Monday, 31 July 2017

mid-summer musing

Are you as surprised as I am that July is over (not including today)?

Muji ears
Muji is eating his meals these days - for the most part.  I have to baby him through the last bits by mashing his wet food to a grainy pulp- sheesh! - before I'll give him his longed for and much demanded kibble. I know, I know, I've created a monster!

My reward for this draining behaviour is a stroll around the gardens.
The sun is too bright to capture anything that isn't over-exposed or too contrasting. 

The grapes are coming along now with the heat they love

The bumblebees are out in unusual numbers and love the Echinacea

The day is heating up nicely- a little too much for me, so I got myself back in.

I had a request last winter for an old picture of mine, and try as I might I couldn't find it. 
Thankfully it had survived 5 winters on the covered front porch in a box with some other older work; I found it towards the end of June. I cannot tell you why I've stalled so long in sending it, perhaps a little sentimentalism mixed with worry that it will not survive transit.

I took it out of the frame to photograph it without glare.  It is a watercolour done in 2008 of a chameleon, a subject with which I was quite smitten, painting a number of them on pottery.

a detail of the same work

and another
I don't remember how I got the fine line in red. I'm pretty sure I would have used an ink, possibly an acrylic ink, though I don't know why it would have run into the wet watercolour though now that I think about it, it did used to revive with water.  The bleeding (ugh, I didn't want to use that word regarding the red) works though, adding an extra dimension.

Here is another drawing in the sketchbook I've been working in at the kitchen table.
Drawn in black Derwent Coloursoft pencil- a British product with "colour" spelt English style with a "u"- and Black Pitt Pen.
The White is a combination of Sharpie Paint Pen and Ranger White Opaque which is hardly opaque and needed several applications. The green hair is done in various Winsor & Newton pigment markers. Oh, and a Gold Sharpie Paint Pen for the background.

So are you ready for August? Psychologically I mean. Or does it matter to you? The passage of time startles me when I stop to think about it, its effects and consequences. My mind dances around history, both my own and that of the world's and the myriad of personalities and characters that have peopled it. Archaeological digs indicate climate changes and geographical shifts. It's always moving this world of ours, this planet, this reality. It's so easy to forget as we become consumed by our narrow focus on what is of immediate importance, but that doesn't make this trickling of change cease its relentless erosion/life force  of kinetic/static energy.

The irony of meditation, of ceasing all doing, all engaging, all thinking, 
is that it is the only way to keep up with this ever-changing life we've been given-

by being present with all that is.
What a miraculous thing to do.


Friday, 28 July 2017

garden of earthly delights

The end of another week, the last Friday of July, how quickly it all goes.
Today, like yesterday, is cool and overcast. We're expecting more rain. The ash tree that has been shedding all week will appreciate that more than any of the other plants that seem to be doing so well...
like the black hollyhocks amid the clematis

Of course the hollyhocks are not really black but a deep maroon

On the other side of the composter are various plants like Echinacea and lavender

The Echinacea always seem to have benign bumblebees in them

that don't seem to mind me getting up so close to them

while they busy themselves with the task at hand

There are also sweetpeas growing up the composter walls.

Wally's garden is coming along very well, especially the peas that are too heavy to climb very far up the green trellises Wally erected for them. Peas for lunch, peas for snacks, peas for supper.
The beans are just coming in on the lefthand trellis and to their right the zucchinis, then the beets, then carrots and in the back and throughout Dill and Cilantro.

There were so many bumblebees in the cilantro. You rarely see so many together.

The bumblebee got away in this shot, but I decided to take advantage of this exposure of Cilantro blossoms.

On the pea trellis this hornet appeared to be having a nap and let me get quite close to it.

On the far side of our yard I can peer into the neighbours' poppy garden

There is a mass of berries on the mystery tree that grows from their yard into ours.
I must do some homework on this.

The black currants ripen a few at a time, and don't grow like grapes the way I once imagined.

The hayfield has been filling in nicely since it was mowed on the first of the month,
and the goldenrod, harbingers of autumn, are coming into bloom. 

Looking over to my right, Wally has cut a swath out between the massive rose bush and the equally massive back of our hedge.

The little maple tree is not so little anymore. I swear it's grown 2 feet this summer.
Wally mows around it now that I've trimmed the honeysuckle to the left, barely unrecognizable with the grass and lupins growing around and through it.

