inspired by...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Reed Krakoff is a freakin' genius and I have thought so for a very long time - check out the Abbey leather flap hobo, and the jewellery and the scarves... from Coach's fall ad campaign

From the September 2007 j.crew catalogue filled with amazing clothes, vivid colours, great textures, accessories, jewellery & tons of cashmere options and all shot in the City of Light ... be still my beating heart. Did Stacy London put this outfit together?

4 agreements

yummy colours - Lee Jofa ad from September Elle Decor

A book it's time to reread is The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz - A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. One of those books that should live by my bedside and be compulsory reading every few months. This week seems a perfect week to begin that practice. It's a tiny book, very easy to read, and the premise is basically if you follow these 4 rules (although I like that he chooses instead the word agreements), you will feel much more happy & free. He reveals the basic self- limiting beliefs, that most of us cart around, that rob us from joy and create needless suffering & self doubt.

In a nut shell the 4 agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth & love.

2. Don't take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness & drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.

4. Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self abuse & regret.

No's 2 & 3 are very familiar to me, although I am much better than I used to be. In the past, I would plummet instantly into
taking things personally and making assumptions, when anything disappointing happened in my life, if I didn't know the reasons why something happened, and you most often don't - I could & would make up my own horrific reasons, almost always my own fault in some way. This week, when jarred from my comfy existence by very disappointing news, I did initially sink like a rock into that place - thankfully, albeit, with some help, I bobbed back up to the surface relatively quickly and it's a much better place to be and I was reminded, once again, to try and live my life following these 4 simple agreements.

summer days

Thursday, August 30, 2007

summer in a glass - Crystal Light ice tea, it's fast, easy and sugar free

This is the last week of August and true, full blown, summer days are fast coming to an end. Because this is a seasonal village - the population doubles or triples in the summers' with all the cottage folk, the village is a buzz in summer. No parking spots at the local grocery store, Mercedes, Jags & BMW convertibles zip around town, and so many people walking around that you don't recognize. I suppose it's good for the economy - you say that out loud because you feel like it's the proper thing to say, but most of us full-timers or "locals" are always happy to have our sleepy little village back. This has been a glorious last week of August, hot & sunny every day, and yesterday a strong, warm breeze off the ocean just made you want to loll about in a hammock drinking ice tea.

It was one of those lots-of-loose-ends-to-tidy-up kind of days yesterday. Popped into see my neighbour
Jean , still no real change in her husbands' condition, had a lunch date, sent out more resume/bio PDFs & portfolio samples, and worked on my web site design. Have decided, it's finally time, overdue actually, but my portfolio is just too big and too varied now - to not have a web site. Hope to have that up and running by mid September. Mowed the lawn - a job I detest but as I pushed the little rubber knob 10 times to prime the motor I reminded myself that attitude is everything (normally I hate platitudes). If I continue to fuss & fume internally about how I hate to mow the lawn - well, I'm certainly not making it a more pleasant task. So I did mow, and had a bit of a lighter step, due to a slight attitude adjustment, as I pushed and pulled, that roaring, spewing, hunk of red metal around my yard. The house from the street always looks so great after the lawn is mowed - instant gratification.

Later, as we drove back to town along the shore road from our supper time beach walk, with all the car windows down, Winnie Dixon leaning on the door with her head and snout pointed into the wind, Jake sprawled out on the back seat, me with my arm draped casually out the window singing along with Gwen Stephani on the local radio station and the breeze whipping through the car - I thought this feels like pure summer - this moment right now.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

it's blueberry time again...yum

Yesterday proved once again to me that you just never know what's around the next corner ... sometimes it's something fantastic that makes you feel happy & excited and sometimes it's not. Occasionally it's a big 'ol bump in the road that feels at first like it's knocked you into the ditch - that you've fallen and you can't get up. A project that I had been working on for ages and had thrown my heart & soul into, was suddenly, seemingly completely out of the blue, canceled - by email. I generally love that little bing my computer makes when I have new mail and I'm always anxious & curious to see what little nugget of news has arrived. This time, reading through the message (twice) it just felt like whoosh! and all the air had been sucked out of me. Tears began to spurt out of my eyes (don't be at all alarmed, tears spurt from these eyes very easily and always have) and Winnie & Jake, both sleeping on my studio floor, raised their heads, upon hearing the sniffling, with concern. In hind sight, I might say that there were signs that something was amiss, my spider senses had been tingling a bit and for the last month or two - things had not felt right. I felt suspicious, even a little paranoid, about how the project was moving along. However, I tried (hard) to chalk it up to a new customer, new ways of working, just keep nose to paint tray, be positive and upbeat - which is normally quite easy for me to be.

