terracotta gardens

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

tangled, lush & hidden

I tease MLou. I tell her 29 Black Street is my Grey Gardens. I actually haven't seen the HBO movie or the earlier documentary about the two Edies (Big Edie & Little Edie). I just know snippets of the story. How the Beales, mother & daughter, didn't want to leave their big old grey manse even though the upkeep and maintenance of the house far exceeded any ability or affordability on their part. Kinda crazy women living in their own rich imaginary world. A world which seemed to them, completely safe, secure, & comforting. Sounds idyllic to me. MLou reminds me that water poured through a hole in their roof, raccoons were living in a guest room and the two Edies went hungry much of the time. Oh.

It's hard for me to imagine leaving my terra cotta gardens because I can't yet picture myself any other place and I have tried. But at the same time painting rooms, worrying about endless necessary repairs, attempts at jungle taming, the cost of heating an old draughty house - all constant requirements, and all things I don't enjoy doing nor can I afford most of it. Even if I could afford to hire someone to help, handy men are virtually extinct in these parts. I've spent all my life fixin' places up ... I'm tired of doing it and doing it mostly by myself. I need to move, I have to move and I don't want to move ... how's that for a can of worms ?

My personal cavalry arrives tomorrow - my guardian angel, fairy godmother, best friend and her kind, sweet husband L. who's also really smart - he's a Geophysicist and I like saying that ! scientists are my rock stars (I've been saving up all my big science questions for him in a separate jar - the science jar). We (yep that would be the royal we) are putting a new beautiful chocolaty brown, wide plank, laminate floor throughout my expansive downstairs - living room/dinging room and kitchen. Those creamy almond walls are goin' be singin'. It's all MLou's doing, she's just taken this life of mine by the hand and said come on you - we're goin' this way. I like her an awful lot so it's been hard for me to keep diggin my heels in - although I know she would beg to differ and tell you that there's been plenty O' heel diggin on my part. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I have a ton of design work here at the teak topped desk - work life and personal life are colliding with a bang for a week or so - this is part of what has made me feel so anxious (in truth I'm anxious, on some level, all the time). I can handle mild multi tasking, but I am a perfectionist (and not at all proud of it, in fact my goal is to eventually shake that handle) and I need time and space and my plan and the planets to all be lined up just so to complete any given task the way Mama sees fit. Don't go throwin' no wrenches in my carefully thought out regimented plan(s) and for damn sure don't go making me rush ... not to mention ...

What will those home reno elves eat ? what about their guest room preparations ? what about the scaredy cat animals who live here like Winnie, Gus & Bleet and that darn chop saw ? What about the fireworks ? (they hate them it scares them) What if one of them escapes in fear ? What if I never find them again? What about all my design projects ? What if my brain goes dead ? What if I never have another great creative idea ? ever ? did I mention what will I cook ? what will we eat ?
oh oh, can you hear them ? the alarms are goin' off. The circuits are goin' to blow. Run !!!!!

Anyone who knows Anxiety on a personal basis knows it's like finding yourself suddenly on an eight lane freeway going way faster then you ever thought you could or ever wanted to and you can't see any exits. It's why a lot of people drink and take drugs, I foolishly gave both up years ago. It makes you feel tired & exhausted - for years I've had an expression - take a trip and never leave the farm.
I used to think it was funny, but not so much anymore.

Turns out Mama's wound pretty tight (at times she says in her defense)
More true confessions from Terra Cotta Gardens


Monday, June 29, 2009

painting supervisor

Checking for spots that need touch ups, keeping me company and every now and then busting out into a little parkour action - he must keep on practicing because Madge might call at any time. My most excellent cat - my comfort & joy, my little shadow - sweetest Oliver

The skies are dark and grey, the wind is whipping through the tree branches, rain has just begun, the air is much cooler and it's a stormy early morning here in this little village. I'm feeling overwhelmed. Anxious and afraid. Too much going on in my quiet, safe and little insular life. I can handle a lot, I've had to over the years - to just deal with stuff as it comes along but that doesn't mean I don't dread much of it, that I don't close my eyes and hope for the time when it, whatever big bad it it might be, will all be over. There's only so much room on my anxious plate and if it becomes too crowded on that plate I freeze up and panic. Panic turns into sadness and fear. I become inactive, exhausted and I shut down. All those little things (and they are mostly little things) become monsters in my head, they pile up onto each other, into a tall menacing beast of too many little things. And I don't know what to do. So I try and hide as best I can and wait ... until this storm passes. It's how I've spent a good part of my life, layin' low, hiding, waiting for the next storm to pass.

