STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Short Break...

I'll be taking a short blogging break. I'm on my way to New York City - on a bus .. full of women. Yup... 54 women on a bus. Crazy! There'll be lots of laughter, maybe a little singing.. and lots of shopping happenin'... This is the annual Ladies Choir trip - although there aren't too many Choir members going this year- but we managed to fill the bus with friends. So I'll be absent from here for a few days. Not sure how many pics I'm going to take on this trip as the forecast is for rain - every day! Ugh... Maybe that won't happen.. let's hope. Anyway, I'll be back soon...


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday

Last week when I had several visits to "my" lupin patch, I also found these beautiful wild roses. Aren't they gorgeous? I wish you could smell them.. the scent was heavenly...  Naturally I took some photos of them as well, for this week (always trying to  think ahead!!) My time is very limited today so I'm not going to gab...  I know you just want to enjoy these few photos. Do you have any wild roses blooming where you live?


"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." ~ Ben Hogan

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In the Blink of An Eye...

The saying is true: "Things can change in the blink of an eye".  After a "Severe Thunderstorm Watch" all day long, tonight at suppertime we had a storm roll through and what a vicious little storm it was. A downpour of rain and high winds, just for a few minutes, and that loud rolling thunder... It passed and we continued eating supper. Then the phone rang and it was my sister-in-law (who lives next door) asking me had I looked out at my front lawn? When I went out the front door, this is what I saw. We had lost

half of one of our big maples on the front (side) lawn. It appears it was struck by lightning, although it looks like there may have been an area of rot as well which would have weakened the area right around the "break". Anyway half the tree is now lying on our lawn. We are lucky though - had it been just a few feet taller it would have hit the roof - or my studio!!! As it is, it is just touching the corner of my hosta bed. Of course this would happen when hubby is away.... Hopefully we can get a good deal of it cleaned up
tomorrow before he gets back. Who knows if we'll lose the whole tree.. with such an area of the inner wood "exposed" in such a "bare wound"... I would think it will be more susceptible now to rot...?
There was lots of other damage around the city too- thousands lost power, lots of other trees down, several transformers on our street blew and there was also a power pole on fire up the street...
Yep, things can change in the blink of an eye....  Ya just never know what will happen next around here...


"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do". ~ Willa Cather

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Another Book Finish

What have you been reading lately ? I picked up Diligent River Daughter at my local library a few weeks ago, because I am familiar with the author. I feel like I know him although we have never met. Bruce Graham was the
"face" of the evening television news here in the Maritimes for a number of years. He is now retired from broadcasting and lives and writes in Parrsboro N.S. Diligent River, a very small community not far from Parrsboro is the setting of this novel. Set in the early 1900's, it's the story of a young girl who has lost her mother and is struggling to cope with her bereaved father and life's challenges as World War I approaches.
The book jacket summarizes it better than I could:
"In 1914 when Canada is swept into the Great War, Charlene Durant is already a veteran of loneliness and much private heartbreak, yet her indomitable spirit and belief in her own intelligence keep her from sinking into despair.
There is nothing normal about her life. A mother's death is not unusual in the time of widespread epidemics and neither is the quarantine imposed on the shattered remnants of her family. But becoming her father's assistant as a young girl and travelling the dusty roads of Nova Scotia as he sells tombstones to the recently bereaved is an unorthodox education. After almost going mad with grief at his wife's death, her father has become an aging Lothario, unpredictable and miserable when the army repeatedly refuses to enlist him. But finally, by 1916 with thousands dead on the battlefields, he becomes a soldier and goes to Europe to fight.
Hurt and angry over her father's decision to desert her, Charlene takes her unstable Aunt Matilda and leaves for Boston where she lies about her age to get a join a newspaper. She falls in love with a youthful crime reporter and befriends an old Irish sea dog who takes her into the midst of a kidnapping and murder.
Charlene brushes against the great events of her time, the Titanic sinking, the Halifax Explosion, the suffragette movement and the struggle of a young woman to be accepted into the man's world of newspaper work. Overshadowing all is the war that changes the world and everyone in it. Diligent River Daughter is the story of how a brave and strong-willed young woman from the Parrsboro Shore fights for her independence and identity in a most troubled time."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in part because it was a bit different from what I've been reading lately. Graham creates characters that are "real" and it is easy to empathize with Charlene's struggles and emotions. I was drawn in right from the first paragraph: "The whispers and rumours about the plague started again right after my mother's death. Five days after the funeral they quarantined our house and I couldn't go back to school." Wouldn't that make you want to keep reading?
We are getting more rain... and more rain.. I have perennials that don't normally bloom until August, already budded. I managed to finally get everything into the ground this weekend- things I had started from seed, and the last of the bedding plants. It feels good to have all the pots out of the way, but I'm wondering  how well they will do.. we really need some sunshine!!! My vegetable garden is struggling - some things are doing well (lettuce, spinach, carrots, peas and beets) but my cukes and tomatoes are not growing AT ALL, and the beans are a total write-off... Sigh.. Between chewing insects, raccoons, a greedy little groundhog and all the rain and lack of sun... who said growing veggies is easy?
I hope things are well in your world, and you have a good book on the go to get you through these rainy days... And if it is sunny where you are, please send it this way!!