Thankfully, I had the good sense to quickly call 1-800-DESIGN HELP. A designer friend of many years, that too is glued to her desk and lap top most days. She answered on the second ring. Within minutes my hurt & bruised ego felt restored, her opinion of my talent & ability came out of her mouth with such ease and confidence ... I felt forced to believe her.
She reminded me that it was just this one project that had been canceled, not the relationship with this particular company (as was clearly stated in the fateful email). Her suggestions of lead paint issues in China, ever increasing cost per unit issues, and the fickle opinions of sales & marketing teams (the philistinian secret enemy of any designer) all seemed very valid. Perhaps I was not meant to take this personally.

I took the sweeties for an extra long walk at the beach, the tide was way out, I took my camera (am trying to always have it with me), breathed the salty ocean air deeply and came home to an email from another big fish company that I've been hoping to acquire as a customer, asking for further samples. I'm choosing to believe that another new door is opening.

Thanks MLou

dragonfly season

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Late August is dragonfly season, we see them flitting everywhere like little miniature hovering helicopters with their iridescent bodies and gossamer wings. As a child we were afraid of them, we heard them called "darning needles" and the old wives's tale - that they would sew up children's mouths with their long pointy bodies - a leftover from the Victorian era, I would guess, when children were to be seen and not heard. Well I love them now. In the heat of the late afternoon sun as we walk down the grass lane toward the beach the only sound that we hear is the electrical sounding hum of hundreds of crickets and the air is filled with dragonflies. Large blue/purple iridescent bodies, small bright red bodies with quirky curved tails, all busily zooming around and when one stops to light on a tall blade of grass, we all stop to have a closer look.

It was a busy day yesterday. Quicker than usual morning beach walk because "the boy" had an appointment at the vet "in town" at 9:15. Just a check-up and I also wanted to go to the big grocery store and get a few of the things that I can't get locally. The days have been very hot & humid so I made the decision to get groceries before Jake's appt. so he wouldn't be in a warm car for long. His appointment went very well, I confess to beaming with pride when anyone asks how old he is - because they just can't believe it - 13 years in December. He does not, at all, look or seem like a senior dog, people most often think he's 3 or 4. I know with all my heart it's because he spends 45 minutes every morning from May til the end of October serving his purpose - which is to retrieve things from water. It's not just the physical exercise it's the emotional stimulation and pure pleasure that he gets from doing his job. He's lost 10 lbs since April, which is an amazing amount for a dog to lose in 5 short months but I wasn't surprised because he runs around and swims, each morning, as if he was training for a triathlon.

The vet suggested that in 2 weeks we start to reduce his heart medication gradually with the intention of stopping completely. We're not convinced that he has a heart condition and both my vet and I don't want to continue to give him medication that he may not need. His grave, grave illness back in early April seems to be an ongoing mystery. Perhaps it was something putrid or toxic that he ate (he'll eat anything) when we were walking at the golf course. I suspect we'll never for sure...but he's a healthy, happy dog now and that's all that matters.

Jake... enjoying what he was born to do

dog cookies

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dog cookies oven temperature 350

1 can condensed broth (chicken or beef)
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1 cup of mixed grains (oatmeal, cornmeal, oat bran, bran, 12 grain cereal-any one or combination of- just adds some texture)
2-3 cups flour - whole wheat, white or both to make a workable dough.

mix oil, broth & grains, then add flour until the dough is no longer sticky (you made need more than 3 cups) and you can easily knead by hand. Knead dough for a minute or two and then at this point cut the ball of dough in half and wrap one half up in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Keeps really well.

Roll out remaining dough on a floured surface, into a big rectangle until dough is between 1/4 and 1/8 thick, dust top with flour. Use a large knife to cut into squares approx 1" x 1". In the beginning I used shaped cookie cutters , little bone shapes, tiny gingerbread men or hearts but I find I go through a batch of cookies so quickly that now I just make squares – it's easy and very fast to do. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 mins or so. Take the sheets out of oven and with your fingers or spatula flip all cookies (this helps ensure nice crisp cookies). bake another 10 mins or so keeping an eye on them and even turning the oven down to 250 or so they will continue to bake/dry out. the secret is to make sure they are not soft in the middle. Hard & crunchy is the goal. Half the dough should make 2 cookie sheets full of cookies.


Peanut Butter
use water instead of broth & soften 1/3 cup of peanut butter in microwave and reduce oil to 1/4 cup, then add grains & flour as in main recipe.

Beef 'n Bacon
bacon drippings to equal 1/2 cup (or 1/4 cup with 1/4 cup oil)
I save my bacon drippings in a container in the fridge until I have enough, melt in microwave. These cookies smell delicious and are quite a hit. Broth, grains & flour as in main recipe.

Chicken 'n Spinach
blend cooked spinach (or any vegetable carrots, squash, sweet potato...) in a blender with chicken broth then add oil, grains & flour as in main recipe.

Pumpkin Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup of pumpkin puree
good dash of cinnamon
grains & flour as per main recipe.

