bleet loves jake

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bleet curled up on the bed with his dog, Jake

Bleet considers Jake his mother, when Bleet arrived here on Black Street an abandoned teeny tiny kitten, too young to really be away from his mother, sweet patient Jake allowed this little kitten to crawl all over him, to knead and purr and suckle on little pieces of his fur twisted and slimed into a makeshift teat and to sleep curled up in the warmth of his red furry coat. Bleet has adored Jake since then, 8 years ago this February. Sometimes I catch Bleet sitting beside Jake, while Jake's sprawled out on the floor, Bleet leaning in with just his little forehead firmly pressed against Jake's body, purring madly. When it's getting late and dark and Bleet is still outside somewhere and I'm having no luck convincing him to come in, I take Jake outside and if I can get him to bark, Bleet will come running, every time.

My goodness what a week it's been. Things however, are SO much better, and finally returning to almost normal here at 29 Black Street. Winnie's curled up right now on a bed under my desk and her tummy, today, has the squeaks and grumbles - maybe there's some little doggy bug goin' round. I added pure pumpkin (from a can) to the doggy diarrhea diet (white rice, lean hamburger and yogurt) last night and I am thrilled to report that things are normal again ... finally. I'm sure it's a combination of Neovast, diet, Kaopectate and mostly time - these things just have to run their course. I'm convinced now that it was some bacterial thing acquired from eating one of the assortment of yucky wildlife delicacies that he chows down on every morning. Sigh. We will make a trip to our regular vet on Monday now, when we'll be sure that all blood work results will be there and we'll have a check up, see about his thyroid levels, get weighed (him, not me!) and when we're finished at the vet, Jake and I will split a double cheeseburger at Dairy Queen (a regular post vet treat).

A snowy day forecast for tomorrow, Blustery and 10-15cms. Perfect!

Have a great weekend ... I know I'm going to!

better still

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winnie Dixon & Jake

Second cup of coffee here beside me, smelly bubble bath a pouring and my Noodle dog is on the mend. Hallelujah!! He had one very minor accident through the night and I really believe that perhaps this morning after we park the car and stroll into the nearby field and he has his morning constitution that I'll be jumping up and down and singing cause I think we're going to have a firm poop. You know you're over the top when a firm poop feels like you've won a lottery, but honestly that's how I feel. We'll still make a trip to town to visit out regular vet to review the results of his super duper blood work either tomorrow or Monday depending on how things continue today. Poor Miss Dixon has been quite freaked out, confused and I'm sure feeling a little left out as so much attention has been focused on the Noodle. She's a very sensitive little dog, my Winnie Dixon and this past week has made her feel a little insecure. There's been lots of commotion, what with all those mad rushes out of my chair, Jake and I flying down the stairs, poor him with his hindquarters hunched while trying to run as we both make the dash for the sun porch door and out into their big dog yard. Sometimes making it ... and many times not.

Lots of design work on the go, that part of my life is excellent and thankfully now it seems Jake is a little better my concentration & focusing abilities will be much improved.

The first 2 cords of my 4 cords of wood has finally arrived and it looks beautiful and dry and really the pile doesn't even look too big to me ... if I had to pile some of it myself I think I might even enjoy it, that's my new my dog is better so everything in the world is better attitude shining through.

Had a lovely chat with my Aunt Sally, late in the afternoon, calling from Montreal with Mother Hen concern for me and the boy which was very sweet and meant an awful lot to us. I think everyone needs and loves a Mother Hen ... at least I know I sure do!

this weekend is our little villages first ever holiday season festival - Christmas by the Sea. Beginning tomorrow night and continuing all day Saturday the village will be abuzz with a raft of events, a wine & cheese fund raising open house for the local animal shelter, tree trimming contests with carolers, a desert tea event, an open house at the library, lots of retail sales and specials and everyone serving Christmas goodies - you can count on hot spiced cider, lots of shortbread cookies and Quality Street chocolates - everywhere. BFF Harry and I have yet to draw up our itinerary as we plan to tool around town together and take in as many events as possible ... a few hours Friday evening and a few hours Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully Jake will continue to feel better and better, on his way back to normal.

more poop talk

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

a young Jake and Emma Jane, taken maybe 10 years ago

I would say that life in general here at 29 Black Street is slightly improving, slightly less nerve wracking, although yesterday certainly had it's moments. It's been diarrhea days here for nearly a week, my boy suffering with, at times, an explosive uncontrollable case of the runs complete with gurgling squeaking belly. Switched from Pepto Bismal to Kaopectic (vanilla flavour) at the suggestion of another dog loving friend who'd recently been to her vet for a similar episode. I sop up a tablespoon with a slice of whole wheat bread and gradually, since noon yesterday, things have been firming up. His stool sample results finally came back - negative and he continues on a weeks worth of Neovast and his big full blood work results are back on Friday. They've been sent to the UPEI vet college for the super duper full deal testing something that every geriatric pet, at some point, should have.

He just barked at me to come downstairs and put the cat food plates on the floor so he could clean them up for me. His behaviour continues to be his kooky energetic self, but you can tell that he has some discomfort at that end, his poor bum is sore from all this poopin' and he's upset with himself that he often doesn't make it outside to do his business. My crappy old linoleum floors are cleaner now than then they've been for ages. Loads of paper towels and a big bucket of hot sudsy water with a little bleach and things are cleaned up in a pinch.

I have not had a good experience with this new vet and I'm quite sure that I won't be going back. It's a combination of things but it really boils down to perception. So true perception is 20/20. My perception is that I am not getting the treatment, service and compassion that I expect (and demand) from my vet. The receptionist there should not be dealing with people, she was rude and flip with me when I called yesterday to check, 24 hrs later, to see what the results of his stool sample were and of course they hadn't yet done the test (at my regular vet they have support staff to do these tests quickly, I called to check - 30 mins to have results from a stool sample). Pas de sense of urgency at this new vet clinic. Diarrhea for 5 days + 13 year old dog = quick stool sample test in my books, and they are just my books. Even if she, at the other end, was madly rolling her eyes up at the ceiling, she should have talked to me in a calm, reassuring voice, that of course I understand how worried you are about your much loved pet voice, instead she was sarcastic with a patronizing tone. When you're choosing a vet, you want to feel (from everyone tout la staff), you want the perception, that your pet is the most important thing, at that moment, in the world, to them. I feel that I gave them a fair chance and I'm glad that I did ... but ... I will now continue to happily drive the 40 mins to town to take my much loved brood of 6 to Dr. Diane Stevens.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Noodle, Jake, Buck, Sweetie, my hero dog ... bringing his two sticks ashore

At 2:30 yesterday afternoon, after a rather explosive episode of diarrhea, I called the vet, the new vet, and made an appointment for 3:30 for me and the boy and his stool sample. I had planned to take them to the beach (Winnie & he) around 3pm anyway so we left a little early. I threw a few sticks into the icy ocean for Jake, we needed to clean his nether areas up a bit and I had been having no luck a la sponge bath method. Cold schmold as far as he was concerned and it was a milder day yesterday. Today the forecast is for +14 and rain so I'll make sure we go again to the beach in the afternoon and we'll throw some sticks for my boy. He loves it so. Honestly it's like giving him a pep pill, he gallops out of the water, bucking and wriggling like a little red stallion, a big huge grin on his face.