I can wear fleece today - hooray

MLou (who's due to arrive Wed - July 1st along with husband L. and their caravan of love and tools and perfect companionship) has just removed a giant wedge of anxiety pie from my plate. She's shuffled things around a bit ... moved that one little thing over just a titch and suddenly my plate looks different. Things feel calmer, she's managed to make everything seem OK again. She's worked her best girlfriend magic, she understands me, she tolerates (even embraces) all my weirdness & foibles. I feel blessed and grateful. Now I must get back to work at the teak topped desk ... there are deadlines a loomin'.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

oriental poppies - polaroid

I'm tired already and I just woke up - sigh
today's plan

walk with Miss D
hang flags for Canada Day - July 1
seeds - Icelandic poppy, asst. zinnias, more cosmos & coriander
walk with Miss D
lay in the grass in the park with Winnie and stare up at the sky
2 scoop ice cream cone for dinner
sleep (like a baby hopefully)

and I'll listen to my lifeline, my could not survive without it, our NPR - CBC radio 1 - Sunday has an amazing line up of programs

feeling sorry for myself ?
no doubt about it


Saturday, June 27, 2009

sometimes I think - if I were a painter ...

I'd paint landscapes ... and flowers

Calm & still again today, I see blue skies and pink tinged clouds outside our big open windows this early morning. Several small boats have already left the harbour. The finches are serenading us from a tree nearby - the happy trade off for feeders filled each day with nijer and black hulled sunflower seeds, their favourites - we're most definitely on the winning side of that deal. The 4 day count down is on and a big master list with daily sub-lists must be created today. Mama sure loves a list and a big ol' plan - even if it's often the very loosest of guides it somehow calms me - it's that grand allusion of feeling in control - Hey ! I've gotta plan and a big list to go with it.

Miss D is so used to our photography jaunts that when she hears the musical binging sound of my camera being turned on she instantly stops and sits down wherever she is 'cause she knows we may be awhile. Love her. You may notice that when we walk in town and along the harbour and down onto the crescent beach (which is lined with cottages and summer folk) - Miss Winnie's always on a leash. It's because we're in Cat Country and although she does understand clearly the difference in her own home between a cat and any other small mammal - let's say a muskrat for example, away from home and out in the wilds of this little village and surrounding areas, she cannot be trusted to make the distinction - what can I say she's a terrier mix girl she takes her job very seriously and is always up for a bit of chasin.'

Came across this song yesterday in my travels an old favourite - the version I knew best written by Elvis Costello but sung by Nick Lowe - an old boyfriend hugely influenced my musical tastes, I thought (and still do) that he listened to the coolest music. And Elvis Costello - what a voice and the sound it of takes me right back to those oh so formative years of mine. Wink. & Lucinda Williams - perfect.

wild roses

Friday, June 26, 2009

wild rose bushes laden with blooms and a heavenly scent

This particular type of fragrant wild rose thrives by the seaside and in the salt air. The stems are completely covered with the sharpest thorns making it difficult to cut them to bring inside for a bedside bouquet. There is a yellow variety as well, we have one in our front garden, and it's scent has a subtle and perfect lemony note.

those crows are loud and boisterous, as usual, this early morning - the only sounds we hear this time of day are the birds (I'd miss that if I left this place) and the sounds of gentle rain drops hitting the leaves • the air continues to be close, heavy and still and it's another grey day - but you know how I feel about grey days - grey days suit me just fine although I do need some sunshine soon and gentle breezes because there's bedding that needs to be washed, hung out and ready for company • I had one of those toss & turn all night sleeps, or lack of sleep. Miss Dixon was tres busy through the night, growling and barking while on raccoon patrol. When the air is thick with humidity and so still the night time sounds all travel and we could hear the raccoons squabbling and bickering while making their rounds through the village all through the night • more busyness today at the teak topped desk, projects must be cleared away by the 1st ready for the arrival of the Guardians of All crew • I've been working late and having two scoop ice cream cones (waffle of course) from the ice cream shop for my dinner these last few nights (last night's flavours -Toasted Marshmallow & Dark Chocolate Shiver) it's been too busy to cook or to think of what I might want to make - and I believe summer ice cream parlours exist, steps from our door ... to be frequented often.

off to plan my day and to linger awhile in the rejuvenating lands of bubbles & scent.

my favourite Michael Jackson song - or maybe this one from the Jackson 5 or maybe this one or this such happy upbeat music ... tell me you're not dancin' ?

