Friday, June 23, 2017

Five Things Friday

1. Sunshine! Much expediting beachwalks with visiting friends (see my IG for a photo). Like my Californian visitors last week, L, coming from a sweltering-at-38-degrees Bordeaux, claimed she would have been quite content with rain and grey skies, but oh, I was so happy to be able to show her how beautiful Vancouver is in the sunshine. . . .

This is the view from the common-area rooftop of our building, looking North to the still-snow-capped mountains. . . .so good to see some snowpack there, a bit of insurance against summer drought, and something I've been alarmed to see absent the past few years.

2. Friends to walk on beaches with. And take to Van Dusen Botanical Garden, as I did with a friend last week, an ex-colleague visiting from the island. And to meet for coffee, as I will with another friend,  one I've known since high school, this morning. And to have lunch with next week and try to catch up on our respective creative projects, our families, our travels, as I will with an island friend, one whose first gallery show I went to on the weekend. Friends who travel to visit me and whom I travel to meet for the first time. Friends whom I need to email to set up a meet-up now that I'm settled back home.

I posted almost a year ago about the transitions in friendship that I was experiencing and fearing and celebrating and becoming aware of throughout the process of, first, my retirement, and then our big move. I'm hoping to follow up soon with another post. For now, I'll just say that I feel richly blessed with friendships in ways that I couldn't have anticipated -- perhaps not even have appreciated -- two years ago.

3. When I posted about post-travel fatigue, about how it combined with my entertaining and catch-up efforts our first week home to lay me out flat,  "SmitoniusandSonata" wisely commented that "Just stretching out on the sofa , reliving it all is called for ... two trips for the price of one"
And that comment really resonated with me, made me aware of how much I still have to integrate, how much this trip is still working away inside me, demanding to be narrated, if only to myself. I'm trying to make a bit of time for this, despite my current Real Life calling me back. Wednesday's photo-heavy post about our train ride through Slovenia is an example of that effort. So is scrolling through the too-many photos I took, deciding which to delete.

Most likely to be deleted are the numerous screenshots taken to capture Google Map's directions to get where we were going without gobbling up too much data enroute. This one represented an easy jaunt, the tricky part coming in trying to park the car. . . .



But this last one, with its promise of 23 minutes to our destination, Ah, this one was a challenge. Let's just say that while 15 of those kilometres might have taken 15 minutes, the last 3 turned into at least 15 slow kilometres--and at least 15 minutes -- driven by Paul as I craned my neck trying to find a sign for Spinčićeva Ulice. . . .

 4. We've been whipping the terrace garden back into shape after our three weeks away (as well cared for as it was during our absence, there are nonetheless signs that it missed us -- we didn't expect the kids to do any pruning, and they couldn't do much about the wind damage that occurred). I've got a garden post in the works, but for the moment, I can tell you that there's a serious campaign directed against these . . . ugh, things!

When I first saw them, clustered in fives or sevens or even, shudder, tens, on the underside of hydrangea leaves, I thought they were grubs, although we never saw them move. But there was evidence of some chomping all over, and the hydrangea seemed poorly overall. We removed them manually -- again, ugh! shudder! yuck! -- and have been combing the shrub daily to pull off encouragingly decreasing numbers of them.

And I've finally figured out what they are, after I found one (putative) adult, a very homely critter that I quickly squished, a flat round disc of grey matter that made me think to check whether "hydrangea" and "scale" might yield results. Yep. Our hydrangea is infested with Hydrangea Scale, and the information on the beast isn't particularly happy news. Those "things" I first thought might be grubs -- I've photographed them inside my bracelet to give you an idea of their size, and perhaps you can notice the striations across the one on the left, the striations that let me imagine a grub -- are actually the egg cases. So instead of five, six, seven, even ten grubs to a leaf, we were removing hundreds and hundreds of eggs! Is that the good news or the bad news?!

We're hoping that doing our best to keep the numbers down for the next generation, and supporting the shrub as best we can through this season might be enough to let Nature sort itself out. I never used pesticides in our old garden, being able to count on the natural balance and a relaxed approach to imperfection. I sense this may not be so easy in our smaller space where we lack the predators such as snakes, wasps, dragonflies, and insect-eating birds that used to help keep the pest numbers down. We'll see. . . . Any thoughts? Suggestions? Experience with the dreaded Hydrangea Scale. . .