The whole vet experience was fine (fine -the word you use when it wasn't really bad but it wasn't really good either), he's fine (we think), no terrible news, blood work yet to come back and stool sample yet to be checked - but his examination was fine. For a 13 year old dog (Dec 04 his birthday) he's amazing, people can't believe it - how trim, how muscular, how alert & bright, except for his faded muzzle, you'd never know how senior he really is. He had blood taken from his jugular vein, his temperature taken, felt and squeezed, mouth forced open to check his beautiful teeth and healthy pink gums and he sat through it all with the most relaxed and gentle demeanor - they always comment on that as well, he's just a big chilled out lug, he's an incredible dog, my noodle.

The vet visit wasn't good because it was chaotic, it's a brand new vet, their facility is not ready yet and they're working out of a small trailer. She Dr. Hunter, seemed very nice, kind and caring but a little frazzled, a little all over the place, and not instilling in me the utmost in confidence. We were there for two hours, most of it spent in a teeny tiny makeshift reception area, where the heat was turned up too high and I was forced to make too much small talk all the while inside my head I'm just praying, that my boy is OK. Yeah, yeah yada yada yada ...please god let him live as many years as possible, Em was headed toward 16 years and, of course, I'm hoping and praying for that again.

If this had been an appointment for Gus or Oliver, a young animal, and say for something run of the mill, like ear mites, I would have felt that the visit to this new vet was perfectly OK. But ... this was a trip with my 13 year old soul mate dog and I wanted to feel like I was at the Mayo Clinic, I wanted the best, state of the art everything. I'm not convinced that, for him anyway, I will switch from the previous vet where I did have a much more Mayo clinic experience, simply because they've been doing it for years and years. He came home with a week's worth of antibiotics and test results hopefully by Friday. Carol, aunt and legal guardian to my dogs, and practically a vet herself, suggested on the phone last night that perhaps he had switched from his hypothyroidism (which he's had for years) to hyperthyroidism (not an uncommon occurrence). I think she's bang on, after googling til the cows come home, I've discovered that he has every single symptom of a hyperthyroid dog (and diarrhea being one of them). That means a simple switch in medication to Tapazole and blood work a couple of times a year.

I still feel upset, that bubbly gnawing feeling in my stomach, that catch in my throat. Jake is 13, we're on borrowed time now and I am very lucky that he's as healthy as he is. It's reminded me, yet again, that their lives are far too short, that heartache and grief are unavoidable, and the line is SO fine between living in the present moment and trying to prepare yourself for the inevitable.


Monday, November 26, 2007

a detail of my front door wreath

the boy is downstairs barking at me, his please put the cat food dishes down on the floor for me bark (the cats eat on a raised table in the laundry room- this is so they can eat and not have all their food snarfed down by a big ol' retriever), the bark which is very distinct from his I need to go out bark. It's much more rapid, short, sharp little barks in his new senior dog gravely, much deeper voice. These barks are urgent and demanding. One of Jake's favourite things is to lick and clean those little plates around the kitchen floor so there isn't a speck of cat food left on them - it's pretty much part of our morning routine. I give in, it thrills him, hey I just live here, they (cats - Lulu, Bleet, Oliver & Gus and dogs - Jake & Winnie) run the show.

He's still battling the runs and if he wasn't so much his normal kooky, crazy, energetic, starvin', front paws up on the counter to see what he can steal self, I think I would be more concerned and making a vet appointment. My sister told me yesterday on the phone that when Michael was a baby he once had diarrhea for 11 days, she even took a sample in and there was nothing they could find wrong ... it just eventually passed. So for now we'll continue with a diet of squash, rice and yogurt, more pepto bismal-peanut butter bread bites and no extra treats (no last bites of buttered bagel smeared with soft boiled egg and no sharing clementines) until we get this under control.

Monday morning, yet another chance to impress myself with a fantastically productive & perfect-in-every-way week - that's the goal ... that always seems to be the goal ... perfection. My eternal quest


Sunday, November 25, 2007

cookies + milk = comfort

Sunday ... sigh.
A bubble bath, an extra long walk through pastures, down red clay cliffs and onto seaweed strewn beaches with two girlfriends and five dogs, bundled up well, in fleece, as it's -8C and colder near the water, a big long phone chat with my one and only sibling Sandra, a few household chores, drawing new thumbnails at my desk while listening to Sunday's excellent CBC radio line up, later, from 4-5, an hour or so lying on my bed with the Saturday Globe & Mail and then an evening project (perhaps designing my Christmas cards) from 5-7 while listening to Cross Country Check Up (with very handsome, in that really smart way, Rex Murphy), the topic tonight the Mulroney/Schreiber affair - intriguing & compelling listening, will help keep me glued to my desk.

Dreamt last night of flying to Africa via London, my destination Tra La La, Africa, my imaginary place. Smile.

I have been thinking about oatmeal cookies for some time and found this recipe in the IWK Taste of Telethon cookbook. They're delicious, crisp & chewy and I ate far too many yeserday.

Crispy Granola Cookies

2/3 cup of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups granola (I used Quaker Harvest Crunch - Honey Nut light & crispy)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut

Beat sugar and butter until light and creamy, add egg and extracts. Put granola in a food processor and pulse a few times or place it in a zip lock bag and smash and roll it with a rolling pin. You want the granola to be fairly small crumbs. Mix granola with remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl add butter mixture. Shape into 1 inch balls and flattened with a fork dipped in water. Bake at 325 fro 7-10 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown.

Cherry Almond Coconut variation - substitute raisins for 1/4 cup finely slice maraschino cherries.

beatrice again

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beatrice, I would say the calender girl for adopting a senior dog

That face, and those eyes filled with so much kindness and faith and wisdom. This photo is a repeat, first posted on this blog in August. It's from a Nikon print ad, photos taken by regular people. I was tidying up my desk the other day and I came across it. I had torn the page out of a magazine and honestly looking at her face just does something to me ... it makes my heart melt, it makes me want to cry, and makes me want to stop all my silly nit picking and fussing and love exactly what I have - all around me. I've put Beatrice in a frame and now she sits here by my laptop and I get lost when I look into those eyes. Lost in a very good way.

The Noodle (Jake) is better, not completely, but the most important thing is he's not showing any other signs of illness. He's still my starvin marvin, energetic, alert & bright. So more pepto peanut butter sandwiches and white rice on the menu again today.