I can almost guarantee you'll never buy dog cookies again


Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh! what a face, her name is Beatrice ... just melts my heart
the photo is from the
Nikon D40 ad campaign

best before

my new inspirational fabric arrived from cheap threads @

I was up with my coffee at 4 am this morning. I woke up at 3:49 or something like that and just thought I'm awake – put the coffee on. Let Bleet outside. Lulu & Bleet are outside cats and my two new babies Ver & Gussie are inside cats, due I think, to the increased worry and paranoia that comes with being older & wiser, that combined with the realization that they do have a very rich, active life inside 29 Black Street- no need for them to be out there cruising with the alley cats, raccoons and occasional fox. Fed the kittens, and poured my first cup of java to take back up to bed which is my usual every morning coffee-in-bed practice. The best before date on the carton of milk that I opened was Sept. 1 and I am feeling that bittersweet feeling that late August always seems to bring. The air each early morning has a noticeable chill and the smell of fall is definitely in the air.

It's been one of those weeks where suddenly it's Friday and it seems that I haven't accomplished much. I have pages of thumbnail drawings out there with a client waiting to hear back for the nod to go ahead to finished drawings. Was asked by the new tabletop collection company to pause with my final art, for a week or two, as they're still trying to nail down the production factory in China and I've worked extra hours at my part-time retail job. But somehow it just feels like a somewhat wasted week which I realize is a crazy way to be thinking and a habit I have that needs to fall by the wayside. This feeling reminds me of how I long for the day when I finally put an end to judging or rating days, weeks & months by the number of things that I've accomplished. Or what's probably easier for me to do is to remind myself that making a batch of homemade dog cookies, lying on my bed perusing a stack of fat September magazines, making potato salad with new potatoes and fresh dill from Harry's garden to eat with crisp newly picked cukes and strolling down the grass lane again at 5pm with my best friends, Winnie & Jake... are all worthy accomplishments – that need to be counted.

things that make me smile...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

from kate spade's fall editorial advertising campaign

I've always loved Kate Spade's quirky, unusually cropped, saturated colour, candid-like photography...but this image lept off the page at me.

sundry items

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Neighbours Jean & Laird update

I spoke with Jean yesterday morning. I just stepped out onto the street on my way to the post office and she was being dropped off at home by her brother Mark. Lucy, Lester's wife (neighbours to the left) also must have heard Jean arrive home so we all gathered on the street in front of Jean's house to get the latest on Laird's health. She was just back from an early morning trip to the hospital and there has been some improvement in his condition. He's far from out of the woods but he was responding to people and although still unable to speak Jean said that you could tell that he wanted to. The Dr's seemed more positive and Jean seemed in good spirits and continues to be touched by the kindness & concern shown by everyone.

Books Read ?

I consider myself an avid reader and I don't know if any one's noticed but my books' read column is not yet a column – it's an item. I began this blog mid July and here we are nearing the end of August and I can't yet add another book to that list and if I were to be brutally honest I would confess that I didn't actually finish Love Eat Pray and had to reorder it from the library and I'm now second in line for it. A bit of a reading slump or drought although I did begin reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides last night. A book that has been on my "want to read" list for several years, last year I bought a copy at a yard sale and this year Oprah made it her summer reading pick. I only read in bed and the act of reading puts me to sleep almost instantaneously often takes awhile to get through a book. Last night I fell asleep at page 10, the book has 527 pages but I'm confident my pace will pick up, it's a really easy book to read because you're swept immediately into the characters & their's written in that very familiar & descriptive humorous style that I love.

A recipe for Sally

I haven't actually made this yet myself but I thought it sounded good, easy and I bet my Aunt Sally would like it. It's from the last page (The Last Touch) of the August 2007 Gourmet magazine

Cheddar Horseradish Spread

2 cups coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped radish
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

Stir together all ingredients with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt & pepper

bayberry & wild roses

Winnie in the wild rose & bayberry pasture

A project that I've been thinking about lately is drawing/illustrating a map of this magical place that I go to, most days, twice a day. Three crescent beaches, a lighthouse, a grass lane and a grass path, a rocky reef that stretches out into the strait – almost entirely exposed at low tide, rolling pastures with grazing dairy cows and a small chunk of forest that is currently home to a colony of 20 or so big blue herons, foxes, raccoons, eagles, hawks...We (Jake, Winnie & I) arrive first thing in the morning, before 7 am this time of the year and I eventually meet up with three other women and a total of 5 dogs. We walk and talk and throw sticks for the two retrievers that love the water and we climb this cliff, nearly every morning, scrunch leaves of bayberry in our fingers and smell that wonderful waft of summer, the smell that takes me back instantly to childhood summers in Prince Edward Island. We stand at the top of the cliff in this overgrown pasture, looking out over the glistening ocean, if the tide is low, to the exposed reef where big fat seals loll in the early morning sun and we say to each other, again almost every morning...we are so lucky.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

clouds #1


Ver with muckboots & cat toy

This photograph reminds me that photography is so much about the light. A photo of my sweet cat Ver (Oliver) sitting on a very worn $6.99 Home Hardware mat, my beloved Muckboots and crappy kitchen floors and kinda crappy red walls. But the light ... is beautiful and thankfully causes one to see things in a brand new way.

