Saturday, January 31, 2009

the DA - the design associate

Oliver again. My design associate ... most excellent confidante, executive assistant, my comfort, my joy, and miniature red golden retriever (in disguise). I kid not, he hangs atop the teak topped desk all day, every day, just in case I might need his help. Which of course I often do. He and I are currently working on a tres challenging design project, a little removed from my normal cute comfort zone. I've heaped enormous expectations on the outcome of this project and after two full days I've seen only tiny glimmers of these expectations actually being realized - which causes the feeling of extreme panic - 'cause ya know this could be the project (and you know we've been waiting expectantly for this axe to fall), that the tried and true creative process here at 29 Black Street might finally fail miserably. Sigh. Customer No Uno (her wish is my command) called yesterday and threw a wee cute project into the fray of tres taxing. So ... Oliver and I will be here at the teak topped desk all weekend with the exception of two long walks, Miss D and I, with our friends Deb & Maggy Sue at the golf course. Hooray !

The perfect second fat mug of coffee is here by my side, a concoction of cocoa butter, shea butter, vanilla & almond bubbles are bubbling - a creamy comfort bath this early morning. A big ol' sad front moved in this week from completely out of nowhere (or so it seemed at first). I've been cruising along in neutral for quite some time. You know that kind of sadness that wraps itself tightly around those so big they should never ever be asked questions like What's the point of all this ? and What's my life all about anyway ? way too much thinking and not enough breathing. It strikes me funny that what we used to call denial, it seems we now call living in the moment. I'm tired of winter and coldness, I'm tired period. I feel lazy and sluggish, I can't wait for darkness to fall so I can allow myself to retreat to the nest - which most evenings is around 7pm (in my defense I do wake up at 4:30 - do the math s'il vous plait). My team of invincible, mute valets decided to continue their Bingo bus tour down into Maine and as a result no one at all is tidying this house. Sigh again. I've made an appointment with my Dr. because I do believe that much of this blah-ness is likely (hopefully) hormonal or the depletion there of. This morning I will go to our little pharmacy and buy Vitamin D supplements and I've promised myself that today I will also begin, reducing my sugah intake, I do so love ma sugah. I will take my fish oil Omega 3, 6, 9 ... and so on ... supplements and see if I can't turn this ship around. Yet again.

Many thanks for all the great book recommendations. I do think it sounds like we have very similar tastes in books - a few suggestions I have read and loved - Mark Haddon & Wally Lamb - and many other titles I've made note of. Here are four more novels currently on order from the library and two new non-fiction books checked out this week and currently sitting bedside. I'm thinking I might re-read Garp as my next fiction project. It's been over 20 years and I do remember absolutely loving that book ...

The Hour I First Believed - Wally Lamb
The Piano Teacher
- Janice Lee
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblews)
I had this one from the library a few months ago but was afraid to read it ...

Driving Over Lemons: an Optimist in Spain - Chris Stewart
Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir - Madhur Jaffrey


Friday, January 30, 2009

book nook avec Mr. I-wonder-if-I-can-get-myself-in-every-photo-she-takes Oliver

I've listed a few of my favourite novels, over the years. Books I couldn't put down. The kind of books that you become completely lost in, the kind of story that you can't wait to get back to - to those other worlds and characters that feel as if they've become a part of your world. I have just a few pages remaining in Middlesex (by Jeffrey Eugenides) which I have so enjoyed. I love his style of writing, it's quite witty, very descriptive - lots of funny little details that in a way don't seem important but I love knowing about and it's not overwrought with dialogue (I've always felt if I wanted to read pages of people speaking to each other I'd read plays). This book has definitely rekindled a love of fiction in me. Over the years I seem to have had a much easier time reading non-fiction but now ... I can't wait to decide what my next bedside book, another novel, will be.

Any suggestions ?

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findley
The Way the Crow Flies - Anne Marie MacDonald
The World According to Garp - John Irving
The House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Miss Winnie Dixon and more scenes from the sunny nook

Yesterday was a day filled with spitballs ... spitballs from the Universe. Do you remember in junior high school how the boys (predominately) would chew pieces of paper into tiny little balls and blow these spit-balls through an empty Bic pen. Well yesterday as I sat at the teak topped desk anticipating and waiting on creativity to arrive in all her spendour these little spitballs seem to be coming at me from every direction. Covert tiny taps to the spirit.

What you are afraid to do now
is the clearest indicator
the next thing you need to do.


oh ! oh ! if this is true ... I have an awful lot of next things to do

My horoscope for yesterday (Cancer - found here at my fav horoscope place) January 28 You have a change of heart this afternoon. Instead of looking at a situation the same predictable way, you move your mind in a more detached, all-encompassing direction. Once this occurs, you can see all sides, cause and effect, and gain a fresh, healthy perspective. Once you've let go of a negative defense pattern, you're free to explore other ways to deal with situations that have been difficult for you. Instead of automatically pulling in the wagons and assuming the worst, you see the whole picture in better detail from a safe, detached distance. This creates an excellent mindset for decision-making. By depersonalizing and eliminating fear, anger and other ego relics, you move toward a reasonable, balanced position. You also let go of the repetitive, chapter and verse gripe you've held onto for what seems like ages. Now, you can make a real choice from a position of strength, instead of reacting like a wounded animal.