Yesterday afternoon I had my hair cut in a fairly extreme shag, lots of long curly tendrily bits at the bottom and short and layered and feathered on the top. I then quickly walked the short distance to the post office where in this village all the big hair chat happens. I had to get the critique, had to see if I could make Rhonda & Sue (the Canada post girls) squeal. They did, lots of Oh I love it and Oh you look 10 years younger and on & on. Smirk. Great excitement in our little village. I continued on to do a few errands, stopped to have a pedicure with Leah (I designed her logo identity and bartered for aesthetician stuff - love those kinda trades) and ended up at BFF Harry's little decor & gift store to hang out for awhile during the first of several holiday open house events. Lots more Oh I love your hair!! my new fancy big city haircut quickly becoming the talk of the town. Smile.

Went to bed with a stack of new December magazines - Domino, Mind Body + Soul, Elle Decor, Oprah, O at Home & Gourmet (I know, I've got the magazine thing bad - I feel it's really my one and only big extravagance and when you live so far removed from urban life it's almost a necessity). Drifted off into lovely dreams of a handsome man, handsome in that really smart kind of way, with mild to medium left politics gently worn on his sleeve, who had a beautiful big home filled with interesting things (a big long harvest table, loads of books and maps) and I slept much better last night.


pepto dismal

Friday, November 23, 2007

another of my favourite photos ... of Jake & me

I love this photo because it sums up the relationship I have with this dog, he's one of those soul mate dogs, every now & then there's a dog who shares your life that you have an extra special connection with. He's incredibly kind and gentle, strong and unflappable, he's my comfort, he's my hero. This photo is from a few years ago, back when my guest room was painted lavender and the floors were a purplish blue. The guest room is now the colour of chocolate pudding with glossy black floors.

I actually slept in this morning. 5:22 - had an awful night, my boy (Jake) isn't feeling well, he's suffering from a bad bout of diarrhea and I was up a billion times in the night and when I wasn't up I was dreaming bad dreams (nightmares ?) about a team of concerned friends, allies, neighbours and even neighbourhood children who had decided to help me clean up my home, my yard and garden ... my life. Which believe me would not be a bad thing, the bad part was the embarrassment & humiliation, plus in dreamland the chaos and squalor, the dust and the hair, and the piles of stuff seemed much more exaggerated. So between listening, while sleeping, so I wouldn't miss the sounds of the boy pacing around downstairs, meaning he needs to go out, or getting up and finding I hadn't heard him in time and cleaning up a few accidents (thankfully he has a favourite spot on my shittéy old linoleum floors that he goes if an accident should happen and I had, in anticipation, covered this spot with newspapers) not much true sleep actually happened. Poor Noodle, I think his bum is sore from all of this. But he's still eating ...which for Jake is a very good sign ... when he stops being interested in food we know that things are very serious.

We had a terrible scare in April of this year when he suddenly just completely stopped eating. This is a dog who just this week ate an entire green pepper, seeds and stem, he stole off the counter and if you recall, just a month ago, he ate half a dozen everything bagels and some of the plastic bag that they came in, before I had a chance to put my groceries away. He'll eat anything, and on our morning hikes, he sniffs out lots of little wildlife delicacies (if you get my drift) along with a few dead crab legs and a healthy serving of seaweed. I suspect that he has eaten something bad. Diarrhea and Jake are old friends, this is not uncommon, however when you're best friend is nearly thirteen and you've been through one recent close call, well, it's difficult not to panic. We have a vet in the village now, so we know longer have to make the 40 min. (because I drive the speed limit) trek to town. I've made a big ol' pot of white rice, and I have a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol (which I soak whole wheat bagel pieces in and then smear with peanut butter -yum) and I'm going to wait until we're back from our walk before I decide if we should make a trip to the vet.

My guess is this will pass, he's just eaten something that's not agreeing with him. At the moment he's lying here beside me snoring softy, he and Winnie Dixon, waiting patiently for the action to begin. I do love those dogs.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

piles of reading material by my bedside

You know I've always considered myself to be an avid reader but lately the statement avid reader is one I can bandy around only in theory. I am keenly interested in books, I peruse book sights, I read reviews, I listen to Writers & Co. with Eleanor Wachtel, I go the library every Tuesday like clockwork- Tuesday is book delivery day, I search titles online and order tons of books through an amazing provincial wide library system. I order the new hottest must read fiction, cookbooks, craft & design books, non-fiction books, unabridged books on CD that I can listen to while drawing all my little drawings. I order titles so frequently that almost every Tuesday something has arrived for me. But lately... the actual reading of the books, well, it just isn't happening and I'm not sure what has happened to me. I used to be an avid reader.

Anyone who's been reading along with this blog for a time knows that my sleeping schedule has begun the long gradual trip to weirdness. Flannel PJ's on at 7pm, and up drinking coffee at 4:40am many mornings recently. I worry (very mildly) that this just isn't good, it's just not right. The rest of the world is just beginning their evenings and I'm thinking about going to bed, everyone else talks about the pleasures of sleeping in and I look at them like I absolutely have no idea what they're talking about. I love getting up - if I'm awake and it's past 4am I want to get up - it's the best part of a brand new day.

It's dark these daylight savings evenings at 5pm. The sweeties and I go for our pm walk along the harbour's edge, we come home have a bite to eat and maybe watch a little pre-taped commercial free TV, do the dishes, tidy the kitchen and oh look it's 7pm and I think to myself maybe I'll put my pajamas on, puff up lots of pillows and lie on the nest, or try to really sit up in the nest and read. I know that it has a lot to do with the darkness, and I guess I am tired because I've been up & active for nearly 15 hours (24-15=9, minus another hour for the time putzing around getting ready for bed, and then the 15 mins or so that I am actually awake, in bed, book in hand with intentions to read, even just 1 chapter a night please ?1?*). So I am getting 8 hours of sleep, nothing weird about that.

I do love reading and there are a billion books that I want to read. It seems I just get all comfy and situated in my heavenly bed and Bleet will arrive and decide that he'd like to lie in his favourite spot, which is on my chest just under my chin. So I'll put the book over to one side, turn the pages with the same hand that's holding the book (I'm getting quite good at it) while I scratch under his chin with the other hand, which he loves and it makes him purr madly, and my focus is diverted. Quality time with the Ness. Or ...even if I'm Bleet-less, and have both hands to hold my book I just find the act of reading in bed, which is the place I most like to read, like a big ol' sedative these days, honestly a few pages, and I'm gone. Lights on, sound asleep, every night.

