Sunday, September 30, 2007


Sunday morning early .... it's chilly and windy this morning. All my windows were closed all night and I even contemplated turning on the furnace but decided I'd hunker down in my nest with my java this morning instead.

I ordered 4 cords of split wood yesterday, which will arrive in the next week or so and I will fill my large sun porch with wood for the winter. I have a fire place insert - which is like a wood stove in your fire place opening and it has a fan that blows the hot air back into the room, the heat rises and having a fire on keeps most of my house snug and warm in winter. Burning lots of wood helps reduce the amount that I'll spend on heating oil, not to mention the charm and delight of sitting round the fire with the sweeties. I must also this week make a call to Vinney - the local chimney sweep.

To put my wood in I'll attempt to put myself in a trance like state as I fill my wheelbarrow with pieces of wood as full as possible (but not so full & heavy that I can't push it), wheel the short distance to the sun porch open window, pitch in pieces of wood until I get a big pile inside, then I'll go inside the sun porch and stack that big pile neatly in rows - like wood should be a stacked, then back outside to the wheelbarrow and start all over. I would guess with 4 cords of wood I would make this trip 287 times, or so. Hence the trance like state or a headset radio and my favourite CBC radio programs (I may have to make that purchase) or ...

There is also a possibility that the wood piling fairy may have already been cruising by my house to check on me & to see if my gigantic pile of wood has arrived. That would be Mathew, a young dynamo who in the past (several years) magically shows up at my door, soon after the wood has arrived, with a friend and miraculously completes the big, bad, ugly job in hours (instead of the days, weeks or months it might take me - my trance wears off from to time). Causing, my head to spin with awe, and a desire to throw money at him. I always pay him really well, thank him profusely and he rides off into the sunset in his muffler-less car, hip hop music blaring. But - there's no guarantee that the wood piling fairy will appear this year so I'm just mentally preparing myself for possibility that this year, I may be doing it myself. In theory, I like the idea of an independent, strong rural girl who stacks her own wood, but that picture does wear thin after the 19th or so wheelbarrow full, I'll glance back at the gigantic pile that doesn't seem to be shrinking at all and then I'll feel like I need a break or that there must be something far more pressing that I need to be doing ... and a pattern can develop.

It's all part of autumn life here in my little seaside village in Nova Scotia.

sat. morning

Saturday, September 29, 2007

from a backyard container of annuals

Just about to hop into a hot bubble bath - with Lush - Tramp (a patchouli mixture of smells that I love). Breezy and a little chilly this morning, but all my windows are still wide open at the nearly the end of Sept. I'm working today at my part time job and I'm sure I'll get to work on my Wedding/Romance collection of frames in between customers - that project continues on and I'm very happy with how it's turning out. Just finished having a coffee in bed while flipping through the new copy of Domino (love, love this magazine - so much more my style of decorating, more eclectic, lots of use of yard sale & flea market furniture, not so cookie cutter have-lots-of-money decor). Also loving Blueprint, Wish & Chocolat.

After work this evening, when les cheins and I return from the beach I'm going to make a big pot of corn chowder made with local corn, new potatoes, fresh parsley ...yum.

random thoughts

Friday, September 28, 2007

I have always loved these little coloured balls of sprinkles - non pareils

Ah yes ... random thoughts, but then most of my thoughts are random and likely a symptom of spending so much time alone, drawing and hanging out in my own head.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

1 box of favourite chocolate cake mix
1 package lite cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk chocolate (or dark) chips
favourite homemade (preferably) chocolate frosting.

Mix cake batter following instructions on the box, beat cream cheese with egg and sugar, fold in chocolate chips. Line a muffin tin with pleated paper cups. Spoon cake batter to the half way point of each cup, add a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture and top with another tablespoon of cake batter. Muffin cups should be only 2/3rds full. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins. Cool on a cake rack and frost with your favourite frosting & decorate as you please.
Makes 24.

I made these once or twice for my elderly neighbour Jean and she mentioned the other day how much she loved them ... so it was time to make another batch. I give almost all of them away or else I would have 8 cupcakes for my dinner - not good.


I think that there is nothing that I enjoy more than hanging laundry outside on the line -most often with Bleet meowing at my feet because he's so happy that I've come outside into his world, except maybe ... sleeping in a bed, newly made (always with help from kittens Gus & Ver), with fresh sheets just off the line. Or reaching for a shirt from the closet, burying your face in it and breathing in that amazing fresh smell of outdoors.


My yard this time of year is filled with spiders, their beautiful intricate webs everywhere. I happen to love spiders so I'm quite thrilled. I could have been an entomologist as I find insects of most varieties fascinating and I love to watch them go about their daily business.

Do you ever wonder... when you accidentally bring a spider (or ant or earwig) into the house in your laundry basket or on fresh cut flowers and upon noticing it gently put it back outside, but usually far from where it originally came from – (I wonder) is it difficult for them to find their way back, does that become a monumental journey, do they even try or do they just start a fresh life in the new spot that you've just deposited them?