“But, how do you know if an ending is truly good for the characters unless you've traveled with them through every page?”  ~ Shannon Hale

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Lupins...

Okay, I admit it! I'm a Lupin-lover. I just have to share a few more of my 2013 Lupin photos with you... When I commented on my friend Pam's blog after she posted some lupin photos earlier this week, I told her I'd be visiting my "favourite patch" for photos this week and she said "Oh take lots of closeups". So Pam - these are for you...

First of all, some lupin "babies"...

This shot at the right shows you what the leaves of the lupin look like - these are known as palmate compound leaves. "Palmate" refers to 3 or more divisions or lobes, looking like the outstretched fingers of a hand.

I love the way the color fades as you go up the cluster on the bloom to the left... God's paintbrush is amazing, isn't it?

I think these immature blooms are just as interesting as those which are fully open, don't you?

There were many bees and insects buzzing about this lupin patch.


Although this little buzzy bee at left is not in perfect focus, this photo makes me smile. I think I would have to title it "Incoming"....

Busy busy buzzy bees...

Such perfection.. every little flower in the upright cluster so perfectly perfectly colored.... amazing!!
Lorinda commented on my last post about the vivid color - just want you to know, I do NOT alter or enhance my photos. This is just what I saw and the photos are just as I took them, other than a few are cropped a bit...

 Just as I was ready to leave, having taken a good number of photos, the sun came out..... Well, who could resist some back-lit shots?  So to finish off, here are three of my favourite backlit photos... the sun just seemed to make the blossoms glow...

I hope you've enjoyed our foray into the Lupin patch...
Do lupins grow where you live?
What are your favourite wildflowers of early summer?


The Flowers

All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's Garters, Shepherd's Purse,
Bachelor's Buttons, Lady's Smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames-
These must all be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny treetops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people's trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall
I should live for good and all.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday... on Thursday!

Can you believe it? I forgot Wildflower Wednesday! Well, no that's not quite true. I just sort of  "lost" a day. Hubby was away for a few days.. I was busy.. and I forgot yesterday was Wednesday!! They say that happens when you are on vacation or retired.. you lose track of the days... I guess that's what happened. Now that the normal schedule with meetings, weekly Choir practice, etc. is done for the summer and the calendar doesn't have much written on it, I sometimes lose track of the days.. Anyway, enough excuses.
Since I have very recently spent a good deal of time in the lupin patch, I'm going ahead with Wildflower Wednesday anyway, and you guessed it- the feature flower is lupins. You know I LOVE lupins, I have written about them more than once - here, here and here if you care to go back and look at previous posts and photos..  Since I'm so late with this post, I won't bore you with much more yakkety yakk... I'll just show you a few of my favourite lupin photos for this year. (Would you believe I took 213 shots within about 45 minutes?! Don't worry I won't bore you with them all.)

