clear waters

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

shells gathered from a white beach ... long ago

Not last night but the night before I was woken by a huge glass-breaking crash in the middle of the night. I knew instantly what it was, well not exactly what it was but I knew who it was, the culprits of the crash. Oliver & Gus. Having a 2am tumble, tear, zip around, pinging off of the furniture like little X games kittens - that mad kitten thing - that thing they love to do. I got up to check and see what exactly had happened, surveyed the situation quickly and rushed back upstairs to once again burrow back deep into the nest of down and flannel. I'd deal with the clean up in the morning. They had knocked a blue glass hen shaped dish to the floor, a dish that contained little bits of this and that. Little bits of this and that. Another song from the soundtrack of my life. Tiny assorted bits of life, shards of memories some much cherished ... and many practically meaningless. Yet they all share the same space in my home. The dish shattered falling to the floor and also knocked over a large wicker basket filled with beautiful shells and pieces of coral. Shells long untouched and completely covered in a thick layer of dust. I'm quite sure that the huge crash of glass, the spilling of this and that and the task of cleaning up was meant to direct my attention to these shells ...

Shells that are beautiful ... both to look at and to touch. Every single shell unique and different from the next. All gathered carefully by me (placed in a used coffee can and later stowed away in luggage) alone on a beach with white pure sand, hot sun and warm, warm clear waters ... long, long ago.

Change your thoughts, and you change your world

Norman Vincent Peele

T'is true, I do believe Norman ... and how to change those thoughts ...
that is the secret

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

look out ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

coral pink tulips

here comes that new year

And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud

was more painful than the risk it took to blossom

Anais Nin

After yesterday's chatty long post I'm feeling quiet this morning. Two more days
left in this year of biggest sadness and ache. A year that has changed me deeply
but I'm not quite sure yet what I've changed into. I'm hoping that I'm still in the transition, that I'm still changing into that new person with a new brighter life.
At the moment I'm still afraid ... of everything it seems.

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is
to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are
the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.

Elizabeth Lesser - from the introduction to her latest book Broken Open

This very happy song made me cry yesterday. The song that my big red boy Jake still sings to me. Turn your volume up and tell me your not dancing and singing.

innocence & wonder

Monday, December 29, 2008

porcupine by sharon montrose

Amazing photographs of animals, especially dogs (and other things too)
Sharon Montrose - her blog and her etsy shop

Well yesterday was a porcupine kind of day.

We've had a few days of very mild weather and the green grass has once again been exposed from under the melting snow drifts at the golf course. It seems green grass and mild temperatures are favourites of porcupines. I've been walking on this golf course for many years and prior to this weekend we (the pack of three and I) only ever came upon one live porcupine and thankfully he or she had just enough time to scurry up a tree before les pack excitedly arrived on the scene. On our wintry travels over the years we've also found two dead porcupines, lying at the base of trees which perplexed me to no end and prompted a little research on my part ... did you know that falling out of trees is the most common fate of the porcupine.

Miss D (my terrier mix girl) decided yesterday afternoon to have a close encounter with the 4th porcupine we'd seen out and about in those wide open spaces in two days, just ambling along, as porcupines do, out enjoying a snack of green, green grass. Fortunately for us all Miss D picked up the scent before she actually saw the porcupine but by the time I saw it Miss D was far away from me and not on her leash. Yikes ! I'm sure if only someone had a video camera what a chuckle we'd have this early morning as Mama took to runnin' as fast as her Muckboots would take her, trying her damnedest to intercept an inevitable Dixon - Porcupine encounter (it still makes my heart race to think about it). I ran and ran on slippery icy wet grass, I leapt a frozen creek in one fell dramatic swoop and I ran some more all the while calculating my plan of action. At this point there was a good 25 meters between les porcupine and herself with me racing toward that line and thinking my best bet would be to get as close to the porcupine as possible and thus cutting down Miss Winn's potential angle of approach. Good plan except that I fell twice on hard frozen icy grass, dropping the leash the second time but thankfully all of this commotion rousted Mr. Porcupine from his dreamy day and he decided to scurry slowly to a nearby fir tree growing along side a creek. Yeah!! Miss D became a little confused by all of this ruckus and I had the chance to grab her collar and her lovely red chiffon scarf. Phew!! Gasping for breath and with my body, especially my knees, aching Debbie and Maggy Sue came rushing to make sure we were all OK. What a scene they must have witnessed. I leashed the Dixon up, turned my eyes and face sky ward and whispered a big huge thank you to God and the Universe.

