Monday, June 30, 2008

my girl Winnie

Do you notice that most of the pictures of Miss Winnie Dixon she's almost always looking away. Most often she appears to be looking off in the distance to some far away thought. I think it's her submissive and insecure nature - no eye contact, especially when that thing (my camera) is being pointed at her. Her personality is much like her mama's - fretting and worried, always just slightly on edge. She and I are two peas in a pod. It's interesting when you compare her photos to the many photos of my boy Jake, who upon saying his name would most often look right at me, directly in the eye. Confident and cocky, curious and sweet, always happy and totally carefree with a big ol' dash of a dog who adores his mama thrown in - he was the joy that lived in this house.

That's what I was thinking as I scuffed down the stairs this morning at 5am to pour my first cup of coffee. When we said goodbye to Jake we said goodbye to our joy. And I know in my heart that it will come back one day ... but as of yet ... there's still no sign of it.

Miss him.

peony splendour

Sunday, June 29, 2008

still life with peonies

Freshness trembles beneath the surface of everyday,
a joy to all who catch its opal light beneath the dust of habit

Freya Stark - British travel writer 1893-1993

I found this lovely quote in this book. A book kindly sent to me by Anya and a book that's chock full of simple goodness. More photography crack/cocaine - from my dwindling stash of Polaroid film. I took 8 (out of the 10 in a pack) shots yesterday. 6 of this bouquet of peony splendour (the other 2 of my girl Winnie basking in a patch of sunlight). And oh the scent of peony's, much like roses, heady and wonderful. I have three different colours in my gardens. The palest pink - practically white, a deep rose magenta pink and the perfect middle, baby girl, pink. This lime green pitcher (although it looks more chartreuse in these photos) was purchased yesterday, along with a pale yellow scalloped mixing bowl with a cream interior, at a village yard sale. I know my friend Willow will approve of both these vintage finds.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

paper collage - Mon petite chat noire - Bleetito

Total change of pace this morning, well a visual change of pace at the very least. Lets lift those spirits up, way, waayyy up (and I'll call Rusty). With red and lime green and a kooky illustration of Bleet back when he still was a petite cat. This will be one of three prints available in my upcoming Etsy shop update. Along with a much larger group of photography prints I will also have three (to start) illustrated small poster prints. 8.5 x 11, suitable for framing, printed on heavy, brilliant white card weight stock, gorgeous saturated colour ... yada yada yada .... smile.

Yesterday was one of those mildly remarkable days here at the drawing desk at 29 Black Street. I mentioned earlier in the week that I was in between design assignments. No assigned projects on the drawing table for over a week ... Now usually this would start the creep of worry to grow and fester inside of me but with several fat invoices out there in the ether I have been reasonably relaxed about it all ... that and I've fallen somewhat under the spell of summer - this past week the weather has been spectacular. That said, part of being self employed, in my case anyway, is the constant need to be hustling up the next round of work. Hustling without pestering, so Thursday I put in a call to my pal Val at customer No Uno ... I left a voice mail message telling her I had some time and was willing to work up a few thumbnail drawings and did she have any specific themes that she might want me to work on ? (this company produces primarily photo frames). She called me back yesterday early and said Yes, how about Botanical as a theme ? Sometimes the ideas just miraculously come, out of my head down through my beloved red mechanical pencil and onto a blank sheet of tracing paper. Effortlessly and almost thought-lessly (in the good way). Yesterday was on of those days. A few thumbnails sketched out, scanned and sent. Fast forward to the end of the day and the details of a new assignment- 15 frames. That's 15 x my per frame drawing rate. As I said to Miss Dixon, who was in her usual spot in her bed under my desk Mama's gonna sleep tonight ... and that's after I told myself ... I Rock ! (at least I Rock occasionally) Wink.

Very tight deadline, all 15 drawings need to be finished, scanned and sent by end of day Monday. So I'll be here at my desk, happily drawing, all weekend ... which suits me just fine.

