A Good Home, Apple Pies, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes, Canadian life, Farmhouse Kitchen, Garden

Garden Joys

It’s such a joy to grow things.

Blog Photo - Veggie Garden Lettuce

And even more satisfying to know that the stuff we’re eating is from our own garden.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest baskets with toamtoes peppers eggplants on table

This year, as I walked through the garden, I found myself eating berries and vegetables before I even got them into the house.

Blog Photo - Verandah - Red Currants

Instead of making jelly, I ate the currants fresh from the bush every day.

Asparagus spears, delicious when eaten fresh, often didn’t make it into the kitchen.

Same for the raspberries and even some tomatoes.

Being able to forage for food in one’s own garden is a privilege.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest Basket tomatoes pumpkin

Recently, we’ve made herb oils (basil, in this case).

Blog Photo - Herb Oils 2

And I’ve made peach cake.

Blog Photo - Peach

Knowing my tragic history with baking cakes, my family was impressed by how well it turned out.

Blog Photo - Cake 2

I was so impressed with my baking victory that I kept making the same cake over and over again.

Blog Photo - Cake Cut

“Make her stop!” younger daughter begged her father.

I protested and she said “Mom, I love you. But you know … you find one thing that you can make, and you keep making it and making it till we’re sick of it.”

I  rolled my eyes and tried to look penitent. But I was busy making another peach cake.

Blog Photo - Cake slice

Soon it will be time to pull the garlic and onion bulbs from the soil.

Blog Photo - Garlic 2

And time to make apple pie.

I’ll peel and slice the apples, and my good man will make the pies. Everyone in our family looks forward to this tradition (and no-one complains since he only makes these delicious pies once a year).

Blog Photo - Kitchen Apple slices

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

It’s the simple stuff. The good stuff. 

And my daughter will be relieved to know that now I’m serving the peaches freshly sliced, with yogourt.

But just wait till next summer.

PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE

A Good Home, Canadian life, Canadiana, Gratitude, Heritage Homes, Home, Home Decor, Homes, Inspiration, Joy, Joyful Moments, Life in canada, Living sustainably, Love, Wood, Wool Blankets

EVERYDAY GLORY – Part 2

*PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE*

Before the car accident, I was busy leading the big projects, travelling here and there.  Running around trying to change the world can make a person miss the beauty of “ordinary” things.

Injuries and pain are indescribably worse.   You finally have time to see, but barely have the energy to look.

But – oh – it’s worth the effort!

Blog Photo - Verandah Path

To  see one’s surroundings with new and grateful eyes.  

To take joy in the small moments.

To be open to small patches of everyday glory. 

"Snow Cones" on Spruce Branch - Photo by Hamlin Grange
“Snow Cones” on Spruce Branch

Snow on evergreens. The first snow makes the garden beautiful, day and night.

The late sun. Late afternoon sunlight shining on wood floors is magical. And when the late sun hits the wavy glass sidelights in the front door of our old farmhouse, it’s wondrous.

Sunshine on Hardwood

My husband’s truant socks. He has tons of single socks and we spend time searching for their matches.I used to get irritated by this.  Or by newspapers strewn across the breakfast table. (Or his overlooking my small attempts to ‘cheer up’ our house.)

Now, I call them “signs of life”.  And I give thanks for having someone kind, funny and loving to share my everyday life with. (And I try to assemble the newspapers without muttering.)

Freshly washed sheets.  There’s luxury in the smell and feel of freshly washed cotton sheets although they’ve been used and washed many times.

Canadian Wool Blanket

The old wool blanket. “Canadiana”, for sure, it would be worth something, unstained. Do I care about the stain? No.  I love this blanket for its brilliant stripes – and for having survived decades of use.

Blooming Amaryllis. Bought for 6 bucks,  it re-blooms (big red blooms) on long stalks each winter. ‘Nuff said.

Our family’s big mixing bowl.  Many apple pies have been mixed up in that beautiful old bowl.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

My daughter’s dogs.  Sometimes, just the sight of them gladdens my heart. One brownish-black, one white, they’re both tiny dogs with personalities of their own. As I write, they’re stretched out beside me,  fast asleep.

Julius and Dawson Fast Asleep
The Pooches

Slowing down  by choice is great. Being forced to do so is awful.

