Friday, December 30, 2011

Boxing Week in Victoria

Let's face it, Boxing Day has turned into a week-long holiday phenomenon. I had never ventured out of the house on the day after Christmas, but this year I spent part of Boxing Week visiting a dear friend in Victoria.

I stocked up on my favorite natural body products at Nezza Naturals. Those folks do amazing things with aromatherapy and natural ingredients such as beeswax.

I was shocked to learn that a local call in a public booth now costs fifty cents! Jeepers. Luckily I was able to use this charming phone booth at Nootka court to let my friends know I had arrived. The sad news was that my favorite restaurant Daidoco was closed over the holidays. In fact many small businesses were shut up tight as a drum.

Even though the weather was gloomy and mild, I was cheered by the blooms and berries on these Oregon grape bushes.

My friend was on a mission to consume maccha (I'm more used to spelling it "matcha"), so we headed to a new shop called "Spiced Water" which boasts excellent tea and coffee. I had a maccha chai. It comes slightly sweetened with cinnamon and black pepper. Delicious! I wanted cardamon too.

These guys are lovely and they know their stuff. It's interesting to meet folks who are dedicated to both coffee and tea.

Spiced Water is across from the Sticky Wicket in a stand-alone shack with a few stools. It is the "yang" to its sister tea shop in Nootka Court called "Jagasilk" which is more "yin" in its location and focus on pottery and tea. Jagasilk is tucked in right next to Daidoco Deli.

Local seasonal eating is easy in a city that takes pride in its produce. I had awesome chocolate porter stout ribs on mashed potatoes with cheese curds and brussel sprouts at the Superior, seafood chowder with a very good smoked tuna salad at Spinnakers, and home made vanilla doughnuts (they're organic!) at Spiced Water.

Discerning penguins agree, Victoria is a good place to spend Boxing Week. What are your Boxing Week traditions?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Remembering Daphne

The main image of our celebration was an homage to Daphne's goldfish pond. We baked spicy fish cookies on pans that I bought from Daphne's garage sale. We set up cups and hot water for tea on a cold November evening.

Jean commissioned a pond so the lanterns would reflect the water.

Mike helped us to hang the lanterns and Noah helped light the candles.

Catherine made this lovely black and gold fish. Each lantern had a unique personality.

We saved petals from Daphne's garden for participants to create a "teapot mandala"

We featured photos of Daphne generously provided by her family.

We asked friends and neighbors to take the time place a stone in the water and remember.

As night fell we gathered to light candles and I sang 'Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world.' People gathered around the tea pots and visited.

Thanks to everyone who helped create and support Daphne's memorial celebration. This project was supported by the Neighborhood Small Grants program.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lanterns for Daphne

Remember way back this summer when I showed you photos of a heritage garden in our neighborhood? Well, sadly this year we lost the gardener and her garden. Daphne Holmes was a lovely British war bride who met a Canadian soldier in WWII and fell in love. She moved to Canada, had a family and worked as a nurse. When she retired she volunteered at our local clinic, weighing the babies, including our Ules. She was a passionate gardener and I remember she told me that the gift she loved most was a bit of money to go buy herself a hanging basket of flowers. She was very active up until the very end and she surprised me one day went I met her walking all the way to Oakridge Mall from her home.

She was sad to leave her home, but when I saw her for the last time she gave the nursing home glowing reviews and told me never to be afraid to go into a home. Her blue eyes sparkled as she told me how many committees and activities she was a part of in her residence.

When someone bought her house, the members of our community really wanted to be able to save and nurture her plants as part of the process of mourning and remembering Daphne. We really should have set a formal meeting with the owner to say how much the plants meant to us. Turns out he has a friend with a big garden and he took most of the plants. However, in the end some neighbors got to come and help themselves to the leftovers before the yard was destroyed.

Our creativity circle (now unofficially known as The Three Crones) decided to have a neighborhood celebration of Daphne's life near All Soul's Day. Daphne's garden contained a goldfish pond, so we made gold fish lanterns to create an illuminated installation for the event. Catherine Shapiro has been making lanterns for many years, so she taught Jean Kindratksy and I how to make the fish. Jean had some experience making lanterns, but this was my first attempt. I made the runty fish below!

Stay tuned for part II.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Remembrance

My son's great grandfather Hubert "Bertie" Burleigh Douse fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was wounded in battle and lost three brothers on the Western Front. On the way home from France by ship he missed the Halifax explosion by one day. He went on to live a full life and retired with his family in Vancouver.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I am Canadian

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tonight's Community Dialogue: Women and War

Women and War - A Community Dialogue Session presented by The Firehall Arts Centre

October 24, 7pm
at the Peter Kaye Room, Central Library
350 W. Georgia Street

In the final dialogue session of our series, we will discuss the many roles and contributions of women during war times.

