Wednesday, September 26, 2012


  Semiahmoo Sky Garden (Semiahmoo Library green wall)

We were driving down 152nd Street in South Surrey on Sunday, had stopped at a light and I happened to look over and see this amazing wall! Fortunately my camera was within reach! A little searching online helped me find out that I was looking at the Semiahmoo Sky Garden, a vertical garden that covers one wall of the Semiahmoo Library .


A few facts about the wall from the Semiahmoo Library green wall information page.

1. It's the largest outdoor green wall of its kind in North America.

2. Designed by Vancouver-based Green over Grey—Living Walls and Design.

3. Is nearly 3000 square feet in size.

4. Consists of 10,000 plants and 120 different species.

5. Wall was completed in October 2010 ("...features many bushes and trees so each year it becomes more and more 3D!")

Thursday Challenge

Next week: CULTURE (Food, Dance, Clothing, Festivals,...)

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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island adventure 9 - shop till you drop

Have you noticed I haven't done much shopping on this holiday? I'm actually not terribly fond of shopping. But you can't visit Ganges and entirely skip the shopping—it just wouldn't be a total Salt Spring Island experience.

I tackle the market Saturday morning very intentionally. I have gifts to buy, and money burning a hole in my pocket.

One of the first things I find are Kool Bandanas. These are rectangles of cloth filled with water-absorbent crystals to be used as bandanas or headbands. Water plumps them up and makes them a coolant when worn  around the forehead or neck. I think of all kinds of folks who could use these and pick up several.

At another stall I buy soap (with wonderful names like Vesuvius Bay, Salt Spring Fling, and Weston Lake Wheat Germ 'n Honey). The proprietors are all so friendly and talkative. The soap lady ( shows off her iphone gadget, which is a credit card reader that lets me use my card instead of cash. (I still haven't given the soaps away; they smell so fabulous, I'm tempted to keep them!)

At another kiosk, I buy artisan vinegar (Apple-rhubarb and Blackberry) in tall, elegant bottles.

 I ask, at the Artisan bread stall, if they have any of the fruit ginger bread we bought at their shop a few days ago. They say they're all sold out of that. So we buy a hearty raisin bread instead. A minute after leaving their kiosk, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It's the lady from the bread place. "We found another loaf," she tells me, handing me a loaf of fruit ginger.  I start fumbling for my wallet, but she waves that off. "Take it," she says, "You can have it." (And I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for Salt Spring Island Bread Co.!)

By now my backpack is bulging. But I can't bypass the soft little dolly without any buttons or chokables for my baby Mimi that I find at yet another table.  So I squeeze that into my pack as a last purchase (and discover later, that the doll-maker is the mother-in-law of the lady who has been in charge of our motel's cleaning crew all week).


On our last full day on Salt Spring, I tell hubby that I want to explore the Ganges shops. (He is quite happy to stay in the room and do whatever). What a fun afternoon that turns out to be!

I poke around in this shop and that, and find all kinds of goodies. How about these bins and bins of colourful felt booties.

At a toy store called West Moon, they have every kind of toy known to kids and I have a hard time deciding what would be just right for my grandboys. But I do eventually decide on something that will help us in our spider watching.

In the second-hand store I find musical instruments for my sister, chickens for my sister-in-law, and racks and racks of pop-up cards for myself (but only taken home in my camera *sigh*).

There are wonderful galleries too. My favourites are Steffich Fine Art and Gallery 8, where I view all manner of incredible (and pricey) photographs and paintings. I don't take pictures of these because they are under copyright, but I do note the names of the artists' work I see, so I can look them up online later. Some of the names in my notebook from these galleries are:

Steven Friedman (photographer)
Carol Haigh
Bly Kaye
Heather Kocsis
Jade Boyd
Jerry Davidson
Gail Sibley
Pieter Molenaar
Dennice StambuckDavid Goatley
Kathryn Amisson
Florence Roberge,
Curtis Golomb
and Carol Evans

I fall in love with Carol Evans' West Coast watercolors! The scenes are exactly what we've been feasting our eyes on for the last week. And so when I find, in a corner of Gallery 8, a softcover book of her paintings, I know I have to own it. The Shores We Call Home now sits in a place of honour on our coffee table, a beautiful keepsake of this fairy tale holiday.