5. Heading out to meet my friend the other day, I caught a glimpse of my hair in the mirror, registered how long it's got again, that it's almost back to the length it was before I chopped it off to begin the Great Greying Project

 I know that some of you preferred my hair at shorter lengths, but I'm feeling much more myself as it's growing back in, and I have to say I'm very pleased with the mix of grey and what's left of my natural colour. And pleased doesn't begin to express how happy I am not to be scheduling -- and paying for! -- a colour application every five or six weeks. . . .


 So there we are -- Five Things Friday, and it's almost the weekend. Here in Vancouver, at least, we have sunshine at a very comfortable 23 degrees, and I'm about to get out in it.  You know what I'm going to say now: if you have a minute, I'd love to hear what you're up to, whether you have plans for the weekend, whether you've ever struggled with Google Map directions whether in your own or in a completely foreign language, whether you've been thinking about friendships, fighting hydrangea scale, growing your grey. . . . or just want to wave hello. Posts upcoming on most of those topics, but for now. Happy Friday to all of you!

22 comments:

  1. Your hair looks great... love the curls and it is so wonderful not to have the extra expense and time involved colouring at the salon...more time to go for coffee and peruse gardens with your friends!

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    1. It's true! Savings of time and of money.

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  2. Grey and curly works well for busy retired women! My hair was cut very short on one side and at the back in Oaxaca and it's amazing how quickly untreated hair grows. Friendships are truly important as we grow older and I feel privileged to know so many interesting women. We have a few "couple friends" but my friendships are very different from those of my mother and father who seldom saw friends separately. I don't have grubs but I found a nontoxic way to trap slugs. Cornmeal in a container buried in the ground...the slugs crawl in eat and just die there with very full tummies. I only have little slugs in the parking lot garden. I once drove with a friend in France. We had a Renault car and I had to keep translating the manual because my friend had not driven a standard for 20 years
    Happy weekend!

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    1. Turns out we don't have grubs either, and so far no slugs have managed to scale the walls ;-)
      I can imagine that trip in the Renault -- a challenge!

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  3. Waving hello here! I continually marvel at how we ever got around Europe in the days before GPS! Although, we did learn that it wasn't our friend in one particular district of Budapest - often we would be told to turn, but instead of a road there'd be a set of stairs going up the hill!

    I do like your hair slightly longer, and I would love to be transitioning to grey ... unfortunately, I only have a sprinkle so far, and they seem to meld with my highlights. We have plans to work in the garden this weekend, but it seems we'll have to try and do that in between thunderstorms. Church bbq on Sunday morning, but it looks like that might be a wash out - I'll still make my contribution of lemon loaf just in case.

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    1. There are moments, with GPS, when I'd be happier just trusting the road signs. We found a few instances where Google Maps was just clearly wrong, once asking us to turn left from a Paris Quai onto some Rue or other, when obviously there was only the Seine to our left . . .
      Did that thunderstorm wash all your weekend plans away?

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  4. Google map screenshots have been our friend for walking in Europe recently, downloaded using apartment wifi as we have data roaming switched off - scary phone bills otherwise!
    Inspired by you and a couple of other bloggers I let my colour grow out recently and I'm loving my grey curls, and no more three weekly regrowth touch ups. One of the many joys of growing older.

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    1. I have a pretty decent data plan for travel (in Canada, Rogers Roam from Home which gives me the same plan as I have here for a maximum of $100 more per month -- $10 per day), but I still try to download by Wifi before heading out.
      Isn't that non-colouring a nice change? And turns out I quite like my grey!

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  5. Yay for SUN. What a beautiful view you have. But OMG - those bug things on the hydrangea are creepy and horrifying. I've had a few bug infestations on my plants and I spend hours freaking out about it and wondering how I will ever recover, or go into the garden again, because of my bug phobia. My husband loves those moments as I'm sure you can imagine. :-)

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    1. Aren't they gross?! I'm not too bug-phobic and happily squish aphids into oblivion with my bare hands! But these things just creep me out -- might have been because I had no idea what they were, and now that I know, I'm skeptical about being able to eradicate them....

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  6. Frances, your hair is glorious! I envy you the low maintenance - no color and the curls just happen on their own, right? I had dark brown hair when younger, and now I have somewhat medium/dark brown hair with subtle highlights that has to be colored every 4 weeks because I have quite a bit of gray. I am still working and don't feel that I can let myself go gray until I retire (no plans at the moment).

    I sympathize with the exhaustion you wrote about a couple of posts ago. I was very, very tired for months, and I thought I might have a thyroid problem. I now think that it was the effects of a grueling divorce, two moves in less than a year, including one to a new city, a job that I love that involves long hours, my youngest child leaving for college, all at age 67. One of my sisters suggested B12 supplements. I started taking them and they made a tremendous difference. I feel much better a few months in.