Thursday, September 27, 2007

my beautiful golden girl Emma Jane Louise

This is the photograph that I have pinned to the drivers side visor of the car and every morning just after we all pile in the car to make the quick trip to the beach I look at this photo and say good morning to the missing leader of our pack. We said goodbye Dec. 22 2006, 9 months ago and still it's hard for me to believe that she's gone. I moved to this little village in 1993 from Toronto to start a new job at a large gift ware manufacturer. I didn't know anyone, had just purchased my first home and my mother, thinking that I needed instant company, (which was true and I wanted desperately to finally have a dog) found Em and we picked her up the second day here. She was 14 months old and had been returned to the breeder because she had dominance/aggression issues but the breeder assured us that that was nonsense. She was a beautiful pale gentle golden and she become my constant companion, my comfort, my security, my buddy.

As the years went by I added to our family, 2 years later Jake (the boy) a 1 year old red retriever I adopted from my local shelter, he had already had 2 homes and I think he was just too much dog for the previous owners. He had been well cared for, trained and he arrived a happy, secure, wound for sound young dog. He still at nearly 13 amazes me with his nearly constant exuberant energetic personality.

In January 2000 the shelter called me and asked if I'd consider fostering a little dog that was not having an easy time at the shelter. Her name was Princess, a scraggly wiry terrier mix that was absolutely terrified of everything and the shelter was worried that she seemed on a steady decline since being there. Not to mention how impossible it is to find home for a dog that is either cowering in their little shelter or barking frantically at anyone who came near her. I remember so clearly the day I picked her up ...how cute she was when I first laid eyes on her, but they had to drag her into my car - she was so terrified. It's a 40 minute drive back to my home from the shelter, she cowered in the back seat while I continued to speak to her softly telling her everything was going to be OK and she responded by throwing up – she was just so stressed out by the whole morning, they had bathed & groomed her and then dragged her into a strange car and closed the door. We just continued on our drive and we weren't at the half way point when she put her little paws on the console between the seats and stuck her head and snout into the front as if to say. "I think I trust you". Em & Jake greeted us at the door, sniffed & wagged their tales at Princess as if to say "come on in, the more the merrier". Several hours later Winnie (formerly Princess) was flinging stuffed toys around and playing. She continues to be very timid of people but she has made great progress with the women that we walk with each morning and she delights in being patted and loved by them. She loved Emma, Em was Winnie's leader & the top dog and I've noticed a huge difference since Em's been gone. I'm now the leader of Win's pack, but she's not quite as confident...Em made her feel much more secure.

Em looked after all of us and as far as we're concerned she is still there with us, each & every morning, at the beach.

Jake, Winnie Dixon & Emma Jane Louise

eat draw fret

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a bounty of fresh garden vegetables

Back to my early morning posting...there's a giant full moon outside my office window, it's very still and balmy, and sweet Oliver is curled up on his bed by my computer. I didn't sleep well last night and why is it that my thoughts are so worried at 1:30am... seems I'm never lying awake in the middle of the night thinking how great my life is, I'm always thinking, in a grossly exaggerated manner, about all the things that need to be done -jungles to hack, wood to order and put in, taxes to pay... all the things that I should worry about.

I'm reading, and enjoying Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and last night in the middle of the night I turned my light on to read, in the hopes of distracting my busy negative mind. Here's a passage from the book. She's in India, living at an ashram and working, hard, on her spiritual self.

" Meditation is both the anchor and the wings of Yoga. Meditation is the way. There's a difference between meditation and prayer though both practices seek communion with the divine. I've heard it said that prayer is the act of talking to God, while meditation is the act of listening. Take a wild guess as to which comes easier for me. I can prattle away to God about all my feelings and my problems all the livelong day, but when it comes time to descend into silence and listen ... well, that's a different story. When I ask my mind to rest in stillness, it is astonishing how quickly it will turn (1) bored, (2) angry, (3) depressed, (4) anxious or (5) all of the above.

Like most humanoids, I am burdened with "monkey mind"– the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but– whoop! –how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood; and then it's the remembrance of an angry moment and I start to get hot and pissed off all over again; and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

The other problem with all this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in the moment. "

OMG–it seems Elizabeth has spent some time recently in my head. I find this passage, in this book, extremely comforting. I think that's another human trait– to somehow believe that you are the only one that thinks & feels this way.

The moon is now a giant orange disc, like Mars, hovering low over the horizon and shining down on the harbour. Surely that's a sign of some sort...

afternoon break

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gussie Gus & Ver take an afternoon coffee break with me

Thought I'd try posting later in the morning...it's nearly 11:00am. Just feeling lazy early this morning and stayed in bed, snuggled in with my coffee but I'm sure I'll get back to my early morning posts, I think it is the best time for me, normally... these last few days have been busy, the mornings have been dark & chilly and it's been harder for me to leave my cosy nest.

coffee in bed

Monday, September 24, 2007

quirky fall mauve asters - many consider them to be weeds
and of course my yard is full of them

My mind has been so busy lately ... the days fly by and I realize that it feels like I'm always doing something, I've felt like I'm racing to squeeze everything in each day. This morning is one of those mornings where I need to just take my coffee back to bed, lie in the dark, with Oliver curled up on my belly and just slow down a bit. Just lie there and not think about anything big & important, not until I really have to. I'll think I'll wait until dawn.