Lupins come in a  variety of colors - blue



yellow and peach

and deep red. Although this one looks quite "pinky", it is actually a deep rosy red. Striking!

Some are pale and soft in color, most are deep and vibrant.

Some are just one color while others are bi-color.

 Regardless of their color, all are beautiful (just like people!) I have a favourite "patch" that I visit every year, not far from where I live. This time while there,  I was serenaded by a beautiful sparrow- I don't really "know" my sparrows but I figure this one had to be a Song Sparrow as his song was so sweet. His series of musical notes was charming, but he wouldn't let me get too close for a photo..  guess he was shy!

I am linking to Mosiac Monday at Little Red House. Drop by there for a look at more wonderful mosaics.


"Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!"
~ William Wordsworth

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Notecard Party at Vee's

I'm trying something new! This is my first time joining Vee's monthly Notecard party. The "rules" are very simple- all you have to do is post 4 photos (which have appeared previously on your blog) that you feel would make good notecards. I have no shortage of photos so figured it was time I joined in on the fun.
I do frequently use some of my photos on actual cards as notecards, sympathy cards, birthday cards, etc. In fact I have toyed with the idea of making up a number of them and starting a little Etsy shop.. just haven't found the time to actually do it! Maybe someday...
Anyway, here are my four choices for this month's notecard party. I hope you'll pop over to see Vee at her Blog - A Haven for Vee - and check out all the other participants. You'll see some lovely photos...And while you're at it, why not join in the fun? My choices below have all been taken  and posted within the last month.



"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." ~ Lord Byron

Monday, June 17, 2013

A little stitchin'...

It's been way too long since I've spent some time at the sewing machine. At this time of year, I seem to be concentrating on gardening and by evening I am too tired to sew. Between getting things planted flower-wise, and combatting the bugs, raccoon and a greedy fat little groundhog in my vegetable garden, I haven't enjoyed much "studio time". But last night I spent a few hours and got 120 half-square triangles done for the Jamestown Landing quilt I started in the Bonnie Hunter class a while back. That sounds like a lot, but considering I need 840 (!!) it's just the beginning. I had the strips already cut and pinned so just had to sew, cut apart and press.  You've heard me say before how I love the product Thangles (paper foundation strips for construction of HST's). Well I'm saying it again!! As long as you cut your strips accurately and pin carefully, keeping edges even, they are perfect.. and foolproof.. the finished HST's don't need to be trimmed or squared up. Well worth the investment I think... So, just wanted to let you know, even though my machine hasn't been used a lot lately, it's not for sale yet!!
Now where was I... 840 minus 120... Only 720 left to go!!!


Slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!  I doubt there are many Dads who read my blog, but you just never know, right? Gotta keep all my bases covered...  My Dad has been gone almost 20 years now, but I still miss him daily.  Do we ever get over the loss of our parents? I'd sure love to be able to give him a big ole hug today...
My hubby is out puttering at odd jobs (like always).. He's not one to rest and relax, always has to be busy at something. I have a nice Pork Tenderloin marinating, to be barbequed for supper. I haven't been baking much lately, as I'm trying to take off a few pounds. (I think hubby is feeling deprived, poor thing). I've cut way back on sweets, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, and eating more salads, fruit, veggies, yoghurt, etc. But I did have to make a special treat for dessert for Father's Day so thought you might like the recipe too. Hubby loves Brownies and these are a new to me recipe, from a Guild friend. They are quick and easy to do, and don't need any frosting, although I did a simple alternative (as frosting is always "expected" in this house!!) I know my Dad would have loved these too..

