HAPPY HALLOWEEN

I hope those of you into this “spooky” day enjoy it to the fullest–especially all the little ones who are able to go “Trick or Treating”.

If you’re interested in one of the traditions of this time of year, the “Jack O’Lantern”–please click on the link below and hear Bernadette’s version. It is also a fantastic site for great recipes and the stories behind them. . . .Bernadette’s “New Classic Recipe” is one of the sites I am now following.

WISHING YOU ALL TREATS AND NO TRICKS – New Classic Recipe

DISTINCTIVE OCTOBER

I never thought of October being a notable month as I usually gravitated to April, May, June, July, September and December. But on my early morning walk yesterday, it struck me that October was quite an exceptional month too. Our Canadian Thanksgiving was especially meaningful this year as more family members could connect in person. I enjoyed the sight of towering yellow sunflowers reaching for the warmth of the Autumn sun. The bounties of the gardens yielding their harvest of corn, beans, apples, pears, melons and squashes makes October special. And of course, there are pumpkins—pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Pumpkins carved and lit in such a spectacular fashion that in previous years, these unique pumpkins were part of a vast exhibit.

My early morning walk had me chuckling over the very creative Halloween scene one homeowner had assembled.

Want my head? You got it!

Other homeowners get very serious in creating scary scenarios in their front yard.

Remember the little red Elf’s door? How about a “Ghost” door instead? It is Halloween. . . .

Welcome Halloween Ghosts

I never know what fantastic scenes beckons my camera on this early morning, but October has proved to be just as colourful as the other months have been.

The rainy weather has encouraged an abundance of mushrooms, popping forth in many gardens. The ones below are huge, flat, creamy white with brown specks–perfect to photograph for this Halloween theme. And, let’s not forget Mother Nature’s colour palette at work in the gazillion leaves we eventually have to rake and bag in this month of October.

Wherever you are, I wish you a wonderful month of October–what’s left of it—-and a Happy Spooky-Fun Halloween. . . . .

ZEN ZINGER

A ferocious dinosaur conference on the sunny lawn. . . . . .

I had survived a very challenging week and needed to restore the Zen in my mental balance. No power -walks for 2 days didn’t exactly help restore the zippity-do-dah in my normal embrace of daily life. Finally, when projects came to a halt because of circumstances and the Labour Day long weekend, I grabbed the moment, took time to breathe deeply and once again seek out treasures of visual delights.

The Brighton Street home that had displayed a parade of dinosaurs in their driveway and then later, had them climbing up the small sapline in their front garden, now had a ferocious dinosaur conference on the sunny lawn. The sight of them was enough to bring a smile.

Further along, another home had brilliantly painted rocks, tucked among the plants and greenery–the colours and designs were extraordinary. . . .

I think part of the reason my power walks are so restorative is probably because I never know what may catch my attention. The sight of a mother deer and her two fawns, crossing a busy intersection, had my heart in my throat until they were safely across. A reprimand from its mother stopped an adventurous fawn from crossing back to the other side. It reminded me that even in the animal kingdom, there are always young ones who test their Moms and challenge the humans. . . .I can almost hear Mama Deer say, “Now stay together and don’t wander off on your own!”

And yes, these are the same mischievous twins seen in an earlier blog. . . .

Apple trees ready to be harvested–definitely a sign of Fall. Further along, one homeowner had a wild tangle of grape vines, twining itself along his fence and over his gate. Doesn’t he know he has a supply of grape jelly or even a couple of bottles of wine at his finger-tips?

Chick weed and sweet clover covers a lawn with not a deer in sight. Guess the thought of roses and other blooming delights are far tastier than good-for-you veggies and other salad greens.

My walking route took me back along Cowichan Street with the sight of a bunch of Fall crocuses tucked among the leaves and patches of bare soil.

And a few houses down, a creative gardener made a heart shaped frame, composed of small pebbles and filled with mini-cacti, nestled between tow small plants.

Turning a corner, who can stay serious when confronted with a cheerful geranium border? There is something about bright red geraniums that dares anyone to stay solemn in their presence. . . .

I can happily say I found my Zen as well as the Zippity-do-dah Zinger. A stroll around my neighbourhood had restored the energy I had missed in seeing all my visual treasures as well as discovering new ones.