Whoa ! think I'll make this my new mission statement
hey ! how did they know about the wounded animal ?

never let a crisis go to waste
Ron Emanuel

something to definitely embroider on a pillow for future reference 'cause it's true

every problem is a question trying to ask itself
every question is an answer trying to reveal itself
every answer is an action or a way of life trying to show up.
Michael Bernard Beckwith

Shut Up !!

I listened to this spirituality podcast from Oprah.com yesterday (available in video or audio formats) and honestly ... I didn't want it to ever end. I guess I am a seeker.

and I'm hearing Halifax musician Kevin Fox and this song everywhere - from his new album Songs for Cello. Hauntingly beautiful.

It's +10 C and a 14 day trend in the weather that's calling for above and way above normal temperatures. Hooray ! Big happy smile and the wind is so strong this early morning, coming in from the harbour, that it's shaking this old brick house. Patchouli bubbles and my gal Miss D are waiting on me.

a designer's life in 1 act

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Les boys Bleet & Oliver chillin' dans le sunny nook

A new project has begun here at the teak topped desk. Final art direction and details were gathered yesterday in a phone chat with the relatively new (to me) big fish Chicago company. This job is a line extension of a collection of gift/home decor product that I worked on last year and a collection that was met with much praise and accolades. On the phone yesterday with designer gal and peer (although when they're a customer somehow they never seem like a peer), who's project it is, of course I'm all brave and positive, oozing I know what I'm doing confidence (I remind myself that she already believes this to be true which is why she's calling me in the first place- sigh). After I hung up the phone and reviewed my notes I instantly began to think with a thud I can't do this!- Who am I kidding? Where ever will I begin? How on earth will I ever manage to come up with ideas and create new drawings that she will be no less than absolutely thrilled with? Sigh. Yet another hit from the soundtrack of this designer's life. You'd think after all these years I would trust my skill and ability a little more. That said - this job of self-employed designer/illustrator gal has helped me tremendously with the ability to silence the nahsayer that's camped out in my head.

This happens often with a new project and the cure is always to immediately stop all thinking and pondering and I have taught myself how to do it. A kind of neuro Cruise Control. Instead of thinking, planning and scheming which is my immediate fall back position (to most anything) I instead begin to research and gather all the necessary reference material (often this means trolling the www for ages - oh drat). With blank paper, and trusted mechanical pencil I will spend most of that first day just hunting and drawing ... very loose sketches and writing little notes, words, ideas ... and out of this will magically appear ('cause it always does) beautiful well thought out miniature thumbnail drawings. Drawings that most often garner oohs and ahhhs from customers. I swear I don't know who does these drawings - I think it must be that other girl, the Que Sera girl, the La-la-la girl who only visits from time to time and who I keep trying to convince to rent out the guest room. So ... lets review the creative process at the teak topped desk.

1. Art direction and instruction in (from customer)
2. Review art direction (with self) while confidence plummets
3. Turn esteem sections of brain to Off position
4. Research and gather reference and inspiration
5. Sketch (roughly) and make copious notes
6. Continue to check that portions of brain remain in Off position
7. Draw, draw, draw neat tight thumbnails
8. Pause in disbelief to admire own work (wonder to self who did that?)
9. Submit thumbnail drawings to customer
10. Receive raves and accolades (nearly always)
11. Humbly accept praise on Que's behalf
12. Proceed to final drawings
13. Send invoice

Repeat at the beginning of next project.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

upstairs hallway - polaroid

a favourite nook and look out spot and place for basking in the morning sun.

Yesterday I had a day that I can only think to call a sick day, or better still (and in more empowering socially correct terms) a wellness day. I goofed off - on a Monday - on a Week Day. Something I rarely ever do. Well that's not entirely true ... I do goof off plenty but usually I goof off under the guise of attempted productivity. I normally would make myself remain at the teak topped desk the entire day ... goofing off, trolling the net and waiting in half hearted anticipation for the productivity muses to arrive but yesterday I actually planned to vacate. By mid morning I was scheduling my afternoon goof off time. I was feeling completely uninspired, a tad down-in-the-dumps (?), Monday's are often a tricky day for me even being self-employed and I was, am still, cold (the cold has an awful lot to do with it). Yesterday morning Winnie and I had a very quick walk down into the park at the end of Black Street and along the harbour which is now completely and solidly frozen ... and it had to be one of the coldest, most bitter days that I can remember. My fingers ached from the cold even through my doubled up flannel mitts. A scary kind of cold*. The kind of cold that you know you really shouldn't be out in for very long. When the mercury drops to these minus (plus throw in the big dash of windchill) temperatures my fireplace insert, even with the fan going at top speed and the draught open doesn't ... can't, heat this old brick house. And I am tres cheap (I mean frugal) with the furnace oil so ... what's a girl to do but gather all the furry ones, ready a steaming mug of orange spice tea, leave this frozen January world of 29 Black Street and head off to 1974 Detroit and the now teenage life of Calliope the main character and narrator of Middlesex ... all while buried happily in the oh so cozy nest of down and flannel. I even had a little afternoon snooze. I'm blamin' it on the cold. And ya know ... I barely feel guilty. Shut Up !! What's happening to me ... I've gone all Que Sera.