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    1. Marie, I'm not at all surprised that you would be exhausted after what you've endured these past few years -- I'm glad to hear you're begin to feel energy returning, and I suspect you'll go from strength to strength now with all the energy you've released by moving away from the negative in your life.

      I felt the same way about waiting until I'd retired to go grey -- in retrospect I'm not sure I was right, but hindsight's cheap. . .

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  7. Oh, and I love hydrangeas! They were the only non-deer-resistant plant I had at the "marital home." I had 5 beautiful white flowering plants that I treated with deer-repellent every month. I am hoping to buy a small house here if this crazy sellers' market ever settles down, and I will have them again, and no deer problem here.

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    1. I love white hydrangeas -- had a fabulous H. quercifolia with white blooms at our old house -- decimated by deer one year, but at least it did come back -- of course, since they blossom on old wood, that meant a long wait to see blooms again. At least I won't have any deer on the terrace! ;-)

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  8. Your hair is even more beautiful IRL and I like it this way,longer-your photo on Instagram is amazing
    We have kind of a heat wave-temperatures over 35 °C,so I leave my hair to do what it wish and it ends in curls immediately after washing(not so beautiful as yours,I'm afraid-but sometimes it is a relief to surrender to the destiny :-))
    So happy that weather in V. has improved-your temperatures seem relaxing to me
    Sorry about your beautiful hydrangeas-can't help,but hope that you'll find the solution-maybe Madame's advice would help
    I have a pretty small family and my friendships are very precious to me-it is amazing when you find a friend unexpectedly
    Dottoressa

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    1. Isn't that a good photo? Paul is quite pleased with himself for that! (thanks for your kind words. I don't always love it myself....)
      I think you would love the temperature here at the moment for some respite -- sunny, but we don't seem to be able to get above 26 degrees (this past weekend) and now it's back at 20-22 again.

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  9. I never heard of Hydrangea Scale before, now I am quite scared. My story with hydrangeas is a long and conplicated one. My mother used to hate them, for her they were stuffy, stiff, petit bourgeois flowers sitting in brass pots on window sills under draped white curtains (with the stuffy, petite bourgeoise owner peeping out and comenting on the neighbourhood...) I fell in love with hydrangeas after visiting some gardens on the west coast of Britain (Portmeirion etc.), and when my sister and I took over the family lakeside garden I was allowed to plant some which have taken on enormous dimensions by now.
    When my little backyard was devastated by the landlord a couple of years ago, I was able to save a white hydrangea which had been growing there for more than 20 years. In fact, all I had was a bit of the root, but it started to shoot again and is now blossoming as beautifully as ever. I keep it in a container, though. because I am going to take it with me when I move.

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    1. I'd never heard of this before, and I doubt your hydrangeas will be bothered. I love your little personal history -- Eleonore's Life With Hydrangeas -- and I understand what your mother thought about hydrangeas. I have felt the same way in the past, but have been won over by more relaxed plantings, as have you. I'll bet yours at the lake are magnificent -- and that little white rescue plant will be someday as well. . .

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  10. There is something about a striated bug part, whether a case or a larvae, that gives me nightmares. Fortunately there is also real beauty in this post!

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    1. That's it, right? The striation, somehow, even though I quite like most caterpillars. . . .

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  11. We have had terminal bouts of scale on rosemary and lavender (treated unsuccessfully in the end with rubbing alcohol on a swab dabbed on the scale.....) but not hydrangea, knock on wood! Ours are all planted out in the ground, not pots, and suffer on their own in summer drought, but manage to put on a great show most years anyway. I love the very artificial looking bright blues, myself.

    AND I love your longer hair, the difficulty with me is knowing when to stop, mine is now in 18 inch braids and doesn't curl much as a result.

    ceci

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    1. Ugh, I'd hate to have the scale on my rosemary and lavender, although I suppose I could replace those more easily on the terrace than the big hydrangea. (and I prefer the blues as well -- the one we've inherited is a very artificial-looking bright pink. So bright!)
      I had a wonderful neighbour on our island -- she grew her wonderfully thick, all grey curly hair until it was about as long as your braid, and then she'd have it cut, donate it to the Cancer Society for making into wigs for chemo patients, and start over again. My own will get a trim in the next few weeks -- when it gets close to my shoulders, it starts to tangle itself into knots and the curls on top end up flattening out. . . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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