I'd like to say thanks to a few of my blogging friends whose comments and words continually boost my spirits and make me smile, and often make my day. It's the first thing that I do each morning as I sit with my coffee shortly after 5am. I read the comments from the day before. My New Zealand friend Pherenike, who often feels like a far away twin. Anya, Mary D. and Judy in Ky who've been here through the thick and the thin and it's been pretty thin at times. BumbleVee and J. - it seems that they've been with us from the beginning and we're not sure how they ever found us but we're sure glad they did. And new friends Willow for her daily constant words of encouragement. Mmm who catches up with us sporadically, and always leaves behind him a trail of kind comments. Erin from Design For Mankind who stopped by yesterday and being the designer gal that I am, her visit felt like a movie star had come to say hello. (Oh swoon). Pam in Adelaide - whose known the kind of love that I speak of V. who doesn't comment often but when she does her words remind me that I have kindred spirits, especially here in this world. And Austen, Patti, Paula, Yoli & Suzie Q ... thank you so much.

wider than the sky

Friday, June 27, 2008

my pack - Jake, Winnie & Em

My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine
Softer than a sigh.
My love is deeper than the deepest ocean
Wider than the sky.
My love is brighter than the brightest star
That shines every night above
And there is nothing in this world
That can ever change my love

Petula Clark

A perfect morning adventure with my pack of three captured forever on film. This is a repeat image on this blog and my most absolute favourite photograph. One that I tucked away in my journal while on design trips to far away lands - Hong Kong, Paris and Los Angeles while the sweeties waited together in our local boarding kennel for me to return home. I loved them and I missed them so much it felt as if I wouldn't live, without them. Every night, after days filled with the thrills of big city exhilaration and adventure, tucked in my heavenly hotel bed somewhere, I would count the number of sleeps until I would see them again. This photo was taken with an old fashioned film camera, the summer of 2003. I remember that day vividly, our early morning trip to the beach. With perfect golden warm sunshine. I think I took at least 36 exposures to get this one ... most perfect picture.

Hard steady rain and rumbling thunder, kittens on windowsills, bubbles and scent, a second mug of coffee and my pack of one, Winnie Dixon snoring softly in her bed under my desk - it's another early morning here at 29 Black Street.

sweet em

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Emma Jane November 2006

I find this to be a haunting image, probably because I know she was nearing the end of her life. She turned 15 in early September of 2006, and we said goodbye to sweet Em late in December of that same year.

To love a dog and to be loved by a dog has to be one of the greatest gifts and to say goodbye, to let them go when their bodies and minds are failing them, is by far, the biggest sorrow that I'll ever know.

Coffee and cool breezes this morning. Sweet Oliver's happily watching the world outside my studio window from his pillow topped sill. The finches are chirping and chattering madly in the trees nearby and here we go again. Another new day ... and who knows it might just be the day that everything changes.

work in progress

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

reminds me of a Georgia O'Keefe painting - more oriental poppies

no matter how big or soft or warm your bed is,
you still have to get out of it

Grace Slick


Kidding. Sort of. Chalk it up to just one of those weeks. There is a pattern here. I do not have an assigned design project on the go presently from either main customers. So ... I have time (the luxury of) this week to work on my own stuff ... big sigh. You remember, my Etsy shop - small illustrated prints and Polaroid photographs ... with an end of June deadline. Eek !

Why is it that I can be super creative, extremely motivated, always meticulous and extremely efficient with my time when I'm working for someone else ? I've talked to other creative designer friends who also suffer from this affliction. Phew ! I think it's basically a lack of parameters, when left to my own devices, a blank page in front of me, the world of choice at my fingertips I become paralyzed and spin my wheels in endless possibilities. Awaiting pure brilliance and creative perfection to appear.

When I'm working on an design assignment I'm always being art directed to some extent, which apparently I prefer. It's why, I'm sure, that I became a designer and left any thoughts of becoming an artist back in some painting studio lying there in front of a blank canvas, years ago at NSCAD (my alma mater).

I am beginning to see a direct correlation between my blue blahness and the lack of a current assigned design project. No busy deadline on my desk, only myself is counting on me. An ah ha moment ! To overcome this I have decided that everything that I work on I must consider to be a sketch ... so be prepared to see some of my sketches ... always a work in progress.

The closer you get to the lighthouse, the darker it gets.

Japanese Proverb


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the tugboat pulling a big ship into our little harbour

The tug pulls these big ships in backward, so that when that they're loaded up again at the big dock, they won't have to turn around in the narrow inner harbour to leave again. It's always exciting to see ships coming in, especially the bigger ships which are always accompanied by tugs. And at night, coming or leaving, from my studio window they look as if a well lit city block is gliding past. I'll often hear the hum of the engines before I ever see the ships and then the clanging long rattle sound as they drop the anchor entering the inner harbour.