Today I will try and make up for lost time ... what is lost time anyway ? Is there such a thing ? ... can time ever really be lost ? ... oh ! oh ! I feel a Que coming on

* the mercury is rising and the 14 day trend is for nothing but above seasonal temperatures. Hooray !

and this makes me want to keep my house.

hey !

Monday, January 26, 2009

hey ! ... you

Hey ! you ... are ya thinking good thoughts ?

A new mini poster print available in my etsy shop later today • a near perfect Sunday • a call early in the day from that girl best pal & designer gal MLou who would never forget what day it was. Sometimes just the sound of her voice makes me want to cry I feel so incredibly grateful for her and all that she is • then my weekly Sunday morning catch-up chat with my one and only sibling Sandra • followed by a surprise phone call from one of my favourite people in the whole world - my nephew Michael, he and I chatted for over an hour and until the very last moment before Miss D and I had to rush to fire up the teal coloured 97' Escort wagon for we had made a date to meet Deb & Maggy Sue at the golf course at lunch time for lots of spins and twirls and racing, running happy dogs • This song played on the radio as we drove the 10 minute drive - Pop at it's absolute finest and the most perfect driving in the car with dog(s) music (second only to G. who was a particular favourite of J's) • a big long hour and half walk in crisp cold air, sunshine and the bluest skies ... Winnie loves other dogs and she loves to spend time with Maggy Sue. As we drove home she sat in her front seat, with the sun basking in on her barely able to keep her eyes open ... so perfectly content and tired. Adore her • Home to make a pot of tea and my Sunday afternoon ritual of 3 hours spent dans la nest with my current good book Middlesex - a fantastic book that I knew I would love • and finally 2 hours of my main man Rex (really smart is so the new handsome) and the question this week Hey! all you Canadians what do "we all" think about - this weeks Washington inauguration parté, Obama and his first official visit outside of the US which will be to Canada • & sleepy sighs


Sunday, January 25, 2009

big huge love

I still see you everywhere ... and oh thank goodness

and at the end of a long, long day
there is not much more to say than...

love ... I'm so glad I met you

Jake ... the big red dog who kept me safe for all those years while I grew strong

*custom "J" gold heart necklace found here. merci michelle.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

sweet Oliver in our chocolate brown guest room

I'm up a little early this morning ... Pamela (& Edward too I'm sure) mentioned yesterday in their comment left last evening how It is truly a fabulous feeling to know right off the bat that one's time would be better spent elsewhere, isn't it? in reference to my recent whirlwind round of queasy novice player in this strange game of postal match making. And she so hit the nail on the head. I realized reading that comment that that is exactly the confidence that swept over me. I know who I am completely and even though I do feel much of the time like a fish out of water -I'm happy and content. I know what's important to me and I like who I am. If I were looking for a partner in crime, a best friend who's a man, someone who would make me tea when I'm not feeling well ... I don't know at all what that man would look like, what colour hair or eyes he would have, how tall he would be ... or not. But I do know that man would be as kind as kind can be - that *all encompassing kindness. That would be the one quality that is absolutely essential - and that does make it very easy to sort through the contenders - 'cause if I know my girls at the post office they likely have candidates No 2 & 3 waiting in the wings.

Isn't that the most spectacular big patch of sunlight shining in on sweet Oliver, on piles of well worn white cotton pillowcases, on walls the colour of chocolate pudding and on a tiny bedside table found at a local yard sale and topped with very big love, small treasures and much cherished memories.

I could give you the big list, as I am want to do, of all my weekend must do's, should do's, to do's- you know my big plans - but the funny thing is I've been living on the edge of spontaneity lately. Shut Up ! It's crazy I know, and so totally not me. But I've been bandying around a kind of devil may care 'tude when it comes to all that gotta have a plan stuff. I do know that my team of invisible, mute valets have taken the weekend off and are as we speak riding the Bingo Bus bound for Casino-rama in parts North of here... so... I'm not sure who's going to clean the bathroom. Sigh.

On maps and the Geography of Being - tres cool, watch this and smile and I'll have new things dans les etsy shop come Monday. Happy Saturday y'all.

*all encompassing kindness includes being totally crazy about animals of all varieties and persuasions - but of course ... you knew that already.

bon jour

Friday, January 23, 2009

bon jour - mini poster art print

And another bonne jour it is. A cold windchill day (sad face) but the good news is the heavy veil of queasiness has been lifted in one fell email (and only #2) in which it became crystal clear that this was not to be a match made in heaven or otherwise (for all of you who have been on the edge of your seats since yesterday's Queasy report). I'm feeling, this early morning, tres relieved and happy to find out these glaring differences in compatibility so soon out of the gate and it seems Mr Monsieur is not at all interested in affairs of the platonic nature so hey who am I to argue ... those girls (les office postal) were hoping perhaps we'd at the very least become outdoor nature lovin' friends ... the male friend - is there really such a thing ??? she ponders. *Gay men of course the most excellent exception.