canadian broadcasting corporation

Sunday, September 23, 2007

tomatoes - like candy this time of the year


7-9am - walk with les cheins at the beach. High tide this morning so lots of swimming & fetching sticks for the boy.
9-10am - weekly telephone chat with my sister on my cordless phone while multi-tasking. Laundry & preparing farmers market veggies from yesterday, and pizza dough for tonig
hts dinner of homemade vegetarian pizza.
10-1pm - work at my desk and listen to Michael Enright & The Sunday Edition on CBC radio, a special forum
Afghanistan: What Are We Doing There. I'll listen to this broadcast on my computer so that I can listen to the Toronto or Montreal feed as I'll be an hour behind my time zones schedule for this show. A wonderful thing...I never have to miss my favourite CBC radio shows ... I just listen later in a different time zone.
1-4pm - free goof off time. Only on Sunday afternoons do I allow myself this luxury. I will, no doubt, lay on my bed with lots of pillows puffed up, with a cup of tea and the Saturday Globe & Mail and my current book (am finally finishing Eat Pray Love) and I will read & snooze, snooze & read. Another don't miss CBC radio show - Wire Tap with Jonathon Goldstein at 1pm (my time zone) listened to on the radio by my bed - this show is amazing at times, and at times just plain weird but I think overall that he's a genius so I try not to miss it.
4-5pm - les cheins and I will go for our second walk, come home and they'll have their supper and I'll prepare my pizza for later.
5-7pm - work at my desk, this time with Cross Country Check-Up with Rex Murphy tonights topic How does the rising Loonie affect you?. Interesting topic and it certainly does affect me. Have been thinking I may need to add an exchange rate to my invoices if our dollar continues to rise above the US$.
7pm-bedtime - dinner and more CBC, (this time on TV) the third episode of a 5 part series Geologic Journey (dam I missed the first 2 episodes beginning with The Rockies and moving east) a Nature of Things with David Suzuki special.

I don't know what I'd do without my CBC. I plan my life around it ...maybe that's a bit scary.

Oh yeah and I'd like to lose 25 lbs... I hate to mention this in my blog but it's on my mind constantly and I thought if I buried this statement/goal in my riveting Canadian Broadcasting Corporation post it might go unread but still I will have put it out there ... I'd really like to cross that goal off my seems - like - it's - been - there - forever list ... finally!! On Oct 23 I will update my progress toward this goal, once again attempting to bury it in an equally riveting post.

lots more security

Saturday, September 22, 2007

another picture of Ver as he keeps me company at my desk

My work load grew in leaps and bounds yesterday. Wedding/Romance collection grew from 12 to 17 finished frames and I still have another page of thumbnails out there to be reviewed. I'd say there is a very good chance that I'll make my goal of 22 or very close to it. And they've decided to do two other complete collections with different themes which potentially is another 40+ frames plus there are 3 other projects from this same company simmering on the back burner. All this work will need to be done by mid October ... so I will remain happily tied to my desk for awhile, with Oliver my constant companion. I'm still aiming to submit greeting card designs, 6 of them to Great Arrow by Oct. 02 and three big Call for Concepts from Demdaco deadlines Oct.02 / Oct.16 / Nov.16. A busy fall ... almost makes my head spin, but in a very good way.

I've found a handy man - a really nice capable Jack of all Trades kind of guy who will stop by next week and I'll give him a few of the those house garden projects that need to be done. Now that I can foresee some security arriving to my bank account, I can afford to spend a little $$ on some help. Thank goodness.

So... Saturday again, after our walk at the beach this morning, which will be extended slightly as it is the weekend, pick up the Globe & Mail, and quick trip to the Farmers Market. A little bit of housecleaning and then to my desk where I will spend most of this weekend drawing finished technical drawings and working on greeting card designs. CBC radio and a new Michael Connelly detective novel audio book - The Overlook will both help in making the time fly by.


Friday, September 21, 2007

mod angel illustration

Busy = Happy ... a slight exaggeration ... lots to do, work projects lined up, household project list is a mile long, interspersed with lovely rural Nova Scotia moments, (like walking with my dogs collecting beach glass or going to the Farmers Market) the days are flying by and I feel very peaceful. It seems it's all it takes - a full plate of life. Although I do realize that lots of design work on my plate really is key and that's all about the security that money brings. If I had a bottomless bank account perhaps a plate full of household projects and reading in hammocks with cats in laps would satisfy me...but for now a steady stream of financial security is essential and actually helps make the goal of attaining new customers so clear & focused in my mind. More customers will equal more security especially now that that darn Canadian Looney is on par with the US$. When I began this business our dollar sat for ages around 52 cents (so I would deposit 50% more than the amount on every invoice) and I confess I would sit often, in the mornings, with my coffee & calculator, calculating my incoming fortunes.

