example of a different form of memory. This erythronium oregonum (common name, White Fawn Lily) has not bloomed here for the twenty-some years we've owned the property. I can't be sure it hasn't at least poked leaves above the ground over the years, but I've never noticed them, and as you can see if you look closely, they're rather distinctive.

It's in a side swath of the garden, a fairly large patch that's under a canopy of tall conifers, and we've left many of the native ferns and shrubs in place, but there would have been considerable disruption when the lot was first cleared for building in the '70s.  My plan has been to keep the snowberry bushes under control (they'd be quite happy to have the whole place to themselves)  and similarly request that the salal and Oregon grape (mahonia aquifolium) leave room for some compatible perennials I'm introducing gradually.  I've popped a rhodo here, an azalea there, an oakleaf hydrangea and a few winter-flowering shrubs to brighten February.
 But I hadn't ever thought to plant erythronium, even though they are available as bulbs from several good nurseries nearby.

So can you imagine how delighted I was when out doing the first of the season's weeding on the weekend? There are indigenous patches of these early spring charmers in a number of spots on the island, but I've never seen one in our yard. How or why this bulb finally "remembered" its programmed task, I have no idea. What was it about this year's conditions that triggered this bloom's determined push upward to the light, following a botanical blueprint's intricacy of instructions to unfold leaves patterned and coloured just so. Step 1 leads to Step 2, Tab B meets Tab F, no wheels missing in this Ikea package, with the happy result that this perfection is delivered and assembled and greeted by its companions in the garden bed.

The nearby fern will have some organic "memory" of this fawn lily, perhaps, although not on the sentient level we recognize. But the two may well have been connected under the soil's surface for decades, they may have enjoyed winters of composting their cast-off parts together, have shared the hosting of an infinity of insects.
So much wonder, a near-infinity to contemplate, more than I have time to think or, certainly, to write about on a Tuesday morning before dashing off to work.

Humbling, though. And awe-inspiring. And memorable, whether photographed or not.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Remembering . . . a Barcelona moment

Do you scroll through files of travel photos, trying to remember where you were, what you were doing that day, why you wanted to capture an image? Especially when so many of our memories have been digitized, at least their photographic representations, I find this to be the case. Happily, I also keep a travel journal (even, the last couple of years, an illustrated one), so that I can generally look back for reminders. . . .

Even without consultation, though, I know that this snap was taken in Barcelona one morning, somewhere in the older core. I remember being arrested by that woman's pose on her balcony, the colour of her housecoat picking up and intensifying that of the nearby brick rectangles, the Catalan flags gesturing just across the calle. I was intrigued by the reserve she conveyed even in her obvious exposure on the balcony; she claimed that space as intimate, private, impossible though that might seem. So very different from my space on my deck, surveying the ocean, my only witnesses a seal, raccoon, perhaps an occasional neighbour taking her coffee to the beach. Never a crowd of tourists looking for coffee and a churro.

I think I snapped the photo because she was emblematic of how little I could know of the city itself, of most cities. I loved the public spaces, but all those potentially rich interiors, those closed doors, the life just beyond the balconies. . . . perhaps I loved that hint of all the untold stories even more. . . . .

What's interesting is that as I go through the file almost a year later, it's almost impossible to tell if the photo captures any of this. I suspect it may simply read as a too-crowded image of architectural shapes without enough tonal contrast. . . .

Besides looking back to last June, I look back over this past week and see that after last Monday's post on
Remembering my mother through the garden, I posted on Spring Shopping on Wednesday and then did some layering with my new White Jeans as a base for Friday's post.  It's an energizing time of year, at least on the West Coast where all is exploding into a madness of birdsong and tender green leaves and pink and yellow blossoms spilling fragrance deliciously and promiscuously . . . .And I begin thinking forward to this year's travels. On which more news soon.

Meanwhile, though, I'm curious to know how often you revisit travel photos (or any photos, for that matter). And how long after the photos have been taken do you first want to look at them again? Do you print (m)any? View them again on screen? Back them up on CD or trust to your own hard drive and/or "the cloud"? How well do you remember why, when, and where you took them? And how else do you hang on to those memories? Y'know, just a few little questions . . . ;-)

Friday, April 4, 2014

More Spring Shopping -- White Jeans!