Now in the past (and fairly recent so) I would somehow try to make this all my fault. You know the I'm not ____ enough list or the I'm way too _____ list that we can conjure up on a dime to reaffirm to ourselves that some how we're just not worthy. But it's funny I don't feel that way this morning. I feel more confident and excepting of who I am then I can ever remember feeling (and these differences in compatibility were fairly glaring - that does help -wink). I don't feel apologetic for being the quirky (I know that's putting it mildly), shy, possibly reclusive (who am I kidding), way left of centre, animal loving freak that I am, or who I most often show up to be in this tiny rural (underlined) village - a fish out of water, I am, and with a view of the harbour. Sigh. But ... you know there are people in this little village, at least a couple, like the girls in the post office - who love me just the way I am.

A big reason for this new found confidence in who I am and what I'm all about is because of this blog. This blog has shown me who I am ... It's definitely a journal, my journal and I'm pretty wide open here and have been since the beginning. I talk about how I feel about everything and I don't hold back much. I've never been good at that - holding back my feelings. I've always been that Heart on Sleeve girl. Many of you have been here with me, with us, for a long, long time and many of you comment daily (which I love) and let me know that either you've felt the same feelings, that you understand or you send your support and love. Over time it's helped me tremendously to grow and become a much stronger confident person. I know that most of you who visit are women (with the wonderful exception of Mmmm and recent new visitor Pink Cowboy), and most a similar age and like character to moi which is tres comforting - birds of a feather and all. It's days like today, this new bon jour that I want to say a really BIG thank you ... to all of you.

merci mon amis !!

You know the drill ... more java, bubbles & scent and a day blissfully spent building that darn ol' Creative Empire with the constant company of my family of animals.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

forget-me-nots - another image from Spring 2008

Could there be a more perfect tiny flower ? I don't think so.

The weather is sensibly cold once again and last night as Miss D and I walked around this little village at twilight Spring was in the air.

After an entire day (or so it seemed) of back and forth conversations with my printer in the next town away and new saved versions # way too many of my artwork(s), a miraculous save-the-day tip thrown in from that girl designer gal & best pal MLou (I'm sure you've noticed - she does that a lot - save the day that is) and finally, finally I'm happy with the way my latest mini poster prints have printed. Hooray!! I'm quite sure that I've worked out the bug that was causing them to not print out as crisp & clean and perfect as they should and BFF Harry just happened to be in town yesterday and was able to pick up the prints for me Hooray again!
So ... this morning I will bundle up my first wholesale order and stroll up to the post-office to mail my package to Vancouver by Express Post. Phew!! All this perfect stuff can be very hard work.

I lost 4lbs this week at my post-office Weight Loss Group of 2 (and no Pherenike we do not get weighed on big ol' postal scales - wink!) the 4lb loss I do attribute to plenty of sighing and an overall big cloud of queasiness (is there anything worse) for who knows who may be emailing me, and at anytime and oh my, what might I have done to rock our quiet little boat ??? All or Nothing thinking (a personal favourite of mine), an affinity for all things tres dramatic and an I'm a recluse and I'm stickin' to it sensibility - all combines for the perfect recipe for Queasiness. Hey! don't ya be a rockin' my apple cart. Sigh. It does seem that ol' M. Universe has been wingin' me plenty O' tests and challenges to see if I can stick to my 2009 plan of less attachment, living in the moment, and a life of much reduced rumination. Curses. I'll take the 4lbs though ... happily.

Sweet Oliver has just landed up on the teak topped desk with a chirp. I do love those chirps and purrs. Why is it that cats insist on parading slowly back and forth in front of the keyboard while you're trying to type or splaying themselves out, as wide as can be, on whatever you happen to be working on ? I am currently working on two new mini posters for my shop while waiting for art direction for my new big fish Chicago company job - which actually is a continuation of a job I did last year. I'm feeling very creative these days and brand new. Queasy and new.

Totally amazing Obama day in pictures here (from Design Crush)

kinda quiet

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

bright tulips - polaroid 2008

It's almost that time again ... she thinks optimistically. Spring is just around the corner. Already in the evenings complete darkness doesn't fall over our little harbour until close to 6pm.

This morning I'm packaging up my very first wholesale order. How cool is that ? Megan from room6 saw my work on etsy and ordered 9 (count em) 9 prints (in assorted colours) for her little shop in Vancouver. Tres exciting and a little nerve wracking at the same time ... not sure why - the nerve wracking that is ??

Kinda quiet here this morning ... think I'll just get going and we'll have an early start to this new day. Miss D and I love to walk when the stars are still out.

So much about yesterday was incredible. The crowds, the smiles, the people young & old, the hope, the promise, the excitement, the thrill, the words ... all the amazing words ... in my life time I don't remember anything like this feeling. Universal hope and the desire to all work together. I think that's just what this ol' world needs and lots of it. Yes we can, can.