Life feels very nice and full at the moment.

warm & sunny

Thursday, September 20, 2007

still life with globe, miniature eiffel tower and french alphabet

5:05 am, coffee in hand, all the windows are open and it is perfectly quiet. Just the soft rustle of the leaves in the trees and a few crickets. I love this time of day. Yesterday morning at this time and until we returned from the beach the server was down...so no internet. A rare, thankfully, occurrence, so that's why I didn't post yesterday. Early morning seems to be the time that I have something to say - once we're back from the beach I have chores to do and I try to be working at my desk by 9am. It's been a perfect week so far in every way. The weather's been glorious, a little chill in the air early in the morning but as soon as the sun is up the temperature begins to change and by the time we go out for our second walk at 4pm it's been warm, sunny and lovely every day this week.

So far 12 frames have been chosen - 12 from my oodles of wedding/romance frame collection thumbnails. We're not finished yet so I do hope that number will rise as I am aiming for 22 finished technical drawings and 22 x $$. I'm very pleased with how the look of the over all collection is turning out. I haven't spoken with the Chicago company yet, but I've left several messages and I will email her today. I find the people that I deal with have such busy lives at their big companies in their big cities. I try to imagine (especially when I'm feeling somehow snubbed that they haven't returned my message as promptly as I'd hoped) how many voice mail messages and email messages that they likely have to deal with in the run of a day...and I'm sure it's a frightening amount.

For today and tomorrow I'll just remain diligently at my desk turning 10 more of my little thumbnail sketches into full size drawings. Drawing while listening to CBC radio or to an audio book, both dogs sprawled at my feet, Oliver curled up on his little bed on my desk ... and me happy as a clam.

I think he looks quite comfortable? Sweet Ver is one of those rare shadow cats. Wherever I go he must follow. His personality is a lot more like a dogs' ... when I'm at my desk Oliver is here too, keeping me company on his little desk bed.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

sweet Oli(Ver)

Well my biorythms must be on the climb back up because I am feeling so much better - not so much like a thin fragile piece of glass and that feeling that I need to stay hunkered down here at 29 Black Street and not venture too far out into the big world lest something bad happen - to me or to the sweeties. Believe me we don't, in our daily life, venture too far anyway ... it's an anxiety thing, a hangover emotion from long ago that rears it's annoying self every now & then and thankfully by learning to think differently (not allowing those thoughts to become settled in) it's not nearly as bad as it used to be.

This morning I received an email reply from a big fish gift ware company Enesco (I have been sending various portfolio samples and promo/bio/resume PDFs for the past month) saying that they would like to work with me on a freelance project and she's wondering when it might be convenient for me to drop by the office and meet with the other designers and the VP of Product Development. Their office is in Chicago (mind you a city that I've always wanted to go to, the birthplace of modern architecture and all and I do LOVE a big city) I'm just not in any shape (financially or emotionally and I have too many current projects on the go) to be whisking off to the windy city at this moment, however I guess I must prepare myself for the future possibility. Dogs in the kennel :-( , someone to feed les chats, and dealing with the anxiety that clings to me anytime I travel, clinging just until I'm buckled into my seat on the airplane - and then the excitement of new things, new places and new opportunities always takes over.


Monday, September 17, 2007

where on earth is Winnie Dixon?

I did say jungle. This is Miss Winn basking in the sun in a section of the fenced in dog yard jungle. My yard is huge and I had a large section fenced in years and years ago for les cheins. I just open my sun porch door (which is off of my living room) and out they go, summer and winter, out into their domain which is very convenient. I've managed to mow a small section closest to the house for them so they do have a small chunk of actual lawn and the rest as you can see is a green sea of tall grasses.


the tools of my trade plus "thumbs" - short for thumbnail drawings

Had a great day yesterday - a great start & my first page of thumbs for my first of four projects - a wedding/romance collection of frames. My goal is to have 22 frames chosen from this round of thumbnails and I have today and early tomorrow to work on more thumbs. The more thumbs that I come up with, the better chance I have of having many, many thumbs picked. Each thumb chosen then becomes a finished technical drawing which then goes off to a factory to be produced. I get paid for each finished drawing. The thumbnail portion of each project then becomes that big design roulette wheel. Occasionally, and thankfully very occasionally, I may work for several days on thumbs and not a one gets picked but that doesn't happen very often. I've been working with this particular company and this particular woman for over 5 years now and my style has become very successful (saleable) for them.

No hacking away at my jungle yesterday and I'm afraid it was a sunny, warm late summer day - perfect for jungle hacking.
My revised plan is to see if I can't do a little each early evening...say 5-6pm or 7pm, something like that. Just chop away at it in little evening pieces. While I'm out there I need to wash my windows - it's amazing living so close to the harbour how much salt spray you accumulate on the outside of your windows and I have such big beautiful windows in this house, they need to be clean & sparkling. I also rearranged my living room furniture, dragging pieces of furniture around each topped with clinging kittens (I surely was doing this purely for their benefit). And my neighbour Jean and I had lunch out at a local restaurant, it was nice to have a visit with her...she seems do be doing really well.

