Awaiting Spring

The savéd day has lit our travels here!
sing wingéd friends who end their southern sojourn.
Gold, white and purple heads from bleak beds cheer,
a fragrant witness to Spring’s joyful earth-turn.

“Awaiting Spring” © 2018 V. Barrett

A few days of mixed-bag weather – snow tantrums, gentle flakefalls, freezing rain and graupel (one of my most favouritest words ever) – have prompted me to post some photos of a recent trip to a local plant nursery/garden shop.

This is a place I go at the change of every season, not so much for retail therapy but to reap the benefits of a delightful visual feast. (I do feel rather strange, skulking behind shelves, trying to hide all the price tags before furtively snapping photos with my phone; so far I haven’t been caught or asked to cease and desist. Ah, what I do for my art.)

Whoever puts these displays together knows what they’re doing, and the pastel-hued Spring and Easter vignettes this year didn’t disappoint. Plus, there’s plenty of green for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!



The photo prompt for February’s Photographic Monthly Meet-Up is Warm. Being a water and sky baby, I’m not usually one for “hot” colours – especially in flowers – but these sumptuous roses at a local market caught my eye!

Thanks to Wild Daffodil for running this challenge. The new prompt starts on the first Tuesday of the month, and for March, it is Scale. Hmm … will you weigh in on this one?

Riverwood in Midwinter

Although I took these photos at The Riverwood Conservancy, a local woodland and park, last month, I thought I’d share them before we get closer to spring! If you’ve read any of my previous posts about this place, you’ll know that Riverwood is set in Carolinian forest and boasts historical buildings, including traces of 19th century farm archaeology.

I was taken by the varying textures and muted colours of slate, soft blue, moss, cream, ochre, rust and burnt umber I found on that sunny day in January. Enjoy!

MacEwan Barn still has its original 1865 inner beams and once stabled the owner’s prized horses.

Moss and lichen add a welcome bit of green to a cold and snowy January.

The entrance arch to the MacEwan Terrace Garden is inset with panels of swirling marble.

Not sure which species this is, but the tree, possibly Honey Locust or Buckthorn, has long and lethal-looking thorns (not shown) projecting from its trunk and branches.

Old equipment left to slowly subside on this former farm.

Dried fruit and silvery plumes of Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana).

Warm brick contrasts with cool slate on steps at Chappell House, built 1919.

Lawn at Chappell House.

The sun sets over my favourite bit of woods at Riverwood.


During a break from work over the holidays, I had time to do a lot of crafting, including a number of new items for my Etsy shop. I also discovered several pieces I’d completed long ago and had put aside, intending to photograph and list in the store. (The task of taking and editing 5 or 6 product photos each and then doing the detailed write-up is tedious and often deters me from getting them done. I feel a resolution coming on… .) Once I get them listed, it’ll be good to have a fresh array of products for the new year!

The re-discovered pieces are copper and bronze pendants engraved freehand using a small electric engraving tool (a new technique for me) and then aged with Gilder’s wax. Finding them again has renewed my interest, so I’ll be doing some more designs soon.

The chainmaille bracelets, necklace and keychains (plus earrings not shown) use familiar weaves as well as new patterns, in copper, bronze, brass, aluminum and stainless steel. I have an idea to feature a different weave every once in a while, here or on my Facebook page, or both.

As I was photographing them, I realized that these glimmering, gleaming baubles probably qualify for January’s Monthly Meet-Up: Sparkle, a photo challenge set by Wild Daffodil. I hope you enjoy this small sampling of the shiny jewels I’ve been working on.

Stay warm, and keep crafting!

May I Have a Word?

Welcome to 2018! To start the New Year, I offer the first installment of The Blogger’s Dictionary, a compilation of terms used to humorous effect by some of the bloggers I’ve gotten to know over the last year or so. [Links to their sites shown.] Addenda will be published as accumulated. (Warning: The author strongly recommends that tea drinkers finish their morning cuppa before reading, lest they experience an unpleasant exsinuation event.)

Blogger’s Dictionary

away (off) with the fairies: (adj.) the condition of being in another world, distracted, or thinking about something else, making one prone to acts of clumsiness. As in, “I was away with the fairies when I tripped over my house panther and twisted my knee.” [samanthamurdochblog]

(to) chobble: (v.) a combination of to chomp and to gobble; what caterpillars do to the leaves of prized rose bushes [Pete Hillman’s Nature Photography]

confuzzlement: (n.) a perplexing state of utter confusion and puzzlement [gillyflower]

edumacation: (n.) not a WordPress-exclusive term, but one used on a regular basis in certain famous Friday posts [The Cobweborium Emporium]

exsinuation: (n.) the sudden, forceful and embarrassing evacuation from the body, via the sinus passages, of a beverage, often initiated by extreme hilarity [gillyflower]

gutter-minded: (adj.) low, base or sexual, esp. pertaining to one’s train of thought [gillyflower]

house panther: (n.) Felis domesticus, commonly known as the house or domestic cat (although any of this species would insist there’s nothing whatsoever domestic about them; they’re panthers, for crying out loud) [sevencatsandcounting]

