Saturday, 29 December 2012

the present of presence

an Impressionist tangle of Christmas lights  through our rainy window on Boxing Day evening
as I head off to snuggle in bed with a good book
Elmo sleeps the next day away

and I work into the evening, a cup of tea in my new Norval Morriseau mug at my side,
with my sister's silkscreened wren needlekeep at the ready- since losing my favourite needle not once
but twice! immediately after finding it the first time- sheesh!
I'm finding a renewed solace in embroidery, it's steady stitches forward to an evolving image. I'm so grateful I've found a sweet place in time where I can be at one with the work, the steady flow of a creative life:
the true presence

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

around the next bend

A warm holiday greeting as we come to the end of our own holiday here.

First off,  the embroidery I started last week is somewhat finished, sewn onto some lovely hand-dyed linens my sister made and sent me as "scraps". I'm very pleased with the effect. Now that I see firsthand the charm of hand-dyed natural fibres, I'm thrilled by the necessary atmosphere they lend to this piece.
A sunny day belied the damp cold on this lovely day. We decided to head out on a little trip off the beaten track, travelling up and down the South Mountain slopes that surround the communities of Gaspereau. The South Mountain also holds the south side of Kentville, and we are lucky to see its rolling hills off to the south from our home. 
Still exploring the roads we haven't been down yet, we found ourselves wandering into the Gaspereau Valley with its hillside vineyards and apple orchards.  Down yet another road we'd never been...

we came to a curious but shy group of sheep

They eyed us from a distance, diffident at best, many of them quite pregnant

unsure as to what to make of us

so I watched them and they watched me

until this dear girl came over to see what I might have for her,
but all I had were a few soft strokes on her brow;
that was obviously not what she wanted, for she promptly turned and walked away.

and so a fond good-bye to this sweet barnyard scene as we headed off down the road
 in search of further adventures.
It wasn't long before we found ourselves following the Black River, a much larger river than we imagined.  In a little while we came upon this quiet bay where the ice had a chance to firm up.
"What's that?" I wondered, but it was only a small stump in the water,
 making like the Loch Ness Monster.

This sheltered bay on the other side of the river was even more beautiful than the first.
The ice, as yet too thin to walk on, made wonderful patterns with its different layers,
 and patches of blowing snow.
The quiet natural beauty put me at my ease, reminding me of my home of the last 24 years in Muskoka.
 One of the many views of the rolling farmland amidst the forests and lakes of South Mountain.
After our 2 1/2 hour "Sunday" afternoon jaunt (for that is what Boxing Day feels like out here: a true holiday), we wandered back to our cozy home.
 Here is my latest attempt at a freehand embroidery (without a drawing or a plan), so similar to a Sunday drive, not knowing what's around the next bend.
Peace on Earth

Friday, 21 December 2012

Connection: learning to trust yourself

A tender portrait of the human condition:



Thursday, 20 December 2012

without a plan

Well didn't we sit down to a Sunday kind of breakfast yesterday right after I made my last post:
 It was so festive with cut up honeydew and pineapple to go with our buckwheat blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and apricot jam, yum!, that I had to take a picture of our bounty.

All the while the snow kept snowing

Filling up our world with magic

It seemed a good day to just stay in. Wally installed our new water softener and filter
 and I celebrated by having my first non-chlorinated shower in 4 months.
 He celebrated with a glass of unscented water.

And here's our Elmo, now18 (or possibly 19) who is boss our household and usually gets what he wants because, well, we love him so.
Wally took this photo of my working away to Christmas music this morning.

And another progress shot of my latest embroidery.
I get so much pleasure watching this design unfold without a plan,
like a day trip without a map,
 having faith that all will work out as long as I keep my focus.
I wish the same for you.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

it's snowing!

Ahh, now it feels like Christmas.

The view to the side of our new old house with its surprisingly useful ramp leading to the front door, the entrance guarded by two old black oak sentinels and the street surprisingly quiet.
Surprising because when Wally came in from buying a shovel and mailing another batch of Christmas cards, he said that the schools were closed because 5-10 cm of snow was due to fall. Back in Muskoka that would just be a normal day, schools open and business as usual. It is so interesting to see how similar but different this part of the world is.

The back yard where the vegetable garden will be next spring, with its overgrown hedge that we never did trim, all looking out onto the tree-lined farmfield behind us. So calm and peaceful,  just the way we like it.

A sewing thread embroidery I did on a scrap of  linen/cotton blend  that my sister sent me in the course of cleaning up her studio. What a fun and novel present she sent of clippings, and printed scraps on hand dyed cloth and other craft materials that she no longer needs.

With hopes that you are enjoying this pleasant time of year, keeping it small and kind.
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Here is a drawing I made last night on a found piece of paper.