JUST WALKING TO NOWHERE

My Readers are often amazed at the things I see on my many walks here, tthere and everywhere in my neighbourhood. “You couldn’t have seen this. . .or that!” they would exclaim. My theory is that in a car, a person can miss so much of the tiny, sometimes not so tiny things that are tucked away under a bush or hidden behind a wall of rocks or even in plain sight like the pair of fawns following their mom to the next garden buffet or one of many painted scenes on utility poles or awesome outdoor art on permanent display. It’s often the unexpected that falls along the walking route. And, I’m a great fan of the unexpected.

I’m often fortunate in meeting people who have a story behind their piece of sculpture or unusual mailbox that makes a home among their trees and flowers. The miniature yellow volkswagon mailbox reminds the owners of the many happy family times that transported them to campsites and holiday destinations. The mini-house and orca whale mailboxes differentiate two houses on a steep lane—one behind the other.

I’ve often stated that Victoria is a haven for artists, writers and photographers. On my walks to “Nowhere”, art is everywhere. You just have to focus and bingo, there it is. It can be an amazing mini-art gallery mounted by the side of the road or the simple way a flowering plant drapes itself over a worn weathered fence.

Or portions of a wonderful mural on the entire side of a convenience store. The mural is named “In the Trees” and was created by artist Caitlin McDonagh in 2019. This is only a small portion of this colourful mural.

Or even a smaller mural with “Thank you” in 30 different languages—covering the enclosure for the local eatery, the White Spot’s recycling and garbage containers.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else where my walks are always fascinating discoveries of visual “treasures.” And, it’s an absolute requirement to do this on foot—because, in a car you’ll miss so much. . . .something like this gem of a free-lending library tucked in the foliage or a pretty bouquet growing blissfully among the tall grass.

Happy Walking, wherever you are—I hope you encounter some visual treasures of your own. They are there. You just have to look and appreciate what you see. . . .

THIS AND THAT

My feet tend to follow laneways and byways and connectors that seem to pop up everywhere along my route–whatever route I decide to follow.

Oak Bay is an area that is filled with streets that begin as one name, but around that bend, it becomes another street altogether. Laneways, byways and connectors can quickly put an adventurous walker into a different neighbourhood.

A driveway is transformed into a parade of colourful dinosaurs.

A tiny rural corner can open into something very surprising.

These beautifully painted stones, carefully placed beneath clusters of sunny yellow flowers—-are these someone’s artistic and poetic nature striving to be heard. . or are these rocks a remembrance to a passing poetic soul.. . . .?

I enjoy seeing how people make their entryways totally theirs. This custom iron work with its colourful red tulips is one example.

A homeowner decided to make the corner boulevard, outside his front gate, part of his scenic garden. . . while others use ornaments and flowers to capture passer-by’s attention.

Just leaning over a stone wall can bring you a woodsy wonderland. . . . .

Or just beyond, a charming children’s playhouse

Sometimes a few steps to the left or a few steps to the right will bring a walker to some incredible gates. What is it about gates that implies “keep out” or “Welcome, do come in. . .”

Doors can be intimating too–but there are some eye-catching ones that makes you wonder who are the people behind them?

Homes are as diverse as their owners. It’s always fascinating to speculate on whoever lives there and the choices they made to make the homes theirs. Besides admiring their gardens, it does pay to look upwards too. . . . .

Summer is almost here but the weather has been perfect to explore the byways and laneways—-time to follow this connector back home.

A SPRINGTIME JAUNT AROUND MY NEIGHBOURHOOD

When I start my early morning jaunts around my neighbourhood, I often have no idea where my route will take me. I follow my adventurous feet and discover corners and areas I never knew existed. A cedar chip path, off a residential street, led me through a grove of trees. Who would have known this existed except for the locals who lived close by?

With this pandemic heading into its second summer, people have tended to their homes and gardens with much more attention. Some neighbourhood streets have undergone transformations that brings a cheerful ambiance to their area. One street had talented artists who painted utility poles to show that Life doesn’t stop because of a virus.

Some homes are unique in creating spaces with a welcoming hospitality. . . . . .

Some homes choose to have unusual ornaments mysteriously hidden behind the foliage or in plain view.

Others choose to have an eye-catching entrance to their home.

Palm trees always make an impressive entrance and Victoria can certainly boast of palm trees popping up here and there. After all, we are the Banana Belt of Canada, especially in the winters and springs.

My feet are now on the final hill and homeward bound. The magnificent magnolias, in their creamy whites and pale pinks unfurl their petals in the various gardens I pass. But, it’s the stunning deep pinks of the small magnolia trees outside the grocer, that captures my attention.

