Sunday, February 28, 2010

Em, Jake and a bedside bouquet of peonies

she indulged in melancholy
that cheapest and most accessible of luxuries

Charles Dickens

rafting down a lazy river

Saturday, February 27, 2010

more tulips from the terracotta jungles here at 29 Black Street - a polaroid from les archives

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust ?

T. S. Elliot

It's cold and raining, maybe freezing rain this early morning. I'm just off to the lands of bubbles and scent and thinking deep thoughts (I know - what's new pussycat ?) Deep thoughts about the choices we make in our heads. The choices we make about our thoughts and our feelings. Sometimes, often lately, I write a bit in my journal in bed with my first cup of coffee. This morning I was thinking a lot about "relaxing" (relaxing in my head). I was trying to imagine my thoughts as if they were lounging on a pillow of air, safe and sound, under the sun gently floating down a slow moving river. Absolutely carefree, beautiful scenery and sounds all around those thoughts - not a concern in the world. Nothing to anticipate, nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, no duty, nor diligence required ... and I realized what a terribly frightening scenario I had just conjured up in my mind. Who would I be ?

Uh Huh ! a breakthrough moment, or another breakthrough moment - certainly not the first. I am absolutely terrified to just let things be, to just float relaxed and comfy down the lazy river of life. What are ya nuts ? I think to myself, because in my head, if I should let my guard down, even for a second - I've become convinced (mostly subconsciously and that's the darn kicker*), and have been for as long as I can remember, that big, bad, badness & hurt will ambush me from that deceivingly peaceful looking shore.

This is anxiety. To sooth and calm that beast we (those who know anxiety well) are oh so diligent in patrolling the perimeters of our life, we're on careful watch 24/7. You'd never know it if you met us, we seem pretty calm, cool, collected even. We're very practiced, us anxious types, all the world is and has been our stage. This vigilance is such a part of who I am it's become like the freckles on my face and arms. It's a kind of hyper-vigilance. I'll admit I've worn HV like some sort of badge. Something to be proud of. And in a way it is something to be proud of - it is definitely the yin to my yang, it's got me where I am today. It's allowed me much success and happiness, and many moments of incredible braveness in life so ... why would I want to give it up ?

I know that these posts must seem very personal, perhaps too personal, to some. Look away then I say. I write them because I know that I'm not alone with these feelings and thoughts and taking them out of that busy, full head of mine and throwing them down here not only helps me tremendously but these thoughts may ring true with someone else. And just maybe, allow them to cut themselves a little slack ... if only for a moment.

*darn kicker - it becomes so ingrained that you don't even realize you're doing it. It becomes who you are.

Happy Weekend ! Hey is it a DSS weekend over at the Karmic Kitchen?

another very beautiful song - I love

my knees are weak

Friday, February 26, 2010

a row of majestic red tulips from the back gardens of 29 Black Street

my knees are weak, they feel so weak
my heart feels soft, small and hidden
but I am strong, my legs are strong
and I'll stand if you want me to
I'll stand because in my heart I know ... I must.

This beautiful song is so stuck in my head this early, tres blustery winter morning


Thursday, February 25, 2010

from the terracotta gardens of 29 Black Street - blazing red oriental poppies & deep pink peonies

Hey there Spring ... we've been waitin' on ya
and a few thoughts on being brave

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

Promise me you'll always remember:
You're braver than you believe
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.

Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

only love

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jake his last visit to the back shore beach and down the bunny trail - his last Sunday with us

When you were young and on your own
How did it feel to be alone?
I was always thinking
of games that I was playing.
Trying to make the best of my time.

But only love can break your heart
Try to be sure right from the start
Yes only love can break your heart
What if your world should fall apart?

Only love can break your heart ...