The books read column, on this blog, pitifully lists three books, three non-fiction books - since July. Maybe the column should be books I'd like to read and then the column would be really long & chock full of interesting titles. I'm not sure what the answer is ... maybe coffee late in the afternoon.

very cool website - what should you read next? You just finished a book that you loved, plug in the title and this sight will give recommendations of what to read next

Don't miss Masterpiece Theatre, on your local PBS channel Sunday the 25th, is airing My Family and other Animals - my absolute favourite book of all times. If you love animals and nature, and love to laugh til you cry, rush out to your nearest second hand bookstore (I guarantee they'll have a copy) and pick up this first book of a wonderful trilogy by Gerald Durrell and don't miss Masterpiece Theatre this Sunday evening.

little things... #2

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Miss Winnifred Leora Dixon-Black

Basking in morning sunlight in her favourite arm chair, the one in the upstairs hallway that sits by a big window, the sunniest spot in this house. She is a basker, she loves the sun and in the summer will often lay outside in a big patch of sunlight until her little black body is baked and warm to the touch, and I'll tell her that she's my little Mediterranean sun dog. I don't know how many times a day I look at her and think how lucky I am to have her ... how it was meant to be, she and I. When I adopted her, her name was Princess, which I didn't think suited her although I do still from time to time put Princess in front of the above proper full name. I'm not sure how I came up with Winnie but it suits her perfectly. The Dixon came from my memories of vacations in Florida and shopping at the big American grocery store chain Winn Dixie - I love American grocery stores, SO many things that we don't get here (and weird things like aerosol cheese spread). The Leora was added later, Carol, Winnie & Jake's Aunt and official legal guardian and who walks with us each morning at the beach, had an Aunt Leora who sniffed everything before she put it in her mouth - a habit Miss Dixon also has. Winnie is very fickle & fussy when it comes to accepting dog treats from anyone but me (it's almost like she thinks they might be trying to poison her, she definitely has a few trust issues) and she always has a big ol' snuff before deciding if she wants it and often turns her nose up at Carol's offerings Carol started calling her Leora, and it suits her as well. When she wades around in the ocean up to her belly and comes ashore with her fluffy, wiry black body and little skinny wet legs Carol calls her Wanda Cameron ... Winnie Dixon with her skinny lil' Wanda Cameron legs. I don't know Wanda Cameron myself, but I guess her legs are skinny.

more little things that make me happy....

- clementines
- dog breath
- flannel sheets
- talking with Michael (19 year old nephew) on Skype
- darkness
- the smell of paws
- my red Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic mechanical pencil
- Christmas lights

some jazz

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

more tools of the trade...

my water colour pencils, perfect for adding touches of colour to my little thumbnail drawings. Awoke this morning from busy, repetitive dreams of sparkly bits, crystals and jewels, angel's wings, velvet & satin ribbons and fine silver chains. The kind of dream I often have when I'm in the midst of a really great, exciting project. My jewellery design project is coming along amazingly. Received an email yesterday responding to several pages of thumbnails that I had sent out Friday. Double clicked, crossing my fingers on both hands, hoping & praying that she would be happy with the direction that I was taking. You just never know for sure if you've headed off down the right path, especially when working with a brand new customer. Well, she, they, love everything (?). In my heart, deep inside, there is a part of me that I know should not be surprised that they're so thrilled with my work (they hired me based on many samples of jewellery design from my portfolio and they were thrilled then). But most of me not only feels surprised but feels, well, kind of knock me over with a feather this has been all SO easy, so fluid and lovely and perfect. A dream job & a dream client, a pinch me situation - big time, and I am SO thankful ... if you remember this time last year I was afraid I would have to take a job at my local grocery store to try and make ends meet (which I know would send me into a deep abyss of depression, as at heart I am an anti-social creature - that's why I do, for the most part, so well, home alone with my animals each and every day). 2006 was a very bad year, and in many ways. It's amazing and wonderful how much things can change if you just hang in there. Something for me to remember the next time I'm wide awake at 2 in the morning having one of my fret fests - you have no idea what's just around the next corner in life.

So, I think I'll be brief this morning. A few things I'd like to get done before les chiens (Winnie & Jake) & I head out for the beach. I'm a girl with a very messy desk and I want to come home and begin working on this project with a clean organized work space. Tidy the kitchen a bit, throw a load of laundry in, peel Lady Baltimore a grape or two ... all that jazz.

bird watching

Monday, November 19, 2007

sunrise along the seawall and boarded up cottages at the beach where we walked on all those car-less mornings

I have a female Baltimore Oriole at my bird feeders. Hung on the branches of my double mock orange bush, just outside my kitchen window I have a tube of black sunflower seeds, a big suet cage and a Niger seed feeder. I spied her a few days ago, and her citrus colour belly was what attracted my attention. I thought to myself "what is that bird?". After studying my Peterson's bird guide I identified her. Apparently she shouldn't really still be here, she should be winging her way to South America for the winter and to help her make it through our cold winter's she'll need lots of suet, and sunflower seeds, water daily (apparently water is especially important to this bird) and come to find out she's particularly fond of red grapes. I can't wait stop to pick her up some grapes in our way home from the beach this morning.

Miss Lady Baltimore

I think bird watching is an age thing, it seems you cross over some imaginary age line in life and suddenly you become fascinated with watching birds. That's how it seemed to happen with me ... and several of my friends as well, come to think of it. My two outside cats, Lulu & Bleet, thankfully, are both past the hunting birds phase in their lives and I'm able to feed the birds all year round now. In summer I often park my chair outside in the back yard with my glass of ice tea, mini binoculars and sit and watch and stare at the birds at the feeders and water bath for endless amounts of time. It's like a tranquilizer, like a sitting meditation.

With my small selection of bird treats I see daily in these cold months

-gold finches
-purple finches
-assorted sparrows
-blue jays
-a downy woodpecker
-a hairy woodpecker (usually shy -not a regular at feeders)
-mourning doves
-and now Miss Lady Baltimore

and occasionally large flocks of grosbeaks & starlings (the poor homely birds)

9:14 am - am happy to report that Lady Baltimore began feasting on her red grapes, literally, moments after I put them out for. She also has a dish of water and I cut up an orange and an apple for her ... maybe she likes a variety of fruit ?

magic sock

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the last bright yellow leaves in my garden, just outside my kitchen window

- beautiful crisp quiet morning, not a puff of wind, the sky is filled with stars and it's -2C

- new putty colour (creamy deep beige) 100% cotton, freshly laundered and hung outside to dry, flannel sheets on the nest last night. Heavenly.

- pounds lost, week 1 of 5 week (who can lose the most lbs in 5 weeks) competition with my sister- 0. Drat! Sunday's are weigh-in day, Sunday's she and I talk on the phone for at least an hour. Sunday is my favourite day of the week.

- bad things cooked by me and eaten almost entirely by me - only 1 (Creme Brulee Bread Pudding). I took Harry over a big slab that I had warmed up and drizzled with cream, he purred like a kitten while eating it. The optimum response hoped for. He's a fantastic cook and we have an ongoing thing where we give each other samples of our wares to taste always vying for the "purr, hmmm, yum, wow, this-is-SO-good or the ultimate this is the best _______ I've ever tasted" response. It's a bit of an ongoing, and very friendly, competition of sorts.