Last night was prom night here in our little village and as Winnie & I took our evening stroll down into the park, it was filled with smiling teenagers and beaming parents. Poofs of dresses in every colour of the rainbow, handsome tuxedos and fancy rented cars lined the street waiting to squire young couples away. It's a tradition every year - before the dance the park fills up with pomp and circumstance and images of happy young couples, best girlfriends and class mates are captured forever in photos in this park. Last night was a perfect night - warm and sunny with a gentle breeze coming in off the harbour.

It's raining this morning. The air is balmy with not a whiff of wind and the rain is steady and coming straight down. A perfect day - as I climb back out of my most recent fall into the crevasse (perhaps a slight exaggeration but I do love that word) of blue & blahness. In the moment is where I'll be today ... as much as possible.

on a bench in the park watching the ship's arrival


Monday, June 23, 2008

oriental poppies

sorrow is the child of too much joy

Chinese Proverb

Somehow over the weekend I went from simple summer contentedness to an almost desperately sad and worried frame of mind. Eckhart would tell me that my ego and my pain body were having another party in my head, and that's probably true - but unless you have the strength to boot them out they will wreak havoc with content and carefree. It happens like that sometimes, I'm just walking along, happily (or so it seems) humming a tune, and in an instant, the ground seems to give out beneath me. Things suddenly seem bleak, the air becomes filled with what ifs and lately, I am continually haunted by my boys last hours. At it's worst I feel like a crazy person and it makes me feel sick.

Yesterday afternoon, a beautiful hot & sunny day, I lay in my hammock in the back garden for hours on end. Under a big tree and with a gentle breeze, I stared up at the sky and watched the birds and I read a bit and napped - the only cure I could muster for this kind of illness.

And it always passes ... I think it's why I've always loved the beginning of the day, an early morning ... and another chance to start anew. A fresh cup of coffee, me and my eternal optimist, a new plan neatly penned on a clean page in my little red Moleskin journal and a hot bath, with bubbles and lavender, to wash away any remnants of yesterday.

14 more things (part 3)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

cavallini love

This beautiful Cavallini card sat atop red tissue paper upon opening my latest 14 things parcel. This package came to me from Austen @ Stripey Pebble in Toronto.

14 things Part 3

1. a beachy thing - stripey pebbles from stripey pebble - beach stones return home to their much loved families here in Nova Scotia
2. a papery thing - Canadian Living July issue and a special recipe issue - she's a Copy Editor.
3. a thing that cost less than $1 - a sweet blue tin with a lid - a place to keep treasure
4. a red thing - a handmade red (my favourite colour) vinyl pencil case
5. something found in the back of a drawer - a strawberry huller, two more weeks ... 'til strawberry season
6. something starting with the first initial of your middle name - "B" a little bag of vintage buttons. smile
7. something that once was alive - a maple key, the twirling seed pod of our maple trees
8. a soft thing - lovely hand knit cotton face cloths in beautiful colours
9. a food item traditional to your area - treats from Ace Bakery (a haunt of mine when I lived in TO), little crisp crostini bread with raisins and cranberry.
10. something that delights you - McBloom's bath salts - I love the scent !
11. something that once was useful - a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission ticket) and a frequent buyer card from the Trident coffee & books shop in Halifax. Well stamped.
12. favourite candy/chocolate bar - Green & Black's organic 70% dark chocolate. yum !
13. favourite hand written recipe - Austen's best scones -perfect for my upcoming strawberry shortcake season - and now I have a strawberry huller too.
14. a tea bag of your favourite tea - a bag of each English & Irish breakfast teas ... and thoughts about a possible Canadian breakfast tea (very Orange Pekoe -ish I would think)

hey there's la beast rouge, in the background, hangin' outside her home

package contents - spread out on the grass in our back garden

Thanks Austen for another perfect and lovely 14 things parcel.

Happy Sunday.

a summer day

Saturday, June 21, 2008

mint chocolate chip fudge

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect summer day ... I'm in between design projects so I decided to take a day off, a hot, sunny almost summer day, and a day to just putter with house and garden things.