Of course I then ruminated all evening about what could have happened, what might have happened, what didn't happen. Why do we do this to ourselves ? and as if that kind of thoughtful torture wasn't enough I then began to remember all the days that I walked by myself (no other human company) at that golf course with three dogs all racing around off leash and all big dogs to boot. All of the things that could have happened back then to us, to them ... to my loves. But we were lucky and nothing bad ever did happen. I still torture myself, fretting and worrying about Emma & Jake ... how crazy is that? much loved dogs who I know are now safe and sound tucked tightly away forever in my heart ... yet I worry about them still.

This early morning I'm sore and thankful ... and achy and relieved ... and bruised and thankful ... and it seems that all that aerobic exercise, excitement and drama blew that dark cloud away.

Animal Totem
- Porcupine

Innocence & Wonder

The Porcupine has very powerful medicine: that of faith and trust. You can move mountains with these powers. A Porcupine totem reminds you not to get caught in the chaos of the world, where fear, greed and suffering are commonplace.

Its medicine is relief from the seriousness of life. Open your heart to those things that gave you joy as a child; remember fantasy and imagination and bring into your life again. If a Porcupine is your totem you might be overly sensitive to criticism from others or overly critical of others. Perhaps you are allowing barbs from long ago to still effect your life now.

Hot bubbles, steaming face cloths and a fresh mug of coffee.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

say blue by aliette

is that my little home with the dark cloud

lovely art by Paris based graphic designer aliette - her etsy shop

I've been trying to be a new me. To have a new life. I think maybe I've always been trying ... in a way ... but suddenly, well maybe not suddenly. Maybe gradually, but with an increasing momentum and especially this past year with an ever growing urgency attached to my efforts. It's like I've woken up from a deep sleep, or a deep sleepwalking kind of life. It feels like I'm trying harder than ever ... and trying so hard, to figure it all out, is exhausting. What happened to my simple care free life? In the tiny moments of each day I do recognize that old simple life but when I ponder the bigger picture, the entire picture, "my life" in quotations hangs over me like a dark cloud of uncertainty. Maybe I shouldn't think about a bigger picture ?

Maybe this is what mid life is about. Monotonous ongoing evaluation. I feel like I want a new life, at times that I need a new life, a big change, new things, new people, new challenges and stimulation. All brand new - how exciting could that be? and then when I try to imagine me in that new life I can't picture it. I realize that I've cocooned myself away from the world and I feel like I'd be broken and lost out and about in that world and ultimately I end up thinking it would be safest and wisest for me to stay, cozy & snug, tucked away ... exactly where I am.

But I also know I will keep trying ... because trying is all I can think to do.
And I'm very good at trying.

fugitives by aliette


Saturday, December 27, 2008

barley toys or clear toys

A long ago and every Christmas tradition here in the Maritimes. My childhood memories woken by a bag of these jewel like, moulded, clear sugar, toy shaped candies found in my stocking this year. From Robertson's Candy here in Nova Scotia. A big wide windowsill with a huge patch of sunlight and the always curious calico photography assistant.