Joining the discussion is Siobhan Annand, Critical Care Nursing Officer in the Canadian Forces. Officer Annand has twice been deployed to Afghanistan and has also been posted in Haiti. She will discuss her experiences as a nurse and officer in today's Canadian Forces.

Featuring a presentation by Sheila Zerr and Nan Nartin, members of the BC Nursing History Society, about the role of the Nursing Sisters during WWI. Zerr and Martin will speak on the history of nursing sisters within the war and the chronology of nurses' roles from original inception into the battle ground abroad.

Both will be dressed in WWI Red Cross Nursing uniforms, one of which was worn at a European
uniforms, one of which was worn at a European Front Hospital.

Hops, Quince and Cranberries

This month I worked with some Langara students at the Moberly Community Herb Garden making herbal wreaths. I pulled down our hops vines to use to make the wreaths and harvested the buds. The hops filled the room we were working in with that pungeant garlic-like smell that is supposed to make you feel drowsy. I've given the hops to a friend who makes beer and he's popped them in the freezer.

I bought these cranberries from a farmer at the Kits market and made a salsa with garlic, honey, and tomatilloes--good with roast chicken.

I also bought tiny crab apples which I made into juice and added some sour cherry juice from fruit I had in the freezer from earlier in the year. I thought I'd have to add honey, but you know I loved it without any sweetener. There was enough residual sugar in the fruit to make it taste tart and refreshing. We've also been making pumpkin pies, which is one of my all time favorite fall foods.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Art at War: A Community Dialogue

I am speaking about the show of photographs of Vancouver in war time I'm curating for the Firehall Arts Centre on October 17. Please join us and take part in the discussion.

Art at War - Community Dialogue Session

October 17, 2011

This dialogue will look into the practice of documenting war through art and how it has evolved over the years.

Seeing as how we will be discussing art, rather than having this session be a straight dialogue, we have prepared readings of literature and poems written about and during war times that can then be discussed as well featuring images created about combat.

DATES: October 17, 7pm
at the Audain Gallery, SFU Woodward's
149 W. Hastings Street

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When Spiders Grow Bold

You must notice it too. That time of the year that marks the transition between summer and fall. The spiders build their ostentatious webs in very conspicuous and often inconvenient places. What's that all about? The hops flowers are lengthening. It might rain tomorrow and we sure need it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natural Dye Workshop at the MOP

Last week Penny Coupland and Emily Smith gave a wonderful workshop on natural dyeing at the MOP Garden. Participants brought jars and animal fibers to practice some eco-alchemy. Penny and Emily showed us beautiful samples of naturally dyed wool and cotton. Many of the women at the workshop were into fleece: the wild, woolly women of Vancouver!

Those really bright pieces of raw wool are actually dyed with Kool-aid.

As Penny gave us a tour of the dye plants in the garden a fritillary landed on Sharon's hat. Penny has been experimenting with Natural Dyes for about a year and she highly recommends the book Wild Color by Jenny Dean.

One of the cool things Penny Does is buy grapes that are on sale at the grocery store because they are overripe. These are perfect to use for dyeing. She also says you can have your fruit and dye with it too: use blackberry juice to dye and dry the pulp to make fruit leather. Clever!

Some dye stuffs such as golden rod (which is blooming right now) can be frozen or "canned" as a dye stuff if you don't have time to use it while it's fresh. Preserving the flowers this way will give a brighter color than the dried blossoms.

We all headed into the garden and chose plants for our jars. Then the participants poured water from the kettle into the jars. Some plants will lose color if you get them too hot, whereas others need to be made into a decoction and boiled.

Sharon got good results with these bright pink geranium petals.

Some people tried using Rudbeckia and others the blossoms of the tall coneflowers.

As a general rule of thumb you need about the same weight of plant stuffs as your fibers. We added a small pinch of alum as a co-mordant.

Todd got some good yellow color with the roots of Oregon grape.

Some people made "cocktails" of mixed plants.

Penny also noted that the internet is a great source for info on eco-dyes but you can often find conflicting results due to many wild cards such as ph readings and different varieties of plants.

Penny says you can get a pink color from rose hips and rose petals. Tansy will give a neon yellow color when the pollen is fresh and a duller browner yellow when the flower is older or dried. Emily reminded us to keep all dye containers separate from food containers because many dye stuffs are toxic. Some should be handed with gloves because they contain skin irritants as well.

This should be a really good weekend for solar dyeing because the forecast is for some really hot days. I have a jar of blackberry, a couple of fennel, and one of coreopsis and goldenrod on the go.
Thanks to Penny and Emily for a great workshop! Good luck to everyone with their experiments in eco-alchemy!