Almost home and a few specially crafted “free lending libraries” are spotted along the route.

Down a sunny path and I’m finally home—another fun walk to Nowhere. . . . . . . .

MARSHMALLOWS and . . . .

I bought a 5-pound bag of marshmallows the other day. I was at the checkout and it fell into my cart. I told the lady it was for the grandkids but she gave me such a knowing look–she may as well have done the wink-wink thing.

It wasn’t really 5 pounds, probably more like 2 pounds. These were definitely not your normal size marshmallows. I would describe them as marshmallows on steroids. They were huge.

Monster Marshmallows

I will confess I had a craving for some marshmallows. I actually pictured them smaller and dipped in dark Belgian chocolate. Somehow, I got the big bag of colourful ginormous ones that decided they wanted to come home with me.

After he stopped laughing, Hubby told me I was on my own with the monster marshmallows. And after I ate about 5 or 6 or 7–spread over 2 days–I had to figure out some way to use them up. I decided on a pan of the family favourite–the familiar Rice Krispie Squares made of rice krispies, marshmallows and a dollop of margarine.

The bonus of the whole project was a nutritious snack composed of puffed rice, melted marshmallows that were light, slightly chewy and not too sweet; a generous splash of pure vanilla flavouring and a dollop of margarine—low-cal, low sugar, low fat and nutritious as heck.

What could be better for a normal human? Maybe next time I could melt some dark Belgian chocolate into this mixture or even peanut butter. After melting these colossal marshmallows, the colours disappeared somewhere but the results were still delicious.

HOOLA HOOPING

Does anyone remember hoola hooping in your younger days?

It was a big thing when I was in my early teens. And it recently came back on the local news because a Victoria teen-ager broke the World’s Guiness Book of Records for swivelling his hips gazillion hours while simultaneously solving the Rubik’s cube gazillion times.

I remember doing the hoop way back when. It didn’t take a lot of swivelling—just the momentum to get it going and gravity to keep it up.

My big brother and younger sister were quite good at it. I wasn’t too bad either.

So I got myself an adult hoola hoop. What exactly is that? To begin with it has a weight of 3 pounds. Theoretically, as you swirl it around your waist, it’s supposed to whittle away the inch or two or three of excess pounds that have made a home there.

Huh—it seemed like a fun sort of exercise and I liked fun stuff when it came to any form of exercise.

The hoop came in a long narrow box that contained 8 sections—each one a different colour. By the time the hoop was fully and firmly assembled, it was a rainbow of colours.

The instructions for hooping seemed simple: (1) Press Sports Hoop tightly against the back of your waist. (2) Keep the hoop in the horizontal position before swinging out. (3) Swing out the hoop forcefully and horizontally. (4) Move your body in any direction against the hoop. (5) Keep your motion fast enough to allow the hoop to stay up.

Easy-peasy, right? Not even close.

First of all, I got steps (1) and (2) without any problems. I even got step (3) moving for half a second. I know the concept of step (4), but even though my brain was yelling “opposite” direction, my body moved with the hoop’s.

I was told that once you learned how to hoop, it’s like riding a bicycle—you never forget.

How the heck did I do it when I was younger? Okay, okay—a whole lot younger.

I dredged up the memory of my Big Brother telling me, “Don’t think about it, just do it.” And, so I did.

This time I followed steps (1) to (3) and when it came to (4), I just reverted to instinct and did it. By golly, I did 4 revolutions before I realized I was really hooping. And, just that second of celebratory glee caused the hoop to falter and drop with a thud on the floor.

I’m told that perseverance and patience are senior traits learned from years of experience. I don’t know about that but stubbornness is definitely in my genes.

And I did do 4 revolutions. If I can do 4 revs, I can do more.

Yesterday, I did 8 revolutions.

There is a definite learning curve to hoola hooping. I’m talking adults‘ learning curves, not little kids or teenagers. Adults have to learn not to question the thermodynamics or science of hooping. As for the “instructions”—honestly, it’s like needing detailed instructions on how to open a door.

I would rewrite the instructions for hoola hooping. Simple is best, right?

My instructions would read: “Don’t think about it. Just swing the hoop to get it going and let your instincts do the rest. Keep it movin’ and groovin’. Gravity keeps it up.”

Don’t be distracted. I find my crime-writing thoughts are quite random and could involve a problem that needs to be solved. One such problem was how to murder someone with a hoola hoop. Don’t even think this as it will seriously cause the hoop to fall to the ground.