So ... 22 frames is the goal. It's a high goal, I realize, as they only need 15-20 pieces in the collection but as always I like to see if I can't outdo myself. Stay tuned for No. of thumbs chosen - later this week.

red dog

Sunday, September 16, 2007

the red dog in the warm red light of my early morning bedroom

We're at the half way mark in September already. It's amazing how quickly the time flies by. Not much to say this morning ... think I'll just take my steaming hot coffee back to bed with me, plan out my day in my daytimer - I do love a list, and wait for dawn to arrive.

daytimer 09/14

Saturday, September 15, 2007

scheming while having my coffee in bed Saturday morning


Winnie laughing at one of my jokes


Friday, September 14, 2007

and this is where I walk every morning with Jake & Winnie Dixon

Friday again already...have this Saturday off (not working at my part-time job) and it's supposed to rain. Housecleaning (eek! am definitely handicapped in this department) is on the agenda and then if Sunday is nice I have to get out and hack away at the jungle that is my yard and garden. The path leading to my front door is practically grown over with creeping this and that which does discourage drop in visitors which is not a bad thing. I need to do the fall cleanup...several Sundays worth I'm sure. Had a pretty productive day yesterday - almost perfect and we do remind ourselves that perfect is ever elusive. Greeting card designs on the agenda for today...fun stuff while I wait for further instructions re: ton o' work from Val.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

paper collage illustration back when Bleet was a skinny cat

Needed red and lime and cheery today. My biorhythms [check your own 28 day chart] must be low this week as I feel cranky, overwhelmed and generally really moody. OMG! Just checked and my emotional self is practically so low it's off the chart and it's still on the downward plunge not to begin the climb back up for another 7 days, thankfully my intellectual and physical self are in top form. That's a bit freaky. Good to know however, now I have a good reason to cut myself some slack. "Talk to the hand other self - my biorhythms are low".

My nephew Michael is back settled in at university in his first big ol' apartment with roommates downtown and back blogging with great photos and posts of life in St. John's at Colonial Street.

Two sentences from emails received yesterday from Val - Design Director and my main customer

"Hi Susan, I have a lot of work coming your way. "

"I have a ton. I'll do it later! Get going. Keep the faith kiddo. val :))"

oh thank God!

sadness & wandering

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

and why would I ever want to live anywhere else?

I'm writing this Tuesday afternoon (for posting early Wed. morning). I feel sad today and have felt this way since I woke up. No specific reason sadness ... just that "I hope nothing bad happens today because I don't think I can handle it" kind of sadness. Am on a big deadline, drawing thumbnails, and with this job it's like spinning that giant wheel of fortune - in that if they don't like my thumbnails - no money ... it's way too much pressure today or feels like way too much pressure. I need to relax for the creative juices to properly flow. It's raining, quite hard, or I'd take les chiens for a walk. I just want to eat homemade chicken noodle soup and curl up under my down duvet with sweet Oliver and turn my bed into a nest. But I won't do that, I'll continue to sit at my desk, mechanical pencil with 3mm HB lead in hand, listening to Gian Ghomeshi on the radio and to Winnie Dixon snoring softly in her bed under my desk, while Jake turns the air in my office blue with his silent but deadly salt-water-farts ... forcing me to smile a little.

My mind wanders great distances on a day like today. You know how one thing makes you think of something and that thing leads you to think about something else and so on. Last night while watching The Center of the World - Part 8 of Ric Burns' PBS documentary on NYC and the history of the World Trade Center, a man being interviewed was talking about the air space over Canada & the US being closed after the attacks. 100,000 planes were flying in that air space and told to land. Amazing ... when you sit in your seat on a airplane blithely looking out that small window...out into fluffy white clouds or way, way down onto the crazy quilt landscape of land and rivers and oceans I never, thankfully, think about air traffic and how much there is. Traffic in the air... I wonder about traffic in the ocean ... so I googled ship traffic oceans and came to this site which has a map of the world and all it's oceans and a small dot for every registered ship/boat. Unbelievable! Just one fascinating, wandering trip that occurred in my head yesterday.

It's Wednesday morning. I'm just listening to the last sputters of my coffee maker. Sweet Oliver is perched here beside me. It's 4am, I wasn't sleeping well and there's always lots to do so I'm up. More productivity bordering on genius is the order of the day...no pressure. Well I'm off downstairs to get my first cup of coffee ... another new day begins.


the hydrangea are just starting to change colour...looks like candy

It's raining very gently this morning, warm and no wind. 5:20am. I sit and type in darkness, only the light from my laptop monitor glowing just enough on the keypad that I can see. First big mug of coffee & radio Prague on CBC's overnight broadcast.

I worked, unexpectedly, yesterday at my part-time job (Harry had to go into the city) which kind of screwed up day 1 of my 21 day plan. I was able to scour the internet for inspiration but also spent far too much time absolutely lost in many of my favourite blogs (not yet listed on my sidebar favourites) and read lots about Britney's very sad comeback performance at my guilty pleasure entertainment gossip sites and all in all felt like kind of a wasted day. Not good! I did make a little money (bacon) to bring home to feed my family of six ... the only saving grace. Productivity, it seems, equals happiness & contentment for me. So I must make up for it today.

I watched an amazing documentary last night, that I had taped, Ric Burns The Center of the World on PBS. A three hour documentary about the history of the World Trade Center and it was amazing. I often contemplate giving up TV and cable, and then I watch a show like this one... and realize that I can't.

my freshly mowed lawn edges the front jungle and one of three old hydrangea bushes nearly in it's full fall glory.