Lady Up Her Own Nose: (n.) a personage who thinks she is Of Very Great Importance, but probably isn’t [nanacathydotcom]

pocket junk: (n.) those bits and bobs which collect in one’s trouser recepticules in the absence of a fabulous handbag [samanthamurdochblog]

recepticule: (n.) the place in one’s trousers where one’s pocket junk lives (now don’t be so gutter-minded) [samanthamurdochblog]

servament service: (n.) the act of providing essential needs (wet food, dry food, water, milk, clean litter, pitpats, silly talk, cuddles, alone time, mice to catch, sumptuous praise when mice are caught, cushion plumping, piles of fresh laundry, etc., etc., etc.) to Their Royal Highnesses, a.k.a. one’s house panthers [The Cobweborium Emporium]

sister scraps: 1. (n.) quarrels, often violent, between cohabiting female house panthers; 2. (n.) the gory results of same [samanthamurdochblog]

tinsel-tailed: (adj.) alarmed and on high alert, as a cat when confronted by a woofie or other undesirable [samanthamurdochblog]

twiddlemuff: (n.) a brightly-coloured knitted handwarmer with adornments such as buttons and pompons, intended as a textile version of a fidget spinner for those afflicted with restlessness or dementia [nanacathydotcom]

white good: (n.) of British origin, referring to electrical appliance in North American, i.e. oven, refrigerator, microwave [samanthamurdochblog]

woofie: (n.) Canis familiaris, commonly known as the domestic dog [sevencatsandcounting]

• • • • • • •  )O(  • • • • • • •

Welcome to My World! A new feature on my sidebar is a Map of Visitors. It’s fun to see where everyone comes from, and you can pin your location, including a link to your blog or other website if you wish. To put yourself on my map, click on the sidebar map or the link above, choose Additions, then Add Marker. Thanks!


One-a-week Photo Challenge: POP!

Today is a balmy, snow-covered −11°C, with a predicted low of −23°C tonight. Let’s go out with a POP of summer colour for the final prompt of this challenge! I took this image in June at a local plant nursery and gave it an oil painting-type effect.Thanks to Wild Daffodil and nanacathydotcom for running the challenge. I look forward to contributing to the Monthly Meet-Up next year!

Luck in a Bottle

Witch bottles have been around for hundreds of years, their popularity peaking in England and the United States during the 17th and 18th centuries. They were used by witches and wise women, healers and lay folk as counter curses or protection against evil spirits and psychic attack. The idea was to place sharp objects such as needles, pins, nails (the rustier, the better), broken glass, thorns or bits of wood into a bottle along with a liquid such as urine, red wine, vinegar or sea water, a written spell, pungent herbs or personal objects such as hair or nail clippings. The bottle was then sealed and placed in a hidden corner of the house, between walls, or buried either beneath the doorstep, hearth (evil spirits were thought to enter the house through the chimney) or at the farthest corner of the property. There it was thought to draw evil into the bottle to be impaled on the pins, drowned in the liquid or banished by the herbs. As long as the bottle stayed intact and undiscovered, the power of its spell remained alive.

Witch bottles are still used, although the intent has shifted from countering curses to ensuring luck and protection, encouraging creativity, positivity, happiness or wealth. Go ahead and use urine if you want (eww) … but most witch bottle recipes today call for more palatable ingredients such as sea salt, peppercorns and other spices, herbs such as rosemary, bay leaves and basil, sand, saw dust, crystals, coins – and anything else that symbolizes your intent.

As December wanes, I wanted to make a protection bottle as a symbolic clearing of old energies, readying the house for the New Year. While I was at it, I made a flower-filled “witch ball” ornament – hung in the home for good luck – as a Christmas gift for a friend. I used only what ingredients I already had on hand, and saw no need to use liquid or hide the bottle. In fact, both projects use pretty colours, as they are intended to be seen! Here are my ingredients and their associated properties:

All-purpose Protection Bottle (layered from bottom to top)

Moss: connection to the earth • charity • luck • money • protection
Pink Himalayan salt: protection, especially against negative energy • purification
Pink peppercorns: protection
Crushed bay leaves: wisdom • victory
Lavender: love • longevity • peace
Allspice berries: (male) energy • money • luck
Cardamom pods: (female) hospitality
Rosehips: health • wealth • luck • encourage friendly spirits
Rose petals: love • protection against the evil eye

I chose to seal the small corked bottle with white candle wax (dripped from a couple of tea lights), but you can also use a bottle with a screw-on lid or a small mason jar. As I don’t expect to repel a curse (!), I intend to leave the bottle on my work table so that I can admire its colours and textures and gain inspiration from the simple act of its creation.

Witch Ball

My friend, whose favourite colour is purple, struggles daily with illness, so I filled a glass ornament with dried lavender, rosebuds and rose petals to represent love, good health and protection. Although the cap is glued on for security, small holes in the top allow a delicious potpourri to waft out.

Stay tuned for more bottled magick coming soon!