11:30 my favourite morning CBC radio 1 show - Q - is having a 2 hour special about the life and music of Michael Jackson and oh my - the music ... when you hear bits of all his songs played together ... wow.

grey & steamy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

grey & foggy, warm & still

A few photos from yesterday mornings walk along the harbour. It's another grey, steamy today here in our little village.

Yesterday felt tropical - everything is so green and growing and lush. The air heavy with moisture and a warm 26 C. It made me think of Hong Kong the steamiest lushest place I've ever been and then of course I thought of my friend Georgie who lives on that magical jungle/city island.

It's deadline time here at the teak topped desk. I'll make a game today of seeing how quickly I can get 6 technical drawings done and sent off to Customer Uno - I'll over stretch and aim for 1pm and hope it won't take much longer. Lots of work on the go at present - two new projects from the big fish Chicago company that I haven't even begun yet and some other very BIG stuff happenin' here next week at 29 Black Uh ! Huh ! Those darn elves (MLou & husband L) are packin' up their wagon of chop saws, chain saws, other miscellaneous saws and tools along with kindness, caring and love and headed this way for an extended home reno visit (details Monday). They'll arrive early July 1st. Canada Day and a big ol' festival day in this little village. Throngs of people will be milling about in the park at the end of my street. Marching bands, bagpipes, men in kilts throwing large objects for points and trophies, highland dancing, (they don't call us New Scotland for nothin' - Nova Scotia). There will be loud music all evening and fireworks, the smell of fried clams & chips and cotton candy will permeate the air, and a small carnival with rides will set up in the parking lot near the boat ramp - I hate it (mostly because I live so smack in the midst of it) but it's only one day and at least this July 1st I'll have company to hate it with. Grumble, grumble. Wink.

Thank you so much for all the great book recommendations ! Cheryl left a link to this great book blog and Posy (a favourite daily haunt of mine) must have been reading my mind because she has a stack of new mysteries by her bedside.

Today's Thursday and that means book delivery day at our little library. Hooray


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

bedside vignette - the much loved nest of down and flannel

REMEMBER–it's the worry you haven't
even thought to worry about–that is the worry
that should worry you the most

The Ruby Redfort Survival Handbook
Clarice Bean - Don't Look Now - Lauren Child

No wonder the nest is my favourite place in the whole wide world.

I wish you could hear the birds in our yard - it is amazing.
this morning is warm, wet, steamy and lush
the harbour is filled with thick fog
things are smokin' here at the teak topped desk
lunch out today at the little cafe across the street from the post office
with Helen - former librarian and thus a tres high profile friend in my world
the pink peonies in our gardens are all bursting in bloom
coffee in bed with a my fat black velvet chiclet curled up beside me

I've been in a wee reading slump. I gave up on P.D. James The Private Patient (just wasn't grabbing me) I need a good book and have been feeling like I need a humdinger, a page turning, heart stopping, well written thriller/mystery -
any suggestions ?

indian spiced

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

vegetarian goodness

indian spiced vegetables

1 head of cauliflower broken into small florets
1 can of chick peas (drained well)
2 large onions thinly sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup (or more) fresh or frozen green peas
2 large garlic cloves minced finely
1 2 inch knob of fresh ginger grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tbsps madras curry paste
vegetable oil
2-3 green onions sliced diagonally
fresh cilantro & chopped chives

In my ongoing efforts to not be eating cake and ice cream and cheetos cheesies all the time I enjoy spending time on the weekends preparing big vats of healthy food so that I'll have no excuses when sudden hunger strikes that girl who works at the teak topped desk. I love all vegetables and a particular favourite of mine is cauliflower. Which by the way practically turns to candy if you roast in a hot oven (say 400-425 degrees) tossed with a little oil, and lots of grated fresh ginger, finely minced garlic and a sprinkling of salt. Roast it until it begins to caramelize and the edges begin to turn golden and browned (about 10 mins - stirring occasionally). It shrinks considerably so be sure a use whole large head of cauliflower.