Bubbles and scent, a crisp walk in darkness with my girl Missy D, a vacation day or two - no plans, no lists, no worries, no to-dos or must-dos, another big long walk with golden girlfriends at lunchtime through wide open fairways and along wooded trails. There's ice in the harbour, my favourite afternoon schedule of cooking shows are on PBS, mincemeat tarts with hard sauce and vanilla ice cream and more chocolate than I know what to do with.


sweetness in sunlight

A beautiful song, a cover of a Gordon Lightfoot song ... by Sarah McLachlan
A winter song for that big red dog


Friday, December 26, 2008

frida kahlo angel

beautiful gouache paintings from chickory - her etsy shop and blog

Brrrrrr. It's cold again and windy. Miss D and I will have to bundle up this early morning. I must say I'm relieved to wake up this morning and know that that day has passed yet again. That day of heaped up expectations, still piled high from many long ago and lingering Christmas' past. That single loaded day, the first spent in many, many years without my big red dog - my comfort & joy. How can it be that nearly a year has passed without him ? Boxing day to me has always meant that we made it, another year - through and past that big day of potential disappointments, lonely feelings and sadness all thrust upon us (I realize) by clinging dreamy, make believe expectations. Phew ! I say. We made it.


I need a change. A big change. And I'm afraid to change. Change is hard. Easy would be to stay exactly where I am, continue on allowing the same old struggles to keep weighing me down. Those struggles have become like familiar friends ... it's hard to imagine my life without them ? But ... I've also never really been a big fan of Easy. Sigh.

Another fine line in life, I'm learning, is to walk on the wire between living in this very moment and of dreaming & scheming a bright new future.

happy giraffe garden

ho ho

Thursday, December 25, 2008

santa's been here ...

merci santa.

Pouring rain, mild temperatures and I'm looking forward to a full on turkey dinner at a friend's house later this afternoon. Miss D has sullenly agreed to stay home to look after Les Chats. There are endless carols on the radio, a fire is blazin' and we're snug & cozy this early Christmas morn.

december's eve

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's cold. The temperatures however will climb today and for the next two weeks the forecast is for above normal temperatures. My heart t'is singing. My bank account is snug and tucked in tight in the black. The tax man is happy (for now). Oliver (the world's sweetest cat) is perched here beside me. I've reached the point in this year of terrible Ache and Sadness, of deep Grief and Longing, that life without my hero dog Jake has become familiar and normal to me ... to us. Bitter sweetness, wistful memories and enormous relief are all tangled together. It's the first December in many years that I'm not living on that terrible edge of life, coping with a gravely ill and rapidly declining senior family member - first Ernst, then Emma Jane and last year that sweet Noodle dog. I have the best friend a girl could ask for and I know in my heart that I would've given up, this difficult year, if it wasn't for her constant attention, care and endless love. We live a safe and sound life in a big beautiful brick house. Madam LuLu her most royal Highness of Black Street lived a long, loud, bossy and superior life, she reigned over these lands and territories, gardens and jungles another summer season and well into her 18th year. I talk with my one and only sister every single week for at least an hour. I have great food and good health and I have twinkling sparkling Christmas lights. I walk by the ocean every day of my life. There are no lawns to be mowed or jungles to be whacked at for days and days and days. I have a wall of fire wood neatly stacked in my sunporch. And I have the Ness, the L'il Man & the shaggalicious Miss Winnie D who's only wish in life was to be somebody's dog - and she is so my dog and I am so her human. There is much love and joy, peace and gratitude here this Christmas Eve in this old brick house at 29 Black Street ... and in this tiny Nova Scotia seaside village.

Later on we'll conspire ... as we dream by our fire.

Merry Christmas to all.

sunday at the golf course

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

winnie .... waiting .... waiting .... watching ....

Yesterday was a wild, wild day throughout much of Atlantic Canada, in our little village by the sea and all around our old brick house near the harbour. Our power miraculously stayed and we were all snug and safe here at the teak topped desk the whole day.