21 days

Monday, September 10, 2007

scatter pattern - autumn colour study

21 days of busy-ness. 2 big deadlines Oct 02 +

1.) Holiday Call for Concepts from big fish gift & home decor company
2.) Submit minimum of 6 greeting card ideas to silkscreen (very cool) card company that I've wanted to submit to for...6 years now. Holiday, Halloween & New Years themes.

Plus my one regular gift company has me working on two potentially big (pays lots o' bills) photo frame lines - thumbnail sketch concept stage. Continue designing my website pages for my designer buddy Bruce to turn into an actual working web site. Pas de technical myself.

Continue to search, mostly monster.com for new business and all that other home stuff...try to maintain some semblance of order & cleanliness in my big old house and gigantic jungle of a yard. I did mow the lawn yesterday...thank god that's done again for another 2 weeks. Had one minor incident while mowing in a cloud of blue smelly smoke, thankfully my neighbour Jean stopped to chat, and I realized that I was causing the cloud of blue smelly smoke. Aaaaaagggghhhh! I hate loud, dangerous chopping machines. I added oil (best guess) and the mower started up and purred like a kitten (not) as I continued on with my most hated job minus the cloud of blue smelly smoke. The yard does look SO nice when the lawn is manicured up to edge of the jungle.

Thank goodness I love to obsessively make lists - I'll need to be scheduled to the hilt these next 21 days and it's now time for the beach 6:49am...

4 deer & a nemesis

Sunday, September 9, 2007

breath in 1, 2, 3, 4....

Something happened on the way home from the beach yesterday morning that caused me to feel upset for hours - way too long. Actually 2 things happened almost at the exact same time... so perfectly timed, these two events that I wasn't sure which I was most upset about. Or maybe I was only really upset about one of them.

The first event, as we were turning onto the main 80km road, which has a particularly tricky blind sharp turn - cars come whizzing around this turn and overgrown brush in the ditches makes it hard to see if a car is coming and I, leaving the secondary road, must enter traffic at this sharp turn. Our car had just begun moving on the main road back toward the village when a large doe came out of the ditch and crossed the road in front of me. Now anyone who lives in deer country knows that you never see just 1 deer...there are always more. I slowed down to a crawl and crept slowly by the spot that she had come up out of the ditch at. The deer crossed just after this bad turn and even though I felt sure I was past the spot I continued on at a crawl looking in my rear view window, both for more deer - because there are always more, and hoping & praying that a car would not come barreling around the sharp turn. Sure enough within seconds two, then three small babies, young deer cautiously, cautiously began creeping out of the brush and wildflowers that grow at the side of the road and slowly, slowly crossed the road. It seemed to take an eternity for the three of them to make it to the other side where the doe stood in the field waiting for them. As they crossed, my car was now practically at a dead stop and I was saying under my breath “quickly, quickly...”. I know too well the speed at which most cars come around that blind curve in the road. All three made it across and I carried on into the village but I kept thinking “ what if there were others still waiting to cross” Such a bad spot for a animal to try and cross the road. Why do we so often go to that “what if “ place and why is it always, with me at least, a negative "what if". Why couldn't I just carry on with my morning assuming I had witnessed a happy & safe crossing of a family of deer. Nuh Uh.

Now the second thing that happened, just prior to seeing the doe cross, my car met the car of my current arch nemesis (I've only really had 2 arch nemesis’ so this would No.2 and No.1 has recently, after many years, been down graded to possible-casual-acquaintance status...a big step in my personal growth) a woman who I consider to be arrogant & a bit delusional when it comes to her often aggressive dog. Earlier in the summer her dog met up with my dogs on the beach, an encounter we had been fearing as their reputation precedes them, where we walk and completely unprovoked and out of the blue had my sweet Winnie Dixon on her back & yelping. A fairly aggressive and sudden attack and Winnie being, only about the 30th or so, dog that this particular dog has attacked or been aggressive with. The woman refuses to believe that her dog has issues and therefore refuses to walk the dog on a leash and everyone who has a dog fears running into them. Well she messed with the wrong dog that day because I promptly wrote her a long to the point, non-confrontational note and put it in her mailbox, that day, just an hour after the incident occurred. Asking her please to leash or muzzle her dog when she knows that she may run into other dogs and how awful it would be if someone’s dog was seriously injured by her dog. This incident happened way at the beginning of the summer and even though she did not make any move to apologize to me, she did not walk her dog ever again at the time that I walk my dogs - which I took to mean that she respected & listened to what I had to say. But...I think we both have held (I'm making assumptions here-BAD) simmering anger toward each other, since then, over this issue. Me for obvious reasons just stated above (can you feel my anger simmering?) and her I’m assuming (oh oh I’m doing it again) because I told her bluntly what she did not want to hear - I was righteously speaking for the masses. Anyway this morning she snubbed me (the nerve). I waved and she sped past me and then not 15 mins. later I ran into her again at the market and she seemed (yikes...not only No.3 but a large dose of No.2 also) very icy toward me which upsets me and WHY I ask myself ??? Why do I care what she thinks about me, why when I’m not interested in a friendship with her, why when we don’t travel, really, in the same social circle - although we do share 1 mutual friend who has manged to remain neutral (this could be it). Why does this matter to me? WHY do certain things hang on and stick to you, especially when the stickiness feels like anger & resentment, or anxiety & worry. Is it because after all this time I feel a need to be right ... probably ... most likely. Why do we often insist on fearing the worst? Which incident really caused this angst. Was it my ongoing fear of animals being struck by cars by careless speeding drivers ? or was it a fear of not being right(eous) ? or some schoolyard competition over a mutual friend ???