Took la beast rouge for an early spin it's always a thrill to get that job out of the way for another week.

Did laundry and hung it all out on the clothesline.

Put my metal framed hammock together in the back garden, so now I can lie there, trance like and watch the clouds move across the sky while listening to the mad chorus of finches.

I walked to the hardware store and the post office (2 parcels- my new 14 things swap parcel arrived - stay tuned for more details !, a package of postage stamp love from most excellent designer friend MLou and the July issue of Gourmet magazine. Sigh). I stopped for an ice cream cone on the way home.

Took 9 Polaroids - of new orange Gerbera Daisys, of huge pink & red Oriental Poppies just beginning to bloom in the front garden and of a tug boat pulling a giant ship into our little harbour.

installed a Canadian flag, waving from the corner of my sun porch.

Had lunch in the sun porch amidst trays of seedlings, I'm building a few new beds so I'm starting my own perennials to put out later in the summer - Hollyhocks, Delphinium and Foxglove.

I puttered and sat in the garden with Winnie & Bleet for awhile.

Then in the early evening Miss Dixon and I went for our walk down into the park, and along the harbour path to the crescent beach where we met our friends Louise & Merlin . The tide was way out - technically I don't think a tide can be way out ... but that's what we say around here ... and we mean low tide.

I didn't go to sleep until past 11:00pm last night ... which is unheard of for me ... and I'm tired and still sleepy this early morning.

And my plan for today and tomorrow ... lots more of the same. Smile.

Miss Dixon hanging in the back garden with me

a flag ready for an upcoming birthday - Canada Day - July 1

a late lunch in the sunporch - grilled ham & cheese and iced coffee

big huge love

Friday, June 20, 2008

my red boy, my hero, my love


I know that there may be some of you who read this blog that don't really understand why nearly 6 months later my grief for this dog still looms so large. But then, you didn't know him. Larger than life, he was goofy and busy and kind and gentle. He kept me hopping, always, with his constant hey there what ya doing ? can I help ? can I have some of that ? He followed me everywhere, confidently and calmly, always needing and wanting to be in the centre of everything. He was high, high maintenance and only in the most perfect and wonderful way - with a constant and enormous zest for life. He loved me and I adored him. He was my anchor and I miss him.

They say every dark cloud has a silver lining and I guess mine would be realizing how lucky I am to have known such a dog, to have shared my life and my home for over 12 years with such an incredible spirit and to know that he lived a happy, long and healthy life filled with much stick fetching and retriever adventures. His raison d'etre. Smile.

I had lunch with a friend this week and it was so wonderful to speak out loud and honestly about this big heartache that just doesn't go away. The heartache that I must keep tucked away inside, the sadness that most often is only allowed out when we're alone. Winnie knows this sadness too. When we're all safe and sound and tucked away in our old brick house or driving in the car or walking alone through just cut pastures ... then we can let it out. And it has to come out ... all of it. That's what grief is ... it's feeling sorrow and sadness and loss and love.

Big huge love.

I love ya Noodle.

and my best girlfriend ... sweet cheeks, Miss Winnie Dixon

last evening

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Winnie's friend Merlin - c'est petite beau francophone chien

spectacular light ... sky and landscape

a row of white cottages - this is where we've walked from

more abstract painting inspiration - I love these muted stripes of colour

Miss D near the lilacs, walking home along the street that borders our harbour

almost home again, back along the path - the wharf where the big ships dock

Last night around 7pm or so ... as I sat at the computer working on a mindless and slightly tedious (in a good way, in a get-yourself-in-that-tedium-groove way) job, I kept glancing out my big studio windows which overlook the harbour. The skies had been stormy all day and as the sun was beginning to get lower in the sky the combination of light and dark, of grey and brilliant greens bathed in that late in the day warm golden sunshine made me grab my camera and get my girl Winnie Dixon and we rushed out ... down to the end of Black Street and into the park, down the path that runs along the edge of the harbour that leads to the crescent beach that's within the village limits. The tide was out and we ran into our friends Louise & Merlin. We walked and talked and we marveled at the spectacular evening that was unfolding around us. An evening as still as could be, the air warm and damp from an earlier down pour and a sky and light that was absolutely breathtaking.