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

retirement: scripted or impromptu?

Are you retired? Thinking of retirement? Planning for retirement?

An article titled "New Retirees: Avoid These Mistakes" lists seven things to watch out for in retirement. Four of the seven relate to money (not quitting before retirement is vested, having adequate health insurance, that sort of thing). The three remaining mistakes are:
  • Moving to a place where you don't know anyone.
  • Thinking your health will hold out forever.
  • Spending too much time on travel and new hobbies.
The article got me thinking about how a person or couple might find themselves making those mistakes, and about retirement generally.

Personally one of the best things I did to prepare for this time of life was to get a little training and begin working as a freelance writer in my 50s. Ten years later I don't feel retired at all and am rarely bored or at loose ends with nothing to do (hubby is always bugging me to be more retired and less busy and scheduled). A friend of mine who has just retired from the federal civil service has spent evenings and weekends the last few years getting trained as an interior designer and decorator so she can start a whole new career in her retirement.

Of course if we are leaving satisfying work and a community of colleagues, retirement can feel very disorienting. As Dale Hanson Bourke describes it:

"My identity is no longer tied to a title or an organization .... If I cared to, I could certainly spin a good story when people ask what I'm doing nowadays; but most times, I don't bother. 'I'm doing a bit of this and that,' I reply. I've abandoned the ten-second power speech I once had ready to impress anyone who asked" - Dale Hanson Bourke, Embracing Your Second Calling, p. 104.

A friend of hers who is at the same life stage said:

"I'm no longer known as the president of my firm; I no longer have people being nice to me because of my position on the Board of Trade. My children are adults, and I am now challenged to find my new identity. It's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time" - Bourke, Op. Cit, p. 104.
What are your thoughts about retirement? Do you dread it? Look forward to it? Are you preparing for it in any way?

If you are retired, did you prepare for it or just let it unfold? How is it working out?
Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

a break from travels to make some jam

My friend beside a giant plant (Gunnera) in her yard
On Thursday night, we stopped in at the house of my friend Satwant to pick up fruit she had offered us. We left with a box of golden-green apple pears and two small boxes of yellow damson plums.

Yesterday I began tackling the plums—soft, very sour and each with a pit that needed removing.

After washing, picking them over, and cutting out any dark soft spots, I decided to soften them in the slow cooker before pitting. A few hours on high brought them to the mash stage, but steaming hot. So I set them aside to cool till later in the evening when I began the onerous job of removing every pit.

top left: jam colander || top right: pits and pulp
bottom left: cooking || bottom right: the jam set nicely

Mom's old jam-making colander to the rescue! I can't remember the last time I used one of these, but I'm sure glad I never gave it away. I dumped the mashed plums into the hopper and after a few minutes of working the mash through the mesh, I was left with this stony, pulpy mess. I suppose I could have discarded it, but I wanted the plum skins in the finished jam. So one at a time I fished the pits out of the pulp, returning it, now pitless, to the strained mash.

I found a super-simple plum jam recipe on Mama Knows website and simplified it even more. "Yellow Plum Jam" called for lemon juice and water, both of which I omitted. But I added the amount of sugar it called for (4 1/2 cups to 6 cups of plums). I cooked the jam this morning, boiling the mixture for twenty minutes as it suggested, then I bottled and sealed it.

It was great to see that as it cooled it set up beautifully and without an added crystal or drop of artificial pectin! The finished jam is very tart but yummy! As well as a great spread for breakfast toast or waffles, I think it would work beautifully as a condiment for pork or Oriental food like egg rolls.

That was fun!

My recipe for:

Yellow Damson Plum Jam

6 cups of prepared fruit (pits removed)
4 1/2 cups of sugar.

Combine all ingredients and bring slowly to boiling, stirring occasionally till sugar dissolves. Boil briskly for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent mixture from scorching. Pour boiling hot into sterilized jars and seal.

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

island adventure 8 - morning walks around Ganges

 Hubby and I tend to stick to the routine we keep at home when on holidays. This means we're up most mornings before 6 to have our quiet time of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and coffee (on our own). Then at 8 o'clock (before we have breakfast) we go for a walk together.