Thankfully, becoming older & wiser, now being self-employed and no longer working in a managerial position at a disfunctional company, (where Dilbert obviously spent some time) where you were completely surrounded by idiots every day, and living in a safe & peaceful place - I very seldom feel stressed or upset. Now when I do, occasionally, it's become my mission to analyze the crap out of it in the hopes that I can remove it quickly and lessen the chance of it reoccurring - Saturday morning, all morning, was mostly spent attempting to get that icky feeling of upset off of me, out of me, so I could continue being my normal happy, content, self. Why do we (or I) often cling to negative feelings & emotions. How can we learn to let them go quickly & easily. I did almost instantly with both the deer & the nemesis situations try breathing “breathe in 1,2,3,4, hold 1,2,3,4, and breath out 1,2,3,4" It helped a little. Being a long time journal writer I knew that the best way for me to remove a clinging negative emotion is to write it down...and now I have a blog which has pretty much replaced my paper journal. So... I vent, I rant, I purge...another day of life classes - good bye icky, clinging upset feelings.

I love....maps

Saturday, September 8, 2007

from my 2007 Cavallini vintage maps wall calender

I absolutely LOVE the entire Cavallini product line. In Canada Chapters carries the calenders and for a wider range of products Kate's Paperie (a must stop on any trip to NYC). I usually go to the one on Broadway because it's almost directly across from food heaven - Dean & DeLuca. Am still deciding which calender I might get for 2008, tough decision as they are all beautiful. Printed on great cream heavy paper and suitable for framing when the year is up... and under $30. - a bargain.

I love maps ... especially vintage maps. I have collected atlas's from the 50's or 60's found at yard sales and second hand shops and I keep threatening (myself) to decoupage my laundry room walls with maps. Cavallini also sells large sheets of gift wrap with vintage city maps printed on them - gorgeous poster size for less than $5. a sheet.

It's 6:00 am, coffee in hand, both the windows in my studio/office are wide open and the air is warm and perfectly still. The only sounds I can hear are peepers (small frogs) far off in the distance, seagulls and crickets. [6:32 can now add lobster boats leaving the harbour to the early morning village sounds]. The sun comes up much later already which delays our departure time for the beach. Lately we've been leaving the house around 6:50. The tide is high and no wind ...my boy will be happy because that means lots of swimming and also it's Saturday so Maggie Sue (another golden retriever whose Mom is a school teacher) will be joining us & Jake in the water, although Maggie prefers to attempt to retrieve rocks which suits Jake just fine as he does look quite perturbed the occasional time Maggie tries to fetch his sticks.

I work today at my part-time job beginning at 10am. I'll stop after the beach to pick up the Saturday Globe & Mail, zip to the Farmer's Market to stock up on fresh veggies for the week, rush home to dry off and feed les chiens, do a couple of little chores and off to Inside & Out, the little gift and decor shop that my friend Harry owns. In between customers I can brainstorm, research online & plan all my September design projects. I'm taping 4 episodes of What Not to Wear so if I feel like it later I can enjoy some commercial free (fast-forward please) Stacy & Clinton...sounds like a perfect day to me.

No.s 2 & 3

Friday, September 7, 2007

salad plate sketch from Florence tabletop collection

Well, I finally, one week later, had a phone conversation with the product manager who sent me the email letting me know that my tabletop collection had been canceled. In that one week, and mostly because I had not spoken with her...I had created my own story as to why this all happened and of course my story - was a horror story with me, the somewhat, hapless victim. I remember taking a communication course at a company that I worked with years ago and the facilitator explained how important clear & direct communication is because if you don't clearly communicate to people they will make up their own version of the truth ...it seems it's human nature to do so and I certainly was following the flock ... the reasons created in my head, although not at all specific, were all about me and it somehow being my fault. So this morning I'm feeling a tad sheepish. It turns out five tabletop collections were canceled...in fact all the tabletop groupings were canceled as the company is changing direction. An unfortunate and unpredictable big bump along my road of becoming a successful self employed designer.

In my defense she really should have called and had that conversation right at the get go and I should have given her that feedback ...but of course I didn't. I was so happy to be lapping up compliments and listening to her hopes that I would be submitting more designs to the next round of Call for Concepts (which arrived last night in my inbox) that I didn't say much at all.

