Thursday, August 30, 2012

Memories of Cactus Lake

We are back from a trip to Saskatchewan feeling energized and inspired. I have begun working on an artist book project based on my memories of my hometown, Cactus Lake. Here is a sample of some of the images and text I've been working with.

The Arrowheads of South Cactus Lake

Dad would know instinctively when the conditions were right for hunting arrowheads in the spring. It had to be dry and windy for a few days for the light sandy soil to reveal the implements. We'd head out to Fischer's field to our favourite hunting spot and search for pieces of flint, scrapers and arrowheads. One day I found an arrowhead made out of metal worked from a barrel hoop. I used to daydream about the people that lived on our land before us and felt a sense of loss and the tragedy that they had been driven from this place. I loved my collection of implements and kept it in a birch bark box decorated with porcupine quill roses.

One day I got tired of waiting for dad to take me out hunting. I hopped on my bike and used my own instincts to find a field that looked right. Sure enough, I did find a beautiful point that day all on my own. I left home soon after to go away to school and I've always missed those spring hunts with my dad walking together on wind blown fields in silent meditation. Some people are beach combers, searching for treasure washed up by the tide, but we were land combers, witnessing the slow erosion of the sandy soil of the Palliser triangle.

I feel these tools should be housed and taken care of in a location close to the site where they were found. They contain a profound sense of place, of Cactus Lake. They don't really belong to me, they belong to the land. I am almost ready to let them go.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bug Hotels on the Richmond Cultural Centre Rooftop Garden

 I spent a lovely morning working with talented artisans at the garden on the roof of the Richmond Cultural Centre. These imaginative students made beautiful bug hotels to take home and put in their gardens.

 They gave their hotels names and thought about which clientele they might host. We discussed the important roles bugs perform in our gardens.

 I taught them how to use the end of the paintbrush to scratch through the wet paint to reveal the dry paint underneath.

This hotel has a handy dandy elevator.

We added bamboo sticks for the insects who make nests in the hollow stems of plants. Finally we took a tour around the garden to see if we could find some bugs to tell about our hotels.

Terra Nova Garlic Festival

 I love a festival that's based around a crop, so it is no surprise that I really enjoyed the Garlic Festival at Terra Nova Farm. This bread, baked in a cob oven, rubbed with garlic and arugula pesto and sprinkled with rock salt was the best focaccia I have ever tasted.

We had a great time shopping for fresh vegetables and winter starts. Lots of people were enjoying the garlic ice cream. There was music, garden tours, and a touching memorial to Mary Gazetas who initiated the garden.

 A poster series described the steps on just how easy it is to grow your own garlic. You just need to set aside a piece of real estate for nine months.

 This is how the gardeners were protecting their grapes from the critters who like to eat them. Clever!

We entered the orchard and discovered Brian Campbell's Blessed Bees. Each hive was named with a different queen. The top bar hive below is named Queen Melissa. There were three food trucks at the garlic festival and activities for children as well, including weaving garlic crowns. Later the same day there was also a festival celebrating raptors the next day, so these are great options for families to spend time on the farm.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dawn Chorus by Marcus Coates

Friends from England have been raving about this installation piece by Marcus Coates. He recorded early morning bird song, then moved it down to human voice pitch and had 19 singers each mimic one song. Then he recorded the singers, sped the video up and projected them on the walls of a space so that they mimicked the actual dawn chorus. Apparently it is quite humorous, yet moving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blueberry Lavender Panna Cotta

My son has been watching and re-watching episodes of Good Eats with Alton Brown. When I saw the celebrity chef make panna cotta I thought, "Hey, I can do that!" You can do it too and once you've tried it there will be no looking back. The possibilities of infusing the milk and cream with spices and/or herbs is so exciting.

These days I have a bowl of fresh blueberries on the table every day and I have flowers drying on screens all over the house. I love the combination of blueberries and lavender, so I made a vanilla panna cotta and garnished it with blueberries, fresh lavender and cornflower petals.

This week Robyn from Mobius Coffee and Tea made an exceptional lavender cheesecake. Her secret? Blueberries. What flavor of panna cotta are you making this week?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Salad Rolls

Thanks to all the kind folks who came out and supported our Artsy Fartsy Yard Sale and especially to Leanne and Ruby Dog for hosting.

 I woke up early yesterday and today and baked about 8 dozen cookies and sold nearly every one. I put the remaining few in the freezer for an impromptu tea party at a later date. The chocolate truffle cookies were the best seller.

I had a nice shady spot in front of the lovely heritage apartment building.

Friends stopped by and shopped and caught up on the news.

 It's so nice to see people in Vancouver wearing their cool summer togs rather than polar fleece.

And Ruby Dog watched over us with her benevolent air.

Meanwhile, back at home, Benevolent Boyfriend made some awesome salad rolls with my edible flowers. He cooked up vermicelli noodles with a bit of pork sausage, steamed some tofu and rolled in the flowers and some Vietnamese coriander.

 If you leave the most vibrant flowers to the end they peek through.

Roll them up, seal them and Bob's your uncle.

 Peter made a peanut dipping sauce to go with them and this is what we ate for dinner. A perfect meal for a hot day, especially with a beer I like (which is shocking, because I am not a beer person). It's called "What the Huck?" and brewed in Ferny BC with Huckleberries. Brilliant!