Don't you love the colour red? It's been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. The plan, however, (item # 213 on the ever growing list of things to do around the house & garden) is to change these red walls to a shiny enamel off-white (perhaps Morning Light or Seaside Resort). My current latest (or is it latest current) paint plans for the kitchen – and those plans always seem to change and unfortunately they most often change after I've painted to the new (must-be) colour. The reasoning behind painting my entire house in a white/off-white (Cottontail, Harrington Beige, Cloud White...
) colour scheme is with the hopes that my constant new favourite wall colour thing will be curbed and I can use accessories to fulfill that impulse for certain new colour trends. Makes sense? Benjamin Moore and Pottery Barn have collaborated– and Oh! they make the colours & even the almost absence of colours look SO good. This latest, and hopefully lasting thing is – I want that airy, light, white, shabby chic, cottage feel. In fact, when I get down in the dumps about my crappy floors, mismatched or completely absent baseboards and such – I tell myself "well, I live in a big ol' brick cottage on Black's a cottage ... not a house" and somehow I feel better.

Just glanced out my window and the sky has turned that pastel rainbow of early morning colours. Almost a pale violet at the horizon, to pale peachy orange, to yellow, & a soft greenish and then the soft blue of an early morning sky.

canadian pride

Sunday, August 19, 2007

a small town Prince Edward Island fairground

Scott Brison, Liberal MP, married his same sex partner in a ceremony at a small chapel in his home town in Nova Scotia this weekend. His wedding a who's who of liberal Canadian politicians. Former prime ministers Joe Clark & Paul Martin, Canada's former ambassador to the US Frank McKenna, current Liberal leader Stephane Dion, to name a few. Just a reminder of how different things are up here north of the border and a reminder to me of what a great country I live in.


the wind in her fur

A very long post.

The yard sale was canceled due to rain – all day, cold & windy also. I was happy, seeing as I only had 1 box, and my partner in the yard sale, Carol, who I walk with every morning at the crack of dawn was in agreement that it was just too nasty a day and we should post-pone. I did however get rid of three (free) pieces of furniture. 2 hand me down desks and a somewhat antique 3/4 bed frame (actually got 20.00 for that piece). Harry, who helped me lug those three pieces into the yard suggested that the bed was too nice to be free. The bed was gone not 30 mins after it was placed against a large pine tree in my front yard, and bought by someone I know, Rochenda, a friend, who's a bit of a tourist cottage maven took the bed for her latest venture, the fourth cottage in what soon will be George and hers' tourist cottage empire. The 2 desks were both gone by 9:30 Sat. morning and I had the first Saturday,
in along time, completely to myself. I work part time, Saturday's & sometimes Sunday as well at Harry's gift & decor store.

As Lester, my neighbour to the left, was carting away desk No. 2 in his wheelbarrow he mentioned that Jean's (another neighbour diagonally across the street and my favourite – she's a huge animal lover and over the years we've developed a close relationship because we share that love) husband Laird was in the hospital and likely dying, in a coma, had had a heart attack and his kidney's were failing – they both are well into their 80's but have managed to continue to live happily at home with the assistance of friends, family, Meals on Wheels, and Laird has been using a motorized chair to get around and down to the park which overlooks the harbour. Usually all I see of him zooming by my house is a flash of the fluorescent orange flag that waves on an antenna attached to the chair. I'm sure he zipped by my house not long ago. I had been talking to Jean earlier in the week because we were planning a shopping trip to town. That's a Maritime expression - going to town, the bigger community 35 mins away by car where you can get most everything that you'd need and most people who live in this village make a trip to town on a regular basis. I would drive Jean and I, in their bus (a maroon minivan), to do our errands & shopping and I called to chat about when we might go. She mentioned that Laird had gone into the hospital that day to be checked out after a day or so of not feeling himself.

So it was 10:00 am Saturday morning and I was trying to decide what I should do for Jean. I love to cook and I know that they both have a sweet tooth and I quite often take cookies or muffins across the street to them. The decision of what to cook was not the only thing heavy on my mind – I was also feeling that fear or dread of having to face someone else's sadness.
Just feeling that I'm not very good at that sort of thing. Being self conscious (I guess) about what to say, and how much to ask about, while all the time thinking I'm sure most people when faced with this situation must want to talk about it. I'm thinking now as I write this, that perhaps it's a mistake, that I always make, in trying to imagine how I would feel in the same situation. How would I feel if my husband and partner of a zillion years was in the hospital & possibly dying. What would I want someone to do, to say or to ask me? Once again far too much chatter going on in my head.