If you click on these photos you can see them much larger. Click on the second photo and off way in the distance you'll see a point of land jutting into the harbour and the lighthouse -that's where we walk every morning. We drive a 5 minute drive to walk out there in our other paradise.

another walk with us

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

from the top of the bayberry & wild rose pasture

nearing our turn around spot at the big rock

a giant log at the bottom of the grassy lane - we sit here awhile each morning

if you squint your eyes what a lovely impressionist landscape this would be

and there's my girl Winn, she has a new scarf with roses on it

The sky outside my window this morning looks like a bruise, dark blues and greys with patches of light and gold. There's rain in the forecast and possible thunder showers. And you know that's fine by me. My big fat Nessie has arrived at my desk for his morning lovin' so it's difficult to type as he has his 25lb black velvet body draped between me and my keyboard. Don't you love it when cats forget to put their tongues back in and they sit or lie looking silly with their pink tongues sticking out. Oops he's biting me .. I guess that's my cue.

another perfect morning

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

yesterday afternoon

I'm on a Polaroid kick. I have 9 boxes left, 10 photos per box, in my fridge. Polaroid film has been discontinued so I have 90 little pieces of photography treasure in my fridge. I've recently checked into the pricing of having some of my images made into giclee archival prints, beautiful saturated colour and printed on lovely heavy watercolour paper - the perfect paper for these already dreamy soft images. I think I'll have some single images printed and also a series of duos - I often take several shots of the same image from a different vantage point or with a different composition within that lovely Polaroid square frame. Still aiming for the end of the month - photographs for sale in my etsy shop.

It's a beautiful morning here this morning. The birds are all up and madly chattering and singing, beginning their days. The sky is soft and glowing with big pillowy clouds and the colour is still very pastel, sherbet like colours of pale pinks and oranges and turquoise. The air smells amazing ... of dew and green it's smells clean and fresh and salty. And there's not a breath of wind.

I overslept this morning, I was in the midst of one of those big dreams, epic dreaming- with a huge cast of characters, many locales, constantly shifting from scene to scene, never quite settling on any one theme, and really nothing of any major consequence ever seems to happen.

The village is perfectly quiet as I sit at my keyboard, coffee in hand, kittens (Oliver & Gus) happily watching morning arrive from their pillow topped window sill. All is good here at 29 Black Street. Always my favourite time of the day ... every new day, always with the promise of a new beginning.

I'd like a new beginning, subtly new, as so much in my life is already absolutely perfect. But there are themes that seem constant, that hang onto me, that I'd like to say goodbye to and new ones I'd welcome with open arms. I'm not completely sure how to make these changes, but I am sure being aware of them is a good first step.

We're nearing the half way point in this year ... a perfect time for a new plan, a next 6 months plan, a remainder of this 2008 year plan. 2008 a year that I know no matter what happens will always be the year I lost my best friend Jake, my love - my red retriever boy. A year that feels so spoiled and tainted with a heartache as deep as I've ever known. I want the next 6 months to be better, to be different. They say it's important to write your dreams down, to spend sometime visualizing them, all the fine details of a new & improved life. I think I'll make a new plan (you all know how I love to plan) with my dreams and goals and hopes for this next 6 months. I will spend sometime this evening, in my chair in the back garden, with the birds and my big glass of ice tea and Winnie Dixon nearby working on her big excavation and I'll begin to map out the details of my new plan.

Miss D. and a most perfect smooth stick

always together

Monday, June 16, 2008


Another Polaroid from my shoe box stash. A stash that I must sort and protect in another big photo album. I was rooting around in one of the two crawlspaces that live on either side of my bedroom walls, looking for a gripping bedtime book - a thriller or mystery and I became sidetracked by the shoe box (as so easily happens to me) I couldn't help myself from briefly looking through some very old photos.

I did not find the gripping thriller, instead I found the third book in Gerald Durrell's Corfu Trilogy -The Garden of the Gods, books I've mentioned a few times on this blog. Old musty paperbacks, that smell like a cottage on a lake, all purchased in second hand bookstores over the years and books that I love so much I can read them over and over again.

So last night I lay tucked into the freshly made nest of flannel and poly-fill. Sheets, comforters and crisp cotton pillowcases that all smelled of outside. Lulu curled up by my side. At the end of a busy weekend, one where it felt like I accomplished a lot (which for some reason is always how I judge good vs bad - by amount of productivity - it's weird I know -some type A girl lives inside of me). As I lie there with my musty paperback I felt strangely and purely happy. I have a lot of little moments like that, daily - where I just pause and think to myself I feel really perfectly happy at this moment.

