Monday, 26 June 2017


There is only one natural perfume I've always said should be bottled and that is the flowers of milkweed. We haven't seen much of that out our way, but...

roses- wild roses- bloom everywhere- and their gentle scent, only by virtue of hundreds of them

fills the air.

Our little honeysuckle bush is producing lovely flowers

whose delicate sweet scent is even more appealing to me.

They make a lovely wild display with the few remaining lupins and tall grasses

The monster wild rose bush is producing too.

It towers over me

with a promise of thousands more of its simple 5 petal flowers

This scene of massive wild rose bushes across the hayfield is not unusual out here.

The seed head of a  Western Salsify (Tragopogon Dubius) is very dubious indeed,
looking like a dandelion on steroids. 

 It is considered an invasive weed, native to southern and central Europe, growing as far north as western France. Common to western Asia, it has been seen in Kashmir and India. Introduced to North America, it has spread throughout the continent though it doesn't seem to have done well in places like Canada's Newfoundland, Inuvik and the Northwest Territories. Can't take the cold, eh?
 Apparently it is edible- the roots being very bitter when raw, but fried, roasted, or boiled, they taste like parsnips.  Purée the roots in a soup or simmer young stalks in butter for a side dish rich in Vitamin B6. Thank you internet!

Wandering around to the vegetable garden, I spy a slender visitor on the cabin's door.

The cilantro is coming along very nicely.
So many people detest the taste of it. Wally did once, but has since acquired a palate for it, so good in Mexican guacamole and pico de gallo, and Asian dishes.

It has become a staple in our diet once learning that it's capacity for removing heavy metals from the body helped Wally with a tremor he developed 3 years ago. Within 6 weeks of juicing with it, his shakes were gone. Hallelujah!

I even dosed Babu, our adopted black cat,  with a tea I made of  it when he developed a reaction to the heavy metals in human grade beef fat (Yes! really!) in his raw food diet that no one seems to understand is not a funny squirrely behaviour, but a real discomfort, a condition called hyperesthesia. Small doses only as cats don't do well on the alkalinity of plant material which can cause alkaline stones in their bladders, most life-threatening in males who can become plugged. We have since put Babu on a supplemented cooked beef diet in order to remove as much of the fat- that separates in the cooking- as possible. Now he's "full of beans!"

As I sat by the garden, a long-legged with an even longer abdomen,
bug hovered in the grass beside me.

I'm guessing this is some kind of spider/insect eating wasp, akin to the parasitic anomalon.
It seemed rather benign to me, somewhat ungainly, as if it didn't know how to hand its long legs, long antennae and body.

That was Friday.
Truth be told, I was feeling under the weather that day, a bit of a blob.

Wally got home from work and suggested we go off to Michael's, a big box craft store not very far away.  We had two 50% off coupons burning a hole in our pockets, but as I always do, I headed off for the clearance corner and found these lovely real stone beads drastically reduced.

One of my coupons went for this Tim Holtz collection of old photo cut-outs, and then Wally, knowing my taste in these things, came to me with this reduced pack of fabric tape. Love!

I don't think I've ever done a post on an "Art Supply Haul", something that is very common in the arts and crafts community and throughout the internet every kind of commercial product I suppose.
I'm somewhat embarrassed by the wealth we take for granted here in the western world, but seeing that it is rare and that we rarely go out for dinner, never to the movies or theatre, lay low on new clothes, etc., I'm making this exception. I'll blame it on still feeling a bit ho-hum.

The  pièce de résistance that evening was this collection of Jane Davenport "Magic Wands" that I have been resisting since last winter as I am well supplied with coloured pencils: American Prismacolors, British Derwents and going back to my childhood (I keep everything it seems) Canadian Laurentiens and Eagle Canadianas. There went my other 50% off coupon.

Jane sells her line in a palette where everything works together.
And, in keeping with her wit, she has named them rather whimsically

which tends to go with her teaching style

making art fun and accessible. 

I don't think I'll ever get over the delight of new art supplies.
Jane calls her penchant for colour, "rainbowitis", and is happy to pass it on.
As you may already know from past work, I tend to bob around between neutral-non-colours to bright in-your-face colour depending on my mood. These pencils are pleasant to use and blend well together, some more pigmented than others.

Before we left the store that night, I gave in to another indulgence that I have been resisting on several past visits. These are the kind of markers designers and manga cartoon artists use.
 Alcohol based, these very expensive Winsor&Newton pigment markers were drastically reduced, making this set still very expensive even at almost 80% off. Christmas in July.

On Saturday morning, Wally made us a blueberry smoothie that went well both in taste and colour with the new Jane Davenport pencil crayon drawing I had been working on. I created the faces, one after the other starting with the top left one and working my way through a compostion in the shape of a letter 3, intending to see how the new pencils worked with each other.
That's a Jane Davenport facebook page on the computer.

We drove through a wicked rainstorm on Saturday.
I'll post about that next.

Til then I'll leave you with this favourite Bill Murray quote:

"The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself."