That's the thing ... this isn't just about the US ... it's about all of us.

Anything and Everything ... is now available in la shop.

golden girl

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Em - polaroid 1993

Don't you love the Missoni inspired wallpaper (everything old truly is new again) in the background. The previous owners of this old brick house had wisely covered up tres bumpy and imperfect walls with wallpaper. Most of the rooms were wallpapered. Wallpaper hides a multitude of sins. They had also installed quite high end wall to wall carpet through-out, also covering up unpainted and unfinished softwood boards on the second floor and old and very tired linoleum on the first. But hey, thinks she's goin' be Martha girl decides to rip it all out in those early years of of course I want to live in a hundred year+ old fixer-upper. All of the wallpaper and all of the carpet were gone very early on and many of those big dreamed and schemed projects still are waiting to be finished, who am I kidding they're still waiting to be begun. Stalled indefinitely sometime in the 90's by the constant theme of indecisiveness (being a designer can sometimes be curse), a continued and ongoing lack of funds, and no skilled labour to be found, actually no labour of any kind ... to be found.

When this photo was taken I had just arrived in this little village from my previous life in an art room on the 8th floor at College & Bay. I'd escaped my big city life, a sinking relationship and days filled with crowds, noise, concrete and busyness. I had moved home, I had moved to the ocean. My golden girl Emma Jane was also beginning a new life with me and her second home at a year old. She and I and Ernst & Lulu (who moved here with me) were all beginning our new life together.

It's a balmy -5 outside and good riddance to that terrible arctic freeze weather. Tramp bubbles and coffee refills await. Phew ! it's Tuesday, Monday slipped by.

9:30 am - You know it's funny it's a very huge day up here in Canada as well. Obama's inauguration coverage will be live on every station and every network. Big screen TV's are being fired up in bars and restaurants all across our country. Church basements are opening up and TV's and radio's are being turned on.
This is a very big deal ... to all of us.

Bonjour Hope ! Hooray Hope !

la la la-ness

Monday, January 19, 2009

anything is possible - mini poster print 8.5x11

Anything and everything is possible ... uh huh, it's true.

You just have to believe it to be so. It really is that simple.

I spent the better part of yesterday watching the thermometer slowly rise again (hooray !) and sitting here at the teak topped desk listening to CBC radio (Sunday is always a fantastic non-stop schedule of programming) quite lost in my paints, with my indispensable mini desktop light table, a stack of vintage books, an exacto knife & glue stick in a blissful (well ... OK near blissful) state of la la la-ness. It was another one of those bridges that are right in front of you situations this new practice (and it is most definitely a practice) of just being creative - instead of sitting and planning and scheming to the endth degree every detail and nuance of my next creative masterpiece in my head before beginning anything. Spending far too much time doing endless mentals instead of visuals or thumbnails always attempting to come up with the biggest, best, most perfect idea yet. What sharp as a tack phrase can I come up with ? what colours should I use ? what font ? should it be kooky ? should it me hand drawn and edgy ? or maybe very crisp and clean ??? My new approach, or practice is to plan a little, scheme a little and do a lot. And just let it be ... unless I absolutely hate the finished result, I'll have a few prints made at Carl's shop (my favourite printer) on my new super heavy, super smooth, beautiful paper stock and I'll list the new piece in les etsy shop, and let someone else decide ... if it's nice, cool, meaningful, cheery, dull, great .... and me, I'll just move on to the next bridge, on to my next project.

The best CBC Sunday shows Sunday Edition with Michael Enright 3 hours of documentary style radio a with a bit of music thrown in - Wire Tap with Jonathan Goldstein - a show that's definitely in my top 5 - he's a genius and I'm always sad because this half hour gem blows by way too fast. Tapestry - with Mary Hynes - a show about the many faces of spirituality, always interesting and thought provoking - Writers & Company with Eleanor Wachtel - an hour chat with often obscure authors that you otherwise would never hear of ... and later- Cross Country Checkup with my guy Rex Murphy - a 2 hour call in show, a question is posed to the listeners of this nation each week and people call in from all over Canada with their opinions and stories. Last week's question was Are governments doing enough for the state of mental health in this country ? and last night Carving up the budget - our government is about to present it's new budget, so the question was How do Canadians think the money should be spent ? Totally scintillating. Wink.