2. Don't take anything personally
3. Don't make assumptions

Intellectually I completely understand and believe these 2 of 4 agreements however, emotionally, when faced with a situation like this one I seem to plummet instantly into a pool of No's 2 & 3. It's funny how life, in so many ways, is just a constant learning experience, and I guess that's why it is so important to live in the moment that your in - because in the next minute, or hour, or day... things might be completely different.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

my grandmother Flo sitting in her living room 1980's

It's noon on Wednesday and I've just spent far too much time away from urgent/important things, while fussing around with my new scanner. It's a cold, rainy blustery - very fall-ish, kind of day. I should be working on new portfolio PDFs in my attempts to acquire 2 (at least) new customers- how hard can that be? Hard. Let me tell you ...it seems almost everyone wants an on-site designer not one who lives far away in a sleepy little seaside village in Nova Scotia. Where is Nova Scotia anyway? It was mentioned in that famous Carly Simon song. Thankfully there are a few exceptions (customers/companies that is) and that's what I'm on the hunt for. And in other good news it seems that the lull has passed.

I have a new scanner which I set up yesterday. I splurged and bought the more advanced version of the Canon scanner that I had, that just suddenly stopped working. This new scanner the CanoScan 4400F also scans film and since I have binders filled with black & white (and a few colour) negatives I was anxious to test it out. The first negatives that I came across were from a portrait series that I did of my grandmother Flo - sometime in the first half of the 80's decade, in her home, a safe and favourite place of mine, while I was at art school and thick into photography. This may not even be the best shot of her, and I'm realizing now that I should have cleaned the negative (quite dusty) but I'm really happy with the results of my first little test of the film scanning capabilities and it actually was quite easy to touch up dusty spots in Photoshop.

I'm also thrilled to have Flo's picture on my blog, she was and continues to be a huge influence on me & my life, she was a constant when my life was anything but consistent and I always knew, without a doubt, that she loved me...


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I confess, not a current photo - one from the files but perfect, I think,
to help chase away the lulls.

I'm having a lull... a thought lull, a life lull, a blog lull. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Many of the blogs that I read don't post every day and I don't really think it's necessary... but I got into the habit of posting almost every day. I would find myself thinking (say on a Monday) what I might talk about on Tues. in the beginning I was always thinking about my blog, and me and my life. I am still thinking about me and my life because I never stop thinking about me and my life. It's just that for the last few days there isn't one thought that stands out from the rest, it's just a big jumble of thoughts.

I had considered writing about cats and how fascinating they are and I am sure that I will write that post one day soon. A general commentary on cats and their quirks in general to start, how unique they are, especially when compared to dogs, followed by a more intimate introduction to the 4 cats that share my life- Lulu, Bleet, Oliver & Gus who are all complete individuals... all as different as night and day...but that story is for a future post.

This is a post about lulls. Dull, nothing periods that thankfully are usually fleeting when many random thoughts ping around but nothing sticks, nothing seemingly worthwhile. Lulls should be tolerated and not examined too closely. Leave them alone and try not to pay too much attention to them and they will usually go away.

The highlights of my Tuesday were as follows: the big, gigantic, 840 pages of fearless fashion - September Vogue arrived today. I got my hair cut in a true seventies shag style and I love it! and I took my car into the shop because it had a funny rattle when I idled and the repair was so small and insignificant that Fred didn't charge me a cent...

happy new year

Monday, September 3, 2007

My camera's USB cord was on the floor and I stepped on it and it's now smushed and will no longer fit into the back of my laptop. So I can't upload all my new photos...which is a drag.

This little illustration is a sketch I did for a group of card designs that I will be submitting to greatarrow (wedding or valentines). A company that almost entirely prints/silkscreens the designs of freelance designer/illustrators and you get paid a percentage of the sales of your designs. Submitting to this company has been on my list of things to accomplish for, probably 4 or 5 years and next month I will submit my first grouping. They have several seasonal deadlines throughout the year and this next deadline October 1 includes cards for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Autumn, Halloween & The New Year. I'm hoping to submit at least 12 ideas and I think I'll skip Thanksgiving (it's a much bigger deal in the US) and just doesn't inspire me as much as the other 4 categories do.

Today is Labour Day, the long weekend in September. A big turning point day and the early morning show on CBC radio this morning is about the new year and considering September, really, to be the new year to many people. I've always been in that camp myself, as a child & teen I always loved school and most often was really excited about a new school year, new teachers, new subjects, new shoes & clothes, and new school supplies - a fresh start a new beginning, a clean slate. I know that's why I feel that way still about early September. I love a new beginning. Even though I've always looked forward to this time of year there's also a bittersweet, melancholic feeling that arrives every year along with the shorter days, and I mean a physical feeling, felt in your core - in your cells, that seems to be triggered by the smell of the air in September or by the chill in the morning air or by the crunch under foot of that first fallen leaf. A big wave of that emotion swept over me the other day and it felt like a little bit of every early September, that I'd ever experienced, over my entire life all rolled up into one wave of thought & feeling & emotion rolled over me - in seconds. Gone again as quickly as it came leaving you with that shudder of melancholy & memory. Never specific or detailed...just an essence of a feeling of sadness. Saying goodbye to summer and all that summer means.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

A field of Queen Anne's Lace that we pass every day on our way to the beach

Jean's husband Laird died yesterday, he would've been 89 on Sept. 6th and they have been married for 59 years. I haven't spoken with her yet (my neighbour told me the news). I thought it best to just wait a day, yesterday seemed to be a family gathering day. I'll call her this morning when we get back from our walk.