I decided on soup, a hearty split pea and vegetable made with chicken broth and lots of garden fresh vegetables. I had been to the Farmer's Market earlier and had bought 2 big fat cloverleaf brioche rolls (perfect to go with the soup). I remembered her sweet tooth and made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a variety pack of Shirley's (local bakery) squares and found the perfect cat themed post card to write a little note on. I knew that Jean had left with her son to visit Laird in the hospital so I walked across the street in the pouring rain to place my box of goodies in her porch and noticed that I was not the first to leave a parcel of food & love by her door. Back home I felt relieved, relieved that I had delivered my package of sustenance but most of all, honestly, relieved that I hadn't had to speak to Jean, that I was able to send my message without having to face her possible sadness (an emotional coward I am).

At 5 o'clock the phone rang and my call display told me it was Jean. As soon as she began to speak my worries and self consciousness vanished. She thanked me and continued on to say what a perfect place to live Black Street was, she was overwhelmed, I think, by the kindness of so many of her neighbours. Neighbours like me who love Jean ... and want to help out in any way they can. I asked how Laird was and she told me her main concern had been that he might be suffering in some way because of chest tubes and other medical interventions – however it seems this latest trip to the hospital she felt reassured that he was very sedated, not conscious and therefore comfortable and that gave her great peace of mind. I asked how she was feeling and I could tell by the strength in her voice that she was fine. We chatted for 10 mins or so and she promised to keep me posted and I promised to drop over and visit and that we would share a few meals this week.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Pablo Picasso 1918 Huile sur toile

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful”
William Morris

I'm having a yard sale today and yesterday I spent the entire day housecleaning and going through every nook and cranny of my house searching for items that I'd like to sell in a yard sale. And in that hunt I found this clean, crisp postcard I was sure I had lost. Another of those all time favourite images, especially once I had moved to the seaside. The postcard was bought at The Louvre my very first awe struck trip to Paris back in the late 90's. When yesterday was over I had only one large cardboard box full of yard sale things - which made me feel great. Finally, finally after years of carting around way too much stuff. I have managed to sell or give away almost all my excess crap. What remains in my house, pretty much, are things that I love or things that may be useful - I'll admit that the word may in that statement could be troublesome but for today I feel really good about every single item that I allowed to stay. Plus I was quite thorough in organizing the things that do remain and I now feel that I know where almost everything is - another state of being I felt I'd never achieve. How great it is to think "I wonder where that butterfly patterned tissue paper
is ?" I can now answer myself "why I think you'll find that tissue paper in the back crawlspace, on the left hand side, in the shoe box marked tissue paper"... order ... my secret alter ego.


"In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful.
But gratefulness that makes us happy" Anonymous

the boy

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The boy ... Jake, one of those soul mate dogs, my comfort for nearly 12 years

Adopted from my local animal shelter in Dec 95 when he was just a year old, I became his third and final home. I think he was just too much dog for the previous owners. Retrievers are often puppy like until middle age and this was certainly true with Jake. He bounced and bounded and wagged his tail about everything well into his 8th & 9th year (he was like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh) - exuberant about everything and eventually he did slow down. This year, in April, we had a terrible scare when he suddenly became very ill and wouldn't eat. Not eating for Jake is, well, just plain shocking, he's one of those food obsessed dogs. So it was very frightening, it seemed to come on very suddenly and we were at the vet's Sat, Sun, & Mon. that weekend. Xrays, blood work, urine samples and then more xrays. The Monday visit Dr. Hollis told me that her best guess was that he had hemangiosarcoma - a very deadly kind of cancer and likely had only a week or so left to live. It was an awful week that turned into two weeks thinking that I may be losing my second dog in just a few months but thankfully, he wasn't dying, the diagnosis was changed and he was prescribed a heart medication, Fortekor. We'll never know for sure what made him so sick that weekend, and I guess it doesn't matter because he's incredibly fit & healthy now. The combination of the medication and stick fetching & swimming season has given him a zest for life that I haven't seen in him in a very long time. It's unbelievable, he is in better shape physically then he has been for years and that's partially due to the 30-45 mins of stick throwing that we do every morning. He was put on this earth to retrieve -and retrieve from water, it has to be in the water. Throw a ball in a field and he looks at you like "what?" The intense look/stare on his face in this photo is him looking at the sticks I'm holding ... just waiting for me to throw them again. He is 12 1/2...and except for a lighter muzzle you would think he was a very young dog.

Thank you God.

love love

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miss Winnie Dixon - the most perfect dog and every day it seems like I love her a little more than I did the day before.