Hey it's Obama week. Wow ! Congratulations US of A !! ... Goodnight Bush

wild dogs

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a tiny spider on a big houseplant in a very sunny window

I love spiders. I don't want them crawling on me and I do scream like a girl if one happens to innocently find itself strolling along my bed sheets. I do leap out of bed, arms waving around crazily and then I quickly get my drinking glass and postcard (insect capturing implements) and I remove said spider from my nest (or any other undesirable place) and move him or her to a houseplant - and the bigger the better. In warm weather I would take them outside. Some new territory, lush and green for them to prowl around on. I never ever kill a spider or any insect (homely earwig or sweet ladybug). I will kill a mosquito but only if it's biting me. I don't believe in killing things ... any things. So you can imagine my distress when I found myself at the counter at the post-office, having the Friday afternoon post-office chat, when someone came in talking about a coyote attacking a small dog (it wasn't killed thankfully - the dog will be OK) but then came the big pronouncement The only good coyote is a dead coyote. From a woman who I consider to be a big time animal lover. Like a born again Christian, never one to chance missing an opportunity to attempt to convert the masses, I said The coyote doesn't understand the difference between a rabbit and a small dog (a tres weak rebuttal I realized instantly) they all turned and stared at me blankly. Now one of my girls, one of my fav post office girls, also has a large cattle farm and she has lost new born calves in the past to coyotes which I'm sure must be a terrible and completely heartbreaking experience. I then offer up The coyotes were here long before us and they have every right to be here, we're in their territory ... more astounded stares. Oh oh ! the alarm goes off in my brain and thankfully I come to my senses. I smile my best smile and say Well ... laughing a little under my breath It seems like I might be outnumbered in this conversation so I think I'm just goin' take my mail and get outta here. Have a nice weekend ! I know they won't hold this conversation against me, they just think I'm weird. I'm not sure what I would do if I was a farmer with cattle or sheep or if we (my house full of much loved animals) lived on the edge of the forest and were in coyote territory ... but I do know that I couldn't kill them. I can't imagine that. They are very smart and beautiful wild dogs.

I guess I just wouldn't ever have a farm with live stock and I wouldn't ever live on the edge of the forest ... and I realize that these people can't make those choices. It's times like these I find myself wishing that I lived smack in the middle of some city, where the day to day conflict between man & nature seems much more subtle and could even be forgotten about ... for a time.

They say in life you have to pick your battles and in these parts the coyote battle is one where I'm severely outnumbered. So I guess I'll just rescue a few spiders, say a few prayers for all those coyotes and call it a day.

daily coyote ... and more
and a really great spider book


Saturday, January 17, 2009

an idea, a sketch ... not yet a done deal

anything is possible though ... I do know this to be true. uh huh

I picked the Scrag up yesterday after lunch at the height of our blue sky sunshiny cold, c-o-l-d, day. Because of the sunshine beating down on it, my front stoop or porch was a balmy -10 C, perhaps even warmer. These days I back the 97' teal coloured Escort wagon into the driveway so that it faces the morning sun, then if I do decide to drive anywhere the heat of the sun will have warmed up the engine and cleared my windshield of frost and ice. One of those little things in life that make you smile - and I secretly love backing up, I find it challenging in a good way. Scrag seemed very happy to be sprung, he had a quick bite to eat and then happily trotted off to resume his travels around this little village. He stopped back around suppertime for another bite to eat ... so I guess there are no hard feelings.

More of the same today. More cold, more sunshine, more minutes & moments and more staring at and contemplating the little bridge in front of me. A little Illustrator tutorial-ness over at lynda.com, a little filing, a little organizing and maybe even a little sewing. Who knows. But we'll start with a walk Miss D and I. I let her decide what's too cold and so far she doesn't seem to mind this weather. She sure loves her walk, Miss D does, and her always intense nasal investigations.

Happy Saturday.

Can you spy the two golden retrievers in the photo below ...

check out this heavenly place
and I love this song ... Ryan Adams

too many bridges

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seven Crows by Alex Colville

A Gathering of Crows
One crow for sorrow,
Two crows for joy,
Three crows for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five crows for silver,
Six crows for gold,
Seven crows for a secret never to be told.

A painting by Alex Colville. An artist that I grew up knowing about. My grandmother Flo an amazing woman, and an artist herself knew all these guys from her days at Mount Allison. She had framed prints of all of their work hanging in her house. Alex Colville, Lawren Harris Junior, Christopher Pratt. She lived in a house filled to the brim with art and love and she had an incredible influence on me (still does) and of who I've ultimately become. Alex Colville, was like a movie star to me, in my childhood town of Sackville, New Brunswick.

Brrrrrrrr. But I guess I can't really complain as it seems it's cold everywhere. It's way too cold it's the kind of cold that makes me feel sad. I worry and wonder about all the animals wild and otherwise that may be too cold, that aren't properly looked after. I'm hoping & praying that they will all find a warm place to curl up in.

Lots more stuff in my etsy shop. A brand new project, completely out of the blue yesterday, from Chicago big fish company and just when I was beginning to sink into my annual petite hiatus from Customer No Uno (many of the Chinese factories close for a few weeks around this time for Chinese New Year). Honestly this living in the moment and forcing myself (and believe me I struggle with it) to believe that "good things come" is so totally working for me. The other good habit that I'm developing is to only deal with the step or stage of a situation, problem, idea that I'm in. Let me explain - having a penchant for planning (big time) and an inclination to worry and fret because of a misguided idea that somehow doing so will protect me from any possible badness that I can scheme up (and believe me I can come up with a list of 1-99 potential mishaps, drags and outright bad things in a snap). Lets use a big one for an example. Selling my home and moving somewhere (?) else. A thought that when entering my mind causes a wave of nauseousness to instantly sweep over me. So now I scoot that thought out of my head just as quickly as possible and retreat to the step or stage in that gigantic BIG idea that is currently applicable - which is - to work on cleaning out all the excess clutter and stuff and the doody-ing up of this place (painting, cleaning, organizing) so that it will look nice if and when those people come to see it. That's all I need to think about ... right now.