I just noticed that there are a series of Cautions and Warnings on the back of the Instruction sheet.

I am so glad I didn’t read these first. My hoop would still be in 8 sections and still packed in its box. Today I can do up to 8 revolutions. Tomorrow, I will do more. And somewhere along the way, I’ll know how to “murder” someone with a hoola hoop.

Happy Hooping, Everyone. . . .

A Bountiful Early Spring

Some things happen by accident like this awesome photo I took of the cover of my notebook and a piece of fancy ribbon with a sprig of flowers that had adorn my favourite soap. That’s what I call my eureka moment; others might call it a moment of inspiration.

Other things happen because of plain dumb luck—luck that can fall either way—50% good or 50% bad.

And once in a while, the Goddess of Fate smiles because she’s feeling especially great and an unexpected once-in-a-decade gift falls in your lap.

A something that is totally random, totally unplanned.

I swear on a stack of mystery thrillers that when I take my wandering walks, I have no destination in mind—just a vague sort of route that my mind is still deciding upon—but my feet are already taking on the challenge of hills, rocky steps and a chip trail.

Absolutely no thoughts of snacks or food at all.

I love this cool, crisp early Spring weather. Everyone and their dogs seem to be enjoying the fresh air, blue skies and steaming cups of coffee.

Whoa–did I just say steaming cups of coffee? Smiling faces pointed straight ahead and to the left—the walkers’ preferred destination for that area—“Casey’s,” a neighbourhood bakery for fresh-baked pastries, home-made chocolates and hot coffee.

My good fortune was the discovery of Dark Chocolate Kahlua Truffles and hot Mini-Doughnuts, all served up by the baker-man himself.

It was worth those steep hills, rocky steps and chip trail. Now it was time to be homeward bound to share my “bounty” with my Hubby. . .as well as another round on the elliptical

THOUGHTS

THOUGHTS are very important to jot down, to remember, even immortalize for posterity. . .if you’re a writer or a poet or merely someone who simply want to remember and record those perfectly crafted words.

It’s especially important to capture those elusive moments of inspiration when it happens. In my case, this often happens between midnight and dawn–if it happens at all.

I keep my pen and notebook by my bedside table, handy to scribble my ideas on paper—in the dark–as the simple act of turning on the bedside lamp, usually breaks that fragile ribbon of reflective thought.

When the scribbles are examined in the morning, most times, the scrawls are indecipherable.

I admire people who can say things that are often remembered in books, speeches or wherever.

Confucius said, “Words are the voice of the heart.” I can relate to that. Here are a few more wise words from some well-known people and philosophers..

Marilyn Monroe was definitely not a dumb blonde. She has been quoted saying, “The sky is not the limit–your mind is.”

There’s always a bit of truth in oft repeated quotes. Winston Churchill had it pegged right when he addressed the epidemic of rumours during WW2: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” I liked the imagery.

As for gossip, Confucius had this to say, “The tongue must be heavy indeed because so few people can hold it.”

Winston Churchill could have been talking about our current pandemic instead of WW2: “Keep calm and carry on.”

And Barack Obama’s positive words could also apply to these difficult times: “A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

I do enjoy quotes involving chocolates, coffee and doughnuts. I didn’t think of this one but I wish I knew who the “Unknown Author” was who must have loved doughnuts. “You need to understand the difference between want and need. Like I want abs, but I need doughnuts.”

Oscar Wilde must have been eating a doughnut to make this observation: “The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the hole.”

Another quote I wish I had written but “Unknown Author” beat me to it: “Man doesn’t live by coffee alone–have a doughnut.”

Witty Fran Drescher spoke the truth when she commented: “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.”

Amy Neftzger supports eating chocolates for she writes: “I’m pretty sure that eating chocolates keeps wrinkles away because I have ne ver seen a 10-year old with a Hershey bar and crow’s feet.”

Chocolate crosses all language barriers as Jann Bauer states: “When you don’t have the words, chocolate can speak volumes.”

Linda Grayson is best quoted for “There is nothing better than a friend unless it’s a friend with chocolates.”

Everyone has their own version of friendship and best friends. A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” explained it the only way he could: “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”

Heather Pryor wrote: “A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart.”

Walter Winchell was quoted as saying: “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

But Audrey Hepburn described it best: “True friends are families you can select”

Keep well and stay safe, my friends. Remember these words from Katherine Hepburn: “It’s not what you start in Life–it’s what you finish.” So keep jotting down your thoughts; maybe one day, I’ll be quoting you. . . .