- I made (that's a stretch, let's say I put together) a magic bag, or magic sock. I fell twice this week, at the beach. It's quite a hike we do every morning and the terrain is varied -it's not all sandy beaches. It's muddy cliffs, rocky areas, slippery seaweed covered boulders and lots of sandy beach. I'm trying to train myself to fall on my left side but I seem naturally to always put my right arm out to brace my fall (my bread and butter arm). The first fall was on rocks, a very spectacular fall - looking far worse than it actually was, Carol and I in were in mid chatter and she was looking right at me when I fell. I could tell by the look of concern on her face, as I lie there for a few seconds thinking (bad words), that she thought that I was seriously injured. But pas, I bruised my hip and the base of my thumb (but not affecting my ability to grip a mechanical pencil). The second fall was on slippery red muck going down a hill - a real cartoon fall, very fast and Vvoomp! les chiens the only spectators this time, legs out from under me, feet in the air and down hard on my bum and somehow managed to get that right arm involved, this time at the shoulder -twisted it, strained it (still not affecting, thankfully, my drawing ability) but tender & sore none the less.

I've been meaning to make myself a magic bag for, hhhmmmm, lets say 15 years or so, ideally I would sew two long rectangles (18" x 8") of snugly soft material (fleece or flannel) together on three sides, fill with 3 or 4 bags of barley, throw in some fresh lavender buds (if you have any kickin' around) and sow up the fourth end. Way too big a production to get my sewing machine set-up (in my dream scheme it will have an area where it can remain set up and ready to go at a moments notice ... but let's not get started on my dream scheme) so ... magic bag in a pinch – one big long sock, one heavy elastic band (say the kind that comes on broccoli) and 2 bags of barley. Pour barley into sock, wrap heavy elastic around top half a dozen times - voila! Put in microwave for 5-6 minutes and you get an amazing moist heat, heating pad or sock, that you can drape over any tender, sore parts. The barley holds the heat for an incredibly long time. I think you can also keep one in the freezer for moist cold heat.

Oh yeah, and that darn tool-supply-stuff cabinet clean out. Today? Tomorrow?
I want to get it over with! Stay tuned.

a quiet morning

Saturday, November 17, 2007

4pm puffs of orange racing across the sky out my studio window

This is going to be one of my rare quiet mornings. Nothing too exciting to post about and thankfully nothing tragic, worrying or warranting obsessive fretting happening in my life at this particular moment. This week was, has been, one of those weeks where things tick along, stuff falls into place, things get done and this is one of those mornings when I will take my coffee back to the nest, see if I can coax a dog or two to join me and I'll lie there and scheme about which of the myriad of projects or to-dos that I could do, will I do or should I do (terribly relaxing). It feels like I have practically the entire weekend (design) work free. I have a couple of little things, my birthday party invitation to design and print and address ready for the mail on Monday (5 invitations - it's a small party), an ad to design for Harry's gift & home decor store Holiday open house, should spend a few hours staring into the crystal egg awaiting miraculous creative inspiration as it's time, yet again, to try and knock myself off with another (mo' different) sentiments photo frame collection for customer No. uno. So ... there's quite a bit of free time in there and I suspect that the laundry room tool-supply-stuff cabinet beckons.

I may even peel away those remaining shreds of wallpaper, still clinging (since 1997 -I jest, sort of) from the upper walls of the teeny tiny half bath, in preparation for what will surely be a big ol' decoupage project. Could be decoupaged pages from a 1950's encyclopedia, or maps (I do love maps) or pages from the book Cabinet of Natural Curiosities which I purchased specifically to paste on some walls in this old house. The half bath might be too teeny tiny and enclosed a space to be covered with these beautiful illustrations of objects from nature (shells and butterflies, snakes and insects). I swear that's half my battle - making up my mind ... too many choices.

Back to the nest, progress report to come. Happy Saturday.


Friday, November 16, 2007

my favourite coffee mug with treats I bought yesterday from my local grocery store

Ah yes! Starbucks here in my little village. Actually they have carried these little half pound bags since early in the summer. I live in cottage country and in the summer the demographic of this area changes dramatically. Mercedes Benzs, Jags, Subaru Outbacks and Passat Wagons tool around the village streets and fill the grocery store parking lots - the rest of the year those same streets and parking lots are normally filled with a variety of beater cars (like mine) or shiny new humongous pick up trucks. We get all classy here in the summer and the grocery store merchandise really reflects that change in clientele (thankfully many of those items do stay on the shelves all year round for those of us who enjoy crimini mushrooms, pine nuts or arborio rice). I guess the local crowd (who most likely doesn't even brew their morning coffee - many just go for the sudden version - it's a throw a tea bag in and add hot water, or throw some granules in and add hot water - kinda crowd) weren't buying. So these sweet little bags of the good stuff, at 8.99 a half pound, sat on the shelf with no takers. Yesterday afternoon I spied them in the 50% off grocery cart. A favourite haunt of mine - as it always seems to contain some marked down food item that I would like (all natural soda pop, or tins of organic soups, gourmet peppercorns, etc). And a girl, or this girl, does love a bargain - I bought every sweet little bag.

So, this morning I'm sitting here in my usual spot with a big ol' cup of Starbucks coffee. It's funny, memory and scent or aroma. I've had a lot of Starbucks coffee in my day but almost always I've been drinking it from a giant venti take out cup, tucked into some hotel bed in some exciting big city. Having just woken up, washed my face, donned the baseball cap, down the elevator and out onto some bustling city street in search of Starbucks (which thankfully seem to be attached, practically, to most hotels). Back up to my room with 2 venti (large - I am an addict) steaming hot, triple milk and half a sugar javas, climb back into the big heavenly bed, local news channel on the TV and plan & dream my big city day.

There's a big city girl living inside this happy rural girl and this morning I'll go back to my bed with a big mug of Starbucks and dream of my next venture out of the village.

Guess who I ran into yesterday? After dropping my car off for an oil change and walking the short distance to the grocery store, a dirt bike came peeling down the little side street by the garage. Impossible not to look back as they make SO much noise. Like a souped up chain saw. On the bike wiry, skinny, goateéd, no helmet - of course - Mathew (the wood piling fairy). Smile. I mailed Mathew a sad little plea Monday, I didn't want to call him and put him on the spot, but just said in my note that if he wasn't busy and would like to make some extra money I would be thrilled if he would pile my wood again this year. He's in, he said yes, yeah! I just need to let him know when it arrives, which I'm thinking could be any day now. Amazing how things work out, it must have been meant to be, that he was peeling down his street just as I was leaving the garage. I know my Aunt Sally will be as thrilled as I am (and Vee too) 'cause they fret about me. It's a nasty job, piling 4 cords of wood. What dynamo Mathew can do in 4 hours, honestly, would take me months. The whinging and sighing and feeling sorry for myself definitely slowing my wheelbarrow down. Spring would come and there would still be a big pile of wood outside... trust me, it's happened before.