I am crossing only one bridge at a time and always the bridge that's directly in front of me (which is so not my nature) because life has proven over and over to me that the path I'm on may completely change. Just past the next bridge there could be a big ol' detour that sends me down a path that doesn't have a lot of bridges. My nature would be to rent a hypothetical helicopter so that I could get a proper and detailed bird's eye view of every single bridge, obstruction, possible snag, dilemma etc... that potentially could lie ahead and burn the motor out of my little brain worrying and fixing problems that may not ever occur. You get my drift ... what a total waste of time ... and way too angst filled pour moi.

I know MLou's smiling as she reads this. She has helped me so much to get to this place and she continually helps to keep me on track. Love her ... lots.

la la la ... I'm livin' in the moment ... or at least I'm tryin' to.

And hey all you Cancer's out there how's this for a great start to our new year.

for like ever

Thursday, January 15, 2009

love you for ever - birds (card & mini poster)

High speed kittens Oliver & Gus are peeling up and down the stairs just as fast as their little legs will take them, bubbles and scent are a pourin', coffee's a drinkin' and Miss D and I are going to have to bundle up 'cause it's bitter cold out there this early morning.

I'm attempting to painfully slowly teach myself Illustrator, with the always kind and gentle guidance of best pal & designer gal MLou. It's a very complicated program and I, way too, easily become frustrated and impatient. You'd think being a designer for some 20+ years that I'd know this program by now, but I don't - I've been drawing & designing the old fashioned way with my mechanical lead pencil, kneaded eraser and tracing paper - always the consistent tools of my trade. I do occasionally break out the paintbrushes and gouache and you know how I love my collection of assorted tipped black ink drawing pens. But I also really love the look that can be achieved when you create some art digitally and damned if I'm not determined to become good at it ... and this is the year.

This new poster, available in two sizes (5x7 greeting card and and 8.5x10 petite poster) is printed on gorgeous super smooth, super heavy, bright white Cougar 130lb stock. The 5x7 card comes with a bright white envelope (just in case you'd like to send it to your favourite valentine), the mini poster will be available in two other colour ways - perfect art to frame for a child's room or for the child at heart.

These will be in les etsy shop later today (along with a few other new items) and will be available to ship out Monday the 19th.

I spoke with the vets office yesterday afternoon and Scrag has had his surgery and is recuperating well. They think he's likely an older cat 10+, he was treated for fleas and ear mites and they've decided to keep him until Friday after lunch which is great. He can just chill - no worries in a warm safe place with food and company while he totally mends and misses at least a couple of these bitter cold days.

assorted sighing

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the cover of a small paperback book - Francais for Chats)

The first time I read this book, kneeling down in the aisle of a book store, I laughed so hard I got the hiccups, and I thought for sure I'd pee my pants.

Yesterday was A Day. Big Sigh. One of those up, down and sideways days that by the time 6:30 pm arrived and darkness had completely fallen I just wanted to snug deep down into the nest, with a cup of tea and Middlesex (p102 it's a great book).

A new clock radio with a CD player I ordered online arrived yesterday. The plan, to replace my 15 year old bedside clock radio with one that also played CD's so I could listen to audio books while snug in the nest. Soon I will be working from the nest. Obviously I did not read fully the description of les clock radio as once it was unpacked I realized it was enormous, not at all appropriate for les bedside and must be shipped back and something else ordered. This is the second clock radio CD player that I've purchased this year. The first el cheapo version would not tune in my fav CBC radio station - whats up with that ? so it was packed up and returned. Now I'm onto version trois. Shopping where there are no shops. Sigh.

I am less fond of climbing down

I captured my favourite stray cat in a carrier and took him to the vet yesterday. He will stay there for a few days of spa treatments, antibiotics and neutering. This little village like any little village, town or city has way too many stray cats - if we can just keep neutering & spaying it really does help keep their population down. There are many kind souls who feed them and leave a shed or garage door open so that they have a cozy and warm spot to sleep. Our local shelter foots the bill if we can do the capturing. I have been thinking about catching him for over a year. I call him Scrag- because he is so Scraggly, he's grey and white, long haired, and a bit sickly looking. Yesterday I just decided, put my mind to it and I did it. A little tuna, a soft voice, leather gloved hands (just in case) and a gentle shove. A very good Sigh

the forbidden foods

Yesterday I handed over one of my three email addresses to the two girls at the post-office who are convinced they may be making a match made in heaven and have plans to hand over my email address to a man. A man who they've decided I must get to know. A man who must get to know me. After much painful deliberation I realized I couldn't say no. One of those situations in life, were try as you might, you just can't come up with a reasonable excuse to say no. I wrote out my email address on a piece of paper and handed it over to them as they stood beaming at me ... beaming - uh huh ... I'm not kidding. Make that a double please - Sigh, Sigh.