Sunday afternoon however, was spectacular. Sunny and warm(er) than the frigid temperatures that had been lingering around here. Blue, blue skies, not a whiff of wind, white sparkling snow and happy thrilled dogs. Now that we've had yesterday's big snowfall the golf course becomes much less appealing, the snow too deep for dog legs and becomes aerobic exercise for human legs (not neccessarily a bad thing). We'll hope for another mild spell soon to melt some of this snow or a cold spell so that a hard crust forms and we'll be able to walk on top of the snow drifts and we'll wait patiently and very much look forward to our next date to zoom around with Deb & Maggy Sue.

The sky this early morning is clear and filled with twinkling stars. The air is cold and I'm happy to report that the snow plough fairies have visited through the night and scooped out that heavy big hump of snow left by the big street ploughs at the end of my driveway (and at the end of my walkway). I suspect that it was Roger of the burgandy pick up truck. Neighbours Roger and Norma. Their cat Jessie likes to have a bite to eat here at 29 Black Street and I feed him on a regular basis. Winn & I like to call him Yessie. It makes us giggle when we walk back up our walkway and onto the front porch after our early morning walk and I say to Miss D Look there's Yessie ! He's usually there, sitting on the windowsill, peering into the kitchen and wondering why the morning's breakfast service is so poor.

Today I still need to finish up my final two frame drawing projects of this year. We'll go out after lunch and do a few errands - Miss D my constant companion and most excellent seat warmer. We'll pick up big bags of seeds for our birds and the girls at the post office are having a little open house with snacks and hot cider. I'll shovel paths to the car, to the street and to the bird feeders and I may even make a batch of my grandmother's famous Christmas cookies.

Blanchies Scottish Shortbread
1 cup of butter
4 tbsps. brown sugar
2 cups of flour

Cream butter and sugar until whipped and light, gradually add in flour. Pat dough or *roll into a large circle, score circle into wedges with a knife (the secret is to handle the dough as little as possible). Bake at 325 until just beginning to turn golden at edges (8-15 minutes depending on thickness) *roll out dough 1/4" thick or even a bit thicker and cut with a small (1") round cookie cutter. Frosting - cream a few tbsps butter with a drop of almond extract and enough icing sugar to make a thick frosting. Add a smidge of frosting to each cookie and decorate with red and green maraschino cherry bits.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve !

my sweet little snow bunny

wild weather

Monday, December 22, 2008

little red fox on her way

wintry bird bath

In keeping with the recent trend to hi lite the work of talented artists here at 29 Black Street (and thus add beauty and colour to a potentially monotone wintry blog) here are three pieces by fabric artist Shellie Mitchell - please check out all of her amazing work at her etsy shop.

Well this early morning we've woken to wind and snow and very wild weather, the snowploughs are all out and roaming up and down the streets of this little village. On the radio Christmas carols are interspersed with long lists of cancellations and plenty of storm chat - road conditions, weather predictions, temperatures, wind speeds, storm surge warnings, road closures, power outages etc... such is the wild winter life here in the coast of Nova Scotia.

Thankfully we have power and it remained on all through the night. That's our biggest fear with these very high wind blizzard condition snowstorms - the loss of power. When I opened my eyes this morning to the smell of just brewed coffee (thank goodness for programmable coffee makers) the first thing I wondered was Is the power still on ? A quick glance to the electric bedside clock/radio and a sigh of relief. And no flashing numbers which of course means that the power stayed on all night. Phew!

So at least inside this old brick house it's business as usual this early morning. Bubbles and scent await, second mugs of steaming coffee have been poured, the sweetest black dog is still curled up on the bed - sleeping in, and that calico cat sits waiting for his first assignment here at the topped desk. Outside however, it's wild with freezing rain beating on our windows and the winds are a howling.

blue blue evening

pure joy

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Miss D waiting ... for Miss M Sue to arrive

When Missy D and I have an appointment to meet Maggy Sue and Deb at the golf course (which will be every day now for the stretch between Christmas & the New Year) I always try to arrive early. Winn & I walk to a grassy open spot with a perfect view of the clubhouse and the parking lot, to a little hump of a hill and Miss D sits and waits, ears cocked so that she can listen for cars coming up the steep gravel driveway and her brown eyes fixed on the spot she knows that the big burst of caramel coloured love, her best girlfriend Maggy Sue will appear from. It's a daily dog reunion that makes your heart sing to witness. It's pure joy. Maggy Sue appears at the top of the hill and Miss D launches herself from her spot. Racing toward each other they meet somewhere in the middle with spins and twirls, leaps and big huge doggy grins.

she's here !!!