Plus freakin 17C here this morning. Yahoo! rain (who cares) it's balmy all the windows are wide open, Starbucks here by my side, I can check worry-about-wood off my list of pressing things to obsess about and it's low tide, what more could a girl ask for.

comfort food #1

Thursday, November 15, 2007

pebbles of wood worn rounded and smooth by the sea and the sand

Progress report - I did not tackle the cleaning out and organization of the tools, supplies, paint, & stuff cabinet yesterday or last night. I did however examine the cupboard thoroughly and did an initial study of the job ahead. I did take before pictures of the cabinet in all it’s messy overstuffed glory (only to be displayed along side, yet to come, miraculous after pictures). I did go to the library, and to the post office. I stopped into visit with Harry at his little gift & décor store. Chimney Sweep No.1 arrived and did his chimney cleaning thing, it's the first time he's been here, the first time I've met him and he said to me "Do you own this house?" in a kind of incredulous way (?) followed by "wow, what a great place". I worked on my jewellery project for a few hours, I tidied the kitchen and did the dishes and swept the floors. I walked with les chiens after the sun had just dipped below the horizon, down to the park and along the gravel path that edges the harbour, then down to the end of the dead end street and down onto the beach. The moon was high in the sky and only a crescent sliver of brightness and the sky was ablaze with streaks of magenta and deep lavender.

We walked along, Jake & Winnie noses to the ground the whole way, while I peered into lit windows, watching dinners being prepared, homework being done, phone calls being made ... another month and we’ll be strolling around in the early evening looking in at Christmas trees and houses lit up with Christmas lights. My early evening was spent cutting snowflakes and big dots out of pretty pale blue and opalescent paper, decorations for Harry’s store window. And of course as usual I retreated early to the comfort of my nest with a big stack of magazines, several dogs and cats and CBC radio.

When the going gets tough the tough often resort to making Crème Bruleé Bread Pudding. This from the girl who suggested to her sister, just this past Sunday, that she and I must have a competition to see who can lose the most lbs by December 16th.

crème bruleé bread pudding

1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup butter)
2 Tbsps. corn syrup or maple syrup

1 loaf heavy country style bread cut into cubes
5 eggs
2 cups milk/blend/cream (or as decadent a mixture you would like)
2 tsps. vanilla
good pinch of salt

Cook first three ingredients on the stove until sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth & creamy. Pour this mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla & salt together. Place bread cubes in casserole on top of caramel mixture, pour over egg mixture (keep in the fridge overnight covered with foil - if you can stand to wait). The next day bring the bread pudding back to room temperature and bake at 350 30-45 minutes. Drizzle with cream.

true confessions part 1

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

an illustration for laminated place mats - Tuscany

I want to make some changes in my life, in fact I want to change many things and have wanted to change them, well, forever it seems. Even though this list of things has been in existence for years I do believe that one day I am going to snap out of whatever funk it is that I'm in and step by step, little by little, drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf, room by room I will have a house that I am proud of. I don't now. In fact I would prefer that my friends not come to my house I want them to wait until I'm ready, until I'm done ... and well .... they've been waiting a long time.

I have one room in my house that's close to perfect, pretty much finished (with the exception of new curtains, a prettier duvet and maybe more art on the walls) - it's my guest room. Just in case I do actually allow someone to come and stay with me at least they'll see that I have it in me, in me to have a beautiful, comfortable home that speaks of who I am. The house I live in now, every where I look, every corner and nook, there is a project either half finished or waiting to be begun. I have a big pantry cupboard filled with tools and supplies that I've purchased for many a planned project. I have cans of paint that by the time I get around to dragging them out to finally paint with them, I've changed my mind and would like a different colour. I have plans and plans and more plans and I can see all these finished projects and rooms so clearly in my mind ... I just have a terrible time actually doing, the things, that need to be done.

With my work (a reasonably successful one woman product/graphic design company, going into my seventh year) I am almost completely opposite. I am meticulous, extremely deadline driven, neat and fairly organized. I'm a perfectionist. Heaven forbid someone not be thrilled with the job I've done for them. I don't understand why I can't become my own customer ? ?

I'm hoping by mentioning and perhaps documenting this struggle in my blog that it will help motivate me. That I'll feel more accountable to someone (the ether ?). I have been SO inspired by so many of the blogs that I visit on a daily basis. Blogs that document homes, gardens, rooms, projects and DIY renos. One in particular, because I love their flea market chic style and mad obsessive collection of interesting stuff, is Day at a Glance their style is a style that I love one I'd love to live with.

Sigh!! I feel better already. I know that I have a few loyal readers and I would not want them to have a faux impression of moi. So I think this true confession post is/will be very liberating. The quest begins today, my big quest! and hopefully you'll come along with me.

Today I will tackle the tool, supplies, paint & stuff cabinets (progress report tomorrow). Two large cabinets in the laundry room that are filled to the brim with stuff - many useful things, many repeat purchases (I can't find the hammer), many cans of paint and lots of other (?) stuff -pack rat junk. I'm a bit of a junior hoarder, thankfully not a full blown hoarder (yet). I save stuff. I save the elastics from broccoli, I dutifully remove the packing tape from the big boxes of clumping kitty litter, flatten the boxes and stash them, for future use (pause ?). Why make the simple trip to the NSLC or grocery story for a pile of boxes when you can save your own supply (?) - you're getting the picture. I will need to have my tools organized, see what I have, what I may need to pick up before we can tackle the first project - which will be the downstairs teeny weeny half bath or most recently - the killing grounds.

Another dead mouse :-( Another crash bang boom, growling kittens, all out hunting fest, again in the laundry room and small half bathroom just off the laundry room. And this time, it all went down early last evening while I was watching a pre-taped episode of Oprah and whizzing through the commercials, as I love to do. Once again I tried in vain to trap the little mouse so that I could set it free outside and once again the results of my failure to save it awaited me this morning as I trudged downstairs to the sounds of the last gurgles and sputters of my coffee machine. A very dead little mouse on the kitchen floor. I've discovered that it's Mr. Aloofness - Gussie Gus that is the keen, ruthless hunter. The cat that I practically forget lives here because I never see him. For Oliver (the other kitten - actually they are 1 1/2 years old but will likely be called kittens forever or at least until new kittens arrive to live here at Black Street) all this hunting business is just a game, life is a game for Oliver but last night I saw a side of Gus that was pure, wild, dwarf cougar.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

fiesta mums or asters - cheery final fall blooms

A dead mouse on the kitchen floor this morning, not at all a surprise. I did do my best to try and rescue the little mouse yesterday before we left for our morning walk. I tried to trap it in a yogurt container so that I could take it outside and tell it to "run free, little mouse", but it had wedged its tiny body behind a large piece of furniture in the laundry room, which I would've had to dismantle to move and then there was no guarenntee that I would actually catch him. Gussie and Oliver took turns all day keeping a vigil, staring at the spot where the mouse had disappeared underneath a large pantry cupboard. Their quiet patience remarkable. At least it was dead. Dead, dead - not mortally wounded which would've been much more upsetting.