The thing is, the sadness is always still there too. It feels like my shadow, a good friend really and a comfort in a strange way. Me and sadness go way back. I'm like some chocolate confection. A sweet filling of happy dipped in dark sadness or maybe I'm dark smooth sadness rolled in sweet flecks of happy. I'm not sure which and I guess it doesn't really matter. But I am both ... and always together, it seems.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

a row of red in my back garden

your worst enemy cannot harm you as much
as your own unguarded thoughts


worry pas

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Aaaaahhhh ! Saturday, la weekend ...

and yesterday I had wonderful news from the tax man (well in my case the tax woman - Connie my accountant) . Happy huge sigh of relief. The taxes I still owe are a fraction of the enormous figure that my scary mind had conjured up (always an advocate of the worst case scenario mode of thinking). I say one big giant Phew ! As I went to bed last night, knowing full well that I would wake up at some point. Boing ! Eyes wide open, mind a drifting into the stormy sees of fret & worry, I promised myself that with my good tax news I would allow myself one night (at the very minimum) to drift back into the happy calm lagoon of nice and happy thoughts - I would float on my back on the clear turquoise water as warm as a bath, and lie there content in my nest at 2am ... worry free ... for one night ... come on girlfriend you can do it I urged myself. And I did ... although, trust me, it was not easy.

I'm a bit of a worry junkie. Somehow believing that if I worry enough about something I will magically create a dome of protection around said thing. If you buy into the philosophy of The Secret ... it's actually just the opposite ... what you fret & worry about, what you concentrate on is what you actually draw toward you. Eek !

It's an area of my life that definitely needs work ... to learn how to worry pas. Smile.

retriever extraordinaire ...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jake and a very young Miss Winnie Dixon

...and a baby Winnie Dixon.

Oh sigh ! Jake, that big happy (always) smile, and eyes as kind and gentle as can be and our Miss Winn with her scrawny little Wanda Cameron legs (something that Carol says to Winnie when Winnie goes into the water and comes out all fluffy and scraggly atop little toothpick black legs - you've got Wanda Cameron legs Miss Winnie. Wanda Cameron apparently has little legs also). Both dogs basking in the golden light of a sun just risen, another early morning adventure avec les sticks at our beach. The most perfect light and certainly the most flattering, especially to an oh so handsome red coated boy.

I still can't speak about him without getting a catch in my throat and tears beginning to well up in my eyes. I know you already know this ... but God how I love that dog and oh how I miss him. Both of us miss him, Winn & I. I wonder almost daily how is it that I've lived through such sadness and longing, that our life has just gone on without him ... I do know now, if I can live through this ... I can live through anything.

It's really windy this morning. It's sunshine and a cloudless blue sky and white caps fill our little harbour. Miss Dixon is snoring in her bed under my desk and another new day is just beginning.

clouds #3

clouds outside my guest room window


Thursday, June 12, 2008

sweet Oliver shares an ice cream cone with me

I'm at my desk pretty much a normal work day - close to 8 hours. The thing about working for myself is that I'm free to leave this desk whenever I please. Normally I wait and go to the post-office or do any afternoon errands when Miss Dixon and I are on the way for our afternoon beach walk. When I have a project on the go I do try to stay put through lunch until about 3:30 (later if I'm on a deadline) and then she and I pile into the car and off we go. Yesterday I needed to mail something earlier (so that it would leave this little village with the afternoon mail). On the way back from the post office I had to walk by our new ice cream parlour ... and I have a frequent buyer Ice cream club card. Wink. Two scoops, two different flavours, Toffee Almond something and Black Forest Cheesecake. Sweet Oliver hangs out here with with me most of the time I'm in my office, most often on his pillow in the big window basking in the sun as cats are so good at and yesterday he even had a little snooze in the top drawer of my new teaked topped desk. Smile. Oliver loves ice cream too.

lily bells & storm clouds

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

lily of the valley from the front garden

Which reminds me - I must get out in the front yard and dig up a few clumps of these little treasures to put in my back gardens. They don't mind shade, they multiply like mad and the scent is to die for.