Our morning walks on Salt Spring are a highlight of each day.

As an aside, that daily walk is one of the best things we've done for our health and fitness. Why? An article on cites ten health-related reasons to walk.

1. Prevents Type 2 diabetes.
2. Walking  strengthens your heart if you're male.
3. Walking strengthens your heart if you're female.
4. Walking is good for your brain.
5. Walking is good for your bones.
6. Walking helps alleviate symptoms of depression.
7. Walking reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer.
8. Walking improves fitness.
9. Walking in short bouts improves fitness too.
10. Walking improves physical function.

Writer Richard Weil expands on each reason in the article. Read entire...

But on our morning vacation walks around Ganges avoidance of diabetes, cancer and depression, improving bone, colon and brain health are the last things on our minds, because there is so much to see.  Of course I take my camera to record the nooks and crannies of the town. I'm always lagging  behind to snap just one more photo. Here are some of the things I find:


and tree-framed scenes


and a tide pool still life.

Inspiring stuff around the school

The poster says: "This mural's purpose is to inspire everyone to protect and conserve water to ensure a healthy future for our rivers, lakes, oceans, and communities. Each fish painter has learned about the local watershed and how to keep it healthy."

"Dream Lofty Dreams, For As You Dream, So Shall You Become."

and boats in primary colors

Funky finds

The fruit-and-veggie festooned bike is outside of Bruce's Kitchen.

and a garden of dewy faces

Public works of art on land

and beauty reflected on water.

What a beautiful and interesting place!

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

island adventure 7 - Baker Road: a church and a beach

Hubby has checked online and picked out Bethel Pentecostal for us to attend on the Sunday we are on Salt Spring. Thursday we do a reconnaissance drive to find the church.

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island
Bethel Pentecostal Church, Salt Spring Island, BC

We step out of the car in the parking lot of the cute little wooden structure and hear a piano playing. It turns out the pastor and his wife are both on site, so we meet them and have a chat. I give them a copy of my novel for their library and while visiting in the parking lot pastor's wife points out the paintings done by her predecessor on the rock wall. I love these!

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island

Bethel Pentecostal Church - Salt Spring Island
Bible verses painted on the rocks, Bethel Pentecostal Church, Salt Spring Island, BC

Before we leave they explain how to get to a beach at the bottom of their road (Baker Road). The beach on Booth Bay ends up being one of the most interesting beaches we find on our Salt Spring Island stay. At low tide every pool is alive with creatures and under every sea-weedy rock hide the most brilliant purple starfish you'll ever see.

Starfish - Booth Bay, Salt Spring Island
Starfish on Booth Bay beach, Salt Spring Island, BC

And what about these rocks! I think they're shale.

Shale formations, Booth Bay, Salt Spring Island
Shale rock formation, Booth Bay beach, Salt Spring Island, BC

We return to church on Sunday and are struck by the beautiful quarry setting that frames the brown wooden cross—seen from the church driveway. We even meet the man who made and installed it, as he happens to be at visiting the service that day. It's wonderful that because of Jesus we can feel a deep bond with people we've just met.

Bethel Pentecostal Church, Salt Spring Island
Cross on the driveway leading to Bethel Pentecostal Church, Salt Spring Island

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

island adventure 6 - Mount Maxwell

map of Salt Spring Island, BC pointing out Mount Maxwell
Map of Salt Spring Island, pointing out Mount Maxwell
Later in the afternoon of the day we tour the bread and cheese places, we drive to the top of Mount Maxwell, which is a provincial park.

The last part of the climb is a bone-rattling gravel road that's  narrow and twisty. But the views from the top (Baynes Peak) are spectacular!

Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, BC
The cliffs beside the chain link fence plunge straight down hundreds of feet.

Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, BC
View from Mount Maxwell, looking toward the Fulford Habour

Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, BC (Burgoyne Bay)
Distant and closeup views of Burgoyne Bay, from Mount Maxwell

Mount Maxwell, Salt Spring Island, BC
View from Mount Maxwell overlooking the Gulf Islands toward Vancouver Island

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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