No wind this morning, still cold and a billion stars in the clear dark morning sky.

Today is one of those choppy days. I hate choppy days - days that are interrupted by appointments and meetings, meaning no groove will be gotten into, no roll will I be on. When working on a big project (like this new jewellery project) I'm most productive when I have hours of uninterrupted at-my-desk-time, it seems it takes me time to really get into a project (thankfully I'll be able to devote Wed-Fri to just that project). Today's a day which I must fill with little jobs as the day will be broken up into little pieces. I have a dentist appointment at noon. Chimney Sweep No.1 is finally coming around 2pm to do his thing, les chiens and I go out again just past 3pm and also to the post-office, I have a birthday party invitation to design, print and get to the mail. I'm planning a little surprise pot luck birthday party for my friend Carol (who we walk with every morning, who we've been walking with every morning for years, Auntie Carol to my dogs and their official legal guardian should anything happen to me). It's quite surprising, even to me, that I'm planning this little soireé, because I am mostly painfully anti-social, I don't really enjoy parties. But I know that this will make her smile, that it will make her happy and knowing that seems to be outweighing, for once, my own personal baggage. My friend Harry is helping me with the hosting & planning of this event, the party will actually be at Carol's house. We will all show up at her house at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, that will be the surprise (or shock) part. About 8 of us, bearing gourmet finger food, balloons, gifts, beverages and a spectacular birthday cake made by Harry.

Must go fill my coffee cup, hop in the bath & get ready for this new choppy day.

10:00 am - it's ... snowing ! and I just downloaded the music from A Charlie Brown's Christmas the most absolutely perfect winter-ey, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - music.


Monday, November 12, 2007

the early morning view, just after we've parked the car, and we're all (Jake,Winn & I) standing in the first overgrown pasture

Completely lazy day yesterday, accomplished nothing, but Sunday's are the one day of the week that it does seem OK to do nothing. The snow, which seemed to be happening in parts all around us, never did make it to our little village. Never the less it was (and still is) cold, wet and very windy. That scary kind of wind that makes the house creak & groan, that rattles the windows and churns up the harbour until it's a wild terracotta colour with huge white caps racing across it's surface. I was invited to BFF Harry's for a late afternoon family Sunday dinner of roast pork stuffed with apples and garlic, roasted root vegetables, homemade plum chutney, peas, beets and for desert apple pear crisp. All the fruits and vegetables harvested from their amazing gardens and orchard. It was delicious and I was back home with a very full belly, to see the Sweeties, early in the evening. Thankfully Harry lives just a very short car ride away.

I had a very restless sleep last night. You know those nights when it seems your awake and checking the time every hour on the hour. Between the stormy winds and the kittens, who were in full on, tag team safari mode, crashing & banging around in the laundry room (a mouse had left the safety of the interior walls of this old house) and was trying to find it's way back to where it came from. When I went into the laundry room to check on the ruckus I saw the mouse, and it scurried underneath a giant wardrobe cabinet and he/she was likely safe ... at least for awhile. Being woken up by the odd scuffle in the night between cats vying for a spot on the bed, hissing & fussing, or Winnie Dixon doing her bossy kitten police routine, I'm a very light sleeper at the best of times and all this activity was not helping with my insomnia. At one point I had three cats and both big dogs curled up in my 3/4 bed, a little crowded, but perfect on a blustery night, having them all with me, keeping me cozy & safe.

So I'm up again, with my cup of coffee, it's another new day, and I think it's going to be another great week, lots to do ... lots of design work and it's going to warm up mid week for a few days - +12C on Thursday ... I'll finally get those tulips planted.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

thai green chicken curry or emerald curry

Today is Remembrance Day and it is a typically awful, yucky day. Cold, raining and windy. I do try and take in the service at our little cenotaph/memorial. It always makes me cry - it's horrible to even try to imagine what those young men (practically boys ) suffered through. When I was young (and stupid), full of myself and my own ideas, and as far left thinking as I've ever been, and in the throws of my pseudo political days in art college - I wouldn't wear a poppy. I had convinced myself, in that youthful, indignant state of ignorance, that to wear a poppy was somehow a glorification of war. I am ashamed now that I ever thought that way ... I make sure that I wear a poppy, I stop dumbfounded when they roll the faces of Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan on the television, with taps playing in the background and if I don't physically participate in the ceremony at the memorial at 10:00 am this morning, I will participate in spirit, I will stop, close my eyes, and be silent for 2 minutes and be thankful that all those men could be so brave.

What's been cooking on Black Street? I made this very easy recipe yesterday, found in the December issue of Bon Appetite or search (although I did just try to link to the recipe and it seems the December recipes aren't up yet). Special ingredients, which can now even be found in my little village grocery store, are green curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce & fresh basil (which I froze in little cookie shaped blobs when I had my pesto making pulse-fest) . Be warned the green curry paste is not for the faint of heart - it packs quite a punch. I added green beans, broccoli and frozen peas (I'm a pea freak I'll add frozen peas to almost everything) all those beautiful bright green vegetables create the super green or emerald curry. I'll serve this with steamed Jasmine rice, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts.

This photo was taken in day light, an overcast day, on my very deep office window sill. I use white bond printer paper to give the look of a seamless backdrop. My camera was set to super macro and the flash was turned off (this is how I take practically all my photos). When using the super macro function you get a very shallow depth of field, or shallow depth of focus - which is what gives this photo that cool, kinda trendy look.

Sunday, all day ... always my favourite day.

6:30 am - just beginning to get light out and the weather forecast is saying 10-15cms of snow for my area. I'm still in complete denial that it is nearly mid November, this happens every year, the times passes way to fast ... I still have 36 tulips to plant (yikes!).

OMG happy

Saturday, November 10, 2007

beautiful and delicate gingko leaves...

lovingly pressed and shipped in a parcel to me from BFF @ 1-800 design help.
I love getting mail and getting a parcel, well, that just sends me over the top. The parcel also contained a clear crystal egg to place on my desk and to stare into while awaiting miraculous creative inspiration. She has one on her desk, and apparently it's working for her.

Well it's an OMG morning. Up before 4am drinking coffee and checking my email (weirdo, I know), 6 emails (1 annoying - only because I allow it to be so, and 4 exciting, work related, good news emails, and 1 from itunes - spam).