Friday, 23 June 2017

fair weather

When we say "we're having some weather", we mean something more severe than usual.
When I hear about tornados in Ontario where I'm from originally, my memories from before we left come up short. The damage and devastation can be frightening if not tragic.

I'm glad to swap them for our severe weather here in Nova Scotia in the form of hurricanes and blizzards, and the outrageous heat that comes to the Annapolis Valley. So far, this summer has been fairly kind to us.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
     So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare wrote this- Sonnet 18- over 400 years ago. There is an exquisite beauty in his words that touches me to my core. This is the greatest lesson of being human- to come to know beauty beyond the ravages of time, to know the essence of life beyond physical beauty and recognize that as the truly beautiful.

Muji has been fussy about eating lately, but eventually he caves in and gets what he needs.

He's rarely playful. Babu has taught him to play tag.
But here he takes an interest in my bag folding.

His long "fingers" latch onto a compact triangle that interests him.

Then he strikes an "I don't care" pose that makes me think that's the end of it. 

Ah, but the hunt is not over.

Muji makes another reach

and he reaches out again

A bite is much more effective than a finger grab, and he pulls it off the table.

the Look.

I've never heard of, let alone used, an 8B graphite stick, so I was happy to get my fingers dirty playing around with this.

fair weather to you dear viewers,
and when it isn't clear sailing
 let us keep an even keel

cherish this moment

Thursday, 22 June 2017

backyard fauna

"Oh my ears and whiskers!" said the White Rabbit. That's how delighted I feel to wake up to such a beautiful- and coolish- morning. A real treasure, the kind I'd hoped for when we moved out here almost 5 years ago. After some seriously hot summers (and who's to say that's still not coming), the temperature sits below 20C on this cloudless sunny morning.

Yesterday, was a temperate day that kept the house cool with the windows open til midday.

I woke to this wondrous sight, dodging the laundry line as I
surreptitiously took photos from behind the curtains.

Having to enlarge my shots gives a fuzzy impressionistic look which works out well

with this lovely subject

I'd obviously caught her hearing something and with a flash of her tail

she leans towards where it's coming from

ever intent

Her ears large receivers, receptors for pertinent information

such a beautiful, even regal, animal

I'm so blown away that I have this opportunity

These shots are in sequence; I could almost make a video of them

For all her stillness and decent light, my little camera can only capture so much,
making these pictures rather pixilated.
Still, there was enough  information that I was beginning to suspect from the unusual brightness of her body that she might be the young piebald fawn all grown up,

and sure enough, as she turns, chewing on something tender enough to call her into the middle
of the field, I can see, beyond the laundry line,
  that she is, indeed, the young Piebald fawn all grown up.
I have pictures of her from last year that you can see in the pink link.

It is amazing to think that only a short time ago I was taking pictures of the pheasants in this same spot where the grass and lupins are about 4 or more feet high now.

Such a magical moment

She poses as she breakfasts so well that I can see her mottling clearly now

I am thrilled to see the beautiful young piebald doe

all grown up, even more special for her rarity

She moves further away

preparing to leave

with tail raised

she may suspect reason to depart

The morning was fresh and cool and I came out onto the deck, now that "the coast was clear",
to listen to the chorus of different bird calls, and record this geranium beginning to bloom.

Suddenly I heard a thump behind me on the cabin window and there was that same fool bird doing battle with itself in the window that I had shown you about a month ago.
I was too slow to capture him so close,
but I did see this small yellow warbler flying away from the apple tree.

I mistook it for a female goldfinch, and am now amending this post after several of you have already been to visit

landing on a stray branch of the hydrangea

with apologies for mislabeling it, it is not a female goldfinch
but a small yellow warbler- with a truly delightful song

Overnight, the buds of the wild rose in our border hedge bloomed

I turn towards the Honeysuckle which is beginning to bloom very nicely
despite the dramatic haircut I gave it in April.

How amazing to see Mr. Slug, about 2.5 inches long

making his way out of the sunshine toward the shade of the cabin

There are some bricks to signify an old garden on that shady side of the cabin, but grasses

with a raggedy beauty of their own

Forget-me-nots grow there as well, as they do all over the property

which is a bit raggedy as we slowly address the bits and pieces
of our new life as town folk in Nova Scotia.

While preparing yesterday morning's pictures, I could hear the rumble of a large machine approaching. It took me a few moments to realize that it was the sound of the tractor mowing the field out back.

It took me a while to brace myself for the loss of the lupin field only an hour or so after I took the pictures of the deer in it. There is an odd bit of unmowed field towards the back there.

This morning, the tractor is back, baling the hay

He has made short work of the field, leaving odd unmown clumps though one or two I know hold young trees planted last fall by a young couple.

As I cleaned out the birdbath of debris, I caught this view of more bales beyond our raspberry bushes.

As much to comfort myself as to try out my new sticks of graphite,
I drew this monastic on kraft paper with 6B (soft and dark) graphite.

Always, always with gratitude,
we make our way in life,
a little raggedy sometimes,
but intact.