This morning as I sit comfy and cosy in my tidy office, wrapped up in my chenille-ish housecoat, hot coffee by my side, there's a cool breeze coming in the wide open windows and the sky over the harbour is black with storm clouds. Along with the sounds of the lobster boats and the happy chirping squeaks and whistles of the finches in my yard we can hear, off in the distance yet, rumbles of thunder. I do love a thunder and lightening storm but I'm afraid Miss Winnie Dixon would beg to differ although she seems to tolerate it as long as she can be jammed up beside me or safe and sound in her cave like den under my desk. I love a dark and stormy sky. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the storm seems to be moving sideways and not coming directly in over us. A few flashes of lightening and grumbling rolls of thunder but far off in the distance.A little bit of rain ... and everything smells incredibly fresh ... it's the smell of green.

And speaking of green ... La Red Beast and I spent some quality time together yesterday at lunchtime so that's another of my favourite chores off the list, for perhaps another 7 days. I do try to push the time between mowings as far as possible.

I finally, finally finished a home decor/gift project (from new Chicago big fish customer) that I'd been working on forever it seemed. For too long. As much as I complain from time to time about customer No. Uno's crazy I need it yesterday time lines, there is something very satisfying about the rush of on-demand creativity and the flurry of a very tight deadline. I'm a momentum kinda girl. I'd much rather those in and out of here projects that linger on my desk only for a few days and merci ! I have another of that particular variety on drawing board at present. Smile.

Well ... it looks as though the storm has passed.

rhubarb & our guardian angel

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This time of year a popular question heard throughout this village, at the post office or maybe at the grocery store, "Need any rhubarb ? " It's very much like zucchini harvesting time - rhubarb season is. Everyone seems to have more rhubarb than they can handle ...

I can remember as a child it seemed there was a big patch of rhubarb growing in every back garden and we'd dare each other to bite into a piece and then screw our little faces up in exaggerated grimaces - more sour than lemons, or so it seemed. And as a child you thought why would anybody eat this stuff ? Last evening as I stood in my kitchen, cutting up my recent gift of a grocery bag filled with rhubarb, into chunks - I was thinking and wondering about how rhubarb ever came to be discovered, how did that person decide that this very fibrous and tart with a capital T stalk of ruby red could be edible, how did they think to add honey or sugar and cook it until it became soft and mushy and sweet and tart at the same time. Or to mix it with other fruits like strawberries, peaches or blueberries. Questions one ponders while methodically and carefully chopping and chunking. Into a plastic bag and into the freezer went my rhubarb and one night this week I will bring it back out and I'm going to make Rhubarb Catsup -

I park my car each and every morning at the end of a dead end road. It's out on the outskirts of town, out on the point where the lighthouse is. I've been taking my dogs to walk there for years and years, 13 or maybe 14 years. Way back in the beginning when it was just Em, Jake and I, we'd park the car and trudge through the overgrown field on our way to the beach and the woman who lived in the last house, at the end of this dead end road would stand in her big picture window and wave at us. Always.

She and her husband are now great friends of ours. Dorothy and Hugh. Dorothy watches for us every morning, she waves when we arrive and she watches for us to leave so that you can wave again. It's always made me feel extra safe and secure walking back where we walk. Alone, just me and my pack of three, because if anything ever happened I've always known ... Dorothy would be watching for us. Sometimes in the summer she'll come with us on our afternoon walk and we'll sit together on the big log that's washed up on the beach at the the end of the grassy lane and we'll sit and we'll all bask in the sunshine awhile. She buys the best and most enticing dog treats in family size bags in case we decide to walk around the back way and come up behind her home and we'll sit on her bottom step and she speaks to Winnie Dixon in the sweetest, most gentle and quiet voice. She loved Em, she loved Jake and we love her. She's our guardian angel.

Dorothy and Hugh gave me the rhubarb and Dorothy also gave me her recipe for Rhubarb Catsup (a chutney like pickle with the consistency of jam) here's the recipe in Dorothy's own handwriting

Dorothy and Hugh enjoy this spread on a roast beef sandwich with thin slices of sweet onion

I plan to add a few extra ingredients to my version. I'll add a couple of cloves of garlic, a big knob of fresh ginger minced, a handful of raisins, and a good sprinkle of chili pepper flakes.