I'm lovin' this new customer - Karen, a designer with big fish gift co., and she's my art director on this project. It's her collection of product that I'm interpreting into a jewellery collection. And thus far she's been amazing. She gets back to me promptly, is very chatty in her emails, super friendly and grateful (that's unusual and much appreciated) - really makes me feel like I'm already part of the team. This kind of communication, although extremely rare in my experience, is SO essential and lovely when you, the designer, are sitting far away, alone at your desk, having just sent off - through the ether (in the form of JPEGs) your blood, sweat, heart & soul and then you wait (and tears) .... often you wait & you wait & you wait and hear nothing Silence = they must hate my ideas/drawings. Every single time I go there, to that dark place of insecurity, I don't stop to remind myself that these customer's have busy, busy city lives, lives with in-boxes filled with urgent messages, meetings & voice mail - (* please see The 4 Agreements). again!. Anyway ... I love her, Karen, she's already sent me three emails, lots of feedback, notes & thoughts and I've sent her only 1 JPEG, just the beginning. A freelance designer's dream client - perfection!

Another email from No.1 boss lady Val, with another small frame collection approved, I need to do the finished tech drawings, the creative part has already been done. It too, was a chatty & kind email. She's also great and I know she's always rooting for her Nova Scotia designer. This company is in Boston.

Our car is back! Our car is back! The sweeties and I went to the beach, the real beach, the paradise place, yesterday afternoon in celebration of the return of our wheels. Happy free dogs and me. Jake ate the entire carcass of a dead bird, Miss Dixon and I were way ahead of him, he was dilly dally-ing, which he has a tendency to do. Winn and I sat down on a beached log to wait for him. He loves the odd dead crab snack, and is also known to chow down on quite a bit of seaweed (an iron supplement I think). But it soon became obvious that what he was eating was neither crab, nor nori, and perhaps it was - the dreaded washed up dead animal. So, Winnie and I ran back up the beach just in time to see the last bits of feathers disappear between his lips. He's a retriever and he'll eat anything! Thankfully he seems to have a system of steel and this morning he's fine. This morning, being Saturday, we'll meet up with the whole gang 4 women, 5 dogs and we'll enjoy 2 hours of chatting and walking & sniffing and romping.

I could spend much of this weekend working, which is what I'd most like to do. However my house is beginning to cross over the line from messy & untidy to squalor and we can't have that. I must, begrudgingly houseclean, at least for a little while : vacuum, and dust and move the piles of things around to new places. I have brand new 100% cotton, heavy flannel sheets and pillowcases, in putty - a creamy beige, to hang out on the line this morning. Just to make the nest even more appealing come 6:30pm. What more could a girl ask for?

tout la gang - Fancy Clancy, Winnie Dixon, Chandra, Maggie Sue & Jake

more design chat

Friday, November 9, 2007

Echo collection one of my first product design adventures - over 10 years ago

Very little that I would change today if given the opportunity to design this collection all over again ...and any designer out there knows that you don't say that very often. Usually when you design something, once it's in print or in this case once a mold has been made and it's been cast in metal, there's something that irks you, some thing that you wish you'd noticed- that you wish you had changed. I think this collection of home decor items has survived the test of time, today (maybe 12 years later) it doesn't seem trendy and has that timeless quality, that certainly was my intention when designing it. My inspiration at the time was Greek art, especially Greek pots and their incredibly modern looking marks & patterns. Hence the frame inserts (which I also designed, being formerly and occasionally still, a graphic designer) the illustrations on the frame inserts are taken directly from books on Greek ceramics. Incredibly beautiful & very modern looking. I called the collection Echo because I felt I was echo -ing the design of a past culture and I liked the word and thought it would be easy to remember - catchy (sales & marketing talk).

More winter-ey temperatures here in Nova Scotia. We are still without a car (les chiens and I) but we're surviving and except for Jake & Winnie having to have leashes on and not being free & loose - they seem to be enjoying the new scenery and especially all the new smells. We occasionally have, what I'm sure looks to someone who happens to peer out their window, a modern dance interpretation as I skillfully spin around, switching hands and legs, to unwind and untwist, tangled leashes from my body, all the while waving my poop bag in the air. I'm sure it's a comical sight. That Winnie Dixon, she's so good on a leash, she trots along proudly, occasionally looking back to smile at me, the happy face of a shelter dog whose so thankful that she, now, has a good home. She's proud & she's happy and a leash to her - speaks of true love.

the creative process ?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

bits of ribbon, crystal gems & inspiration for this first jewellery collection

Plus new Cavallini Paris file folder to store everything in, instead of the regular el cheapo pale gold file folders that I buy in bulk and normally use. This new project warrants new inspiration, new care & attention and this beautiful folder will help keep all my notes and sketches and scribbles wrapped up in aesthetic beauty & love.

I had to stop working on this project (my first jewellery collection for brand new big fish gift co. customer) yesterday to come up with two new photo frame ideas for No. 1 company. The company that has kept me afloat for nearly 6 years, I design photo frames, mostly cast metal, occasionally with the addition of charms or epoxy (enamel looking) and I am forever being asked to come up with a brand new terribly exciting & much mo different idea all with the same theme. For example "baby" it seems I've done a billion different baby collections - who knew that I could draw sweet little zoo babies, baby farm animals or too cute insects??

Tuesday I received the request to please try and knock myself off once again, same old theme (sentiments - wedding, memories, sisters, friends etc.) but absolutely brand new idea. "Oh yeah, sure thing". Fortunately success = $$$, a great motivator, although my initial reaction while staring at the blank piece of tracing paper was "I can't possibly come up with yet another NEW idea. They've all been done, I'm done, dried up, pas de ideas. Kaput!". However we've been down this road many times before ... so I begin with researching on line, trying to see what's out there, what other companies are doing, what other dept. stores are selling, scrap booking & greeting card sights are also tres helpful. The brain thankfully by now, is moving along on cruise control. Too much specific thinking = bad, I've learned that the hard way.

I keep all my thumbnails pasted in large sketchbooks, 100's of little smudgy pieces of tracing paper filled with obsessively neat little drawings. Over the years I have drawn many, many ideas that I believed to be absolutely fantastic, at the time, but they never flew for whatever reason. When my back is against the wall I haul out these sketchbooks, flip through the glued pages & impress the shit out of myself (I have no idea who came up with all those ideas) and sure enough somewhere in that massive jumble of inspiration - there's a new idea!! Actually yesterday there were 2, and on the same old page, dated 2004. Hallelujah! (can you hear those darn angels).

Sat at my desk, most of yesterday, drawing up these 2 ideas, sent them off through the air as JPEGs. And the response from Val, No. uno boss lady - First idea, first line of her reply email "WOW! I'm impressed" and that's a big deal coming from someone who I've been working with for nearly 6 years. Second idea, first line of her email "WONDERFUL! what did you have for lunch? In fact, she typed both those first lines in all caps, and we all know what that means? Smirk.

Now, my challenge for today, and tomorrow, is to channel, somehow (?#&%!), that same miraculous creative process and come up with a scintillating-ly incredible jewellery collection and wow the pants off my new big fish giftware co. customer. This is the kind of pressure I live with everyday.

Smile, sigh, happy designer.

my tools + thumbnail drawings, can you see the teeth marks on my favourite red mechanical pencil? ... from the clenching & gnashing.