Wednesday morning, I saw that instead of the feared rain (don't worry, It showed up Thursday!), we were getting another day of spring warmth.

Time to grab the opportunity to wear my new white jeans, another purchase at Gap's 40% off sale. (see that sunlight streaming through the windows, those sunny patches on the floor behind me. . .)

I love them with my new Vince pointed-toe flats (the Nina, an impulse buy from several weeks ago about which I have not one whit of regret) and a J Crew sweatshirt-ish top in a brilliant merino fabric. Amazingly comfortable, beautiful drape, the tenderest heathery grey.

But I yielded to reality. The Vinces nude-toned flats will be great in the city but riding a bike on muddy roads? Not so smart.
Switched to my Fluevog loafers in a distressed metallic finish. And while I was at it, decided to add a scarf -- it might be April sunny, but it's still a bit nippy in the morning.
Adding the scarf reminded me of a photo I saw here, where Kim dishes on  how chic Parisians make their white jeans work in early spring.

I followed her advice and Voil√†! Suddenly I was writing in French and looking chic, n'est-ce pas?
You're right -- I did decide to switch the scarf. Very observant of you.
And even with the blazer and cashmere scarf, I'm going to be chilly on the bike to the boat. Time for one last layer. I'm not really in Paris, after all, and one must bow to the realities of West Coast little island living (Field jacket by Aritzia, bought last spring).

So what say you? Anyone got the white jeans thing going on yet? I know Sue showed us a splendid version in early January, looking sophisticated in an allover Winter White. Are others being tempted as Spring tiptoes in? At Gap prices, this was an easy look to try out, and I really like the way these fit and feel. We'll see how long I can keep them looking fresh. . . .

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Spring Shopping. . .

 It may just be the rising temperatures, the powdery fragrance of fruit trees in bloom, the tenderness of leaves erupting everywhere, the colour of the ocean when it's reflecting blue skies and sunshine. But suddenly, all the restraint I've managed toward retail wardrobe augmentation is out the now-open windows.

It's not so bad. The shopping I've done is fairly modest: popping into The Gap at the call of a 40% off sale yielded these two shirts, totalling under $100 together. The top is in a fresh, clean dark wash, fits slim, and promises to finally be the denim shirt that works for me. I've been promised that before, and each time eventually realized those promises were lies. If so, at least I'll get a gardening shirt, right? I'm blaming this purchase on That's Not My Age who issued this siren post not long ago. Danger lurks there -- you may end up craving some fresh denim of your own . . .

I'd similarly blame Duchesse for the white shirt acquisition. After all, she published convincing photos of illustrious women looking cool and classic and sophisticated in theirs. Another promise I should have learned to mistrust, but if at first you don't succeeed. Well, you know . . . So I'm trying again, and I must say, so far I'm pleased with the freshness of this inexpensive number which I've so far worn with a navy pencil skirt, with jeans, and open over a t-shirt and a floral pencil skirt from last year.
But who to blame for the online ordering that I suddenly succumbed to? I'm not going to 'fess up about all my purchases (and they're really not so bad, nor so many; it's just that a girl needs  few secrets), but I did use an online code to order this denim pencil skirt from The Gap. It's not as covetable as the one I wanted from JCrew, but that was only available online, and the JCrew Return policy for online Canadian shoppers is too much trouble for me. This little skirt from The Gap was so inexpensive at 30% off that I've ordered one in each of the two most likely sizes. Returns can be made in the nearest store -- or, at that price, I'll just see if one of my daughters wants one. If one of them fits me, though, I know I'll wear it often spring through fall, but especially in the summer. Easy dressing with a T and cardi or blazer. . .
Anyone else finding that either warmer temperatures or simply turning that page on the calendar has your wallet loosening just a little? For me, the change of season rolls me around to a wardrobe reality of clothes that fit last year but won't anymore. But for all of us, some sartorial adjustments are beginning, no? Are you managing those adjustments by shopping your own closet? Do you save the Retail for the more dramatic seasonal demands of Summer Heat? Is it colour you crave or a change of texture or layering proportion or coverage or all of the above? Perhaps just a pedi in a sorbet-fresh new colour.  Comments always and always welcome -- you know it!
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