5:46 am and I've been up for awhile. Was up at 4:30 to let the boy (Jake) out to pee and I decided what the hell it's close enough to my normal coffee time which is 5 am. Busy week this week and practically stress & worry free hence the lack of paragraphs posted. For years I kept a written journal and the amount actually written per entry always seemed a barometer of "how things were". If things were going well ... I didn't have too much to say. The nice thing about this blog is I do still feel like posting images ... because there are so many things that I want to document visually, and I love this renewed passion for photography. I've decided I must take my camera each morning with us on our walk at the beach - too many mornings lately I've wished I had it. I just need to get used to the idea that it's somewhat cumbersome to carry and slightly effects my stick throwing ability. Ordered some inspirational patterned fabric from Etsy this morning my first Etsy many lovely things. I can't wait to have my own little Etsy shop (greeting cards to start). Soon...very soon.

things that make me smile...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Changing bedding with kittens Ver (Oliver) & Gussie Gus - always, every time I change the sheets on my bed they both appear out of nowhere... to give me a hand :-)


Bleet, Bleetito, Chicelet, Bleetness, Nessy, Ness - I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a million, ever changing, terms of endearment for their much loved pets. Here's my big fat black cat Nessy (Bleet) checking out his new look out perch in the backyard.

you gotta love that face


Sunday, August 12, 2007

3:30 pm on a beautiful, hot, sunny afternoon in the village. The gospel crowd are giving an outdoor concert on the park stage not far from my house. Warbley senior ladies voices singing hymns - and I do not mean that to sound offensive in any way...but I'm afraid they are competing with my listening to Eleanor Wachtel interviewing Nick Hornby on Writers & Company. I am supposed to be working but had to write a quick post as I'm just back from a 2 hour coffee date at the village cafe with Lucie and her handsome french chef husband Jean Jacques. Lucie & I worked together at Chatelaine, many years ago, she as a Food Editor and me as Associate Art Director. She now is a very sought after food stylist and her husband has a very successful French bistro restaurant in TO (Toronto for anyone who may not know the abbreviation). She called Saturday to say they were touring around Nova Scotia and would be going through my village on Sunday - I'm so glad that she called. We had a lovely, gab filled 2 hours of catching up. She stopped by in 2004 on another summer breeze through trip and we didn't manage to stay in touch so it was a very pleasant surprise to hear from her and amazing that we seemed to just pick up where we left off three years ago. I am making a promise to myself to keep in touch with her this time.

hodge podge

Hodge Podge - an old Maritime recipe using fresh garden vegetables

tiny new potatoes
green beans
yellow beans
heavy cream (1/4 cup)

cook vegetables in a bit of salted water until still firm, drain well and add cream & butter, salt & pepper. Yum.

sweet peas & prayer

Friday, August 10, 2007

I realize that there are many, many versions of prayer and I'm not a religious person. However I do speak with God. (I say God but I think that's just a convenient word to use). I speak to someone, quite regularly, often saying thank-you for the incredible peace & serenity that I experience in my life. I say thank-you for the great tasting fresh water that pours out of my tap, I say thank-you for the clear night sky filled with billions of stars, I say thank-you for the comfort & safety of my cosy bed. I do also ask God, or whoever it is that I'm talking to, from time to time, to help me. Yesterday morning was one of those conversations. Jake, Winnie and & I were walking down the grass lane on our way to the beach and I was still feeling fetched up. Fetched up about the giant tree lying prone in my back yard, the tree had become the tipped domino, the straw that breaks, the thing that had me sliding into that awful pit of self pity - having to deal with yet one more thing all by myself. Who would I call to remove the tree? maybe I could just leave it for awhile? I hated to call my neighbour Roger because I was afraid he'd feel obligated and the one person I knew to call I don't really trust, he kind of creeps me out. Anyway all this fussin' around in my brain was getting to me. So I asked God to help me just deal with it and turn the day around somehow...and maybe he/she could throw a little sign my way... just so I'd know that he/she was paying attention.

When the chatterbox in your head pretty much talks non stop it's easy to forget what you were thinking about, sometimes minutes ago. We carried on our morning walk and I soon got lost in examining the beach which had been pounded the day before by rough surf and very high tides-the landscape quite dramatically changed - and secretly hoping I'd find something (?) exciting washed up, maybe some, as yet, undocumented sea creature ... and soon forgot about my conversation with God. We climbed the cliff, so we could walk a bit through the grown over pasture, part of our daily route, it's filled with wild roses and bayberry, and in July tiny wild strawberries. I noticed something moving way off in the distance it was four deer walking and grazing in a pasture up on the hill...both dogs enjoy rolling in the tall grass in this particular field and they continued on with their daily drill making doggy crop circles, flattening the grass in big patches as they rubbed every part of their bodies with great enthusiasm. It wasn't until we were back on the grass lane heading for the car that the deer reappeared and I came out of my meditative morning state to remember that deer means "gentleness" in animal totems. I realized that the deer might be my sign, my sign from God to lighten up, be gentle with myself.