And that's how this recipe begins. In another pan, again with some vegetable oil add the 2 large thinly sliced onions and a good heaping tsp of cumin seeds. On medium heat saute onions and cumin until the onions also become beautifully caramelized and browned. Remove onions to a large bowl along with the ginger/garlic roasted cauliflower. Add a little more oil to the pan and add 2 cups fresh or frozen corn and cook until corn begins to be toasted and a bit charred around the edges. Add the corn to the vegetable mix, a can of well drained chick peas and a cup (or more) of frozen green peas* (thawed - no need to cook). To this add 1-2 tbsps of your favourite curry paste. I used Pataks. Garnish with lots of thinly sliced green onions, chives and fresh cilantro (if you have it). Can be eaten at room temperature or heated. It's delicious and tres healthy. Roasted sweet or white potato chunks would also be a great addition - it's a recipe that can be played around with depending on the vegetables you have on hand

Blue Skies on a grey and rainy day - perfect. I'm off with my drawing supplies to keep house at Harry's little gift and home decor store today. I have lots of new thumbnails to finish up and they're coming along swimmingly. Hooray. Good sigh.

* you may notice I add frozen peas to almost everything I'm a bit of a pea freak - and have been since childhood.

nooks & crannies

Monday, June 22, 2009


don't do anything ...
and nothing gets done

It wasn't quite that bad

It's grey, and stormy and windy this early morning which suits me and my mood just fine • a weekend of much sighing and feeling sorry for myself - thankfully interspersed with occasional mildly enthusiastic bursts of painting - still much to do • the peonies are all beginning to bloom and the small bouquet by my bed smells heavenly • I also did plenty of nothing this weekend, lots of rest and rejuvenation - at least I'm hoping that's what it was • Sadness & Ache came by for a coffee early Saturday and I could not convince them to leave • I feel lonely and yet I don't want to be around anyone • I identified a small new bird to our gardens and petite forest, it's distinct call has been perplexing me for weeks. A tiny bird which flits and darts quickly and with the leaves fully out on all the trees I could never see them - a pair of Magnolia Warblers. He (I suspect it's the he) handsomely fans and wiggles his tail feathers at his girl frequently and they make a short, sharp Tsssst sound constantly. They're insect eaters so they're not stopping at my feeders but they seem to be enjoying living in our jungle because I hear them chatting with each other all the time • I miss my dog, oh, how I miss him - my big lug of comfort & joy and I wonder ... will I ever stop missing him ? • I have lots and lots of drawing work here at the teak topped desk this week - an ongoing largish project from Customer Uno to finally finish up and 2 brand new, yet to begin projects from another customer • and lots of other stuff in between • I've begun this week's schedule and I must stick to it (says she who seems to repel all musts and shoulds) Sigh ... aahhh my carriage of lavender bubbles and scent awaits.

kitten nook

apartment B

Sunday, June 21, 2009

29 Black Street, Apartment B - The Lil' Man & Oliver's cardboard condo

or further tales of kitten antics

Since we're on the topic of crazy cat tales - please pop over to slow lane life for an in depth expose on the pros and cons and antics provided by real fur, fake mice cat toys - sure to make you giggle. While on this subject of cat entertainment - how about the love of the much too small cardboard fruit basket ? the large paper shopping bag left casually on the floor ? or the big cardboard box dutifully prepared by Mama with the addition of cut out doors and windows ?

Oliver - handsome, talented and tres athletic among his many admirable traits has developed a penchant, a deep passion for something the French invented and call "parkour" or free running. Where suddenly, as if a gun has gone off, he will race into a room at top speed pinging off walls and chairs and then scrambling up the clothes drying rack as fast as possible to which I casually glance over and ask ... Parkour anyone ? He has very great hopes to star in an upcoming Madonna video and feels he must be practicing all the time.

In this household other favourites include the (previously mentioned) large wooden clothes drying rack, surely the most excellent ongoing test of climbing, balance and agility skills not to mention the perfect spot for a rousing game of So ...Who's the King of the Castle Now, the tall opened painting ladder (second only to the clothes drying rack). And finally, the two all time favourites at the moment 1.) the ocelot lure - a daily thrill had by all (always managing to lure the Lil' Man from his hiding place in Apartment A) and 2.) another huge hit - the real fur, fake mouse.

further reading and here

ocelot lure in action

unsuspecting real fur, fake mouse napping innocently on the bed

do without doing

Saturday, June 20, 2009

oriental poppies

I feel lazy and sleepy this early morning. Missy D, Oliver and I lay on the bed awhile watching the gauzy white curtain on my bedroom window breath in and out on a breeze as gentle as nothing. The air is close* this morning, it's warm & still and there's rain in the forecast. All the windows in this old brick house are wide open, and have been now for weeks - I love that. That feeling as if you're living outside, or in a tree house.