But in the spirit of lighting a candle and finding my way out of darkness, I’ve been focusing on positives.

And keeping both eyes open for the everyday kind of glory.

**

This post is dedicated to the caring staff at the pain management centre of Toronto Rehabilitation Hospital. One of the techniques they teach their patients is mindfulness.

A Good Home, Faith, Family, Family Moments, FEar, Life Challenges, Life in canada, Love, Words

NO WORDS

There are no words.

*

One speaks to God in frightened silence

Broken only by jagged breath.

One reaches for faith

And reaches again.

*

Before faith,  the lurch in the belly.

The gasp from the chest.

The hurt in the heart.

And sighs too deep for words.

*

Shock. Denial.  Floundering.

The waves of fear, threatening to drown.

We must not drown.

We search for a fixed point.

*

The heart glimpses the rock

Rising up from the water.

The rock shines with promise.

Strong, fixed and charcoal-dark.

*

The deep water swirls and obscures

So confident in its massive power.

It carries threats of death and echoes of loss.

And loud whispers of nevermore.

*

Quick now: shut it out.

Do not give it the power it craves.

Focus instead on the fixed point.

Look again and find the rock.

*

There are no words.

I speak to God in silence and jagged breath.

My arms thrash, thrash and thrash

And touch solid stone.

*

I hold on, hold on

Fight to hold on to its solid-ness

The waves of fear, and drowning waters

Are all around.

*

One thrashes and fights

And struggles with all one’s might.

And speaks to God, in silence and jagged breath:

Let my beloved live.

*

Let him live.

Let us get to the hospital in time.

Let the doctors and nurses know what to do.

Please let my beloved live.

**

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Canadian life, Family Stories, Flowers, Gardens, Homes, Inspiration, Japanese Maples, Trees, Tropical Gardening in Canada

A Family’s Labour of Love

Photos by Hamlin Grange

One of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen grows behind a very modern house not far from Toronto’s downtown.Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Long shot from lower level

A lush, hidden garden in a world of its own.

A place where tall trees loom into the sky, water flows peacefully, plants thrive and a discovery waits around every corner.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Steps and Trees

The garden is the ‘labour of love’ of Mary and Bob and their family. (Mary is on the right, below.)

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Mary and CR

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Cat

While there’s no doubt that Mary provides the driving passion behind the garden (and loves nothing better than working in it) Bob and daughter Adrianne also play central roles.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden structure 1

“Bob built the arbor and pergola and has been so supportive of my passion,” Mary says.

Bob, right, shows a visitor the garden
Bob, right, shows a visitor the garden

“My Adrianne has been a big part of the creation. She is an incredible artist and we love when her time permits for us to work together on the garden.”

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Japanese forest grass and hosta

Mary describes the garden as “a canvas on which we have the privilege of unleashing our creativity”.

And what a work of art.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden right side

Japanese maples of different kinds – more than two hundred of them – weave through the garden, as do Japanese forest grass, hosta and other interesting plants.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Japanese forest grass

Their foliage and colour contribute to the texture of the garden from spring to fall.

Hundreds of tropical plants thrive in the pool area, seeming completely at home.

Blog Photo - mary's Garden Visitors

Water features add to the feeling of peace here.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden stream

There are ponds.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden water lilies and fish

Waterfalls.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Waterfall 2

And a water wall.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden with waterfall and Japanese maples

It is surprising to find a garden of this size and kind so close to downtown Toronto. Equally surprising: this garden is less than 6 years old.

The family was fortunate to have very large trees and more than an acre of land, but they had to start the garden from scratch.

Under the shade of the trees, and in many sunny spaces, the garden changed and evolved over those years.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Pool and Grounds

You can see it many times and still find something new to admire every time.

New plants, new trees, new structures.

Which may explain why friends beg to tour the garden every time they visit.

And gardening magazines love producing features about it.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden begonia

Mary talks about her family’s creation with a gardener’s passion. There’s wonder and delight in her voice and on her face when she stops to look at a new development.

A late-season rose.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Single Rose

A passion-flower, giving one of its first blooms near the end of summer.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden Passion flower

The fragrance of a gardenia.

Blog Photo - Mary's Garden White flower

“I love this garden!” Mary says. “It comes from our family’s heart.”

 **

Dedicated to the artist in all of us.