Finally after breakfast, dogs fed and settled and me at my desk aiming for great productivity I heard a soft knocking on my front door. A young man, I had never seen before, stood at my door and asked if I needed to have a tree cut up and removed ? He had been told by the village gardener/caretaker, Lee, that I had a large fallen tree that needed to be taken care of. I showed him into the back yard and after a quick conversation he gave me a very reasonable price and said he'd be back after lunch. By 4pm my backyard was back to normal, the clothesline back up, I gave him extra money because he did such a fantastic job, very neat & thorough, and once again, for the moment anyway ...I am worry free.

a very tall tree gone

was one of the tallest trees in my little backyard forest

I love a stormy day, however, yesterday's grey & rainy day soon escalated into near hurricane type weather. The dogs and I took a quick trip to the beach in heavy drizzle and high winds and by the time we reached the end of the grass lane and arrived at the edge of the back shore beach it was wild. High tide and huge muddy breakers crashing almost at the grass (the water almost never comes up that high). So windy we could barely stand. Quite scary really. So...we turned and ran back up the lane and back to the safety & comfort of my car. The high winds continued all morning with lots of power flickers...nerve wracking wind. I was on the phone speaking with Harry (on his way to TO) when I heard the crack- that awful tree cracking sound. Told him I'd call back and rushed outside (without my glasses). All morning I had been particularly worried about a beautiful linden tree in my front yard that split almost in two in a winter wind storm. The other half seems to be hanging in there and thankfully, this morning, it was still standing. Moving into the back yard I spied what had made the awful crack. A beautiful tall tree, lying horizontally, nestled between my two tall blue spruce trees and my house - no real damage to anything. I had noticed earlier this year that this particular tree, which shades Em's grave, had a big crack up the side, the inside of this crack was soft & pulpy. The tree was rotting & dying from the ground up ... so in a way ... it's probably a good thing that it came down. It's just so sad to lose a tree and you always wonder if you could have done something earlier to save it. I've decided to wait until Monday or Sunday or some other day to call someone with a chain saw. Now it has to be chopped up & removed from my yard...

The lunch yesterday was tolerable...way too many people for me...not my cup of tea at all, and my tour guide duties and lemonade serving were cancelled due to weather.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

detail from an illustrated place mat

Aaaahhh! my morning coffee, actually my only coffee of the day, most days. Delicious and my daily reminder of another new beginning. It's actually cold this morning, had to close a few windows. It's overcast, skies are grey & stormy and it's very blustery. The tree tops outside my office/studio window are swooshing back and forth in the wind. I love stormy days...too much hot, sunny weather gets me down (although I usually only tell a select few that fact about myself). I've always loved a grey day. Have a social function at noon of those little obligations agreed to, that lurks in the back of my mind causing me to have a bit of a constant anxious feeling in my chest - that "I'll feel better when this is over" feeling. It's not a big deal, it's lunch with the village Communities in Bloom crowd (I'm there to represent my friend Harry who will be on a plane heading to the Toronto gift show). He won the business award for gardening / flowers / sprucing up his store front. Then after lunch I need to escort that same crowd over to Harry's big beautiful garden and conduct a bit of a tour and serve lemonade. It's just one of those things that causes me loads of anticipatory anxiety. For days now I've had a nagging little weird feeling in my chest. As always, it will likely go smoothly, be over before I know it, and I'll be left wondering what all the fuss was about. But for now I'll look forward to drinking a glass of lemonade.

back to normal (?)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

my desk

Back to normal (?)...after our 2 hours at the beach yesterday morning 6:45-9:00am I had a great breakfast of soft boiled eggs and homemade white toast (perfect for dipping in buttery egg), organized my desk and Florence files (Florence is the working title of my tabletop collection), mixed up new paint, made a list of the remaining pieces to paint:

1. pitcher (plus wrap)
2. salt and pepper
3. vase
4. pate knife/spreader
5. tidbit plates & server
6. votive candleholder
7. square casserole
8. rect. casserole
9. large serving bowl
10. small round serving platter
11. divided server with handle

light table out and traced several pieces onto water colour paper using my .03mm HB mechanical pencil, then I erase almost all the lines so I can just see, barely, the pencil marks and...paint away, merrily, all the while listening to CBC radio 1. A near perfect day. 3pm got a phone call from Val (my main customer now for over 5 years with another potentially big project - meaning a month or 2's worth of bill paying). Phew! and I had just started to wake at 2am and lie there wondering & worrying about where that next pay cheque was coming from. The trials and tribulations of the self-employed designer. One thing that I have learned in these past six years (although I do need remind myself from time to time) is that - you can never know what's just around the next corner (my fantastic adventure to China & LA a perfect example).