Cheesecake Brownies

1  8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup w. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Beat these 4 ingds. together until
smooth, set aside.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup w. sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Melt butter or margarine, add sugar, cocoa, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Sift dry ingds. together, add and mix well.  Grease a 9" square pan well. Spread half of chocolate batter in pan, pour cream cheese mixture over, top with remaining chocolate batter.**  Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes, being careful not to overcook. (Test with a toothpick)
**Note: the chocolate batter is quite thick and the cream cheese mixture is more runny. It is difficult to "spread" the thick batter on top of the runny mixture- just do the best you can to spread it out. It will sort of resemble marble cake.
These brownies are sooo good. They do not require frosting. However, in my house (yes we are all admitted Chocoholics!) frosting is "expected". So I just threw on some chocolate chips when the pan came out of the oven. That was my addition- it's not mentioned in the recipe above.


"Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever."  ~Author Unknown

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Seeing Pink...

All the rain we've been having has really made things grow  quickly and now the blooms are coming on fast and furious.. The "color of the day" right now seems to be pink. with purple close behind... Here are a few of the pink blooms I'm enjoying right now in my gardens.

You've already seen my "common" Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) a few posts back, but I also have "Old Fashioned" Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa) in my front shade garden, nestled in with all the hostas and ferns. It has a delicate looking little flower and since it is the first thing to bloom in the sheltered corner where it resides, I  look forward to seeing it's "pinkness"  each year. Have you ever heard common Bleeding Hearts called "naked-lady-in-a-bath"? If you take an individual pink heart, turn it upside down and pull apart the two pink "wings" - there you'll see the little white lady in her bath. Hmmm, almost seems voyeuristic, doesn't it?  Okay, let's not go there...

Next on my pink "blooming right now" list is this lovely little Coral Bells. I've had this plant for quite a few years and long ago forgot it's correct name. I call it a Heuchera, when I think it might actually be a Heucherella (a hybrid from crossing Heuchera with Tiarella, aka foamflower). Regardless of its proper name, I love it! It's one of my favourite spring bloomers - I wish it bloomed for a longer period!  Heuchera are valued for their lovely foliage with veining often of another color - the leaves vary in color from greens, to gold, bronze, amber-peach and even burgundies, purples and blacks. My other Heuchera is called "Plum Pudding" and has burgundy leaves and white blooms which appear a little later in the summer. The flowers are tiny and bell-shaped, on a wiry stem.

My lovely Rhododendron is just coming into bloom. This is the first cluster to open. It's actually part way between a pink and a mauve, but let's call it pink, shall we? The bees love it, as do the hummers. It is planted in front of our house (north-facing), almost directly in front of our front door. When we planted it there, 22 years ago (how can it be that long!!!) a neighbour who had a number of Rhodos in her sheltered backyard told us we were making a huge mistake- that it would never survive there... Well Ellen, it's thriving!! We took a chance and we've been lucky. It's still doing well. We wrap it every fall to give it some protection from the winds and snow. So far, so good! After 22 years, I think we're safe! We're not moving it now...

Lastly is the Weigela (pronounced wha-jeel-ya). Native to Asia, these are hardy shrubs which require minimal care, and produce abundant tubular shaped blooms which attract hummingbirds. My paternal grandmother died when I was just about 4 years old, but I can still remember the beautiful deep red Weigela that grew by her back door.

So, we're "in the pink" around here...  What's blooming at your hacienda these days?


In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.  ~Abram L. Urban

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another One for your Reading List