This is the first time I've noticed that Honeysuckle have a fruit all their own

And who ever looks at the grainy seed head of grass?
I'm so happy with this camera for close-ups.

Another thing I'd never noticed is how the Lupin seed pods spiral open to drop their seed.

This is a vague memory for me- that cow vetch has a seed pod.
I don't think I've noticed this since I was a child.
This camera life, this blogging, has taught me so much.

Heading back up to the house (there is a definite slope to this part of the yard) I head toward the Hydrangea, still bowed from last night's rain

Wally wanted me to look for the bird's nest he saw there.
It has been abandoned, and now it is squished from the weight of the branches.
What I love about it is the animal hair lining the nest. I find this very touching somehow.
So beautiful.

In the middle garden, the succulents we call Hens and Chicks is blooming.

And the Hostas too

I hadn't realized until a few years ago that they are lilies.

Back in the house, someone needs attention

Three Sprites
pencil crayon and India Ink Pitt pen 

And today, because I've been so happily busy making pictures, a "two-for-one". 

I rarely have so much work back-logged. This little Dancer, also done in coloured pencils with Pitt pen has a little white Sharpie paint pen too, but what's really unusual is that the body and the hair are done in Winsor & Newton pigment markers which I believe are alcohol based and absorb a little too readily into this sketchbook paper. I believe marker paper is less absorbent allowing for more blendability. Because I've been storing the marker upright instead of horizontally, I sometimes get less saturation which helped keep the skin tones more subtle.

With that, I will carry on here. Always something calling me to get done. Who would we be without some external thing calling us, defining us, ethereal beings that we are?

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience." 
                                                                                                    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Babu has an adventure

There's a quiet sense of urgency as we near the end of July. So much to be done still as the weather takes a dip to cooler temperatures. I find myself in the garden more often thought the black flies and mosquitoes still find me. I try not to breathe so they can't find my trail of carbon dioxide. Haha

I have a round of pictures today of dear Babu looking for some entertainment. Let me start by telling you that the action takes place in the vestibule that leads to the backyard.

We keep a cart of plastic lined canvas bags that were sold as laundry dividers. I was lucky to find 4 bags on a cart and use them as recycle dividers. Yes, I do need 4 of them plus the composter can by the kitchen sink. We must also buy various colour coded plastic bags in which  to put it curbside.
Nova Scotia is diligent and proud of its recycle program.

Generally Babu is a well-behaved little (big) boy, but he gets bored and that helps me to pet-proof the house if I don't want to find something I care about dragged through the house. It's part of what has made him a good mouser. He's caught 2 and we've released them both.

This time a dried stick caught his attention,
one that I'd taken a fancy to and left propped on the recycle cart.

Most of the action took place after Babu knocked the stick into one of the bags.

He was hardly in a position to jump in and get it.

Like the cat that he is, he immediately changed his focus
as if the stick wasn't what he wanted anyway.

But as he stalled out for a second

contemplating his next move

he turned away, again as if he didn't care.

But not so;

he did want that stick.

What's a poor cat to do?

"I want that stick but I can't reach it."

He made another move on it,

had a good look inside,

thought again about his options
and made one last ditch effort

which slid the cart backward and quite freaked him out!

I did get him the stick, putting it on the kitchen floor for him.
He was totally disinterested in it.
Just like a cat. 

During all this, Wally was outside, finishing trimming the hedge, perched on a ladder, barely reaching the centre of the hedge which seems to widen yearly. That was a job. He keeps asking me to let him take it down to knee high. Well, at least a manageable height. 
As much as I'd like the view, I also like keeping the deer out.

I've been meeting challenges of my own, wanting to complete a spread ( 2 pages side by side) in the cheap little 5 1/2 x 7 1/4 sketchbook I've  been working in these last 5 months.
 Inspired by California artist Roxanne Coble , I gained the confidence to do something more complicated,  more personal, more layered.  Working with my trusty pencil crayons, paint pens and India ink brush pens. 

Tomorrow some more art. I've been on a roll.

"Every morning, even before I open my eyes, I know I am in my bedroom and my bed. But...sometimes I wake up with a feeling of childish amazement: why am I myself? What astonishes the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life and not in any other. What stroke of chance has brought this about?"
                                                                                              Simone de Beauvoir