Neil Young

this song has been stuck in my head for days

from out of the blue

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the view at the end of Water Street and out into the straight - like a winter abstract painting

The mildest, easiest, everybody-seems-happy kind of winter that I can ever remember. A striking and tres rare occurrence when talking about Canadian winters or Canadian weather for that matter - how love to complain about the weather - but there's not much to complain about this winter • late afternoons spent snowshoeing with my sweetie and the beautiful brown hound just after the sisters and I have had our afternoon stroll along the harbour and up toward the elementary school and back • marshmallows bobbing in fat mugs of hot homemade cocoa • evening mugs of green tea sipped while watching the evenings movie presentation • loving the challenge of dreaming up and cookin' up tasty heart smart dinners each evening - the cowboy and I are on a bit of a health kick and I'm feeling the results of our efforts already • excellent reading - current bedside books Dog Years by Mark Doty (amazing and beautifully written), The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine (fascinating, funny as all get out and remarkably relief inducing). She's just published The Male Brain - (insert tres sassy sexist comment here) and last night I started the book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradly. Oh my, I'm LOVIN' this book. I love the style of writing and the main character is an 11 year old nerdy girl named Flavia DeLuce Swoon ... she's so my kinda girl • speaking of girls, our boiler girl Miss Saturn who lives happily in our beautiful basement, well, she's gotta brand new coil (installed by Mr. Wonderful himself with the assistance of handycat and most excellent apprentice of All Things Oliver) and now she is hot, HOT, hot ! • the movie Philadelphia (from the cowboy's collection) and it's beautiful and haunting soundtrack which includes this song by our Neil • and finally feeling that wonderful sense of full and complete love, that all encompassing, little-bit-of-everything kind of love that picks you up and carries you around, your feet never again quite touching the ground. I'm still pinching myself daily ... and wondering to myself where on earth did all of this come from ? and promptly answering myself from out of the blue my dear, from out of the beautiful blue, where anything + everything is possible.

still mine

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jake - my big red love - always

Two passages from the book Dog Years by Mark Doty. His writing feels so much like my own thoughts, my own feelings. I don't remember a book that's ever struck me like this one did ...

The capacity for despair is probably equivalent to the ability to experience joy; such depths in the self are required in order to make possible the mounting of heights

But despair and depression, of course, are not the same thing. Depression is nearly always the consequence of despair, a despair one cannot feel one's way through in order to emerge from the other side, a despair that will not be moved. Sometimes such pain–perhaps especially when it's been known for a long time and all one's resources are used up, depleted–takes hold in the self; it becomes the climate in which we operate, a daily weather. Depression–simply the state of being exhausted by despair?–takes up residence in the desk drawer, the pile of shoes at the bottom of the closet, last night's unwashed dishes tumbled in the sink. Despair is sharp, definite, forceful; it is a response to experience. Depression accumulates, pools, sighs, settles in: it is the absence of response. It does not make things move. Consider our tropes for it: a cloud, a shadow, a weight. It lingers, broods, sits heavily, it replaces the sharpness of grief (which no one can bear to feel for very long) with the muffling emptiness of fog. Except that I love fog, with it's veils and secrets, it's lusters and atmospheres. Depression, more precisely, is a kind of dirty haze, and dims everything without adding mystery. It slows and conceals and stills the circulation of the air. p 155

I have my face down against that smooth muzzle, the ears that still smell, as they have all of his life, of corn muffins. Paul's holding him from the other side, so that we can both be in his gaze. We each speak to him quietly. First there's a shot to relax him, to make sure the second shot will work, and I don't think he even feels it. And then we ease him out of that worn-out body with a kiss, and he's gone like a whisper, the easiest breath. p 213

I've changed my ways a little;
I cannot now run with you
in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
if you dream a moment, you see me there.
I loved you well, and was loved.
Deep love endures
to the end and far past the end.
If this is my end, I am not lonely.
I am not afraid. I am still yours.

An excerpt from The House Dog's Grave Robinson Jeffers

Jake's been gone just a little over two years. I still think about him every single day. I look back now and I think when that handsome red dog came along, I let go of a life's worth of accumulated love. I gave it to him, willingly and easily. And as soon as he was gone, and after, for the longest time it felt as if all of my truest love went with him. My grief over the loss of that big love became my despair, my Ache & Sadness, my depression. You know that I've since fallen in love with the cowboy ... but oh my, how I love that dog still.

and I think it's much easier, for me anyway ... to be in love with a dog.

glorious accolades

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I even impressed myself with this one - beef and vegetable stew avec dumplings - delicious !!