Are you ready for another book review? Incidents in the Life of  Slave Girl Written by Herself  by Harriet A. Jacobs (1831-1897) is one of the few accounts of slavery in the southern U.S. written by a woman. Published in 1861, there were questions concerning the authenticity of the narrative as well as the authorship for over a hundred years. Jacobs does not use her real name in the book, rather referring to herself as "Linda Brent". She also gave pseudonyms to the other characters to protect their privacy, but assures us in the Preface that the account is "no fiction". The book had its origins in a series of letters written by Jacobs and the discovery of the actual letters in the 1980's finally put the doubts to rest.
Jacobs was born a slave in rural North Carolina, but was not actually treated as such until she was 11. She was taught to read and write as a young child, something which was very rare for a slave. She wrote extremely well, and I must admit, there were times when I questioned whether she had actually written the book, as her language is very advanced. She paints a very real picture of the life led by  slaves of the times- the cruelty, beatings, floggings, starvation and overwork, not to mention the splitting of families and selling of slave children. Of course as well as the physical and mental abuse by the Masters, there was also a good deal of sexual oppression - from humiliating advances by the Master to actual rape for many female slaves, and the cruel treatment by the Masters' jealous wives. In addition to these many indignities suffered by both male and female slaves, Jacobs felt the dehumanization of the blacks was in large part due to the psychological trauma of being "owned" by another human being.
Her desire to escape the brutality of slavery and her determination to protect her children from leading a similar life led her to risk her life for freedom- she spent SEVEN YEARS hiding in the cramped attic of her grandmother's house - in a space only several feet high and devoid of much air or light. A good portion of the book is devoted to this time span when she was living in fear of discovery and in anguish at not being able to communicate with her two children for fear of their giving her location away. Her eventual escape and travel northward was almost as incredible as what she endured as a slave, and even when in New York and Boston she still dealt with prejudice and the fear of capture. This autobiography is a riveting and deeply moving account of her harrowing personal experience during the brutal era of slavery. This would be an excellent read for a Book Club, and also as extra reading for History classes. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially if you have an interest in history. Let's remember this terrible time period and the horrendous treatment of the slaves, and share the story so history does not repeat itself...


“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”  ~ Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Water, water, everywhere...

It's another rainy, cool, windy, dull, dreary, soggy day here. Can you tell I'm not impressed? Enough already! We've had ENOUGH rain for a while. Quite a while! Day after day of rain... yuch. The ground is saturated. Yes things are growing, and all is green and lush. But some sunshine sure would be nice. We did have some sun on Monday and I spent all afternoon working outside, spreading compost as a top-dressing on all the beds, and moving a few perennials. I guess I could look at the rain as a positive, that it is
"washing in" all those good nutrients from the compost. Everything in my vegetable garden is up and growing, but the seeds I have started in pots and planters are awful slow- they really need some warmth and sunshine...  I do too!!

Today I'm sharing some photos I've taken over the last few days, a few in sunshine, most in or after the rain. I mentioned before how I love seeing the water droplets perching on the leaves of the Lady's Mantle and the hosta... It has taken me some time, as with most gardeners I think, to "appreciate foliage" as much as blossoms and color. When I first started buying/acquiring plants, my sole concern was the
blooms and their color. Now I also pay attention to the foliage- the shapes of the leaves and their color. I love the leaves on the Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla)- they remind me of fancy pie crust with their fluted edges!! Did you know that Alchemilla comes from the word alchemy because when used as an herb, these plants are believed to bring about miraculous cures. In Arab countries for example, a tea made from the leaves is reputed to restore youth and beauty. Hmmm, maybe I should make a pot of Alchemilla tea.... No, I think I'll just enjoy it in the garden. Especially when covered in water

Of course, when it comes to appreciating green, and leaves, you can't beat the hostas. I have a number of them, across the front (north) and
west end of the house. Some have been there for 20 years now, I think, so they have grown quite 
large (even though I have chopped off pieces through the years). I get many comments from neighbours or just folks strolling by, about how big they are and WHAT do I feed them??? Well the answer is surprising to some. I don't really "feed " them at all, they get no fertilizer or special treatment. I just started them in really good rich soil, and I add a few shovelfulls of compost around them (not even every year) in the spring. Other than that - no secrets - I think they just really like their location (mostly shade). And I guess they like me! hahaha (sorry- couldn't resist!) Can't you see the love in this heart-shaped leaf?
After another week or two, when they reach their full size for this season, I'll take some photos of the whole hosta bed. My newest one, which I purchased at least 5 years ago as a very small plant, is really "coming into its own" this year I think. It is called Tyrranosaurus Rex, and I think this year the leaves ARE going to be HUGE.. We'll see...
Well, that's likely enough water droplets and green for today. The forecast is saying we have some sunshine coming for the next few days.. I sure hope it's correct...


"Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella." ~ Terri Guillemets

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