Deb and I say our hellos and off we go on an hour long hike around this beautiful wooded golf course that this time of year looks out over the cold grey sea. Maggy Sue and Winnie are partners in crime while on constant squirrel patrol, and occasionally we disturb deer grazing on the grass beneath the snow. I've been walking here, at this golf course with my dogs for years and years now. I used to come nearly every day in the winter with my amazing pack of three Em, Jake & Winnie. And yesterday as we walked around in perfect whiteness I could feel the spirits of Jake & Emma romping joyfully around with us.

dogs & horses

Saturday, December 20, 2008

white dog yellow bus flower stack - Jill Mayberg

red dog blue crown mermaids chicken - Jill Mayberg

dog head blue - Jill Mayberg

More amazing illustration inspiration - Jill Mayberg's web site and etsy shop

How incredibly beautiful are these paintings ? and if that blue dog was a red dog I see an uncanny resemblance to a certain other dog, a much loved hero dog - Jake. I've wanted to have colour and beauty be the focus of my blog this last while and nothing that I've been creating seems to qualify at the moment and in fact I've been in a wee creative drought - mostly getting my assigned work done and out the door before the holiday season and kind of toiling away at half speed at best. It's been lovely to troll the wonderland of etsy to find my daily visual inspiration - and believe me you don't have to look far - as in that land inspiration abounds everywhere.

It's quite cold here, the temperatures have dipped below my freezing point. I don't mind crisp and fresh or chilly and cool but bitter and biting just makes me want to spend all my time either sitting directly in front of the fire or buried deep in the nest of down & flannel. Yesterday there was a wild, wild wind coming in off the harbour, frozen whitecaps and churned up seas and miniature snow squalls - blinding snow devils raced along the main street closest to the water. With down and fleece and bundled up we did do a few errands in the afternoon and crazy girls that we are (crazy in love) we took those sweet dogs Maggy Sue & Winnie Dixon for a very cold romp around at the golf course.

A long list of tres exciting activities awaits my choosing this chilly weekend ... everything from laundry to final tech drawings for Customer No. Uno (and lately No. Only) to wrapping and packaging up my one and only parcel (to my sister and family who thankfully live 4 hours away and I'm confident if mailed on Monday this parcel will arrive in time for the Day) - better late than never is another big hit from the soundtrack of my life. A cold walk after lunch with sweetest dogs and then home again with fires to stoke.

Buddha Boy is right here beside me as I type away this early morning, his sweet calico Oliver face literally inches from mine, sitting up straight in his usual pose, eyes closed and softly purring - he is my constant and most excellent companion. I'm slowed to half speed these days so I must remember to take that into consideration (itemized in point form and then divide by 2) as I trundle off now to the land of bubbles and scent, another cup of coffee to pour and la weekend's list to compose.

Happy Saturday.

girl on a white pink horse - Jill Mayberg

horse tally - Jill Mayberg

more illustration love

Friday, December 19, 2008

"brolly" pen & ink illustration by Yellena

and please check out more of her amazing work at her blog and at her etsy shop.

that Black Apple she makes me tres envious (and also tres inspired)

5:33 am • bubbles & coffee • a new day & new hope • beginnings & starts
minutes by moments • friday again • quiet & still • crunching snow & wagging tails
and sweet Dixon smiles (what would I do without her love)

"breeze' pen & ink illustration by Yellena

"succulence" pen & ink illustration by Yellena

a near perfect day

Thursday, December 18, 2008

sweet illustrations from the enchanted gardens of Anne Julie

and be sure to check out her blog here.