It was a loose piece of paper I found in one of 3 boxes of old Monthly Time Books dating from the mid 1960's back to the late 1920's that we found in the attic of our old new house last week. The books indicate that the original owner used to employ Percy and Max to build and repair for others.  I will use them as material in some mixed media projects, not just as collage papers, but incorporated into some other kind of artwork.
And a detail from the same piece.
I think I often like my details more than the whole work because they become necessarily abstract,
 a direction I want to explore. 
In the meantime, I have a few more pictures to share with you of my flight home from Toronto exactly one week ago.

Through the big glass windows of the waiting room at the airport I saw the airplane next to the one I'd take being unloaded. You can see the reflection of the seats in the waiting room perfectly follow the length of the plane, segmenting it as if on purpose but totally unplanned. Just a neat bit of serendipity.
Though it was clear upon take-off, we hit cloud cover almost immediately
and throughout the whole trip
giving lots of opportunity to see multiple variations
in the cloudscape, like this amazing herringbone pattern
and these great openings that show the land below
To think what appears to be so vast to us is infinitesimally small in the scheme of things
Bank after bank of varied height and density
busy sculptural bits in the distant froth
would actually be enormous
Right angle slices would drop away
creating a crater with an apparent splash around it
And finally breaking through the clouds to the wild lakelands of Nova Scotia
here is one of the drawings I did while I was away
Like many people today I am fascinated by the numbers of today's date: 12/12/12 and even posted this post at 12:00 EST just for fun. Twelve is considered the Chinese number for unity. Might I suggest we bring a little twelve into our lives.
Bless us every one.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


As promised, I have a few drawings to share from my time away in Toronto.

Though my shots are blurry I still like this one of white berry bushes
 that grow in the laneway behind my sister's house
Taken through a raindrop windshield, another blurry laneway shot, this one of a variegated leaf bush.

And a romantic blurry closeup of this same bush
 Each night, to wind down from the excitement of the long busy days at the One of a Kind show,
I would draw in my travelling sketchbook. This is my impression of "Tanya from Ukraine" who sold her beautiful bas reliefs at the show
 with her little daughter who has cerebral palsy.
On another night (and into the next morning) I drew my impression
of  "Pat from Kensington Market" who is due for a knee operation.
I was full of emotion for the duration of my time there.  One either tunes out, or in my case, feels the enormity of the human condition when one is in the bustle of a big city.  It quite overwhelmed me at times and drawing was a way for me to vent the buildup inside. I think of the tender souls I met and send them my love.
Give your love in any way you can,

Friday, 7 December 2012

Winged Victory for Sparrow Avenue

Closing in on 3 weeks since my last post, I'm happy to say I'm back with lots of interesting things to share from my impromptu trip to Toronto to help my sister sell her beautiful work at the One of a Kind Christmas Show held on the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds.

On the first morning of the show, my brother-in-law drove us through the Princes' Gates
Ever since I was a child, this monument, part of which constitutes the gates, has held a thrill for me, always associated with the gigantic Canadian National Exhibition, the biggest agricultural fair of its kind in Canada, held on 192 acres on the north side of Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto.
image courtesy of cne archives
In case you're interested, The Princes' Gates, were designed by the architectural firm of Chapman & Oxley, and opened in 1927 by H.R.H. Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother, Prince George. Since that time, the Princes' Gates have become a symbol of the Canadian National Exhibition. The nine pillars on either side of the centre arch of the gates represent the participating provinces of Confederation (Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949).  The Princes' Gates were designated as historically significant under the Ontario Heritage Act later that same year.

The figure at the top of the arch, the "Goddess of Winged Victory," was sculpted by Charles McKechnie and underwent major restoration in 1987.
The One of a Kind Christmas Show was held at the Direct Energy Centre, a monstrous building that is the largest facility of its kind in Canada,  1,072,000 square feet, with 8 "halls" the size of airplane hangars.
And there was my sister, owner/operator of Sparrow Avenue, with her little 3x3 feet square booth in the Rising Stars section showing her fabulous original drawings, silk screened onto linen and sewn by her into pillows, tea towels, pouches, day bags, totes and passport wallets (to name a few). One of a Kind so believed in her that they featured her work in some of their most prominent advertising. Needless to say I am very proud of her- and the enormous effort she made to present herself so professionally at the show.
Each morning we would arrive in advance of the huge crowds to prepare for the day. This misty morning I got this impressive shot of the CN Tower, once the world's tallest structure, peeking out amidst the high rises.
Each day I was away, I worked in a small sketchbook, pictures that I will share with you next time.
Til then, we must please remember to be kind to ourselves, and kind to each other.