I have a weekend of things to do. I have drawings that must get done and I have more painting to do. Those are the important things - the top of list things. I also want to plant three big pots of zinnia seeds, because I love them - such a cheery happy flower. I need to finish painting my living room/dining room, the trim and lots of it, the window frames and final touch ups of our new creamy white walls. and finally I have the movie Twilight from the library to watch later this evening. What's on your Saturday plan ?

Do without doing, and everything gets done.

*close - a local expression (I think ?) that means humid and mildly oppressive - a heavy blanket of air

handsome "and" talented - quite a combo

on passion

Friday, June 19, 2009

just in case ...

I might want or need the addition of one tres handsome cat dans my oriental poppy portraits. 'Cause, he's just saying ... ya know pretty much everything looks better with an Oliver. Thank you M. Universe for sending me the most amazing cat -
M. Personality Plus, my red retriever in disguise - my sweet VerVer.

Lavender, orange and patchouli bubbles are pourin' - I'm shakin' things up a bit this early morning here at 29 Black Street.

I gotta warn you, I took a billion zillion shots of the first oriental poppies from my garden yesterday uh huh ! a kazillion. So get ready for Poppies & more Poppies. I love taking photographs and the amazing thing about photography (or painting, or drawing) is once you begin to be aware, to really look around and see through the eyes of creativity, there is beauty and wonder and gorgeous light everywhere you look and often in the most simple and mundane settings. You can tell when something is a true passion, and has it's grip on you because you can't make yourself stop doing it. You become driven to do it, all the time, because it makes you feel good and it becomes a part of who you are - it makes you feel alive and satisfied and the amazing bonus that comes along with all of this is whatever your craft or outlet for creativity is - the more you do it - the better you become at it. It's that simple. Trust me on this one, I started out life as a graphic designer (they don't like to draw generally), I didn't draw and in fact did everything possible to avoid drawing - and now, fast forward 10+ years later and drawing is what I happily do for a living. Practice does makes perfect. The more I do it - the better I become and the more I amaze myself (and sometimes even Madam Invincible).

I can see a difference in my photography since this blog began and I see an even bigger difference in my desire to take pictures. I'm becoming more experimental, I'm playing around with vantage points and shooting angles, I'm not looking through the view finder, I'm dreaming off a tripod and of really studying the camera's huge operating manual as I know I'm only using the tip of the iceberg of this particular cameras full potential. Sometimes during a day, I'll stop suddenly whatever task I was doing because something has caught my eye, and as I race around getting my camera organized, photo assistant Oliver dutifully trailing behind me I find myself thinking, sometimes even saying the words out loud. I love taking photographs. LOVE. love. love. Thank goodness I have a passion(s).

Hey ! and there's also the drawing, painting, & collage .... sigh. I'm a very lucky girl.

It's like medicine, more tonic for the soul and I do hope that you see this love of mine, my passion showing up here - loud and clear.

What's the thing you can't make yourself stop doing ? What's your passion ?

more lily

Thursday, June 18, 2009

more lily of the valley

The lily of the valley are gone now, the big red oriental poppies and the yellow roses (the ones with the sweet lemon scent) are just beginning to bloom.

Strangely quiet again this morning. I'm tired, sleepy. I've been staying up too late - much too late for my 5am rising. A busier day, yesterday, at the little gift & home decor store, the touristas and summer people are beginning to arrive. The café up the street is now open 6 days a week and I stopped at 2:30, while on my back in 5 mins run to the post office and bank, to get a large, most excellent, full bodied, dark coffee to go avec a slab of the best date squares I've ever had. Maybe it was that mid afternoon coffee that had me wide awake near 11:00pm. Home at just past 5pm to kisses, spins, and twirls from my girl Missy D who's not used to Mama bein' away all day. She and I immediately went out, we hit the streets again for our big long evening stroll to the crescent beach, and on the way back we lay for a spell in the just mowed grass on the hill in the park overlooking the harbour - we couldn't stop smiling at each other.

Teak toppin' it all day today.

lily of the valley and jars of beach glass