Uh Huh ! glorious accolades
or Dim Sum Sunday a week late. Last week's challenge was soup, stew or as so-cute-you'd-love-to-smack-her Rachel Ray says - Stoup ! - that would be Beef Stoup & Dumplings

Unlike the conventional stew where everything cooks together until it all kind of tastes the same the ingredients in this beef stew(p) are cooked with three very distinct methods and then combined together just before serving. No extra effort really at all and delicious, delicious results. Begin the beef part of this recipe early in the day and if you have a crock pot or slow cooker now would be the perfect time to bring it out of the cupboard.

Beef stew & dumplings

Roasted vegetables
2 large parsnips peeled & sliced
2 large carrots sliced peeled & thick
4 small potatoes skins on & sliced thick
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt
crushed rosemary

Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, rosemary and roast on a flat pan in a 425 oven turning the vegetables once until golden and beginning to brown. Note : I considered adding a small turnip sliced to this roasted root vegetable melange but upon mentioning this addition to the cowboy he made such a sad face (apparently he still has turnip/rutabaga nightmares from childhood) that I happily declined. However if you are a fan of turnip - please add also.

Steamed vegetables
half a head of broccoli cut into florets (peel and cut up broccoli stalk as well)
1 1/2 cup of frozen peas
pinch of salt

Place broccoli in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. With the lid on, bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Add frozen peas, cover and put aside. It's important that the broccoli remains bright green and still has a crunchy bite and the peas just need to defrost.

Beef stew
1 small round roast (trimmed of all fat)
4 large onions sliced
as many cloves of garlic (sliced thin) as you like - I used 5 large
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 can concentrated low sodium beef broth
enough flour to dust the roast well
splash of Lee & Perrins (optional)

Heat the olive oil in large dutch oven. Mix flour with salt and pepper and dust the roast on all sides well with the flour mixture. Brown the roast on all sides in the olive oil, remove from pot and put aside (for now). Add the sliced onions and garlic to the pot and cook over medium high heat stirring often until they are begin to become transparent. Add mushrooms continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are wilted and beginning to brown. Add 2 cans of beef broth making sure to scrape up all the good bits on the bottom of the pan. Put the roast back in the pot, cover and when the liquid is bubbling turn heat to a low setting and pretty much ignore it for the rest of the day. Every now and then remove the lid, give a stir (you may have to add some water*) and this beef onion, mushroom mixture should/could cook for a minimum of 4 hours or as long as 6.

* keeping in mind you will need enough liquid to steam/cook the dumplings

I used this recipe & substituted 2Tbsp. low fat plain yogurt for shortening with fantastic results

At this point the beef is cooked. Remove the roast from the pot and using two forks pull the meat apart into large shreds and chunks, then place the meat back in with the onions and mushrooms. You need enough liquid to cook the dumplings so if needed add more beef broth and bring the whole mess up to a simmer. Plunk the dumpling dough in small blobs on top, cover, turn heat to low and ignore again for 20 mins. The broccoli and peas should be standing by and the vegetables roasting in the oven should be almost ready. You want to be able to add them when they are still hot and crispy just out of the oven. When the 20 minute dumpling cooking is up remove the cover and scoop out the dumplings to a waiting plate. Dump the steamed broccoli, peas and their cooking water into the stew and then the roasted carrots, potatoes and parsnips straight from the oven. Give a stir or two and place the dumplings back in the pot on top of everything. Serve in shallow bowls and await glorious accolades.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

the park that runs the length of the inner harbour steps away from our front door

The cowboy and I were driving along the front street one afternoon and as he put the blinker on to turn right and onto Black Street he looked up at the sign on the corner and said to me You see that sentence under the words Black Street ? That means Doug loves Susan in Gaelic.

so smitten.

news flash

Friday, February 19, 2010

rust and old red paint - vignettes from the beautiful basement

Many people think they are thinking
when they are merely rearranging their prejudices

William James

eek ! so guilty !

It is neither good or bad,
but thinking makes it so

William Shakespeare

oh Bill, you Rock !

{news flash}* - I think too much.

It's a funny (and very irritating) thing that most often the thing that is your greatest handicap ... is also your greatest strength. Boo & hiss I say this early morning. I'm learning (very slowly) how to, politely, say Shut Up ! to that chatterbox who lives in my head.

* lovin' an opportunity to use french brackets, I always forget about them ... sigh

ps - a great commercial


Thursday, February 18, 2010

a valentine typographic sketch* - "better late than never" a tattoo of mine

*sketch - an idea, a drawing, collage or tiny painting that although liked well enough and one that is considered to be visually pleasing to some extent (or it would never be posted here). But ... one that does not arouse the big ol' feeling in the designer gal belly of - Uh Huh ! Uh Huh ! There ya go sister ! Yes that 'tis it.