My little slump, thankfully, seems to be over. I'm back to my normal (?).

the back shore

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Yesterday after my post admitting my sadness...I had a big bowl of rainbow sherbet and vanilla (half fat) ice cream - kind of like a bowl of triple flavour Dreamsicles, tidied up the kitchen (dishes etc), cut myself some slack about the lack of productivity as far as my design job goes (chalked yesterday up to an extra day of vacation) and took those darn Sweeties to the beach. We went to the back shore beach. Tide was full and I threw some sticks for Jake and Winnie and I walked up and down the beach while he swam around collecting his sticks. It occurred to me that just a few days ago Michael, Molly & Sandra were all here on this beach too...that's a good feeling - that each morning now when I walk on that beach I can remember that I've shared this place with them. Once I was on that train of thought, the thought that once someone or something has been somewhere some of their energy or spirit remains there, at the place that they visited, it reminded me of a time years ago. 12 years ago, at least, when I only had Em and I didn't drive. Em and I would walk from the village at low tide to this back shore beach...way out on the muddy flats & sandbars. I would carry a knapsack with water and maybe a new magazine and we'd finally arrive on this beach. Em would go off into the pasture looking for cow patties, I would sit on the beach enjoying the sun and she would eventually join me, having the entire huge expanse of beach she would sit within inches of me and that always made me feel great. We'd just sit staring up at the sky...staring out at the water and the sandbars. We'd wade around in the shallow warm water, me floating around and Em never leaving my side and we'd have a day at the beach, just Em & I ... hanging out on the back shore.


Monday, August 6, 2007

super macro

michael's eye shot with super macro function

another monday

gussie gus on his bed by the window

Feeling blah, blue, down, in a The family left noonish on Saturday and I felt very sad that afternoon and I still feel sad. I worked yesterday at my very part time job at Harry's store, noon - 5pm and that was a distraction from the sadness. I know it will pass as it always does but I'll always hate this feeling. Somehow it feels wrong...that I should be able to snap myself out of it. Have tons of work to do and I just (it's nearly 2pm) can't seem to get going. It's that old anti-climactic feeling. Something you look forward to for such a long time, throwing yourself into all the preparations and anticipations and then 2 days blow by and the next thing you know you're out on your front porch waving goodbye again for who knows how long. I hope that they had a nice time because I really love having them visit.

We went to the beach for a few hours on Friday, gorgeous, hot, sunny day and high tide around 1pm. Molly, Michael & I lolled about in water up to our waists for quite awhile while Sandra waded around close to shore picking up beach glass and examining hermit crabs. We had homemade pizza the first night and barbecued sausages the second lots of chips, pop and brown sugar pound cake from Shirley's Baking at the Co-Op (best cake ever). I made marshmallow/peanut butter/butterscotch chip squares. Michael figured out for me how to disable the flash on my camera and also that not only do I have a macro setting (close up) but I have a super macro setting WOW! 1 1/2 " away from my subject. He and I also spent some time on the computer - him fixing some long term bugs and annoyances for me, me seeing if I couldn't help him find a part time job at an ad agency in St. John's in the fall and showing him a little bit about In Design. The time that they're here always goes by SO quickly. I wish I had taken some pictures of them...but I didn't.

Something that does make it hard, I think, is there are 3 of them and 1 of me. I just feel so divided when they're here. It's difficult to share and enjoy the company of three separate people all at the same time...all at the same time that they're also interacting with each other.
Hope that makes sense. My wish would be to sometime have visits with each of them all by themselves. Just on one.

happiness ?

Friday, August 3, 2007

I've been feeling really great this summer. Summer, for some unknown and misunderstood reason can be a difficult time for me. I can be more worried, anxious & overwhelmed feeling. This summer so far, so good. I do believe that retraining the chatterbox in my head is the secret. I have to cut her off, change the big bad thought that's a-brewing to something else, something mundane or simple. Two great quotes that I must repeat...

"Don't believe everything you think".
Bumper sticker

"It ain't never no use puttin' up your umbrella till it rains".
Alice Caldwell Rice

Also a fantastic little book The Happiness Makeover - perfect for a bedside, short little chapters that are a perfect to read at the beginning of each day or at bedtime.

blue skies

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Today is the day the family arrives. Of course have many items yet to be crossed off my to-do list but I'm satisfied that the bulk of really important things have been done. My vacuum died 3/4 of the way through my mad house cleaning escapades. A girl with 2 dogs and 4 cats needs a working vacuum cleaner. It's a 10 year old Electrolux, homely as sin, but for the most part serves it's purpose. I would love to have a Dyson (one day maybe) - the Passat of vacuum cleaners. You know the one where the British guy, or is he from New Zealand, says in the ad that he was so unsatisfied with all the vacuum cleaners out there he decided to invent his own. They are very beautiful machines, bagless, incredible suction and somehow, I trust this man. I put a call into the Electrolux man last night and hopefully he'll come and take my tired machine away to be tuned up ...since a Passat is not in my near future.