7:30am chilly mornings and a 2hr drive in a car with heated seats, a pit stop for coffee and perfect conversation • Value Village an upscale, well organized (by item, size and colour) second hand store for more fleece and WNTW attire • The Italian Market for bags and bags of imported Italian pasta, a big jar of capers, anchovies and hunks of cheese to take home • The Hydrastone Market - for sweet tiny mercury glass ornaments from the Henhouse, almond croissants and a baguette to take with from Juliene's, a spin through an amazing yarn store - LKYarns and on to Topiary - a gardeners delight • big fat snowflakes falling on snow covered sidewalks and holiday spirit, in the air - everywhere • A rendevouz planned with best gal pal and city girl MLou to meet at Bark & Fitz - most excellent doggy boutique, a treat or two for Missy D and next door to Sweet Jane's for all things confectionarya wee stroll, all three of us - MLou, Harry & I, down steep snowy streets to nearby Deserres for art supplies and all things creative - tres overwhelming choice and selection for the girl from the tiny seaside village (new brushes, kneaded erasers, drawing pens and gouache) • hugs, holiday wishes & see you soons exchanged on snowy sidewalks and Harry and I left MLou to her downtown shopping and off we went over the big bridge and out of the city for our final round of errands at Mall Land • Lush for oohs and ahhs and wonderful smells • Chapters & Starbucks finally for books, magazines, coffee, bottled water and a twisted peppermint mocha Frappucino YUM ! all set for the drive home • snowy snow covered roads and slow driving home with much more perfect conversation • Masstown Market and half way home, Brothers bratwurst sausage and sauerkraut to have with pierogies and hot mustard some night soon • darkness and the final leg of our journey now off of the highway and onto country roads, houses lit up beautifully with twinkling sparkling holiday lights and big giant snowflakes • 29 Black Street and into the house for spinning & twirling, jumping & leaping and oh the sweet kisses covering my face - and how I missed her too. Sweet Oliver following me around like a little shadow kitten, seeming to ask And did you miss me too ?My down parka with a hood donned along with snowboots, mittens and a leash and Miss Dixon and I rush out into the evening snow and our walk in a winter wonderland. Sigh.

Carols on the radio and snowploughs are the sounds of this early morning.
Coffee and bubbles and snoring black dogs.

the city

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

autumn early morning sunrise

More images from la photo vault. Photography is so much about the light.

It's a rushed morning this early morning and you know how I feel about rushing. Wink. BFF Harry is picking me up curbside at 29 Black Street at 7:30am sharp for a day in the city. Shut Up ! It's true ! designer gal is leaving this little village for a day of big city shopping and browsing. Last evening (and through the night) I hummed and hawed about going at all and decided I would call him early this morning and cancel. I managed to conjure up a whole raft of excuses and reasons why I shouldn't treat myself to a wee adventure. I have lots of work that should and could be done today and I shouldn't be spending any money - No's 1 & 2 on that list and also the well worn theme of this life. You know those moods, that frame of mind that can sweep over you where you know that you're bored, in a funk, a change would do you good, some fun, some frivolity yet you can't seem to get out of your own way to allow it to happen. An opportunity presents itself and you work hard to come up with a reason(s) to push it away. It's that well practiced game of self sabotage I've mentioned. But this morning, in this moment anyway, I am preparing to go to the city. Harry is one of those, (very few) people in my life who I always feel totally safe and secure with, I never tire of time spent with him, I always enjoy his company and could listen him talk and tell stories endlessly plus he's a really good driver (it's a 2 hour drive each way). He and I have made this trip many a time and it's always great to be trapped in a car for 4 hours with him, we can chat up a storm and get all caught up.

So ... this early morning indecisive, funkalicious and tres moody girl must go off to the land of bubbles and scent, Miss D and I need to walk in darkness early this morning, oh what will you wear ? Miss What Not To Wear and of course, I mustn't forget ... la list must be made.