I had my second official weigh in of this new year at my Weight Loss Group of 2 meeting also at the post-office (with one of les girls). T'is definitely my hot spot here in this little village - the post-office - where all the action happens -no question. I lost 2 lbs this past week - probably from all the Sighing.

the return to one's territory

While attempting to transfer *data (in a half-assed, not really fully grasping the seriousness of what I was doing way) from my old laptop to my still relatively new big 24" imac beast I became impatient, and restarted my laptop after 4 hours of transferring (you idiot what were you thinking). As soon as I pressed the restart button that sick feeling began creeping over me. Now that screen is pale grey (not good) and after speaking (through tears) with Cherub like Calm & Caring Dave at Mac's Are Us (bless him) in the city who talked me down from that very dark place I will bundle her up today, carefully in bubble wrap and cardboard and courier her off to have diagnostics done. It's giving me a pain in my stomach as I type this. Sigh, Sigh, Sigh (and repeat).

Finally Miss D and I went for our evening walk in darkness and I spent that time attempting to calm myself down, chill myself out, to breath deeply (basically sighing IN instead of out) and trying to just enjoy our walk ... and I did.
We did, the two of us ... Miss D and I.

So ... I'm hopin' that today is going to be one of those breeze along, no big deal days. It's raining this early morning and very mild however tonight those temperatures are going to plunge to bitter cold through the weekend. I'm so glad Scrag's at the spa.

* data - iphotos & imovies - practically all of my much loved photos and little video clips of the big red dog Jake and my golden girl Emma Jane Louise. My entire itunes collection (not such a big deal) and all my work, thankfully which had been backed up several times.

Oh Happy Day update - Just for the hell of it I started up les beautiful old titanium powerbook and ... Shut Up !!! she's fine !!!! oh happy, happy day, no more grey blank screen. Les data, files and all much loved photos and movies of those sweet Noodle & Em dogs are safe & sound. Be still my freakin' heart.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Missy D - against the most perfect greenish, blueish, greyish wall colour

Basking, as she so loves to do, in an arm chair in a sunny window in our upstairs hallway. The dog chair. The basking in sun chair. The look-out (here comes a courier) chair. The afternoon snooze chair.

A jumble of this and that this early morning. A few thoughts, a recipe and a couple of must-tell you about's. Well you know that as I sit at the teak topped desk and draw all day I'm listening to my beloved CBC radio 1 all day, every day - with the very occasional break (if the programming is not to my liking - say they have the car guy on the regional call-in question and answer show which comes on at lunch time, or maybe the home heating expert) to listen to a book on CD from the library. My two favourite week day shows are The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti an hour and a half of current events, political and world affairs followed by another hour and a half of Q with Jian Ghomeshi a quirky mix of pop culture, music and the arts. A near perfect morning of drawing accompaniment.

Yesterday I heard an interview with Laurie Rosenwald (rosenworld.com) talking about her new book titled. All The Wrong People Have Self Esteem. Shut Up !!!
I swear I've been thinking that thought to myself (or versions of it) my entire life - How did SHE-eeee get to be SO confident ? growing up I was a painfully self conscious and shy teenager turning into an adult who suffers still from party (or any event with more than three people - and it doesn't seem to matter who they are) phobia. One thing she said in the interview that really struck me was how she finds people who in conversation are "certain" or sure about everything are the dullest people. Certain = Boring. Shut Up Again !!! That is so true - note to self - always converse with a trace of doubt. Wink.

Also, I thought all of you citizens of the US of A would get a kick out of this. As if we don't have enough to occupy us up here in the North what with the economy, unemployment, proroguing of Parliament, and our trail of continuously dull politicians (by comparison) we are spending quality time compiling the ultimate song play list for Barack's Inauguration. Songs that would/could define Canada and Canadians to the new president - 49 Songs from North of the 49th Parellel. You can check out the list here and vote for your favourite songs.

...and la recipe

Miss D's Favourite Roast Chicken & Squash Stew

1 package of chicken legs or thighs
4 large carrots (cut in half)
1 cup of red lentils
1 cup of brown(or white) rice
2 cups of mashed squash or pumpkin
7-8 cups of water
1 can condensed chicken broth

Place chicken pieces in a 9x13 baking pan coated with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast in a 350 oven, basting occasionally, until skin is browned and crispy. Pour off the drippings and keep refrigerated to use *later in Miss D's favourite Chickin' Cookies. Place carrots, water, broth and chicken pieces in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer several hours. Remove carrot and chicken and place in a strainer over a bowl. Turn the heat back up and add lentils and rice to the broth bring to a rolling boil and then cover and turn heat back down to low. When chicken is cool remove bones and cut up into pieces, cut up or mash cooked carrots. Add both along with the mashed squash or pumpkin to pot. Stir well and continue to cook on low heat until rice is done. It may seem like a bit of work but it's actually quite easy to do in steps over a day. Miss D loves it.

* substitute the chicken fat for oil in the cookie recipe adding tons of flavour.