A sketch is a just beginning ... a jumping off place, a germ, a seed which hopefully is sprouting a much bigger and better idea. So I think I'll keep on keepin' on with this idea awhile longer.

And ... oh yeah. Speaking of love and of being loved and the effects there of (other than the thrill of a gorgeous, dry, clean, beautiful and tres efficient basement with a solid stone foundation and the feeling that Tom Silva & Richard Trethewey, long time hero's of mine, are secretly living down there hangin out with Oliver making sure every little system in this old brick house is operating tickety boo) ... some other lovely effects of being loved which swirl around me like bees to honey - a new found confidence, feeling safe (h-u-g-e for me), security, happiness, contentment, merriment ... and ... oh my, I could go on ... and on ...

Merci Mr. Cowboy - you are so fine, you blow my mind

I'm always very inspired by the genuis of Rob Ryan

love, fear & copper fin pipe

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a brand new copper coil for our Miss Saturn (she's developed a bit of a crush on the cowboy)

Courage is not the absence of fear,
but the mastery of it.


And that would be the big, huge, all encompassing, never before felt - love (not toward a human being anyway - canines and felines have always been exempt from that particular embargo, of course). Love's best friend Fear is constantly nattering away at me, often in a voice so quiet it's almost imperceptible be careful he whispers why ? I sometimes think to sass back You may get hurt he replies. And the butterfly's begin to play in my stomach. Fear's right, I know that. Nothing is for sure, there are no guarantee's erggh how I hate those words but I've chosen, this time, to try Brave, to have Courage in love after such a long time of holding most of my love so tight to me it felt like it was killing me - how incredibly lovely this feels to let it out ... all of it, gushing, pouring, spreading. Maybe this flood of love will drown Fear ... I hope so.

Oh and shiny new copper fin pipe - my high efficiency Saturn boiler - she has a brand new coil. It was installed yesterday after many days of intense planning and deliberation. Installed with as much love, care and blinding intelligence as I've ever known. No wonder I feel so much intensity he, my cowboy, makes me feel weak I love him so and I feel stunned with gratitude - everyday, every day ... every moment it seems.

This beautiful old brick house now has one perfect efficient heating system and she is filling with love from the ground up. Merci Universe Merci.

We're in the midst of a winter storm this early morning, blizzard conditions, zero visibility and the like. The cowboy and the beautiful brown hound are tucked safely in their white farm house just across the bridge waiting for the squalling snow to stop and he and I shared a cup of coffee and a phone chat just after 5am. Sigh.

ain't she a beauty ?

33 days and counting

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

archivin' it again - red tulips from the backyard forest of 29 Black Street - sigh

Keep your faith in all beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden
and in the Spring when it is gone.

Roy R. Gilson

guess who ? Uh Huh the most excellent photography assistant doing a little last minute stylin'

blue skies

Monday, February 15, 2010

hey brown hound ! hey beautiful Bess ! let's go snowshoeing !

If the sight of blue skies fills you with joy,
if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you,
if the simple things in nature have a message you understand,
Rejoice for your soul is alive.

Eleanora Duse

be mine

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Miss Winnie Dixon

Please be mine
sweetest valentine

The girls and I saw a huge bald eagle on our walk along the harbour's edge this early morning. An adult eagle sitting where the slab of white ice meets the deep black-blue of the open water.

Eagle - spirit, healing, creation
An apt messenger this Valentines Day. Merci eagle.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

les summertime adventures of a girl and her best friend

My best girlfriend and me - it was just us for nearly 2 years

And every step I took, everywhere I went, she ... Miss Winnie Dixon, was there beside me. I hope she knows how much I love her. She loves our new and bigger pack, I can tell. She loves having a crazy brown velvet youngin' around to be bossy to and to show the dog ropes to. She loves walking around this little village with her sister Piper Belle, the two of them leashed up and mushing along way out at the far ends of their retractable leads like wire haired sled dogs. She even enjoys curling up on the sofa each night at movie time and allowing the cowboy to scratch, just so, under her chin until she purrs with contentment.

She is a wonderul dog.